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  • Climate Change Panel Issues New Warning
    Tuesday, February 24, 2009
    Feb. 24, 2009 -- The Earth won't have to warm up as much as had been thought to cause serious consequences of global warming, including more extreme weather and increasing threats to plants and animals, says an international team of climate experts.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that the risk of increased severe weather would rise with a global average temperature increase of between 1.8 degrees and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above 1990 levels. The National Climatic Data Center currently reports that global temperatures have risen 0.22 degrees since 1990.

    Now, researchers report that "increases in drought, heat waves and floods are projected in many regions and would have adverse impacts, including increased water stress, wildfire frequency and flood risks starting at less than (1.8 degrees) of additional warming above 1990 levels."

    Indeed, "it is now more likely than not that human activity has contributed to observed increases in heat waves, intense precipitation events, and the intensity of tropical cyclones," concluded the researchers led by Joel B. Smith of Stratus Consulting Inc., in Boulder, Colo.

    Other researchers, they noted, have suggested that "the likelihood of the 2003 heat wave in Europe, which led to the death of tens of thousands of people, was substantially increased by increased greenhouse gas concentrations."

    The new report, in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, comes just a week after Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that humans are now adding carbon to the atmosphere even faster than in the 1990s.

    Carbon dioxide and other gases added to the air by industrial and other activities have been blamed for rising temperatures, increasing worries about possible major changes in weather and climate. Carbon emissions have been growing at 3.5 percent per year since 2000, up sharply from the 0.9 percent per year in the 1990s, Field said.

    The new study found evidence of greater vulnerability to climate change for specific populations, such as the poor and elderly, in not only developing but also developed countries.

    "For example, events such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2003 European heat wave have shown that the capacity to adapt to climate-related extreme events is lower than expected and, as a result, their consequences and associated vulnerabilities are higher than previously thought," the scientists report.

    Co-authors of the report include Stephen H. Schnieder of Stanford University, Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University and researchers in India, Germany, Canada, Zimbabwe, Australia, Bangladesh, Cuba and Belgium.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:36 PM  
    Pacific extreme weather predicted to continue
    Monday, February 9, 2009
    The Regional Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre says extreme weather conditions in the Pacific are expected to continue for almost three months.

    Heavy downpours in the region have already caused widespread destruction in Fiji and Solomon Islands.

    Director of the Regional Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Nadi, Fiji, Rajendra Prasad says the cyclone season finishes at the end of April.

    He says more weather depressions and a few cyclones are expected to hit the Southern Pacific.

    "We have the South Pacific Conversion Zone, which is a main rainfall-producing system for the South Pacific Region, really active over the last three weeks or so and continuing to be active," he said.

    "We also have the extension of monsoonal trough all the way from Indonesia extending onto northern parts of Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

    "So the two systems in a way combined and we have opposing winds and some of them have formed into tropical depressions."

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:37 PM  
    Emergency declared in flood-hit Solomons
    Friday, February 6, 2009
    Most of the Solomon Islands' main province of Guadalcanal has been declared a disaster area after widespread floods left nine people dead and more than 1,000 families homeless, officials said on Friday.

    There are fears the death toll could rise as several people are missing, including a Belgian national who went trekking in the mountains a day before the torrential rains began.

    Homes and crops have been destroyed and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, who has maintained contact with Solomons authorities, said more rain was expected in the next few days.

    "The Solomon Islands government has declared a state of emergency," McCully said in announcing 100,000 NZ dollars (50,330 US) in relief aid.

    Australia has also given nearly 100,000 Australian dollars (62,300 US) for disaster relief and France has mobilised a patrol boat to ferry humanitarian supplies to isolated areas.

    "The official death toll currently stands at nine, and over 1,000 families from 270 villages have been forced to leave their homes," McCully said.

    Solomons officials put the number of homeless at more than 1,800 families. The weather office forecast continued heavy rain in the coming days and issued a cyclone warning.

    McCully said the funding would help the Guadalcanal provincial government establish a disaster centre and charter ships to help with the relief effort where bridges have been washed away.

    A large area of West Guadalcanal has been isolated from the Solomons capital Honiara, the Guadalcanal Disaster Office said.

    "Road transportation is totally cut off and it is a bit difficult for us to get relief supplies and medicines across to the flood-stricken victims," the provincial disaster coordinator Herrick Savusi told the Solomon Star.

    He said stranded villagers were in desperate need of food, water and other supplies.

    The Australian-led regional assistance mission in the Solomon Islands was also involved in the relief effort, helping with transport, damage assessment and medical evacuations, its special coordinator Graeme Wilson said.

    Villagers in the worst affected areas blamed logging in the mountains for the tragedy.

    "There's no doubt logging was a major contributing factor to this," Abraham Bara told the Solomon Star.

    He said rain water flowed freely into the river, washing away topsoil and vegetation, because there were so few big trees left.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:07 PM  
    Cyclone unlikely, but more rain on the way
    Ingham residents may be spared a second cyclonic battering with a monsoon trough expected to weaken over the north in the coming days.

    However, a tropical low, forming 25 kilometres off Cairns beaches, is expected to drench the already sodden regions south of the sugar town today and possibly flood Townsville.

    "We're fearing that this low will deliver substantial rain and wind on top of a king tide on Sunday," Townsville councillor Dale Last said.

    Mr Last said Townsville residents in low-lying areas were preparing for the worst.

    "We've given away literally thousands upon thousands of sand bags," he said.

    "We're telling people who had water come onto their properties with the last king tide that it's going to be even worse this time."

    A brief reprieve from torrential rains yesterday afforded flood-stricken residents in Ingham the chance to survey the damage.

    "Even if a cyclone doesn't form, moderate to heavy falls caused by the monsoon trough will be possible on Saturday between about Innisfail to Ayr, and extending inland into the Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders areas," the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website.

    "Elsewhere in the state, expect monsoonal showers over Cape York Peninsula and parts of the North Tropical Coast."

    Premier Anna Bligh yesterday surveyed the devastated region and spoke to 50 residents living in emergency accommodation at the Ingham High School.

    "The place is totally water-logged and we have more heavy rain on the way," Ms Bligh said.

    "The water has receded here by about one metre...but there could be worse on the way."

    Flood warnings are in place for the Diamantina and Georgina rivers and Eyre Creek in the west and Gulf rivers including the Nicholson, Leichhardt, Flinders, Norman and Gilbert. On the east coast, the Burdekin, Herbert, Tully and Murray rivers are in flood.

    Dengue fever cases in north Queensland have increased beyond 300, with warnings now posted United Kingdom travel websites about the epidemic.

    In Cairns, 266 cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been confirmed and another 47 people have been infected in Townsville.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 8:11 AM  
    Tropical Cyclone Gael
    Tropical Cyclone Gael is slowing gearing up east of Madagascar. As of 0600 UTC, Thursday, TC Gael was within 150 miles, or 240 km, of Mauritius, as given by the JTWC. This was also nearly 525 miles, or 850 km, east of Madagascar.

    --Update...The 1800 UTC, Thursday, update of the JTWC shows Gael to be a "weak" hurricane lying about 170 miles/280 km north of La Reunion, or 400 miles/640 km east of Madagascar. Highest sustained winds are 70 knots/130 kmh with movement towards the west at 10 knots, or nearly 19 kmh.

    It is clear that Gael has missed the Mascarene Islands; however, what of Madagascar? As of this time, the three numerical models that I have seen show the now west-bound Gael veering southward short of a landfall. But, it is too early, I believe, to rule out a landfall upon eastern Madagascar. Moreover, Gael may be set to deepen/strengthen explosively within striking distance of the big island.

    --A busy Inter Tropical Convergence roughly along 15 to 20 degrees South Latitude is spread from Coral Sea to eastern Indian Ocean by way of northern Australia. While Ellie and the worst of is staggering cloudbursts of rain have faded away, there remain potential hot spots for tropical weather, both east of northern Queensland and over the Gulf of Carpentaria. But a gathering depression off northwestern Australia will be the one to watch, I believe.

    While I am all about Australia, here is another look at that southern heat wave. It was simply sweltering again Thursday over a wide swath of South Australia, New South Wales (inland), Western Australia and northernmost Victoria. A hot spot was once again Marree, South Australia, which followed up Wednesday's 115 degrees F/45.9 deg. C with a high of 116 F/46.4 deg C.

    Once again on Thursday, the worst of the heat evaded Melbourne and Adelaide, two of Australia's biggest cities. Not so on Friday and Saturday. Adelaide will be hottest on Friday; Melbourne, on Saturday, when another 110-degree F (43-degree C) high will be possible (I think likely). After Saturday, though, a strong cold front (for summer) will drive the heat well inland and send seaside temperature dipping below normal. Cool change, anyone?

    --It was a fourth-straight day of snow over England with snow falling within roughly the southeastern two-thirds of the land. Snowfall was at least 6 inches/15 cm at Wittering. There were sites where new snow fell upon old--an unusual thing outside of the hills. It looks as though cold rain was favored over snow this time in and about London.

    In Ireland, snow fell on a third-straight day at Dublin and, at least inland, the ground stayed covered.

    Arctic Maritime air will keep the British Archipelago cold and unsettled for another week. There will be more opportunities for snow. In the near term, snow will fall overnight into the day on Friday over the southern half of Great Britain.

    Elsewhere, much of Europe has return to normal to somewhat above-normal temperature as of mid week.

    In the peninsula of Italy, snow atop the heights of the Apennine Mountains seems to be much deeper that usual this winter. As of today, I find depths of 198 cm on Monte Cimone and 251 cms atop Monte Terminillo.

    --A few end notes: recent rainfall was 14 inches/35 cm at Sandakan, Sabah State (Borneo), Malaysia. In blistering hot northwest South Africa, the high on Thursday was 110 degrees F/43 degrees C at Henkries and 113 F/45 C at Vioolsdrif.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 8:10 AM  
    Soaked northern Australia braces for more rain
    Thursday, February 5, 2009
    SYDNEY (AP) — Sodden residents of northeastern Australia were trying to clean up from weeks of rain that have left more than half of their state — and area twice the size of Spain — under water.

    Still, forecasters on Thursday delivered some good news: Two offshore storms were unlikely to develop into cyclones.

    The main cities on northern Queensland's coast, Townsville and Cairns, were flooded in January storms and are still receiving daily rain. The main highways to Townsville were cut off by water.

    A 42-year-old man in the town of Watsonville was rescued late Wednesday night after clinging to a tree near a swollen creek for more than three hours. He was treated for minor injuries.

    The small town of Ingham has been hardest hit, with 2,900 homes damaged or flooded in a weekend storm and hundreds of people evacuated.

    Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts told Australian Broadcasting Corp. after visiting Ingham that residents are "living in a swimming pool."

    Television footage showed muddy water filling the streets and people using small boats to get around town.

    But the Bureau of Meteorology said a strong storm north of Queensland state and another low pressure system just north of Ingham were unlikely to develop into cyclones and should move south. Though before doing so, they would likely drop enough precipitation to delay a drop in river levels.

    "It's still really wet in this area so extra rainfall will cause trouble," said bureau forecaster Brett Harrison.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told Parliament on Thursday that state and federal governments were providing money for food, accommodation and hardship grants and that a federal disaster response plan had been activated to enlist military aircraft to transport aviation fuel where it was needed.

    More than 60 percent of Queensland state is under water and eligible for disaster relief.

    On Thursday, river levels were beginning to fall in some parts of Queensland state while emergency workers continued to evacuate people left stranded.

    State emergency workers have come from across the state to help clean up, but crews are waiting for the Herbert River to drop below 23 feet (seven meters) before the mop-up can begin in earnest. Weather officials said flood levels in the river had fallen just slightly from a peak of 40 feet (12.2 meters).

    Resident Fred Marolla said his family had lost most of their appliances and other essentials.

    "We've lost a fridge, washing machine, freezer. We've lost a TV, we lost furniture," he said.

    Residents have also been warned about crocodiles and snakes roaming flooded streets and yards.

    November to April is tropical cyclone season in northern Australia and overflowing rivers and heavy rainstorms are normal. The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted above-normal monsoonal activity this season.

    Cane growers in north Queensland are waiting anxiously as rising floodwaters threaten to reduce this year's crop. The state produces about 95 percent of Australia's raw sugar. The government said storms have caused an estimated 109 million Australian dollars ($69.5 million) in damage since late December.

    In stark contrast to the wet weather in the north, cities in southern Australia have been sweltering through record-breaking heat waves in recent weeks.

    Temperatures in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide have ranged from 91 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (33 to 45 degrees Celsius) in the past few weeks, causing deaths and brushfires.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:34 PM  
    Weather forecast for the Asia-Pacific region
    A low pressure system east of Japan will continue moving slowly eastward and into the northern Pacific on Friday. Lingering showers are expected in northern Japan, while the rest of the region will dry out due to high pressure building over the Korean Peninsula.
    Low pressure will develop off the Tibetan Plateau that will kick up light, scattered showers over central China.

    In Taiwan, moisture is expected due to high pressure that will also trigger scattered showers throughout the day along the southwestern coast of China. Expect dry and warm conditions over the rest of China. Hong Kong may see rain.

    There is currently no tropical storm activity in the Western Pacific. In the southern Indian Ocean, however, Tropical Storm Gael will continue tracking toward Madagascar. The system will move over the country Friday and decrease in intensity as it moves over land. Expect dangerous surf, strong winds, and heavy downpours to persist.

    In Australia, two areas of low pressure in the north will continue bringing wet weather to northern Australia. Moderate to heavy showers and thunderstorms are expected over Queensland and the Northern Territory. In the northwest, a stronger low pressure system will kick up moderate to heavy showers and thunderstorms along the coast of Western Australia. Elsewhere, high pressure will bring mostly sunny skies and warm weather.

    Source: Weather Underground
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:23 PM  
    Fourth cyclone brews off west Australian oil region
    PERTH, (Reuters) - A tropical low has formed on the remote west Australian coast on Tuesday and may develop into the region's fourth cyclone later in the week, the Bureau of Meteorology said, potentially threatening some offshore oil and gas fields.

    A tropical low has formed about 400 km northeast of Broome at 3 p.m. local time and may turn into a cyclone later on Thursday as it moves west away from the coast, the bureau said.

    MEO Australia Ltd (MEO.AX), exploring in the Timor Sea off Australia's north, said it had begun to evacuate a drill-rig at the Zeus-1 well in the Carnarvon Basin.

    The region is home to some of Australia's largest oil and gas projects, among them the onshore North West Shelf liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plant and several offshore production sites.

    Rio Tinto (RIO.L)(RIO.AX) and BHP Billiton Ltd/Plc (BHP.AX)(BLT.L) also have iron ore operations in the area.

    A cyclone would be the season's fourth, following Tropical Cyclones Dominic, Billy and Anika.

    Dominic, the third cyclone of the season which occurred just last week, forced the shut-in of nearly 220,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil production -- about 45 percent of the country's total daily output. [ID:nSYD257491] (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Ben Tan)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 2:20 PM  
    Mauritius issues cyclone alert
    Wednesday, February 4, 2009
    Port-Louis - Mauritius issued a tropical storm warning on Wednesday as a cyclone spun toward the Indian Ocean island.

    Cyclone Gael was located 380km northeast of the island at 05:00 GMT and was moving at 18km/h.

    "Gael is heading towards Mauritius and presents a potential danger," a statement from the meteorological department said.

    Authorities called on residents to take precautions.

    In 2007, two people were killed on Mauritius and nine were hurt in neighbouring Reunion when a tropical cyclone hit the islands.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 7:55 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