Welcome to South Tyneside!

South Tyneside is a Metropolitan Borough in Tyne and Wear, in the North East of England

It is bordered by Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and North Tyneside. The borough was formed on 1 April 1974 by the merger of South Shields, Jarrow, The Boldons and Hebburn.

South Tyneside has an area of around 24.88 sq miles and an estimated population of 153,700. It is bordered to the east by the North Sea and to the north by the River Tyne.

The area is made up of South Shields, which is the main town, Jarrow, Hebburn, Cleadon, Whitburn and the Boldons.

South Tyneside is represented by two Members of Parliament, one constituency being South Shields and the other one being Jarrow.

Ship Building was a massive trade in South Tyneside, years ago 25% of the world’s ships were built on the banks of the Tyne.  Ship Building is still an important part in this part of the world, with many employed refitting ships. South Tyneside College specialises in maritime training,  and attracts students from around the world.

Tourism is also an important industry, and with beaches like the ones we have in South Shields that is no suprise – clean and well maintained, with a beachfront fair and soft play, the only thing that could improve it would be if we could guarantee the weather…………….There are beautiful gardens to be found in Marine Park, with a boating lake and miniature railway, amusement arcades….with the miles of sea front from South Shields through to Sunderland, with plenty of places to eat and keep you entertained for a lovely day out South Tyneside is well worth a visit.  With caravan parks and plenty of B&B’s there are places to stay to suit everybody.  During the summer months there are live outdoor music events in Bent’s Park and at the ampitheatre

South Shields town centre has 2 Supermarkets, as well as high street shops, and there is also a  regular market.  South Shields museum & art gallery is worth a visit, it has everchanging displays, as well as children’s crafts etc through school holidays. Arbeia Roman Fort Museum offers a reconstructed Roman fort at the Lawe Top.  On the coast road to Whitburn, Marsden Rock, a limestone sea stack colonised by sea birds, is a longstanding tourist attraction. Less famous is the nearby Souter Lighthouse, the first in the world to be generated by electricity, and the secluded Jackie’s Beach is a welcome change from the busier beaches of Marsden.

The Customs House Arts Centre,situated in the Mill Dam conservation area hosts theatre,cinema, art gallery and restaurant and is open 363 days a year

Well-known South Tynesiders include author Dame Catherine Cookson, former three times Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir William Scott, actress Dame Flora Robson, Monty Python actor Eric Idle, Hollywood director Ridley Scott, waxed jacket inventor J Barbour and athlete Steve Cram. Author Lewis Caroll was inspired to write ‘Alic’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glasss’ by local residents he met when staying in Whitburn. Singer Joe McElderry who won the 2009 X Factor also comes from the area as well as 2011 X Factor Winners Little Mix.  Ginger of British rock heroes The Wildhearts is from South Shields.

 This info was gathered from Wiki

Severe Weather – The Tornado

The United Kingdom has around 33 tornados per year, which is the second highest amount per land area in the world.

Although still made up of wind, a tornado is a completely different kettle of fish from a hurricane.  A tornado forms over land, it is a violent rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground, and in some cases can destroy anything in its path.  Tornados can have windspeeds reaching 300mph, and can often form with very little warning.  Most tornadoes form from thunderstorms. You need warm, moist air  and cool, dry air. When these two air masses meet, they create instability in the atmosphere. A change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed with increasing height creates an invisible, horizontal spinning effect in the lower atmosphere. Rising air within the updraft tilts the rotating air from horizontal to vertical. An area of rotation, 2-6 miles wide, now extends through much of the storm. Most strong and violent tornadoes form within this area of strong rotation.  A funnel cloud is a rotating cone-shaped column of air extending downward from the base of a thunderstorm, but not touching the ground. When it reaches the ground it is called a tornado.

Twisters, as they are often known, are often accompanied by hail. Giant, persistent thunderstorms called supercells spawn the most destructive tornadoes.

These violent storms occur around the world, but the United States is a major hotspot with about a thousand tornadoes every year. “Tornado Alley,” a region that includes eastern South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, northern Texas, and eastern Colorado, is home to the most powerful and destructive of these storms. U.S. tornadoes cause 80 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries per year.  The meteorological factors that drive tornadoes make them more likely at some times than at others. They occur more often in late afternoon, when thunderstorms are common, and are more prevalent in spring and summer. However, tornadoes can and do form at any time of the day and year.

Tornadoes’ distinctive funnel clouds are actually transparent. They become visible when water droplets pulled from a storm’s moist air condense or when dust and debris are taken up. Funnels typically grow about 660 feet (200 meters) wide.

Tornadoes move at speeds of about 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 kilometers) per hour, although they’ve been clocked in bursts up to 70 miles (113 kilometers) per hour. Most don’t get very far though. They rarely travel more than about six miles (ten kilometers) in their short lifetimes.  Like hurricanes, tornados are classed by windspeed, as hurricanes have the saffir simpson scale, tornados haveThe Fujita Tornado Scale:

Category FO – Gale Tornado Category 40 – 72 mph
Light damage: some damage to chimneys, breaks branches off trees, pushes over shallow-rooted trees, and damages sign boards.

Category F1 –  Moderate Tornado Category 73 – 112 mph
Moderate damage: The lower limit Category 73 mph– is the beginning of hurricane wind speed, peels surfaces of roofs, mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned, and moving autos pushed off roads.

Category F2 –  Significant Tornado Category 112 – 157 mph
Considerable damage: Roofs torn off the frames of houses, mobile homes demolished, boxcars pushed over, large trees snapped or uprooted, and heavy cars lifted off ground and thrown

Category F3 –  Severe Tornado Category 158 – 206 mph
Severe damage: Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed houses, trains overturned, most trees in forest uprooted, and heavy cars lifted off ground and thrown.

Category F4 – Devastating Tornado Category 207 – 260 mph
Devastating damage: Well-constructed houses leveled, structures blown off weak foundations, and cars and other large objects thrown about.

Category F5 – Incredible Tornado Category 261 – 318 mph
Incredible damage: Strong frame houses are lifted off foundations and carried a considerable distance and disintegrated, automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters, and trees debarked.

Category F6+ –  Inconceivable Tornado Category 319 – 379 mph
The maximum wind speed of tornadoes is not expected to reach the F6 wind speeds.

Tornadoes can be classified into one of three types:

Weak Tornadoes Category F0/F1
These tornadoes account for 74% of all tornadoes. They cause less than 5% of tornado deaths. Their lifetime is usually 1 – 10+ minutes with wind speeds less than 113 mph.

Strong Tornadoes Category F2/F3
These tornadoes account for 25% of all tornadoes. They cause nearly 30% of all tornado deaths and may last 20 minutes or longer. Their wind speeds are clocked between 113 and 206 mph.

Violent Tornadoes Category F4/F5
These rare tornadoes account for less than 2% of all tornadoes. However, they cause 67% of all tornado deaths nationwide. They may last for one hour or more with wind speeds greater than 206 mph.

Earthquakes

An earthquake can be one of the most catastrophic events to strike, whether it be inland or out at sea.

The sheer energy unleashed by an earthquake can cause so much damage it can be hard to comprehend.  But how exactly do these earth tremors happen?  Well, our planet’s seemingly stable surface is made up of enormous pieces of rock, also known as tectonic plates, that are slowly but constantly moving. Those pieces continually collide with and rub against one another, and sometimes their edges abruptly crack or slip and suddenly release huge amounts of pent-up energy. These unsettling events are called earthquakes, and small ones happen across the planet every day, without people even noticing. But every so often, a big earthquake occurs, and when that happens, the pulses of energy it releases, called seismic waves, can wreak almost unfathomable destruction and kill and injure many thousands of people.

CAN WE GET A PIC OF THE TECTONIC PLATES IN HERE??

Tectonic Earthquakes 

Tectonic earthquakes are triggered when the crust becomes subjected to strain, and eventually moves. The theory of plate tectonics explains how the crust of the Earth is made of several plates, large areas of crust which float on the Mantle. Since these plates are free to slowly move, they can either drift towards each other, away from each other or slide past each other. Many of the earthquakes which we feel are located in the areas where plates collide or try to slide past each other.

The process which explains these earthquakes, known as Elastic Rebound Theory can be demonstrated with a green twig or branch. Holding both ends, the twig can be slowly bent. As it is bent, energy is built up within it. A point will be reached where the twig suddenly snaps. At this moment the energy within the twig has exceeded the Elastic Limit of the twig. As it snaps the energy is released, causing the twig to vibrate and to produce sound waves.

Perhaps the most famous example of plates sliding past each other is the San Andreas Fault in California. Here, two plates, the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate, are both moving in a roughly northwesterly direction, but one is moving faster than the other. The San Francisco area is subjected to hundreds of small earthquakes every year as the two plates grind against each other. Occasionally, as in 1989, a much larger movement occurs, triggering a far more violent ‘quake’.

Major earthquakes are sometimes preceded by a period of changed activity. This might take the form of more frequent minor shocks as the rocks begin to move,called foreshocks , or a period of less frequent shocks as the two rock masses temporarily ‘stick’ and become locked together. Detailed surveys in San Francisco have shown that railway lines, fences and other longitudinal features very slowly become deformed as the pressure builds up in the rocks, then become noticeably offset when a movement occurs along the fault. Following the main shock, there may be further movements, called aftershocks, which occur as the rock masses ‘settle down’ in their new positions. Such aftershocks cause problems for rescue services, bringing down buildings already weakened by the main earthquake.

The san Andreas fault is probably one of the most famous of the fault lines, and it lies in the Pacific Basin.  This area is part of what is commonly known as the Ring of fire, and it takes  in a 25,000 mile horseshoe shape. It is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches,  volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanos.

INSERT PIC OF RING OF FIRE

The Ring of Fire

About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 89% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.  Countries that lie along these plates are:

Chile, Bolivia, Central America,  North America Cordillera, Mexico, United States, Canada. Russia, Japan, The Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand and Antarctica.

The next most seismic region (5–6% of earthquakes and 17% of the world’s largest earthquakes) is the alpide belt, which extends from Java to Sumatra through the Himalayas, the Mediterreanean, and out into the Atlantic. The Mid-atlantic ridge is the third most prominent earthquake belt.

 Volcanic Earthquakes 

Volcanic earthquakes are far less common than Tectonic ones. They are triggered by the explosive eruption of a volcano. Given that not all volcanoes are prone to violent eruption, and that most are ‘quiet’ for the majority of the time, it is not surprising to find that they are comparatively rare.

When a volcano explodes, it is likely that the associated earthquake effects will be confined to an area 10 to 20 miles around its base, where as a tectonic earthquake may be felt around the globe.

The volcanoes which are most likely to explode violently are those which produce acidic lava. Acidic lava cools and sets very quickly upon contact with the air. This tends to chock the volcanic vent and block the further escape of pressure. For example, in the case of Mt Pelee, the lava solidified before it could flow down the sides of the volcano. Instead it formed a spine of solid rock within the volcano vent. The only way in which such a blockage can be removed is by the build up of pressure to the point at which the blockage is literally exploded out of the way. In reality, the weakest part of the volcano will be the part which gives way, sometimes leading to a sideways explosion as in the Mt St.Helens eruption.

When extraordinary levels of pressure develop, the resultant explosion can be devastating, producing an earthquake of considerable magnitude. When Krakatoa ( Indonesia, between Java and Sumatra ) exploded in 1883, the explosion was heard over 5000 km away in Australia. The shockwaves produced a series of tsunami ( large sea waves ), one of which was over 36m high; that’s the same as four, two story houses stacked on top of each other. These swept over the coastal areas of Java and Sumatra killing over 36,000 people.

By contrast, volcanoes producing free flowing basic lava rarely cause earthquakes. The lava flows freely out of the vent and down the sides of the volcano, releasing pressure evenly and constantly. Since pressure doesn’t build up, violent explosions do not occur.

Info from geography-site.co.uk

Tsunami

One side effect of some earthquakes that can prove to be extremely lethal are tsunamis.

The word tsunami (pronounced soo-NAH-mee) is Japanese, and it means ‘harbour wave’.

A tsunami is a huge volume of moving seawater. These giant waves can travel for thousands of miles across the sea and still have enough energy and force to destroy buildings, trees, wildlife and people.

If you throw a stone in a pond it will create a series of ripples. A tsunami is just like those ripples but the disturbance that sets them moving is much greater than a small stone. It can be triggered by an undersea earthquake, landslide or volcanic eruption.

In deep water tsunami waves can extend thousands of feet into the sea, and reach speeds of 500mph, almost fast enough to keep up with a jet airplane. There can be up to a hundred miles between each wave, which may be just a few feet above the sea.

Most Tsunamis are caused by undersea earthquakes. These underwater earthquakes cause disruption to the seafloor and, in turn, the overlying water. A tsunami and has nothing to do with tides although it is sometimes mistakenly called a tidal wave.

As discussed in the earthquake section of this website, the earth is made up of several pieces of hard rock that fit together a bit like a jigsaw. These are called tectonic plates and they move very slowly. Oceanic plates are denser/heavier than continental plates and so they slide under the continental plates. Where this happens it is called a subduction zone. There are subduction zones off Chile, Nicaragua, Mexico and Indonesia. These areas are prone to earthquakes, which happen when the plates suddenly move against each other.

Recently there have been 2 destructive tsunamis generated by massive earthquakes, themost recent being Friday 11 March 2011. An underwater earthquake triggered a tsunami which hit Japan’s north-east coast. The earthquake was the most powerful ever recorded in Japan causing a 10 metre tsunami wave to hit the city of Sendai and further devastate several coastal communities. The death toll is still rising but is expected to exceed 10,000, and entire communities were wiped out and destroyed by the surge of water.

Prior to that, on 26th December 2004 a devastating tsunami hit Indonesia and affectedseveral countries. The tsunami was caused by an underwater earthquake which measured 9.15 on the Richter scale. Amongst the affected countries was Somalia in Africa which is almost 3000 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.

The initial tsunami waves took a little over 2 hours to reach the teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka, and additional waves continued to arrive for many hours afterward.

This information was taken from ypte.org.uk

Hurricanes

Hurricanes, cyclones, tropical storms, typhoons….these are all the same thing, but are named differently depending where on earth they are formed.

A storm that is created in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean (east of the dateline) or the South Pacific Ocean (east of 160E) will be called a Hurricane.  The same kind of storm that forms in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, west of the dateline, will be called a Typhoon.  A Tropical Cyclone will form in the Southwest Indian Ocean.  These kind of storms can cause catastrophic damage if they reach land.

How do they form?

In the case of a hurricane, the storm begins life in tropical regions. They form there because they need warm water of at least 26°C, high humidity with moist air, light winds, and very warm surface temperatures. Summer and the early fall months are perfect for hurricanes to brew up in the oceans around us. Most of the Atlantic hurricanes brew up on the coast of Africa. For that the northern hemisphere hurricane season is considered through the months of June and November.  Continue reading

How does it snow?

Most precipitation that falls to the earth actually starts off as snow. The process of water forming into snow begins high in the earth’s atmosphere.

I have often heard the term “too cold for snow“.  This is in fact a myth, how else would the poles have so much of the white stuff?  As long as there is some source of moisture and some way to lift or cool the air you can get snow. It is true, however, that most heavy snowfalls occur with relatively warm air temperatures near the ground, typically -9°C (15°F) or warmer, since air can hold more water vapor at warmer temperatures.  However, the snow can still reach the ground when the ground temperature is above freezing if the conditions are just right. In this case, snowflakes will begin to melt as they reach this warmer temperature layer; the melting creates evaporative cooling which cools the air immediately around the snow flake.  As a general rule though, snow will not form if the ground temperature is above 5°C.

Snow forecasts are better than they used to be and they continue to improve, but snow forecasting remains one of the more difficult challenges for meteorologists. One reason is that for many of the more intense snows, the heaviest snow amounts fall in surprisingly narrow bands that are on a smaller scale than observing networks and forecast zones. Also, extremely small temperature differences that define the boundary line between rain and snow make night and day differences in snow forecasts.

This is part of the fun and frustration that makes snow forecasting so interesting.