Daily Archives: August 22, 2011

Another Colder Than Average Winter Forecast For Ireland And UK

A frozen Donegal Bay. Irish Weather Online Image From Winter 2010-11. Pic Matt Britton

December 2010 was the coldest December across the UK since the national series began in 1910

irishweatheronline.com | Aug 22, 2011

Yet another long range forecasting agency has pinned its colours to the mast by predicting a colder than average winter 2011-12 across Ireland and the United Kingdom.

UK-based Positive Weather Solutions says the winter months will be colder than average everywhere and that some regions will experience significantly colder than average temperatures between December and March.

The agency, which has a relatively high success rate in its long range weather predictions, has also given a 36% chance of the Ireland and Britain experiencing a White Christmas. This prediction in reflected in the latest odds from Paddy Power Bookmakers who on Sunday shortened their odds of snow falling on Christmas Day to 11/4 in in London and 7/2 in Dublin.

The chilly outlook follows six weeks after another UK-based long range weather forecaster, also issued a severe winter weather warning.  James Madden from weather organisation Exacta Weather is once again forecasting record breaking snowfall and freezing temperatures during November, December and January.

Though overall temperatures during the past two winters have been close to or slightly below normal for the season, both Ireland and the UK did experience periods of extreme weather.

Late November and December 2010 brought prolonged periods of cold weather leading to significant disruption to traffic and travel.  Castlederg recorded a Northern Ireland record low temperature of −18.7 °C (−1.7 °F) on the morning of 23rd December 2010, while mercury levels dipped to minus 17.5c in Straide, Co Mayo on Christmas morning. December 2010 also was the coldest December across the UK since the national series began in 1910, according to the UK Met Office.

The “Big Freeze” of November/December 2010 also saw record low temperatures being broken.

Positive Weather Solutions Outlook For Winter 2011-2012:

These are the latest long term projections produced by the PWS System for the UK and Eire. These projections are for ‘general expected theme’ only. Unless stated, averages apply nationwide for UK and Eire.

Ireland Prepares For Possible Severe Weather

The National Roads Authority (NRA) has ordered an additional 80,000 tonnes of rock salt to treat the country’s national road network during winter 2011-2012.  An NRA spokesperson told Irish Weather Online (IWO) that the supplies, which are scheduled to arrive from North Africa during the coming weeks, are in addition to existing grit supplies totalling 70,000 tonnes.

Sean O’Neill stated that a tender had been advertised on etenders.gov.ie for the supply of a further 40,000 tonnes of rock salt to be supplied to local authorities to assist them in their efforts to treat non-national routes.

“We used approximately 115,000 tonnes of grit to treat the national network last winter, which we would consider an unusually cold season compared to average winters in Ireland. In previous years we have not been required to use more than 50-60,000 tonnes of grit”, he said.

Mr. O’Neill noted that the decision to order additional rock salt supplies was made in light of an anticipated rise in demand for supplies closer to the coming winter as well as improved shipping conditions at this time of the year.

Meanwhile, local authorities across the country have already started preparing for any possible repeat of last winter’s Big Freeze. Dozens of additional salt barns are being constructed throughout the country while the storage capacity of many other existing facilities is being increased. Cork County Council has also submitted a tender for the purchase of Winter Maintenance Salt Spreaders and to carry out alterations to Council Trucks.

Elsewhere, the Dublin Airport Authority has already set about securing De-icing Materials for its airports at Dublin, Cork and Shannon.

Fukushima disaster: residents may never return to their radiation-hit homes

Residents from a village near the Fukushima nuclear plant are checked for radiation exposure after returning briefly to their homes to collect belongings. Photograph: Koichi Kamoshida/EPA

Japanese government will admit for first time that radiation levels will be too high to allow many evacuees to return home

guardian.co.uk | Aug 22, 2011

by Justin McCurry, in Tokyo

Residents who lived close to the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant are to be told their homes may be uninhabitable for decades, according to Japanese media reports.

The Japanese prime minister, Naoto Kan, is expected to visit the area at the weekend to tell evacuees they will not be able to return to their homes, even if the operation to stabilise the plant’s stricken reactors by January is successful.

Kan’s announcement will be the first time officials have publicly recognised that radiation damage to areas near the plant could make them too dangerous to live in for at least a generation, effectively meaning that some residents will never return to them.

A Japanese government source is quoted in local media as saying the area could be off-limits for “several decades”. New data has revealed unsafe levels of radiation outside the 12-mile exclusion zone, increasing the likeliness that entire towns will remain unfit for habitation.

The exclusion zone was imposed after a series of hydrogen explosions at the plant following the earthquake and tsunami in March.

The government had planned to lift the evacuation order and allow 80,000 people back into their homes inside the exclusion zone once the reactors had been brought under control. Several thousand others living in random hotspots outside the zone have also had to relocate.

However, in a report issued over the weekend the science ministry projected that radiation accumulated over one year at 22 of 50 tested sites inside the exclusion zone would easily exceed 100 millisieverts, five times higher than the safe level advised by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. “We can’t rule out the possibility that there will be some areas where it will be hard for residents to return to their homes for a long time,” said Yukio Edano, chief cabinet secretaryand face of the government during the disaster. “We are very sorry.”

Edano refused to say which areas were on the no-go list or how long they would remain uninhabitable, adding that a decision would be made after more radiation tests have been conducted.

The government has yet to decide how to compensate the tens of thousands of residents and business owners who will be forced to start new lives elsewhere. The state has hinted that it may buy or rent land from residents in unsafe areas, although it has not ruled out trying to decontaminate them.

Futaba and Okuma, towns less than two miles from the Fukushima plant, are expected to be among those on the blacklist. The annual cumulative radiation dose in one district of Okuma was estimated at 508 millisieverts, which experts believe is high enough to increase the risk of cancer. More than 300 households from the two towns will be allowed to return briefly to their homes next week to collect belongings. It will be the first time residents have visited their homes since the meltdown.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, is working to bring the three crippled reactors and four overheating spent fuel pools to a safe state known as “cold shutdown” by mid-January.

Last week the company estimated that leaks from all three reactors had dropped significantly over the past month.

But signs of progress at the plant have been tempered by widespread contamination of soil, trees, roads and farmland.

Experts say that while health risks can be lowered by measures including the removal of layers of topsoil, vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and children should avoid even minimal exposure.

“Any exposure would pose a health risk, no matter how small,” Hiroaki Koide, a radiation specialist at Kyoto University, told Associated Press. “There is no dose that we should call safe.”

Any government admission that residents will not be able to return to their homes will be closely monitored in Japan.

Suspicions persist that the authorities privately acknowledged this situation several months ago. In April, Kenichi Matsumoto, a senior adviser to the cabinet, quoted Kan as saying that people would not be able to live near the plant for “10 to 20 years”. Matsumoto later claimed to have made the remark himself.