Thursday, January 23, 2014

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Exploding Star Suddenly Appears In The Night Sky - New Supernova Discovery Is The Closest To Our Solar System In 20 Years!

January 23, 2014 - SPACE - An exploding star has suddenly appeared in the night sky, dazzling astronomers who haven't seen a new supernova so close to our solar system in more than 20 years.

This comparison image shows a supernova suddenly appearing in the nearby galaxy M82.
Credit: UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/
Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright

In just the last few days, a the supernova emerged as a bright light in Messier 82 - also known as the Cigar Galaxy - about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major, or the Great Bear. The supernova, which one astronomer described as a potential "Holy Grail" for scientists, was first discovered by students at the University College London.

Positioned between the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, the new supernova should be easy for skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere to spot; it may even brighten enough to be visible through a small pair of binoculars, said astronomer Brad Tucker, of the Australian National University and the University of California, Berkeley.

New supernova in the sky

But beyond creating a skywatching spectacle, the cosmic event also affords astronomers a rare opportunity to study an object that might help them understand dark energy.

The supernova was first observed Tuesday (Jan. 21) at 7:20 p.m. local time (19:20 UTC) by a group of students led by Steve Fossey at the University College London. The object may be the nearest supernova to be observed since the intense Supernova 1987A was spotted in February 1987 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy companion of the Milky Way about 168,000 light-years from Earth, according to UCL.

"It was a surreal and exciting experience taking images of the unidentified object as Steve ran around the observatory verifying the result," UCL student Guy Pollack said in a statement.

Astronomers from Caltech have confirmed the supernova and classified it as a young, reddened Type Ia supernova. These kinds of objects are thought to originate in a close binary system where at least one star is a white dwarf, or a small, dense core of a star that has ceased undergoing nuclear reactions. If the white dwarf siphons off too much mass from its companion star, a runaway nuclear reaction begins inside the dead star, leading to a brilliant supernova.

Because Type Ia supernovas are believed to shine with equal brightness at their peaks, they are used as "standard candles" to measure distances across the universe. In fact, careful measurement of Ia supernovas led to the Nobel Prize-winning discovery that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating.

A supernova "Holy Grail"

But in order to learn more about the cause of the acceleration (what scientists call dark energy), Tucker said astronomers need more precise measurements.

"The two large problems with using Ia for distance measurements, are the progenitors, what the star that explodes actually is, and how dust affects these measurements," Tucker explained in an email. "So the fact that this [supernova] is a Type Ia, caught young, means we have a good chance of finding clues to the explosion."

The Hubble Space Telescope also captured detailed images of the Cigar Galaxy from before the star would have blown up, which means astronomers might be able to directly see the star in past observations, Tucker explained.

WATCH: Supernova Explosion Seen In Nearby Galaxy.

What's more, this is a "reddened" supernova, meaning it occurred a dusty environment.

"By knowing there is lots of dust, we can analyze out how the dust is impacting the colors of the [supernova] and therefore the distance measurements, and use this to calibrate other [supernovas]," Tucker said in an email. "In short, this is the Holy Grail."

The International Astronomical Union's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams has listed some of the supernova sightings under the temporary designation PSN J09554214+6940260, starting with a Jan. 22 observation by a group of amateur astronomers in Russia

Images from the supernova-hunting KAIT robotic telescope at the Lick Observatory in California confirm the object was not present as recently as 15 January, meaning the supernova is a few days old, Tucker said. - SPACE.

GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: 50-Foot Monster Waves Crash Into Hawaii's Beaches - Largest Wave Event In 10 Years For The Region! [PHOTOS]

January 23, 2014 - HAWAII - A low-pressure system is arriving over Hawaii, creating some of the biggest waves in a decade and attracting surfers from all over the world.

A satellite image of a low pressure system north of Hawaii that may produce 40-50 foot waves in Oahu this week.
This will likely be the largest wave event in 10 years for Hawaii. (NOAA)

According to, waves reaching as high as 40 and 50 feet continue to pound North Shore beaches Thursday. The National Weather Service says this will likely be the largest surf event of the season so far, and perhaps the largest in 10 years.

“The huge waves are the result of a potent area of low pressure passing well north of Hawaii that has been producing hurricane-force winds,” said meteorologist Chris Dolce.

The waves reached their peak Wednesday, but the danger will remain throughout the week. A high surf warning is in effect until 6 a.m. Friday.

A National Weather Service forecast discussion had a strongly-worded warning for residents as they gear up for the monster waves: "Anyone approaching the shoreline could face significant injury or death. Significant coastal inundation and property damage is possible. Road closures are likely and breaking waves may make it impossible to enter or leave harbors."

Residents living close to the coast braced for a few rounds of unusually high tides by putting sand bags out in front of their homes, according to a Hawaii News Now article.

"We will sandbag our laundry area and the beach key access area where we do have some electronic rooms and stuff on the lower level that we don't want to get damaged, you know, elevator rooms and stuff like that," said Greg Roe, manager of a residential complex that sits close to the beach, in an interview with Hawaii News Now.

Rough surf led to the closure of several beach parking lots in areas deemed unsafe for swimmers and surfers, according to Still, the report mentioned, some residents took to the beaches to get a closer look at the huge swells.

A surf contest in Oahu that was scheduled for Wednesday has been called off due to the conditions, according to a Reuters report. Despite the wave heights reaching rarely-seen levels, wind conditions wouldn't allow for competition.

Organizers told Reuters they hope to hold the event, known as the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Invitational, later this winter, as this is the time of year when waves are traditionally largest. - TWC.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR & ICE AGE NOW: "Oh My God,... What In The World,... Some Kind Of Omen" - Arctic Snowy Owl Perches Itself Atop An Awning During Rush Hour In Downtown Washington?!

January 23, 2014 - UNITED STATES -  It appeared from seemingly out of nowhere, a great arctic snowy owl on a bitter cold Wednesday in the middle of downtown Washington.

A rarely seen snowy owl perches itself in a tree at McPherson Square on Wednesday.
Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

Pedestrians at rush hour stopped in their tracks. Was it some kind of omen?

“What in the world?” one man said. The owl stared back, yellow eyes against perfect white feathers. “What in the world?” its annoyed look said.

Out came the cellphone cameras, with amateur paparazzi lighting up the rarely seen fluffy bird of the Arctic that had perched itself atop a green awning at 15th and K streets NW near McPherson Square Park about 5:30 p.m.

“Oh my God,” cried Kiersten Beigel, 43, of the District. “This is really moving.” The owl, sitting there, appeared unmoved. Beigel was walking along 15th Street when she saw about 20 people staring up. “I said: ‘What’s this crowd [doing]?’ and I looked up.”

People have been looking up more than usual to see snowy owls in the United States, from Revere Beach, Mass., to Little Talbot Island State Park near Jacksonville, Fla.

According to an eBird tracker operated by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the birds have been spotted in the Great Lakes region, the Dakotas and Arkansas. They normally live in the treeless tundra of the Arctic.

In this region, there have been sightings at Reagan National Airport, Hains Point and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

But at 1500 K Street, where lobbyists rule the roost? Shane Lieberman thought he’d never see the day. “I think I’ve seen one once, when I was a kid” in Connecticut, said Lieberman, 35, of the District.

The owl, meanwhile, left its awning for a tree in McPherson Square. - Washington Post.

ICE AGE NOW: Polar Vortex And Bombogenesis - Wild Winter Storm Sweeps United States, Hits Mid-Atlantic And Northeast States, Dumping Heaps Of Snow, Causing Flight Chaos And Government Office Shutdown; Arctic Blast Cause A Propane Shortage In Several States; Deep Freeze Expected To Prolong! [PHOTOS+VIDEO+MAPS]

January 23, 2014 - UNITED STATES -  A massive winter storm packing up to a foot of snow, strong winds and icy temperatures slammed into the northeastern United States on Tuesday, canceling flights, closing government offices and sending children home from school. 

Winter Storm Sweeps U.S., Hits Mid-Atlantic And Northeast, Causing Flight Chaos And Government Office Shutdown.
A man is covered in snow as he tries to clear a path after a snow storm. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)
A snowman made with cookies and a red plastic cup sits in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
(Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

The sprawling storm, which stretched for a 1,000 miles between Kentucky and Massachusetts, could bury Boston in up to 15 inches of snow while delivering 10 to 14 inches to Philadelphia, a foot in New York City and up to 10 inches in Washington, D.C. area, the National Weather Service and Fox affiliates reported.  Authorities warned of heavy winds and hazardous driving conditions along the east coast as the storm, which began mid-morning, was expected to continue through the late evening hours, with the heaviest snow expected Tuesday afternoon and evening.  Schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky sent students home early on Tuesday or stayed closed for an extra day after the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.  The storm put a damper on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's inauguration, forcing the cancellation of an evening party on Ellis Island. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick postponed his annual State of the State address, while the Philadelphia Flyers postponed their Tuesday night hockey game.  Both chambers of Delaware's General Assembly canceled sessions Tuesday. 

Nearly 3,000 flights were canceled Tuesday, with airports from Washington to Boston affected. An additional 885 flights for Wednesday were called off as well. Amtrak planned to cut back train service in the afternoon.  The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reduced speeds on interstates and other major roads, and said it had already blown through more than half of its $189 million winter weather budget.   "Lots of nuisance storms this season have meant that Penn DOT crews have been plowing and treating roads more frequently this winter," agency spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said.   The storm is part of a bitter blast of arctic air that is expected to sweep south into Iowa and as far east as Maine by Tuesday night, and remain entrenched through Thursday.  Paul Collar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said highs could be in the single digits.  "It's not to the extent of the last outbreak, but it's still bitterly cold," he told The Associated Press.  Some areas across the U.S.-Canada border could see nighttime lows in the negative double digits in the next few days, he said. 

Henderson County Sheriff's deputies attend the scene of a car crash off state road 136 in Henderson, Ky. Snow
and wind brought hazardous winter conditions to a large swath of Kentucky on Tuesday, creating a slow,
messy morning commute. (Mike Lawrence/The Gleaner/AP)

Crews clear the runways at Stanfield International Airport in Halifax where flights remained grounded
on Jan. 22. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Despite snowplow crews round-the-clock efforts beginning last night, whiteout conditions across Nova Scotia
were blamed for several accidents. Here, emergency workers tend to an injured person after a pickup truck
left the highway near Halifax on Wednesday. (Anddrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Portions of Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were under wind chill warnings, meaning wind chills could be 34 degrees below zero or colder.  "With these temperatures you're going to have issues with exposed skin and frostbite, but not to the degree of severity of the last outbreak," he said, describing it as "a normal cold event you'd see in a typical winter."  The last blast of arctic air caused a propane shortage in several states, with some declaring energy emergencies to speed up deliveries.  David Field, the executive vice president of the Ohio Propane Gas Association, told that the Department of Transportation has issued a regional order loosening rules for propane transportation in 10 Midwest states. A similar order is in effect for 14 Eastern states, he said.  “The month of December brought historically cold weather, ice and snow, which further inhibited the transportation of propane. Demand for residential, commercial and agricultural heat soared,” Field told the station. "All these combined to prevent regional inventories from recovering and the existing pipeline and terminal infrastructure has been unable to recover.”  According to the Washington-based Propane Education & Research Council, more than 14 million families use propane to fuel their furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, outdoor grills, fireplaces, clothes dryers, and ranges.  Across the east coast, people tried their best to cope with the cold conditions. 

Standing in Philadelphia's LOVE Park with snow swirling around her, visitor Jenn Byrne of Portland, Ore., said the nasty weather put a crimp in her plans to do a "giant walking tour" of the city. But she vowed to soldier on, taking cabs instead of trudging. She wasn't wearing snow boots.  "I'll keep going. Just the means of transportation will change a bit," Byrne said.  Others shrugged off the snow as well.  In Herndon, Va., where voters were casting ballots in a special election that was likely to determine control of the state Senate, Earlene Coleman said she felt obligated to make her selection: "It only made sense to come out and do my duty."  Construction worker Tony Cockrell, stopping for coffee at a Hagerstown, Md., gas station, said he planned to continue driving to work sites in western Maryland and northern Virginia to supervise the installation of insulation in building projects.  "If you don't work, you don't get paid," he said, adding that deep cold is good for business. "We're trying to get stuff insulated so it doesn't freeze up." - FOX News.

Deep Freeze In Midwest, Northeast To Be Prolonged

Bitterly cold air is again settling southward from the Arctic into a large part of the Eastern states. Unlike the outbreak from early January, this time the cold will have more staying power. Into the first part of next week, the polar vortex will hover just north of the United States border causing waves of frigid air to blast into the Midwest and much of the East. The polar vortex is a commonly used term among the meteorological community to describe an intense storm with frigid air and strong winds that spends much of its time above the Arctic Circle. Occasionally, during the autumn, winter and spring, this storm can dip farther south, approaching the mid-latitudes.

Already Tuesday morning, RealFeel® temperatures plunged to minus 40 F over the Upper Midwest and were below zero as far south as portions of the Ohio Valley and as far east as northern New England. The advancing cold will be severe enough to bring life-threatening conditions, hypothermia and the risk of frostbite to areas from the northern Plains to New England. The penetrating cold has the potential to cause water main breaks as far south as the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic and to freeze pipes into parts of the South.

Heating systems may struggle to keep up, and people will spend more money keeping their homes and businesses warm. In parts of the South, where electricity is the primary source of heat, the demand for electricity will skyrocket. While widespread power outages are not anticipated during the cold outbreak, strong winds during and in the wake of the snowstorm in the Northeast will bring the risk of sporadic power outages as temperatures plummet. School delays and closures are possible even in areas that receive little or no snow, due to the cold and low RealFeel temperatures.

In the Northern states, temperatures will dip low enough to inhibit the effectiveness of most inexpensive ice melting compounds. Rock salt will not work when the temperature drops to 15 degrees or lower. The combination of the cold and open waters of the Great Lakes will lead to rounds of lake-effect snow and whiteout conditions. The frigid air is advancing in the wake of an Alberta Clipper storm that tracked through the Midwest and will strengthen into a blizzard near the East Coast. This type of storm is so named for its origin in the western provinces of Canada.

A total of three waves of arctic air will blast across the Midwest and Northeast into next week. The next blast of arctic air will reach the Upper Midwest by Wednesday. While temperatures will briefly rebound in between the reinforcing waves of cold air, the rebounds will be much less pronounced from the Midwest to New England and may be barely noticeable in the northern tier states. Temperatures may stay below freezing in Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland through the end of the month, where highs most days will be in the teens.

In Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City and Indianapolis, temperatures may only surpass the freezing mark on one or two days through Jan. 31. The persistent cold will cause a renewed buildup of ice on rivers in the Northern states. Ice jams could again become a problem during the coming weeks. At least two of the cold waves will reach into the South.

In much of the South, temperatures will not be as low as that of the first week of January. However, many areas over the interior will have multiple nights where the temperature spends multiple hours well below freezing. Temperatures will dip to near freezing during a few nights along the upper Gulf Coast. - AccuWeather.

Bombogenesis, The Latest Winter Weather Event To Wreak Havoc

Only a few weeks after the polar vortex surged through portions of the United States, yet another wintry weather phenomena is mounting concerns across the nation: bombogenesis.

WATCH: As a snowstorm bears down on regions from the mid-Atlantic up through New England, the term bombogenesis has come to the forefront, but what is bombogenesis?

"It's a rapidly intensifying storm that is usually over the water," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said. In order for the storm to develop, a warm and a cold air mass must clash, causing the storm to strengthen in a very short amount of time.

While this scenario is not necessarily uncommon during the winter months, in order to be classified as a bombogenesis the central pressure of the storm must drop 24 millibars in just 24 hours, according to Anderson.

The impacts of a bombogenesis can include rapidly strengthening winds and high precipitation rates, as well as thundersnow. - AccuWeather.

MASS FISH/BIRDS/ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Latest Incidents Across Asia - 200,000 Ducks And Chickens Killed From Outbreak Of Avian Flu In North Jeolla Province, South Korea; 19,000 Birds Have Been Killed From Avian Flu In Shandong, China; 50 TONS Of Tilapia Fish Have Died In Taal Lake In Batangas, Philippines; And Scores Of Buffaloes Killed By Mystery Disease In Rewari, India!

January 23, 2014 - ASIA -  The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass animal, bird and fish die-offs across Asia:

200,000 Ducks And Chickens Killed From Outbreak Of Avian Flu In North Jeolla, South Korea.
File photo.

South Korea continued its efforts to prevent the spread of bird flu Tuesday amid the discovery of a new suspected case of the virus.

With the latest suspected case of avian influenza (AI) at a duck farm in Gochang, 300 kilometers southwest of Seoul in North Jeolla Province, the total number of suspected and confirmed AI cases came to nine.

Four of the cases have been confirmed through DNA tests that identified the highly pathogenic strain of the H5N8 virus.

The new case was reported shortly after the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs noted a three-day cessation in new cases, raising hopes that the virus may have been contained.

About 200,000 poultry have been slaughtered at the affected farms and others within potential infection range since last week.

Efforts to contain the animal disease included a temporary lockdown at all poultry farms in North and South Jeolla provinces where the affected farms are located.

The lockdown was lifted after 48 hours as the government apparently sought to reserve such a measure as a last resort. Under the current law, the lockdown can be extended only once for 48 hours.

The highly pathogenic strain of bird flu was found in a group of migratory ducks found dead last week at a reservoir near the affected farms, possibly indicating the source of the animal disease and the difficulties in trying to contain it.

"The most important point in our quarantine efforts is to prevent the flow of any source of infection, such as excrements of migratory birds, into poultry farms," Kwon Jae-han, the ministry official in charge of livestock policy, told a press briefing.

The AI virus has an incubation period of up to three weeks.

"This means avian influenza could break out at any time throughout the winter season when the disease is most rampant," he said.

The country has reported four outbreaks of bird flu since 2003. The most recent outbreak in 2010-11 led to the culling of over 6 million animals, causing over 80 billion won (US$75 million) in damages, according to the ministry. - Yonhap News.

19,000 Birds Have Been Killed From Avian Flu In Shandong, China.
Information received on 21/01/2014 from Dr Zhang Zhongqui, Director General , China Animal Disease Control Centre, Veterinary Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing, China (People's Rep. of)

- OIE.

50 TONS Of Tilapia Fish Have Died In Taal Lake In Batangas, Philippines.
At least 50 tons of cultured tilapia were lost as fish kill hit parts of  Taal Lake in Batangas province, a normal phenomenon that occurs during the cold months, according to experts.

Mario Balazon, spokesperson of Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance Inc. (TLAAI), said the fish kill occurred on Saturday night off the villages of Aya, Quiling and Tumaway in Talisay town. He said 25 out of the 750 cages there were affected.

The phenomenon was caused by the lake’s “overturn” and a possible sulfur upwelling brought about by the northeast monsoon.

An overturn happens as cool water at the top of the lake becomes heavier and goes down, while warm water rises to the surface, explained Dr. Macrina Zafaralla, a scientist of the University of the Philippines Los BaƱos. This process causes sulfur and other organic matter on the lake bottom to rise and affect the fish in the cages, she said.

“But that’s not all,” Zafaralla said, citing other factors for the fish kill, such as the lake’s bottom topography, wind direction and oxygen level. The phenomenon is observed during the cold months, or from December to February.

The Inquirer on Monday tried to contact the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) but was told the director and all division chiefs were still in a meeting to discuss the fish kill.

Mostly affected were the fish in the cages, Balazon said in a phone interview on Monday. “The wild [fish] can swim away to the unaffected parts of the lake,” he said.

TLAAI, a group of fish cage operators, is working with Zafaralla, who has been conducting a study since 2012 on the lake phenomenon, so early warning measures can be drawn up.

His group was still monitoring other lake areas in Lipa City and Mataas na Kahoy town, as it warned other fish cage owners that the phenomenon is expected to reoccur anytime until the end of the cold season.

Balazon said the dead fishes were buried in compost pits on Sunday.

The number of affected fish cages this year was more than that last year, although it was still “relatively small,” considering that Taal Lake has a total of 6,000 fish cages, he said.

Some cage operators were able to harvest before the fish kill, he added. - Inquirer.

Scores Of Buffaloes Killed By Mystery Disease In Rewari, India.
Hundreds of villagers today blocked traffic on Kund-Dahina road near Mandola village here after four buffaloes died of a mysterious disease, demanding that other sick animals be provided treatment free of charge.

The villagers said the four buffaloes died last night at Mandola village.

Scores of buffaloes had died of a mysterious disease at Zenabad, Dahina and neighbouring villages of the district in the past three weeks, but the Veterinary Department had not yet been able to identify the disease and provide treatment, they claimed.

The road blockade, which lasted for several hours, was withdrawn after the SDO of the Animal Husbandry Department, Nasib Singh, assured the villagers of speedy and free treatment of sick animals. - Business Standard.

DELUGE: Death And Displacement Mount In Indonesia Floods And Landslides - Dozens Dead; Nearly 90,000 Refugees; Mass Evacuations And Infrastructure Damage; State Of Emergency In Many Districts!

January 23, 2014 - INDONESIA In the past two weeks, floods and landslides have hit parts of Indonesia, particularly Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Kalimantan Islands, and continue to spread further, thereby claiming more lives as torrential rains continue to lash.

Death And Displacement Mount In Indonesia Floods.
Girl struggles through the flooded streets of Jakarta.

In Jakarta, the number of refugees has shown a steep rise from 30,784 people recorded on January 19, to 89,334 people on January 22, 2014. The death toll rose from seven to 12.

The floods that commenced on January 14, have affected 34 subdistricts, 100 urban villages, 444 neighborhoods, 672 families, and a total of 134,662 residents in the capital city, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) stated on January 21.

In the North Sulawesi Province, the death toll due to the floods and landslides has risen to 19: six in Manado, six in Tomohon, six in Minahasa, and one in North Minahasa. In Manado alone, 85,831 people or 23,204 families were affected and over 10 thousand houses were damaged.

Vice President Boediono and Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) M. Jusuf Kalla, former vice president, visited Manado on Tuesday (Jan. 21) to disburse relief aid and collect first-hand information about the damages inflicted by the natural disasters.

In the West Java Province, incessant torrential rains have triggered floods in seven districts such as Karawang, Bandung, Bekasi, Subang, Indramayu, and Depok City, thereby inundating thousands of houses.

Most of the floods in those districts were caused by the rivers overflowing their banks or by the breaking down of dikes.

Thousands of houses in the Bandung Selatan district were inundated when the Citraum River overflew its banks in Baleendah.

"Floods waters continued to expand and inundated more areas since Saturday," noted Suherman, a resident of Cieunteung Baleendah.

In Karawang, the worst-affected district in West Java, the local administration has declared a state of emergency as 28 out of the 30 subdistricts have been flooded in the past few days.

In Karawang, tens of thousands of houses in 173 villages have been inundated over the past few days, after a number of rivers overflowed their banks due to the heavy rains.

"Karawang has declared a state of emergency for the next 14 days, effective January 19," Karawang District Head Ade Swara remarked in a press statement released on January 20.

On January 21, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono visited Kerawang and took time to meet the evacuees and examined the on-site facilities. He also extended relief aid to the evacuees.

Parts of the Indramayu District, also in the West Java Province, have been isolated as a result of the incessant rainfall. Flood waters, reaching a height of 1.5 meters, submerged farming areas, while the flood victims are in desperate need of clean drinking water and electricity.

In the Bekasi District, in the same province, four elementary school students were found dead on January 20, after being swept away by the flood waters in South Tambun, two days earlier.

The West Javas Subang District suffered material losses amounting to US$2.6 million or Rp32 billion due to the floods since last Friday (Jan. 17).

Photo document of residents evacuated joint team with rubber boat in housing Total Persada,
Pot, Tangerang, Banten, on Monday (Januari 20, 2014). (ANTARA/Lucky R.)

Desperate residents cling to their belongings as they try to escape the rising waters.
"We have set up several temporary relief shelters for the people who were forced to abandon their homes due to the flooding. Each shelter is equipped with a kitchen and health service center," reported Abdul Rahman, a spokesman of the Subang District administration.

The 13 subdistricts inundated by the floods include Pamanukan, Pusaka Jaya, Compreng, Blanakan, Tambakdahan, Sukasari, Legon Kulon, Pabuaran, Ciasem, Pusakanagara, Patok Beusi, Pagaden, and Binong.

In Central Java Province, the floods have submerged hundreds of homes in the Kudus and Pakalongan Districts, following incessant heavy rains that caused some rivers to overflow.

A landslide killed 12 residents from Duku Kembangan, Menawan village, Gebog subdistrict, and Kudus, on Tuesday evening (Jan. 21). The landslide completely buried five houses and damaged three others.

Of the 12 casualties, however, only one body was retrieved, while the rest are believed to be buried under the mud and debris, reported Suroso, head of the social affairs office of the Menawan village.

In Pekalongan, the heavy rains that triggered a landslide and floods over the past few days displaced around seven thousand people, stated Susiyanto, a spokesman of the Pekalongan district administration on Monday (Jan. 20).

West Nusa Tenggara was also struck by flash floods, forcing at least 917 people in the district of Sambelia, Lombok Timur, to flee to safer grounds.

"They have chosen to evacuate due to the floods that struck yesterday, and they have now been accommodated in three shelters," the provinces head of public relations, Tri Budiprayitno, noted on Wednesday (Jan. 22).

The Obol-Obol, Tandongan, and Batusela rivers, located at the foot of Mount Rinjani, overflowed after incessant rains triggered flooding.

Four bridges and a prayer house have been wrecked, while three kilometers of roads have been eroded and around 80 hectares of rice and corn fields have been inundated by the floods.

On the Sumatra Island, several provinces including South Sumatra, West Sumatra, and Jambi, have also been inundated due to high rainfall.

In the Tangerang District, Banten Province, at least 11 thousand houses were flooded.

To help the victims of natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and volcanic eruption, the National Police (Polri) and the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) have asked their officers to be on vigil to handle the calamity.

Jakarta flooded.

Motorists brave the flooded streets of the capital.

Some 3.5 thousand policemen from the Police Headquarters and Mobile Brigade will be soon deployed in the disaster-affected areas, Commissioner General Badrodin Haiti, the head of the Police Headquarters Security and Maintenance Department remarked in Jakarta, on Wednesday (Jan. 22).

They will support the local police officers in their efforts to assist the natural disaster victims till March, the police officer noted.

Meanwhile, some 19,357 military officers have been deployed to help the victims of natural disasters, which have currently struck parts of Indonesia.

TNI Chief General Moeldoko has instructed all the military officers across Indonesia to be on high alert during the ongoing rainy season, as the country has received excess rainfall, TNI spokesman Colonel Bernardus claimed in Jakarta, on Tuesday (Jan. 21).

Among other things, the TNI has set up flood mitigation command posts in Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, Sumatra, and Manado.

During 2013, Indonesia was hit by 693 natural disasters, of which, there were 262 landslides, 95 flash floods, one volcano eruption, 94 whirlwinds, and 171 categorized as other disasters. - Antara News.

Flood, Landslide In Central Java, Indonesia Kill 13.
Widespread floods and landslide caused by consecutive days of heavy downpours have wreaked havoc on Kudus district of Central Java, leaving 13 people dead and forcing 4,000 residents to evacuate, a local official said on Wednesday.

Five rivers have been bloated by torrential rain since Sunday and burst their banks, hence swamping several spots at the district, said P. Jumadi, head of the disaster agency of the district.

On Wednesday, some of the residents were still wading through 1. 5-meter deep water to evacuation centers, many of which are placed in village administration offices, said Jumadi.

The downpours also incurred landslides in Menawan village of Gebog sub-district, seriously damaging two houses, said Jumadi.

"As many as 4,025 people are taking shelters in 20 evacuation centers," he told Xinhua over phone from the district.

"The rain also triggered landslides. Piles of soils slid off from a hill and slammed two houses at the downside at midnight on Monday. All 12 people were killed in one of the houses and another person in the other house," said Jumadi.

On Wednesday, soldiers and villagers were still trying to retrieve the corpses from the wreckage of the crumpled houses, he said.

"So far they have retrieved two bodies and with bare hands they dig the soil to find out the others," said Jumadi.

Elsewhere in Karawang of West Java, floods have receded and more than 10,000 evacuees have returned homes, and in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, some of the displaced persons have started returning homes to clean their houses as the floods recede, but they are still reluctant to return at night, according to officials.

Seasonal downpours have often incurred floods in Indonesia, a chain of 17,500 islands where millions of people live in vulnerable flood plains that are near to rivers. - CNTV.

WAR DRUMS: Hostility On The High Seas - Iran Sends Warships To Atlantic Ocean In Historic First!

January 23, 2014 - IRAN -  The Iranian Navy is sending a fleet of warships to the Atlantic Ocean. Tehran says the ships will be defending sea routes while providing training for their crews.

The Iranian Kharg replenishment ship (AFP Photo)

Iran’s 29th fleet includes the destroyer, Sabalan, and helicopter-carrying support ship, Kharg, the state news agency FARS reported. It is to sail 25,000 nautical miles over its three-month long trip.

On Tuesday, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was attending a ceremony in the port city of Bandar Abba in Southern Iran to wish the fleet bon voyage.

His deputy, Rear Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Moussavi, who was also present, said Iran is sending a message of peace and friendship to other nations by sending its fleet to international waters in the Atlantic.

The Sabalan is a 1,100-ton UK-built Alvand-class warship, which is usually classified as a frigate. Pre-revolution Iran commissioned fours such ships, but one of them was sunk by the US Navy in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War.

Two Iranian warships Khark (back) and Sabalan (front) (Reuters)

The Kharg, also built in Britain, is an Ol-class tanker commissioned by the Persian Shah’s government with modifications to the original design and was delivered to the new revolutionary Iran in 1984.

Iran first announced its plans to dispatch warship to the Atlantic Ocean in December.

The Iranian Navy has been boosting its presence in international waters since November 2008, when it deployed warships to the Gulf of Aden in response to the Somalia pirates’ threat. - RT.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Fiery Fireball Spotted In The Skies Over Dillon, Montana!

January 23, 2014 - UNITED STATES -  A Dillon resident snapped a photo of a fireball in the sky just before 8:00 a.m Tuesday morning. Ruth Jackson of Dillon spoke to NBC Montana over the phone and says she had no idea what she was looking at, so she pulled over to take a photo.

Photo: KTVM Facebook

"We were driving east on Helena St. in Dillon and the sun hadn't come up yet but there was this bright thing in the sky and I said to my husband, "What is that?" said Jackson.

She was a passenger in the car along with her husband and two granddaughters. They were on their way to drop the girls off at school when they stopped to take the picture.

"I am always looking for something to take a picture of, but this was just awesome," said Jackson.

We showed the photos to the MSU Space Grant Consortium and met with Director Angela Des Jardins. She weighed in and tells us what they appear to be at first glance.

WATCH: Fiery object spotted in sky over Dillon.

"When I saw it first, the first thing that came to mind is something was falling through the air that was on fire," said Des Jardins.

Des Jardins tells us with so little information it is hard to pinpoint what exactly this could be, but she did rule out a few possibilities.

"You can put to rest that there is any aliens or anything like that and I am not the biggest expert on meteors but I think you can probably safely say it was not a meteor," said Des Jardins.

The Montana Space Grant Consortium gets photos from people across the state on a regular basis. However Des Jardins tells us these photos are unlike anything she has seen so far.

"I can see why this is capturing peoples imagination and why they really wanted to take pictures of it because that is pretty rare," said Des Jardins.

As for Jackson she tells us she will be looking up more often. If you would like to take a look at the photos you can find them on our KTVM Facebook page. - NBC Montana.

EXTREME WEATHER: Nine Nations Or Territories Set All-Time Heat Records In 2013!

January 23, 2014 - EARTH - It was another notable year for all-time heat records in 2013, with six nations and three territories tying or setting records for hottest temperature on record. No nations set an all-time cold record in 2013. For comparison, five countries and two territories set all-time hottest temperature records in 2012, and the most all-time national heat records in a year was twenty nations and one territory in 2010.

Since 2010, 45 nations or territories have set or tied all-time heat records, but only one nation has set an all-time cold temperature record. Since each of those years ranked as one of the top eleven warmest years in Earth's recorded history, and 2010 was the warmest year on record, this sort of disparity in national heat and cold records is to be expected. Most nations do not maintain official databases of extreme temperature records, the national temperature records I report here are in many cases not official. I use as my source for international weather records Maximiliano Herrera, one of the world's top climatologists, who maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website.

New all-time national heat records set in 2013

Heard and McDonald Islands (uninhabited territory of Australia) set a new all-time heat record of 26.1°C (79°F) at Split Bay on 1 March. Previous record: 21.6°C set at the same station in April 1992.

Ghana tied its all time highest temperature record with 43.0°C (109.4°F) at Navrongo on 6 March; the same value had also been recorded on 25 February 2010 and 19 April 2010 at the same location.

The United States
tied its highest undisputed temperature at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center, Death Valley California, with 53.9°C (129°F) on 30 June. The only higher temperatures ever recorded on the planet occurred in Death Valley on July 10, 12, and 13, 1913, when readings of 134°F, 130°F, and 131°F were recorded. These 100-year-old official hottest temperatures in Earth’s history have many doubters, though, including Mr. Burt, who noted in a 2010 blog post that "The record has been scrutinized perhaps more than any other in the United States. I don't have much more to add to the debate aside from my belief it is most likely not a valid reading when one looks at all the evidence.

St. Pierre et Miquelon
, a French territory off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, set its all time highest temperature record with 28.3°C (82.9°F) at the St. Pierre Airport on 6 July. Previous record: 28.0°C at St. Pierre town in August 1876 and August 1935.

A moose takes a dip to cool off in a backyard pool in this photo taken in Big Lake, Alaska on June 17, 2013,
by Lonea Moore McGowen (Courtesy KTUU-TV.) Bentalit Lodge, Alaska hit 36.7°C (98°F) on June 17, tying
the mark set in Richardson on 15 June 1969 for hottest undisputed temperature in Alaska history. The official
heat record for Alaska remains the 100°F registered at Fort Yukon on June 27, 1915. However, there are
questions concerning this figure as outlined by our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt.

Greenland, a territory of Denmark, set a new all time highest temperature with 25.9°C (78.6°F) at Maniitsoq Airport on 30 July. Previous record: 25.5°C at Kangerlussuaq on 27 July 1990. There is a claimed 30.1°C measurement at Ivigtut on 23 June 1915, but this is almost certainly a mistake, since the reading doesn't fit at all with the hourly data of that day, and the station in over a century has never recorded any temperature above 24°C.

Austria set a new national record of highest temperature with 39.9°C (103.8°F) at Dellach im Drautal on 3 August, which beat the old record of 39.7°C set at the same location on 27 July 1983. The 3 August 2013 record was beaten again on 8 August 2013, with a 40.5°C (104.9°F) reading recorded at Bad Deutsch-Altenburg.

Slovenia also set a new all time heat record on 8 August, with 40.8°C at Cerklje Ob krki. Previous record: 40.6°C set at Crnomelj on 5 July 1950.

Japan set a new all-time heat record with 41.0°C (105.8°F) at Shimanto on 12 August. Previous record: 40.9°C at Tajimi and at Kumagaya on 16 August 2007.

Comoros tied its national record of highest temperature at the Hahaya Int. Airport with 35.6°C (96.1°F) on 19 November; the same value was recorded at the former Moroni Airport (its location looks to have been very close of the current international airport) on 31 December 1960.

Notable global heat and cold records set in 2013

The official Furnace Creek, Death Valley maximum recording thermometer for the maximum temperature measured
on June 30th, 2013. The 129.2°F (54.0°C) reading was the highest June temperature ever measured on Earth. Photo
courtesy of Death Valley National Park and NWS-Las Vegas. Note, though, since only whole Fahrenheit figures
are official in the U.S., the value was registered as 129°F.

Hottest temperature in the world in 2013: 53.9°C (129°F) at Death Valley, California, June 30
Coldest temperature in the world in 2013: -81.7°C (-115°F) at Dome A, Antarctica, July 31
Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Moomba Aero, Australia, January 12
Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -64.2°C (-83.6°F) at Summit GEO, Greenland, March 4

Number of major world stations which set their all time highest temperature in 2013: 389

Number of major world stations which set their all time lowest temperature in 2013: 12

On 27 February, 2013, a new February all-time heat record for the Northern Hemisphere was set with 44.5°C (112.1°F) at Abu Na' Ama (Sudan). Previous record: 44.4°C with two former record holders: Kayes in Mali, and Kiffa in Mauritania.

A day for the history books: European heat wave of 8 August 2013

An incredible heat wave over Central Europe on 8 August 2013 was a day for the history books of world climatology, with two nations and three world capitals setting all-time heat records on the same day. Dozens of stations in six European countries also set all-time heat records that day. The three capitals that set new all-time heat records on 8 August:

Vienna, Austria reached 39.5°C (103.1°F), beating the previous city record of 38.9°C which was recorded in July 1957.

Bratislava, Slovakia reached 39.4°C (102.9°F), beating the previous city record of 38.9°C set in July 2007.

Ljubljana, Slovenia reached as high as 40.2°C (104.4°F), beating for the FIFTH TIME IN SIX DAYS the old record of 38.0°C set in June 1935. This is particularly amazing, since the city has about 150 years of data. This is the sequence:

3 August 38.3°C

4 August 38.4°C

6 August 38.6°C

7 August 39.5°C

8 August 40.2°C

One other world capital set an all-time heat record in 2013: Bangkok, Thailand, which reached 40.1°C (104.2°F) in the Metropolis Station on 26 March, beating the previous record of 40.0°C set in April 1979 and April 2012. - Wunderground.