Saturday, May 5, 2012

EXTREMELY SEVERE WEATHER ANOMALIES: "Unheard of" Catastrophic Freeze Wipes Out About 80 Percent of Ontario's Apple Crop - Over $100 Million in Losses; "Worst Disaster Fruit Growers Have Ever Experienced"!

A catastrophic freeze has wiped out about 80 per cent of Ontario's apple crop and has the province's fruit industry looking at losses already estimated at more than $100 million.  "This is the worst disaster fruit growers have ever, ever experienced," Harrow-area orchard owner Keith Wright said Friday.  "We've been here for generations and I've never heard of this happening before across the province. This is unheard of where all fruit growing areas in basically the Great Lakes area, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York State, Ontario, are all basically wiped out. It's unheard of."

Keith Wright displays a frost-damaged apple blossom at his farm on Ridge Road near Harrow on May 4.
Wright lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of apples and peaches Sunday morning when freezing temperatures killed the blossoms.  Warm temperatures got fruit trees blooming early and when temperatures plummeted Sunday morning it damaged or wiped out much of the $60 million apple crop and 20 to 30 per cent of Ontario's $48 million tender fruit crop which includes peaches, cherries, pears, plums and nectarines.  Brian Gilroy, a Georgian Bay area apple grower who is chairman of the Ontario Apple Growers, said the loss to fruit growers and the economy will easily be more than $100 million. On top of the lost yield or no crop at all, orchard workers and spinoff industries such as juice, packing, storage and farm supplies will be affected.  Gilroy said consumers will find locally grown apples pricey and difficult to find this fall. Some kinds of apples such as Empire will be very difficult to find.  Washington State has a good crop but consumers should expect apple prices to jump because all of northeastern North America was affected, he said.  What crop growers do get will likely have visible damage such as apples with ridges like the ones on pumpkins.  "This past weekend in southwestern Ontario and the Niagara region temperatures got down to close to -7 (Celsius) while things were out in full bloom and it's pretty well wiped them out," Gilroy said of orchards already hit by previous frosts. "It's very widespread and the worst that anybody's seen." 

Gilroy said about 65 per cent of the 215 commercial apple growers in Ontario have crop insurance but the disaster has the board approaching the provincial and federal governments for help under an agri-recovery program.  Some growers across Ontario have also lost entire orchards of peaches, sour cherries, pears, plums and nectarines, said Phil Tregunno, chairman of the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers Marketing Board.  It depended on location. The board is estimating 20 to 30 per cent of that $48 million crop is done.  "It was just way too early," Tregunno said of blossom season that came about a month early. "That just put us at a huge risk."  Dave Nickels of Nickels Orchards in Ruthven said he lost all his apples, peaches, cherries and pears. He said when talking to other growers you can't even get a word out of them because they're just sick.  "It's kind of like having a death in the family except there's no closure to this one," Nickels said.  Wright said the warm weather came so early growers were worried the blossoms would get hit by frost. At 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning the temperature at Wright's farm bottomed out at about -3 C. He said at -3.9 degrees researchers estimate there will be 90 per cent bud kill.  In some varieties there is still a chance to get some apples. In early June trees shed excess fruit as a natural thinning process and growers will have to wait to see if shocked trees will drop all their fruit, Wright said.  Janice Wagner of Wagner Orchards in Lakeshore said it looks like they were lucky and their apple blossoms didn't get frozen, perhaps because they are further from the lake.  Strawberries and blueberries may have escaped. Helen McLeod of MacLeod farms near Cottam said they tried to protect their berries by spraying water on them all night. It's a trick she hopes worked.  Ted Klassen of Klassen Blueberries on County Road 50 near Lake Erie said he thinks he escaped with very little damage to the blueberry bushes that were in full bloom. - Windsor Star.

ATTACK OF THE SUN: The Carrington Effect - Space Weather Expert Has Ominous Forecast For Planet Earth!

A stream of highly charged particles from the sun is headed straight toward Earth, threatening to plunge cities around the world into darkness and bring the global economy screeching to a halt.  This isn't the premise of the latest doomsday thriller. Massive solar storms have happened before - and another one is likely to occur soon, according to Mike Hapgood, a space weather scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, England.  Much of the planet's electronic equipment, as well as orbiting satellites, have been built to withstand these periodic geomagnetic storms. But the world is still not prepared for a truly damaging solar storm, Hapgood argues in a recent commentary published in the journal Nature.  Hapgood talked with The Times about the potential effects of such a storm and how the world should prepare for it.

A beautiful prominence eruption shot off the east limb (left side) of the sun on Monday, April 16, 2012.
What exactly is a solar storm?  I find that's hard to answer. The term "solar storm" has crept into our usage, but nobody has defined what it means. Whether a "solar storm" is happening on the sun or is referring to the effect on the Earth depends on who's talking. I prefer "space weather," because it focuses our attention on the phenomena in space that travel from the sun to the Earth.

People often talk about solar flares and solar storms in the same breath. What's the difference?
Solar flares mainly emit X-rays - we also get radio waves from these things, and white light in the brightest of flares. They all travel at the same speed as light, so it takes eight minutes to arrive. There are some effects from flares, such as radio interference from the radio bursts. But that's a pretty small-beer thing. The big thing is the geomagnetic storms [on Earth] that affect the power grid, and that's caused by the coronal mass ejections [from the sun]. Coronal mass ejections are caused when the magnetic field in the sun's atmosphere gets disrupted and then the plasma, the sun's hot ionized gas, erupts and send charged particles into space. Think of it like a hurricane - is it headed toward us or not headed toward us? If we're lucky, it misses us.

How are solar flares and coronal mass ejections related?
  There's an association between flares and coronal mass ejections, but it's a relationship we don't quite understand scientifically. Sometimes the CME launches before the flare occurs, and vice versa.

What happens when those particles reach Earth?
  There can be a whole range of effects. The classic one everyone quotes is the effect on the power grid. A big geomagnetic storm can essentially put extra electric currents into the grid. If it gets bad enough, you can have a complete failure of the power grid - it happened in Quebec back in 1989. If you've got that, then you've just got to get it back on again. But you could also damage the transformers, which would make it much harder to get the electric power back.

How else could people be affected?
  You get big disturbances in the Earth's upper atmosphere - what we call the ionosphere - and that could be very disruptive to things like GPS [the network of global positioning system satellites]. Given the extent we use GPS in everyday life [including for cellphone networks, shipping safety and financial transaction records], that's a big issue. The storms can also disrupt communications on transoceanic flights. Sometimes when that happens, they will either divert or cancel flights. So that would be the like the disruption we had in Europe from the volcano two years ago, where they had to close down airspace for safety reasons.

What went wrong in the 1989 storm?
  In the UK, there were two damaged transformers that had to be repaired. But no power cuts. The worst thing is what happened in Quebec. In Quebec, the power system went from normal operation to failure in 90 seconds. It affected around 6 million people. The impact was reckoned to be $2 billion Canadian in 1989 prices. We had lots of disruption to communications to spacecraft operations. The North American Aerospace Defense Command has big radars tracking everything in space, and as they describe it, they lost 1,600 space objects. They found them again, but for a few days they didn't know where they were.

Is that the biggest geomagnetic storm on record?
  We always describe the storm in 1859 as the biggest space weather event. We know there were huge impacts on the telegraph, which suggests there would be similarly severe impacts on modern power grids. It's hard to compare it to the 1989 event because of the changes in our technology.

Many systems have been built to withstand a storm as big as the 1989 event. Is that good enough?
  A serious concern would be whole regions losing electrical power for some significant time. Here in the U.K., the official assessment is that we could lose one or two regions where the power might be out for several months. In the modern world, we use electricity for so many things. We require electrical power to pump water into people's houses and to pump the sewage away. [You can imagine] what could happen if the sewage systems aren't pumping stuff away.  If you don't have power, you can't pump fuel into vehicles. If you don't have any fuel, traffic could come to a standstill.

Could the economy function?
  Most of the time you're using credit cards, debit cards or you'll be getting money out of an ATM. If you've lost the power, the computers in the bank that keep track of our money will have back-up power, but not the ATMs or the machines in the shops. So if you had a big power outage, it wouldn't be long before we'd be trying to find cash.

What are the chances that
something like this will happen soon?  A recent paper [published in February in the journal Space Weather] tried to estimate the chance of having a repeat of 1859 and came up with a value of a 12% chance of it happening in the next 10 years. That's quite a high risk.

What can be done?
  The biggest step is to make more and more people aware of the issue, so they're thinking about it in the way they design things. That's the most critical part.  I think it's also getting a better picture of these very violent past events. We'd like to find out more about the scope of those events. We have a lot of old data from past events that's on paper - in newspapers and so on - and we're busy trying to find ways to turn it into digital.

We had a recent flare-up of publicity in March
thanks to a solar storm that didn't really amount to much. Is this sort of coverage a good thing or a bad thing?  It makes such a good scare story, and it's entertaining. It was a mildly interesting event, certainly, but not at all big-league stuff. It makes people think, "Oh it's nothing really," so experts like myself are in danger of being in the crying-wolf situation. That's something that is a concern to me, personally. - Los Angeles Times.

Scene from the movie "Knowing".

THE AGE OF OBAMA & BIG BROTHER NOW: The Emerging Global Police State - FBI Wants "Wiretap-Ready" Web Sites NOW!

The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance.

In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned. The FBI general counsel's office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly. "If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding," an industry representative who has reviewed the FBI's draft legislation told CNET. The requirements apply only if a threshold of a certain number of users is exceeded, according to a second industry representative briefed on it. The FBI's proposal would amend a 1994 law, called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, that currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2004 to apply to broadband networks.
FBI Director Robert Mueller is not asking companies to support the bureau's CALEA expansion, but instead is "asking what can go in it to minimize impacts," one participant in the discussions says. That included a scheduled trip this month to the West Coast -- which was subsequently postponed -- to meet with Internet companies' CEOs and top lawyers. A further expansion of CALEA is unlikely to be applauded by tech companies, their customers, or privacy groups. Apple (which distributes iChat and FaceTime) is currently lobbying on the topic, according to disclosure documents filed with Congress two weeks ago. Microsoft (which owns Skype and Hotmail) says its lobbyists are following the topic because it's "an area of ongoing interest to us." Google, Yahoo, and Facebook declined to comment. In February 2011, CNET was the first to report that then-FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni was planning to warn Congress of what the bureau calls its "Going Dark" problem, meaning that its surveillance capabilities may diminish as technology advances. Caproni singled out "Web-based e-mail, social-networking sites, and peer-to-peer communications" as problems that have left the FBI "increasingly unable" to conduct the same kind of wiretapping it could in the past. In addition to the FBI's legislative proposal, there are indications that the Federal Communications Commission is considering reinterpreting CALEA to demand that products that allow video or voice chat over the Internet -- from Skype to Google Hangouts to Xbox Live -- include surveillance backdoors to help the FBI with its "Going Dark" program. CALEA applies to technologies that are a "substantial replacement" for the telephone system. "We have noticed a massive uptick in the amount of FCC CALEA inquiries and enforcement proceedings within the last year, most of which are intended to address 'Going Dark' issues," says Christopher Canter, lead compliance counsel at the Marashlian and Donahue law firm, which specializes in CALEA. "This generally means that the FCC is laying the groundwork for regulatory action."

, a Colorado-based company that sells CALEA compliance products and worked with the Justice Department when it asked the FCC to extend CALEA seven years ago, says the FBI's draft legislation was prepared with the compliance costs of Internet companies in mind. In a statement to CNET, Subsentio President Steve Bock said that the measure provides a "safe harbor" for Internet companies as long as the interception techniques are "'good enough' solutions approved by the attorney general." Another option that would be permitted, Bock said, is if companies "supply the government with proprietary information to decode information" obtained through a wiretap or other type of lawful interception, rather than "provide a complex system for converting the information into an industry standard format." A representative for the FBI told CNET today that: "(There are) significant challenges posed to the FBI in the accomplishment of our diverse mission. These include those that result from the advent of rapidly changing technology. A growing gap exists between the statutory authority of law enforcement to intercept electronic communications pursuant to court order and our practical ability to intercept those communications. The FBI believes that if this gap continues to grow, there is a very real risk of the government 'going dark,' resulting in an increased risk to national security and public safety."

SOLAR WATCH: Solar Activity Increasing - Large New Sunspot Group Emerges Producing Two M-Class Solar Flares!

A low-level M-Class flare reaching M1.4 just took place around Sunspot 1476 at 13:23 UTC. Solar winds flowing from coronal holes should reach Earth on May 9-10.

LARGE SUNSPOT: A new and fairly large Sunspot continues to rotate into view off the northeast limb. The image above is the latest available by SDO on Saturday morning. This region has produced numerous C-Class flares thus far, the largest of which being a C6.8 flare at 09:34 UTC Saturday morning. There will be a chance for an M-Class event. - Solar Ham.
BIG NEW SUNSPOT: A large sunspot group is rotating into view over the sun's northeastern limb. The emergence of this apparently significant active region could herald an increase in solar activity. - Space Weather.


Solar wind
speed: 331.6 km/sec
density: 3.7 protons/cm3

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C8 2300 UT May05
24-hr: M1 1323 UT May05

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 114 sfu

Interplanetary Mag. Field

Btotal: 6.0 nT
Bz: 4.7 nT north

ANCIENT ALIENS: Season 4 - Aliens and Dinosaurs!

The History Channel continues its popular series on extraterrestrials, alien theories and ancient civilizations with season four of Ancient Aliens. The following video playlist constitutes program ten, entitled Aliens and Dinosaurs.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia, is the world's largest ancient religious temple. Within its megalithic ruins, researches have discovered a depiction of a species of dinosaur--a stegosaurus. But how could the ancients have had knowledge of animals that mainstream science says died out millions of years ago? Why are dinosaurs extinct? Did an alien race of beings kill off the dinosaurs to make room for humankind? - History Channel.
WATCH: Aliens and Dinosaurs.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Northern Shift of the Polar Jet Stream - May Feeling Like June in Most of the United States?!

Did Mother Nature skip a page on the calendar?  As we kick off May, the weather pattern over much of the central and eastern U.S. resembles June.  After dipping in the Northwest, the polar jet stream, as you can see below, takes a northward turn into the Northern Plains and Great Lakes, then glides south into New England. This northern migration of the jet stream from the Plains to the Midwest and Northeast is something we'd expect to see entrenched in the summer months.

Let's now explore the impacts this summer jet stream position has on your weather.  With the aforementioned jet stream well to the north and southerly winds at the surface, warm air has flooded a large amount of territory from the South into portions of the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic. For some cities, high temperatures will reach near-record levels in these regions as we close out the week. Highs in the 80s are expected as far north as Minneapolis, Minn., Chicago, Ill., and Detroit, Mich., on Thursday. Where exactly is the warmth more like June? Upper 80s in St. Louis, Mo., are like the average high beginning in late June. Middle 80s in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., are also more typical as we head into the latter half of June. While the widespread warmth will continue into the weekend for the middle-Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and the South, a frontal boundary will likely trend temperatures back closer to average levels from Minneapolis, Minn., to Chicago, Ill., and Detroit, Mich.

One trademark of the summer months is on full display this week. Thanks to the northern shift of the jet stream, the severe thunderstorm threat has also shifted north the next few days. In June, as well as later in the summer, an east-west frontal boundary often stalls out in the Midwest. Intercepted by a warm, moist so-called "low-level jet", scattered afternoon thunderstorms become full-fledged complexes of storms in the evening and overnight hours. Meteorologists call these "mesoscale convective systems" or MCSs.  According to a study by Fritsch, et al. (1986), these MCS thunderstorm clusters are responsible for 30-70 percent of the warm season precipitation in the nation's mid-section. So, they're important for the nation's Grain Belt.  That said, they can also produce flooding rain and/or damaging winds.  Expect one or more clusters of thunderstorms each overnight/early morning over parts of the Midwest through the upcoming weekend. Not everyone's weather will have a "June feel."  While the jet stream's northward bulge provides the Midwest and much of the East with heat and thunderstorms, it will keep the Northwest and northern Rockies cool, wet, and even white. You can see the latest frontal system headed into the Pacific Northwest in the satellite image above. This will bring low-elevation rain, and, yes, mountain snow starting Thursday, persisting into much of Friday. Temperature-wise, 40s, 50s, and 60s for high temperatures will be the rule, instead of the hot 80s and 90s elsewhere.  It isn't all bad news.  Early next week will see a vast improvement, with increased sunshine and warmer temperatures
. - MSNBC.

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.

Oklahoma City, United States - 3rd of May, 2012.

Moscow, Russia - 2nd of May, 2012.

St. Petersburg, Russia - 2nd of May, 2012.

Warsaw, Poland - 2nd of May 2012.

Phoenix, Arizona - 8th of March, 2012.

Midlothian, Scotland - 4th of May, 2012.

London, United Kingdom - 2nd of May, 2012.

Escondido, California, United States - 1st of May, 2012.

DELUGE: Deadly Heavy Rains and Floods in Nepal - Thirteen Dead and Dozens Missing Near Annapurna!

At least 13 people have died in Nepal and dozens more are missing, police say, after a mountain river burst its banks, causing flooding around Mount Annapurna in the west of the country.
The floodwaters swept away people, livestock and houses.
Three Russian tourists trekking in the area are among the missing. Their names have not been released.  The floodwaters have swept into Pokhara, Nepal's second biggest city.  Police have been trying to reach the village in the Mount Annapurna area where the flooding started. Fast-flowing floodwaters from the swollen Seti River smashed into two buildings and a number of shacks in Kharapani village, in the shadow of Mount Annapurna, police official Shailesh Thapa told the AFP news agency.  A number of people were swept away along with their houses and livestock.  Police are searching for more victims.
Rescuers dig through mud in search of victims of the flash flood.
"Tourists flock to this area because there is a hot-water spring," an official from the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, named only as Paudel, told the AFP news agency.  "There hasn't been any rain recently, so we were surprised when the flood occurred at 09:30. "The water has risen so high that it was up to a bridge. I found two truck drivers who had survived by fleeing to a hill nearby."  May is the end of the trekking season, but before the monsoon. The cause of the flood is not yet known.  One report said an avalanche on Annapurna had caused the river to back up before it burst its banks. - BBC.
WATCH: Flash Floods in Nepal.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Submarine Eruption of the El Hierro Island, Canary Islands - Minor Seismic Activity and Weak Degassing Continues!

Earthquakes at El Hierro during 21 April - 1 May 2012 (AVCAN).
The overall decreasing trend of what is left of the volcanic activity at El Hierro continues. Still, a few, mostly very small quakes continue to occur focused in 2 areas SW and NW of the island. Occasionally, a weak stain and sometimes bubbling water is seen above the submarine vent near La Restinga. Measurements indicate that the vent is still degassing, but with very low SO2 content, suggesting that there is no more fresh magma moving towards to the surface.

Earthquake activity and degassing from the submarine vent continue at El Hierro. 2 relatively large quakes with magnitudes 3 and 2.2 occurred on 16 April at 15 and 19 km depth. A faint tremor signal is still present and has increased slightly recently. At the sea surface, discolored water and raising bubbles can be observed at spots above the submarine volcano south of La Restinga and in the Bay of Naos. - Volcano Discovery.

EXTREME WEATHER: State Climatologist - Texas Could be in Store for a 10-15 Year Drought!

Last September, Texas State Climatologist Dr. John Nielson-Gammon said that Texas as a whole could be in store for a 10 to 15 year drought. After soaking Winter rains, is that forecast still valid? Dr. Nielson-Gammon, back in September 2011 said, "patterns don't tend to change very rapidly, so we may be in this pattern the next five to fifteen years. That could mean a series of droughts or potentially one long drought."

After the early year rains added over 20 inches of much needed moisture to the soil, lakes and rivers of the Brazos Valley, the official Drought Monitor finally cleared the region of drought. But after a below normal April, where only 0.5" to 0.6" of rain fell, the Brazos Valley is once again going dry. In fact, as of Thursday morning, Austin County and parts of Washington and Waller Counties are now officially considered to be in a "Moderate Drought" yet again.  So, if we are sitting just under 10 inches above normal for yearly rainfall, why are we headed back into a drought? Drought is something that has to be looked at on the large scale. While conditions were beneficial at the beginning of the year, the area wasn't that far removed from dangerously dry conditions.

With the hot and dry summer months on the way, many fear that the entire area will slip back into at least a Moderate if not Severe Drought yet again.  Dr. Doug Welsh, with Texas Agrilife Extension, put it best when it comes to Texas by saying, "We don't know what is going to happen again this summer...because we know we are always seven days away from drought, and we are going there again."  The good news is that La Nina, cooler waters in the Pacific that caused the weather pattern over Texas to run dry, has officially left as of April. The summer pattern is expected to be neutral but then possible shift into an El Nino type set-up by Winter. That means a cooler and possibly wet outlook for the later part of 2012 could be in store.  Will the area go back into an "Exceptional Drought" -- the worst classification of drought -- anytime soon? That will be left for the summer to tell. While the outlook for this winter is an optimistic one, there is still speculation that we could easily go right back into a similar drought, as that of 2011, by 2013 or 2014 -- meaning that five to fifteen year outlook wouldn't be too far off the mark. - KBTX.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Spring Advancing Faster than Experiments Suggest - Extreme USA Warmth in 2012; Plants Emerging Unusually Faster Than Predicted?!

The extreme warmth during March of 2012 launched 25 states east of the Rockies to their warmest March on record.  Trees and plants responded accordingly and got off to an unusually fast start on their bud, leaf and flower production this spring.  In some locations around the Great Lakes, this early emergence was 4 to 6 weeks ahead of schedule!

Tree blooming in Southport, Conn. during March.
Although the spring of 2012 is an extreme example of trees and plants emerging well ahead of when they should, a recent study reveals a longer-term trend. Plants are leafing out and flowering sooner each year than predicted by results from controlled environmental warming experiments, according to data from a major new archive of historical observations assembled with the help of a NASA researcher.  Researchers use experiments that manipulate the temperature of the environment surrounding small plots of plants to gauge how specific plants will react to higher temperatures. The observed plant responses can then be incorporated into models that predict future ecosystem changes as temperatures around the globe continue to rise. But when a group of scientists compared these results to a massive new archive of historical observations, they found that the warming experiments are dramatically underestimating how plants respond to climate change. The results were published online in the journal Nature on May 2. In addition to quantifying how a broad collection of plant species have responded to date to rising temperatures, the study suggests that the way warming experiments are conducted needs to be re-evaluated. "This suggests that predicted ecosystem changes -- including continuing advances in the start of spring across much of the globe -- may be far greater than current estimates based on data from warming experiments," said Elizabeth Wolkovich, who led the interdisciplinary team of scientists behind the new research while she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. "The long-term records show that phenology is changing much faster than estimated based on the results of the warming experiments. This suggests we need to reassess how we design and use results from these experiments."

Benjamin Cook, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University, New York, worked with Wolkovich to create the massive new archive of long-term, natural phenology observations to gauge the accuracy of the phenological predictions based on these plant warming experiments. The archive includes data from 1,558 species of wild plants on four continents. The historical records showed that leafing and flowering will advance, on average, five to six days per degree Celsius -- a finding that was consistent across species and datasets. These data show that estimates based on data from warming experiments are underpredicting advances in flowering by eight and a half times and advances in leafing by four times. The authors expect the data archive to be an important benchmark in future phenology studies.  "These results are important because we rely heavily on warming experiments to predict what will happen to ecosystems in the future," said Cook, who helped bring together a research team including support from the National Center on Ecological Analysis and Synthesis to build the archive of real-world observations. "With these long-term observational records you may be able to pick up a shift in a plant community over a few years that you wouldn't be able to observe in an experiment." - Weather.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONTAGION: Jim Rogers' Warning - Riots Coming to America!

Speaking with the Wall Street Journal on Friday, commodities trader Jim Rogers of Rogers Holdings said riots such as the ones witnessed in Greece and reported as widespread in China will hit the United States and again in Europe as the next leg down in the financial crisis takes shape (after the election, he speculates in previous interviews). “I’m more worried about those kind of problems [rioting] in the U.S. and Europe; this is where social unrest is going to be worse,” Rogers told the Journal.  “I would suspect that, when economic conditions get worse here and get worse in Europe, we’re going to see . . . you’ve seen governments fail in Europe; you’ve seen countries fail in Europe. I suspect you’re going to see more of it [rioting], yes.  We saw it in London; we’ve seen it in several countries in Europe in the last year or two.  Yes, I expect to see it here, too.  If you don’t, look out your window”.

When asked about Bernanke’s credibility regarding his latest FOMC public statement, in which he said the Fed will be able to contain inflation, Rogers became noticeably irritated.  “Mr. Bernanke has zero credibility as far as I’m concerned.  The Federal Reserve has zero credibility,” Rogers said forcefully.   “Simon, go back at everything Mr. Bernanke has said in the last seven or eight years he’s been in Washington.  He’s never been right about anything.  The man has zero credibility for anyone who would take the time to look at his history.”  As far as further inflation down the road, Rogers stated inflation is already in the pipeline, and will manifest in higher commodities and consumer prices—of which, historically, have lagged money supply expansion by six months to one year.  As of the week ending Apr. 25, 2012, the Fed reported its balance sheet reached a total of $2.92 trillion, up from $2.71 trillion a year ago, and up from $920 billion in March 2008—well before the brunt of the financial crisis took its toll on markets later in 2008 and early 2009.  A tripling of the Fed’s balance sheet within fours years won’t be the extent of the damage to the Fed’s debt monetizing scheme and the value of the U.S. dollar, according to Rogers, who sees much more Fed money printing to come as well as consumer price inflation as a result.  “Absolutely, they’ve been printing staggering amounts of money; they’ve been taking staggering amounts of debt onto their balance sheet, much of it is garbage,” said Rogers.  “The federal government is spending huge amounts of money they have.  We have inflation in the U.S., and it’s going to get worse, Simon.” 

Rogers said investors have it easier today than prior to the crisis.  It’s a heads-you-win, tails-you-win scenario.  The emergence of Asia as a source of consumption of raw materials and finished goods will exact pressure on harder-to-find natural resources.  If demand is crippled by the financial crisis, however, central banks will respond by debasing their respective currencies, forcing smart money into ‘things’ as a means of protecting wealth.  “In times of inflation . . . that’s put it this way, if the economy gets better there will be shortages of those raw materials and I’m going to make money,” Rogers explained.  “If the economy doesn’t get better Simon, they’re going to print a lot more money.  Mr. Bernanke doesn’t know anything else but to print money.  And throughout history when governments debase the currency, you protect yourself by owning real assets, whether it’s silver or rice, or whatever it happens to be.” [Emphasis added]  Rogers’ take on the most popular asset class among investors who follow the American expat who now lives in Singapore—gold—is that, he holds the precious metal (and by extension, silver) as a reliable means of storing value during a globally coordinated money-printing policies executed among the world’s major central banks.  He also discusses the virtues of owning oil as a play on ‘Peak Oil’ in addition to currency debasements.  “I own both [gold and oil] of them,” Rogers said.  “Gold has been up 11 years in a row which is extremely unusual for any asset.  It’s consolidating; it wouldn’t surprise me if it continued to consolidate.  If it goes down a lot more, I hope I buy a lot more.  I’m not selling my gold by any stretch of the imagination.”  Rogers added about oil, “The surprise with oil is going to be how high it stays and how high it goes.  Simon, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has done a study.  The world’s known reserves of oil are in steady decline.  We have to find a lot of oil or the price of oil is going to unheard of heights.” - ETF Daily News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Hail of a Spring so Far - Millions of Dollars in Damage This Year, and Worst May be Yet to Come!

Several storm systems so far this year have produced punches of destructive hail, and the impact is being felt by thousands of car, home and business owners.

Charles Newby at Freer Auto Body in Godfrey, Illinois, works on a smashed windshield. Body shops have
beenflooded with hail-damaged vehicles needing repair since a stormhit the St. Louis area April 28.
So far this spring, large hail has taken its toll in parts of Missouri, Texas and Nebraska, causing millions of dollars in damage. And the worst may be yet to come. May and June are the most active months for hail storms, said Dr. Greg Forbes, The Weather Channel’s severe weather expert. It’s not unusual to have 100 reports of hail a day during those months, he said. Most hail is small, usually less than two inches in diameter. But even small hail can cause damage. Larger hailstones can fall at speed of 100 mph or more, wreaking havoc and leading to millions of dollars in insurance claims. - Weather.
WATCH: Hailstorm from inside a car.