Category Archives: Environmental Threats

Resorts sue over gloomy weather

holiday resort
A weather website that has forecast bad weather for the next three months of the northern summer is frightening away holidaymakers, resorts have complained. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied
BELGIUM’S seaside resorts are threatening to sue a top weather site they say is scaring away tourists with forecasts of a gloomy northern summer. The resorts slammed MeteoBelgique.be, one of Belgium’s most consulted weather pages, for posting a general weather overview for the three summer months, when most sites only offer a ten-day forecast”It’s very hard to predict the weather so far in advance. So why make people panic?” said Hoorens Geert, in charge of tourism for the Belgian coast, quoted by the Belgian daily La Meuse.The site said in a June blog post the weather would remain erratic over the coming months, especially in late July and early August, after an early northern summer marked by little sunshine and heavy rainfall.

The post included a reminder that “a dry, hot summer in Belgium, if that happens, like in 2003 and 2006, remains an exception that proves the rule.”

“No, we are not in a Mediterranean climate where the summers are warm and rainfall is minor. It’s important to remember…” the weather site wrote in June.

But Belgian resorts say the forecast is chasing away their customers, with the head of tourism at Knokke confirming there had already been cancellations.

“The damage could be significant” on an economic level, Daniel Despiegelaer said in an interview with the public television station RTBF, adding that the coastal resorts plan to talk over the possibility of filing a complaint.

“Our daily tourism totals about 200,000 people who each spend 35 euros ($42). If they don’t come, that’ll mean a loss of five to seven million” euros, Geert said.

Meteo Belgique addressed the criticism on its site, explaining that its seasonal trends “are not set-in-stone forecasts: we could never predict the weather Ostend will experience in one month and three days at 7:20 pm!”

“That said, it’s possible to identify weather trends for that period,” they added.

The site estimates that the reliability of its forecasts “is now close to 70 per cent” for the first month and “between 60 and 55 per cent” for the second and third months.

Maybe with c0ming Earth Changes we will see more & more of this.

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SA town fears return of fire

Bushfire over Flinders Ranges

A forecast wind change could blow a bushfire burning in South Australia’s southern Flinders Ranges back towards the rural township of Wilmington, the Country Fire Service says.

The weather bureau has issued a severe fire weather warning for the area for tomorrow with temperatures to reach the mid 30s and strong wind gusts expected.

More than 200 firefighters and five water bombers are battling the blaze, which has scorched about 8,000 hectares of land.

The bushfire moved towards Wilmington yesterday, prompting the Country Fire Service (CFS) to declare it a threat to homes and lives.

That danger reduced as firefighters battled throughout the night, but the fire continues to burn uncontrolled.

CFS state coordinator Brenton Eden says aerial water bombers were grounded yesterday because of smoke but have today dumped water onto the fire’s north-eastern front.

He says a wind change forecast for around sunrise tomorrow could hamper attempts to control it.

“This fire will continue to grow in all directions overnight until the north-westerly winds tomorrow. They will be associated with we believe 5 to 10 millimetres of rain,” he said.

“However, with all good news there’s a sting – we are facing 11 fire bans tomorrow across the state. All [of those are] severe, including the Flinders Ranges.

“So whilst we have a window of opportunity that goes through until sunrise tomorrow, we have a period of high danger tomorrow between sunrise and the arrival of any moisture over the fire ground.

“It is not likely that this fire will come under control for several days, many days. This will be very much a wind-driven fire.”

He says large fire breaks have been established around Wilmington.

“We have increased the level of asset protection in Wilmington with the arrival of a Metropolitan Fire Service strike team to protect that community,” he said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Simon Timcke says firefighters face a difficult task.

“With those freshening and becoming gusty northerly winds, probably with some fairly dry air as well, it’s the sort of weather conditions that would cause the firefighters some concern,” he said.

But he says some relief may be on the way.

“At some stage during Saturday afternoon, I would expect to see some showers develop, possibly even the chance of a thunderstorm up there and with a bit of luck some rainfall totals significant enough to help them in their efforts in fighting that fire.”

Stock lost

Hundreds of sheep and other stock have been killed, along with native wildlife.

Local grazier Brenton Stevens managed to save his cattle by moving them to a bare paddock but says much of his land was burnt.

“We have two acres left, so we expect the cattle – they’re fat now – but whether they’ll keep fat for the next six months on two acres, one doesn’t know,” he said.

Other farmers were not as lucky, with hundreds of sheep being put down.

Firefighters from around the state have been called in as reinforcements and several roads in the area remain closed.

Total Fire Bans have been declared in eleven of the state’s districts for tomorrow.

Aerial of Flinders Range fire in SA

2011 Hottest year on record for Perth Australia

Audience submitted image

         The Bureau of Meteorology says 2011 was the warmest year on record in Perth and the south west.
Temperatures from 2009 to 2011 are also in the top four hottest years since records began.
The bureau’s Neil Bennett says a hot first three months of last year contributed towards breaking 2010’s record average temperature of 25.3 degrees.
“Certainly, during the year we saw some pretty warm temperatures right the way through and in fact when we looked at the whole year as a total and looked at the mean’s daily maximums, Perth recorded 25.7 in 2011,” he said.
Mr Bennett says a number of months within 2011 were among the warmest ever recorded.
“March was the warmest March on record, April the fifth warmest, August the second warmest and October the third warmest, so when you’ve got all of those coming together it’s not surprising that we broke the record,” he said.

Fire on Russian nuclear sub ‘totally extinguished’

Nuclear-powered submarine Yekaterinburg

Russia says it has doused a raging blaze aboard a nuclear submarine after nearly a full day and night, by partially submerging the vessel after battling the flames with water from helicopters and tug boats.

Officials said there was no radiation leak and crew inside the submarine were monitoring the stricken vessel’s nuclear reactors, which had been shut down.

At least nine people were injured fighting the flames which witnesses quoted by local media said rose 10 metres above the Yekaterinburg submarine at the navy ship yard in the Murmansk region of northern Russia.

“The fire on the submarine has been totally extinguished,” Emergencies minister Sergei Shoigu told officials leading the firefighting effort, more than 20 hours after the blaze began.

His remarks were reported by Interfax news agency.

After hours of fighting the fire emergency officials decided to partially submerge the 18,200-tonne Yekaterinburg submarine at the Roslyakovo dock, one of the main dockyards of Russia’s Northern Fleet, 1,500 kilometres north of Moscow.

Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet, once the pride of the Soviet Union’s mighty armed forces, has been involved in a host of disasters including the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000 with the loss of all 118 people on board.

Official statements were vague, but the blaze is believed to have started when wooden scaffolding caught fire during welding repairs to the the 167-metre Yekaterinburg submarine, which had been hoisted into a dry dock.

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation into the incident.

The submarine, which launched an intercontinental ballistic missile from the Barents Sea at a firing range as recently as July, can carry 16 ballistic missiles, each with four warheads, and a crew of 140.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said all its weapons had been removed before repairs started and its nuclear reactors were shut down.

“Radiation indicators are within normal levels. There is no threat to the local population,” the Emergencies Ministry said in a statement.

Russian submarines’ reactors are built to withstand enormous shocks and high temperatures.

Part of the crew was onboard the submarine to check carbon dioxide levels, the temperature and to ensure the safety of the nuclear reactors.

“Part of the crew remains on board and is carrying out regular monitoring every 30 minutes of the situation in the  nuclear submarine and around it,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Yekaterinburg is a Delta IV class submarine. Russia’s Northern Fleet was established under the Soviet Union to watch over European waters and was armed during the Cold War against threats from NATO.

The navy was criticised by Russia’s political leaders following the Kursk disaster for failing to give accurate information about the true nature of the disaster.

Reuters