Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Power lines, the Army and arsonist kids helped ignite some NSW bushfires

October 29, 2013

The bushfires in New South Wales  seem – after great efforts by the fire services – to be under control. No doubt some rain has helped.

Of course some of the great unwashed immediately blamed “global warming”. The self proclaimed – and now self-employed – “Climate Council” was of course leading the charge. Tony Abbott called their claims “hogwash” but he was being rather polite. The bushfires are an annual event every spring and have occurred every year for at least the last 200 years. It may well be something that has ocurred annually for over 10,000 years.

It now transpires that in addition to natural causes, many of the fires were caused by accidents (the army’s exercises and power lines) and some were caused by juvenile delinquents – some as young as 8 years old! It could be that the power lines initiated this latest outbreak.

The Climate Council is drowning in its own self-importance and is indeed replete with hogwash –  and much of that is intentional.

  1. THE Department of Defence was last night found to have caused the State Mine Blaze near Lithgow, which has so far burnt out more than 46,000ha, led to one home being destroyed and three others damaged, and narrowly avoided turning into a “mega-fire”.

    The Rural Fire Service said an investigation had found a Department of Defence training exercise last week was responsible for the fire, west of the Blue Mountains, but the department said last night that there was still no definitive evidence that defence personnel had inadvertently started the blaze.

    “The investigation has concluded the fire started as a result of exploding ordnances on the range on (last) Wednesday,” a RFS spokesman said.

  2. POLICE detained two eight-year-old boys near East Maitland on the NSW North Coast last night after they were found trying to start a fire.Officers found the boys trying to use a lighter to set fire to dried leaves and grass on vacant land near Quarry St around 6:30pm AEST. A concerned resident called police to the scene and the lighter was later found to be “inoperable”, the law enforcement agency said in a statement.

    No charges were laid because of their age.

  3. AFTER one night in custody, the 11-year-old boy accused of lighting a 5000ha Hunter Valley bushfire walked free from court yesterday, flipping the bird to media waiting outside. …. The boy pleaded not guilty in Newcastle Children’s Court to two counts of starting a bushfire and recklessly causing its spread – a charge that carries a maximum sentence of two years’ detention for minors. But conviction records from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Records show just one offender aged under 18 has ended up in detention for the offence in the past three years. The 11-year-old accused of lighting the October 13 Heatherbrae fire allegedly started another blaze earlier that day in the nearby suburb of Raymond Terrace.
  4. Bushfire risks posed by powerline failures are in the spotlight following last week’s crisis in New South Wales, …… In the wake of the NSW bushfire crisis, Four Corners has examined almost four decades worth of evidence into the cause and impact of major bushfires. Some of the most catastrophic bushfires in Australia’s history have been started by powerline failure. It is believed the most devastating fires in NSW last week began as a result of damaged powerlines.  In Victoria’s Murrindindi fire in 2009, which led to 40 deaths on Black Saturday, police initially focused their investigation on an alleged arsonist. However, after abandoning that line of inquiry, a case is now being made that a fallen powerline ignited the blaze. Law firm Maurice Blackburn is representing victims of the Murrindindi fire in a class action against power company SP Ausnet. The company rejects accusations its wire caused the fire. If proven, it means 93 per cent of the deaths on Black Saturday – Australia’s worst bushfire disaster – were caused by fires started by powerlines. ….. The issue of powerlines has not been at the centre of public debate. The program also found power companies have known since 1974 that their lines can cause fires. …… The Rural Fire Service, however, has said it believes fires in Salt Ash, Mount Victoria and Springwood were started by powerlines. Together, these fires destroyed 204 homes and damaged 110.

UK maintains a stiff upper lip as the great St. Jude’s storm drizzles past

October 28, 2013

Well the St. Jude’s storm  came and it is going. It will be gone in about 3 hours.

Some people apparently noticed it.

There has been more disruption by precautionary measures than by the storm itself. “Precautionary” measures have included cancellation of trains and planes and buses. Some consumers had their electricity turned off in areas where damage was possible. It was going to be the greatest storm since 1987!

The reality is just sinking in. Leaves have been blown down. They have been blowing about chaotically. Waves have crashed on to land in several coastal areas. They could be seen reaching the shore in Brighton. In the worst hit areas some twigs were violently torn of the trees and blown several feet away. Flags flapped ominously outside Broadcasting House where the intrepid BBC Radio reporter braved the storm of the century. The wind was clearly audible. It may not have been raining but our reporter could only see a very few patches of blue sky.

The Met Office spokesman is on air just now explaining – defending – the alarmism. He admitted that this was not a hurricane but they never said it was going to be one. And in any event, even if the storm would pass the UK within about 3 hours it could cause great damage in Denmark and the Netherlands and northern Germany!

Ripples in a tea-cup. A listener has just complained that he does not really need the mighty BBC news machine to inform him that flags can flap in the wind.

This comment from a Guardian reader just about sums it up:

flaviaforbes

Looking outside my bedroom window here in Birmingham I can hardly believe the scale of the destruction. At least 5 wet, shattered, leaves, are lying haphazardly across my back garden, creating a biblical scene of leaf-chaos. At the front of the house, last nights gale has wrenched a Lidl plastic bag and a Twix wrapper from their usual resting places in the gutter, and they now lie, a full four feet away, against my door step. And dont get me started on the rain! There’s enough water on the windscreen of my car to necessitate me using the wipers at least once to clear it.

Its a sobering reminder what nature is capable of. Thank God we were warned.

Winter time is here again – but “cyclical isn’t a scientific term”!

October 27, 2013

We put the clocks back by an hour last night – as we did a year ago.

I shall change to winter tyres tomorrow  – as I did a year ago.

Tomorrow will be another day – as it is every 24 hours.

Christmas day will come again – whether it is scientific or not.

We are surrounded and dominated by cycles. Without periodicity and cycles we would have no concept of time.

Daily cycles, monthly cycles, annual cycles, solar cycles every 11 years, the earth’s precession cycle with a period of 26,000 years, the earth’s axial tilt cycle of about 41,000 years and the Milankovitch cycles of about 100,000 years, are just some of the cycles that surround us.

Whether everything derives from the vibrations within the most fundamental particles and then are manifested by the periodic motion of bodies in our cosmos or whether the motion in the cosmos is the origin of everything else, periodicity and cyclic behaviour is ingrained within us and our world.

There are many more cyclic effects that we are continuously discovering (from the eons of slow cosmic cycles to multi-decadal ocean cycles to multi -hour cycles within living cells to the periodicity of the incredibly fast vibrations of atoms).

The only man-made repeating period that seems to have no corresponding cycle in the natural world is the weekly 7-day cycle.

Almost every cycle we discover seems to impact our weather and our climate.

But Nebraska “climate scientists” don’t believe that natural cycles are worth studying. In fact only studies which start with the assumption that global warming is man-made get any funding.

For one thing, “cyclical” isn’t a scientific term, said Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Oh Dear!

The only response to Barbara Mayes and climate scientists in Nebraska must be (with apologies to Lerner and Lowe)

There’ll be spring every year without you
England still will be here without you
There’ll be fruit on the tree
And a shore by the sea
There’ll be crumpets and tea without you

Without your pulling it the tide comes in
Without your twirling it, the Earth can spin
Without your pushing them, the clouds roll by
If they can do without you, ducky so can I

Snow sweeps in very early this year

October 19, 2013

Snow has already come to Bavaria. Parts of Russia and the US have also seen some very early snow. Now, in just the 3rd week of October, snow has swept over northern Sweden. I have not had to clear any snow yet but I have had ice to scrape of the windshield for the last few mornings. I had only planned to change to winter tyres at the end of the month but I might have to bring this forward (to prepone it).

It is only weather of course! I wish somebody could tell me of any effects of global warming that could actually be experienced.

Autumn over as winter snow sweeps Sweden

Snow and sub-zero temperatures hit widespread parts of Sweden on Thursday night and will carry on through Friday and beyond, with meteorologists warning motorists that now is the time to change to winter tyres.

The coldest temperature of the season was recorded on Thursday night in Karesuando, in far northern Sweden near the Finnish border, where the mercury dropped to -12.5ˆC. Snow fell in Västernorrland, Dalarna and Gävleborg, and in many areas further north, but experts said the snow is nothing to worry about. 
“I believe that in most places it’s only been a few centimetres of snow that have settled,” Sandra Andersson of Sweden’s weather agency SMHI told the TT news agency. SMHI issued a class 1 warning, stating that motorists should beware of slippery roads, although no damage was reported throughout the night.

Are leaves redder this year? A sign of a hard winter to come?

October 13, 2013

Autumn in this part of the world (Sweden at 58.7000° N) is always a riot of colour. A kaleidescope with every possible shade of yellow and brown with a small splash of red. Never quite the dominating reds of New England but glorious in the late autumn sunlight. But this year I felt that there was much more red around than “usual”. A purely subjective perception of course and one which I put aside as being just the vagaries of visual memory.

Autumn October 13, 2013

Autumn October 13, 2013

But yesterday the local paper reported that this was a perception being shared by many others. Trees and bushes did seem to be redder than usual. And “reds”were  varying from deep rusts and maroons to bright scarlets and bleeding crimsons. But science did not really know why the colours might vary from year to year – just that they did vary.

Is it due just to how the weather has been through the summer?

Or is it because of the weather anticipated for the winter?

The three main pigments that color leaves are, chlorophyll (green), carotenoid (yellow, orange, and brown), and anthocyanin (red). Chlorophyll and carotenoid are always present in leaf cells. More sunlight means more chlorophyll and green summers. The reducing sunlight in autumn reduces the chlorophyll allowing the yellows and browns of carotenoid to show through more strongly. But high levels of sunlight may lead to an increase of anthocyanins.

In photosynthetic tissues (such as leaves and sometimes stems), anthocyanins have been shown to act as a “sunscreen”, protecting cells from high-light damage by absorbing blue-green and ultraviolet light, thereby protecting the tissues from photoinhibition, or high-light stress.

This summer of 2013 started late after a long winter and a very late spring. The number of sunshine hours have not been unusually high nor the amount of rain unusually low. Temperatures have not been particularly noteworthy. So just the number of sunshine hours seems inadequate as an explanation of the greater levels of red I perceive.

The Daily Green: Unlike the ever-present yellows that simply become unmasked when chlorophyll recedes, red pigments are actually created as a tree is going dormant. But why would a tree expend energy to produce a new pigment just as it’s hunkering down for the winter? And why do some trees make red pigments, when others don’t? Further, the reds of New England are so famous in part because they are unique to the new world. Why are European autumns so predominantly yellow? 

…… yellow trees are those that colonize open land first – so-called pioneer species that are tolerant of direct sunlight. Those that turn red are species that follow in the succession of species that come to dominate a landscape, and they tend to benefit from more protection from the sun. It’s not that the red leaves lack the yellow pigment; the red pigment is an addition, and in fall it is so intense that it masks the yellow, just as green does in summer. Those pioneer species are less susceptible to light damage, 

But why are European trees more yellow? It could be that falls there tend to be warmer and cloudier, so there was never any selective advantage for trees to evolve red pigments that would be protective of the sun.

According to the U.S. Forest Service:

A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays. During these days, lots of sugars are produced in the leaf but the cool nights and the gradual closing of veins going into the leaf prevent these sugars from moving out. These conditions-lots of sugar and lots of light-spur production of the brilliant anthocyanin pigments, which tint reds, purples, and crimson. Because carotenoids are always present in leaves, the yellow and gold colors remain fairly constant from year to year.

So I don’t really know why the leaves look redder this autumn.  But I think trees may be better predictors of weather than we give them credit for. There are some signs that Europe may be in for another hard, long winter this year. Perhaps the trees already know this and are busy storing nutrients in their roots. Therefore they need more anthocyanin to allow them to do this.

The trees already know what to expect this winter. At least, that’s what I would like to think!

Phailin came and Phailin went: Alarmists and Warmists disappointed

October 13, 2013

Cyclone Phaelin came and it has now gone.

The Greens around the world are somewhat disappointed that many thousands have not died.

It was a very severe cyclone when it hit (windspeed 200km/h) but it did not reach the classification as a Super Cyclone (>220km/h windspeed).

It was a massive evacuation and that itself was somethiing of an achievement. More than 600,000 (and maybe as many as 1 million) moved or were moved out of harms way. 7 are known to have died in cyclone related events (falling trees in the main). Damage reports have yet to be assessed. Some fishermen are known to be stranded. The military is mobilised and stands ready for rescue and rehabilitation.

The Indian Meteorological community got it about right. But there were those who predicted that it would not only be a Super Cyclone at 220km/h but would be a Super Dooper Cyclone with winds up to 315km/h.

The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Friday said Phailin is now expected to break the Indian Ocean intensity record set by the 1999 Cyclone in which at least 9,000 people were killed in Odisha.

Alarmists started criticising the preparations and the evacuations and suggested it would be worse than 1999 where at least 15,000 (unofficially 45,000) died. The Global Warmists at Huffington Post almost seemed to want the loss of life to be as high as possible so that they could blame Global warming (but note that they manage to blame any untoward weather event on Global Warming)

India should rename this meaningless obfuscation and call attention to global warming immediately. .. The anthropogenic global warming caused by accumulation of greenhouse gases is making the oceans warmer, which in turn is causing more frequent and more intense cyclones/hurricanes and floods.

Needless to say the Environ-Mentalists at Greenpeace were also hoping for a major disaster

Intense and destructive storms are likely to occur more frequently as global warming intensifies, Greenpeace said Saturday. “Such intense and destructive storms are likely to become more frequent in the future as global warming intensifies.  India member Biswajit Mohanty. According to the organisation, cyclone Phailin which is expected to hit the coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh is likely to be the strongest such to affect India in 14 years, since the 1999 Odisha cyclone.

The Green Brigade conveniently forget that a Super Cyclone is generated in the Bay of Bengal every 10-20 years. It is a natural phenomenon known for at least the last 200 years. The super Cyclone of 1970 killed over 500,000 people. And the lessons learned since 1999, the major evacuation and the other preparations made seem to have achieved their objective and minimised the loss of life.

It was a severe storm and has surely caused some significant damage. But it is something which happens regularly and not anything unprecedented. It was not a Super Cyclone.

And it was nowhere near the major disaster that Alarmists, Greenpeace, Global Warmists and Environ-Mentalists were hoping for.

Cyclone Phaelin makes landfall – Severe storm but not a Super Cyclone

October 12, 2013

UPDATE!

Saturday: 11:30pm IST: It has been some 3 hours since Phaelin made landfall as a Severe Cyclone but without the wind-speed to be classified as a Super Cyclone. The full effects will now not be known till morning but it would seem that up to 1 million people may have moved – or been moved – out of harms way.

It is too early to give way to optimism. But fingers are crossed that the evacuations and advance preparations have been successful and that fatalities will be orders of magnitude lower than in 1999 or 1991.

==============================================

Phaelin made landfall at about 8:20pm local time just south of Gopalpur, Odisha. The cyclone has slowed down and has veered a little Westwards. Windspeeds at landfall were reported to be around 200km/h.

Apart from 7 reported killed due to falling trees in the high winds, damage reports are not yet available.

Phaelin Landfall Googlemaps

Phaelin Landfall Googlemaps

Cyclone Phailin will test Indian preparedness

October 12, 2013

UPDATE!

Saturday 12th, 6:30pm Indian Standard Time: Landfall is expected at any time now. So far some 600,000 people have been evacuated or have moved out of harms way. It has been the largest evacuation in India for 23 years.

______

The Bay of Bengal is no stranger to severe weather and severe cyclonic storms occur almost annually. However super cyclones (corresponding to an Atlantic Category 5 Hurricane) occur every 10 -20 years. Fatalities (direct and indirect by subsequent disease) have been huge in this heavily populated area. Super cyclones are defined as having wind speeds in excess of 220km/h and the current Cyclone Phailin is on the edge of that level with winds currently at about 210km/h. The Indian Meteorological Depratment expects the wind speeds to stay at the 210-220 km/h level.

ToI: Foreign agencies claimed Indian authorities are underestimating Phailin, quoting London-based Tropical Storm and US Navy’s joint typhoon warning centre as forecasting winds up to 315 kmph. Indian agencies, however, said wind speeds are much lower.

Super or Severe Cyclone Phailin is expected to make landfall this evening (about 6pm local time Saturday 12th October) somewhere along the Odisha coast. Warnings have been issued and about 200,000 have been asked to evacuate their coastal homes. Relief personnel and police are on alert. The Army has been deployed in some areas. Some 200 tourists have been assisted to leave the area and tourist bookings have been cancelled for upto a week.

Large improvements in the early warning and relief infrastructure have taken place since the catastrophic death toll in the super cyclone of November 1970. But Cyclone Phailin could be the biggest test for Indian preparedness since 1999.

Major super cyclones the region have been:

The projected path of Tropical Cyclone Phailin towards India as of 11:30 a.m. ET on Oct. 10, 2013.

Yahoo News: Experts say that the enormous and powerful storm, with maximum sustained winds of more than 160 mph (260 km/h), will bring a “catastrophic” storm surge, the water that a storm’s winds push in front of it and that inundate a coastline as the storm makes landfall, said Hal Needham, a climatologist at Louisiana State University. The storm surge is expected to reach heights of 20 feet (6 meters), Needham told LiveScience. The storm is likely to be “as bad or worse” than a cyclone that followed a similar trajectory in 1999, called Odisha cyclone for the area it hit.

Times of India: Touching wind speeds of 210-220 km an hour, Cyclone Phailin is set to hit the Odisha coast between Paradip and Kalingapatnam with full fury on Saturday evening, whipping up a storm surge up to 10 feet above the tide level posing a threat to low-lying villages.

Anticipating the cyclone’s fury, the state government began Odisha’s biggest ever evacuation of shifting more than three lakh (300,000) people out of harm’s way as chief minister Naveen Patnaik promised there would be zero casualties. The evacuation is expected to be complete by Saturday morning.

Met sources said the cyclone’s exact landfall is likely to be around the popular beach destination of Gopalpur and coastal Odisha as well as inland areas are expected to receive heavy rainfall likely to last till Sunday.

Although the Met is not categorizing Phailin as a “super cyclone” as it is yet to cross the 220 kmph barrier, there is little doubt that Odisha was bracing for a battering with the storm reported just 400 km south east of Gopalpur at 9pm on Friday. ….

….. Ganjam district is likely to be worst-hit. Other coastal districts falling within 75 km radius of the eye of the storm would also be impacted. “The exact landfall destination of the cyclone can be known once it comes nearly 200 km from the coast. Phailin’s movement however indicates that the situation would not be like the 1999 super cyclone during which the storm lay stationery over the coastal areas for nearly 24 hours and caused a sea surge of about 30 ft. This time 10 ft high wave is expected. More so, the expected landfall area being hilly, the impact of the cyclone would be less and weaken quickly,” IMD Bhubaneswar centre director Sarat Sahu said.

Not leaving anything to chance, the state government began evacuating people from coastal districts of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapada. Those who refused to leave their homes were forcibly taken to safer places. “There are 247 cyclone shelters and 10,000 concrete schools identified to house the villagers. We want to complete the evacuation by Saturday morning, particularly in Ganjam district which is likely to bear the brunt of the cyclone,” special relief commissioner P K Mohapatra said.

The central government has dispatched 10 helicopters, four Cheetah helicopters and two MI-17 and AN-32 planes to help the state government in rescue and relief operations. The government’s measures notwithstanding, thousands of people from the coastal region were rushing to railway stations and bus stops to escape the cyclone.

Oktoberfest is hardly over and snow arrives in Bavaria

October 11, 2013

Oktoberfest only ended last week and 20cm of snow has already fallen in Southern Germany. A few weeks earlier than “normal”. But not to worry. Global Warming is here. Climate models cannot be fooled by little things like local weather and reality.

snow in Bavaria, 11th October 2013 photo DPA

Snow in Bavaria, 11th October 2013 photo DPA

The Local: Winter has arrived in southern Germany with the first heavy snowfall hitting Bavaria on Thursday night and Friday morning. 

The snow caused traffic chaos in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area – a popular ski resort. Schools and kindergartens were closed, a police spokesman said on Friday, while authorities advised people to stay indoors.

Trees which have collapsed under the weight of the snow are also posing a danger for drivers and pedestrians. On one stretch of road out of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 15 trees blocked traffic. 

But the early winter weather also brought happier scenes with the first snowmen being built. Snow has also fallen in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg.

NoTricksZone reports:

Meteorologists warned us that snow was on the way and would fall below the 500 m elevation in southern Germany and elsewhere. Moreover, they warned us that this winter could be one of the worst in 100 years for Central Europe. ….. 

Online Die Welt here writes:

‘It began to snow in the Bavarian capital of Munich yesterday evening at about 6 p.m. Many of my meteorologist colleagues had believed this to be improbable,’ said meteorologist Dominik Jung: ‘This year winter has struck early and unusually severely. South of Munich up to 20 centimeters of snow was able to pile up.’”

Die Welt adds that schools have been closed in some localities, 22,000 households in Austria have lost power, trains have come to a standstill, and traffic has been in chaos.

Frost is expected to spread across southern and middle Germany this weekend, reports www.wetter.net,Temperatures down to -4°C are expected under clear skies in some local areas.

 

 

2013 monsoon begins withdrawal across India – Bumper crops after a “good” monsoon year

September 30, 2013

The official 4 month monsoon season ends today and the rains will withdraw across India over the next 3 months. Though monsoon statistics are usually focused on the 4 months from June to September, many parts of the country get significant rainfall during the withdrawal. For example the South-East coast will get significant rainfall during December. The entire monsoon cycle lasts about 7 months and the withdrawal has started. Over the 4 months rainfall has been 5% higher than the long term average and this would class this monsoon as a good monsoon.

Conventional wisdom has it that a “good” monsoon year adds 2% or more to GDP growth while a “bad” monsoon (>15% less than the long term average) can reduce the GDP growth by over 2%. Many industries are directly affected by agricultural growth. Not only fertlisers and pesticides but even farm vehicles and equipment. A good monsoon even impacts consumer goods which the rural population are waiting to get their hands on. With the slowdown in the economy many in the now lame-duck government are hoping for a monsoon boost without any action on their part and in time for the benefits to show before the general election next year. In any event, the monsoon or divine intervention cannot be blamed by ineffective politicians seeking reelection. But there is little doubt that a good monsoon has an enormous “feel-good” effect.

The monsoon is now withdrawing – perhaps a week or so behind its normal schedule (which means that some precipitation will continue to occur in Central India after the official season is over).

Withdrawal of 2013 monsoon September 30th source IMD

Withdrawal of 2013 monsoon September 30th source IMD

Crop yields are expected to be at record levels after this good monsoon.

Reuters: Grains production this summer is likely to be just short of an all-time high, according to a preliminary government forecast on Tuesday, leaving plenty for exports and helping to boost growth and trim inflation ahead of elections due by May. A heavy monsoon has ensured bumper harvests even though rice output could be lower than last year as rains were patchy over the rice-growing areas of some eastern states. The monsoon waters 55 percent of farmland without irrigation.

“Growth in agriculture … will rebound this year because rains are good,” Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters as he announced the output forecast, which is usually conservative. “Today’s estimates are the first projections for 2013/14 and invariably we have seen that final estimates are 5-10 percent higher than the first estimate,” Pawar said.

Total output of summer-sown grains is likely to be 129.3 million tonnes in the current crop year from July, Farm Commissioner J.S. Sandhu said on Tuesday, just below the record 131.3 million tonnes of 2011/12 and up 0.9 percent on last year. Bumper output should mean India can continue exporting crops such as cotton, corn, rice and sugar.

Output of oilseeds, which could trim India’s imports of edible oils, should rise around 15 percent. Production of lentils – another foodstuff that India imports – should be up 3.2 percent.

Rice production is seen at 92.3 million tonnes against 92.8 million tonnes in the previous year. That marginal fall in rice output is not a great concern as India’s stocks are 21 million tonnes, more than double its target for September 1.

The government is relying on a bumper harvest to push agricultural growth and help the wider economy, as well as provide ample supplies of rice and wheat to support food subsidy programmes and cool double-digit food inflation. …… 


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