Saturday, December 20, 2014

ICE AGE NOW: Cold Wave Hits Northern India - 30 People Killed; Thousands Of Trees Fallen; Widespread Power Outage!

December 20, 2014 - INDIA
- In some of the heaviest spells of snowfall Uttarakhand has seen in recent times, 30 people, according to the State Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre, have died in the hills in the last two days.

Himachal Pradesh also recorded heavy snowfall. The icy winds coming from these hill region swept Uttar Pradesh as well, leading to drop in temperatures. Lucknow was coldest in UP with minimum temperature 6.6 degrees Celsius.

WATCH: Cold wave hits North India, over 30 dead.

People woke up to foggy morning in Lucknow. However, strong winds cleared sky by 9 am. These winds also kept mercury low during the day. The maximum temperature despite bright sunshine was 21.5 degrees Celsius, three degrees below normal. On Thursday, maximum and minimum temperature is expected to be around 21 and 7 degrees Celsius respectively. In the coming days, the Met officials said that the night temperatures would drop below five degrees Celsius.

Heavy snowfall in Almora, Pithoragarh, and Bageshwar

Meanwhile, 13 people died in Uttarakhand's Kumaon region alone in the past two days. Administration sources said that while three people died in Nainital, two collapsed due to the biting cold in Haldwani, three in Bageshwar, including an agriculture officer, and one in Bhimtal. Officials in the Disaster Mitigation Centre said they are trying to get detailed figures, but in these weather condition that was proving tough.

In Pithoragarh district, a private car slipped on the snow and went down a deep gorge, leaving two people dead and three seriously injured.

Electricity supply was snapped in several parts of Kumaon as thousands of trees had fallen, many on power lines. Water supply, too, was non-existent as pipes froze.

Sources in the district administration said Almora had not recorded such snow in over 40 years. In Pithoragarh, for over nine years, snowfall has not been so heavy and so early. And there were reports that Bageshwar had broken a 46 year-record.

Snow piled up to about two feet in many areas of Kumaon, paralyzing life further.

Roads were hit equally badly, with traffic cut off in large swathes of the hills. Twenty roads in Almora, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar and Champawat were covered with a thick blanket of snow. Hundreds of passenger buses and jeeps are still stranded, with local people volunteering to offer those stranded food, water and shelter.

Almora DM Binod Kumar Suman said, "At least 5,000 trees have fallen in the district, many on top of houses. We have restored power in 60% of the urban localities and 40% of rural areas. Today, we managed to rescue hundreds of stranded people. Some roads in the district have been cleared and opened. We are working on the other roads."

The district magistrate said for any emergency situation, people could call the toll free 1077 for help.

Minimum temperature was one degree Celsius in Almora, minus 3 degrees Celsius in Pithoragarh, and minus 1 degree Celsius in Bageshwar. - Times of India.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Indonesia's Mount Gamalama Erupts - Sends Ash And Rocks 2 Kilometres Into The Sky; Forcing Airport Closure And Warnings To Airplanes; 9 People Injured, 1 Missing!

December 20, 2014 - INDONESIA
- Mount Gamalama in North Maluku province of Indonesia erupted at 13:41 UTC on Thursday, December 18, 2014, sending ash and rocks 2 km into the sky and forcing the authorities to close an airport and issue warnings to planes. Nine people were injured while running to escape the eruption. One person is still unaccounted for, authorities said.

Increased seismicity around the volcano was observed since 08:30 UTC. It then sharply increased at 13:09 UTC (22:09 local time), about 30 minutes before the eruption.

Evacuation orders are still not in place, however, a senior official from the disaster management agency in North Maluku province said the communities are ordered to be on alert of possible cool lava flowing in rivers as rain is frequent in recent days.

Sutopo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, said the volcanic ash was still blanketing much of the city of Ternate on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, USGS is registering a swarm of earthquakes about 150 km NW of Gamalama. They registered 67 moderate to strong earthquakes in the region (Molucca Sea) with magnitudes ranging from 4.0 - 6.8 in last 30 days.

The last time this volcano appeared in GVP's weekly volcanic report was during the week of October 10 - 16, 2012:

CVGHM reported that eruptions at Gamalama during September 15 - 16 prompted CVGHM to raise the Alert Level to 3 (on a scale of 1-4) on September 16. An eruption on September 17 produced a white-and-gray plume that rose 300 m above the crater and drifted E and SE.

Ashfall was reported in the ESE part of Ternate (S, SE, and E part of island). After the eruption through October 8 white plumes rose 10-50 m high. Seismicity decreased in early October. The Alert Level was decreased to 2 on October 9. Visitors and residents were warned not to approach the crater within a radius of 1.5 km.

Geologic summary

Gamalama (Peak of Ternate) is a near-conical stratovolcano that comprises the entire island of Ternate off the western coast of Halmahera and is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. The island of Ternate was a major regional center in the Portuguese and Dutch spice trade for several centuries, which contributed to the thorough documentation of Gamalama's historical activity.

Three cones, progressively younger to the north, form the summit of Gamalama, which reaches 1715 m. Several maars and vents define a rift zone, parallel to the Halmahera island arc, that cuts the volcano. Eruptions, recorded frequently since the 16th century, typically originated from the summit craters, although flank eruptions have occurred in 1763, 1770, 1775, and 1962-63. (GVP) - The Watchers.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: "We Want Santa To Bring Snow Soon" - Spate Of Weird Weather Lingers In Alaska; Above Normal Temperatures EVERY DAY In December; Anchorage Is Almost TWO FEET Behind Usual Snowfall Totals?!

The ground near Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, is void of snow on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Unlike other cities across the nation digging out for
snowstorms, Alaska's largest city is bare of snow. This time of year, Anchorage normally has nearly 17 inches of snowfall. Instead, it's seen less than 4 inches,
and that snow fell a month ago and melted in unseasonably warmer weather. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

December 20, 2014 - ALASKA
- A week before Christmas, Alaska's largest city should look like a postcard wonderland, and the last place you'd expect to see equipment making snow.

"We want Santa to bring snow, soon," Terry Goodwin said as she hit a ski trail in Anchorage on Thursday near snowmaking machines churning out the white stuff.

A picturesque northern winter-scape is hardly the reality here as a spate of weird weather lingers in Anchorage, which is almost 2 feet behind the snowfall totals typical by this time. With just days to go until solstice Sunday signals the official start of winter, bare ground can be seen in places and temperatures have been averaging in the 30s, prompting a few hardy residents to take to the streets in T-shirts and shorts.

For the most part, it's even been too warm to make snow for local ski haunts because the machines would churn out slush. However, a slight dip in temperatures allowed the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage to manufacture powder Thursday on trails at the city's Kincaid Park. That will have to do until nature provides its own supply.

"It's one of those things we have to weather through. Pardon the pun," said Craig Norman, a trail groomer for the association.

By this time of year, Anchorage normally has 30.9 inches of snowfall, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Ludwig. But the city has seen 10.3 inches this season from just two measurable snowfalls, with much of that melted down to a thin layer in many places.

December has seen above normal temperatures every day so far, although Thursday's high of 26 degrees came close to the norm of 25. Wednesday's high temperature was 36 degrees. To date, the average temperatures for the month have been more than 8 degrees above normal, Ludwig said. The average low for December so far is nearly 23 degrees, compared with the normal low of 13.

A pressure system that has pushed warmer weather to the north more than usual is a factor in the extended warming spell, according to Ludwig. Coastal water temperatures near Alaska also have been between 5 and 8 degrees above normal at times this year, he said.

There is no bitter cold in the foreseeable forecast, either, with temperatures expected to be above or near normal through the end of the year, Ludwig said. There's a decent chance of snow sometime next week, but probably not the big heaping mounds that would bring out hordes of winter recreationists, including skiers like Ludwig. Others may be tackling thinly covered cross-country skiing trails, but that's not enough of a cushion for him, he said.

"I tend to fall a lot," he said. "I want more snow."

At the Hilltop Ski Area, crews also have been making snow for downhill runs, but that's not doable when temperatures are above 25 degrees, said CEO Steve Remme. One week before Christmas, only 1 1/2 of the area's four runs were open, and Remme was hoping to get more snow made for the weekend.

In the meantime, people keep calling to ask if the area is open. They won't have to do that once the real stuff falls and they have to kick their way through it to get to their cars, Remme said.

"Usually people come out in droves after that," he said. - Yahoo.

SOLAR WATCH: Sunspot 2242 Erupts With Powerful X1.8 Solar Flare - Extreme UV Radiation Ionized Earth's Upper Atmosphere And Blacked Out HF Radio Comunications Over The Pacific; Earth-Directed Coronal Mass Ejection!

December 20, 2014 - SPACE
- Big sunspot AR2242 erupted on Saturday, Dec. 20th @ 00:27 UT, producing an intense X1.8-class solar flare. The picture above was taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a plume of material flying away from the blast site.

The event was associated with a long duration radio burst (TenFlare) lasting nearly an hour and measuring 2300 solar flux units (SFU). A type II radio emission with an estimated velocity of 900 km/s was also detected.

Radio emissions from shock waves rippling through the sun's atmosphere suggest that a CME is en route. However, we are still waiting for data from SOHO coronagraphs to confirm the existence and trajectory of a massive storm cloud. If a CME is coming, it will probably take 2 to 3 days to reach Earth.

SUMMARY: 10cm Radio Burst
Begin Time: 2014 Dec 20 0018 UTC
Maximum Time: 2014 Dec 20 0024 UTC
End Time: 2014 Dec 20 0100 UTC
Duration: 52 minutes
Peak Flux: 2300 sfu
Latest Penticton Noon Flux: 216 sfu

Description: A 10cm radio burst indicates that the electromagnetic burst associated with a solar flare at the 10cm wavelength was double or greater than the initial 10cm radio background. This can be indicative of significant radio noise in association with a solar flare. This noise is generally short-lived but can cause interference for sensitive receivers including radar, GPS, and satellite communications.

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2014 Dec 20 0050 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 900 km/s

Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

SUMMARY: X-ray Event exceeded X1
Begin Time: 2014 Dec 20 0011 UTC
Maximum Time: 2014 Dec 20 0028 UTC
End Time: 2014 Dec 20 0055 UTC
X-ray Class: X1.8
Optical Class: 2b
Location: S19W29
NOAA Scale: R3 - Strong

Potential Impacts: Area of impact consists of large portions of the sunlit side of Earth, strongest at the sub-solar point.
Radio - Wide area blackout of HF (high frequency) radio communication for about an hour.

WATCH: Major X1.8 Solar Flare - December 20, 2014.

There has already been one Earth-effect: Extreme UV radiation from the flare ionized our planet's upper atmosphere and blacked out HF radio communications over Australia and the South Pacific. Below 10 MHz, transmissions were strongly attenuated for more than two hours.

WEEKEND MAGNETIC STORMS: NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% to 65% chance of minor geomagnetic storms this weekend when a pair of CMEs is expected to sideswipe Earth's magnetic field. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras after nightfall. - Space Weather | Solar Ham | Solar Watcher.