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Bizarro Earth

Aqua Satellite Spots Rare Southern Atlantic Sub-tropical Storm

Tropical Storm Arani
© NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
On March 14 at 1553 UTC (11:53 a.m. EST) NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Sub-Tropical Storm Arani along the Brazilian coast. Most of the convection and thunderstorms (purple) were limited to the eastern half of the storm.
NASA's Aqua satellite spotted some strong convection in a recently formed low pressure area that strengthened into Sub-Tropical Storm Arani in the South Atlantic. Arani formed near the coast of Brazil and is now moving away from it. Tropical cyclones in the Atlantic are a rare occurrence and since 2004 there have only been three of them, Arani being the third.

On March 14, 2011 at 1553 UTC (11:53 a.m. EST) the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Sub-Tropical Storm Arani moving away from the Brazilian coast. Most of the convection and thunderstorms were limited to the eastern half of the storm at the time of the image. The strong areas of convection (rapidly rising air that condenses and forms the thunderstorms that power a tropical cyclone) appeared on the imagery as a sideways boomerang, and were off-shore, paralleling the coast.

AIRS measured the temperatures in those strong areas of convection and found they were as cold as or colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius) indicating some strong thunderstorms with heavy rainfall. That heavy rainfall was occurring off-shore. NASA's AIRS imagery is created at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

On March 15 at 1500 UTC (11 a.m. EST), the Brazilian Navy issued a special marine warning for the Brazilian coast. The warning stated that Sub-Tropical Storm Arani was located near 24.0 South latitude and 37 West longitude. Arani had a minimum central pressure of 998 millibars and was moving east-southeast near 10 to 15 knot winds.

Cloud Lightning

Ten killed in south Brazil floods, thousands evacuated

© Reuters/ Bruno Domingos
At least 10 people have been killed and over 21,000 evacuated in floods in the south of Brazil, civil defense officials reported.

Torrential rain caused floods and landslides and destroyed roads in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Parana.

Two people are missing. Overall, up to 60,000 residents of the South American country's south have been affected.

Bizarro Earth

US: Terrifying ordeal for 800 motorists rescued from their cars as blizzard sweeps through North Dakota

© AP
Going nowhere: Motorists had to abandon their cars in North Dakota after 60mph winds caused a blizzard and plunging temperatures turned roads to ice rinks.
Around 800 people had to be rescued from their cars after a blizzard in North Dakota made roads impassable.

Motorists were yesterday forced to abandon their vehicles after 60mph winds created whiteouts and plunging temperatures turned roads to ice rinks throughout the state.

Traffic came to a grinding halt and there were multiple pileups that caused more delay. Miraculously there were reports of only minor injuries.

Rescue workers, including around 70 soldiers, had to use military lorries and other heavy vehicles that could plough through huge snow drifts to pluck people from more than 500 cars abandoned along major highway routes.

They were taken to churches, schools, bars and gas stations that became makeshift shelters while the highways were closed.

Katie Woodbury, a North Dakota State College freshman, was driving from the school in Fargo to her family's farm in Stanley, northwest North Dakota, when road conditions forced her take shelter at a church in Medina.

'It was scary - I was talking to myself the whole time,' she said of her drive. 'I just want to get home and see my mom and dad and the 13 new piglets at the farm.'

She said she talked to her parents by phone today and, after having a hot meal, was just waiting for the weather to clear.


Auroras Invade the US as Solar Storm Engulfs Earth

Earth's magnetic field is still reverberating from a CME strike on March 10th. During the past 24 hours, Northern Lights have descended as far south as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan in the United States. "It was nice to see the aurora borealis again after so many years of low activity," says Jerry Zhu, who sends this picture from Madison, WI:

© Jerry Zhu
© Travis Novitsky


Winter Storm Hits Greece, Turkey with Snow, High Wind

© Associated Press
Plowing snow on Penteli Mountain, northern Athens, Greece, on March 9, 2011
A severe winter storm has swept over much of Greece and Turkey, disrupting travel, closing schools and knocking out power.

The storm, which began on Monday, continued unleashing high winds and snow into Wednesday.

High winds raking southward over the Aegean Sea made for a serious marine hazard for shipping. Ferries linking the many islands and mainland ports were subjected to cuts in service.

Ships were not allowed to sail from Piraeus and a number of other ports, reports said.


Powerful X-Class Solar Flare

March 9th ended with a powerful solar flare. Earth-orbiting satellites detected an X1.5-class explosion from behemoth sunspot 1166 around 2323 UT. A movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a bright flash of UV radiation plus some material being hurled away from the blast site:

After four years without any X-flares, the sun has produced two of the powerful blasts in less than one month: Feb. 15th and March 9th. This continues the recent trend of increasing solar activity, and shows that Solar Cycle 24 is heating up. NOAA forecasters estimate a 5% chance of more X-flares during the next 24 hours.

Cloud Lightning

US: Northeast next after twisters, floods hit South

Alabama, Louisiana declare emergencies; N.J. expects 'significant event'

Alabama and Louisiana on Wednesday declared states of emergency after twisters hit some areas, while floods submerged others - all part of a severe storm system making its way to the Northeast, where significant flooding was expected Thursday.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie late Wednesday declared a state of emergency for areas along the Passaic and Delaware rivers and flood-prone Bound Brook in Somerset County.

In the South earlier Wednesday, winds tore roofs off buildings, overturned cars and injured several people. A woman died in a house fire in Mississippi that authorities believe was caused by lightning.

Two apparent tornadoes damaged buildings near Mobile in southwest Alabama, hours after several tornadoes were reported to the west near New Orleans, La.

Several tornadoes also touched down in southern Mississippi damaging some mobile homes, according to the police department in Biloxi.

Bizarro Earth

Israel: Torrential rains hit and snow falls on the Hermon

© Marc Israel Sellem
Rain in Jerusalem.
Heavy precipitation, thunderstorms, cause traffic jams in Tel Aviv area, northern Israel; snow expected to spread to upper Galilee, Safed.

A recent blast of cold air from Scandanavia coupled with warm Mediterranean Sea influence created torrential rain and thunderstroms Tuesday. Snow fell in the Hermon and other areas in the north.

The morning hours saw between 10-30 mm of rainfall in the country's center, and between 5-15 mm in the North, with the Israeli Meteorological Service reporting up to 32 mm in the Tel Aviv area. Showers are expected to dissipate in the afternoon hours. Authorities closed the Hermon to visitors as snow began to fall.

The northern heights of Meron and Safed may see snow Wednesday or Thursday, but snow is not expected to hit the ground in Jerusalem.

The stormy weather wreaked havoc on motorways as well, causing heavy traffic in the Center and even worse traffic jams in the North. In the Kirya junction in Tel Aviv, a traffic disturbance developed when traffic lights malfunctioned and jammed the roads until a police officer arrived to help direct traffic.

Bizarro Earth

Tornadoes reported in Alabama, Louisiana

© (Jon Hauge, Press-Register Correspondent
A pickup truck is flipped over in a neighborhood in Silverhill after a possible tornado hit south of Alabama 104 around Baldwin County 55.
New Orleans -- An apparent tornado hit near Mobile, Ala., Wednesday morning, a fire official said.

Lena Phillips of the Theodore, Ala., fire department told CNN the windstorm caused extensive damage to several businesses.

John Kilcullen of the Mobile County Emergency Management Agency told the Mobile Press-Register, "We're fairly fortunate that the damage at this point is relatively light."

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the area at 9:40 a.m. (10:40 a.m. EST).

Earlier Wednesday, three suspected tornadoes hit the New Orleans area the morning after Mardi Gras, the National Weather Service said.

The Slidell Police Department said a tornado crossed Interstate 12 in Lacombe at 4:50 a.m., The New Orleans Times Picayune reported. A roof was torn off a house in Lacombe at 4:57 a.m.

Cloud Lightning

US: Mom sheltering child dies as tornado hits Louisiana town

© AP Photo/The Lafayette Daily Advertiser, P.C. Piazza
Debris litters ground in Rayne, La., after a suspected tornado hit the area injuring at least nine people, leveling homes and causing natural gas leaks that prompted evacuations on Saturday, March 5, 2011.
Rayne, Louisiana - When the tornado hit this Louisiana town, Jalisa Granger was instinctively sheltering her child from the sudden, fierce winds. Pieces of homes shot skyward, debris lodged in treetops and a U.S. Postal Service truck was flipped on its side.

When it was over, the 21-year-old mother lay dead from a tree that had fallen on top of her home, authorities say. But her child survived the tornado's rampage through Rayne, a south Louisiana community of 8,500 people some 70 miles west of Baton Rouge.

Maxine Trahan, a spokeswoman for the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office, said Granger was protecting her child when the tornado hit.

"She sheltered the child to protect her from the storm and a tree fell on the house and it killed the mother but the child was OK," Trahan said. A relative who lived nearby found the woman.