Monday, February 27, 2012

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Spring in Winter - Much to Savor, and Worry About, Amid Mild Winter's Early Blooms?!

At the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, an experimental plot was in full flower on a recent February afternoon, as the thermometer edged toward 60.

Scenes more like spring, including a Japanese flowering apricot tree,
arrived early at the New York Botanical Garden.
The Japanese camellias, which typically bloom in early spring, have displayed their rose-hued flowers continuously since December. Honeybees, a rarity before late March, were nursing the tiny pink clusters on a Dawn viburnum, while the Adonis amurensis, a ground-hugging spring ephemeral, was a profusion of yellow.  “This is the earliest I’ve seen all of these things in flower,” said Todd Forrest, the garden’s vice president for horticulture and living collections. “The ground isn’t even frozen. That’s shocking.” The horticulturalists in the Bronx call it the global-warming garden, and in a winter notable for its consistent mildness, it is hardly unusual. From the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park to the Chicago Botanic Garden, flowering bulbs and other plants are bursting out two to four weeks ahead of schedule. Snowdrops are up; daffodils, crocuses and hellebores are already in flower; trailing phlox has opened; and, farther afield, even magnolia trees are starting to bloom on the National Mall in Washington.
Complaining about balmy winter days and an early display of color might seem churlish, but the early run of warm weather is not without its downside. For one thing, if there is a cold snap, plants and trees are vulnerable to damaged blossoms and, potentially, a falloff in seed production. With the ground still soft in many places and no snow cover, squirrels — already suffering from the acorn shortage last fall — have been digging up bulbs. Populations of insect pests, normally kept in check by freezing temperatures, are expected to grow this year. And when spring finally does arrive a month from now — according to the calendar anyway — the show might be ho-hum. “You’ll see a long, gradual kind of spring,” said Maria Hernandez, director of horticulture for the Central Park Conservancy. “But it won’t be the pizazz that we had last spring.”
Then there is the unavoidable question of climate change.

It is hard to draw conclusions about the pace of warming from a single winter, and indeed, the last decade in New York City has been one of the snowiest on record. Still, Fred Gadomski, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University, said that temperatures were above normal in 80 percent of the days in the past three months in the city. Strong winds from the Pacific Ocean have blanketed most of the country with unusually mild air. “That’s the distinguishing item this winter — the consistency of the mildness,” Mr. Gadomski said. “If you took away that week in mid-January where it really was sort of cold, it would be the year without a winter.” Coincidentally, the federal Agriculture Department last month issued a new national map showing plant hardiness zones, which start with the coldest regions in the north and work their way south. In its first update since 1990, the map showed clear signs of things’ heating up. New York City, for instance, moved into a warmer zone, going from a “warm 6” to a “cold 7,” as Mr. Forrest put it. David W. Wolfe, a professor of plant and soil ecology at Cornell University and an expert on climate change, said the temperatures this winter appeared to “represent an extreme,” even within the context of climate change. But, he said, the federal climate-zone guides from 1960, 1990 and this year reveal “an extremely fast pace” of change. “This winter, when they do the final analysis, will be close to an all-time record breaker,” Dr. Wolfe said. “It’s a rare event." - NY Times.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: New Eruptions at Rincon de la Vieja in Costa Rica!

It has been almost exactly 14 years since the last eruptive period for Rincón de la Vieja in Costa Rica, but it looks like the volcano might be awakening from its break.

An undated image of Rincón de la Vieja in Costa Rica. The active crater is seen in the foreground with a
small crater lake. The lake between the active crater and the forested crater is Los Jilgueros. Santa Maria
volcano is seen in the far background.
Last Thursday (Feb. 22), the volcano experienced two small explosions in the early morning. Seismic records suggest the volcano also had small explosions on Feb. 19 and 20, according to the OVSICORI report for Feb. 25 (PDF). None of the explosions caused any damage to anything near the volcano and there are no reports of ash fall other than in the crater itself. These explosions are very similar in style to the September 2011 explosions that were like phreatic in nature — that is, not new magma but superheated water generated the explosions. Of course, it is likely that new magma intruding the volcano is the heat source for the water, but these explosions could precede a new magmatic eruption by months or years (or lead to nothing at all). The volcano sits within a national park in Costa Rica and after these explosions, the National Emergency Commission has declared the crater area off-limits to visitors.

The last major eruption from Rincón de la Vieja was in 1966, when it produced at VEI 3 event that generated pyroclastic flows. All the way back in circa 1820 B.C., the volcano produced the Río Blanco tephra from a larger VEI 4 eruption. The summit of the volcano hosts a small crater lake (see above), which could potentially add to the initial explosivity of any eruption as the water interacts with erupting magma. There are also abundant mudpots and springs within the national park as well, attesting to the persistent geothermal activity in the area. This geothermal activity is the reason why the Costa Rican government is looking to build a 200 MW geothermal energy plant in the National Park as well.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 5.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Central Iran!

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake has struck Central Iran on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 18:48:58 UTC.

The tremor was located at 31.466°N, 56.776°E with a depth of 36.4 km (22.6 miles).

The epicentre was at a distance of 133 km (82 miles) northwest of Kerman, Iran; 139 km (86 miles) northeast of Rafsanjan, Iran; 233 km (144 miles) east of Yazd, Iran; and 681 km (423 miles) southeast of Tehran, Iran.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Land Subsidence Continues Unabated in Hunan Province in China - Cave-ins Create Hundreds of Holes in Yuejiaqiao Town, Yiyang City!

Several days ago, I told you of the formation of 550 pits in various sizes, found over the past three years in China's Hunan Province.
The last three years in Hunan Province, China in an area of ​​central pits of various sizes arise as more than 550, the area of ​​agriculture and housing is affecting retirement. Pits have dotted Yuejiaqiao Twon in Yiyang City of Hunan, with big ones having a diameter of seven to eight meters and small ones two to three meters. Pit the northern city of Hunan Yiyang are scattered around the wejachaoh area. 7 ~ 8m diameter of a large pit, and the diameter of the smaller ones are 2 ~ 3m. Local villagers said these pits have come into existence since 2008 and new ones would appear every day in the past six months. Since 2008, local residents were born of this pit, the last six months said that every day you've got a new pit. - Reuters [Translated].
Today, more evidence surfaces of the monumental land subsidence occurring there.
Since January 1, 2012, karst cave-ins have occurred in many places of Yuejiaqiao Town, Yiyang City of central China's Hunan Province. Yiyang city has seen 693 karst cave-ins, including 537 in farmland and 150 in rivers. The geological disaster has damaged 167 houses and affected more than 1,200 local people. - SINA.
Have a look at the following images:

Photo taken on Feb. 26, 2012 shows a big hole formed during the land sink in Yuejiaqiao Town,
Yiyang City of central China's Hunan Province. (Xinhua/Long Hongtao)

Photo taken on Feb. 26, 2012 shows the water of a river running into a hole formed during the land sink in
Yuejiaqiao Town, Yiyang City of central China's Hunan Province. (Xinhua/Long Hongtao)

Photo taken on Feb. 26, 2012 shows the water of a river running into a hole formed during the land sink in
Yuejiaqiao Town, Yiyang City of central China's Hunan Province. (Xinhua/Long Hongtao)
See more images HERE.

RATTLE & HUM: "The Sounds of the Apocalypse" - Mysterious Odd Sounds From the Skies and Strange "Lake Music" Reported by Many Yellowstone Visitors?!

Yellowstone Lake and the rugged backcountry that surrounds it is a place where millions go seeking solitude and silence. Yet it in a well-documented but rarely discussed phenomenon, some visitors to the Lake area have experienced remarkable celestial sounds of unknown and unexplained origin.

“They resemble the ringing of telegraph wires or the humming of a swarm of bees, beginning softly in the distance, growing rapidly plainer until directly overhead, and then fading as rapidly in the opposite direction,” wrote Hiram M. Chittenden in 1895 in his book, “The Yellowstone National Park.” Chittenden’s description is one of several in the historical record — as well as many more from popular anecdotal accounts — of strange sounds or “lake music” coming from the skies around Yellowstone Lake and Shoshone lake. Chittenden was an accomplished engineer with rigorous scientific discipline who built roads and bridges in the park, as well as locks in Seattle’s Lake Washington Ship Canal. He was not given to idle speculation or unsubstantiated gossip about seemingly magical events.

But he is hardly the only — or even the first — prominent Yellowstone visitor to write about the strange and unexplained lake sounds. Edwin Linton, a professor of biology at Washington and Jefferson College and a specialist in marine parasites was working in Yellowstone in the summer of 1890 as part of a project for the U.S. Fish Commission. Linton, his colleagues and his guides heard the mysterious sounds more than once during that trip, and he drew from his own diary entries when he wrote an account of the odd experience for the Nov. 3, 1893 edition of the prestigious journal Science.

“On the following morning, we heard the sound very plainly,” Linton wrote. “It appeared to begin directly overhead and to pass off across the sky, growing fainter and fainter towards the southwest. It appeared to be a rather indefinite, reverberating sound, characterized by a slight metallic resonance.” Linton and others have described the sounds as “harp-like” or similar to human voices or the sound of metal cables crashing against each other, but no satisfactory explanation has yet been offered for their origin. Lee Whittlesey, historian at Yellowstone Park and a longtime resident of the region, said that the Yellowstone Lake sounds aren’t often discussed by park insiders. “You have to have a real interest in Yellowstone history to even be familiar with it,” said Whittlesey, who has written several books and articles about Yellowstone history. “There are a number of pieces written about it, but it’s often deeply buried in the literature,” he said. Despite how far-fetched the phenomenon sounds, Whittlesey said he’s confident the sounds have existed and the historical accounts about them are credible. - Yellowstone Gate.

More eye-witness accounts HERE.

DELUGE: Heavy Rains Continues to Soak Australia - Floods Cut Bruce Highway in Queensland!

Massive amounts of rain are set to soak large parts of NSW, southern and central Australia with falls of up to 100mm starting from later today amid warnings of widespread flooding.

The drenching will be "one of the biggest rain events in recent history'' according to The Weather Channel. Tom Saunders, Senior Meteorologist at The Weather Channel said this morning that the rain will start today over Victoria, South Australia and southern NSW. "Thunderstorms will drop up to 100mm of rain, enough to cause severe flash flooding,'' he said. "The rain and storms will head north on Tuesday and stall over NSW and central Australia until at least Friday. "Daily rain will exceed 50mm in some regions, enough to cause flash flooding. "With rain continuing through the week, weekly totals should easily climb above 100mm across the Murray Basin, northern South Australia and the southern Northern Territory. "Canberra and Sydney's wettest days should be Wednesday and Thursday.'' Mr Saunders said the rain also has the potential to trigger widespread river flooding through much of northern South Australia and NSW. Our nation is currently surrounded by very warm ocean temperatures, particularly off the west coast where the Indian Ocean has been steaming over three degrees higher than normal during the past few months,'' he said. "The warmer seas have increased evaporation which has allowed the atmosphere over Australia to become saturated with moisture, the perfect recipe for heavy rain and flooding.'' - News Australia.

Floodwaters have cut Queensland's major highway, this time in the state's north. The Bruce Highway was cut on Monday at Lethebrook, near Proserpine, with only four-wheel drives and trucks permitted to cross the flooded road. Further south, motorists were stranded either side of Gympie on the weekend after torrential rain caused the Mary River to peak at 15.44 metres, inundating five businesses. The highway was open at Gympie on Monday, police say. Although the Mary River is slowly receding there is still some inconvenience for locals, with some road closures in and around Gympie. Police say there were no further emergency calls on Sunday and residents were cleaning up on Monday after the weekend's flooding. - SKY News.
WATCH: Floods cut Queensland's Bruce Highway.

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.

Rome, Italy
- 25th of February, 2012.

Neath , United Kingdom - 25th of February, 2012.

Tijuana, Mexico - 24th of February, 2012.

Australia - February, 2012.

Germany - 25th of February, 2012.

Marathon, Florida - 24th of February, 2012.

EXTREME WEATHER: Avalanche Accidents Increase Following Record Snow Levels in the Alps - Austria Buried Under the Deepest Snow in Memory!

A week after Prince John Friso, 43, was seriously injured by an avalanche after skiing in Lech, Austria, much of the country is buried under the deepest snow in memory, with up to six metres at high altitude in the Tirol and Voralberg regions.

In the past week alone, three people have died and seven escaped uninjured in six separate incidents in the country, caused by the latest in a long string of avalanches. This compares to only three deaths in Austria last year, thought due to the exceptionally light snow cover last season. On February 16, a Swedish man was killed when an avalanche fell on a groomed run in Ischgl. However, such an accident is extremely rare. One of the deaths this week was in Lech, on the far side of the valley in which the prince was so seriously injured. High mountain guides have expressed surprise that, despite an avalanche warning of 4 out of 5 following a 130cm snowfall, skiers, including the prince, ventured off-piste. A level 4 avalanche warning means that the pressure of a skier on a slope can start an avalanche – or it can even trigger naturally. The prince, who is an accomplished skier, was in the company of a local friend when the accident happened on a steepish run marked on the map as an itinerary route.

The area is not patrolled by pisteurs and you ski it entirely at your own risk. It is prone to avalanches however, and it is understood that while both men were equipped with radio transceivers that transmit a signal to rescuers, neither was equipped with a telescopic probe or a shovel. Avalanche debris is usually very compact and rescuing someone quickly without a shovel can be extremely difficult and time consuming. After 15 minutes under the snow the chances of someone being brought out alive fall sharply. In the Piedmont region of Italy, going off-piste without each member of party carrying transceiver, probe, and shovel, is now illegal and perpetrators are liable to on-the-spot fines from policemen on skis. There is a "significantly escalating danger of moist snow avalanches” next week, according to Rudi Mair, head of the Tirol Avalanche Warning Centre, as more snow is expected across Switzerland and Austria after the weekend. The advent of warmer temperatures and spring weather conditions across the Alps this weekend also means that, while the danger is moderate in the early morning, it will escalate to "considerable" by midday. Mr Mair added: “This dangerous snow structure has been corroborated by numerous avalanches in the last few days. They are becoming less frequent, but can still be triggered with relative ease.” - Telegraph.

EXTREME WEATHER: Dust Storms Cause Chaos in the United Arab Emirates - Low Pressure Kicks up Season's Worst Dust Storm!

A fast-moving surface low pressure was behind the sudden weather disturbance in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf region that triggered one of seasons' worst dust storm in some parts of the emirates, said weather forecasters.

The wind and dust severity was highest from Ghantoot, a town between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to Ras Al Khaimah. Slightly less dusty conditions prevailed in the south-eastern parts of the country from Umm Al Zomul, a town in the south of Al Ain, up to Al Faqqa on the Al Ain-Dubai highway. The rest of Abu Dhabi was also affected by winds and dust, but the dust radar of the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) shows the conditions were not as bad as they were in the northern emirates. A meteorologist said that the dust and sand was locally generated with the severity of winds. The dust did not travel like a cloud or a wall. Those types of sandstorms are unlikely to hit Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman Umm Al Quwain or Fujairah, he added.

The NCMS had issued a timely alert on Friday evening asking people to take precautions. Strong southern, south-easterly, and north-western winds are a common phenomenon that kick up dust and sand in the UAE. "It, however, depends on the surface impact of the winds that was bit higher since Saturday night," said Adel Hassan, a meteorologist in Al Ain. According to the NCMS forecast for the next 24 hours, weather will be partly cloudy in general and cloudy over the northern and eastern emirates. Temperatures will tend to fall gradually. The speed of north-westerly winds will also decrease gradually. The sea will be rough offshore with four- to six-feet high waves. It will become moderately rough by Monday night. Relative humidity is likely to increase at night and early on Tuesday morning in the internal areas with a chance of mist and fog. - Gulf News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 4.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits France - The Strongest Since 1997!

The earth shook in Crévoux, 16 km northeast of Barceloneta, tonight at 11:37 p.m. accurate, according to the website of Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).

The earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale was felt in the Var, Alpes-Maritimes and even Marseille where many people have felt the tremor for 3 to 4 seconds.

Not since 1997 to find an equivalent amplitude in this mountainous region of the Hautes-Alpes. - La Provence.