Saturday, December 24, 2011

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report From the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program - New Activity/Unrest and Ongoing Activity!

The following is the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report for December 14th to 20th, from the cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program.


Colombia 1.22°N, 77.37°W; summit elev. 4276 m

reported that activity continued at Galeras during 14-20 December, with steam rising from the main crater and two craters to the N and SW (Paisita and Chavas, respectively). The Alert Level remains at III (Yellow; "changes in the behavior of volcanic activity").

Geologic Summary: Galeras, a stratovolcano with a large breached caldera located immediately W of the city of Pasto, is one of Colombia's most frequently active volcanoes. The dominantly andesitic Galeras volcanic complex has been active for more than 1 million years, and two major caldera collapse eruptions took place during the late Pleistocene. Longterm extensive hydrothermal alteration has affected the volcano. This has contributed to large-scale edifice collapse that has occurred on at least three occasions, producing debris avalanches that swept to the W and left a large horseshoe-shaped caldera inside which the modern cone has been constructed. Major explosive eruptions since the mid Holocene have produced widespread tephra deposits and pyroclastic flows that swept all but the southern flanks. A central cone slightly lower than the caldera rim has been the site of numerous small-to-moderate historical eruptions since the time of the Spanish conquistadors.

Instituto Colombiano de Geología y Minería (INGEOMINAS)

Halmahera 0.80°N, 127.33°E; summit elev. 1715 m

Based on a SIGMET and information from the Ujung Pandang City MWO, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 14 December an ash plume from Gamalama rose to an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 140 km S.

Geologic Summary: Gamalama (Peak of Ternate) is a near-conical stratovolcano that comprises the entire island of Ternate off the western coast of Halmahera and is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. The island of Ternate was a major regional center in the Portuguese and Dutch spice trade for several centuries, which contributed to the thorough documentation of Gamalama's historical activity. Three cones, progressively younger to the N, form the summit of Gamalama, which reaches 1,715 m. Several maars and vents define a rift zone, parallel to the Halmahera island arc, that cuts the volcano. Eruptions, recorded frequently since the 16th century, typically originated from the summit craters, although flank eruptions have occurred in 1763, 1770, 1775, and 1962-63.

Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)

Eastern Java (Indonesia) 8.058°S, 114.242°E; summit elev. 2799 m

reported that during 1 October-30 November white plumes from Ijen rose 50-150 m above the crater and lake water temperatures ranged from 26 to 31.6 degrees Celsius. During 1-14 December brownish-white plumes rose 50-200 m above the crater. The lake water temperature was 26.8 and 34.2 degrees Celsius on 8 and 14 December, respectively. Based on increased seismicity, visual observations, and lake water temperature increases, CVGHM raised the Alert Level from 1 to 2 (on a scale of 1-4). During 15-17 December seismicity significantly increased and sulfur dioxide gas emissions around the lake also increased. On 17 December the color of the lake water changed from light green to white. The Alert Level was raised to 3 the next day.

Geologic Summary: The Ijen volcano complex consists of a group of small stratovolcanoes constructed within the large 20-km-wide Ijen (Kendeng) caldera. The N caldera wall forms a prominent arcuate ridge, but elsewhere the caldera rim is buried by post-caldera volcanoes, including Gunung Merapi stratovolcano, which forms the 2,799 m high point of the Ijen complex. Immediately W of Gunung Merapi is the renowned historically active Kawah Ijen volcano, which contains a nearly 1-km-wide, turquoise-colored, acid crater lake. The picturesque lake is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation, in which sulfur-laden baskets are hand-carried from the crater floor. A half dozen small-to-moderate phreatic eruptions have taken place from Kawah Ijen during the 20th century.

Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM)

Ecuador 1.467°S, 78.442°W; summit elev. 5023 m

IG reported a decrease in activity from Tungurahua during 14-20 December. On 15 December steam plumes rose as high as 300 m above the crater and drifted W. Additional steam plumes observed on 17 December also drifted W.

Geologic Summary: The steep-sided Tungurahua stratovolcano towers more than 3 km above its northern base. It sits ~140 km S of Quito, Ecuador's capital city, and is one of Ecuador's most active volcanoes. Historical eruptions have all originated from the summit crater. They have been accompanied by strong explosions and sometimes by pyroclastic flows and lava flows that reached populated areas at the volcano's base. The last major eruption took place from 1916 to 1918, although minor activity continued until 1925. The latest eruption began in October 1999 and prompted temporary evacuation of the town of Baños on the N side of the volcano.

Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG)

Yemen 15.05°N, 42.18°E; summit elev. 191 m

According to local news, fishermen from the port city of Salif on the western Red Sea coast of Yemen reported an off shore eruption from the island of Jebel Zubair, about 60 km SW, with lava fountains rising 20-30 m above the summit on 19 December. On 19 December a SO2 cloud was detected in an OMI satellite image. MODIS imagery from 20 December shows a plume rising from a submarine eruption about 1.5 km SW of Haycock and N of Rugged (near the N end of the Az-Zubair island group), and about 12 km NE of Jebel Zubair island. A bathymetric sketch map made in 1973 indicates a water depth of about 100 m in that area.

Geologic Summary: The 5-km-long Jebel Zubair Island is the largest of a group of 10 small islands and submerged shoals that rise from a shallow platform in the Red Sea rift. The platform and eruptive vents forming the islands and shoals are oriented NNW-SSE, parallel to the rift. An early explosive phase was followed by a brief period of marine erosion, and then by renewed explosive activity accompanied by the extrusion of basaltic pahoehoe lava flows. This latest phase of activity occurred on the morphologically youngest islands of Zubair, Centre Peak, Saba, and Haycock. Historical explosive activity was reported from Saddle Island in the 19th century. Spatter cones and pyroclastic cones were erupted along fissures that form the low spine of Zubair Island.

Yemen Observer, Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), NASA/KNMI/NIVR/FMI, NASA's Land Atmosphere Near Real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE)


Halmahera 1.68°N, 127.88°E; summit elev. 1335 m

Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 13-15 December ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l and drifted 55-75 km SW.

Geologic Summary: Reports from this remote volcano in northernmost Halmahera are rare, but Dukono has been one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. More-or-less continuous explosive eruptions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, occurred from 1933 until at least the mid-1990s, when routine observations were curtailed. During a major eruption in 1550, a lava flow filled in the strait between Halmahera and the N-flank cone of Gunung Mamuya. Dukono is a complex volcano presenting a broad, low profile with multiple summit peaks and overlapping craters. Malupang Wariang, 1 km SW of Dukono's summit crater complex, contains a 700 x 570 m crater that has also been active during historical time.

Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)

Canary Islands (Spain) 27.73°N, 18.03°W; summit elev. 1500 m

Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) reported that during 14-20 December the submarine eruption continued S of El Hierro Island. During the beginning of the week, high-amplitude pulses were registered in the tremor signal every 5-10 minutes. On 15 December there were two long pulses around 7 minutes each, and after the second one the mean tremor amplitude values remained similar to those of previous weeks.
Six seismic events were located during this period, both offshore to the N and inland, at depths between 3 and 22 km. GPS deformation data analyses showed stability in the horizontal components and deflation in the vertical component.

Geologic Summary: The triangular island of Hierro is the SW-most and least studied of the Canary Islands. The massive Hierro shield volcano is truncated by a large NW-facing escarpment formed as a result of gravitational collapse of El Golfo volcano about 130,000 years ago. The steep-sided 1500-m-high scarp towers above a low lava platform bordering 12-km-wide El Golfo Bay, and three other large submarine landslide deposits occur to the SW and SE. Three prominent rifts oriented NW, NE, and south at 120 degree angles form prominent topographic ridges. The subaerial portion of the volcano consists of flat-lying Quaternary basaltic and trachybasaltic lava flows and tuffs capped by numerous young cinder cones and lava flows. Holocene cones and flows are found both on the outer flanks and in the El Golfo depression. Hierro contains the greatest concentration of young vents in the Canary Islands. Uncertainty surrounds the report of an historical eruption in 1793.

Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN)

Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 54.05°N, 159.45°E; summit elev. 1536 m

reported that seismic activity continued at a moderate level at Karymsky during 9-16 December and indicated that possible ash plumes rose to an altitude of 4.1 km (13,500 ft) a.s.l. during 8-10 and 14 December. Satellite imagery showed a daily thermal anomaly and ash plumes that drifted 160 km SE during 12-13 December. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Geologic Summary: Karymsky, the most active volcano of Kamchatka's eastern volcanic zone, is a symmetrical stratovolcano constructed within a 5-km-wide caldera that formed about 7,600-7,700 radiocarbon years ago. Construction of the Karymsky stratovolcano began about 2,000 years later. The latest eruptive period began about 500 years ago, following a 2,300-year quiescence. Much of the cone is mantled by lava flows less than 200 years old. Historical eruptions have been Vulcanian or Vulcanian-Strombolian with moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows from the summit crater. Most seismicity preceding Karymsky eruptions has originated beneath Akademia Nauk caldera, which is located immediately S of Karymsky volcano and erupted simultaneously with Karymsky in 1996.

Source: Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT)

Hawaii (USA) 19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m

During 14-20 December, HVO reported that the lava lake circulated and periodically rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea's Halema'uma'u Crater, remaining below the inner ledge (75 m below the crater floor). Almost daily measurements indicated that the gas plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash and fresh spatter nearby.

Incandescence was visible along the 21 September fissure on the SE flank of Pu'u 'O'o cone, from a skylight on the lava tube, and from small spatter cones on the E and S edges of the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor. Pahoehoe flows that were 300-400 m wide, fed by lava tubes from the fissure, continued to be active about 6.8 km SE of Pu'u 'O'o and entered the ocean W of Ka'ili'ili. The lava delta now extends 15-20 m into the ocean at a point 6.4 km W of the Chain of Craters Road. During 17-20 December the lava flow branched, with lobes advancing NE and W into the ocean. Infrequent plumes were observed from the ocean entry during 18-20 December.

Geologic Summary: Kilauea, one of five coalescing volcanoes that comprise the island of Hawaii, is one of the world's most active volcanoes. Eruptions at Kilauea originate primarily from the summit caldera or along one of the lengthy E and SW rift zones that extend from the caldera to the sea. About 90% of the surface of Kilauea is formed of lava flows less than about 1,100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 sq km, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)

Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 55.130°N, 160.32°E; summit elev. 2376 m

reported increased seismic activity at Kizimen during 9-16 December. A series of strong seismic events were detected during 0547-0628 on 14 December. Explosions possibly produced ash plumes that rose to an altitude of 7.5 km (24,600 ft) a.s.l. Video observations showed hot avalanches from the lava flow and occasional large pyroclastic flows. During 0620-0810 a large pyroclastic flow with co-ignimbrite clouds was observed. Satellite images showed a thermal anomaly on the volcano all week and a gas-and-steam plume with ash from the pyroclastic flows that drifted 150 km during 13-14 December. A large lava flow on the NE and E flanks continued to effuse. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

The Tokyo VAAC reported that on 14 December an eruption detected in satellite imagery produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 6.1-7.6 km (20-25,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E. Subsequent notices stated that ash emissions which continued later that day dissipated on 15 December.

Geologic Summary: Kizimen is an isolated, conical stratovolcano that is morphologically similar to Mount St. Helens prior to its 1980 eruption. The summit of Kizimen consists of overlapping lava domes, and blocky lava flows descend the flanks of the volcano, which is the westernmost of a volcanic chain north of Kronotsky volcano. The 2,376-m-high Kizimen was formed during four eruptive cycles beginning about 12,000 years ago and lasting 2,000-3,500 years. The largest eruptions took place about 10,000 and 8300-8400 years ago, and three periods of longterm lava-dome growth have occurred. The latest eruptive cycle began about 3,000 years ago with a large explosion and was followed by lava-dome growth lasting intermittently about 1,000 years. An explosive eruption about 1,100 years ago produced a lateral blast and created a 1.0 x 0.7 km wide crater breached to the NE, inside which a small lava dome (the fourth at Kizimen) has grown. A single explosive eruption, during 1927-28, has been recorded in historical time.

Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)

México 19.023°N, 98.622°W; summit elev. 5426 m

reported that during 14-20 December steam-and-gas emissions rose from Popocatépetl. Those emissions occasionally contained small amounts of ash on 14, 15, and 20 December. On 15 December an ash plume rose 1.2 km above the crater and drifted NE. During 18-19 December crater incandescence was observed early in the morning. An ash plume rose 900 m above the crater on 20 December.

Geologic Summary: Popocatépetl, whose name is the Aztec word for smoking mountain, towers to 5,426 m 70 km SE of Mexico City and is North America's second-highest volcano. Frequent historical eruptions have been recorded since the beginning of the Spanish colonial era. A small eruption on 21 December 1994 ended five decades of quiescence. Since 1996 small lava domes have incrementally been constructed within the summit crater and destroyed by explosive eruptions. Intermittent small-to-moderate gas-and-ash eruptions have continued, occasionally producing ashfall in neighboring towns and villages.

Centro Nacional de Prevencion de Desastres (CENAPRED)

Central Chile 40.590°S, 72.117°W; summit elev. 2236 m

Based on seismicity during 14-20 December, OVDAS-SERNAGEOMIN reported that the eruption from the Cordón Caulle rift zone, part of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex, continued at a low level. Plumes observed with the web camera during 14-15 December rose 2.4-2.5 km above the crater and plumes were identified in satellite imagery drifting 30-50 km SE, S, and NE during 14-18. Satellite images showed ash plumes drifting 40-270 km SE, S, and NE during 14-18 December. The Alert Level remained at Red.

Geologic Summary: The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex (PCCVC) is a large NW-SE-trending late-Pleistocene to Holocene basaltic-to-rhyolitic transverse volcanic chain SE of Lago Ranco. The 1799-m-high Pleistocene Cordillera Nevada caldera lies at the NW end, separated from Puyehue stratovolcano at the SE end by the Cordón Caulle fissure complex. The Pleistocene Mencheca volcano with Holocene flank cones lies NE of Puyehue.

The basaltic-to-rhyolitic Puyehue volcano is the most geochemically diverse of the PCCVC. The flat-topped, 2236-m-high Puyehue volcano was constructed above a 5-km-wide caldera and is capped by a 2.4-km-wide summit caldera of Holocene age. Lava flows and domes of mostly rhyolitic composition are found on the eastern flank of Puyehue. Historical eruptions originally attributed to Puyehue, including major eruptions in 1921-22 and 1960, are now known to be from the Cordón Caulle rift zone. The Cordón Caulle geothermal area, occupying a 6 x 13 km wide volcano-tectonic depression, is the largest active geothermal area of the southern Andes volcanic zone.

Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN)

Kyushu 31.585°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

Based on information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that during 14-20 December explosions from Sakura-jima produced plumes that rose to altitudes of 1.2-2.4 km (4,000-8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE and S. On 15 December satellite imagery showed ash emissions that later dissipated. A pilot reported that an ash plume rose to an altitude of 1.5 km (5,000 ft) and drifted 32 km S on 18 December.

Geologic Summary: Sakura-jima, one of Japan's most active volcanoes, is a post-caldera cone of the Aira caldera at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow was associated with the formation of the 17 x 23-km-wide Aira caldera about 22,000 years ago. The construction of Sakura-jima began about 13,000 years ago and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kita-dake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minami-dake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.

Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)

Central Kamchatka (Russia) 56.653°N, 161.360°E; summit elev. 3283 m

reported that moderate seismic activity was detected at Shiveluch during 9-16 December. Satellite imagery showed a daily thermal anomaly over the lava dome. Ground-based observers noted that a viscous lava flow continued to effuse in the crater formed during a 2010 eruption. Moderate fumarolic activity at the lava dome was observed during 10-11 and 13-15 December; clouds prevented observations on the other days of the week. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Based on information from Yelizovo Airport (UHPP) and satellite images, the Tokyo VAAC reported that on 19 December an eruption produced a plume that rose to an altitude of 6.1 km (20,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E. On 20 December an ash plume drifted SE at an altitude of 4.3 km (14,000 ft) a.s.l.
Geologic Summary. The high, isolated massif of Shiveluch volcano (also spelled Sheveluch) rises above the lowlands NNE of the Kliuchevskaya volcano group and forms one of Kamchatka's largest and most active volcanoes. The currently active Molodoy Shiveluch lava-dome complex was constructed during the Holocene within a large breached caldera formed by collapse of the massive late-Pleistocene Strary Shiveluch volcano. At least 60 large eruptions of Shiveluch have occurred during the Holocene, making it the most vigorous andesitic volcano of the Kuril-Kamchatka arc. Frequent collapses of lava-dome complexes, most recently in 1964, have produced large debris avalanches whose deposits cover much of the floor of the breached caldera. Intermittent explosive eruptions began in the 1990s from a new lava dome that began growing in 1980. The largest historical eruptions from Shiveluch occurred in 1854 and 1964.

Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT), Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)
Additional Reports of Volcanic Activity by Country

The following websites have frequently updated activity reports on volcanoes in addition to those that meet the criteria for inclusion in the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report. The websites are organized by country and are maintained by various agencies.

, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, United States and Russia

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Three of the World's Rarest Turtles Wash Up on the Shores of Britain's Beaches - Just a Few Days After Other Rare Turtles Beached Themselves in the Netherlands?!

Scientific experiments have shown that animals avail their patterns of the magnetic field of the Earth. This has been detected in diverse organisms from the tiny fly to birds to elephants. It has also been shown that these beings make changes to their normal everyday patterns, such as migrating from one area to another, based on sharp changes in the magnetic field. It has been determined that these changes are a sort of precursor to natural disasters as was evidentially seen in the 2004 Indonesia/Indian Ocean tsunami when several different wildlife species sudden left the area, days before the huge waves hit land, or as was seen recently when several whales beached themselves prior to a strong earthquake in New Zealand and Australia.

Three of the rarest turtles in the world have washed up on British  beaches. They were dragged thousands of miles from their normal habitats in warmer waters by stormy weather.

The two young Kemp’s ridleys and one green turtle died because of the cold after being blasted off course by massive currents during storms in Scotland earlier this month. The Marine Conservation Society has warned more are likely to be discovered over Christmas and the New Year and urged the public not to put them back into the water. While the first three have died, any others may just appear dead because the effect of the cold water initially puts them into a type of coma and they could be nursed back to health by experts. The first young turtle discovered after the heavy storms two weeks ago – which saw power cuts and a wind turbine set on fire – was a young Kemp’s ridley, one of the smallest species of marine turtles. The critically endangered warm water turtles nest on just a few beaches around  the Gulf of Mexico.  The turtle pictured above was found dead on the Isle of Tiree, in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. A few days later another washed up dead on a beach at Llanon, in West Wales. It was only the 37th seen on UK shores since records began in 1740. 

Then a green turtle – believed to have been blown off course from warmer waters near the Azores – was found dead on a beach in the Orkney Islands. It is believed to have been washed up alive, but died later. Green turtles are also endangered and live mostly in the tropics, although nesting populations are found in Florida and in the Eastern Mediterranean. Both kinds of turtle normally live in water warmer than 20c. Dr Peter Richardson, biodiversity manager at the Marine Conservation Society, said: ‘They shouldn’t be here but when we get heavy weather like we did this month – with some hurricane-type winds in the North – they get blown in. ‘Once they are in the cold waters they do not function very well and they can’t swim against the currents.’ - Daily Mail.
Monday, December 12, 2011.

A hiker came across a rare find this Saturday whilst walking on the beach, he came across a giant sea turtle. The Giant Sea turtle was collected by animal rescue staff at Sea Life Scheveningen, where after research showed that it is an extremely rare Kemp's turtle. He was being cared for at the Sea Life Center on Monday. It is not possible that this rare turtle could have been left behind on the beach by anyone according to a spokesman for the aquarium.''This turtle species is so rare that not even a breeding program for them.'' The Turtle has been named Flip by his carers and will remain in quarantine over the next few weeks to regain his strength. Flip weighs 1.85pounds and has a shell length of 35 cm. Sea Life estimates that the Turtle is at least 2 years old. If Flip regains sufficient strength, he will again be released into the Gulf of Mexico. Last week another Rare Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle was returned to the Gulf of Mexico after arriving in the Netherlands in 2008. - NU [Translated].
Sunday, December 4, 2011.

WATCH: A rare turtle gets a lift home after swimming from the Gulf of Mexico to the Netherlands.

EXTREME WEATHER: Powerful Storms Roared and Ripped Through Georgia - Damaging Homes, Downing Trees and Knocking Out Power to Thousands; White Christmas Eve Travel Misery in the Southwest!

Travelers across the New Mexico and Texas are facing miserable holiday travel conditions today after a snow storm hit the region. More than a foot of snow was dumped on the region yesterday, with high winds making driving conditions treacherous. Several roads including Interstate 40 were shut as high winds created snow drifts and icy conditions. There were also delays for passengers flying out of Albequerque and Denver. Stranded motorist Tarquin Wilding told KOAT-TV: 'If you don't have (four-wheel drive) and you just have two-wheel ... you're either going to spin or stay stuck'. 

Some travelers criticised the road closures. Jim Hunsaker, who was trying to get home to Salt Lake City from New Mexico told Fox News: 'It's mindboggling that they even close these roads. In Utah, this isn't nothing. We travel in conditions like this all the time, so it's kind of frustrating they've got me shut down here.' The snow came after least seven people were injured in northern Georgia as powerful storms roared across the area, damaging homes, downing trees and knocking out power to thousands. A survey team planned to visit Gordon County on Friday to determine whether a tornado was responsible for damage Thursday to homes near Calhoun, said Robert Garcia, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga. 'We've received reports that we had some major structural damage reported in southern Gordon County with at least one home destroyed and several damaged,' Garcia said. One home was blown off its foundation and the family inside was tossed into the yard. 'The house started shaking and then we started moving, and I said, 'Here we go,'' Davison Sheriff told Atlanta station WSB-TV.
His pregnant wife, Ashley, said her husband clung to her and their 1-year-old son with a bear hug as they rolled through their yard. 'He definitely saved our lives, him and God, that's for sure,' she told WSB. 'It shows you that you are not guaranteed tomorrow.' In Rome, about 20 miles southwest of the Calhoun area, high winds tore the roof off a building at Shorter University, the Rome News-Tribune reported. Georgia Power estimated more than 19,000 customers lost electricity Thursday evening, with about two-thirds of them in the Rome area. But while the south recovers after a battle with low weather pressure, the air pressure over the northern Atlantic has steered storm systems away from the northeast coast. Dreams of a white Christmas are hanging by a thread there, where unusually mild weather has left the ground bare in many places — a welcome reprieve for people who don't like shoveling, but a lump of coal in the stockings of outdoor sports buffs who miss their winter wonderland. From New England to the Dakotas and even parts of the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest, snowfall has been well below normal through the fall and early winter with cold air bottled up over Canada. Golf courses were open this week in Minneapolis, which a year ago was digging out from a storm that dumped more than 17 inches of snow and collapsed the Metrodome roof.

Many downhill ski resorts are making snow to compensate for nature's stinginess. 'It's been an amazingly slow start to the winter for everybody,' said Mike Boguth, a National Weather Service forecaster in Gaylord, Mich., a resort town that has had only about 2 inches of natural snow this year. La Nina, the cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that affects weather worldwide, has nudged the jet stream farther north. The trends have resulted in the least snow New England has seen in November and December since the late 1990s, said Eric Evenson, a weather service meteorologist in Burlington, Vt. Snow totals across the region are 4 to 14 inches below normal, he said. But in the south, parts of New Mexico and Texas may see light snow by the 25th thanks to the Santa Ana winds. Contrasting in unsual southern weather, large parts of Alabama had heavy rain showers Thursday, with several towns receiving a flash flood and tornado watch into the evening by the National Weather Service. Up in Williston, N.D., where more than 5 inches would have accumulated by now in a typical December, the city has gotten nothing. A couple of inches fell farther south in Bismarck but melted. Montana's mountain snowpack is about 30 percent below average. Ski resorts in Washington state have gotten little snow since Thanksgiving. Even snowy Michigan is feeling the pinch. Parts of the state regularly get more than 100 inches a year as clouds suck up moisture from the Great Lakes and deposit it over land.
It's been sparse this year, although light snow fell Friday and forecasters said sections of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota might get the 1 inch required to qualify as a white Christmas. Light flurries and temperatures around 30 degrees are expected Christmas Day in Green Bay, Wis., where the Packers will host the Chicago Bears. That's downright balmy for Lambeau Field, the notorious 'frozen tundra' that has hosted a fair share of NFL games in bitter cold and pelting snow. A storm system moving up from the Gulf coast may sprinkle up to 3 inches of snow in sections of the Northeast by Christmas, but it probably won't last long, Evenson said. Along with painting the landscape in dreary shades of brown and gray instead of the usual white, the abnormally mild winter has affected the economy. Local governments have spent less on plowing and salting roads. Gogebic County, in the snow belt of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is about $100,000 better off than at this time a year ago, although road commission manager Darren Pionk said the savings might be short-lived. 'One or two bad months, and it can disappear pretty quickly,' he said. Some businesses geared toward the winter are having a hard time. Mike Pobuda of Empire, Mich., keeps busy plowing residential and commercial driveways in a typical winter. These days, the phone isn't ringing. He's working at a convenience store to help pay the bills.

'It was already tight out there and now it's tighter,' Pobuda said. In Sioux Falls, S.D., hardware store owner Dallas Vanden Bos said it's taken all season to sell as many bags of snow and ice melting materials as customers usually buy in one day. The outdoor recreation industry is making the best of things. Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vt., installed about 40 high-efficiency snowmaking machines this year and immediately put them to work making 18 of the property's 111 trails suitable for skiing and snowboarding, president and majority owner Win Smith said. But smaller operations that can't afford snowmaking may suffer if the snow shortage lasts much longer, said Lisa Marshall, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.'It could be make-or-break for them,' she said. Not everyone regrets that snow has been mostly a no-show, especially people who hate driving on slick roads and shoveling walks and driveways. In Minneapolis, more than 100 people braved borderline freezing temperatures this week for a rare opportunity to play golf in December. Mike Schneider, a 70-year-old retiree, carried a handful of tees he had whittled to needle-sharp points so they would penetrate the frosty turf at Parkview Golf Club. A fellow golfer, Jim Jorgensen, said there were advantages to playing in the cold. For one thing, freezing eliminates water hazards. 'It just skips across,' Jorgensen said. 'You don't have to worry about losing the ball.' - Daily Mail.
WATCH: Powerful Wind Storms Strike North Georgia.

EARTH CHANGES: Weather Alert - A Category Two Cyclone is Forecast to Hit the Northern Territory of Australia; Could Damage Trees and Buildings; Threaten Many Lives and Could Also Become a Stronger Storm!

A tropical cyclone could cause flying debris in towns off the Northern Territory coast near Darwin.

A Category Two cyclone strong enough to damage buildings and threaten lives is forecast to hit the Northern Territory coast on Boxing Day, but Darwin is likely to be spared a direct hit. Bureau of Meteorology's regional director in Darwin, Dr Andrew Tupper, told journalists a low over the Arafura Sea is still likely to become a tropical cyclone on Saturday night. From there it will slowly move north of the coast for 18 to 24 hours, hitting the Coburg Peninsula northeast of Darwin on Christmas Day as a weak cyclone before heading south. It would probably make landfall around Point Stuart, northeast of Darwin, on Boxing Day afternoon he said.

Dr Tupper said he expected the cyclone to be a Category 2 storm but it could become stronger than that. A category two storm has winds between 154-177km/h. He said a lot of trees would likely be knocked down and buildings could be damaged, particularly those not up to building code. "It would certainly be very dangerous to drive in, very disruptive, and obviously be a threat to life," Dr Tupper said. Heavy rain is expected to cause localised flooding. Darwin is expected to be on the edge of the system, with wind gusts of 90km/h to 100km/h. "Our concern for Darwin is about those gales at the edge of the system causing some reasonably wild conditions," Dr Tupper said.

NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson said people should not be unnecessarily worried by the storm but should ensure they were not travelling around the Top End after 6pm (CST) on Christmas Day. "We don't want people travelling around in potentially gale-force winds, potentially damage with trees falling across roads, late into the evening tomorrow," Mr Henderson said. NT Police Commissioner John McRoberts said police officers in all the areas likely to be affected have been meeting with counter-disaster committees and authorities were well prepared. Mr McRoberts said a decision would be made early on Sunday whether or not to take homeless people to a shelter. He said people should not drink too much on Christmas Day. "We are possibly going to experience gale-force winds," Mr McRoberts said. "Falling trees, falling powerlines, mixed with alcohol is not a good mix," he said. Saturday is the 37th anniversary of Cyclone Tracy, which destroyed much of Darwin in 1974, killing 49 people and a further 22 who perished at sea. - Yahoo Australia.
WATCH: Tropical Cyclone Grant Forecast.

WATCH: Possible Development of a Cyclone Near Darwin.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: List of Cities Breaking Yearly Rain Records Grows - Wednesday Was Each City's Wettest Year on Record!

On Wednesday, Columbus and Toledo, Ohio, joined the growing list of U.S. cities whose wettest year on record is now 2011.

Columbus and Toledo started Wednesday on a wet note with 0.55 and 0.36 of an inch of rain, respectively, falling. That amount of rain is typically not noteworthy, but in Wednesday's case it made 2011 each city's wettest year on record. The yearly rainfall total for Columbus now stands at 53.55 inches, surpassing the previous wettest year of 1990 and its 53.16 inches. A total of 48.15 inches has fallen so far this year in Toledo. Prior to Wednesday, 1950 and its 47.84 inches had long held the yearly rainfall record.

Similar records have already been established in numerous other communities throughout the Midwest and Northeast. According to Meteorologist Bill Deger, the growing list includes Binghamton, N.Y. (67.02 inches); Cleveland, Ohio (64.25 inches); Philadelphia, Pa. (62.37 inches); Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa. (59.14 inches); and Albany, N.Y. (52.48 inches). Newark is another city on that list with 67.80 inches, but nearby New York City will likely not be added before December comes to a close. Even though 70.97 inches has fallen so far this year and more rain is expected tonight, New York City will have a difficult time surpassing 1983 and its 80.56 inches. It should be noted that yearly rainfall totals include melted snow. - Accu Weather.

DELUGE: Over 38,000 Persons Have Been Displaced Due to Extraordinary Floods in Northern Sri Lanka - More Heavy Rains and Strong Winds Are Expected in the Coming Days!

Over 38,000 people in former war-torn northern Sri Lanka have been displaced due to heavy rains and floods, Disaster Management Center said on Wednesday.

More than 10,000 families were displaced in four districts in the Northern Province while the worst affected was former Tamil Tiger rebel administrative districts Kilinochchi, Deputy Director of the Disaster Management Center (DMC) Pradeep Kodippili told Xinhua.

In Kilinochchi alone, 14,456 persons were displaced and over 5,000 of them have been sent to 31 internally displaced camps. Other districts that were affected by the heavy rain were Mannar, Jaffna and Mullaitive which were also recovering from three decades of civil war in the country.

"The DMC has set up 41 welfare centers to provide relief to the displaced and working round the clock to provide necessary assistance," Kodippili said.

Thirty-three main reservoirs around the country were overflowing due to continuous heavy rains and the Department of Irrigation has warned people living in low-lying areas to be vigilant as the water levels in other reservoirs are to be overflowed.

Meanwhile, the country's Meteorological Department predicted more heavy rains and strong winds in northern and eastern parts of the country due to the north-east monsoonal conditions that have intensified. - Phil STAR.

EARTH CHANGES: Prolonged Heavy Rain Over the Southern and Central Parts of Singapore - Leading to Flash Floods in Several Areas!

Prolonged heavy rain over the southern and central parts of Singapore on Friday afternoon led to flash floods in several areas. National water agency PUB said that from 2.20pm to 5.20pm, Orchard Road saw a total recorded rainfall of 152.8 millimetres.

However, PUB said there was no flooding at Orchard Road. Instead, water ponded at the open area of Liat Towers, the underpass between Lucky Plaza and Ngee Ann City, and the basement of Lucky Plaza due to the sustained heavy downpour. This activated the flood barricades at Liat Towers. But it wasn't enough to stop the water from entering. Seng Woon Fa, marketing and brand manager at Wendy's Restaurant, said: "The water started coming in at 5pm. By 5.20pm, we started to evacuate all our customers. "The barricade at the outer level and inner level does not work because the water came in too suddenly and probably there is something wrong with the system... Our daily business will be affected about 60 per cent." Mr Seng said he will try to resume business as soon as possible once all equipment in the restaurant has been checked after cleaning up and it is safe to switch the power back on.

Elsewhere, flash floods occurred at Cuscaden Road, Newton Circus, Kampong Java, Lincoln Road, Wee Nam Road, Cambridge Road, the junction of Moulmein Road and Thomson Road in front of United Square, and the junction of Bukit Timah and Sixth Avenue. PUB had sent out alerts to advise motorists to avoid these areas. Flood waters reportedly reached up to a height of 30 centimetres for some areas and generally subsided within one hour, except at Cambridge Road, Newton Circus and the junction of Moulmein Road and Thomson Road in front of United Square, where waters subsided by 6pm. One viewer, Lee Siew Cheng, said she was trapped at United Square along flood-hit Thomson Road from 5pm to 6pm. She said she could only get out after the knee-high water subsided an hour later, as taxis did not want to go into the flood-hit area. PUB said the affected areas are mainly low-lying areas.

Up to eight gates at Marina Barrage were opened to maintain the water level at Marina Reservoir within the normal range. The last time all eight gates were opened was on October 21 this year. PUB added that Rochor Canal is currently being upgraded to improve the drainage system serving Cambridge Road, Newton Circus and the junction of Moulmein Road and Thomson Road in front of United Square. The works commenced in October 2011 and are expected to be completed in January 2014. The Bukit Timah Canal between Wilby Road to Maple Road is being widened and works will be completed by December 2012. The drains at Wee Nam Road will also be expanded by 2013. Meanwhile, PUB has advised the public to exercise caution as flash floods may occur in the event of heavy storms. The public can also call the PUB's 24-hour Call Centre at 1800-2846600 or go to PUB's Facebook Page or PUB's iPhone app iPUBOne to report flash floods or to check on the flood situation. The public can also get updates on water level information in key canals/drains at PUB's Facebook Page, via Twitter at, or through PUB's website. For the latest weather reports, including heavy rain warnings, members of the public can call the National Environment Agency's (NEA) weather forecast hotline at 65427788, visit the NEA website or use the mobile weather service (Weather@SG - SMS alert services on heavy rain warning and water level information are also open to public subscription at - Channel News Asia.