Welcome to the Willis University. This is a site dedicated mostly to the world's natural disasters. Also some random inserts of global news from credible sources and also a mixture of opinion. Some of the opinions are not suitable for all. Please remember this is my opinion only. Thanks to all for the guidance I've been given.

May 30, 2007

Tropical Storm Barbara forms off Mexico

MEXICO CITY - Tropical Storm Barbara formed Wednesday off the southwestern coast of Mexico and could strengthen to a hurricane within days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Barbara follows Alvin, the first tropical storm of the eastern Pacific's 2007 season. It formed Monday but was downgraded to a tropical depression as it headed away from land.

Two eastern Pacific storms in May is unprecedented — the hurricane center has named only two May storms in the past, in 1984 and 1956.

May 29, 2007

U.S. isolates traveler infected with super-TB

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has isolated a man who may have exposed fellow passengers on two transatlantic flights to a strain of tuberculosis that is extremely hard to treat, officials said on Tuesday.

It was the first time the federal government has issued such an isolation order since at least 1963, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said authorities were trying to notify passengers who traveled aboard Air France 385 from Atlanta to Paris on May 13 and back to the United States from Prague on Czech Air Flight 0104 on May 24.

Mild Bird Flu Could Cause Pandemic Too

LONDON (AP) -- Four people in Britain who tested positive for a mild strain of bird flu should serve as a reminder that a virus other than the feared H5N1 strain could also provoke a flu pandemic, experts say.

Health officials in recent years have focused on the threat from H5N1, which has killed at least 186 people worldwide since 2003. But some experts worry that seemingly less dangerous bird flu subtypes like H7 aren't getting enough attention.

"There may be a bit of complacency when it comes to recognizing the pandemic potential of H7 viruses," said Dr. Michael Perdue, a World Health Organization expert.

Four Mild Cases of Bird Flu Found in Britain

LONDON (May 25) - Four people have tested positive for a mild strain of bird flu , British authorities said Friday.

The cases - which are not the feared H5N1 strain, but the less dangerous H7N2 subtype - were reported after poultry died at a small farm in north Wales. Tests were performed on nine people associated with the farm, and the Health Protection Agency said in a news release that four people had tested positive for the H7N2 strain of the virus.

Three of the nine were hospitalized, but have since been discharged, the agency said.

May 24, 2007

Evidence of Catastrophic Floods on Mars

This amazing image was captured by ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, and shows the Deuteronilus Mensae on Mars, a region shaped by glaciers millions of years ago. The large depression in the middle of the image is approximately 2 km (1.2 miles) deep, and measures 110 km (68 miles) across.

Many deep valleys cut by intense flooding feed into the region. It’s believed that these valleys were caused by intense flooding from melted water ice. This water froze quickly, turning into glaciers that flowed downhill.

Although it’s cold and dead now, Mars was once geologically active. It’s believed that rising magma, or impact events could melt vast regions of ice, resulting in major flooding events.

Tornado Reported in Texas Panhandle

Thunderstorms swept across the northern area of the Texas Panhandle on Wednesday, bringing up to tennis-ball sized hail, high winds and heavy rains.

A tornado touched down near the small town of Darrouzett in Lipscomb County and several others were spotted in the Panhandle in open country, authorities said. No damage or injuries were reported.

There was one report of 60 mph winds, said Rich Wynne, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Amarillo.

Tornado warnings were issued from late afternoon through the evening for several counties in the Panhandle.

Bubonic plague

The bubonic plague is the best-known variant of the deadly infectious disease caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis. The epidemiological use of the term plague is currently applied to bacterial infections that cause buboes, although historically the medical use of the term plague has been applied to pandemic infections in general.

May 22, 2007

Monkey dead from bubonic plague in US

DENVER: A Denver Zoo monkey has died of bubonic plague, apparently after eating a squirrel stricken with the disease, Colorado health and zoo officials said on Monday.

Five squirrels and a rabbit found dead on zoo grounds tested positive for the flea-borne disease in recent weeks, a Denver Zoo spokeswoman said. Zookeepers on May 15 noticed the 8-year-old hooded capuchin monkey was lethargic, and the next day it was found dead in its enclosure.

Zoo veterinarians sent tissue samples to a laboratory where it was determined the animal died of the plague. Officials said that the risk of plague spreading to humans was extremely low.

Bird Flu Strikes Duck Farms in Vietnam

Vietnamese authorities say the H5N1 strain of bird flu has struck farms in four provinces in Vietnam, killing almost 2,000 unvaccinated ducks.

Authorities said Tuesday the virus has been found in the three northern provinces of Son La, Quang Ninh, Nam Dinh and in the country's southern Mekong Delta province of Can Tho.

Nearly 6,000 birds have been culled.

May 21, 2007

Top 25 Web Hoaxes and Pranks

Everyone that recieves email should have seen atleast one of these. Make sure to click on the link below.<p> These online spoofs and shams have made the rounds on Web sites and through e-mail. Perhaps you even believed one or two of them yourself.

Whether they take the form of a comic image of a giant cat or a desperate plea from a sick child, chain e-mail messages and Internet frauds are elements of the online landscape that we've all encountered. No topic is off limits: a medical warning, a promise of free money, or a believably (or shoddily) Photoshopped image. But at the end of the day, they're just elaborate hoaxes or clever pranks--and we've collected 25 of the most infamous ones ever to have graced the Internet or our inboxes.

Though some of these deceptions originated years ago, the originals--and dozens of variants--continue to make the rounds. If you keep a patient vigil over your e-mail, you too may eventually spot a message urging you to FORWARD THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!! And if you haven't had enough when you finish reading this article, take a hoax test at the Museum of Hoaxes, and then hop over to Snopes, the premier myth-dispelling site for coverage of zillions of other falsifications.

May 11, 2007

Microburst in San Antonio

The UW recieved an interesting email from a adamant reader this moring. A microburst hit San Antonio, Texas yesterday shortly after 5 p.m. CST yesterday. Please see story below. A special thanks to Laurie!!

A microburst from a thunderstorm broke tree limbs and brought down a powerline on the North Side, causing 24 homes to lose power along Perrin Beitel Road shortly after 5 p.m. The damage spanned a one-kilometer radius.

May 09, 2007

Big Georgia Fire Heads Into Florida

SANDERSON, Fla. (AP) - Crews already battling more than 200 wildfires across Florida faced a new threat Tuesday as a huge blaze in Georgia moved toward the state line and a smaller fire crossed it.

Besides the sheer number of fires, high wind and tinder-dry conditions made it difficult to battle the Florida blazes, which had covered about 78 square miles, or 50,000 acres. Authorities evacuated about 300 homes in north Florida on Tuesday and hundreds more residents were on evacuation standby.

"The weather expected is red-flag conditions for all of Florida," said Jim Harrell, a state Division of Forestry spokesman.

Wildfire Blazes Behind LA Observatory

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Firefighters made progress early Wednesday against a wildfire blazing over Dante's View in the brush-covered hills behind the city's iconic Griffith Observatory. Animals at the nearby Los Angeles Zoo were moved indoors, and dozens of homes were evacuated.

The 600-acre blaze in sprawling Griffith Park was just one firefighters were battling across the nation. A wildfire in northern Minnesota has already destroyed 40 homes and buildings, and brush fires in Georgia and northern Florida have charred more than 200 square miles.

Overnight, five helicopters flew dangerous water-dropping missions in Los Angeles, helping fire crews get the blaze about 40 percent contained.

Griffith Park is a mix of wilderness, cultural sites, horse and hiking trails and recreational facilities set on more than 4,000 acres in the hills between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.

Earthquake hits near Sheridan, shakes up residents

HELENA - Students at Sheridan Elementary School were under their desks Tuesday morning, in some cases before teachers realized an earthquake was shaking the area, the school secretary said.

“It was a hard jar, and really loud,” said secretary Jenny Burke. “It was like somebody just shook the heck out of us for two seconds.”

The magnitude 4.6 quake, reported at 9:46 a.m., was centered about nine miles northeast of Sheridan in the Tobacco Root Mountains. It was felt in the Helena, Butte, Dillon and Hamilton areas and as far away as Idaho, according to the U.S. Geological Survey Web site.

First Named Storm of Hurricane Season Forms in Atlantic

MIAMI — Subtropical Storm Andrea formed Wednesday off the southeastern U.S. coast, more than three weeks before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters said.

The year's first named storm had top sustained winds near 45 mph and was centered about 140 miles southeast of Savannah, Ga., at 11 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center said.

Subtropical systems are hybrid weather formations that are usually weaker than hurricanes and tropical storms.

They share characteristics of tropical systems, which get their power from warm ocean waters at their centers, and more typical bad weather that forms when warm and cold fronts collide.,2933,270968,00.html

May 07, 2007

An early start to the Season?

A strong low pressure system has formed off the East Coast of the United States (Figure 1). This system has developed central thunderstorm activity while remaining over the warmish waters of the Gulf Stream. Sea surface temperatures underneath the area of activity are below the usual threshold of 26C, however, upper level temperatures are cold enough that the storm could develop some tropical characteristics.

The forecast track moves it southwestward over the next few days. I'm showing the UKMET model here because it has been the most consistent and best forecast for this storm (Figure 2). To my eye, this looks like classical subtropical development.

May 05, 2007

Kansas, Okla. brace for ‘another long night’

GREENSBURG, Kan. - Emergency crews called off the search for more victims of a tornado that killed eight people and devastated this southwest Kansas town Friday as fresh rounds of severe weather threatened the area Saturday evening.

The National Weather Service said it had three reports of tornadoes making brief touchdowns in nearby counties as a slow-moving storm system moved through, although only minor damage was reported.

“It looks like it’s going to be another long night,” meteorologist Mike Umscheid said.

May 03, 2007

New NASA Pictures Show Volcano on Jupiter's Moon

New images of Jupiter released by NASA show a volcanic eruption on one of the planet's moons and give scientists never-before-seen perspectives of the planet.

The pictures, taken by the New Horizons spacecraft, show the large, volcanically active moon called "lo" while an eruption is taking place, London's Daily Mail reported.

The probe's seven cameras show an umbrella-shaped plume rising 200 miles into space from the volcano Tvashtar.

"It's really exciting that it performed for us," John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., told the Mail. "Galileo was orbiting for six years and we never saw plumes like that," he said, referring to an earlier mission.