Thursday, December 18, 2014

MONUMENTAL WEATHER ANOMALIES: "The Wettest Start To December In Bay Area HISTORY" - San Francisco SHATTERS Rainfall Record; 736% Of Normal Rainfall In San Jose, 424% In San Francisco?!

- If you’re thinking, “It’s never rained like this in December before”, you are absolutely right. As of Wednesday night, this is the wettest start to a December in Bay Area history, with weather records dating back to before the Civil War.

San Jose is already #2 on the all-time wettest December list with 7.44 inches of rain. Put another way, the Bay Area’s most populous city has received 736 percent of its average December rainfall. Oakland (455 percent) and San Francisco (424 percent) aren’t that far behind.

Higher pressure will begin heading in our direction starting Thursday, and after some light rain on Friday, the Bay Area will dry out for at least 5-7 days. This map from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) shows the rainfall outlook through the end of the month. The brown colors denote a prediction for below-average precipitation.


Many of you have e-mailed me asking about the rest of the winter. I’ll start with January. Interestingly, three of the wettest Decembers (10.70”+ rain) on record have happened in San Francisco since the year 2000. I looked back at the weather records to see what happened in the months that followed those soggy Decembers. Each time, we had BELOW-AVERAGE rainfall in January and February. Only once, the 2005-06 water year, did we end up with significantly more winter rain than what is expected. There’s no correlation to this winter, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

Many different computer forecast models try to predict the weather months in advance. All of these predictions need to be taken with a grain of salt, but one that I look at on a regular basis is the one pictured below.


This particular forecast model peers all the way out six months and beyond. The snapshot above shows its prediction for JFM, or “January, February, March”. For several months, the CFSv2 model has predicted a wetter-than-average (the green & blue color) early 2015 for most of California. It also predicted a very wet December, so although there are differing opinions when it comes to computer models, this one has been on a hot streak recently. It’s no guarantee, but I’m leaning toward wetter-than-average conditions to return sometime in January.

Even if we were to get “normal” rainfall (and mountain snow) for the rest of the winter, this would be one of the wettest water years that we have had in the Bay Area in a decade. After three straight extremely dry winters, that is music to water manager’s ears. - CBS San Francisco.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Ice Age Now - Japan Snowstorm Dumps Feet Of Snow, As Meteorological "Bomb" Kills 11; Extreme Turbulence Force Cancellation Of Hundreds Of Flights; Heavy Snowfall Strands 6,000 Tourists In Indian Resort; And Heavy Snowfall In Korea As Temperatures Drop Sharply! [VIDEOS + PHOTOS]

A man removes snow from a sidewalk in Nagoya in Aichi prefecture, central Japan on December 18, 2014 as heavy snow hit wide areas of Japan.
(JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

December 18, 2014 - ASIA
- A massive storm system dropped feet of snow on parts of Asia this week, leading to travel problems and at least 11 deaths in Japan.

Japan Snowstorm Dumps Feet of Snow, Kills 11; Hundreds of Flights Canceled

"As of late Thursday night, local time, Tsunan, Japan reported a snow depth of 81.5 inches (207 centimeters)," said meteorologist Jon Erdman. "Seven other locations in western Honshu reported at least 150 centimeters (about 59 inches) of snow depth, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency."

Eleven people have been confirmed dead in the storm. NHK said one Hokkaido death occurred when a car skidded into a utility pole, and the other was a 74-year-old woman who was trapped under a warehouse roof that collapsed under the weight of the snow. The fatality in Hiroshima occurred when a driver got out of his car and was hit by another vehicle, NHK said.

News Australia reported an elderly woman was killed when she was hit by a snow plow in Hokkaido, and a 68-year-old man died when he fell off the roof of his home in Niigata while removing snow.

Japan's Nagoya castle is covered with snow in Nagoya in Aichi prefecture, central Japan on December 18, 2014 as heavy snow hit wide areas of Japan.
(JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman walks on a snow covered road in Obihiro in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on December 17, 2014. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

Children play in a snow covered park in Sapporo in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on December 17, 2014. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

Vehicles are seen on a snow-covered street in Obihiro in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on December 17, 2014. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

Vehicles are seen on a snow-covered street in Obihiro in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on December 17, 2014. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

Six more people were confirmed dead by FNN News, bringing the total number of fatalities across the country to 11. About 280 people near the border of Niigata and Nagano prefectures were cut off by a landslide on Thursday, according to a separate FNN report.

The storm also trapped three men on Mount Shiraga on the island of Shikoku in western Japan, according to NHK. The report said the men became stuck on the mountain because of heavy snowfall, and a rescue was planned for Thursday morning.

WATCH: Video footage of a blizzard which struck the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

Travel was also affected by the big storm, both in the air and on the ground. Some 550 flights have been canceled Wednesday and Thursday, News Australia reported, and dozens of cars were stuck underneath huge snow drifts on city roads.

"The current sea-effect snow event should wind down by Friday," said Erdman. "However, another strong frontal system this weekend could reactivate the sea-effect snow machine in Japan through Monday. Snow cover by early next week could be very impressive in the most typically hard-hit sea-effect areas."

American Airlines Flight Hits Turbulence Flying Through Powerful Winter Storm Near Japan; As Many As 14 Reported Injured

Earlier, a U.S.-bound passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing near Tokyo Tuesday night after encountering severe turbulence while flying through a rapidly intensifying winter storm. Five people on the flight were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, according to a statement released by American Airlines, and as many as nine other passengers were treated at the scene.

American Airlines Flight 280, which originated at Incheon International Airport near Seoul, South Korea, was flying east when it hit severe turbulence around 8 p.m. Tuesday Japanese time (6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time). Public broadcaster NHK said the jet was flying over Japan between Ishikawa and Ibaraki prefectures, north of Tokyo, at the time.

NHK said the plane, which was en route to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, continued its planned flight over the Pacific Ocean to a point about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) east of Japan's coast before making a U-turn. The plane landed safely at 12:55 a.m. Wednesday (10:55 a.m. Eastern Standard Time Tuesday) at Narita International Airport near Tokyo, according to ABC News.

Meteorologist Ari Sarsalari explains how jet streak may have caused extreme turbulence on a recent flight, injuring at least 5.

NHK initially said 10 passengers and four crew members were injured on the plane, but later lowered that figure to 12. The broadcaster said one of the crew members had a suspected bone fracture, but the other injuries were minor.

"American's primary concern at this time is for our passengers and crew on board the airplane and our team in Narita is providing assistance. We will provide additional information as it becomes available," said the airline in a statement released after the incident.

A powerful winter storm over Japan, associated with a powerful ribbon of 200- to 240-mph winds in the jet stream, some 35,000 feet above sea level. The center of low pressure was moving north near the Pacific coast of northern Japan. It became a meteorological "bomb" as its central pressure plummeted at least 44 millibars in 17 hours while it tracked along Japan's Pacific coast from south of Osaka to the eastern tip of the country's northernmost major island, Hokkaido.

The storm system was developing over the flight path of the American Airlines jet, which appeared to be crossing through a section of the powerful jet stream winds.

On The Ground: 90-mph Winds Stoke Blizzard, Storm Surge Fears

The storm itself prompted blizzard warnings for parts of 11 prefectures in northern and western Japan. Parts of Hokkaido reported more than 2 feet of snow from the storm, with snowfall rates as high as 5 inches per hour. The city of Obihiro, shown in the photo below, reported 60 cm (24 inches) of snow.

In western Japan, about 2 inches of snow fell in the city of Hiroshima. NHK said icy roads are being blamed for a truck accident that killed a 54-year-old man outside the city before sunrise Wednesday.

More heavy snow was expected in Japan Wednesday as cold winds in the wake of the storm blow across the Sea of Japan, generating bands of heavy sea-effect snow. Some of the world's snowiest places are in the mountains of northern and central Japan due to frequent sea-effect snows in the winter months.

Vehicles are seen on a snow-covered street in Obihiro in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on December 17, 2014. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

In the village of Hinoemata in western Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, more than 30 inches of snow covers the ground following a large storm,
Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. (Instagram/@marn_9)

In the village of Hinoemata in western Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, more than 30 inches of snow covers the ground following a large storm,
Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. (Instagram/@marn_9)

In the village of Hinoemata in western Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, more than 30 inches of snow covers the ground following a large storm,
Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. (Instagram/@marn_9)

High wind warnings were posted for several regions, including coastal areas near Tokyo. Winds gusted as high as 93 mph over the Izu Islands just south of Tokyo Bay, where tornado warnings were issued Tuesday evening local time.

As the storm "bombed out" -- that is, intensified rapidly -- it brought an 89-mph gust to the city of Nemuro, near the eastern tip of Hokkaido, around 5 a.m. local time Wednesday. Three hours later, the barometric pressure plummeted to 951.6 millibars (28.10 inches of mercury) in that city. The winds damaged roofs and broke windows in Nemuro, according to NHK, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued storm surge warnings for the Pacific coast of Hokkaido in advance of the storm, warning that water levels could rise 4 feet above normal tide levels. NHK said authorities were recommending evacuations for parts of Nemuro Wednesday morning due to storm surge concerns.- The Weather Channel.

Heavy snowfall strands about 6,000 tourists in the India, Himachal, resort of Manali

About 6,000 tourists were stranded in the popular resort of Manali as on Monday, even as electricity supply in the area remained disrupted for the second day after Sunday’s snowfall.

Landline phones have been out of order since Saturday evening, while mobile phone service is partially operational in the area.

A majority of the roads leading to Manali town remained closed for traffic. Traffic on the Kiratpur-Manali national highway (NH-21) remained disrupted, even as the Himachal Pradesh government made use of excavators to clear snow-laden roads. The main roads connecting Manali from the left and right banks of the Beas river could not be opened for traffic on Monday.

The road on the right bank had been cleared of snow till Kalauth, about 7km from Manali town, while the one on the left had been cleared till Naggar village, nearly 20km from the tourist resort.

“Hopefully, these roads will be opened for traffic on Tuesday morning,” said Lalit Bushan, superintending engineer, public works department (PWD), Kullu.

Manali recorded 65cm snowfall and sub-zero night temperature on Sunday. The minimum temperature was recorded at -2.2C, while the maximum on Monday was about 2C. “Though we were delighted to witness snowfall, it has become difficult for us without electricity and telecommunication service,” said Madan Lal, a tourist from Faridabad (Haryana).

Madan, who got stuck in a snowstorm on the Rohtang Pass, walked 10-15km from Marhi to reach Manali. Nearly 2,500 tourists were stranded at Rohtang on Saturday when it snowed heavily. All tourists were rescued by the police and the district administration; 28 of them were lodged at the rescue hut at Marhi.

“There are nearly 6,000 tourists stuck in Manali,” deputy superintendent of police, Manali, Puran Chand told Hindustan Times. In the absence of electricity, some hotels relied on power generators, while there were many which had no arrangement for heating rooms. The main 132-KW line supplying electricity to Kullu and Manali was snapped at Bajuaru following heavy snowfall.

“The lines are being restored. It would take another day or so to restore electricity supply,” said Partap Negi, chief managing director of the Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board Limited.

Disruption of traffic has severely hit the supply of daily commodities in the area. “Hoteliers and shopkeepers have stocks of commodities. We have given directions to the police and civic administration to ensure that tourists are not overcharged by hoteliers and eateries,” said additional district magistrate Vinay Thakur.

In the wake of the heavy snowfall, chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Monday chaired a meeting to take stock of the situation. He directed the authorities concerned to restore water and power supply and other essential services within two days.

“The damage to roads should be assessed and steps taken to open all routes, wherever they are blocked due to heavy snowfall and landslides,” he said. It was decided to release Rs. 5 crore to the PWD through the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to undertaken necessary measures to clear the roads. - Hindustan Times.

Heavy snowfall in Korea as temperatures drop sharply

A mix of rain and snow hit the entire nation on Monday, weather forecasters said, adding that heavy snowfall will continue through Tuesday morning in Seoul and nearby regions.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said that Gangwon Province and the surrounding mountainous area saw up to 20 centimeters of heavy snowfall, while Seoul and Gyeonggi Province received 1 to 5 centimeters of snow.

Jeolla Province and the west coast area got 3 to 8 centimeters of snow.

Weather forecasters said that snow may turn into rain due to relatively milder temperatures throughout this week.

With the chances of rain at 60 to 90 percent in Seoul, Gyeonggi, Gangwon and South Chungcheong provinces, forecasters encouraged people to keep an umbrella handy before heading out.

The morning low in Seoul on Monday stood at minus 3 degrees Celsius and the afternoon temperature rose to 3 degrees Celsius.

Other cities including Daegu, Gwangju and Busan saw milder afternoons at 6, 8 and 9 degrees Celsius.

The KMA said that heavy snowfall this week is due to a wave of cold air moving southward, causing snowfall in mountainous regions.

For Wednesday, temperatures are expected to drop as much as 10 degrees Celsius following the heavy snow and rainfall. The KMA said most regions will see strong wind and freezing subzero temperatures.

The morning low on Wednesday is forecast to hit minus 16 degrees Celsius in Gangwon Province, while Seoul’s morning temperature is expected to plunge to minus 12 degrees Celsius.

Incheon, Suwon and Daejeon are forecast to experience chilly weather as well, with the temperatures forecast to be at minus 11, 12 and 8 degrees Celsius, respectively.

The KMA said the wind chill would lower the actual temperature people feel outside to hit as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius.

As the cold weather warnings may be issued for the central areas of peninsula on Wednesday, the KMA said people should make sure outdoor facilities do not freeze. - Korea Herald.

WATCH: Mini Ice Age 2015-2030 - From India to Japan, Trapped Tourists and 120cm Snowfalls.

ICE AGE NOW: Extreme Weather - Superbomb Winter Storm Predicted For Northeastern United States At Christmas!

December 18, 2014 - UNITED STATES
- A "superbomb" storm is being predicted for Christmas Day in the Northeast United states according to WeatherBell Meteorologist Dr. Ryan Maue who has pointed out it looks to be reminiscent of the Cleveland Superbomb of 1978 aka the "Great New England Blizzard of 1978″.

This GFS forecast model for Christmas Day shows the depth of the low, poised to gather moisture from the Great Lakes and dump it into the Northeastern U.S. over the next 24-48 hours, potentially making Christmas and post-Christmas travel a nightmare, but ... there is a twist.

Dr. Maue adds on his Twitter feed:
Exciting to see extreme weather forecasts with an item that requires dusting off the record books. 958 mb low
For reference, a 958 millibar low pressure system is as low as the central pressure for some tropical storms and nearly that of some hurricanes. For example Hurricane Sandy had a central pressure of 940 mbar or 27.76 inHg.

According to the Time article on the Cleveland Superbomb of 1978:
Meteorologists have a name for a storm that occurs when air pressure drops very rapidly as a jet stream brings in moisture: a weather bomb. In late January 1978, a low-pressure system moving from the Gulf Coast met with two other low-pressure systems, one from the Southwest and one from Canada, to create one of the worst snowstorms the Midwest has ever seen. With barometric pressure so low, it was more like a hurricane than a snowstorm, the so-called Cleveland Superbomb dumped 1-3 ft. (30-90 cm) of snow on several Midwestern states, including Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Wind gusts approached 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h), causing snowdrifts to reach heights of 25 ft. (8 m) in some areas. Such snowdrifts made roadways impassable, forcing doctors and emergency personnel to ski and snowmobile their way to those in need. Indiana's governor sent tanks down I-65 to remove stranded trucks, while in Ohio, National Guard helicopters flew some 2,700 missions to help stranded drivers. About 70 deaths are attributed to the storm.

While the Cleveland Superbomb has an intriguing name, the most well-known snowstorm of that year was known simply as the Great New England Blizzard of 1978. On Feb. 6, about two weeks after the Superbomb, a blizzard dealt Boston and other parts of the Northeast as many as 27 in. (69 cm) of snow with winds of 80-110 m.p.h. (130-180 km/h). Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed and approximately 100 people died.
Maue adds:

I'll add, it also has nothing to do with that other favorite catchphrase of the media, the "polar vortex". - WUWT.

PARADIGM SHIFT: The Age Of Putin - Russian President Holds Tenth Annual Marathon News Conference Against The Background Of The Collapsing Ruble And The Economic Warfare Of Destabilization By Europe And The United States Corporation! [LIVE VIDEO]

December 18, 2014 - RUSSIA
- Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding his annual marathon Q&A. He is expected to touch on a variety of themes during a year of great economic and geopolitical turbulence.

The much-anticipated Q&A marathon is expected to be heavy on economics and politics following major geopolitical shifts this year.

This is the 10th annual press conference to be held by the Russian President. Similar formats in the past lasted normally up to several hours.

 The state of the Russian economy and recent confrontation with the West are the issues that some of the 1,200 journalists attending the event will likely seek to tackle first.

“It is clear that the economy will be the first thing that will be asked,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiya 24 TV news ahead of the big event. He said that the Kremlin expects questions “on the situation in the economy, the situation with the ruble, prices, measures that the leadership of Russia have in mind to tackle these.”

Since the beginning of 2014 the ruble has fallen almost 50 percent against the US dollar. In an effort to halt the devaluation of the national currency the Central Bank has raised its key interest rate to 17 percent, a measure that was not enough to effectively stop the volatility.

At the same time, the price of food products in retail chains in the past year in Russia have risen by up to 25 percent and it is feared that in the first months of 2015 prices could rise even further.

Putin will also likely discuss the tense geopolitical situation that has been shaped following the Ukrainian turmoil and civil war and Crimea’s referendum to join Russia. Peskov called 2014 an “unusual” year in terms of “a paradigm shift in the international system,” something that the Russian president plans to elaborate on even further.

The hostilities in Ukraine are expected to remain one of the main topics of discussions as a ceasefire in Donbass announced by Kiev last week is barely holding up. Meanwhile, accusing Moscow of “aggression” in Ukraine, NATO countries have not only slapped Russia with economic sanctions, but also stepped up the military presence on Russian borders.

The biggest question of all is how Russia will react if further sanctions are introduced by the US and the EU.

In preparation for the Q&A session, Putin has been actively seeking expert opinion from a number of government ministers, analysts and advisers. Peskov says, that the Russian leader is prepared for any possible question.

“The press conference is always a place where the president can be asked any questions,” he said, highlighting that the president will answer uncensored questions, summing up the events of the outgoing year.

The live Q&A press conference was first held in 2001 and hosted over 500 journalists. Since then it continued annually until 2008, when Putin became Russia’s prime minister. It was reintroduced in 2012 after Putin was re-elected president.

In his previous key public address Putin made a strong stance against US-led attempts by the West to weaken Russia during his State of the Nation address to the Federal Assembly earlier in December.  - RT.

WATCH: LIVE - Putin Q&A marathon 2014.

MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: Ice Age Now - Invisible Sunspot, Is The Sun Starting To Hibernate; Secondary Solar High Peak Means A Repeat 1810 Cooling Pattern?!

December 18, 2014 - SPACE
- The Sun’s energy output and Solar Irradiance do affect our planet's weather in repeating cycles, and through 400 years of sunspot observation, it seems we are starting to repeat a cold period of either the 1830’s (Dalton Minimum) or 1650’s (Maunder Minimum) era.

On December 15th in sunspot group 2239 an invisible sunspot appeared with negative polarity which can only be explained if the area was at 1500 Gauss or weaker. This indicates the plasma field is very weak and that the sun is going into a hibernation phase.

Within a few years time the magnetic field will be to weak to support any Sunspots on the face of the Sun.

WATCH: Is the Sun Starting to Hibernate?

Solar Cycle 24 has an initial low peak followed by a higher secondary peak, the only other two solar cycles to follow this trend were SC 5 and SC 12, which both ushered in a cold era.

This does not include solar cycles (-11 to -1) which preceded the official start of counting but date back to 1600.

WATCH: Secondary Solar High Peak Means a Repeat 1810 Cooling Pattern.

- Adapt 2030.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: "It Would Be A Huge Disaster" - What Would Happen If The Yellowstone Supervolcano Actually Erupted?!

What would happen if the Yellowstone supervolcano actually erupted?

December 18, 2014 - UNITED STATES - If the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park ever had another massive eruption, it could spew ash for thousands of miles across the United States, damaging buildings, smothering crops, and shutting down power plants. It'd be a huge disaster.

A super-eruption would be very bad - though also pretty unlikely

But that doesn't mean we should all start freaking out. The odds of that happening are thankfully pretty low. The Yellowstone supervolcano - thousands of times more powerful than a regular volcano - has only had three truly enormous eruptions in history. One occurred 2.1 million years ago, one 1.3 million years ago, and one 664,000 years ago.

And despite what you sometimes hear in the press, there's no indication that we're due for another "super-eruption" anytime soon. In fact, it's even possible that Yellowstone might never have an eruption that large again.

Even so, the Yellowstone supervolcano remains an endless source of apocalyptic fascination - and it's not hard to see why. In September 2014, a team of scientists published a paper in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems exploring what a Yellowstone super-eruption might actually look like.

Among other things, they found the volcano was capable of burying states like Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Colorado in three feet of harmful volcanic ash - a mix of splintered rock and glass - and blanket the Midwest. That much ash could kill plants and animals, crush roofs, and short all sorts of electrical equipment:

Ash, ash, everywhere

An example of the possible distribution of ash from a month-long Yellowstone supereruption.  © US Geological Survey

An example of the possible distribution of ash from a month-long Yellowstone supereruption.

When I called up one of the study's co-authors, Jacob Lowenstern of the US Geological Survey, he stressed that the paper was not any sort of prediction of the future. "Even if Yellowstone did erupt again, you probably wouldn't get that worst-case scenario," he says. "What's much, much more common are small eruptions - that's a point that often gets ignored in the press." (And even those small eruptions are very rare.)

Lowenstern is the Scientist-In-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory in Menlo Park, California. So I talked to him further about what we actually know about the Yellowstone supervolcano, what its eruptions might look like, and why the odds of disaster are low.

What is the Yellowstone supervolcano?

© National Park Service

Lurking beneath Yellowstone National Park is a reservoir of hot magma five miles deep, fed by a gigantic plume of molten rock welling up from hundreds of miles below. That heat is responsible for many of the park's famous geysers and hot springs. And as magma rises up into the chamber and cools, the ground above periodically rises and falls.

The vast, vast majority of Yellowstone eruptions are small

On rare occasions throughout history, that magma chamber has erupted. The vast, vast majority of those eruptions in Yellowstone have been smaller lava flows - with the last occurring at Pitchstone Plateau some 70,000 years ago.

But the reason why Yellowstone gets so much attention is the remote possibility of catastrophic "super-eruptions." A super-eruption is anything that measures magnitude 8 or more on the Volcano Explosivity Index, in which at least 1,000 cubic kilometers (or 240 cubic miles) of material gets ejected. That's enough to bury Texas five feet deep.

These super-eruptions are thousands of times more powerful than even the biggest eruptions we're used to. Here's a chart from USGS comparing the Yellowstone super-eruptions with the Mt. St. Helens eruption of 1980. The difference is staggering:

Super-eruptions vs ordinary eruptions

© (US Geological Survey)

Yellowstone has had three of these really massive eruptions in its history - 2.1 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago, and 664,000 years ago. The last of those, at Yellowstone Lava Creek, ejected so much material from below that it left a 34-mile-by-50-mile depression in the ground - what we see today as the Yellowstone Caldera:

Location of past Yellowstone super-eruptions

© National Park Service

It's worth noting that Yellowstone is hardly the only supervolcano out there - geologists have found evidence of at least 47 super-eruptions in Earth's history. The most recent occurred in New Zealand's Lake Taupo some 26,000 years ago.

More dramatically, there was the gargantuan Toba eruption 74,000 years ago, caused by shifting tectonic plates. That triggered a dramatic 6- to 10-year global winter and (according to some) may have nearly wiped out the nascent human race.

On average, the Earth has seen roughly one super-eruption every 100,000 years, although that's not an ironclad law.

So what would a Yellowstone eruption look like?

Let's reiterate that the odds of any sort of Yellowstone eruption, big or small, are very low. But if we're speaking hypothetically...

The most likely eruption scenario in Yellowstone is a smaller event that produced lava flows (similar to what's happening at Iceland's Bárðarbunga right now) and possible a typical volcanic explosion. This would likely be precipitated by a swarm of earthquakes in a specific region of the park as the magma made its way to the surface.

A super-eruption is capable of sending ash many thousands of miles

Now, in the unlikely event of a much bigger super-eruption, the warning signs would be much bigger. "We'd likely first see intense seismic activity across the entire park," Lowenstern says. It could take weeks or months for those earthquakes to break up the rocks above the magma before an eruption.

And what if we did get a super-eruption - an event that was 1,000 times more powerful than a regular volcanic eruption, ejected at least 240 cubic miles of material, and lasted weeks or months? The lava flows themselves would be contained within a relatively small radius within the park - say, 40 miles or so. In fact, only about one-third of the material would actually make it up into the atmosphere.

The main damage would come from volcanic ash - a combination of splintered rock and glass - that was ejected miles into the air and scattered around the country. In their new paper, Lowenstern and his colleagues looked at both historical ash deposits and advanced modeling to conclude that an eruption would create an umbrella cloud, expanding even in all directions. (This was actually a surprising finding.)

A super-eruption could conceivably bury the northern Rockies in three feet of ash - devastating large swaths of Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, and Utah. Meanwhile, the Midwest would get a few inches of ash, while both coasts would see even smaller amounts. The exact distribution would depend on the time of year and weather patterns:

Modeling the spread of ash from a Yellowstone super-eruption

© Mastin et al 2014

Any of those scenarios would be terrible news. That much volcanic ash
is capable of killing people, plants, and animals and crushing buildings.
Even a few inches of ash (which is what much of the country can get) can destroy farms, clog roadways, cause serious respiratory problems, block sewer lines, and even short out transformers. Air travel would have to shut down across much of North America.

An eruption that big would also cool the planet temporarily

A volcanic eruption that big would also have major effects on the global climate. Volcanoes can emit sulfur aerosols that reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere cool the climate. These particles are short-lived in the atmosphere, so the effect is only temporary, but it can still be dramatic.

When Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it cooled the planet by about 1°C (1.8°F) for a few years. The Tambora eruption in 1815 cooled the planet enough to damage crops around the world - possibly leading to famines in some areas. And those were relatively tiny eruptions compared to what a supervolcano is, in theory, capable of.

Yikes! So what are the odds of a Yellowstone super-eruption?

Very, very low. In fact, it's even possible Yellowstone might never erupt again.

'Odds are very high that Yellowstone will be eruption-free for the coming centuries'

Right now, there's no sign of a pending eruption. Yellowstone park does continue to get earthquakes, and the ground continues to rise and fall, but that's nothing out of the ordinary. "Yellowstone is behaving as it has for the past 140 years," the USGS points out. "Odds are very high that Yellowstone will be eruption-free for the coming centuries."

The USGS also notes that, if you simply took the past three eruptions, the odds of Yellowstone erupting in any given year are 0.00014 percent - lower than the odds of getting hit by a civilization-destroying asteroid. But even that's not a good estimate, since it's not at all certain that Yellowstone erupts on a regular cycle or that it's "overdue" for another eruption. In fact, there might never be a big eruption in Yellowstone again.

"The Earth will see super-eruptions in the future, but will they come in Yellowstone? That's not a sure thing," says Lowenstern. "Yellowstone's already lived a good long life. It may not even see a fourth eruption."

Volcanoes, after all, do die out. The magma chamber below Yellowstone is being affected by two opposing forces - the heat welling up from below and the relative cold from the surface. If less heat comes in from below, then the chamber could conceivably freeze, eventually turning into a solid granite body.

It's also worth noting that the volcanic hotspot underneath Yellowstone is slowly migrating to the northeast (or, more accurately, the North American tectonic plate above the hotspot is migrating southwest). You can see the migration below:

The volcanic hotspot is sloooooowly moving northeast


On a long enough time scale, the hotspot will move out from under Yellowstone - and the Yellowstone supervolcano would, presumably, die out. Of course, it's possible that another supervolcano could emerge further in the northeast, but the hotspot would first have to heat up and melt the cold crust first. And that process could take a million years or longer.

"It's hard to get our minds around something like a million years," Lowenstern says. "Humans are a relatively brand-new species. But Earth's been around a very long time, and these systems take a long time to do what they do." - VOX.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Ice Age Now - Arctic Sea Ice Extent Remains At A TEN YEAR HIGH!

December 18, 2014 - ARCTIC OCEAN - Since the end of October,  Arctic sea ice extent has been at a 10 year high almost every day.

 COI | Centre for Ocean and Ice | Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut

- Real Science.

DISASTER PRECURSORS: Omen – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Mass Animal Die-Offs, Appearance Of Rare Creatures And Warnings From Mother Nature!

December 18, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Mysterious creature with sharp claws and pointy teeth discovered on California beach

A mysterious creature with sharp claws and pointy teeth was discovered on Tuesday at a beach in Santa Barbara, after the area received some brutal storms and damage.

The brownish animal was discovered near a drain washout and has remained unidentified. Residents are baffled by its presence and have been unable to identify the species of animal or where it came from.

No other animals with a similar appearance have been found in the area.

In June of 2012, another pig-like creature was discovered in San Diego by a 19-year-old snowboarder from Lake Tahoe. According to the teenager, the animal was about 2 feet long with a body like a pig. The animal's teeth were also described as "ridiculously" large.

In September, Santa Barbara also saw an invasion of an unusual sea creature known as the "by-the-wind sailor", or Velella velella with close relations to jellyfish. - Opposing Views.

Over 3,000 seals have die this year off the coast of Sweden and Denmark

Swedish authorities say some 3,000 seals have possibly died of the bird flu along the coast of Sweden and Denmark this year.

Swedish authorities say bird flu was most likely the cause of death of some 3,000 seals off the coast of Sweden and Denmark this year.

The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management said on Tuesday that the number of seals to die from the bird flu this year was much higher than previously thought.

"So far this year about 3,000 harbor seals have died in Swedish and Danish waters and were probably infected with the bird flu virus H10N7," the agency said in a statement.

Figures released in October suggested that about 700 seals had died, but researchers say the exact number is still unknown as most of the dead animals had sunk.

Dead seals infected with the virus were first found in April off the coast of Gothenburg, located southwest of Sweden.

The Swedish agency said some of the seals may have developed antibodies which have prevented all of its 10,000 seals from dying of the virus.

Last month, authorities in the northern German region of Schleswig-Holstein said 1,600 of the region's 13,000 seals had died from the bird flu.

Separate cases of seal deaths related to the bird flu have been also reported in the Netherlands and Norway. - Press TV.

4,000 Birds killed due to avian flu in Miyazaki, Japan

There is believed to be no risk of the virus spreading to humans

Japan has culled around 4,000 chickens following an outbreak of bird flu at a poultry farm in the southwest of the country.

Three birds tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5 strain of avian influenza at the site in Miyazaki prefecture, and an official said on Tuesday that all birds were subsequently slaughtered.

The local government also asked nearby poultry farms to restrict movements of livestock, the official said.

There is believed to be no risk of the virus spreading to humans through consumption of chicken eggs or meat, he said.

Miyazaki Prefecture is Japan's top producer of broiler chickens, raising about 28 million birds, or around 20 per cent of all chickens in Japan, according to an official at the Agricultural Ministry.

In April, Japan confirmed its first bird flu case in livestock since 2011 at a farm in Kumamoto prefecture, southwestern Japan.

Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious viral illness that spreads among birds. In rare cases it can affect humans and two types have caused serious concern in recent years. These are the H5N1 and H7N9 viruses.

Last month 6,000 birds were culled at a duck breeding farm in Yorkshire after an outbreak of avian flu. However, the strain was not deemed a threat to humans. - Independent.

Elephants kill 3 people in Satkania, Bangladesh

The incident took place near Cox's Bazar-Chittagong highway of the area on Wednesday

Three people have been killed in an attack by elephants in Nayakhal area of Kheochhiya union under Satkania upazila in Chittagong.

The deceased are Mahbubul Alam Talukdar, 35, son of late Abul Hossain Talukdar of the area, Shakil, 15, son of Md Forkan of Kaliaish area of the upazila and Shahadat Hossain, 30, son of Ameer Hossain.

Sub-inspector of Satkania police station Kazi Golam Kibria said: "The incident took place near Cox's Bazar-Chittagong highway of the area on Wednesday."

Some 14 elephants came down to crop field beside the highway around 5:30pm. As the people tried to stop them from destroying the crops, the elephants got furious and attacked the people, leaving one of them dead on the spot, the SI said.

Two injured were taken to a local clinic where the doctors declared them dead, he added.

- Dhaka Tribune.

Woman killed by fostered dogs in Flour Bluff, Texas

Investigators revealed Tuesday that a Flour Bluff woman who was found dead in her home Monday night appears to have been attacked by dogs she was fostering, and that attack is what resulted in her death.

The Nueces County Medical Examiner determined that 64-year old Rita Woodard, known to many as Rita Ross, died from a heart attack after multiple dog bites. One of her dogs was put to sleep after being severely injured by the attacking dogs.

Ross, who spent much of her time rescuing stray dogs, was discovered around 6:30 p.m. Monday. Several dogs were found feeding on her remains.

The Medical Examiner released a report late Tuesday stating that Ross had died from coronary artery atherosclerosis following multiple dog bites. Corpus Christi Police Department Commander John Houston, who supervises Animal Care Services, said it appeared that five of the 17 dogs found at Ross's home were responsible for the attack.

Those five will likely be euthanized.

Many of the dogs were in cages at Ross's home, and four have already been turned over to the group For the Love of Strays for adoption. The remaining eight dogs will be turned over to Ross's son, who lives out of state.

WATCH: Medical Examiner says Flour Bluff woman killed by dog attack.

Ross's Facebook page was devoted to helping find forever homes for stray dogs, and she spent much of her time helping the rescue group. There have already been several posts of condolences from friends, like Melissa Rizzo, who operates the rescue group.

"She is a very caring woman. Always there for the animals whether it be day or night. She's always there," Rizzo said. "She is a very big asset to our organization. Very dedicated woman. Every weekend, we have our pet adoptions. She is there faithfully with the animals, working hard with training dogs, making sure everyone gets into a loving home."

Houston said state law calls for any dogs that attack humans to be euthanized, or a judge can order their destruction. A final determination has yet to be made.

Rizzo said For the Love of Strays needs money and food to take care of the dogs that were turned over to them, and they hope to see the remaining eight dogs put up for adoption, either through them or Animal Care Services. - KIII.

130,000 birds to be killed due to avian flu in Lower Saxony, Germany

A truck loaded with the carcasses of terminated turkeys stands in front of a turkey farm where authorities discovered the H5N8 bird flu
recently in Barssel, Germany Photo: David Hecker/Getty Images

German authorities have ordered the cull of thousands of turkeys and chickens days before Christmas after a new outbreak of bird flu at a poultry farm in Lower Saxony.

All 19,000 turkeys at the farm have already been culled, together with 12,000 more at an adjoining farm.

The cull will also be extended to some 109,000 chickens at two nearby farms as a precautionary measure.

The virus has been identified as the same H5N8 strain that was found at a duck farm in East Yorkshire last month, and in earlier outbreaks in Germany and the Netherlands.

As millions of Germans prepare to celebrate Christmas with meals of roast turkey, authorities have offered assurances that there is no risk to public health.

"H5N8 is not dangerous to humans," a spokeswoman for the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Germany's animal health authority, told the Telegraph. "So far there has not been a single case of human infection worldwide."

Officials have stressed that the strain of the virus is not the same as the H5N1 strain, which has caused human infections and deaths.

The turkeys at the German farm where the virus was found were not yet ready for slaughter, but officials are checking that no infected birds have entered the food chain.

While turkey is not as synonymous with Christmas in Germany as in the UK, it is a popular alternative to the traditional roast goose.

Authorities are concerned that the virus could spread quickly and have devastasting effect on the poultry industry. Cloppenburg in Lower Saxony, where the farm outbreak was discovered, is the heartland of German poultry farming.

The same strain was found at another farm in November in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state. Scientists believe it may have been transmitted to European livestock by migratory birds.

"We've checked and there is no other common factor between the farms where it has been found," said the spokeswoman for the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut.  - Telegraph.

Deer enters store in Charlotte, North Carolina

A dust-up between the people of Walmart and a confused deer inside a North Carolina store was caught on camera by a customer.

The deer, apparently a doe, wandered into the store Monday afternoon in Charlotte's University City neighborhood and ended up being tackled and pinned to the ground by a group of Walmart workers and customers.

Witness Edmond Ratcliffe captured cellphone video of the incident.

WATCH: Deer wrangled in North Tryon Walmart.

"You never know when you have seen it all... I'm in Walmart today and a wildlife shopper decided that he needed to stop by Walmart for a celebrity appearance," Ratcliffe posted on Facebook.

He said the deer tacklers had a "struggle, but they got him."

"It was kind of a stay out of the way situation because I know if I'm in the way, it could be trouble," he told WSOC-TV.

The deer was taken away by Animal Control officers. Its fate after leaving the store was unknown Tuesday.  - UPI.

1,200 Birds found dead, 30,000 to be killed due to avian flu near Venice, Italy

This is the first outbreak of a highly pathogenic bird flu virus in Italy since September 2013. Photo: AP

Italy has reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus on a turkey farm in the northeastern part of the country near Venice, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Tuesday. The strain, which has never been detected in humans, is the same as in other cases found in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain since early November and which devastated bird flocks in Asia—mainly South Korea—earlier this year.

More than 1,200 birds were found dead from the virus at a fattening turkey farm in Porto Viro, the Paris-based OIE reported on its website, citing the Italian health ministry. “High mortality was reported during the last two days. Control measures will be applied in the restriction zones established,” the ministry said in the report. Culling on the farm of more than 30,000 birds was due to start on Tuesday, it said. It was the first outbreak of a highly pathogenic bird flu virus in Italy since September 2013, it said. - Livemint.