Monday, November 14, 2011

BANGKOK — Angry residents in flooded Bangkok protested on Monday, briefly blocking a major highway as frustration mounted that parts of the Thai capital are suffering badly while the centre stays dry.

Thailand's worst floods in half a century, triggered by months of unusually heavy monsoon rains, have left at least 562 people dead around the kingdom and damaged millions of homes and livelihoods.

After weeks of flooding, waters in some Bangkok districts have receded significantly. An AFP photographer said the water level in Lat Phrao and Mo Chit areas, on the northern edge of the city centre, had fallen by nearly a metre in 48 hours and inhabitants were no longer using boats to get around.

But elsewhere anger is growing that residential areas are being sacrificed to preserve Bangkok's commercial and tourist heart.

In the west of the city, around 200 people blocked a section of the Rama II road, the main route linking the capital to southern Thailand, to demand extra water pumps to help drain their swamped neighbourhoods.

"The villagers were not happy that there were not enough pumps to drain the floods," local police chief Colonel Nakarin Sukontawit said.

"The BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Administration) agreed to bring two more pumps today, so the villagers decided to stop their protest."

Around 70 people also gathered at a major floodwall in northern Don Mueang district, watched by about 30 police officers, to ensure the authorities did not repair a gap they had opened to allow water to drain away from badly flooded areas.

Visiting the scene, Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra reassured locals that he had not received a government order to repair the barrier and his team would take time to "analyse the situation".

People in the area -- many of whom have been living in waters waist-deep or worse for almost a month -- have threatened to step up their protest if the opening in the structure is repaired.

The 15-kilometre (nine-mile) floodwall, mostly made up of huge sandbags weighing up to 2.5 tonnes, is a key defence preventing run-off waters from the north from swamping Bangkok's glitzy downtown area.

"The water in my house reaches as high as my neck," said 65-year-old Wattana Klongsakon, adding that she was "satisfied" to see the brown liquid rushing through to the other side of the damaged barrier.

"If they rebuild it, we will definitely block the toll road", she said, referring to a major nearby route linking Bangkok to the north.

In an effort to spare Bangkok's economic and political heartland, authorities have been trying to drain the floods through waterways in the east and west of the sprawling capital and out to sea.

Under-pressure Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, facing the first serious test of her fledgling premiership, pleaded for patience and unity on her Facebook page on Monday.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Heavy rains and flooding in southern France over the weekend forced the evacuation of about six hundred people, and three people died in weather-related deaths as a dozen local regions remained on alert on Sunday.

Rivers overran their banks, flooding streets and homes and leaving hundreds stranded. Television images showed cars floating along roads and residents mopping up their sodden, muddy homes.

A retired couple, both aged 71, in the southeastern coastal town of Bagnols en Foret died late Saturday night or Sunday morning from carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to bail out rising water in their cellar, police said.

On Saturday, police told Reuters they found the body of a 51-year-old homeless man who had been washed away from his campsite in the Herault southern region.

Some 600 people have already been evacuated along the coast and in the Alps in the south east of the country, authorities said. Firefighters helped rescue around 1,200 people affected by the storms, using helicopters to save about 30 people.

An orange alert -- the second-highest weather alert after red -- remained in place in 12 southern regions on Sunday, down from about 16 on Saturday.

The regions affected are the low-lying areas near the Pyrenees in the south west, where it continued to rain on Sunday, and in the flooded Alps region.

In the past two days, the level of the Var river in the southeast rose from 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) to 5 meters, said Europe 1 radio.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Last month, Hurricane Irene left more than 260,000 PPL customers without power.

The rare October nor’easter that on Saturday dumped 5.5 inches of heavy snow in the Harrisburg area was worse.

Saturday’s storm left 315,000 PPL customers in central and eastern Pennsylvania and 257,000 Met-Ed customers without electricity.

By 7:15 p.m. Sunday, PPL still had 150,000 customers without electricity in its 29-county region, including 1,995 in Cumberland County, 3,027 in Dauphin County, 1,003 in Lebanon County, 1,288 in Perry County and 1,998 in York County.

The outages occurred when leaf-laden trees bent and broke under the heavy snow and fell on power lines and poles. In a company statement, PPL called the Lehigh Valley the hardest-hit region, with 125,000 customers affected, followed by the Harrisburg and Lancaster areas.

“With a storm of this magnitude, it could take days until we can restore service to all customers,” said David DeCampli, PPL Electric Utilities president. “Our crews are assessing the damage by foot, by vehicle and by air. We’re focusing on repairs that can restore power to the largest numbers of customers as quickly and safely as possible.”

He said about 1,000 workers on 250 crews responded to outages. An additional 150 crews from western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee joined the restoration effort.

It was a familiar job for electricity workers, who in September replaced miles of power lines and more than 1,200 utility poles, 300 transformers and thousands of pieces of pole-top equipment damaged by Hurricane Irene.

The storm also affected transportation through the midstate.

Greg Penny, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District 8 spokesman, said that as of 6 p.m. Sunday, about 30 roads in the eight-county district remained closed because of downed trees on power lines. Most of these were in York County, he said.

“PennDOT crews remove trees and branches from the roads when power lines are not involved,” he said. “But if the trees or limbs are entangled with power lines, we have to wait for the utility crew to come in and safely clear the electric power line. Right now, utility crews are busy restoring electricity.”

Penny also said Route 11 at the West Pennsboro and Penn townships border near Newville remains closed in both directions. He said state police requested the closure because they are concerned that a silo that appears to be leaning might fall on nearby power lines and the road.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Category 1 hurricane was expected to sweep by the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, home to the strip of resorts known as the Riviera Maya, by Thursday evening, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

Cancun's airport stayed open, but more than 90 flights in and out of the city were canceled for Thursday. Hundreds of passengers loaded with luggage formed long lines at airport counters, trying to get out before the storm hit.

Danielle Selvin and Justin Harris from Los Angeles, decided to cut their visit short when they learned about Rina.

"We just figured that we'd rather be home where it's dry and the sun is still shining," said Selvin, 23, as they stood in line to try to get a refund for their original flight.

Though Rina was earlier downgraded from a Category 2 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with winds dropping to 85 mph (140 kph), emergency services in Cancun's home state of Quintana Roo advised people in vulnerable areas to take cover.

Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Quintana Roo's secretary of tourism, earlier on Wednesday urged prospective travelers to reschedule their vacations to avoid running into Rina.

The weakened storm posed little danger to tourists already there, but many were dejected by Rina's arrival.

"Rina ruined our plans," said Raquel Cortes, on her honeymoon in Cancun. "We wanted to go to the beach, scuba dive and go to the marine parks ... we can't get in the ocean."

Rina is not expected to affect Mexico's main oil installations in the Gulf of Mexico or coffee-growing areas in Central America that were battered by heavy rains this month. All of Mexico's ports in the Gulf of Mexico, including major oil exporting terminals, were open on Wednesday afternoon.

In Cancun's poorer neighborhoods, emergency workers made rounds to encourage people to move to public shelters.

"Above all, we're acting in flood prone areas with fragile housing, which are the zones we have to evacuate first," said Felix Diaz, head of civil protection for the Cancun area.

People were urged not to go to Cancun's airport unless they had confirmed reservations.

Vacationers along the coast of the Yucatan were met with cloudy skies and sporadic heavy rains. Beaches near the hotel zone emptied during the day, and many stores closed early.


Cancun was devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma, the most intense storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, and locals still have keen memories of the damage.

"After Wilma, how could I be afraid of this storm?" said soft drink salesman Mario Gomez, 45. "Even that day, I was the last one to leave. I didn't want to go before all my fruit was sold and I still have cold drinks to sell today.

"I'll be here tomorrow, too," he added.

Even with the downgrade, Rina is still expected to cause downpours and potentially dangerous waves. Most schools in Quintana Roo closed as a safety precaution.

About 2,800 people were being evacuated from low-lying Holbox Island, off the Yucatan's northeastern tip, including 200 tourists, Quintana Roo's governor Roberto Borge said.

On Tuesday there were around 80,000 tourists in the state. Most were foreigners, staying at hotels in Cancun and other resorts like Playa del Carmen and the island of Cozumel.

Some cruises changed course to avoid Yucatan.

The sixth hurricane in the 2011 Atlantic season, Rina was located about 140 miles (225 km) south southeast of Cozumel Island at 10 p.m. CDT/2100 GMT on Wednesday, and was moving west northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).

The hurricane could dump 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) of rain over the eastern Yucatan peninsula, and some streets in the main tourist zone were already flooding on Wednesday.

A huge storm surge is also possible, raising tide levels as much as 4 feet (1.2 meters) above normal along the coast.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Upgraded call centers and increased use of social media could help utility companies better respond to natural disasters like the two destructive storms that recently hit Pennsylvania, executives and state officials told lawmakers.

Utility representatives and state emergency officials testified Tuesday at a joint hearing of two Senate committees about lessons learned from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The hearing was prompted by constituent complaints to senators about a lack of communication from the utilities and the lag in restoring service in some areas.

About 706,000 Pennsylvanians had no electricity during the peak of the outages caused when Irene barreled through the state on Aug. 28. Some residents went without power for 10 days.

Just over a week later, the state was hit with historic flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.

Utility officials stressed how destructive the storms were to transmission lines and distribution systems. But Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, said the lack of communication with customers left residents "powerless and in the dark," literally and figuratively.

Many irate residents had no idea when their service would be restored in the days after Irene, Baker said. Some saw utility trucks parked in their neighborhoods for hours only to watch them leave — without having restored the power, she said.

Carl Segneri, an executive with Allentown-based utility PPL Corp., said the volume of calls to report damage during Irene exceeded the company's phone system capacity. The problem was compounded by breakdowns in the outage management system, he said.

PPL is evaluating its technology to see how it can improve reliability and performance, Segneri said.

UGI Utilities Inc. plans to acquire better weather forecasting tools and buy a new system to manage power outages, executive Robert Stoyko told lawmakers.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Severe flooding in Thailand has left more than 300 people dead and stranded thousands of others. As rain waters continue to inundate farms and flood cities, the country now faces about $7 billion in damages.

The situation began at the start of monsoon season in July, and three months of rain has resulted in the worst flooding in Thailand for 50 years.

Yingluck Shinawatra, the country's newly elected prime minister, warned Thai citizens that unless waters can be diverted into the sea, Bangkok could be even more severely damaged. Around 90 percent of the locks in the capital, which sits on the Gulf of Thailand, have been opened to allow water to drain out of the city, but additional storms could still cause massive floods, according to The Guardian.

Thai soldiers also built flood walls in Bangkok using more than one million sandbags.

The situation has invited criticism of Yingluck, who some Thais feel didn't properly warn or prepare the country for the disaster. So far, she has refused to call a state of emergency, fearing it would scare off tourists, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The rainy season has also affected Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, where nearly 10,000 people have had to leave their homes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Australia weather bureau says country faces more than 12 cyclones 2011-12

* Oil, gas, as well as coal and iron ore mines may be at risk

* Another La Nina weather pattern brewing to fuel storms

SYDNEY, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Australia faces an above-average number of cyclones over the coming storm season, meteorologists said on Monday, threatening new devastation after massive floods swamped homes, as well as destroying crops and crippling mining earlier this year.

The northwest offshore oil and gas field and coastal iron ore operations face a 65 percent chance of being hit by more than seven cyclones, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said in its 2011-12 tropical cyclone season forecast.

Northeast Australia, where coal mining was crippled last year due to heavy flooding partly generated by cyclones, also faces a 65 percent chance of more than the average of three to four cyclones this season, said BOM.

In total, Australia's north may be hit by more than 12 cyclones due to neutral to borderline La Nina weather conditions, which bring wet weather to the western Pacific, fuelling tropical storms over the ocean.

"Historically, these conditions have favoured an above average number of cyclones in the Australian region," said BOM.

Australia's cyclone season is between November and April.

Natural disasters including floods and cyclones cut economic activity by 0.75 percentage points in 2010-11, wiping A$1.75 billion from revenue across 2010-11 and 2011-12, Treasurer Wayne Swan said.

Australia's third-largest city Brisbane was inundated with floodwaters and flooding across an area as big as France and Germany forced major miners to declare force majeure and damaged large swaths of croplands, including the key sugar crop.

Australia, one of the world's largest coal exporters, accounts for about two-thirds of the global coking coal trade, with around 90 percent of that coming from Queensland state.

Coking or metallurgical coal is used for steelmaking, with the bulk of Australian exports to China.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

MEXICO CITY, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in Mexico and Central America rose to 49 on Friday as tropical storms and hurricanes continued to hit the region.

The United Nations said as many as 100,000 people had been affected in Mexico and Central America, while the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that more heavy rains would pound the region in the next 48 to 72 hours.

"Locally heavy rains are likely to continue over portions of the Pacific coast of southeastern Mexico and Central America, resulting in life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," said the NHC in its latest forecast for one of two storms currently moving over southern Mexico and Central America.

Civil protection authorities across Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica continued to be on maximum alert.

A second storm was forming over the eastern part of Mexico and Central America, and although neither of the two storms seem likely to become hurricanes, the NHC warned that the second storm will cause heavy rains,mudslides and flooding in Central America, Cuba and nearby islands.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega raised the alert for the country and broke off an election campaign to attend to what he declared a "national emergency" as the death toll in Nicaragua climbed to seven due to the rains.

Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes declared a state of national emergency over the massive flooding in coastal areas and initiated plans to evacuate 65,000 people from areas vulnerable to more flooding and landslides in the next three days.

The United Nations said it had activated its emergency and assessment teams in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

"Some 100,000 people in Mexico and Central America are facing flooding as Hurricane Jova and a tropical depression unleash torrential rains over the region," the United Nations news center said.

At least 12,000 people have been evacuated in the five countries worst hit by week-long torrential rains caused by Hurricane Jova, Hurricane Irwin, tropical depression 12-E and two other independent storm systems.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

MANZANILLO, Mexico – Hurricane Jova slammed into Mexico's Pacific coast as a Category 2 storm early Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring six, while a tropical depression hit farther south and unleashed steady rains that contributed to 13 deaths across the border in Guatemala.

Jova came ashore west of the Mexican port of Manzanillo and the beach town of Barra de Navidad before dawn with 100 mph winds and heavy rains, before moving inland and weakening to a tropical depression by afternoon. It continued to dump rain over a large swath of northwest Mexico, including Jalisco state where rainfall this year had been low.

A 71-year-old woman drowned in Colima state after a strong current swept away the car in which she and her son were riding. Her son survived, Colima Gov. Mario Anguiano said.

In the neighboring state of Jalisco, Jova triggered a mudslide in the town of Cihuatlan, just inland from Barra de Navidad, that swept away a house on a hillside, killing a 21-year-old woman and her daughter, Jalisco civil protection officials said in a statement.

Farther northwest along the Mexican coast in the town of Tomatlan, about 12 miles from where Jova landed, a man and a teenage boy were killed when a wall of their home softened by heavy rains fell on them, officials said.

Also in Tomatlan, two children suffered head injuries when the walls of their brick home collapsed under the force of the wind and rains, said Oscar Mejia, spokesman for the Jalisco state Red Cross rescue division.

The new tropical depression formed in the Pacific off far-southern Mexico near the Guatemala border, with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center reported. The storm quickly moved ashore over Mexico and was expected to move slightly north before dissipating before day's end.

The storm was smaller and less powerful than Jova, but the mountainous terrain of southern Mexico state of Chiapas and neighboring Guatemala is particularly vulnerable to flash flooding and mudslides. Numerous Indian villages perch precariously on hillsides.

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom blamed rain from the storm for the deaths of 13 people in his country. At least four of those were electrocuted when contacted power lines, Colom said. Others died in mudslides or were swept away by swollen rivers.

National Hurricane Center forecaster John Cangialosi said the rains in Guatemala probably were linked to the tropical depression, even though it had not yet hit land.

"If they're in Guatemala, they're pretty close to the circulation center of the system, and it has been a very slow-moving system ... so it's likely linked to this feature," Cangialosi said.

Farther north on Mexico's coast, flooding from Jova was so bad in Cihuatlan that the Red Cross office had to be evacuated because it was filled with 4 feet of water.

Mexico's navy said it evacuated a total of 2,600 people in flood-prone areas hit by Jova, and set up kitchens at shelters to feed 1,600 evacuees.

The approach of Jova led authorities to close the port in Manzanillo, which is Mexico's second-biggest non-oil cargo port. The storm flooded some neighborhoods in the city and brought down power lines and billboards. Flooding knocked out at least one bridge and destroyed stretches of highways leading out of Manzanillo.

The federal Communications and Transportation Department said that several roads were damages by the storm and that landslides and flooding blocked three main highways connecting cities in Jalisco and Colima states.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

(AP) MANZANILLO, Mexico — Hurricane Jova slammed into Mexico's Pacific coast as a Category 2 storm early Wednesday, swamping beach towns and causing floods in the mountains above.

The storm toppled trees, knocked out power and flooded streets in the major port city of Manzanillo, but the full extent of damage was still unclear before dawn Wednesday. There were no immediate reports of deaths.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Jova's maximum sustained winds were near 100 mph (160 kph) when it hit, but it was weakening steadily as it moves inland and winds were down to 75 mph (140 kph) by 7 a.m (8 a.m. EDT; 1200GMT).

As the storm's leading rain bands began swatting at the coast Tuesday night, heavy rain fell in Manzanillo, Mexico's second-biggest non-oil cargo port. It was closed to navigation because of the storm.

Callers told local station Radio Turquesa that water was several feet (more than a meter) deep in some neighborhoods and schools, some used for shelters, were closed for the day.

The Hurricane Center in Miami warned that the storm surge could cause significant coastal flooding along the 210-mile (340-kilometer) stretch between Manzanillo and Cabo Corrientes, which is southwest of the resort city of Puerto Vallarta.

Up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain could fall on isolated areas as Jova moves inland, the center said.

Before nightfall Tuesday, marines visited flood-prone areas in Manzanillo to advise people to leave. They found a home for elderly people whose homes were already flooded and evacuated dozens of people to stay with relatives, Adm. Jaime Mejia said. Forty others were evacuated in the nearby town of Tecoman, he said.

Some people vowed to ride out the storm, while others took refuge at shelters in towns like Jaluco, just inland from the beach community of Barra de Navidad.

"My house has a thatch roof, and it's not safe," said Maria de Jesus Palomera Delgado, 44, a farmworker's wife who went to an improvised shelter at a grade school in Jaluco, along with her 17 children and grandchildren.

"The neighbors told us the house was going to collapse" if hit by the hurricane, she added as the children slept nearby on folding cots packed into a classroom.

In an another classroom, migrant farmworker Rufina Francisco Ventura, 27, fed her 2-month-old son. She said she had left the ranch where she plants chiles and tomatoes planning only to pick up some free blankets, but shelter workers "told me I shouldn't leave here, because it's going to hit hard."

Jalisco state authorities evacuated about 200 people to shelters by Tuesday and issued alerts over loudspeakers placed in communities along the coast, telling people to take precautions as the hurricane approached, state civil defense spokesman Juan Pablo Vigueras said. The state had 69 shelters ready, he said.

Authorities also set up shelters for residents of inland towns, where the mountainous terrain could cause flash floods and mudslides, which often pose the greatest dangers in hurricanes

The Mexican army said it had assigned about 1,500 soldiers to hurricane preparedness and relief efforts.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

MEXICO CITY — Hurricane Jova barreled towards Mexico on Tuesday and was expected to slam into the Pacific coast later in the day, bringing high winds, heavy rains and the risk of devastating mudslides.

Mexican authorities have placed four southern coastal states on high alert ahead of the expected arrival of the category three storm.

The Miami-based US National Hurricane Center said in a 0900 GMT bulletin that Jova was packing maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers (115 miles) per hour and was 235 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of the busy port city of Manzanillo, in Colima state. It was moving north-northeast at 9 km/h (6 mph).

"The center of the hurricane will be near the coast of Mexico in the hurricane warning area by this afternoon or evening," the NHC said, adding it expected the storm to reach the coast at "near major hurricane strength."

Mexico has issued hurricane alerts for large swaths of the Pacific coast.

The zone stretched north from the port of Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan for almost 480 kilometers (298 miles), encompassing the popular tourist cape of Cabo Corrientes in Jalisco, Mexico's meteorological institute said.

Colima, Jalisco, Michoacan and Nayarit state to the north were all put on guard for possible landslides from heavy rain expected to be dumped by the ninth Pacific hurricane of the season.

"A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the east of where the center makes landfall," the NHC warned.

The surge, said the hurricane center, "will be accompanied by large and destructive waves" as well as torrential rainfall with accumulations of up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) in some areas.

"These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides over mountainous terrain," the NHC said.

Several major storms or hurricanes have buffeted Mexico's Pacific coast in recent months but most have remained offshore.

The season's first named storm, Arlene, left at least 16 people dead and drenched much of the country in July.

Tropical storms and hurricanes last year caused flooding and mudslides in Mexico that killed 125 people, left hundreds of thousands homeless and caused more than $4 billion in damage.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Officials have warned Filipinos to brace against the inconvenient truth of devastating storms, flooding and drought unless policies and projects are put in place to mitigate climate change.

Undersecretary Graciano Yumul of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said that in the next 20 to 50 years, the Philippines would find "the dry seasons drier and the wet seasons wetter."

"With the climate change scenario, we will see more of this as a frequent reality," Yumul said in an interview. "What we used to consider as abnormal we should now consider as normal," he noted.

Scientists describe the phenomenon as any distinct changes in weather patterns, such as temperature, rainfall, wind and snow over a long period of time.

A major factor is global warming-the increase in the oceanic and atmospheric temperatures of the planet resulting in the melting of the ice caps and the rising of the seas.

The doomsday scenarios, depicted in Al Gore's 2006 award-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," are now playing out in the Philippines.

The climatology division of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has released the results of a study in 2010 concluding that climate data from 1960 to 2003 showed significant increases in the frequency of hot days and warm nights in many areas of the country.

On the other hand, Pagasa observed that cooler days had decreased. This trend mirrors the experience of other countries in Southeast Asia, Pagasa said as it predicted more rains in the Philippines in the coming decades.

"Reduction of rainfall is seen in March, April and May in most provinces, while rainfall increases are likely in Luzon and Visayas in 2020 and 2050 during the June-July-August and September-October-November seasons," the study said.

"Greater increase in rainfall is expected in the provinces of Luzon (0.9-63 per cent) and Visayas (2-22 per cent) during the peak southwest monsoon period (June-July-August)."

The number of days where temperature will breach 35 degrees Celsius will also increase in 2020 and 2050, according to Pagasa models.


Antonio Apostol Jr., chief geologist of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, said human activities in the regions that bore the brunt of Typhoons "Pedring" and "Quiel" that struck the country last week exacerbated the hazards and the risks.

The plains of Bulacan and Pampanga have always been prone to floods, he said.

But the proliferation of fishponds and aquaculture projects in the major waterways and in the coasts has slowed down the flow of water from the typhoons and the dams, resulting in prolonged flooding in residential and rural areas, Apostol said.

"These have a multiplier effect. So when the water was released from the dams, the natural drainage could not handle it anymore," he said.

If there were no fishponds and garbage clogging the canals and rivers of the region, "the outflow would have been quicker," Apostol said.

Floods and landslides will be more widespread until officials realize that they should adapt to the changes in weather and lessen their effects on the general population, Apostol and Yumul said.

"In other parts of the country, we are seeing the same situation. In the cities of Butuan and Cotabato, there were floods, too, because the rivers were clogged with water lilies," Apostol said.

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

As extensive flooding continues to wreak havoc in 28 provinces throughout the country, the confirmed death toll on Thursday had risen to 244 with three people missing, and the forecast isa for worse to come.

Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department director Wibul Sanguanpong said the flooding has hit 1,486 tambons of 201 districts of 28 provinces, affecting 2.6 million people and damaging more than 7.5 million rai of farmland.

The flood toll as of Oct 6 was 244 dead and three missing.

Mr Wibul, also deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s disaster monitoring centre, said the amount of water in major dam reservoirs was still at a critical level and overflows from the Chao Phraya river have seriously hit low-lying areas in Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Lop Buri, Ang Thong, Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi.

In Ayutthaya, authorities alerted residents living around the former capital’s central area, known as Koh Muang, to evacuate their belongings to safe ground immediately as more flooding was expected to hit the area in the next few hours.

There were fears that floodwalls in the area could not resist the flood torrent and also concerns that the floodwaters would surge into the famous Wat Yai Chaimongkol temple in the area.

Ayutthaya governor Witthaya Piewpong said that flooding in the province is expected to reach a critical point in the next three to seven days as overflow from the Lop Buri, Pasak and Chao Phraya rivers would add to existing flood woes in the province.

It is predicted that flood levels will increase by at least 50 centimetres, Mr Witthaya said, adding that he had instructed workers to reinforce embankments around the Koh Muang area with more sandbags, raising the level of the embankment from 50cm to one metre.

Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri said Bang Pahan hospital in Ayutthaya has been temporarily closed because of flooding.

He said of the 17 patients being treated in the hospital, two had been moved to Ang Thong hospital, four to Uthai Thani hospital, four to Somdej Phra Sangkharat hospital and seven to Wang Noi hospital.

Two field hospitals have been set up at the PTT petrol station between Bang Pahan hospital and the district office and at tambon Bang Kwang in Maharat district.

They were being staffed around the clock by doctors and staff from Vajira Phuket hospital.

Ban Phraek, Maharat, Tha Rua and Nakhon Luang hospitals in Ayutthaya and Chumsaeng hospital in Nakhon Sawan are also under a flood threat.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

HANOI — Massive floods have ravaged vast swathes of Asia's rice bowl, threatening to further drive up food prices and adding to the burden of farmers who are among the region's poorest, experts say.

About 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of paddy fields in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos have been damaged or are at risk from the worst floods to hit the region in years, officials say.

In Thailand, the world's biggest rice exporter, where 237 people have died in the floods, about one million hectares of paddy -- roughly 10 percent of the total -- have been damaged, they say.

Heavy rains in Laos and Cambodia have also led to big losses in recent weeks, and experts say flood waters have now drained into Vietnam's Mekong Delta, a key global rice producer, making it the latest to be inundated.

Further west, flooding of rice and other farmland in Pakistan's arable belt has cost that country nearly $2 billion in losses.

"The whole region will now suffer from rising food prices as potential harvests have now been devastated. The damage is very serious this year and it will be some time before people can resume normal lives," Margareta Wahlstrom, the United Nations chief of disaster reduction, said in a statement.

The flood damage comes on top of worries about the impact on global rice prices of a new scheme by the Thai government to boost the minimum price farmers receive for their crop.

Vietnam meanwhile is the world's number-two rice exporter and the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam accounts for half the country's production.

"The upstream waters have begun to drop slightly but here they are rising three to five centimetres (1.2 to two inches) daily," said Duong Nghia Quoc, director of the agriculture department in Dong Thap province.

Dong Thap and neighbouring An Giang, which abut Cambodia, have been the worst affected in the delta.

The UN, citing government sources, says 11 people have died, more than 20,000 homes are flooded and 99,000 hectares of rice are at risk in Vietnam.

"Agricultural production is seriously affected this year by the floods that were, in fact, worse than our forecasts," said Vuong Huu Tien, of the flood and storm control department in An Giang, where thousands of soldiers have been mobilised to reinforce dykes and help residents reach safer ground.

In Cambodia, more than 330,000 hectares of rice paddy have been inundated, of which more than 100,000 hectares are completely destroyed, said a senior official at the Ministry of Agriculture.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

BANGKOK — Thailand's worst monsoon floods in decades have killed 224 people and affected three quarters of the country, including part of the ancient city of Ayutthaya, according to officials.

Two months of flooding have inundated 58 of Thailand's 77 provinces -- with 25 still severely affected -- and damaged the homes or livelihoods of millions of people, according to the government.

"It's the worst flooding yet in terms of the amount of water and people affected," said an official at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation who preferred not to be named.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, one of Ayutthaya's best known temples, has been closed to visitors after a makeshift dyke was breached at the former capital, a popular tourist destination north of Bangkok.

"The water level inside the temple grounds is now 1.50 metres," said Supoj Prommanoch, head of the Fine Arts Office in Ayutthaya, located north of the capital Bangkok.

But he said the authorities were confident they could prevent the floods from reaching Ayutthaya's main World Heritage Park, which is located further away from Chao Phraya River.

The northern city of Chiang Mai, another popular tourist destination, has been badly hit and the authorities are battling to stop the floods reaching central Bangkok.

"The current flood situation is the worst that I have ever seen and it will last until the first week of November," said independent flood expert Royal Chitradon, director of Thai Integrated Water Resource Management.

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Monday, October 03, 2011

England is in the grip of a late September heatwave.

After another poor summer, temperatures have soared to almost 28C (82.4F) and are expected to carry on getting higher over the weekend.

The top temperature seen in England on Wednesday was in Gravesend, Kent, where it reached 27.1C (80.78F).

The Met Office said the hot weather was caused by a high pressure system pushing warm air north across France and towards the UK.

The high pressure is holding rain and wind coming in from the Atlantic away from the west.

Heatwave to continue
Paul Mott, meteorologist for MeteoGroup, the Press Association's weather arm, said the top temperatures would continue over the weekend.

"We are still on for some exceptionally warm weather, temperatures will probably reach 28C (82.4F) over the London area," he said.

"Central and eastern England could reach up to 27C (80.6F), so it is very warm indeed.

"That is a good 10C to 11C (18F to 20F) warmer than what we would expect for this time of year."

Temperatures are expected to remain in the mid to high-20s until next Tuesday.

In Northumberland, a lamb has been born early and a field of about 100 sunflowers have blossomed near Bamburgh castle.

However no records have yet been set, temperatures exceeded 28C (82F) on 21 September 2006 and the all-time high in the month of 30.6C (87F) was achieved in Hampshire in 1895.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Boys wade through the backyard of Donna and Kevin Tyndall after Hurricane Irene flooded their home in Vandemere in Pamlico County in August.

Many of the roads in Vandemere are still cluttered with debris.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Pakistan over the last month has again been plunged into a very dismal state.

I along with a few friends have been involved in raising aid online and distributing it by hand all over this region.

We have visited the Badin area three times in the last month.

On our last trip we drove into Badin from Karachi, amidst reports of violent looting on the roads as well as relief trucks being mobbed.

Past the halfway point, at Thatta, the area became almost surreal, with water at road level stretching into the horizon as far as the eye could see.

As we drove closer to Badin the road was littered on both sides with makeshift tents and people sitting with their families in the awful heat.

They drink from the water around them and use the same water for washing and toilets.

We drove into Nindo, Khoski and beyond to distribute 2,000 'ready-to-eat' meals we had brought with us.

Everywhere we went we saw appalling conditions.

One can see relief organizations putting up camps and road-side kitchens all along the way to help feed the needy but clearly the throngs surrounding them are beyond their capacity.

The water is 3-4 feet deep in many areas.

In one place we saw people crossing their motor-bikes on a donkey cart from a marooned, water-logged village

I saw a snake almost as long as a car swimming lazily through this water, as people waded through it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MANILA - City residents waded through waist-deep flood waters and dodged flying debris yesterday as a powerful typhoon struck the Philippines, killing at least 16 people and sending waves as tall as palm trees crashing over seawalls.

Most deaths occurred in metropolitan Manila, which already was soaked by heavy monsoon rains ahead of Typhoon Nesat’s arrival with more downpours and wind gusts of up to 93 miles per hour. Downtown areas along Manila Bay suffered their worst flooding in decades.

Pounding rains obscured the view of anyone on the streets as soldiers and police scrambled to evacuate thousands of people in low-lying areas, where rivers and the sea spilled into shanties, hospitals, swanky hotels, and even the seaside US Embassy compound.

“It’s flooded everywhere. We don’t have a place to go for shelter. Even my motorcycle got filled with water,’’ said Ray Gonzales, one of thousands stranded by fast-rising flood waters.

The massive flooding came exactly a day after this sprawling, coastal city of 12 million held two-year commemorations for the nearly 500 people killed during a 2009 cyclone, which dumped a month’s rainfall in just 12 hours. The archipelago receives about 20 storms and typhoons from the Pacific each year.

Some residents acted more quickly this time to evacuate homes as waters rose, including in the Manila suburb of Marikina, where 2,000 people escaped the swelling river by flocking to an elementary school, carrying pets, TV sets, bags of clothes, and bottled water.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

The NASA DC-8 is a four-engine jet transport that has been highly modified to support the Agency's science mission. The medium-altitude aircraft has a 148-foot wingspan and is 157 feet long. It can fly at altitudes from 1,000 to 42,000 feet for up to 12 hours, although most science missions average six to 10 hours. The aircraft has a range of 5,400 nautical miles and can carry 30,000 pounds of scientific instruments and equipment. NASA acquired the former commercial airliner in 1985. It was based at the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., until late 1997 when it moved to the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hurricane Hilary 2011 will likely weaken next week from its current Category 3 strength, but the storm may turn into central or northern California before it's done, ultimately bringing needed rain to the Southwest, including Texas.

Forecasters say Hurricane Hilary, currently off the western coast of Mexico, will pose a threat to shipping and cruise interests, while creating rough surf along the southwest Mexican coast as the storm turns to the north. Models show Hilary will be north and west of its current location by Wednesday night, and winds will likely have subsided to Category 1 strength.

But after that, the U.S. southwest and maybe even Texas could benefit from the storm if it re-curves as some models show, into northern Baja California.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

China sent the tents via four air crafts to Pakistan.

The Chinese Counsel General handed over these tents to Provincial Disaster Management Director at the Karachi airport for distribution among flood affectees.

The Chinese Counsel General said his country will always stand with Pakistan in difficult times.

While efforts continue to tackle the catastrophe, flood affectees in lower and central Sindh have protested against the shortage of basic necessities including food, medicines and clean drinking water.

People from several districts protested against the shortage of aid and the government’s inability to drain flood waters from several villages in Sindh. Police have reportedly baton charged people protesting the ineffective and insufficient aid.

A shutter down strike is also being observed in the southern town of Kunri.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bangkok yesterday managed to escape being submerged in floods that have been sweeping through 24 provinces.

Farmers in the neighbouring province of Pathum Thani are calling on authorities to open at least one watergate in the capital so water levels in an overflowing canal can be eased.

"The Hok Wa canal has risen one metre above its banks," Suchat Janchang complained yesterday.

Suchat, who is a farmer in Pathum Thani's Lam Luk Ka district, said more than 1,000 rai of his paddy fields would be in jeopardy if a watergate was not opened soon to let out some of the water. "Have some sympathy for us. We are going to incur huge losses," the 46-year-old said.

Lam Luk Ka district chief Panuwat Jenprasert said if Bangkok authorities continued blocking flood waters, then more than 18,000 rai of the local farmland would be submerged sustaining huge damages.

"Some of them have been flooded for nearly a month now," he said.

After a meeting with relevant authorities on preventing floods in Bangkok and adjacent provinces, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) had been well prepared to deal with the situation.

Also present at the meeting were Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra and the provincial governors of Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon and Chachoengsao.

According to Yingluck, authorities are proceeding in line with His Majesty's advice on water management as they tackle the ongoing flood problems. "We will be pushing the water out of the capital via Lat Pho Canal. It's faster," she said.

With run-offs from the North, the Chao Phraya River has already overflowed in several provinces in the Central region.

In Chai Nat province, raging torrents in the Chao Phraya River knocked down a portion of an embankment and submerged Phaholyothin Road between the 290 and 293 kilometre markers, making that portion of the road impassable to traffic.

According to BMA Drainage and Sewerage Department chief Sanya Sheenimit, up to 3,800 cubic metres of water travelled down Chao Phraya River in Ayutthaya's Bang Sai district yesterday. Ayutthaya is just an hour's drive from Bangkok.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Flooding across China has claimed 57 lives as more than a million people are evacuated from their homes.

Heavy record rains for more than a week have swamped several provinces in northern, central and southwest China, also injuring dozens of people, Newscore reports.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said in a statement that the rain had forced authorities to evacuate more than 1.2 million people from their homes, BBC reports.

Landslides and mudslides have toppled homes and blocked roads in the area, and the National Meteorological Center forecast that the torrential rains that caused them will last for another three days, AFP reports.

"Constant strong rainfall has caused serious flood disasters in Sichuan [southwest], Shaanxi [north] and Henan [central] - 12.3 million people were affected, 57 died and 29 are missing," it said.

One area of the southwestern province of Sichuan, Bazhong, was severely affected, with 13 people killed, 10 missing and 156 injured, a spokesman for the local government told the official China Daily newspaper.

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A new supercomputing facility in West Virginia could help improve weather forecasters’ ability to predict the power of huge hurricanes, which could eventually help public officials make better decisions about when to call for the kind of mass evacuations seen during Hurricane Irene.

Next month The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will bring a new data center online. The facility in Fairmont, West Virginia will support a 383-teraflop supercomputer designed to develop more powerful tools for analyzing the behavior of hurricanes. NOAA staffers discussed the project in a presentation last week at the AFCOM Data Center World fall conference in Orlando.

Computer Models Improving

Hurricane scientists have developed sophisticated computer models to analyze the threat posed by hurricanes. This has helped forecasters make significant strides in projecting the path a hurricane will take. But it remains more difficult to predict the intensity of hurricanes, which can fluctuate in strength as they approach landfall. Hurricane intensity is ranked on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which assigns a category from 1 to 5, with Category 5 storms being the most powerful.

“The damage caused by the hurricane has almost everything to do with intensity,” said NOAA’s Darren Smith, who said predicting the intensity requires granular data.”The physics of a hurricane occur at a 1 kilometer resolution.”

The new supercomputer in West Virginia will bring more horsepower to test new models designed to better measure intensity. But it will also require about five years of development before the new model is ready for use in NOAA forecasts.

More Capacity Required
Analyzing hurricane data requires lots of computing power. NOAA has 9 supercomputers already, but none of its existing facilities had the space or power capacity to house the new machine. Smith and his team began an unusual site selection process in which they picked a location for the new facility without knowing what kind of supercomputer it would house.

They didn’t know, for example, whether the supercomputer would require water cooling or air cooling. The agency eventually chose an SGI Altix ICE cluster in which some cabinets will be water-cooled (through a rear-door cooling unit) while others will use air cooling.

Cabinets in the high performance computing cluster will use up to 33 watts of power per rack. The data center will use full outside air cooling (air economization) for 40 percent of the year, while using a mix of economizers and chillers the remainder of the time. The economizers are expected to save about $800,000 a year in power costs.

The 54,000 square foot space will house 16,000 square feet of computer room space on a 4-foot raised floor, and a 6,000 square foot tape archive, with room for expansion of both. The facility has 6 megawatts of power capacity, and is supported by a flywheel UPS system.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

When the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite flew over Tropical Storm Sonca on Friday, Sept. 16 it found moderate rainfall mostly on the southern side of the storm. Chichi Jima can expect some of that rainfall over the weekend as Sonca passes east of the island.

TRMM passed over Tropical Storm Sonca and its precipitation radar instrument saw moderate rainfall occurring mostly on the southern side of the storm, while light-to-moderate rainfall was occurring throughout the storm. The southern edge of the storm had rainfall rates between .78 to 1.57 inches (20 to 40 mm) per hour. The TRMM satellite is managed jointly by NASA and the Japanese Space Agency.

At 11 a.m. EDT on Sept. 16, Tropical Storm Sonca had maximum sustained winds near 45 knots (52 mph). It was centered about 500 nautical miles east of Iwo To, Japan, near 23.5 North and 149.4 East. Sonca was moving to the west at 15 knots.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

A hurricane watch for Bermuda was this afternoon lifted as Tropical Storm Maria passed to the Island's west causing hardly any damage.

Belco reported a handful of power outages and police were not aware of any reports of damage.

Flights and ferry services were the worst hit - with all ferries except the Pink route cancelled and all flights at LF Wade International Airport also cancelled.

Several flights to and from the Island were cancelled yesterday as Bermuda braced itself for Tropical Storm Maria.

The storm, the third in as many weeks to affect the Island, passed at about 100 nautical miles to the west-northwest of the Island at its closest point at 1pm today.

Meteorologists predicted the Island would experience showers and possibly thunder, with south-easterly gusts from gale force to hurricane force this morning.

Conditions are expected to lighten as the day progresses and the storm moves further from Bermuda.

The Causeway remained open all day although it was monitored closely.

No large storm surge is expected, but rip currents and significant wave action were predicted, mirroring the effects of recent Tropical Storms Jose and Katia.

This afternoon a Government spokeswoman said: "While Bermuda has been spared any major impact from Tropical Storm Maria, the Island continues to feel remnants of the weather system.

"Winds at the Causeway saw a brief increase to 40 knots with gusts to 50 knots , but there have been no sustained winds reaching 50 knots today. However, Bermuda can expect a continuation of the tropical storm force winds for the next few hours.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Typhoon Songda was east of the Philippines when the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite had an early evening view on May 25, 2011 at 0903 UTC (05:03 EDT) and saw good organization within the storm and heavy rainfall. Songda has intensified into a major typhoon as it tracks parallel to the east coast of the northern Philippines, spawning warnings.

Both TRMM’s Microwave Imager (TMI) and Precipitation Radar (PR) instruments were used to provide the rainfall analysis. TRMM’s TMI had the best coverage of rainfall with Songda and showed well organized bands of moderate to heavy rainfall converging into the typhoon. TRMM is managed by both NASA and the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA.

Infrared imagery from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite showed an eye about 12 nautical miles wide and strong convection surrounding the eye on all sides. Songda intensified over the over the last 12 hours because of very warm sea surface temperatures between 30 and 31 Celsius, and low wind shear.

At 1500 UTC (11 a.m. EDT) on May 25, Songda’s maximum sustained winds were near 105 knots (120 mph/194 kmh) making it a Category Three Typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Sondga was located about 385 nautical miles east-southeast of Manila, Philippines and is now moving northwestward near 5 knots (6 mph/9 kmh). Yesterday it was moving to the west-northwest, so the curving northward has already begun.

Songda is predicted to become a very powerful category 4 super typhoon with wind speeds peaking at 125 knots (143 mph/231 kmh) as it passes to the northeast of the Philippines. By Friday, the current forecast track takes Songda’s center very close to the island with Kadena Air Base in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

When noctilucent clouds (NLCs) first appeared in the 19th century, they were a high-latitude phenomenon. You had to travel toward the poles to see their electric-blue glow. Not anymore. Just this past weekend, these beautiful, "night-shining" clouds spilled over the Canadian border into the lower United States as far south as Denver, Colorado.

In recent years, a NASA spacecraft called AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) has spotted the clouds appearing ever lower in latitudes, but just why is not yet known. AIM studies the clouds in order to better understand our lower atmosphere and how it is connected to weather and climate.

The clouds are seasonal, appearing most often in late spring and summer. In the northern hemisphere, the best time to search for these beauties would be between mid-May and the end of August.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


* A tropical wave moving west-northwestward into the Bay of Campeche is bringing disorganized but locally heavy showers and thunderstorms to the Yucatan Peninsula, southeast Mexico, and parts of Central America.

* This system could organize some on Tuesday or Wednesday as it moves through the Bay of Campeche and the shearing winds aloft relax, but may only at best become a tropical depression.

* Any developing tropical low and associated heavy rainfall will quickly move into northeast Mexico midweek and beyond.

* Southernmost Texas could see an increase in shower and thunderstorm activity.

Friday, June 24, 2011



Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi began developing as a tropical low northwest of Fiji on 29th January and started tracking on a general westward track. The system quickly intensified to a cyclone category to the north of Vanuatu and was named Yasi at 10pm on the 30th by Fiji Meteorological Service. Yasi maintained a westward track and rapidly intensified to a Category 2 by 10am on 31st January and then further to a Category 3 by 4pm on the same day.

Yasi maintained Category 3 intensity for the next 24 hours before being upgraded to a Category 4 at 7pm on 1st February. During this time, Yasi started to take a more west-southwestward movement and began to accelerate towards the tropical Queensland coast.

Yasi showed signs of further intensification and at 4am on 2nd February and was upgraded to a marginal Category 5 system. Yasi maintained this intensity and its west-southwest movement, making landfall on the southern tropical coast near Mission Beach between midnight and 1am early on Thursday 3rd February. Being such a strong and large system, Yasi maintained a strong core with damaging winds and heavy rain, tracking westwards across northern Queensland and finally weakened to a tropical low near Mount Isa around 10pm on 3rd February.

Yasi is one of the most powerful cyclones to have affected Queensland since records commenced. Previous cyclones of a comparable measured intensity include the 1899 cyclone Mahina in Princess Charlotte Bay, and the two cyclones of 1918 at Mackay (January) and Innisfail (March)

Wind Damage

At the time of writing there are no verified observations of the maximum wind gusts near thecyclone centre. However a barograph at the Tully Sugar Mill recorded a minimum pressure of 929 hPa as the eye passed over suggesting wind gusts of about 285 km/h were possible. This is supported by measurements (subject to verification) from instrumentation operated by the Queensland Government (Department of Environment and Resource Management) at Clump Point (near Mission Beach) which recorded a minimum pressure of 930hPa. Significant wind damage was reported between Innisfail and Townsville where the destructive core of the cyclone crossed the coast. Tully and Cardwell suffered major damage to structures and vegetation with the eye of the cyclone passing over Dunk Island and Tully around midnight on 2nd February.

The largest rainfall totals were near and to the south of the cyclone and were generally in the order of 200-300mm in the 24 hours to 9am Thursday. These rainfall totals were experienced in the area between Cairns and Ayr, causing some flooding. The highest totals were; South Mission Beach 471mm, Hawkins Creek 464mm, Zattas 407mm, Bulgun Creek 373mm along the Tully and Herbert River catchments.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

On June 1, 2011, a supercell thunderstorm developed over western Massachusetts. The storm produced an EF3 tornado that cut a 39-mile (63-kilometer) track of destruction across southwest and south-central Massachusetts. Not only did the long-lived tornado remain on the ground for many miles, but it also widened to 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers).

The Thematic Mapper on the Landsat 5 satellite captured this natural-color image on June 5, 2011. This image shows part of the tornado track, including damage in Sturbridge. According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts state police reported a tornado on the ground in Sturbridge at 5:22 p.m. The tornado was spotted on the Interstate 84 exit, and cars were overturned.

The Boston Globe reported that the Massachusetts governor declared a state of emergency and ordered National Guard troops to assist with cleanup efforts. Tornadoes on June 1 killed at least four residents of the state, as well as reducing homes, schools, and churches to rubble.

The Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. Since 1972, Landsat satellites have collected information about Earth from space. This science, known as remote sensing, has matured with the Landsat Program.

Sunday, June 05, 2011


At least 3,500 people have been vacated in southern Chile and Argentina as one of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanoes began to explode on Saturday. This latest eruption is the first in half a century for the Puyehue volcano. As of early Sunday morning, gas was growing nearly 10 km in the atmosphere, while residents were reporting ash covering the ground like snow. The city's airport was closed and local residents wore gas masks to protect them from the ash and stifle the strong stench of sulphur. The officials were trying to stop car traffic and ask that people to stay at home and close their doors and windows to prevent the volcanic ash from coming. Authorities issued a red alert, the maximum warning level, for the area and closed an Argentina-Chile border crossing.

Chile has some 2,000 volcanoes and one of the world’s largest volcanic chains after Indonesia. Some 50 to 60 have had recorded eruptions, and 500 are potentially active. The last eruption of Puyehue came in 1960. That event was preceded by a magnitude 9.5 earthquake. The thick cover of ash meant it was not immediately clear which of the Puyehye-Codron Caulle chain's four volcanoes had erupted. Witnesses reported seeing the volcano spitting molten rock, but no lava flow. This eruption comes just weeks after the Grimsvotn volcano erupted in Iceland, which sent plumes of Ash into the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. That volcano was blamed for widespread flight cancellations in Scotland and Berlin. Winds across the region will continue to blow towards the east, sending more ash towards southern Argentina as long as the volcano continues to erupt.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


This blog presents a data-rich view of climate and a discussion of how that data fits together into the scientists' current picture of our changing climate. But there's a great deal that we don't know about the future of Earth's climate and how climate change will affect humans.

Climate scientists often discuss "abrupt climate change," which includes the possibility of "tipping points" in the Earth's climate. Climate appears to have several states in which it is relatively stable over long periods of time. But when climate moves between those states, it can do so quickly (geologically speaking), in hundreds of years and even, in a handful of cases, in only a few decades. These rapid 'state changes' are what scientists mean by abrupt climate change. They are much more common at regional scales than at the global scale, but can be global. State changes have triggers, or tipping points. In what's probably the single largest uncertainty in climate science, scientists don't have much confidence that they know what those triggers are.

Below is an explanation of just a few other important uncertainties about climate change. This list isn't exhaustive. It is intended to illustrate the kinds of questions that scientists still ask about climate.

1. Solar Irradiance.

The sun has a well-known 11-year irradiance cycle that produces about .1% variation in output.1 Solar irradiance has been measured by satellite daily since the late 1970s, and this known solar cycle is incorporated into climate models. There is some evidence from proxy measurements-sunspot counts going back centuries, measurements from ancient trees, and others-that solar output varies over longer periods of time, too. While there is currently no evidence of a trend in solar output over the past half century, because there are no direct observations of solar output prior to the 1970s, climate scientists do not have much confidence that they understand longer-term solar changes. A number of U.S. and international spacecraft study the sun.

2. Aerosols, dust, smoke, and soot.

These come from both human and natural sources. They also have very different effects on climate. Sulfate aerosols, which result from burning coal, biomass, and volcanic eruptions, tend to cool the Earth. Increasing industrial emissions of sulfates is believed to have caused a cooling trend in the Northern Hemisphere from the 1940s to the 1970s. But other kinds of particles have the opposite effect. The global distribution of aerosols has only been tracked for about a decade from the ground and from satellites, but those measurements cannot yet reliably distinguish between types of particulates. So aerosol forcing is another substantial uncertainty in predictions of future climate.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hurricane preparedness

Mississippi residents should have noticed on their calendars that t 2011 hurricane season starts. While the area has been safe during the past five hurricane seasons; this is not the time to get pleased. As the latest tornado outbreaks have shown us, Mother Nature's furor can be deadly. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials also are predicting an "above-normal" 6-month season across the Atlantic Basin. In the years since Hurricane Katrina, officials across the Pine Belt have been busy making sure the area is better prearranged if a major storm should hit. From purchasing additional generators and equipment to eradicate debris from roadways to updating dispatch systems and emergency management plans, steps have been taken to try to ensure the type of conditions that followed Katrina can be avoided.

Wednesday also marks the deadline for completion of the Forrest County Community Shelter, a facility that will be able to house 800 to 1,000 people in case of a severe weather event. A similar shelter is under construction in Lamar County. But hurricane preparedness isn't just the responsibility of city and county officials. Residents need to make sure that they and their families are prepared. That includes everything from stocking up on food and water, putting together a first-aid kit that includes prescriptions your family members need to coming up with an evacuation route if needed. Although all is quiet in the Atlantic for now, it most likely won't be that way for much longer.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tornadoes hit Oklahoma


At least six people were killed and many were injured by tornados at Oklahoma and Kansas City that began last Tuesday which forced offices and schools to close early. Residents should take tornado warnings and reports very seriously said Mary Fallin Governor of Oklahoma. NWS warned during the storm that it’s an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation.

The citizens of Oklahoma City knew that the tornadoes were coming. About 1,200 people were packed in a shelter in Newcastle, a community near Oklahoma City, during the storm, said Oklahoma City Manager Nick Nazar. The city has been struck by more tornadoes than any other city in the United States. People were expecting for the worst to happen after the disastrous twister outbreak in the South that had a death toll of more than 300 people and last Sunday’s storm that left 122 people dead in Joplin.

The Oklahoma tornadoes were weaker than the other tornadoes but up-to-the-minute reporting of the developing weather system kept the people informed of the danger. Television networks had their helicopters broadcast live footages when the storm approached the city with a population of 1.2 million.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Weather Services Forecasters issued their forecast for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season which begins June 1, leaving an expectation of 15 tropical storms, with eight evolving into hurricanes. Of those, four are expected to strengthen into major hurricane of Category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which mean the storm packs sustained winds of 111-130 mph and is expected to cause serious damage.

Each of the forecasts exceeds what is considered the historical average hurricane season, although what is defined as “average” varies somewhat according to the source. Predictions for 2011 do fall within the level of activity that has occurred during an active tropical period that began in 1995, says Crawford. Since 1995 the season has averaged 15 named storms, eight hurricanes and four intense hurricanes. The 2010 season, one of the most active in recent decades, brought 19 tropical storms. Twelve of those became hurricanes and five grew into major hurricanes.

The reports said atleast 12 people were killed when tornadoes struck the south-western states of Oklahoma and Arkansas overnight Wednesday. Several tornadoes struck during rush hour on Tuesday, killing at least eight people in Oklahoma, two in Kansas and three more in Arkansas.

The National Weather Service said that the tornado 'destroyed the full town' of Denning, Arkansas, which has a population of 270 and is about 160 miles south of Joplin. Rescue crews began the frantic search for the missing on Wednesday, which included a three-year-old boy, after a tornado destroyed his home in Piedmont, northwest of Oklahoma City, injuring his mother and siblings.

The high-powered storms arrived just two days after a massive tornado tore through the southwest Missouri town of Joplin and killed 122 people. The other fatalities were reported in the neighboring state of Arkansas. The newest deaths came as meanwhile the death toll from the massive killer tornado in Joplin, Missouri rose to 125, according to the television news network CNN. Hundreds of people in the city were still missing.