Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Monumental Solar System Changes - Saturn's Massive 1.5-Billion Square-Mile Storm is Stunningly, as Wide as Planet Earth!

These false-color images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft chronicle a day in the life of a huge storm that developed from a small spot that appeared 12 weeks earlier in Saturn's northern mid-latitudes.

It was the largest and most intense observed on Saturn by NASA’s Voyager or Cassini spacecraft. As seen in these  Cassini images, the storm encircles the planet - whose circumference at these latitudes is 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers). From north to south, it covers a distance of about 9,000 miles (15,000 kilometers), which is one-third of the way around the Earth. The storm encompasses an area of 1.5 billion square miles (4 billion square kilometers), or eight times the surface area of Earth.

This storm is about 500 times the area of the biggest of the southern hemisphere storms observed by Cassini. The highest clouds in the image are probably around 100 millibars pressure, or 60 miles (100 kilometers) above the regular undisturbed clouds. These false colors show clouds at different altitudes. Clouds that appear blue here are the highest and are semitransparent, or optically thin. Those that are yellow and white are optically thick clouds at high altitudes. Those shown green are intermediate clouds. Red and brown colors are clouds at low altitude unobscured by high clouds, and the deep blue color is a thin haze with no clouds below. The base of the clouds, where lightning is generated, is probably in the water cloud layer of Saturn's atmosphere. The storm clouds are likely made out of water ice covered by crystallized ammonia.

Taken about 11 hours -- or one Saturn day -- apart, the two mosaics below consist of 84 images each. The mosaic in the middle was taken earlier than the mosaic at the bottom. Both mosaics were captured on Feb. 26, 2011, and each of the two batches of images was taken over about 4.5 hours. The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light, acquired at a distance of approximately 1.5 million miles (2.4 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft angle (phase angle) of 62 degrees. Both the top and bottom images are simple cylindrical map projections, defined such that a square pixel subtends equal intervals of latitude and longitude. - Daily Galaxy.

MYSTERY: Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - The Latest UFO Sightings And Aerial Anomalies Around the World?!

Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Two bright unidentified flying objects were filmed hovering above the United Kingdom on Friday, the 13th of January, 2012.

WATCH: UFOs seen and recorded over the UK.

WATCH: The UK UFOs make the mainstream news in China.

These unknown bright objects were recorded in the night sky above Midlothian in Scotland on Monday, the 16th of January, 2012 around 7:15pm.

WATCH: UFO activity over Midlothian.

These bright objects were hovering in the sky above Hermosa Beach in California on Friday, the 13th of January, 2012.

WATCH: String of lights over two miles of Hermosa Beach.

This fast UFO was seen and recorded with infrared camera over Mount Druitt in Sydney, Australia this month (January, 2012).

WATCH: Fast UFO or orbs over Sydney.

This video of bright unidentified flying objects was recorded in Puerto Rico on Monday, the 16th of January, 2012 at 7:54 pm.

WATCH: UFO fleet over Puerto Rico.

This footage of a triangle-shaped craft was filmed over Middleburg in Florida on Monday, the 16th of January, 2012.

WATCH: Triangle UFO over Middleburg.

A cigar-shaped UFO was captured on film, flying over the countryside of St. Valery-en-Caux in France, on Tuesday, the 17th of January, 2012.

WATCH: UFO over France.

The following video comes out of Delsjon in Sweden, where another cigar-shaped UFO was seen. This was filmed during the summer of 2011.

WATCH: UFO over Delsjon, Sweden.

Footage showing UFOs in the night sky over Johannesburg in South Africa on the 17th of January, 2012. The objects appeared to be moving in a westerly direction, synchronized in a triangular formation, before disappearing back into the dark sky.

WATCH: UFOs over South Africa.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - The Cyborgs Are Coming, Living Brains Implanted With Electronic Chips to Replace 'Faulty' Parts?!

'Imagine there's a small area in the brain that is malfunctioning, and imagine that we understand how it works. We try to replicate this part of the brain with electronics,' said Professor Mintz.

Faulty parts of living brains have been replaced by electronic chips, in an astonishing and controversial scientific breakthrough.

It's a move that has been anticipated many times in science fiction, with creatures such as The Terminator, a 'cyborg' hybrid of flesh and machinery. But now, researchers at Tel Aviv University have successfully created circuits that can replace motor functions - such as blinking - and implanted them into brains. They hope the technology could in the future help people suffering from brain malfunctions such as Parkinson's disease - by replacing damaged or malfunctioning tissue with chips that perform the same function. 'Imagine there's a small area in the brain that is malfunctioning, and imagine that we understand the architecture of this damaged area,' said Professor Matti Mintz, a psychobiologist, speaking to the BBC. 'So we try to replicate this part of the brain with electronics.' Mintz has already successfully implanted a robotic cerebellum into the skull of a rodent with brain damage, restoring its capacity for movement.

However, anti-vivisection campaigners have described the experiments as 'grotesque'. The cerebellum is responsible for co-ordinating movement, says Mintz. When wired to the brain, his 'robo-cerebellum' receives, interprets, and transmits sensory information from the brain stem, facilitating communication between the brain and the body. To test this robotic interface between body and brain, the researchers taught a brain-damaged rat to blink whenever they sounded a particular tone. The rat could only perform the behavior when its robotic cerebellum was functional.
According to the researcher, the chip is designed to mimic natural neuronal activity. 'It's a proof of the concept that we can record information from the brain, analyze it in a way similar to the biological network, and then return it to the brain,' says Prof. Mintz, who recently presented his research at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence meeting in Cambridge, UK. In the future, this robo-cerebellum could lead to electronic implants that replace damaged tissues in the human brain. 'This type of research raises enormous ethical concerns, let alone the poor animals whose lives are wasted on dubious and ego-driven experiments,' Jan Creamer, CEO of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, in an interview with the BBC. - Daily Mail.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Latin America Battling Unusual Earth Changes - Extreme Events of Wildfires, Floods, Droughts, and Heatwaves Resulting in Record Damages and Fatalities!

Wildfires erupt at Torres de Paine National Park in Chile.
From Chile to Colombia to Mexico, Latin America has been battered recently by wildfires, floods and droughts.
For many witnessing the extreme weather in the region and around the world, the question that comes up again and again is whether climate change is playing a role. The response from experts: Probably. While leading climate scientists are unable to pin any single flood or heat wave solely on climate change, experts say the number of extreme weather events is increasing worldwide and the evidence suggests global warming is having an impact. Wildfires are raging in Chile during an atypical heat wave, and northern. Mexico is suffering from its worst drought in 70 years of record-keeping. A second straight season of heavy rains in Colombia killed at least 182 people, destroyed more than 1,200 homes and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage in the past four months.

Researchers predict more wild, unusual weather in the coming years, and they say Latin America is especially vulnerable because deforestation and sprawling construction have made the region more susceptible to flooding and landslides. At a rose farm in the Colombian town of Chia, workers say floodwaters covered fields of roses last month for the second time in less than a year, leaving damaged greenhouses and a wasteland of shriveled flowers. "Never in the history of this farm – and it's a business with 30 years in the market – have we ever had any such problem," said Javier Castellanos, the farm's manager, who estimates the damage at more than $6 million after floods in April and December. He suspects climate change has been intensifying the rainstorms.

While experts say the cyclical cooling of the Pacific Ocean known as La Nina is a big factor in the weather, some also say climate change is likely making some of the severe weather more pronounced than it otherwise would be. "We're seeing an increase in extremes of high temperatures, an increase in extremes of heavy precipitation, an increase in the length and severity of droughts," said Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University. "It is not yet scientifically possible to say with confidence that any single event is a consequence of human-caused climate change, but we have confidence in both the general trend and in the fingerprint of human activity," Field said.

Unusual weather has been plentiful in the past year, from floods in Thailand to drought in Texas. In Latin America, a severe drought is hitting Argentina, harming key export crops such as soybeans and corn and leaving cattle with little to feed on. Unusually dry weather and high temperatures have made forest fires much harder to control in usually wet areas of southern Chile. In Bolivia, seasonal rains that used to come in September instead arrived in mid-December after a record heat wave. Puerto Rico had its second wettest year in more than a century of record-keeping. Some experts stress that the dominant factor in much of the weather is currently La Nina. Like El Nino, which in contrast involves warmer Pacific waters, it's associated with weather changes throughout Latin America and elsewhere.

"It would be very risky scientifically speaking to attribute this historic record (drought) in the case of Mexico to climate change," said Rodney Martinez, scientific coordinator of the International Research Center on El Nino in Ecuador. "In the case of Colombia ... what's happened corresponds perfectly with a natural event like La Nina." One of the questions now being researched by scientists is how climate changes may affect the El Nino/La Nina cycle. Jeff Masters, director of meteorology for the website Weather Underground, said it's unlikely so many extremes would naturally occur in such a short period. He cited two major droughts in the Amazon in 2005 and 2010, and Colombia's 2010 rains, which were the heaviest in at least 42 years.

"I think you really have to point the finger at human-caused climate change as having tipped the scales to make previously unprecedented weather events more possible, and multiple unprecedented weather events like we're seeing," Masters said. "There is so much regular variation in the weather, and it's hard to pick out the signal from the noise. But the signal's sure getting pretty strong now." Field likened the influence of global warming to talking on a cell phone while driving. "There are always traffic accidents, but if you throw people talking on cell phones in the mix, you increase the probability," Field said. "The role of climate change and weather-related extremes is similar."

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said a warming climate has become "part of the fabric – the background state – in which all weather happens." "The overall character of weather events, with each passing year, is being more and more influenced by human-caused climate change," Mann said. In Colombia, the latest floods between September and December set off mudslides and forced hundreds of thousands of people to temporarily evacuate their homes. At the rose farm in Chia, north of Bogota, flowers in dozens of greenhouses were destroyed by the overflowing Bogota River, and workers had to use pumps to drain the land afterward. The farm's workers say they've never seen anything like it.

Experts note that Colombia has suffered floods during previous La Ninas and that regardless of the causes behind the weather, better planning for intense storms is vital. "We must invest in reducing our vulnerability," said Omar-Dario Cardona, a civil engineer and professor of disaster risk management at the National University of Colombia. He said that means not rebuilding in areas that have suffered flood damage and reducing exposure by relocating at-risk homes, crops and infrastructure. The clearing of forests and destruction of wetlands in Colombia also have worsened floods because less rainwater is captured and it instead runs directly into rivers, said Manuel Rodriguez Becerra, a former Colombian environment minister and a professor at the University of the Andes in Bogota. If the number of floods and droughts keep increasing as researchers predict, Rodriguez said, "there are areas that are really going to suffer a lot." - Huffington Post.
WATCH: Wildfires shut down Chile's Torres del Paine national park.

Peru’s rainy season kills 11 to date with months more rain to come.

Heavy rains in Peru trigger flooding that killed 11 people and destroyed hundreds of homes, affecting thousands of residents and tourists.

In the midst of an intense rainy season, the director of Peru’s Institute of Natural Emergencies and Civil Defence said the country has seen 11 deaths and more than 30,000 victims in the last three wet months due to the heavy rainfall, mostly affecting the country’s south. On Monday  residents in Tarapoto, 763 kilometres (100 miles) northeast of Lima, waded through waist-deep water as they tried to salvage their belongings as the water continued to climb. 1,155 kilometres (715 miles) southeast of Lima in Quillibamba, landslides crumbled onto roads leaving them impassable and stranding tourists and local residents alike behind the wall of rocks and thick mud.

Some were forced to ditch their vehicles and crossed the precarious debris to reach the other side. The rain and subsequent landslides started in November and continue to wreak havoc on large swathes of the Andean nation. The director of the Institute of Natural Emergencies and Civil Defence, Walter Tapia, told Reuters the flooding and landslides have left the number of victims in the tens of thousands.

“The rainy season started in November and has killed 11 people to date. We also have a high number of homes destroyed at 481 leaving 2,500 victims. In this sense we also have 6,300 homes affected with the unfortunate number of 30,000 people affected. This has all happened in the southern region of the country; Puno, Cusco, Junin. In the north we have Amazonas, an issue in Cajamarca, Huanuco, Ancash. Basically there are 21 regions in total that have been affected out of 79 provinces,” Tapia said. Civil defence workers say the heavy rain could continue into April and could claim scores more homes and leave thousands more in a lurch or homeless. - BAOTA.
WATCH: Floods in Peru kill 11 people.

Flooding in Santa Cruz and Trinidad in Bolivia.

Intense rains have left streets and homes in outlying neighborhoods of Santa Cruz and Trinidad under water according to regional authroities. The Santa Cruz representative of Neighborhood Committees, Abad Lino, said that people are walking “with water up to their necks” because of the recent days of rain. Many poor neighborhoods have no sewers or drainage mechanisms to allow water to run off.

In addition to torrential rains, temperatures have risen to 36 C (97 F). In the “Pampita” neighborhood of Santa Cruz many citizens have had to make holes in the walls of their homes to allow the accumulated water to flow out. A bridge has collapsed in Villa Primero de Mayo and trees have fallen on electrical lines, cutting off power to several areas. Recent outbreaks of dengue fever complicate the situation even further. - Bolivia Weekly.
South American weather impacting oil markets.
Dry weather in South America has had a negative impact on the corn and soybean crops there, and if the poor conditions continue, it could have a big impact on oilseed markets as well, including sunflower. Some significant damage has occurred to soybeans and corn in South America in the past month, according to the most recent edition of Oil World magazine. “Moisture levels will be critically short by mid-January in most of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil,” commented John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, who was named to the position after Larry Kleingartner announced he is retiring. “The market is likely to increase the weather premium in CBoT (Chicago Board of Trade) contracts as the threat to yield potential becomes more real,” he continued. “The market will keep a close eye on weather developments in South America. If the dry conditions persist the market may add in more weather premium in the weeks ahead.”

Sandbakken said that producers in Argentina may not carry out some of their planting intentions unless moisture arrives in the near term. And, as as La Nina conditions become more entrenched in the weeks ahead, he noted there is a strong possibility that soybean production will turn out below current expectations. “Expect private estimates to continue to reduce corn and soybean production in Brazil and especially in Argentina,” he said. “If crop prospects deteriorate further the market will add in more weather premium in the weeks ahead.” - FARG.

South American weather dominates market news.
The wheat markets lost 20 to 30 cents last week. The market was due for a setback after a strong rally to finish 2011. Strength in the U.S. dollar pressured the wheat markets this week. Wheat started 2012 higher in all exchanges on Jan. 3 to trade to the highest levels since Nov. 9. There was strong buying interest in all commodities as the dollar came under pressure. The strong outside market support was insufficient to sustain buying interest in the wheat markets, however, and the markets slid to a mixed close. March Chicago wheat traded above resistance at $6.62 but slipped back below that level at the end of the day. On Jan. 4 wheat opened mixed and traded that way for most of the day. The Chicago market failed to overcome resistance levels, so it came under technical selling pressure. The dollar was sharply higher, which was negative for the wheat market. The monthly crop conditions report put the Kansas wheat crop at 53 percent good/excellent, up from 47 percent last month. Oklahoma is rated 63 g/e, up from 56 g/e, with Texas holding at just 25 percent good/excellent.

Wheat opened 12 cents lower on Jan. 5 and continued to experience heavy selling pressure during the day to finish 20 to 28 cents lower. A collapse in the Euro caused the dollar to climb to the highest level since Dec. 14, which will continue to hurt U.S. wheat on the export market. Just as Russian exports have appeared to slow down, there is increased export activity from Australia and Argentina. There was also pressure from the row crop markets, where steep losses were a result of a rain forecast in South America. Jan. 6 trade was a tug-of-war between several market factors. Continued pressure from outside markets and poor export sales were negative, but traders were unwilling to drive the market lower again due to expectations surrounding next week’s USDA report and uncertainty over South American weather. Updates from South America will continue to give direction. USDA reported the previous week’s wheat’s export inspections pace at 13.4 MB. This brings the year to date export shipments pace for wheat to 596.0 MB compared to 656.1 MB for last year. With 22 weeks left in the marketing year, shipments need to average 15.0 MB to keep pace with USDA projections. That week’s wheat export sales pace was estimated at 5.1 MB. This brings the year to date export sales pace for wheat to 720.1 MB compared to 957.2 MB last year. With 22 weeks left in wheat’s marketing year, export sales need to average 9.1 MB to make USDA’s projection of 925 MB. - FARG.

South America Cotton Crops Hurt by Unusual Dry Weather.
Cotton farmers in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil will lose output after a prolonged dry spell damaged some crops, according to MDA Information Systems. “Dryness has certainly caused some notable stress and losses on the cotton crops,” which got less than half their normal rainfall, Don Keeney, a senior agricultural meteorologist at Gaithersburg, Maryland-based MDA, said in an e-mail today. Fields across the affected areas got about 124 millimeters (4.9 inches) of rainfall from Nov. 19 to Jan. 17, compared with an average of 259 millimeters for that period in the last 30 years, Keeney said.

Recent rains in western Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest grower, were too late to help crops and may hurt plants because “they are in open boll,” Keeney said. “The only area that did not see significant stress this season was northwest Argentina and northwest Paraguay.” China is the biggest producer, followed by India, the U.S. and Pakistan. Cotton for March delivery declined 2 percent to 96.21 cents a pound by 12:54 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. The price tumbled 37 percent last year, its biggest annual slump since 2004. - Bloomberg.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Ash From Chilean Volcano Shutdown Argentina Airport and Ski Resorts - Causing Massive Losses in Tourism and Finances!

A cloud of ash caused by a Chilean volcanic eruption forced authorities to shut Bariloche airport in Argentina days after it was re-opened, according to media reports. The airport was shut for seven months before being re-opened.

The closure of the airport in San Carlos de Bariloche on Monday comes three days after flights had resumed following a seven-month suspension due to the ash. The re-opening had been welcomed by local media with triumphant headlines. Bariloche and nearby towns have seen visitor numbers drop sharply since the Puyehue volcano erupted in June. At the time of the Puyehue volcano eruption, airports as far away as in Melbourne, Australia, were forced to close. Airlines cancelled all flights flying in and out of Bariloche, in Patagonia, on Monday. Commercial flights to Bariloche had resumed on Friday for the first time since the Puyehue volcano erupted on 5 June 2011. Local newspaper El Cordillerano headlined the story with one word: “Hallelujah”.
Navy divers in San Carlos de Bariloche inspected the Rio Limay, which was covered with ash in June, 2011.
Bariloche, and nearby Villa la Angostura and San Martin de los Andes are popular destinations for people wanting to ski in winter, and go trekking and fishing in summer. But the lack of flights has badly hit the tourism industry in the area. Aerolineas Argentina decided to divert flights to Esquel in the province of Chubut while Lan Chile to the city of Neuquen. Aerolineas and LAN said that flights schedules would depend on the density of ash from the volcano, and whether the wind would blow it towards Bariloche. The airlines will evaluate the climate situation on Tuesday before deciding on services. According to a report from the College of Chartered Accountants from the Andean zone, Bariloche losses to tourism and business since the eruption of the Chilean volcano Puyehue can be estimated in over 275 million dollars. - MercoPress.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Unprecedented, Severe and Shivering Cold Wave in Southern India - Coldest Morning in the State in Decades, the Lowest Temperatures in Madikeri in 132 Years, 7 Dead in Andhra Pradesh!

The unprecedented cold wave sweeping across southern India has claimed seven lives so far in Andhra Pradesh and broken century-old temperature records at several places in neighbouring Karnataka. After keeping its date with the Sun for a few days, the Bangalore's weather has swung to extreme cold conditions. Monday saw the coldest morning in the state in decades. Forecast: The MET department has predicted dry weather for coastal and Northern Karnataka while the cold wave will continue to prevail in south interior parts of the state for the next 2 nights.

Chilly winds blew across coastal and north Telangana districts, claiming the lives of four elderly persons at Gudipudi village near Sattenapalle in Guntur district on Monday. Two women each died in Bapatla and Visakhapatnam.  The harsh cold weather broke records in many places, with Madikeri registering its lowest in 132 years at 4.8 degrees Celsius, Mysore's coldest day in 120 years at 7.7 degrees Celsius and Bangalore's coldest day of January in the past 19 years with minimum temperature touching 12 degrees Celsius. The outskirts of Bangalore like HAL airport area touched below 10 degrees Celsius and GKVK was freezing at 8.4 degrees Celsius. Maximum temperature across the state remained around 26 degrees Celsius. Why this cold wave? B Puttanna, director, in-charge, Bangalore MET department, said: "The severe cold wave from the North and North-East, combined with clear skies, has appreciably brought down the minimum temperatures across the state. Also the shorter day time and longer nights have reduced the radiation on Earth's surface."

Puttanna added: "Last week, the temperatures in Karnataka were above normal. But this week after the severe cold wave affected North India, the temperatures in various parts of the state have gone down by 7-9 degrees Celsius.'' The temperature in the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad dipped suddenly to 9.3 against 11 degrees Celsius in the last three days. Bijapur recorded the lowest ever minimum temperature at 8.4 degrees Celsius. Even Gadag was chilly at 12 degrees Celsius against 14, which was recorded in the last two days. Haveri recorded 9 degrees Celsius on Monday. The Sun cities of North-Karnataka region __ Koppal, Gulbarga and Raichur __ were greeted by biting cold with Raichur recording 9 degrees Celsius and Gulbarga 12 degrees Celsius. In the plains, Belgaum was the coldest at 7.2 degrees Celsius.

M B Rajegowda, agro meteorologist, said: "The severity of cold also depends on the air-moss strip passing through the co-ordinates of Karnataka. This strip keeps shifting and the area which falls under this strip gets affected by the cold wave. Also the prolonged north-east monsoon has contributed to the cold spell.'' Bangaloreans who saw sunny weather last week were in for a cold shock on Monday morning. Kavitha Rao, a homemaker, said: "The chill in the air morning did not let me wake up early and my son missed his school bus.'' Girish Naidu, a senior citizen, said: "The last few days were relief from cold and I enjoyed going for morning walks. But today I could not step out because it was bitterly cold." - Times of India.

EXTREME WEATHER: The Season of the Wind - Hurricane-Force Winds Expected to Pummel Central Oregon Coast; Warning Issued for Portland, the Second Time in History!

One of the strongest storms in four years was forecast to slam into the central Oregon coast today with hurricane-force wind gusts that could topple trees and cause property damage. Mixed snow and rain will likely snarl the Portland-area commute this morning. Heavy rain for the next three days and beyond will cause rivers to rise rapidly as soon as Friday. 

One to three inches of snow will fall above 500 feet, but it's uncertain how much will fall where. Some snow and ice are possible on the valley floor, but the heaviest snow will likely be in east Portland and Vancouver. The morning commute is expected to be as dicey this morning as it was on Tuesday, when snowfall ranged from six inches in Banks, where schools were closed, to plain rain in much of Portland, where schools were open. Ski areas celebrated piles of fresh powder. Although snow remains in the forecast for the Portland area overnight, Todd said there is not a really cold pool of air in eastern Oregon to enhance snowfall in the region.

That said, the forecast for Portland still calls for heavy snow overnight until about 10 a.m. Wednesday morning before it changes to rain. One to 3 inches could fall, but it will be brief and melt quickly under the onslaught of rain and warmer temperatures. “The boundary between rain and snow is going to be right around Portland,’’ Todd said. “The best chance for snow is going to be on the east side of the city, and from Portland north.” Winds associated with this storm are expected to push gusts to around 40 mph in the Portland metropolitan area, with heavy rain nearly every day into the weekend. Rapid rises in area rivers are also a concern, forecasters said, especially Thursday and Friday. But the weather fun won’t stop then: Rain, wind and lots of it remains in the forecast all the way into next weekend.

For the first time since the Great Coastal Gale of '07 - and only the second time in its history - the National Weather Service in Portland has issued a hurricane force wind warning for the Oregon Coast. The warning extends from Cascade Head north of Lincoln City, south to Florence and out to sea 60 nautical miles and is in effect from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday. The Great Coastal Gale of '07 raked the Oregon Coast on Dec. 1-3, 2007, and brought with it the strongest wind gusts since the Columbus Day Storm of October 1962. The storm snapped off hundreds of trees, and included wind gusts well in excess of 100 mph, with the strongest recorded gust of 129 mph at Bay City. The storm, really two systems that stretched over three days, included heavy rains and extensive flooding.

Steve Todd, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service in Portland said the storm's center is expected to make landfall over the mouth of the Columbia River, setting up a tight pressure gradient that could generate up to 100 mph winds. "These are the kind of storms that typically knock trees down,'' Todd said. "Anytime you get winds up into the 90+mph range, it can cause property damage and bring down power lines. People need to be careful tonight." Todd said the storm is packing a low level wind phenomenon known as a "coastal jet." "It's a terrain influenced jet stream at low levels not associated with the upper jet stream," Todd said. "But it's a core of strong winds not too far off the surface. That core drops down to the surface and creates winds of 75 mph and above. We could see gusts up to 90 mph, maybe even a stray 100 mph gust."

Although snow remains in the forecast for the Portland area overnight, Todd said there is not a really cold pool of air in eastern Oregon to enhance snowfall in the region. That said, the forecast for Portland still calls for heavy snow overnight until about 10 a.m. Wednesday morning before it changes to rain. One to 3 inches could fall, but it will be brief and melt quickly under the onslaught of rain and warmer temperatures. "The boundary between rain and snow is going to be right around Portland,'' Todd said. "The best chance for snow is going to be on the east side of the city, and from Portland north." Winds associated with this storm are expected to push gusts to around 40 mph in the Portland metropolitan area, with heavy rain nearly every day into the weekend. Rapid rises in area rivers are also a concern, forecasters said, especially Thursday and Friday. But the weather fun won't stop then: Rain, wind and lots of it remains in the forecast all the way into next weekend. - Oregon Live.
WATCH: Hazardous Weather predicted for The Oregon Coast.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Powerful Winter Storms Spawn January Tornadoes in Louisville, Kentucky - Unusual 95mph Twisters Badly Damage Houses and Trees, Tens of Thousands Without Power!

A powerful spring-like storms spawned a winter tornado that slammed into suburban Louisville, Kentucky on Tuesday. Tornadoes were also reported in Indiana and Mississippi.

The National Weather Service says at least two people have been injured after powerful spring-like storms spawned tornadoes in Indiana, Kentucky and Mississippi.

Forecaster Ed Agre says two people were injured after a twister touched down just after 4 p.m. Tuesday in southern Mississippi's Marion County, destroying a mobile home and damaging other homes in the area.

Earlier in the day, a tornado that slammed into the Louisville, Ky., metropolitan area was blamed for tossing a pair of tractor-trailers off of the freeway and snarling traffic. Officials say a line of storms that raked Indiana spawned a weak tornado that struck an airport in the Ohio River city of Madison.

Storms in the St. Louis area caused tornado sirens to blare in several of the Missouri city's communities early Tuesday. - Miami Herald.

WATCH: Winter storm in January.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreads Far And Wide - California, Finland, Canada, and Australia Hit by Radiation!

The University of California at Berkeley detected cesium levels in San Francisco area milk above over EPA limits ... and even higher than they were 6 months ago.

Finnish public television says that cesium from Fukushima has been detected in lichens, fungi and elk and reindeer meat in Finland. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency confirmed a radiation cloud over the East Coast of Australia. The West Coast of Canada is getting hit by debris from Japan ... and at least some of it is likely radioactive.   The authors of the controversial study claiming 14,000 deaths in the U.S. so far from Fukushima are now upping their figure to 20,000. I spoke with nuclear health expert Chris Busby about their study, and he said that mortality figures fluctuate pretty substantially in the normal course, and so it is hard to know at this point one way or the other whether their figures are accurate.

And while there is no evidence linking them to Fukushima, Bed Bath and Beyond has recalled radioactive tissue holders after they set off police radiation monitors aboard a delivery truck This may just be an example of the incredibly lax handling of radioactive materials.

And thyroid cancers are - mysteriously - on the rise in the U.S.

But don't worry: The owner of the Fukushima plant has the plant in cold shutdown, so everything is "under control" ... Although temperatures have apparently jumped inside Fukushima's number 2 reactor, and the Japanese have no idea where the nuclear fuel has gone, so they are drilling a hole into the containment vessel to try to find it. - Washington's Blog.

WATCH: Rare Look Inside Japan's Nuclear 'No Go Zone'.

EXTREME WEATHER: Report Spells out "Grim" Climate Change Risks for China - Chaotic Weather, Severe Water Shortages and Rising Sea Levels Could Cut Grain Production and Trip up Economic Growth!

Global warming threatens China's march to prosperity by cutting crops, shrinking rivers and unleashing more droughts and floods, says the government's latest assessment of climate change, projecting big shifts in how the nation feeds itself.

A villager walks through a nearly dried up reservoir in Aoxi town in
China's Guizhou province, following a drought in September 2011.
The warnings are carried in the government's "Second National Assessment Report on Climate Change," which sums up advancing scientific knowledge about the consequences and costs of global warming for China -- the world's second biggest economy and the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution. Global warming fed by greenhouse gases from industry, transport and shifting land-use poses a long-term threat to China's prosperity, health and food output, says the report. With China's economy likely to rival the United States' in size in coming decades, that will trigger wider consequences. "China faces extremely grim ecological and environmental conditions under the impact of continued global warming and changes to China's regional environment," says the 710-page report, officially published late last year but released for public sale only recently.

Even so, China's rising emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from burning fossil fuels, will begin to fall off only after about 2030, with big falls only after mid-century, says the report. Assuming no measures to counter global warming, grain output in the world's most populous nation could fall from 5 to 20 percent by 2050, depending on whether a "fertilisation effect" from more carbon dioxide in the air offsets losses, says the report. But that possible fall can be held in check by improved crop choice and farming practices, as well as increased irrigation and fertiliser use. China is the world's biggest consumer of cereals and has increasingly turned to foreign suppliers of corn and soy beans. The report was written by teams of scientists supervised by government officials, and follows up on a first assessment released in 2007. It does not set policy, but offers a basis of evidence and forecasts that will shape policy. Water, either too much or too little, lies at the heart of how that warming could trip up China's budding prosperity.


"Climate change will lead to severe imbalances in China's water resources within each year and across the years. In most areas, precipitation will be increasingly concentrated in the summer and autumn rainy seasons, and floods and droughts will become increasingly frequent," says the report. "Without effective measures in response, by the latter part of the 21st century, climate change could still constitute a threat to our country's food security," it says. Under one scenario of how global warming will affect water availability, by 2050 eight of mainland China's 31 provinces and provincial-status cities could face severe water shortages -- meaning less than 500 cubic metres per resident -- and another 10 could face less dire chronic shortages. In low-lying coastal regions, rising seas will press up against big cities and export zones that have stood at the forefront of China's industrialisation.

China's efforts to protect vulnerable coastal areas with embankments are inadequate, says the report, noting their vulnerability to typhoons and flood tides that global warming could intensify. There are sure to be shifts in Chinese crop patterns as well, says the report. More rice and other crops will probably grow in the northeast, thanks to warmer weather and possibly more rain. In the northwest cotton-growing region of Xinjiang, shrinking water availability could lead to a "marked decline in agricultural crop productivity". China, with 1.34 billion people, already emits a quarter of the world's CO2, with the United States the world's second largest greenhouse gas emitter. China's emissions, which grew 10 percent in 2010 according to BP, are likely to start falling only after 2030, the report says. It says China's emissions reduction efforts up to 2020 will cost 10 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion), including 5 trillion yuan for energy-saving technology and new and renewable energy. - Reuters.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Small Earthquake Rattles Southern Illinois - Related to a Series of Faults Associated With the New Madrid Fault Zone!

Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey confirm a small earthquake rattled an ares of Southern Illinois early this morning.

A magnitude-2.2 tremor was recorded at the St. Louis University Earthquake Research Center at 5:10 a.m. No damage was reported.

Researchers said the quake's epicenter was about four miles east of Troy, Ill., or around 25 miles east of St. Louis. The quake originated from an estimated depth of 1.8 miles.

The quake was believed to have related to a series of faults associated with the New Madrid Fault Zone.

The last major earthquake recorded in Southern Illinois was a 5.2 tremor recorded on April 18, 2008 and was centered near Bellmont, Ill. A 2.7 tremor was noted on September 13, 2011 east of Cisne, Ill. - Courier Press.