Saturday, February 9, 2013

EXTREME MONUMENTAL WEATHER: Behemoth Storm - Record-Breaking Nemo Blizzard Blankets American Northeast; More Than 650,000 Without Power; Up To 38 Inches Of Snow In CT; At Least 6 Dead; U.S. Postal Service Suspended; Maine Hit With Record Snowfall; 11-Year-Old Boy Dies Of Carbon Monoxide In Running Car; Many Motorists Stranded Overnight; State Of Emergency In CT, RI, MA, NY, ME; Over 6,000 Flights Canceled!

February 09, 2013 - UNITED STATES - New Englanders began the back-breaking job of digging out from as much as 3 feet of wet, heavy snow Saturday and emergency crews used snowmobiles to reach shivering motorists stranded overnight on New York's Long Island after a howling storm swept through the Northeast.  About 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity, and some could be cold and dark for days. Many roads across the New York-to-Boston corridor of 25 million people were impassable. Cars were entombed by drifts. And some homeowners woke up in the morning to find the snow packed so high they couldn't get their doors open.  "It's like lifting cement. They say it's 2 feet, but I think it's more like 3 feet," said Michael Levesque, who was shoveling snow in Quincy, Mass., as part of a work crew for a landscaping company. 

In Providence, where the drifts were 5 feet high and telephone lines encrusted with ice and snow drooped under the weight, Jason Harrison labored for nearly three hours to clear his blocked driveway and front walk and still had more work to do. His snowblower, he said, "has already paid for itself."  At least six deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the overnight snowstorm, including an 11-year-old boy in Boston who was overcome by carbon monoxide as he sat in a running car to keep warm while his father shoveled Saturday morning.  Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee cautioned that while the snow had stopped, the danger hadn't passed: "People need to take this storm seriously, even after it's over. If you have any kind of heart condition, be careful with the shoveling."  Blowing with hurricane-force winds of more than 80 mph in places, the storm hit hard along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between New York City and Maine. Milford., Conn., got 38 inches of snow, and Portland, Maine, recorded 31.9, shattering a 1979 record. Several communities in New York and across New England got more than 2 feet.  Still, the storm was not as bad as some of the forecasts led many to fear, and not as dire as the Blizzard of '78, used by longtime New Englanders as the benchmark by which all other winter storms are measured.  By midday Saturday, the National Weather Service reported preliminary snowfall totals of 24.9 inches in Boston, or fifth on the city's all-time list. Bradley Airport near Hartford, Conn., got 22 inches, for the No. 2 spot in the record books there.

In New York, where Central Park recorded 11 inches, not even enough to make the Top 10 list, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city "dodged a bullet" and its streets were "in great shape." The three major airports – LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark, N.J. – were up and running by late morning after shutting down the evening before.  Most of the power outages were in Massachusetts, where more than 400,000 homes and businesses were left in the dark. In Rhode Island, around 178,000 customers lost power, or about one-third of the state.  Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island imposed travel bans until 4 p.m. to keep cars off the road and let plows do their work, and the National Guard helped clear highways in Connecticut, where more than 240 car accidents were reported. The Guardsmen rescued about 90 motorists, including a few who had hypothermia and were taken to hospitals.  On Long Island, which got more than 2 1/2 feet of snow, hundreds of drivers spent a cold and scary night stuck on the highways. Even snowplows got bogged down or were blocked by stuck cars, so emergency workers used snowmobiles to try to reach motorists, many of whom were still waiting to be rescued hours after the snow had stopped. 

One of those who was rescued, Priscilla Arena, prayed as she waited, took out a sheet of loose-leaf paper and wrote what she thought might be her last words to her husband and children, ages 5 and 9. Among her advice: "Remember all the things that mommy taught you. Never say you hate someone you love."  Richard Ebbrecht, a chiropractor, left his office in Brooklyn at 3 p.m. on Friday and headed for home in Middle Island, N.Y., but got stuck six or seven times on the Long Island Expressway and other roads.  "There was a bunch of us Long Islanders. We were all helping each other, shoveling, pushing," he said. He finally gave up and settled in for the night in his car just two miles from his destination. At 8 a.m., when it was light out, he walked home.  "I could run my car and keep the heat on and listen to the radio a little bit," he said. "It was very icy under my car. That's why my car is still there."  Across much of New England, streets were empty of cars and dotted instead with children who had never seen so much snow and were jumping into snowbanks and making forts. Snow was waist-high in the mostly empty streets of Boston. Plows made some thoroughfares passable but piled even more snow on cars parked on the city's narrow streets. 

Boston's Logan Airport was not expected to resume operations until late Saturday night.  Around the New York metropolitan area, many victims of Superstorm Sandy were mercifully spared another round of flooding, property damage and power failures.  "I was very lucky and I never even lost power," said Susan Kelly of Bayville. "We were dry as anything. My new roof was fantastic. Other than digging out, this storm was a nice storm." As for the shoveling, "I got two hours of exercise."  Some spots in Massachusetts had to be evacuated because of coastal flooding, including Salisbury Beach, where around 40 people were ordered out.  Among them were Ed and Nancy Bemis, who heard waves crashing and rolling underneath their home, which sits on stilts. At one point, Ed Bemis went outside to take pictures, and a wave came up, blew out their door and knocked down his wife.  "The objects were flying everywhere at the beginning. If you went in there, it looks like two big guys got in a big, big fight. It tore the doors right off their hinges. It's a mess," he said.  The Postal Service took the rare step of closing post offices and suspending mail delivery Saturday in New England.  Some people managed to make it to work. In Westborough, Mass., Christina's Cafe opened at 6 a.m. as usual to serve breakfast to snowplow operators. Kim Lupien was the only one of the restaurant's six waitresses who made it to work, climbing through snowdrifts from her home nearby.  "People expect us to be open, so we're open," she said with a shrug. Lupien added that she grew up in snowy Maine: "That's why it doesn't affect me much." - Huffington Post.

WATCH: Northeast Besieged by Monster Snowstorm.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Unprecedented Seismic Swarm - Magnitude 6.5 Quake Strikes Off Solomon Islands!

February 09, 2013 - SOLOMON ISLANDS - A 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit off the Solomon Islands on Sunday, the latest powerful aftershock following a 8.0-magnitude quake that sparked a tsunami four days ago, US seismologists said.

USGS earthquake map and location.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at 8:02 am (2102 GMT Saturday) 29 kilometres (18 miles) south-southwest of Lata, the main town on remote Ndende island in the Santa Cruz Islands, which are part of the Solomons, at a depth of 18 kilometres. It was the latest in a series of powerful aftershocks to hit the remote region since a deadly 8.0-magnitude earthquake Wednesday triggered a tsunami, killing at least 13 people, destroying villages and leaving thousands homeless.

The tremor was not expected to generate a widespread tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
Geoscience Australia also measured it at 6.5 but centred at a greater depth of 36 kilometres. A further 12 houses were reported destroyed following a 6.8 magnitude tremor Friday and another measuring 7.0, which sent villagers fleeing to higher ground in fear of another tsunami.

This photo, taken on February 6, 2013 by World Vision, shows a home destroyed near Lata in the
Santa Cruz Islands (World Vision/AFP/File).
The Solomon Islands government has declared the outlying Santa Cruz Islands a disaster area as the aftershocks continue to hamper relief efforts. Because of a fragile communications system, officials in the capital Honiara were struggling to get a clear picture of the extent of damage, but the Red Cross said food, water and shelter were a priority for quake-hit villages. - AFP.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Sakurajima in Japan, Erupts Again - Producing Powerful Explosions, With Ash Plumes Rising to 10,000 Feet!

February 09, 2013 - JAPAN - The Sakurajima volcano has entered once again a phase of more intense and frequent  explosions. Since the start of the year, there has been one explosion every 4 to 5 hours on  average. with ash clouds rose to altitudes as high as 10,000 feet. 

JMA reported that during 28 January-1 February explosions from Sakura-jima's Showa Crater ejected tephra as far as 1.8 km from the crater. Crater incandescence was occasionally detected. The Tokyo VAAC reported that pilots observed ash plumes at altitudes of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. during 30-31 January. Based on information from JMA, explosions during 31 January-5 February generated plumes on most days that rose to altitudes of 1.8-3 km (6,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N, NW, and SE.

Geologic Summary.
Sakura-jima, one of Japan's most active volcanoes, is a post-caldera cone of the Aira caldera at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow was associated with the formation of the 17 x 23-km-wide Aira caldera about 22,000 years ago. The construction of Sakura-jima began about 13,000 years ago and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kita-dake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minami-dake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.  - Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report.

WATCH: Sakurajima's latest explosions.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Strikes Northeast Of Yacuanquer, Colombia!

February 09, 2013 - COLUMBIA - According to the United States Geological Survey, an earthquake has struck near Yacuanquer, Colombia, South America on Saturday midday.

The quake struck around 11:30 a.m. local time.

The quake has initially been registered as a magnitude 7.0.

A quake this strong is capable of causing significant damage to weakly constructed dwellings, if near the surface.

USGS earthquake intensity map.
According to the USGS, the quake was centered about 3 miles northeast of Yacuanquer, but at a depth of 80 miles. Such a quake is considered to be rather deep.

According to the Associated Press, Colombian authorities are not indicating any reports of injuries or damage in the area. - AccuWeather.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For February 09, 2013 - Updates On Nevado del Ruiz, Stromboli, Manam, Langila, Galeras And Etna!

February 09, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Current thermal image from Stromboli's crater with the new lava overflow (INGV).
Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): Activity has increased: a new lava overflow from the NE rim of the NE crater has started. Tremor and explosion signals are again quite strong, judging from the current seismic signal.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Another short eruptive episode with intense strombolian activity occurred from Bocca Nuova last night.

Langila (New Britain, Papua New Guinea): Elevated SO2 emissions are visible on today's satellite data, indicating ongoing activity. Also Manam volcano remains active and produced an increased SO2 plume.

SO2 plume from Nevado del Ruiz (NOAA).
Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): A swarm of volcano-tectonic earthquakes occurred late on 7 Feb, suggesting a small magma intrusion, which also resulted in increased SO2 emissions visible on the last NOAA satellite data. Seismic activity has since decreased again. A smaller SO2 plume is also visible from Galeras volcano. - Volcano Discovery.