Iceland’s Bardarbunga Volcano Captured in Spectacular Drone Footage By Allie Goolrick Published: Oct 3, 2014, 9:46 PM EDT weather.comSpecial effects departments step aside: A GoPro camera mounted on a drone has managed to capture mesmerizing footage of an erupting volcano the likes of which we’ve only seen in CGI sequences from Pompeii. Last month, Eric Cheng of drone maker DJI and photographer Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson set out to film the raw fury of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano from a bird’s eye view – and provide a closer look than any human ever has to a fiery, active caldera, Wired.com reports. On September 20, the daring duo set out to film Iceland’s Holuhraun fissure with a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter equipped with a GoPro Hero 3 that Cheng controlled via wireless remote, according to the New York Post. (MORE: Eruption Concerns Spike at Bardarbunga)The drone had to travel over a mile unmanned from where Cheng was positioned and dodge 600-foot-high spurts of lava and molten rocks shooting high into the air, the Washington Post reports. Unfortunately, the camera didn’t survive the trip. „I brought (the drone) in for landing and I noticed that the front of the GoPro had been completely melted, Cheng said in a video for DJI. „Apparently it had been so hot that the camera had melted. Luckily the micro SD card survived and I was able to pull the drone off of it.”The video they were able to extract gives an incredible, up-close glimpse into nature’s fury at its most dramatic. But perhaps equally amazing was the relatively low cost of the technology used to capture the display. „The fact that you can take a $1,000 flying camera and put it in the middle of an erupting volcano to capture wide-angle views of this giant bowl of molten lava, which is exploding and throwing lava 150 meters or so into the air, is pretty amazing,” Cheng said.Bardarbunga started erupting in late August and has continued to spew fiery magma onto the remote surrounding landscape since, according to natureworldnews.com. The volcano is inside Europe’s largest glacier, the Vatna Glacier, beneath the 1,600-foot-thick Vatnajokull icecap, the New York Post reports. So far, the eruptions have been tamer than scientists predicted, but the volcano has still given a spectacular show. MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Iceland’s Bardarbunga Volcano 1 / 18 Iceland’s Bardarbunga Volcano EruptsScenes from the eruption at Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano. (Getty Images)
Simon Strengthens to a Hurricane Off Mexico’s Pacific Coast Published: Oct 3, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT weather.com Strong Typhoon Takes Aim on JapanSimon became the eighteenth named tropical storm of the 2014 eastern Pacific hurricane season off the coast of Mexico on October 2. By late October 3, Simon strengthened into the thirteenth hurricane of the Pacific Hurricane season.(MORE: Expert Analysis | Hurricane Central)Hurricane Simon is embedded in an environment of relatively low wind shear (changing wind direction and/or speed with height typically hostile to developing or mature tropical cyclones), moist air, and warm sea-surface temperatures which should support strengthening for the next few days.Simon is expected to track toward the west-northwest over the next several days, with its center likely to remain offshore of the Mexican Pacific coast. That said, outer rainbands on the periphery of Simon’s circulation will continue to wring out locally heavy rain through early morning Saturday, which could trigger flash flooding and mudslides across western Jalisco, western Sinaloa, Nayarit in western Mexico as well as the southern tip of Baja. In addition, high surf and dangerous rip currents will also threaten coastal areas.At this time, it appears this system is not a major threat to the storm-weary Baja Peninsula. Any possible north to northeast curve in track early next week will take Simon over cooler water and into an environment of increasing wind shear and more stable air, inducing weakening.However, those in the area, including Los Cabos, may see locally heavy bands of rain the next several days on the outer periphery of Simon, which may trigger local flash flooding.Here are the latest status and forecast maps on the system.Projected PathProjected Path The latest forecast path and wind speeds from the National Hurricane Center.Storm InformationCurrent Information So, where exactly is the center located now? If you’re plotting the storm along with us, the information depicted in the map above provides the latitude/longitude coordinates, distance away from the nearest land location, maximum sustained winds and central pressure (measured in millibars). Infrared SatelliteInfrared Satellite This infrared satellite image shows how cold (and therefore how high) the cloud tops are. Brighter orange and red shadings concentrated near the center of circulation signify a healthy tropical cyclone.Visible SatelliteVisible Satellite This visible satellite image shows clouds as they would appear to the naked eye from outer space. As a result, this image will not show any data during local nighttime hours in the affected area. MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Hurricanes From Space 1 / 69Hurricane Igor is featured in this Sept. 14, 2010, image photographed by an Expedition 24 crew member on the International Space Station. (NASA)
October Lunar Eclipse: Here’s Who Will Be Able to See It By Sean Breslin Published: Oct 3, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT weather.com Countdown to Total Lunar Eclipse The second total lunar eclipse of the year is coming, and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see it – if the weather cooperates.It’s expected to peak before dawn on Wednesday, Oct. 8, and will be visible from almost everywhere in North America, Sky and Telescope reports.(MORE: 2014-15 Winter Storm Names Released)
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Hurricane Simon formed on Friday off Mexico’s Pacific coast, bringing further heavy rain and strong swells to Baja California, which was battered by heavy rains last month.The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Simon was about 280 miles (445 km) south-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California, which suffered record damage from hurricane Odile in September.Simon, with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kph), was moving toward the west-northwest and expected to continue in that direction before weakening and turning away from the coast on Saturday night or Sunday.Odile hit the popular beach resorts of Baja California two weeks ago, stranding thousands of tourists and knocking out power.(Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
World’s 1st bullet train, made in Japan, turns 50By EMILY WANG and KEN MORITSUGUOctober 1, 2014 11:04 AMView gallery TOKYO (AP) — It was, retired Japanese railway engineer Fumihiro Araki recalls, „like flying in the sky.”Zipping cross-country in a super-high-speed train has become commonplace in many countries these days, but it was unheard of when Japan launched its bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka 50 years ago Wednesday.The Shinkansen, as it’s called in Japan, gave a boost to train travel in Europe and Asia at a time when the rise of the automobile and the airplane threated to eclipse it. It also was a symbol of pride for Japan, less than two decades after the end of World War II, and a precursor of the economic „miracle” to come.The Oct. 1, 1964, inauguration ceremony was re-enacted at Tokyo Station on Wednesday at 6 a.m., complete with ribbon cutting. The first bullet train, with its almost cute bulbous round nose, traveled from Tokyo to Osaka in four hours, shaving two and a half hours off the 513-kilometer (319-mile) journey. The latest model, with a space-age-like elongated nose, takes just two hours and 25 minutes.Araki, now 73, drove the Shinkansen briefly in the summer of 1967 as part of his training as a railway operations engineer. Last week, he slipped back in time as he sat in the driver’s seat of one of the early model bullet trains at a railway museum outside of Tokyo. He pulled a lever on the control panel, looking straight ahead as he was trained, though all he could see were other museum exhibits.”It was like flying in the sky, it was that kind of feeling,” said Araki, the acting director of the museum. „On a clear day, you could see Mount Fuji, and riding atop the railway bridge at Hamanako lake was very pleasant. It felt like you were sailing above the sea.”View galleryA ceremony is held to mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of Japan’s bullet train between To …___A CONTROVERSIAL PROJECT Japan started building a high-speed line during World War II, but construction was halted in 1943 as funds ran out. The idea was revived in the 1950s, but many questioned undertaking such a costly project, particularly with the expansion of air travel and highways. Criticism turned to pride when construction, financed partly by an $80 million World Bank loan, was completed in time for the Tokyo Olympics in October 1964. The government subsidizes the construction of Shinkansen lines, but the operations are the responsibility of the private companies that run the trains, said Christopher Hood, the author of „Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan.” They are generally profitable, though the companies don’t break out the Shinkansen operations in their financial results.___HOW FAST?View galleryIn this Sept. 24, 2014 photo, passengers get into the Shinkansen bullet train at Tokyo station in To …The first Shinkansen had a maximum speed of 210 kilometers (130 miles) per hour. The fastest trains previously, in Europe, could reach 160 kph. Today’s bullet trains, in Japan and elsewhere, have reached and in some cases exceeded 300 kph (186 mph). By average speed, China has the fastest train in the world, averaging 284 kph on a route between Shijiazhuang and Zhengshou Dong, according to a biennial World Speed Survey by Railway Gazette.___EUROPE, ASIA, BUT NOT THE U.S. The Shinkansen renewed interest in high-speed rail elsewhere, notably in Europe. France and Spain are among the leaders in Europe, and Turkey last year became the ninth country to operate a train at an average speed of 200 kph, according to Railway Gazette. South Korea and Taiwan also operate high-speed systems in Asia. The United States is an exception, though there are proposals to build lines in California and Texas. The fastest train in the U.S., Amtrak’s Acela Express, averages 169 kph (105 mph) on a short stretch between Baltimore and Wilmington, Delaware, the speed survey says.___WHAT’S NEXTMagnetic levitation. Shanghai launched a German-built maglev train in 2004 on a 30-kilometer route between the city and the airport. It can hit 430 kph (267 mph). A Japanese maglev train in development has topped 500 kph (310 mph) in tests. If built, it could reduce the travel time between Tokyo and Osaka to just over one hour. With speed, though, some of the romance is lost. A faster Shinkansen has eliminated its dining car. „The problem is that Japan is such a small country,” said Araki, the retired engineer. „If you go too fast, you’ll get there in no time. No time to enjoy an onboard meal.”_Associated Press writer Noriko Kitano contributed to this report.