Saturday, 31 March 2012

SA National Severe Weather Warning: 31 March 2012 16h00 SAST

Current warning: Eastern Cape
Updated: 31/03/2012 15:37:49
Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy Rainfall
Detail: Valid 31 March 2012: 1. Heavy rain is expected in the extreme eastern part of Eastern Cape.

Current warning: Kwazulu Natal
Updated: 31/03/2012 15:37:49
Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy Rain, Very Cold, Gale and Very Rough Seas
Detail: Valid: 31/03/2012. 1. Heavy rain is expected in the south of KwaZulu-Natal. 2. Very rough seas with wave heights of 4 to 6m is expected between Durban and Kosi Bay. WATCHES:valid 01-04-2012 1. Very rough seas with wave heights of 4 to 6m is expected between Durban and Kosi Bay.

Current warning: All other Provinces
Updated: 31/03/2012 15:37:49
No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts
Detail: No Alerts


SA Weather Satellite Image: 31 March 2012 18h00 SAST

Image: Eumetsat (Click on image for larger view.)

Vrou val in swembad, verdrink

Pretoria – 'n Vrou het Saterdagoggend in 'n swembad by 'n huis in Faerie Glen, Pretoria, verdrink, het paramedici gesê.

Dit wil voorkom of die 47-jarige huishulp in die water geval het terwyl sy naby die swembad gewerk het, het Jeffrey Wicks, woordvoerder vir Netcare 911, gesê.

"Inwoners het haar in die water sien dryf en het haar uit die swembad getrek en met KPR begin."

Die vrou is dood voor paramedici op die toneel aangekom het, het Wicks gesê.

- SAPA/Nuus24

Body of last PE rugby player found

Johannesburg - The body of the last of five missing rugby players, who were swept out to sea in Port Elizabeth, was found near Sundays River Mouth on Saturday, Eastern Cape police said.

"Now all five of the missing have been accounted for and we have concluded the search," Captain Andre Beetge said.

The Motherwell Rugby Football Club members went missing in the bay last Sunday, after being swept out to sea by rip currents.

Lifeguards rescued 15 people in total.

A member of the rugby team was taken back to shore, but died on the scene. The team had apparently taken to the water to cool down after rugby practice.

On Friday afternoon three of the missing rugby players' bodies were found near the Ngqura Harbour.

The first of the five bodies was found at the harbour on Thursday, Beetge said.

- SAPA/News24

Plane crashes into shack, 2 dead

Johannesburg - Two people died when the light aircraft crashed in Randfontein in Gauteng on Saturday morning, paramedics said.

"Paramedics responded to the scene and found the plane had crashed into a shack," Netcare 911 spokesperson Jeffrey Wicks said.

"The pilot and co-pilot [a man and a woman] were killed on impact."

He said two young children were sleeping in the shack when the plane crashed into it.

"They emerged unharmed and were treated by paramedics for shock."

The cause of the accident would be investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority, Wicks said.

- SAPA/News24

Guard critical after falling down lift shaft

Johannesburg - A security guard was critically injured on Saturday morning after he fell three storeys down a disused elevator shaft at an abandoned hospital, Johannesburg paramedics said.

"Common cause information indicates that guard had been in pursuit of youths who had broken into the vacant [Kempton Park] hospital. In the process he fell into the disused shaft," said Netcare 911 spokesman Jeffrey Wicks.

He said paramedics were able to prise open the elevator doors on the bottom floor.

"The man was in a critical condition, having sustained significant facial trauma as well as multiple fractures," said Wicks.

He said the man was stabilised and transported by ambulance to hospital.

- SAPA/News24

Parow fire under control

Western Cape rescue officials on Saturday managed to extinguish a blaze at a storage facility in Parow, Cape Town.

The fire started on Friday evening.

Officials said they are investigating the cause of the blaze.

Fire and rescue spokesperson Theo Layne said, “At one stage, we had 14 fire vehicles on the scene and 68 firefighters. No injuries were reported.”


Cruise ship drifting after fire off Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A cruise ship with about 1,000 people on board was drifting in waters south of the Philippines after a fire disabled its engines, the Philippine coast guard said Saturday. Five crew members were injured.

The fire on the Azamara Quest started late Friday, a day after the ship left Manila for Sandakan, Malaysia, and was immediately put out, said coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Algier Ricafrente. He said there were no other details about the incident.

The ship was carrying 590 passengers and 411 crew members, he said.

The ship's operator, Azamara Club Cruises, said in a statement that no passengers were injured in the fire, which was in one of the ship's engine rooms and was immediately extinguished. But five crew members suffered smoke inhalation, including one who was seriously injured and needed hospital care.

Azamara Club Cruises is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which has been hit by accidents this year that have undermined its operations, including a cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.

Two Philippine coast guard vessels and a patrol boat were expected to reach the Azamara Quest late Saturday to offer assistance, Ricafrente said. The vessel was about 139 kilometers (75 nautical miles) southwest of the Philippines' Tubbataha Reef when the coast guard received the report of the fire early Saturday from a local ferry and a towage company in Manila.

There was no direct contact with the ship's crew, Ricafrente said, adding that the coast guard would investigate why Philippine authorities did not receive any distress call during the fire.
The cruise company's statement said the ship was running on emergency power in "calm seas" near Indonesia's Borneo Island.

Engineers have restored power to one of the ship's engines to re-establish air conditioning, running water, plumbing, refrigeration and food preparation, the company said.
"While the ship does not have propulsion capabilities at this time, it is in the process of being repaired," it said.

The company said the rest of the ship's voyage would be canceled.

The vessel left Hong Kong on Monday for what was supposed to be a 17-day cruise. The ship was scheduled to make port calls in Manila and Sandakan, as well as several stops in Indonesia, before arriving in Singapore on April 12.

It was the latest blow for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. In January, 32 people died when the Costa Concordia ran aground and capsized off the western coast of Italy. A month later, a fire on the Costra Allegra left that ship without power and adrift in waters known to be prowled by pirates in the Indian Ocean for three days.

- AP

Important Notice: SAWDOS

IMPORTANT: The S.A. Weather and Disaster Observation Service provides a weather and disaster observation (Weather and Disaster Watching/Spotting) service in South Africa and not a weather prediction or disaster management service. Do not use the information on this web-page to predict weather or disasters.

The SAWDOS is not responsible for, nor do we endorse the opinions, accuracy, or comments of re-posted articles from other sites, unless specifically so indicated in our post. Often we may refer to articles which are diametrically opposed to our vision and mission, in order to provoke additional thought and further education.

Johan Terblanche
Founder: SA Weather and Disaster Observation Service
Mossel Bay


SA National Severe Weather Warning: 31 March 2012 04h00 SAST

Current warning: Eastern Cape
Updated: 31/03/2012 05:07:12
Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy Rainfall and Very Cold
Detail: Valid 31 March 2012: 1. Heavy rain is expected in the eastern part of Eastern Cape. 2. Very cold conditions is expected in extreme northeastern part of Eastern Cape.

Current warning: Kwazulu Natal
Updated: 31/03/2012 05:07:12
Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy Rain, Very Cold, Gale and Very Rough Seas
Detail: Valid: 31/03/2012. 1. Heavy rain is expected in the south and along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal. 2. Very cold conditions is expected in extreme southwestern KwaZulu-Natal. WATCHES: 1. Gale force southwesterly winds are expected between Margate and Kosi Bay. 2. Very rough seas with wave heights of 4 to 6m is expected between Durban and Kosi Bay.

Current warning: All other Provinces
Updated: 31/03/2012 05:07:12
No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts
Detail: No Alerts


SA Weather Satellite Image: 31 March 2012 04h06 SAST

Image: NOAA15 (Nic Cronje, Nelspruit) Click on image for larger view.

GFS Medium Range Forecasts of Vertical Velocity and Precipitation:31 March to 1 April 2012

Image:U.S. National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Click on image for larger view.

South Africa urged to support Earth Hour

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) urged all South Africans on Friday to take part in Earth Hour in 2012.

The annual initiative calls on households and businesses to switch off all their electrical appliances and lights for one hour starting at 8:30pm on Saturday.

In 2011, the country saved 350 megawatts of electricity which is enough to power Bloemfontein for an entire day.

The fund's Zubair Sayed told Eyewitness News, “This hour is a celebration of the planet and a celebration of what we can achieve when we all act together.

“Really it’s a call to action for individuals, businesses and government organisations to take urgent action for the environment.”

In 2007, WWF-Australia inspired Sydney to show their support for climate change action in the first ever Earth Hour event.

In 2008, the plan was to take Earth Hour to the rest of Australia but the City of Toronto, Canada, signed up and it was not long before 35 countries and almost 400 cities and towns took part in the annual event.


Congo: Helping people injured by the explosions

On Sunday 4th March 2012, a large munitions dump exploded in the heart of Brazzaville, causing damage to an important part of the city. More than 200 people were killed and around 3,000 people injured in the incident.

The majority of the wounded were discharged from hospital very quickly, without benefitting from any follow-up care which should prevent or limit long-term impairments. In response, Handicap International has launched a new mission to assist the victims of this tragic disaster, to complement the activities started early last week to remove unexploded weapons.

Working to identify injured and disabled people

“I arrived in the field one week ago”, says Cécile Dupré, a specialist in the care management of injured people. I visited the various hospitals which had received the victims of this catastrophe. On finding that the vast majority of the wounded were no longer in hospital, I went to the mass assembly points to evaluate their needs. But I didn’t meet any wounded people in these locations either.”

Nevertheless, for Handicap International, it is crucial to locate these injured people, by reaching out and identifying them amongst the families that have taken them in, in order to provide them with the appropriate care that will allow them to avoid the development of long term impairments.

“We have therefore deployed three mobile teams, each composed of three community workers”, explains Cécile, who already piloted a similar project in Haiti in 2010. “These teams have the task of identifying injured people in their communities, so that they can benefit from wound care, basic rehabilitation, and to prevent and/or limit long term physical impairments.

An intervention to support the most vulnerable people

The explosions forced almost 20,000 people to abandon their neighbourhoods and seek refuge, either at mass assembly points in extremely precarious conditions or in host families. Handicap International is aiming to provide aid to the most vulnerable people, particularly people injured in the disaster, people with disabilities who have been affected, and also older people.

The emergency actions put in place by the organisation should meet the needs of almost 750 people. In Brazzaville, Handicap International teams are focusing on the neighbourhoods of Mfilou, Talangai, Ouenzé, Potopoto et Moungali, which seem to be the main areas that have taken in the victims.

“We have chosen to engage in a short term intervention in Brazzaville, relying, as we do whenever possible, on local teams that we train for this type of activity”, explains Hélène Robin, Handicap International’s emergency programmes manager. “And what was fundamental for us was to intervene extremely rapidly, because the condition of injured people can worsen very quickly, in a way that is irreversible, if people do not receive the correct follow-up care.”

If necessary, vulnerable people identified by our mobile teams will be referred to the appropriate local services (in order to respond to their specific needs). They will also be offered the chance to take part in activities to raise awareness about disability and about the risks from unexploded devices.

Clearing unexploded weapons

Another Handicap International team, composed of several weapons clearance experts, has been engaged for more than one week in the removal and destruction of explosive devices, which were scattered in their thousands across densely populated areas.

The munitions dumps that exploded contained small calibre weapons and munitions. Those devices which did not explode were projected in a 360° radius, over a range of 2.5 to 3.7 miles (4-6 km). They are now lying scattered across the ground or buried in the rubble, posing a potential threat to the thousands of civilians who live in the area, or those who are returning to rake through the remains, trying to recover the few items spared by the explosions. The zone is so heavily polluted with unexploded ordnance that even members of the Congolese reconnaissance team have not yet set foot in the area.

Risk education and weapons clearance are the necessary first stages which will allow residents to return home and begin the work of rebuilding their houses and their lives.

Press contact
Tom Shelton, Handicap International UK
Tel: +44 (0)870 774 3737 | Mob: +44 (0)7508 820 520

- ReliefWeb

HAMNET Weekly report 25/3/2012

On March the 20th, the holiday resort city of Acapulco in Mexico experienced a relatively severe earthquake that occurred south east of the city. It measured 7.4 on the Richter scale and had many people scurrying out of swaying buildings and houses during the quake.

It had minimal effect on the population and although many dwellings were damaged by the quake, there have been no reports of death.

No tsunami warning was issued and the quake had almost no effect on the sea.

On Thursday, yet another quake in the Guerrero state, measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale also caused panic among citizens.

In total, looking at both the quakes, more than 30000 homes were damaged.

Papua New Guinea on the other side of the ocean and still in the Pacific ring of Fire, also suffered a 6.6 magnitude quake but the humanitarian impact and affect on the population was minimal.

No tsunami warning was issued as the depth of the quake was at around 100 km.

Just a reminder to all, the licence renewals are in the post and we have had many enquiries regarding this issue. Provision has been made for those who wish to pay the five year fee of R501.00. Please access the SARL website as to how to do this payment. For scholars around the country, the end of the first term started for all coastal Provinces on Friday the 23rd of March and the inland schools close on the 30th of March.

We have the Easter Weekend in between which will be discussed fully in the April Hamnet Bulletin and all schools re-open on the 10th of April 2012.

For those taking a break, enjoy the holidays.

Reporting for Hamnet, this is Francois Botha – ZS6BUU.

20 road safety tips for Easter Weekend

MOTORING NEWS - If you are going away this Easter holiday, take note of the following road safety tips to ensure that you arrive safely at your destination.

1. Obey the rules of the road and always carry your driver's license with you.

2. Plan the route to your holiday destination and give yourself enough time to reach the destination.

3. Make sure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition before departure. All lights and indicators, windscreen wipers, brakes, steering, exhaust system and tires should be carefully examined for faults.

4. Do not overload.

5. Try to avoid driving after dark if possible.

6. Have a good rest before you embark on your journey

7. Take safety breaks every 2 hours or 200km.

8. Do not drink and drive.

9. Try to recognize potentially dangerous drivers on and pedestrians alongside the road and keep well clear of them.

10. Be visible – drive with your lights on.

11. Headlights should be dipped well before an approaching vehicle is within range of the main beam.

12. Always wear your seat belt and check to see that everyone in the car is wearing theirs.

13. Drive defensively.

14. Stay within the speed limit at all times.

15. Only overtake when it is absolutely safe to do so.

16. Avoid distractions while driving.

17. Maintain at least a 2 second following distance – this distance should be increased at night, in foggy or rainy conditions and when the road is wet.

18. Expect others not to be as obedient to the law as yourself.

19. Be courteous towards fellow road users – keep your temper and resist the temptation to retaliate.

20. Be alert to changing road and weather conditions.

- Mossel Bay Advertiser

Japan to lift entry ban on some Fukushima nuclear no-go zones

By staff and news services

Japan said on Friday it would lift entry bans on some cities in Fukushima prefecture that had been designated no-go zones due to their proximity to a nuclear power plant crippled by a powerful earthquake and tsunami last March.

After the natural disasters triggered the worst atomic accident since Chernobyl by causing nuclear fuel meltdowns at the Daiichi power plant in Fukushima, 160 miles (240km) northeast of Tokyo, the government evacuated a 12 mile (20 km) radius of the complex, in which around 80,000 people lived.

"We have decided to revise the restriction bans placed on the evacuation areas," Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said at a nuclear disaster task force meeting.

From April, the government will lift entry bans on Tamura, Minami Soma and Kawauchi, three of the 11 cities and towns that fall within or straddle the 20 km radius.

This follows their declaration in December that the Daiichi plant was in cold shutdown and under control after months of cleanup efforts, signaling it was ready to move to a longer-term phase to eventually decommission the plant.

After lifting the entry bans, the government will separate parts of Tamura, Minami Soma and Kawauchi into three categories, depending on radiation levels.

The government hopes that lifting the entry bans will speed up decontamination by allowing freer access.

In areas where annual radiation measurements are below 20 millisieverts per year, a government safety guideline, residents will have free access to their homes during the day and will be allowed to return permanently at the earliest opportunity post-decontamination.

Where readings are between 20 to 50 millisieverts annually, evacuees will also have unrestricted access during the day although their permanent return will come later.

In areas where measurements top 50 millisieverts, residents will not have free access and they will not be allowed to return for a minimum of five years.

The government is still in talks with the remaining eight cities over lifting the ban.
Even if residents are allowed to eventually return they will continue to live under the shadow of the devastated Daiichi plant, where it's a huge and costly cleanup is expected to take several decades.

Experts at a symposium in San Francisco marking the anniversary of the catastrophe said public radiation exposures have been less than what people were exposed to in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster a quarter century ago, according to a report on news website, Environmental Protection.

Speakers at the University of California symposium said monitoring of children living just outside the evacuated zone points to higher than background levels of exposure, but not to unsafe levels, it reported. However, there is uncertainty about harms that may arise due to ingestion of short-lived radioactive iodine in the immediate aftermath of the reactor meltdowns.

Reuters and staff conributed to this report.



Earth Hour is seeing record numbers of children and teenagers all around the globe getting involved in the campaign to take action for a sustainable future. From Libya to Swaziland and India to Singapore, Earth Hour is being celebrated and in some cases organised by youths who want to protect the planet.

“We have a lot to learn from the passion, commitment and knowledge of young people who are making a difference to the planet – these are truly the most inspiring stories ,” said Andy Ridley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Earth Hour.

Earth Hour’s youngest Ambassador, 13-year-old Wildlife Warrior, Bindi Irwin, firmly believes that each and every one of us can make a difference.“The footprints you leave on the planet today, will effect generations to come, your children and grandchildren,” she says.

“We must all work together to make this world a better place, to ensure that our future is a bright one. WWF’s Earth Hour is a great way to get involved and start making a change. If we don’t start changing our ways soon, there will be nothing left for my generation, and the generations after me.”

This year, more than ever, many in ‘generation-next’ are rolling up their sleeves and taking on the challenges of Earth Hour themselves.

Just months after the end of the uprising, two youths have teamed up to organise Libya’s first ever Earth Hour celebrations. Despite continued civil unrest, Mohammad Nattah (18) and Muhammad Bugashata (20) are determined to see the lights switched off in the former King’s Castle in Tripoli, “Libya is ready for Earth Hour 2012,” Bugashata said.

Meanwhile, over in Swaziland, 16-year old Nathi Mzileni has organised his country’s Earth Hour response all by himself, persuading Big Game Parks to participate in an I Will If You Will challenge, and garnering the support of Swaziland’s biggest newspaper to promote Earth Hour. He’s also enlisted the backing of three government departments.

“I am only young. But I believe that we have to work together to make things happen to make this world a better place,” he said.

Across the other side of the globe in Canada, the Green Team at Shawinigan High School have made a video to raise awareness for Earth Hour. And ten post-secondary schools from across Alberta have a friendly rivalry to see which can sign up the greatest number of students to participate on March 31.

Indian teenagers will be partying for Earth Hour at the huge MTV Unplugged event to be held at India Gate Lawns in the heart of New Delhi. At 8.30pm the lights of the iconic India Gate will be switched off and the concert will be powered by alternative sources of energy, including pedal power.

One of Earth Hour’s youngest supporters is seven-year-old Sheryl Ng from Singapore. The youngster has pledged if she can convince 100 people to switch off all their lights for one hour, she will step up on stage at her school and give a speech about Earth Hour in front of 1000 students.

But the last word belongs to legendary Dr Seuss character, the Lorax, who has promised to turn his moustache green for a whole day on 31 March, if 500 children promise to switch their lights off for Earth Hour.

According to The Lorax: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

Earth Hour has grown from a one-city initiative in 2007, to a 5,251 city strong global movement, last year reaching 1.8 billion people in 135 countries across all seven continents.

Earth Hour 2012 will take place at 8.30pm – 9.30pm on Saturday 31 March Watch the 2012

- Earth Hour

Cell phone can help safety on roads this Easter

MOTORING NEWS - With South Africans set to stream to their favourite holiday destinations for the Easter break, many motorists will be navigating the dangers of the country's roads.

There are many unsafe situations which you need to manage while the is family on holiday - from smash-and-grab hotspots to areas where accidents are common due to poor visibility, road works or insufficient road maintenance.

Your cell phone can help you navigate these dangers, if fitted with the correct applications and services.

"Location-based services (LBS) on a cell phone can be a lifesaver in potentially dangerous situations," says Jacques Swanepoel, Managing Director of Cellfind, a member of Blue Label Mobile.

LBS services help you stay in touch while on the road and are practical if planning to travel at night, making an unavoidable trip through a dangerous area, or are embarking on a long journey.

LBS services including Vodacom look 4 me or MTN WhereRU, means your loved ones can get your location without the distraction of a phone call while driving. They can request a location by sending a query using SMS, USSD or visiting a website. The location is determined by locating a cell phone using cellular towers and the information is sent back as text or a map.

Other LBS services like Vodacom look 4 me or MTN 2MyAid turn a cell phone into a panic button, summoning help when needed, Swanepoel says.

An assigned speed dial establishes the location of the cell phone and the information is sent via SMS to four selected emergency contacts.

These services require no additional software, can be accessed from any cell phone and are available at an affordable monthly fee.

Cellfind offers additional tips for safe driving with your cell phone this Easter:
• Ensure a cell phone battery is fully charged before embarking on a journey and consider investing in a car charger
• Install a hands-free car kit or buy an earpiece so that you can talk safely on the phone while driving
• Use GPS - whether a dedicated device or GPS software for a cell phone, plan the route for long or unfamiliar destinations.

- George Herald

Bodies of missing Port Elizabeth players recovered

Eastern Cape police divers on Friday recovered the bodies of three Motherwell Rugby Football Club players.

A strong rip current swept 21 young men out to sea at Blue Water Bay Beach on Sunday.

They had gone for a dip to cool off after a training session.

After rescuing 16 one was declared dead on scene, while five others were reported missing.

Police divers spokesperson Andre Beetge said, “Now we have recovered four bodies and there’s one outstanding. The search continues.”

On Monday, the Eastern Cape Rugby Union sent its condolences to the club.


Real Time Weather Observation: Germiston (30 March 2012)

Image: Pierre and Raine Carosin  (Click on image for larger view.)

High Water along the Isaac River, Australia

(Click on images for larger view.)

The Fitzroy River flows through eastern Queensland and empties into the ocean near the city of Rockhampton. One of the Fitzroy’s tributaries is the Isaac River, which is itself fed by impermanent rivers to the north. Heavy rains swelled the Isaac River substantially in late March 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite observed the flooding on March 24, 2012 (top image). For comparison, the bottom image shows the same area a year earlier, on March 23, 2011.

These images use a combination of visible and infrared light to better distinguish between water and land. Water varies from electric blue to navy, vegetation is bright green, bare ground is earth-toned, and clouds are nearly white.

In 2011, the Isaac River was barely discernible. A year later, it was hard to miss. On March 29, ABC News Australia reported that the water levels in the Connors-Isaac catchment nearly matched the flood levels experienced in 1991. As high waters moved downstream, residents of Rockhampton anticipated flooding at the end of March 2012. The same region experienced severe flooding in late 2010 and early 2011.

ABC News Australia. (2012, March 28) Rockhampton braces for Fitzroy River flooding. Accessed March 29, 2012.
ABC News Australia. (2012, March 29) Rockhampton flood peak revised down. Accessed March 29, 2012.
NASA images courtesy LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.

Terra - MODIS - NASA

Friday, 30 March 2012

SA Weather Satellite Images: 30 March 2012 16h53 SAST

Images: NOAA15 (Ben Engelbrecht, Nic Cronje ) Click on images for larger view.

Earth Hour 2012 Official Video

This Earth Hour 2012: 8.30pm, Saturday 31 March, celebrate your action for the planet with the people of world by switching off your lights for an hour, then go beyond the hour.

From its inception as a single-city initiative -- Sydney, Australia - in 2007, Earth Hour has grown into a global symbol of hope and movement for change. Earth Hour 2011 created history as the world's largest ever voluntary action with people, businesses and governments in 135 countries across every continent coming together to celebrate an unambiguous commitment to the one thing that unites us all -- the planet.

Switch off tomorrow for Earth Hour

GEORGE NEWS - At 20:30 tomorrow, Saturday, 31 March millions of people across the globe will switch off their lights for one hour to support Earth Hour.

The largest environmental event in history, Earth Hour is organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and aims to raise awareness of climate change and unite the Earth's population to take action.

It's a reminder to us all that we only have one planet Earth; and it's an urgent message that we want to reduce the impact our energy systems have on our planet.

Earth Hour sees people and organisations from all walks of life turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness around the need to take action on climate change.

The first Earth Hour was held in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2 000 businesses took a stand against climate change.

Last year, 135 countries switched off their lights, including iconic buildings and landmarks in London, Sydney, America and across the Asia Pacific. This year, the WWF hopes to set a new record - but they need your help.

First world countries that have a smaller carbon footprint than South Africa have been taking the lead in this venture. It is not the government that has to take the lead here, it is the responsibility of every citizen to take the lead and set the example.
The problem here is that specific regions are suffering from pollution due to large coal burning power stations; and ESCOM is planning to build another three, one of which will be the world's largest.

One hour of residential blackout will lessen the load on our power grid.

- George Herald

Intydse Weerwaarneming: Polokwane (30 March 2012)

Foto: Sononder oor Polokwane net na ‘n hewige donderstorm . . .WN Fred Calitz

SA National Severe Weather Warning: 30 March 2012 16h00 SAST

Current warning: Eastern Cape
Updated: 30/03/2012 15:56:07
Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy Rainfall and Very Cold
Detail: Valid 30 to 31 March 2012: 1. Heavy rain is expected in the eastern part of Eastern Cape. 2. Very cold conditions is expected in extreme northeastern part of Eastern Cape.

Current warning: Free State
Updated: 30/03/2012 15:56:07
Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Severe Thunderstorms

Current warning: Kwazulu Natal
Updated: 30/03/2012 15:56:07
Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy Rain, Very Cold, Gale and Very Rough Seas
Detail: Valid: 30 - 31/03/2012. 1. Heavy rain is expected in the south and along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal. 2. Very cold conditions is expected in extreme southwestern KwaZulu-Natal. WATCHES: 1. Gale force southwesterly winds are expected between Margate and Kosi Bay. 2. Very rough seas with wave heights of 4 to 6m is expected between Durban and Kosi Bay.

Current warning: Gauteng
Updated: 30/03/2012 15:56:07
Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Severe Thunderstorms

Current warning: North West Province
Updated: 30/03/2012 15:57:19
Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Severe Thunderstorms

Current warning: All other Provinces
Updated: 30/03/2012 15:56:07
No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts.
Detail: No Alerts.


SAWDOS:  Once again the warnings for severe thunderstorms were issued late at 15h57 SAST this afternoon.  By this time there were already severe thunderstorms active in the Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces.  This once again reflect the usefulness of real time weather observations.   A special word of thanks to all the SAWDOS Observers who send in reports via Email, SMS, Twitter and Facebook.  

SA Weather Satellite Images: 30 March 2012 14h19 SAST

Images: NOAA19 (Nic Cronje, Nelspruit) Click on images for larger view.

SAWDOS Storm Chasing: Bloemfontein (21 - 26 March 2012) Part 2

Images: SAWDIS (Click on images for larger view.)

Sandton python still missing

Johannesburg - The owner of Lavender Albino Reticulated Pythons was still searching for one of them in Gallo Manor, Sandton, on Friday afternoon.

"With this weather there is very little chance of finding him because he's cold and he won't come out," Angi Latimer said, referring to the overcast and rainy conditions in Johannesburg.

The snake, named Gabbana and another snake, Dolce, escaped from her home in Tugela Crescent on Wednesday after they climbed up the burglar bars and pushed down on a door handle.

Dolce was found in the pool pump at her home on Thursday.

"I've got one back, I'm so happy; last night they [her other pythons] were all entwined and cuddled and then you have one missing," she said.

Latimer stressed that the snake was harmless as it had been hand reared since it was a baby and it was also not venomous.

She also said that it was unlikely that the snake would catch anyone off guard.

"It's 3.5m long and purple and yellow. It's not going to blend into the green grass or a tree," she said.

- SAPA/News24

Two die in Cape Town shack fire

Two people were killed in a shack fire in Philippi on Friday.

Four shacks along Sheffield Road were gutted.

Cape Town disaster management's Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said, “Others managed to escape the fire, but unfortunately two others died in the incident.”


SAWDOS Storm Chasing: Bloemfontein (21 - 26 March 2012) Part 1

Images: SAWDOS (Click on images for larger view.)

Unfortunately not ideal conditions for chasing storms in the Free State over the above period. However I caught a few isolated small storms over the period. Please note that the images were taken while the vehicle was moving at 120km/h. So the quality is not good, but either that or no images.

SA National Severe Weather Warning: 30 March 2012 04h00 SAST

Current warning: Kwazulu Natal
Updated: 30/03/2012 04:48:23
Warning: Take action
Subject: Extremely uncomfortable and humid conditions
Detail: Valid: 30/03/2012. 1. Extremely uncomfortable, humid conditions are expected in the north-eastern parts.

Current warning: Limpopo Province
Updated: 30/03/2012 04:48:23
Warning: Take action
Subject: Extremely uncomfortable, humid conditions.
Detail: Valid: 30/03/2012. 1. Extremely uncomfortable, humid conditions are expected in the lowveld.

Current warning: Mpumalanga
Updated: 30/03/2012 04:48:23
Warning: Take action
Subject: Extremely uncomfortablr, humid conditions.
Detail: Valid: 30/03/2012. 1. Extremely uncomfortable, humid conditions are expected in the lowveld

Current warning: Western Cape
Updated: 30/03/2012 04:48:23
Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy Rain and very rough seas.
Detail: Valid: 30/03/2012 Warning: 1. Heavy rain is expected in the Cape Metropole, south-western mountains of the Cape Winelands District, Overberg District on Thursday night, spreading along the south-coast on Friday morning. Watch: 1. Very rough seas in excess of 4m is expected between Cape Columbine and Cape Agulhas.

Current warning: All other Provinces
Updated: 30/03/2012 04:48:23
No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts.
Detail: No Alerts.


SA Weather Satellite Image: 30 March 2012 04h30 SAST

Image: NOAA15 (Nic Cronje, Nelspruit) Click on image for larger view.

GFS Medium Range Forecasts of Vertical Velocity and Precipitation

- U.S. National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Click on image for larger view.

Boy drowns on seventh birthday

A boy drowned on the day he turned seven and his parents were shopping for his birthday presents in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.

Netcare spokesman Chris Botha said the boy had gone swimming with friends in a river near Adam's Mission near Amanzimtoti south of Durban when the tragedy occurred.

Botha said the boy's body was retrieved by police divers and as his parents arrived with his presents, paramedics declared him dead.

- Sapa/Netcare911

One Sandton python found - report

One of two reticulated lavender albino pythons that escaped from their home on Tugela Crescent in Gallo Manor, Sandton, was found on Thursday, according to reports.

Dolce, the female snake, was discovered in the pool pump by their owner, Angi Latimer, The Citizen reported.

“I had been looking everywhere for her. She was moving around the pool. I am with her now... I am very happy,” Latimer said.

Gabbana, a male, was still missing.

The three-metre-long snakes disappeared on Wednesday after they climbed up the burglar bars in her home and pushed down on a door handle, which opened under the weight, owner Angela Latimer said.

Lavender albino reticulated pythons are not venomous, but kill by constricting their prey.

According to Latimer they would not strangle children or pets.

- Sapa/IOL

Swaar weer laat Mosselbaai bontstaan (24 Maart 2012 08h00 SAST)

Uitgebrande toerusting (die lae-volt verspreidingspaneel) in die elektriese substasie in Uitbreiding 6 het daartoe gelei het dat mense in die omgewing tot Maandagaand sonder krag was. Die substasie is direk deur die weerlig getref en die skakeltuig en verspreidingspaneel is heeltemal uitgebrand. Mnr Indren Naicker, hoof van die Munisipaliteit se elektrisiteitsnetwerk dienste, wys hier die skade. ‘n Mini-substasie moes inderhaas op die perseel geïnstalleer word om die kragtoevoer na die omliggende gebiede te herstel. Foto: Harry Hill

MOSSELBAAI NUUS - Laatslapers op Mosselbaai het Saterdagoggend knap na 08:00 letterlik met 'n knal wakker geskrik toe 'n donderstorm die dorp getref het.

Kort daarna het vet druppels neergeplof, voorlopers vir die swaar reën wat gevolg het. Binne oomblikke was groot dele van die dorp sonder elektrisiteit.

Weerlig het die dak van die Life Bay View hospitaal reg bokant die kraamsaal getref en benewens die dak ook telefone, rekenaars en ander elektroniese toerusting beskadig.

Dr Heinrich Sandilands, wat in die kraamsaal was toe die weerlig die dak getref het, berig dat die oorverdowende knal toe die weerlig die dak se nok getref het, hom momenteel verdoof het. Die eienaardigste was die onmiddellike, amper onheilspellende stilte na die knal, wat gebreek is deur die geskril van die alarms wat afgegaan het. Die elektrisiteit wat as gevolg van die weerligstraal deur die vertrek gestroom het, het selfs sy selfoon se werking sodanig beïvloed dat dit van vooraf ingestel moes word. Onmiddellik na die knal het dit gevoel of al die lug uit sy liggaam gepers is, amper soos wanneer 'n bom ontplof.

Hy sê teen die sement aan die een muur kon 'n mens die merke van die weerlig sien. Die hospitaal se dakteëls het heeltemal verflenter en het in klein stukkies letterlik neergereën. Vanuit die kraamsaal se venster kon hy die vlamme sien by wat later geblyk het die elektrisie substasie in Benevolent Park te wees.

"Wat is die kanse dat 'n mens in Mosselbaai in die hospitaal se kraamsaal sal staan en dìt beleef? Dis soos om te dink jy gaan in Marsshraat deur 'n straler getref word - eenvoudig onwaarskynlik" het dr Sandilands gesê.
Intensiewe Sorg-eenheid

'n Pasiënt, mnr Andrè Stander, wat na 'n hartomleiding in die eenheid langs die Intensiewe Sorg-eenheid gelê het, het net die hoogste lof vir die personeel se reaksie. Volgens hom het hy rugby gekyk toe die oorverdowende knal hom yskoud laat skrik het. Hy kon eers nie dink wat die knal veroorsaak het nie. Onmiddellik was die TV en die ligte af, maar later die namiddag kon hy darem weer die rugby volg toe die kragtoevoer herstel is.

Die hospitaalbestuurder, Lida Swart, sê die hospitaal se kragopwekkers het onmiddellik die kragtoevoer herstel, maar dat die hospitaal skade gely het met veral elektroniese toerusting wat beskadig is. Geen dienste is egter onderbreek nie, en omdat die hospitaal se oonde met gas werk, kon selfs die kosvoorsiening aan pasiënte vlot verloop. Van die personeel aan diens het egter baie groot geskrik en daar is reeds met ICAS vir berading gereël. Omdat die rekenaarnetwerke en veral e-pos nog nie optimaal funksioneer nie, kan sy egter nie 'n kosteberaming gee van die skade wat aangerig is nie.
Dr Sandilands berig dat verskeie praktyke in die onmiddellike omgewing skade aan hul rekenaarnetwerke, telefone en ander elektroniese toerusting gely het. Die hospitaal se rekenaarnetwerk, veral e-pos fasiliteite, het teen Dinsdag nog nie optimaal gefunksioneer nie.

Benvolent Park
Die grootste ontwrigting het egter gevolg op skade aan die munisipaliteit se elektrisiteitsinfrastruktuur by elektriese sub- en minisubstasies in Uitbreiding 6, Joe Slovo, die Hartenbos en Bayview areas en in Groot Brak/Glentana. Nooddienste het veiligheidshalwe die mense naaste aan die Benevolent Park substasie ontruim nadat weerlig die substasie raakgeslaan en elektriese stroomskakelaars en die verspreidingspaneel in die daaropvolgende brand vernietig is. Die totale beraamde herstelkoste het sowat R900 000 beloop. Die skade het tot redelike lang kragonderbrekings in veral Uitbreiding 6 en Joe Slovo gelei.

'n Inwoner van Benevolent Park, me Kathleen Edwards, het in 'n brief aan die Mossel Bay Advertiser haar dank teenoor veral hul bure in New Sunnyside uitgespreek wat inwoners oor die brand by die substasie gewaarsku het en aangedring het dat hulle hul eenhede ontruim. Sy het ook die grootste lof vir die plaaslike brandweerdienste gehad vir die wyse waarop hulle inwoners beveilig het en op die toneel gebly het om hul voortgesette veiligheid te verseker.

Benevolent Park se bestuurder, mev Josua, sê sy was binne oomblikke op die toneel. Die omgewing se telefone was ook buite werking, en haar man het hom per motor na die brandweer gehaas om hulp te ontbied. Die brandweer moes by hul aankoms die slot by die substasie oopbreek om by die brand uit te kom. Hulle moes herhaaldelik optree om die brand te blus omdat dit telkens opgevlam het. Veiligheidshalwe is die 13 eenhede naaste aan die substasie ontruim en is die mense uitgeplaas na familie, vriende en die siekeboeg. Sommige moes in die eetsaal geakkommodeer word totdat die situasie genormaliseer het.

Een van die inwoners wat reg langs die substasie woon was veral erg getraumatiseer omdat sy 'n bomontploffing in 1974 oorleef het. Baie van die ander inwoners van Benevolent Park was verbouereerd direk na die voorval.
Die omgewing se elektriese toevoer is eers om 20:15 op Maandag, 26 Maart herstel. Intussen moes die personeel kos vir die inwoners op gasstofies gaar maak. Toe dit blyk dat daar 'n gaslekkasie is, het mev Josua einde ten raad kos by die Superspar op die dorp gaan koop. Maandag het die 105 inwoners en 40 siekeboeg pasiënte eers om 15:00 middagete ontvang.

Benevolent Park het egter geen hulp van enige instansies op die dorp ontvang direk na die voorval nie. Hul industriële tuimeldroër het uitgebrand en die telefoonverbinding is eers Maandag herstel.

Mev Josua het net die grootste lof vir die wyse waarop die brandweer en munisipale amptenare die situasie hanteer het, maar is grimmig vir die politieke leiers wat kleinlike politieke voordeel uit die situasie probeer put het.

Mosselbaai dorp se verkeersligte was vir 'n wyle buite werking, en direk na die voorval het besighede se personeel op die sypaadjies rondgestaan omdat die elektriese ligte buite werking was. Daar het egter geen noemenswaardige ongelukke weens die onweer voorgekom nie.

Ook in die Mosselbaai hawe het die weer 'n invloed laat geld toe die luukse vaartuig, die 'Clipper Odyssey', nie kon vasmeer nie. Deinings van tot ses meter het dit onmoontlik gemaak om die vaartuig veilig die hawe in te bring. Daarbenewens is die navorsingsboot, die Ocearch, ook na veiligheid gehelp nadat hul wenas aan boord probleme gegee het. Die hawe het egter kragopwekkers wat oombliklik ingeskop het sodat alle toerusting daar deurentyd ten volle gefunksioneer het.

Die seelewe het egter ook deurgeloop. 'n Dwerg walvis het op Diasstrand uitgespoel, en selfs op Santosstrand het die karkas van 'n rob uitgespoel. Die strande om Mosselbaai was besaai met opdrifsels.

Die swaar reënneerslae wat op die donderweer gevolg het, het onder andere waterskade aan paaie op die dorp aangerig.


Another NSRI rescue vessel for Mossel Bay

Image: The Lyonesse, the 10 meter Brede Class lifeboat, was recently acquired and brought from the United Kingdom to Cape Town harbour where she is being refitted to serve the purposes of the local NSRI in Mossel Bay.

MOSSEL BAY NEWS - The Lyonesse, a 10 meter Brede Class lifeboat, was recently acquired and brought from the United Kingdom to Cape Town harbour where she is being refitted to serve the purposes of the NSRI in Mossel Bay.

Mr Dawie Zwiegelaar, local Station Commander of the NSRI, says he expects the Lyonesse to take to Mossel Bay waters towards the end of May.

The Lyonesse will be returning to duties as a lifeboat as soon as some modifications are done. The no frills refit is happening while the Lyonesse is moored at Table Bay's Sea Rescue base in Cape Town. So far her fuel tanks have been cleaned and the redundant wiring removed.

In a couple of days she will be taken to Hout Bay to be resprayed in NSRI's colours and readied for her SAMSA inspection. Once all the work is finished she will serve at Mossel Bay.

The NSRI currently has five ex-R.N.L.I. Bredes in their fleet and they have proven their worth over many years. The Lyoness is to replace another Brede (Nottinghamshire 33-10) that, sadly, was destroyed in a factory fire in 2010 whilst awaiting a refit.

The Brede class 33' lifeboat was something of a stop gap between Inshore Lifeboats and the larger Offshore craft.
Only a handful were built at Rye in Sussex and they mostly operated in fairly protected areas, such as Poole Harbour, Oban, and Fowey. One of the class was the first boat stationed at the 'New' RNLI station at Alderney in the Channel Islands.
More recently, the Lyonesse served as charter vessel in the harbour of Tilbury before her owner decided to sell her off to a rescue organisation. She is a Class 1 vessel, and some of the local Mossel Bay NSRI volunteers will require a few more hours of training before taking her wheel.

As she is somewhat bigger than the Class 2 rescue vessel currently being used in Mossel Bay, she will respond at a slightly lower speed, but will have an increased capacity to carry more passengers. The Lyoness will carry a crew of four people.

Mr Zwiegelaar says Mossel Bay is the only big boat harbour between Cape Town and Mossel Bay, and as such needs the services of a rescue craft with greater capacity.

The project to bring the Lochin made boat to Cape Town was managed by NSRI volunteer Andy Connell.
With his organizing skills, and the generosity of all who brought the rescue boat to Cape Town, the NSRI will soon boast with a new Brede in Mossel Bay. The 10 metre Brede Class lifeboat was brought from Tilbury docks in the United Kingdom to Cape Town harbour at no cost to NSRI because of the generous donations by all who helped with the project.


Rugby player’s body found

The body of one of the five missing rugby players swept out to sea in Port Elizabeth was found at the Ngqura Harbour, Eastern Cape police said.

“We have had a discovery of one of the missing people today at the Ngqura Harbour at 11.30am,” Captain Andre Beetge said.

“The person was positively identified by the family. His name is Anelisa Mbuzeli, aged 21.”

The Motherwell Rugby Football Club members went missing in the bay on Sunday, after being swept out to sea by rip currents.

Lifeguards rescued 15 people in total.

A member of the rugby team was taken back to shore, but died on the scene. The team had apparently taken to the water to cool down after a rugby practice.

Beegte said police would use the harbour area as a point of reference to find the remaining four.

“We are quite positive that we will be finding the others soon.”

On Tuesday, police reportedly told relatives of the missing rugby players to accept that their relatives were dead.

“You must accept that they are no longer alive and be prepared for what may happen,” Beeld quoted Captain Anton Groenewald, from the Swartkops police station, at a counselling session with local residents.

“It can be weeks before the bodies wash up, and it is possible that they may never emerge,” he said.

Counsellors and social workers were sent to help the relatives and the victims' fellow players.

- Sapa/IOL

Two dead after Johannesburg building collapse

Johannesburg - Two men died after a second collapse at a condemned building on the corner of Jeppe and End streets in Johannesburg on Thursday, paramedics said.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Jeffrey Wicks said the second and third floor of the building collapsed.

"Two men were inside the building and were crushed underneath the rubble," he said.

On March 21, a man was injured when a section of the building collapsed.

In February, a fire ripped through the building and people stole the steel support beams from the structure, which may have caused that collapse.

- SAPA/News24

Clear days over Europe continue: France is cloud-free

Image: Rapid Response - NASA

Elements batter Cape Epic riders

Image: As riders battle the head wind during stage 4 of the 2012 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race in the Overberg near Caledon, the route had to be diverted due to a fire threat. (Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS)

Cape Town - First wind, then the threat of fire and finally heavy rains wreaked havoc on Thursday as event organisers of the Cape Epic mountain bike race were forced to change the route and then some tents housing more than a thousand cyclists and journalists collapsed under heavy rain.

More than 1 200 riders - both pro and amateur - take part in the event which takes place over 8 days and 781km, with 16 300m on climbs.

Kati Csak, race diirector, says the race was re-routed on Thursday at one point after the first 100 cyclists had gone through, because the gusting wind suddenly changed direction and a fire threatened the course and riders.

"The wind caused havoc," she said.

Sian Bailey, the spokesperson for the 36ONE-SONGO-SPECIALIZED team said that a number of tents of competitors and members of the media collapsed after heavy rains and wind pounded the campsite at around 20:00 on Thursday evening.

Those affected by the rain and weather were all moved into the school hall, said Csak.

It was still raining late on Thursday evening and the Weather Service warned that heavy rain was expected in the Overberg area of the Western Cape on Friday morning.

"The pro teams all stay in camper vans and are unaffected by the weather," Bailey said.

“The stage was shorter than yesterday, but I think the wattage was higher due to false peaks. When you don’t know the route, it is hard to set goals. Towards the end, strong winds made the dust unbearable. We were lucky that it was pretty quiet when travelling up Babylonstoring and descending on Charlie’s Heaven otherwise it would have been hard to keep balance”, said Christoph Sauser of the 36one-Songo-Specialized team who is wearing the leader's yellow jersey.

Friday’s stage 5 from Caledon through Gabrielskloof near Botrivier and up to the Highlands area near Elgin will kick off as planned even though wet conditions are expected, said Csak.

The route may be adjusted, however, depending on actual conditions.

Scouts will be leaving at 04:00 to recce the route, said Csak.

- News24

IPCC launches Special Report on Extreme Weather Events

In recent years, extreme weather and climate events have taken many lives and caused billions of dollars in economic losses. Is climate change leading to increases in the number and severity of extreme events? How do social and environmental factors interact with weather and climate events to create disasters? And what can be done to make societies more resilient to extremes?

The scientific information on these questions is assessed by a Special Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.

The IPCC, which is co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, released a 19-page Summary for Policymakers in November 2011.

The full 592-page report released 28 March provides the detailed evidence underlying the findings highlighted in the Summary for Policymakers, complete with graphics, full reference details, report glossary and index. In addition the chapters provide comprehensive detail on the concepts and determinants of disaster risk, an assessment of past and future changes in climate extremes and their impacts at global and regional scales, and a discussion of local to international level approaches for managing weather-related risks. Case studies are used to provide valuable insights into best practices and experiences.

“This Special Report, in particular, contributes to frame the challenge of dealing with extreme weather and climate events as an issue in decision-making under uncertainty, analyzing response in the context of risk management,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud and UNEP Executive Director Achm Steiner.


Snow Deficit

(Click on images for larger view.)

One year after being pelted with widespread and abundant snowfall, much of North America stayed brown, gray, and green in the winter of 2011–12. Multiple weather patterns conspired to keep snow from forming and falling often, and warm air temperatures kept it from staying on the ground for long. This mostly snow-deprived winter should mean fewer spring floods, but also less snow melt filling reservoirs and lakes.

These maps were made with data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The top map depicts snow cover in North America from October 1, 2011, to March 20, 2012; the lower map shows the same period in the autumn and winter of 2010 to 2011. The colors depict the percentage of days in which a parcel of land was covered by snow. The deepest blues had snow cover just 10 to 20 percent of the time, while the palest blue depicts near complete snow cover for the season. Gray areas had no measurable snow. The map does not reveal snow depth.

Turn on the image comparison tool to see the difference between the two winters. In 2010-11, the states around the Great Lakes, New England, the Rocky Mountains, and the Basin & Range all received snow over a wider area and for longer duration; likewise in Canada’s Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba provinces. Those areas were all less snowy in 2011-12. Most of the eastern half of the United States and southern Ontario had far less snow in 2011-12, and very little reached the South. Snowfall reached deeper into the Southwest, but was short-lived.

“A major reason for the snow deficits was the persistent position of the jet stream close to the U.S.–Canadian border,” said climatologist Dave Robinson of Rutgers University. “This kept the cold air at bay to the north and permitted mild conditions to persist winter-long across most states. With only infrequent buckling (troughs) in the jet to the south the number and severity of winter storms was reduced—as it is the interaction of different air masses that helps spawn storms.”

Dorothy Hall, who leads the team that creates these NASA snow maps, notes that snow cover products are often built with hydrologists and climate modelers in mind. Knowing how much water is available for irrigation and drinking depends on knowing something about the snowpack on the ground. “Water resource managers need this information so they can plan their reservoir heights,” she noted. “The more accurate the information on the amount of snow cover that will be melting, the more money they can save.”

Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted in early March that “for the first time in four years, no area of the United States faces a high risk of major to record spring flooding, largely due to the limited winter snowfall.” The agency noted that eight of eleven western states still had reservoir levels at or above the normal capacity—a residual effect of last year's thick snow pack.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2012, March 15) Risk of major flooding in spring is low for the first time in four years. Accessed March 27, 2012.
National Weather Service (2012, March 15) National Hydrologic Assessment. Accessed March 27, 2012.
NASA (2012, March 2) NASA Researchers on the Snow Patrol. Accessed March 27, 2012.
Rutgers University Climate Lab (n.d.) Global Snow Lab. Accessed March 27, 2012.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of Jeff Miller, NASA/GSFC. Caption by Michael Carlowicz.

Terra - MODIS - NASA

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Cold Front moving in over Cape Town: Cape Town Webcam (29 March 2012 17h48 SAST)

Cape Town Webcam is provided by - For any comments, please contact us. (Click on images for larger view.

SA National Severe Weather Warning: 29 March 2012 16h00 SAST

Current warning: Kwazulu Natal
Updated: 29/03/2012 16:20:26
Warning: Take action
Subject: Extremely uncomfortable and humid conditions
Detail: Valid: 30/03/2012. 1. Extremely uncomfortable, humid conditions are expected in the north-eastern parts.

Current warning: Limpopo
Updated: 29/03/2012 16:20:26
Warning: Take action
Subject: Extremely uncomfortable, humid conditions.
Detail: Valid: 30/03/2012. 1. Extremely uncomfortable, humid conditions are expected in the lowveld.

Current warning: Mpumalanga
Updated: 29/03/2012 16:20:26
Warning: Take action
Subject: Extremely uncomfortablr, humid conditions.
Detail: Valid: 30/03/2012. 1. Extremely uncomfortable, humid conditions are expected in the lowveld.

Current warning: Western Cape
Updated: 29/03/2012 16:20:26
Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy Rain and very rough seas.
Detail: Valid: 30/03/2012 Warning: 1. Heavy rain is expected in the Cape Metropole, south-western mountains of the Cape Winelands District, Overberg District on Thursday night, spreading along the south-coast on Friday morning. Watch: 1. Very rough seas in excess of 4m is expected between Cape Columbine and Cape Agulhas.

Current warning: All other Provinces
Updated: 29/03/2012 16:20:26
No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts.
Detail: No Alerts.


SA Weather Satellite Image: 29 March 2012 14h28 SAST

Image: NOAA19 (Ben Engelbrecht, Dundee) Click on image for larger view.

GFS Medium Range Forecasts of Vertical Velocity and Precipitation: 29 - 30 March 2012

- U.S. National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Click on image for larger view.

Woman killed in house fire

[Sonlandpark 28 March 2012 01:30]

In the early hours of this morning, a woman passed away tragically after allegedly being trapped in a burning house in Sonlandpark in the Vaal Triangle.

Paramedics who arrived at the scene were told that it appeared that the fire had started in a back section of the house. Neighbours had been alerted to the smoke and they then alerted the Emergency Services. In the mean while, they knew a woman (82) and her daughter (57), lived in the house. Despite thick smoke and the dangers of the fire, they entered the house to rescue the two women. They managed to get the 82 year old woman to safety, and she was taken to Mediclinic Vereeniging by ambulance for treatment of possible smoke inhalation.

The neighbours also explained that the woman's daughter had undergone an operation about a week ago and she was immobile. They tried to get her out of the burning house quickly, but with such thick smoke and having to bear most of the woman's weight, civilian rescuers struggled. On a second attempt they pulled her out of the house, but tragically, the woman had already succumbed to the fire and smoke. Despite this, they tried CPR on her as a last attempt to save her life, but paramedics who arrived at the scene performed all necessary assessments and the woman showed no signs of life. She was pronounced dead on the scene, with multiple and extensive burn wounds to her head, neck, back and chest area.

The neighbours were also checked by paramedics but fortunately were found to have sustained no physical injury. If it were not for their caring and heroism, there may have been a double tragedy resulting from this fire.

The cause of the fire will need to be determined after investigations are conducted by the necessary officials.

Vanessa Jackson, ER24

25 year old man missing after midday swim

At 14h32 on Tuesday, 27th March, NSRI Richards Bay volunteers were activated following reports of a man missing, suspected to have gone missing in the sea, at RMB Leafed Area (Richards Bay Mineral Mine), 5 nautical miles North of Richards Bay.

NSRI launched our sea rescue craft Spirit of Round Table and our rescue vehicle responded by road to join the SA Police Force, the Police Dive Unit and the Sea Border Police on the very remote and rural stretch of beach.

The missing 25 year old local man, who reportedly said that he was going to the beach to swim at midday, hasn’t been seen since. When the man failed to return the local community members went to look for him and found only his clothes folded up on the beach and they then raised the alarm.

Despite the extensive search no sign of the missing man has been found and Police are continuing with an ongoing search and an inquest docket has been opened to investigate the circumstances of the man’s disappearance.


Scientists warn of 'emergency on global scale'

INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Leading scientists on Thursday called on the upcoming Rio Summit to grapple with environmental ills that they said pointed to "a humanitarian emergency on a global scale."

In a "State of the Planet" declaration issued after a four-day conference, the scientists said Earth was now facing unprecedented challenges, from water stress, pollution and species loss to spiralling demands for food.

They called on the June 20-22 followup to the 1992 Earth Summit to overhaul governance of the environment and sweep away a fixation with GDP as the sole barometer of wellbeing.

"The continuing function of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilisation in recent centuries is at risk," said the statement issued at the "Planet Under Pressure" conference.

"These threats risk intensifying economic, ecological and social crises, creating the potential for a humanitarian emergency on a global scale."

The conference gathered nearly 3,000 environment scientists, economists, business executives and policymakers in the runup to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio.

In a recorded message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he welcomed the declaration, saying "its timing... could not be better."

"Climate change, the financial crisis and food, water and energy security threaten human wellbeing and civilisation as we know it," he said.

Ban added that he was considering appointing a scientific board or a chief scientific advisor to advise him and other UN organs.

The conference declaration said humanity's impact on Earth was now so great that a new era -- "the Anthropocene," a term derived from the Greek word for human -- had emerged.

Globalisation has shown that economies and societies are now "highly interconnected and interdependent," it said.

These changes have brought stability and innovation but created a system vulnerable to sudden stress, as the global financial meltdown and surge in food prices had shown.

Tackling the problems of global environment change will mean major reforms, it said.

One is the question of governance.

"Existing international arrrangements are not dealing quickly enough with current global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss," said the statement.

It called for a "polycentric approach" for planetary stewardship, meaning a diverse partnership between local, national and regional governments that also includes business and grassroots groups.

But another need was to scrap obsessions with gross domestic product (GDP) as the only benchmark of progress. Governments should also include environment, health and social factors.

"A crucial transformation is to move away from income as the key constituent of wellbeing and to develop new indicators that measure actual improvements in wellbeing at all scales," the declaration said.

Source : Sapa/George Herald

’n Straal wat tot lugramp kan lei

Wat begin as ’n laserstraaltjie van ’n enkele millimeter het die uitwerking van ’n volsterkte kollig wanneer dit etlike honderde meters in die lug in ’n vliegtuig se stuurkajuit skyn.

Selfs al duur dit net enkele sekondes, bly die verblindende beeld daarvan boonop veel langer in ’n vlieënier se sig.

Dít is hoe vlieëniers die uitwerking van lasers, wat toenemend op vliegtuie gerig word, beskryf.

ATNS, wat verantwoordelik is vir lugverkeersdienste in Suid-Afrika, het die naweek gewaarsku byna 200 sulke voorvalle het die afgelope twee jaar by die land se grootste lughawens voorgekom.

Beeld het vandeesweek ook vasgestel dat die lasers, wat gewoonlik gebruik word om sterre na te speur, vryelik op vlooimarkte en op die internet beskikbaar is vir so min as R200.

Op ’n enkele mark in die noorde van Pretoria het vier handelaars voorraad van die lasers in verskillende sterktes gehad.

Volgens ATNS het die meeste van die voorvalle wat aangemeld is (58,5%) by die Kaapstadse Lughawe voorgekom, gevolg deur Lanseria in Randburg (11%) en die O.R. Tambo- en die Oos-Londense Lughawe (elk 7,7%).

Volgens ATNS en vlieëniers is die laservoorvalle geen toeval nie.

Kapt. Margie Viljoen, kommersiële vlieënier en uitvoerende komiteelid van die Lugrederyvlieëniersvereniging van Suid-Afrika, het gesê by drie lughawens waar lasers in haar oë geskyn is, kon sy duidelik sien hoe die mense op die grond die vliegtuig se vlugpad begin volg.

In die meeste gevalle word lasers met ’n groen lig gebruik, maar volgens Viljoen het een van haar kollegas ook ’n voorval met ’n rooi laser beleef.

“Die uitwerking bly dieselfde. Omdat dit so skielik in volle intensiteit in jou oë skyn, is jou eerste reaksie om na die bron van die lig te kyk en dan kan jy niks buiten die lig sien nie.

“Dit het die laaste paar maande met my by Kaapstad, O.R. Tamby en by Lanseria gebeur en ek was gelukkig dat dit my elke keer net ’n kort tydjie verblind het,” het sy gesê.

“Dit was ook nie in een van die gevalle nodig om my landings te onderbreek nie. Die grootste probleem is dat dit op ’n kritieke tydstip in die vlug – opstyging of landing – die vlieënier se konsentrasie onderbreek.

“Die uitwerking kan vergelyk word met wanneer ’n mens in ’n rolprentteater sit en geboei is deur die storie en die volgende oomblik skyn iemand ’n kollig reg in jou gesig. Jy skrik en is momenteel gedisoriënteerd.”

Volgens haar is opvoeding die enigste wyse waarop mense bewus gemaak kan word van die gevolge van hul dade, naamlik dat ’n passasiersvliegtuig vol mense en ’n vlieënier wat nie kan sien nie, kan neerstort.

Afgesien van bewusmaking is strenger wetgewing wat die verkoop van die lasers reguleer ook nodig.

Mnr. Christo de Bruin, wat in ’n veiligheidstoestelwinkel in Pretoria werk, sê groen lasers soos die een hieronder kan blywende skade aan iemand se sig aanrig.

Hy sê die lasers is wettig en ’n mens hoef nie ’n lisensie te hê om dit te koop nie, maar hulle verkoop dit in die reël nie aan jongmense wat nie deur hul ouers vergesel word nie.

Hul winkel hou net 50 mW- en 100 mW-l asers aan, maar sterker lasers van 200 mW kan volgens hom plastieksakke smelt en selfs swart ballonne laat ontplof.

“Dink net watter skade dit aan jou oë kan aanrig.”

De Bruin sê hul grootste ­klante is die jagbedryf wat mense op nagritte vat waar die lasers glo gebruik word vir steruitwysing.

By Beeld se besoek aan die Montana Traders-vlooimark in die noorde van Pretoria was daar minstens vier winkels waarin die groen lasers vrylik beskikbaar was.

Vir so min as R250 kan mens ’n 200 mW-laser kry en vir R400 ’n 500-mW laser.

De Bruin meen daar is baie namaaksels op vlooimarkte wat nie werklik so sterk as wat dit sê nie.

Wettig en nie so duur: ’n Laser van 50 mW.

Oortreders al doodgeskiet

In die VSA het die rig van lasers op vliegtuie vanjaar tot meer as agt voorvalle per nag toegeneem.

Dít verteenwoordig ’n styging van bykans 13% teenoor dieselfde tydperk verlede jaar.

Volgens die Federale Lugvaartowerheid (FAA) is minstens 100 gevalle waarin vlieëniers newe-effekte weens die verblinding ervaar het verlede jaar aangemeld.

In Suid-Afrika was daar tot dusver nog net twee inhegtenisnemings weens oortredings met lasers. Nie een van hulle is nog afgehandel nie.

In die VSA is verskeie mense die afgelope drie jaar vir tussen twee en drie jaar tronk toe gestuur.

In een geval in die VSA en in nog een twee jaar gelede in Thailand is die oortreders doodgeskiet nadat hulle op polisiehelikopters geskyn en die polisie op hulle gevuur het.

- Die Beeld