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Early this morning a massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit the coast region of Chile, South America, causing widespread damage to the area between Santiago and Conception, BioBio, Talca and other regions of Chile.

Preliminary photos from Chile are available here and the Boston Globe has good photos here. Note: these are large and there are many – might be a slow load for some visitors.

Located at 36.1° S by 72.6° W and at a preliminary depth estimate of 55 km, the quake burst generated tsunami warnings across the Pacific. Initial observed tsunami height above mean sea was reported to be approximately 8 feet ( 7.7 feet at Talcahuano, Chile (0653Z), 4.2 feet at Valparaiso, Chile (0708Z).

A tsunami is a wave front moving through the ocean (not on top of) at high speed (450km/hr), resulting from the lifting of a large mass of water by the earthquake. On the open ocean, it would be be barely perceptible, but when it approaches land, the depth of the pulse of wave energy causes it to crash into the rising sea floor, lifting and spilling the top of the wave forward on to the land as a surge of high flood water. Since a train of waves is usually created, the danger from a tsunami may exist for several hours as each wave in the train expends its energy on land, with the first wave not necessarily being the highest.

8.8 magnitude earthquake burst along the coast of Chile 2010/02/27. Click on map for more information

… A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF WAVES AND THE FIRST WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST. TSUNAMI WAVE HEIGHTS CANNOT BE PREDICTED AND CAN VARY SIGNIFICANTLY ALONG A COAST DUE TO LOCAL EFFECTS. THE TIME FROM ONE TSUNAMI WAVE TO THE NEXT CAN BE FIVE MINUTES TO AN HOUR, AND THE THREAT CAN CONTINUE FOR MANY HOURS AS MULTIPLE WAVES ARRIVE.

FOR ALL AREAS – WHEN NO MAJOR WAVES ARE OBSERVED FOR TWO HOURS AFTER THE ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL OR DAMAGING WAVES HAVE NOT OCCURRED FOR AT LEAST TWO HOURS THEN LOCAL AUTHORITIES CAN ASSUME THE THREAT IS PASSED. DANGER TO BOATS AND COASTAL STRUCTURES CAN CONTINUE FOR SEVERAL HOURS DUE TO RAPID CURRENTS. AS LOCAL CONDITIONS CAN CAUSE A WIDE VARIATION IN TSUNAMI WAVE ACTION THE ALL CLEAR DETERMINATION MUST BE MADE BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

ESTIMATED INITIAL TSUNAMI WAVE ARRIVAL TIMES AT FORECAST POINTS WITHIN THE WARNING AND WATCH AREAS ARE GIVEN BELOW. ACTUAL ARRIVAL TIMES MAY DIFFER AND THE INITIAL WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST. A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF WAVES AND THE TIME BETWEEN SUCCESSIVE WAVES CAN BE FIVE MINUTES TO ONE HOUR.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning for Hawai’i.

A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN GENERATED THAT COULD CAUSE DAMAGE ALONG COASTLINES OF ALL ISLANDS IN THE STATE OF HAWAII. URGENT ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY.
[…]
THE ESTIMATED ARRIVAL TIME IN HAWAII OF THE FIRST TSUNAMI WAVE IS 1119 AM HST SAT 27 FEB 2010 (Hawaii is 10 hours behind Eastern Standard Time).

Update: Hawai’i went into full disaster preparedness mode. They closed coastal roads, the US Navy moved ships out to sea from Pearl Harbour, as did many owners of small boats. The PTC anticipated that wave heights could be as high as 10 feet. All coastal areas of Hawaii were believed to be at risk. In the end, wave heights were less than a metre generally.

The two images below are screencaps at about 4:45ff HST of the draw down from the arrival of the first tsunami wave in Hilo Bay, Hawaii. The little beach on the left was flooded on the fill from the first wave. The second picture is a screencap of the fill from the first tsunami wave. As of this posting there have been 4 draws and fills.

Hilo Bay, HI at full draw down on arrival of first tsunami wave

First tusnami fill after previous drawdown. Abt a foot above tide level

View live video feed from KGMB/KHNL Hawaii and from KHON.[now closed -Ed.]

Islands of the Marquesas did report a 6 foot wave coming ashore, and New Zealand reported a 6 foot surge in some areas.

This is the second tsunami warning issued in the past week. On February 23, 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck the Ryukyu Islands in Japan, and on February 18, 2010, a deep magnitude 6.8 quake struck the China/Russian border on the Sea of Japan. Thus far, there have been more than 56 aftershocks greated than magnitude 5 in Chile.

While earthquakes are common around the Pacifc Rim, most have magnitude of 5 or less, and generally don’t cause significant damage or tsunamis.

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While I busied myself with other things, I failed to notice an event going on on the surface of the sun, that would have been visible on my own monitoring pages, had I been looking. Hmmm. In the sidebar there is an “Active Monitoring” list. In this list is where I put topics/events for which there are active elements that are current and constantly being updated from their sources. I have one for the sun here.

WUWT managed to catch this item:

Arrows mark the filament, more then a million kilometers in length

So, check in with SOHO frequently – you never know what you might see!

Hurricane-Like Storm Aims for Pennsylvania to Maine Thursday, Friday
2/23/2010 9:45 AM

A powerful storm of historical proportions is aiming at much of the Northeast Thursday into Friday and will follow up to a foot and a half of snow through Wednesday over upstate New York and western New England.

This second storm will be nothing short of a monster. Even in light of the blizzards earlier this winter that targeted the southern mid-Atlantic,
this may be the one that people remember the most this winter in parts of New England and the northern mid-Atlantic.

At its peak, the storm will deliver near hurricane-force wind gusts (74 mph) blinding snow falling at the rate of over an inch per hour. For some people in upstate New York and eastern and northern Pennsylvania, this may seem more like a “snow hurricane” rather than a blizzard.

Cities likely to be impacted by heavy snow for all or at least part of the storm include: New York City, Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton, Scranton, Allentown, Reading, Williamsport and Burlington.

The storm also deliver heavy rain and flooding northeast of the center of circulation.

The cities of Boston, Providence and Portland may have their hands full with coastal flooding problems.

The combination of wind, heavy rain and heavy snow will lead to extensive power outages and property damage. Where numerous trees and lines are blown down, the power could be out for a week in some areas.

Impacts on travel in the region may be severe. The effects of the storm
will lead to flight delays and cancellations. Some major roads may be
blocked by snow, downed trees or flooding.

Many schools will be closed or have early dismissals.

Blowout tides caused by strong offshore winds from New Jersey to North Carolina may pose problems for coastal waterway interests.

Exactly where this storm forms and tracks will determine whether you
get all snow, all rain, snow to rain or just snow showers. A variance in track of as little as 50 miles will make a difference.

One thing is for sure, most people in the mid-Atlantic and New England will have problems from this storm’s strong winds.

Keep checking in at AccuWeather.com for updates on snowfall and other impacts on this potentially very dangerous, destructive storm.

Story by AccuWeather.com Alex Sosnowski

Additional commentary by Brett Anderson, Accuweather:

My thoughts about the monster storm Thursday into Friday, though the worst conditions will be Thursday and Thursday night.

–Computer models all show a huge storm, but differ slightly on the track and amount of warming coming westward off the ocean.

–This will intensify rapidly Thursday morning along the Middle Atlantic coast, then get drawn northwestward into New Jersey Thursday afternoon and evening, before turning south then east into Friday as it completes loop.

–Big blocking high pressure over Atlantic Canada will trap the storm over New England through early Saturday, but it will peak in intensity Thursday night, then slowly weaken Friday and Saturday as colder and drier air gets wrapped around the large circulation.

–There will be three main areas of strongest winds (Gusts to 60 mph or 95 kmh) Thursday and Thursday night. The first area will be from central and southern Pennsylvania to the Delmarva Peninsula with northwest to west winds. The second area will be along Long Island and out toward Cape Cod with south to southeast winds. The third area will be along the Maine coast and out across the southern half of Nova Scotia with easterly winds.

–The combination of heavy rain, a saturated ground, melted snow could lead to flooding problems from southern New England to eastern Maine and Nova Scotia.

–For snow lovers, what concerns me over the Hudson Valley, Montreal region and into northern new England is the fact that this large circulation will no doubt draw in mild air off the ocean, so there will be a change to rain in many of these areas for a time Thursday, especially in the valleys, which will limit snowfall accumulations. I could even see the snow mixing as far north and west as Binghamton, Utica and Syracuse, NY for a short time on Thursday, but that would be about it.

–A potential dry slot (area where the precipitation temporarily shuts down) is also another fly in the ointment Thursday afternoon and evening across interior New England and perhaps the Hudson Valley.

–This is going to be a big time snowstorm or blizzard for parts of upstate New York and northern/northeastern PA in my opinion, with amounts reaching 2 feet. I think there will be three areas where we could see these amounts…..1. northern Poconos/Catskills region. 2. Adirondacks. 3. Areas due south and southeast of Lake Ontario in western New York. Northern Pennsylvania, north of Williamsport should get dumped on as well. The Laurel Mountains of western PA will have at least 3 days of accumulating snow with the northwest wind blowing.

–I believe a heavier band of snow will rotate all the way northwest and west Thursday afternoon, Thursday night and early Friday, reaching Ottawa, Peterborough and close to Toronto, maybe just a tad east. Under that band we could see blizzard conditions. The Niagara region should also get in on the heavier snow for a time Thursday night into Friday with the strong winds coming in off the west end of Lake Ontario.

–I believe a band of heavier snow will shift into northern New Brunswick Thursday night and Friday. A mix of rain and snow over central and southern New Brunswick.

–The placement of the storm center over New Jersey argues against heavy snow in New York City and surrounding suburbs, but northwest NJ/western NJ may not be as lucky. Close call.

–There is the potential for backlash (wrap around) heavier snow similar to one of the earlier big storms over southeastern PA/extreme NE Maryland and Delaware Thursday afternoon and evening. The combination of wind and snow could make the drive home from work a difficult one at best.

UPDATE 2010-02-26: Back on track. Scaling issue is resolved, now working on calibration. If these are online, they’ll be tagged on the Mosaics page. Initial results look promising. The 10:1 model can have a large margin for error based on the fact that the ratio can actually range from 1:7 to more than 1:10 depending on how wet the snow is, or to say it another way, how cold the atmosphere is. So, 1:10 is a generally accepted approximation. There are other, more complex models, but these are beyond the scope of the software to evaluate.
When viewing the mosaic, the large scale version has an important time and date immediately after the station name at the top of the display. The precipitation products are sample on a “per storm basis” and start at the onset of significant weather and run until there is a definable break in the precipitation.

Storm Total Precipitation is the estimated accumulated rainfall (snowfall), continuously updated, since the last one-hour break in precipitation. In practice, radar operators frequently hold open the register until the storm has completed, as storms of long duration often have lulls lasting more than an hour, and are not reset until the defined storm has moved out of the area. This can result in variable displays. I have to manually input the start time on the mosaic, as there is no way for the software to auto insert it into the mosaic. The mosaic scan itself will show the last update time in Z time (-5 hours EST, -4 DST).

UPDATE 2010-02-24: Well, this isn’t working. Still having a scaling issue. Can’t get it to display as cm of snow, instead still giving the rain equivalent. Might not have the flexibility in the sofware to do the 10x factor. Work continues…

I’m trying an experiment to see if I can produce a screen mosaic for rate of snowfall and projected snowfall accumulation, based on a re-interpretation of the one hour, three hour, storm total precipitation and digital storm precipitation products (in the case of DSP, I just noticed the latest version of my software has dropped the DSP, in which case I’ll insert a reflectivity product such as base reflectivity or composite reflectivity. This will also apply to the rain mosaic as well. I’m awaiting confirmation on the future of the DSP product.)

The presentation uses the familiar 10:1 snow:rain model and the scales have been recalibrated accordingly. The usual display will be in metric to meet local needs, but it is also available upon request in imperial measure. The 1024×768 version is here, and the large version is here. The rest of the mosaic stream can be selected from the “Mosaics” tag in the selector bar on EWR. It should be noted that the mosaics are only populated when there is weather supporting them, due to the high bandwidth requirement.

The only thing missing now this winter is the snow…

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