Archive | Climate Science & Weather

Cyclone Yasi Churns Toward Flood-Ravaged Queensland

A potentially deadly storm system, Cyclone Yasi, is swirling toward Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland, an area still recovering from last month’s massive flooding.

On Tuesday officials airlifted hospital patients out of the cyclone’s path and urged residents in low-lying areas to evacuate immediately due to risk of flash flooding. The evacuation warnings were not mandatory.

Queensland state Premier told reporters that the 400-mile front Yasi “is huge and life threatening.”

Experts said the Category 3 storm could be the worst cyclone in Queensland’s history after it hits the coast as a Category 4 storm Wednesday.

The storm was expected to unleash winds of 131 to 155 mph and dump up to 3 feet of rain on areas already ravaged by flooding, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Those floods left 35 people dead from December to Jan. 13, affecting 30,000 homes and businesses in the Brisbane area, UPI reports. The government expects damages from the tropical deluge to cost about $5.6 billion.

Yasi was expected to steer north of Brisbane, but Bligh urged all the flood-weary residents of Queenland’s coastal communities to prepare for the worst.

“It’s such a big storm – it’s a monster, killer storm – that it’s not just about where this crosses the coast that is at risk,” Bligh said, as quoted by The Associated Press.

“I know many of us will feel that Queensland has already borne about as much as we can bear when it comes to disasters and storms,” she said. “But more is being asked of us.”

The storm was expected to hit hardest in Cairns, a tourist gateway city of some 164,000 people. More than 9,000 people were ordered to evacuate from that region.

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Natural Disasters0 Comments

Winter Storm System Headed for Midwest

The Great Plains and Midwest are bracing for an intense winter storm expected to dump  10 inches of snow on the area beginning Tuesday.

Meteorologists say freezing rain and snow will sweep through the country’s core region starting Monday, with heavy snow and 30 mph winds to follow on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The light freezing rain is expected to complicate things for commuters.

“It could be enough to make the roads, especially secondary roads, pretty slick,” said Matt Dux, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, according to the Kansas City Star.

The weather service posted a blizzard warning for Tuesday and Wednesday for southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and northwest Indiana. Some areas in the nation’s midsection could receive more than 2 feet of snow.

Weather service officials warned that the heavy gusts of winds combined with snowfall could create whiteout conditions, especially on Tuesday night.

Posted in Atmospheric Science, Climate Science & Weather0 Comments

Winter Storm Rolls Through Southeast

A winter storm system raged through the southeastern U.S. Monday morning, disrupting travel and dropping a snowy mix on areas that don’t normally see winter precipitation.

AirTran Airways scrapped all of its arrivals and departures in Atlanta Monday. Delta also cut 1,450 flights nationwide, about one-fourth of its schedule.

The system dumped freezing rain, snow and ice to a swath of land from northeast Texas through the Carolinas.The northern areas of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas can expect heavy snow, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen reported. The southern regions of those states are likely to be hit with ice storms.

American Airlines also cut 100 flights in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. That’s about a fifth of the airline’s domestic flights.

In anticipation of the hazardous conditions, governors in Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama have declared states of emergency.

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Rockhampton, Australia Completely Cut Off by Flooding

Road access to Rockhampton, Australia was completely cut off Monday amid catastrophic flooding that has affected 200,000 people in the northeastern region of Queensland.

Defense Minister Warren Snowdon sent the military to deliver emergency supplies to the city by helicopter after the last road went underwater Monday, UPI said.

The flood, which covers an area the size of Germany and France combined, has killed at least 10 and destroyed thousands of homes.

The steady rain that fell for days beginning before Christmas caused rivers to swell and swamp at least 22 cities and towns, AP reports.

Officials have expressed concern that the deluge would trigger more flooding later this week from Dalby north to Kingaroy and east to Maryborough and the Sunshine Coast, UPI said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said damages would run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Natural Disasters, Precipitation & Water Cycle0 Comments

Japan: Tsunami Warning Follows Off-Shore Quake

A tsunami warning has been issued in Japan after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 hit the Pacific, The Associated Press reports.

The quake struck off the coast of southern Japan, about 130 kilometers (80.6 miles) from the Chichi Island and 1,000 kilometers southeast of Tokyo. It struck at a depth of 15 kilometers at 2:20 a.m. (1720GMT), the US Geological Survey says.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency has put out a tsunami alert for nearby islands, warning that locals could see waves about a meter (3.3 feet) high. The agency advised that coastal residents head for higher ground.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages from the quake.

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Natural Disasters0 Comments

Lunar Eclipse to Shade the Sky Tonight

The year’s only lunar eclipse will occur late tonight or in the wee hours tomorrow, depending on where you live.

Providing the weather is clear, people in North and Central America and a small region of South America will have the best view of the phenomenon. Western Europe will catch only the beginning glimpses of the eclipse while western Asia will see only the end.

“It’s perfectly placed so that all of North America can see it,” eclipse expert Fred Espenak of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center told The Associated Press.

The event is expected to last about 3 1/2 hours, and will begin at 11:41 p.m. PST or 2:41 a.m. EST.

When the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, the earth blocks the sun from illuminating the moon. This is only possible when the moon is full. The totality phase – when the Earth, moon and sun are perfectly aligned, blocking all of the sun’s rays from the moon – will last about 72 minutes.

Indirect sunlight will pass through the Earth’s atmosphere, coloring the moon an eerie orange or red. Scientists say ash and dust from recent volcanic eruptions may darken the eclipsed moon to a deeper red or brown.

North America is lucky enough to have the best seats in the house for 2010′s only total lunar eclipse, but won’t be so fortunate in 2011. The region will miss the June 2011 eclipse entirely, and catch only part of the eclipse expected to occur next December.

Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Climate Science & Weather, Visibility0 Comments

U.N. Climate Scientist Defends Report

ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 6 (UPI) — A United Nations scientist struck back at climate change critics Saturday, saying the great weight of science still supports the findings of a landmark report.

Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program, wrote in an opinions piece published Saturday in the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman that critics who have seized on a mistake over the rate at which the Himalayan glaciers would melt are missing the big picture.

The 2007 report from a United Nations-backed panel of experts, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concluded that global warming is man-made. But the panel said this week that it made a mistake by claiming that the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, admitting the prediction wasn’t based on actual research.

“It is quite right to pinpoint errors, make corrections, and check and re-check sources for accuracy and credibility,” Steiner wrote, noting the IPCC has acknowledged its mistake and the need for more stringent and transparent quality-control procedures.

“The overwhelming evidence now indicates that greenhouse-gas emissions need to peak within the next decade if we are to have any reasonable chance of keeping the global rise in temperature down to manageable levels,” he said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Climate Science & Weather0 Comments

Agency: 'Climategate' Scientists Hid Data

LONDON, Jan. 28 (UPI) — A British university whose scientists are accused of manipulating climate data broke the law by refusing to show the raw data for review, a British agency said.

The University of East Anglia violated Britain’s Freedom of Information Act by refusing to fulfill requests for data supporting claims by university scientists that human-made emissions were causing global warming, Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office said.

But while the public research university in Norwich, England, may have broken the law, it will not be prosecuted because a six-month time limit for prosecutions elapsed, The Times of London reported the independent regulatory office under the justice ministry as saying.

Breaches of the act are punishable by an unlimited fine, the Times said.

The controversy stems from hundreds of e-mails stolen from the university’s Climatic Research Unit that indicated university climate scientists supported the cause for global warming by manipulating data and interfering with the peer-review process of scientific papers to keep contrary information out of scientific journals.

The university described the computer hacking that came to light in November, shortly before the Dec. 7-18 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, as an illegal taking of data. Police are conducting a criminal investigation of the server breach and subsequent personal threats made against some scientists mentioned in the e-mails.

Research unit Director Phil Jones, who stepped down after the “climategate” scandal broke, had told staffers to delete FOI request e-mails from climate change skeptics, the Times said.

One e-mail involved a much-publicized 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the Himalayan glaciers would “very likely” disappear by 2035 if current warming trends continued.

That report, by the United Nations scientific advisory body, is currently under fire for gross exaggeration.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Justice3 Comments

Southwest U.S. Ice Age Climate Studied

TUCSON, Jan. 26 (UPI) — A U.S. geoscientist says she’s found the abrupt changes in ice age climate known to have occurred in Greenland also occurred in the southwestern United States.

University of Arizona Professor Julia Cole says her finding is the first to document the simultaneous events.

“It’s a new picture of the climate in the Southwest during the last ice age,” said Cole. “When it was cold in Greenland, it was wet here, and when it was warm in Greenland, it was dry here.”

The researchers studied natural climate archives recorded in a stalagmite in a limestone cave in southern Arizona.

Cole said the stalagmite yielded a nearly continuous, century-by-century climate record spanning 55,000 to 11,000 years ago. During that time ice sheets covered much of North America and the U.S. Southwest was cooler and wetter than it is now.

Cole and her colleagues found the Southwest alternated between wet and dry periods during the period studied, with each climate regime lasting from a few hundred years to more than 1,000 years.

“These changes are part of a global pattern of abrupt changes that were first documented in Greenland ice cores,” she said. “No one had documented those changes in the Southwest before.”

The research that included co-author Gideon Henderson of Britain’s University of Oxford is to appear in the February issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Snowpack & Ice0 Comments

Florida Citrus Growers Face Cold Weekend

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 9 (UPI) — Florida’s citrus growers said they were closely watching the weather as cold temperatures blew across the U.S. South Saturday.

Temperatures up to 20 degrees below normal have been felt in the region this week, a cold snap the likes of which is only seen once every few decades, and Florida’s citrus crops have sustained some losses so far, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Rusty Wiygul, director of grower affairs at Florida Citrus Mutual, the state’s largest growers’ association, told the newspaper none of the losses have been “devastating” so far.

“We’re just sitting in our offices and constantly watching the weather,” he said. “It’d be nice if we could run up to the Florida state line and stop the cold, but we can’t. All we can really do is a pray a lot.”

Accuweather.com forecasters predicted widespread record cold and freezing temperatures would spread southward through the Florida Peninsula Saturday and Sunday nights.

The Web site said temperatures would drop below freezing Saturday night as far south as Tampa, Orlando and Melbourne, but warned the lowest temperatures of the season so far for much of the Florida loomed Sunday night.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Farming & Ranching, Food Industry, Food Quality & Safety0 Comments

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