Monday, May 6, 2013

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Electric Universe - Scientists Are Shocked As NASA Telescopes Observe Brightest Gamma-Ray Burst Ever Detected!

May 06, 2013 - SPACE - On Saturday, April 27, the Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope detected a sudden, powerful flux of high-energy gamma-rays, indicating a historic burst event in a distant galaxy. The instrument then notified other telescopes located in space and on the ground that a Gamma-ray Burst (GRB) had been detected.

Image Caption: Swift's X-Ray Telescope took this 0.1-second exposure of GRB 130427A at 3:50 a.m. EDT on April 27, just moments after Swift and Fermi triggered on the outburst. The image is 6.5 arcminutes across. Credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler

Fermi’s main instrument the Large Area Telescope (LAT) detected gamma-rays as high as 94 giga-electron volts (GeV), nearly three times the maximum energy ever detected by a burst.

GRB events of various types are detected a few times a week on average, but are rarely found to be this bright or energetic. Also unique to this particular event was that the emission continued for nearly a day, easily besting the duration record for such an event. The event lasted long enough that many other observatories, including the Swift satellite, were able to monitor the source.

“We have waited a long time for a gamma-ray burst this shockingly, eye-wateringly bright,” according to Julie McEnery, project scientist for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “The GRB lasted so long that a record number of telescopes on the ground were able to catch it while space-based observations were still ongoing.”

The rapid production of high-energy gamma-rays by the GRB likely resulted from the collapse from a very massive star, some tens or possibly hundreds of times the mass of our Sun, and will continue to evolve much like a standard supernova. As the core collapses into a dense black hole, the jets, beamed by the powerful magnetic fields, drives matter into the surrounding medium.

The initial afterglow, created as the matter in the jets interacts with matter surrounding the star, can last for months in various wavelengths. The shockwaves from the explosion can ignite the surrounding medium and create a brilliant nebula that can persist for hundreds of thousands of years and expand over light-years of space.

The next task is to continue monitoring the source region and search for an expanding supernova remnant, and the massive black hole that is sure to lurk within.

Since this event occurred some 3.6 billion light-years from Earth, which is relatively close for a GRB, we have a great opportunity to learn more about the most powerful explosions in the Universe. “This GRB is in the closest 5 percent of bursts, so the big push now is to find an emerging supernova, which accompanies nearly all long GRBs at this distance,” said Neil Gehrels, principal investigator for the Swift experiment. - Red Orbit.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Officials Raise Alert To Code 3 Due To Marked Uptick In Micro-Quakes In Past Day Around The Sinkhole!

May 06, 2013 - UNITED STATES The following, constitutes the latest update from the Assumption Parish Police Jury about the giant Louisiana sinkhole. The update indicates that a Code 3 alert has been issued due to a "marked uptick in micro-quakes" around the sinkhole. 

The Office of Conservation, in consultation with Assumption Parish Incident Command, is advising the public that the Oxy 3/sinkhole monitoring alert status has been raised to Code 3 – requiring all work directly on the sinkhole, Oxy 3 pad and within the containment berm to cease until further notice.

Seismic monitoring had detected a sustained increase in the trend of micro-earthquake (MEQ) activity in the area around the sinkhole and Oxy 3 over the past week, and a marked uptick in MEQs in the past day.

This pattern of MEQ increase has been identified as an indicator of likely shifting and sloughing in the sinkhole and the area below it, based on past observations.

The seismic activity is limited to the Oxy 3/sinkhole area, showing no indication of impact to the Oxy 1 area.

Monitoring is constantly ongoing in the area and Conservation will advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions. - Assumption Parish Police Jury.

Meanwhile, the helicorder continues to show anomalous seismic activity. Please see the following images:

Graphs provided courtesy of the University of Memphis' Center for Earthquake Research and Information.

See additional images HERE.

SOLAR WATCH: The "Great Horned" 1734 - Massive Sunspot Seen Moving Across The Sun; Has Beta-Gamma Magnetic Field, Harboring Energy For Earth-Directed M-Class Solar Flares!

May 06, 2013 - THE SUN Around the world, amateur astronomers are snapping pictures of behemoth "GREAT HORNED" sunspot AR1734 as it crosses the solar disk. In Buffalo, New York, photographer Alan Friedman noticed something when he rotated his picture 90 degrees. "Sunspot 1734 has a definite owlish look!"

"But who gives a hoot," he continued, "this grand active region looks fantastic from every perspective."

The owl could be poised to explode. Sunspot AR1734 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares, almost-certainly Earth-directed because the sunspot is facing our planet.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of M-flares today. The question is, where will the eruptions come from? There are at least three choices: Sunspots AR1731, AR1734, and AR1739 all have 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields that harbor energy for strong eruptions. The largest of the three, AR1734, is directly facing Earth:

Amateur astronomer Pepe Manteca took the picture yesterday from Barcelona, Spain. The large dark core on the right is more than 3 times wider than Earth--dimensions that made the spot an easy target for Manteca's backyard solar telescope. "It is a stunning sunspot!" he says.

IMPULSIVE SOLAR FLARES: A couple of impulsive solar flares were detected around Sunspot 1739 on Sunday afternoon. The first measured M1.4 at 17:56 UTC, and the second measured C8.3 at 20:02. This region may produce further M-Class activity within the next 24-48 hours.

Sunspot group AR1739 erupted on May 3rd, producing an M5-class solar flare and a "solar tornado."

Solar Tornado.

The explosion also hurled a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) into space: movie. Traveling almost 1300 km/s, the electrified cloud is expected to sweep past a couple of NASA spacecraft (EPOXI and Spitzer) on May 7th. No planets, however, were in the line of fire.

SUNSPOTS: Below is an updated image of the visible solar disk on Monday morning. Solar activity declined to lower levels this morning. Sunspot 1731 is now located on the western limb and will continue to rotate out of direct Earth view. Active Sunspot 1739 is showing signs of decay and may soon no longer be a threat for strong solar flares. Sunspots 1732, 1734, 1738 and 1740 all continue to be stable and quiet. There will remain a chance for at least M-Class flares today.

Three sunspots have beta-gamma magnetic fields that harbor energy for M-class solar flares:
AR1731, AR1734, and AR1739.
Credit: SDO/HMI

CORONAL HOLE: Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on ~May 6-7.

Credit: SDO/AIA.

SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For May 06, 2013 - Updates On Bagana, Batu Tara, Paluweh, Papandayan, Lokon-Empung, Cleveland, Popocatépetl, Santiaguito, Santa María, Pacaya, Fuego, Nevado del Ruiz, Reventador And Tungurahua!

May 06, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): Eruptions have intensified at the volcano. Over the past 2 days, several explosions produced ash plumes rising to about 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude and drifting 30-45 nautical miles to the W and NW (VAAC Darwin).

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): An explosion produced an ash plume rising to 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude today.

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): The lava dome remains relatively active and produces frequent explosions and/or hot rock avalanches.

MODIS hot spot data for Paluweh island, showing the hot pyroclastic deposits S, E and W of the dome
(MODIS, Univ. Hawaii).

Hot deposits from these can be seen on MODIS satellite data on the eastern, southern and western flank of the dome. Several ash plumes rising to altitudes of about 7,000 ft (2.1 km) were detected in the past days.

Papandayan (West Java): Increased seismic activity was detected at the volcano and VSI raised the alert level to 3 out of 4 ("Siaga", "warning") yesterday.

Sudden phreatic explosions could occur with little warning at the volcano and present a significant hazard to visitors to the crater, which is a popular tourist site due to its varied, intense hydrothermal activity and colorful active fumaroles.

Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): Another explosion occurred yesterday evening. It was heard in up to 6 km distance and incandescent bombs were ejected to 200 m distance from the Tompaluan crater. The eruption was preceded by an increase in seismic activity starting Saturday night, the local volcano observatory reported. An exclusion zone of 2.5 km radius from the volcano remains in place.

Cleveland (Aleutian Islands, Alaska): After the initial explosion 2 days ago, continuous small eruptions produced a steam and ash plume yesterday and decreased in intensity again today. The activity of the volcano, which is not monitored on ground, was detected by satellite data and infrasonic tremor measured by ground-coupled airwaves on the nearby Okmok seismic network, 120 km (80 mi) to the northeast.

Eruption plume from Cleveland yesterday (AVO / USGS).

A faint plume extended eastward below 15,000 ft. Satellite data also continue to show highly elevated surface temperatures at the summit. Sudden explosions of blocks and ash are possible with little or no warning. Ash clouds, if produced, could exceed 20,000 feet above sea level. (AVO)

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): No changes occurred in the volcano's slow effusive/explosive activity. Emissions of steam and gas, with minor ash contents, have been at rates of less than 1 per hour during the previous days, but continuing lava glow can be seen from the summit.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): The lava dome has remained relatively calm recently with few and mostly weak explosions every now and then, and little activity from the blocky lava flows on the flanks of the Caliente dome.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Weak strombolian activity probably continues. It can not always be observed, but only heard and shows on the seismic recording.

Current seismic recording at Pacaya (PCG station, INSIVUMEH).

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity remained at low level, characterized by few (6 during yesterday) strombolian-type explosions that produce gray ash plumes rising 300-500 m above the crater.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): After a short pause, a new seismic swarm, possibly indicating yet another pulse of magma intrusion, started yesterday at the volcano.

Seismic recording this morning at Nevado del Ruiz (OLL station, INGEOMINAS).

The largest quake was a magnitude 2.9 event at 19:28 local time at 5.4 km depth beneath the Arenas crater. It was felt around the volcano.

Reventador (Ecuador): Activity has remained moderate with occasional explosions and possibly the emplacement of a hot avalanche or lava flow on the eastern flank, where a new hot spot on the latest MODIS satellite data can be seen, in addition to the summit where a lava dome is active.

MODIS hot spot data (past 2 days) for Reventador volcano (ModVolc, Univ. Hawaii).

Tungurahua (Ecuador)
: A gradual increase in eruptive activity is evident. Near continuous ash and steam emissions are interrupted by cannon-like explosions that produce ash plumes rising up to 2-3 km height and produce light ash falls in the areas around the volcano.

SO2 plume from Tungurahua volcano yesterday (NOAA).

At night, strombolian activity can be seen from the summit. A significant SO2 plume can be seen on satellite data drifting to the NW.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for May 6, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Series Of Moderate Earthquakes Rattle Yellowstone National Park, Southeast Idaho - Strongest Was A 4.2 Magnitude Tremor!

May 06, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A series of small earthquakes sent jolts across a corner of southeast Idaho Sunday night

The U.S. Geological Survey says two smaller earthquakes were also recorded inside the boundary of Yellowstone National Park in recent days.

USGS earthquake map and location.

Temblors of 4.2 and 3.6 magnitude were recorded in the Lava Hot Springs area. Authorities say the jolts generated calls from concerned residents, but so far there is no damage or injuries attributed to the temblors.

Both quakes are considered mild and not strong enough to cause severe damage.

The two earthquakes recorded in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park were also small — magnitude of 2.9 and 2.7. One hit Friday in an area 40 miles southeast of Gardiner, while the other was recorded Sunday night closer to West Yellowstone, Mont. - KBOI2.

USGS earthquake shakemap.

Two earthquakes hit the Lava Hot Springs area along the Bannock-Caribou County line on Sunday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The 4.2 magnitude and 3.6 magnitude temblors occurred around 9 p.m. and as of 10:45 p.m. there were no reports of damage or injuries, according to authorities.

The quakes' epicenters were in the area of U.S. Highway 30 at Fish Creek Summit east of Lava Hot Springs.

USGS earthquake shakemap.

The earthquakes generated several calls from concerned residents to the sheriff's offices in both Bannock and Caribou counties.

Residents in Lava Hot Springs and Soda Springs said they felt the quakes. There were media reports that the temblors could be felt as far away as Preston and Pocatello.

A 4.2 magnitude temblor is considered to be a light earthquake. These quakes occur up to 15,000 times per year worldwide and consist mainly of shaking indoors strong enough to knock items off of shelves but not capable of causing injuries or serious damage. People outdoors may or may not feel a slight shaking from such quakes.

USGS earthquake shakemap.

A 3.6 magnitude quake is considered to be a mild temblor and can still be felt by people indoors but at worst only causes indoor objects to shake. These types of quakes happen over 100,000 times per year worldwide.

Prior to Sunday the last earthquake to hit Eastern Idaho occurred in eastern Caribou County close to the Wyoming state line on March 1 of this year. It was a 4.0 magnitude quake and caused no injuries or serious damage. - ISJ.

USGS earthquake shakemap.

Two medium strength earthquakes rattled areas of Southeast Idaho Sunday evening just minutes apart. A 4.2 magnitude earthquake at approximately 9:13 was followed by a slightly weaker 3.6 magnitude quake at approximately 9:20.

USGS population exposure.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey at the University of Utah, the epicenter of the first quake was four miles East, South East of Lava Hot Springs at a depth of seven miles.

The epicenter of the second quake was determined to be approximately three miles East of Lava Hot Springs. The depth of the second earthquake was set at three miles below the surface.

There are reports that the quake was felt as far north as Pocatello and and as far south as Preston. We have not yet received any reports of property damage. - CVD.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Abnormally Dry Spring - End To United States Northeast Dry Spell On The Horizon?!

May 06, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The Northeast is being treated to a prolonged stretch of dry and sunny weather, but the sunglasses being used this past weekend will soon have to be traded in for umbrellas.

The storm that brought historic snow to the the nation's midsection will finally reach the Northeast this week, once the high pressure responsible for the current dry spell breaks down.

Once the door opens for the storm's arrival, residents do not have to worry about dusting off snow blowers and shovels. The air will be too warm for any snow to fall.

Instead, umbrellas will have to be taken out of the closet with rain showers set to slowly spread northward.

The showers are expected to reach Washington, D.C., Monday afternoon, Philadelphia, Pa., and Trenton, N.J., by Tuesday, Albany, N.Y., and Boston, Mass., on Wednesday and Burlington, Vt., and Bangor, Maine, on Thursday.

While widespread downpours causing flash flooding are not anticipated, residents and visitors across the Northeast are more likely to face spoiled outdoor plans due to the showers.

The showers should actually be viewed as beneficial with the percentage of places turning abnormally dry increasing, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

That percentage in the corridor from West Virginia to Maine rose from nearly 19 percent on April 23 to 31 percent when the U.S. Drought Monitor released its most recent report on April 30.

The good news is that this summer as a whole is not expected to yield below-normal rainfall across the Northeast, according to the Long Range Forecast Department.

The opposite will actually take place from Philadelphia southward with above-normal rainfall in the forecast for June through August due to a higher frequency of showers and thunderstorms.

"The warmest and driest part of the summer from upstate New York to interior New England is likely to be June into part of July," stated Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

The weather pattern across this region will begin to change during the second half of the summer, resulting in more showers and thunderstorms and causing the summer to end with near-normal rainfall totals.

More details on what this upcoming summer holds for the Northeast and the rest of the United States can be found here. - AccuWeather.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Plosky Tolbachik Volcano Activity Intensifies In Kamchatka - Lava Reaches Height Of 100 Metres!

May 06, 2013 - RUSSIA - Observers in Kamchatka have registered intensification of the activity of the Plosky Tolbachik volcano, the Kamchatka volcano observatory reported on Monday, referring to data of the scientists that work at the Tolud base in the immediate vicinity of the eruption site.

The activity intensification was recorded on May 4 “in the lateral outbreak crater,” the observatory specified. Lava is gushing there, ejected to a height of 100 metres.

According to the Kamchatka branch of the Geophysical Service of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), high seismic activity is registered on the volcano - the giant mount with a height exceeding 3.85 thousand metres above sea level, is vibrating with an amplitude of 3.25 microns per second.

The eruption of the Plosky Tolbachik volcano continues for the sixth consecutive month. In the early days of the eruption lava flows from Plosky Toblachik destroyed two bases of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology that were located in the Tolbachink dale.

However, scientists believe that the eruption is a real present for the 50th anniversary of the Institute that was marked in 2012. The eruption was given its own name - “Fissure Eruption of the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the Tolbachik Dale.”

Plosky Tolbachik awakened on November 27, last year, after being dormant for 36 years from the moment of its great fissure eruption that was observed in 1975-1976.

In Tolbachik dale, south of Plosky Tolbachik at an altitude of about 1.7 kilometres above sea level, a fissure zone with two active centres formed. The lava has been pouring from there.

The Plosky Tolbachik eruption was assessed by scientists as outstanding. A lava lake has formed in the active zone.

The lava flows have destroyed a station of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in the area of the Vodopadny creek, the Leningradskaya research base and a base of the Volcanoes of Kamchatka natural park.

Trees were burning near the lava fields. The erupting volcano in Russia's Far East has become a sightseeing hotspot for crowds of thrill-seeking tourists eager to see flows of lava and clouds of ash.

The height of Plosky Tolbachik is 3 thousand 85 metres above sea level. It is located in the south-western sector of the Klyuchevskaya group of volcanoes in Kamchatka in the east 343 kilometres from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

The volcano poses no threat to nearby populated localities. Emergencies Ministry officers have been on duty in the volcano area whose task is to ensure safety of people going to the foot of the giant mount.

There are five populated localities at distances from 50 km to 68 km from the foot of the volcano - the settlements of Klyuchi, Maiskoye, Kozyrevsk, Lazo and Atlasovo with the total population of more than 8.1 thousand.

The volcano poses no threat to nearby populated localities, it is under continuous monitoring. - Russia & India Report.

EXTREME WEATHER: Fire Crews Winning Battles Against Monster California Wildfires - 75 Percent Contained; 28,000 Acres Burned; 20 Buildings Damaged!

May 06, 2013 - UNITED STATES - California firefighters expected to contain a massive wildfire Monday that had burned 28,000 acres, damaged and destroyed properties, caused evacuations and cost millions of dollars to battle, authorities said.

A reversal of winds and higher humidity helped the more than 1,000 fire personnel on the scene reach a 75 percent containment level late Sunday, and evacuation orders had been lifted, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, commonly known as Cal Fire.

  A man looks at approaching flames as the Springs Fire continues to grow, May 3, near Camarillo, Calif.. The wildfire spread to more than 18,000 acres on day two and was only 20 percent contained Friday evening.

The blaze, which started Wednesday, quickly spread as hot Santa Ana winds and low humidity pushed it toward the Pacific Ocean. By Friday it had grown to 10,000 acres and was threatening Malibu after reaching the beach in Ventura County.

An eight-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway was closed, and evacuation orders were widespread. But over the weekend, the wind changed direction, blowing cooler and much more humid air in from the Pacific.

Water-dropping airplanes and helicopters have fought the Springs Fire for days, along with more than 2,000 firefighters, reported, saying the cost of the effort was expected to reach about $8 million.

  Fire races through the canyons during the second day of the Springs Fire in the mountain areas of Ventura County, Calif. on May 3.

  Firefighters battle the Springs Fire at Point Mugu State Park on May 3. A wind-driven wildfire raged along the California coast north of Los Angeles early on Friday, threatening some 3,000 homes and prompting evacuations of a university campus and several residential areas. The so-called Springs Fire, which engulfed several farm buildings and recreational vehicles but so far has destroyed no homes, had consumed 8,000 acres of dry, dense chaparral and brush by late Thursday, fire officials said.

Photographers take pictures of The Springs Fire near Camarillo in Ventura County on May 2.

Authorities on Monday continued battling a second large blaze, the Panther Fire in Tehama County, which had burned nearly 7,000 acres by Sunday night and was concentrated in rugged terrain, Cal Fire said.

More than 1,800 people were working Sunday night to gain the upper hand on the fire, and three injuries had been reported. The fire was listed as 60 percent contained, and Cal Fire said the blaze was expected to be fully surrounded by Thursday.

The Panther fire threatened a couple of commercial properties and outbuildings, but it had not destroyed homes, Cal Fire said.

The much larger Springs Fire threatened thousands of homes, but damage was limited to 16 outbuildings and four commercial properties, Cal Fire said, noting that 10 outbuildings had been destroyed.

A firefighter sprays water on burning trailers and motorhomes as a raging brush fire pushes towards the coast in Camarillo. Calif. on May 2.

A helicopter makes a water drop on a hotspot over a hill near Thousand Oaks, Calif. on May 2.

Firefighters stand on a bluff as the Springs Fire burns in the early morning near the Pacific Coast Highway at Point Mugu State Park, on May 3.

Weather was expected to continue aiding the firefighters, according to the National Weather Service. The “Red Flag Warnings” that indicate conditions most favorable for wildfires had been lifted for all but the northernmost part of the state by Monday.

The cause of both fires remained under investigation Monday.

WATCH: Weather conditions, once working against firefighters, are now helping ground crews contain 60 percent of the blaze in southern California.

Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash said last week that there had been no lightning or other natural phenomenon when the Springs Fire started.

In nearby Riverside County, the so-called Summit Fire was fully contained Saturday night after burning more than 3,000 acres, destroying a home and causing two injuries. The cause of it, too, remained under investigation. - NBC News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Deluge Of Heavy Rains, Loud Thunder, Tree-Splitting Lightning And Strong Winds - More Than 500 Lightning Strikes In New Zealand, 100 In Wellington Alone; All Flights Suspended Out Of Wellington!

May 06, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - Wellington awoke from a night of thunder and tree-splitting lightning, and then came a downpour which closed roads and flooded shops ''like a tidal wave''. 

John Shaumkell of Poneke rugby club tries to clear the drains outside his house near Kilbirnie Park. JAMES MANTTAN


Air New Zealand has suspended all flights out of Wellington Airport.

Flights from Palmerston North, Nelson and Timaru and planes leaving Wellington for New Plymouth, Rotorua, Timaru, Gisborne, Christchurch and Invercargill were cancelled.

Many other flights faced delays.

An airport spokeswoman said she did not know when services would return to normal.

Rush hour bus services have been hit by delays and cancellations to the 7, 22 and 10 routes.


As many as 20 cars could have thousands of dollars of damage or more after a basement carpark flooded in Newtown this morning.

The Alfred St carpark is used by staff at the Wellington Accident and Urgent Medical Centre and residents who live above the clinic.

A large pine split by a lightning strike last night next to the third green at the Shandon Golf Club, Petone. SUPPLIED

Owen Svensson never takes his car to work but looked outside today and decided it was a good idea.

That decision saved his vehicle from the flooded basement but his belongings in the flat lock-ups down there weren't so lucky.

"I left about 7.40am and it was raining pretty hard so decided to drive, which I never normally do,'' he said.

"My fiancee called three hours later saying she thought there might be a bit of flooding so I came home to have a look.''

Alfred St was completely submerged in water and up to the windows on cars parked on the side of the street.

Cars parked in the basement were practically floating, Wellington central fire senior station officer Nick Pyatt said.

"There's a whole transformer under the carpark so we've got the power turned off and now that we've pumped out the alley we can get started on the carpark.''

Anthony Blanche works at Coventry Cars on Alfred St and said by about 9.30am the street was waist-deep in water.

Busy scooping the last of the water out of his car parked on the side of the street was Dave O'Donovan.

He's been living and working on the street for 18 months and never seen anything like the rainfall that filled his car.

"I'll be waiting for some favourable weather now so I can open it up and let it dry out,'' he said.

A storm drain in a flooded street forms something of a whirlpool in Wright St, Mt Cook. CHLOE DALLAWAY

Mr Pyatt said the fire service had been flat out in the central city and eastern suburbs responding to calls.

"The worst I've seen so far is Hania St off Kent Tce,'' he said.

"It was up over our gumboots and there was nothing we could do so we just had to leave it to subside on its own.''


MetService recorded more than 500 lightning strikes in central New Zealand last night - about 100 of them in Wellington.

Then a massive downpour as Wellingtonians were arriving to work delivered 12.6mm of rain at Wellington Airport in the hour to 9am, causing flooding around Wellington.

''The next hour or two, oh boy, watch out,'' Dan Corbett from MetService said at 9am.

The flooded car park of Jigsaw Family Services in Alfred St, Mt Cook. STEPHANIE JONES

By 10am, 35.2mm of rain had fallen.

Shandon Golf Club groundskeeper Greg Galway was at home, about 150m away from the tree, when an enormous roll of thunder came hard after a lightning flash during the storm about 9.30pm yesterday.

''The lightning was still going when the thunder struck, so I knew it was close.

''It made me drop what I was doing, it was freaky.''

This morning he found one of the Petone club's larger pines shattered, with bark stripped off the trunk in a spiral running down the trunk.

''It's blown the bark off a good 50 metres, and there's a good seam where it's split the trunk down the middle.

The tree was at least 90 years old.

As the downpour came this morning, emergency services and Wellington City Council were flooded with calls.

Reports of flooding came from Moa Point, Kilbirnie, Newtown, Lyall Bay, Brooklyn, Melrose, Karori, Hataitai, Wilton, Mornington, Basin Reserve, Kent Tce, the central city, and Kaiwharawhara.

Tony's Tyre Service, Kilbirnie assistant manager George Georgiou said the water came in to his store ''like a tidal wave'' when the stormwater drains reached capacity.

''Front door, back door, water just came in all directions.''

At its peak about 30cm of water was on the shop floor, Mr Georgiou said.

A rain map showing 441 lightning strikes nationwide in the two hours leading up till 2.15am. METSERVICE

Further up Bay Rd, Lorraine Swetman, co-ordinator at the Kilbirnie Red Cross store was alerted to the scale of flooding by a neighbouring shop owner.

The stormwater had pushed a manhole cover off and water was gushing out, she said.

''It was all just coming in here like a waterfall.''

The Old Bank Arcade on Lambton Quay felt the full effects of the downpour and the nearby Hare Krishna Higher Taste Restaurant flooded as a result.

Shortly before 9am the basement level restaurant was ankle-deep in water and staff were rushing to move kitchen equipment and food to a drier place, Mukesh Chand from the restaurant said.

Wellington bus commuters experienced long delays after a bus broke down on the corner of Manners St and Victoria St.

All East by West ferry sailings were cancelled for the rest of the day, but there would be replacement shuttles departing from Queens Wharf at 4.30pm, 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

Some flights were delayed at Wellington Airport. - Stuff.

DISASTER IMPACT: Strong 5.8 Magnitude Earthquake In Kashmir - Thousands Of Structures Damaged Including Schools, Businesses And Residential Houses!

May 06, 2013 - KASHMIR - With preliminary reports suggesting damage to thousands of structures due to Wednesday’s quake in Chenab Valley, the failure of the state administration to cope with the post-quake situation is evident from the fact that only 100 tents have so far been arranged as temporary shelter of the survivors.

Three days after the 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the region, all schools in the twin districts of Doda and Kishtwar are shut as the administration has failed to make alternate arrange for the school children.

Official estimates indicate that at around 70 to 80 percent residential houses in Doda district have suffered damages—maximum, partial and minimum—with Bhaderwah, Doda, Ghat, Gandoh Bhalessa and Thatri being the worst hit. While the administration puts estimates of severely damaged houses to around 900, only 100 tents have been provided to the survivors, prompting thousands of souls to spend nights under open sky.
Residents of Bhaderwah town are all angry against the government for “being indifferent towards tackling the aftermath of the calamity.”

“Whenever there is a natural calamity in any other part of the country, everybody from official machinery rushes there with relief and essential commodities. But nobody has come forward to help us,” Jahangeer Choudary, a businessman from Bhaderwah told Greater Kashmir over phone.

He said the quake has inflicted damages in Pasri Mohalla, Masjid Mohalla, Haveli Mohalla, Sadder Bazar areas.

“There have been cracks to residential houses in almost all localities of the district but the government infrastructure like schools have suffered maximum damage,” he said.

Similar is the situation in Kishtwar district where Bonjwa, Dul, Nagsarni and Chatroo regions are worst affected.

Residents of the district said over phone that the government is “missing from the scene as neither any survey teams have been deputed to assess losses nor relief has been rushed for survivors.”

“Nobody from the administration is coming to our rescue,” said Syed Afaq Hussain of Farid Road Kishtwar.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Deputy Commissioner Doda Mubarak Singh said preliminary estimates indicate damage to 70 to 80 percent houses in Doda.

“Our preliminary estimates reveal that 900 houses have been rendered unsafe for living as they have suffered extensive damages,” he said, adding that number may swell up as the administration is in process of consolidating figures.

He said 1200 schools remained closed in the district and decision whether to open them or not will be taken on Sunday.

Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar Saleem Muhammad said survey teams have so far identified 96 partially-damaged houses and 18 fully-damaged houses in the district.

“Besides, they have also reported damages to 16 schools in the district,” he said, adding that they have just begun assessment of losses and report about actual losses would be submitted to the government by 10th of this month.

“We have not received any tent so far,” Saleem said.

Meanwhile, schools remained shut in both the districts for the third day.

Rough estimates reveal that 250 schools have suffered major to minor damage in Doda, Kishtawar and Ramban districts.

When contacted, Divisional Commissioner Jammu Pradeep Gupta said they have dispatched 75 more tents for quake-hit people today.

He said respective deputy commissioners will take decision on reopening of schools on Monday and added that the administration will take whatever necessary measures are needed for renovating and reconstructing schools.

“At this time, we are on job of assessing losses and actual situation about the damages would be clear only after assessment is over,” he added. - Greater Kashmir News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Unsettled Weather For California And The United States Interior West This Week - Upper-Level Low Pressure System Will Bring Thunderstorms, Showers And Gusty Winds!

May 06, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A stubborn upper-level low pressure system will bring cooler, unsettled weather to California early this week while dotting the Great Basin with showers and thunderstorms through midweek.

This low pressure center or pocket of cool air aloft, currently spinning just west of San Francisco, has already brought a bout cooler air into Southern California.

That is more welcome news for firefighters who are currently in the process of containing the Springs fire.

This system will slide onshore over central California on Monday, causing showers and thunderstorms to bubble up from the Central Valley through the Sierras and into the Great Basin.

Afternoon thunderstorms can spoil outdoor activities across Reno, Salt Lake City, Boise, and Eureka.

Showers will fall as far south as Los Angeles and San Diego and there could also be a rumble or two of thunder in those areas thanks to all the cold air aloft.

The shower and thunderstorm threat will be greatest during the afternoon and evening hours with some daytime heating helping to stir the atmosphere.

Heading into Tuesday, drier air is expected to move across coastal California with the better chance for thunderstorms shifting into the Intermountain West.

Denver, Colorado Springs, and Cheyenne could get in on the thunderstorm activity by Tuesday afternoon.

As this pocket of cold air slides eastward it will keep unsettled weather in place over the Intermountain West through Wednesday and Thursday. While it certainly won't rain all the time, residents and vacationers will want to keep an eye to the sky.

Have a backup plan in case thunderstorms threaten and make sure there is a sheltered, indoor location nearby.

While a lot of the Intermountain West is suffering from severe to extreme drought, the scattered rains will be welcome news. However, if the downpours are heavy enough, flash flooding could occur as the water will just run off of the very dry grounds.

This system will eventually move out into the southern Plains late this week, with a new round of severe weather expected across parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. will have more information on the late week severe weather over the next few days.

Check out the Severe Weather Center for the latest watches and warnings for your area. - AccuWeather.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Low-Level Explosions - Alaska's Cleveland Volcano Spews Ash Plume Near Air Traffic Route!

May 06, 2013 - ALASKA - A remote but long-restless Alaska volcano rumbled to life on Saturday with three explosions and started emitting a continuous plume of ash, steam and gas in an area important to air traffic, scientists said.

The low-level explosions at Cleveland Volcano, which lies below a major air-traffic route between North America and Asia, were not severe enough to cause a significant threat to planes, said experts.

But the incident did prompt federal aviation authorities to divert some traffic north of the volcano as a precaution, said Rick Wessels, a U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

"Based on the signals we can see, we think it's continuously in an eruption right now," Wessels said of the volcano, located 940 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Cleveland Volcano, which has been restless since mid-2011, is on an uninhabited island in one of the most sparsely populated regions of the world, although major eruptions could cause potential aviation threats.

Federal Aviation Administration officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The 5,676-foot volcano began oozing lava in the summer of 2011, causing lava domes to form at the crater and allowing pressure to build inside the peak. There have since been 20 to 25 explosions at sporadic intervals, he said.

But Saturday's trio of explosions was a new turn of events, he said.

"We haven't seen a phase like this where we've had multiple explosions," he said.

So far, the cloud streaming from Cleveland's crater has reached only about 15,000 feet into the atmosphere - too low to cause damage to higher-flying jet airliners. "Once it gets to about twice that, we get really worried," Wessels said.

If the eruption becomes stronger, the National Weather Service will advise mariners to avoid the area, he said. Still, scientists have been put on around-the-clock duty to try to track Cleveland's activities, he said.

"It's got us all paying attention. We're not sure if it will escalate or do what Cleveland does, which is to settle down after small explosions," he said.

It is difficult for scientists to monitor Cleveland Volcano because there is no seismic equipment on the mountain. Alaska Volcano Observatory scientists rely on satellite data, signals from a different volcano about 50 miles away, eyewitness reports and other information.

Cleveland Volcano, which occupies about half of Chuginadak Island, is the only one of Alaska's 90 active volcanoes believed to have killed a person in an eruption.

A soldier on the island during World War Two disappeared during an eruption, according to Observatory scientists. - Reuters.