Wednesday, November 9, 2011

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Alaska Faces One Of Its Worst Storms Ever - Life Threatening With Near Hurricane Force Winds! UPDATE: Mass Evacuations - "EPIC UNUSUAL STORM" Hits Alaska!

“This will be one of the most severe Bering Sea storms on record,” the NWS wrote today... “This storm has the potential to produce widespread damage,” the NWS in Fairbanks said.

is facing a life threatening winter storm with near hurricane force winds, more than a foot of snow and severe coastal flooding, the National Weather Service says.

"This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm which will be one of the worst on record over the Bering Sea and the west coast," NWS forecasters said in a bulletin Monday afternoon. The storm was about 600 miles southwest of Shemya in the far western Aleutian Islands on Monday afternoon and was expected to move over the Bering Sea toward Alaska's west coast on Tuesday.

Winds near hurricane force of 74 mph were expected to generate seas as high as 25 feet in the northern Bering Sea, forecasters said. The winds were expected to raise sea levels as much as 9 feet in the Norton Sound. Those levels combined with the high waves were expected to cause significant coastal erosion and major flooding. The winds may also push sea ice on shore, adding to the dangers, NWS forecasters said. Alaska's west coast could also see as much as 14 inches of snow in blizzard conditions, forecasters said. The storm was expected to last into Wednesday. - CNN.
A ferocious, dangerous storm in the north Pacific is on a collision course with the west coast of Alaska. Referred to as the “Bering Sea Superstorm” by the National Weather Service Office in Fairbanks (NWS), damaging winds, severe beach erosion and major coastal flooding are expected. In some locations, heavy snow and blizzard conditions are also forecast. “This will be one of the most severe Bering Sea storms on record,” the NWS wrote today. The storm is predicted to deepen at an incredible rate, with its central pressure crashing from 973 mb this morning to 945-950 mb tonight. “This storm has the potential to produce widespread damage,” the NWS in Fairbanks said. Sustained winds of 80 mph (with gusts to 90 mph in some locations) may impact an area the size of Colorado with offshore waves to more than 40 feet according to the NWS Facebook page. A storm surge of 8 to 10 feet is predicted along the coast. The combination of wind, waves, and high sea levels will create many hazards as described by the NWS in a Special Weather Statement:


Blinding snow is another big concern. NWS cautioned:


A direct hit is forecast for Nome, Alaska where the conditions will resemble a snow hurricane. Sustained winds of 45-60 mph (with higher gusts) and 8-14 inches of snow are forecast along with a storm surge as high as 8 feet early Wednesday evening (local time) at the coast. The NWS likens the storm to the November 11-12, 1974 storm which is the strongest in that city’s 113 years of records. “Major differences between the 1974 storm and this upcoming storm include the fact that tides were much greater in the 1974 storm,” NWS said. “However, sea ice extent is currently much lower than it was in 1974, thus providing no protection along the coast and greater fetch.” - Washington Post.
UPDATE: Mass Evacuations - "EPIC UNUSUAL STORM" Hits Alaska!
Evacuations have begun in some Alaska coastal communities, including Nome (see below), ahead of a powerful storm that's moving across the Bering Sea toward the western Alaska coast. The storm, packing hurricane-force winds, has the potential for coastal flooding, extensive beach erosion and serious damage, according to the National Weather Service. "This will be extremely dangerous and life threatening storm of an epic magnitude rarely experienced," the Weather Service said in a bulletin earlier today. - Anchorage Daily News.
Police in Nome report roof damage to homes, but otherwise the small Alaska city appears to be making it through the huge storm sweeping the state's western coastline. Communications officer Zane Brown says the height of snow and hurricane-force winds hit at about 2 a.m. He says Nome continues to prepare for a possible Bering Sea surge at high tide later in the morning, but so far damage is minimal. Brown says a voluntary evacuation moved residents from beachfront businesses and homes to shelters at a community center and a church. Planning section chief Mark Roberts of the state emergency operations center tells KTUU-TV that west coast communities were reporting isolated power and communications interruptions. But he says it's too early for a complete picture of damage. - Seattle PI.
WATCH: Powerful Storm Heads Toward Coastal Alaska.

: Contribution from Joann Chan-McKeon.

EXTREME WEATHER: Storm Wrecks Havoc in Victoria & Melbourne!

"It was certainly one of the fiercest thunderstorms I've seen."... "It's an absolute shambles, our couch from upstairs is out on the grass, there's bits of roof everywhere, broken glass, bits of wood and steel everywhere."

One of the wildest storms of the year has lashed Victoria and Melbourne, as the SES celebrates National SES Week.

Around 500 SES volunteers are working through Wednesday night trying to answer more than 800 calls for help, with houses unroofed, flash flooding, hail damage and trees blown over. SES spokesman Lachlan Quick said that until 6.30pm (AEDT) the service had taken 150 calls from midnight but as the storm hit calls for help skyrocketed in the next two hours and reached just over 800. "Most of those have related to flash flooding in the metropolitan area and the bulk of those have been in the Frankston bayside area," Mr Quick said. There had also been around 200 reports of damage to buildings caused by hailstones and heavy rainfall.

There were 150 reports of fallen trees, many in towns northwest of Melbourne including Castlemaine, Woodend and Maryborough, while in Wodonga a number of houses had their roofs ripped off, making two of them uninhabitable. "We've got 53 units out working, around 400 to 500 volunteers, and I'd expect them to be going through the night," Mr Quick said. Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster James Taylor said at Oakleigh, in Melbourne's southeast, 12 to 14 millimetres of rain and hail fell in just 10 minutes. He said hail the size of golf balls hit Ballarat at the height of the storm. "We also had a water spout reported off Black Rock (in Melbourne's bayside)," Mr Taylor said. The rain was expected to persist in Melbourne until the early hours of Thursday morning, he said. A Metropolitan Fire Brigade spokesman said crews were busy attending fire alarms set off by the wild weather. - Yahoo Australia.
Emergency services received more than a thousand urgent calls for help as heavy rain and wild winds damaged houses and closed roads across the state. Melbourne's south-east bore the brunt of the storms, with East Bentleigh receiving 23 millimetres of rain in just six minutes. Frankston received about 30 millimetres within an hour during the early evening. State Emergency Service spokesman Lachlan Quick said regional Victorian towns near major rivers could face some flooding in coming days. ''We would expect rivers to go up to moderate flood level,'' he said. Mr Quick said hundreds of SES volunteers had worked through the night. He said the Frankston SES unit was among the state's busiest, tending to flooded and damaged houses. ''It was certainly one of the fiercest thunderstorms I've seen,'' he said. Police closed the Moorooduc Freeway in Frankston due to flooding, while fallen trees forced the closure of the Sunraysia Highway and several roads in Maryborough. - SMH.
A 'mini cyclone' has ripped roofs off houses and flattened trees in north east Victoria this afternoon, damaging 12 homes at Bellbridge and other properties at Bethanga and Tallangatta. The State Emergency Service says a severe storm front hit the area at about three o'clock, with dozens of homes and a church damaged. Bellbridge resident Trish Chapman's home suffered serious damage. She's been told she can't re-enter her home until it's declared safe. "It's an absolute shambles, our couch from upstairs is out on the grass, there's bits of roof everywhere, broken glass, bits of wood and steel everywhere." Trish said thankfully no one was at home when the storm hit. "It didn't get every house, it was very much like a tornado." Lorraine Craig from Bethanga returned home from an appointment at about 1pm to find her property had been hit. "We've got at least ten trees down. There's just mess everywhere. According to my neighbour it came through like a hurricane. So here we are cleaning up and hoping we can get back to normal again." - ABC.
WATCH: Flood Alert.

WATCH: Severe weather warning / Australian Radar.

WATCH: Storm over Melbourne.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: ST. HELENS - The Corps of Engineers Plans to Raise Toutle Volcano Sediment Dam by 10 Feet to Prevent Runoff?!

The Corps of Engineers plans to raise the sediment dam on the Toutle River near Mount St. Helens to prevent volcanic runoff from filling the Cowlitz River bed downstream and increasing the flood danger.

If Congress goes along, the Army Corps of Engineers says it will raise the sediment-retaining dam on the north fork of the Toutle River next summer. Raising the spillway 10 feet would restore the 25-year-old structure's ability to trap volcanic sediment and prevent it from flowing into the Cowlitz River. Tim Kuhn, the corps' Cowlitz-Toutle coordinator, said raising the spillway would cost "several million dollars." The addition would be built of roller-compacted concrete. Instead of being poured into forms, the concrete is spread out and rolled in layers. So the raised portion of the spillway would look like a mounded speed hump instead of a sheer wall, Kuhn explained. The raised spillway would have a low-flow channel built into it so salmon easily can pass downstream, he added.

The project would be funded under $6.5 million for ongoing Mount St. Helens monitoring and response that President Barack Obama has requested for fiscal year 2012. Congress has yet to act on the spending bill yet, Kuhn said Friday. Adding 10 feet to the existing spillway is considered a stopgap measure while the corps completes its long-range plan for handling the tons of Mount St. Helens debris that the Toutle continues to wash downriver. Raising the spillway is cheaper than periodically dredging the Cowlitz, Kuhn said. Left unchecked, the flow of silt out gradually will raise the bed of the Cowlitz and increase flooding odds, according to corps and other hydrologists. Over the last year, the silt flow has raised the Cowlitz' bottom several inches on average from Castle Rock to its mouth, but the corps won't know for several more weeks how that additional debris has boosted flooding odds, Kuhn said.

The corps' long-term plan will involve a combination of raising the spillway — perhaps as much as 30 feet — periodically dredging the Cowlitz and building wooden weirs along the upper Toutle to trap silt. Release of the final plan has been delayed until late 2012, Kuhn said, because of a new requirement that corps plans be subjected to review by outside experts, Kuhn said. Raising the spillway 10 feet next summer would buy some time before the long-term plan can be put into effect, Kuhn said. The corps built the 125-foot-tall sediment retaining dam in the mid 1980s amid some criticism that it was not necessary, but the flow of silt quickly filled the vast storage area behind the structure. Sediment now passes largely unchecked over the dam. - The Daily News.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Environmental Time Bombs - Mystery Marine Disease in Gladstone & Low Oxygen Levels in Swan River, Perth?!

"The worst results I have seen anywhere in the world."

Fishing in the World Heritage-listed waters off the coast of Gladstone is a business for many and a popular pastime for locals, but ever since the outbreak of disease in marine life, the industry there has been in panic mode.

An unprecedented number of fish with red spots, lesions and parasites, as well as dead dugongs and turtles, have been found this year. Fishermen and conservationists blame the state of the marine life on dredging to widen Gladstone Harbour to accommodate carrier ships servicing the booming liquefied natural gas and coal seam gas industries. But the Gladstone Port Corporation does not believe the dredging is causing the disease in fish, and authorities say last year's wet summer may be a factor in the poor health of the harbour. Water testing shows a number of sites within the harbour exceeded national guidelines for aluminium, copper and chromium. Experts say the levels pose a minimal risk to marine life; however, the Queensland Government has appointed an independent scientific panel to conduct more research.

Quotes from local fishermen and stakeholders:

"We've been a local business for 20 years now, and for something to just come in and take it away from you, it's just heartbreaking ... I've got a young family, I've got to support them, and the pressure's immense, I can tell you that. I guess worst of all, it's an environmental disaster. There's no need for those things to be floating belly up in this harbour." - Commercial Fisherman Darren Brown

"We've actually dropped probably by 70 to 80 per cent in turnover. This time last year we had 14 staff; now we have five including casual. Cash flow is right down. I've actually tied my trawler up [because] it is not viable to operate." - Commercial Fisherman Darren Brown.

"There is nothing in the data that we've seen to date that is a clear silver bullet. I guess that's the important issue at this point. There's nothing we've seen in terms of something extreme that you could say 'ah! it's due to this'. And that's one of the complexities of this question." - Australian Institute for Marine Science Chief Executive Dr Ian Poiner.

"You just can't come in here on top of a traditional industry that has been around for 100 years. I would say what we're going to have to do is buy them [fishermen] out, because this harbour's going to be very, very busy. There's going to be big floating gas bottles coming through here, coal loading, coal barges. Maybe you just can't fish here professionally and maybe we've got to recognise that." - Nationals Senator Ron Boswell.

- ABC.
Meanwhile in Perth, alarming test results show low oxygen levels in the Swan River may cause a massive fish kill.

WATCH: Monumental river threat.

MASS OYSTER DIE-OFF: Massive & Mysterious Deaths in Chesapeake!

"We can’t oyster through this. This has really hit us hard.”

A massive die-off of oysters in the Chesapeake is placing livelihoods on the brink.

Alex DeMetrick reports some watermen are already calling it quits. Every oyster season will turn up empty shells and dead oysters, but this year was worse than normal. “Some of the bars were 100  percent dead. We didn’t find a live oyster at all,” said waterman Barry Sweitzer. Watermen say the Chesapeake north of the bay has become an oyster graveyard. They blame the massive runoff from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which brought debris and a flood of fresh water, which kills oysters. “We can’t oyster through this. This has really hit us hard,” said waterman Richard Manly.

“The hurricane’s gone from most people’s memories but if you work the bay, you’re dealing with it every day,” said waterman Greg Jetton. Sweitzer is dealing with it by getting out. He’ll place one of Maryland’s last working skipjacks for sale, a boat that’s supported his family for 64 years. “I don’t have any other choice. Logistically, I can’t work the lower bay; it’s just too far away,” he said. Because oysters reproduce best in saltier water, the northern bay will take years to recover. “If you get a good spawn once every five years in the upper bay, you’re doing pretty good,” said Erik Zlokovitz, DNR Fisheries. “The worst part for me with this boat, it’s not the money you make off of it, it’s the opportunity to go out there and watch the sun come up and actually do the job and that’s what’s heartbreaking to me. That breaks my heart,” Sweitzer said. Although watermen believe tropical weather triggered the oyster die-off, state scientists have yet to determine an exact cause. - CBS Baltimore.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Tropical Storm Forms in the Mediterranean Sea - Torrential Rains and Floods Leave a Mess in Italy and France!

An unusual, stubborn low pressure system in the Mediterranean Sea has brought heavy rain and tropical storm-like conditions to parts of Italy and southern France over the past week. Torrential rains have inundated coastal regions and caused disastrous flooding in inland towns at higher elevations.

In southeast France, authorities evacuated thousands of people, as flooded streets and cresting rivers have killed at least three and stranded hundreds of others. Tropical storm force winds brought impressive waves to the coastal city of Nice. Continued heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 75 mph in the worst hit Var region were forecasted through early this morning. The French weather service, Meteo France, reports that several locations have received the equivalent of 2-3 months of rain in less than a week, with some places reporting over 30 inches.  A sample of rainfall totals: November 1-6: - 936 mm (36.9 in, or half of annual average precipitation) in Vallerauge. - 719 mm (28.3 in) in Sablières. - 652 mm (25.7 in) in Loubaresse. November 3-6: - 282 mm (11.1 in) in Draguignan. - 214 mm (8.4 in) in Arles. - 185 mm (7.3 in) in Antibes; with a new all-time record 144 mm (5.7 in) in 24 hours. - 165 mm (6.5 in) in Cannes. - On Nov. 5, Corte (on the island of Corsica) recorded an all-time precipitation record of 210 mm (8.3 in) in 24 hours, of which nearly 6.8 inches fell in just 6 hours.

Heavy rain has also brought widespread flooding to northern and western Italy. In the northern city of Turin, the Po River rose over 13 feet, forcing thousands to evacuate. Farther south, flooded streets in Naples swept away cars and prompted officials to postpone an important soccer match. At least 16 people have died in Italy in the past two weeks, including six who drowned in a flash flood in Genoa last Friday. Behind the flooding is an extratropical low (named ‘Rolf’) that developed tropical characteristics after it stalled over the relatively warm waters of the Mediterranean. Wunderground reports that the storm featured sustained 40 mph winds earlier in the week, and its spiral shape and cloud-free center adequately resemble those of a tropical system. Water temperatures of only 17ºC (63ºF) are well below the 26ºC necessary to sustain tropical storm status, however.

The French weather service further explains that a large area of low pressure extending from Iceland to Portugal moved across the eastern Atlantic in late October. As it crossed into southwestern Europe, southerly winds around the low carried warm air into the lower atmosphere. Colder air aloft then triggered the formation of thunderstorms, which intensified once the low crossed the open waters of the Mediterranean. As the humid, unstable air moved north toward the southern coast of France, it was further lifted by the foothills of the southwestern Alps, which resulted in heavy precipitation totals. Due to its relatively high latitude and narrow dimensions, the Mediterranean basin is rarely conducive to tropical storm development. However, subtropical systems such as this one have occurred in the past. Dr. Jeff Masters provides examples of previous “hybrid lows,” and also discusses whether climate change could lead to stronger Mediterranean storms in the future. - Washington Post.

DELUGE: 100 Dead from the Worst Flooding in a Decade in Vietnam!

Flooding has killed 100 people and left two others missing - mostly in southern Vietnam, which is suffering its worst floods and landslides in a decade, leaving many villages and provinces isolated.

Vietnam has been battered by more flooding, as officials say the death toll from months of deluges across the nation has risen to 100. Seventeen people were confirmed killed in Quang Nam province in recent days, and five more people died in other central provinces. Roads have been swept away and thousands forced from their homes by the floods in central Vietnam. The south of the country around the Mekong delta has also been hard hit. Flooding in the south had already cost 78 people their lives since August, with the UN saying that most of the fatalities were children who had drowned.

Nguyen Minh Tuan, a disaster officer in Quang Nam, told the BBC Vietnamese service that the province had been hit by four days of flooding. "Quang Nam province gets hit by floods every year. Local people in this area are getting used to living with floods - they have to find a way to adapt," he said. He said roads had been seriously damaged and the bill for the clean-up in the province was likely to top 100bn dong (£3m; $5m). Local newspapers ran pictures of inundated houses and streets in the town of Hoi An and the ancient city of Hue. - BBC.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: EL HIERRO Ready To Blow - Homes Evacuated on Canary Island, Volcano Spews Molten Rock 60ft High! UPDATE: Biggest Explosion So Far - Column of Ash, Pyroclasts, Gas, and Magma Rises 35 Meters High, Explodes Every 10 to 15 Minutes!

"There is a ball of magma rising to the surface producing a series of ruptures which generate seismic activity. 'We don't know if that ball of magma will break through the crust and cause an eruption."

 Homes have been evacuated and roads closed on the southern-most Canary Island following a government-issued warning about a possible volcanic eruption.

The southern tip of El Hierro was shaken by a 4.3-magnitude quake late on Saturday as an underwater volcano just off the coast started spewing matter some 60ft into the air. The island, which has 500 volcanic cones, has experienced more than 10,000 tremors  in the past four months. Renewed fears of an eruption came as vast quantities of magma - the molten rock from just under the earth's crust - began bubbling into the sea off the port of La Restinga. Witnessess said that explosive plumes and jets could be seen on the ocean surface from the underwater volcano which began erupting last month. Some of the material is being ejected as high as 60ft into the air.

The regional government of the Spanish Canary Island issued a 'yellow' volcanic eruption alert - the second on a four-level scale. La Restinga's 600 residents were evacuated last week after the volcanic activity began. Now new evacuations have been called for people living along the southern end of the island. Authorities have also shut down access to La Restinga. Ships have been ordered away from waters around the port and aircraft have been banned from flying over the island's southern tip. The regional government of the Canary Islands says scientists have detected airborne volcanic fragments called pyroclasts rising from the sea off La Restinga.

The government said it awaited scientific reports on the danger posed by pyroclasts, but a research vessel that was collecting samples there has been ordered to stop. Fears of an eruption have been going since the end of July, when El Hierro experienced the first of what has become more than 10,000 tremors - collectively known as an earthquake 'swarm'. Residents were evacuated from some areas at the end of September when volcanic activity increased to more than 150 tremors in 24 hours. The army was put on standby for a mass evacuation. Volcano expert Juan Carlos Carrecedo said at the time: 'There is a ball of magma rising to the surface producing a series of ruptures which generate seismic activity. 'We don't know if that ball of magma will break through the crust and cause an eruption.' But he warned an eruption was possible 'in days, weeks or months'. The last eruption on El Hierro was in 1793 and lasted for a month. The last eruption in the Canary Islands as a whole took place on the island of La Palma in 1971. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: Images of the eruptive process in El Hierro taken this morning during the helicopter flight Emergency and Rescue Group (GES) of the Canary Islands.

UPDATE: Biggest Explosion So Far - Column of Ash, Pyroclasts, Gas, and Magma Rises 35 Meters High, Explodes Every 10 to 15 Minutes!

Here is the latest updates from the Earthquake Report:
The volcano had its biggest explosion so far. The newspaper reports that the column of gas-ash-water climbed 25 meters out of the sea. A new column of ash and magma and pyroclasts and gas  rises 30 to 35 meters above the jacuzzi. The explosion generated a strong smell of sulfur and an early form of a cypressoid jet a few meters high appeared column... The explosions are following  one another every 10 to 15 minutes... Large clouds of gas, steam and pyroclastic products. Magma is being ekected and with with the night falling, we start to see the redness... The ciprissoid jet can be seen with almost each explosion... The 53 people evacuated from the El Golfo / Frontera area are still not allowed to go home. Police is checking all luggage on the airport very carefully from people leaving the island. The action has been decided to avoid smuggling of volcano stones... As of 11pm UTC: 60 earthquakes in total; 34 less than Mag 2; 23 between Mag 2 and 2 and 3 Mag 3 or above.
And from Tumbit:
Spain's National Geographic Institute (IGN) who are observing the volcanic eruption off the town of La Restinga, on the southern coast of the Island, have reported further changes to the underwater phenomena. Over recent days the bubbles on the surface above the fissures have changed to produced columns of steam, volcanic gases, lava and ash, thrown an estimated 20 mts into the air. Yesterday scientists revealed that the water surrounding the eruption had been measured at 11 degrees higher than the average water temperature for coastal waters around the rest of the island. Meanwhile, Scientists onboard the Ramon Margaleff Oceanographic research vessel have estimated that the solidifying mass of magma rising from the fissure erupting on the ocean floor is just 70mts away from reaching the surface. As far as the northern coast of the island is concerned, the increase of seismic activity over recent days has heightened fears that a further eruption may occur around the epicentres of the many earthquakes, to the north of Frontera. 
WATCH: Explosion Of Gas and Ash on El Hierro!

WATCH: Jacuzzi - Canary Islands volcanic eruption.