Earth ChangesS


July's weather: Chilly USA, torrid globe

July 2009 US cold records

Oh, the humanity.

As if global warming proponents don't have enough to worry about already, with Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., Fox News and the Heartland Institute, now Mother Nature has thrown them yet another curve: July 2009 was officially the coldest July on record in six U.S. states, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Specifically, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Not one of the coldest, mind you, but the absolute, rock-bottom, chilliest on record. Records go back to 1895. Meanwhile, four others - Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kentucky - had their 2nd-coldest July ever recorded.

What does this mean for global warming? Does this confirm it's a hoax perpetrated by Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi? Well, Fox News ran a headline last week that the cold summer is putting a damper on global warming fears. Meanwhile, the Heartland Institute is sponsoring another conference next May in Chicago.

But "Whoa Nellie" as Keith Jackson used to say. While the Northeast USA was indeed chilling out in July, take a look at these statistics, courtesy of the University of Alabama - Huntsville: For the world as a whole, July was the 2nd-warmest ever recorded, the Southern Hemisphere had its 2nd-warmest month ever (compared to seasonal norms), and it was the 2nd-warmest month ever recorded in Antarctica (again compared to seasonal norms).


US: Tomato fungus appears in Wisconsin

tomato blight
© Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer ProtectionThis blighted tomato plant is from a home garden in Dane County. Late blight has also been found at a Rock County vegetable farm.

Wisconsin potato growers are on alert for a highly contagious fungus that has been found on tomato plants throughout the state. Officials worry that the fungus - which caused the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th century - could make the leap to potatoes and threaten the local crop.

As of Friday, Wisconsin had at least eight confirmed cases of the late blight fungus on tomatoes in Dane, Rock, Portage and Langlade counties - including at least one commercial vegetable farm, said Amanda Gevens, a plant pathologist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin Extension. An additional 20 to 30 suspected cases are being investigated in several counties, she said.

The fungus first appeared earlier this summer in the Northeast, possibly carried by infected seedlings at garden centers. It has spread to other parts of the country since, rapidly killing tomato plants in its path. Spores are carried by wind, rain, people, machinery and wildlife.

In other states, the fungus quickly made the leap to potatoes, which is why Gevens met with Wisconsin potato growers this week to explain the signs and to prepare growers for a potentially devastating crossover. Wisconsin - the nation's third largest potato producer behind Idaho and Washington - last year harvested 2.3 billion pounds of potatoes.

"It has now landed in the center of commercial potato production in Wisconsin, so the risk is great," Gevens said.


US: Nebraska tomatoes over a month late ripening

green tomatoes
© unknownThis year, the prize of gardening — a juicy tomato, ripe by the Fourth of July — has remained stubbornly green and hard.

Talk about frustration.

By now, many vegetable gardeners would be layering fat slices of tomatoes on a plate and eating them like watermelon.

But not this year.

The prize of gardening - a juicy tomato, ripe by the Fourth of July - has remained stubbornly green and hard.

"This is as slow as I've seen it, and I've been growing tomatoes since 1972," said Bob "The Tomato Man" Green.

A Sarpy County farmer, master gardener and longtime competitor at the county fair, Green has 67 plants - 27 varieties - this year at his farm outside Springfield, Neb. And they just aren't ripening.

Blame it on the cool weather, he said. Tomatoes need warm days and warm nights to ripen. So far, though, much of eastern Nebraska is running about 4 to 6 degrees below normal for July.


China landslide buries unknown number of residents

Beijing - A massive landslide triggered by a deadly typhoon toppled at least six apartment buildings burying an unknown number of residents in eastern China, a state news agency said Tuesday.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the landslide in the town of Pengxi, in Zhejiang province's Wenzhou city, was triggered by heavy rains carried by the storm Morakot, which has already killed six people and left three missing in mainland China.

Cloud Lightning

Earthquakes shake Tokyo area, Indian Ocean

© AFP/FileA quake reading on a seismograph. A major 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck central Japan early Tuesday, …
A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 hit Tokyo and nearby areas shortly after dawn Tuesday, halting trains and forcing two nuclear reactors to be shut down for safety checks.

The U.S. Geological Survey said another, unrelated quake with a 7.6 magnitude hit the Indian Ocean about 160 miles (257 kilometers) north of Port Blair in India's Andaman Islands. A tsunami watch was called for India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh. The caution was later lifted without any tsunami being recorded.

The Andaman Islands quake was reported to be 20.6 miles (33.15 kilometers) deep, the U.S. Geological Survey said. On Dec. 26, 2004, about 230,000 people were killed in a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered a tsunami.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 7.6 - Andaman Islands, India Region

© US Geological Survey

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 19:55:39 UTC
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 01:55:39 AM at epicenter

14.013°N, 92.923°E

33.1 km (20.6 miles)

260 km (160 miles) N of Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India

365 km (225 miles) SSW of Pathein (Bassein), Myanmar

825 km (510 miles) W of BANGKOK, Thailand

2295 km (1420 miles) SE of NEW DELHI, Delhi, India

Cloud Lightning

Update 2: Typhoon Morakot - 600 missing in mudslide, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan -- A typhoon-spawned mudslide engulfed a mountain village in southern Taiwan, burying up to 600 people, a police official and a rescued villager said Monday.

Typhoon Morakot dumped up to 80 inches (two meters) of rain on some communities over the weekend before moving on to China, where it forced the evacuation of nearly 1 million people along the east coast and left at least six dead. Earlier it had struck the Philippines, leaving at least 22 dead.

Cloud Lightning

Update: Typhoon Kills 18 in Taiwan, China; 13 Die in Japan

Typhoon Morakot
© NASATyphoon Morakot
Typhoon Morakot killed three people in China after taking the lives of at least 15 in Taiwan, where it dumped record amounts of rain and left more than 100 people unaccounted for after a mudslide.

A separate storm killed 13 people in Japan.

Even as it weakened to a tropical storm today, Morakat, the ninth typhoon of the Pacific cyclone season, had destroyed more than 5,000 homes in mainland China and affected 7.8 million people, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. It caused damage of 6 billion yuan ($880 million) and prompted the evacuation of almost 1.4 million people in eastern China, Xinhua said today.

The provinces most affected are Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Anhui, Xinhua said. The storm is headed northwestward to northern Zhejiang, it said.

Morakot crossed northern Taiwan, leaving 15 people dead, the National Fire Agency said. The typhoon dumped more rain on Taiwan than in any 48-hour period since records began 100 years ago, Taiwan's chief weather forecaster, Lee Hsiang-yuan, said.

Better Earth

Freak wave 'hot spots' identified

cargo ship
© PAIn 2008, a cargo ship was grounded off Blackpool after being hit by a freak wave
Scientists in the US have made a major advance in their understanding of so-called freak waves.

These monster waves present a major risk to ships and offshore platforms.

A computer simulation developed by oceanographers in the US could help locate where and when these "rogue" phenomena are most likely to occur.

The theoretical study shows that coastal areas with variations in water depth and strong currents are hot spots for freak waves.

The history of seafaring is littered with tales of rogue waves capable of rending ships asunder.

A freak wave is one that measures roughly three times higher than other swells on the sea at any one time. These phenomena can measure up to 18m (60ft) - the height of a six-storey building.

Cloud Lightning

Typhoon Morakot Destroys Houses in China, Kills 14 in Taiwan

Morakot 1
© AFP/Getty Images The Hotel Chin shuai is collapsed in floodwaters during typhoon Morakot in Chihpen, Taitung county, Taiwan, Aug. 9, 2009.
Typhoon Morakot destroyed houses in China after killing at least 14 people in Taiwan where it dumped record amounts of rain.

The typhoon, the ninth of the Pacific cyclone season, damaged the properties of at least 136,000 people in Xiapu county in Fujian province, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported today. It caused damage of 2.2 billion yuan ($322 million) and prompted the evacuation of almost 1 million people in eastern China, Xinhua said late yesterday.

In Taiwan, 14 people were killed when Morakot crossed the north of the island. The typhoon dumped more rain on Taiwan than in any 48-hour period since records began 100 years ago, Taiwan's chief weather forecaster Lee Hsiang-yuan said.

The center of Morakot weakened to a tropical storm after making landfall in China, according to the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Heavy rains in Japan left 13 people dead and 10 missing in the southwest and disrupted rail services in the capital, Tokyo. A tropical storm is also approaching from the south and is forecast to bring more rain to the country tomorrow.