Friday, May 31, 2013

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Residents Not Happy With Buyout Offers, As Sinkhole Expands To 15 Acres In Just 9 Months!

May 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Nine months after the sinkhole first appeared in Bayou Corne, Texas Brine has started making offers to buy out the residents living there. Some residents say the offers are not what they expected.

For residents of Bayou Corne, serene waterways are their backyards. People like Dennis Landry never imagined their piece of paradise would be interrupted by a bubbling in the bayou, followed by a now more than 15-acre sinkhole.

Giant Louisiana sinkhole in Bayou Corne before and after (Source: Derrick Hopwood).

"Back then, we all thought surely that the bubbling was coming from a leak in a pipeline. Oh, we wish it would have been something so simple that could've been fixed," said Landry.

While scientists try to figure out the cause and the fix for the problem, residents have been under a mandatory evacuation, many urging Texas Brine to buy out their homes and property.

Just last week, Texas Brine started making buyout offers to the residents of Bayou Corne. While Dennis Landry did not get his offer yet, some of his neighbors have and they tell him the amount on the table is not what they expected.

"All this time has passed. You would think those appraisals... if the appraisal itself is going to be off, make it off. Err on the side of caution. Make it high," said Landry.

Texas Brine spokesperson Sonny Cranch says the company based appraisals on property values on the first quarter of 2012, before the bubbling and the sinkhole appeared.

Aerial image of giant Louisiana sinkhole April 23, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP).

"Again, we feel they are what we feel are fair and reasonable offers, but as I said before, we will entertain a counteroffer. And if it's reasonable, we will hopefully move forward," said Cranch.

Cranch says if Texas Brine and the homeowner cannot agree on a counteroffer, the company will pay for a third party mediator to help the two sides come to an agreement.

Landry hopes he won't have to sell at all.

"As long as we can find out that it's going to be safe for us to continue living here, and after we never have left, if it's safe, the last thing I want to do is leave Bayou Corne," said Landry.

Sonny Cranch says so far the company has made offers to 23 homeowners.

It's been almost a year since a massive sinkhole near Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou began causing problems. Bubbling in the bayou led to the now 15-acre sinkhole. About 350 people have been forced out of their homes since August.

WATCH: Residents near giant Louisiana sinkhole not happy with buyout offers.

A New Orleans attorney is handling the class-action suit. There has not been a response from Texas Brine about the lawsuit.

The sinkhole grew by three acres last month, bringing its total size to about 15 acres.

It has been nine months since hundreds living near the giant sinkhole were forced from their homes.

Bubbles were spotted in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou in June 2012. Two months later, the ground opened up and left a nine-acre sinkhole. Residents were evacuated and have been for the past seven months. Most affected residents began receiving weekly checks from Texas-Brine in the amount of $875 per week. - WAFB.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Disaster Spreads Far And Wide - Fukushima Fishermen Now Forced To Test Fish For Radiation; Rising Radioactive Spills Leave Fishermen Floundering!

May 31, 2013 - JAPAN - Dozens of crabs, three small sharks and scores of fish thump on the slippery deck of the fishing boat True Prosperity as captain Shohei Yaoita lands his latest haul, another catch headed not for the dinner table but for radioactive testing.

71-year-old Tatsuo Niitsuma holds greenling aboard the "Shoei Maru" fishing boat, close to Hirono town, about 25 km (16 miles) south of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture May 26, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

Japan's government banned commercial fishing in this area, some 200 km (125 miles) northeast of Tokyo, after a devastating 2011 tsunami and the reactor meltdowns and explosions that followed at the nearby Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, has battled since then to keep radioactive water used to cool the crippled reactor from leaking into the ground and the sea.

The walls of a once-bustling fish market that sold Yaoita's catch of flounder, rockfish, greenling and other sealife in the port of Hisanohama, about 20 km (12 miles) south of the ruined plant, remain in ruins.

The fishermen of Hisanohama, forced out of work by the disaster, have had no choice but to take the only job available - checking contamination levels in fish just offshore from the destroyed nuclear reactor buildings.

"We used to be so proud of our fish. They were famous across Japan and we made a decent living out of them," said 80-year-old Yaoita, who survived the tsunami by taking on the waves and sailing the six-person True Prosperity out to sea.

"Now the only thing for us is sampling."

Shoulders stooped from years of hard work, Yaoita is happy to be back pulling fish out of a 300-metre (330 yards) net. Like many younger fishermen, he's unsure how long he can stay at it.

A fisherman stands on his boat in Hisanohama port in Iwaki, about 30 km (19 miles) south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture May 26, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

Add caption80-year-old fisherman Shohei Yaoita walks through Hisanohama port in Iwaki, about 30 km (19 miles) south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture May 26, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

Add captionA crab is hauled aboard the "Shoei Maru" fishing boat, close to Hirono town, about 25 km (19 miles) south of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture May 26, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

The fishermen and Tepco are in dispute over the utility's plans to dump 100 tons of groundwater a day from the devastated plant into the sea. The complicated clean-up plan for Fukushima could take 30 years or more.

Tepco's challenge is what to do with the contaminated water that has been pooling at the plant at a rate of 400 tons a day - enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in a week.

So far it has been racing to build tanks to store the contaminated water on the grounds of the plant, in which all the water is kept at the moment.
It has also asked fishermen to support a plan to build a "by-pass" that would dump groundwater into the sea before it becomes contaminated by flowing under the reactor's wreckage.

"We are staunchly against it," said Tatsuo Niitsuma, 71, who fishes with Yaoita.


Representatives from fishing cooperatives met Tepco officials on Thursday to discuss the proposal, with Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to instruct Tepco on what to do, although no final plans were announced.

In addition to the "by-pass" Motegi, who also holds the energy portfolio, told Tepco to create "protective walls" in the ground by freezing the soil around the reactors to create an underground barrier to stop groundwater from flowing in and mixing with contaminated water inside the reactor building.

The fishermen, however, worry the "by-pass" plan risks more contamination and delays, possibly ending any hope for the only job they know.

Tepco officials have said it may take as long as four years to fix the problem, but have said they do not need outside help.

Flatfish are seen aboard the "Shoei Maru" fishing boat, close to Hirono town, about 25 km (16 miles) south of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture May 26, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

Add captionFlatfish, stonefish, flounder, greenling and ray caught by the "Shoei Maru" fishing boat lie in boxes in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture May 26, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

Add captionLaboratory technicians chop fish, which was caught close to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, while preparing it for cesium testing at Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture May 28, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

The uncertainty and stress have become problems. Many former fishermen live in temporary homes next to people they barely know after losing not only their jobs, but also family members.

Waves as high as 40 meters wrought havoc across several hundred kilometers of Japan's northeastern coast, damaging ports handling 7 percent of the country's industrial output, some 28,500 ships and 319 small fishing communities like Hisanohama.

The total cost of damage to the fishing industry is estimated at around 1.26 trillion yen ($12.49 billion).

About 40 Hisanohama fishermen survived the disaster. They could make a few thousand dollars a month each with good catches, but instead get by on handouts for tsunami survivors.

"For many middle-aged men, their work meant everything, so now they find it hard to mingle with others, cut themselves off and start drinking," said Hideo Hasegawa, who runs a support center in a 3,000-strong temporary housing settlement.

The fishermen's opposition to Tepco's plans underlines deep distrust across radiation-contaminated areas towards Tepco and the government after their uncertain response to the disaster, and a lack of clear information about radiation risks since.

"They say it's safe, but they had always told us that the nuclear power is safe too - and just look what a mess we've gotten ourselves into because of that," Yaoita said.

A laboratory technician chops an anchovy, which was caught close to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, while preparing it for cesium testing at Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture May 28, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

Add captionChopped greenling, which was caught close to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, sits in a plastic bag in preparation for cesium testing at Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture May 28, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

Add captionA laboratory technician uses a Geiger counter to measure radiation in fish, which was caught close to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, at Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture May 28, 2013.
REUTERS/Issei Kato

Many fish caught in the area test below Japan's limits on radiation, a figure of 100 Bequerels per kilogram of Caesium-137 and Caesium-134, according to the Japanese government. However, crews say fish that live near the sea-floor, such as cod, halibut or sole, often test for excessive levels of radiation.

A large crab caught by Yaoita before the disaster could fetch as much as $30 on the Hisanohama market. A kilogram of flatfish could sell for about the same. Once he could catch dozens of both and many other fish on a single morning outing.

"The nuclear disaster destroyed our livelihoods and now we are like beggars," said Yaoita.

"Previously I never went to see the doctor. Now it feels like I down more drugs and medicine than actual food." - Reuters.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Magnificent Comet Tail - The Earth Passes Through The Orbital Plane Of Comet Pan-Starrs; "The Finest Long Anti-Tail Ever Imaged In 35 Years Of Comet Photography"!

May 31, 2013 - SPACE - This week, Earth passed through the orbital plane of Comet Pan-Starrs. This allowed observers to see the comet's fan-shaped tail edge on.

Veteran astrophotographer Chris Schur of Payson, Arizona, judged it "the finest long anti-tail we have ever imaged in the past 35 years of comet photography!" This picture, taken by Pete Lawrence of Selsey UK, shows less than half of the comet's tail; click on the image to see the rest:

"Wow - as Earth crossed the orbital plane of comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS, the comet's orbital plane spike or 'anti-tail' became very impressive, stretching for more than 7 degrees across the sky," says Lawrence.

The narrow linear structure is called an anti-tail because it points toward the sun, opposite the usual direction of comet tails. In fact, this is an artifact of the viewing geometry. Gas and dust evaporating from the comet is not being sucked back toward the sun.

Amateur astronomers with mid-sized backyard telescopes can see the anti-tail for themselves. Comet Pan-Starrs is shining like a 9th magnitude star not far from Polaris, the North Star. - Space Weather.

THE EURO-ZONE CRISIS: Precursors To The Total Collapse Of The FAILED White Supremacy Paradigm - The Euro-Zone Unemployment Reaches Record High Of 12.2 Percent, This Threatens European Unity As Riots Breakout Across The Continent!

May 31, 2013 - EUROPE - The crisis in the recession-battered eurozone escalated yesterday as unemployment there soared to a record high of close to 20million.

The jobless rate in the single currency bloc hit 12.2 per cent, far higher than in Britain and the US, statistics agency Eurostat said.

Youth unemployment surged to a devastating 24.4 per cent – meaning one in four Europeans under the age of 25 who want work cannot find a job.

The jobless rate among young Greeks reached 62.5 per cent while 56.4 per cent of young Spaniards and 40.5 per cent of young Italians are out of work.

Anatoli Annenkov, senior European economist at French bank Societe Generale, said the worst-hit countries are at risk of a ‘lost generation’ who will never find work.

It is feared that rocketing unemployment – particularly among the young – will fuel resentment against the euro and trigger a break-up of the single currency bloc.

The European Commission warned this week that unemployment across the region is ‘unacceptably high’ and threatens ‘grave social consequences’.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has left individual governments to find their own economic solutions.  Inflation is well below the the European Central bank's target of two percent.

French president Francois Hollande said it could lead to the breakdown of Europe. ‘Citizens are turning their backs on Europe and the construction of the European project,’ he said. German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said European ‘unity’ was at risk.

Italian labour minister Enrico Giovannini said: ‘We have to rescue an entire generation of young people who are scared.’

WATCH: Unemployment at new record 'threatens Euro-Zone unity'.

Eurostat said unemployment in the single currency bloc soared to 19.4million in April – up by 95,000 in one month and 1.6million in a year.

The number of under-25s out of work has soared by 188,000 to 3.6million in the past 12 months. The grim figures came days after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development slashed its forecasts for the eurozone economy.

WATCH: 'Blockupy' protests against European bank.

It now expects it to shrink by 0.6 per cent this year, far worse than the 0.1 per cent slide previously predicted.

In Britain, where unemployment is below 8 per cent, output is expected to grow by 0.8 per cent this year – making the UK the best performing major economy in Europe. - Daily Mail.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - United Nations Expert Demands A Moratorium On "Killer Robots"!

May 31, 2013 - UNITED NATIONS - Robots that can attack and kill without human direction should be banned before they come into existence, according to a senior UN official.

Lethal autonomous robotics (LARs) have not yet been created but are described as "the next major revolution in military affairs".

The Terminator-style weapons systems could select, engage and kill targets without further human intervention once activated.

Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on summary executions, called for a global moratorium as he presented a report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots was launched in London last month.

"While drones still have a 'human in the loop' who takes the decision to use lethal force, LARs have on-board computers that decide who should be targeted," he said.

"The possible introduction of LARs raises far-reaching concerns about the protection of life during war and peace."

Christof Heyns wants a global ban.
Their introduction will mean "machines and not humans, will take the decision on who is alive or dies,” he said, making it easier for States to go to war.

"If deployed, LARs will take humans ‘out of the loop'," Mr Heyns warned.

"States find this technology attractive because human decision-making is often much slower than that of robots, and human thinking can be clouded by emotion.

"At the same time, humans may in some cases, unlike robots, be able to act out of compassion or grace and can, based on their understanding of the bigger picture, know that a more lenient approach is called for in a specific situation," he added.

In a summary of his 22-page report, he said: "Their deployment may be unacceptable because no adequate system of legal accountability can be devised, and because robots should not have the power of life and death over human beings."

The possibility of LARs, he adds, highlights concerns to "the extent to which they can be programmed to comply with the requirements of international humanitarian law and the standards protecting life under international human rights law".

He concludes: "The Special Rapporteur recommends that States establish national moratoria on aspects of LARs, and calls for the establishment of a high-level panel on LARs to articulate a policy for the international community on the issue."

Unmanned drones are controlled from thousands of miles away. Picture: MoD.

Human Rights Watch is co-ordinating the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots, a new international coalition working to pre-emptively ban LARs.

HRW arms director Steve Goose said: "The UN report makes it abundantly clear that we need to put the brakes on fully autonomous weapons, or civilians will pay the price in the future.

"The US and every other country should endorse and carry out the UN call to stop any plans for killer robots in their tracks."

He adds: "It is possible to halt the slide toward full autonomy in weaponry before moral and legal boundaries are crossed, but only if we start to draw the line now."

Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic has published its own report, Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots, which outlines legal, ethical, policy, and other concerns with fully autonomous weapons. - SKY News.

ICE AGE NOW: A Year Without Spring - United Kingdom Met Office Declares That Spring Will Be The Coldest In 50 Years!

May 31, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - This spring is on track to be the coldest for more than 50 years, provisional Met Office figures suggest.

This month has seen lower than average temperatures and it has been wetter than usual, forecasters said.

May has also been wetter than average, forecasters said.

The UK's mean temperature for spring - based on figures from 1 March to 28 May - is currently 6C.

If conditions stay the same in the last days of May, it will be the coldest spring since 1962, and the fifth coldest since records began in 1910.

The Met Office said earlier figures from 1 March to 15 May suggested spring was on track to be the sixth coldest since records began, and the coldest since 1979.

But cooler than average weather in the past fortnight has pushed the mean temperature for the season slightly lower, it said.

'Cold air'

The provisional temperature for this spring goes against recent form for the season, forecasters said, with eight of the past 10 years seeing warmer than average springs compared to the long-term (1981-2010) average of 7.7C.

The main reason for the low temperatures in spring was a colder than usual March, which had a mean temperature of 2.2C to 3.3C below the long-term average. This made it the coldest March since 1962.

The forecasters added that the colder than average conditions had been caused by frequent easterly and northerly winds, bringing cold air to the UK from polar and northern European regions.

Earlier this month, snow hit Shropshire and Devon and Cornwall, while Wales saw widespread snow in March.

Rainfall amounts for March and April were below average, but May is already wetter than average, with the average area receiving 86mm of rain up to the 28th day of the month - 70mm is the average.

The Met Office said this suggested that spring overall would be slightly drier than average - but not as dry as the springs of 2010 and 2011. - BBC.

EXTREME WEATHER: America Under Attack - New Twisters Hit Oklahoma Thursday As Storm System Sweeps Plains; Thunderstorms Bring Torrential Rains, Life-Threatening Flash Flooding To Kansas City Area; High Winds Force Diversion Of 17 Denver International Airport Flights!

May 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A group of severe thunderstorms spawned scattered tornadoes as it moved through Oklahoma and Arkansas on Thursday, with at least nine people injured in a storm system that cut a broad north-south swath across the central United States.

New Twisters Hit Oklahoma As Storm System Sweeps Plains.
A picture taken from a KFOR helicopter, which was heading to Logan County, Okla., where a possible tornado was forming. Logan County is about 20 miles north of Oklahoma City.

Storm spotters reported at least three Oklahoma tornadoes: a large twister in Broken Arrow outside Tulsa, another near Perkins and Ripley and a third northeast of Cove, according to the National Weather Service. Another tornado touched down near Oden, Ark.

Power lines were downed and the roofs of two businesses were damaged in Broken Arrow, but there were no immediate reports of injuries, emergency officials said.

Tornado watches for most of Eastern Oklahoma expired late Thursday, but parts of far eastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas remained under a tornado watch until 4 a.m. Friday.

The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for numerous counties across both states as the massive weather system heaved large balls of hail, producing heavy rain with possible significant flooding in several areas into Friday.

“To say the least, these storms have been menacing,” said Mike Bettes of The Weather Channel, who reported from Tulsa.

In Lawton, Okla., about 80 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, strong winds knocked down power poles and damaged at least a dozen homes, Comanche County's emergency agency reported. The Red Cross was assisting families who suffered damage.

The storm system also barreled through Arkansas, where a funnel cloud was reported in the small town of Oden. Two people who live on the west side of Oden were hurt when a tornado destroyed their home.

Residents in many other parts of the state were warned to seek shelter from possible tornadoes.

In all, seven people were injured by tornadoes in Arkansas, according to The Associated Press. Two other injuries were attributed to lightning strikes. Lightning was also blamed for a fire at a residential complex in northwestern Indiana.

WATCH: Thursday brought several tornadoes, most centered in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Tornadoes are likely in many states on Friday as well, with rain in the forecast through Monday in Oklahoma and surrounding states. The Weather Channel's Mike Bettes reports.

Severe weather was also possible for other states in the nation's midsection, including Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Early reports indicated that Thursday's tornadoes were much less severe than the EF-5 category storm that leveled parts of Moore, Okla., on May 20 and killed 24 people, including nine children.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service’s Albany, N.Y., office preliminarily confirmed that an EF-2 tornado with winds up to 125 mph touched down in Montgomery and Schenectady counties in upstate New York shortly before 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

One person was reported to have been injured in the storm, which tore the roofs off many structures and damaged power lines and trees.

No details were immediately available on the injury.

Heavy rain and flooding is likely from the eastern Plains to the lower Great Lakes overnight, meteorologist Kevin Roth said. The storm system is forecast to move slowly eastward through the weekend.

Areas likely to be worst hit include Minneapolis, which is set for strong evening thunderstorms, and Kansas City, Roth said. - NBC News.

Thunderstorms Bring Torrential Rains, Life-Threatening Flash Flooding To Kansas City Area.

Thunderstorms with torrential rains moved across the Kansas City area early Friday morning causing life-threatening flash flooding.

Emergency crews, especially in the southern part of the metropolitan area, responded to numerous reports of drivers stuck in high water after they drove into water-covered roads.

The drivers became stranded by the fast rising and swift moving waters.

The National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Mo., continued a flash flood warning for most of the Kansas City area until 11 a.m. Friday.

The warning is in effect for Johnson, northern Miami and southern Leavenworth County in Kansas and southwestern Lafayette, northwestern Johnson, southern Jackson and northern Cass counties in Missouri.

The National Weather Service said radar indicated at 6 a.m. Friday that thunderstorms with torrential rainfall was moving across the southern Kansas City metropolitan area.

Areas from Olathe to Lee's Summit was especially impacted by the rainfall.

Guages indicated that as much as 2 to 3 inches of rain fell in one hour.

The National Weather Service warned that this was an extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation in eastern Johnson and western Jackson counties.

People in flood prone areas should seek higher ground, the National Weather Service advised.

Runoff from the excessive rainfall was causing flash flooding to areas in Belton, Blue Springs, De Soto, Edgerton, Fairway, Gardner, Grain Valley, Grandview, Greenwood, Lake Lotawana, Lake Quivira, Leawood, Lee's Summit, Lenexa, Merriam, Mission, Mission Hills, Oak Grove, Odessa, Olathe, Overland Park, Peculiar, Pleasant Hill, Prairie Village, Raymore, Raytown, Shawnee, Spring Hill, Westood and Lake Tapawingo.

Some Local Storm Reports gave a snapshot of what was occurring in the metropolitan area Friday morning:

- At 7:33 a.m., a National Weather Service employee reported that 4.58 inches of rain fell in Pleasant Hill, Mo., over the past two days. That includes 2.29 inches of rain since Thursday afternoon.

- At 7 a.m., a National Weather Service employee was reporting flash flooding in Lee's Summit. The westbound lanes of U.S. 50 just east of the Todd George Road exit had about 6 inches of water over the road. Traffic was restricted but able to pass through.

- At 6:46 a.m, broadcast media was reporting that cars were stranded due to high water at 151st Street and Lindenwood Drive and 139th and Mur-Len Road in Olathe.

- At 5:53 a.m., rain gauges indicated that 2.19 inches of rain fell in Gardner and 2.57 inches of rain fell 4 miles southeast of Olathe between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.

- At 4:20 a.m., a member of the public reported that 1-inch hail fell 3 miles east of Liberty.

- At 4:15, broadcast media reported that quarter-sized hail was falling at the Wheeler Downtown Airport.

- At 3:55, an emergency manager reported that an 3/4-inch hail was falling in Gladstone.

The waters began to recede as the storms moved off to the east.

The storms in the Kansas City area are expected to persist through the morning and end around noon.

Today's high should be near 79 degrees.

Thunderstorms are expected to redevelop across parts of central Missouri Friday afternoon and early evening hours.

The location of the storms will depend on Friday morning's thunderstorm activity. Any storms that do redevelop will bring a threat for large hail, damaging winds and torrential rain.

In the Kansas City area, there's a chance of showers and thunderstorms mainly before 1 a.m. Some of those thunderstorms could produce heavy rainfall.

The rains, however, will give way to a mostly sunny weekend with highs near 73 Saturday and 69 degrees Sunday.

The next chance of showers and thunderstorms doesn't return to the area until Monday night. - Kansas City Star.

High Winds Force Diversion Of 17 Denver International Airport Flights.

High winds sweeping across Colorado's Front Range forced the diversion of 17 flights scheduled to land at the Denver International Airport.

DIA spokeswoman Laura Coale says 11 flights were diverted to Colorado Springs Airport, five went to Cheyenne Regional Airport and one was sent to Fort Collins-Loveland Airport between about 9:40 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Friday. She didn't know how many airlines were involved.

Coale says at one point, incoming flights were delayed by more than an hour and a half, while departing flights were delayed between half an hour and an hour.

National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Dankers says the peak wind gust between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. was 34 mph.

Winds shifted late Friday morning, allowing air traffic controllers to use more runways at DIA. - Yahoo.

WEATHER WHIPLASH: Feast Or Famine - What Drought, The Pendulum Swings As American Midwest Deluge Of Rainfall And Severe Flooding Continues?!

May 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Drought or deluge.

In the Midwest, it seems those have been the only options for weather these past few years.

Two years ago, in 2011, the region witnessed severe floods on the Missouri River as well as record flooding along parts of the Mississippi River and lower Ohio River.

A year later, 2012 brought the "flash drought" that parched the nation's heartland and led to one of the largest drought zones in modern U.S. history., taking in nearly two-thirds of the contiguous U.S.

While 46% of the country is still in drought as of the May 23 U.S. Drought Monitor report, that drought zone continues to be chipped away by repeated rounds of thunderstorms, especially on the eastern edge of the drought.

A zone from the Dakotas through Iowa into Illinois has been subject to repeated bouts of thunderstorms with heavy rainfall over the past several days, leading to a broad stripe of anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of rainfall.

Within that zone, a few places have seen even heavier totals, including these figures from the Memorial Day weekend:
  • 11.32 inches of rain in Normal, Ill.
  • 9 inches in Aurelia, Iowa
  • Up to 6.60 inches in Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Up to 5.50 inches in Davenport, Iowa
Some of this heavy rain has fallen on existing moderate to extreme drought conditions over western Iowa, eastern Nebraska, and South Dakota.

In fact, Monday morning, the Floyd River reached an all-time record crest, 7.2 feet above flood stage, in northwest Iowa near Alton. This river gauge has been keeping records for at least 60 years!

Not far away, the Little Sioux River reached a record crest at Cherokee, Iowa, Monday afternoon, flooding homes and highways. Surely the drought in this region has been wiped out by these recent rains.

Moderate flooding has also been reported on several rivers in eastern Iowa. And the rain is far from over across this region of the country.

Heavy rainfall is likely to add to the flood concerns across Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and parts of surrounding states through the rest of this week.

Here are the factors at play:
  • Juicy, moisture-laden air from the Gulf of Mexico. This gives any developing thunderstorms plenty of water to wring out in the form of torrential downpours.
  • A slow-moving storm system making little eastward progress. This will keep a zone of thunderstorm activity across most of the Plains and Midwest throughout the week, with just slight day-to-day variations in where the heaviest activity occurs.
  • A stationary front draped across the region. This will be an additional trigger for numerous thunderstorms to develop and move across areas already drenched by previous rainfall.
  • Recent heavy rainfall. Parts of this region have seen upwards of 15 inches of rain in April and May combined, and soil moisture is much higher than normal over much of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois.
The maps on the right show the day-to-day layout of thunderstorm activity across the central and northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

As you can see, not only will there be widespread thunderstorms each day, but some of the storms will be severe.

Keep in mind that the flood threat can take two forms:
  • Flash flooding occurs when extremely heavy rain in a local area, usually 1 to 2 inches or more per hour, leads to rapid flooding of small streams, low-lying areas, streets and underpasses.
  • River flooding is more likely to occur when large-scale thunderstorm complexes drop several inches of rain over a large area, such as multiple counties or a long stripe of several hundred miles. Even if the rain doesn't come down all at once, at least some of the rainwater ultimately runs off and collects in streams and creeks, eventually reaching larger rivers and causing levels to rise.

Also bear in mind that smaller streams and areas farther upstream on a river are more prone to rise rapidly. Meanwhile, larger rivers and river stretches farther downstream tend to respond more slowly, sometimes taking many days to rise and fall. That's because those rivers are accustomed to accomodating larger water volumes from a larger drainage area. - Wunderground.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: A Blast Of A Find - 12 New Volcanoes Have Been Discovered In Southeast Alaska!

May 31, 2013 - ALASKA - In Alaska, scores of volcanoes and strange lava flows have escaped scrutiny for decades, shrouded by lush forests and hidden under bobbing coastlines.

One of the newest volcanic vents discovered in Southeast Alaska is an underwater volcanic cone in Behm Canal near New Eddystone rock.  © James Baichtal, U.S. Forest Service

In the past three years, 12 new volcanoes have been discovered in Southeast Alaska, and 25 known volcanic vents and lava flows re-evaluated, thanks to dogged work by geologists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Forest Service. Sprinkled across hundreds of islands and fjords, most of the volcanic piles are tiny cones compared to the super-duper stratovolcanoes that parade off to the west, in the Aleutian Range.

But the Southeast's volcanoes are in a class by themselves, the researchers found. A chemical signature in the lava flows links them to a massive volcanic field in Canada. Unusual patterns in the lava also point to eruptions under, over and alongside glaciers, which could help scientists pinpoint the size of Alaska's mountain glaciers during past climate swings.

"It's giving us this serendipitous window on the history of climate in Southeast Alaska for the last 1 million years," said Susan Karl, a research geologist with the USGS in Anchorage and the project's leader.

Underwater volcanoes and cinder cones pockmark Behm Canal.© James Baichtal, U.S. Forest Service

Volcano forensics

The project kicked off in 2009 as part of an interdisciplinary effort to better understand volcanism in Southeast Alaska, Karl said.

The team's first result, from a volcanic pile about 40 miles (70 kilometers) south of Mount Edgecumbe, was an intriguing match in time to the panhandle's biggest volcano. The team planned to test if the two were related, sort of a geologic genetic test. But even though the two volcanoes had erupted at about the same time in the past, their chemistry was wildly different. It was like one volcano was a freshwater fish and the other came from the salty ocean. And what really captured the geologist's attention were signs that the little volcano squeezed out lava that oozed next to glaciers.

"That's when we realized we had a whole new kind of volcano separate from Mount Edgecumbe," Karl told OurAmazingPlanet.

Lava chemistry holds forensic clues that reveal what was happening in Earth's crust and mantle when the magma formed. The unusual chemistry sent Karl and her collaborators hunting for more rocks to test. This meant days-long backpacking trips into remote wilderness or submersible dives to underwater volcanoes.

Not only did they find the same unique chemical signature at other sites, the team stumbled upon new volcanoes overlooked by earlier mappers.

"We're convinced now there's probably a whole bunch of green knobs out there covered with timber that may be vents that may have never been mapped," said James Baichtal, a geologist with the U.S. Forest Service based in Thorne Bay, Alaska, and a project leader.

Connection to Canada

Now comes the CSI twist. All of these newly tested lavas in Alaska are kissing cousins to volcanoes in Canada, such as Mount Edziza, which last erupted about 10,000 years ago.

The connection makes perfect sense, Karl said. "I'm actually surprised no one has hypothesized it before," she said. "It made total sense that this volcanic province would extend across Southeast Alaska, and now I have the data to show that's the case."

Little known outside of Canada, Mount Edziza is part of the Northern Cordilleran Volcanic Province, a broad swath of volcanoes and hot springs some 1,250 miles (2,000 km) long and about 375 miles (600 km) wide.

Karl's big picture meets approval with scientists studying Canada's volcanoes.

"I knew there were volcanics to the west in Alaska, but I didn't know they were nearly [this] extensive," said Ben Edwards, a volcanologist at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, who is not involved in the project but has visited the new volcanoes with Karl and Baichtal. "They have really found a lot more places than we realized, but there's certainly no reason for them not to be there. It makes a lot of sense."

As in Canada's volcanic province, Southeast Alaska's volcanoes and hot springs line up as amazingly linear features. Here's why: The tortured history of this corner of North America, a legacy of collision between the North America and Pacific tectonic plates, created a meshwork of leaky faults and fractures. Magma escapes from Earth's mantle through this patchwork when forces pull on the crust, opening space. The matching chemistry also hints that magma in both regions comes from a similar mantle source.

"It's always fun to discover a new vent; it's fun to find a fossil, and then to be able to understand why it's there is always very satisfying," Karl said. "That's what makes scientists tick."

This spectacular columnar joint pattern in lava exposed in Alaska's Suemez Island formed when the lava flowed next to a glacier about 700,000 years ago.  © Susan Karl, U.S. Geological Survey

Strange new finds

Some of the unusual finds Karl and Baichtal have uncovered include a maar lying 295 feet (90 meters) underwater near Cape Addington, about 40 miles (65 km) west of Craig, Alaska. Maars are bomblike craters blasted out when magma rising underground hits groundwater and explodes. The maar is about 13,800 years old, Baichtal said. Sea level was 394 feet (120 m) lower when the maar formed.

The latest find is an underwater volcano in Behm Canal, where hundreds of thousands of tourists on cruise ships have sailed by New Eddystone Rock, an eroded volcano. Behm Canal is dotted with cinder cones, both onshore and below the water.

East of Ketchikan, a basalt flow lapped onto a 42,000-year-old beach, preserving shells, pinecones, pine needles and pollen. Barnacle plates sitting on top of the lava are about 13,000 years old, Baichtal said. The whole package now sits about 260 feet (80 meters) above sea level, hinting at how much Earth's crust has bobbed up since the last ice age.

"It gave us how much isostatic rebound there is today. That's one of those really great days in geology. You couldn't have written a better script, and there's a lot of those kind of things coming out of there," Baichtal said.

Volcanoes and climate change

While the volcanoes in Canada and Alaska have erupted for more than 10 million years, emerging data suggests that the last 3 million years of glaciers growing and retreating in Alaska and British Columbia also prompted many small volcanoes to erupt, because the changing ice mass flexed the Earth. This activated the fractures and made room for more magma to rise.

In Tolay Regional Park, north of Mount Edziza, Edwards is assembling evidence of periodic eruption pulses in the last 2.5 million years.

"We don't have a lot of the information yet, but it's consistent with some sort of link between glaciations and volcanism. If you put 2 to 3 km [1.2 to 1.8 miles] of ice on that part of the cordillera and then remove it pretty quickly, it may facilitate extension," he said.

The molten rock also has preserved impressions of bygone glaciers. Many of the lava flows touched ice, leaving a distinctive cooling pattern in the chilled rock. By dating the glacially cooled lava flows, researchers such as Karl, Baichtal and Edwards hope to better understand how much land mountain glaciers covered during past glaciations. About one-third of global sea level rise could come from melting mountain glaciers, but estimating their past size is difficult because growing glaciers plow through evidence of their predecessors.

The Blue River lava flow, about 120 years old, is the youngest lava flow in Southeast Alaska and British Columbia, Canada. © Susan Karl, U.S. Geological Survey

Risk of eruptions

Despite its great size, the overall risk from eruptions in the Alaska portion of the volcanic province is low, Karl said.

In Canada, the volume of erupted lava is less than 240 cubic miles (100 cubic km) every million years in the last 2 million years. By comparison, Hawaii's Kilauea volcano spewed 4,650 cubic miles (19,400 cubic km) in the past 300,000 to 600,000 years.

The most recent eruption in both countries was at the Blue River lava flow in Lava Fork, which crossed the Alaska-Canada border 120 years ago, according to new dating work by Karl and her colleagues.

"Even though, theoretically, a volcano that erupted 120 years ago is an active volcano, but because it's so remote there isn't any real concern about it," Karl said.

However, an eruption in 1775 killed a village of First Nations people in Canada, though scientists aren't sure why. Lava didn't reach the town, and some researchers suspect gas from the volcano may have suffocated residents.

Karl notes that an earthquake on the Fairweather Fault, a major offshore strike-slip fault, presents a greater risk than a volcanic eruption. "If something is rumbling and bubbling we have so much more technology to become aware of it before it's a hazard, We can't predict exactly when the Fairweather Fault is going to go, and that's a much larger hazard," she said.

With 15,000 miles of shoreline and hundreds and hundreds of islands to explore, Karl and Baichtal think there are more volcanoes to discover in Southeast Alaska.

"It's a tough place to get around, but Sue and I just laugh at it. We will never finish," Baichtal said. - Live Science.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Coronavirus Spreads - Italy Announces First Case Of SARS-Like Coronavirus!

May 31, 2013 - ITALYItaly reported its first case of the SARS-like coronavirus on Friday, a 45-year-old man who had been travelling in Jordan, the health ministry said.

This undated image released by the British Health Protection Agency shows an
electron microscope image of a coronavirus.

The patient was in good condition and was being monitored in isolation, the ministry said in a statement. He was admitted to a hospital in Tuscany with a high fever, a cough and breathing difficulties.

A resident of Italy with foreign nationality, the man recently spent 40 days in Jordan where one of his sons was suffering from an unspecified flu.

Saudi Arabia has been the most affected by the virus, with 39 cases and 25 deaths so far, according to data from the World Health Organisation.

The virus, which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, has spread from the Gulf to France, Britain and Germany. The WHO has called it the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

It is from the same viral family that triggered the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that swept the world in late 2003 and killed 775 people. - Reuters.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For May 31, 2013 - Updates On Popocatépetl, Pacaya, Pavlof And Cleveland!

May 31, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Popocatepetl volcano.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico)
: Activity has continued to decrease and there have been no new significant explosions. The number of steam-gas emissions (which sometimes contain also small amounts of ash) has dropped from an average of 5 per hour to only 2 per hour last night.

Pacaya (Guatemala): As the seismic signal suggested, a strong increase in activity occurred yesterday evening and culminated in the effusion of a lava flow from the Mackenney crater which lasted about 2 hours.

Seismic signal last night / this morning from Pacaya (PCG station, INSIVUMEH).

The activity returned back to mild strombolian activity afterwards, with projections reaching about 200 m height and ash plumes rising to 400 m above the crater... [read more]

Pavlof and Cleveland (Alaska): Ninety percent of air freight from Asia to Europe and North America flies over Alaska airspace, according to scientist Steve McNutt. Alaska’s Pavlof Volcano ash threatens air travel in the region. Pavlof, and Cleveland volcanoes have rumbled to life along the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands.

Pavlof is an 8,261-foot cone near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula- a long strip of land that extends southwest from the Alaska mainland. The Aleutian islands extend into the Pacific toward Russia in a 1.200-mile chain of volcanic islands. Cleveland Volcano, with an elevation of 5,676 feet, is on uninhabited Chuginadak Island. Both volcanoes are being monitored, but the Alaska Volcano Observatory has issued warnings stating that either or both could erupt in the near future, sending ash plumes into the atmosphere and possibly disrupting air traffic between Asia and North America.

Pavlof volcano.

With the Pavlof Volcano ash reaching an altitude of 19,500 feet, the aviation warning level kept stuck at code orange, a mark below code red, the highest of four levels. About 20,000 to 30,000 people fly daily between North America and Asia over routes that pass to the Aleutian Islands. Most international flights are above 30,000 feet. If the ash were to reach 35,000 feet, it would completely disrupt the international flights that use Alaskan airspace for traffic between the two continents. Though this level of ash being spewed is not forecasted, the condition is being closely tracked by experts.

When the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano erupted on Iceland in the Spring of 2010 it sent ash plumes high enough to disrupt flights across Europe for several days. Catherine Hickson, an adjunct professor of earth and ocean sciences at the University of British Columbia, said an increase in seismic activity is the best way to tell whether a volcano is headed for a massive eruption. “It can come suddenly, but generally it ramps up for hours to days beforehand,” she said.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for May 31, 2013.

SOURCES: Volcano DiscoveryDNN.

EXTREME WEATHER: Strong June Sun - Eastern United States Heat And Humidity To Last Into Weekend; Heat, Fire Danger To Build Across The Interior Southwest!

May 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Midsummer heat arrived just a few days after the unofficial start of the season and will continue into the first weekend of June.

After shivering cold over the Memorial Day weekend, record-challenging heat will continue in some areas of the Great Lakes and the East as May draws to a close and June begins.

While some people may welcome the heat, for a number of people it may be a little tough to adjust to after days of cool conditions.

Avoid manual labor during the afternoon hours, when temperatures are the highest and the sun is the strongest. If you must work in this weather, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Since there will be some air quality issues over time, folks with respiratory problems should use caution when spending a great deal of time outside of an air conditioned environment.

Some locations will experience a 50- to 60-degree temperature rise compared to morning lows this past weekend to afternoon highs Thursday to Saturday.

High temperatures near or above 90 degrees are forecast on one or more days.

In some cases, temperatures will challenge or break record highs during the period from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic coast.

Even areas that received accumulating snow in upstate New York and New England this past weekend will feel the heat with AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures approaching 90 degrees.

During the upcoming weekend, the heat will be chopped down over the Midwest by an advancing zone of thunderstorms associated with a cold front. The storms could be locally severe.

The cold front and storms would reach the Appalachians by Sunday, then the I-95 corridor Sunday night.

As a reminder, because of the slow spring in the region, water temperatures are still quite chilly at the beaches, lakes and unheated pools. The cold water can quickly bring on muscle cramps and increase the risk of drowning. Parents and guardians are urged to keep a close eye on their kids. Always swim with a companion. - AccuWeather.

Heat, Fire Danger To Build Across The Interior Southwest.
Summerlike heat will be building across the interior Southwest into the weekend. A developing ridge of high pressure over California and the rest of the Southwest will turn up the heat over the next couple of days. After a recent run of cooler-than-normal weather, temperatures will jump 10 to 15 degrees above normal by Saturday and Sunday.

The most noticeable change will be in the Central Valley of California, all coastal valleys from San Diego north to the Napa Valley, and the deserts of southeastern California and Arizona. Some of these areas will be near, or above, the hottest weather so far this season.

The hottest day will be Saturday for areas outside of the deserts. Meanwhile, the heat will peak in the deserts Sunday. The increase in heat along with low humidity will bring an elevated risk of fire danger for the weekend. People are urged to be careful with outdoor flames, properly put out cigarettes, and not to park over dry vegetation during this time of increased fire danger.

Coastal areas of California will warm, especially inland from the Pacific. But with the lack of offshore winds, temperatures are not expected to become extreme, mainly in the middle and upper 80s. - AccuWeather.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The Outbreak Of White-Spot Syndrome Virus Kills 2.6 Million Shrimps In Ha Tinh, Vietnam!

May 31, 2013 - VIETNAMMore than 2.6 million shrimps are reported to have died due to an attack of white-spot syndrome virus since early this month in central Ha Tinh Province.

File Photo.

Poor quality breeds, unhygienic water, a heat wave and heavy rains were blamed for the situation, said deputy head of provincial Animal Health Department, Dang Thi Kim Hoan.

The department has helped local shrimp farmers to sterilise their shrimp farms, collect and destroy dead shrimps to avoid spread of the disease.

It is also dealing strictly with those selling poor quality baby shrimps of unclear origin. - Talk Vietnam.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 3.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Greenville, California - 32 Earthquakes Of Magnitude 3.0 And Greater Over The Last 10 Days!

May 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A shallow magnitude 3.1 earthquake was reported Friday morning eight miles from Greenville, Calif., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS earthquake location.

The temblor occurred at 4:32 a.m. PDT near the surface.

According to the USGS, the epicenter was 29 miles from Susanville, 34 miles from Magalia and 39 miles from Paradise.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

In the past 10 days, there have been 32 earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and greater centered nearby. - LA Times.

STORM ALERT: The Atlantic Basin Heats Up For Start Of Hurricane Season - Low Pressure System Organizing In The Gulf Of Mexico!

May 31, 2013 - GULF OF MEXICO - With the start of hurricane season for the Atlantic basin on June 1, residents and homeowners from the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico should prepare for an active season.

Though nothing threatened the Atlantic Basin in the month of May, early June development is still anticipated.

"Next week or next weekend, around the seventh or eighth of June, we could end up with an organized tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico," Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.

The system would originate over the southern part of the Gulf and could drift slowly northward.

Though the system is not a remnant of Barbara, the second named storm that formed in the eastern Pacific, it could contain moisture from the remnant low.

"At this point it's really difficult to see what kind of system we'll be dealing with," he said. "We're certainly keeping an eye on it."

Current information suggests that the greatest potential for impact would be in the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico, including the west coast of Florida, the panhandle and eastern Louisiana including New Orleans.

"I would advise people in northern and eastern portions of the Gulf of Mexico to be in touch with the weather next week," Kottlowski said.

Early indications are any system that develops in this area would be a rather slow-mover and could bring very heavy rainfall, along with locally gusty thunderstorms.

Generally, development and forward speed of tropical systems in this area, this time of the year is slow.

For the season as a whole,'s long-range team predicts 16 named tropical storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. Of these, three named storms are predicted to make landfall in the United States.

The Gulf Coast, Florida and East Coast are all at risk for impact this hurricane season. - AccuWeather.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Gold Coast Council Says Botulism Killed Scores Of Water Birds In Australia!

May 31, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - The Gold Coast City Council says it believes avian botulism has been responsible for the death of scores of water birds in a local flood channel.

File Photo.

The birds which were mainly ducks have been removed from the Benowa flood channel.

The council's community and cultural development committee chairman, Bob La Castra, says it is a naturally occurring bacteria.

"We believe it's caused by a combination of stormwater run-off, pollutants in that stormwater and also the unusually cold snap of weather that we've had," he said.

"We had something like this going back about four years ago in the racecourse lakes, and we had about 40 dead birds there, but we're up to about 160 now." - ABC News Australia.