Sunday, May 27, 2012

SOLAR WATCH: The Activity Intensifies on the Sun - Huge Coronal Hole Rotates Earth Side; Sunspot 1492 Erupts With C-Class Solar Flares, Hurling CME Towards Planet Mars! UPDATE: Volcano & Quake Forecast From May 30th to the Venus Transit!

The sun's southeastern limb is hopping with activity. New sunspot AR1492, one of the largest sunspot seen so far in 2012, just rotated onto the Earthside of the sun, is crackling with C-class solar flares and hurling plumes of plasma off the stellar surface. 

Sunspot 1492.
NEW SUNSPOT AR1492: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the movie during the late hours of May 25th. According to the 3D Sun app, another active region is approaching just behind this one and could boost solar activity even more when it emerges in the days ahead. Stay tuned.

CME TARGETS MARS: The magnetic canopy of sunspot AR1492 erupted on May 27th at 0551UT, producing a long-duration C3-class solar flare and hurling a coronal mass ejection (CME) toward Mars. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say the cloud will hit the MSL spacecraft (containing Mars rover Curiosity) on May 31st at 0100 UT followed by Mars itself about 10 hours later. - Space Weather.
WATCH:  Solar Update and Forecast - May 27th, 2012.


UPDATE: Volcano and Earthquake Forecast - May 30th - June 5th, 2012.
Targeting an unnumbered Coronal Hole on the solar corona that is situated at (45-48°N latitude), this feature may be indicative of a swarm of 5 magnitude earthquakes or a possible 6.0 magnitude earthquake in one of these listed locations during this watch period:  Off The Coast Of Oregon, Kuril Islands, Puget Sound-Washington, East Kazakhstan or Romania. Time Frame suggests May 29-31.  A Huge Coronal Hole about to rotate onto the disk represents a potential 8.2 magnitude earthquake towards the end of this watch. Deep characteristics with symmetry to the earth indicate an area to (11-21°N) Latitude would be most at risk. Possible locations that may be in line for this earthquake are:  Guam, Mariana Islands, Luzon Philippines, Taiwan or the Andaman Islands. Time Frame June 3-5. - Solar Watcher.
WATCH: Volcano and Earthquake Forecast - May 30th - June 5th, 2012.


PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Disturbance in the Lone Star State - Fourth Earthquake in 16 Days Hit East Texas!

The fourth earthquake in 16 days hit East Texas early Saturday.  No injuries or significant damage were reported from the preliminary magnitude 2.5 temblor that hit about 1:30 a.m., said Larry Burns, emergency management coordinator in Timpson.

The quake was centered about seven miles southeast of town, near FM 1645 and Texas 87, according to information from the U.S. Geological Survey.  "One of the guys I work with, he told me it shook but it wasn't like any of the others we've had," said Burns, who was not in town when the latest quake occurred. "We're up to four of them so far."  There perhaps have been more than that, according to accounts collected by the Timpson and Teneha News, Mayor Debra Smith said Saturday.  "I think they've determined we are up to seven in the last 12 months," the mayor said, dating the first reports to July. "But some of them were smaller than the (Geological Survey) keeps up."  Smith reported the most recent shakeup was less dramatic than a May 17 quake that recently was upgraded to magnitude 4.8, woke residents and was blamed for one injury in the northern Shelby County town of 1,166. 

"I think some people felt it," she said, adding she slept through the latest quake. "We don't know if it was an aftershock or how they classify those."  The first quake, on May 10, measured magnitude 3.7. The May 17 earthquake was followed three days later by a 2.7 tremor that struck at 1:28 p.m. one week ago today about a mile south of Timpson.  The May 17 quake, which was felt in Longview and Shreveport, was centered three miles east of town, while the May 10 shakeup emanated from a site four miles to Timpson's northeast.  Since the quakes began, Smith said, teams from the U.S. Geological Survey and Stephen F. Austin State University have placed seismic monitors in two or three locations to continuously record underground activity.  Several residents expressed suspicions that mineral extraction could be a factor in the unusual seismic activity.  "It's kind of unnerving," Smith said. "Everybody I talked to said it's too early to determine if there is any connection to the oil and gas industry and anything significant causing it." - News Journal.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Highly Unusual Mortality Event - Minnesota's Moose Population in Sharp, Unexplained Decline?!

Researchers are linking northern Minnesota’s rapidly declining moose population with climate change, and preventing the iconic animal’s extinction may prove exceptionally difficult, Scientific American reported. Recent aerial surveys in the state’s northeastern corner found 4,230 animals, or less than half the number counted in 2006.

Researchers are linking northern Minnesota’s rapidly declining moose population with climate change,
and preventing the iconic animal’s extinction may prove exceptionally difficult.
“It’s very hard to identify in the field exactly what an animal is dying from,” retired researcher Mark Lenarz told Scientific American. “We know something about the symptoms, but we don’t necessarily know the exact causes of mortality.” Scientists said hotter summers, warmer winters and “favorable conditions” for ticks, parasites and invasive species are contributing to the drop. Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources started tracking 150 healthy adult moose in 2002, and watched 119 of the animals die from unknown causes. This isn’t the first example scientists have documented, either. Moose populations declined to less than 100 animals from 4,000 in the state’s northwest over a 20-year period beginning in the 1980s, Scientific American said. Native Americans in the area are especially troubled by the research, Northland News reported.

“If this population continues to decline to a period where there is not a certain number of animals where we can take some, that’s a significant issue to the band members because they will lose that potential food source,” said Sonny Myers, executive director of the 1854 Treaty Authority, told Northwest News. The state will issue 87 tags this year for the annual moose hunt despite the decline, according to the Pioneer Press. Hunters are only allowed to kill male moose, and wildlife officials suggest removing less than 100 won’t affect the overall health of the population. The number of tags issued this year is about 15 percent less than 2011. “Even though hunting is not causing the decline, it makes sense to reduce hunting pressure in an orderly manner if the population continues to decline,” researcher Rolf Peterson told the Pioneer Press.
- Global Post.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Pandora's Box at Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone - Spent Fuel Rods Drive Growing Fear of an Imminent Global Catastrophe!

What passes for normal at the Fukushima Daiichi plant today would have caused shudders among even the most sanguine of experts before an earthquake and tsunami set off the world’s second most serious nuclear crisis after Chernobyl. Fourteen months after the accident, a pool brimming with used fuel rods and filled with vast quantities of radioactive cesium still sits on the top floor of a heavily damaged reactor building, covered only with plastic.  The public’s fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe, now that the three nuclear reactors that suffered meltdowns are in a more stable state, and as frequent quakes continue to rattle the region. 

Reporters and Tepco workers at Reactor No. 4 at Fukushima Daiichi, which the environment
and nuclear minister visited Saturday.
The worries picked up new traction in recent days after the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, said it had found a slight bulge in one of the walls of the reactor building, stoking fears over the building’s safety.  To try to quell such worries, the government sent the environment and nuclear minister to the plant on Saturday, where he climbed a makeshift staircase in protective garb to look at the structure supporting the pool, which he said appeared sound. The minister, Goshi Hosono, added that although the government accepted Tepco’s assurances that reinforcement work had shored up the building, it ordered the company to conduct further studies because of the bulge.  Some outside experts have also worked to allay fears, saying that the fuel in the pool is now so old that it cannot generate enough heat to start the kind of accident that would allow radioactive material to escape.  But many Japanese scoff at those assurances and point out that even if the building is strong enough, which they question, the jury-rigged cooling system for the pool has already malfunctioned several times, including a 24-hour failure in April. Had the outages continued, they would have left the rods at risk of dangerous overheating.

Government critics are especially concerned, since Tepco has said the soonest it could begin emptying the pool is late 2013, dashing hopes for earlier action.  “The No. 4 reactor is visibly damaged and in a fragile state, down to the floor that holds the spent fuel pool,” said Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute and one of the experts raising concerns. “Any radioactive release could be huge and go directly into the environment.”  Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, expressed similar concerns during a trip to Japan last month.  The fears over the pool at Reactor No. 4 are helping to undermine assurances by Tepco and the Japanese government that the Fukushima plant has been stabilized, and are highlighting how complicated the cleanup of the site, expected to take decades, will be. The concerns are also raising questions about whether Japan’s all-out effort to convince its citizens that nuclear power is safe kept the authorities from exploring other — and some say safer — options for storing used fuel rods.  “It was taboo to raise questions about the spent fuel that was piling up,” said Hideo Kimura, who worked as a nuclear fuel engineer at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the 1990s. “But it was clear that there was nowhere for the spent fuel to go.” 

The worst-case situations for Reactor No. 4 would be for the pool to run dry if there is another problem with the cooling system and the rods catch fire, releasing enormous amounts of radioactive material, or for fission to restart if the metal panels that separate the rods are knocked over in a quake. That would be especially bad because the pool, unlike reactors, lacks containment vessels to hold in radioactive materials. (Even the roof that used to exist would be no match if the rods caught fire, for instance.)  There is considerable disagreement among scientists over whether such catastrophes are possible. But some argue that whether the chances are small or large, changes should be made quickly because of the magnitude of the potential calamity. - New York Times.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONTAGION: The Euro Zone Crisis - Investors Hold Breath for Run on Spanish Banks!

Spaniards laze at sidewalk cafes on a street dotted with banks. The biggest bank bailout in Spanish history doesn’t seem to have affected this weekend crowd: There are no lines of people trying to take out their money.  But if Europe's debt crisis has barely diminished the crowds in Madrid's popular tapas bars and shops, Spain's own banking crisis just might. 

Investors are holding their breath for a run on Spanish banks as depositors quietly worry whether their money is safe. Electronic transactions are up slightly, with money flowing from smaller Spanish banks to larger ones, and even to accounts outside the country, though the volume is far less than in more deeply troubled Greece.  "The moment they start saying, 'Don't worry, your money will be safe,' is the moment you should withdraw your money from the bank," said Julian Mezzadri, 37, who took all of his savings out of a Madrid bank two weeks ago, on news of a government bailout for Spain's biggest real estate lender, Bankia.  He said he and his wife now keep their money hidden.  Mezzadri was born in Argentina, and even though he moved to Spain when he was just 3, he is haunted by his native country’s 2001 economic collapse. "I know things are different here, but I've also seen what can happen," he said. "I'm not taking any chances here."  Such fears could sabotage the system.

On May 17, Bankia's shares temporarily lost nearly a third of their value after a Spanish newspaper reported that more than $1 billion had been withdrawn from the bank in the previous week. In a hastily called news conference, the government denied that there had been any run on the bank, and shares recovered some, but not all, of their losses.  On Saturday, Bankia's new chairman, José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, acknowledged that there had been “a certain tension” regarding deposits for a few days earlier this month. But he told reporters that the situation had calmed, and predicted that by next month, Bankia's deposits might even exceed 2011 levels.  Bankia is Spain's fourth-largest bank overall, but the largest in property lending. Weighed down by unpaid construction and mortgage loans, Bankia needs recapitalization because of the loss in market value of its real estate assets, Goirigolzarri said.  He spoke several hours after the Bankia board asked the government late Friday for nearly $24 billion -- more than double what the government had forecast just two days earlier would be needed to rescue the bank. Many worry that Spain simply can't afford it.  "No one knows. The government will have to resort to the [Spain's bank recapitalization fund] and contributions from the deposit insurance fund," said Juan José Toribio, an economist at Spain's IESE Business School. - Los Angeles Times.

WORLD WAR III: The Syrian Passage to Iran and the Countdown to Armageddon - Widespread Protests Erupt in Syria After Massacre of Civilians, Including Women and Children!

Syrian forces shot dead at least two men on Sunday as protests broke out to condemn a massacre that killed at least 109 civilians, many of them children, in the town of Houla, opposition activists said.

The two were killed in the Damascus suburbs of Yalda and Daraya, home to thousands of refugees who have fled a military crackdown on the central province of Homs.  One of those killed, 22-year-old Riad Mahmoud, was among a crowd of 2,000-3,000 people who marched in the neighbourhood of Yalda on the southern edge of the capital and were confronted by armed members of political security, a secret police division, two activists in contact with the district said. 
Images of dead children, with throats slit and gunshot wounds to their heads.
Footage broadcast by activists in Yalda showed a crowd of hundreds at Mahmoud's funeral shouting "the people want the downfall of the regime".  "The funeral turned into another demonstration against the regime and in support of Homs," said opposition campaigner Walid al-Omari.  Activists said forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed at least 109 people, mostly women and children, on Friday in Houla in Homs province, in one of the biggest massacres of the 14-month uprising against his rule.  Syria, facing growing world outrage over the killings, on Sunday accused rebels of carrying out the massacre. - Reuters.
WATCH: Blame traded over massacre in Syria's Houla.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Fear Grips Quake-Hit Italy - Strong Aftershocks Continue to Rattle Region; 60-Day State of Emergency Declared!

Two new strong aftershocks rattled north-east Italy overnight on Thursday, sending people outdoors and further damaging buildings hit by a weekend earthquake, local officials said. 

Destroyed cars are seen in the rubble after an earthquake in Finale Emilia. A strong earthquake
rocked a large swathe of northern Italy early on Sunday, killing at least three people and
causing serious damage to the area's cultural heritage.
The aftershocks struck around midnight (22.00 GMT) with the first one measuring 4.3 and the second 3.2, and local media said a total of 18 aftershocks had hit the area during the night.  “The fear has returned,” said Fernando Ferioli, mayor of the Finale Emilia town that was worst hit by Sunday's quake that killed six people and left thousands homeless.  “We're taking a step backwards and as long as there isn't a bit more calm we won't be able to get out of the situation.  “We're trying to convince people to return to their homes if these haven't been damaged, but if the aftershocks continue, this will be impossible,” he said, adding that crews have been working to secure damaged buildings since dawn. 

The makeshift dwellings set up in the aftermath of Sunday's quake are completely filled and entire families camped the night in their cars following the aftershocks, he said.  The “red zone” that the authorities established in the centre of the city, prohibiting access because of a high risk of damaged buildings collapsing, has been enlarged again on Thursday after being reduced the previous day, he said.  The Italian government on Tuesday declared a 60-day state of emergency in the region hit by the quake and promised 50 million euros ($63 million) in aid to help rebuild houses and family-owned factories.  Sunday's quake has led 6 000 people to camp out in temporary shelters. - IOL News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: "The Smoking Mountain" - Over 20 Ash and Smoke Emissions in One Day at Mexico's Popocatepetl Volcano!

Mexico's famed Popocatepetl volcano spewed ash on nearby towns and villages on Thursday (May 24), as officials mulled the possibility of evacuations. 

Over 20 ash and smoke emissions were reported throughout the day, and plumes of gas and ash could be seen rising into the sky.  Juan Garcia, a municipal councilman from the town of Santiago Xalizintla - which lies in the shadow of the volcano, said that officials and local residents were prepared to evacuate the town in case of a major eruption.  "The people are ready to receive instructions. They are ready to mobilize and know the assembly points. We are channelling all our services as far as transportation in case it becomes necessary to evacuate immediately, and we have taken all the necessary measures. The shelters are also well-stocked with supplies. But at the moment there is no indication that we will use them, but everything necessary is prepared," he said.
Last month, Mexico's National Centre for Disaster Protection raised the alert level for Popocatepetl, indicating possible magma expulsion and explosions of increasing intensity. It is the third-highest warning on the centre's seven-step scale.  Some local residents, like Magdaleno Chalchi, said they were scared but don't have the money to leave now.  "It frightens us, but where shall we go? To go to the city we must pay. Here we must be frightened and hold on," Chalchi said.  The 5,483 metre (17,992 feet) volcano, whose name means "smoking mountain" in the Nahuatl Indian language, lies just 64 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of Mexico City and its 18 million residents.  "Popo," as the volcano is commonly known, has spat out mile-high clouds of ash and smoke several times this year. Its last major eruption took place in 2000, just one week shy of Christmas Day. Over 40,000 evacuees haphazardly fled their homes and choked highways heading out of the area. - WNCT.
WATCH: The Latest images of the Popocatepetl volcano.


PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.2 Magnitude Quake That Struck Northwest of Norway Was One of the Strongest Tremors to Ever Hit the Region!

A strong earthquake struck the Norwegian Sea northwest of Norway on late Thursday evening, making it one of the strongest tremors to hit the region in recent years, seismologists said on Friday. There were no reports of damage or casualties.

The 6.2-magnitude earthquake at 10:47 p.m. local time (2247 GMT) was centered in the Norwegian Sea about 600 kilometers (373 miles) northwest of Tromsø, a city in Troms county in northern Norway. It struck about 8.8 kilometers (5.5 miles) deep, making it an extremely shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was a small possibility of a local tsunami due to the shallow depth of the earthquake, but no unusual waves were observed on nearby coastlines. "A destructive tsunami threat does not exist based on historical earthquake and tsunami data," the center said in a bulletin.

Geoscience Australia said very light shaking may have been felt as far away as the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, a small region of mainland Norway, and a tiny part of the thinly populated Svalbard archipelago. But the USGS, on the other hand, said this was unlikely due to the earthquake's distance from those locations. There were no known reports of anyone having felt the earthquake. In February 2008, a strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic, making it the largest earthquake in Norwegian history but causing no damage or casualties. A 5.8-magnitude earthquake which struck the coast of central Norway in August 1819 caused landslides, rock slides and a small tsunami.
- MI News.

DELUGE: Australian Weather Anomalies Continues - Melbourne Soaked in the Wettest May Day in 17 Years!

Melbourne has had its wettest May day for 17 years, with more rain expected into the weekend.  Twenty-eight millimetres of rain fell on the CBD on Friday, the most in a May day since 1995, while the top temperature of 11C degrees just before 2.30pm (AEST) made it the city's coldest May day since 2000.

Pedestrians caught in the downpour.
The average rainfall in Melbourne for the entire month of May is 55.8mm.  Monbulk on Melbourne's eastern fringes recorded the highest rainfall tally, with 46mm falling between 9am and 7pm.  Duty meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, Dean Sgarbossa, said the rain would continue into Saturday.  "Heavy rain is likely to persist over the eastern suburbs for most of Friday night while isolated showers are expected right across the Melbourne metropolitan region for the remainder of Friday evening and into Saturday morning," he said. 

"We are expecting a continuation of isolated showers on Saturday but they will tend to scattered during the afternoon as a cold front moves through."  Winds have also lashed Melbourne's bay regions, with gusts reaching up to 100km/h over Port Phillip Bay and 83km/h in Frankston, in the city's south.  The bureau has issued severe weather warnings for the Wimmera, southwest, north central, central and Gippsland areas.  "We've issued the warnings for damaging winds, with mean winds of between 50km/h and 60km/h and gusts of around 100km/h, particularly for the central forecast district," Mr Sgarbossa said. - SMH.

EXTREME WEATHER: Wildfires Blaze Across Six States in America - Small Towns Evacuated Amid Red Flag Warnings!

A wildfire burned out of control for a fourth day in the steep mountains of southwestern New Mexico on Saturday, one of several blazes that have consumed more than 200 square miles (520 square km) of rugged land in six U.S. states.  Efforts to contain the blazes spreading in sparsely populated areas of Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah have been hurt by gusting winds and tinder-dry late-spring conditions. 

Smoke rises into the air from a large forest fire which has consumed a total of 82,252 acres as seen in this
U.S. Forest Service handout photo taken in Gila National Forest, New Mexico May 25, 2012.
Several small towns, including the historic Wild West mining town of Mogollon - now nearly a ghost town - were ordered to evacuate, as the spreading fire torched miles forest, brush and grass.  New Mexico's Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, which was started by lightning 10 days ago, had raged across 82,252 acres as of Friday and officials said the area could now be much larger than that.  "We know that there was significant growth yesterday, but we don't have a hard and fast number," said Fire Information Officer Dan Ware.  More than 580 firefighters and support crew have been fighting the blaze.  "This is the biggest show in the country right now in terms of fire size. So a lot of resources are available to us. We're just not sure we'll be able to do a lot of flying," Ware said.  He said access to the fire had been the chief difficulty as it was burning in very steep, rugged terrain where firefighters were not able to cut through the brush and timber.  "Fire activity was so extreme yesterday we had to pull crews out," he said. "We're expecting another day like that today. With such high wind levels and low humidity there's going to be big potential for some major growth."  Smoke from the New Mexico fire wafted north into the Denver metropolitan area on Saturday, as firefighters battled a separate wildfire burning on the Utah-Colorado border.  That 2,800-acre fire was burning in a remote area near Paradox, Colorado, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Steve Segin said.  He said there were only a few isolated ranches in the area and no structures had been lost so far, although the wind-driven blaze was "very active." He said the cause was under investigation. 

Most of western Colorado has been put under a "red flag" warning for wildfires due to hot temperatures, low humidity and high winds, according to the National Weather Service.  More than 1,000 miles (km) to the east, a wildfire in Michigan's Upper Peninsula had grown slightly to cover an area of more than 21,000 acres by Saturday, stretching in a narrow band 11 miles long from about 14 miles north of the village of Newberry to Lake Superior, the state's Department of Natural Resources said.  Dry conditions posed problems at the northeastern end of the blaze, where firefighters have concentrated efforts dropping water from air tankers, Dean Wilson, a spokesman for the state DNR's western fire management team, said on Saturday evening.  The DNR said access to what has been dubbed the "Duck Lake Fire" was difficult and it was only 20 percent contained on Saturday morning. It said a number of structures had been damaged or destroyed.  Wilson said good progress had been made in tackling the south end of the fire and firefighters were establishing defensive lines on the east and west sides.  There have been no further evacuations and the defensive lines around the Pike Lake area where there is a resort and Little Lake Harbor held on Saturday, Wilson said.  In Utah, officials said a wildfire burning on the west side of Promontory Point, the tip of a peninsula that juts into the Great Salt Lake, had grown to 4,200 acres, but was 50 percent contained.  The fire, touched off by lightning on Thursday, was burning uphill in the Promontory Mountains, on public and private land, the officials said. No structures have been lost, they said. - Reuters.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Fireballs and Explosions in Akola, Central India - Meteorite Showers Spreading Over 200km; First Time Ever Recorded in the Region!

It's official now. The fire balls seen by some people in Akola district and city on Tuesday were meteorite showers spread over an area of over 200km. They travelled in eastern direction and some fell in Katol tehsil of Nagpur district. It is the first time that meteorite shower has been recorded in Vidarbha. A GSI team will be surveying the entire area where people had witnessed fire balls and explosion like sound in a day or two for more evidence. 

File.
However, the scientific reason of the sound remains unexplained. Speculations are that the sound could be the cumulative effect of different pieces of a large number of meteorites falling over a vast area or from impact of a single larger that fell in an uninhabited area like deep forest or river beds. The scientists are also not sure of any correlation, if any, between the meteorites falling and tremors of 2.1 Richter scale recorded around the same time. They said a tremor caused by impact of a huge meteorite could not be ruled out but the two events happening together could also be a coincidence.  A team of geologists led by the deputy director general (DDG) of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) Central region in city Binod Kumar has collected small meteorite pieces from different locations in and around Katol town on Wednesday evening. "We got a phone call from Katol at around 5pm on Wednesday about some stone like objects fallen at different places. I rushed to the spot with four geologists and collected the pieces. All the pieces are meteorites," said Kumar.  The DDG said many people had heard the sound. GSI team confirmed the facts in presence of the Katol tehsildar.

Pieces from four different locations at Laxmi Nagar, IUDP Layout, Khutamba road and IUDP layout towards Nagpur road which were collected respectively by the town residents Nathoji Ramakrishna Charde, Govinda Muralidhar Mahajan, Javed Razzak Shaikh and Pundlik Kashiram Shivarkar. "The pieces are in our possession. We will send them to our head office at Kolkata where their exact chemical and physical analysis would be done and their age determined using radioisotope method," said Kumar.  Director of petrology department G Suresh said all the pieces were from a 'stony meteorite' as they were very rich in silicate minerals and minute quantities of iron and nickel. "The black surface is because of burning effect as they entered the earth's atmosphere," he said. The sample from Lakshmi Nagar is biggest (9.5X9X5.5cm) and weighs 673.5 gms.  Geologist S H Wankhede said, "all samples when collected were cold. They contain some nodules of iron and nickel. This piece caused an impact on the ground and created a void of 8X6X10 cm," he said. Third geologist Mohammed Shareef said that third piece recovered from agricultural field on Khutamba road fell on a galvanized iron ceiling and pierced it.  The Raman Science Centre project coordinator Shrikant Pathak clarified that meteorites sometimes caused a sound when they blast in air or big pieces strike with each other. Sound also occurred in case of a cracking of a cavity inside a meteorite piece. Big sounds occur only when big pieces hit earth. "But it is difficult to specify the reason for sound unless we find a much bigger piece of meteorite somewhere else in the region," he said. - Times of India.

EXTREME WEATHER: State of Emergency - Raging Forest Fires, Clouds of Smoke and Ash Force Evacuations in Timmins, Ontario!

A raging forest fire that's spewing smoke and ash toward Timmins has jumped Highway 144 southwest of the northern Ontario city.  And fire crews report a new fire on Highway 101 southwest of Timmins has forced the evacuation of the Old Mill campground.  The city of 43,000 is under a state of emergency and officials are on high alert.  Mayor Tom Laughren says more than 225 people have been evacuated from rural communities including Hydro Bay, Kamiskotia Highway and Cooks Lake.

A forest fire burns near Timmins, Ont. on Thursday, May 24, 2012.
Many have sought shelter with the Red Cross, while others are staying with friends or family.  That's in addition to an evacuation order for the nearby Mattagami First Nation that saw 118 residents relocate to Kapuskasing.  "I think the next 48 to 72 hours, from a fire perspective, as it relates to Timmins, will be critical," the mayor said Friday.  Laughren said he hopes the skies will clear up enough to allow water bombers to take on the flames.  Premier Dalton McGuinty praised firefighters, emergency workers, leaders and volunteers for their work throughout the region. He paid a visit Thursday to Kirkland Lake, where crews have largely contained a massive forest fire that had been threatening the town.  On Friday, McGuinty expressed his admiration for those in northern communities like Kirkland Lake and Timmins, where his mother is from.  "A number of people have already been evacuated and about 90 per cent of those .... have not called upon the provincial government or the municipality to help them with their accommodation costs. They've gone to friends and family," McGuinty said in Thunder Bay.  "That is a wonderful tribute to people in the north," he said.  "There is a determination, a resilience, a commitment, a grit, a drive to find success and to keep moving forward not withstanding any challenges, that is nothing short of remarkable. And I see that in the way folks pull together."  Kirkland Lake, about 140 kilometres southeast of Timmins, remained on high evacuation alert Friday. The community of almost 10,000 was dealing with high winds gusting up to 50 kilometres per hour. 

Kirkland Lake schools were closed as a precautionary measure and municipal officials set up a $100,000 fund in case an evacuation is necessary.  The Ministry of the Attorney General closed the Kirkland Lake courthouse on Friday and it will remain closed until it's deemed safe to resume court services.  Ontario Court of Justice hearings scheduled for the Kirkland Lake courthouse are being transferred to the Haileybury courthouse.  Natural Resources spokeswoman Heather Pridham said firefighters are keeping close watch on the Kirkland Lake situation, particularly in areas along the east and west flanks of the fire.  "The fire rangers and the helicopters are going to go back in today and just keep working on those hot spots," she said Friday.  Ontario's New Democrats have put their annual Northern Council conference - scheduled for this weekend in Timmins - on hold in light of the emergency.  "We'll make sure that northerners get all the assistance you need, now and when the smoke clears," NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in a statement.  The fire roughly 30 kilometres outside Timmins has also forced the closure of a gold mine operated by Lake Shore Gold Corp.  The Ministry of Natural Resources said high winds were fuelling the flames and there were concerns that strong winds could push significant smoke and ash into the community. The ministry was estimating the size of the Timmins fire at about 31,660 hectares.  No relief from extreme burning conditions was expected in the northeast of the province until at least Sunday, the ministry said.  Fifteen water bombers, four Twin Otter aircraft and 56 helicopters are currently battling dozens of fires in the province. About 1,300 people are working on the situation, including 102 from outside Ontario. - The Canadian Press.