Sunday, 31 August 2008
Once Gustav makes landfall, it will probably grind to a halt and start to dump vast amounts of rain on Louisiana and surrounding states. It'll be up to 20 inches.
Once Gustav has disappeared off the weather maps, by the end of the coming week, the USA might be facing another hurricane hazard: Hanna. This is a tropical storm, affected by adverse atmospheric conditions as it approaches the Bahamas. After a jaunt southwest, the storm could well head northwest: into Georgia and South Carolina by the weekend. This is very long term, and the NHC isn't even sure about the short-term forecast for this system.
The program I highlighted earlier in the week, Dateline London, was retimed unexpectedly. The webversion will be available tomorrow.
Another earthquake, measuring 6 on the Richter scale, has struck the region in China that was devastating by a huge tremor in May. 22 people died in yesterday's quake; rescue efforts are hampered by rain.
Gustav has just made landfall in western Cuba with winds of 143 mph. On reemerging into the Gulf of Mexico, it will crank up to sustained winds of 160 mph, gusting to 190 mph. Although slight weakening is forecast as the storm heads across the Gulf, taking a direct hit from a cat 3 hurricane is not pretty.
PLEASE CONSULT THE NHC WEBSITE IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF HURRICANE GUSTAV.
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Cuba and the Isle of Youth should prepare for a storm surge of 14 to 19 feet. I don't want to even think about that. What will happen in the Gulf of Mexico is anyone's guess. Atmospheric conditions and oceanic conditions are not as favourable there as they are right now, south of Cuba, so the rate of strengthening may well level off tomorrow and Sunday.
There is NO reliable indication on the point of landfall, but preparations are on-going along the Gulf coast.
Hurricane Gustav is getting nasty, packing winds well in excess of 100 mph as it heads towards the Isle of Youth off Cuba. Beyond that, it's the Gulf of Mexico and pick your own point of landfall. Your guess is as good as mine, and I haven't got a clue, because the National Hurricane Center hasn't got a clue either. Spare a thought for the poor souls in Cuba, who can anticipate a storm surge of nearly 20 feet when Gustav rolls by.
Hurricane Gustav also brings a lot of rain, 25 inches. Australia, conversely, is suffering from drought. A drought of men. There are more women than men in Australia. Read the article, while I close this entry to avoid making ribald comments.
Friday, 29 August 2008
McCain is superannuated, and in order to counteract that, they've taken on the governor of Alaska - Ms Palin, aged 44 - as deputy. I can't STAND her drawl, broader than the Yukon River itself.
Can a black man ever become president in the USA? I'm extremely cynical and say no. He did get the endorsement of Bill Clint'n - dragged out of Wandering Willy's mouth by a team of a dozen horses. What's the name of his sidekick, Bidet? OMG, I'm sorry, Biden.
Roll on December.
Tropical storm Gustav is grinding across Jamaica with winds of up to 70 mph, close to hurricane force. Once clear of the island, Gustav will really get down to business as it veers northwest across the far west of Cuba - the system may be packing winds of 125 mph by that time. The Cayman Islands will be in the way as well.
Tropical storm Hanna is expected to do something strange - veer southwest towards the Bahamas. Due to the rotation of the earth, tropical systems usually head northwest in the northern hemisphere. There is no indication yet where Hanna will make landfall (if at all); the same applies to Gustav.
A couple of other weather systems are marching across Africa, ready for the conveyor belt across the Atlantic - maybe to become hurricanes as well.
Some archive pictures of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, exactly 3 years ago today. In memory of those who died. In the hope that some lessons were learned.
Hurricanes show the tremendous force of mother Nature and actually serve a very useful purpose. They disperse the energy of the sun which is radiated down onto tropical seas to higher latitudes. Hurricanes are in fact quite small weather systems, albeit intense. The depressions that visit us here in Scotland for instance extend for up to 2,000 miles in winter - wouldn't like to think of the amount of energy contained in them.
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Dateline London is broadcast at 12.30pm on BBC News 24, to be repeated at 2.30am on September 1st. The programme can be watched on the Net for 7 days after Saturday.
Tropical storm Gustav has transposed itself to the west of Haiti, meaning that Jamaica could be in for a nasty surprise in a day or so. A new tropical depression, with the prosaic name of 08L, has formed in the Atlantic, which is expected to become a hurricane in 3 days from now. Where it will make landfall from being 500 miles northeast of the Windward Islands is not known at this point. Hurricane season coming to a crescendo.
I have to add that the panic mode, in which the state of Louisiana is descending, would be ridiculous if it wasn't so potentially serious. How big a typeface do I have to use to say: nobody knows where Gustav will make landfall and there is time enough when they do. Yes I know, tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary of Katrina, but this is daft.
Telling your bank it's pants by doing so in your internet password is not deemed funny. One man has a battle royale with his bank to change his password back from "no it's not". Read more here.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
I've now cleared 50 of the 150 outstanding alerts, will carry on later today. Suppose I'm starting to put some clear water between the weekend and myself. It's a nice clear day in the isles, if a bit breezy.
Hurricane Gustav is a tropical storm, having lost a lot of puff in the traverse of the mountains in Haiti. The storm is getting underway again, heading for southeastern Cuba and Jamaica. It seems likely that the Gulf of Mexico will see Gustav after the weekend.
A computer virus has made it to the International Space Station via someone's laptop. It won't do much harm, but it's a pain.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
The 7th anniversary of 9/11 is nearly upon us, so I have contacted the site-manager for Project 2996, Dale C. Roe, to ask what was doing this year. This was (part of) his reply:
The two years since the first project2996, have been hard on me. Numerous illnesses for me, plus an iffy job market, have really really sapped my time. The biggest stumbling block is that I need a program to automate signups, and allow users to come back and enter in their own URLs for their tributes. I had intended on writing this myself, but for the past 6 months or so I've been working 3 jobs and just haven't had the time.
So again, for this year I'm going to ask people to randomly pick a name and write a tribute and post it on their own blog. Anyone who sends me the permalink, I'll be happy to post it up on the project2996 website. Then for the coming year I'm going to try to give myself a short deadline to try to solve this project. I'd like to get geared up so that things are running well for next year, giving me a solid 2 years before the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
I'll be posting something about this on the project2996 blog in the next couple of days.
Thank you for your continued interest in the project and in remembering our fallen.
Dale C. Roe
The UN says that the production of opium in Afghanistan has dropped when compared to 2007. Fewer provinces now grow the opium poppy, used to produce heroin. Helmand province, scene of operations for the British contingent, accounts for two-thirds of all opium produced in the country.
The Russian government has recognised the break-away regions of Abchazia and South Ossetia in Georgia as independent states. That will really help the situation down there; more to the point, it puts the lie in statements from the Russian government that they are there as peacekeepers. Over the weekend, a US warship docked at the Georgian port of Batumi with humanitarian supplies - it should have gone to Poti, further north, but this port is held by Russian forces, and the Americans don't want a face-to-face confrontation with Russian troops.
Monday, 25 August 2008
On the hurricane front, I need to raise awareness of two systems:
Tropical Storm Julio is heading north up Baja California, and although it is weakening, its pall of moisture is expected to bring 1 to 2 inches of rain to the southwestern United States.
Tropical depression 7 formed southeast of Haiti just now, and will head that way. NHC is forecasting up to 25 inches of rain for Hispaniola. Its longer range forecast is full of uncertainty, and there is no certainty whether Florida is once more in the firing line. Follow the NHC output if concerned.
Sunday, 24 August 2008
I only made the chat quite late last night; I hope everyone that wanted to join was able to, and that a good time was had by all.
Saturday, 23 August 2008
I may not be back on time for the 8pm start of the J-land chat, but do go ahead anyway.
Friday, 22 August 2008
I am pleased that there are now 20 entries in the Anniversary blog, together with more comments etc. Keep them coming in - also don't forget tomorrow's Anniversary Chat in the Journals Chatroom, link on every journal's frontpage.
Repeating the times:
8pm UK, 3pm EDT
11pm UK, 6pm EDT
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Northern Trip became more a view on the world from this corner of Scotland, and a view of Scotland for the world. That's the remit on the header of the blog. I have also made it my business to highlight those in need, something which has now taken off on the Call for Support journal. I have encountered hundreds of different people from America, the UK and elsewhere. Some have come and gone, others have stayed. Sadly, some died. It is a unique community, and one I am happy to be part of. I particularly appreciated this last May, following the unexpected death of my mother.
I hope J-land continues to go from strength to strength, and look forward to its second lustrum in 2013.
Today five years ago, AOL launched AOL Journals, now called Blogs. It was the foundation stone for what we know as J-land today.
Go to the Anniversary Journal and make an entry or comment on this momentous occasion, if you haven't already done so.
Don't forget there is an anniversary chat in the Journals Chatroom (link above every AOL blog) at 1900 GMT (8pm UK time, 3pm EDT) on Saturday 23 August, as well as at 2200 GMT (11pm UK, 6pm EDT) - in fact you can have a J-land chat any time you want in there.
I have just gone through my outstanding 'alerts' (I use a feedreader, not AOL's alerts), so am up to date on that score.
Former rockstar Gary Glitter (real name Paul Gadd) is back in Thailand after being refused entry into Hong Kong. Gadd spent 3 years behind bars in Vietnam for child abuse. Should he return to the UK, he will probably be banned from travelling abroad. More on this story here.
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
The aircrash at Madrid came to my attention shortly after it happened, and the deathtoll has sadly exceeded 150. We can only keep the family and friends of those that died in our thoughts at this time, and hope that the root cause is found soon.
One other thing caught my eye just now: fruit juice can interfere with medication. It is already known that you cannot take grapefruit juice with several medicines, and now oranges and apples are also suspect - a component in them may prevent the absorption of the medicine from the intestine. Before you stop drinking orange juice or cut out apples: ask your chemist first. And, much more research is needed to confirm all these theories.
A plane, operated by Spanair and bound for Gran Canaria has come off the runway at Madrid airport at 1245 GMT today. Seven people are known to have died in the incident, which took place in fine weather conditions.
Received feedback from New Zealand regarding a wargrave from 1926 in the Scarista Cemetery, which I visited last Thursday. They had warned of a waiting time of several weeks, so that was a pleasant surprise. Got some barebone details, which is all I require, but should I want to know more then the price will be NZ$25.00 (just under £10 or US$20).
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Here is the link to pictures from my visit to Crossbost this afternoon. Researched the gravestones I found, with help from local people in the area.
Currently, the main dangers from Fay lie in copious amounts of rainfall (up to 10 inches) and tornadoes. If you are in Florida, please continue to monitor output from NHC and NWS.
The weather in the Western Isles is grey, windy and cool. The mercury is at 15C / 59F, which is nearly 5 degrees C lower than yesterday. It should stay dry though - which is a heartfelt wish of those in Northern Ireland, who have been awash in recent days.
I've studiously ignored the TV show Big Brother for the past couple of years, particularly after a horrendous series featuring Jade Goody opening her mouth too wide against an Indian filmstar. To make recompense for the perceived / alleged slight of racist behaviour, Ms Goody has recently appeared on the Indian version of Big Brother. Yesterday, Jade withdrew from the series after she was advised that she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Whilst hoping that the cancer can be treated successfully in Jade, I also hope that Ms Goody will take the opportunity to use her celebrity status to raise awareness of cervical cancer, and the necessity to take a regular smear test. In the UK, 2,700 new cases of this cancer are diagnosed each year. It is the second most common form of cancer amongst women under 35.
Monday, 18 August 2008
Details of this incident are still coming in.
Highland Council says that public phone booths are essential in reporting incidents or emergencies, particularly in remote areas.
Bad weather has caused a dam breach in the Grand Canyon area, prompting the evacuation of about 400 people on account of flooding.
Tropical storm Fay has claimed the lives of 50 passengers, when their bus was swept away by a river in southwestern Haiti. The storm passed over Haiti on Friday, and dumped vast amounts of rain on the country. Four people died in the Dominican Republic, east of Haiti.
I relay the current warnings: please consult the NHC website for up to date information.
A hurricane watch is in force for the following areas (hurricane conditions possible within the next 36 hours).
Florida: from Card Sound Bridge westwards to Tarpon Springs
Florida Keys: from south of Ocean Reef to Key West, including the Dry Tortugas and Florida Bay
A tropical storm warning is in force for the following areas (tropical storm conditions likely within the next 24 hours)
Florida: South from Jupiter Inlet, and south from Bonita Beach, including Lake Okeechobee.
Florida Keys: south of Ocean Reef to Key West, including the Dry Tortugas and Florida Bay
A tropical storm watch (meaning that tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 36 hours) is in force in the following areas:
Florida: North from Jupiter Inlet to Sebastian Inlet
A second tropical cyclone merits monitoring at this stage, this time east of the Philippines. Tropical storm Nuri (Karen) is heading straight for Luzon Island, and will be a category 1 to 2 strength typhoon by the time it reaches there on Wednesday. ThePhilippines authorities have raised signal number 1 (lower tropical storm strength), and are issuing updates on a 6-hourly basis.
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Hurricane Local Statements have been issued from the NWS offices in Key West, Miami, Melbourne and Tampa Bay. If you are in the areas concerned, please read these statements and keep abreast of updates on them.
Do we see an echo of this, and the 1956 invasion of Hungary now in Georgia? The times, like I said last week, when the USSR did not tolerate dissent around its borders? I am sorely tempted to say 'yes', in spite of all the rather empty sounding reassurances from Moscow. Condoleezza Rice's statements to me echo of 1938, when Neville Chamberlain did a successful exercise in planting his head in the sand in the face of aggression from Adolf Hitler. I don't like what's happening there.
Looking at the Hurricane Local Statement for Key West, a mandatory evacuation for visitors is underway since 8 o'clock (local time) this morning. People in mobile homes and/or in low-lying areas may also be mandated to evacuate to safety. High-profile vehicles should be out of the Keys by midday Monday.
The statement for Miami does not appear to indicate immediate action at this stage, but urges preparedness. Please read through it carefully, and keep up to date with the latest version of it.
It should be stressed that only official government advice should be followed (such as disseminated through NHC) - rumours will be rife at this point in time.
I summarise the watches and warnings currently in force across southern Florida:
A hurricane watch (hurricane conditions possible within the next 36 hours) is in force for the Florida Keys from south of Ocean Reef to Key West, including the Dry Tortugas and Florida Bay; and along mainland Florida from Card Sound Bridge westwards to Bonita Beach.
A tropical storm watch (meaning that tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 36 hours) is in force along the southeast coast from Ocean Reef northward to Jupiter Inlet and for Lake Okeechobee.
These are reviewed every 3 hours, next update due at 0800 EDT. Please follow any advice given by NHC or local government agencies, and review your hurricane preparations NOW.
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Friday, 15 August 2008
A tropical storm warning is in force for the following areas (tropical storm conditions are likely within the next 24 hours):
Dominican Republic: Entire north coast, and for the south coast east of San Pedro de Macoris.
Haiti: northward from Gonaives
Cuba: provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma
Bahamas: Southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, the Ragged Islands as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands.
A tropical storm watch (meaning that tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 36 hours) is in force in the following areas:
Cuba: provinces of Holguin and Las Tunas
Bahamas: Central Bahamas, including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.
Don't forget the lunar eclipse tomorrow - not visible in the US unfortunately. In the UK, there will be a partial eclipse, starting at sunset, i.e. moonrise. Up here in northern Scotland, sunset is at 9.10pm. Further south, it's a lot earlier.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
At Tarbert, the usual posse of tourists joined the bus, filling it up to capacity. We were dropped off at the church at Scarista, where I photographed more wargraves, including several private ones. By this I mean family gravestones, which refer to death by war. Trying to find access to the beach was tricky, and curtailed our time there - the return bus was due at 1.45. It delivered us to Stornoway at 3.30.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Luskentyre is a small village, some 10 miles southwest of Harris's main town, Tarbert. The hamlet is strung out along a river estuary, which merges into an area of stunning sands. When I turned up, it was 11.30 am and sunny. I made my way down the road and had lunch in the dunes. Then it was a hop down the beach, which overlooks the island of Taransay (infamous for the Castaway 2000 project) and the west coast of South Harris.
My primary objective was to photograph more wargraves in the local cemetery, but it had eluded my attention (and memory) that Luskentyre has two graveyards. The second cemetery had 4 wargraves in it; the first one, nearest the beach, was too recent.
I had wanted to sit by the beach, but the midges were ferocious at times of no wind.
Also, it started to rain, and I got pretty wet on my way to the bus shelter. Bus stops do not exist here, you just flag down the bus. Service W10 was 15 minutes late, as the driver had to do the tourist thing, stopping at all the beaches and letting people off to take pictures. Some intrepid souls are reported to have taken a bath in the sea at such points. If I say that water temperatures at this latitude are 12C / 54F, would you be tempted?
As I kicked my heels at the Luskentyre road-end, a woman came jogging out of the village and headed up the main road towards Tarbert. She was chaperoned by two dogs. An hour later, as I left Tarbert for Stornoway, the same lady appeared in the village main street - she had covered the 8 miles in an hour on foot. The A859 road is pretty busy (by Hebridean standards), and whenever a vehicle appeared, she had to get self and dogs off the road.
I returned to Stornoway at 5.15. The driver had to stop to answer a mobile phone call, and also to drop off people at various points along the way - in other words, he was 10 minutes late.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Georgia has been beset by two separatist movements within its borders, aided and abetted by the administration up in Moscow. The region of South Ossetia has seen its citizens being issued with Russian passports, providing a pretext for Moscow to mount a full-scale military invasion of the area, leaving thousands dead and tens of thousands displaced. It was not until an intervention by US president George W. Bush (characteristically late) that Moscow backed off, with troops withdrawn from South Ossetia.
Georgia is led by a president who aims to join NATO, and had the country been a member of the alliance, it would have precipitated a direct confrontation between the USA and Russia. An extremely dangerous scenario. Membership of the alliance, with the on-going unrest in mind, seems only a remote possibility at this stage.
Russia's government deserves to be censured in the strongest possible terms for endangering security in an already unstable area (there is a simmering conflict between Georgia's southern neighbour Armenia and Azerbaijan), and I hope they are dissuaded from mounting any further adventures in neighbouring countries whose politics they dislike.
Georgia has left the Commonwealth of Independent States (which encompasses Russia and the former constituent republics of the USSR).
Kept a quiet afternoon, catching up with some local history work among other things.
Lunch was salted mackerel - very nice, but the milk and tatties were absolutely necessary. At 2.50, the bus left for Tolsta, and we went for a flying visit to Garry Beach. Unfortunately, the tide was in, and we had a bus to catch back to SY. Had we missed the 4.45, it would have meant a 2-hour wait.
Weather started off a bit iffy, but the sun came out and the mercury made it to 18C / 64F. Looked outside a minute ago, and if you look south at midnight, you'll see a bright star. That's actually the planet Saturn, and a pair of binoculars will show the rings.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Saturday, 9 August 2008
In the afternoon, our trip went by car to Great Bernera, and in particular the beach at Bosta and the Iron Age House. The lady guide was able to give us 10 minutes' worth of explanation, after which she hurried to catch her bus home. Bosta is a beautiful beach, and I'll upload photos tomorrow (Saturday) to share the imagery.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
The weather was a bit iffy on crossing the Clisham, but you are in the mountains there, so no surprise. At Tarbert, the bus turned into a tourbus and as we hared south, the driver pulled over at regular intervals for a photography break. This was to view Luskentyre, Horgabost, McLeod's Stone and Scarista beach. At Rodel we had the grand total of 12 minutes to race round St Clement's Church. I also located 5 wargraves, which I duly added to my collection. At 1pm sharp, we made for Leverburgh, 4 miles to the west, where we disgorged the 21 tourists; us two changed buses to return to Tarbert along the eastern side of the island. The main route passes along the western shores. Had the southbound service kept up a brisk 50 mph pace, the northbound service turned into a dizzying 45 mph race around sharp hills, sharp bends, up and down, left and right - without much of a break. We left the wee bus in Tarbert with a distinct feeling of vertigo. It was a stunningly beautiful journey though.
On returning to Stornoway at 3.30pm, we went for a cuppa. Dinner was fish & chips.
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
We duly set off by bus to Ness for a walk down the coast from the Butt of Lewis to Aird Dell, a distance of a good 7 miles or so. The weather today has cooled down even further, and the force 5 northeasterly felt decidedly cold when the sun was away. It has been quite a while since I ventured along the coast south of Swainebost, and I did feel my muscles.
You'll have to forgive me for not following entry alerts for the next 7 days or so, as I only have a wee while in the late evening to do my Internet activities. I will keep y'all posted regarding our outdoor forays.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Upper Texas has taken delivery of tropical storm Edouard, which was a notch or two below hurricane strength; 55 knots (65 mph) were the strongest sustained winds on landfall at the McFaddin Nature Reserve. The storm is moving into central Texas where it will dump a lot of much-needed rain. Edouard disrupted oil production and deliveries.
Germany's WPC's are being issued with bullet-proof bras. Ordinary bras, when struck by a bullet, would have their wiring pushed into the underlying tissues, causes serious injury. Read more here.
Monday, 4 August 2008
Pity the site couldn't manage better feedback than: "You haven't done anything".
Sniffer dogs were brought in to search for survivors who might be buried underneath the rubble. The nearby towns of Maubeuge, Neuf-Mesnil and Boussieres-sur-Sambre were also affected, although the damage there was not as extensive as in Hautmont.
The tornado struck at around 11pm last night. Further pictures here.
The Russian author Alexandr Solzhenitsyn has died in his home country, aged 89. He was famous for exposing Stalin's gulags (hard labour camps), and left for the West in the 1970s. Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia in 1994. Tributes have been pouring in from inside and outside Russia.
When you're out on the beach with your children, please keep an eye on them when they dig deep holes or tunnels under the sand. A 16-year old died when a sand tunnel collapsed on him on a beach in South Wales
Sunday, 3 August 2008
Tropical storm warnings are in force from the Mississippi delta west towards Intracostal City (tropical storm conditions likely within 24 hours), with a watch in place from Intracostal City west towards Port O'Connor, Texas. Here, tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours.
Please monitor output from NHC at 3-hourly intervals, as well as local hurricane statements, which are likely to be introduced later this evening.
The mountain is located in the western Himalayas, on the border between Pakistani controlled Kashmir and China. K2 stands 8,611 meters above sealevel, that's 28,251 feet. It has only been climbed by a few hundred people, and has claimed dozens of lives.
The highest mountain I have ever ascended is a very easy peak called the Sparrhorn, some 7 miles north of Brig in Switzerland, which stands 3,011 meters (10,020 feet) above sealevel.
Saturday, 2 August 2008
No comments alerts or private journal entry alerts all day. Great.
I make overseas phonecalls, and I did a little market research on mobile phone charges for those calls: varying from 5 to 90p a minute.
Are you a UK citizen or resident, and do you feel that hospital care for military service personnel, wounded in the line of duty, leaves room for improvement? Have a look at this on-line petition to the Prime Minister - needs signing before August 19th. Sorry, UK only.
I'm off to an exhibition later this afternoon, will post photographs either tonight or tomorrow.
Friday, 1 August 2008
Have been keeping myself busy with an Internet proof-reading site Distributed Proofreaders. This site, pointed out to me by Lori, is run by volunteers, and intends to turn scanned books into e-books. Anyone can participate - have a look.
So Radovan Karadzic didn't like the witchhunt? Well, he should reckon himself lucky not to have suffered the fate that would befall many a witch in the Middle Ages - being burned at the stake.
MV Muirneag returned to Stornoway, after being away for 5 days for repairs following her grounding last Friday. Thursday was an overcast day, and occasional drops of rain fell. It felt quite warm (for our parts) with the mercury at 21C / 70F.
A horror story in the news this morning from Canada, where a passenger on a long-distance coach was murdered, then decapitated in an apparently unprovoked attack. The other passengers fled the coach, and kept the culprit inside by barring the door. Police have taken a suspect into custody.