Storms
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Bizarro Earth

Australia: Wild Thunderstorms Lash Victoria

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© Ben SwinnertonLightning lashed Melbourne for two consecutive nights.
Wild thunderstorms have lashed Victoria for the second night in a row, causing flooding and lightning to strike houses.

Areas northwest of Melbourne received up to 60mm of rain, while the storms also brought down trees and power lines.

Gisborne, about 50km northwest of Melbourne, was worst affected, with the State Emergency Service receiving more than 60 calls for flash flooding.

SES operations manager Tim Wiebusch said extra crews were needed to help clean up.

"The word back we've had from the crews is it's large storm water drains that aren't coping with the downpour,'' Mr Wiebusch said.

Bizarro Earth

Lightning Strikes Sleeping Woman

A woman has been taken to hospital after her house was struck by lightning in Melbourne's east last night.

She was sleeping in her home in Glencairn Avenue, Ringwood when the lightning struck about 10pm (AEDT).

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade's (MFB) Alan Hunter says the bolt hit the roof, travelled down into the house and into a wardrobe.

Bizarro Earth

Heavy Storm Kills 11 in Southern Brazil

A total of 11 people were killed due to the heavy rain that has been lashing southern Brazil since last week, authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

The most recent death occurred in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, when 45-year-old Luiz Alberto Carvalho Nene was struck by lightning.

On Wednesday, the towns of Cacapava do Sul, Cerrito and Manoel Viana in the state declared a state of emergency. So far, 48 of the 496 municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul have declared a state of emergency.

Over 14,000 people in Rio Grande do Sul had to leave their homes due to the floods, and a power cut affected almost 10,000 people in the state.

Igloo

Beijing's Heaviest Snow in 54 Years Strands Thousands

Snow at Forbidden City
© Xinhua Visitors walk at Forbidden City on a snowy day in Beijing November 10, 2009.
Beijing's unusually heavy snow, which brought a traffic paralysis to the capital yesterday, again highlighted the controversial use of weather modification.

The snow fell amid lightning and thunder in the capital late Monday to early yesterday, making it the second snowfall in eight days.

"The occurrence was rather unusual for early November," said Sun Jisong, chief forecaster of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau.

An official from the capital weather modification office who refused to be identified told China Daily yesterday that the second snow in Beijing was also artificially induced but refused to reveal further information.

On Oct 31, the first snow in the capital city this winter was partly induced by 186 doses of silver iodide, a compound used in cloud seeding. More than 16 million tons of snow fell on the city, Zhang Qiang, director of the municipal weather modification office, said earlier.

Without advance notice, the weather manipulation led to another big mess yesterday in Beijing, with traffic and flight delays.

Sun

Lightning Strike in Africa Helps Take Pulse of Sun

Sunspots
© NASASunspots, which rotate around the sun's surface, tell us a great deal about our own planet.
Sunspots, which rotate around the sun's surface, tell us a great deal about our own planet. Scientists rely on them, for instance, to measure the sun's rotation or to prepare long-range forecasts of Earth's health.

But there are some years, like this one, where it's not possible to see sunspots clearly. When we're at this "solar minimum," very few, if any, sunspots are visible from Earth. That poses a problem for scientists in a new scientific field called "Space Weather," which studies the interaction between the sun and Earth's environment.

Thanks to a serendipitous discovery by Tel Aviv University's Prof. Colin Price, head of TAU's Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science, and his graduate student Yuval Reuveni, science now has a more definitive and reliable tool for measuring the sun's rotation when sunspots aren't visible -- and even when they are. The research, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research -- Space Physics, could have important implications for understanding the interactions between the sun and Earth. Best of all, it's based on observations of common, garden-variety lightning strikes here on Earth.

Binoculars

Signature of Antimatter Detected in Lightning

Fermi telescope finds evidence that positrons, not just electrons, are in storms on Earth.

Designed to scan the heavens thousands to billions of light-years beyond the solar system, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has now recorded some more down-to-Earth signals. During its first 14 months of operation, the flying observatory has detected 17 gamma-ray flashes associated with terrestrial lightning storms.

The flashes occurred just before, during and immediately after lightning strikes, as tracked by the World Wide Lightning Location Network.

During two recent lightning storms, Fermi recorded gamma-ray emissions of a particular energy that could only have been produced by the decay of energetic positrons, the antimatter equivalent of electrons. The observations are the first of their kind for lightning storms. Michael Briggs of the University of Alabama in Huntsville announced the puzzling findings November 5 at the 2009 Fermi Symposium.

Cloud Lightning

Lucky strike: San Francisco photographer captures dramatic lightning on early morning drive

If woken by a tumultuous storm outside, most of us will wisely pull the covers over our heads and try to go back to sleep. For one plucky photographer though, it was the chance to dash outside and capture some truly electric images.

Frank Fennema, 56 from California made the trip from his home in Tiburon, north of San Francisco, down to the Golden Gate Bridge.

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© Frank Fennemma

Saturn

Thunderstorm on Saturn is a record-buster

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© Unknown
A tempest that erupted on Saturn in January has become the Solar System's longest continuously observed lightning storm, astronomers reported on Tuesday.

The storm broke out in "Storm Alley," a region 35 degrees south of the ringed giant's equator, researchers told the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, near Berlin.

Thunderstorms there can be as big as 3,000 kilometers (nearly 2,000 miles) across. The powerful event was spotted by the US space probe Cassini, using an instrument that can detect radiowaves emitted by lightning discharge.

"The reason why we see lightning in this peculiar location is not completely clear," said Georg Fischer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in a press release.

Cloud Lightning

Six killed by lightning in China

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© Unknown
Six farmers were killed in eastern China Sunday when the hut they were sheltering in during a storm was struck by lightning, state media reported.

Another farmer in the hut was injured and taken to hospital, the Xinhua news agency quoted local officials in Anhui province as saying.

The accident happened during a heavy rainstorm in the village of Qiaodong, around 650 kilometres (400 miles) northwest of Shanghai, Xinhua quoted officials from the county government as saying.

Cloud Lightning

Upwards lightning caught on film

Scientists have photographed "upwards lightning", a rarely-seen phenomenon where electricity from storms flows into the upper atmosphere.

upwards lightning
Gigantic jets can travel more than 60km (40 miles) into the ionosphere
During last year's Tropical Storm Cristobal, lightning reached more than 60km (40 miles) up.

Also known as "gigantic jets", these events are just as powerful as cloud-to-ground lightning bolts.

The US team of researchers also took radio measurements of the electrical charge.