Tuesday, November 19, 2013

MAJOR ALERT: The Results From The Grid Ex II Power Grid Vulnerability Tests Are In - The Flipping Of The Sun's Magnetic Field Could Mean LIGHTS OUT For The United States!

November 19, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A vulnerability test by the electric-power industry of the national electrical grid shows the system would fail during certain catastrophes –  and would fail even if only some of the impacts of certain catastrophes were experienced.

That is the sobering message from a preliminary readout of the results of a vulnerability test called Grid Ex II.

It revealed that even though the test was done under circumstances that didn’t represent the full impact of what would occur in the event of a grid blackout – caused either by a cyber or electromagnetic pulse attack – the system failed.

The North American Electric Power Reliability Corporation, or NERC, led the nationwide exercise to examine just how vulnerable the nation’s electric power grid would be under a limited nationwide cyber or EMP attack.

The test, regarded by experts as presenting less of an impact than a real EMP, comes as the sun is about to “flip” its own magnetic poles at the peak of its expected 11-year cycle.

The sun flips the polarity of its magnetic north and south, causing huge intergalactic geomagnetic storms which can affect the earth’s grid and communications including satellites.

The sun’s 11-year cycle started peaking a few months ago, and will continue through 2014, according to NASA scientists.

Todd Hoeksema, director of the Wilcox Solar Observatory at Stanford University, said the polarity change builds up throughout the 11-year cycle, and the sun’s magnetic field goes to zero before coming back with the opposite polarity.

It is during that time that flares sometimes are huge, and if one hit the earth directly, it could deliver a life-changing EMP blast.

“Something big is about to happen on the sun,” according to an August 2013 NASA statement. At the time, Hoeksema said the big event, the solar flip, was three to four months away – placing that time in a November-December 2013 time-frame.

When that happens, cosmic rays (which are high-energy particles) accelerate to nearly the speed of light by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy that could have a major impact on the electrical grid if earth sustained a direct hit.

As space scientists watch the effects of the solar flip, that is, the reversal of its magnetic polarity, the utilities in the U.S. undertook the limited test of the grid called Grid Ex II.

 While the final results won’t be known until they are published months from now, experts said the impact scenario created by the drill fell far short of what would occur in the event of a real EMP – which would greatly diminish or even knock out the grid and life-sustaining critical infrastructures that rely on the grid to function.

The two-day Grid Ex II exercise revealed what Matthew Weld in a Nov. 14 New York Times article said put tens of millions of Americans in simulated darkness, with hundreds of transmission lines and transformers declared damaged or destroyed and “the engineers … rushing to assess computers that were, for the purposes of the drill, tearing their system apart.”

The fragility of the national grid was illustrated in real life in 2003 by a cascading power grid failure from Ohio throughout the northeastern United States and into Canada.

It left 50 million people without power for at least 30 hours, and up to four days in a number of cases. And it showed real-life conditions of an entire region being without water, food, transportation and other life-sustaining critical infrastructure necessities. It also showed how dysfunctional the national grid regulation was, revealing that no central authority was in charge of operations of hundreds of power companies.

That remains the case even now.

Efforts have been made in the past three sessions of Congress to give the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission, or FERC, authority over the hundreds of power companies to regulate integrated operations of the grid.

During that time, legislation such as the SHIELD Act has been introduced and passed with overwhelming support in the House, but failed to pass the Senate.

WATCH: NASA's ScienceCast video anticipates the reversal of the sun's global magnetic field.

Last June, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., along with 24 co-sponsors, introduced the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act, HR 2417.

It would give FERC the authority to protect the reliability of either the bulk power system or the defense critical electric infrastructure whenever the president issues a determination identifying an imminent grid security threat.

“The electric power lobby has managed to block passage of these bills, now proposed in the third congress in a row,” said former Ambassador Henry Cooper, director of the Strategic Defense Initiative under President George H. W. Bush and now one of the leaders of the newly formed EMP Coalition.

“In particular, the NERC has irresponsibly denied the reality of existential threats such as from natural or man-made electromagnetic pulse (EMP) events,” Cooper said.

“Such activities as NERC’s Grid Ex II exercise are academically interesting, but actually do little to deal with this serious threat, now well known for over a decade, including by our enemies and terrorists,” he said.

Cooper said that time is being wasted by such piecemeal exercises as Grid Ex II every other year which, he said, seems to be NERC’s anticipated pattern.

He pointed out that this most recent exercise included the use of telecommunications.

“Maybe the next one – e.g., two years from now – will examine what happens without communications, sure to be lost in an EMP event – or even (in) a competent terrorist cyber-attack.”

Cooper insisted there are “affordable fixes” for the national electric power grid’s vulnerability, and added: “Cost should not be an issue. Current estimates are that several hundred million dollars may be needed to harden the key elements of the electric power grid to EMP, to protect perhaps a trillion dollar investment … and more importantly the lives of several hundred million Americans.” - WND.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: "It's All Gone" - Midwest Communities Weigh Costs Of Deadly Tornadoes; 8 Dead And Dozens Injured; Large Areas Of The City Of Washington In Illinois Have Been Flattened With Homes Destroyed By EF-4 190mph Tornado; 81 Reported Tornadoes; 358 Reports Of Damaging Winds; 40 Reports Of Large Hail! [STUNNING PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

November 19, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Stunned residents across the Midwest picked through the wreckage of what used to be their homes on Monday after a fierce storm system swept across six states, spawned nearly 60 reported tornadoes and killed at least eight people.  From the air, large areas of the devastated city of Washington, Ill., looked like a moonscape as the vastness of the devastation was exposed.

"It's All Gone" - U.S. Midwest Communities Weight Costs Of Deadly Tornadoes.
A garage in the Town of Hustisford, Wis., collapsed and its walls were turned
inside-out after severe weather moved through the area on Nov. 17.

Even large electrical towers made of steel lay on the ground, twisted like pretzels.  The storm system tore the steeple off a church 10 minutes after Mass let out and even forced the Chicago Bears to stop their game against the Baltimore Ravens. Jeff Ekena, Principal of John L. Hensey Elementary in Washington said he hunkered down in the basement with his family when the storm came through sounding “like a freight train.” The Ekenas emerged to find “just flatness,” and then the destruction beyond, he said.  "Nobody has anything left," Nancy Rampy, of Washington, Ill., told NBC Chicago. "It's all gone. It's just awful."  Guida Scheer, owner of one of the destroyed homes, sifted through the rubble and pulled out a Bible.  “It was my boyfriend's Bible,” she said. “It was actually his dad's and that was one of the things that he wanted to make sure that we tried to find.”

WATCH:  U.S. Midwest communities weigh costs of deadly tornadoes.

“I’ve found pieces of my house 100 yards northeast of me,” Scott Gundy, another resident of Washington, where one person died, told TODAY.  “I got the most important things out, which were pictures, video of my kids growing up,” he said. “To me that’s the most important thing. Everything else can be replaced.”  The mayor of Washington, Gary Manier, said the devastation there was “unbelievable.” He said that 250 to 500 houses were destroyed in Washington, a city of about 15,000 people.   The National Weather Service rated the tornado that ripped through the area an EF-4 — a notch down from most intense rating — with wind speeds ranging from 170 to 190 mph.  Andrea Bowers said she and her husband and their 3-month-old daughter took shelter in the basement of their Washington home. The couple used their bodies to cover their baby and protect her from falling debris. "Everything just started falling in and we just kind of rode it out and just prayed," she said.  Ryan Bowers said they were all unharmed , and that his wife and daughter even fell sleep during the storm.

Richard Miller of Washington, Ill., salvages items from his brothers home, after a tornado leveled a subdivision
on the North side of Washington, Ill., on Nov. 17. Intense thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across
the Midwest, causing extensive damage in several central Illinois communities while
sending people to their basements for shelter.

Pat Whitaker, 82, sits under a blanket in her nightgown outside her home waiting for
help to come in Gifford, Ill. on Nov. 17.

A neighborhood in the Devonshire subdivision of Washington, Ill., is left in ruins
after a tornado tore through the northern part of the town on Nov. 17.

Schools were closed in Washington on Monday, and churches and community groups also canceled events as the focus turned to recovery efforts and helping victims.  The Red Cross opened a shelter, and mental health experts were on hand. Earlier, people who had left and were trying to come back were turned away by police because of concerns about unstable buildings, and other lurking dangers.  “There's a lot of power lines down a lot of power lines that could still be alive. There's gas leaks all over the place. So it is still a very dangerous situation," Illinois State Trooper Dustin Pierce told NBC station WEEK TV.  Later, many of Washington's residents, including members of the high school football team, went to the destroyed areas to pitch and help those whose homes were destroyed.  “Hopefully, we can grow strong as a community together and jet get over it,” said one of the football players, Nathan Barker.  The National Weather Service said there were 81 reported tornadoes from the system on Sunday. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared seven counties disaster areas. He said that dozens of people were hurt.

WATCH: Cellphone video captures a twister touching down in a central Illinois neighborhood.

Further south in New Minden, Ill., the Rev. Timothy Mueller of St. John’s Lutheran Church told TODAY that a twister ripped the steeple off his church just 10 minutes after Mass. Slideshow: Deadly storms sweep the Midwest  Steve Smedley / AP  A storm system spun off multiple tornadoes killing several people and flattening an entire neighborhood.  Launch slideshow  “This has been rebuilt twice before in storms like this and, Lord willing, we’ll be able to rebuild again,” he said.  In neighboring Indiana, Phyllis Rawlins of Kokomo said she was still in shock.

“The roof was completely taken out,” she said looking where her home stood. “There is nothing you can see that’s left.”  She was able to save a Christmas ornament with a picture of her late husband of 42 years on it.  He died last year.  “I had a great loss when I lost him and now this is another loss but I will make it with God’s help.” Rawlins said.  On Monday afternoon, the first victim from the storm was identified as 51-year-old Steve Neubauer, whose body was found near his home in Washington, Tazewell County Coroner Dr. James J. Baldi said in a statement. The coroner did not offer details. An autopsy was scheduled for late Monday.  Also among the dead were an 80-year-old man and his 78-year-old sister in Nashville, Ill., authorities said. Two people were killed in Brookport, near the Kentucky line, where police with dogs were doing door to door and a dusk-to-dawn curfew was in place.  One person was killed in Unionville, Ill., authorities said.  Two men died in Michigan. A 21-year-old was found dead in his vehicle, the car's roof caved in, in Jackson County. A 59-year-old was found entangled in high-voltage power lines near his home in Perry, Mich.  The unusually large and fast-moving system forced the Chicago Bears to halt their game against the Baltimore Ravens and NFL fans at Soldier Field to run for shelter as menacing clouds rolled in. 

A tornado 2 miles west of Flatville, Ill., moves northeast at 12:51pm on Nov. 17. The tornado damaged
many farm buildings and homes on its way to Gifford, Ill., where scores of houses were devastated.

People walk down a street where homes once stood in Washington, Ill., on Nov. 18. The National
Weather Service says the tornado that hit Washington had a preliminary rating of EF-4, meaning
wind speeds of 170 mph to 190 mph.

Flattened homes and debris clearly show the path of a Nov. 17 tornado that hit Washington, Ill., on Nov. 18.
According to reports, the tornado that ripped across Washington, Ill.,
has been preliminary classified as an EF-4.

Chicago’s two major airports briefly stopped traffic while the metropolitan area was under a tornado watch.  The preliminary tornado count from the storm system stood at 59 – 25 confirmed and 34 unconfirmed –  on Monday night, said Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert at The Weather Channel.  Illinois and Indiana had the most reported tornadoes, with eight confirmed and 10 unconfirmed in Illinois and six confirmed and 15 unconfirmed in Indiana, Forbes said.  Besides the reported tornadoes, there were 358 reports of damaging wind and 40 reports of large hail, said Rich Thompson, a lead forecaster with the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.  The storm weakened as it headed toward the Northeast, said Kevin Noth, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel.  Despite the devastation left behind, as communities sought to recover from the deadly storm, many remained optimistic.  "We'll get through this because we all stand together," Washington's Rampy said.  “It’s sad,” said the school principal Ekena. “We’ll rebuild. But we got the biggest things, which was my family … we’ll take care of the rest.” - NBC News.

How Rare Was The November Midwest Tornado Outbreak?

In the wake of the deadly Midwest tornado outbreak on Sunday, many people are wondering how rare tornadoes are during November.  The short answer is that tornadoes can occur in the Midwest during any month of the year. However, the number of tornadoes diminishes substantially during the cold-weather months.  There is a secondary severe weather season that occurs during October and November, which favors the Deep South.  While rare, tornadoes reaching as far north as the Midwest and mid-Atlantic are not unheard of during November. Occasionally, a small number of the tornadoes can be rather strong.

According to Harold Brooks, senior research scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., "The peak of the secondary season for the United States as a whole is rather diffuse, but is centered over the middle of November."  The uptick in severe thunderstorms during October and November can be simply explained by the routine strengthening of storm systems during the autumn that are able to pull lingering warm and humid air northward from the Gulf of Mexico.

Brooks stated that this particular event had very strong winds aloft, which not only greatly increased the forward speed of the severe weather, but also added fuel to the individual storms.    According to Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, "Winds aloft over the region strengthened rapidly from 70 mph to 140 mph on Sunday."    A chain of events happened at just the right time over a concentrated area. Winds near the surface rapidly brought in moisture. During the midday Sunday, the sun came out and warmed the air near the ground as the strong winds aloft brought in dry, cooler air. The result was an extremely unstable atmosphere and a significant number of strong tornadoes.

Every decade as far back as the 1980s has brought multiple tornado outbreaks during November with a number of fatalities.  "During November there is a tornado outbreak about once every seven to eight years," Carbin stated.  "The most comparable event is probably Nov. 22, 1992, which had a large number of tornadoes in Indiana and Kentucky," Brooks said.  According to the Indianapolis National Weather Service office, the 1992 outbreak produced the largest number of November tornadoes [15] on a single day in Indiana on record.

 Other significant November outbreaks have occurred during the last 12 years. The last decade brought eight tornado outbreaks. The most significant of these for the Midwest occurred in 2001 and 2002.  During the Veterans Day Outbreak of Nov. 9 to 11, 2002, there were close to 80 tornadoes that took the lives of 36 people and injured more than 300 others.  In 2001, spanning Nov. 23 to 24, there were approximately five dozen tornadoes that killed 13 people and injured more than 200 others.  November tornadoes were very rare during the 1960s and 1970s.  The preliminary count of tornadoes through Nov. 17, 2013 is 886, which is well below the most recent eight-year annual average of 1,424 through mid-November.

As bad as the event was on Sunday, it could have been worse.  "If the storm system would have tracked over the lower Mississippi Valley, closer to the source of warm and humid air, instead of the Great Lakes, we would have likely had an even greater number of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes," Carbin said.  Moving forward through the end of the month, there will likely be a few more potent storm systems developing. However, the chance that all of the necessary ingredients will come together to produce a tornado outbreak for each and every system is quite low.  For people in the Midwest, the secondary tornado season is winding down through the latter half of November.  Odds are against a similar setup as far north as the last over the Midwest. However, as climatology suggests, the chances are higher for severe thunderstorms over the South. - AccuWeather.

EXTREME WEATHER: Apocalyptic Tennis Ball-Size Hail Batters Eastern Australia - Severe Storms With Gale-Force Winds Cause Serious Damage Across South-East Queensland!

November 19, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Severe storms have caused damage as they sweep across south-east Queensland, with some areas hit by hail and gale-force winds.

The storm hit around 4:00pm (AEST), and the weather bureau says gusts of up to 139 kilometres per hour have been recorded at Coomera on the Gold Coast.

A man and a 15-year-old girl have been taken to hospital with minor injuries after a tree fell and crushed a car at Upper Coomera.

Hail the size of golf balls pummelled Dreamworld at Coomera, sending patrons at the theme park scuttling for cover.

WATCH:  Tennis-ball size hail hits Australia.


The State Emergency Service has received about 350 calls for help.

Gold Coast SES controller Jade Wollard says they are expecting a busy night.

"We'll be going through most of the night and we'll probably try and catch up again tomorrow, just depending on how many calls we actually get," he said.

A resident of the nearby suburb of Helensvale says it was an intense downpour.

"I'm looking at a white back yard, trees stripped bare bark everything," she said.

Hail also damaged parts of the Helensvale shopping centre.

Kim Richardson from Dreamworld says they are assessing the damage.

"I mean it was really quite intense, it was quite scary," she said.

Energex says about thousands of houses across Brisbane and surrounding areas lost power at the height of the storm.

WATCH:  Eye-witness capture stunning scenes of hailstorm in Australia.

Power has since been restored to most properties. - ABC Australia.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake Strikes Off Eastern Indonesia!

November 19, 2013 - INDONESIA - A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck off eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, the USGS reported, but there were no immediate reports of damage and local officials ruled out any threat of a tsunami.

USGS earthquake location.

The quake struck 110 kilometres (68 miles) north-northeast of the town of Tobelo in the Maluku chain of islands around 1330 GMT at a depth of 63 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

Technical chief at Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency Suharjono, who goes by one name, said there was no threat of a tsunami.

A hotel owner in Tobelo said guests ran from their rooms as the quake shook the ground for a few seconds, but no damage was seen in the area.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

"It was quite strong actually, but it didn't last too long and everything appears to be back to normal," Edwar said.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

A 6.1-magnitude quake that struck Aceh province on Sumatra island in July killed at least 35 people and left thousands homeless. - Channel News Asia.

Seismotectonics of the Philippine Sea and Vicinity.
The Philippine Sea plate is bordered by the larger Pacific and Eurasia plates and the smaller Sunda plate. The Philippine Sea plate is unusual in that its borders are nearly all zones of plate convergence. The Pacific plate is subducted into the mantle, south of Japan, beneath the Izu-Bonin and Mariana island arcs, which extend more than 3,000 km along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea plate. This subduction zone is characterized by rapid plate convergence and high-level seismicity extending to depths of over 600 km. In spite of this extensive zone of plate convergence, the plate interface has been associated with few great (Magnitude greater than 8.0) ‘megathrust’ earthquakes. This low seismic energy release is thought to result from weak coupling along the plate interface (Scholz and Campos, 1995). These convergent plate margins are also associated with unusual zones of back-arc extension (along with resulting seismic activity) that decouple the volcanic island arcs from the remainder of the Philippine Sea Plate (Karig et al., 1978; Klaus et al., 1992).

South of the Mariana arc, the Pacific plate is subducted beneath the Yap Islands along the Yap trench. The long zone of Pacific plate subduction at the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea Plate is responsible for the generation of the deep Izu-Bonin, Mariana, and Yap trenches as well as parallel chains of islands and volcanoes, typical of circum-pacific island arcs. Similarly, the northwestern margin of the Philippine Sea plate is subducting beneath the Eurasia plate along a convergent zone, extending from southern Honshu to the northeastern coast of Taiwan, manifested by the Ryukyu Islands and the Nansei-Shoto (Ryukyu) trench. The Ryukyu Subduction Zone is associated with a similar zone of back-arc extension, the Okinawa Trough. At Taiwan, the plate boundary is characterized by a zone of arc-continent collision, whereby the northern end of the Luzon island arc is colliding with the buoyant crust of the Eurasia continental margin offshore China.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Along its western margin, the Philippine Sea plate is associated with a zone of oblique convergence with the Sunda Plate. This highly active convergent plate boundary extends along both sides the Philippine Islands, from Luzon in the north to the Celebes Islands in the south. The tectonic setting of the Philippines is unusual in several respects: it is characterized by opposite-facing subduction systems on its east and west sides; the archipelago is cut by a major transform fault, the Philippine Fault; and the arc complex itself is marked by active volcanism, faulting, and high seismic activity. Subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate occurs at the eastern margin of the archipelago along the Philippine Trench and its northern extension, the East Luzon Trough. The East Luzon Trough is thought to be an unusual example of a subduction zone in the process of formation, as the Philippine Trench system gradually extends northward (Hamburger et al., 1983). On the west side of Luzon, the Sunda Plate subducts eastward along a series of trenches, including the Manila Trench in the north, the smaller less well-developed Negros Trench in the central Philippines, and the Sulu and Cotabato trenches in the south (Cardwell et al., 1980). At its northern and southern terminations, subduction at the Manila Trench is interrupted by arc-continent collision, between the northern Philippine arc and the Eurasian continental margin at Taiwan and between the Sulu-Borneo Block and Luzon at the island of Mindoro. The Philippine fault, which extends over 1,200 km within the Philippine arc, is seismically active. The fault has been associated with major historical earthquakes, including the destructive M7.6 Luzon earthquake of 1990 (Yoshida and Abe, 1992). A number of other active intra-arc fault systems are associated with high seismic activity, including the Cotabato Fault and the Verde Passage-Sibuyan Sea Fault (Galgana et al., 2007).

Relative plate motion vectors near the Philippines (about 80 mm/yr) is oblique to the plate boundary along the two plate margins of central Luzon, where it is partitioned into orthogonal plate convergence along the trenches and nearly pure translational motion along the Philippine Fault (Barrier et al., 1991). Profiles B and C reveal evidence of opposing inclined seismic zones at intermediate depths (roughly 70-300 km) and complex tectonics at the surface along the Philippine Fault.

Several relevant tectonic elements, plate boundaries and active volcanoes, provide a context for the seismicity presented on the main map. The plate boundaries are most accurate along the axis of the trenches and more diffuse or speculative in the South China Sea and Lesser Sunda Islands. The active volcanic arcs (Siebert and Simkin, 2002) follow the Izu, Volcano, Mariana, and Ryukyu island chains and the main Philippine islands parallel to the Manila, Negros, Cotabato, and Philippine trenches.

Seismic activity along the boundaries of the Philippine Sea Plate (Allen et al., 2009) has produced 7 great (Magnitude greater than 8.0) earthquakes and 250 large (Magnitude greater than 7) events. Among the most destructive events were the 1923 Kanto, the 1948 Fukui and the 1995 Kobe (Japan) earthquakes (99,000, 5,100, and 6,400 casualties, respectively), the 1935 and the 1999 Chi-Chi (Taiwan) earthquakes (3,300 and 2,500 casualties, respectively), and the 1976 M7.6 Moro Gulf and 1990 M7.6 Luzon (Philippines) earthquakes (7,100 and 2,400 casualties, respectively). There have also been a number of tsunami-generating events in the region, including the Moro Gulf earthquake, whose tsunami resulted in more than 5000 deaths. - USGS.

SOLAR WATCH: Yet Another X-Flare On The Sun - Sunspot 1893 Explodes With Major X1.0 Solar Flare And CME; Earth-Directed Component; Wave Of Ionization In Earth's Upper Atmosphere; Brief Blackout Of HF Radio Transmissions Around The Poles!

November 19, 2013 - SUN - Sprawling sunspot AR1893 erupted on Nov. 19th (10:26 UT), producing an X1-class solar flare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the explosion's extreme ultraviolet flash:

Major X1.0 solar flare around sunspot 1893. Image by SDO.

X-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: Although the sunspot is not directly facing Earth, the flare did affect our planet.  A type II radio emission with a velocity of 1049 km/s was associated with this event. Mainly, the UV flash produced a wave of ionization in the upper atmosphere over Europe, Africa and parts of Asia. A brief blackout of HF radio transmissions around the poles might have also occurred.

Image by SDO.

Image by SDO.

The active region is about to rotate onto the southwest limb and is no longer in the best position for Earth directed eruptions.

WATCH:  MAJOR X1-Class Solar Flare - November 19, 2013.

CME: First-look coronagraph data from NASA's STEREO-Ahead probe show a CME emerging from the blast site, but it is probably not heading for Earth.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) is now visible in the latest imagery released by STEREO Ahead COR2.

SUMMARY: 10cm Radio Burst
Begin Time: 2013 Nov 19 1020 UTC
Maximum Time: 2013 Nov 19 1021 UTC
End Time: 2013 Nov 19 1027 UTC
Duration: 7 minutes
Peak Flux: 530 sfu
Description: A 10cm radio burst indicates that the electromagnetic burst associated with a solar flare at the 10cm wavelength was double or greater than the initial 10cm radio background. This can be indicative of significant radio noise in association with a solar flare. This noise is generally short-lived but can cause interference for sensitive receivers including radar, GPS, and satellite communications.

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2013 Nov 19 1024 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 1049 km/s
Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

SUNSPOTS: Sunspot AR1897 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun.

Image by SDO/HMI.

Sunspot 1893 is showing minor spot formation within the central portion of the group. Sunspot 1900
remains fairly stable. Former flare threat 1897 continues to slowly dwindle. The 10.7cm solar flux index
is expected to drop off today with most sunspots either stable or in a state of decay.

Image by SDO/HMI.

SOURCES: Space WeatherSolar Ham | SWPC/NOAA.

DELUGE: "We're On Maximum Alert,... Haven't Seen Situation As Extreme For Decades,..." - 17 Dead And Hundreds Have Been Evacuated After Cyclone Cleopatra Tears Through Italian Island; Violent Rainstorm Swept Cars And Bridges Away!

November 19, 2013 - ITALY - Seventeen people have died and hundreds were evacuated when storms tore through the Italian island of Sardinia last night.

Rescuers work in a flooded street in the small town of Uras, Sardinia. A violent rainstorm
flooded entire parts of the Mediterranean island

Cars were swept away and caused a bridge to collapse, local media reported.

Television pictures showed torrential rain, with streets submerged in muddy floodwaters and rivers bursting their banks.

WATCH:  Cyclone Cleopatra Swamps Italy's Sardinia Region.

'We're at maximum alert,' Giorgio Cicalo, an official from the Civil Protection Authority in Sardinia told RAI state television.

'We haven't seen a situation as extreme as this, perhaps for decades. Especially because it's been across the whole island.'

Media reports state that at least one person was found dead in her flooded home after the heavy storm

Two men use an inflatable dingy to get around in a flooded street in Olbia, northern Sardinia.
Bridges were felled by swollen rivers and water levels reached 3 metres

A bridge collapsed following a heavy storm, near Oliena, Sardinia.
The storm was reportedly called 'Cyclone Cleopatra'

A view into a room of a house that was completely flooded following a heavy storm, near Olbia, Sardinia

A woman wades through a flooded garden of a house that was completely flooded
following a heavy storm, near Olbia, Sardinia

There was heavy rain across northern Italy as well as in the south with
high winds and flooding in coastal areas

A car and a motorscooter stand in floodwater near a house that was destroyed
following a heavy storm, near Olbia, Sardinia

Officials warned that, with the storm still raging, the death toll could rise.

According to local media reports, one police officer was killed and three of his colleagues were injured when a bridge collapsed.

In another incident, a woman and her daughter were drowned when their car was tipped on its side by the flood.

There was heavy rain across northern Italy as well as in the south with high winds and flooding in coastal areas, the Civil Protection Authority said. - Daily Mail.

FUK-U-SHIMA: The First Nuclear Fuel Rods Were Successfully Removed from Fukushima - However Uncertainties Abound In Fukushima Decommissioning, More Challenging And Complex Than Three Mile Island Or Chernobyl; Multi-Step Process Expected To Take 40 YEARS!

November 19, 2013 - JAPAN - More than two and a half years after the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster began, cleanup efforts at the crippled plant have hit a milestone: Today, the process of removing spent fuel rods from damaged reactors began successfully, with the first fuel rod assemblies moved from underwater storage pool at the plant's No. 4 reactor pool to portable storage casks.

A fuel cask is lowered into the pool in reactor 4, via TEPCO.

TEPCO, the firm that manages the plant, hopes that the first 22 rod assemblies will be transferred to a huge portable cask by tomorrow, after which it will be decontaminated and transferred to a common storage pool where spent fuel from other reactors resides. With a total of 1,533 fuel rod assemblies stored in just reactor 4's pool, the planned removal of just 22 rod assemblies speaks to how long cleanup efforts will last. ​ TEPCO says it expects to have all of reactor 4's fuel transferred by 2014.

TEPCO is starting with reactor 4 because its storage pool is located on the fifth floor of the reactor building. Because that reactor, along with three others, was structurally damaged in a hydrogen explosion following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, getting the fuel out of the plant's upper floors and into a more stable pool has been a huge priority.

Reactor 4's spent fuel pool, via TEPCO.

Moving reactor fuel isn't exactly an easy undertaking. TEPCO has been working on a plan for months, which has boiled down to lowering a portable cask into the pool before engineers use a crane to lift fuel rod assemblies out of storage racks and into the cask for transport. The rods are in the pool for a reason: they need to be submerged in water in order to stay cool, and thus must remain submerged even while being transferred.

The initial 22 rods are some of the reactor's 202 unused fuel rods, which TEPCO started with because they're less fragile than used ones. Presumably, the idea is that engineers will get more practice with the maneuvers required before moving on to more dangerous rods. In a video statement, TEPCO president Naomi Hirose said that rod removal is a "routine" process that the company has done more than a thousand times.

It's a process that TEPCO will have to do a thousand more times before it fully cleans up the plant. Reactors 1 through 4 were all damaged and their fuel rods must be removed. (Reactors 5 and 6, which along with reactor 4 did not melt down, have remained in cold shutdown, and are considered more stable. They will likely be decommissioned after the rest, however.) While 4, with its high-flying spent fuel pool, has been the biggest priority, a total of more than 3100 fuel rods are going to be taken away in the course of the plant's cleanup efforts, a process TEPCO hopes to complete within five years.

It's a long, slow process necessitated by the inherent danger of removing nuclear fuel from damaged facilities. And if moving a 91-tonne cask of nuclear fuel around a pool some 130 feet in the air wasn't troublesome enough, it's thought that because of their meltdowns, reactors 1, 2, and 3 will pose more difficulties for cleanup. That's not to mention the huge list of other fixes needed to decommission the plant, including stemming the leaks plaguing the facility. No wonder Japanese citizens don't trust their regulators. - Motherboard.

Uncertainties Abound In Fukushima Decommissioning
Workers manipulate one of the 550-pound fuel rods while keeping it submerged, via TEPCO.

It's costly, risky and dependent on technologies that have yet to be fully developed. A decades-long journey filled with unknowns lies ahead for Japan, which took a small step this week toward decommissioning its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Nobody knows exactly how much fuel melted after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems. Or where exactly the fuel went — how deep and in what form it is, somewhere at the bottom of reactor Units 1, 2 and 3.

The complexity and magnitude of decommissioning the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant is more challenging than Three Mile Island or Chernobyl, say experts such as Lake Barrett, a former U.S. regulator who directed the Three Mile Island cleanup and now is an outside adviser to Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

One core melted at Three Mile Island in 1979, versus three at Fukushima, and it didn't leak out of the containment chamber, the outer vessel that houses the reactor core. At Fukushima, multiple hydrogen explosions caused extensive damage, blowing the roofs off three reactor buildings and spewing radiation over a wide area.

Chernobyl was a worse accident in terms of radiation emitted, but authorities chose an easier solution: entombing the facility in cement.

At Fukushima, TEPCO plans a multi-step process that is expected to take 40 years: Painstakingly removing the fuel rods in storage pools, finding and extracting the melted fuel within the broken reactors, demolishing the buildings and decontaminating the soil.

"This is a much more challenging job," Barrett said during a recent visit to Japan. "Much more complex, more difficult to do."

Also, water must continuously be channeled into the pools and reactor cores to keep the fuel cool. Tons of contaminated water leaks out of the reactors into their basements, some of it into the ground.

Uncertainty runs high as Japan has never decommissioned a full-size commercial reactor, even one that hasn't had an accident. TEPCO has earmarked about 1 trillion yen ($10 billion) for the decommissioning, and says it will agree to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's request to set aside another 1 trillion yen to fight water leaks.

The government itself has contributed or promised 145 billion yen, and is expected to step up its involvement in the years to come, following criticism over its lack of support and growing concern that the technical and funding challenges are beyond TEPCO's capabilities.

TEPCO began removing fuel rods Monday from a storage pool at Unit 4, whose building was severely damaged but didn't have a meltdown because the fuel had been removed from the core for maintenance. In an underwater operation, 22 of the 1,533 sets of fuel rods in a pool on the building's top floor were transferred to a cask that will be used to move them to safer storage. By 2018, the utility hopes to remove all 3,100 fuel assemblies from storage pools at the four damaged units.

After that would come the real challenge: removing melted or partially melted fuel from the three reactors that had meltdowns, and figuring out how to treat and store it so it won't heat up and start a nuclear reaction again.

"This is an unprecedented task that nobody in the world has achieved. We still face challenges that must be overcome," said Hajimu Yamana, a Kyoto University nuclear engineer who heads a government-affiliated agency that is overseeing technological research and development for the cleanup.

Closing the holes and cracks in the containment vessels is the biggest hurdle in the decommissioning process, experts say. Every opening must be found and sealed to establish a closed cooling system. Then, under the current plan, the next step would be to fill the reactor vessels with water and examine the melted fuel.

Because of still fatally high radiation levels, the work will have to rely on remote-controlled robots for years. Scientists are developing robots to spot leaks, monitor radiation levels and carry out decontamination. They are also developing robots that can detect holes and fill them with clay.

Among them is a camera-loaded swimming robot that can go underwater to spot holes and cracks, and another one that can go into ducts and pipes.

Computer simulations show the melted fuel in Unit 1, whose core damage was the most extensive, has breached the bottom of the primary containment vessel and even partially eaten into its concrete foundation, coming within about 30 centimeters (one foot) of leaking into the ground.

"We just can't be sure until we actually see the inside of the reactors," Yamana said. "We still need to develop a number of robots and other technology."

Three Mile Island needed only a few robots, mainly for remote-controlled monitoring, sampling and handling debris, as the melted fuel remained in the core. Manned entry was possible a little more than a year after the accident.

Some experts say Japan's current decommissioning plan is too ambitious. They counsel waiting until contamination levels come down, and even contemplate building a shell around the reactors for the time being, as at Chernobyl.

"I doubt if Fukushima Dai-ichi's full decommissioning is possible. Its contamination is so widespread," said Masashi Goto, a nuclear engineer who designed the Unit 3 reactor and now teaches at Meiji University in Tokyo. "We should not rush the process, because it means more exposure to workers. Instead, we should wait and perhaps even keep it in a cement enclosure."

Others say the Chernobyl solution wouldn't be effective, noting that the reactor was a different type without massive water leaks. Developing expertise during the operation is also important to Japan, which has dozens of reactors that face eventual retirement and is considering turning decommissioning into a viable business at home, and possibly in a growing global market.

"If you just put concrete over this, groundwater still will be flowing and things like that, and you have an uncontrolled situation," Barrett said. "I just don't see that as a plausible option."

Only a small test reactor had been successfully scrapped in Japan, with five others now being decommissioned — two experimental and three commercial. The furthest along is Tokai Power Station's No. 1 reactor, which is 15 years into a planned 22-year process.

Japan also has to worry about future natural disasters.

"There will be many more earthquakes and typhoons," Goto said. "I hope these plans won't fail, but we might just have to pray." - ABC News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: 2 Indonesian Volcanoes Erupt - Mount Sinabung And Mount Merapi Cause Flight Disruptions; Sinabung Shoots Volcanic Ash 26,000 Feet High!

November 19, 2013 - INDONESIA - Two volcanoes erupted in Indonesia on Monday, with one forcing flights to be rerouted and stopping thousands of people who had already been evacuated from returning home.

Local residents watch as a giant plume of steam and ash rise and hot lava rolls from the crater of
Mount Sinabung volcano, during an eruption seen from Karo district on
Indonesia's Sumatra island, on November 5, 2013

Mount Sinabung on western Sumatra island, which has been erupting on and off since mid-September, shot volcanic ash around 8,000 metres (26,000 feet) into the air, the Geological Disaster Mitigation and Volcanology Centre said.

"The transport ministry is redirecting flights away from a certain path because of Mount Sinabung's latest eruption," ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said in a statement.

It also meant that more than 5,000 people who had recently been evacuated from the area around Sinabung due to its eruptions were unable to return home.

On the main island of Java, Indonesia's most active volcano, Mount Merapi, spewed a column of ash and smoke some 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) in the morning, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

This file photo shows the mount Merapi volcano in Sleman, Yogyakarta, during an eruption on January 30, 2011

He said the eruption, which was triggered by small earthquakes, prompted around 600 families to rush to evacuation posts but they were returning home as there was no imminent threat.

Mount Merapi killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions in late 2010 when it also destroyed entire villages.

Indonesia has dozens of active volcanoes and straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the "Ring of Fire" between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

In August five people were killed and hundreds evacuated when a volcano on a tiny island in East Nusa Tenggara province erupted. - PHYSORG.