Tag Archives: storm

A solar tsunami set to generate celestial show tonight

A huge plasma eruption that took place on the Sun has caused a “solar tsunami” of ionized atoms that are on a course for our planet on Tuesday night. Nothing to be too alarmed here, except for the disruption of some satellites.

It will however generate quite a show, a rare and unpredictable one too.

“It’s the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time,” Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told Space.com

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory was launched in February, with the goal of looking into the Sun and figuring out how phenomena such as this work. The best show will be in North America, and it could also trigger some aurorae, which will make it even more awesome. Be sure to keep an eye on the sky tonight.

Storm elves and sprites recorded on video

Storm elves and sprites are electric luminous fleeting phenomena that sometimes naturally occur in the upper atmosphere. A team of Spanish researchers managed to make a high speed recording of the phenomena and publish it in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Practically, sprites are electrical discharges shaped like a carrot or a column that form in the mesosphere, at about 50-80 km above the ground. Elves are electrical rings that light the base of the ionosphere, at 80-700 km.

storm-elves

“This is the first time in Europe that we have been able to use high-speed video to detect transitory luminous phenomena taking place in the upper atmosphere — so-called sprites (in the form of a carrot or column) and elves (which are ring shaped),” Joan MontanyĆ , co-author of the study and a researcher at the Department of Electric Energy at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), said.

The film showed that there are fewer sprites that form over land than over sea, and it also shed some light on their dynamics and electric structure.

“All these phenomena are related with storms, particularly winter storms, but they only appear in mesoscale convective systems (usually in large fronts), which produce lightning with high levels of energy or extreme electric currents,” explains MontanyĆ .

Huge dust storm chokes Sydney

 

A significant part of Australia’s east coast, including country’s biggest city, Sydney, has been engulfed by a shroud of red dust blown mostly from the desert outback. Visibility was so bad that most if not all flights were delayed, and of course, there were the usual folks who started screaming that this is the apocalypse. Turns out, it wasn’t.

Photo by Merbabu.

Numerous buildings, including the famous Opera House were covered in a thick blanket of dust and people took cover in their houses or nearby buildings. Lots of folks took to wearing masks and the emergency service reported a huge number of people who came in with respiratory problems. The transportation system was crippled also and doctors warned especially children and elder people to stay indoor until the storm passed, and even a few hours after that.

On Wednesday morning, powerful winds generated by a major cold air front transported tons and tons of dust from the drought plagued outback and brought it into the city. Dust storms are not really that uncommon, but they rarely take place somewhere else than the desert (or nearby areas); also, the pollution levels from the air were the highest recorded ever, with the 15,500 micrograms of particles per cubic meter generating a Mars-like landscape.

“On a clear day the readings for particulate matter or PM10 is around 10-20 micrograms per cubic meter,” said Chris Eiser of the NSW department of the environment. “During a bushfire, when there is heavy smoke around, we might see readings of around 300 to 500 micrograms per cubic meter.”

 

Locals described waking up to the storm as waking up on Mars, or even yet, in the middle of the apocalypse. The sky was soaked in red, the wind was blowing strongly and the whole scenery was somewhere between eerie and downright scary. They weren’t really as dangerous as they seemed, but they could do a significant amount of damage to one’s health.

“Dust storms are particularly hazardous for anyone with chronic lung disease or sinus disease. Once the particles per cubic metre are above 300, dust storms pose a risk to lung health,” said Dr Phillip Thompson of the University of Western Australia.

Here’s a video and some pics.

Dust storm Sydney 23 September 2009

sydney-dust-storm

the-bradfield-freeway-004

Pics via The Guardian

NASA images show devastation in Myanmar

 

hurricane

Every once in a while, we are reminded that we live on this wonderful planet but that can sometimes display an impressive amount of destructive force. This year, from the first cyclone of the 2008 season in the northern Indian Ocean we were reminded how frail and easy to destroy are the lives of people.According to reports from Accuweather.com, Cyclone Nargis made landfall with sustained winds of 130 mph and gusts of 150-160 mph, which makes it a a strong Category 3 or minimal Category 4 hurricane. Of course, that doesn’t make it quite easy to understand the full implications; let me put it this way: several thousand people have been killed, and thousands more were missing as of May 5.

NASA’s Terra satellite made those two photos, using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) which relies on a combination of visible and infrared light to make floodwaters obvious. Water is blue or nearly black, vegetation is bright green, bare ground is tan, and clouds are white or light blue.

Another bad thing is the fact that many more regions are not prepared to handle this kind of hurricane, and with the rainy season just starting… the future doesn’t sound that great. The entire coastal plain is flooded in the May 5 image.