Sunday, November 25, 2012

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For November 25-26 - Tongariro, Chirpoi, Lokon-Empung, Loihi, Manam, Paluweh, Fuego and Kilauea!

November 25, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

The GeoNet reported on Facebook that ejected material from the November 21 eruption of Tongariro has been analysed and that 1% of the ejected material was fresh magma. The GeoNet currently keeps the Alert Level at 1 "signs of volcano unrest" Future eruptions could occur with little or no warning.

The SVERT reported on 26 November, that on 20, 22 and 25 November, thermal anomalies were detected at Chirpoi volcano in the Kurile Islands. The SVERT also stated: "It is possible that the lava flow emission occurs along the south-eastern slope of the volcano".

The Darwin VAAC reported a possible ash plume from Lokon volcano in Indonesia on 26 October. The eruption was reported to have occured at around 03:00 in the morning (local time?). No ash was detected in satellite imagery.

A Magnitude 4.2 earthquake was detected at Loihi volcano in Hawaii.

Based on information from the RVO (Rabual Volcano Observatory), the Darwin VAAC reported that on 26 November, Manam volcano (Papua New Guinea) produced pyroclastic flows. The MTSAT reported a thick plume from Manam on 26 October.

The Darwin VAAC reported that an ash plume from Paluweh, Indonesia drifted 60 KM WNW on 26 November.

On 25 November, the INSIVUMEH reported that a white plume from the crater of Fuego, Guatemala drifted W. A lava flow continued to effuse from Fuego's crater, blocks that detached from the main lava flow front created avalanches. Two small explosions produced ash plumes that rose to a height of 3 KM and drifted 7 KM west.

Kilauea Lava flows enter the ocean on November 24, 2012.
For the first time in 2012, Kilauea lava flows have entered the Pacific Ocean, adding slivers of new land to Hawai‘i Island! First contact, around 1pm today as per UHH geologists, occurred 0.3mi/500m east of the National Park boundary and about 2mi/3.5km west of Kalapana. Steady lava flows continue to enter the ocean with fantastic views to be had over the next days, weeks and hopefully longer, but with a host of additional hazards to be considered for the adventurous traveler. Experienced & licensed guides can get you there and back safely across private land, and keep you in the right places to avoid dangerous gases, land collapses, steam explosions and scalding ocean waves, among other hazards. In December 2011, a new ocean entry persisted for about 3 weeks before a large deflation sequence disrupted the lava tube and forced a new path to the ocean, finally achieved today after nearly 11 months. It's completely possible that such a disruption could happen again, so don't delay in your travel plans! Let us know how we can help, and aloha from Hawaii! - Volcano Discovery.

DISASTER IMPACT: Unprecedented Devastation - The Damages From Superstorm Sandy May Total More Than $50 Billion For New York and at Least $29.4 Billion For New Jersey!

November 25, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Hurricane Sandy was a disaster without modern precedent for New York City that, in one night, created a new homeless population of thousands. Longtime advocates for the homeless, and families repeatedly dislocated since the storm, say it exposed and worsened the city’s acute lack of affordable housing options. Even before the storm, New York was sheltering more homeless people than any city in the United States.

Construction and repair crews gather debris left from Superstorm Sandy's impact.
N.Y. State Damage Damages From Superstorm Sandy May Total More Than $50 Billion.
 At last count, officials were attributing more than 100 deaths to Hurricane Sandy. Elderly residents were hit especially hard, with close to half of the people who died age 65 or older. In New York City, the majority of deaths occurred in Queens and on Staten Island, and most people perished at the height of the storm, drowned by the surge. Also in New York City, about 200 homes will be bulldozed in the coming weeks and months, almost all of them one- and two-family houses on Staten Island, in Queens and Brooklyn. In addition, gas rationing that was scheduled to end on Monday in the city was extended through Friday, even as the gas station lines that prompted it have all but disappeared... Andrew M. Cuomo plans to ask the federal government for at least $30 billion in disaster aid to help New York City and other affected areas of the state recover from the devastation of the storm, according to top administration officials. In all, the storm caused more than $50 billion in damage in the New York region, making it the country’s costliest storm other than Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. - NY Times.

A worker on Saturday piles up debris from the Fantasy Island Amusement park in Long Beach Island, N.J.
Mark Wilson / Getty Images.
New Jersey Estimates At Least $29.4 Billion In Sandy Damage.
Superstorm Sandy caused at least $29.4 billion in overall damage in New Jersey, according to a preliminary analysis released by Governor Chris Christie's office Friday.  The estimate of the damage caused by the storm, which ravaged the Northeastern U.S. coastline late last month, includes personal property, business, infrastructure and utility damage, Christie said in a statement.  The statement said the preliminary cost estimate is "inclusive of aid received to date and anticipated from federal sources," including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration. Christie said it was a "conservative and responsible estimate" that could be revised higher, Christie said.

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he planned to ask the federal government for $30 billion in disaster aid for the state. Earlier this month, New York City Comptroller John Liu said the storm was costing New York City $200 million a day in lost economic activity, with that amount likely to top out at about $1 billion.  "This preliminary number is based on the best available data, field observations and geographical mapping, and supported by expert advice from my Cabinet commissioners and an outside consulting company," Christie said in the statement Friday.  Christie said the estimate will be refined in the future to include impact on the next tourist seasons, real estate values and population shifts.  The record-breaking "superstorm" blasted through eight Northeastern U.S. states on October 30, killing dozens of people, battering coastal neighborhoods and forcing mass evacuations. The storm shut down the entire New York City subway system for days. - NBC News.

NY's Fire Island Saved From Sandy By Dunes, But Those Are Gone Now.
USGS image shows the before and after
impact of Sandy on the sand dunes.
New Yorkers who cherish Fire Island as an idyllic summertime getaway feared the worst when the 32-mile-long barrier island took a direct hit from Superstorm Sandy's powerful surge. The wall of water swamped nearly the entire island, destroyed or washed away about 200 homes and scraped sand dunes down to nothing. Still, residents are counting their blessings.  That's because more than 4,000 structures survived, at least enough to be repaired. And some are crediting the carefully maintained wall of dunes, ranging from 10 to 20 feet tall, with taking the brunt of the storm's fury. 

"The dunes were demolished, but without their protection it would have been much worse," said Malcolm Bowman, a professor of physical oceanography at Stony Brook University. Evidence of the hit the dunes absorbed is everywhere. A half-mile from the ocean, a blizzard of sand covers bicycles up to the handlebars. Wooden pilings are all that remain of stairs and walkways that passed over dunes and led down to the beach. A football-field-size network of concrete blocks that once sat under 6 feet of sand lay bare in the autumn sunshine. Houses on stilts that once peeked over sand berms now sit naked to the surf. - NBC News.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Man Barely Escapes as Car Falls Into Huge Sinkhole in Lockwood Creek Road, Washington!

November 25, 2012 - UNITED STATES - A man got out of his car just before it fell into a huge sinkhole in the middle of a La Center road early Saturday.

Just before 2 a.m., 47-year-old James Sandvik of La Center was driving down Northeast Charity Road when his car got stuck on the edge of a ravine that was caused by a wash out.

Sandvik got out of the car with minor injuries just before it plunged over the edge. The car then washed more than 1000 feet away as water continued to pour through a broken pipe caused by a plugged colvert, said Sgt. Alex Schoening with the Clark County Sheriff's Office.

The hole is at the 31000 block of NE Charity road, which connects to Lockwood Creek Road and runs south to Battle Ground. Traffic is detoured three miles and the road is expected to be closed for a long time.

Authorities urge drivers to avoid the area if possible. - NWCN.

WATCH: Man barely escapes huge sinkhole.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Activity Report For November 25, 2012!

November 25, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from geologist Richard Wilson who specializes in volcano seismicity and Armand Vervaeck.

A relatively quiet day in volcano land. Numerous small events (most likely glacier quakes) have been showing-up on Mount Spurr (AK) seismograms lately. (station CKT ).

Popocatepetl volcano.
Both the photograph and seismogram show a tranquil Popocatepetl volcano (Mexico) this morning.

Guatemalan and Ecuadoran seismograms were unavailable at the time of this writing, but tremor was running alittle “hot” at San Cristobal and Masaya volcanoes (Nicaragua) today. (station CRIN and MASN respectively).

Small earthquakes still dot seismograms at Nevado Del Ruiz volcano (Colombia). (station OLLZ).

Low-level volcanic tremor is apparent on seismograms at Ruapehu and (or is it weather?). Tongariro volcanoes (New Zealand). There is no doubt about what is smeared across White Island seismograms!

Recent satellite imagery show SO2-enriched plumes over Popocatepetl, Nyiragongo (DRC) and Etna (IT) volcanoes. - EarthQuake Report.

BIG BROTHER NOW: Bona Fide Biometric Tracking in Police State America - Palm Scanners Get Thumbs up in Schools and Hospitals in Florida, Palm-Scanning Technology Uses Unique Vein Patterns as a Handy ID System!

November 25, 2012 - UNITED STATES - At schools in Pinellas County, Fla., students aren't paying for lunch with cash or a card, but with a wave of their hand over a palm scanner.  "It's so quick that a child could be standing in line, call mom and say, 'I forgot my lunch money today.' She's by her computer, runs her card, and by the time the child is at the front of the line, it's already recorded," says Art Dunham, director of food services for Pinellas County Schools.

Students take about four seconds to swipe and pay for lunch, Dunham says, and they're doing it with 99% accuracy.  "We just love it. No one wants to go back," Dunham says.  Palm-scanning technology is popping up nationwide as a bona fide biometric tracker of identities, and it appears poised to make the jump from schools and hospitals to other sectors of the economy including ATM usage and retail. It also has applications as a secure identifier for cloud computing.  Here's how it works: Using the same near-infrared technology that comes in a TV remote control or Nintendo Wii video game, the device takes a super high-resolution infrared photograph of the vein pattern just below a person's skin. That image, between 1.5 and 2.5 square inches, is recorded and digitized.  The PalmSecure device is made by document-scanning manufacturer Fujitsu. So far, no other company has a palm scanner on the market — though at least one other company is working on the technology.  Like many technological breakthroughs, the development began accidentally. A decade ago, a Fujitsu engineer in Tokyo mistakenly ran his hand over a page scanner and it yielded an output that piqued his curiosity.

Cranberry Station cafeteria manager Peggy Vincent runs the computer that links the scan to a student's account.
(Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY).

Testing eventually showed that the veins in the palm of your hand are as unique as a fingerprint and can be photographed under infrared light.  Fujitsu has seen double-digit quarterly sales growth in each of the last two years, says Bud Yanak, director of product management and partner development for Fujitsu Frontech North America.  Palm scanners are installed in more than 50 school systems and more than 160 hospital systems in 15 states and the District of Columbia, Yanak says.  Pinellas County Schools were the first in the nation to bring palm scanning to their lunch lines about 18 months ago. They are being used by 50,000 students at 17 high schools and 20 middle schools. Soon, the program will expand to 60,000 more students at 80 elementary schools, Dunham says. The 2% of students who opt out can still use cash.  He says hygiene isn't a concern because students don't need to touch the device, but only hold their hand directly above it, to register a scan.  At hospitals, the scans are making patient registration more efficient, and prevent sharing of information by patients that could lead to insurance fraud, says Carl Bertrams, senior vice president of sales and marketing for palm scan software maker HT Systems in Tampa.

A palm scan's precision record-keeping also avoids possible confusion if patients have the same name. For instance, a hospital system in the Houston area with a database of 3.5 million patients has 2,488 women in it named Maria Garcia – and 231 of them have the same date of birth, Bertrams says.  HT Systems president David Wiener won't reveal revenue but says that since 2007, they've got more than 160 hospitals for clients and have scanned more than 5 million patients.  At Wisconsin's UW Health system, palm scans have been used for about two years, says Dawn Gramse, a senior systems analyst. Soon, they'll start using self-service palm-swiping kiosks for patients to check themselves in.  "You'd hear about other biometric scanners that are out there, and you'd see the Mission Impossible movies with the eye scanners, and you'd never think you can integrate that kind of technology into a hospital," she says, "but you can."  Not everyone loves the idea of scans.  Students in Carroll County, Md., schools are using lunch line palm scanners, but 7-year-old Ian Webb isn't one of them. His father, Michael Webb, decided to have Ian, a second-grader, opt out of the program at Piney Ridge Elementary in Eldersburg.  "My son is not using the technology," he says. "I'll be honest, I think it's horrible. It's an intrusion into our children's rights."  Webb says he's concerned that use of the scanners by elementary school students normalizes the use of biometrics and anesthetizes young children to recognizing privacy violations later in life.  "I understand taking an iris scan of a pilot at an airport, so you know it's the right pilot flying the plane" he says. "This is that level of equipment they're installing in a line that serves steamed corn. I don't think it rises to the level of steamed corn." - USA Today.

DELUGE: Heavy Rains Cause Widespread Flooding in Zarqa, Jordan - Waters Inundate Vehicles & Cripple Traffic Movements, Heaviest Shower Since the 1970s!

November 25, 2012 - JORDAN - Some streets in Zarqa Governorate were submerged with rainwater on Sunday after a heavy downpour caused the formation of floods, according to authorities and town residents.  Motorists abandoned their cars in the middle of the streets after rainwater inundated the vehicles, crippling traffic movement in the already-congested streets of Zarqa, 22km east of Amman, according to eyewitnesses.

This photo taken by Zarqa resident Mohammad Zawahreh, posted on the Jordan Weather Facebook page,
shows rain flooding streets in the central city on Sunday.
"The weather became suddenly cloudy and rain started pouring heavily at around 1:00pm. Ten minutes later, some of the streets turned into streams," town resident and taxi driver, Abu Haitham, told The Jordan Times.  Authorities diverted traffic to different routes and waited for the floods to end before they started pumping out water from submerged streets and tunnels, he added.  "The rain stopped less than an hour later, but the floods continued coming from higher areas. I have never seen this much rain in my life in Zarqa," the town resident said.  Abu Rasoul, another resident of Zarqa, said that manholes in the streets were over-flooded with the heavy rain, noting that water flooded several shops, including his mini-market.  "The last time I saw such heavy rain was in the 1970s," the 70-year-old man, said. 

Meanwhile, the Zarqa Civil Defence Department (CDD) said the heavy rain didn't lead to any accidents.  "No weather-related accidents occurred, and the situation is under control," a CDD officer said yesterday.  The heavy rain was brought by unstable weather conditions, which started affecting the country on Thursday and were forecast to taper off Monday, according to the Jordan Meteorological Department (JMD).  A Red Sea trough caused the unstable weather condition, a JMD meteorologist told The Jordan Times, underscoring that the country witnesses during autumn several Red Sea troughs, which contribute 1 per cent of the country's long term annual average of 8 billion cubic metres.  "The weather will remain relatively cold and cloudy on Monday and Tuesday, with chances of scattered morning showers. Temperatures will range between a high of 16ºC, dropping to 10ºC at night in Amman," the forecaster said.  A slight rise in temperatures is expected on Wednesday, when mercury levels will be around their annual range during this time of the year of 20ºC.  Winds will be southeasterly moderate and temperatures will range between a maximum of 19ºC and a minimum of 11ºC, according to the department. - The Jordan Times.

MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT: Fragile Cease-Fire - Russian Expert Warns Of Possibility Of Large-Scale Middle East War; Israel Military Successfully Tests Missile Defense System; Hezbollah Warns To Israel; and Satellites Show Iran Moving Quickly To Rearm Hamas!

November 25, 2012 - MIDDLE EAST - In an interview with the Voice of Russia, Russian analyst Konstantin Sivkov said: “Deploying these missiles in Turkey will be dangerous for Syrian military planes – this is obvious. A lesser obvious thing is that Turkey is getting ready for a war against Syria. If an attack on Syria from the territory of Turkey does take place, this will most likely be an attack not of the Turkish army, but of NATO’s forces.”  “The Middle East is getting ready for a large-sale battle which will very likely affect the Russian part of the Caucasus, and this, in its turn, will be reflected on the entire Russia,” Mr. Sivkov added.

Russian Expert Warns Of Possibility Of Large-Scale Middle East War.
The planned deployment by NATO countries of Patriot air defence systems on Turkey’s Syria border will actually amount to the imposition of a no-fly zone for Syrian aircraft in circumvention of the UN Security Council.  The opinion has been voiced by the leading research fellow of the Russian Institute for Oriental Studies, Vladimir Kudelev.  He feels that Patriot systems may drastically influence the fighting between the government troops and the opposition in the north of Syria, since the militants will thus get a 200 kilometre - to 250 kilometre-wide “umbrella” all along the Syrian-Turkish border.  The deployment of Patriots would also undermine the role of the UN Security Council, which, experts feel, would hardly authorize any proposal to impose a no-fly zone for Syrian aircraft. lans for the deployment of the Patriot Missile Air-Defence Systems on the Turkish-Syrian border are defensive in character, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a telephone talk with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Earlier Moscow voiced its concern over the militarization of that region. - The Voice of Russia.

Israel Successfully Tests Missile Defense System.
Illustration of "David's Sling".
Israel successfully tested its newest missile defense system Sunday, the military said, a step toward making the third leg of what Israel calls its "multilayer missile defense" operational.  The "David's Sling" system is designed to stop mid-range missiles. It successfully passed its test, shooting down its first missile in a drill Sunday in southern Israel, the military said.  The system is designed to intercept projectiles with ranges of up to 300 kilometers (180 miles).  Israel has also deployed Arrow systems for longer-range threats from Iran. The Iron Dome protects against short-range rockets fired by militants in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. Iron Dome shot down hundreds of rockets from Gaza in this month's round of fighting.  Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the success of Iron Dome highlighted the "immense importance" of such systems.  "David's Sling," also known "Magic Wand," is developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and U.S.-based Raytheon Co. and is primarily designed to counter the large arsenal of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon. - Huffington Post.

Hezbollah Issues Warning To Israel.
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warned Israel Sunday against a war with Lebanon to regain momentum after its “defeat” in Gaza, saying his group would rain thousands of rockets on the Jewish state in the event that it did so.  “If the confrontation in the Gaza Strip given its blockade included missiles reaching 40 to 70 kilometers [into Israel], then the radius of a battle with us will reach occupied Palestine [Israel] from the Lebanese border to the Jordanian border and the Red Sea,” Nasrallah said on Ashoura Day.  “From Kiryat Shmona to Eilat,” he added, referring to Israel’s northern and southernmost cities respectively.  The Hezbollah leader has in the past warned the Jewish state of launching missiles against Tel Aviv in a any future war.  In his televised speech to masses of Shiite worshipers Sunday, Nasrallah said Israel would confront an even greater foe in Hezbollah than Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  "How will [Israel] tolerate then thousands of rockets that will hail on Tel Aviv and other areas if it attacked Lebanon?” he asked, noting earlier how Israel had been “confused and shaken” by Iranian-made Fajr 5 rockets that targeted Tel Aviv in the 8-day conflict between Palestinian groups and the Jewish state. - Daily Star.

Satellites Show Iran Moving Quickly To Rearm Hamas.
Photo: IRNA / Reuters.
Israeli intelligence satellites have spied the loading of rockets and other materiel believed to be destined for the Gaza Strip, The Sunday Times reported citing Israeli officials.  According to the report, Iran began preparing the weapons shipment around the same time Israel and Hamas negotiated cease-fire understandings late last week. The shipment is said to include Iranian-made Fajr-5 medium-range rockets, the same model that was fired into the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas during Operation Pillar of Defense, the Times reported. - The Jerusalem Post.

Ahmadinejad Congratulates Hamas On "Victory".
 Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has congratulated Gaza's Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya in a telephone call on a "great victory" over Israel, the two sides said on Saturday.  Haniya in turn "thanked Iran for its support," they added, days after Tehran confirmed it had supplied military aid to Gaza.  "The Iranian president congratulated the people of Gaza and the (Palestinian) resistance facing Zionist aggression ... on their great victory," Iran's news agency ISNA reported. - France 24.

Iran Accuses U.S. Navy Of "Illegal And Provocative Acts".
Iran has accused the United States of "illegal and provocative acts," including repeated violations of Iranian airspace, in a letter submitted Friday to the United Nations.  The message from Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, first obtained by the Associated Press, argues that the U.S. Navy has regularly conducted flights over Iranian territory in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman.  The letter was sent to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Security Council. It details seven specific incidents in October and November during which American drones entered Iranian airspace, despite radio warnings. Earlier this month, an Iranian jet shot at an American predator drone in the Persian Gulf. According to the Pentagon, the drone was performing "routine surveillance" over international waters but not ultimately hit. - The Hill.

GREAT DELUGE: Britain Flood Scenes "Shocking" Says Prime Minister David Cameron - 496 Flood Warnings, Hundreds of Homes Flooded, Mass Evacuations as Forecasters Predict Further Heavy Downpours!

November 25, 2012 - BRITAIN - David Cameron has said the scenes of flooding around the country are "shocking" and pledged help for all those affected.  The Prime Minister took to Twitter to voice his concern about the pictures of devastation coming from the South West as Britain braces for more bad weather to come.  He tweeted: "Shocking scenes of flooding in Cornwall and around the country. Govt will help ensure everything is being done to help."  It comes after a 21-year-old was killed when she became trapped under a fallen tree in Exeter on Saturday night. Two men were also injured.  Inspector Andrew Webber of Devon and Cornwall Police told Sky News that the dead woman had been living in a small tent sheltered against a wall at the roadside.  "It was a very large oak tree that had been there for ... many years. Obviously we've had lots of heavy weather, it's been raining an awful lot, and the tree for whatever reason came down," he said.

Scenes of flooding across Britain.
 Rescue services in the West Midlands have appealed for drivers of 4x4s to stop taking unnecessary risks. They say a remarkable number of their call-outs have been to people in four-wheel drive vehicles.  Nathan Hudson, of West Midland Ambulance Service, said: "Perhaps surprisingly, we have had to deal with a remarkable number of stuck 4x4s. Just because your vehicle has four wheel drive, does not make it amphibious. They too can become stuck in deep floodwater.  "We would urge people to not try and get across flood water and instead take a short detour, rather than become trapped in their cars and have to be rescued."  The warning follows a report from Warwickshire Police that three people who had decided to go off-road driving in the bad weather had become stranded and were stuck on the roof of their vehicle shouting abuse at rescue teams.  The Environment Agency has currently got one severe flood warnings, which means serious threats to life and property, in the South West in place.

There are 223 flood warnings in place across the country, mainly in the South West and the Midlands, and 273 less serious flood alerts.  Emergency services were called to rescue people from their homes in the historic town of Malmesbury, in Wiltshire, where waters were 3ft deep in places due to flooding from the River Avon.  A spokeswoman for Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "It's been building up there for a few days and has flooded now in the area down by the river.  "Streets and houses have been flooded and we've rescued four people from two properties, three people from one house and a chap with asthma from another."  In Cambridgeshire, a 70-year-old man died after his car plunged into a river near Earith on Saturday night, however, the police said it was not a weather-related accident.  A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said: "This particular accident could have happened at any time of year."

 In Devon 60 people were evacuated from 12 locations because of safety concerns, while in Cornwall 80 properties had been hit by flooding.  Emergency teams have been working to shore up defences, deploy temporary barriers, monitor river levels, clear blockages from watercourses and pump-out flood water from towns.  Richard Benyon, the Environment Minister, said: "We recognise that while somewhere over 400 homes have been flooded, we have actually managed to protect over 24,000 homes by recently constructed flood defences, and so that is, if you like, the silver lining to this cloud."  In Exeter a member of the British kayaking team, Sam Anderson, took advantage of the white waters generated by the floods and took to the River Exe in his kayak.  He told Sky News that he would not encourage others to do the same thing but that he had been kayaking for 10 years and was wearing safety equipment, including a helmet.  He said: "It's really powerful the current. You just cannot go against it you have to go with it because it is really strong and it's really deep as well."

 The rest of Britain is also bracing itself for more flooding and travel disruption, with forecasters predicting further heavy downpours.  Jo Wheeler, Sky News Weather Presenter, said: "The low pressure system that brought flooding rain across the country last night, will slowly clear north-eastwards through the day.   "The heaviest hit areas of Devon and Cornwall received over two inches of rain in some places.  But the heaviest rain has now moved north, and there'll be a period of some hours before further wet weather is likely.  "Meanwhile, the storm system has taken the wettest weather into central , eastern and northern parts of England.   "And the strongest winds are to the south and east of the system, with gale force gusts for eastern England, East Anglia and the south-east.  These blustery conditions will also abate as the low pressure system clears away into the North Sea."  Network Rail said trains were likely to be suspended between Exeter and Bristol until Monday. Landslips at Honiton and Dawlish have led to the cancellation of a number of train services.  In North Yorkshire flooding has caused the closure of major roads including the A66, between the A1 and A67.  North Yorkshire Police tweeted: "Please take care when travelling in North Yorkshire. There is lots of standing water on many roads. Reduce your speed." - SKY News.

WATCH: Flood Scenes 'Shocking' Says David Cameron.

MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: NASA Rover Tracks Massive Dust Storm on Planet Mars - Storm is in an Area Where it Could Turn Into a Global Dust Haze!

November 25, 2012 - NASA - A NASA spacecraft is keeping tabs on a vast dust storm on Mars that has spawned changes in the Martian atmosphere felt by two rovers on the planet's surface.
The Martian dust storm was first spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on Nov. 10 and has been tracked ever since. The agency's Mars rover Opportunity has seen a slight drop in atmospheric clarity due to the storm. Meanwhile the newer Curiosity rover — which has a built-in weather station — has seen a drop in air pressure and slightly increased nighttime temperatures halfway around the planet from Opportunity, NASA officials said. "This is now a regional dust storm," Rich Zurek, NASA's chief Mars scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement Wednesday. "It has covered a fairly extensive region with its dust haze and it is in a part of the planet were some regional storms have grown into global dust hazes."

NASA is combining observations by the Curiosity rover and MRO to create a complete picture of the Martian dust storm. The Spain-built Rover Environmental Monitoring Station on Curiosity gives scientists a real-time look at conditions over the rover's position inside Gale Crater. The Mars Color Imager on MRO was built by Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. It was Malin's Bruce Cantor who first spotted the storm in photos from the powerful Mars camera on Nov. 10. "For the first time since the Viking missions of the 1970s, we are studying a regional dust storm both from orbit and with a weather station on the surface," Zurek said. Because the dust from the current storm is absorbing sunlight instead of reflecting it, a warming effect 16 miles above the Martian tempest has been seen by MRO. The effect, first recorded by MRO's Mars Climate Sounder on Nov. 16, has led to a temperature increase of 45 degrees Fahrenheit so far. Warmer temperatures are not confined to the Martian south. The circulation of the Martian atmosphere has also led to a hot spot in the planet's northern polar regions. The temperature on Mars is typically about minus 80 degrees F (minus 60 degrees C), but can vary depending on location and the Martian season.

Regional dust storms on Mars were observed in 2001 and 2007, but not between those years or in the time since. The Martian year lasts two Earth years, with major dust storm events following a seasonal pattern. Dust storm season on Mars began a few weeks ago as the Martian spring began in the planet's southern hemisphere, NASA officials said. "One thing we want to learn is why do some Martian dust storm get to this size and stop growing, while others this size keep growing and go global," Zurek said. A global dust storm on Mars could have implications for the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers. If the current dust storm were to expand to cover the Red Planet, the dust settling on Opportunity's solar panels could reduce the rover's power supply. Opportunity has been exploring the plains of Meridiani Planum since its 2004 landing on Mars. NASA's newer Mars rover Curiosity, meanwhile, would likely see increased haze in its photos of nearby terrain, as well as an above normal air temperature. The 1-ton Curiosity rover landed on Mars on Aug. 5 and is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator that is unaffected by dust storms. - MSNBC.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "Truly an Unusual Event" - USGS Declares New Strain of Rapidly Spreading Cyanobacteria Coral Disease Outbreak in Hawaii an "Epidemic"!

November 25, 2012 - HAWAII - A diagnostic report released Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey says a coral disease outbreak along Kauai’s North Shore is nothing short of an “epidemic.” “Given the scale of the event, the large numbers of corals affected, and the consistent preponderance of a few agents (cyanobacteria and fungi) associated with gross lesions that look similar in both Makua (Tunnels Beach) and ‘Anini, this outbreak would have to qualify as an epidemic,” Dr. Thierry Work, head of Infectious Disease for USGS, writes in the report. Work says this is the first time a cyanobacterial/fungal disease on this scale has been documented in Hawaiian corals and that he feels “very comfortable” describing the situation as he sees it.

A diseased piece of rice coral is pictured in ‘Anini Bay. This photo shows a cyanobacterial/fungal disease attacking a piece of coral — the black ring is the disease, and the white area is the coral’s dead skeleton. A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey calls this outbreak along Kaua‘i’s North Shore an ‘epidemic.’
“I wrote (epidemic) down in there because it’s true,” he said Wednesday, shortly after releasing his report. “The bottom line is the definition of an epidemic is an unusual or above-background occurrence of a disease. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a lot of animals.” Work went on to say that reefs along Kaua‘i’s North Shore look “horrible” and that locating diseased corals at Tunnels and ‘Anini was not a difficult task. “I have never seen a cyanobacterial disease like this killing corals to this degree in Hawai‘i,” he said. “This is truly an unusual event.” North Shore tests In August, Work traveled to Kaua‘i to complete tests on the diseased coral at Tunnels reef. An official report was filed Sept. 4 outlining the reef’s poor condition. “The overall picture was one of a severely degraded reef impacted by sediments and turf algae,” Work wrote in the September report. In late-September, Work — along with Dr. Greta Aeby, a coral expert with the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawai‘i, and Amanda Shore, a UH graduate student — accompanied Terry Lilley, a biologist and Eyes of the Reef volunteer who first alerted scientists of the unusual outbreak, to ‘Anini to photo document lesions, sample coral and apply a marine epoxy to affected corals to try and stop the disease’s progression. At that time, paired normal and lesion tissues were collected from 15 different coral colonies. Work’s findings were outlined in Wednesday’s report.

“Live coral cover appeared unusually low as compared to what would be expected on a healthy reef,” he wrote. “On microscopy, of the 17 samples with lesions, 10 had tissue death (necrosis) associated with cyanobacteria, five had necrosis with cyanobacteria and fungi, and the remainder had no recognizable microscopic lesions.” As for non-lesion coral samples, microscopic changes in tissue suggests the animals are undergoing some type of stress, according to the report. “Based on the large percentage (59 percent) of corals affected by cyanobacteria only at ‘Anini, I suspect this organism is playing a primary role in causing lesions, with the likelihood that fungi may pose a complicating factor,” Work writes. “In aggregate, 88 percent of corals with lesions at ‘Anini are infected with cyanobacteria and fungi.” The reefs at both ‘Anini and Tunnels are heavily overgrown by turf algae, have low coral cover and large amounts of suspended solids in the water column, according to Work.

And while sedimentation and the presence of the disease appear closely associated, Work says that remains to be proven through further scientific testing. “That said, the similarity of the findings at Makua (Tunnels) and ‘Anini strongly suggests a common underlying cause, and it is difficult to conclude that the degraded environmental conditions at both sites are not, in some way, driving the occurrence of these infectious diseases on corals,” Work writes. What’s next? As a scientist, Work says his job is simply to provide data on his findings. After that, he says it is up to decision-makers and the community to decide what they want to do about it. The next step of his work will be to determine the disease’s cause. “Is it coming from Hanalei River? Is it coming from Hanalei Stream?,” Work questioned. “The first question is where is the source.” Another big concern is whether this new strain of cyanobacteria is infectious to humans and marine life. Work says he and other scientists involved in the ongoing study have spotted puffer fish with skin discoloration and unusual lesions on their fins. “Right now I have no evidence that there’s any relationship between the coral disease and what’s happening to the turtles and fish,” Work said. “We’re going to try to come out next week to look at the fish, to see what’s causing the lesions.” The bottom line, according to Work, is that Kaua‘i’s reefs are heavily degraded and infected with a rapidly-spreading white coral disease unlike any seen here before. How they got this way is yet to be determined by Work, Aeby and other scientists. “I think people need to know what’s going on with their reefs,” Work said. “It’s actually quite serious.” - The Garden Island.

EXPLOSIONS: Tracking the Violent Outburst of Energy - Loud Explosions Results in 2 Homes Destroyed by Fire in Modesto, California; Family Displaced?!

November 25, 2012 - UNITED STATES - The Modesto Fire Department is fighting two house fires on Water Street, near East Coolidge Avenue, in Modesto, California. According to several reports, neighbours several blocks away reported hearing two loud explosions at the start of the fires.

Last night just after 10:00 p.m. the Modesto Fire Department was dispatched to Water St. in Modesto, California for reports of 2 separate duplex units on fire.  When they arrived they found the fire spreading from between the buildings into both structures. Both buildings involved were duplex units so 4 homes in all were threatened by the spreading fire.  Firefighters first checked all the homes for victims and when they found that all residents had made it out, they set to work fighting the large fire. A second alarm was called out bringing additional resources from around the city.  Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the two units closest to the fire. Meaning both duplexes lost one unit. One of the units was vacant while the other housed a family of 4.

Modesto News .org talked with one of the children of the family off camera who told us that most of her home was destroyed including her entire bedroom.  Several witnesses reported hearing loud explosions just before, or at the start of the fire. We had several people come up to the crew on scene telling us about this. We got an interview with one of them. Although we heard these reports from more than one person the Modesto Fire Department have said at this time that they can not find any evidence of explosions.  Fire crews stayed on the scene for several hours saving what they could from the families home and insuring that the fire would not rekindle.  There were no injuries reported in this incident. - Modesto News.

WATCH: Explosion in Modesto, California.

WATCH: 2 Homes Destroyed By Fire In Modesto, California - Family Displaced

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The Celestial Convergence - Planet Jupiter Out All Night; Planets Venus, Saturn and Mercury Before Sunrise!

November 25, 2012 - SOLAR SYSTEM - The coming weeks are an awesome time to look for planets! The chart at the top of this post shows the planets Venus and Saturn closest together in the east before dawn on Monday, November 26. The planet Mercury is crawling into view now, too, in the eastern predawn sky, gearing up for a very interesting alignment between Mercury, Venus and Saturn next week. Plus, you can see the planet Jupiter anytime on these late November 2012 nights. Earth will pass between Jupiter and the sun next week, placing Jupiter in its best place to observe this year. All four planets – including Mercury – should remain in fine view for the next several weeks.

If you’re an acute observer, and have binoculars, you might even catch Mars low in the southwest sky after sunset. So it’s possible for you to see all five visible planets on this November night. By visible planet, we mean any planet that’s readily visible without an optical aid and which has been observed by our ancestors since time immemorial. In their outward order from the sun, the visible planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Brilliant Jupiter will be super easy to spot. It’ll be low in the east at nightfall and rising upward during the evening hours. It’ll be highest up for the night around midnight and low in the west at morning dawn. If it’s clear, you simply can’t miss Jupiter because it’s the most brilliant star-like object to light up the evening sky.

Jupiter is bright! You can see it easily. It will be up more or less all night, shining more brightly than any
of the surrounding stars. This photo of Jupiter is from November 18, 2012. Image: Carlos Colon Sr.
The only planet to outshine Jupiter is Venus, the morning “star.” At mid-northern latitudes, dazzling Venus and the fainter planet Saturn rise together in the east about two and one-half hours before sunrise. If you can’t see Saturn next to Venus with the eye alone, use binoculars or a low-powered telescope. Venus and Saturn will remain within the same binocular field of view in the predawn and dawn sky from about November 24 to December 1. Day by day, look for Venus to fall downward as Saturn climbs upward.

You’ll need an unobstructed horizon and clear sky – and possibly binoculars – to spot Mercury, the innermost planet of the solar system. This world rises about one and one-half hours before sunrise tomorrow (Monday, November 26) at mid-northern latitudes. Try looking for Mercury close to the sunrise point on the horizon some 90 to 60 minutes before sunrise. If you miss Mercury in late November, keep in mind that the closest planet to the sun will be coming up even sooner before sunrise for the next few weeks. Moreover, Mercury will brighten all the while. Bottom line: Starting tonight (November 25, 2012) and for the next several weeks, look for Jupiter to shine all night long, Mars low in the southwest at dusk and nightfall, and for Venus, Saturn and Mercury in the eastern predawn and dawn sky. - EarthSky.

DISASTER IMPACT: Stunning Before-and-After Views of Superstorm Sandy Destruction!

November 25, 2012 - UNITED STATES - This before-and-after comparison of aerial views of Breezy Point in Queens, N.Y., shows the destruction caused by the Superstorm Sandy. The flooded beachfront community - a close-knit neighborhood of mostly firefighters and police officers - was totally destroyed when a huge blaze reduced perhaps 100 homes to ash. Nearly 200 firefighters were called into battle during the storm, as wind-whipped flames jumped from house to house. Credit: AP/Bing. - CBS News.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Extreme Weather Systems Threaten U.S. Transportation - Roads, Railways and Airports Unready For Severe Natural Disasters!

November 25, 2012 - UNITED STATES - The nation's lifelines — its roads, airports, railways and transit systems — are getting hammered by extreme weather beyond what their builders imagined, leaving states and cities searching for ways to brace for more catastrophes like Superstorm Sandy.

North Carolina Division of Highway workers wait for asphalt to arrive after removing a section of westbound
I-440 that buckled in triple-digit temperatures over the summer. Travis Long / The News & Observer via AP.
Even as they prepare for a new normal of intense rain, historic floods and record heat waves, some transportation planners find it too politically sensitive to say aloud the source of their weather worries: climate change.   Political differences are on the minds of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, whose advice on the design and maintenance of roads and bridges is closely followed by states. The association recently changed the name of its Climate Change Steering Committee to the less controversial Sustainable Transportation, Energy Infrastructure and Climate Solutions Steering Committee. Still, there is a recognition that the association's guidance will need to be updated to reflect the new realities of global warming.   "There is a whole series of standards that are going to have to be revisited in light of the change in climate that is coming at us," said John Horsley, the association's executive director.   In the latest and most severe example, Superstorm Sandy inflicted the worst damage to the New York subway system in its 108-year history, halted Amtrak and commuter train service to the city for days, and forced cancellation of thousands of airline flights at airports in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Wild weather is taking a toll on transportation across the country.   In Washington state, "we joked we were having 100-year storms every year," said Paula Hammond, head of the state's Department of Transportation.   Last year flooding threatened to swallow up the Omaha, Neb., airport, which sits on a bend in the Missouri River. The ground beneath the airfield became saturated, causing about 100 sinkholes and "soil boils" — uplifted areas of earth where water bubbles to the surface. The airport was spared through a massive effort that included installing 70 dewatering wells and stacking sandbags around airport equipment and buildings.   Record-smashing heat from Colorado to Virginia last summer caused train tracks to bend and highway pavement to buckle. A US Airways jet was delayed at Washington's Reagan National Airport after its wheels got stuck in a soft spot in the tarmac.   Dallas had more than five weeks of consecutive 100 degree-plus high temperatures. "That puts stress on pavements that previously we didn't see," Horsley said.

States and cities are trying to come to terms with what the change means to them and how they can prepare for it. Transportation engineers build highways and bridges to last 50 or even 100 years. Now they are reconsidering how to do that, or even whether they can, with so much uncertainty.   No single weather event, even a storm like Sandy, can be ascribed with certainty to climate change, according to scientists. But the increasing severity of extreme events fits with the kind of changing climate conditions that scientists have observed.   For example, several climate scientists say sea level along New York and much of the Northeast is about a foot higher than a century ago. - NBC News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: "Mount Doom" - More Eruptions Tipped as New Zealand's Tongariro Volcano Disrupts Flights!

November 25, 2012 - NEW ZEALAND -  Lingering ash from a volcanic eruption in New Zealand disrupted flights across parts of the North Island on Thursday, as scientists warned the mountain could blow again at any time. Mount Tongariro, in the centre of the North Island, erupted for the second time in four months on Wednesday after lying dormant for more than a century, spewing a column of ash three kilometres (1.9 miles) into the atmosphere.

Mt. Tongariro, in the centre of the North Island, erupted for the second time in four months. A massive plume of ash billows up into the sky as the volcano erupts at Tongariro National Park, 300 km (186 miles) north of Wellington.
Photo: Stefan Keller/Reuters.
Air New Zealand said flights to Rotorua resumed early on Thursday but services to Taupo and Gisborne would be subject to cancellations and delays until the ash cloud cleared, likely later in the day. “The airline is working with the relevant authorities to safely make adjustments to flight routes to ensure aircraft remain clear of any ash and keep providing a safe service to the travelling public,” it said. The official monitoring body GNS Science said the volcano, which was used as a backdrop to Peter Jackson’s hugely successful The Lord of the Rings films, was quiet overnight but remained unpredictable. “We (can) expect another eruption of similar size at any time during the next few weeks,” volcanologist Brad Scott said.

“Eruptions are not expected to escalate in size.” Just days before the mountain rumbled to life, scientists warned that neighbouring Mount Ruapehu was ready to erupt as pressure builds in a subterranean vent. They said there was no warning before the Tongariro blast and could not say if the activity at the two volcanoes was linked. No injuries were reported from Wednesday’s eruption but about 50 hikers scrambled for safety as ash billowed from the mountain. With two volcanoes now active, the Department of Conservation said walking tracks and a number of roads in the Tongariro National Park had been closed until further notice. New Zealand lies on the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, where the Earth’s tectonic plates collide, making it a hotspot for volcanic and earthquake activity. A eruption at Mount Ruapehu in 1953 caused New Zealand’s worst rail disaster when it triggered a massive mudslide that washed away a bridge, causing a passenger train to plunge into a river with the loss of 151 lives. - Live Mint.