Tropical Storm Dumps Rain On Hawaii While Crossing State

HONOLULU – Heavy rain and winds from a tropical storm downed trees, knocked out power and prompted evacuations of several homes on Hawaii’s Maui island.

Tropical Storm Olivia crossed the state Wednesday, making landfall on Maui and Lanai islands along the way.

But it spared the state widespread damage before continuing out to sea.

Weather forecasters are warning heavy rains will continue through Thursday.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa says Olivia hadn’t caused extreme damage the way other storms have in the past.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center says Olivia will likely weaken further and become a tropical depression by Thursday.

Lava Flow Seen On Restless Alaska Volcano

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A lava flow has been spotted on an Alaska volcano that recently became active again.

Alaska Volcano Observatory scientists say witnesses aboard the state ferry Tustumena saw the lava flow and fountaining on Mount Veniaminof (VEN’-ee-ah-mean-off) Monday morning.

Scientists say satellite images obtained Sunday shows the lava flow is about one-half-mile long on the 8,225-foot (2,500-meter) volcano, one of Alaska’s most active.

The observatory last week increased the threat level of Veniaminof from yellow to orange. That color designation indicates sudden explosions could send ash above 20,000 feet (6,100 meters) and threaten international airplanes.

The volcano erupted for several months in 2013. Other recent eruptions occurred in 2005 and between 1993 and 1995.

Veniaminof is 480 miles (772 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula. Perryville, a town of about 100 people, is 20 miles southeast of the volcano.

New Technique To Forecast Geomagnetic Storms Developed

Here is another example of how the ‘Science Of Cycles’ is used to improve the predictability of celestial events. Earth’s magnetic field extends from pole to pole and is strongly affected by solar wind from the Sun. This “wind” is a stream of charged particles constantly ejected from the Sun’s surface. Occasional sudden flashes of brightness known as solar flares release even more particles into the wind. Sometimes, the flares are followed by coronal mass ejections that send plasma into space.

The resulting flux of charged particles travels millions of miles from the Sun to Earth. When they arrive here, the particles wreak havoc on Earth’s magnetic field. The result can be beautiful but also destructive: auroras and geomagnetic storms. The storms are serious and interfere with a number of important technologies, including GPS signaling and satellite communications. They can also cause damage to surface electrical grids. Solar activity appears random, making it difficult for us to predict these storms.

In the journal Chaos, from AIP Publishing, a group of investigators from Europe, led by Reik Donner at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, reports a new method for analyzing magnetic field data that might provide better short-term forecasting of geomagnetic storms. This new method relies on a technique developed for systems in a state far from equilibrium. Earth’s magnetic field fits this paradigm because the field is driven far away from equilibrium by the solar wind. Systems that are far from equilibrium often undergo abrupt changes, such as the sudden transition from a quiescent state to a storm.

The investigators used hourly values of the Disturbance storm-time, or Dst, index. Dst values give the average deviation of the horizontal component of Earth’s magnetic field from its normal value. This deviation occurs when a large burst of charged particles arrives from the Sun and weakens the field generated by Earth. The Dst values form a single stream of numbers known as a time series. The time series data can then be recast into a 2D or 3D image by plotting one data point against another at a fixed amount of time into the future for forecasting.

Here, the authors created a diagram known as a recurrence plot from the reconstructed data. The recurrence plot is an array of dots typically distributed non-uniformly across the graph. The authors used their data to look at a pair of geomagnetic storms that occurred in 2001 from large solar flares a couple of days prior to the storm.

They used a method known as recurrence quantification analysis to show that long diagonal lines in these recurrence plots indicate more predictable geomagnetic behavior. The method reported here is particularly well-suited to distinguish between different types of geomagnetic field fluctuations. The technique allows researchers to characterize these differences with an accuracy not previously achieved.

Science Of Cycles Research


Earthquakes Shake New Zealand And Kermadecs

A cluster of small quakes rocked parts of the country today, but it is unlikely to be related to a major shake near the Kermadec Islands.

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck south of the Kermadec Islands at 4.19pm and the Ministry of Civil Defence warned it could trigger a tsunami.

A Geonet spokesman said there is no definite way to tell but Kiwis should not think the shaking throughout the country is related to the Kermadec quake.

The spokesman also told the Herald there should be little concern the Kermadec quake would trigger a big quake in New Zealand.

“You can’t make any guarantees but there’s no reason to think this would trigger something on the Alpine Fault or any other major fault in New Zealand,” the spokesman said.

However, the Ministry was quick to quash any possibility of a tsunami impacting New Zealand as a result of the earthquake.

Elsewhere, a series of earthquakes shook parts of the country in the North and South islands.

Geonet recorded four moderate earthquakes hitting between Arthur’s Pass in the south and Matawai in the north between 4.21pm and 6.27pm.

New Zealand earthquakes:

Magnitude 4.4, 50km east of Arthur’s Pass at a depth of 30km at 4.21pm.
Magnitude 4.7, 15km east of Matawai at a depth of 15km at 4.21pm.
Magnitude 4.8, 15km northwest of Pongaroa at a depth of 5km at 4.22pm.
Magnitude 4.4, 10km east of Amberly at a depth of 6km at 4.24pm.
Magnitude 4.0, 10km west of Masterton at a depth of 23km at 6.27pm.

UPDATE : Japan Earthquake: Death Toll Rises After Devastating Tremor

The death toll in the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck Japan on Thursday has risen to 39, the country’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Two people remain missing, and at least 641 people were injured, the agency said Sunday. Evacuation centers are still holding 2,544 people.

The quake is the latest in a string of natural disasters that have hit Japan recently, including deadly floods, typhoons, earthquakes, landslides and heatwaves.

Photo taken Sept. 6, 2018, from a Kyodo News airplane shows the site of a landslide in Atsuma, Hokkaido, northern Japan, triggered by an earthquake with preliminary magnitude of 6.7.

The number of confirmed dead and injured in the quake on the northern island of Hokkaido has risen steadily from the nine reported Friday.

Police search for missing persons around a house destroyed by a landslide after a powerful earthquake in Atsuma, Hokkaido, northern Japan.

Lasting almost a minute, powerful tremors jolted people from their beds early Thursday, collapsing roads and causing landslides that buried homes and other buildings.

In this aerial image, houses are buried by multiple landslides after a powerful earthquake jolt on September 6, 2018 in Atsuma, Hokkaido, Japan.

Near the epicenter, landslides wiped out houses in the tiny town of Atsuma, home to 40 residents.

Almost 3 million households lost power initially, the Hokkaido Electric Power Company said. Almost half had power restored Friday.

Photos from Sapporo, Hokkaido’s main city on the western part of the island, showed huge cracks in the street and buried houses.

As many as 40,000 people, including 22,000 troops from the country’s Self Defense Forces, have been involved in the rescue efforts.

Thursday’s earthquake comes as much of Japan is still dealing with the effects of Typhoon Jebi, the strongest such storm to hit the Japanese mainland in 25 years.

High winds smashed a tanker into a bridge, forcing one of the country’s largest airports to close and leaving at least 10 people dead.

On Japan’s main island of Honshu, nine cities and towns issued compulsory evacuation orders. A further 53 issued non-compulsory evacuation orders.

Before it made landfall, the storm had sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph) and gusts of 165 kilometers per hour (102 mph), the equivalent of a Category 1 Atlantic hurricane.

Hurricane Florence Strengthens To Category 3, Evacuation Orders Begin In N.C.

Hurricane Florence is rapidly intensifying on its path toward the East Coast and is now a Category 3 with 115 mph winds, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. update. Florence is expected to become a strong Category 4 hurricane — nearly a Category 5 — just prior to landfall somewhere on the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic Coast on Thursday night.

Computer model forecasts generally project the storm to make landfall between northern South Carolina and the North Carolina Outer Banks, although shifts in the track are still possible and storm impacts will expand great distances beyond where landfall occurs. Given the uncertainty and the time it takes to evacuate, officials in North Carolina have issued mandatory evacuation orders for Dare County and Hatteras Island.

With each passing flight into the eye of the storm and every new computer model forecast, it has become increasingly unlikely Florence will turn out to sea and spare the Eastern Seaboard from potentially devastating storm surge, flooding and wind. There’s even some indication the hurricane will slow or stall out over the Mid-Atlantic later this week, which could lead to a disastrous amount of rain.

“There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: Storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland and damaging hurricane-force winds,” the National Hurricane Center wrote Monday. Storm surge is the rise in ocean water above normally dry land at the coast, which can inundate homes, roads and businesses.

As of 5 a.m., Florence was churning to the west-northwest across the North Atlantic Ocean at just 9 mph. Its peak winds were 105 mph, making it a Category 2 hurricane. An eye emerging on satellite images of the storm and the Hurricane Center declared Florence “is forecast to become a major hurricane this morning, and is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.”

Over the coming days, its forward motion is expected to increase as it turns to the west-northwest, but then the storm is forecast to slow as it approaches a likely landfall.

The environment ahead of the storm for the next few days favors at least a Category 3 hurricane landfall on the Southeast coast by week’s end. The storm will pass over warmer-than-normal ocean water, which will provide fuel. And there will be little wind shear to disrupt the thunderstorm development at its core.

The Hurricane Center predicts it will reach Category 4 intensity by Tuesday and maintain that intensity through landfall. It is not out of the question that Florence could become a Category 5 hurricane at some point. The official Hurricane Center forecast suggests its peak winds will reach 150 mph winds between Tuesday and Wednesday, just 7 mph below Category 5.

“Only one Atlantic #hurricane on record has had max winds of 150 mph further north than the 72-hour prediction for Florence: Helene (1958),” tweeted Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University.

If Florence makes landfall as a Category 4 in North Carolina, it will be the strongest storm to come ashore that far north on record.

Residents along the Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coasts should continue preparations for a major hurricane landfall and have a plan should they be required to evacuate.

[What to put in your emergency disaster supply kit]

In these coastal areas, heavy surf and elevated water levels arrive by Wednesday morning, and rainfall could begin by Thursday morning.

Tropical-storm-force winds could reach the coastline as early as Wednesday night, at which point all outdoor preparations should be completed. Extremely dangerous hurricane-force winds could batter coastal locations Thursday into Friday. Hurricane to tropical-storm-force winds could extend inland depending on the storm’s exact track.

We are particularly concerned about the rainfall potential in the Mid-Atlantic. Models have come into agreement that a northward turn before reaching the United States is unlikely and that a building high-pressure zone north of the storm will cause it to slow or stall once it reaches the coast or shortly thereafter.

Florence could sit over some part of the Mid-Atlantic for several days, similar to what Harvey did last year over eastern Texas. It has the potential to dump unthinkable amounts of rain over a large area in the Mid-Atlantic and perhaps into the Northeast. Rainfall could begin Friday or Saturday and continue into the following week. Where exactly the zone of heaviest rain sets up is a big uncertainty. It could reasonably occur anywhere between the mountains and the coast.

In the simulations shown below, we can see that the European model focuses the heaviest rainfall in north-central North Carolina and southwestern Virginia — up to one to two feet or more, falling between Wednesday night and Monday night. The new American model is not as wet but shows widespread amounts of 5 to 10 inches or more up the Interstate 95 corridor in North Carolina through Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

This region will be particularly susceptible to flooding because of much above-normal rainfall in the region since May. In addition, because the ground is likely to be saturated, trees will be vulnerable in the strong winds.

Parts of the Mid-Atlantic, especially from Virginia to Pennsylvania, have seen 150 to 300 percent of their normal rainfall since May.

Farther north into Delmarva, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, coastal and inland areas also should be preparing for significant storm effects.

Where the storm makes landfall has implications on where the strongest winds and biggest rise in water at the coast occurs, but strong winds and extreme rainfall could occur at great distances from the landfall location. Keeping this in mind, here is the likelihood of landfall at different locations based on our evaluation of model data:70 percent in the Carolinas;10 percent between Virginia and Southern New England;10 percent offshore and 10 percent between North Florida and Georgia.

Even in the unlikely event that the storm center remains just offshore, it will almost certainly come close enough to bring dangerous wind and flooding to coastal areas. Inland areas may be somewhat spared in this scenario.

If a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) does make landfall along the Southeast coast, the rarity of such an event is relevant. Since 1851, only 10 major hurricanes have done so, and the most recent was Fran in 1996, 22 years ago. Hugo in 1989 was the one before that and was a Category 4 at landfall. No hurricane has made landfall as a Category 5 in this region on record.

There are probably many people in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic who have not experienced a storm of the potential magnitude of Florence.

Elsewhere in the tropics
We are also monitoring Hurricane Helene south of the Cape Verde islands and Hurricane Isaac to its west.

Helene is strengthening and forecast to reach Category 2 intensity by Tuesday. Packing winds of 85 mph, it is stronger than all but one storm on record to form so far east, Colorado State’s Klotzbach tweeted. But Helene is projected to turn toward the north into the open central Atlantic, where it will quickly find itself over cool water and should weaken.

While Helene should avoid land masses, Isaac looks like trouble. It gained hurricane strength Sunday night and is forecast to reach the Lesser Antilles between Wednesday and Thursday as a Category 2 hurricane. Currently 1,230 miles away, it could pass over the same islands that were devastated by Category 5 Hurricane Maria last year on Sept. 19.

After crossing the Lesser Antilles, Isaac should continue its westward track through the Caribbean Sea but gradually weaken in the face of strong wind shear. We have time to watch this one, but the immediate concern is in the Lesser Antilles.

There are now three simultaneous hurricanes in the Atlantic, just like there were last year — on this same date

Why Is Mount St. Helens The Most Active Volcano In The Cascades?

New research offers clues as to why Mount St. Helens is one of the most explosive volcanoes in the Cascade range and why it stands apart from the chain of other Cascade volcanoes.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Oregon State University, and the University of Canterbury in New Zealand found that the mountain is sitting right on top of the spot where two tectonic plates were welded together millions of years ago. That created a weak point where magma can rise up through the crust.

“These volcanoes are built upon all the accumulated tectonic events of the past which has left cuts and bruises and scars, and that complexity can really influence the volcanoes and the hazards that we face today,” said Paul Bedrosian, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist, who was one of the authors on a study released this week.

Scientists used data from stations near Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams to create a 3D image of how well rocks conduct electricity across the region. This map helps them better understand the structure beneath the volcanoes and led researchers to pinpoint the scar beneath Helens.

“We had known that this suture zone or this scar exists somewhere in the area, but all the lava flows coming from the volcanoes in the Cascades have obscured it and covered it up,” Bedrosian said. “The exact location and the fact that it sits right beneath Mount St. Helens is a result of this study.”

The volcano’s location has previously puzzled scientists, because it sits about 40 miles west of the main line of Cascade volcanoes, such as Mount Rainier.

This study found that the area between Mount St. Helens and the main line of Cascade volcanoes is like a plug that keeps magma from getting through, explaining the lack of volcanic vents.

“That upper crust…it’s sort of a filter in that some areas the melt can ascend easier than others,” Bedrosian said. “And St. Helens is in its particular place, because it happens to be an easy place for melt to rise.”

Mount St. Helens was formed about 275,000 years ago, according to USGS. It last catastrophic eruption was in 1980, spewing ash, rock, and hot gas and triggering the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The mountain isn’t the only volcano that has formed in an unexpected location. Bedrosian said scientists hope to study other Pacific Northwest volcanoes, such as the Boring Lava Field near Portland, that haven’t been active in historic times.

“Our current understanding of how these systems work suggests you should not have melt beneath these regions,” Bedrosian said. “This study is one avenue for understanding what could be controlling them.”