Friday, March 8, 2013

THE PRIEST CLASS OF THE MAGI: The Vatican Press Office - Conclave To Choose New Pope Will Begin On Tuesday, The 12th Of March!

March 08, 2013 - VATICAN CITY - The Catholic cardinals gathered in Rome voted Friday to begin the secret election, or conclave, to elect a new pope next Tuesday afternoon, the Vatican said.

The 115 cardinal-electors taking part in the conclave will enter the closed-door process after a morning Mass, the Vatican said. Only those younger than 80 are eligible to vote.

What Africans want from the next pope

The cardinals voted Friday morning to accept the letters of explanation of two cardinal-electors who are eligible to vote for the next pope but will not attend the conclave: Keith O'Brien of Scotland and Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja of Indonesia.

Darmaatmadja cited health reasons, and O'Brien cited personal reasons.

Abuse victims' group names preferred picks for new pope

O'Brien resigned in scandal last week after allegations that he made sexual advances toward young men studying to be priests. He apologized in a statement Sunday, saying, "There have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."

Since Monday, the cardinals have been uniting for what are known as General Congregations, a series of meetings in which they discuss the issues facing the church.

These include how to tackle the issue of child sex abuse by priests and a scandal over leaks from the Vatican last year that revealed claims of corruption within the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.

Opinion: How to pick a new pope

Electronic shield

The chimney used to send up the smoke signals that announce whether or not a new pope has been elected could be raised over the Sistine Chapel on Friday, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

The voting takes place inside the chapel, beneath the ornate ceiling painted by Michelangelo.

Opinion: What the next pope will face

The building was closed to tourists Tuesday and will remain so for the foreseeable future, the Vatican said. Work is well under way to transform it for the conclave.

Cardinals arrive at Vatican City for the conclave.
The cardinals have sworn an oath of secrecy. Nonetheless, the Vatican is taking no chances.

An electronic shield will be put up around the conclave to prevent the use of mobile phones and other devices that might allow communication with the outside world.

However, Lombardi denied a report in the Italian media that the cardinals will be searched as they go in and out of the conclave.

Among the things the cardinals have to do is draw lots for which rooms they get at the Casa Santa Marta, the hotel within the walls of Vatican City where they stay during the conclave.

The hotel also contains a suite where the newly elected pope will live for a few weeks before moving to the papal apartments.

The apartments were placed under seal after Benedict XVI left last week and must be renovated before the new pope can take up residence, the Vatican said. - CNN.

WATCH: Conclave To Choose New Pope Will Begin On Tuesday, The 12th Of March.

SNOWQUESTER AMERICA: The Winter Storm Saturn's Huge Waves Sweep New England Coastline As Late Winter Storm Batters The East Coast; 'Wave After Wave Of Snow' To Hit New England; Storm Dumps Over 20 Inches Of Snow On Virginia; Illinois Banquet Hall Roof Collapses Under Weight Of Snow!

March 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - New England residents hunkered down Friday as a late-season storm dumped up to a foot of snow in some areas – with more to come.  The storm also brought high winds that were battering Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Long Island, the Weather Channel reported. A winter storm warning remained in effect for the region through 1 p.m., with snowfall expected to lessen through the afternoon. “We are watching a conveyor belt of wave after wave of snow coming in over the Atlantic,” Alan Dunham, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the Associated Press. “The morning commute will definitely be a challenge.”

Snow blankets New England streets.
'Wave After Wave of Snow' to Pummel New England.
The Massachusetts town of Mansfield reported 14 inches on Friday and Rockland had a foot, according to the National Weather Service. A seaside house on Plum Island, about 40 miles north of Boston, was listing at a 45-degree angle after being battered by waves, WHDH reported. The accumulation of wet snow on trees and power lines combined with gusty winds could lead to some isolated power outages, NBC Connecticut cautioned. Hundreds of schools closed or delayed openings. The weather meant a change of footwear for Lisa Parisella of Beverly, Mass., where there were six inches on the ground on Friday morning. “I was thinking, March, ready to take out the sandals, and I’m taking out the boots again,” she said. The storm has authorities along the Massachusetts coast worried as wind-lashed seas threatened flood-prone areas still recovering from last month’s blizzard. The town of Scituate, Mass. advised residents to leave low-lying zones during high tides on Thursday.

  A house collapsed on Plum Island, Mass. shortly before 9 a.m. Friday morning. NBC News.

“I think that’s going to be very dangerous,” Scituate Police Chief Brian Stewart told the AP. “We’re recommending that peoples in areas that have experienced coastal flooding to evacuate three hours before high tide.” Thirty-mph gusts and beach erosion are the biggest concern in Sandwich, Mass., where residents boarded up their homes against the approaching storm. “We had serious flooding this morning,” Brian Gallant, director of the town’s emergency management, told NBC affiliate WHDH on Thursday. “We had a couple of roads that were under water. The boardwalk again is under water.” Waves as high as 23-feet with 3-foot storm surges were expected Friday, WHDH reported. Commuters slid into work on wet, sloshy snow in New York and New Jersey, with flurries expected to continue through noon before changing to rain, NBC New York reported. A winter storm warning was in effect through noon in New York City and through parts of northeastern New Jersey, with 1 to 2 inches of accumulation expected in the city, the Weather Channel reported. A half a foot or or more could fall over northeast New Jersey and into the lower Hudson Valley, the National Weather Service reported. Fifty-eight flights had been canceled for New York’s LaGuardia airport and 54 at Logan in Boston as of 9:30 a.m. Friday morning, according to Flight Aware. The storm swept through the Midwest and up from the Mid-Atlantic earlier in the week, taking its toll in several states. A Virginia man died after his car slid off an icy road, and two North Carolina boaters remained missing offshore. - NBC News.

Huge Waves Sweep New England Coastline As Late Winter Storm Batters The East Coast.
Wild one: Ocean waves crash over a seawall and into houses along the coast in Scituate, Massachusetts on Thursday, March 7.
A late winter storm that has confounded forecasters now threatens to dump a foot of snow on areas of Massachusetts and up to five inches of snow in New York City before finally moving out to sea.  The wet windy storm is predicted to bring 'wave after wave of snow' to the area on Friday, promising a gruelling and potentially dangerous morning commute, especially into Boston, which could get 10 inches of snow. Interior Massachusetts could get as many as 12 inches.  The weather front has caught forecasters off guard this week - appearing as if it were going to batter Washington D.C. before turning on Sandy-affected areas of New Jersey and the East Coast instead.  It has already brought high waves and coastal flooding from Delaware to Massachusetts, forcing sea water into roads and homes, leaving thousands without power.  'We are watching a conveyor belt of wave after wave of snow coming in over the Atlantic,' Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. 'The morning commute will definitely be a challenge.'  Homes and businesses could suffer yet more power outages thanks to the combination of wet snow accumulating on trees and power lines and strong winds, NBC Connecticut reported.  'The large winter storm slowly moving away from the Northeast coast will continue to bring a plethora of hazards to the Northeast' until early tomorrow, the National Weather Service said.  'Strong winds, high waves and coastal flooding will impact the coast from New Jersey to Maine, while heavy snow is forecast across inland locations.'  Through Friday night, the storm will shift out to sea, leaving breezy behind on Saturday morning. - Daily Mail.

Winter Storm Dumps Over 20 Inches Of Snow On Virginia.
The heaviest snows are now over for the very wet Winter Storm Saturn, which dumped 6+" of snow on fourteen states this week, from North Dakota to Virginia. The deepest snows fell in the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia and eastern West Virginia, where a number of locations received over twenty inches. The top snow-getter was Franklin, West Virginia, with 24". At least three more states will join the 6+" snow club on Thursday, as Boston, MA, Providence, RI, and New London, CT are all expected to get 4 - 8" of snow. A mere 0.2" of snow fell at Washington D.C.'s Reagan Airport, despite predictions early in the morning that the city would receive 8 - 10" of snow. The storm, dubbed "Snowquester" by the Washington Post, is now being called "Noquester" after the forecast bust. Western suburbs of D.C. just twenty miles from the city got up to 6" of snow, though, with 3.3" recorded at Dulles Airport.

MODIS satellite image of Winter Storm Saturn/Snowquester at 2:55 pm EST March 6, 2013, from NASA's Aqua satellite. Image credit: NASA.
According to NOAA's latest storm summary, here are the top snowfall amounts for the fourteen states that received 6+" of snow:  ...IOWA... NEW HAMPTON 8.6  ...ILLINOIS... LA GRANGE PARK 11.0  ...INDIANA... NORTH WEBSTER 11.0  ...MARYLAND... FROSTBURG 12.5  ...MICHIGAN... SAWYER 9.5  ...MINNESOTA... BIGFORK 13.2  ...MONTANA... ROCKY BOY 24.0  ...NORTH CAROLINA... BRYSON CITY 6.0  ...NORTH DAKOTA... LANGDON 15.0  ...OHIO... BELLEFONTAINE 9.0  ...PENNSYLVANIA... NEW KENSINGTON 12.0  ...VIRGINIA... FISHERSVILLE 20.3  ...WISCONSIN... INDEPENDENCE 9.0  ...WEST VIRGINIA... FRANKLIN 24.0

Coastal flooding on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Norfolk, Virginia, thanks to Winter Storm Saturn.
Image credit: Martin Cornick.
Coastal flooding in Delaware floods Highway 1; flooding in Massachusetts a concern
The storm brought high winds and a storm surge of 2 - 4' to the shores of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, causing moderate flooding to many of the beaches battered by Hurricane Sandy in October. The top wind gust was 64 mph at Tuckerton, NJ. The streets of Sea Bright and Highlands in New Jersey flooded during high tide Wednesday, and a 4.1' storm surge hit the Delaware coast near Lewes, driving water levels to 2.8' above the high tide mark.

Coastal flooding prediction made at 5 am EDT Thursday March 7, 2013 for the Friday morning high tide cycle. Sandwich Harbor and Nantucket Island are boost predicted to receive major coastal flooding, with storm surges of up to 3.8' and waves offshore of up to 29'. NWS Boston.
The storm surge, topped by high, battering waves, caused severe erosion and broke through a barrier dune north of the Indian River Inlet Bridge, inundating the coastal highway, Route 1, between Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach. As the storm moves eastwards, it will bring moderate flooding during the Thursday evening and Friday morning high tide cycles along large portions of the Eastern Massachusetts coast. Sandwich Harbor and Nantucket Island are both predicted to receive major coastal flooding on Friday morning, with storm surges of up to 3.8' and waves offshore of up to 29'. Winds gusts of 68 mph were observed at Hyannis and Harwichport on Massachusetts' Cape Cod this Thursday morning. - Wunderground.
Illinois Banquet Hall Roof Collapses Under Weight of Snow.
The biggest winter storm to hit the Chicago area in two years may have proved too much for a northwest suburban banquet hall. A portion of the roof of Cafe La Cave in Des Plaines caved in just before 1 p.m. Tuesday. Snow poured into one wing of the building as the roof gave way overnight, leaving a gaping hole at the banquet hall's southwest corner.    Des Plaines Fire Department officials said no one was in the building at the time, and no injuries were reported. The building department is scheduled to inspect the structure Wednesday. The banquet hall, located not far from O'Hare International Airport, is a family owned business that hosts weddings as well as a big Easter brunch.  Cafe La Cave owner Kim Sutter said the roof collapsed over their Baby Grand Ballroom.  Owenr Gus Sutter said a graduation dinner celebration for Worsham College for 300 people was planned for Wednesday night.  "Thank God there wasn't an event going on," Gus Sutter said. "[The roof] is just a thing. A thing that can be replaced." - NBC News.

WATCH: Illinois Banquet Hall Roof Collapses Under Weight of Snow.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF IN AMERICA: Disaster Precursors - Fish Kill In Baffin Bay, Texas Has Residents And Scientists Very Concerned; And Dead Fish Litter The Payette River In Idaho?!

March 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A group of residents who live around Baffin Bay are worried about pollution in the bay ruining sport fishing. That's why they approached Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi for help.

Fish Kill In Baffin Bay, Texas Has Residents And Scientists Concerned.
Fish kills in parts of Baffin Bay are nothing new. In fact, back in 2007, a massive fish kill had scientists scrambling. That kill was ultimately blamed on ammonia levels that starved the fish of oxygen.

It is happening again, but ammonia levels are not to blame this time. A group of citizens has been keeping track of fish kills over the past couple of years, and although they are small, it is happening more often.

Residents took pictures of black drum that have been dying off, leaving the beaches littered with dead fish. Of more concern are images that show mountains of small clams that are the main source of food for the black drum.

"If it's a municipal waste water issue, certainly upgrading waste water plants; if it's a farming issue, implementation of best management practices, and how we apply fertilizers for example," said Dr. Michael Wetz, assistant professor of marine biology at TAMUCC. "It could be an issue of putting buffers around farmland. There are any number of things that can be done."

Wetz was able to get a grant back in January to organize the citizens into volunteer water quality monitors. He hopes to get a better handle on how to deal with algal blooms and levels of nutrients in the water that are too high for underwater life to survive in. - KIII.

WATCH: Fish Kill in Baffin Bay has Resident, Scientists Concerned.

Dead Fish Litter The Payette River In Idaho.
Sediment washed through the Black Canyon Dam kills fish  The water is low in the Payette River which recently helped Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers and biologists inspect sediment deposits created from the Black Canyon Dam water draw down. The draw down is part of the scheduled construction plan of a third hydroelectric generating unit at the Black Canyon Diversion Dam. The generation plant was proposed by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation to provide power to 9,359 homes outside of Gem County.  Recently, a team of Idaho Fish and Game biologists surveyed the Payette River from the Black Canyon Dam to the Letha Bridge. The team consisted of Senior Regional Research Fisheries Biologist at IDFG Martin Koenig, IDFG Fisheries Biologist Joe Kozfkay and Emmett IDFG Conservation Officer Paul Alexander. What the group found was surprising.  During the basic fish kill and habitat survey, the IDFG biologists found more than 100 dead fish up and down the banks of the Payette River scattered below the dam to the Gem Island Sports Complex.

A one day survey reveals heavy sediment and over 100 dead fish in the lower Payette River. Heavy sediment could also harm duck populations. Photos from the Idaho Department Fish and Game.
Six different fish species were discovered dead. Koenig said that suckers, chiselmouth, pike minnows, yellow perch, carp and some small mouth bass were found floating in the river, stuck in deep sand bars or on the banks.  Kozfkay was most alarmed by the amount of deep sediment in the stream channel. It was higher than normal below the dam and also had filled pools and cracks. Sand and sediment in the water column can affect the fish’s gills, eyes and skin. “It’s like getting sand blasted,” Kozfkay said. “Many of the carp we studied were beat up.”  “When the sand fills in the small spaces, it also kills insects, crayfish and small fish which fish feed on,” Kozfkay said.  The sediment from the dam originates from upper drainages according to IDFG officers. The sand fills the pools and the fish cannot see to feed by sight. The big concern is the sediment, when washed out by high water, will be pushed into back water sloughs and channels occupied by groups of nesting and breeding duck populations.  “There is a high probability the sediment has hurt the fish population from the dam to Emmett. The fish food base was also damaged,” Kozfkay said.  Later this summer, IDFG officers will submit a mitigation request for reservoir restocking costs to re-establish fisheries. In future years, they will repeat surveys and data collection and make additional mitigation requests.  “I’m aware how important this fishery and reservoir is to the community,” Kozfkay said. “Fishing and floating the river is popular. We need to take a serious look into this and try to look for a solution.” - Messenger Index.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Another Salt Cavern Is Now Causing Major Concern For Officials! UPDATE: Governor Jindal To Meet With Local Officials About The Sinkhole For The First Time! [NEW PHOTOS AND VIDEOS]

March 08, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The Vertical Seismic Profile Data that has been provided to us by Texas Brine shows that Oxy Geismar Cavern #1 is closer to the outer wall of the Napoleonville Salt Dome than recently anticipated.

Assumption Parish Police Jury's photostream of the Louisiana sinkhole.
Although Oxy Geismar Cavern #1 was previously thought to have no issues, this recent development does cause concern for Assumption Parish Officials. Oxy Geismar Cavern #1 is located 900’ to the northeast of Oxy Geismar Cavern #3 (which is the failed cavern) and is estimated to be 950’ from Highway 70 to the outer wall of the Napoleonville Salt Dome .

Although the upcoming 3D Seismic Survey may provide more information on the western flank of the Napoleonville Salt Dome, we have asked Texas Brine and DNR officials to provide information at an upcoming community meeting to be held at the Assumption Parish Community Center on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

Assumption parish officials will meet with Governor Bobby Jindal on Monday to address this ongoing situation in Bayou Corne and to request continuous support from all involved state agencies.

In the meantime, we would ask anyone wanting additional information to stop by Texas Brine’s Public Relations Office or the Assumption Parish Mobile Command Post at Sportsman’s Landing in Bayou Corne. - Assumption Parish Police Jury.

Gov. Bobby Jindal will meet with Assumption Parish officials on Monday about the massive sinkhole there. The decision was made after he dodged questions from reporter Greg Meriwether earlier this week.  Some of those living in the area and affected by the sinkhole say the governor's actions are too little, too late.  "Me and my family don't want to see Governor Jindal," said one caller to a Baton Rouge radio station. "We don't want to shake hands with him. We don't want to vote for him anymore. We really don't care what he does at this point."  Listeners flooded the Clarence Buggs Show with anti-Jindal calls.  The sinkhole has kept hundreds out of their own homes for nearly seven months now. - WAFB.

Here are several of the latest images of the sinkhole.
Assumption Parish Police Jury's photostream of the Louisiana sinkhole.

Assumption Parish Police Jury's photostream of the Louisiana sinkhole.

Assumption Parish Police Jury's photostream of the Louisiana sinkhole.

See more images HERE.

WATCH: The latest flyover videos:

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Severe And Exceptional Drought - India Suffers Through The Worst Drought In Nearly 50 Years, Warns Of Famine If Rains Fail; New Zealand Declares Drought In Key Farming Regions; Drought Gives Oklahoma Firefighters No Choice But To Prepare For The Worst; Concerns Mount For California Water Shortage; And Doubts Hang Over United States Drought Relief!

March 08, 2013 - EARTH - Millions of people in western India are suffering their worst drought in more than four decades, with critics blaming official ineptitude and corruption for exacerbating the natural water shortage.  Central areas of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, are facing a water shortage worse than the severe drought in 1972, the state's chief minister Prithviraj Chavan told AFP.  "In recorded history the reservoirs have never been so low in central Maharashtra," he said. "With every passing day the reservoirs are drying up."  Chavan blamed the crisis on two successive poor monsoons, although others say a public policy failure is also responsible.  Nearly 2,000 tanker trucks are being used to transport drinking water to the needy, while hundreds of cattle camps have been set up to keep livestock alive until the monsoon, which usually arrives in June.  "With every passing day, the tankers have to travel a greater distance. It's a huge logistical issue," Chavan said.  The chief minister's office could not put an exact figure on the population in the 10,000 villages affected, but said it ran into millions. 

India Suffers Through Worst Drought In Nearly 50 Years, Warns Of Famine If Rains Fail.
Christopher Moses runs a charitable hospital in Jalna, one of the worst-affected districts. He said many people had lost their livelihoods as companies shut down and farmers' crops wither.  "This is a famine. Villagers have nothing to eat, they are scraping literally the bottom of their pot," Moses told AFP by telephone from Jalna.  "Water-related diseases are on the up, starvation will start coming up, malnutrition will start coming up now," he said.  He said the crisis may force him to shut down parts of his Jalna Mission Hospital for the first time in its 117-year history. It has not yet seen any emergency water supplies from the government.  With nearly three-quarters of Indians dependent on rural incomes, the yearly monsoon is a lifeline -- especially given that about two-thirds of farmland is not irrigated and depends entirely on rain.  The 1972 drought led to a massive shortage of food grains and prices of all commodities rocketed, forcing India's government to increase imports, while another widespread drought in 2009 also inflated prices and hardship.  While last year's monsoon picked up late in western parts of India, low rainfall in the crucial month of June led to water deficiency throughout the season, according to Medha Khole at the India Meteorological Department. 

Chavan warned there would a "very serious problem" if the rains fail this year.  An alleged irrigation scam has been blamed for worsening Maharashtra's crisis, with politicians and bureaucrats accused of wasting vast public funds on unfinished projects in the state through corruption and nepotism.  Maharashtra's proportion of irrigated land grew by just 0.1 percentage points between 2000 and 2010, an official economic survey said, despite billions of dollars being spent on it.  A controversial government white paper has disputed the statistics and Chavan declined to comment on graft allegations involving other ministers because the courts are investigating.  He acknowledged that the government "could have planned better" on irrigation schemes and was now trying to complete projects meant for agriculture to provide drinking water in deficient areas.  Professor H.M. Desarda, an economist in the drought-hit region, said corruption was a "very significant part of the problem", but a lack of understanding of how best to harvest rainwater was also to blame.  He believes better water management is needed and a shift of focus from expensive projects, such as giant dams, to smaller and more efficient community-level methods for storing water.  Regulations on groundwater extraction, which is exacerbating the water scarcity, also need to be more stringently enforced.  "It's not a failure of rain, it's a failure of public policies," said Desarda. - Space Daily.

New Zealand Declares Drought In Key Farming Regions.
The New Zealand government declared a drought in key farming areas on the North Island on Wednesday, with no significant rainfall in more than three months threatening to cost the economy NZ$1 billion ($828.35 million).  The affected areas include the major dairy producing Waikato, south of the country’s biggest city Auckland, and horticultural regions Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay.  “This extended period of hot and dry weather over the last couple of months has left dairy and sheep and beef farmers alike with parched paddocks and burnt and stunted feed crops,” said James Houghton, Waikato president of the Federated Farmers group.  The official drought declaration gives farmers access to financial and social support.  Some of the affected regions have had around a third of their average rainfall this year, and only light falls are expected for the rest of the month.  Agriculture accounts for around a half of the country’s NZ$46 billion annual export earnings, with dairy produce the single biggest commodity.  The drought would likely weigh significantly on production and incomes, stretching out into next year, worth as much as NZ$1 billion ($830 million).  “The reduction in agricultural and primary production is likely to shave 0.5 percent off GDP by the end of the year,” ANZ Bank rural economist Con Wilson said in a research note.

The dry conditions are forcing farmers to cut short milk production, cull animals, and buy in expensive supplement feeds.  New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, warned last week that dry weather was cutting into production, which had risen around 5 percent in the first half of the dairy season.  “The impacts of (a) prolonged period of dry weather are likely to be long-lasting, with agricultural and primary manufacturing production unlikely to recover to pre-drought peaks for at least 24 months,” Wilson said.  The last significant drought in New Zealand occurred in 2007/08, wiping an estimated NZ$2.8 billion off GDP, and helping tip the economy into a year-long recession.  At this stage the South Island, which has significant dairy and meat raising regions, as well as much of the country’s hydro-electricity generation, is not affected by drought.  However, the drought could help underpin prices for dairy products because of reduced supplies to meet demand.  Fonterra’s latest on-line auction of products saw a 10.4 percent rise in average prices on reduced volumes. It was the biggest single auction rise in nearly two years and took the market to within 9 percent of its peak in May 2011. ($1=NZ$1.20)  - Holidays Press.

Drought Gives Oklahoma Firefighters No Choice But To Prepare For The Worst.
Despite recent rainfall, Southwest Oklahoma emergency planners and fire departments are preparing for the worst as warmer weather approaches. Recent years have seen large wildfires consume land and homes, as well as fire department resources. Despite recent rains, not enough has fallen to prompt emergency personnel to stand down from the highest state of alert. With drying-up water resources, responders are forced to plan how to conserve the most valuable weapon against fire in their arsenal. Fresh from helping direct the third annual Destry Horton Wildland Firefighting School Feb. 15-17 on Fort Sill, Lawton Fire Training Officer Jared Williams said the drought is going to hit the departments in multiple ways. The first punch comes from dry vegetation, which makes good fuel for fire. "This year we again appear to be into a very challenging wildfire season," Williams said. "If the current trend continues we will again see tinder box conditions."
Firefighting is a water-intensive battle, Williams said, and the prospect of its scarceness could limit efforts to keep fires under control. That's troubling because the departments' primary goal is safety, he said and lack of water could cause an incident commander to hesitate before committing to a course of attack. - TLC.

Concerns Mount For California Water Shortage.
The calendar water year, which runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, may have been off to a good start with above-average snowpack conditions in northern California. However, recent struggles and building drought in other parts of the state have made officials wary for upcoming water supply and raised concerns for an endangered fish, the Delta Smelt.  "Winter started out fairly decent. Sierra snow pack was at 200 percent of normal in December. Reservoirs were chock-full; there was flooding in some places," Expert Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said.  Storms in late November and December resulted in above-average snowpack conditions in northern California. They also contributed to an above-average water supply in Shasta and Folsom reservoirs, according to the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR).  But not all of California was as lucky. The San Joaquin River watershed lagged behind.  "This mixed start to the water year was then followed by the driest combined Januarys and Februarys on record, leading to what has become a challenging water year," Pete Lucero, Public Affairs Officer for the Bureau of Reclamation said.  The supply is not a issue for the time being, but a dry remainder of the year could become problematic.  "Right now, the reservoirs are actually running a bit above historical averages. The problem is that they're going to go down," Clark said.  Farmers desperately rely on Shasta and Oroville reservoirs for irrigation. Currently, Shasta is at 106 percent of the historical average and Lake Oroville is at 112 percent.  "The effects are being felt now through lower allocations of available water and subsequently farmers will need to make decisions regarding crops that may affect the agricultural economy, farms, employment," Lucero said.  The situation may be worsened if there's below-normal precipitation going into the spring, as Clark expects.  "There's not going to be a tremendous increase in availability," he said.  In addition to the anticipated forecast, there exists a looming concern for California's endangered Delta Smelt.  After unanticipated numbers of the small fish were observed at pumping stations, state and federal pump supplies have been decreased.  The BOR believes that when storms in December 2012 flushed large amounts of sediment into the Delta, a situation may have been set up for elevated migration into the central and south Delta well into February.  To protect the smelt, the BOR began to cut back on pumping operations in late December and pumping reductions have been required throughout January and February.  "While we continue to hope for additional precipitation during the remainder of the rainy season," Lucero said, "we are also continuing to work with our federal, state and local partners to improve this year's supply and to find a comprehensive, long-term solution that will achieve the dual goals of a reliable water supply for California and a healthy Bay Delta ecosystem that supports the state's economy." - AccuWeather.

Doubts Hang Over United States Drought Relief.
The drought gripping large parts of U.S. is showing signs of decline in places, and weather forecasters are seeing improvements in the soil moisture outlook for planting season across parts of farm country. However, the record-hot and dry conditions likely will continue to plague many areas through the planting and growing seasons, and big question remain about how much help recent moisture has brought to the topsoil.  The most recent Drought Monitor update, released March 7, showed drought conditions declining over the past week, with more than half of the continental U.S. (53.34%) still seen to be in drought. About 91% of the central and northern Plains is still suffering from drought. Drought conditions increased to 55% of the southern Plains and Delta, but declined to 45.7% of the Midwest, according to the report.  The latest analysis from the U.S. Drought Outlook (USDO) also sees ongoing problems with drought in key agricultural regions, where in some areas drought is expected "to persist and expand."

U.S. Drought Monitor update.
Going forward, weather patterns hold some promise for improvement, forecasters say. "We have been seeing a change in pattern across the mid continent, with the active storms in the Plains, Midwest, and Delta, and I do think this will lessen the extent of the drought a bit," Don Keeney, MDA Weather Services told  Soil moisture in the Delta and central and eastern Midwest should be good for spring planting and early crop growth, says Dan Hicks, Freese-Notis Weather. The Southeast, too, has seen beneficial moisture over the past few months and most areas probably have enough soil moisture to get the crops off to a good start, Hicks said.  Farmers in the western Midwest and Great Plains may see enough topsoil moisture to get crops growing. But, because many areas are so low on subsoil moisture "the potential still exists for concerns if rains are less than normal once we get into summer," Hicks said. 

A look back 
Another view of the weather, looking at patterns from past drought years, gives pause for concern, says Keeney.  "The analogs (years) that we have been following point to a return of a general drier pattern across the north central Plains and northwestern Midwest in April, and especially May," Keeney says.  Keeney's 31- to 60-day outlook sees the Southeast, northern Plains and northwestern Midwest trending drier, which he says brings concern as to "whether the moisture will hold into the growing season."  Analysis of historical weather data by the company Statweather shows a return to normal this year for large areas east of the Missouri River. But a dry summer could return in places, too, including in the Ohio Valley and central Midwest. In the upper Midwest, a return to normal conditions could be on tap by late spring. - Agriculture.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Interplanetary Dust Disk - Rare "Zodiacal Light" Will Be Visible In The Night Sky Soon!

March 08, 2013 - SPACE - The solar system's small bodies have been often in the news lately. There are currently two bright comets in the southern sky, one of which, Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) will soon be moving into the northern sky. An asteroid named 2012 DA14 recently passed close to the Earth. There have been two bright meteors in the past month, one in Russia and one in California.

But these types of bodies aren't the smallest relics of the solar system visible from here on Earth. A rare and hard to spot phenomenon called the Zodiacal Light, made from tiny solar system dust particles, can only be sighted under the best conditions. And a good time to view it is coming up soon.

Photo: European Southern Observatory/Flickr.
Comets and asteroids
Comets and asteroids are fairly similar, mainly differing in their composition and orbits. Comets are made of ice and dust; asteroids of rock. Comets have tails because their ice is melted by the sun and is swept away by the solar wind. Asteroid orbits are mostly circular; some comet orbits are circular, but many are highly elliptical or parabolic.

Although asteroids and comets are much smaller than planets, they are larger than meteoroids, the objects that cause meteors when they encounter the Earth's atmosphere.

Most meteoroids are quite small, smaller than a pea. But there are smaller objects still, so small that they cannot be seen as individual objects. This material is called interplanetary dust, and is spread throughout the solar system, but more concentrated close to the plane of the planets, which astronomers call the ecliptic because eclipses occur in this plane.

Interplanetary dust
Most stargazers are unaware that they can actually see this interplanetary dust, when conditions are right.
In some ways this disk of interplanetary dust is similar in appearance to the Milky Way. The glow of the Milky Way is the result of the combined light of millions of stars too faint to be resolved by the unaided eye.

The interplanetary dust disk, called the Zodiacal Light, is the result of millions of dust particles too faint to be resolved. Unlike the Milky Way, which can be resolved with a telescope, the particles that make up the Zodiacal Light are too small to be resolved by any optical instrument. [Stunning Photos of Our Milky Way Galaxy]

So you can forget about using a telescope to see the Zodiacal Light. It can only be seen with the unaided eye, and can only be photographed with a sensitive wide-angle lens.

When to look?
There are only a few windows of opportunity during the year to see the Zodiacal Light, and one of these is coming up over the next couple of weeks.

One factor is that the moon will move out of the evening sky, leaving it darker and making fainter objects more easy to spot. A second factor is that the ecliptic, where the Zodiacal Light is brightest, will be perpendicular to the horizon in the early evening in the northern hemisphere.

Wait until the sky is completely free of scattered light from the sun, at least an hour and a half after sunset.

Where to look?
First of all, choose an observing location with a very dark sky. It must be dark enough that the Milky Way is easily visible, because the Zodiacal Light is fainter than the Milky Way.

At this time of year in the northern hemisphere, the Milky Way is setting in the northwest in the early evening, marked by Cassiopeia and Cygnus. The ecliptic, marked with a green line in the chart, is due west, passing through the faint constellation of Pisces.

In a dark sky, you will see the Zodiacal Light and the Milky Way as two distinct but very faint objects. The Milky Way gets wider and brighter higher in the sky, while the Zodiacal Light gets narrower and fainter. The first is a band, the second a cone.

If you succeed in spotting the Zodiacal Light over the next few weeks, you will have observed one of the rarest phenomena in the night sky. - MNN.

WORLD WAR III: DEFCON Warning System Moves To Code Blue - Kim Jong Un Tells Troops To "Prepare For All-Out War" And Vows To Attack South Korea As He Cancels Peace Pact In Revenge For Tough UN Sanctions; North Korean General Says Pyongyang Has Nuke-Tipped ICBMs On Standby; The Pentagon Warns North Korea Against Further Provocations!

March 08, 2013 - KOREAN PENINSULA - This is the DEFCON Warning System. Alert status for 8:15 P.M. Thursday, March 7th, 2013. Condition Blue. DEFCON 4. Condition Blue. DEFCON 4. Condition Blue. DEFCON 4. There are currently no imminent nuclear threats against the United States at this time, however there are events occurring in the world theatre which require closer monitoring.

North Korea has announced that it will end the cease fire armistice with South Korea on Monday, March 11th, and has threatened to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States in retaliation for new U.N. sanctions that have been imposed upon it. While North Korea does not yet possess the capability of a nuclear ballistic missile launch, they are working toward that goal. Additionally, the United States remains extremely vulnerable to a coastal attack from ships as well as from smuggled nuclear weapons due to its porous border.

Currently, both the United States (along with South Korea) and North Korea are engaged in war games. While North Korea routinely engages in bluster, the proximity of the two war exercises coupled with very high tensions increase the risk of conflict to a level where the DEFCON Warning System believes it is prudent to raise the alert level at this time. It should be noted that the DEFCON Warning System foresees no threat to the United States directly should conflict break out.

Additionally of note, there have been some unusual moves by North Korea. The drills North Korea is conducting are on a state-wide level and there are unconfirmed reports that they have also imposed no-fly zones off its coasts, prepartory for short range missile activity. In the state capitol, has been observed that the country has begun camouflaging vehicles and making other preparations for attack. This could all be part of the drills North Korea is undertaking, but the seriousness of the situation requires a more prudent approach.

The DEFCON Warning System is a private enterprise which monitors world events and assesses nuclear threats against the United States by national entities. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.

If this had been an actual attack, the DEFCON Warning System will give radiation readings for areas that are reported to it. Your readings will vary. This system serves the Kettle Falls area of Northeast Washington. Official news sources will have radiation readings for your area.

For immediate updates, go to Breaking news and important information can be found on the DEFCON Warning System message board and on the DEFCON Twitter feed DEFCONWS. You may also subscribe to the YouTube channel DefconWarningSystem, Note that Twitter and YouTube updates may be subject to delays. The next scheduled update is 2 P.M. Pacific Time, March 28th, 2013. Additional updates will be made as the situation warrants, with more frequent updates at higher alert levels.

This concludes this broadcast of the DEFCON Warning System. - DEFCON Warning System.

WATCH: DEFCON Warning System - Update 3/7/13.

Kim Jong Un Tells Troops To "Prepare For All-Out War" And Vows To Attack South Korea As He Cancels Peace Pact In Revenge For Tough UN Sanctions.
Border: According to state media reports Kim Jong-Un visited the Janjae Islet Defence Detachment on the front, near the border with South Korea yesterday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un today told his troops to be ready for 'all-out war' and instructed them to 'make the first gunfire' if tensions with South Korea boil over.  He also promised a 'great advance' over the border between the two nations, shortly after the North announced that it had abandoned its peace treaty with the South.  The pariah state has launched a new round of warlike rhetoric in anger over tough new sanctions imposed on it.  The UN Security council voted to impose the fresh round of sanctions targeting North Korea's economy and leadership in the wake of the country's third nuclear test.  Now the country has announced it is cancelling all non-aggression pacts with its southern neighbour, closing its hotline with Seoul, and shutting their shared border point.  North Korea, which has already threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the U.S., has said it will retaliate with 'crushing strikes' if enemies intrude into its territory 'even an inch and fire even a single shell'.  

Clampdown: North Korea has built a huge 'security perimeter' around a camp for political prisoners, restricting movement in nearby villages.
The state's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, its arm for dealing with cross-border affairs with Seoul, added that it was voiding past nuclear disarmament agreements between North and South Korea.  The announcement was broadcast by North Korea's KCNA state news agency.    South and North Korea agreed in a 1992 joint declaration not to produce, test or use nuclear weapons. North Korea has since conducted three nuclear tests.  The Obama administration yesterday dismissed the threats issued by North Korea and warned that the U.S. was 'fully capable' of defending itself from a ballistic missile attack by the communist regime.  North Korea state media warned of a 'thermonuclear war' as an unidentified spokesman for Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry said the North would exercise its right for 'pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the headquarters of the aggressors'.  North Korea boasts of nuclear bombs but is not thought to have the ability to produce a warhead that could be used on a missile capable of reaching the U.S.  In response to North Korea's third nuclear test on February 3, the UN Security Council voted to tighten financial restrictions on Pyongyang and crack down on its attempts to ship and receive banned cargo.  The resolution, which was approved unanimously by the 15-nation council, was the product of three weeks of negotiations between the U.S. and China after North Korea's nuclear test on February 12.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, said the resolution 'sent an unequivocal message to [North Korea] that the international community will not tolerate its pursuit of nuclear weapons.'  It targets North Korea's ruling elite by banning all nations from exporting expensive jewelry, yachts, luxury automobiles and race cars to the North. It also imposes new travel sanctions that would require countries to expel agents working for sanctioned North Korean companies. 

Satellite images show how North Korea is expanding its already sizeable network of prison camps.
 The success of the sanctions could depend on how well they are enforced by China, where most of the companies and banks that North Korea is believed to work with are based.  In response to the threat of a nuclear strike this week, the U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, Glyn Davies, said America will take necessary steps to defend itself and its allies.  Referring to warnings from Pyongyang made in 'recent hours and days', he called on the North not to miscalculate and said the U.S. was working with South Korea to ensure it is ready for any threats that arise.  Senator Robert Menendez said the North's 'absurd' threat of a nuclear strike on the U.S. would be tantamount to suicide.   U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said: 'North Korea will achieve nothing by continued threats and provocations.  'These will only further isolate the country and its people and undermine international efforts to promote peace and stability in northeast Asia'.  She continued: 'The strength, breadth and severity of these sanctions will raise the cost to North Korea of its illicit nuclear program and further constrain its ability to finance and source materials and technology for its ballistic missile, conventional and nuclear weapons programme.  'When North Korea tries to move money to pay for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, countries must now block those transfers even if the money is being carried in suitcases full of bulk cash.'   China's Ambassador Li Baodong reiterated Beijing's calls for a resumption of the stalled six-party aid-for-disarmament talks between the two Koreas, United States, China, Russia and Japan.  'We want to see full implementation of the resolution,' China's UN Ambassador Li Baodong told reporters. 'The top priority now is to defuse the tension, bring down heat, focus on the diplomatic track.'  Council diplomats say the point of the new measures is to bring the North Korea sanctions regime more in line with the tough UN measures in place against Iran.  They say the UN sanctions regime against Iran over its nuclear program, which Western powers and their allies say is intended for making weapons but Tehran claims is peaceful, has been more effective than the restrictions on Pyongyang. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: North Korea Threatens 'Aggressors' With Preemptive Strike.

WATCH: North Korea Ends Non-Aggression Pacts With South.

Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike Threat From Pyongyang.
North Korea’s short-range KN-02 missile.
[JoongAng Ilbo]
Ahead of joint war games between South Korea and the United States starting Monday, Pyongyang said it will “exercise the right to a nuclear pre-emptive strike” if the drills take place.  It also reiterated a threat to scrap the armistice agreement that halted the Korean War, which would put the entire Korean Peninsula at risk of a second civil war.  “As the United States tries to light the fuse of a nuclear war, our revolutionary forces will exercise the right of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the bases of the invaders in order to safeguard the nation’s vital interests,” said a statement by the North’s Foreign Ministry through the official Korean Central News Agency. “Starting from March 11, when the U.S. exercises for a nuclear war begin, the Choson armistice agreement will be entirely nullified, as we have declared, and our revolutionary forces will be totally free of the agreement and can take a self-defense military action at any time against any target.”  On Wednesday, the regime threatened to turn Seoul and Washington into “seas of fire” through a “precise nuclear strike.” A day prior, on Tuesday, one of its generals said on television that it could walk away from the 1953 armistice agreement that halted the Korean War.  In response Wednesday, the operations director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea warned that it would retaliate against the source of any attacks and also the leaders who ordered them.  Pyongyang has also extended the range of one of its short-range missiles to enable it to strike U.S. forces in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, a high-ranking government official told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday. 

“Based on our analysis of the KN-02 missile that Pyongyang launched during live-fire exercises last month, we found its range reaches up to 150 or 160 kilometers [99 miles],” the official said. “We assume they boosted the force of the missile’s engine to extend the range.”  On Feb. 10, the North Korean military fired four KN-02 missiles toward the East Sea.  With the extended range, if North Korea launches it from a pad near the border, such as the city of Kaesong, the missile could reach Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, as well as Daejeon.  Currently Camp Humphreys is in Pyeongtaek, but the U.S. garrison in Yongsan, central Seoul, will move there in 2019.  The KN-02 missile can also be mounted with a payload, the South’s military said.  “The KN-02 missile uses solid fuel and it can blast off within five or ten minutes if carried on a mobile rocket launcher,” the official said. “It is a threatening weapon because of its striking accuracy.”  The North Korean military showed the KN-02 missiles for the first time at a military parade on April 25, 2007, the anniversary of the birth of its military.  According to South Korea’s military, the KN-02 is manufactured by the North Korean military based on Russia’s SS-21 Scarab missiles.  “Since Pyongyang showed the missile in 2007, it has frequently test-fired it near Wonsan, an eastern coastal city, or Hwajin, on the Yellow Sea,” the official said. “Up until recently, it has reportedly tested the missile’s engine at an institute in Samum-dong, Pyongyang.”  North Korea allegedly invited military officials from Iran and Syria to witness live-fire tests of about 10 KN-02 missiles in 2012.  Several officials in the South’s military said they were tipped off that the North has a plan to conduct live-fire exercises between Feb. 10 and 11.  On Jan. 27, 2010, two months before the warship Cheonan’s sinking, Pyongyang carried out the so-called “Time On Target” exercises, in which a variety of artillery weapons barraged a specific target.  Starting from Monday, Korea-U.S. forces will start the annual joint military exercises called Key Resolve and the Foal Eagle joint exercise began March 1. During the drills, Pyongyang will reportedly restrict its vessels from sailing in the Yellow Sea and jet planes from flying over the East Sea. - KJD.

North Korean General Says Pyongyang Has Nuke-Tipped ICBMs On Standby.
Bizmen in Kaesong complex worry
about inter-Korean relations
A North Korean general said Thursday that the country has placed long-range missiles armed with nuclear warheads on standby, as Pyongyang said it will not bow to the United Nations resolution condemning its latest atomic weapons test.

According to the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), Colonel General Kang Pyo-yong said soldiers are already positioned to launch a war of reunification if the order is given by its leaders.

The paper said the general made clear at a speech given at a rally in Pyongyang that intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other rockets capable of attacking pre-set targets have been armed with various types of atomic warheads. - YONHAP News.

North Korea Says It Will Sever Hot-line With Seoul, Nullify Non-Aggression Pacts.
North Korean citizens hold a rally in support of their military leadership. (Yonhap News)
North Korea will sever its hot-line with Seoul and nullify non-aggression agreements between the countries, the state-run news agency said Friday amid escalating tensions over the North's nuclear test last month.  "The DPRK abrogates all agreements on nonaggressions reached between the North and the South," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, a propaganda organ against the South, said in a statement.  "The DPRK will close the Panmunjom liaison channel between the north and the south," said the English statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency. DPRK is the short for the country's official name Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  The statement came hours after the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution to punish the communist country for its internationally-condemned underground nuclear test on Feb. 12. - Korea Herald.

Pentagon Warns North Korea Against Further Provocations.
The Pentagon is warning North Korea to stop its provocative actions after Pyongyang threatened a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States. Defense Department officials say that despite the North’s successful nuclear tests, they doubt it is able to deliver on its threats.  Bellicose threats from North Korea are nothing new, but this is the first time Pyongyang has threatened a direct nuclear hit on the United States.  The threat comes in response to new U. N. sanctions supported by the U.S., its allies and China -- after Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear test last month.  "The resolution tabled today will take the U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea to the next level, breaking new ground and imposing significant new legal obligations," said U.S. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.  It is also a reaction to U.S. and South Korean joint naval exercises that the U.S. says are routine, but which the North claims are preparations for a U.S. nuclear attack.  “This one is more precise and perhaps more hysterical than most previous threats coming out of North Korea.  What’s changed is that the context is a bit different this time.  North Korea has edged closer to a nuclear-tipped missile capability," said Patrick Cronin, a security analyst with the Center for a New American Security in Washington. 

North Korea’s three-stage rocket launch in December and a successful nuclear test in February are reasons for U.S. officials to take the threats seriously.    Pyongyang has made good on some of its lethal threats in the past. In 2010, it launched an artillery attack that killed soldiers and civilians on the South Korean island of Yongpyeong. That same year, a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 sailors.  Analysts say that by threatening nuclear war, new leader Kim Jong Un is trying to prevent the United States and its allies from responding to North Korean provocations. They say his resolve for an all-out nuclear war with the United States is doubtful.  “That’s the calculus that’s going on here. It’s not actually about war. It’s about North Korean advantage in an asymmetrical situation where they’re outgunned by the outside powers,” Cronin said.  Although the North Koreans have tested individual components of a nuclear missile system, they have yet to show they have the capability to deliver a nuclear bomb.    The U.S. Defense Department, in warning the North against further provocative actions, has sent a reminder to Pyongyang that it is firmly committed to defend South Korea, where 28,000 American troops and the vessels of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet stand ready. - VOA News.

WATCH: Pentagon Warns North Korea Against Further Provocations.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For March 06-08, 2013 - Updates On Etna, Stromboli, Shiveluch, Batu Tara, Sakurajima, Tangkubanparahu, Nevado del Ruiz, Popocatépetl, Santa María, Santiaguito, Fuego, Tungurahua And Nyiragongo!

March 08, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Lava fountains during lst night's paroxysm.
Etna (Sicily, Italy): Another paroxysm occurred from the New SE crater during the night. Following a period of increasing strombolian activity, large lava fountains were rising from vent in the saddle between the old and new SE crater as well its summit vent...5 Mar:

Activity at the Voragine crater continues with an impressive glow at night.

Thermal webcam image of the crater area of Stromboli at the moment of an eruption (INGV).
Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): Volcanic tremor has increased during the past 24 hours, but is back to lower values at the moment. All in all, activity levels is elevated, and the magma column inside the conduit is standing high.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): Several (3 or 4) relatively larg collapses of the lava dome occurred today between between 05:00 and 06:30 (GMT). The events triggered pyroclastic flows which traveled through the valley between the active dome and a relict flank of an older dome to the east. The largest flow reached about 4 km distance.

Ash plumes from the flows rose to an altitude of 14,000 ft (4.3 km) and drifted east.

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): An explosion produced an ash plume rising to 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude this morning, VAAC Darwin reported.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): The volcano remains quite productive, with no less than 5 vulcanian explosions recorded yesterday by Tokyo VAAC. The largest produced a plume rising to 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude.

Tangkubanparahu (West Java): Eruptive activity has started in the form of intermittent ash explosions from the crater since 4 March. So far, the explosions were small and phreatic in origin (no fresh magma involved, caused by overheated groundwater), according to Surono, head of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) in Bandung.

Explosions continued yesterday and today with an increasing trend. One today lasted 8 minutes and produced an ash plume several hundred meters high, which caused some panic among people near the crater... [read more]

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico)
: Activity remains stable. The volcano produces on average about 1 emission per hour, sometimes with small ash plumes. Glow remains visible at night.

Currrent webcam image of Popo (CENAPRED).
Current seismic signal from Popocatépetl - March 7.
A phase of increased activity has just started at Popocatépetl. Accompanied by strong tremor, a continuous ash and steam emission column is rising to 23,000 ft (7 km) altitude and drifting NW.

Current seismic signal from Popocatépetl - March 8.
On March 8th, ash emissions continue. A plume rises to at about 27,000 ft (7 km) altitude (or approx. 1500 m above the crater) and drifts east.  The seismic signal shows numerous volcanic quakes, but less tremor. Glow can be seen on webcam images.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): The activity has remained more or less similar over the past weeks. Weak to moderate ash explosions from the dome occur 1-2 times an hour on average, with plumes reaching up to about 800 m above the dome. The viscous block lava flows on the flanks of the dome remain weakly active, mainly those to the south and southeast.

On March 8th, activity remains similar to before. Moderate explosions from time to time produce ash plumes rising about 700 m altitude. Light ash fall was reported yesterday in Calahuaché. Effusive activity has been low at the lava flows on the dome's flanks.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity has calmed down to normal mild strombolian activity with incandescent bursts reaching 100 m above the crater and generating small glowing avalanches. No lava flows were reported active.

SO2 plume from Nevado del Ruiz (NOAA).

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): The volcano experienced a phase of increase tremor and small quakes yesterday, probably related to some magma intrusion at depth, which resulted in increased SO2 emissions.

Seismic signal from Tungurahua (RETU station, IG).

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Activity is on the increase, both internally (seismic) and at the surface. Constant ash emissions generate a plume rising on average 500 m, interrupted by stronger explosions that produced plumes up to 1.5 km high, drifting mostly to the west. A hot spot at the summit is visible on satellite data, indicating the fresh magma that is arriving there.

SO2 plume from Nyiragongo / Nyamuragira (NOAA).

Nyiragongo (DRCongo): A large SO2 plume drifting SW was visible on today's satellite data, suggesting that the lava lake is well active.

Global Volcano Map

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 6, 2013

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 7, 2013

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 8, 2013

Photo of the Day: Erta Ale lava lake - boiling over
Erta Ale lava lake - boiling over (Photo: Tom222).
Photo of the Day: Along with the now sustained, about 200 m tall lava fountains, a dense ash plume start to rise.
Etna - Along with the now sustained, about 200 m tall lava fountains, a dense ash plume start to rise.
(Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Photo of the Day: Colourful lava in a lava tube formed some 600 years ago by Kilauea volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
Colourful lava in a lava tube formed some 600 years ago by Kilauea volcano, Big Island, Hawaii (Photo: Janka)
Volcano Photo of the Day - New photos in imagepool

- Volcano Discovery.