Elaine Meinel Supkis
Summer up here in the Northeastern US which is almost always under the Jet Stream has been quite cool and even downright cold on my small mountain. We have even had frost warnings in August! I have noticed for a while an increasing amount of fine white volcanic ash in the high statosphere so yesterday, being a fully wind from the north jet stream day, I took photos at sunset showing this effect. Namely, the winter will be hard up here as this fine dust produces snow because it attracts moisture as it slowly filters down.
This picture was taken at just before sunset, my mountain is in the way of the sunset so the evening shadows are cast upon the eastern mountains which run at a 90º angle to the mountains to the west. Normally, at sunset, the east is in shadow and is darkening. But this last summer, it has been increasingly golden and a high, brilliant haze that makes the evening go dark rather suddenly when the sun really does set.
A shot to the south shows how that horizon is pink as if it were sunrise over there!
My parents wrote one of the first books about how volcanic dust can change the statosphere's light effects. The scattering of the light by fine volcanic dust means the whole heaven is evenly lit by any light source. Normally, when the wind blows from the Arctic, it is pure and clean. When the wind here blows from the south, it is filthy with pollution in summer. Pollution usually doesn't make it to the higher levels of the stratosphere which is why sunsets are redder than sunrises. All day long, human and animal activities raise dust and other particulates on the lower levels so when the sun shines through all this, all but the red lights are blocked out.
But when volcanoes pump fine pumic dust into the higher levels, this spreads out and can be seen at all hours of day or night. Last night, to test this out, I went out at 2am and looked up. The moon is exactly at half full yet the landscape around me was very lit up. I could see perfectly well because of the fine, white light that was universal. Only the very brightest stars could be seen. This white veil of light is a characteristic of volcanic eruptions.
The eruption of Pavlof Volcano that began August 15th continues. Seismicity has steadily increased over the past week and is characterized by volcanic tremor, frequent explosions, and debris flow signals. Satellite observations throughout the week show an intense thermal anomaly from lava fountaining, lava flow, and collapse of the lava flow front.
A continous volcanic ash and gas plume has been reported by ground observers, pilots, and in satellite images since August 28. The height of the eruption plume has varied but has generally been between 12,000 to 16,000 ft (3.7 to 4.9 km) above sea level (ASL). A more vigorous plume to 20,000 ft (6.1 km) ASL with associated lighting (indicative of volcanic ash) was reported by NWS observers in Cold Bay on August 30 at 21:30 ADT (05:30 UTC on August 31). In response, the National Weather Service issued an Ashfall Advisory and Marine Weather Statement. There were no reports of ash fall and the Advisory was cancelled at approximately 01:00 ADT August 31.
This eruption isn't powerful but it is enough to lend a high, thin haze to the skies above. We always have to keep in mind the activities of our planet's many volcanoes. These mountains can create devastating changes we can barely handle. In the past, some epic eruptions have caused tremendous damage to the earth's ecosystems causing extinctions and augmenting ice ages, just for example.
Volcanic tuff is perfect for forming a nucleus for snow flakes. Every time we get these sorts of skies, I prepare for a rough winter. When Mount Pinatubo blew up in 1991, I was living in the tent complex on this mountain and trying to build a house. In June, we went from a very warm spring and early summer to wearing winter coats on sunny days.
The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide. It ejected roughly 10 billion metric tons of magma, and 20 million tons of SO2, bringing vast quantities of minerals and metals to the surface environment. It injected large amounts of aerosols into the stratosphere—more than any eruption since that of Krakatoa in 1883. Over the following months, the aerosols formed a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. Global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F), and ozone destruction increased substantially.The shimmering sheet of white dust high in the sky was very noticable indeed. Like the big eruption of Mt. Agung in 1963, this had a huge effect on global weather and the appearance of the day and night skies. It was the first big eruption since Krakatoa and allowed my parents to begin their studies on atmospheric effects of volcanic dust.
From: Self, et.al., 1996, The Atmospheric Impact of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo Eruption: IN: Newhall and Punongbayan, (eds.), 1996, Fire and Mud: Eruptions and Lahars of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines: University of Washington Press
As observed after several eruptions, including Agung in 1963 (Indonesia) and El Chichon in 1982 (Mexico), stratospheric warming and lower tropospheric and surface cooling have been documented after the Pinatubo eruption. Labitzke and McCormick (1992) show that warming in the lower stratosphere (16 to 24 kilometers or 30 to 100 mbar) of up to 2 to 3 degrees C occurred within 4 to 5 months of the eruption between the equator and 20degreesNorth latitude, and it was also later noticed in middle northern latitudes (Angell, 1993). The warming distribution closely mirrored the dispersal pattern of the aerosol cloud; this mirroring strongly suggests that the warming was due to absorption of radiation by the aerosols.
The effects of this month's eruptions is much more subtle but still noticable for we have not really had much of a summer, those of us who live along the jet stream's northern flows. This is why global warming isn't an open/shut door as far as interpeting data. All it takes is one massive volcanic event and all surface heating ceases! Perhaps, the gradual warming from coal burning of the 19th and up to the mid-20th century was enhanced by the lack of regular volcanic activity. Much of the years from 1900-1963 was remarkably 'clean'. Which is why the sudden appearance of brilliant sunsets and lit up night skies was so outstanding during the Agung eruptions!
So I am preparing for a harsh winter up here. Checking out the snow plows, time to cut firewood and stack in so it won't get buried in deep snow, etc.
The hurricane developed unusually quickly, CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras said, taking just 27 hours to go from tropical storm status to a Category 5 major hurricane -- the most extreme level on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, and one capable of producing "potentially catastrophic" damage. Watch what makes Felix an unusual hurricane »
A research plane flying into the hurricane Sunday was forced to abort its mission because of the force of Felix.
"We took off into what we thought would be a mild Category 2, maybe a 3. But we got to the storm and found out otherwise," Cmdr. Tom Strong of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. "It was fairly strong and a very well-defined eye by the time we'd gotten there."
Concerns about damage to the plane forced the team to turn back. "We ended up having just a little overstress, which means we have to go back and look at the plane and make sure all the pieces and parts are in the right position," Strong said.
Hurricanes growing suddenly is an interesting feature. This storm is far from being the fastest to deepen and grow. Hurricane Wilma isn't as well remembered at the mighty Katrina but she was actually the more dangerous of the hurricanes and she altered world oil prices and set us on an inflationary spiral as she plowed through the vulnerable Gulf oil and gas fields. And she still holds the record for the fastest growing hurricane in our waters.
According to the news, she went from a catagory 1 to a catagory 4 in less than 90 minutes. This has got to be a record. As the hurricane stalled out in very warm waters this was a bad thing because it could cook up quite a bit in such circumstances.
This is amazing, the number of powerful hurricanes this year. And it is merely a taste of things to come. This week, California again had unusual weather for fall, powerful storms suddenly formed over Southern California, dropping hail and many lightning bolts. I remember the past, my granddaddy used to blame me for bringing lightning storms when I visited, after all, they never had them there except on rare occasions.
Note the date. Those hurricanes that year were very plentiful and we got to 'W' and went on to the Greek alphabet! This season isn't nearly so harsh and I suspect the veiling of the sun is probably responsible for this. Neglecting to connect winter storms with hurricanes is a mistake. For they are a swinging pendulum. We might not have all that many raging hurricanes but will we have huge blizzards? Time will tell. The 90 minute rise in wind speed for Wilma still amazes. This was particularily scary, I thought back then.
Ah, the red tide continues. Despite several humongous hurricanes stirring up the Gulf waters, it is still, in October, deadly hot there. This is why I can predict this hurricane, even if the winds slow down a tad because it goes over parts of Cuba and the Yucatan, it will still be very ferocious when it strikes Florida.
This most unusual because a catagory 5 hurricane usually displaces much of the heat stored in the sea, this displacement of energy is what weakens following hurricanes yet we see one after another following much the same track, even, just like last year. Three fives in less than a month and a half in the same part of the Gulf is very amazing. Of course, the sun spat out a lot of fierce energy back in late August. I felt it, wrote about it here on the blog, how even a burst of deadly x-rays shot out, we had spectacular auroras all the way down to Arizona, even. This added energy is now playing itself out in hurricanes.
This morning, Wilma's isobar ratings was a terrifically low 882millibars, a record. It is now "up" to 900 millibars. which is still awesome. Great windspeed actually hinders rain collecting but like Katrina, as Wilma's winds slow down from a frightful 165+mph to a "mere" 145mph, she is sucking up water from the Gulf and expanding her girth. Since 80% of Florida is only a few feet above sea level, dumping 24" of rain can be a huge catastrophe. The weather service is actually hoping the hurricane moves rapidly so at least it won't dump tons of water, too.
Oil prices rose by $1.50 a barrel on Monday, as dealers grow nervous about the possibility of another storm hitting output in the Gulf of Mexico.Tropical Storm Wilma, caused by a depression in the Caribbean, could move into the Gulf by Friday, said the US National Hurricane Center.
It comes in the wake of hurricanes Rita and Katrina, which shut US oil facilities. Six remain closed.
US crude was up $1.42 at $64.05 and Brent crude up $1.48 at $60.96.
Just 2 years ago, people were up in arms when oil rose to...$60 a barrel! Today, our government boasts, there is no inflation, when oil drops to $70 a barrel. So in two years, the highs have risen by over $10 a barrel and we have no inflation? Arf. I detect a glitch here that can't be easily papered over or ignored but then, our government is good at ignoring things.
The present hurricane will probably lay waste to Central America. In between hurricanes, we wreck Central America, politically. Reagan should have been hauled into World Courts for his hurricane of right wing death squads but then Bush and Cheney should be executed like Saddam for killing Iraqi people. Maybe we will have better weather if we do this and thus, placate the gods and goddesses tormenting us.