07/23/2014

Power Knocked Out Planet Wide / 2+ Trillion Dollars In Damage... Remembering An Extraordinary Anniversary

In 2012, we narrowing avoided an absolute catastrophe. You may not have know, but we missed being struck by a Solar Superstorm that would have likely knocked out power to most of the planet. You would not have even been able to flush the toilet. Estimates place the potential damage from that Solar Superstorm at nearly 2 trillion dollars or 20 times more damage than Katrina caused. The facts of the Solar Superstorm of 2012 are remarkable! Here is an amazing article courtesy of NASA...

 

 

Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012

 


July 23, 2014: If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-Moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news.

Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn't mention it. The "impactor" was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years.

"If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado. 

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A ScienceCast video recounts the near-miss of a solar superstorm in July 2012.  Play it

Baker, along with colleagues from NASA and other universities, published a seminal study of the storm in the December 2013 issue of the journal Space Weather.  Their paper, entitled "A major solar eruptive event in July 2012," describes how a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) tore through Earth orbit on July 23, 2012.  Fortunately Earth wasn't there.  Instead, the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft.

"I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did," says Baker.  "If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire.

 

Extreme solar storms pose a threat to all forms of high-technology.  They begin with an explosion--a "solar flare"—in the magnetic canopy of a sunspot.  X-rays and extreme UV radiation reach Earth at light speed, ionizing the upper layers of our atmosphere; side-effects of this "solar EMP" include radio blackouts and GPS navigation errors. Minutes to hours later, the energetic particles arrive.  Moving only slightly slower than light itself, electrons and protons accelerated by the blast can electrify satellites and damage their electronics. Then come the CMEs, billion-ton clouds of magnetized plasma that take a day or more to cross the Sun-Earth divide.  Analysts believe that a direct hit by an extreme CME such as the one that missed Earth in July 2012 could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket.  Most people wouldn't even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps. 

Before July 2012, when researchers talked about extreme solar storms their touchstone was the iconic Carrington Event of Sept. 1859, named after English astronomer Richard Carrington who actually saw the instigating flare with his own eyes.  In the days that followed his observation, a series of powerful CMEs hit Earth head-on with a potency not felt before or since.  Intense geomagnetic storms ignited Northern Lights as far south as Cuba and caused global telegraph lines to spark, setting fire to some telegraph offices and thus disabling the 'Victorian Internet."

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A report by the National Academy of Sciences details the consequences of extreme solar storms. More

A similar storm today could have a catastrophic effect. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair.

"In my view the July 2012 storm was in all respects at least as strong as the 1859 Carrington event," says Baker. "The only difference is, it missed."

In February 2014, physicist Pete Riley of Predictive Science Inc. published a paper in Space Weather entitled "On the probability of occurrence of extreme space weather events."  In it, he analyzed records of solar storms going back 50+ years.  By extrapolating the frequency of ordinary storms to the extreme, he calculated the odds that a Carrington-class storm would hit Earth in the next ten years.

The answer: 12%.

"Initially, I was quite surprised that the odds were so high, but the statistics appear to be correct," says Riley.  "It is a sobering figure."

In his study, Riley looked carefully at a parameter called Dst, short for "disturbance – storm time." This is a number calculated from magnetometer readings around the equator. Essentially, it measures how hard Earth's magnetic field shakes when a CME hits. The more negative Dst becomes, the worse the storm.  Ordinary geomagnetic storms, which produce Northern Lights around the Arctic Circle, but otherwise do no harm, register Dst=-50 nT (nanoTesla).  The worst geomagnetic storm of the Space Age, which knocked out power across Quebec in March 1989, registered Dst=-600 nT. Modern estimates of Dst for the Carrington Event itself range from -800 nT to a staggering -1750 nT.

In their Dec. 2013 paper, Baker et al. estimated Dst for the July 2012 storm. "If that CME had hit Earth, the resulting geomagnetic storm would have registered a Dst of -1200, comparable to the Carrington Event and twice as bad as the March 1989 Quebec blackout."

The reason researchers know so much about the July 2012 storm is because, out of all the spacecraft in the solar system it could have hit, it did hit a solar observatory.  STEREO-A is almost ideally equipped to measure the parameters of such an event.

"The rich data set obtained by STEREO far exceeded the relatively meagre observations that Carrington was able to make in the 19th century," notes Riley.  "Thanks to STEREO-A we know a lot of about the magnetic structure of the CME, the kind of shock waves and energetic particles it produced, and perhaps most importantly of all, the number of CMEs that preceded it."

It turns out that the active region responsible for producing the July 2012 storm didn't launch just one CME into space, but many.  Some of those CMEs "plowed the road" for the superstorm.

A paperin the March 2014 edition of Nature Communications by UC Berkeley space physicist Janet G. Luhmann and former postdoc Ying D. Liu describes the process: The July 23rd CME was actually two CMEs separated by only 10 to 15 minutes. This double-CME traveled through a region of space that had been cleared out by yet another CME four days earlier. As a result, the storm clouds were not decelerated as much as usual by their transit through the interplanetary medium.

"It's likely that the Carrington event was also associated with multiple eruptions, and this may turn out to be a key requirement for extreme events," notes Riley. "In fact, it seems that extreme events may require an ideal combination of a number of key features to produce the 'perfect solar storm.'"

"Pre-conditioning by multiple CMEs appears to be very important," agrees Baker.

A common question about this event is, how did the STEREO-A probe survive?  After all, Carrington-class storms are supposed to be mortally dangerous to spacecraft and satellites. Yet STEREO-A not only rode out the storm, but also continued taking high-quality data throughout.

"Spacecraft such as the STEREO twins and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (a joint ESA/NASA mission) were designed to operate in the environment outside the Earth's magnetosphere, and that includes even quite intense, CME-related shocks," says Joe Gurman, the STEREO project scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center.  "To my knowledge, nothing serious happened to the spacecraft."

The story might have been different, he says, if STEREO-A were orbiting Earth instead of traveling through interplanetary space.

"Inside Earth's magnetosphere, strong electric currents can be generated by a CME strike," he explains. "Out in interplanetary space, however, the ambient magnetic field is much weaker and so those dangerous currents are missing."  In short, STEREO-A was in a good place to ride out the storm.

"Without the kind of coverage afforded by the STEREO mission, we as a society might have been blissfully ignorant of this remarkable solar storm," notes Baker. "How many others of this scale have just happened to miss Earth and our space detection systems? This is a pressing question that needs answers."

If Riley's work holds true, there is a 12% chance we will learn a lot more about extreme solar storms in the next 10 years—when one actually strikes Earth.

Says Baker, "we need to be prepared."

 

Credits:

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

 

 

 

 

VIDEO: NASA's Epic Plan to Capture and Asteroid!

NASA plans to Catch Asteroid and Tow it to Moon

The US space agency is planning for a robotic spaceship to capture a small asteroid and park it near the moon for astronauts to explore, a top senator disclosed Friday.

The plan would speed up by four years the existing mission to land astronauts on an asteroid by bringing the space rock closer to Earth, Sen. Bill Nelson said.

 

The robotic ship would capture the 500-ton, 25-foot (450 metric-ton, 7.6-meter) asteroid in 2019. Then using an Orion space capsule, now being developed, a crew of about four astronauts would nuzzle up next to the rock in 2021 for spacewalking exploration, according to a government document obtained by The Associated Press.

Nelson said this would help NASA develop the capability to nudge away a dangerous asteroid if one headed to Earth in the future. It also would be training for a future mission to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, he said.

Nelson, chairman of the Senate science and space subcommittee, said President Barack Obama is putting $100 million in planning money for the accelerated asteroid mission in the 2014 budget that comes out next week. The money would be used to find the right small asteroid.

"It really is a clever concept," Nelson said in a news conference in Florida, the state where NASA launches take place. "Go find your ideal candidate for an asteroid. Go get it robotically and bring it back."

While there are thousands of asteroids that size out there, finding the right one that comes by Earth at just the right time to be captured will not be easy, said Donald Yeomans, who heads NASA's Near Earth Object program that monitors close-by asteroids. He said once a suitable rock is found, it would be captured with the space equivalent of "a baggie with a drawstring. You bag it. You attach the solar propulsion module to de-spin it and bring it back to where you want it."

Yeomans said an asteroid of that size is no threat to Earth because it would burn up should it inadvertently enter Earth's atmosphere. The mission as Nelson described is perfectly safe, he said.

The government document said the mission, with no price tag at the moment, would inspire because it "will send humans farther than they have ever been before."

Information Courtesy NASA

 

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Image Of The Day: Stairway to Heaven...

The Haʻikū Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven or Haʻikū Ladder, is a steep hiking trail on the island of Oʻahu...

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Image Courtesy: Wiki 

The trail began as a wooden ladder spiked to the cliff on the south side of the Haʻikū Valley. It was installed in 1942 to enable antenna cables to be strung from one side of the cliffs above Haʻikū Valley to the other. A building to provide a continuous communication link between Wahiawā and Haʻikū Valley Naval Radio Station was constructed at the peak of Puʻukeahiakahoe, elevation about 2,800 feet (850 m). The antennas transmitted very low frequency radio signals from a 200,000-watt Alexanderson alternator in the center of Haʻikū valley. The signals could reach US Navy submarines as far away as Tokyo Bay while the submarines were submerged. Testers for RCA picked up signals on Long Island, and the signal also reached India, 6,600 miles (10,600 km) away.

When the Naval base was decommissioned in the 1950s, the United States Coast Guard used the site for an Omega Navigation System station. In the mid-1950s, the wooden stairs were replaced by sections of metal steps and ramps — by one count, 3,922 steps. The station and trail were closed to the public in 1987. Some hikers ignore the "No Trespassing" signs and continue to climb, contributing to the local community's misgivings about reopening the structure.

In 2003, the stairs were repaired, costing the city $875,000. As of early 2012, land usage rights issues have not been resolved. The City and County of Honolulu has stated that there is currently no plan to open the stairs for public use, citing liability concerns. Although it has been noted that the mayor is vocally open to reopening the stairs under his circumstances. Dozens of people, however, routinely hike up the stairs every day. As recently as early December, 2013, a guard had been posted at the base of the stairs; however, the guard frequently had not been there in the early months of 2014 and a small tent which had been erected for the guard to use had been dismantled in early February, 2014.

Despite it being illegal, many people hike up the Haiku Stairs on a regular basis, stating that there is a "beautiful view" of O'ahu at the summit. There are approximately 4,000 steps up the stairway to heaven leading into the clouds. Many of the locals however, have shown their annoyance at the amount of tourists parking their cars on the streets and making a disturbance early hours in the morning, because this was usually the only time that the guard wasn't there, and climbing early would ensure seeing the sunrise at the summit.

 

Video Courtesy: Thomas Fisker Engbjerg

 

 

-Rick DeLuca

 

Rick

 

https://www.facebook.com/RickDeLucaWeather

Weather Blog: Today's Storm Threats

From Jude Redfield...

    Scattered storms keep developing throughout the day. Locally heavy rain will occur with quite a bit of lightning. Severe weather is not likely, but an isolated severe storm is *POSSIBLE*  Even though the jetstream is not involved, pulse style storms can quickly form and often quickly die. When these storms collapse they put down gusty winds...SOMETIMES reaching severe criteria. Where these storms get going don't be surprised by rain amounts exceeding 1"  Unless the forecast changes it doesn't appear everyone will see rain. Rain chances approach 60% which is better than nothing. Hopefully you get the lawn watered for free because we are right back to dry weather Thursday & Friday.

    The cold front moves south late tonight end our rain and storm show. This cools us down tomorrow, lowers the humidity and brightens the blue in the sky. We are back to much better air quality for the rest of the week. Rick, Marc and Jeremy will have radar updates during the rest of the day. -Jude Redfield-

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07/22/2014

Storms Are Possible On Wednesday... My Analysis Of The Severe Weather Risk!

We will see a cold front arrive in the afternoon on Wednesday and that front is likely to spark some t-storms. In a hot and humid summer airmass, I know a lot are wondering if this could produce severe weather. In tonight's blog, I have a full analysis of the severe weather threat!

 

 

Storm Prediction Center Severe Weather Risk For Wednesday

 

SPC has avoided placing us in a severe weather risk on Wednesday, but they have now included some low end severe weather probabilities for Wednesday. Let me show you their latest.

 

SPC Categorical Risk Of Severe Weather Wednesday

Notice has our entire area in the "general t-storm" risk for Wednesday.

 

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SPC Probabilistic Risk Of Severe Weather Wednesday

Notice SPC has a 5% chance of severe storms on Wednesday. This is to cover for "pulse" type severe storms meaning they do not see an organized severe weather threat.

 

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My Thoughts On Our Severe Weather Risk On Wednesday

 

To get organized severe weather, we traditionally need specific ingredients present. Since we don't analyze severe threats all the time in the summer, I want to refresh you quickly on the ingredients I look for when assessing whether a severe weather event could occur. All three of these items need to be present for large scale organized severe weather events.

 

Severe Weather Ingredients

 

Forcing

The forcing on Wednesday will come from a cold front moving across the area. This is a solid front with much cooler air behind it, so the forcing should be sufficient to fire some storms in our area.

 

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Wind Energy / Instability

The wind energy and instability can be combined on a single map showing instability / bulk shear. Bulk shear is a pretty simple value that allows us to look at the maximum wind speed in the mid levels of the atmosphere. In my experience, we need at least 35 knots / 40 mph to support organized severe weather in our area. If the wind energy is weaker, the storms never can mature long enough to produce widespread severe weather.

 

The data suggests instability is more than sufficient, but the winds are pathetic. They are not just weak, but nearly non-existent on Wednesday at about 5 - 10 mph.

 

NAM CAPE 1

 

 

My Thoughts On Severe Weather Chances Wednesday

 

The data has been consistently showing solid instability for storms on Wednesday. There really is no question that it will be favorable for severe weather. There is also enough forcing to fire storms and I don't see an issue there either. The wind energy is the limiting factor. It is not just weak, but most of the data suggests you could run faster than the mid level winds. Wind energy is so important because it acts as a mechanism to evacuate rain above the updraft which effectively is the lifeline of the storm. As the rain accumulates above the updraft, it gets heavier and heavier. Eventually the rain becomes so heavy that the updraft cannot support the weight and collapses in a process referred to as "precipitation loading".

 

Precipitation Loading

 

Precipitation loading means that each individual storm won't last that long and can never mature to the point where it can produce widespread, organized severe weather.

 

AdvanceTrak seems to have a very solid handle on this system. Notice the storms are scattered and you just don't see a lot of the intense core colors (dark purple / black / white). AdvanceTrak supports the idea of only an isolated severe threat at best. It also gives a very realistic timeline so you know when to expect the storms. Notice the timestamp on the top right part of each image.

 

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If there was any isolated severe weather, damaging winds with frequent lightning would be the main threats.

 

 

 

 

 

Remember it is Summer storm season and if you want to be one of my storm spotters, you can join me on my facebook or twitter page. Just follow the link below and click "like" or "follow".

 

If you ever have any question, please remember I can be reached on facebook or twitter easily! Just follow the link below to my facebook or twitter page and click "LIKE/FOLLOW"!

 

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The Door to Hell!

More than four decades ago over a remote part of the Karakum Desert, located in the far southern part of the former USSR, a fiery crater opened up and has been burning continuously ever since.  

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What makes this fiery crater so unique is that it's not volcanic, and it's not entirely natural either.  

The Darvaza gas crater or “The Door to Hell” is a 230 foot wide burning hole in the earth located approximately 250 miles east of the Caspian Sea in modern day Turkmenistan. 

Map door to hell

It's formation started in 1971 when geologist from the former USSR identified the area as a substantial oil field site.  Soviet petrochemical engineers proceeded to set up a drilling rig and started drilling operations at the site when the ground gave way.  The drilling rig dissappeared into the newly formed crater.

Fortunately no lives were lost in the incident, but large quantities of methane gas started leaking into the air posing a serious environmental problem and a potential danger to those in nearby villages.  Fearing the release of more gas into the atmosphere, the engineers decided to light it on fire.  

The remaining gas was expected to burn up in a matter of days or a few weeks.  However, more than 40 years later, the gaseous pit is still burning!  

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On a dark night, the glow of the fiery crater can be seen from miles away and the smell of burning sulfur can be detected from a distance that becomes quite strong as you near the hot edge of the crater.

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The Door to Hell has become one of Turkmenistan's few tourist attractions as it draws hundreds of adventure seekers each year out into the Karakum desert where summer temperatures can reach a blistering 120° without the help of the oversided Darvaza fire pit!

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In April 2010, the president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the site and ordered officials to find a way to put out the blaze for fears that the fire would draw off gas from other nearby drilling sites potentially damaging Turkmenistan's vital energy exports. 

In an effort to energize the country's economy, Turkmenistan plans to increase its production and export of natural gas to portions of Europe and Asia in the coming years.

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The Karakum Desert, where Darvaza is located, has one of the largest gas reserves in the world.

No word on when the famous Darvaza fire will be put out.  

 

The Derweze (Darvaza) area in Turkmenistan is rich in natural gas. While drilling in 1971 geologists accidentally found an underground cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 70 meters. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn the gas. Geologists had hoped the fire would go out in a few days but it has been burning ever since. Locals have named the cavern The Door to Hell.

 

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Weather Blog: Drenching Downpours For Some

From Jude Redfield...

    Air quality alert today with afternoon feels like temps near 100.  Much needed rain arrives *FOR SOME* tomorrow. It does not look like a 100% chance, rather a 50%-60%.  Where it does rain it's going to pour, but you know how that works...hit or miss. Our severe weather risk is very low tomorrow. The howling jetstream that would help fuel the potential for widespread damaging wind is not even close to us. Other than an isolated severe thunderstorm or two don't expect much in that department. Hopefully you get the rain because we go right back to a dry pattern Thursday and Friday.

    A jab of cooler, less humid air arrives Thursday and Friday before a warm rebound this weekend. That is short lived as the 3rd invasion of autumn-like chill arrives for the end of the month and start of August. Hard to believe we could have 3 of these chilly (low humidity) events in what is supposed to be the hottest month of the year. Gotta love the weather! :):):):)   -Jude Redfield-

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07/21/2014

Are You Ready For Some Chilly July / August Weather? Wait Until You See What Is Coming...

The pattern this July has resulted in below normal temperatures re-occurring over and over again. While it will heat up in the next couple of days, the medium and long range data suggests a big time cool down approaching our area. The question is... FACT or FICTION?

 

A Discussion Of The Cool Weather Pattern

 

This has been a very interesting 9 months. We got locked in a very cold pattern this last winter and, to be honest, this pattern has re-emerged even during the hot summer months. We have a drought to our west which meant heat still had to be a part of our summer, but watching these cool spells has been extremely interesting.

 

The genesis of this pattern this winter and right now has been persistenting blocking weather systems over the north Atlantic and Europe. Right now we have a brutally strong blocking weather pattern over Europe. This is a combination of a powerful "high over low" and a modified omega block. Notice how the jet stream resembles the greek letter omege "Ω".

 

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This is quite frankly a POWERFUL block. The result has been a cascade effect across the Atlantic into Canada and the US. The block means storms are not going to move... at all. Watch this storm over central / eastern Canada starting Wednesday.

 

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Ok, let's see if it moves by Friday... nope.

 

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Maybe it will move by Sunday... nope.

 

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When a storm won't move from central / eastern Canada, it means it will be tugging on the colder air in the northern Canada or the north pole and send cool air in our direction. This is an inevitability when a low pressure gets stuck in this part of Canada. By early next week, you can see the result is a very deep dip in the jet stream for the eastern US meaning another invasion of Canadian air.

 

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How Cool Are We Talking About?

 

Understanding the why, let's start to talk specifics. For what it is worth, the record lows next week are in the low to mid 50s and the data is suggesting some of those could be in danger. Here is a look at the highs for the first half of next week.

 

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My Thoughts On Another Invasion Of Cold Air... Fact Or Fiction?

 

I have to be honest, I don't think this is just a possibility but I think it is going to happen. The block over Europe is so titantically strong that the impact across the Atlantic Ocean should create a virtual stand still for storms in the jet stream. Have you ever run up on traffic that goes on for an hour? Sometimes we think, how can the traffic extend SO FAR, but a stop in the traffic flow causes extreme back-ups. This is absolutely no different and we are seeing a traffic jam of storms that leaves a storm in the perfect spot to fire cool air in our direction. This is a cascade of events that will ultimately lead to a cool spell next week. I am not the only one convinced, CPC has pushed "all in" on this philosphy and have a 70% - 80% chance of below normal temperatures in the 6 - 10 day forecast and 8 - 14 day forecast.

 

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In my mind, it isn't if it will get cool, but it is about how cool it will get. Some of the data does suggest near record cool early or mid next week, but I think that is still aggressive at this point. The mid level temperatures are cool but below mid 50s still seems a bit aggressive. At this point, I think 70s for highs and lows in the mid 50s are on the table by the middle of next week... August! What a wild 9 months!!!

 

 

Remember it is Summer storm season and if you want to be one of my storm spotters, you can join me on my facebook or twitter page. Just follow the link below and click "like" or "follow".

 

If you ever have any question, please remember I can be reached on facebook or twitter easily! Just follow the link below to my facebook or twitter page and click "LIKE/FOLLOW"!

 

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Dramatic Dashcam Video of Deadly Rock Slide in China!

This dashcam video from friday afternoon shows people fleeing their cars after the first rocks begin to fall along national highway in Maoxian county, in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Women and children are seen running for cover moments before a flying boulder knocks a person to the ground.  A man stops to help the victim to their feet and walks them out of harm's way.

As the rocks rain down others are left cowering against the mountainside, as pieces continue to pepper the cars below even smashing the window of the car with the dashcam.

Eleven people were reportedly killed in the disaster, with 19 others treated for injuries.

 

 

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Weather Blog: Too Hot? This Will Chill You Out!!!

From Jude Redfield...

    On this date 21 July 1983 → Vostok, Antarctica recorded Earth's coldest surface temperature ever measured by a thermometer: 129 degrees below zero.   **READ BELOW FOR INFO ON WHAT *COULD* BE AN EVEN COLDER TEMPERATURE**

Lowest temperature recorded on Earth


The lowest natural temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth is −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F; 184.0 K), at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica, on July 21, 1983.

****Analysis of satellite data has indicated a probable temperature of around −93.2 °C (−135.8 °F; 180.0 K), also in Antarctica, on August 10, 2010; however, this has not been confirmed by ground measurements. Both readings are lower than the sublimation point of carbon dioxide (dry ice)****

    Awesome videos below to help explain whats going on in the coldest place...

 

 

 

In contrast to the cold we are looking at another wave of heat. Our high temps locally head into the low 90s this afternoon and keep climbing tomorrow. Heat indices on Tuesday end up between 100-103.  What's worse, searing heat or numbing cold?

-Jude Redfield-

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