Japan Snowstorm Dumps Feet of Snow, Kills 11; Hundreds of Flights Canceled By Sean BreslinPublished Dec 18 2014 05:33 PM EST weather.com Severe Blizzard Batters this Island Video footage of a blizzard which struck the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. A massive storm system dropped feet of snow on parts of Japan this week, leading to travel problems and at least 11 deaths.”As of late Thursday night, local time, Tsunan, Japan reported a snow depth of 81.5 inches (207 centimeters),” said weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman. „Seven other locations in western Honshu reported at least 150 centimeters (about 59 inches) of snow depth, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.”(MORE: Will You See a White Christmas? Check Our Forecast)Eleven people have been confirmed dead in the storm. NHK said one Hokkaido death occurred when a car skidded into a utility pole, and the other was a 74-year-old woman who was trapped under a warehouse roof that collapsed under the weight of the snow. The fatality in Hiroshima occurred when a driver got out of his car and was hit by another vehicle, NHK said.News Australia reported an elderly woman was killed when she was hit by a snow plow in Hokkaido, and a 68-year-old man died when he fell off the roof of his home in Niigata while removing snow. In Shikaoi, Hokkaido, a 58-year-old mandied from a heart attack while driving home and was found in his car in a snowdrift, The Japan Times reported. Five more people were confirmed dead by FNN News, bringing the total number of fatalities across the country to 11. About 280 people near the border of Niigata and Nagano prefectures were cut off by a landslide on Thursday, according to a separate FNN report.The storm also trapped three men on Mount Shiraga on the island of Shikoku in western Japan, according to NHK. The report said the men became stuck on the mountain because of heavy snowfall, and a rescue was planned for Thursday morning.Travel was also affected by the big storm, both in the air and on the ground. Some 550 flights have been canceled Wednesday and Thursday, News Australia reported, and dozens of cars were stuck underneath huge snow drifts on city roads.”The current sea-effect snow event should wind down by Friday,” said Erdman. „However, another strong frontal system this weekend could reactivate the sea-effect snow machine in Japan through Monday. Snow cover by early next week could be very impressive in the most typically hard-hit sea-effect areas.”Heavy Snowfall Hits Japan 1 of 10A man removes snow from a sidewalk in Nagoya in Aichi prefecture, central Japan on December 18, 2014 as heavy snow hit wide areas of Japan. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that women exposed to high levels of air pollution in their third trimester of pregnancy could be twice as likely to have an autistic child.The study, published Thursday in Environmental Health Perspectives, shows that the risk of autism rises parallel with exposure to fine particulate matter during pregnancy, Bloomberg reports. Autism is believed to affect 1 in 68 U.S. children, and while the cause is unknown, recent studies suggest that it could start when specific brain cells do not properly mature inside the womb.Marc Weisskopf, a senior author of the study, said that it makes sense for there to be an inflammatory or immune system response when pollution reaches a fetus, and his team is currently investigating biological pathways. He recommends that pregnant women try to avoid exposure to fine particulate matter by not visiting cities with high pollution levels and by staying away from areas with a lot of traffic.- – Catherine Garcia
Earth in Northern California Still Moving Months After EarthquakeBy Eric ZerkelPublished Dec 18 2014 11:15 AM ESTweather.comA Napa firefighter inspects one of four mobile homes that were destroyed in a gas fire Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, at the Napa Valley Mobile Home Park, in Napa, Calif after a preliminary 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Residents of Napa and other areas of northern California rocked by August’s magnitude-6.0 earthquake probably thought the earth had come to a halt when the shaking stopped.But they’d be wrong.New satellite observations from Europe’s Sentinel-1a released at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting Monday show that the Napa Fault is still moving near the surface at a rate of up to an inch „over a couple of months,” and could move 2 to 6 more inches in some areas in the next three years, the BBC reports. The whole process is known as an afterslip. As the name might seem to indicate, afterslips take place after an earthquake because earth closer to the surface has a different composition than that of the earth below and doesn’t react as quickly to the fault slip as a result. „It [the earth at the surface] wasn’t able to slip that suddenly,” Ken Hudnut of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) told the Los Angeles Times. „The fault is stickier — it smears instead of snapping. You can imagine it almost being like, I suppose, silly putty.”(MORE: NASA Satellites Show Dramatic Changes Here)The Sentinel-1a satellite was dispatched by the European Union just as the earthquake — the strongest to hit northern California in more than 20 years — rocked Napa and other communities. Sentinel-1a was designed to analyze Earth’s most volatile tectonic areas by taking imagery at a much more frequent rate than other satellites.The satellite captured imagery of the Napa Fault area every 12 days to come up with the measurements on its surface movement, the BBC reports. Thanks to the satellite, scientists were able to discover the afterslip sooner than ever before. Not only that, but using the satellite, the USGS was able to release a forecast for areas of the Napa Valley most likely to be impacted by the afterslip. This marks the first time the USGS has ever released a forecast for this type of movement, the Los Angeles Times notes. The Los Angeles Times said that forecast calls for the most movement in Browns Valley, California, where 20 homes are at risk for serious damage if the worst case scenario, 6 additional inches of movement, plays out. (MORE: A $50 Billion Disaster Waiting to Happen)Unfortunately, those homes have already repaired damages caused by the August quake, so homeowners will await the next forecast, set for release by the USGS in February, to find out what’s ahead for the earth beneath them. MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Indonesia 10 Years After Deadly Tsunami 2004 Indonesia Tsunami Before/After
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Pacific Northwest Snowfall Friday through Sunday Well ahead of next week, mountain snows develop across the Washington Cascades Friday with a few inches of snow at Pass levels. Saturday into Sunday a more vigorous system will bring a round of heavier precipitation to the region with an area from the Cascades through Bitterroots getting over a foot of snow. Some of the passes could begin with snowfall but as the weekend progresses the snow levels are expected to rise to 6,000 to 7,000 ft. Higher elevations will likely see 1 to 2 feet of snow.(MORE: Pacific Northwest Deluge This Weekend)Christmas Storm Possible For The Great Lakes Through Northeast Models are relatively consistent with advertising a deep low developing across the Great Lakes Region Wednesday, Christmas Eve. This system is tagged for consideration to name. If it were to be named that would probably occur in the Monday to Tuesday time frame. The timing for winter impacts are listed below by day:Christmas Eve The system will circulate warm air ahead of it along the East Coast Christmas Eve bringing a soggy mess to the Eastern Seaboard. From Washington to New York to Boston it will be a cold rain. Farther back to the west across the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest cold air will filter in to produce a snow event. It is too early to determine the exact snow amounts. However, it is also forecast to be windy and the combination of wind and snow will create a travel mess for the Upper Midwest through Upper Great Lakes. The rainfall on the East Coast may create significant travel impacts, especially to air travel Christmas Eve.nlargeChristmas Day Forecast Christmas Day The cold front associated with the system will cross the Lower Great Lakes through New England on Christmas Day and change rain to snow. However by the time the cold air filters in, much of the precipitation will already have fallen so snowfall amounts may not be that significant except for the higher elevations of Interior New England through Upstate New York to western Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, brisk winds could combine with the snowfall to produce travel impacts as well. (POLL: What Cities Will See a White Christmas?) Christmas Storm For the West A system is forecast to race from the Pacific across the Inter-Mountain West and emerge east of the Rockies and spread snow across the Plains in the Wednesday through Thursday night time frame. Model solutions still show a lot of uncertainty with this system. At this point consensus suggests snow developing across the Northern Sierra through Southern Cascades Christmas Eve then spreads rapidly east across the Inter-Mountain West to the Central Rockies Christmas Day. Although it is way too early to get into details, there are suggestions that the track of the Low could be favorable for significant „upslope” snowfall to develop along the Front Range of the Rockies including the Denver area. This system is also tagged for consideration to name and the naming could take place in the Monday to Tuesday time frame.(MORE: Christmas Week Outlook)Forecast: How Much Snow?48-Hour Snowfall ForecastNow: Snow, Sleet, Freezing RainCurrent Winter Radar Where’s the Cold?Current Temperatures2014-2015’s Winter Storm Names
- It is forecast to produce conditions that meet the National Weather Service winter-weather warning threshold(s) over a main population center or multiple states, beginning generally within 48 hours.
- It is forecast to produce winter weather conditions that would be historic, especially unusual, or memorable, beginning generally within 48 hours.
For more coverage of winter weather, check out our Winter Storm Central page. MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Winter Storm Astro (November 2014)Snow in Minneapolis, Nov. 10, 2014. (Twitter/@nweasel)
Your design is drastically different- allowing this gyroscopic effect to be reduced or maybe disappear?That is correct – the counter rotating cylinder group and crankshaft tend to cancel out gyroscopic reactions. It is possible to completely cancel these reactions, but in practice it may not be needed to go that far, preferring to optimize solution for a balance of weight, gyro effects, size, performance etc. The counter rotating parts also accelerate/decelerate in opposing directions during a firing torque-pulse, reducing the associated torque reaction of the engine on its mounts.Can your design allow this to change drastically?The Duke design offers a radically different package shape to conventional engines – a compact cylinder with the output shaft on the central axis, more akin to the shape of an electric motor. This offers a new set of possibilities for design and integration of the engine into a motorcycle chassis – or car/generator or aircraft, for that matter.Can a 1000cc axial motor be built without expensive exotic materials, ie. Titanium?Yes – we currently use titanium connecting rods in our prototype engines, but the use of exotic materials is optional, depending upon the cost/performance trade off sought – just as with a conventional engine.
Can your design allow for an exchangeable gearbox for ratio change? Yes – a conventional gearbox and drive system would be used with a Duke engine.In regards to power delivery and traction, cross plane crankshafts are known to give the rider more feeling from the rear tire. Promoting confidence and grip while accelerating is a big factor when dealing with 160+ HP. To avoid a high-side crash this type of mechanical feature helps the rider from getting his rear wheel spinning faster than his motor (by feeling the tire and his available traction). The 5 cylinder Duke engine fires 3 times/rev of the output shaft – the same as a 6 cylinder conventional engine. The power delivery would be expected to be equally smooth and would allow for better feel/less tendency to break tire traction than the “lumpy” impulsive torque delivery associated with 4 cylinders or less. The 3 fire events/rev also increases torque by 20% compared to conventional engines with the same displacement – Duke 3.0 naturally aspirated prototypes have produced 113 Nm/l, for example.READ MORE: How To Break In a New Motorcycle EngineWhat RPM have you reached with little or no vibration?We have run our 3.0L prototypes up to 4500 rpm crankshaft speed, full load (215 hp and 340Nm), with a full design speed of 6000 rpm; the pistons are moving 20% faster than conventional engines, due to the counter rotating cylinders/crankshaft. Smaller displacement motorcycle engines would be expected to rev much higher. We have not completed vibration testing, but the complete primary balance and negligible secondary vibration offers fundamentally better prospects than 2, 3 or 4 cylinder inline engines. See the “coin trick” of a $2 coin standing on edge while the engine is started, revved, and stopped
What is possible in the future, in a motorcycle engine?Lighter weight, smaller size and a new set of chassis design freedoms. The center of gravity of the Duke engine lies on the crankshaft axis (like a boxer engine or Wankel) – much lower than in a typical “stand-up” inline layout.
Violent Volcanic Blasts Ripped Through Antarctic Ice Sheet Twice By Becky Oskin17 hours ago SAN FRANCISCO — Volcanoes punched through a remote part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet twice in the last 50,000 years, according to research presented Monday (Dec. 15) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.Distinctive layers of brown ash in a deep ice core are evidence of violent volcanic explosions that occurred about 22,470 and 45,381 years ago, near the West Antarctic divide. Their source, however, is a mystery.The closest active volcanoes that rise above the ice are more than 185 miles (300 kilometers) away, said study leader Nels Iverson, a volcanologist and graduate student at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. Powerful eruptions from these peaks have dusted the West Antarctica divide with ash, leaving glassy shards embedded in younger layers of the ice core. However, the ash particles described here Monday are too blocky and coarse to travel long distances, even on Antarctica’s fierce winds. The ash is also chemically different from eruptions at the distant volcanoes. And to draw the circle in tighter, neither ash layer appears in an ice core drilled about 60 miles (100 km) to the southeast. [Fire and Ice: Images of Volcano-Ice Encounters]”It had to be from somewhere close,” Iverson told Live Science. „Ash particles that travel far are shaped like little parachutes. These are like your fists trying to float on air.”Iverson said the rough, glassy shards embedded in the ice are typical of phreatomagmatic eruptions, the spectacular outbursts that occur when lava meets water. This kind of eruption killed 57 people at Japan’s Mount Ontake volcano in September, when water was superheated to steam. Similarly, when lava emerges under glaciers or ice caps, the molten rock melts ice into water and explodes, shattering lava into microscopic bits and flinging ash into the air.Depending on the ice thickness and eruption size, it’s possible for volcanic eruptions to have penetrated the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, said volcanologist Ben Edwards of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study.Blocky ash particles indicate a lava-ice eruption.Magmas such as the basanite (an igneous rock) from the 45,000-year-old ash layer can melt three to six times their own mass in ice, he said. „The key thing is ice thickness,” Edwards said. „Really thick ice makes it more difficult for the magma to explode.”Iverson suspects the volcanic source is buried close to the divide, where the ice sheet is more than 10,000 feet (3,050 meters) thick. There are three volcanoes entombed in ice within about 125 miles (200 km), and even more could be present.Earthquakes suggest magma still churns beneath a previously unknown subglacial volcano in West Antarctica’s Executive Committee Range, which was uncloaked when shaking started in 2010. Gravity and magnetic anomalies hint at nine subglacial volcanoes near the West Antarctic divide, John Behrendt, a geologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder reported today (Dec. 17) at the meeting. Behrendt was not involved in the ice core study.If a volcano erupts under the ice sheet, it could melt out millions of gallons of water, possibly destabilizing major glaciers. However, scientists don’t yet agree on the potential effects of a subglacial eruption.”We’re trying to understand the implications for the stability of the ice sheet,” Iverson said.The West Antarctic Ice Sheet grew up and around an abundance of active volcanoes. For instance, the coastal volcanoes Mount Berlin, Mount Takahe and Mount Siple have erupted some 20 times in the past 571,000 years, according to ash layers in ice cores. Geothermal heating has cooked the bottom of the ice sheet in the vicinity of some ice-covered volcanoes, according to recent studies. For instance, at the West Antarctic divide drilling site, researchers recovered about 70,000 years of ice, not 100,000 years as was expected, because the bedrock was hotter than they had assumed.Follow Becky Oskin @beckyoskin. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+.Originally published on Live Science.
After tsunami, fishermen struggle against tide of tourism in Thailand By Alisa Tang58 minutes agoView galleryHong Klathalay carries gear to his fishing boat as he walks past a tree brought down by the 2004 tsunami …By Alisa Tang THUNG WA, Thailand (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – After the tsunami pounded Thailand’s Andaman Sea coast a decade ago, the ethnic Moklen fishing communities that have lived here for generations buried their dead, fought off land grabs to rebuild their homes, and – surprisingly – sighed in relief.The tsunami had destroyed sprawling seafront luxury resorts that had blocked public access to the sea and had halted the rampant tourism that threatened to push the Moklen fishermen off their ancestral lands in Phang Nga province, north of the resort island of Phuket.In effect, the disaster gave them unfettered access to the shore again and time to pursue their traditional way of life.That post-tsunami reprieve has ended, the Moklens say; tourist arrivals have shot up from 11.6 million in 2005 to 13.7 million in January-November this year – not counting the end-of-year peak holiday season – while land prices have risen tenfold.The Moklens again fear their way of life is close to extinction.“I wish another tsunami would hit, so the villagers could have just a bit more time to live our way of life,” said Hong Klathalay, a 48-year-old community leader in the Moklen village of Thung Wa, as he walked across low sand dunes to his modest wooden boat parked in a lagoon.At the forested edge of the lagoon stands the shell of an ornate traditional Thai ceramic-tiled building that withstood the tsunami and is now overgrown with weeds and creepers.On the side fronting the sea, construction machinery pounds away on a plot of land with new retaining walls and the foundation of a large hotel.“They build a wall on this side, and then the water will push in on the other side. So they’ll build another wall there and fill up the land. Once it’s all walled in, we’re finished,” Hong said angrily, pointing to the construction site.The dark-skinned Moklens – an ethnic group linked to the Moken sea gypsies of the Andaman Islands – live and breathe the sea, with intricately knotted fishing traps and nets stowed neatly in their yards.Phang Nga and Phuket are home to about 4,000 Moklens, who have lived in the region since long before the tourism boom, but most do not legally own the land they live on, according to Narumon Arunotai, an anthropologist specializing in the region’s sea gypsy ethnic groups.Hong Klathalay walks towards his fishing boat in Khao Lak, Phang Nga province December 14, 2014. R …So when the tsunami – which left 5,395 dead and 2,932 missing in Thailand, including more than 2,000 foreign tourists – swept away the Moklens’ bamboo thatch bungalows, the landowners who held the deeds tried to evict them.However, post-tsunami news coverage and human rights research had raised awareness of their land tenure woes, and help from non-governmental organizations strengthened the Moklens’ determination to fight for their rights.“If it weren’t for the tsunami, these people would all have been driven out by now,” said Sakda Phanrangsee, a community activist who has brought the Moklens to the capital Bangkok to voice their woes to government officials.“The tsunami stopped real estate and tourism… but now tourism is making a comeback.”PRIME REAL ESTATE One of the key problems to emerge across tsunami-affected countries was residents’ rights to the land they lived on in.In Thailand, where tourism accounts for about 10 percent of the economy, the property owners listed on land deeds saw their prime shorefront real estate – including the Moklen village of Tap Tawan, north of the Khao Lak resort area and Thung Wa – cleared of residents.Twenty people died in Tap Tawan, 79 homes were destroyed and only five remained standing. The survivors were evacuated to nearby rubber plantations on higher ground.Within weeks of the disaster, the landowner forbade villagers from returning, but the government stepped in and allowed survivors to rebuild. A lengthy legal battle ensued.“We had to go to court two to three times a month, and we were stressed every single time. Once or twice, we were at court until 1 a.m.,” said soft-spoken Moklen community leader Thien Harntalay, 47.“We were scared the investor (landowner) would come shoot us,” he said, sitting on the sandy tiled floor of his cement bungalow while his wife fried the evening’s catch.Four years ago, they reached an out-of-court settlement with the landowner, who agreed to sign over half of his 3.84-hectare plot to 28 villagers, Thien said, clutching a thick stack of photocopies of the villagers’ new land deeds.Now villagers worry about their access to the sea and the area where they park their fishing boats, as land prices have shot up and investors often visit to eye the shorefront properties, Thien said, concerned that new owners will be less forgiving of their trespasses.“In the future, if they sell that land, where will we villagers park our boats?”SHARING THE LAND Local activist Maitree Jongkraijug argues the government has focused only on tourist dollars and neglected the needs of “their own people walking on the land”.“They protect foreigners and treat them like an endangered species,” Maitree said, complaining that beaches once open to the public have been cordoned off by hotels and resorts. “They are protected for foreigners to swim, but we’re not allowed to go in.”Tourism officials in Phang Nga declined comment on the issue.According to anthropologist Narumon, the solution is to ensure the Moklens have a say in the area’s development, though she acknowledges this is practically unheard of.Sakda says the Moklens do not want land deeds, but clear written agreements that no matter who buys the shorefront properties, they will be allowed to park their boats and reach the sea.Sitting next to him, sharing a bowl of fried fish, Thien carefully put the stack of land documents back in the plastic folder and onto the shelf under the television.“Before, if we got a threat, we would up and move… but there’s nowhere left to go,” he said, shaking his head sadly. „This is our land. This is where we were born. This is where we’re from.”(Reporting by Alisa Tang, editing by Tim Pearce)