Daily Archives: September 16, 2011

Looming U.S. Winter May Repeat Cold, Snow

bloomberg.com | Sep 16, 2011

By Brian K. Sullivan

The winter of 2011-2012 will probably be colder than normal for much of the northern U.S., although a repeat of the worst of last year’s East Coast snowstorms is unlikely, forecasters said.

A cooling in the Pacific Ocean known as La Nina is predicted to return this year, joined by another season of frigid Arctic blasts caused by pressure differentials over the North Pole and northern Atlantic Ocean.

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“We’re looking at a cold start to the winter with maybe a mild finish,” said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

Forecasters are predicting the coldest weather from the Great Plains to the Great Lakes, along with heavy snows across the northern tier. Cold weather is likely to increase demand for heating and power-plant fuels.

The coming winter may be colder than both the 30- and 10- year averages, increasing heating demand, said Travis Hartman, a meteorologist at MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Nov. 1 to March 31 will probably be 7 percent colder than the 10-year norm and 1.3 percent colder than last year, Rogers said.

Winter Arrives Early In Minnesota

irishweatheronline.com | Sep 16, 2011

By Mark Dunphy

The port city of Duluth in the US State of Minnesota (MN) recorded a trace of snow on Wednesday, tying a daily record for early winter snowfall set in September 1984.

A cold front swept south from Canada resulting in widespread frost and record low temperatures for the time of year in the Upper Midwest and northern Great Lakes regions.

The Minnesota city of International Falls also saw the temperature drop to just 19F (-7.2C) on Wednesday, the coldest temperature on record for the time of year and the first time that a local reading in the teens has been recorded during the month of September.

Sleet in September – 9-14-2011 – Duluth, Minnesota

Elsewhere overnight on Wednesday, lows dipped below freezing as far south as northern Iowa (IO), while Fargo in North Dakota (ND) saw mercury levels drop to the low 30s. Sloulin Field International Airport in North Dakota recorded an overnight low of 27F (-3.3c).

‘Osama’s alive,’ alleged underwear bomber shouts


Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. AFP – Getty Images

Federal marshals stand over suspect at jury selection hearing

msnbc.com | Sep 14, 2011

DETROIT — The man accused of attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound aircraft in 2009 shouted “Osama’s alive” and “I’m forced to wear prison clothes” Wednesday as he arrived for jury selection, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 24-year-old Nigerian student, also shouted “jihad” while the judge told prospective jurors about the allegations against him. His trial is set to begin Oct. 11 and he faces life in prison if convicted.

During the hearing, Abdulmutallab was in a separate room, but prospective jurors were able to watch him via closed-circuit TV.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds denied his request to be judged by Islamic law. Abdulmutallab had argued for his release, claiming he is being unlawfully detained by the U.S. government and that Muslims “should only be ruled by the law of Quran.”

In the hours after the Christmas Day attack, Abdulmutallab told authorities that he was working for al-Qaida and offered details of his “mission, training and radicalization,” prosecutors said in court documents filed last month.

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In a 20-page filing seeking a judge’s permission to use the statements as evidence, the government said Abdulmutallab made incriminating statements to U.S. customs agents at the plane and to FBI agents a few hours later at University of Michigan hospital, where he was being treated for severe burns.

U.S. officials in Washington have long said they believed Abdulmutallab was working for al-Qaida, but the court filing was the first time that prosecutors in Detroit publicly said he confessed to it.

Explosives fizzled

Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253, which had nearly 300 people on board, seven minutes before arrival at Detroit Metropolitan Airport by igniting explosives in his underwear. The bomb fizzled but severely burned his groin.

He wants the statements thrown out because he was not read his Miranda rights against self-incrimination.

The government, however, said there’s a long-established U.S. Supreme Court exception to Miranda if authorities believe there may be an immediate threat to public safety.

Abdulmutallab told U.S. Customs and Border Protection about his links to al-Qaida when officers met the plane at the gate, the U.S. attorney’s office contends. The officers gave the information to FBI agents who met with Abdulmutallab for 50 minutes at the hospital, more than three hours after the plane had landed. The government said there was no coercion.

“Every question was directly related to identifying any other attackers and preventing another potential attack,” the U.S. attorney’s office wrote. “Defendant answered, providing details of his mission, training and radicalization, including his decision months earlier to become involved in violent jihad.”

Under influence of painkiller

Abdulmutallab said he “intended to cause Flight 253 to crash, killing all persons on board,” the government said.

Abdulmutallab was being treated with fentanyl, a strong painkiller, but hospital staff indicated it would not interfere with his ability to speak, the government said.

“The FBI agents who questioned defendant made no threats, displayed no weapons and offered no promises or inducements,” prosecutors said.

Abdulmutallab is acting as his own lawyer with help from a Detroit defense attorney, Anthony Chambers.

Adverse effects

Fentanyl’s major side effects include somnolence, confusion, asthenia (weakness), fatigue, dizziness, nervousness, hallucinations, anxiety, depression…Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome may induce or mimic psychiatric disorders temporarily or long term such as Depression (clinical), Anxiety disorder, Psychosis and in rare cases, even Suicidal ideation.

Protesters demand UN troops leave Haiti


Amidst tear gas, a young man carries stones during a protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, September 14, 2011.
Photo: AP

Police in Haiti have clashed with hundreds of protesters demanding United Nations troops leave the country after peacekeepers allegedly sexually assaulted a young man.

Haitian Protesters Demand Ouster of UN Troops

VOA News | Sep 15, 2011

Police in the capital city of Port-au-Prince fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators Wednesday, while some demonstrators threw rocks at police.

The protest was sparked after a video taken on a cell phone showed several Uruguayan peacekeepers taking part in what appeared to be a sexual assault on an 18-year-old man.  The video was widely seen on the Internet.

Uruguay’s president has apologized to Haiti, saying Uruguayans were humiliated by the “criminal and embarrassing” behavior of a few of their soldiers.  The government has also dismissed a naval officer and recalled five soldiers over the incident. A Uruguayan team is in Haiti investigating the incident.  When U.N. peacekeepers are accused of misconduct, it is up to their country of origin to investigate and discipline any offenders.

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The U.N. said Wednesday it had also sent a senior team to the Caribbean nation to enforce the organization’s zero tolerance policy for misconduct.  The team will meet with the leaders of Haiti’s U.N. mission (MINUSTAH) as well as with Haitian authorities in an effort to show how seriously they take the allegations of sexual abuse.

About the troops

More than 12,000 U.N. troops and police officers serve in Haiti, as part of a force created in 2004 to help stabilize the impoverished and politically volatile country. The U.N. increased the size of the force by a third last year after a devastating earthquake killed more than 220,000 people.

South American countries contributing troops to the Haiti mission have agreed to ask the Security Council to reduce the number of troops deployed there. Officials now believe conditions have improved enough to withdraw some of the additional troops, providing Haiti’s security is not comprised.

Presidential condemnation

Haitian President Michel Martelly has condemned the apparent sexual assault.  However, despite Wednesday’s protest, Martelly is not currently expected to ask that the entire force withdraw.

Forecasters promise another harsh winter

Global forecasts are also showing weather activity to indicate that temperatures will be lower than normal this winter season.

While Swedes are still enjoying the relatively clement weather of early autumn, weather experts are already forecasting another freezing winter to follow the last two.

thelocal.se | Sep 9, 11

”It is true that they generally follow each other,” said meteorologist Lisa Frost from the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) to daily Aftonbladet.

According to experts, the last two winters have been the coldest for the last few decades and statistics from the institute all point to cold winters coming in threes.

”I don’t know why this happens. My personal belief is that it is coincidence,” Frost told the paper.

However, according to the paper, looking at the existing statistics,cold spells seem to last for approximately 3.5 years on average.

The three extremely cold winters 1940-43, during the war, were followed by four very clement winters. Since then, the weather would seem to have followed this 3.5 year pattern.

Despite this, meteorologist Martin Hedberg at forecaster site klart.se agrees with Frost that coincidence probably plays a large part in the weather’s fluctuations between cold and clement winters.

”We are so trained as humans in seeing patterns, that we see them even when it is only coincidence,” Hedberg told Aftonbladet.

However, it is not just statistics that point to another cold winter to follow the last two. Global forecasts are also showing weather activity to indicate that temperatures will be lower than normal this winter season.

”While it is still quite early to make confident winter predictions, an initial analysis suggests that a winter closer to what was observed in 2008-09 might be in the offing. It may not be as severe as the last two winters,” head meteorologist at US forecaster WSI, Todd Crawford, said in a statement.

WSI is forecasting a clement start to the autumn, followed by below average temperatures across the northern hemisphere this winter.

For the time being however, folks in Sweden can look forward to a weekend with summer temperatures in the south and fair weather in many parts of Sweden before unsteady weather reaches the country again next week.

Frigid late summer cold front sweeps across country; new record lows set in Minnesota

washingtonpost.com | Sep 15, 2011

By Jason Samenow

Weather map showing cold front pushing through Texas and across the East Coast today (NWS)

A powerful early fall (or late summer) cold front has plowed across the U.S., resulting in widespread frost and freezes in the Upper Midwest and northern Great Lakes while bringing welcome relief from the record heat in the south central U.S.

In International Falls, Minnesota – the veritable “nation’s icebox” – the mercury plunged to a low of 19 degrees this morning, its coldest temperature on record so early in the season. It was also its first ever reading in the teens during September. Snow flurries were reported in Duluth, which recorded its first freeze this morning, as did Grand Forks, North Dakota.

In Minneapolis, the mercury dropped to a record-tying 36 degrees this morning. Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas reports the cold in the Twin Cities is a “1 in 10 year event”.

Thursday night’s forecast low temperatures.Further south, in Chicago, yesterday’s high was only 58 degrees – equivalent to its average high in late October. WGN’s Tom Skilling wrote: a review of weather records here indicates the reading was the chilliest to occur so early in the “meteorological” fall season in the 37 years since 1974

The cold also penetrated into the Rockies where snow fell at some of the peaks. The Denver Post reports 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulated in the mountains of western Colorado Wednesday night, generally above 10,000 feet.

Some of the biggest temperature swings in the wake of the front have occurred in the central Midwest. In Springfield, Missouri, Wednesday afternoon’s temperatures were only in the upper 50s after reaching the upper 90s the day before.

Oklahoma City, which had its hottest summer on record, will blissfully experience afternoon temperatures nearly 40 degrees colder this afternoon compared to Monday and Tuesday, when highs swelled above the century mark.

While the front won’t pack as much a punch once it pushes through the Lonestar State, Dallas will still enjoy a 20 degree decline in afternoon temperatures today with mid-to-upper 80s rather than 105+. It will be the coolest weather there since mid-May.

The cooler air arrives in the East today, with high temperatures generally in the 50 and 60s from West Virginia to Maine. Along the I-95 corridor, some 70s and 80s (south) are possible before temperatures drop back this afternoon and evening, setting the stage for weather more characteristic of mid-October into the weekend.