Sunday, April 22, 2012

RATTLE & HUM: Loud Boom Over Northern California and Nevada Thought to be From Meteor?!

People in Northern California and Nevada reported hearing a loud boom in the sky above the Sierra Sunday morning. The Tuolumne County sheriff's department said they are investigating the possibility that it might have been the physical impact of an overnight meteor shower. Some people in the Tahoe area said they saw what they believed to be a meteor just prior to the sound.

A picture of a very active Leonid meteor shower.
People who live in in Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County, Placer County, Tuolumne County, Amador County and Nevada County contacted our sister station in Sacramento. KCRA is reporting that they heard the sound just after 8:30 a.m.  A television station in Reno said they received similar calls from the city of Reno and as far away as Incline Village. Meteorologists in California and Nevada including our own Rob Mayeda said there were meteor showers Saturday night that could have still been going on Sunday morning. If the boom was a signal that an outer space rock made it way through the atmosphere, then there could be a rock or rocks now on Terra Firma. So far, no one has called authorities or television stations to report "a hit."

Mayeda said the meteor would likely be a bolide rock and that it likely burned up before getting to the ground. Every year the Earth passes through the orbit of a comet causing the Lyrid meteor shower. The results on a clear night is a meteor shower, which comes in the form of light streaks shooting across the night sky. The stars are actually debris from the comet as it enters the Earth's atmosphere. According to the International Meteor Organization, the Lyrid meteor shower peaked with a maximum between 20 and 30 meteors per hour. That is not the best of the year's meteor showers, but many observers said they were pleasantly surprised. There was also a reported meteor streak in the South Bay Sunday morning at 7:50 a.m. Don Hirschfeld said he was at the Capitol Flea market when he saw a brilliant green streak race across the San Jose sky in the northeast direction. Hirshfeld said it lasted just a few seconds, but caught bargain shoppers' attention. There was no boom in the San Jose event and the streak ended with burn up flashes. - NBC Bay Area.
WATCH: Loud boom over Northern California and Nevada.

WORLD WAR III: The Gathering of Forces and the Countdown to Armageddon - Iran Building Copy of Captured U.S. Drone and a Powerful Submarine Force; U.S. Sends 430 Cruise Missiles into the Persian Gulf; China and Russia Starts Joint Naval Exercises in the Yellow Sea; as Anarchy Continues in Syria!

Iran declared Sunday it had "cracked the codes" of the intelligence gathering system of a U.S. spy drone it captured last year for violating its airspace, and that it is building a copy of the surveillance craft.

Iran has begun building a copy of the US surveillance drone it captured last year, after breaking its encryption codes, Iranian officials say.  "The Americans should be aware to what extent we have infiltrated the plane," General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, military aerospace chief said.  The RQ-170 Sentinel was shown on Iranian state television last December.  Tehran says it was brought down using electronic warfare; Washington says it malfunctioned.  US Senator Joe Lieberman dismissed the claim that a copy was being made as "Iranian bluster" saying, "they're on the defensive because of our economic sanctions against them".  But Gen Hajizadeh said: "Our experts have full understanding of its components and programmes."  He said that Iran had managed to hack the controls of the drone, thus enabling the Iranians to reverse-engineer the aircraft to make its own copy. - BBC.
In addition, the Islamic state is also demonstrating its technological prowess, by building a powerful submarine force in the Persian Gulf, as well as as displaying nano-technological developments at a Chinese import exposition.
Iran has been building up its submarine fleet with mainly indigenously built boats considered ideal to carry out Tehran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in case of military confrontation with the US and its western allies, a report said. Iran has been building up its submarine fleet for the last decade, adding mainly indigenously built small boats armed with torpedoes and mines that make them ideal platforms to carry out Tehran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the gateway to the Persian Gulf, if it comes under attack by the US or Israel or if export of its crude supplies are blocked by the US-led West.  Accurate data on the Islamic Republic's underwater fleet, the only one in the Persian Gulf region, are hard to come by but Western analysts estimate the Iranian navy and the more powerful naval arm of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) operate around 20 submarines, a UPI report said. Most of these have been built by the state-owned Defense Industries Organization, a conglomeration of defense companies controlled by the Defense Ministry that supervises all military production, research and development, it added. - FARS News Agency.
Creating an appropriate environment for negotiation and interaction between the Iranian parties active in this industry with the foreign companies present in the expo, presenting Iran's capabilities and products of the Iranian companies and marketing their sales, stabilizing Iran's position in the field of nanotechnology at international level, and identifying companies which provide commercial services or export products to China were among objective sought by the INIC's participation in the expo. Also during the expo, the INIC presented eight nanotechnology products made by the domestic companies in the fields of the production of laboratory devices, chemical and medical compounds, and industrial products. - FARS News Agency.
Meanwhile, the United States is taking aim at Tehran, by sending 430 Cruise Missiles into the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. deployed two mother ships and several warships and submarines in the waters of the Gulf. The U.S. claims, the deployment of warplanes is part of routine security operations in the Gulf. USS Enterprise is armed by 130 Tomahawk missiles while the USS Lincoln also has a lot of long-range missile. Meanwhile, the USS Georgia is estimated to carry 154 Tomahawk missiles and the ship was sailing in the Arabian Sea. According to observers, there are 430 Tomahawk missiles carried by U.S. warships. Missiles that can reach targets as far as 1700 and certainly capable of destroying air defense systems Affairs Persia. In addressing the Iranian nuclear issue, the U.S. actually looks a little hesitant. On the one hand, the U.S. has always suggested the use of diplomacy and economic sanctions to thwart Iran’s nuclear, but also look to deploy U.S. troops in the region adjacent to Iran. In addition, the U.S. was building a missile defense system in Europe to protect member states North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from the Iranian missile threat. - Beritai.
Against this background, China and Russia starts joint naval exercises in Yellow Sea today.
Chinese and Russian warships began six-day joint naval exercises Sunday in the Yellow Sea, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. "The exercises will involve several simulated missions, including the rescue of a hijacked ship, the escort of a commercial vessel and the defense (of) a convoy from air and sea attacks," a Russian defense ministry spokesman said Friday, according to Russia's RIA Novosti news agency. The war game will include 16 Chinese vessels and two submarines, as well as 13 aircraft and five shipboard helicopters, Xinhua said. The agency said four Russian warships and three Russian supply ships arrived Saturday. More than 4,000 Chinese service members will attend the exercises, Xinhua said, citing navy sources. - CNN.
In Syria, government troops continue to strike near Damascus despite a declared ceasefire and the presence of United Nations observers.

U.N. cease-fire monitors toured a rebel-held town in central Syria Sunday with army defectors, while government troops pounded a Damascus suburb with artillery and heavy machine guns, activists said. The shelling in Douma highlighted the need for more observers a day after the Security Council voted to expand the number of U.N. observers from 30 to 300 in hopes of salvaging an international truce plan marred by continued fighting between the military and rebels. An eight-member team is already on the ground in Syria, and since Thursday has visited flashpoints of the 13-month-long conflict. Fighting generally halts temporarily when the observers are present in an area, but there has been a steady stream of reports of violence from towns and regions where they have not yet gone. - Huffington Post.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mexico Prepares Shelters as Popocatepetl Volcano Continues to Rumble and Roar - 62 Explusions Between Thursday and Friday!

Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano has rumbled continuously and spewed gases and glowing rocks to almost one mile (one kilometer) beyond its crater, authorities said Friday. Popocatepetl is located about 34 miles (55 kilometers) east of the capital, Mexico City.

Local residents report hearing a continuous roar as Popocatepetl's activity increases.
More than 30 million people live within sight of the volcano. In an increase of activity the volcano registered "62 expulsions of medium intensity, with the emission of water vapor, gas, ashes and glowing rocks," between Thursday night and Friday, said a statement from the National Center of Disaster Prevention. Authorities raised the alert level Monday to five on a seven-point scale, extending a security radius around the 5.452-meter (17,887-feet) volcano but stopping short of starting evacuations from nearby communities. Concerns are growing that should a larger eruption occur huge quantities of ash could be dumped on one of the world's largest metropolitan areas, potentially causing chaos for Mexico City's busy air traffic. Residents in the nearby town of Santiago Xalitzintla said the volcano was now constantly rumbling. "There was a strong humming sound all night... it's roaring," said Alvaro Perez.
Another resident said her family was scared of what might happen next. "My smallest son, who is four years old, was woken up by the roar during the night," said Sofia Lopez. "'Mum, are we leaving now?' he asked me. I told him that it was OK, but the truth is that we're very scared." NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-13, captures visible and infrared images of weather over the eastern U.S. every 15 minutes, and spotted an ash and gas cloud streaming from the volcano over several hours during the morning of April 18, 2012. The short, four second black and white video covers several hours and shows the volcano's ash blowing to the east, and over the central state of Puebla. On the ground, officials in Puebla have prepared temporary shelters for possible evacuations and locals were wearing face masks to protect their lungs from ashes in a populous area around the volcano. Popocatepetl, Mexico's second highest peak, means "smoking mountain" in the indigenous Nahuatl language. After moderate activity during most of the 20th Century, the towering mountain registered more intense rumblings from 1994, with the strongest in December 2000 when nearby communities were evacuated. - Discovery News.

WATCH: Mexican government place country on high alert.

MASS MAMMAL DIE-OFF: Mystery Surrounds Death of 877 Dolphins Washed Ashore in Peru?!

Environmental authorities are investigating the deaths of more than 800 dolphins that have washed up on the northern coast of Peru this year.

Experts measure a dead dolphin on the northern coast of Peru, some 750 km north of Lima, on April 11.
The dolphins may have died from an outbreak of Morbillivirus or Brucella bacteria, said Peruvian Deputy Environment Minister Gabriel Quijandria, according to Peru's state-run Andina news agency.  Quijandria said Thursday that 877 dolphins have washed up in a 220-kilometer (137-mile) area from Punta Aguja to Lambayeque, in the north of the country.  More than 80% of those dolphins were found in an advanced state of decomposition, making it difficult to study their deaths, according to Andina.  Earlier last week, the Peruvian government put together a panel from different ministries to analyze a report by the Peruvian Sea Institute (IMARPE). 

Officials have been able to conclude that the dolphins' deaths were not due to lack of food, interaction with fisheries, poisoning with pesticides, biotoxin poisoning or contamination by heavy metals.  The results of a histopathological analysis -- which would indicate possible contamination by a virus -- are expected to be ready in the coming days.  The dolphin deaths in Peru are just the latest in a worldwide trend.  In February, 179 dolphins --108 of which were dead -- washed ashore in Cape Cod, in eastern United States, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Marine biologists are still trying to determine the cause of those deaths.  In early March, amateur video taken from a beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, showed more than 30 dolphins on shore. In that instance, all dolphins were safely returned to the sea. - CNN.

EXTREME WEATHER: Triple Digit Temperatures in the American Southwest - And It's Still April!

It's only April, but some extreme heat has arrived over the Southwest U.S. this weekend. Why is this happening? A major upper-level ridge of high pressure has taken up shop across the region. This upper ridge provides subsidence or sinking air. Sinking air actually compresses and pressure builds. This build-up in pressure leads to an air mass temperature increase.

We are forecasting high temperatures in the Desert Southwest to reach the upper 90s and triple-digits; coming close to or exceeding the record highs for the date in some cities. Cities that could break their daily record highs this weekend including Phoenix, Yuma, Tucson and Las Vegas. Before this weekend, Phoenix had not reached the century mark in 2012. The average first 100-degree reading comes around May 2. Last year, the city first hit 100 degrees on April 1. The major warmth won't only be confined to the Southwest but also permeate into the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys of California (Sacramento, Fresno) and also into the heart of the intermountain West (Salt Lake City, Grand Junction, Boise). In fact, record highs may be broken in the Pacific Northwest too including in Portland and Medford, Ore.
Highs across the region are forecast to be 10 to 20 degrees above average. This intense heat will continue through at least the early part of the work week with some slight mitigation of the heat by midweek. Look for Wednesday highs in the 90s again in the Desert Southwest, mid to upper 70s in the Salt Lake Valley and 80s to near 90 on the Strip in Vegas. Will this pattern stick around? Unlike the previous pattern in place, this shift will be relatively short-lived. Computer weather models currently show the western ridge weakening as a new storm system approaches the California coast late Wednesday into Thursday. - MSNBC.

AGE OF OBAMA & BIG BROTHER NOW: Coming Soon to a Sky Near You - More Than 50 Institutions Nationwide Given Permission to Operate Drones!

With little public attention, dozens of universities and law-enforcement agencies have been given approval by federal aviation regulators to use unmanned aircraft known as drones, according to documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests by an advocacy group.

In February, the Mesa County Sheriff's Department in Colorado tested a drone with an infrared camera.
It measures about 36 inch wide.
The more than 50 institutions that received approvals to operate remotely piloted aircraft are more varied than many outsiders and privacy experts previously knew. They include not only agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security but also smaller ones such as the police departments in North Little Rock, Ark., and Ogden, Utah, as well the University of North Dakota and Nicholls State University in Louisiana. The information, released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, came to light as the Federal Aviation Administration gears up to advance the widespread use of the drones. By the fall of 2015, Congress wants the agency to integrate remotely piloted aircraft throughout U.S. airspace.  Although the documents don't indicate how the aircraft will be used, the disclosures likely will fuel privacy concerns involving drones.  On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas asked the acting administrator of the FAA to answer questions about the privacy implications of increased drone use. "Many drones are designed to carry surveillance equipment, including video cameras, infrared thermal imagers, radar and wireless network 'sniffers,' " the representatives wrote in their letter to Michael Huerta.

Now that the FAA, under pressure from lawmakers and businesses, is pushing to increase the use of drones, it has "the responsibility to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected and that the public is fully informed about who is using drones in public airspace and why," they wrote.  The FAA declined to comment.  As part of the push to increase uses of civilian drones, nearly 50 companies are developing some 150 different systems, ranging from miniature models to those with wingspans comparable to airliners.  The FAA previously said it has approved dozens of nonmilitary uses of unmanned aircraft, ranging from law enforcement to firefighting to wildlife monitoring. Drones also have been used for news coverage, mapping and agricultural applications... The list obtained by the EFF represents all entities that have applied for drone permits, but doesn't show how many drones each entity has, said Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney with the group. FAA officials have talked about the existence of about 300 active permits... "The very same drone that was staking out a nest of insurgents and possibly shooting them could be deployed in New York for surveillance" after removal of weaponry, Mr. Calo said. He said the use of drones could spark a wider debate about privacy because people aren't accustomed to such technology. "If you bring back a tank from Afghanistan, you don't expect it to show up in a park," he said. - Wall Street Journal.

WILD WEATHER Major Nor'easter Storm - Heavy Rains, Snow, Thunder, Lightning and Tornadoes Will Pound the Eastern United States!

Heavy rains and snow will soon pound the eastern United States, possibly leading to downed trees, power outages and flight delays as a low pressure system from the Gulf of Mexico moves through the region.

Intense precipitation from the Nor'easter storm was due to start on Sunday morning, with two to four inches of downpour expected along the Mid-Atlantic Coast, which will make for soggy conditions in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. For snow, "the areas of concern are western New York, western Pennsylvania, extreme eastern Ohio, parts of northern West Virginia and extreme western Maryland," reported. Buffalo and Pittsburgh could see six inches or so. "It's going to a very, very intense Nor'easter," said Michael Eckert, senior branch forecaster with the National Weather Service based in Camp Springs, Md. "Snowfall rates may exceed 1" per hour Sunday night into early Monday, accompanied by thunder and lightning," added. Winds of 30 to 50 miles per hour are expected on the coast. "The weather will be going downhill during the day on Sunday," Eckert said. On Sunday night, the inland side of the weather system will see an influx of cold air, as falling rain morphs into heavy snow that will blanket western parts of New York state and Pennsylvania, as well as West Virginia, he said. 

Higher elevations could see up to 12 inches of snow, the Weather Service said.  That could lead to downed branches and even trees. As a result, forecasters expect broken power lines and widespread outages in some areas.  This weather pattern would produce a blizzard if it had come in January, but because the spring air is warmer the storm is not expected to be as severe, Eckert said.  Nevertheless, airports in New York, Boston and Philadelphia could see flight delays on Monday due to the storm, said Eckert, who works for the Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center.  On Saturday, Minnesota had a few small tornadoes that struck in the western half of the state, the National Weather Service said. They caused no injuries but damaged barns near the town of Milan and to a flower shop in Lucan, said Weather Service meteorologist Bryon Paulson.   "We had everything, rain, nickel-sized hail, small tornadoes and snow," he said.   The town of Chisholm in northeast Minnesota received nearly 6 inches of snow, after getting a foot a week ago. That followed a mild winter with little snow, he said.   In Florida, a flood watch was canceled but the state braced for powerful thunderstorms overnight packing wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour and the potential for tornadoes, Weather Service meteorologist Barry Baxter said.   Some showers and thunderstorms will occur in Florida later on Sunday, but they will not be as intense as what the state experienced on Saturday, Eckert said. - MSNBC.
WATCH: Nor'easter to bring heavy rain and snow to U.S. East.

DELUGE: Severe Floods and Hail Cause Widespread Damage in Iran - Women Forced to "Break the Law and Walk Barefoot" in Tehran!

Severe floods across northern Iran caused enormous damage to infrastructure in a number of towns and villages on Thursday and Friday after pouring spring rains drenched northern and northwestern provinces of the country for about one week. Heavy rains in the northern province of Gilan swelled rivers, causing devastating floods across the province. Floods caused great damage to farms, buildings, rice fields and warehouses, bridges, and power lines located near the rivers. Flash flooding in Fuman County killed a young girl. Heavy showers of rain and hail in the northwestern province of Ardabil also caused floods, inflicting considerable damage to gardens, farms, buildings, and roads.

Still reeling from a torrential downpour that flooded much of Tehran earlier this week many in the Iranian capital have lashed out at local authorities, blaming them for not being sufficiently prepared for severe weather. The storm left much of the northern and eastern parts of the city completely water logged, including entire subway stations, forcing people of both sexes to hike up their pant legs and take of their shoes despite an Islamic law forbidding women to show their bare feet in public. Tehran, which is usually spared from the kind of flooding regularly seen in other parts of northern Iran, was taken by surprise on Sunday by the extensive damage caused by the heavy rainfall. The city's public transport system was completely flooded, and a number of vehicles were even swept away by the water. Violent gusts of winds also caused electrical shortages in several neighbourhoods, leaving residents in the dark for up to seven hours.

"A lot of women were forced to break the law and walk barefoot with their pants rolled up to their knees." Kianouche Amiri, 33, lives in Tehran. He was on his way to work when the flooding began. Last Sunday began with sunny skies, but at around noon, the weather started to turn for the worse. In the beginning it seemed like it was nothing to worry about, but gradually the rain began to intensify and water levels began to rise rapidly. In less than an hour, both people and cars were immobilised by the water. I was about 10 minutes away from my office, and I had to take off my shoes and hike up my pants to reach my workplace. The worst was that there were a number of girls who were forced to walk barefoot with their pants rolled up to their knees, which goes completely against a law that requires women to cover themselves from head to toe or risk being fined. But the situation forced a lot of women to break the law. There were some who took advantage of the situation to 'passively' taunt the police, who were also impeded by the heavy rainfall and therefore rendered unable to react.

"The rails looked more like a river than train tracks" The subway was hit hard by the storm. There were a few stations where the water rose all the way up to the subway's entrance. Even in others where the flooding wasn't as bad, the rails still looked more like a river than train tracks. Water flowed in rivulets through the hallways onto the rails and the ceiling had collapsed in a number of places, allowing mud to run through. Traffic was seriously delayed on a few lines for a couple days after the flooding was over, and didn't resume normal service until the middle of the week. The day of the storm, I wasn't [sic] able to work in the morning because the electricity shorted. I had to wait for the flooding to go down before finally being able to take a taxi home at around 9 pm. The cost of a fare had tripled, even quadrupled in some cases. People here are outraged with the authorities because they weren't prepared for an storm of this magnitude. Most of the criticism has been targeted at how the subway was built. Local authorities have pointed their finger at the city government, which has in turn blamed higher powers for failing to have provided the capital with sufficient funds to secure the subway in the event of sever weather. - France 24.
WATCH: Scenes of flooding in Iran.

DELUGE: The La Nina Phenomena - Seasonal Rains Produce Deadly Flooding in Colombia; Flood Waters as Deep as 13 Feet Affects Over 2,000 Families!

Heavy seasonal rain throughout much of Colombia over the past several weeks have caused major flooding throughout the county.

Police officers patrol by boat past a home submerged in flood waters after heavy rains triggered the Chico
River to overflow its banks in Cota, Colombia, Wednesday April 18, 2012. Torrential rains, floods and
landslides have killed over a dozen people nationwide this year.
The increase in rainfall is attributed to the weather phenomenon called La Nina.  The flooding became deadly earlier this week, claiming the life of one person in the nation's capital of Bogota.  Heavy rainfall in recent weeks have caused major flooding of the nearby Bogota and Chichu rivers. The resulting floods have affected more than 2,000 families in the region, forcing most to evacuate to higher ground.  In the town of Cota, which is located just north of Bogota, local officials reported flood waters as deep as 13 feet in some areas.  In the Valle del Cauca Department, located in western Colombia, local officials have reported more than 500 homes flooded. 

The National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) has reported that the seasonal rains have claimed the lives of 19 people and have left over 60,000 people homeless throughout the country. UNGRD reports that these numbers are "85 percent lower than in the same period in 2011."  In 2011, 134 Colombians lost their lives, while more than half a million people were affected.  More heavy rain is expected across the country over the next few weeks as the rain season continues.  La Nina is a weather phenomenon that results from a cooling of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean waters off the coasts of Peru, Ecuador and southern Colombia. La Nina conditions favors an increase in rainfall throughout much of the county.  The increase in rainfall raises the probability of flooding in different areas of the county, as well as help produce landslides. - AccuWeather.