Archive | May 7, 2014

Israel sees unseasonable May rains

Thunderstorms hit the country following heatwave, flash floods
reported in south
Illustrative photo of lightning. (photo credit: CC BY pennuja, Flickr)
From one extreme to another: After a heatwave descended on the country in recent days, Israel was hit with thunderstorms and a significant decrease in temperatures Wednesday evening, a highly unusual occurrence for mid-May
The rains were expected to continue through Thursday, and flash floods were already reported in southern Israel’s desert valleys by nightfall.

The Paran and Tze’elim rivers in the south overflowed onto highway 90 Wednesday evening. Police warned the public to avoid all riverbeds and channels in the south, which could flood with very little warning.

The Jerusalem municipality released a statement Wednesday evening saying it expected up to 50 millimeters of rain to fall within the next 24 hours. It also warned residents to take care when driving and to avoid any activities which could be dangerous in the current weather.


Avian flu virus found among penguins in Antarctica


An international team of researchers have for the first time identified a new avian influenza virus in a group of Adelie penguins from Antarctica. 
The virus is unlike any other circulating avian flu viruses. 
While other research groups have taken blood samples from penguins before and detected influenza antibodies, no one had detected actual live influenza virus in penguins or other birds in Antarctica previously, said senior research scientist Aeron Hurt at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia. 
The virus did not cause illness in the penguins but the study shows that avian influenza viruses can get down to Antarctica and be maintained in penguin populations, he said. “It raises a lot of unanswered questions,” Hurt added. They include how often Avian Influenza Virus (AIVs) are being introduced into Antarctica, whether it is possible for highly pathogenic AIVs to be transferred there, what animals or ecosystems are maintaining the virus and whether the viruses are being cryo-preserved during the winters. 
For the study, Hurt collected swabs from the windpipes and posterior openings of 301 Adelie penguins and blood from 270 penguins from two locations on the Antarctic Peninsula: Admiralty Bay and Rada Covadonga. The samples were collected during January and February 2013. 
Using a laboratory technique called real-time reverse transcription-PCR, the researchers found AIV genetic material in eight (2.7%) samples, six from adult penguins and two from chicks. Seven of the samples were from Rada Covadonga. The researchers were able to culture four of these viruses demonstrating that live infectious virus was present.

MERS virus kills a man in Jordan

MERS Virus Alert

A man has died in Jordan after being infected with the Mers virus, a media report said Tuesday, in the kingdom’s second fatality from the disease this year and fourth since 2012.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the Sars virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine per cent of whom died.

Jordan reported the first death from Mers in February, after two fatalities in 2012.

“The new death from the coronavirus was one of those infected with the virus who was 56 years old who was suffering from anaemia and pneumonia, and who had been hospitalised,” health ministry official Mohammad Abdullat was quoted as saying by state news agency Petra.

Mers emerged in 2012 and is mostly focused on Saudi Arabia, where it has killed 115 people, according to health officials there.

Saudi Arabia’s number of Mers infections has also reached 414, the world’s highest tally, the ministry reported.

There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for Mers, a disease with a mortality rate of more than 40 per cent that experts are still struggling to understand.

Some research has suggested that camels are a likely source of the virus.


A GROUP of residents in Haltwhistle have been devastated after flood water poured into their homes for the third time two years

Firefighters frantically pumped water away from the Mart on Wednesday afternoon, after a 30-minute downpour left gardens submerged.

Water got inside three houses, despite an investment of over £100,000 in water-tight flood doors by Home Group, which manages the properties, last year.

One resident has called for the Mart to be knocked down, after returning home from a hospital appointment to find half of his living room carpet saturated.

Partially-sighted Robert McKill (74), who has lived at the Mart for six years said: “They should never have built them in the first place. They are nice houses, but there is a history of flooding at this site. The flood-proof doors have not worked.”

Mr McKill’s daughter Pat Irving, of Gilsland, says her father will no longer stay at the house.

She said: “The patio doors have just been fitted, and they are supposed to be flood proof. My father has health problems, he’s on dialysis, and this is the last thing he needs. It’s so distressing.

“I’ll be putting him up for the time being, and he’ll be moving out.”

While the water inside Mr McKill’s property has soaked the carpet, it has not damaged the TV and other property, unlike two years ago, when he lost items of sentimental value.

Mrs Irving said: “Nobody from Home Group has been out to see us. I’ve tried to call them but can’t get through.”

Four fire engines attended the Mart shortly after 4pm, as crews pumped water into the nearby burn.

The fire service’s group manager for West Northumberland, Lee Buckingham, said: “I’ve never seen rain like it. The water was knee deep outside the houses and you can see the water mark on the road.

“There is only so much water you can pump into the burn, so we had to start putting it back into the water course using the drains.

“We are well versed in dealing with the flooding here, but it has been very distressing for the residents nonetheless.”

Some drains were unable to cope, however, with torrents of water flowing down Comb Hill, while road surfaces on Willia Road and Aesica Road were also affected.

A spokesman for Home Group said the organisation was made aware of the flooding at shortly after 4pm on Wednesday, and immediately dispatched sandbags.

Customer service manager, Carolyn Wood said: “We invested more than £110,000 last year to install flood proof doors, airbricks and non-return valves to 21 homes. “The doors remained watertight on the vast majority of properties protecting customers from flooding.

“We’ll investigate why these three doors failed and we’ll give further training to customers to ensure they know how to operate them correctly to create a watertight seal.”

The Co-op store in Haydon Bridge was also closed on Wednesday due to flooding.

Meteoroid lands in Stirling area, Canada

Peter Brown, a professor in the University of Western Ontario’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and part of the meteor physics group, confirmed that the big boom and bright light seen in the sky Sunday afternoon was, in fact, a meteoroid.

The event was caught on several dashboard cameras, Brown said, and air waves and radar data collected by his team are all on par with meteoroid activity.

Brown believes the meteoroid, coming into the atmosphere at a rate of anywhere from 11 to 73 kilometres per second, first appeared in the skies of east central Ontario late Sunday.

Following its path, Brown thinks it may have landed somewhere in the Quinte West-Stirling area.

But that’s if the meteoroid survived.

Graham Wilson, a consulting geologist based in Campbellford, said it’s possible the meteoroid splintered into dust particles well before it touched the earth’s surface.

Wilson will be involved in the hunt for Sunday’s space rock, but cautioned that he has to first determine if the meteoroid has become a meteorite.

Most people mistake meteors for meteorites, Wilson explained.

A meteor is something that’s often referred to as a shooting star.

That, Wilson said, is just a speck of dust, often no larger than a pebble, burning up in the sky.

They are small, Wilson said, but give off fantastic amounts of energy when they burn up 150 kilometres above the earth’s surface.

A meteoroid is something falling through the atmosphere toward the earth. It becomes a meteorite when it lands on earth, and those can be the size of a pea to something that weighs several tons.

Assuming that something has landed on earth, the meteorite would be a charred-black colour, weigh more than a normal rock and likely have a magnetic pull to it.

The inside of a meteorite looks a lot like grey cement, Wilson explained, with flecks of shiny metal throughout.

They aren’t hot. Wilson pointed out that most people are able to spot meteoroids when they’re 30 kilometres above ground, a height more than times greater than Mount Everest.

It’s cold up there. Wilson said the meteoroid’s temperature plummets as it falls. It also slows dramatically, dropping to speeds of about 100 km/h.

Ownership of the meteorite depends on where the meteorite lands, Wilson said. If it’s on Crown land, anyone can claim it. If it’s in a national or provincial park it’ll belong to the federal or provincial government, and if it lands on private property than the owner of that land now owns the meteorite.

Once a meteorite is found it has to be classified and named. It will also be appraised to determine its worth.

It’s a tricky process, Wilson said, and while meteorites always have some value, they’re not always worth a lot.

“Some people have the impression that if they find a meteorite they’re set for life,” Wilson said.

Anyone who believes they may have found pieces of the meteorite can call Wilson at 807-620-5506.

According to the American Meteor Society

The American Meteor Society estimates the starting point of the meteor to be around the Warkworth area of Northumberland County, ending around the Stirling and Quinte West area.


Subject To Change

Depth: 10 km

Distances: 627 km NW of Hà Nội, Vietnam / pop: 1,431,270 / local time: 21:11:43.7 2014-05-07
847 km N of Vientiane, Laos / pop: 196,731 / local time: 21:11:43.7 2014-05-07
904 km NE of Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar / pop: 925,000 / local time: 20:41:43.7 2014-05-07

Global viewRegional view


Subject To Change

Depth: 13 km

Distances: 88km (55mi) WNW of Iquique, Chile
178km (111mi) SSW of Arica, Chile

229km (142mi) SSW of Tacna, Peru
247km (153mi) NNW of Tocopilla, Chile

484km (301mi) SW of La Paz, Bolivia

Global view


Subject To Change

Depth: 10 km

Distances: 282 km SW of Iztapalapa, Mexico / pop: 1,820,888 / local time: 19:55:27.0 2014-05-06
94 km SW of Chilpancingo de los Bravos, Mexico / pop: 165,250 / local time: 19:55:27.0 2014-05-06
11 km E of Zacualpan, Mexico / pop: 4,100 / local time: 19:55:27.0 2014-05-06

Global viewRegional view


Subject To Change

Depth: 10 km

Distances: 622 km NW of Honiara, Solomon Islands / pop: 56,298 / local time: 15:45:00.1 2014-05-07
410 km SE of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea / pop: 26,273 / local time: 14:45:00.1 2014-05-07
98 km SW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea / pop: 2,916 / local time: 14:45:00.1 2014-05-07

Global viewRegional view


Subject To Change

Depth: 1 km

Distances: 96km (60mi) SW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea
109km (68mi) SW of Arawa, Papua New Guinea

408km (254mi) SE of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea
546km (339mi) ESE of Kimbe, Papua New Guinea

622km (386mi) WNW of Honiara, Solomon Islands

Global view