Tag Archive | UK

Solar eclipse to disrupt power supplies to the UK on 20th March 2015

Eclipse map courtesy of Fred Espenak – NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Power supplies could drop suddenly next month when the UK is plunged into darkness with an eclipse of the sun.
Energy experts warned there could be possible blackouts in the biggest solar eclipse since 1999.
Nearly 90 per cent of the sun’s rays will be blocked out in parts of Europe on March 20.
In London and the South East, 85 per cent of the sun will be obscured by the moon whilst in northern Scotland, more than 95 per cent will be covered.
The National Grid has warned that solar power output in Britain will halve during the event.
It is unlikely to cause problems as so little electricity comes from solar power im the UK but other parts of Europe come be plunged into darkness.
The European Network Transmission System Operators for Electricity said:
“The risk of incident cannot be completely ruled out. Solar eclipses have happened before but with the increase of installed photovoltaic energy generation, the risk of an incident could be serious without appropriate countermeasures.”
The organisation said it had been planning for months so that suppliers across Europe provide more energy from other power stations during the hours that solar energy supplies are hit. Patrick Graichen, executive director of Agora Energiewende, a renewable energy think-tank in Berlin, said such events might become problematic in the future as more solar farms are built.
He told the Financial Times: “In a way March 20 is a glimpse into the future of our power systems.”
The eclipse will last around two hours from 8.40am. The next one will not be until 2026.
The UK’s leading group for beginners to stargazing, the Society for Popular Astronomy, has made a video with practical tips on how to observe the eclipse safely. It is presented by Lucie Green, from the BBC’s The Sky at Night.
Corona time: What the sky will look like in March
Courtesy of The Telegraph

MetO were right after all for the UK’s SE

Cold Weather Alert

MetO were right after all for the UK’s SE. GFS resolution for snow was incorrect which is so unusual for them. Damp and cold is the theme. Clutching straws now; there’s a ppn system in the North making it’s way South approaching Leeds. If this system carries on it’s projected path and stays strong, we could be in with a chance of something wintry. Just a long shot at the moment.
This week will be very cold and snow is on the cards at some point.
Even the long range forecast is on the cold side going into February.

Deadly Ebola Virus has entered the UK in Glasgow

Ebola Virus

The UK is likely to be faced with a handful of Ebola cases in the coming months, but the country is “well prepared”, the chief medical officer has urged.
Dame Sally Davies’ reassurances come after an NHS worker who volunteered in Sierra Leone became the first person to be diagnosed with the virus in the UK on Monday night.
More the 7,000 have people have died of the deadly virus following the start outbreak in late 2013 in Guinea.  The majority of the fatalities have been in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In October, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt introduced screening for the disease at some UK airports, as he told MPs that a number of Ebola cases were expected in the UK by Christmas.
But figures from Public Health England (PHE) show that 112 of the 113 tests on suspected Ebola sufferers were negative, up to 4 December.
The positive diagnosis of the nurse who had worked for a Save the Children-run hospital in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, comes after British nurse William Pooley, 29, was cured of the virus at London’s Royal Free hospital. The new patient will be transported to the specialist facility as soon as possible, officials have said.
Unlike the female healthcare worker, Pooley was diagnosed in Africa before being flown to the UK for treatment. Having made a full recovery, he has returned to Sierra Leone to continue his work in battling the disease.
Dame Sally said: “The risk of the general public in this country catching Ebola remains very low. However, we still estimate that there could be a handful of cases in this country over the coming months.
“The NHS is very well prepared for Ebola and the requirement for screening at selected ports of entry is being kept continually under review.”
After chairing a meeting of the Whitehall Cobra contingencies committee in London Mr Hunt said there would be a review of the “procedures and protocols” adopted by NHS workers and other government staff working in Sierra Leone.
“We are reviewing our procedures and protocols for the other NHS workers who are working in Sierra Leone alongside colleagues from the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office,” he said.
“They are doing a very, very brave job, under very challenging circumstances. We want to make absolutely sure that we are doing everything we can to keep them safe.”
He added the Government was doing “absolutely everything it needs to” to keep the public safe and that the measures it had put in place were working well – mirroring an earlier statement from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Passengers on the two flights the woman was on were now being contacted as a “precautionary measure” although the risks of them contracting the disease were “very low”.
“The clinical advice is that the risk is very low to other passengers. She wasn’t exhibiting feverish symptoms,” he said.
“The process has worked well because the moment she did exhibit those symptoms we were able to take her into isolation.”
He said that the woman health worker would be transferred to the Royal Free Hospital under the supervision of Dr Mike Jacobs, one of the leading experts in the field.
In a freedom of information response to the Press Association last month, PHE said the ages of suspected Ebola sufferers who have been tested ranged from “under five” to 75.
Most of the people tested for Ebola had visited West Africa, PHE added.
Public Health Wales (PHW) said fewer than five people had been tested for Ebola at Cardiff Hospital, the University Hospital of Wales and at Carmarthen’s main hospital in Glangwilli but there had been no positive cases.
All of the suspected patients were adults and those undergoing tests had visited Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency said there had been no Ebola cases, while the Scottish Government did not respond to the Press Association.
Last month a man tested negative for Ebola after he reportedly visited an NHS walk-in centre in Hereford.
Meanwhile, a woman with a history of travel to West Africa tested negative for Ebola at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, after complaining of a fever.
Earlier this year David Mabey, professor of communicable diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned that the UK might see a second case of Ebola as more NHS staff fly out to West Africa to help tackle the crisis.
“To get infected, you have got to be in close contact with a patient,” he said.
“More people are going out there … so we may get a case or two but they have been very well trained by the army.”
Courtesy of The Independent

Pattern Change For UK, Ireland and Europe

Weather Alert

The Stratosphere is warming very nicely. I am expecting a pattern change from the 7th Jan with firm blocking to allow very cold air flow across the UK/Ireland/Europe. Let’s just get the pattern change first. This is very exciting as I can also see the Jet Stream nudging further South too which will aid the approach of the very cold air towards the UK/Ireland/Europe.
***BE READY***

‘Weather Bomb’ raises risk of severe gales for Scotland, UK

Severe Weather Alert

Ferry and rail services in Scotland have been cancelled as winds strengthen ahead of an Atlantic storm that is due to hit the UK later.
The Met Office has issued a yellow ‘be aware’ warning for most of the UK for later on Tuesday, Wednesday and early on Thursday.
For Scotland, it has been upgraded to an amber ‘be prepared’ warning.
Severe gales have been forecast and sea swells for parts of Scotland of up to 40ft (12m).
The amber warning has been issued for the Northern Isles, Western Isles – where all schools and nurseries will be closed on Wednesday – the north and west Highlands and Argyll.
It warns of “very high waves” and islanders have been warned to take extra care on causeways that link up parts of the isles.
Stornoway Coastguard has warned that the sea state could become “phenomenal”, the term used to describe the worst conditions.
Flood warnings have been issued for the Western Isles and also Corpach, Caol, Fort William and Glen Lyon.
Waves at Prestwick
Richard Brown, of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said areas at the greatest risk of coastal flooding were Caithness, Sutherland, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.
Argyll and Bute, Firth of Clyde, Clyde estuary and Dumfries and Galloway could also be affected, he said.
Several train services on Wednesday have already been cancelled.
They are Inverness-Kyle/Thurso/Wick, Ayr-Stranraer, Kilwinning-Ardrossan/Largs and Dumbarton Central-Helensburgh Central.
Also, Glasgow Queen St-Oban/Fort William/Mallaig, including the Caledonian Sleeper.
Network Rail said the routes were the most likely to exposed to 70mph winds and high tides.
The company said replacement bus services would be considered, but these were dependent on road conditions.

Deadly Ebola Virus; Briton with Ebola Virus is being flown out by RAF from Sierra Leone to the UK

Ebola Virus

A British healthcare worker who has tested positive for the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone is being evacuated to the UK on a Royal Air Force plane.

The Department of Health said the man is “not currently seriously unwell” and will be flown to RAF Northolt before being brought to the Royal Free Hospital in London, which is specially equipped with an isolation unit where he can be treated.

The man, who lives in Sierra Leone, is the first Briton confirmed to have contracted the disease. The decision to fly him home was taken at a meeting on Saturday morning involving the medical director of the NHS, Sir Bruce Keogh, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond. A medical assessment was then carried out on the patient to see whether he was fit to fly.

“The patient is not currently seriously unwell and is being medically evacuated in a specially equipped C17 Royal Air Force plane to RAF Northolt in the UK. Upon arrival in the UK, the patient will be transported to an isolation unit at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust,” a statement from the Department of Health said.

Prof John Watson, the deputy chief medical officer, reassured the public that the risk to the general population remained low.

“We have robust, well-developed and well-tested NHS systems for managing unusual infectious diseases when they arise, supported by a wide range of experts,” he said.

“UK hospitals have a proven record of dealing with imported infectious diseases and this patient will be isolated and will receive the best care possible.”

Dr Paul Cosford, the director for health protection at Public Health England, said protective measures will be maintained to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus. “For Ebola to be transmitted from one person to another contact with blood or other body fluids is needed and as such, the risk to the general population remains very low,” he said.

The RAF flight took off from Freetown Lungi airport. “I saw it [the plane] sitting there for more than one hour but it has just taken off now. Some doctors assisted the man onboard and they’ve just come back now,” an airport official said.

The restricted site at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead where the healthcare worker will be treated is equipped with specialist equipment to help contain the infection. The bed will be surrounded by a specially-designed tent with its own controlled ventilation system and the patient will be admitted through a specific hospital entrance. Waste is decontaminated and there is a dedicated laboratory to carry out tests. All the air leaving the unit is cleaned to minimise risk to anyone at the hospital, the hospital said.

Tom Donnatt, founder of the British charity Street Child which works in Sierra Leone and West Point in Liberia, said the spread of Ebola had spiralled from a health emergency into a “humanitarian disaster”.

He said West Point was “a tense, grim, impoverished slum at any time” and is now entirely barricaded.

“They are now totally cut off from the world with uncertain access to food and water – and a terrifying disease from which they do not fully understand how to protect themselves,” he said.

Last week, Medecins sans Frontier said that the international community was paying “almost zero” interest to the growing health crisis.

Concerns grow in Europe over threat from deadly pig virus

PEDV Alert

France is expected to suspend pig-related imports from a number of countries as worries grow over the spread of a deadly swine virus

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus (PEDv) has killed some seven million piglets in the US in the past year.

The disease has also been found in Canada, Mexico and Japan.

While the virus isn’t harmful to humans or food, France is concerned over the potential economic impact and is set to suspend imports of live pigs and sperm.

PEDv is spread in faecal matter and attacks the guts of pigs, preventing them from absorbing liquids and nutrients.

Older animals can survive but fatality rates among piglets run between 80% and 100%.

So virulent is the agent that one expert estimated that a spoonful of infected manure would be enough to sicken the entire US herd.

The disease is believed to have its origins in China, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

“According to the information from genetic analyses, there is some similarity with a strain from Asia,” director-general Dr Bernard Vallat told BBC News.

“But the evidence of the crossing from Asia to the US is not yet established. For the moment it is not possible to make a final conclusion on the formal link, it is a suspicion.”

In North America, the disease has moved rapidly, with around 4,000 outbreaks in 30 US states, in four Canadian provinces and in parts of Mexico.

Virus on the move

Experts in the field believe that lax biosecurity is an important factor.

In June last year, a US study found that 17% of trucks going into a slaughterhouse were positive for the infection.

“They also discovered that 11% of the trucks that had been negative when they went into the slaughterhouse were subsequently positive when they left,” said Dr Zoe Davies from the UK’s National Pig Association (NPA).

“It’s how many animals you are moving around, that’s how its being spread.”

Another factor that is making the disease more difficult to stop is the use of dried pig blood in feedstuffs that are given to weaned piglets.


“The feed is suspected,” said Dr Bernard Vallat from OIE.

“Blood from slaughterhouses with insufficient heat treatment is suspected to be the origin. We don’t have a scientific publication on that but it is highly suspected,” he said.

The French move to suspend the importing of live pigs, some by-products and pig sperm is being seen as a reaction to the lack of action at EU level.

In the UK, the NPA says it has already secured support from all major importers to restrict pigs from infected countries. It says that more than 92% of pigs reared in the UK are not fed on blood products.

However the use of these feeds is more widely used in other EU countries, where movement of animals is also widespread.

There are concerns that if the virus was to gain a foothold in Europe it could lead to huge economic losses especially for breeders in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany.

While the issue has been discussed by the EU Commission, there has been no agreement yet to restrict imports.

According to agency reports, French government officials say their suspension has been made while “waiting for a European decision”.

PEDv was first diagnosed in the UK in 1971 but that strain was a milder form and pigs quickly adapted to it and became immune.

However the fact that European pigs have a history of exposure to a related virus may give some hope of protection, according to Dr Vallat.

“It circulated before in Europe but it was a different strain. If there is some remaining circulating virus there is a possibility that animals would be protected – but it is not sure.”

This perspective though is challenged by Dr Zoe Davies who says that Europe is now highly vulnerable to the infection.

“Everyone seems to think that because we’ve had versions of PEDv in the past we will have some immunity to this new strain and we know categorically that this is not the case.”

“We’ve tested our own herds and we think around 10% of the animals have antibodies to the older strains, we are effectively a naive herd, which is why we are worried.”

In the US, pig prices have risen considerably as a result of the losses to the virus while demand for pork shows no sign of abating. According to pig producers in the US, the industry is in for a strong financial year.

“One of the consequences of the problem, the restriction of the products in the market, mean perhaps prices could grow,” said Dr Vallat.

“For the non-infected herds it is good news.”



***BE ALERT***

Reports are coming in of quite a lot of damage across many parts of the UK due to the latest severe squall of showers

***BE ALERT***

The following are comments I sent a friend who asked about the USA deep freeze and UK’s winter forecast by the MetO…………
“Let’s put it this way, the great NOAA predicted a few months ago that the USA would have a mild winter. They were using their $$$Million tools etc with PhD’s and got it totally wrong.

95% of the storms the UK have recently endured, the MetO underestimated the wind gusts and they issued more amber alerts when many should have been red alerts.

A blocking system will start to form mid January which will be the start of the very harsh cold conditions to set in.

The MetO are correct to a certain degree about it getting colder, but they are underestimating the blocking system which will be more steadfast allowing a flow of very harsh conditions.

One area they definitely are not looking at is the energy stored in the earth’s core. It will be like a refrigerator where the heat is drawn out to be replaced by an injection of cold. The earth’s core is like the compressor (Blocking System)”.