Friday, April 5, 2013

EXTREME WEATHER: Unprecedented Intense Super Storms In Texas - Thousands Of Lightning Strikes Houston As Severe Hail Storm Stuns Residents In Hitchcock!

April 05, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Houston had one of its most intense lightning storms in some time late Tuesday night.

Houston's Super Lightning Storm Mapped Out.


How intense? For the answer I turned to Dick Orville, a professor of meteorology at Texas A&M University who helped establish a network that tracks lightning in Houston.

For Tuesday night's event you can see an hourly map here showing lightning strikes - both cloud-to-ground and within clouds - within 100 miles of Houston.

Between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. the progression of lightning across southeast Texas looked like below.

The first hour:

Lightning in Houston between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.© Texas A&M University

The second hour:

Lightning in Houston between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.© Texas A&M University

The third hour:

Lightning in Houston between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.© Texas A&M University

The number in the upper right hand corner - 118,097 in the second map - means there were that many electrical breakdowns over the time interval. According to Orville these electrical breakdowns are some unknown multiple of breakdowns per lightning flash. There, for example, could have been 10-100 "electrical breakdowns" per flash.

Which means during the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. hour there were thousands of lightning strikes in Houston.

"Yes, there was a lot of lightning in Houston on Tuesday night," Orville said.

It was quite a light show.  - Houston Chronicle.

Residents Amazed By Severe Hail Storm Damage In Hitchcock, Texas.
People in Hitchcock spent the day patching up windows on their homes and cars after an intense hail storm pounded the community Tuesday night.

People said the hail was the size of softballs.

WATCH: Hailstorm in Hitchcock.

"I didn't know what to think," Betty Whittington said.

Hail busted out the rear window of her SUV.

Surveillance video captured images of the hail falling at the Bostonian Inn on Highway 6.

The storm also had strong winds.

"It sounded like the house was fixing to fly away," said Hardy Whittington.

Several Hitchcock police vehicles were also knocked out of service.

Some people said it sounded like cannon balls were hitting their homes.

"It was pretty scary. Don't walk out the door because it probably would have knocked you out," David Morales said.

The hail also tore fenders and mirrors off cars at Dwayne's Car Shop.

Throughout the day wreckers were hauling cars totaled by the storm.

Sonia Mendoza's kids were screaming and took cover.

A section of her home's roof caved in around midnight.

"It's horrible and the cleanup is going to be worse," she said.

Stained glass windows at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church were also broken.

Parishoners were collecting the pieces so the windows imported from Italy could be repaired.

The storm moved through in just a matter of minutes.

Still hours later, Betty Whittington was still shaken.

"I've been through hurricanes, but I've never been through anything like that that happened last night about midnight," she said.

Many residents said not even Hurricane Ike did this much damage. - KHOU.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For April 04-05, 2013 - Updates On El Hierro, Etna, Stromboli, Kizimen, Karymsky, Tolbachik, Grozny, Paluweh, Lokon-Empung, Kilauea, Popocatépetl, Santa María, Santiaguito, Pacaya, Fuego, Telica, Sacanbaya And Lascar!

April 05, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Distribution of the recent earthquakes under El Hierro (IGN) -
note the distinct two layers at about 20 and 10 km depth

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): Earthquake activity has continued to calm down and only few and weaker quakes have occurred since yesterday. Whether this is a pause or (more likely) the gradual ending of the latest seismic crisis will likely be seen in the next days.

Current seismic signal (IGN).

The recent seismic crisis could be over: No further significant earthquake activity has occurred since the last pulse on Wednesday. It becomes more and more likely that the crisis (or, if that is was what caused it, the magmatic intrusion under western El Hierro) has ended. Deformation (inflation and horizontal displacement to the east) has eased a lot. For the vertical movement, the strong inflation has stopped or even began to show a trend of deflation.

Etna volcano (Italy):  Etna's New SE Crater produced the 9th episode of lava fountaining (paroxysm) yesterday, and has now again fallen back to quiet, but for how long nobody knows. The intervals between the past paroxysms seem to follow an exponential trend of being roughly double each time...

Map of the "Yellow" area of Etna volcano.

Starting today, 5 April 2013, the Prefecture of Catania, in accordance with INGV and Etna, published a new set of regulations that define the access to the summit areas of the volcano. The original can be found HERE.

Below are the main points summarized (with no warranty, please refer to the original document and/or Prefecture of Catania for updates/changes/correctness...):

A so-called Yellow Zone was defined as the area including the Summit Craters and proximal areas (see image above).  It comprises the area above the service track (north-south connection) including the summit crater, the area of Torre del Filosofo (2,920 m), the area near the Volcanological Observatory of Pizzi Deneri (2,850 m) and the portion of the escarpment below the Southeast Crater until the Monti Centenari in the Valle del Bove.

Then, 4 different hazard and connected alert levels ("livelli di criticità) related to the varying eruptive activity at any time were defined:

1. No Hazard ("Criticità Assente") : no eruptive activity.
This never applies actually to the "Yellow Zone", because Etna is always in some way or another doing something.

2. Normal ("Criticità Ordinaria") - alert level: NORMAL:
Normal activity at Etna, but absence of major eruptive activity from the summit vents. This consists mainly of degassing and steaming from the summit craters and other vents, and small occasional explosions with pyroclastic products launched only to the immediate vicinity of the vents.

3. Moderate ("Criticità Moderata") - alert level: WARNING:
An eruptive phase is in progress, e.g. lava flows (from the summit craters or other eruptive vents), and / or explosive activity with pyroclastic products launched around the vents, and / or periodic ash emissions with possible formation of plumes, generally not very concentrated, which normally disperse at a short distance from the vents.

4. High ("Criticità Moderata") - alert level: ALARM:
A strong eruptive phase in progress, characterized by lava effusion (from the summit craters or other eruptive vents), and / or intense explosive activity with the launch of pyroclastic products to a considerable distance from the vent, and / or lava fountains, and / or ash emissions with the formation of dense and sustained plumes, and / or formation or propagation of fractures, and / or landslide, and / or pyroclastic flows...
In short, anything a bit more powerful happening will fall into this category!

See more on the Rules of Conduct HERE.

Current seismic signal from Stromboli (ST8 station, INGV).

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): Seismic activity remains elevated and accompanies strong explosions, mainly from the NE vent.

Kizimen (Kamchatka)
: A volcanic ash plume rising to 15,000 ft (4.5 km) altitude from the volcano was reported last night by Tokyo VAAC. Most likely, a combination of an explosion and small lava dome collapse (dark area below glowing summit dome in webcam image) has produced it.

Karymsky (Kamchatka): There has not been seismic data available recently for technical reasons, but a weak thermal anomaly remains visible on satellite data and suggests ongoing occasional explosive (strombolian) activity.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): KVERT reports no change in the ongoing effusive eruption of lava flows from the southern fissure vent of Tolbachik Dol. However, tremor has decreased by about 25% compared to last week, which could be a sign that the eruption is weakening. No changes or significant activity has been posted for any of the other active volcanoes in Kamchatka (including Shiveluch and Bezymianny with continuing lava dome growth, Gorely in a process of strong degassing accompanied by moderate seismic activity).

Grozny (Iturup Island): (3 Apr) An eruption from Ivan Grozny volcano was reported yesterday by the Voice of Russia (German edition). According to the short news article, nearby villages received ash fall, and 2 millimeters of ash fell in Kurilsk town. Clouds prevented direct observations, and there was no sulfur odor detected. Civil protection assured the population that there was no danger, the Voice of Russia wrote.

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): Ash plumes rising to altitudes of 7-10,000 ft (2-3 km) altitude are observed on a nearly daily basis, showing that the lava dome continues to be very active (and dangerous!).

Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): New explosions occurred yesterday at 12:28 pm and later at 18:15 local time. An exclusion zone of 2.5 radius around the Tompaluan crater is in effect.
Volcanic ash plumes reached 700 m above the crater and were blown to the south. The activity was preceded by an increase of seismicity since Tuesday, April 2... [read more]
Halemaʻumaʻu lava lake from Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook (HVO).

Kilauea (Hawai'i): No significant changes have occurred in the ongoing eruption at Kilauea volcano.
The lava lake inside Halema'uma'u Crater rises and falls in response to patterns of inflation and deflation, several vents remained activity inside Pu'u 'O'o Crater, from where lava flows continued to spread in 2 main branches, one NE of the cone over older lavas, and the other flowing onto the pali and into the coastal plain... [read more]
Popocatépetl on April 4th.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The rate of small to modest emissions dropped from 80 (yeesterday) to 36 today during the respective past 24 hours intervals. The largest explosion during the day occurred at 11:36 local time, and produced a plume with some ash content rising 2 km and drifting east. At the moment, continuous degassing can be seen on the webcam.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity has been low in recent days. The observatory reports that the lava flows have been calm today, and that only one weak explosion was heard (not seen due to mist hovering over the lava dome).

Pacaya (Guatemala): Weak strombolian eruptions continue to be observed from Mackenney crater.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity has been relatively calm today, with only 5 explosions of small to moderate size (ash plumes 6-900 m) reported by INSIVUMEH. At night, these strombolian explosions provide a good spectacle, though: glowing bombs are ejected up to 150 m above the crater and shower the upper crater cone at all directions, then roll and slide down as small avalanches... [read more]

Telica (Nicaragua): The earthquake swarm still continues and has gained some strength again, but there are no reports of unusual surface activity.

IGP report #8 about Sabancaya (2 April 2013).

Sacanbaya (Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina): Volcanic earthquakes continue at high rate, and there is increased SO2 degassing, as the surface expression of fresh magma intruding at shallow depth.
In an Instituto Geofísico de Perú (IGP) report from 1 April, a photo showed a fumarolic plume rising above Sabancaya on 8 March. During the third week of March, a bluish colored plume rose 500 m above the crater, possibly indicating sulfur dioxide emissions. On 25 March the seismic network detected a continuing high rate of volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes and an increasing number of long-period (LP) events. On 27 March and 1 April VT earthquakes continued to be dominant and located below the NE sector of the crater. The number and amplitude of LP events did not change... [read more]

Lascar (Northern Chile, Bolivia and Argentina): A new eruption occurred yesterday at the volcano. SERNAGEOMIN reported that at 09:20 (local time) on 3 March degassing became more intense at the volcano. The plumes were sometimes grey colored, suggesting slight ash content. Incandescence was visible at night. Despite this activity, seismicity remains normal. The (official) Alert Level remains at GREEN.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for April 5, 2013.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for April 4, 2013.

Photo of the Day:

Strombolian eruption from Sakurajima volcano, Japan (Photo: Martin Rietze)

- Volcano Discovery.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Earthquake Rattles Acapulco, Mexico City - Causing Buildings To Sway!

April 05, 2013 - MEXICO - An earthquake rattled the Pacific resort of Acapulco and was felt as far north as Mexico City, causing buildings to sway, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

USGS earthquake map and location.

The US Geological Survey said the 5.4-magnitude earthquake late yesterday struck 81 kilometres (50 miles) west of Acapulco at 0158 GMT. Mexico's seismology center measured it at 5.3.

The temblor, which had a depth of 24.4 kilometres (15.1 miles), was 285 kilometres (177 miles) southwest of Mexico City, the USGS said. People cleared out of several government and office buildings in the capital.

"No reports of damage or injuries in the city," Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera wrote on Twitter, adding that it had just rattled some nerves. The civil protection agency of the state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, did not report any immediate damage either. - The Indian Express.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of Mexico
Located atop three of the large tectonic plates, Mexico is one of the world's most seismologically active regions. The relative motion of these crustal plates causes frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. Most of the Mexican landmass is on the westward moving North American plate. The Pacific Ocean floor south of Mexico is being carried northeastward by the underlying Cocos plate. Because oceanic crust is relatively dense, when the Pacific Ocean floor encounters the lighter continental crust of the Mexican landmass, the ocean floor is subducted beneath the North American plate creating the deep Middle American trench along Mexico's southern coast. Also as a result of this convergence, the westward moving Mexico landmass is slowed and crumpled creating the mountain ranges of southern Mexico and earthquakes near Mexico's southern coast. As the oceanic crust is pulled downward, it melts; the molten material is then forced upward through weaknesses in the overlying continental crust. This process has created a region of volcanoes across south-central Mexico known as the Cordillera Neovolcánica.

USGS earthquake intensity shakemap.

The area west of the Gulf of California, including Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, is moving northwestward with the Pacific plate at about 50 mm per year. Here, the Pacific and North American plates grind past each other creating strike-slip faulting, the southern extension of California's San Andreas fault. In the past, this relative plate motion pulled Baja California away from the coast forming the Gulf of California and is the cause of earthquakes in the Gulf of California region today.

Mexico has a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In September 1985, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake killed more than 9,500 people in Mexico City. In southern Mexico, Volcán de Colima and El Chichón erupted in 2005 and 1982, respectively. Paricutín volcano, west of Mexico City, began venting smoke in a cornfield in 1943; a decade later this new volcano had grown to a height of 424 meters. Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl volcanos ("smoking mountain" and "white lady", respectively), southeast of Mexico City, occasionally vent gas that can be clearly seen from the City, a reminder that volcanic activity is ongoing. In 1994 and 2000 Popocatépetl renewed its activity forcing the evacuation of nearby towns, causing seismologists and government officials to be concerned about the effect a large-scale eruption might have on the heavily populated region. Popocatépetl volcano last erupted in 2010. - USGS.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Record April Snow In Syracuse, New York State; 10.5 Inches Of Snowfall!

April 05, 2013 - UNITED STATES - According to the National Weather Service office in Binghamton, New York, a record daily maximum snowfall was set in Syracuse, New York on Tuesday. Measurements indicate that a record snowfall of 10.5 inches fell at Syracuse Hancock Field yesterday. This crushes the old record for April 2nd of 1.4 inches, set in 1991.

Lake effect snow fell across central New York on Tuesday, including here in the Town of Grant, NY.
© Tami Galesky via WKTV

In addition, the 10.5 inches also breaks the one-day calendar day record for the entire month of April in Syracuse. The previous record was 7.1 inches on April 4, 1975.

A persistent lake effect snow band set up over the Syracuse area on Tuesday leading to the record snowfall. Much less snow was reported in downtown Syracuse.

With the new snowfall, Syracuse now takes over the top spot for the snowiest city in the United States this season (population 100,000+) in the Golden Snow Globe competition with 114.7 inches. Syracuse was able to pass Worcester, MA (108.9 inches) and Erie, PA (104.7) with the season now winding down. The next closest city at #4 on the list is Anchorage, AK with 76.7 inches.

Lake effect snow fell across central New York on Tuesday, including here in Cazenovia, with a record 10.5 inches© John P. Kennedy via NewsChannel 9

The average snowfall in Syracuse during a typical winter is 123.8 inches. During the 2011-12 season, the city measured only 50.6 inches, its lowest seasonal total in recorded history. Snowfall records in Syracuse date back to 1951. - Examiner.

WATCH: Time Lapse Video - Snow moving through Syracuse.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Seafloor Craters Found In Waters Off New Zealand - Potential Methane Release Could Have Significant Implications For Sea Levels, Climate Change And Ocean Acidification!

April 05, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - The New Zealand, German and U.S. scientists found the pockmarks at a depth of about 1,000 meters on the seafloor of the Chatham Rise, about 500 km east of Christchurch. The three giant pockmarks, the largest measuring 11 km by 6 km in diameter and 100 meters deep, were possibly twice the size of the largest pockmarks recorded in scientific literature, said a statement from New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS Science).

The craters were part of a much larger field of thousands of smaller pockmarks that extended eastward along the Chatham Rise for several hundred kilometers. "Some of the pockmarks on the Chatham Rise are huge compared to similar structures observed elsewhere in the world," GNS Science marine geophysicist Bryan Davy said in the statement.

"They are big enough to enclose the Wellington city urban area, or (New York's) lower Manhattan." Gas release from the larger pockmarks could have been sudden and possibly even violent, with a massive volume expelled into the ocean and atmosphere within hours or days. Scientists could not rule out volcanic activity having caused the release of gas, but another possibility was the release of sub- seafloor hydrocarbon gas, which would have coincided with drops in the sea level of about 100 meters during ice ages and subsequent warming of sea temperatures.

University of Auckland gas hydrate scientist Ingo Pecher said there was no sign of active gas systems in the larger pockmarks, but the smaller ones in shallower water appeared to have been sporadically active. "Gas escape could be occurring from the smaller pockmarks during glacial intervals every 20,000 or 100,000 years," Pecher said in the statement.

"Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and the escape of big volumes would have significant implications for climate change and ocean acidification," he said. The research had global implications because the episodic and cumulative release of greenhouse gases into the ocean and atmosphere in the geological past would have contributed to episodes of global warming. - NZ Week

PLANETARY TREMORS: 6.2 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Russia's Far East - Close To China And North Korea!

April 05, 2013 - RUSSIA - An earthquake of 6.2 magnitude was registered in the border area between Russia, China and North Korea, the US Geological Survey said Friday.

The epicenter of the quake was 9km from the Russian village of Zarubino, about 60km northeast of the North Korean city of Aodzhiri and approximately 608 km from the capital Pyongyang. No casualties or damage have been reported.

Image: RT.

The earthquake struck at a depth of 561.9 km.

As the epicenter of the quake is not within North Korea itself, the South Korean Defense Ministry said that the quake did in fact result from natural causes, and not a nuclear test.

Both earthquakes and nuclear tests create seismic waves, and the earthquake comes as Pyongyang has recently threatened to launch a nuclear strike against the US.

On Friday, North Korea warned that it would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organizations in the country in the event of conflict starting from April 10.
In March, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake shook the northern part of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula in the country’s Far East, and a 6.9 earthquake struck south of the peninsula in late February.

USGS earthquake intensity shakemap.

Neither resulted in causalities or significant damages.

An underground formation in the area known as the Kuril-Kamchatka arc is one of the most seismically active regions in the world.

The USGS says that since 1900, seven massive earthquakes registering 8.3 on the Richter Scale or higher have occurred along the arc. - RT.

EXTREME WEATHER: Hundreds Of Homes Destroyed By Hailstorm In Gwanda, Zimbabwe - Many Families Stranded Without Shelter And Food!

April 05, 2013 - ZIMBABWE - Hundreds of houses in West Nicholson, Gwanda, were destroyed on Wednesday night by a heavy hailstorm, leaving many families stranded without shelter and food.

Matabeleland South acting provincial administrator Midard Khumalo, who is head of the province’s Civil Protection Unit (CPU), confirmed the disaster in an interview yesterday.

“I confirm that there is a lot of damage that was caused by the storm in West Nicholson,” Khumalo said.

“People slept in the open yesterday (Wednesday) after their homes were damaged by the storm. We don’t have the exact details of the damage and the district Civil Protection Unit is still trying to establish the extent of the damage caused so that we can seek assistance for the affected people.”

Freda Mine was one of the worst affected with reports that 70 houses in the mining compound had their roofs blown off during the storm.

“Houses and offices here at Freda Mine were blown away by the hailstorm which started at 10pm yesterday (Wednesday),” a bus driver at Freda Mine, Mashford Bhebhe, said.

“At the moment we are trying to repair the roofs. The storm was accompanied by strong winds and hailstones which ruined the corrugated iron roofing on the houses at the mining compound.”

A workers’ committee member at the mine, Frank Boatman, said: “Between 50 and 70 houses had their roofs blown off here.

“The rain which fell from 10pm to 11pm was too much and some workers even failed to report for the night duty yesterday (Wednesday).”

Boatman said most parts of West Nicholson were affected with the community hall and buildings at the business centre having had their roofs blown off.
He said trees were uprooted and in some areas they were blocking roads.

“At the moment we are still assessing the extent of the damage at the mining compound,” Boatman said. “We are also repairing roofs. People with affected houses are being transferred to other rooms that were not affected as the repairs go on.” - Newsday.