A New Hurricane Forecast Says to Expect a Lot of Severe Storms This Year
- In April, AccuWeather released its 2019 Atlantic hurricane forecast for the upcoming season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.
- A below-average season was originally predicted, but now researchers at Colorado State University suggest we may see as many as 12 more storms this year.
Summer means longer days, more outdoor time, and…hurricanes. Yep, the official start of Atlantic hurricane season kicked off June 1, and if the predictions are correct, we have a handful of tropical storms still to come.
As evidenced by Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence, 2018 saw its fair share of severe weather, raking in 15 storms and eight hurricanes. When AccuWeather released its first forecast for 2019 in April, it predicted 12-14 tropical storms, adding that 5-7 of these storms could have hurricane potential. Two-to-four had the possibility of developing into major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5).
Researchers at the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project, however, predicted a slightly below-average season, with 13 storms and 5 hurricanes. But in August, the CSU team released an updated forecast, and, unfortunately, they’ve increased their original numbers.
Though AccuWeather claims the first few weeks of August will see a „lull,” the peak is still to come—and it may bring an additional 12 named storms. According to the CSU site, „Of those, researchers expect six to become hurricanes and two to reach major hurricane strength.”
If CSU’s updated findings are correct, that comes out to 14 storms, and seven hurricanes for the entire season (including Hurricanes Andrea and Barry from earlier in 2019). The original prediction of two major hurricanes remains the same.
Updated seasonal #hurricane forecast from @ColoradoStateU continues to predict near-average season: 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. These numbers include Andrea and Barry that formed in May and July, respectively.https://tropical.colostate.edu/media/sites/111/2019/08/2019-08.pdf …
So, where does this insight come from? Forecasters have been pulling data from past years that show similar weather patterns (AKA analog years). This year, for example, bears resemblance to 1969 weather-wise, during which the Category 5 Hurricane Camille wreaked havoc on the Gulf coastline.
That doesn’t necessarily mean another natural disaster of equal caliber will make a comeback in 2019, but it does indicate that intense weather is a high possibility. „This year, at least the climate pattern has the capability to produce several very strong storms and so people should not let their guard down,” explained AccuWeather Atlantic Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski. He added that „just about all coastal areas look like they have equal chances” in the upcoming season.
All in all, no matter how the tropical weather pans out, Kottlowski advises that everyone living in hurricane-prone areas generate a safety plan. Stock up on storm essentials ASAP!
HONOLULU (AP) â€” Scientists have discovered that a growing pond of water inside a Hawaii crater is being heated by Kilauea volcano.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday that temperature readings taken over the weekend show that a growing pool of water in Kilauea volcano’s Halemaumau crater, the former home of a popular lava lake, is about 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius).
For the first time in recorded history, the presence of water in the crater was confirmed last week. Since then, scientists have found two other small pools of water nearby.
The crater floor collapsed about 2,000 feet (610 meters) and the lava lake disappeared last summer as Kilauea stopped erupting for the first time in over 30 years.
USGS geologist Matt Patrick told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it’s hard to determine how deep the magma chamber is beneath the bottom of the crater floor where the water was found.
„I don’t think it’s possible to really determine too much about how deep the magma is below,” Patrick said. „There’s always a lot of gas coming through the surface, also a lot of sulfur output so that is kind of heating it and mixing in with the water.”
One of the first things researchers hope to do is gather samples of the water so they can determine its composition and possibly better understand what’s happening underground.
The bottom of the crater, which has long been the main conduit for Kilauea’s erupting lava, is now below the water table, officials said last week.
The area is inaccessible and dangerous because of pooling gases and other hazards, so researchers will likely use a helicopter to lower a bucket into the bottom of the crater to collect water samples, Patrick said.
USGS geologist Janet Babb said observations made Tuesday show the water level continues to rise and the three ponds are starting to merge into one. A small pond was first spotted on July 25 and the water has continued to rise since.
In certain circumstances, underground magma interacting with groundwater can create explosive eruptions.
USGS researchers say an eruption is not imminent and the public alert level for the volcano has not changed.
Historically, Kilauea has gone through long periods of explosive phases that have lasted hundreds of years. The volcano then goes through phases of slower, so-called effusive eruptive periods. Kilauea has been in an effusive state for about 200 years.
Geologists also took video of steam rising from the pond.
USGS set up a webcam to monitor the water inside Halemaumau crater and will continue to make observations and watch for changes.
Follow Associated Press Hawaii correspondent Caleb Jones on Instagram and Twitter @CalebAP .
Britain is bracing itself for „unseasonal” heavy wind and rain this weekend that has sparked danger to life warnings for parts of the UK, as well as yellow weather warnings for London.
Much of the UK will be sunny tomorrow with relatively light winds, bringing temperatures of low 20s for most of England and Wales but high teens for Northern Ireland and Scotland.
However, a band of cloud and rain coming from the south will creep in on Thursday, drenching the Channel Islands and the southern counties with showers.
Forecasters said it was a sign of „things to come” as the cloud is linked to an area of low pressure that is connected to wet and „unseasonably windy weather”.
It will move in Thursday night and through Friday with the Met Office issuing weather warnings.
Met Office spokesman Oliver Claydon said: „This unseasonable weather is due to an area of particularly low pressure from the Atlantic.
„Thursday evening is when it will hit and then it will move northeastwards from Friday through Saturday, reaching Scotland and northeast England Friday evening.
„There are two parts to this weather front which is the high winds and also thundery showers.”
The Met Office said the weather front is the kind that is normally expected in autumn and winter.
They added: „It is very unusual for wind to be this strong at this time of year. Especially with trees in full leaf, it means it could impact more.
„Winds will reach 40mph inland but the southeast coast, and around Bristol could see winds of 50mph.
„But London, despite being in the southeast, can expect winds of 40mph.”
Gale force winds could be so extreme this weekend that it has led to organisers of the Boardmasters music festival to cancel the event just hours before it was due to open.
The decision was based on advice from the police and independent safety advisers.
In a statement, the festival said: „The safety of you, the fans and attendees, as well as performers and crew comes first, and the potential risk is too severe for the event to go ahead at this time.”
A danger to life warning remains in place for the River Goyt in Whaley Bridge in the Peak District.
Emergency services are currently battling to prevent the Toddbrook Reservoir dam from bursting.
Cars Submerged in Floodwaters as ‘Terrifying’ Thunderstorm Batters Baltimore with Strong Hail
The heavy thunderstorm struck late in the afternoon and dropped two inches of rainfallon the area in less than two hours, the Baltimore Sun reported, citing the National Weather Service. Along with rising floodwaters, lightning struck a home near the Green Mount Cemetery and started a fire, the Baltimore City Fire Department announced.
The weather service issued severe thunderstorm warnings for Baltimore City and Baltimore County just before 6 p.m. but parts of the city — including Little Italy, Harbor East and Fells Point — had seen significant flooding by 6:30 p.m.
One Twitter user joked that the area, “got a little rain,” showing a completely flooded street with covered cars, roads and sidewalks. Another user tweeted out images of the flooding in Harbor East, showing water levels rising over sidewalks and store entrances.
“If you are waiting for a cab at Baltimore Penn Station it might be a few. Charles closed with flooding,” one user wrote alongside a photo, highlighting that flash flooding has severely impacted public transportation and travel plans.
One video captured the strong winds in Baltimore knocking over people’s umbrellas and slamming into trees. Cars continued to drive through the flooded streets. Another Twitter user posted a video of hail falling into floodwaters.
“Terrifying evening at Baltimore city #Flash flooding# Down pouring rain# severe storms # big sized Hails# lighting # stuck outside for two hrs at the bus stop# scared of driving and drowning,” the user wrote.
Flood warnings remained in effect for portions of the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas, according to the National Weather Service for Baltimore and Washington D.C. Twitter account.
“While the heavy rain has ended, runoff will continue and flooded roads remain,” the tweet read. “Remember to turn around, don’t drown.”
There is a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for several Maryland counties and Baltimore city until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Accuweather reported.
Australia’s energy regulator has launched court action against four windfarm operators, alleging they failed to meet performance requirements during 2016’s statewide South Australian blackout.
About 850,000 homes lost power on 28 September that year, when severe weather conditions led to significant damage to SA transmission lines, causing voltage disturbances. The event heightened a fractious national debate about energy policy.
The Australian Energy Regulator has said a loss of wind generation after the voltage disturbances contributed to the the blackout.
It alleges subsidiaries of the four companies – AGL Energy, Neoen SA, Pacific Hydro and Tilt Renewables – failed to ensure their windfarms complied with a generator performance standard requirement and had automatic protection systems to ensure continuity of supply.
The regulator’s chair, Paula Conboy, said the alleged failures meant the Australian Energy Market Operator was not fully informed when responding to the system-wide failure.
“The [regulator] has brought these proceedings to send a strong signal to all energy businesses about the importance of compliance with performance standards to promote system security and reliability,” she said.
In an investigation published in December, the regulator said it did not intend to take formal enforcement action over the incident as it believed it would be more effective to focus on “remedial recommendations for improved processes”. It noted the unprecedented circumstances of the blackout.
A fact sheet released by the regulator at the time said the investigation found some instances in which companies did not comply with obligations but they “did not contribute to the state going black” and all key obligations had been met.
In a note attached to its statement on Wednesday, the regulator said that report applied to events leading up to the blackout and the subsequent system restoration and market suspension only. It said the charges related to the blackout itself, which was not the focus of that investigation.
AGL said it did not accept the the regulator’s conclusions, that it had complied with national electricity rules and would “strongly contest” the charges. It said the weather event was a once in 50-year storm and AGL had worked with the SA government and regulators to identify what could be learned from it.
“We are committed to working with the regulator and stakeholders to ensure the integrity of the energy market and the ongoing stability of South Australia’s electricity system,” an AGL spokesperson said.
A market operator report in 2017 found the blackout had been caused by extreme weather, including two tornadoes with wind speeds of between 190km/h and 260km/h. It said windfarms rode out the grid disturbances prompted by the loss of a transmission line, but a protection mechanism in the turbines had triggered a sustained reduction in power in the state. About 450MW capacity was lost within seven seconds.
The sudden reduction in wind power prompted a significant increase in imported power through the Heywood interconnector, which links SA with Victoria. The surge tripped the whole system, resulting in the blackout.
The energy minister, Angus Taylor, said it was important that the regulator enforce market rules. “Our job is to make sure that we do everything we can as a commonwealth government to keep the lights on, and we expect the states to do that as well,” he said.
Conboy said the regulator would seek declarations, penalties, compliance program orders and costs.
A quarter of the world’s people are just a few dry spells away from facing dangerous water shortages, a US think tank warned on Tuesday, with India home to the bulk at risk of running dry.
Seventeen countries face „extremely high water stress” because they consume 80 percent of their available water annually, a situation worsened by more frequent dry shocks tied to climate change, the World Resources Institute (WRI) said.
„We’re currently facing a global water crisis,” said Betsy Otto, director of WRI’s global water program.
New data in WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas showed the lion’s share of the most thirsty countries are located in the largely arid Middle East and North Africa region.
Qatar is the most water-stressed country, followed by Israel and Lebanon.
India ranked 13th among „extremely high” water-stressed nations. But with a population of more than 1.3 billion, it has over three times more people than the other 16 countries combined whose agriculture, industry and municipalities depend on avoiding water „bankruptcy”.
In recent weeks, India’s sixth-largest city, Chennai, was the latest metropolis worldwide to warn its taps could run dry, as reservoir levels plunged.
That followed similar countdowns to water „Day Zero” in South Africa’s Cape Town last year and Brazil’s Sao Paulo in 2015, WRI said.
„We’re likely to see more of these kinds of ‘Day Zeros’ in the future,” said Otto.
The world’s water supplies are threatened by many factors, from climate change to mismanagement in the form of water waste and pollution, Washington-based WRI said.
A high reliance on depleting groundwater supplies – difficult to measure and manage because they are buried deep – is an additional concern, Paul Reig, who leads work on the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, told journalists.
Nearly a third of the world’s fresh water is groundwater, according to the United States Geological Survey.
„Because we don’t understand (groundwater), and don’t see it, we manage it very poorly,” Reig said.
WRI’s atlas ranked 189 countries on water stress, drought and river flood risk in collaboration with universities and research institutes in the Netherlands and Switzerland, using data from the 1960s to 2014.
Southern Rail advised passengers to avoid the station, one of London’s busiest, as they expected delays of up to 60 minutes and cancellations.
Gatwick Express services are suspended, as are trains from Victoria to Dorking, London Bridge and Epsom.
Disruption is expected to continue until 2.30pm, with the rail operator advising passengers to travel to London Bridge instead.
#SNUpdates – Due to a fire next to the tracks, all lines are currently blocked. Those travelling to/from Victoria and Clapham Junction should avoid travel.
Ticket acceptance is in place, full details below
Full details & live departureshttps://www.southernrailway.com/travel-information/plan-your-journey/service-updates …
#SNUpdates – 2 of the fires have now been put out, with 1 still being dealt with at present.
Lines remain blocked between Clapham Junction & London Victoria, please use alternative routes this morning.
Full details & ticket acceptance https://www.southernrailway.com/travel-information/plan-your-journey/service-updates …
Check for service cancellations, engineering works and other possible disruptions on your Southern route.
Fuming travellers were left struggling to make flights amid the disruption.
BBC presenter Tim Willcox said passengers were „seething” as he endured a „nightmare” start to a planned short break in Nice, France, with his wife Najah.
They were stranded on the 5.30am Gatwick Express for 20 minutes outside Victoria, put on another train which was also cancelled, and missed their 7.25am flight.
Mr Willcox said: „Most flights are now either fully booked or have shot up in price or involve stopovers.
„I’m now on a bus, It’s just proving a bloody nightmare. I can’t afford to spend £1,000 on two flights.
„We’ve got car hire waiting, a hotel booked. We’re now looking at flying to Paris and then flying from Paris to Nice.
„There was a complete lack of communication from Gatwick Express, there was a very rude staff member who just wouldn’t answer questions. People were seething.”
Louisa Poulsen said she jumped in a taxi to Gatwick for her flight to Rome after her train was cancelled and has been set back an extra £115 so far.
She said: „I have a wedding to get to, so this just isn’t a case of postponing a weekend away.
„I think I’ll just have to get the next flight out of Gatwick but honestly it’s a lot of extra cash to cover before I get to claim insurance.”
In a statement, National Rail added that commuters should also avoid travelling to or from Clapham Junction.
They said: „In the early hours of this morning Southern received reports from a driver on a passing train of a line side fire between London Victoria and Clapham Junction.
„Emergency services and Network Rail assistance was requested, Network Rail Quick Response team arrived on site at approximately 5.50am, after carrying out initial investigation they have requested a full block of all 4 running lines and a emergency power switch off.
„Emergency services arrived on site shortly after 6am and were dealing with the situation. As of 7.51am all 4 lines have been reopened and services will begin to run through the affected area.”
Tickets can be used on other operators’ services, including Thameslink between Brighton and Blackfriars, Southeastern between Hastings and London and South Western Railway services to Waterloo.
Get your telescopes and cameras ready as space fans are in for another celestial treat this month. The Perseids, one of the brightest meteor showers of the year, is set to grace our skies, with the chance to see up to 50-100 meteors per hour.
Every year our skies are lit up by returning meteor showers, from Quadrantids to Lyrids, Draconids to Orionids. If the weather conditions are in our favour and the moon isn’t too bright, it’s possible to see some spectacular shooting stars in action.
But when, where and how can you see the meteor showers of 2019? We’ve compiled a complete guide to the magnificent, must-see sights, which have left mankind awestruck for centuries.
From the science behind meteor showers to the best stargazing spots, here is everything you need to know.
What exactly is a meteor shower?
A meteor shower occurs when Earth passes through the debris stream occupying the orbit of a comet – or, in simpler terms, when a number of meteors flash across the sky from roughly the same point.
Meteors are sometimes called shooting stars, although they actually have nothing to do with stars.
Perspective makes meteor showers appear to emanate from a single point in the sky known as the shower radiant. A typical meteor results from a particle the size of a grain of sand vaporising in Earth’s atmosphere when it enters at 134,000mph.
Something larger than a grape will produce a fireball and this is often accompanied by a persistent afterglow known as a meteor train. This is a column of ionised gas slowly fading from view as it loses energy.
Meteor, meteorid or meteroite?
Let’s get this straight. A meteor is a meteoroid – or a particle broken off an asteroid or comet orbiting the Sun – that burns up as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere creating the effect of a „shooting star”.
Meteoroids that reach the Earth’s surface without disintegrating are called meteorites.
Meteors are mostly pieces of comet dust and ice no larger than a grain of rice. Meteorites are principally rocks broken off asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and can weigh as much as 60 tonnes.
They can be „stony”, made up of minerals rich in silicon and oxygen, „iron”, consisting mainly of iron and nickel, or „stony-iron”, a combination of the two.
Scientists think about 1,000 tons to more than 10,000 tons of material from meteors falls on Earth each day, but it’s mostly dust-like grains, according to Nasa, and they pose no threat to Earth.
There are only two incidents recorded where people reported being injured by a meteorite, including one in 1954 when a woman was bruised by a meteorite weighing eight pounds after it fell through her roof.
When can I see the Perseid meteor shower?
The window for the Perseid meteor shower each year is from July 17 to August 24. Stargazers stand a chance of seeing the shower at any point in this window, however the peak usually occurs between August 12 and August 13, as it will in 2019 and did in 2018.
The shower appears to originate from within the star constellation Perseus – hence the shower’s name. It occurs when Earth passes through the debris stream occupying the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle.
- On April 26, 1986, the core of a reactor opened at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, releasing enormous amounts of radioactive material like corium, uranium, and plutonium.
- In the months after the disaster, workers scrambled to build a covering, or „sarcophagus,” to prevent the spread of contaminants.
- The sarcophagus is now teetering on collapse.
- Last month, the Ukrainian company that manages the Chernobyl plant inked a $78 million deal to tear down the structure, which is now surrounded by a 32,000-ton shell.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
On April 26, 1986, the core of a nuclear reactor at the plant opened during a routine safety test, sending plumes of radioactive material into the air. The explosion and subsequent fires released widespread contamination across Europe, but the most contaminated site by far was the downed reactor No. 4, where the accident took place.
Less than two months after the disaster, about 600,000 Soviet cleanup workers sprang into action to build a „sarcophagus,” or massive covering, around the reactor to lock in radioactive materials like corium, uranium, and plutonium. The process exposed many workers to dangerous levels of radiation, and at least 31 people died of acute radiation sickness.
The covering was designed to be sturdy — it relied on 400,000 cubic meters of concrete and about 16 million pounds of steel — but the construction was done in haste. As workers scrambled to contain the damage without getting hurt, they failed to seal off the building’s joints. They also left openings in the ceilings, which allowed water to enter and corrosion to set in.
Now, the entire sarcophagus has to be dismantled before it comes tumbling down.
The Ukrainian company that manages the Chernobyl plant, SSE Chernobyl NPP, said in an online statement that expert evaluations revealed that the sarcophagus had a „very high” probability of collapse. Only gravity has kept the structure tethered to its supporting blocks, the company said.
So on July 29, it signed a $78 million contract with a construction company to take the sarcophagus apart by 2023.
The construction workers will have to reinforce the sarcophagus while its parts are being disassembled (with the help of robotic cranes). The pieces will then be cleaned and shipped off for recycling or disposal.
Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo
„The removal of every element will increase the risk of shelter collapse that in turn will cause the release of large amounts of radioactive materials,” the company said in a statement.
But any radiation that gets released probably won’t make its way into atmosphere. For the past nine years, workers have been building a 32,000-ton shell around the sarcophagus. Its parts were assembled in Italy, then delivered to the construction site via 18 ships and 2,500 trucks.
The completed shell, known as the New Safe Confinement structure, was rolled into its final location in 2016, at which point it became the largest land-based object ever moved by humans. The structure was revealed to the public in July. It’s expected keep the area confined for another century, giving workers enough time to remediate the site.
Once the sarcophagus has been dismantled, workers will begin the gargantuan task of cleaning up the radioactive waste that still lingers at reactor No. 4. The process will involve vacuuming radioactive particles and clearing out the „lava” mixture that formed when Soviet workers dumped sand, lead, and boron into the burning reactor.
Read more Chernobyl coverage:
NOW WATCH: 12 ways HBO changed the Chernobyl story
Yesterday, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. This was the third flight for this particular Falcon 9, and its mission was to carry the AMOS-17 satellite for Spacecom. While you can watch the full launch stream here , one of the most exciting parts of yesterday’s event came as a tweet from Elon Musk. He shared a quick video of a SpaceX ship catching the rocket’s fairing in a net as it fell from space.
Taking a page from SpaceX’s playbook, Rocket Lab’s CEO says the company will try to recover the first-stage booster of its Electron rocket to save time and money.
“Electron is going reusable,” CEO Peter Beck announced today at the annual SmallSat conference in Logan, Utah.
But Rocket Lab will take a different route to rocket reusability: Rather than having the booster fire its engines for a retro landing on its feet, the rocket core will be built to withstand the fiery forces of atmospheric re-entry and pop open a parachute to slow itself down. Then it would get plucked from the sky by a helicopter flying out from a ship stationed in the Pacific near Rocket Lab’s New Zealand launch complex.
Beck explained that doing reusability the SpaceX way wouldn’t work for Rocket Lab’s “smaller is better” business model. “That takes a small launch vehicle and turns it into a medium launch vehicle,” he said.
The plan for recovering and reusing boosters is a turnabout for Rocket Lab, which has focused on low-cost production of its currently non-reusable, carbon-composite-based Electron rocket and 3-D-printed Rutherford rocket engines.
Referring to an age-old idiom for unlikely behavior, Beck recalled that at one time he promised he’d eat his hat if he went down the reusability road. “Unfortunately, I find myself in the position of eating my hat,” he said today.
The big challenge is to find a way to get rid of the 3.5 gigajoules of energy that are generated during re-entry, which Beck noted is enough energy to power 57,000 homes for an instant. Rocket Lab’s engineers now believe it can be done, based on readings that were recorded during the company’s first seven launches and processed using modeling for computational fluid dynamics.
Beck said the solution will involve “a lot of TPS” – that is, high-temperature materials suitable for a thermal protection system – and aerodynamic decelerators. He didn’t go into detail about those measures, however.
Rocket Lab said the first phase of its reusability campaign would involve upgrades to the Electron rocket that will enable the recovery of the first-stage booster from the Pacific. The booster would then be shipped back to the launch complex for refurbishment.
“Goal 1 is just to get it through ‘the Wall,’ ” Beck said, referring to re-entry.
The second phase would involve stationing a helicopter on a recovery ship downrange from the launch pad. During its post-launch descent, the booster would open up a parachute with a long lead line. The helicopter would rendezvous with the booster, use a specially designed boom to grab onto the line, and bring the booster back to the ship. The booster would then be brought back to shore for refurbishment and reuse.
Beck said the operation could eventually drive the price for an Electron launch below its current $5 million level. But he said the “fundamental reason is to increase launch frequency.” If a booster could be successfully recovered and reused at least once with minimal expense, that would be the equivalent of doubling the rocket production rate, Beck said.
Rocket Lab said first-stage recovery attempts would begin in the coming year, but Beck declined to be more specific about the time frame. He did say that the company’s eighth launch, scheduled for as early as next week, would be equipped with an advanced data recorder system code-named Brutus to guide the design work for future rockets.
Thanks to investments from the likes of Lockheed Martin and Khosla Ventures, Rocket Lab has achieved unicorn status with a private market valuation well beyond $1 billion. But it’s also facing the prospect of increased competition from small- to medium-size launch systems that are being developed by Virgin Orbit, Relativity Space, Vector Launch, Firefly Aerospace and other companies.
Wellington (AFP) – The remains of a super-sized parrot that stood more than half the height of an average human and roamed the earth 19 million years ago have been discovered in New Zealand.
Judging by the size of the leg bones, the bird would have stood about one metre (39 inches) tall and weighed up to seven kilograms (15.5 pounds), according to a report by an international team of palaeontologists published in the latest edition of Biology Letters.
„It could have flown but we’re putting our money on it being flightless,” Paul Scofield, the senior curator of natural history at Canterbury Museum, told AFP Wednesday.
When the bones were found in 2008 no one was certain what they were, and they spent 11 years gathering dust on a shelf until the team looked at them again earlier this year.
„The thought they were from a giant parrot did not enter our minds. We thought it could be some type of eagle until we went back and looked at it again,” Scofield said.
The parrot has been named Heracles inexpectatus to reflect its Herculean size and strength — and the unexpected nature of the discovery.
„Heracles, as the largest parrot ever, no doubt with a massive parrot beak that could crack wide open anything it fancied, may well have dined on more than conventional parrot foods, perhaps even other parrots,” Mike Archer, from the University of NSW Palaeontology research centre, said.
The bird was approximately the size of the giant „dodo” pigeon and twice the size of the critically endangered flightless New Zealand kakapo, previously the largest known parrot.
Evidence of the parrot was unearthed in fossils near St Bathans in southern New Zealand, an area that has proved a rich source of fossils from the Miocene period which extends from about five million to 23 million years ago.
New Zealand, home to the now-extinct flightless bird moa which was up to 3.6 metres tall with neck outstretched, is well known for its giant birds.
„But until now, no-one has ever found an extinct giant parrot –- anywhere,” associate professor Trevor Worthy from Flinders University said.
„We have been excavating these fossil deposits for 20 years, and each year reveals new birds and other animals… no doubt there are many more unexpected species yet to be discovered in this most interesting deposit.”
Last year, scientists found the remains of a giant burrowing bat that lived millions of years ago in the same region.
From the teeth and bones of the animal, which lived 16 to 19 million years ago, it is estimated to be three times the size of an average modern bat and weighed 40 grammes (1.4 ounces).