Category Archives: Strange Weather

Giant asteroid is about to pass between the Earth and the moon – our closest shave for 35 years (video)

2005 YU55 will be 200,000 miles away on November 8
Scientists have predicted it would cause a giant earthquake or a huge tsunami if it hit Earth
The last time a rock of a comparable size passed so close was in 1976, but it was missed by NASA

An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier is set to pass closer to Earth than the moon – the nearest anything this big has come to our planet in 35 years.

The space rock has been classed as a ‘potentially hazardous object’ because it will shave our planet .8 lunar distances away on Tuesday, November 8.

Experts have calculated that if something of that size were to hit Earth it would cause a 4,000 megaton blast, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, and if it hit water a 70-foot high tsunami would spread within 60 miles of the crash site.

The last time a rock this big passed so close was in 1976, but it was missed by everybody, including NASA.

Near-Earth asteroid: 2005 YU55 will shave our planet .8 lunar distances away on Tuesday, November 8

NASA’s Near-Earth Object manager Don Yeomans said this week that they are to carefully study 2005 YU55, which will be 200,000 miles away, because it will give ‘clues as to what it was like when our solar system was forming.’

‘Without objects of this type, we probably wouldn’t be here,’ he added.

It will not be visible to the naked eye, but amateur astronomers could see it if they use a telescope at least 6in in diameter as it approaches from a sunward direction.

Encounters of objects this large, this close to our planet, will not happen again until 2028 when an asteroid will pass near Earth to within .6 lunar distances.

NASA will use its super-sensitive Goldstone radar antennas in California’s Mojave Desert, usually used to study quasars, as well as map planets and comets.

Scientists say they can reconstruct the shape of the asteroid with a resolution as fine as 13 feet using their instruments and plan to do similar studies at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

2005 YU55 was ‘imaged’ in Puerto Rico on April 19 last year.

The data collected has allowed the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to refine the space rock’s orbit, enabling scientists to rule out any possibility of an Earth impact for the next 100 years.

A NASA spokesman said: ‘We hope to obtain images that should reveal a wealth of detail about the asteroid’s surface features, shape, dimensions and other physical properties.’

Barbara Wilson, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory added: ‘While near-Earth objects of this size have flown within a lunar distance in the past, we did not have the foreknowledge and technology to take advantage of the opportunity.

‘When it flies past, it should be a great opportunity for science instruments on the ground to get a good look.’

Giant ocean whirlpools puzzle scientists

Giant ocean whirlpools puzzle scientists. 44010.jpegUS scientists discovered two giant whirlpools in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Guyana and Suriname. It became a sensational discovery because this part of the ocean has been studied thoroughly, and no one expected anything like that to appear in the area. More importantly, no one can understand where the whirlpools came from and what surprises they may bring to people.


According to Brazilian scientist Guilherme Castellane, the two funnels are approximately 400 kilometers in diameter. Until now, these were not known on Earth. The funnels reportedly exert a strong influence on climate changes that have been registered during the recent years.

“Funnels rotate clockwise. They are moving in the ocean like giant frisbees, two discs thrown into the air. Rotation occurs at a rate of one meter per second, the speed is sufficiently large compared to the speed of oceanic currents, on the border hoppers is a wave-step height of 40 cm,” Castellane said.

Even during the dry months, when the movement of oceanic currents and the flow of the Amazon River practically comes to a standstill, the funnels do not disappear. Therefore, the nature of the funnels does not depend on the flow of water, which one of the world’s biggest rivers brings into the ocean. The natural phenomenon, which creates the whirlpools, is unknown to modern science.

As a matter of fact, the phenomenon of giant whirlpools in the World Ocean is not new to science. In most cases, the craters, or rings, as scientists call them, are formed as a result of so-called vertical currents. The latter, in their turn, appear because of differences in water density which appear because of difference in temperatures of water layers. It is an open secret that cold water is thicker and heavier, so it goes down, underneath the masses of warm water, which is lighter. This is the reason why warm currents in the World Ocean always flow closer to the surface, whereas colder currents flow closer to the bottom.

However, such movement of water may not always depend on the difference of temperatures of the water column. The difference in salinity can also be a reason. The mechanism here is the same. The density of saltier water is higher, this water is heavier and it moves closer to the bottom, pushing less saltier water up. This type of vertical fusion occurs frequently in the tropics because high temperatures lead to the evaporation of water from the surface. The salt does not evaporate with water, though. It stays in the ocean, which raises the level of salinity on the upper layer of water. This layer “drowns” and gives way to less saltier waters of the depth.

Such vertical movements of water create giant whirlpools. The whirlpools, tens and even hundreds of kilometers in diameter, may last for months and even years, scientists say. The vertical movement of waters is a slow process, though. Why do those whirlpools exist for such a long time? This is partially the effect of Earth’s magnetic field. In addition, marine water contains many charged ions, Na and Cl for example. To crown it all, water molecules are dipoles that are charged both positively and negatively.

Any dipole starts spinning when moving in the magnetic field. An oceanic ring gathers millions of billions of molecules together. That is why the giant circle movement triggered by the vertical movement of water may last for months and years mechanically. Ions also give more power to the craters. Natrium and Chlorum are charged as well, and their movement in the magnetic field of the Earth also leads to the appearance of the circle movement.

It is not ruled out that the reason for the appearance of the whirlpools off the coast of South America is the same as in other parts of the World Ocean. Scientists are currently studying the influence of those giant funnels on the climate of Latin America and Africa. Such whirlpools show influence on the atmosphere and form cyclonical air mass. They can also affect the movement of air mass formed in other places. For the time being, scientists do not know how the newly discovered water craters can affect the climate of Central and South Americas.

Huge Hailstone Falls in South Dakota, Sets New Record

A massive hail stone nearly the size of a volleyball fell in a small South Dakota town this summer, setting the new record for the largest hailstone ever recorded.

The record setting hailstone was discovered in Vivian, measuring 8.0 inches in diameter, 18.625 inches in circumference, and weighing in at an amazing 1.9375 pounds.

This massive hail fell in the town of Vivian, South Daktoa on July 23, 2010.  The hail measured over 8 inches in diameter and weighed nearly 2 pounds.  Image Source:  National Weather Service.

This massive hail fell in the town of Vivian, South Daktoa on July 23, 2010. The hail measured over 8 inches in diameter and weighed nearly 2 pounds. Image Source: National Weather Service.

During a particularly violent thunderstorm on July 23, 2010, all of the town’s 55 homes were damaged, and one mobile home received 25 holes in its roof. Vivian, a town of about 110 people, is located 50 miles west of Chamberlain along Interstate 90 in central South Dakota.

The resident who located this stone in his yard quickly placed the hail in his freezer.  However, due to the severity of the storm, the electricity service was lost and the freezer was not powered for over 5 hours following the storm.  The resident who preserved the stone stated he felt it was closer to 10 to 11″ in diameter (rather than the later-measured 8 inches) at the time if fell.

    This massive hail fell in the town of Vivian, South Daktoa on July 23, 2010. The hail measured over 8 inches in diameter and weighed nearly 2 pounds. Image Source: National Weather Service.

This massive hail fell in the town of Vivian, South Daktoa on July 23, 2010. The hail measured over 8 inches in diameter and weighed nearly 2 pounds. Image Source: National Weather Service.

This hail stone shattered the previous record for size.  The former record was a hail stone that measured 7? in diameter and weighed closer to 1.6 pounds.  That stone fell in Aurora, Nebraska on June 22, 2003.  Prior to the Aurora, NE hailstone, the world record hailstone was from Coffeyville, Kansas.

The dynamics of a thunderstorm that is capable of producing such massive hail cannot be understated.  Hail forms as the updraft of a thunderstorm carries water droplets and ice crystals high in the sky.  The moisture is carried so high in the atmosphere that it freezes at high altitudes.  It eventually begins to fall and as it does so, it collects more moisture as it falls through the cloud.  This increases its size by giving it a coating of water.  If the hail stone gets caught up in the uprdraft again, it can make another trip up in the cloud, adding another layer of moisture which again freezes at high altitudes.  As this pattern continues, the hail stone becomes heavier, increasing the liklihood that the stone will fall from the cloud.  But if the updraft is strong enough, the stone may remain in the cloud for many, many cycles.  Initial estimates, based on the size of the stone, indicate that the updraft strength in the Vivian hail storm likely ranged from 160 to 180 miles per hour.

In the days following the storm, the hail stone was sent to the National Center for Atmospheric Research lab in Colorado for full documentation.  They certified the stone as the largest fully-documented hail stone in terms of weight (1.94 pounds) and diameter (8.0 inches).  Plans were made to construct a casting (mold) of the hail stone so that replicas could be displayed at the Historical Museum in Lyman County, South Dakota and at the Aberdeen, South Dakota National Weather Service Office.

Whether or not this is truly the largest hail stone to ever drop in the United States is a question that will remain unanswered.  What we do know is that it is at least the largest documented stone. Chances are a larger stone likely fell sometime in some location in the US but went undetected.