Friday, January 17, 2014

EXTREME WEATHER: Australian Open Halted Because Of Extreme Heat - It's So Hot In Melbourne, That People Are Frying Eggs On The Tennis Courts!

January 17, 2014 - AUSTRALIA - Having already taken enough heat for not stopping matches earlier, blistering temperatures finally halted play on Day 4 of the 2014 Australian Open as a high temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded nearby.

Kei Nishikori of Japan wraps an ice pack around his head during a break in his first round match against
Marinko Matosevic of Australia at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne,
Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

The Extreme Heat Policy was enacted at Melbourne Park just before 2 p.m. Thursday, suspending all matches on outer courts until the early evening and requiring the closure of the retractable roofs at Rod Laver and Hisense arenas before play could continue on the show courts.

It was the first time since 2009 play had been halted due to heat at the Australian Open.

"This heat is roughly on par with what was in place in early June in Phoenix," said senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. "The MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks would have the roof closed and air conditioning on when playing home games in similar conditions."

For Maria Sharapova, playing at Rod Laver Arena, the call came too late. The rule dictates the roof can't be closed until the end of a set in progress, so she was forced to finish a grueling third set against Italian Karin Knapp under the blazing sun.

WATCH: Heat Makes Pro Athletes Cry.

"Everyone knows there is no tiebreaker in the third set (at the Australian Open), so once you start that set, you're going to be out there until you're done," she said after closing out the 3 1/2-hour match, 6-3, 4-6, 10-8.

Other players wilted in the heat. American Varvara Lepchenko received medical treatment during her match against 11th-seeded Romanian Simona Halep, lying flat on her back during a changeover as trainers rubbed iced on her body.

"At first I didn't understand what was going on but then my legs, my arms started to get heavier. I couldn't focus at one point and started feeling dizzier and dizzier," she said.

She continued but only won one more game in a 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 defeat.

"They definitely should have just not started the matches in the first place," she said. "And the same goes for a couple of days ago when I played my (first) match."

The heat wave began Tuesday when the temperature peaked at 42C (108F). The tournament referee did not halt play then because the Extreme Heat Policy also takes into account other factors, such as humidity and wind speed.

The distinction is lost on the players, who have grumbled all week about the conditions which some have described as inhumane and dangerous. On Tuesday, Canadian Frank Dancevic blacked out and hallucinated during his match, while China's Peng Shuai vomited and suffered cramps.

No. 25-seeded Alize Cornet of France sobbed on court Thursday after her draining 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Italian Camila Giorgi, then blasted officials for not halting play sooner.

Weatherman reports on the heat wave.

"On Tuesday, I don't know why they didn't stop matches," she said. "It was an oven. An oven. It was burning. Why today and not Tuesday?"

Play finally got under way again on outer courts shortly after 6 p.m. local time, but 14 matches were later suspended again due to lighting.

The heat hasn't just affected players - it's also kept fans away. Total attendance was just 53,226 on Thursday, down from Monday's high of 63,595.

The unshaded seats on the outer courts were virtually empty Thursday, with spectators congregating under trees or in the upper reaches of stands where temporary covers provided a little relief.

New Zealander Helen Naylor escaped the sun after watching fellow Kiwi Marina Erakovic play for a bit on Court 13.

"Even the seats are really hot - God knows how (the players) are running around out there."

Relief is as least in sight. Friday will be another scorcher, with an expected high of 44C (111F), but Saturday it will only reach 23C (73F). That may feel downright chilly by comparison. - TWC.

You know how hot it is at the Australian Open? A photographer pulled out a pan and a couple of eggs and attempted to fry them on the boiling court on Thursday.

Temperatures are so high, you can literally fry eggs on the boiling court. Twitter.

Lucky for us, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was in a spirited mood after his second round win over Thomaz Bellucci and snapped this picture of the photographer attempting to make some breakfast inside the Hisense Arena.

The roof was actually closed at Hisense because of the ridiculous heat in Melbourne, but that didn't stop this guy from showing us exactly how hot it is on court for some of these players.

Friday looks like the last day temperatures will reach triple digits, with a serious cold front blowing through Melbourne after that to help cool off the courts and help the players survive these nasty conditions. - Yahoo Sports.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Global Volcano Report For January 17, 2014 - Updates On Rincón de la Vieja, Chaparrastique, Arenal, Pacaya, Fuego, Popocatépetl, Santiaguito, Shyhzerli, El Misti, Sakurajima, Sinabung, Puyehue-Cordón Caulle And Etna!

January 17, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Central America: Recent volcanic activity in El Salvador and Guatemala has Central American geologists keeping an eye on the region’s volcanoes, including Costa Rica’s Rincón de la Vieja.

Arenal Volcano, a picturesque cone volcano near La Fortuna, once one of the region’s most active volcanoes,
has been a bit sleepy since 2010.  (Courtesy of OVSICORI)

While Rincón de la Vieja and other Tico volcanoes have seen increased activity in recent years, geologists don’t foresee any immediate eruptions related to these giants.

Smoke and ash spewing from the Chaparrastique Volcano after an “explosive eruption,” according to Celina Kattán, director of the Environmental Observatory, delayed air traffic over El Salvador on Dec. 29, 2013.

Salvadoran authorities ordered the evacuation of some 500 residents.

Guatemalan authorities reported that the Fuego Volcano erupted on Jan. 7, launching a column of smoke and ash into the air.

Days later, on Jan. 11, Guatemala’s Pacaya Volcano erupted, triggering the evacuation of nearby communities. Air traffic control there recommended precautions for aircraft flying nearby.

Professor and investigator Eliecer Duarte of the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica noted that Costa Rica, along with its Central American neighbors, lies between the Cocos and Caribbean tectonic plates. But there’s no set “formula” for predicting volcanic activity, even if it takes place between the same plates.

“We’re talking about a pretty broad area,” he said, noting the distance between Guatemala and Costa Rica – about 1,200 kilometers capital to capital.

Duarte did say, however, that seismic activity elsewhere along plate lines could produce “instability.”

Gino González, geologist with the National Seismological Network at the University of Costa Rica (UCR-RVS) agreed.

González said that earthquakes along fault lines can trigger increased seismic and volcanic activity across the region, but there’s not necessarily any direct connection between volcanic activity in Guatemala and here.

The UCR geologist said that volcanoes in Costa Rica are less likely to ooze lava, the way Guatemala’s Pacaya Volcano does. Rather, Tico volcanoes build up pressure and suddenly erupt, making them “a little more dangerous.”

One volcano that volcanologists have had an eye on in recent years is Rincón de la Vieja, a 2-kilometer tall volcano in Costa Rica’s northwestern Guanacaste province.

After a decade of calm, the volcano has been increasingly active starting in 2011, according to a Jan. 14 report from UCR-RVS. After the 2012 Sámara earthquake that rocked Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, seismic activity continued to rise in the crater.

UCR-RVS volcanologists plan to make more frequent trips to the crater during 2014 to monitor its activity, including hot mudflows, and increased underground magma flows that could warm the volcano’s turquoise-colored acidic lake, according to the report.

The last time Costa Rica saw a major eruption was Rincón de la Vieja in 1996, González said.

Volcano tourism is one of Costa Rica’s major attractions.

Arenal Volcano, a cone volcano near La Fortuna, Alajuela, was once one of the region’s most active volcanoes, but has been slumbering since 2010. The volcano might not be as dramatic as it once was, but its picturesque peak continues to draw visitors.

At least the sleepy giant doesn’t delay anyone’s flight home.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The volcano's activity, essentially unchanged over the past weeks, has returned to very low levels, with usually less than 5 weak explosive emissions per day. Crater glow remains visible at night, indicating continuing slow lava extrusion.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): The effusion of blocky lava from the deom has become weaker, evidenced by some avalanches from the southern and southeastern rims. Explosive activity seems in turn to be picking up. On average 2-3 explosions per hour are seen from the Caliente lava dome with ash plumes rising up to 800 m and often causing light ash fall in areas to the southwest.

Shyhzerli (Azerbaijan):  Eruption of the Shyhzerli volcano - one of the most active and largest mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan, occurred due to an earthquake, head of the Mud Volcanoes Department of Geology Institute of Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), Professor Adil Aliyev told Trend on Jan. 17.

"The earthquake, which occurred at about 18 kilometres away from the volcano towards Shamakhi caused eruption of the Shyhzerli volcano. An earthquake occurred two or three days before the eruption," the scientist said.

The earthquake and the eruption did not occur on the same day, but sometimes such cases happen, Aliyev said.

"For example, 15 minutes after the Shamakhi earthquake that destroyed the city in 1902, there was a strong eruption of the Shyhzerli volcano. Such strong earthquakes result in the volcano erupting the same day. Volcanos may also erupt a day or two days after, when the seismic wave reaches it. We have found out that the volcano itself should be ready to erupt, there should be enough energy. The earthquake simply contributes to its eruption," the scientist said.

Currently the situation at the Shyhzerli volcano is stable, Aliyev said and noted that with the eruption the accumulated energy spilled out.

In 2013, two strong eruptions were registered in Azerbaijan - the Akhtarma-Pashaly volcano in Hajigabul district erupted in April and the Shyhzerli volcano in Gobustan district erupted on Dec. 20.

The Shyhzerli volcano has been erupting periodically since 1848, last year's eruption was the 23rd, the head of the department said.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): Vulcanian-type explosions, which presented a spectacular show during much of the past year, are again becoming more frequent at the volcano, with now averaging one event per day.

This is still very low compared to most of last year, but a significant increase compared to the past 3 weeks when there were almost none.

Pacaya (Guatemala): The lava flow from the southern fissure vent at the base of Mackenney crater remains active, and weak strombolian activity occurs at the summit vent.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): Activity remains elevated although pyroclastic flows seem to have become less frequent over the past 24 hours.

Intense steaming from Sinabung this morning (VSI webcam)

This could be due to several possibilities or a combination of them:
- major parts of the dome have collapsed during the powerful pyroclastic flows in recent days, resulting in a temporary absence of enough unstable material, but no real change in effusion rate
- a true decrease in effusion rate, or
- the formation of a solid plug that temporarily prevents the magma from moving out of the vent. The last scenario would significantly increase the risk of major explosions in the near future.

SO2 plume from Sinabung yesterday morning (GOME / NASA)

A strong SO2 plume was again detected yesterday on satellite data, which implies that there is a lot of new magma still arriving into the volcanic edifice, and most likely, more and potentially very dangerous eruptions will follow.

Fuego (Guatemala): No changes in the explosive and effusive activity at the volcano occurred. 13 explosions were observed during the past 24 hours (11 weak and 2 moderate ones) with ash plumes rising up to 800 m above the crater and forming a plume 8 kilometers to the south and southwest.

Incandescent material was seen rising to 75-125 m and locomotive-like degassing sounds, as well as shock waves were noted. The lava flow on the upper SE flank remained moderately alimented and was 300 m long yesterday morning.

El Misti (Peru): The volcano experienced an earthquake swarm during 14-15 January, IGP reported in its latest bulletin. An increase of approx. 25% in seismic activity overall with respect to last year's average was calculated, but IGP stresses that this activity is still low and does not suggest new activity in a near future.

The report of IGP showing the signals of the seismic swarm at EL Misti volcano in Peru.

According to the report, a total of 418 seismic events were recorded during the first half of January, most of them during the swarm that occurred on 14-15 Jan when almost 120 quakes were registered within 17 hours. From these events, 144 were so called long-period quakes (internal fluid movements), 269 volcano-tectonic earthquakes (internal rock fracturing) and 5 short pulses of tremor (internal vibration).

El Misti, which is only 17 km from the center of Arequipa city, is one of the countries major and most active volcanoes. Due to its closeness to a large city and its history of explosive eruptions, it is also one of the most dangerous volcanoes in South America, and clearly one that deserves being closely monitored.

Puyehue-Cordón Caulle (Central Chile and Argentina): A small emission of gas and some ash was reported by Buenos Aires VAAC. In fact, a diluted plume of gas, steam, and possibly some volcanic ash is visible on satellite images from yesterday and this morning.

Satellite image showing the plume from Puyehue yesterday (Sergio Abarca Delgad ‏@sergio_raptor / Twitter)

However, the ash if present might have been picked up by winds. It is unclear whether the volcano has actually erupted and new ash. SERNAGEOMIN has not reported any unusual activity and keeps the volcano's status at green (normal).

Etna (Sicily, Italy): A small event this morning at 12:49 (local time) from New SE crater produced an ash plume generated by partial collapse on the NE flank of the cone.

Partial collapse on the NE flank of the New SE crater (Montagnola webcam, INGV Catania)

No ash emissions from the North-East Crater and the volcanic tremor signal is still low.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for January 17, 2014.

SOURCES: Volcano Discovery | Trend | Tico Times.