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Archive for May 20th, 2009

Brazil Floods

Posted by feww on May 20, 2009

Extreme rainfall in northern Brazil caused by the Intertropical Convergence Zone  (May  2009)

Northern Brazil.  Weeks of heavy rain over northern Brazil, which stareted in early April 2009 and persisted for several weeks, caused “the most severe flooding in more than two decades.” By May 20, flooding and mudslides killed about 45 people with nearly 400,000 others evacuated to emergency shelters, AFP said.

The image was based on data collected by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite between April 12 and May 12, 2009, compared to average rainfall (millimeters per day) observed during that period between 1998 and 2008. Areas in which rainfall was heavier than normal are blue, while drier-than-normal regions are brown. The most prominent feature in the image is the large east-west band of very heavy rain stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the East to the northern Andes mountains of Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia in the West. This band is a direct result of the ITCZ.

The ITCZ is a normal rainfall pattern, so what caused the unusual rain in 2009? The anomaly image provides a clue: immediately north of the heavy rain is a strong east-west band of below-normal rainfall, shown in brown. The overall anomaly pattern shows that the ITCZ remained locked over northeastern Brazil instead of migrating northward over French Guiana, Suriname, and Guyana as it would normally do.

One possible reason for this change in the ICTZ has to do with what is known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. The oscillation describes changes in the relative strengths of two semi-permanent atmospheric pressure features over the North Atlantic: the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. When the index is positive, the pressure features are stronger. The NAO became strongly positive at the beginning of May, indicating that the Azores High was stronger than normal. As a result, stronger-than- normal trade winds from the northern hemisphere can flow in towards the ITCZ in the southern hemisphere. These winds not only create a surge in moisture into the ITCZ, but they can also impede its movement both directly and indirectly by blowing additional warm ocean surface waters southward.

Using both a passive microwave sensor and a space-borne precipitation radar, TRMM measures rainfall from space. For increased coverage, TRMM can be used to calibrate rainfall estimates from other additional satellites in an analysis called the TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA). This image was made from TMPA rainfall totals for Brazil and the surrounding region. Additional images and a more detailed caption are available on the TRMM website. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency, JAXA. Image produced by Hal Pierce and caption by Steve Lang and Holli Riebeek. Instrument:  TRMM

brazil flood 2
Trizidela do Vale, Northern Brazil. Locals do their laundry in the flooded streets. Photo: AFP. Image may be subject to copyright.

Giving a new dimension to drought and deluge, more than 100 municipalities in southern Brazil are experiencing their worst drought in nearly 100 years, with government declaring a state of emergency throughout the region.

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Posted in Andes mountains, brazil flooding, North Atlantic Oscillation, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

FEWW Saudi Quake Swarm Forecast 100 pct Correct!

Posted by feww on May 20, 2009

FEWW forecast of an earthquake swarm rocking western Saudi Arabia was  100 pct spot on!

Since FEWW Western Arabia earthquake cluster forecast, which was posted on the blog on May 19, 2009, at 10:35am UTC, 4 new seismic events have occurred in the area, measuring between 4.6 and 5.7 Mw. See Map below.

us2009gvba  WSA - 20May 2009
Western Saudi Arabia earthquake cluster location map.
10-degree Map Centered at 25°N,40°E. Source: USGS

FEWW expects further seismic activity in the area which may include a more powerful quake measuring 6.2 Mw.

FEWW also believes there’s a 0.74 probability that Arabia’s Harrat Lunayyir volcanic field could become active by Mid July 2009 [July 17, 2009]  after about 1,000 years of dormancy.

List of 4 latest Earthquakes: (Source: USGS)

Magnitude 4.9

Date-Time Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 16:54:31 UTC
Location 25.311°N, 37.676°E

Magnitude: 5.7
Date-Time Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 17:35:01 UTC
Location 25.353°N, 37.761°E
Event ID us2009gvba

Magnitude 4.6
Date-Time Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 19:57:18 UTC
Location 25.202°N, 37.737°E
Event ID us2009gvbq

Magnitude 4.6
Date-Time Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 22:02:21 UTC
Location 0.327°S, 132.577°E
Event ID us2009gvb6

Harrat Lunayyir (Volcanic Field) Western Arabia

  • Region: Western Arabia
  • Volcano Type: Volcanic field
  • Last Known Eruption: 1000 (in or before)
  • Summit Elevation: 1370 m  (4,495 feet)
  • Latitude: 25.17°N  (25°10’0″N)
  • Longitude: 37.75°E  (37°45’0″E)

Harrat Lunayyir is a basaltic volcanic field in NW Saudi Arabia, east of the Red Sea port of Umm Lajj. It contains about 50 volcanic cones that were constructed over Precambrian crystalline rocks along a N-S axis. Harrat Lunayyir is one of the smallest of the Holocene lava fields of Saudi Arabia, but individual flow lobes radiate long distances from the center of the Harrat, and flows reached the Red Sea in two places. Lava flows are basaltic to basanitic in composition, and the Holocene flows are alkali olivine basalts. One of the cones may have erupted around the 10th century AD or earlier. (Caption: GVP). Image: NASA Space Shuttle image STS26-41-61, 1988 (

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Posted in earthquake forecast, saudi arabia earthquake, saudi quake, saudi volcano, volcanic eruption | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

CNN, AP, others hype Japan H1N1 spread

Posted by feww on May 20, 2009

submitted by a colleague in Japan

Facts about the A(H1N1) Virus spread in Japan

Japan Health Minister: swine flu no more virulent than seasonal influenza

Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Minister, Yoichi Masuzoe, announced earlier the government is relaxing swine flu countermeasures because the “swine flu” is now believed to be ” no more virulent than seasonal influenza.”

“Quarantine inspections for the new swine flu on incoming flights will be scaled down now that the virus is spreading rapidly on a person-to-person basis, health minister Yoichi Masuzoe said Tuesday.” Asahi Shimbun reported.

Fashionable Face masks from Japan. A human-like robot is photoed wearing a face mask. Image sourced from Lets Japan Market Mode, and may be subject to copyright.

Image sourced from Lets Japan Market Mode, and may be subject to copyright.

As of 9 p.m. Tuesday [local time] the number of people infected by the virus had risen to 191, including a 1-year-old girl in Kobe, Kansai region, Japan.

“We won’t do away with the precautions entirely, but we will gradually reduce (them),” Masuzoe told a news conference.

“Masuzoe also indicated that Japan would move to stage three of its action plan to treat the virus this week, based on the possibility that infections have reached epidemic proportions in Japan.

“The government’s influenza countermeasures headquarters proposed measures for local bodies such as closing schools and maintenance of medical systems, starting on Saturday, when the first case of the influenza at a location other than a port of call was confirmed. However, following the sudden spread of infections, measures by local bodies have started to affect residents, with Hyogo and Osaka prefectures closing junior high and high schools for one week. Fears have also started to emerge that institutions designated to handle infectious diseases may face a lack of beds.

“Responding to the situation, Masuzoe said, “We want to implement measures based on local bodies’ opinions that unless we take a response similar to that of seasonal influenza, cities will cease to function properly.” His comments indicated that there was a need to switch to measures that took into consideration the influenza’s weak virulence.” Mainichi Japan reported.

“Concrete measures include recommending that light cases of the influenza be treated at home in order to secure hospital beds for serious cases, and sending doctors who had focused on quarantine measures back to their medical fields.”

The minister said observations of people returning to Japan from countries such as Canada, Mexico and the US, where large numbers of infections were reported, would be scaled down because many people in Hyogo and Osaka prefectures are already infected.

“Masuzoe said that the source of infections in Japan remained unknown, and it was better to act on the presumption that the influenza has become widespread. He said it was important to ensure that the virus did not spread and that no deaths occurred. He added that closing schools early over a wide area was an effective measure, and asked for understanding from residents.”

“In a nationwide meeting of governors prior to the news conference, Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto said schools could not be closed forever, and added that Osaka could not function unless there was a change in the government’s approach. Tokyo sought a greater focus on measures to fight the virus in Japan rather than on quarantine measures, saying that there were already 10,000 people in the capital who had possibly come into contact with the influenza and are under health observation.” Mainichi said.

For latest information on the spread of A(H1N1) flu virus [swine flu] see:

FEWW Links:

Posted in flu quarantine, flu virus in Osaka, Hyogo prefecture, swine flu cases in japan, Yoichi Masuzoe | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »