Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

Worst-on-record drought intensifies in North Carolina

The drought -- the worst on record in North Carolina -- became slightly more intense across the state over the past week, according to a report out today.

Gov. Mike Easley announced today that water usage is down 30 percent for the state's 25 largest public water systems, but conservation efforts have fallen short of the governor's goal of 50 percent reduction in water use for the state.


Indonesia's Krakatau roars and dazzles with fireworks

SUNDA STRAIT - Indonesia's Anak Krakatau volcano lets out a massive roar as it blasts a gigantic cloud of smoke and flaming red rocks hundreds of meters into the night sky.

A few hours later, a river of lava and stones glowing like embers glide down the slopes of Mount Anak Krakatau as the muted light of the rising sun tries to break through thick clouds settled above the mountain.

The volcano, whose name means "Child of Krakatau," formed in the Sunda Strait close to Java island after Mount Krakatau's legendary eruption in 1883. It rumbled to life about two weeks ago and since then has been dazzling scientists and visitors with its amazing pyrotechnics.

Bizarro Earth

Moderate quake strikes Indonesia's Sumatra

JAKARTA - An earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale struck Indonesia's Sumatra island on Sunday, but there were no reports of casualties or damage, the meteorology agency said.

Bizarro Earth

Strong 5.6-magnitude tremor shakes area of Chios, Greece

A strong undersea quake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale was recorded yesterday morning in the northeast Aegean, off the isle of Psara and close to Chios, but there were no injuries or damage reported. The quake, whose epicenter was about 20 kilometers from both Chios and Psara, was felt as far away as Athens. It occurred shortly before 4 a.m. yesterday and was followed by two aftershocks, measuring 5 and 5.3 Richter respectively, just after 9 a.m. Seismologists said they were monitoring the area.


San Francisco: Schwarzenegger declares Bay oil spill emergency

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared the oil spill in San Francisco Bay an emergency on Friday as workers intensified clean-up efforts and part of a popular weekend race was canceled.

Schwarzenegger visited the region and pledged all possible resources for cleaning up a container ship's fuel spill after it struck the Bay Bridge in thick fog on Wednesday.

©REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
A National Park Service ranger places a sign indicating the closure of a roadway leading to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, November 8, 2007.

Cloud Lightning

Hailstorm Paralyses Colombian Capital

Colombia's capital, Bogota, was hit by a freakish hailstorm on the weekend that rendered vehicles immobile. Cars were trapped under a cover of hail that reached up to 1.5 metres in height in some areas.

©El Tiempo

Comment: Amazingly, the story is getting very little international press. This storm ranks at least on par with the recent flooding in Mexico. This video shows how dire the situation was:

(Thanks to SOTT reader, Alejo)

The map below shows the effect of el Nino on precipitation. Since we're now in the la Niña part of the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) cycle the red indicates increased precipitation and the blue reduced precipitation for September through November. The area around Columbia shows increased precipitation so the event, or its severity, can probably be ascribed to the la Niña.

September-November This season the effects of El Niño are strongest. Almost all of Indonesia, the Philippines and eastern Australia are drier than usual during most El Niño events. Large parts of India are often drier than usual, but the Sri Lanka and some southern states get more rain. East Africa, parts of Central Asia and Spain are also on average wetter than normal during El Niño in this season, as are Chili and Uruguay.

This "La Niña is much better defined than last year -- right up there with the strongest we've ever seen. The ocean temperatures off the South American coast are the coldest since 1950."

The figure below shows the effect of el Nino on precipitation for December through February. Again, reverse the correlation since we're in a la Niña period.

December-February In boreal winter the Philippines and East Indonesia stay drier, whereas the Pacific islands along the equator remain wetter. Florida also gets more rain than normal during El Niño, this effect extends to other southern states of the U.S. and into Mexico. South Africa is more frequently dry, as is the northern coast of South America and some of the leeward Antilles. In Uruguay en South Brasil rainfall increases on average. Along the coasts of Ecuador and Peru rainfall increases when the coastal waters heat up, an effect also named El Niño but not always coincident with the warming along the equator that affects the rest of the world.

Notice the large blue area in the southeastern part of the US, meaning reduced precipitation. The southeast US is already suffering from an extreme drought which can see Atlanta run out of water within 90 days.

And not just Georgia will be affected:
As if the summer wasn't hot enough, now we face an unusually warm winter with temperatures expected to be 3 to 5 degrees above normal, the National Weather Service in Miami said Wednesday.

And don't blame global warming. If its predictions holds true, the weather service said, it will mainly be the work of La Niña, the same weather phenomenon expected to reduce rainfall and plunge South Florida back into severe drought by next spring.
This is bad timing for the southeast US.


British flood fears recede but warnings in place across Europe

The threat of serious flooding along England's eastern coast receded Friday after officials said the main tidal peak had passed, although storms were still causing problems elsewhere in Europe.

Hundreds of people who were evacuated from their homes were allowed to return as a spokesman for Britain's Environment Agency said: "The risk of flooding has diminished and the outlook is for tide levels to fall."

Giant waves pound the seafront at Walcott near Great Yarmouth.


Uh Oh! Ground Said Rising at Yellowstone Park

WASHINGTON - Yellowstone National Park, once the site of a giant volcano, has begun swelling up, possibly because molten rock is accumulating beneath the surface, scientists report.

Life Preserver

Cargo Ship's Fuel Fouls San Francisco Bay Area Beaches

SAN FRANCISCO - An oil spill fouled miles of fragile coastline Thursday, sending environmentalists scrambling to save tarred marine life and leaving local officials questioning the Coast Guard's response to the ship collision that triggered the slick.

Cloud Lightning

North Sea storm closes oil platforms, Europe's largest port

A storm in the North Sea forced the closure Thursday of oil platforms off the Norwegian coast as well as Europe's largest port as British forecasters warned of the worst swells in 20 years.

Authorities in Rotterdam announced they planned to close the giant barrier that guards access to the Dutch port for the first time since its construction in the 1990s, shutting off sea traffic until at least 0500 GMT on Friday.

©MAGELLAN Geographix

The Netherlands also stepped up surveillance of all the seawalls along its coast for the first time since 1976. One third of the Dutch land mass is below sea level.