Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - India Reportedly Test Fires Missile Capable Of Reaching China and Europe!

India announced Thursday the successful test launch of a new nuclear-capable missile that would give it, for the first time, the capability of striking the major Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

The government has hailed the Agni-V missile, with a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), as a major boost to its efforts to counter China's regional dominance and become an Asian power in its own right.  The head of India's Defense Research and Development Organization, Vijay Saraswat, said the missile was launched at 8:07 a.m. from Wheeler Island off India's east coast.

It rose to an altitude of more than 600 kilometers (370 miles), its three stages worked properly and its payload was deployed as planned, he told Times Now news channel.  "India has emerged from this launch as a major missile power," he said. - Huffington Post.
WATCH: Scenes from the missile test.

PLANETARY TREMORS: New Brunswick Town Plagued for Weeks by Quake Swarm – Over 35 Tremors in 5 Weeks; No One Knows Why?!

Springtime in McAdam, a tiny village in southwestern New Brunswick not far from the Maine border, is like springtime in most other parts of Canada. Locals chatter about the NHL playoffs, the garden they are planting, the grass that needs to be cut, the fish they can’t wait to catch and the cottage they can’t wait to get to, once the warm weather really settles in.  Lately, however, an interloper has elbowed its way into the community’s daily dialogue. Pushing aside the playoffs. Pushing its way to the very top of the talking points.  “Everybody is talking about the earthquakes,” says David Blair, a retired science teacher and lifetime McAdam resident from his home on Old Harvey Road, just east of downtown.

McAdam, New Brunswick, has been struck by over 35 minor tremours —
called an “earthquake swarm” — in the past five weeks.
“You’ll be out and about and people will say, ‘Did you feel the one last night, or did you feel the one this morning? Some people will say yes, others might say no. It really depends on what you are doing.’  “If you are quiet at home and there is not a lot of noise you are probably going to feel or hear it. But if you are banging around, or if the grandkids are banging around, you sometimes won’t know if it’s the kids — or if it was an earthquake — they are about the same magnitude, I guess.”  Residents were initially rattled awake at 1:40 a.m. on March 10 by a 2.4-magnitude earthquake that was followed three minutes later by a 1.4-magnitude aftershock. People described hearing what sounded like an explosion. Pictures fell off walls. Window panes rattled. Floorboards creaked and groaned. Some houses even shook, while locals, initially, felt a surge of panic that eased, somewhat, by morning with the realization that a bomb had not gone off but a small earthquake had.  Three days later: two more earthquakes. And in the five weeks since there have been 35 additional shakes, a steady tide of minor tremours that is a popular topic of conversation among villagers and a seismic anomaly that scientists can’t entirely explain.  “What is happening in McAdam is something called an earthquake swarm,” says Stephen Halchuk, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada. “It is a series of earthquakes, which is rare. But what is particularly unusual about what is happening in McAdam is that it is basically happening directly beneath the village — and at a depth of less than one kilometre.  “When these earthquake swarms occur they are typically in a remote area where nobody feels them.”  Mr. Halchuk can’t say how long the earthquakes will continue for, or if a big one, capable of causing serious property damage and endangering lives, could be lurking among all the little ones.  “We can never say never,” he says. “I wouldn’t rule out a very large event occurring but, typically, in situations like this, the magnitude of the earthquakes is modest and doesn’t increase.”

Researchers from the University of New Brunswick addressed community members at an atypical town hall meeting Monday night, answering questions and assuaging lingering fears. One working theory they have to explain the quakes is an early spring thaw. A rapid change in groundwater levels could, perhaps, be causing the underlying rocks to slip and stress, unleashing the multiple shocks. Moodus, Connecticut, is another tiny town with an earthquake problem, one dating back hundreds of years and which, today, is the basis of the local high school’s team name: The Noises. The noises in McAdam, meanwhile, have been described by the locals as a loud “bang,” a “boom,” “like dynamite being blown up,” and “a loud thud, like somebody falling out of bed.”  Natural Resources and UNB have installed three seismographs in the village to monitor the situation and to flesh out their working hypotheses. One of the machines is in David Blair’s basement.  “They are not paying me for it,” he says, laughing. “It’s just volunteer. The government doesn’t have any money except to pay its MPs and MLAs.”  Connie Klein is the village clerk. She doesn’t really like talking to the media, or the academics, because she doesn’t really know what to say. But, when she does talk, she explains how the quakes, to her, have become another noise — in her otherwise tranquil village — a sharp “bang” as though someone were upstairs in her house and dropped an encyclopedia on the floor while she was downstairs washing the dishes.  “You might jump for a second,” she says.  But then you get on with your day.  And Tuesday, in McAdam, was one for the ages. The sun was blasting hot and talk of the unusual April weather — and not whether the Earth was about to split open and swallow the place whole — was on everybody’s lips.  “It has been really nice here,” Ms. Klein says. “In fact, it’s actually too hot.” - National Post.
WATCH: McAdam plagued by earthquake swarm.

SIGNS & SYMBOLS: The First UK Crop Circle of 2012 - Hill Barn, East Kennett, Wiltshire!

The first crop circle of 2012 in the United Kingdom appeared at Hill Barn, near East Kennett, Wiltshire.

The formation was reported  to the Crop Circle Connector, the international crop circle online database, on April 15th.

WATCH: Crop circle at Hill Barn.

Click HERE for more aerial shots, ground shots, field reports, diagrams and articles.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mexico Raises Volcano Alert Level at Popocatepetl Volcano, Potential for Mass Evacuations - Due to Increasing Activity; Lava Dome Growth; and the Spewing of Rock, Vapor and Ash!

Authorities in Mexico have raised the alert level for the Popocatepetl volcano southeast of Mexico City due to increasing activity. It's now at the fifth step on a seven-level warning scale.

Ash and smoke are spewed from Popocatepetl volcano as seen from the town of Xalitxintla
in the central state of Puebla on Tuesday.
A lava dome is growing in the volcano's crater, the National Disaster Prevention Center said Tuesday. The 17,886-foot volcano also has been spewing fragments of incandescent rock recently, as well as water vapor and ash.  The volcano could experience "significant explosions of growing intensity that hurl incandescent rocks significant distances," large ash showers and possible flows of mud and molten rocks down the volcano's flanks, the center said.  The agency said the area has been closed to visitors and urged people to stay at least seven miles (12 kilometers) from the crater, which is about 40 miles southeast of Mexico's capital.

It also recommended that people in the surrounding areas clean ash from weak rooftops and to cover their mouths to avoid inhaling it.  The alert is now at the highest level of the yellow stage; the next stage is a red alert, which presumably would prompt evacuations to begin.  Known as "El Popo," the volcano staged its most violent eruption in 1,200 years on Dec. 18, 2000, when an explosion sent up a plume of red-hot rock and forced the evacuation of thousands of people who live at the volcano's base.  The volcano, which seats in the central states of Mexico, Puebla, and Morelos, has been erupting intermittently since December 1994. - USA Today.

GLOBAL ALERT: Emergency Officials Warn - We're NOT Ready for a Solar Super Storm!

Atomic particles explode off the sun’s surface, with the force of millions of hydrogen bombs, clobber Earth’s magnetic field in less than a day and black out the electric grid for days or longer.  Such a solar “super storm” happened in 1859.

This visually spectacular explosion occurred Monday on the sun's Northeastern limb, seen at left, and was
not directed at Earth. Emergency management officials want to prepare should one ever threaten Earth.
Called the Carrington Event, solar wind smacked the Earth within 18 hours, though the trip usually takes four days. Auroras lit the night sky as far south as Cuba, and in Boston and London, people read the newspaper under the nighttime glow.  A similar event now could cause $2 trillion in damage to the United States’ power grid, experts say. And Florida, while well-versed in hurricanes, has no experience with such massive magnetic storms. So on Tuesday, about 100 emergency managers gathered at Crown Plaza in Indialantic to learn how to brace for a solar super storm. While such powerful storms are rare, scientists say it is just a matter of time before one bombards Earth again. 

“A space weather event is going to introduce a whole different set of dynamics,” William Bryan, a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy, told emergency managers from throughout the state. The three-day training exercise, closed to the general public, was funded under the federal stimulus bill.  “This threat of geomagnetic disturbance has a lot of attention in Washington,” Bryan said during his keynote address. “This is not science fiction. It’s real. These things are really happening and could really have an impact on us.”  Solar wind induces the dramatic green glow of the northern lights.  The main concern for the power grid is the more powerful solar events called Coronal Mass Ejections, huge solar wind bursts that can disrupt Earth’s magnetic field.  “Just billions of tons of plasma gas blasting out,” explained Bill Murtagh, senior forecaster at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo.  Earth’s magnetic field can get temporarily “smooshed” under the onslaught of solar wind, disrupting radio communications, GPS and damaging satellites. - Florida Today.
WATCH: Massive CME on the sun.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Santorini's Underwater Volcano Activity Resumes - "Lava Build-up is Accelerating"!

Santorini's volcanic basin is showing signs of resumed volcanic activity.

According to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, satellite research tools suggest that a build-up of some 14m cubic metres of lava at a depth of 5km took place between September and January last. Widely touted by academics as the cause of the Minoan civilisation's obliteration, what is left of the volcano - a small archipelago - last witnessed significant geological activity in January of 2011.

Having published his findings in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters, the Institute's Andrew Newman says "our research shows that the lava build-up is accelerating," suggesting that even though the build-up may not indicate an imminent eruption, it may cause minor volcanic events, including ash fall-out, landslides and even tsunami type phenomena.  - AGI.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Series of Freak Storms Hammer San Joaquin Valley - Damaging Crops, Millions of Dollars in Losses!

A series of freak April storms hammered the San Joaquin Valley last week, damaging vulnerable crops with a one-two-three punch of hail, lightning and tornados that caused millions of dollars of crop losses.  It will be several weeks before an accurate tabulation of losses can be made, but for some growers it amounted to 100 percent of this year's production. A number of crops suffered damage from the unrelenting power of hailstones measuring 1.5 inches in diameter or larger.

A supercell that pounded a large swath of the San Joaquin Valley with huge hailstones fills the sky along Highway
99 in the Traver area, which absorbed the brunt of the damage from the 1 1/2-inch hailstones that rained down.
Nature's fury came in the form of "supercells"—large thunderstorms that moved slowly across the valley from Kings County, through parts of Tulare County, up to Merced County and all the way eastward to Mariposa County.  The most destructive storm brought torrents of hail across a six-to-eight mile-wide swath of farmland that extended some 30 miles, accompanied by thunderstorms and numerous lightning strikes.  The epicenter of the more significant of two supercells last Wednesday was in Tulare County near Traver. Grower Ed Needham, who was caught driving near Traver when the storm struck, described it as "the sound of someone hitting my truck with a hammer."  Needham said he was in his truck with two other farmers and had pulled over to watch a huge storm cell to the south when the other cell struck from the north.  "It started out small and was no big deal and then all of a sudden the side-view mirrors on my truck shattered and the road started getting covered with huge hailstones. I looked at the wind and saw that it was going south, so I took off and went to the south and got out of it," he said.  Steve Johnson, a storm chaser with Atmospheric Group International, tracked the storms closely and estimated that the damage to agriculture could reach $25 million or more just from the two supercells that hit last Wednesday afternoon.  "While other thunderstorms were moving at about 25 miles per hour, these two slugs were moving at about 7 or 8 miles an hour, so they just trudged along producing very large hail and a high quantity of lightning," he said. "I estimate the damage at anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent in fields and orchards where the hail struck. The fruit and nut trees were stripped bare. The trees look like they are in midwinter and haven't even budded yet."  Johnson also reported that a third supercell formed over farmland west of Lemoore, producing a tornado, and another one popped up near Huron, causing considerable crop damage to Westside lettuce and tomato fields. 

The following day, a supercell formed in Merced County near Dos Palos and moved northeast between Atwater and Merced, once again accompanied by huge hailstones.  "The hailstones were larger than those on the previous day. There was 1 3/4-inch hail that was recorded near Castle Air Force Base, causing a lot of crop damage as well as other damage before moving up into Mariposa County," Johnson said.  John Diepersloot, one of the owners of Kingsburg Orchards, which grows peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots, said the storms wiped out some orchards while leaving adjacent ones unscathed. He said several of his orchards were struck and that while the visible damage is obvious, it will be several days before any accurate assessment can be made.  "Where the hail hit, it is a complete, 100 percent loss. It was hitting in cells, so one area was a complete disaster and another area got missed," he said. "Some of the fields look like they got beat up pretty bad. Most of the apricots, cherries, pluots and plums got scratched up pretty bad or even knocked off the trees."  Diepersloot also noted damage to other crops, particularly grapes and newly transplanted processing tomatoes.  "The tomatoes on certain blocks were stripped down. The transplants had leaves ripped off. The grapes had everything from tender, new shoots to the bark itself torn off. A lot of guys are planting their corn, but it isn't up yet, so that is still in the ground," he said.  John Thiesen, general manager of Giumarra Brothers Fruit Co. of Reedley, said he is still trying to assess the losses, and that enough fruit to fill from 5 million to 12 million boxes may have been lost.  "That is a pretty big span, so no one really knows for sure. But we do know there is very significant damage," he said.  Thiesen said the magnitude of last week's hailstorms was stunning.  "One doesn't see this kind of devastation very often. I know for us here, we were fortunate to escape, but the emotions are such that we feel just awful for all our grower friends who were affected. It is heartbreaking," he said. - AG Alert.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Sumatra Mega-Quake Sparks Movement Along Several Fault Lines - Phuket Area Repeatedly Shaken by Earthquakes; Seismologists Expects This to Last For a Month!

Phuket will be shaken by a series of mild tremors for about a month following the 4.3-magnitude earthquake that hit the resort island on Monday, seismologists have warned.

The resort island of Phuket was shaken by a magnitude 5.6 earthquake occurred off the coast of Sumatra.
Minor earthquakes of around 1 to 2 on the Richter scale could occur in the province in the coming weeks until an active fault line finishes adjusting itself, said Suwit Kosuwan, director of the Mineral Resources Department's Active Fault Research Division yesterday. A 4.3-magnitude earthquake was detected in tambon Si Sunthon in Thalang district at 4.44pm on Monday, prompting locals and tourists to flee buildings in panic. The quake was generated by a small branch of the Klong Marui fault line, spanning Surat Thani, Krabi and Phangnga provinces. Mr Suwit said the two major earthquakes measured at 8.6 and 8.2 near Indonesia's Sumatra island last Wednesday might have sparked the movement of the Klong Marui fault line, leading to the Phuket tremors.

Another active fault line that might have been affected by the Sumatra quake was the 270km Ranong fault line, which lies across Ranong, Chumphon and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces, he said. Nine aftershocks were detected following the Phuket earthquake. The latest one, measured at 3.1, took place about noon yesterday. Lertsin Raksaskulwong, the Environmental Geology and Geohazard Bureau director, played down fears of a major earthquake in the country. "The largest earthquake ever in Thailand was magnitude 5.9 in Kanchanaburi province in 1983," said Mr Lertsin. - Bangkok Post.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Increased Activity at the Tungurahua Volcano - Constant Seismic Signal of High Energy!

At 06:19 (local time) today, April 17, 2012, there was a further increase in the activity of the Tungurahua volcano, the Instituto Geofísico (IG) reported.

Eruption column of Tungurahua volcano on the morning of April 17, 2012.
A constant seismic tremor signal of high energy accompanied the generation of a steam and ash eruption column which reached a height of 5 km above the crater during a few minutes. The ash cloud drifted to the north and then to the north-west.

No significant noises or roars were heard. Ash fell in the areas of Baños de Agua Santa, Runtún and Juive. At the ​​Tungurahua Volcano Observatory, located 14 km north west of the volcano, only slight ash fall was recorded. - Volcano Discovery.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Stunning Images of Mexico's Erupting Popocatepetl Volcano - Explosion of Billowing Plume of Steam and Ash Seen From the Heavens!

Mexico's Popocatépetl volcano, which lies only about 40 miles away from Mexico City, dusted nearby areas with ash this week in one of its largest explosions in recent years. The eruption, combined with a billowing plume of steam and ash and increased seismic activity, has prompted authorities to raise the volcano's alert status and advise people to stay at least seven miles away from the summit.

The Suomi NPP satellite snapped this image of Mexico's Popocatépetl volcano on April 16, 2012
after a new eruption that sent an ash plume high into the sky.
The eruption covered about 30 communities with ash, ranging from a light dusting to up to 7 centimeters (2.8 inches), according to Wired's Eruptions Blog. There are signs that new magma inside the volcano is near the surface, says Eruptions Blog author Erik Klemetti, a professor of geosciences at Denison University in Ohio. Popocatépetl, whose name means "smoking mountain" in Aztec, is the second highest volcano in North America, at 17,802 feet (5,426 meters). Only Mexico's Pico de Orizaba is taller. The volcano's alert status has been raised to Yellow Stage 3, the third highest stage, by Mexico's National Center for Prevention of Disasters. There are seven total alert stages.
For several days, the volcano has been emitting a strong sulfur dioxide plume, mixed with steam (the volcano has several glaciers at its summit) and more occasional bursts of ash, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Volcanic Ash Advisory. The joint NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite snapped a picture of the ash cloud coming from Popocatépetl on April 16. During the eruption, the plume got as high as 6,500 feet (nearly 1,200 meters), according to news reports. Klemetti says that the main concerns from the new volcanic activity are further ash falls, lahars ("lahar" is an Indonesian word for a rapidly flowing mixture of rock debris and water) and possibly pyroclastic flows (a fast-moving current of extremely hot gas and rock, which travels away from the volcano at very high speeds, though those have been fairly rare in the last few hundred years). The new alert status means that authorities are preparing for possible evacuations. The last time areas around the volcano were evacuated was when the volcano erupted in December 2000. Popocatépetl has been active since 1994, when it woke from a 70-year slumber, according to a NASA statement. - Our Amazing Planet.

EXTREME WEATHER: Country-Wide Sandstorm Strikes Egypt - Paralyzing Highways!

The yearly Khamasin sandstorm hit several areas of Egypt on Wednesday including Cairo, Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh, Suez and Assuit paralysing highways due to the lack of visibility on the roads.

Tahrir Square Wednesday as sandstorm strikes Egypt.
The country-wide sandstorm originates from annual local storms in North Africa which travel to Egypt, usually arriving in the month of April.  Dr. Ali Qotub, the official spokesperson of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority, stated on Channel One of Egyptian TV Wednesday that the speed of the sandstorm has reached more than 60 km/h across Cairo, Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh and all the desert highways.  Qotub warned drivers across the country to drive carefully due to the low visibility and strong winds on the roads.

Qotub expected that the sandstorm to end today and the weather conditions to improve however, he added, the temperature will decrease.  The Red Sea Ports Authority also announced Wednesday that the four main ports in Suez have been closed due to the sandstorm. Cairo International Airport also declared emergency status as the reduction in visibility makes it hard for airplanes to take off and land. - AHRAM Online.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Rogue Wave Hits 38-Foot California Boat - Leaves 1 Dead, Four Others Still Missing!

The winds gusted above 25 knots and the swells topped 12 feet. In short, sailors participating in this year's race around the craggy Farallon Islands, 27 miles west of the Golden Gate, faced typically grueling conditions. Then something went terribly wrong.  A rogue wave pummeled the 38-foot Low Speed Chase as it rounded the islands Saturday, knocking five crew members overboard. As the captain sought to rescue them from the 50-degree water, the boat capsized and was hurled onto the rocks.

Yellow tulips are left near the entrance to the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere, Calif., on Sunday
after one sailor was killed and four others went missing in a yacht racing accident.
The body of Marc Kasanin, 46, a lifelong sailor and artist from Belvedere, Calif., was recovered soon after the accident. Four other sailors are missing and presumed dead. Three survivors, including the yacht's captain, were rescued by the Coast Guard, which has suspended search operations.  On Monday, the tight-knit racing community in the San Francisco Bay Area, which will host sailing's preeminent America's Cup next year, was reeling with grief.  "We are all still sort of scrambling to even accept that this has happened," said Laura Munoz, executive director of the Yacht Racing Assn. of San Francisco Bay. "It's a terrible, terrible accident. I think it's going to resonate with people for a long time."  Arguably most devastated is the 143-year-old San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere, which began hosting the Farallones race in 1907.  Kasanin grew up on the Marin County town's Corinthian Island, and his whimsical acrylic and oil paintings depict sailboats floating peacefully in its bucolic cove.  The Low Speed Chase had been berthed at the San Francisco Yacht Club. Also among its members was the missing Jordan Fromm, 25, of Kentfield, Calif., whose parents have been an active part of the club for years.  "Jordan is a young kid getting ready to start his life," General Manager Stephen DePetro said Monday.

"That's the heartbreak of heartbreaks right there."  The other missing sailors are Alexis Busch, 26, of Larkspur, Calif., the daughter of former San Francisco Giants executive Corey Busch and Major League Baseball's first bat girl (the Giants on Monday announced plans to honor her with a moment of silence); Alan Cahill, an Irish-born master boat craftsman in his 30s from Tiburon, Calif., whom a friend described to the San Francisco Chronicle as "full of life and energy"; and Elmer Morrissey of Ireland, also in his 30s.  Rescued with captain James Bradford, 41, of Chicago were Nick Vos of Sonoma, Calif., and Bryan Chong of Tiburon. The trio were among more than 400 attendees at a San Francisco Yacht Club vigil Sunday night.  "I have never seen so many tears and hugs," DePetro said.  The Farallones race is one of three held every year that circumnavigate the barren marine sanctuary.  "They're very popular races. And part of the reason they're popular is they can be challenging — but not beyond what people normally can handle," Munoz said.  On Saturday, 52 vessels started out the race under clear skies, Munoz said.  As regular swells measured about 12 feet, "every 10 minutes or so a much bigger wave would come through," said Bill Helvestine, who was racing his 50-foot craft — the Deception — in the Farallones contest for the fourth straight year.  As the yachts neared the island, Helvestine said, surf coming off the rocks mixed with the incoming swells, creating irregular "large, deeply troughed waves." - LA Times.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Two New Comets Discovered - C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) and P/2012 G1 (PanSTARRS)!

The astronomer Seiichi Yoshida published updated information on new comets today. The updates were provided on the Aerith/MISAO Project website, which searches for and tracks astronomically remarkable objects.

Comet - C/2012 F6 (Lemmon).

Magnitude Graph for C/2012 F6 (Lemmon).
 Discovery Date: 23rd March 2012

Magnitude: 20.7 mag

Discoverer: A. R. Gibbs (Mount Lemmon Survey)

 The orbital elements are published on M.P.E.C. 2012-G45.

For more on the Profile, Orbital Elements and Finding Charts, click HERE.

Comet - P/2012 G1 (PanSTARRS).

Magnitude Graph - P/2012 G1 (PanSTARRS).

Discovery Date:
April 13th 2012

Magnitude: 21.1 Mag

Discoverer: Pan-STARRS 1 telescope (Haleakala)

The orbital elements are published on M.P.E.C. 2012-H17.

For more on the Profile, Orbital Elements and Finding Charts, click HERE.