Sunday, March 10, 2013

AUSTRALIAN WEATHER ANOMALIES: The Unprecedented Heatwave, Record Flooding, Widespread Wildfires, Wettest Year Ever - Government Advisors Illogically And Stupidly Link Australia's "Angry Summer" Of Extreme Weather To Global Warming?!

March 10, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - The hottest summer on record. The hottest January on record. The hottest day on record for Australia as a whole. Bushfires in every state and territory. Daily rainfall records and major flooding. Over a period of 90 days, these were some of the 123 extreme weather records broken during Australia's "angry summer".

Map of extreme weather events that hit Australia during summer 2012/2013. Click on the image for a larger view. Photograph: Australia Climate Commission.
Despite the dramatic headlines and "flame-seared images" that documented extreme weather over the summer, the Australian media largely failed to make the link to climate change. Of 800 articles published on the heatwave over a period of five days in January, fewer than 10 also discussed global warming. In the US and the UK, by comparison, the relationship between global warming and extreme weather events such as hurricane Sandy and the UK's second wettest year on record became a major talking – and election – point.

But a report by Australian government advisers this week unequivocally and directly links the summer's extreme weather to climate change, and should make the link harder to ignore in future. Climate scientists have been historically reluctant to link the two – particularly in a country like Australia which has naturally occurring cycles of drought and floods and is naturally a land of weather extremes.

But the report "Angry Summer", released by the Australian government's independent Climate Commission, argues that this summer's conditions were different due to their record-breaking intensity and duration, and "were all influenced to some extent by a climate that is fundamentally shifting".
Author Prof Will Steffen wrote:
"Australia's angry summer shows that climate change is already adversely affecting Australians. The significant impacts of extreme weather on people, property, communities and the environment highlight the serious consequences of failing to adequately address climate change."
Fellow commissioner Tim Flannery said:
"I think one of the best ways of thinking about it is imagining that the baseline has shifted. If an athlete takes steroids, for example, their baseline shifts, they'll do fewer slow times and many more record-breaking fast times. The same thing is happening with our climate system. As it warms up, we're getting fewer cold days and cold events and many more record hot events."
Angry summer shows that 2012-13 was Australia's hottest summer since records began in 1910. Temperature records were set in every state and territory, and the national daily average temperature rose to unprecedented levels. Meteorologists were even forced to add two new colour categories to Australia's weather prediction maps as the heat rose.

In early January, major bushfires burned in the states of Tasmania, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria. "Climate change is aggravating bushfire conditions and thus increasing the risk of fire," said the report. It also cited the introduction of a new category – "catastrophic" – for ranking bushfire risk following Australia's devastating 2009 Black Saturday fires, as "concrete evidence of this increasing risk".

Some 26 daily rainfall records were broken at weather stations across Australia over the 2012-13 summer. Five river-height records were broken and there was major flooding throughout south-east Queensland and northern NSW. "Extreme rainfall is consistent with the type of events scientists expect to see more often in a warming climate," the report says.

Despite some of the staggering records set, the worst is yet to come, the report suggests:
"Looking towards the future, it is virtually certain that extreme hot weather will continue to become even more frequent and severe around the globe, including Australia, over the coming decades. It is also likely that the frequency of heavy rainfall will increase over many areas of the globe … In Australia and around the world we need to urgently invest in clean energy sources and take other measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. This is the critical decade to get on with the job."
- Guardian.

EXTREME WEATHER: Winter Storm Triton - Wild Weather Brings Dust Storm And Hail To Phoenix!

March 10, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Winter Storm Triton started its jaunt across the West Friday, dropping snow in the mountains of California, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. But this winter storm is fueled with more than snow. Friday, Phoenix saw strong thunderstorms filled with heavy rain, hail and even blowing dust.The wild weather captured the attention of social media.

Now the darkness on the right side of the image is...a distant dust storm

Welcome to Desert Vista High School where apparently it hails.

Hail covered golf course on 48th street just south of Warner.

Dust storm in Peoria, AZ. Headed west to east.

Looks like a dust storm brewing west of Loop 101 in Glendale.

Major dust storm!

That isn't snow. It's hail in Phoenix.

Dust storm!

- The Weather Channel.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Sea Floor Earthquake Zones Can Act Like a 'Magnifying Lens' - Strengthening Tsunamis Beyond What Was Thought Possible!

March 10, 2013 - JAPAN - The earthquake zones off of certain coasts -- like those of Japan and Java -- make them especially vulnerable to tsunamis, according to a new study. They can produce a focusing point that creates massive and devastating tsunamis that break the rules for how scientists used to think tsunamis work.

Until now, it was largely believed that the maximum tsunami height onshore could not exceed the depth of the seafloor. But new research shows that when focusing occurs, that scaling relationship breaks down and flooding can be up to 50 percent deeper with waves that do not lose height as they get closer to shore.

The earthquake zones off of certain coasts -- like those of Japan and Java -- make them especially vulnerable to tsunamis, according to a new study. They can produce a focusing point that creates massive and devastating tsunamis that break the rules for how scientists used to think tsunamis work. (Credit: © Zacarias da Mata / Fotolia)

"It is as if one used a giant magnifying lens to focus tsunami energy," said Utku Kanoglu, professor at the Middle East Technical University and senior author of the study. "Our results show that some shorelines with huge earthquake zones just offshore face a double whammy: not only they are exposed to the tsunamis, but under certain conditions, focusing amplifies these tsunamis far more than shoaling and produces devastating effects."

The team observed this effect both in Northern Japan, which was struck by the Tohoku tsunami of 2011, and in Central Java, which was struck by a tsunami in 2006.

"We are still trying to understand the implications," said Costas Synolakis, director of the Tsunami Research Center at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and a co-author of the study. "But it is clear that our findings will make it easier to identify locales that are tsunami magnets, and thus help save lives in future events."

During an earthquake, sections of the sea floor lift up while others sink. This creates tsunamis that propagate trough-first in one direction and crest-first in the other. The researchers discovered that on the side of the earthquake zone where the wave propagates trough-first, there is a location where focusing occurs -- strengthening it before it hits the coastline with an unusual amount of energy that is not seen by the crest-first wave. Based on the shape, location, and size of the earthquake zone, that focal point can concentrate the tsunami's power right on to the coastline.

In addition, before this analysis, it was thought that tsunamis usually decrease in height continuously as they move away from where they are created and grow close to shore, just as wind waves do. The study's authors instead suggest that the crest of the tsunami remains fairly intact close to the source.

"While our study does not preclude that other factors may help tsunamis overgrow, we now know when to invoke exotic explanations for unusual devastation: only when the basic classic wave theory we use does not predict focusing, or if the focusing is not high enough to explain observations," said Vasily Titov, a researcher at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and study co-author. - Science Daily.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: 15-Foot Ice Mountain - Massive Ice Island Forms In Lake Michigan!

March 10, 2013 - UNITED STATES - An island has sprung up off the coast of Lake Michigan and this one isn't made of dirt.

"It was just a bunch of blocks piled on top of each other and they were welded together with the wind and snow," Outdoor enthusiast Josh Baker explained.

A 15-foot tall ice island has formed along the coast of Emmet County.
Over the weekend, Baker and his family stumbled across this giant island floating in Lake Michigan outside of the small town of Good Hart.

Sunday, he decided to climb the jagged, 15-foot ice mountain. Once he made it to the top, he noticed the structure was different on the other side.

"The side facing the lake was almost sheer, it was pretty neat. So the side I was on was all jumbled and the opposite side was just sheer down to the water," Baker said.

A 15-foot tall ice island has formed along the coast of Emmet County.
Good Hart General Store Owner Jim Sutherland says this sight is not a new one, but he says it has been many years since he has seen one this big.

"This year we have been fortunate enough to have cold weather, lots of wind, and combined it builds ice into ice caves, ice mountains," Sutherland said.

He says mother nature has probably been building this ice island for around 6 to 8 weeks.

"The wind combined with the movement of water, vertically and horizontally, a whole motion of the lake as it moves towards the mountains of ice," Sutherland explained.

A 15-foot tall ice island has formed along the coast of Emmet County.
That mountain of ice left Josh Baker with a camera full of memories and a unique sight to share with northern Michigan.

"I've never seen anything that concentrated. You will see blocks stacked against one another on the shoreline but this was so tall, so huge," Sutherland said. - Up North Live.

WATCH: Ice island floats off of northern Michigan coast .

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: "Significant" Fish Kill On River Dodder In Ireland - 500 Types Of Fresh Water Fish Over 600 Metres!

March 10, 2013 - IRELAND - A significant fish kill on the river Dodder in Dublin is being investigated.

Inland Fisheries Ireland is investigating the matter and taking samples at the scene of the kill upstream of Old Bawn bridge in Tallaght.

A file image of a fish kill. Inland Fisheries Ireland is investigating a kill upstream of Old Bawn bridge on the Dodder river in Tallaght, Dublin.
IFI said it is confident it has established the source. But officials would not comment on the cause of the incident, which is believed to have been from a discharge of industrial waste or dumping.

A spokeswoman confirmed about 500 various types of fresh water fish were killed over a 600m stretch of the river.

“We are confident we know the source but we are continuing our investigations. We won’t be releasing information on the source until we are absolutely certain of the results or after a prosecution,” she said.

Secretary of the Dodder Anglers group Redmond O’Hanlon said it was not yet known what had caused the kill and that it was shocking to see so many fish dead.

“It’s the worst in 30 years,” he said. The matter had first been noticed at between 4pm and 5pm yesterday evening, he added, estimating dead fish had been seen over a long stretch of the river.

He said significant numbers of dead fish could be seen on either side of the bridge at the Old Mill pub. - Irish Times.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: H7N3 Virus - Mexico Slaughters 1.2 Million Chickens Infected With Bird Flu!

March 10, 2013 - MEXICO - Mexican authorities say they've slaughtered more than a million chickens infected with bird flu.

Investigators detected the virus in 18 farms in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, Mexico's Agriculture Ministry said this week.

Bird flu has been discovered in 18 farms in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, Mexico's Agriculture Ministry said.

Chickens there were infected with the H7N3 virus, which Mexican authorities said does not pose a threat to humans.

"This virus is exclusive to birds, so there is no risk for public safety," the Agriculture Ministry said earlier this month.

Authorities offered different tallies of how many infected birds had been slaughtered.

Agriculture Minister Enrique Martinez said Monday that more than 2.1 million chickens had been killed -- including 519,000 egg-producing chickens, 722,265 breeding chickens and 900,000 chickens raised for meat.

On Tuesday, Javier Usabiaga Arroyo, a state agriculture official, said the total number of infected chickens killed was about 1.2 million, Mexico's state-run Notimex news agency reported.

Officials have vaccinated 1.9 million birds since the outbreak began earlier this month, and they plan to vaccinate millions more, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement this week.

The outbreak has sparked concern about a possible spike in food prices, but authorities said Monday that the number of slaughtered chickens is a small fraction of the country's overall population and there is no reason for egg or chicken prices to increase.

"The outbreak of avian influenza is controlled," Mexico's food safety agency said in a statement.

Other strains of bird flu have spread to humans and prompted authorities to slaughter animals.

In 1997, authorities in Hong Kong killed about 1.5 million chickens after H5N1 avian influenza passed from birds to humans there.

Last year a new strain of H3N8 flu jumped from birds to mammals and was responsible for the death of more than 160 seals off the New England coast. - CNN.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: The Sinking of the Philippines - Death Toll In Leyte Landslide Rises To 14!

March 10, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - The death toll in the landslide that marred operations in a geothermal power plant in Leyte last week rose to 14 following the recovery of five bodies Wednesday and another one early Thursday morning.

Alberto Ignacio Jr., geothermal projects division vice president of construction firm First Balfour, said the four bodies were retrieved Wednesday morning buried in the ground along the road where they were building a pipe shelter at the time of the landslide.

Rescuers on Monday retrieve the body of a worker following a landslide in a geothermal power plant in Kananga, Leyte. The body was taken to a local hospital to be identified by relatives. Seven workers have been killed in the incident.
Ignacio identified the first four bodies recovered on Wednesday as those of Salvador Lascañas Jr., Alfredo Arabis, Romeo Yazar and Danilo Mabuti.

The fifth body later recovered in the day and a sixth early morning Thursday were identified as Salvador Yabana and Jorden Salcedo.

"We are extending full assistance to the family for funeral/burial expenses. We have also assigned staff to be with the families as we did for the rest who were earlier recovered," Ignacio said in a text message to GMA News Online.

Previously recovered were Bonifacio Poliño, Etcheld Dela Austria, Edgar Cabarse, Billy Abella, Joel Milay, Marlon Buanghog, Uldarico Taboranza, and Abelardo Permangel.

The landslide occurred at Pad 403 of the Upper Mahiao Geothermal Project in Leyte last Friday.

“'Yung ginagawa kasi sa pipe shelter sa road 403 and 409, there's a section on the pipeline along the road na nagka-landslide,” Ignacio told GMA News Online in a phone interview.

The plant's operator Energy Development Corp. (EDC) suspected that an earthquake last Feb. 27 and two weeks of rain may have triggered the landslide Friday morning, which initially claimed five lives.

First Balfour is the contractor for one of the civil works in the province.

“The Emergency Response Team and all available personnel, as well as company resources and equipment, have already been mobilized,” the company said in a statement.

The EDC accident is the second landslide to claim lives in the country this year.

Five were killed while five are still missing when a section of the west wall in a mine pit of Semirara Mining Corp. in Antique collapsed on Feb. 13. - GMA News.

ENDLESS AMERICAN WINTER: Winter Storm Blasts Colorado With Snow - Dumps Big Hail On Texas!

March 10, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A winter storm dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of Colorado on Saturday, causing cancellation of hundreds of flights at Denver International Airport, and damaging hail fell in Texas as a huge storm system swept across the central U.S.

The National Weather Service reported snow accumulations up to 14 inches in Colorado. At 5 p.m. MT, it said the storm was pushing out of the state but warned that blizzard conditions would be possible with strong winds until nearly midnight.

A man struggles to walk as blizzard conditions near the U.S. Air Force Academy, in southern Colorado on Saturday.
Brennan Linsley / AP 

As of 8 p.m. ET, nearly 500 flights in and out of Denver had been canceled, according to the flight tracking site

Travel conditions “will be poor” on stretches of I-70, I-80 and I-25, reported.

Two children from Irving, Texas, were killed in a car crash on a snowy highway east of Gunnison, Colo., reported.

WATCH: Big storms dumps snow on Denver. Snow pounded Denver, Colo., Saturday, falling at more than an inch per hour at times. Nearly 500 flights out of Denver International Airport had to be canceled. The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel reports.

The bad weather caused postponement of a Major League Soccer game: The Colorado Rapids said their game against the Philadelphia Union was pushed to Sunday.

Blizzard conditions were possible in western Nebraska, southeast Wyoming, northwest Kansas and northeast Colorado, added.

The Weather Service said that moderate to heavy snow was likely for parts of the upper Midwest by Monday.

Severe weather swept across central Texas on Saturday night, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth said in its Twitter feed. The roof of a grocery store in Hamilton, southwest of Fort Worth, was blown into a parking lot as winds up to 60 mph blew through the region, the weather service said.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that a weather service meteorologist said baseball-size hail struck near Decatur, northwest of the Dallas area, and smaller hail struck elsewhere in the region.

WATCH: Oceanfront home rips off its foundation.

That storm, which moved out to sea Friday afternoon, also brought high winds that battered Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Long Island, the Weather Channel reported.

Three seaside houses on Massachusetts' Plum Island, about 40 miles north of Boston, had to be demolished after waves undermined them, NBC Nightly News reported.

“We also have now four more that are severely structurally compromised and a total of 12 houses posted with no occupancy,” building inspector Sam Joslin told NBC Nightly News.

The owner of one of the houses lamented his loss.

“I’ve owned the house for a long, long time,” homeowner Stephen Bandoian told WHDH in a phone interview from Florida. “It was a great home, it was a great place, and now it’s gone.” - NBC News.