Guatemala Volcano: Dozens Die as Fuego Volcano Erupts

Guatemala’s most violent volcanic eruption in more than a century has killed at least 25 people.

Another 46 people are missing, the country’s disaster agency says. Villages on the slopes of Fuego volcano were buried in volcanic ash, mud and rocks as the volcano erupted for 16 and a half hours on Sunday.

Pyroclastic flows, which are fast-moving mixtures of very hot gas and volcanic matter, rushed down the mountainside and engulfed villages.

President Jimmy Morales has declared three days of national mourning. A further pyroclastic flow on Monday sparked alarm.

The official death toll is 25 but volunteer firefighters say they have found another five bodies, according to local media.

A powerful earthquake has also hit the Guatemalan coast, though there are no reports of damage so far.

What has happened?
Fuego, about 40km (25 miles) south-west of the capital Guatemala City, spewed rock, gas and ash into the sky. Fast-moving flows hit villages, killing people inside their homes.

Sergio Cabañas, head of the country’s National Disaster Management Agency (Conred), said the town of El Rodeo had been “buried”.

Other towns affected include Alotenango and San Miguel Los Lotes. Rescuers are still trying to reach a number of villages and the death toll is expected to rise.

Temporary shelters have been set up for about 3,000 residents who have been evacuated. Efrain Gonzalez, who fled El Rodeo with his  wife and one-year-old daughter, said he had had to leave behind his two older children, aged four and ten, trapped in the family home.

Local resident Ricardo Reyes was forced to abandon his home: “The only thing we could do was run with my family and we left our possessions in the house. Now that all the danger has passed, I came to see how our house was – everything is a disaster.”

A total of about 1.7 million people have been affected in four regions. The country’s main airport has now reopened. Officials have advised people to wear masks as protection against falling ash.

How exceptional was the eruption?
Fuego is one of Latin America’s most active volcanoes. A major eruption devastated nearby farms in 1974, but no deaths were recorded.

Another eruption in February this year sent ash 1.7km (1.1 mile) into the sky. Sunday’s event was on a much greater scale.

This eruption is Guatemala’s deadliest such event since 1902, when an eruption of the Santa Maria volcano killed thousands of people.

Guatemala’s national institute of volcanology, Insivumeh, told people to keep away from the affected ravines as there is a possibility of “a reactivation”.

The institute also warned of the possibility of lahars – when water mixes with volcanic deposits forming a destructive debris flow – which could affect villages and hamlets to the south, south-west and south-east.

‘Vog’ From Kilauea Volcano Blankets Marshall Islands, 3700km Away

Haze from the Kilauea volcano eruption in Hawaii blanketed the Marshall Islands 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) away on Sunday, as officials warned it would continue moving west.

The haze, a phenomenon known as “vog” or volcanic smog, is spreading across Micronesia, the US National Weather Service based in Guam said.

The volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island is now in its fourth week of eruptions.

Meteorologists advised residents on the Marshall Islands with respiratory problems to stay indoors while airlines and shipping companies were warned to be aware of “lower visibilities”.

The Guam weather office said haze produced by Kilauea would spread westward and reach Kosrae, Pohnpei and possibly Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia over the next few days.

Kilauea is the world’s most active volcano and one of five on Hawaii’s Big Island.

It started erupting on 3 May, prompting about 2,000 people to flee from their mountainside homes.

Scientists believe the volcanic activity may be a precursor to a major eruption similar to the one that shook the island in the mid-1920s.

First Seismic Evidence For Mantle Exhumation At An Ultraslow-Spreading Center

A mountain range with a total length of 65,000 kilometers runs through all the oceans. It marks the boundaries of tectonic plates. Through the gap between the plates material from the Earth’s interior emerges, forming new seafloor, building up the submarine mountains and spreading the plates apart. Very often, these mid-ocean ridges are described as a huge, elongated volcano. But this image is only partly correct, because the material forming the new seafloor is not always magmatic. At some spreading centres material from the Earth’s mantle reaches the surface without being melted. The proportion of seabed formed this has been previously unknown.

Scientists from the Universities of Kiel (Germany), Austin (Texas, USA) and Durham (Great Britain) have now published data in the international journal Nature Geoscience that, for the first time, allow a detailed estimation on how much seafloor is formed by mantle material without magmatic processes. “This phenomenon occurs especially where the seabed spreads at paces of less than two centimeters per year,” explains Prof. Dr. Ingo Grevemeyer from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, lead author of the study.

One of these zones is located in the Cayman Trough south of the island of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. In 2015, the researchers used the German research vessel METEOR to investigate the seafloor seismically, i.e. by using sound waves. Sound signals sent through different rocks or sediment layers, are being reflected and refracted in different ways by each layer. Rock, which has been melted and solidified on the seabed, has a different signature in the seismic signal than rock from the Earth’s mantle, which has not been melted.

But scientists had a problem so far: The contact with the seawater changes the mantle rocks. “After this process called serpentinisation mantle rocks are barely distinguishable from magmatic rocks in seismic data,” says Professor Grevemeyer. Until now, mantle rock on the seabed could only be detected by taking samples directly from the seafloor and analyzing them in the laboratory. “But that way you only get information about a tiny spot. A large-scale or even in-depth information on the composition of the seabed cannot be achieved,” says Grevemeyer.

However, during the expedition in 2015, the team not only used the energy of ordinary sound waves — it also detected so-called shear waves, which occur only in solid materials. They could be recorded very clearly thanks to a clever selection of measuring points.

From the ratio of the speed of both types of waves, the scientists were able to differentiate mantle material from magmatic material. “So we could prove for the first time with seismic methods that up to 25 percent of the young ocean floor is not magmatic at the ultra-slow spreading centre in the Cayman trough,” says Ingo Grevemeyer.

Since there are similar spreading centres in other regions, such as the Arctic or Indian Ocean, these results are of great importance for the general idea about the global composition of the seabed. “This is relevant, if we want to create global models on the interactions between seabed and seawater or on processes of plate tectonics,” summarizes Professor Grevemeyer.

New Theory Finds ‘Traffic Jams’ In Jet Stream Cause Abnormal Weather Patterns

The sky sometimes has its limits, according to new research from two University of Chicago atmospheric scientists.

A study published May 24 in Science offers an explanation for a mysterious and sometimes deadly weather pattern in which the jet stream, the global air currents that circle the Earth, stalls out over a region. Much like highways, the jet stream has a capacity, researchers said, and when it’s exceeded, blockages form that are remarkably similar to traffic jams — and climate forecasters can use the same math to model them both.

The deadly 2003 European heat wave, California’s 2014 drought and the swing of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that surprised forecasters — all of these were caused by a weather phenomenon known as “blocking,” in which the jet stream meanders, stopping weather systems from moving eastward. Scientists have known about it for decades, almost as long as they’ve known about the jet stream — first discovered by pioneering University of Chicago meteorologist Carl-Gustaf Rossby, in fact — but no one had a good explanation for why it happens.

“Blocking is notoriously difficult to forecast, in large part because there was no compelling theory about when it forms and why,” said study coauthor Noboru Nakamura, a professor in the Department of the Geophysical Sciences.

Nakamura and then-graduate student Clare S.Y. Huang were studying the jet stream, trying to determine a clear set of measurements for blocking in order to better analyze the phenomenon. One of their new metrics was a term that measured the jet stream’s meander. Looking over the math, Nakamura realized that the equation was nearly identical to one devised decades ago by transportation engineers trying to describe traffic jams.

“It turns out the jet stream has a capacity for ‘weather traffic,’ just as highway has traffic capacity, and when it is exceeded, blocking manifests as congestion,” said Huang.

Much like car traffic, movement slows when multiple highways converge and the speed of the jet stream is reduced due to topography such as mountains or coasts.

The result is a simple theory that not only reproduces blocking, but predicts it, said Nakamura, who called making the cross-disciplinary connection “one of the most unexpected, but enlightening moments in my research career — truly a gift from God.”

The explanation may not immediately improve short-term weather forecasting, the researchers said, but it will certainly help predict long-term patterns, including which areas may see more drought or floods.

Their initial results suggest that while climate change probably increases blocking by running the jet stream closer to its capacity, there will be regional differences: for example, the Pacific Ocean may actually see a decrease in blocking over the decades.

“It’s very difficult to forecast anything until you understand why it’s happening, so this mechanistic model should be extremely helpful,” Nakamura said.

And the model, unlike most modern climate science, is computationally simple: “This equation captures the essence with a much less complicated system,” Huang said.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center Is Forecasting A 75-Percent Chance That The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Will Be Near- Or Above-Normal.

Forecasters predict a 35 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 25 percent chance of a below-normal season for the upcoming hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to November 30.

“With the advances made in hardware and computing over the course of the last year, the ability of NOAA scientists to both predict the path of storms and warn Americans who may find themselves in harm’s way is unprecedented,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The devastating hurricane season of 2017 demonstrated the necessity for prompt and accurate hurricane forecasts.”

NOAA’s forecasters predict a 70-percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

The possibility of a weak El Nino developing, along with near-average sea surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, are two of the factors driving this outlook. These factors are set upon a backdrop of atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are conducive to hurricane development and have been producing stronger Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995.

“NOAA’s observational and modeling enhancements for the 2018 season put us on the path to deliver the world’s best regional and global weather models,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction. “These upgrades are key to improving hurricane track and intensity forecasts, allowing NOAA to deliver the best science and service to the nation.”

NOAA’s suite of sophisticated technologies – from next-generation models and satellite data to new and improved forecast and graphical products – enable decision makers and the general public to take action before, during, and after hurricanes, helping to build a more “Weather-Ready Nation.” New tools available this year to assist in hurricane forecasts and communications include:

NOAA’s fleet of earth-observing satellites is more robust than ever with the successful launch of the GOES-17 satellite in March. This satellite, along with the GOES-16 satellite – now GOES-East – contribute to a comprehensive picture of weather throughout the Western Hemisphere, allowing forecasters to observe storms as they develop.

The new polar-orbiting satellite, NOAA-20, will join the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite and use a suite of sophisticated instruments to gather high-resolution data from around the globe to feed NOAA’s weather models, driving the 3-7 day weather forecast that is critical to preparedness and effective evacuations.

The National Weather Service will run a version of the Global Forecast System (called FV3 GFS) with a new dynamic core alongside the current GFS model – often referred to as the American model – during the 2018 season. This will mark the first dynamic core upgrade to NOAA’s flagship weather model in more than 35 years, representing the first step in re-engineering NOAA’s models to provide the best possible science-based predictions for the nation.

NOAA’s hurricane-specific model – the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast system – will be upgraded to offer greater resolution than ever before, increasing model resolution from 1.2 miles to 0.9 miles (2 km to 1.5 km) near the center of a storm. Additionally, the Hurricanes in a Multi-scale Ocean coupled Non-hydrostatic model was first implemented in 2017 and will undergo upgrades for the 2018 season to include greater resolution, new physics and coupling with ocean models.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center will make the Arrival Time of Tropical-Storm-Force Winds graphics operational for this hurricane season. One graphic displays the “earliest reasonable” arrival time of tropical-storm-force winds, at which point further preparedness activities could be hindered. A second graphic displays the “most-likely” arrival time of tropical-storm-force winds.

“Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector and the public,” said acting FEMA Deputy Administrator Daniel Kaniewski. “It only takes one storm to devastate a community so now is the time to prepare. Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have a communication and evacuation plan? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”

In addition to the Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern and central Pacific basins. An 80 percent chance of a near- or above-normal season is predicted for both the eastern and central Pacific regions. The eastern Pacific outlook calls for a 70-percent probability of 14 to 20 named storms, of which 7 to 12 are expected to become hurricanes, including 3 to 7 major hurricanes. The central Pacific outlook calls for a 70-percent probability of 3 to 6 tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

NOAA will update the 2018 Atlantic seasonal outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.

BREAKING NEWS: Kilauea Volcano Has Deeper Roots Than Most Understand

NOTE: I will be on Coast to Coast AM radio with George Noory for a news brief on Kilauea volcano. Radio Stations: Click Here

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It is a shield-type volcano that makes up the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The volcano rises 4,190 feet (1,227 meters) above sea level and is about 14 percent of the land area of the Big Island. The summit caldera contains a lava lake known as Halema’uma’u that is said to be the home of the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele.

Cecily Wolfe of the University of Hawaii, used sea bottom sensors to identify how seismic waves propagate through the pliable mantle layer beneath the Earth’s crust. She believes her evidence has pinpointed the location of the mantle plume. However, Qin Cao, an MIT seismologist, believes a giant deep thermal anomaly hundreds of miles wide located far west of Hawaii is what feeds the island’s volcanoes.

As both well researched hypothesis have merit, as of the time of this writing we still do not have conclusive evidence as to the source. Wolfe says: “I acknowledges the importance of the new find, but believes it will take much more work to truly explain how her thermal plume and the “pancake” of hot rocks are related and how they provide the heat source for Kilauea and the other active volcanoes of the Hawaiian Islands.”

“We need to think about different types of mantle plumes,” Cao said. “The picture of the internal dynamics of the Earth and material-exchange processes between the upper and lower mantle are more complicated than people thought before.”

We know one thing – the residents of Hawaii are not so concerned on why the eruption is so large and everlasting, but ‘when’ will it stop….

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BREAKING NEWS: ‘Lost’ Asteroid To Pass Close To Earth Tuesday Evening

An asteroid that was lost by tracking satellites eight years ago has been spotted again as it prepares to make an unnervingly close pass by the Earth on May 15. While the giant space rock is expected to miss the planet, the asteroid will give sky watchers a chance to see the action unfold live online.

On Nov. 30, 2010, astronomers discovered an asteroid that could be as large as one of the Great Pyramids of ancient Egypt. It passed within nine million miles of Earth and then scientists lost track of it as it headed back to the outer solar system.

Asteroid 2010 WC9, which is about 426 feet in diameter, was observed for too short of a time for astronomers to be able to predict when its orbit might bring it back to our neighborhood.

This same asteroid is back and about to buzz by us about 70 times closer (126,000 miles away) than it did eight years ago. That puts it at about half the distance between the Earth and moon, making it one of the closest approaches ever observed by such a sizable asteroid.

London’s Northolt Branch Observatories, which helped to rediscover the asteroid, will be broadcasting the flyby live on Facebook. Don’t worry, the broadcast won’t be like a countdown to the apocalypse. 2010 WC9 will sail by the planet safely at about 6:05 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on May 15.

While this asteroid isn’t a threat (this time) it does emphasize the need to keep a watchful eye on the sky to catalog and track as many space rocks as possible.

“There are lots of asteroids and comets in our solar system and it’s impossible to predict the trajectories of all of these objects, but we need to try,} University of Saskatchewan astronomy professor Daryl Janzen said in a news release on May 10.

Just last month, astronomers discovered a slightly smaller asteroid just hours before it passed by the Earth and came even closer to hitting the moon.

On the cosmic scale, these asteroids are large enough to do some damage if they were to impact Earth, especially near a populated area. However, they aren’t considered big enough to do the kind of catastrophic damage caused by the space rock believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs.

“There is an extremely low probability of the planet coming into contact with one of these large near-Earth objects in our lifetime, but there is really good evidence that it happened in the past and led to mass extinction on the planet,” Janzen added. “So, although the probability is low, it’s important to discover as many NEOs as we can, so that if one does enter into a collision course with Earth, we can try to do something about it.”