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    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    Latest Images




    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 11:39 PM  
    Latest Image of Cyclone "Nargis" in the BAY OF BENGAL
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:08 PM  
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:04 PM  


    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:01 PM  
    Position of Cyclone "NARGIS" today
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 12:56 PM  
    Nargis remains strong
    Bhubaneswar, April 29: Yesterday’s cyclonic storm (Nargis) over Bay of Bengal remained almost stationary today and lay centred 650km south of Orissa’s coastal town of Gopalpur and was likely to intensify further before moving in a northerly direction.

    The severe storm now lay centred over west-central and adjoining south-west and south-east Bay of Bengal, 650km south of Gopalpur, said Met department sources.

    The system is likely to intensify further and move slowly in a northerly direction for sometime.

    Thereafter it is likely to move north-east, said director of Bhubaneswar meteorology centre, S.C. Sahoo. “The system has remained stationary and we are closely monitoring it,” said Sahoo.

    Latest radar observation indicates that thundershower accompanied with squall and hail with maximum wind speed reaching between 60 and 70kmph are likely to affect parts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Nowrangpur, Raygada, Kalahandi, Gajapati, Phulbani, Bhadrak, Balasore, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Ganjam, Nayagarh, Khurda and Cuttack by 9pm today.
    “Rain or thundershower is likely to occur at isolated places over the state. The cyclone warning centre of the Met department has hoisted distant signal number-2 for storm warning at Paradip and Gopalpur ports,” he added.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 12:48 PM  
    Bangladesh's Farmers Told Not to Panic About Approaching Cyclone
    A cyclone off the coast of Bangladesh is looming at a time the country - facing a critical food shortage - is harvesting what is expected to be a bumper rice crop. But, as VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from our South Asia Bureau in New Delhi, officials say there is no reason, yet, for farmers to panic.

    Cyclone Nargis is about 1,000 kilometers from the coast of Bangladesh. However, there is concern the storm has the potential to damage a bumper rice crop.

    Meteorologists are warning that the storm could become a powerful Category Four cyclone in several days.

    Farmers in Bangladesh have been in the fields harvesting what is known as the "boro" crop. Completing the harvest could take another two weeks.

    Agriculture Ministry spokesman Abdulla Al-Shahin denies reports officials in Dhaka have asked farmers to rush harvesting the rice, so that the crop will not be damaged by strong winds.

    "The cyclone is very far away from Bangladesh," Al-Shahin said. "Whatever the effect of the cyclone is, that will be known within a day or two. At this stage, the farmers need not panic. They will have to be careful, but not panic."

    Fresh in the memory of Bangladeshis is Cyclone Sidr, which hit last November. That storm killed an estimated 3,500 people and left two million others homeless. The cyclone destroyed about 1.8 million tons of rice.

    The cyclone and an earlier flood are blamed for serious food shortages in the country. The situation has been exacerbated by a global spike in prices for rice, the staple food of Bangladesh.

    Officials have estimated that the current boro crop will yield 17.5 million tons of rice, two million tons more than last year. It is hoped such a bumper crop would reduce rice prices, alleviating some of the suffering in a country which frequently faces critical food shortages.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 12:47 PM  
    Tuesday, April 29, 2008
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:52 PM  



    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:35 PM  
    Very Severe Cyclonic Storm NARGIS :Severe Weather Warnings

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:33 PM  
    3 tornadoes rip through Va.; more than 200 people hurt

    SUFFOLK, Va. (AP) — Russ McCrocklin has been through it all before. When Hurricane Ivan hit Florida a few years ago, he had to wait until the next day to see if he would have a home to return to. His house was fine then, but McCrocklin fears he won't be so lucky this time around.

    McCrocklin and others will assess damage to their homes and businesses Tuesday, a day after three tornadoes ripped through Virginia leaving smashed homes, tossed cars and more than 200 injured residents behind. Many, like McCrocklin, spent the night in emergency shelters.

    Gov. Timothy M. Kaine declared a state of emergency, which frees up resources for those areas hit hardest. Kaine will visit some of the most damaged areas on Tuesday.

    The twister in this city outside Norfolk cut a fickle, zigzagging path 25 miles long through neighborhoods, obliterating some homes and spraying splintered wood across lawns while leaving those standing just a few feet away untouched.

    Keith Godwin lives in the same neighborhood as McCrocklin. He, his wife and two kids took shelter in the bathroom of their home after he looked out the window and saw the funnel cloud.

    The Godwins' home is fine except for some debris, as are the rest of those on their side of the street. Those across the street were badly damaged, including two houses completely wiped off their foundations and one that was tossed on top of another home.

    "All that's left is a concrete slab," Godwin said.

    Insulation, wiring and twisted metal hung from the front of a mall stripped bare of its facing. At another store, the tin roof was rolled up like a sardine can. Some of the cars and SUVs in the parking lot were on top of others.

    "It's just a bunch of broken power poles, telephone lines and sad faces," said Richard Allbright, who works for a tree removal service in Driver and had been out for hours trying to clear the roads.

    The National Weather Service confirmed that tornadoes struck Suffolk, Brunswick County, about sixty miles west, and Colonial Heights, about 60 miles northwest. Meteorologist Bryan Jackson described Suffolk's as a "major tornado."

    The Brunswick County tornado was estimated at 86 mph to 110 mph, and cut a 300-yard path of destruction, Jackson said. It struck first, at about 1 p.m., said Mike Rusnak, a weather service meteorologist in Wakefield.

    The second struck Colonial Heights around 3:40 p.m., he said.

    The tornado believed to have caused damage over a 25-mile path from Suffolk to Norfolk touched down repeatedly between 4:30 and 5 p.m., Rusnak said.

    At least 200 were injured in Suffolk and 18 others were injured in Colonial Heights, south of Richmond, said Bob Spieldenner of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

    Jennifer Haines and her two young girls hid in a cubbyhole in the interior of her house in Suffolk. The tornado hit about three blocks away.

    "It sounded like someone shuffling a giant deck of cards or a herd of wild animals coming through. You could feel the house shaking and hear the wind coming in through the cracks in the windows," Haines said.

    "It was so scary I felt like I was having a heart attack."

    Sentara hospital spokesman Dale Gauding said about 70 injured people were being treated there. Three were admitted and were in fair condition.

    "We have lots of cuts and bruises" and arm and leg injuries, he said. The hospital's windows were cracked, apparently by debris from a damaged shopping center across the street.

    Property damage also was reported in Brunswick County, one of several localities where the weather service had issued a tornado warning. Sgt. Michelle Cotten of the Virginia State Police said a twister destroyed two homes. Trees and power lines were down, and some flooding was reported.

    About 3,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers remained without service Monday night, mostly in the Northern Neck.

    Associated Press writers Dena Potter and Larry O'Dell contributed to this report from Richmond.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:31 PM  
    Cyclone Nargis rages in the Bay basin
    Vinson Kurian

    Bangkok, April 28 As has been forecast already, the Bay of Bengal has thrown up a major tropical cyclone, Nargis, on Tuesday.

    Nargis is threatening to whip up speed and intensity, if forecasts by the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) are any indication.

    The JTWC observed that the powerful storm-in-the-making had brought its huge belly to bear down on the open waters 290 nautical miles (537 km) east of Chennai on Tuesday.


    Importantly, the massive system seemed to have stopped on its tracks at this position, but was rustling up the attributes that would transform it to a system of significant intensity over the next 36 hours.

    Nargis would then recurve along a path back to the high seas, move away from the southeast Indian coast and head north-east towards the Myanmar coast over the next four days.

    The JTWC assessed that the storm would pack maximum sustained wind speeds clocking 95 knots (175 kmph) gusting up to 115 knots (213 kmph) over the next 36 hours. This would make it powerful storm. Nargis is now a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (Category 4).


    The storm already features an eye, around which it would build its destructive strength thanks to the favourable environment provided by the warmth of the seas, low vertical wind shear, and good ventilation effect at the top of the towering formation rising to 10 to 12 km in height.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:29 PM  
    Severe cyclonic storm Nargis

    Severe cyclonic storm Nargis is forecast to strike Myanmar at about 12:00 GMT on 2 May. Data supplied by the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center suggest that the point of landfall will be near 16.9 N, 93.9 E. Nargis is expected to bring 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 166 km/h (103 mph). Wind gusts in the area may be considerably higher.

    According to the Saffir-Simpson damage scale the potential property damage and flooding from a storm of Nargis's strength (category 2) at landfall includes:

    Storm surge generally 1.8-2.4 metres (6-8 feet) above normal.
    Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings.
    Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down.
    Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers.
    Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the storm center.
    Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.
    There is also the potential for flooding further inland due to heavy rain.

    The information above is provided for guidance only and should not be used to make life or death decisions or decisions relating to property. Anyone in the region who is concerned for their personal safety or property should contact their official national weather agency or warning centre for advice.

    This alert is provided by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance, Crawford & Company and University College London (UCL). TSR acknowledges the support of the UK Met Office.

    *Reuters alertnet
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:24 PM  
    One reported dead and 200 injured in Virginia tornado
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A tornado swept through southeastern Virginia on Monday, killing at least one person and injuring at least 200, U.S. media reported.

    The tornado, part of a series of strong storms that tore through the Hampton Roads area in the southeast of the state, destroyed dozens of homes and extensively damaged others, The Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported.

    "There are trees down everywhere and I've seen a half dozen vehicles flipped over," Richard Hicks of Suffolk, Virginia was quoted as saying.

    Another witness, Robert Brinkley, told the newspaper: "There are tops blown off the roofs of many, many houses."

    More than 3,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers were without service, most in scattered outages throughout the Hampton Roads area, the newspaper said.

    Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine declared a statewide emergency to coordinate the state's response to what his office said was widespread damage in the wake of strong winds and possible tornadoes.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:24 PM  
    City Hall closed due to flooding
    Monday, April 28, 2008
    Flooding from a burst water main has forced London's City Hall and several businesses to close.

    The announcement of the 1 May election results may have to move to another location as a result and officials are deciding between alternative buildings.

    The water main burst on Sunday morning on Tooley Street, which will be closed over the next week.

    Power supplies in the area are affected while EDF Energy assesses the impact of the flooding and undertakes repairs.

    'Businesses affected'

    A Thames Water spokesman said businesses on and around Tooley Street who had no power had been forced to close.

    "Hopefully there will not be too many local businesses affected," he said.

    On Sunday, Thames Water received almost 2,000 calls from customers reporting low pressure or no water supply at all.

    Up to 4,000 properties in south-east and south-west London may have been affected by the incident, but all properties had their water fully restored by Sunday afternoon.

    The counting of votes for the London Mayoral election on 1 May will take place as planned at Excel, Alexandra Palace and London's Olympia.

    City Hall is the home of London's governmental headquarters where the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone's office is based.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:09 PM  
    US Navy alert on cyclone formation in Bay

    Bangkok, The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) has issued a cyclone formation alert in the Bay of Bengal even as the India Met Department announced that the prevailing low-pressure area has intensified into a depression on Sunday.

    Formation of a significant tropical cyclone (now ‘numbered’ 95B) is possible within 390 nautical miles (722 km) off Chennai within the next 12 to 24 hours. Winds in the area were estimated to be 25-30 knots (46-55 kmph). Winds speeding to 64 kmph would warrant its classification as a cyclone.

    Convective bands to the west of the system began wrapping into a consolidating low level circulation centre (nucleus of the system) on Sunday. Ample upper level ‘window’ effect will allow it to breathe freely and intensify in the process.

    The low vertical wind shear will keep the towering cloud formation in good stead, affording it just the right environment to prosper. Once it attains the class-matching attributes, it will be named ‘Nargis’ as per the naming protocol applicable in the region. The system is currently headed north-northwest (with India’s southeast coast in sight) but is expected to recurve, head into the open Bay waters and race towards the Myanmar coast.

    The India Met Department too quoted numerical weather predictions to present a similar outlook on Saturday. On Sunday, it said that the southeast Bay hosted a depression, expected to intensify further and move initially in a northwesterly direction. Here in Bangkok, the new model at the early warning system at the Asian Disaster

    Preparedness Centre (ADPC) has effectively simulated the event unfolding in the Bay exactly along these lines.

    The ADPC model captured the system initially cantering towards the southeast Indian coast, only to be coerced by a westerly steering current to send it back, packing into the central Bay. The warm waters and abundant moisture will fuel calibrated growth before the system bears down on the Myanmar coast around May 2.

    The ADPC early warning system is being manned by Dr Jay Raman Potty and Dr P.V.S. Raja, climatologists, under the guidance of Dr U.C. Mohan, Professor at the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, IIT-Delhi. The ADPC model had also successfully simulated severe tropical cyclone Sidr, the last reported major cyclone event in the Bay, right until its landfall over the Bangladesh coast, said Mr A.R. Subbiah, Director of the Climate Risk Management team.

    The ADPC intends to further fine-tune the model and circulate its analysis and interpretations among a growing list of member-countries, some of which do not have the computing resources to do the same. Business Line was extended an exclusive invitation to visit the EWS facility located at downtown Bangkok.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 12:51 PM  
    Aircrafts to probe, assess cyclones in India
    Sunday, April 27, 2008
    New Delhi: India will deploy special aircraft to probe and assess the impact of cyclones in coastal districts of the country and develop a cyclone warning system, an official said here on Thursday.

    "Aircrafts can go to a cyclone prone area and make assessments like when the disaster is going to hit the land and at what speed it is going to affect the people living in the coastal areas," M S Reddy, member of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said.

    Reddy was speaking at a function to release national disaster management guidelines on cyclones. Minister of Science and Technology Kapil Sibal released the guidelines.

    "The commissioning of Aircraft Probing of Cyclone (APC) facility will help to fill the critical observational data gaps and significantly reduce the margin of error in predicting cyclone track, intensity and landfall (crossing of cyclones from ocean to land area)," Reddy told IANS.

    For more news, analysis click here>> | For more Science and Medicine news click here >>

    He, however, said the details of the plan are being prepared.

    Unveiling the guidelines, Sibal said that 241 districts of India along the coastline are cyclone prone and these guidelines will help officials, disaster management workforce and public in general to reduce both casualties and loss of property.

    "Though the number of cyclones experienced in Indian coastline is comparatively less, yet one third of Indians face cyclone. We have seen the damage in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and other states," Sibal said.

    The cyclone guidelines were prepared after two years of labour. They have been formulated after a 'nine step' process taking into consultation various ministries, state governments and union territories.

    The process included wide consultations with scientific and technical institutions, academics, technocrats and humanitarian organisations. The draft guidelines document was circulated to all the ministries and departments of the central and state governments and union territories for their feedback.

    NDMA in its guidelines has identified 10 key areas of cyclone management like establishing of a state-of-the-art cyclone early warning system (EWS) involving observations, predictions, warnings and user-friendly advisories.

    For more International news click here >> | For more Political news click here >> | For more Offbeat news click here >>

    The guidelines also asked the states and other stake holders to take up structural mitigation measures like improving infrastructure, construction of multi-purpose cyclone shelters and cattle mounds, and ensuring cyclone resistant design standards in rural and urban housing schemes.

    As climate change and subsequent sea level rise can wreak a lot of damage on the country, the guidelines call for setting up of an exclusive eco-system monitoring network to study the impact of climate change.

    It has also advised setting up of a National Cyclone Disaster Management Institute in one of the coastal states to address all issues related to cyclone risks.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 7:00 PM  
    Arctic ice seen melting faster than anticipated
    Saturday, April 26, 2008
    By Laura MacInnis

    GENEVA (Reuters) - Arctic ice may be melting faster than most climate change science has concluded, the conservation group WWF said in a report published on Thursday.

    It found that ice in Greenland and across the Arctic region was retreating "at rates significantly faster than predicted in previous expert assessments".

    The Greenland Ice Sheet -- with an ice volume of about 2.9 million cubic kilometers -- is shrinking at a fast pace and "could contribute much more than previously estimated to global sea-level rise during the 21st century," the WWF said.

    It also said that Arctic warming has reduced both the area and thickness of the northern region's multi-year sea ice, making it more prone to summer thaw.

    Many climate change scientists have inadequately considered the drivers of such trends, such as interactions between sea ice thickness and water temperature, according to WWF.

    "The recent acceleration in sea-ice retreat is not captured by most models," it said in the study reviewing global warming research from 2005, including the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports issued last year.

    "Our understanding of climate impacts lags behind the changes we are already seeing in the Arctic," said Martin Sommerkorn, a climate change adviser with WWF International's Arctic Program.

    "This is extremely dangerous, as some of these Arctic changes have the potential to substantially warm the Earth beyond what models currently forecast," he said.

    WWF, formerly called the World Wildlife Fund and now known by its initials, said that climate change has already affected all aspects of ecology in the Arctic, including the region's oceans, sea ice, ice sheets, snow and permafrost.

    It called on Arctic nations -- including Canada, the United States, Russia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, through its Greenland territory -- to work together to help the region's communities adapt to the challenges ahead.

    Fast-melting Arctic ice has the potential to cause coastal erosion, impact indigenous peoples' livelihoods, affect marine organisms, and make the region's mineral and other resources more accessible with new, formerly inaccessible marine routes.

    It could also have global effects, particularly causing rising sea levels that could threaten coastal communities from Bangladesh to the Netherlands to parts of the United States.

    "We need to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases to levels that will avoid the continued warming of the Arctic and the anticipated resulting disruption of the global climate system," Sommerkorn said.

    (Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Keith Weir.)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:31 PM  
    More 08 Caribbean hurricanes than avg: AccuWeather
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - on Friday predicted the 2008 hurricane season in the Caribbean would be slightly above average, with an increased chance that storms would make landfall in North America.

    A waning La Nina condition in the Pacific Ocean and a warm water cycle in the Atlantic ocean are the two main factors cited by the private weather forecasting service.

    "The warming is not uniform across the entire Atlantic. In some areas where hurricanes normally form ... ocean water temperatures are near or below normal," Joe Bastardi, AccuWeather's chief long-range forecaster, said in a news release.

    Bastardi told Reuters in an interview in early April that the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season would see 12 to 13 named storms.

    Up to four of the predicted storms would become hurricanes, with one of those becoming a major hurricane, Bastardi said.

    Average hurricane seasons have 10 named storms.

    (Reporting by Robert Campbell, editing by Matthew Lewis)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:29 PM  
    18 Missing in Wake of Typhoon Neoguri
    Tuesday, April 22, 2008
    First Hurricane of Northern Hemisphere Season Strikes China

    Eighteen fishermen are missing in the wake of Typhoon Neoguri, which struck southern China as a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of nearly 100 mph, according to data from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

    After causing flight cancellations, power outages and the endangerment of the missing fishermen, Neoguri has weakened to a tropical storm, according to Reuters.

    Typhoon Neoguri defied forecasts, having gained and retained more strength than had been anticipated as it churned through the South China Sea.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:32 PM  
    Strong earthquake rocks East Timor
    Sunday, April 20, 2008
    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Meteorological official says a powerful earthquake has rocked part of East Timor, causing residents to panic. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

    The U.S. Geological Survey put the tremor at a magnitude 6.0, while the Indonesian Geophysics Agency registered a more powerful 6.4.

    It struck 88 kilometers (55 miles) north of the capital, Dili, at a depth of 11 kilometers (7 miles), the agencies said.

    Witnesses said people fled outdoors in panic.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:20 PM  
    Landslide hits village along China's Three Gorges
    BEIJING (Reuters) - A big landslide hit a village in the area of the Three Gorges Dam on Saturday, leaving nearly 200 people stranded, the official Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.

    Emergency workers were still working to rescue the 179 residents of Xiaohe Village, in Gaoyang Township of central Hubei Province, after the mudslide swept into the local school's playground and part of the village, Xinhua said.

    No casualties had been reported, but Xinhua cited a local government spokesman as saying that the mud still threatened to inundate a school building and villagers' homes.

    Heavy rains were forecast to continue in the next few days, potentially worsening the conditions, Xinhua said, adding that Gaoyang was the last town set to be relocated to make way for the raising of the reservoir's waters next year.

    Critics of the dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project, say that pollution and geological threats are piling up as the waters rise and strain brittle slopes around the 660-km (410-mile) reservoir.

    A landslide in the area late last year killed 35 people at the entrance to a railway tunnel being dug at the time. Authorities said lax supervision over construction and engineering was the direct cause of that disaster.

    (Reporting by Jason Subler; Editing by Jon Boyle)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:44 PM  
    Tropical storm 27P
    Tropical storm 27P is forecast to strike New Caledonia at about 06:00 GMT on 19 April. Data supplied by the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center suggest that the point of landfall will be near 19.6 S, 166.9 E. 27P is expected to bring 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 64 km/h (40 mph). Wind gusts in the area may be considerably higher.

    The information above is provided for guidance only and should not be used to make life or death decisions or decisions relating to property. Anyone in the region who is concerned for their personal safety or property should contact their official national weather agency or warning centre for advice.

    This alert is provided by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance, Crawford & Company and University College London (UCL). TSR acknowledges the support of the UK Met Office.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:05 PM  
    Meteorological Bureau issues earliest ever typhoon warning
    Friday, April 18, 2008
    by Kimberly Johans

    The Macau Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG) yesterday issued a tropical cyclone warning for typhoon 'Neoguri', the earliest period at which such warnings have ever been issued.
    With the signal No. 1 being hoisted at 6:am yesterday morning, the warning forecasted strong rain and winds ad was heading toward Sanya City, in southern Hainan.
    The signal at No. 1 showed that the centre of the tropical cyclone was less than 800 kilometres by 5:00 pm last evening from Macau and could later affect the peninsula.
    It was packing winds of up to 126 kilometres per hour.
    The Bureau said the centre of the typhoon would move north-westward at a speed of 15 km per hour and may hit the southern coast of Hainan this afternoon or tomorrow morning, or skim over the offshore areas.
    The Bureau urged ships and boats to return to shore and local residents to take precautions against the typhoon.
    Neoguri, the first tropical storm to hit this year, was formed in the South China Sea on Tuesday. It strengthened into a typhoon on Wednesday afternoon.
    Last year two typhoons were identified, one in August and the other in September.
    The former had signals hoisted till No. 3 while the latter only reached the No.1 signal.
    Historical data for typhoons from the Bureau has been published only since 1968, the earliest such data has been recorded.
    April 23 had previously been the earliest record of a typhoon heading towards Macau, which occurred in 1978.
    Since the conception of such data, the Bureau has recorded a total of four typhoons that have had the No. 10 signal hoisted, the highest signal possible.
    For the No. 1 signal, safety recommendations include checking the safety of objects which might be carried or destroyed by the winds such as fences, scaffoldings, flower pots, antennae (aerials ). Residents are advised to keep boats and small crafts in the nearby shelters.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 7:06 PM  
    Typhoon Neoguri Approaching South China
    Typhoon Neoguri, a two category storm on a scale up to five, is expected to drop 40 mm (one and a half inches) to 90 mm of rain on Hainan and Guangdong and to bring winds of 176 kilometers (110 miles) per hour, the US Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center said.

    Neoguri’s eyes, which is the second storm of the northwest Pacific cyclone season, was about 297 kilometers south-southwest of Hong Kong and about 113 kilometers east-southeast of Sanya on Hainan Island at 8 a.m. local time today, according to the Center’s latest announcement.

    Fifty-six Chinese fishermen were still missing on Friday. Nobody knew anything about them since Thursday evening, when they had been seen near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

    “Neoguri will be the earliest typhoon of the season to affect the south China region since the founding of new China in 1949,” Chen Lei, deputy commander of the State Headquarters of Flood Control and Drought Relief said, according to the same source.

    “The heaviest downfall is expected to be 180 mm in southern Hainan,” Xinhua said.

    Typhoons or cyclonic storms tend to form between May and November, the period known as the “typhoon season.” There is also a “hurricane season” for storms which form north of the equator.

    Chinese scientists say that global warming causes typhoons, snow storms, floods and drought. On the other hand, some say these phenomena may be the consequences of a natural cycle. Last month, while expecting to see the hurricane forecast for the 2008 season, William Gray, forecaster at Colorado State University said, talking about the hurricanes: “We don’t attribute this to anything humans are doing,” because these are “natural cycles.”

    Meanwhile, the meteorology experts continue to predict strong storms with devastative effects.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 7:05 PM  
    Wild fires likely to spread due to global warming
    By Sylvia Westall

    VIENNA (Reuters) - Wild fires are likely to be bigger, more frequent and burn for longer as the world gets hotter, in turn speeding up global warming to create a dangerous vicious circle, scientists say.

    The process is being studied as part of work to develop a detailed map of global fire patterns which will be used with climate models to predict future fire trends.

    The scientists told a geoscience conference in Vienna they already predict fires will increase and could spread to previously fire-free parts of the world as the climate changes.

    "An increase in fire may be the greatest early impact of climate change on forests," Brian Amiro from the University of Manitoba said late on Wednesday.

    "Our forests are more likely to become a victim of climate change than a savior," he added.

    Last year more than 200 wild fires swept across parts of southeastern Europe, destroying homes and devouring woodland. In Greece 65 people died.

    Amiro said global warming will cause more fires which as they burn contribute to global warming by producing greenhouse gases.

    "Fire avoids environmental extremes, like the deserts, tundra and rainforests," said Max Moritz from the University of California, Berkley.

    "But there are some predictions which show there could be fires in deserts and there are worries they may occur in tropical rainforests if they were drier," he said.

    Forests are natural carbon stores, some built up over millions of years, but as they burn they release the carbon quickly in the form of carbon dioxide.

    Scientists already estimate that Canadian wild fires will double in area by the end of the century and that the fire season will be longer.

    (Editing by Matthew Jones)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:55 PM  
    Greenland glacial lake vanishes in warming drama
    By Will Dunham

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Surface melting fueled by climate warming can trigger dramatic events on the vast Greenland ice sheet such as a lake suddenly vanishing through a crack with force of Niagara Falls, experts said on Thursday.

    Rising global temperatures are expected to cause an increase in meltwater in frozen expanses like the Greenland ice sheet, and this meltwater often forms sizable lakes.

    Scientists have worried that when this increase in meltwater reaches the base of the Greenland ice sheet, it could further lubricate its slide over bedrock toward the sea, causing it to shrink more quickly than expected.

    But researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and the University of Washington found that while this surface melt indeed does lubricate the bottom of the ice sheet, that process by itself does not seem to be enough to cause catastrophic loss of ice sheet mass as some have feared.

    Surface meltwater was responsible for only a small amount of the movement of six outlet glaciers -- those that discharge ice to the ocean -- that the scientists monitored.

    In the summers of 2006 and 2007, the scientists used seismic instruments, water-level monitors and Global Positioning System sensors to study two such lakes and the motion of the surrounding ice sheet.

    They also used helicopter surveys and satellite imagery to track the progress of glaciers moving toward the coast.

    In July 2006, the scientists documented the sudden, complete draining of a lake measuring 2.2 square miles (5.7 sq km). The lake split open the ice sheet from top to bottom. Like a draining bathtub, the entire lake emptied from the bottom, disappearing in 24 hours -- through 3,200 feet of ice -- mostly in a 90-minute span.

    "It's extremely dramatic," scientist Sarah Das of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who helped lead the research published in the journal Science, said in a telephone interview. "The discharge during that period exceeded the flow of Niagara Falls."

    As sunlight and warm air melt surface ice, thousands of so-called supraglacial lakes appear atop the Greenland ice sheet every summer. From past satellite images, scientists have known that these supraglacial lakes can disappear quickly but did not know precisely how this was occurring.

    "Greenland is losing significant (ice) mass each year and it has been adding a growing contribution of ice to the ocean -- and therefore a growing contribution to sea level rise. That has been accelerating," Das said.

    "What we can show from our findings is that the mechanism responsible for most of that acceleration is not from surface meltwater enhanced flow, which had been proposed as perhaps one of the mechanisms," Das said.

    The University of Washington's Ian Joughin, another of the researchers, said scientists are trying to figure out the other mechanisms contributing to the current ice loss in Greenland that likely will increase as the climate warms further.

    (Editing by Eric Walsh)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:54 PM  
    Five killed in New Zealand river flood
    Tuesday, April 15, 2008
    WELLINGTON, April 16 (Reuters) - Five people were killed after being swept away by a raging river in New Zealand as violent storms caused widespread flooding in the country's North Island, local media reported on Wednesday.

    Four of the dead were teenagers from an Auckland college and the fifth was a teacher, Radio New Zealand said in a report on its Web site, citing police. Five others had been rescued but two people remained missing, the report said.

    The students had been canyoning with the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre on Tuesday when they were caught in rising waters at the Mangatepopo Gorge.

    Local media said the group were swept down the Mangatepopo River, which winds through a rugged and sparsely populated area near a national park. (Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:01 PM  
    "Ambo’ maintains strength, moves farther away from RP
    MANILA, Philippines - Tropical storm "Ambo" (international code name Neoguri) maintained its strength as it continued moving away from Philippine territory Tuesday night, state weather forecasters said.

    In its 11 p.m. advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration said "Ambo" was 460 kms west-northwest of Puerto Princesa City as of 10 p.m.

    "Ambo" packed maximum sustained winds of 65 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph, and was moving west-northwest at 17 kph.

    By Wednesday morning, it is expected to be 610 kms west-northwest of Puerto Princesa City, Pagasa said. It added the public storm warning signal over Palawan is now lowered.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 8:52 PM  
    World sea levels to rise 1.5m by 2100: scientists
    By Karin Strohecker

    VIENNA (Reuters) - Melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warming water could lift sea levels by as much as 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) by the end of this century, displacing tens of millions of people, new research showed on Tuesday.

    Presented at a European Geosciences Union conference, the research forecasts a rise in sea levels three times higher than that predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year. The U.N. climate panel shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

    Svetlana Jevrejeva of the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory in Britain said the estimate was based on a new model allowing accurate reconstruction of sea levels over the past 2,000 years.

    "For the past 2,000 years, the sea level was very stable," she told journalists on the margins of the Vienna meeting.

    But the pace at which sea levels are rising is accelerating, and they will be 0.8-1.5 meters higher by next century, researchers including Jevrejeva said in a statement.

    Sea levels rose 2 cm in the 18th century, 6 cm in the 19th century and 19 cm last century, she said, adding: "It seems that rapid rise in the 20th century is from melting ice sheets".

    Scientists fiercely debate how much sea levels will rise, with the IPCC predicting increases of between 18 cm and 59 cm.

    "The IPCC numbers are underestimates," said Simon Holgate, also of the Proudman Laboratory.
    The researchers said the IPCC had not accounted for ice dynamics -- the more rapid movement of ice sheets due to melt water which could markedly speed up their disappearance and boost sea levels.

    But this effect is set to generate around one-third of the future rise in sea levels, according to Steve Nerem from the University of Colorado in the United States.

    "There is a lot of evidence out there that we will see around one meter in 2100," said Nerem, adding the rise would not be uniform around the globe, and that more research was needed to determine the effects on single regions.

    Scientists might debate the levels, but they agree on who will be hardest hit -- developing nations in Africa and Asia who lack the infrastructural means to build up flood defenses. They include countries like Bangladesh, almost of all of whose land surface is a within a meter of the current sea level.

    "If (the sea level) rises by one meter, 72 million Chinese people will be displaced, and 10 percent of the Vietnamese population," said Jevrejeva.

    (Reporting by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Catherine Evans)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 8:32 PM  
    Stormy year predicted for Vietnam
    Hanoi - With a tropical depression gathering strength as it heads toward Vietnam, forecasters predicted the country would face more severe floods and storms this year than in 2007, an official said Tuesday. "There will be more typhoons hitting Vietnam this year than last year, including strong and dangerous ones, due to La Nina," said Bui Minh Tang, director of the National Hydrometeorology Forecast Centre, referring to the irregular appearance of cold temperatures in the waters of the equatorial Pacific.

    With its long coastline and low-lying delta regions, Vietnam is among the countries hardest-hit by global warming, according to climate surveys. Each year, the country faces dozens of storms and typhoons, which often cause deadly floods and landslides.

    Floods and storm killed more than 300 people in Vietnam last year, including about 90 killed by Typhoon Lekima and the floods it triggered in early October.

    According to the National Hydrometeorology Forecast Centre, a tropical depression packing wind of up to 61 kilometers an hour was heading for central Vietnam.

    By Tuesday morning, the depression was 1,000 kilometres east of Ho Chi Minh City and moving at 15 to 20 kilometres an hour, the centre said.

    "The depression is forecast to become a tropical storm by Tuesday night, becoming the first storm to hit Vietnam this year," Tang said.

    Earlier this month, hail fell in many provinces in northern Vietnam, injuring at least 20 people and damaging nearly 100 houses.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:49 PM  
    Powerful 7.1 quake hits Southern Ocean, no tsunami warning
    WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND: A strong magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit the open waters of the Southern Ocean near the Australian territory of Macquarie Island on Saturday, US monitors said. No tsunami alert was issued.

    The US Geological Survey reported the temblor occurred in the open ocean 110 kilometres (70 miles) southwest of Macquarie Island, Australia's main sub-Antarctic territory. The quake hit at 11:30 am New Zealand time (2330 GMT Friday).

    The quake was centered some 755 kilometres (470 miles) southwest of New Zealand's uninhabited Auckland Island and some 1,995 kilometres (1,240 miles) south of the New Zealand capital of Wellington, the US Geological Survey said.

    The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Web site said no tsunami alert was issued. There were no immediate reports of damage.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:46 PM  
    Bangladesh faces climate change refugee nightmare
    By Masud Karim

    DHAKA (Reuters) - Abdul Majid has been forced to move 22 times in as many years, a victim of the annual floods that ravage Bangladesh.

    There are millions like Majid, 65, in Bangladesh and in the future there could be many millions more if scientists' predictions of rising seas and more intense droughts and storms come true.

    "Bangladesh is already facing consequences of a sea level rise, including salinity and unusual height of tidal water," said Mizanur Rahman, a research fellow with the London-based International Institute for Environmental Development.

    "In the future, millions of people will lose their land and houses. Their survival will be threatened," Rahman told Reuters.

    Experts say a third of Bangladesh's coastline could be flooded if the sea rises one meter in the next 50 years, creating an additional 20 million Bangladeshis displaced from their homes and farms. This is about the same as Australia's population.

    Saline water will creep deeper inland, fouling water supplies and crops and livestock will also suffer, experts say.

    Government officials and NGOs estimate about 10 million people are already threatened by annual floods and storms damaging riverine and coastal islands.

    It is unclear how the government could feed, house or find enough clean water for vast numbers of climate refugees in a country of 140 million people crammed into an area of 55,500 sq miles.
    "We are taking steps to face the threats of climate change. Bangladesh needs $4 billion to build embankments, cyclone shelters, roads and other infrastructure in the next 15 years to mitigate the threats," Mohammad Aminul Islam Bhuiyan, the top bureaucrat in the government's Economic Relations Division, told Reuters.

    "These are big challenges and only time will say how efficiently we address them, including finding accommodation for the displaced millions," he said.


    In a taste of what the future might look like, Bangladesh suffered two massive floods and a cyclone last year that together killed about 4,500 people, made at least two million homeless and destroyed 1.8 million tonnes of rice, the country's main staple.

    Even without the additional threat of global warming, the country's future is under pressure from a rising population and shrinking farmland.

    The country lost a third of its agricultural land to accommodate more people as the population rose from 75 million in 1971.

    Bangladesh has been able to increase food grain production to nearly 30 million tonnes from less than half that in the early 1980s because of better farming practices and high-yielding varieties of rice.

    But many believe Bangladesh has reached saturation point in producing grains, while the population is still growing at nearly 2 percent annually.

    The World Bank thinks Bangladesh should change cultivation practices to boost food security, plant large areas of forest in flood-prone areas along rivers and the coast and build embankments.
    "We are conducting various studies to find options to save future environmental refugees," said Sakil Ahmed Ferdausi, a World Bank executive in Dhaka.

    "The environmental refugee situation will turn into a dangerous problem in the future and the Bangladeshi government may find it difficult to face the challenge. So we asked donors to help the country," Ziaul Haque Mukta, of Oxfam International in Dhaka, said.

    For Majid, the issues are more immediate.

    He lives on Batikamari island on the Januma river, 300 km (180 miles) north of Dhaka and fears his remaining days will be spent on the run from the river, which is constantly creating and retaking land, depending on the season.

    There are millions like him. Some have found temporary shelter, mostly on other islands in the rivers that emerge when water levels drop during the summer.

    Government and non-government organizations (NGOs) are trying to help Majid and others.

    Friendship, a Bangladeshi NGO, is providing houses, latrines, capital for agriculture, pumps for irrigation among the poor people in the river islands.

    "Migration rate is very high among the islanders," Runa Khan, executive director of Friendship, told Reuters. "We have covered 3.5 million people in Bangladesh's riverine islands but many more are still left."

    Friendship operates a floating hospital to provide health care to the islanders. It has treated 600,000 people since 2001.
    But climate change could wipe out their nomadic lifestyle altogether.

    "Where will all these people go?" asked Mohammad Nurul Islam, a resident of Cox's Bazar on the shore of the Bay of Bengal.

    (Writing by Anis Ahmed; editing by David Fogarty and Megan Goldin)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:40 PM  
    Melting mountains a "time bomb" for water shortages
    By Sylvia Westall

    VIENNA (Reuters) - Glaciers and mountain snow are melting earlier in the year than usual, meaning the water has already gone when millions of people need it during the summer when rainfall is lower, scientists warned on Monday.

    "This is just a time bomb," said hydrologist Wouter Buytaert at a meeting of geoscientists in Vienna.

    Those areas most at risk from a lack of water for drinking and agriculture include parts of the Middle East, southern Africa, the United States, South America and the Mediterranean.

    Rising global temperatures mean the melt water is occurring earlier and faster in the year and the mountains may no longer be able to provide a vital stop gap.

    "In some areas where the glaciers are small they could be gone in 30 or 50 years time and a very reliable source of water, especially for the summer months, may be gone."

    Buytaert, from Britain's Bristol University, was referring to parts of the Mediterranean where her research is focused but she said this threat also applies to the entire Alps region and other global mountain sources.

    Daniel Viviroli, from the University of Berne, believes nearly 40 percent of mountainous regions could be at risk, as they provide water to populations which cannot get it elsewhere.

    He says the earth's sub-tropic zones, which are home to 70 percent of the world's population, are the most vulnerable.
    And with the global population expected to expand rapidly, there may not always be enough water to drink, let alone to water crops, which use about 70 percent of melt-water.

    In Afghanistan, home to some 3,500 of the world's glaciers, the effects of global warming are already being felt in the Hindu Kush said U.S. Geological Survey researcher Bruce Molnia.

    "Glaciers are getting smaller and smaller," he said adding that this was leading to more frequent flooding.

    In some valleys snow has completely disappeared during months when it usually blankets the mountains and many basins have drained, Molnia said.

    "And what I am talking about here is adaptable to almost every one of the Himalayan countries that's dependent on glacier-melted water," he said.

    It has also been difficult to collect data in the region with scientists preferring to rely on satellite imagery rather risk fieldwork in the Taliban-occupied mountains.

    Buytaert points out that because only a handful of scientists study the hydrology of mountains, what they don't know about them could be just as concerning as what they do.

    "Mountains are seen as having water all the time and everywhere so people think they can take it all the time," she said.

    "But mountains are black boxes in the scientific sense, there is so much data missing for our models. We don't quite know what is going on."

    (Editing by Matthew Jones)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:38 PM  
    Major Quake Due in California
    Monday, April 14, 2008
    (LOS ANGELES) — California faces an almost certain risk of being rocked by a strong earthquake by 2037, scientists said Monday in the first statewide temblor forecast.

    New calculations reveal there is a 99.7 percent chance a magnitude 6.7 quake or larger will strike in the next 30 years. The odds of such an event are higher in Southern California than Northern California, 97 percent versus 93 percent.

    The last time a jolt this size rattled California was the 1994 Northridge disaster, which killed 72 people, injured more than 9,000 and caused $25 billion in damage.

    "It basically guarantees it's going to happen," said Ned Field, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena and lead author of the report.

    California is one of the most seismically active regions in the world. More than 300 faults crisscross the state, which sits atop two of Earth's major tectonic plates, the Pacific and North American plates. About 10,000 quakes each year rattle Southern California alone, although most of them are too small to be felt.

    The analysis is the first comprehensive effort by the USGS, Southern California Earthquake Center and California Geological Survey to calculate earthquake probabilities for the entire state using newly available data. Previous quake probabilities focused on specific regions and used various methodologies that made it difficult to compare.

    For example, a 2003 report found the San Francisco Bay Area faced a 62 percent chance of being struck by a magnitude 6.7 quake by 2032. The new study increased the likelihood slightly to 63 percent by 2037. For the Los Angeles Basin, the probability is higher at 67 percent. There is no past comparison for the Los Angeles area.

    Scientists still cannot predict exactly where in the state such a quake will occur or when. But they say the analysis should be a wake-up call for residents to prepare for a natural disaster in earthquake country.

    Knowing the likelihood of a strong earthquake is the first step in allowing scientists to draw up hazard maps that show the severity of ground shaking to an area. The information can also help with updating building codes and emergency plans and setting earthquake insurance rates.

    "A big earthquake can happen tomorrow or it can happen 10 years from now," said Tom Jordan, director of SCEC headquartered at the University of Southern California, who was part of the research.

    Of all the faults in the state, the southern San Andreas, which runs from Parkfield to the Salton Sea, appears most primed to break, scientists found. There is a 59 percent chance in the next three decades that a Northridge-size quake will occur on the fault compared to 21 percent for the northern section.

    The northern San Andreas produced the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, a recent disaster in geologic time compared to the southernmost segment, which has not popped in more than three centuries.

    Scientists are also concerned about the Hayward and San Jacinto faults, which have a 31 percent chance of producing a Northridge-size temblor in the next 30 years. The Hayward fault runs through densely populated cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Jacinto fault bisects the fast-growing city of San Bernardino.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:58 PM  
    Tropical storm 02W

    Tropical storm 02W is forecast to strike the Philippines at about 12:00 GMT on 14 April. Data supplied by the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center suggest that the point of landfall will be near 9.2 N, 119.0 E. 02W is expected to bring 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 64 km/h (40 mph). Wind gusts in the area may be considerably higher.

    The information above is provided for guidance only and should not be used to make life or death decisions or decisions relating to property. Anyone in the region who is concerned for their personal safety or property should contact their official national weather agency or warning centre for advice.

    This alert is provided by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance, Crawford & Company and University College London (UCL). TSR acknowledges the support of the UK Met Office.
    (Reuters alert)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:51 PM  
    Underwater microphones can gauge hurricane strength, MIT says
    By Jim Efstathiou Jr.

    NEW YORK, USA (Bloomberg): The destructive force of a hurricane approaching land can be measured by underwater acoustic sensors that cost far less than wind-gauging airplanes, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported.

    Wind speed calculations based on underwater microphones that captured Hurricane Gert's churning in the Atlantic in 1999 were as accurate as measurements taken a day later by an airplane, according to the report, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    The microphones are so much cheaper to deploy that storm warning systems can be expanded in countries that can't afford airplanes, said Nicholas Makris, director of MIT's Laboratory for Undersea Remote Sensing and co-author of the report. The current warning system that uses airplanes saves about $2.5 billion a year in potential US storm damage, he said.

    "There's a lot of money that's already saved by having accurate warnings, and as you improve it's only going to get better,'' Makris said in an interview. "The advantages are it's cheap, it's safe and it's relatively easy to do it.''

    The best way to measure the strength of a hurricane today is to fly an airplane into the eye of the storm and take wind- speed measurements. Specialized hurricane planes cost about $100 million and a single flight's expenses are about $50,000.

    Satellites track killer storms, but can't measure wind speed as accurately as aircraft, Makris said.

    Underwater sensors promise an alternative. The journal article described how microphones anchored 800 meters from the Atlantic sea floor off Puerto Rico captured sounds of Hurricane Gert that were translated into wind speeds as accurately as aircraft wind-speed readings.

    "There was almost a perfect relationship between the power of the wind and the power of the wind-generated noise,'' Makris said.

    Hurricane forecasters from Colorado State University yesterday raised the number of Atlantic storms they expect this year to 15, including eight hurricanes. The US East Coast and the Gulf Coast, home to dozens of oil and gas rigs, have about a 45 percent chance of being hit by at least one major hurricane, defined as a storm with winds of more than 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour. That compares with a historical average of about 30 percent for those two areas, the forecasters said.

    Makris will seek to confirm the findings from Hurricane Gert at Socorro, an island off Mexico's west coast that lies in the one of the world's most storm-prone areas. Underwater microphones have been placed in water close to the island, waiting for the next storm, Makris said.

    Hydrophones, the underwater microphones, "provide a way of inexpensively getting an accurate measure of the destructive power,'' Makris said. Countries that lack money for aircraft monitoring "could really benefit from that.''
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:49 PM  
    Dangerous hurricane season, are you prepared?
    Sunday, April 13, 2008
    Brace yourself. We could be in for a dangerous hurricane season.

    After a couple of fairly calm years, one of the country's foremost hurricane experts today predicted an active 2008. Weather forecasters are using a new forecasting model to predict hurricanes this year, and they expect 15 named storms to develop. In case one of those storms impacts our area, your family should have a Family Disaster Plan.

    "A plan is knowing what your family will do in case there's a hurricane, if they're at school, at work, what they will do, who they will contact, how they will contact them", said Mari McEwen the Executive Director for the Albany Red cross.

    Knowing who to contact in an emergency is important, but the Dougherty County Emergency Managers is also ready to contact you with a new warning system.

    Jim Vaught, Deputy Director of the Albany EMA said they're ready. "First off we get notification for the National Weather Service, as soon as we get that notification we set off our city alarm, we have 14 sirens located through the city and we just recently purchased a Code Red emergency notification system".

    That system will notify city and county residents who sign up for it by phone should hazardous weather head this way. If you are asked to evacuated your home, having important documents and prescriptions ready to go is a good idea.

    Mari McEwen reminded people not to forget their medicine. " If people are on medication, have prescriptions, copies of prescriptions or the prescription available to take, valuables, important papers....".

    Having something as simple as matches or a butane lighter and a kerosene lantern could come in handy in case of a dangerous storm. Something Paul Spratlin at Home Depot says he doesn't see people in Albany doing in advance.

    Paul Spartlin said, "in this area people generally don't prepare for a hurricane, most of the time when we get a hurricane warning it's well in advance, and most of the hurricanes have diminished a great deal before it gets to us".

    Powerful or not disasters can strike quickly and without much warning, so a little preparation now could make a big difference later.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:22 PM  
    Forecaster raises Atlantic hurricane number
    Thursday, April 10, 2008
    By Michael Christie

    MIAMI (Reuters) - The noted Colorado State University hurricane research team on Wednesday raised the number of tropical storms and hurricanes it expects to form in the upcoming Atlantic storm season.

    The team founded by forecasting pioneer Bill Gray increased its outlook by two tropical storms to 15, and by one hurricane to eight, compared with a long-term average of around 10 and six, respectively, for a storm season.

    "Current oceanic and atmospheric trends indicate that we will likely have an active Atlantic basin hurricane season," said Gray in a statement.

    Of the eight hurricanes predicted by the forecasters for the six-month season starting June 1, four were forecast to become major storms with winds of at least 111 miles per hour (178 kph). Major, or intense, storms, which rank from Category 3 to Category 5 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, are the most destructive.

    "Based on our latest forecast, the probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline is 69 percent compared with the last-century average of 52 percent," said Gray protege Phil Klotzbach, who now leads the CSU team.

    "We are calling for a very active hurricane season this year, but not as active as the 2004 and 2005 seasons."

    The United States was struck by just one minor hurricane in the 2007 Atlantic storm season and escaped unscathed the year before.

    But 2005 produced a record 28 storms, including Hurricane Katrina, which swamped the city of New Orleans, killed around 1,500 people on the U.S. Gulf Coast and caused $80 billion in damages.

    The 2004 season saw Florida struck by four hurricanes in a row.

    The two seasons made financial markets acutely aware of the threat the massive storms pose because of their potentially devastating impact on U.S. and Mexican oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, on commodities like oranges and cotton and on cities and people.


    While 2007 was quiet for the United States, it was painful for the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. Last year's hurricanes Dean and Felix were the first two Atlantic hurricanes since records began in 1851 to make landfall in the same season as potentially catastrophic Category 5 storms.

    The CSU team said the conditions favoring an active hurricane season in 2008 included a continuing though likely weakening La Nina in the Pacific, warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical eastern Atlantic and the likelihood of weak trade winds.

    The La Nina weather phenomenon -- an unusual cooling in the Pacific -- tends to result in conditions that favor hurricanes in the Atlantic, while its opposite, El Nino, creates vertical wind shear that tears nascent hurricanes apart.

    Gray's team said it expected to see a moderation in La Nina conditions but did not expect a transition to an El Nino event during the hurricane season.

    It said in its report that it had not raised the expectation for the number of hurricanes as high as some of its calculations had suggested it do, because of uncertainty over how long La Nina conditions would persist.

    "However, if current trends in the Atlantic persist, there is a possibility that the forecast could be increased more in early June," the report said.

    (Editing by Tom Brown and Philip Barbara)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:43 PM  
    Human failure to blame for disasters, says Oxfam
    Political inaction, poor decision-making and bad management in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries have turned the region into the most disaster-prone in the world, according to an international aid agency report launched Thursday.

    Oxfam International that prepared the report, "Rethinking disaster," lauded Bangladesh for what it said was "impressive commitment" in the area of disaster-risk reduction.

    Much of the report highlights why death and destruction in natural disasters are not nature's fault but the outcome of human failure. "Although nature traditionally gets the blame, it is human failure that turns a natural shock such as a cyclone into a humanitarian disaster," the report says.

    The report points to the enormous human and monetary costs of disasters in South Asia as a whole. The report says South Asia as a region loses up to 6 percent of its GDP to disasters a year.

    In Bangladesh, Cyclone Sidr killed about 4,000 people and washed away the homes of about 1.5 million families. Food and disaster adviser AMM Shawkat Ali unveiled the report at the CIRDAP auditorium in the city.

    "Bangladesh proves a number of success stories, especially in terms of illustrating the argument that disaster preparedness costs a fraction of what a response can cost," the report said.

    The report recommended that Bangladesh implement the disaster management regulative framework and realise communities' rights to consultation and information about the assistance they receive in a disaster situation.

    "The experience in Bangladesh has proven that disaster-risk reduction is worth the investment," said Heather Blackwell, country programme manager for Oxfam International, at the report launch ceremony.

    "Thousands of lives and livelihoods have been saved by the creation of early warning system, cyclone and flood shelters, the raising of homesteads and other risk reduction measures," she said.

    She also expressed worries about the preparedness of the people to such disaster saying: "Most of the families who are rebuilding their homes have not gotten any support and training to make them more resilient to the next cyclone or storm surge."

    "What's even more worrying is the fact that more than 320,000 families do not have the means to rebuild at all without external assistance, and so far only one-fifth of them have been promised aid," she added. Adviser AMM Shawkat stressed a change in thinking about the disaster management.

    "Time has come to rethink of disasters," he said. He said the act on disaster management was almost complete. The government spent Tk 2 billion in the Sidr-hit areas after the cyclone had hit the coast.

    The report's suggestions for Bangladesh included investment in infrastructure for flood and cyclone shelters, installing adaptation measures across the flood-prone areas, enacting national policy on disaster management, formulating a national building code, devising a 15-year strategy with community involvement to determine the roadmap for change.

    The Bangladesh Economic Association chief, Prof Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, criticised the political governments saying that there was no energetic political will to cut damage caused by natural disasters in the country.

    Kholiquzzaman observed that Bangladesh suffered lack of political will to alleviate poverty and prevent disasters like river erosion. KH Masud Siddiqui, director general of the Disaster Management Bureau, also spoke.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:39 PM  
    Greenpeace warns on Canada's northern forests
    By Allan Dowd

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Greenpeace warned on Thursday that Canada's logging practices threaten to turn the country's vast northern forest into a source of global warming, but the forestry industry says it is already taking steps to fight climate change.

    Logging and other development in the boreal forest release the carbon that the trees have trapped from the atmosphere over decades, potentially producing more greenhouse gases than from burning fossil fuels, the environmental group charged in a new report.

    Greenpeace called for a moratorium on new logging in areas of the forest that still have large, unfragmented blocks of older-growth trees, and warned it had similar fears about the boreal forests that stretch across Russia and northern Europe.

    "Research is starting to show that the forest is tipping from being an annual carbon sink to being an annual carbon source," said Christy Ferguson, Greenpeace's forests campaigner in Toronto.

    The "Turning Up the Heat" report, prepared by researchers at the University of Toronto, surveyed a variety of separate scientific studies on the boreal forest in recent years but did not include any new research itself.

    Canada's boreal forest, characterized by the predominance of conifers like pine and spruce, stretches in a vast curve across the country below the Arctic, from the Yukon territory in the northwest to the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland.

    Studies estimate it stores about 186 billion metric tons of carbon, equal to about 27 times what the world produces from burning fossil fuel each year. Two-thirds of the carbon is stored in the forest's soil.

    Greenpeace says the carbon released as trees are harvested contributes to climate change. That, in turn, threatens the northern forest with problems such as insect outbreaks and large forest fires that destroy more trees.

    Greenpeace says the carbon released as trees are harvested contributes to climate change. That, in turn, threatens the northern forest with problems such as insect outbreaks and increased forest fires that destroy more trees.

    The global warming, which is often most apparent in the far north, also allows the permafrost to melt, releasing still more greenhouse gases.

    That creates the scenario of a "carbon bomb" or the sudden release of massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, similar to what happened in 1997 when peat fires broke out in Indonesia, Ferguson said.

    "It hasn't happened yet. That's good, and we can stop it," she said.

    Greenpeace is not calling for a total ban on logging in the boreal forest, where many small communities are dependent on the lumber, plywood and paper industries for economic survival. In fact, protecting parts of the forest will help producers in the long run, the group said.

    Canada's forest industry has argued that because harvested trees are replanted, carbon released through logging is eventually recaptured as the new trees grow.

    The Canadian Forest Products Association said in October that its members had agreed to make the industry carbon neutral by 2015 without having to purchase carbon offset credits.

    But Ferguson said the scientific studies indicate carbon neutral logging might not be possible, and the soil in some logged areas continues to release carbon for up to a decade after the trees are cut.

    "As much as we would want it to be the way it works, that just isn't what happens," Ferguson said.

    (Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Rob Wilson)

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:31 PM  
    Unusually heavy rain forecast for south China over next 10 days
    Wednesday, April 9, 2008
    BEIJING, April 9, (Xinhua) -- Southern China will have more rain than usual over the next 10 days, the China Meteorological Administration forecast on Wednesday.
    Heavy rain was likely to hit parts of the areas that lie south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River from April 11 to 16, it said. Some regions would experience the heaviest rain so far this year.

    Vice-Minister of Water Resources E Jingping urged meteorological and water resources departments across the country to closely monitor the situation and update forecasts in a timely manner.

    Light rain in parts of Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang was expected to ease the persistent drought in northern China. The southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Guizhou would also get light or moderate rain.

    With little precipitation, however, a forest fire has continued to burn out of control in Shangrila, southwestern Yunnan Province. More than 1,000 people have been fighting the blaze, which broke out on Sunday in a heavily forested area.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:48 PM  
    Sneaky storms cause for concern
    ORLANDO --You go to bed at 11 p.m. with a relatively mild tropical storm predicted to arrive overnight. You awaken at 4 a.m. with a 90-mph hurricane blowing through your house.

    It happened last year to residents of the upper Texas coast. It could happen during any hurricane season to anyone in the hurricane zone. And it demonstrates why Floridians should consider every tropical system a potential threat, forecasters say.

    They call the phenomenon "rapid intensification," it's one of their worst fears and it's a major focus of this week's National Hurricane Conference - an annual meeting that traditionally launches a preseason flood of preparedness pleas from forecasters and emergency managers.

    "We talked about it and worried about it for decades - a storm forming right along the shore and then becoming a hurricane as it moved inland," said Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center near Miami.

    "But we actually haven't had such a case, at least not in many, many years, that presented itself to our forecasters," he said. "Now, we have an example so we can actually show the public our concern."

    That example is called Humberto, a stealth hurricane that smacked into High Island and other areas east of Galveston last year early on the morning of Sept. 14.

    The system developed at 11 a.m. the previous day as a tropical depression just 120 miles south of Galveston. All of the available science suggested that it would grow into a tropical storm - but not a hurricane - and quickly reach the coast.

    So, forecasters immediately issued tropical storm warnings, and that was that.

    Except . . . it wasn't.

    Storms are supposed to weaken as they reach land, but Humberto did not. Just after midnight, it strengthened into a hurricane - within 20 miles of shore. Forecasters rapidly upgraded the warnings, but it was too late.

    Nearly everyone was asleep and the first official hurricane warning came at virtually the same moment the hurricane was striking land - the first time in memory that coastal residents were left so unwarned.

    One person was killed as a direct result of Humberto, 12 were injured and the storm inflicted about $50 million in damage.

    "It wasn't the Lone Ranger, either," said Bill Read, the hurricane center's new director. "Just for that segment of the upper Texas coast, four of the nine Category 3 or 4 hurricanes that made landfall developed [rapidly] in the Gulf of Mexico."

    Still, Humberto established something of a scientific record: It mushroomed from a tropical depression to a hurricane in a little over 12 hours.

    Later that day, senior hurricane specialist James Franklin shared his frustration, adding this to an element of his public forecast:

    "To put this development in perspective, no tropical cyclone in the historical record has ever reached this intensity at a faster rate near landfall. It would be nice to know, some day, why this happened."

    That will take a good bit of time, though some help should come this year from wider deployment aboard hurricane hunter planes of an instrument that measures surface winds near a storm's center.

    Forecasts of a hurricane's path are getting better and better, with last year's results the best in history, but scientists acknowledge they have made little progress in predicting a storm's intensity.

    "Our focus is on intensity," said Mary Glackin, deputy undersecretary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which runs the hurricane center. "It's clear that's where improvements are needed."

    In fact, last year's intensity forecasts were worse than the recent five-year average - partly because an unusual number of storms strengthened with unusual speed, including Humberto.

    "The hurricane that hit Texas was very important, not only for the people affected by it but as really the poster child for the rapidly developing storm near the coast," Rappaport said.

    "We don't know when something like that will happen again," he said. "It could be a long time from now or it could be this year."

    Though hurricanes can form at any time, the official six-month season begins June 1.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:42 PM  
    Tropical storms can quickly turn deadly
    Sunday, April 6, 2008
    U.S. meteorologists say the rapid intensification of storms is the reason people should consider any tropical storm as a dangerous threat.

    The phenomenon of a tropical storm quickly becoming a hurricane is a major focus at the National Hurricane Conference meeting this week in Florida, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

    Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, said last year's Hurricane Humberto is an example of a stealth hurricane. It started as a tropical storm but grew into a hurricane in a little over 12 hours.

    The first official hurricane warning came at almost the the same moment the hurricane was striking land just east of Galveston, Texas, the newspaper said.

    "The hurricane that hit Texas was very important, not only for the people affected by it but as really the poster child for the rapidly developing storm near the coast,'' Rappaport said.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:08 PM  
    Hurricane experts warn owners of older homes to inspect and protect
    ORLANDO — Your home may be less hurricane-hardy than you think.

    Leaky windows, unsecured roofs and shingles that fly off in the wind can be among the nasty surprises for homes built before Florida's newest building codes took effect, experts warned today at the National Hurricane Conference.

    Even the sturdy houses of decades past, such as those that survived the 1928 or 1949 hurricanes, are not as impregnable as many owners believe, Jacksonville disaster planner Jeffrey Alexander told a roomful of engineers and emergency managers.

    "What gets stronger with age, other than alcohol?" asked Alexander, director of emergency preparedness for the Northeast Florida Regional Council.

    "If the structure survived five storms, it's weaker, not more likely to survive the next," he said.

    The frailty of home construction has been a grim lesson of hurricanes such as Andrew, Charley, Frances and Wilma. And it's bound to repeat itself in the next storm.

    "Looking at my own house, I'm worried about the top all the way to the foundation," said David Cox, a senior wind specialist at FM Global, which insures commercial and industrial buildings.

    Cox said his company's studies have shown that even sturdily engineered factories, hotels and office complexes can suffer major damage from the failures of weak spots, such as roof corners. FM doesn't study homes, but Cox said many are clearly much weaker than a typical commercial structure.

    Good news: The post-Andrew building codes that took effect in the 1990s have made newer homes much more storm-resistant, said Tim Reinhold, engineering director at the insurance industry's Institute for Business & Home Safety in Tampa.

    And if you have an older home, upgrades can help. For instance, Reinhold said, protecting your windows with shutters can mean a one-category increase in the strength of storm your home can withstand.

    To help homeowners figure out their risk, the not-for-profit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes announced a new "do-it-yourself" checklist this week on its Web site,

    The site helps residents rate the safety of their window coverings, doors and roof attachments, including the building codes and engineering standards they should meet. It advises people to contact a licensed contractor to make any repairs.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:03 PM  
    Forecasters now able to narrow storm predictions
    ORLANDO -- Dramatic improvements in hurricane track predictions are allowing forecasters to narrow the areas placed on long-range alert as a storm approaches.

    This year, the familiar forecast cones will be about 23 miles smaller at the four- and five-day range than they were last year, according to Bill Read, new director of the National Hurricane Center in West Miami-Dade County.

    That means fewer people will have to begin taking action along the fringes of a storm's predicted path.

    ''The No. 1 piece of good news is, the narrower the cone, the more confidence people outside it have that they are outside the threat,'' Read said during this week's National Hurricane Conference, an annual gathering of 2,100 forecasters, emergency managers and others involved in the warning system.

    ''And secondarily, we have to energize fewer people to move,'' he said.

    Still, Read and other experts emphasized that a storm's predicted track tends to shift -- sometimes slightly, sometimes radically -- with every forecast, so residents near that path should remain attentive.

    In other changes:

    • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the hurricane center's parent agency, plans to deemphasize its controversial full-season forecasts, Read said.

    Those long-range forecasts, issued before the season begins on June 1 and produced by a team led by scientists who do not work at the hurricane center, have been well off the mark in recent years.

    Some hurricane forecasters say that could undermine faith in their real-team predictions about actual storms.

    Read said this year's NOAA seasonal forecast will be released with less fanfare than in the past and might only include a prediction of above-average, average or below-average activity, rather than a numerical estimate.

    ''We're going to start to tamp down the way we roll this out,'' he said.

    Still, a team of scientists at Colorado State University -- which also has been off the mark lately -- plans to issue numerical estimates as it has in the past, with the next update expected next week.

    • The hurricane center will bulk up its ''Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook'' -- a satellite image highlighting disturbed weather that could develop into tropical depressions, tropical storms or hurricanes.

    The image will be updated four times a day -- 2 a.m., 8 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. -- instead of twice, and each highlighted area will be color coded to indicate the probability of that area developing into a tracked system within 48 hours.

    ''It will show a low, moderate or high risk of development, and when you take your mouse over it in the graphic, the text will pop up to explain it,'' Read said. ``It's going to be fantastic.''

    He and other scientists said they are trimming the forecast cone because they have made steady progress in predicting a storm's path. Now, the four-day cone will be 268 miles wide and the five-day cone will be 351 miles wide, in each case about 23 miles narrower than last year.

    ''Since 1990, 24- to 72-hour track forecast errors have been reduced by a little more than 50 percent,'' senior hurricane specialist James Franklin wrote in an official review of last year's hurricane center forecasts.

    In fact, forecasters set a record last year for the accuracy of their 36-hour to four-day track predictions in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

    They were far less successful, however, in the key area of intensity, with last year's errors larger than normal.

    In some cases, they misjudged a storm's future strength by two categories in the five-category Saffir-Simpson scale. Some storms unexpectedly intensified close to land and more and more people flock to the coast every year -- a double-barreled problem.

    ''As we get the coast more and more developed, the complexity of evacuations are such that we need longer lead times,'' Read said. ``That's a given and I just don't know how you can get people to react before a storm has [fully] developed.''
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:03 PM  
    Nobel scientist warns on climate change
    By Tom Brown

    MIAMI (Reuters) - The Nobel Prize-winning scientist who rang the first alarm bells over the ozone hole issued a warming about climate change on Saturday, saying there could be "almost irreversible consequences" if the Earth warmed 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees F) above what it ought to be.

    "Things are changing and there's no doubt that it's as a result of human activities," said Mario Molina, a Mexican who shared a Nobel prize in chemistry in 1995 for groundbreaking work on chlorofluorocarbon gases and their threat to the Earth's ozone layer.

    "Long before we run out of oil, we will run out of atmosphere," he said.

    Molina told a panel discussion on climate change at an annual Inter-American Development Bank meeting in Miami that the increasing intensity of hurricanes was among the worrisome changes that scientists had linked to a rapid global warming trend over the past 30 years.

    Molina did not elaborate on specific effects so far from the Earth's temperature rise, which has been slightly less than 1 degree Celsius (1.8 F) over the last century.

    But he said certain "tipping points" would be reached if temperatures continue increasing, including unmanageable changes to the Earth's environment.

    Molina later told Reuters there was considerable uncertainty about how much further warming the planet can sustain before it reaches critical levels.

    "You keep changing the temperature gradually but then suddenly things change dramatically," he said.
    "Trying to keep it (warming) below two degrees (Celsius) means we want to keep the change at most twice or three times what it has changed already. And that's because it's unrealistic to change it by less, because of what we have already done," Molina said.

    "The idea to keep the temperature change not above 2.5 (degrees Celsius) is precisely to reduce the possibility of these tipping points happening," he added.

    He said warming beyond that would pose "a risk that is not acceptable to society."

    (Editing by Michael Christie and Peter Cooney)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 3:38 PM  
    Drought grows slightly in E. Australian farmlands
    SYDNEY (Reuters) - A key part of Australia's eastern farmlands slipped further into drought in March but record crops were still expected if good rains fell soon, New South Wales Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said on Sunday.

    New South Wales, one of Australia's biggest agricultural states, was hit hardest by the country's worst drought in 100 years before rain began falling early this year.

    The rain reduced the area of the state in drought to around 40 percent from 99 percent during the worst of the drought in 2002.

    However, in the latest month the drought-affected area of the state rose by around 2 percentage points to 42.9 percent, Macdonald said.

    Winter crop prospects were still good if farmers received autumn rain, he said.

    "They are anxiously waiting for quite good rainfall across the state so they can get their winter crops in," Macdonald said of farmers.

    "We anticipate there'll be a record amount of cropping put into the ground if we can get some decent autumn rain," he said on ABC radio.

    Australia, one of the largest farm goods exporters in the world, largely to Asia, will begin to plant its winter wheat crop in around three week's time.

    Normally the second-largest wheat exporter in the world, Australian wheat crops have been decimated in three of the last six years because of drought. This recently sent world wheat prices soaring to record highs.
    Recent forecasts put Australia's 2008/09 wheat crop at between 26 million tonnes and a record-breaking 27 million tonnes. All forecasts are based on good rain falling soon.

    (Reporting by Michael Byrnes, editing by Jacqueline Wong)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 3:37 PM  
    10 killed, 30,000 homeless in floods in northeast Brazil
    Saturday, April 5, 2008
    SAO PAULO, Brazil — Floods triggered by two weeks of torrential rain have killed at least 10 people and driven more than 30,000 from their homes in Brazil’s normally arid northeast, officials said yesterday.

    In Paraiba state, about 14,000 people had to leave their homes to escape floodwater in 13 towns and cities.

    In the nearby state of Piaui, the floods drove nearly 19,000 people from their homes and destroyed corn and bean crops.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 12:33 PM  
    2008 hurricane predictions
    Friday, April 4, 2008
    It is hard to believe, but hurricane season is less than two months away.

    Forecasters and emergency managers are gathered in Orlando this week, and some are warning the conditions may be setting up to make this another busy season.

    The National Hurricane Center's new boss has a warning. Don't get lulled by the perception that last year was a quiet one.

    Bill Read the Director of the Tropical Prediction Center says "last year, you gotta remember, we had 15 named storms. We had 2 Category Five's. It wasn't a complete dud year. It's just that it didn't make headlines in the U.S."

    Bill Read knows this year could be very different and noted Colorado State forecaster William Gray is considering raising his predictions when he releases his new forecast next week.

    In his last outlook, Gray called for 13 named storms but says cool waters in the Pacific called La Nina can enhance hurricane conditions and points out warm waters off of Africa are similar to what they were before the historic 2005 season.

    Still, the new hurricane center director doesn't put much stock in long term forecasting, knowing the science isn't exact.

    Bill Read says "it doesn't really matter what the forecast we're giving you for the season."

    And the reality is it only takes one storm to take lives and change a community forever.

    Dr. Gray releases his new forecast April 9th.

    The Hurricane Center is urging everyone in hurricane-prone areas start thinking about preparations before the season starts.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:39 PM  
    Tornado season approaching
    Tuesday, April 1, 2008
    By MATT MILNER Courier staff writer

    — Southern Iowa just finished one of the worst winters in recent years, but spring might not be a relief.

    This year hasn’t just had tough winter conditions. So far, 2008 is also an unusually severe year for tornadoes. The Storm Prediction Center keeps score. It recorded 491 confirmed tornadoes in the United States through March 25, almost two-and-a-half times as many as the 10-year average.

    The red line for 2008 gets your attention when you look at the SPC tornado graph. And the average shows that the country is entering some of the most dangerous weeks for tornadoes.

    But weather forecasts are a little bit like stock market disclaimers: Past performance does not guarantee future results.

    “Generally, as far as outlooks go, we have very, very little to go on,” said State Climatologist Harry Hillaker.

    Meteorologists can do a reasonably good job of telling people when and where it will rain within a few days. Better, more specific predictions require more accurate data though. Scientists have not developed ways to get very specific information for those predictions yet.

    Hillaker said temperature and precipitation are the biggest factors for severe weather. Those factors can vary tremendously over very short spaces.

    In general, warmer temperatures allow more moisture into the atmosphere. That allows clouds to build and form rain. A storm’s strengh grows as the clouds build higher, and only the biggest storms produce the kind of situations where tornadoes form.

    So what’s different this year that has allowed so many strong storms to spawn tornadoes in just a couple months? The best candidate right now is La Niña.

    La Niña is, in simple terms, the flip side of El Niño. Where El Niño creates abnormally warm ocean temperatures in the Pacific off of South America, La Niña cools the water. Some studies suggest a link between La Niña and tornadoes in the United States.

    La Niña generally fades as the spring goes on. Most forecasters expect it to do the same this year. The big question is when it fades and how fast it disappears. The answer could impact whether the unusually active severe weather of the winter months continues into the spring.

    Unfortunately, Hillaker characterized forecasters’ ability to predict that as “pretty wishy-washy.

    “We’re still absolutely terrible about predicting when it’s going to happen or when it’s going to end,” he said.

    That means the best advice remains to know what you’re going to do before a storm hits. That’s part of the emphasis for next week’s Iowa Severe Weather Awareness Week.

    There could even be some good to come out of some of this year’s severe weather. Millions of people heard about a tornado that hit downtown Atlanta because it happened during the SEC basketball tournament. That tornado, along with recent strikes in Nashville, Des Moines, and Salt Lake City, helped end the misnomer that tornadoes can’t hit urban areas.

    The only sure thing is that at some point this spring, we’re going to have storms.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 5:33 PM  
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    The tropical cyclone data presented at this site are intended to convey only general information on current storms and must not be used to make life or death decisions or decisions relating to the protection of property: the data may not be accurate. If you are in the path of a storm you should be listening to official information sources. These data have no official status and should not be used for emergency response decision-making under any circumstances