Friday, January 15, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Expectations are the enemy of happiness.
They can raise the bar so high that your experience is bound to fall short.**
Eric Weiner

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 1/14/16 -

Volcanic eruptions at the bottom of the sea are at the heart of how the Earth works, yet we know surprisingly little about them. About 70% of the volcanism on Earth occurs underwater. But now, thanks to a network of seafloor sensors connected to the internet, scientists are starting to get a glimpse of the fundamental processes that shape our planet.
This "ocean observatory" is situated atop an underwater mountain range off the coast from Oregon and Washington, and can measure everything from the rumbles of deep-sea earthquakes to the chemical burps of volcanic vents. And it just went online this month. One of the exciting things scientists can do with this observatory is predict volcanic eruptions and monitor them while they're occurring. Earthquakes tell scientists about how the ground is deforming, which can provide clues that there's going to be an eruption.


* In the North Atlantic Ocean -
Hurricane Alex - Conditions deteriorating over the central and eastern Azores. Hurricane conditions expected over portions of the Azores later this morning.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, and Terceira in the central Azores.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Sao Miguel and Santa Maria in the eastern Azores.
Alex is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches over the Azores through today, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 7 inches. These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the east of the center of Alex. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Seven is located approximately 320 nm east of Pago Pago, American Samoa.

* In the Central Pacific -
Remnants of Pali dissipating near the Equator far southwest of Hawaii.
Alex Becomes the Atlantic’s First January Hurricane Since 1955 - History spun up over the far reaches of the Northeast Atlantic on Thursday, as Subtropical Storm Alex carved out a distinct eye within a core of intense thunderstorms, making it Hurricane Alex. The 10 am EST advisory from the National Hurricane Center put Alex’s sustained winds at 85 mph. Alex was located about 500 miles south of Faial Island in the Azores, moving north-northeast at 20 mph.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the islands of Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, and Terceira in the central Azores. Given the strong steering currents driving Alex, there is high confidence that at least some of the central Azores will experience tropical storm or hurricane-force wind, heavy rain, and high surf. To get a hurricane making landfall in the Azores any time of year is quite unusual (about once per 10-20 years); to get a landfall in January would be truly remarkable.
Designated a subtropical storm on Wednesday, Alex took on a surprisingly healthy structure overnight, with a symmetric core of showers and thunderstorms around its clear-cut eye. Sea-surface temperatures beneath Alex are only around 20-22°C (68-72°F). Although these are up to 1°C above average for this time of year, they are far cooler than usually required for tropical cyclone development. However, upper-level temperatures near Alex are unusually cold for the latitude, which means that instability - driven by the contrast between warm, moist lower levels and cold, drier upper levels - is higher than it would otherwise be. That instability allowed showers and thunderstorms to blossom and consolidate, strengthening the warm core that makes Alex a hurricane as opposed to an extratropical or subtropical storm.
Alex’s unusual life as a January hurricane will be a short one. The system is already accelerating northward ahead of a strong upper-level trough, and by late Friday it should be a powerful post- tropical low racing toward Greenland. Even though Alex will become absorbed in the higher-latitude storm system, its warm, moist air may assist in pushing temperatures over parts of Greenland more than 35°F above average this weekend into early next week.

Hurricane Pali weakens to a tropical depression near equator. Late Wednesday was the first time in the modern era of tropical cyclone observing and prediction that we had simultaneous named systems in January in the Atlantic (Alex) and Central Pacific (Pali) - or, for that matter, anywhere in the Pacific. Pali is the earliest named storm and earliest hurricane on record between the International Date Line and the Americas.
It reached Category 2 strength (85 knots or 100 mph) on Tuesday. While Alex was strengthening into a hurricane on Wednesday night, Pali was falling apart. By Thursday morning, Pali had decayed into Tropical Depression Pali, located at 173.0°W and just 2.5°N. Now experiencing moderate to strong wind shear, Pali should be history within the next few hours. Very few tropical cyclones have made it as close to the equator as Pali, since they normally rely on the Corilis force (which is stronger at higher latitudes) to give them a cyclonic spin.
Only two other tropical cyclones have been known to make it within 2° latitude of the equator. When it formed south of 5°N latitude on January 7, Pali became the first tropical cyclone known to have existed in any of the equatorial regions used to monitor El Niño sea-surface conditions.

Which year should Alex and Pali belong to? One might argue that Alex and Pali are actually straggler storms from the 2015 Atlantic and Central Pacific seasons, rather than the first storms of 2016. Tropical sea-surface temperatures north of the equator typically bottom out around March, so there might be some physical rationale for defining the Central/Northeast Pacific and Atlantic hurricane “years” as being from March 1 to February 28/29.
In practice, though, there are very few tropical cyclones in January and February, so in most years this switch would make no difference, and it could foster public confusion. There is a much stronger physical rationale for the practice of straddling hurricane seasons across calendar years in the Southern Hemisphere, where summer arrives in late December and cyclones often form before January 1.


Atlantic hurricane in January linked to El Nino - The rare January hurricane formed far out in the Atlantic, the first to form in the month since 1938. A warning has been issued for the Azores Islands as Hurricane Alex heads in that direction with wind speeds of 140km/h (85 mph). The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said the hurricane was likely to hit the islands on Friday. Residents have been told to expect waves up to 18m (60ft) high and wind gusts up to 160km/h. In calendar terms, Alex is one of the earliest tropical systems to form in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin since records began.
Meanwhile, another tropical storm, Pali, has formed over the Pacific, similarly rare at this time of year. Scientists have linked the storms to powerful winds and high sea surface temperatures resulting from an unusually strong El Nino phenomenon this year. The World Meteorological Organization has said the 2015 occurrence of El Nino will be among the three strongest recorded since 1950.
Severe droughts and significant flooding in many parts of the world are being attributed to the phenomenon, which occurs every two to seven years. El Nino is a naturally occurring weather episode that sees the warm waters of the central Pacific expand eastwards towards North and South America.

Toxic Chemical Discovered in San Francisco's Fog - ​Fog rolling in off the Pacific brings iconic beauty to San Francisco, but scientists say it also carries with it something much less pleasant: toxic mercury.​ The fog along the coast of California deposits a neurotoxin called monomethyl mercury — at a concentration about 20 times that of rain — as it sweeps across the city. "On a relative scale, the levels of mercury are quite low and of no health concern. But it does bioaccumulate," or build up in organisms.


3 close asteroids went by earth this week - closer than the moon's distance to earth:
(2016 AQ164), January 10, 0.3 Lunar distance away, Estimated Diameter 2.8 m - 6.3 meters.
(2016 AH164), January 12, 0.07 Lunar distance away, Estimated Diameter 3.2 m - 7.1 m.
(2016 AN164), January 14, 0.1 Lunar distance away, Estimated Diameter 2.1 m - 4.7 m.

Complete Dates and Times for Each Meteor Shower in 2016.

Astronomers are baffled by a newly discovered cosmic explosion that shines 570 billion times brighter than the sun. This particular super-luminous supernova, called ASASSN-15lh, doesn't just break the record for most powerful — it obliterates it. On average, it outshines the average supernova by 200 times. This goes so beyond the norm that one of the astronomers who first observed it wasn't sure what to make of it.
For a better idea of how bright that is, if you could combine all 100 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy into one enormous, glowing sphere, this super-luminous supernova would still shine 20 times brighter. On June 14, 2015, the group spotted the new explosion that turned out to be much farther away - and much, much brighter - than what they typically find. At its peak intensity, ASASSN-15lh was 570 billion times brighter than our own sun. "We have to ask, how is that even possible?"
The most powerful supernova on record, experts think that they might never see a supernova this bright ever again. "At this point, that we do not know what could be the power source for ASASSN-15lh." One theory is that a type of extremely dense star, called a neutron star, is at the source of it all. Neutron stars are some of the densest objects in the universe and are thought to be the only thing that's left of a star once it's gone supernova.
Many neutron stars are believed to be spinning on their axis — the same way Earth rotates on its axis. And in some neutron stars, the spinning action is so fast that it spawns powerful magnetic fields. Astronomers call these cases magnetars. One theory is that the magnetic fields of magnetars are so strong that they could fuel the power necessary to generate the intense luminosity of observed hypernova. But if this is the case, it would also mean that in order to produce the type of luminosity seen from ASASSN-15lh, the magnetar would have to be spinning at 1,000 times a second.

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**The tongue hits where the tooth hurts.**
**(La lingua batte dove il dente duole).**
Italian proverb

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 1/13/16 -

1/12/15 -


Aleutian Quake Zone Could Shoot Big Tsunamis To Hawaii, California - Tension is building along a major fault in the seabed off Alaska's coast, research shows. Two teams of geologists say portions of the seafloor along the Aleutian Islands in southwestern Alaska could produce tsunamis more devastating than anything seen in the past century. They say California and Hawaii are directly in the line of fire.
Tsunamis — the giant waves generated by undersea earthquakes or landslides — have hit U.S. shorelines before. Often they start along the Aleutian island chain that curves in an arc across the North Pacific. Right underneath, there's a trench where two pieces of the Earth's crust are colliding. The edge of the Pacific Plate is shoving itself under the edge of the North American Plate.


* In the North Atlantic Ocean -
Subtropical storm Alex strengthens a little. Forecast to move toward the Azores, located about 665 mi (1070 km) SSW of the Azores.

* In the Central Pacific -
Tropical storm Pali weakening rapidly as it approaches the Equator far southwest of Hawaii, about 985 mi (1585 km) S of Johnston Island.
Unprecedented: Simultaneous January Named Storms in the Atlantic and Central Pacific - As we ring in the New Year with record to near-record warm temperatures over much of Earth's oceans, we are confronted with something that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago: simultaneous January named storms in both the Atlantic and Central Pacific.
The earliest named storm on record in the Central Pacific, Hurricane Pali, formed on January 7, and now the Atlantic has joined the early-season hurricane party, with Subtropical Storm Alex spinning up into history with 50 mph winds in the waters about 785 miles south-southwest of the Azores Islands. The average date of the first named storm in the Atlantic is July 9; the Central Pacific also typically sees its first named storm in July. Alex could retain its subtropical characteristics till as late as Friday, when it will be shooting northward toward Greenland en route to being absorbed in a high-latitude storm.
Meanwhile, Pali is predicted to remain a tropical cyclone for at least the next five days, perhaps coming within 2° latitude of the equator - something only two other tropical cyclones in world history have been observed to do - as the storm arcs toward the southwest and eventually back northwest, potentially becoming a typhoon when it crosses the Date Line.
A January named storm in the Atlantic - how rare? Alex is just the fourth Atlantic named storm to form in January since record keeping began in 1851. Alex can trace its genesis to an area of low pressure that formed off the Southeast U.S. coast on January 7. Between January 8 and 12, pre-Alex tracked generally eastwards over ocean waters that were 22 - 25°C (72 - 77°F); these temperatures were near- record warm for this time of year (about 2 - 4°F above average).
These temperatures were just high enough so that Alex was able to gradually gain a warm core and become a subtropical storm. It is unlikely that Alex would have formed if these waters had been close to normal temperatures for this time of year. The unusually warm waters for Alex were due, in part, to the high levels of global warming that brought Earth its warmest year on record in 2015.
Global warming made Alex's formation much more likely to occur, and the same can be said for the formation of Hurricane Pali in the Central Pacific. To get both of these storms simultaneously in January is something that would have had a vanishingly small probability more than 30 years ago, before global warming really began to ramp up.

Subtropical Storm Alex in the Atlantic - "A subtropical storm has both tropical and non-tropical characteristics and has a large wind field," Alex is located well in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and doesn't pose a threat to the United States; however, it will affect the Azores. Alex will bring gale- force winds and several inches of heavy rain to the Azores.
Alex is the first tropical system to form over the Atlantic Ocean in January since Subtropical Storm One in 1978. The earliest tropical storm to form in January was Storm One on Jan. 3, 1939. There has only ever been one hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin during the month of January, and that was Hurricane Alice in 1955.


Russia - A blizzard survivor has addressed an angry video message to Russian President Vladimir Putin after about 80 people waited 15 hours for rescuers in the Orenburg region of Russia. A driver froze to death and many others suffered frostbite when their vehicles were trapped on a main road in the region, in the southern Ural mountains. Russia sends aid abroad but "we cannot save our own people".
Some calls for help got the reply from rescue service staff: "You should have stayed at home, you had no business going out." On the night of 3 January, when cars were buried in snow on the Orenburg-Orsk road, survivors say the blizzard was so bad there was virtually no visibility. A policeman who gave his workman's jacket to a freezing woman and his gloves to a man during the rescue will get a medal from the regional interior ministry. Danil Maskudov's assistance is seen as a heroic gesture - he is now in hospital too, with severely frostbitten fingers.

People in parts of Wisconsin may have felt what's known as a "Frost quake" Tuesday night. Twitter was abuzz with people who thought they may have felt one. And the National Weather Service says they got several reports of "Frost quakes". Cryoseisms, as they're officially known, happen when water in the soil expands as it freezes which can cause a large boom and the ground can shake. They're pretty rare.
The conditions have to be precise for them to happen and a meteorologist at the weather service says conditions were right. But they're not sure if what everyone felt was a "Frost quake" or something else. It's possible the noise and shaking were caused a sonic boom because of possible Air Force exercises near central Wisconsin. They point out that the area that felt the boom is really big from northwestern Dodge County all the way to southwestern Waukesha County. Usually "Frost quakes" are not that massive.

Fatal French Alps skiing tragedy raises questions - As France comes to terms with another fatal avalanche in the French Alps, questions are being asked as to why a group of 19 school children were skiing on a closed piste. others were saved after a mammoth rescue effort involving helicopters and sniffer dogs.
The avalanche on Wednesday claimed the lives of two teenage pupils and a Ukrainian man, who is understood to have been skiing separate from the school group. "How can you think of taking children, following periods of heavy snowfall, onto a piste which was closed?"
"What is surprising is the number of people involved, even though we keep on saying that they must take it one at a time when the snow cover is unstable. There is a good change that it was the skiers themselves that triggered the avalanche". The avalanche risk on the black slope - the highest difficulty rating in France - was three on a scale of five.
The avalanche occurred after several groups of skiers dislodged a large snow slab. The area had been closed off prior to the accident amid high avalanche warnings and it's unclear why the group ventured onto the ski trail. There had been little snow in the Alps until just after the New Year, so January's steady snow was fresh and possibly less stable.
The dangers of off-piste skiing have made headlines twice this year already, after four skiers died in separate avalanches in the French Alps.


Greenland’s vast ice sheet continues to melt, and thanks to two recently-launched satellites we’re beginning to understand why it’s happening so quickly. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison believe increased cloud cover over the ice sheet itself may be to blame for up to a third of the ice melt that is occurring, a new study indicates.
One issue with present-day climate models is their inability to properly resolve cloud cover. Most models have far underestimated the amount of ice-sheet loss, in something meteorologists and climatologists studying climate change attribute to “cloud-climate feedback.” Resolve that issue, and climate models may become a lot more accurate in the future. “This is something we have to get right if we want to predict the future.”

The world's largest canyon may lie under the Antarctic ice sheet - The canyon system is thought to be over 1,000km long and in places as much as 1km deep, comparable in depth to the Grand Canyon in USA, but many times longer. Researchers believe that the landscape beneath the ice sheet has probably been carved out by water and is either so ancient that it was there before the ice sheet grew or it was created by water flowing and eroding beneath the ice.
"Our analysis provides the first evidence that a huge canyon and a possible lake are present beneath the ice in Princess Elizabeth Land. It's astonishing to think that such large features could have avoided detection for so long."


As diseases proliferate, mosquitoes becoming Public Enemy No. 1 - Countries need to be prepared to fight simultaneous epidemics of mosquito-borne diseases, from dengue to chikungunya and Zika virus, experts say.

Preparing for pandemics could cost less than $1 each a year - Investing less than $0.72 a year for each person would make the world far more resilient to potentially devastating pandemics, according to a global health expert group convened in the wake of the Ebola crisis.
A report by the Commission on Creating a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future said infectious diseases are as potentially dangerous to human life, health and society as match wars and natural disasters. Pandemics cost the world more than 40 billion pounds ($58 billion) each year, the report estimated, yet preparations are chronically underfunded compared with other threats.
"Few global events match epidemics and pandemics in potential to disrupt human security and inflict loss of life and economic and social damage. Yet for many decades, the world has invested far less in preventing, preparing for and responding to these threats than in comparable risks to international and financial security."
Experts estimate that at least one new disease pandemic will emerge in the next 100 years, with a 20 percent chance of four or more in that time.

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Fame itself … doesn’t really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant.**
David Bowie

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 1/11/16 -

A massive quake has hit near Indonesia's Talaud Islands, but its impact is not immediately known. The undersea quake, measuring 6.8 magnitude, hit on Tuesday at 5.38am (NZ time). There was no tsunami threat to Australia from the quake.

Six years after devastating Haiti quake, risks still high - The chief seismologist at the Bureau of Mines says the risk of a major earthquake remains as high today as it was on January 12, 2010, when more than 200,000 people died in a catastrophic event that leveled much of Port-au-Prince.
Six years after Haiti was devastated by the magnitude-seven earthquake, the government seismologist who predicted it, warns little has been done to protect people in the likely event of a repeat disaster. While this poorest country in the Americas has since been studied and carefully mapped by seismologists, authorities have done little to translate what's been learned into practical measures to limit the effects of another quake, he said. "This is where the problem lies. There has been a construction code in Haiti since 2012, but who is in charge of enforcing it?"

Thousands of landslides after Nepal quake raise NW U.S. parallels - Most striking find: Huge number, severity of slides. Research teams have evaluated the major 7.8 magnitude subduction zone earthquake in Gorkha, Nepal last April and identified characteristics that may be of special relevance to the future of the Pacific Northwest.
Following the Nepal earthquake – even during the dry season when soils were the most stable – there were tens of thousands of landslides in the region. Experts said that these landslides caused pervasive damage as they buried towns and people, blocked rivers and closed roads. Other estimates, based on the broader relationship between landslides and earthquake magnitude, suggest the Nepal earthquake might have caused between 25,000 and 60,000 landslides.
The subduction zone earthquake expected in the future of the Pacific Northwest is expected to be larger than the event in Nepal. “In the Coast Range and other hilly areas of Oregon and Washington, we should expect a huge number of landslides associated with the earthquake we face. And in this region our soils are wet almost all year long, sometimes more than others. Each situation is different, but soils that are heavily saturated can have their strength cut in half.”

Quake fault straining underneath Kathmandu - A massive underground fault line which ruptured last year, causing a killer earthquake in Nepal, is still under tremendous strain underneath Kathmandu, a study said Monday. This means another major tremor could happen in an area home to more than a million people within years or decades rather than the centuries that typically elapse between quakes.
The rupture, shooting upward through the fault line from deep below, stopped abruptly 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) beneath the Nepalese capital, leaving an unbroken, upper portion nearer the surface. High-resolution satellite images revealed that "only a small amount of the earthquake reached the surface. The unbroken upper part of the fault, is continuously building up more pressure over time. As this part of the fault is nearer the surface, the future rupture of this upper portion has the potential for a much greater impact on Kathmandu if it were to break in one go in a similar-sized event to that of April 2015."


* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Ula is located approximately 356 nm southeast of Noumea, New Caledonia.

* In the Central Pacific -
Hurricane Pali becomes the earliest hurricane on record in the central Pacific basin far to the southwest of Hawaii, about 1305 mi (2100 km) SW of Honolulu.


Mosul Dam in Iraq faces the danger that it may collapse because of insufficient maintenance, which would overwhelm major communities downstream with floodwaters. In the worst-case scenario, an estimated 500,000 people could be killed while more than a million could be rendered homeless if the dam, Iraq’s largest, were to collapse in the spring, when the Tigris is swollen by rain and melting snow. The casualty toll and damage would be much less if Iraqi citizens received adequate warning, if the dam collapsed only partially or if it were breached in the summer or fall, when the water level is lower.

Records fall as N.J.'s wacky weather continues - In a season of wacky weather, Sunday was another bizarre day in New Jersey, with drenching rain and balmy temperatures that broke daily records in several towns, followed by strong winds and colorful rainbows. Capping it off, the mercury plummeted as much as 20 degrees at night and was expected to drop another 5 to 10 degrees by Monday morning.
Among the places that broke high temperature records Sunday were Newark and Trenton, both of which hit 65 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Newark's old record for Jan. 10 was 59 degrees, set in 2000, and Trenton's old record was 62 degrees, set in 1960. The normal high on Jan. 10 in both cities is 39 degrees. Atlantic City reached 65 degrees on Sunday, tying the city's old record from 1930. The city's normal high on Jan. 10 is 42 degrees.


Frigid Storm Transforms Car Parked Along Lake Erie Into Ice Sculpture - A photographer captured amazing pictures of a car that was left too close to Lake Erie in New York on Monday.

Snow and cold weather grip war-torn Syria - Millions of Syrians are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, aid workers say. Buildings have collapsed under the weight of snow. (photos at link)


Georgia Crops Threatened by Warm Winter Weather - Georgia farmers have endured a winter that wouldn’t start and rains that wouldn’t quit. The state’s pecan, peach and blueberry crops have been threatened by too many warm days and too much water, growers across Georgia said recently. The final month of 2015 was the second-rainiest December on record, with consistently warm days and nights.


Japan weather bureau says El Nino peaked between November-December and there is a strong possibility that the weather will return to normal only by summer. The El Nino, or warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, led to scorching heat not only across Asia and east Africa, but also caused heavy rains and floods in South America. Last week, Australia's weather bureau said the 2015-16 El Nino weather event, one of the three strongest in the past 50 years, has peaked in the recent weeks and is likely return to ENSO Neutral by Quarter 2 of 2016.

What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic - One day last month, at a meeting of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, a prominent climatologist explained how the warming of the Arctic, which was greatly affecting the animals the mammalogists study, could be driving the weird weather occurring around the world.
Several blocks away at almost the same time, at the American Geophysical Union meeting, another prominent climate scientist told geologists and geophysicists that the science really isn’t so sure what's causing the recent spate of weird weather.
They weren’t really disagreeing but simply reflecting what every climate scientist knows: It’s complicated. To some scientists the weird weather is just part of natural fluctuation. They believe if the climate gets warmer in the Arctic, it gets warm all over.
Others disagree. “When it gets warm in the Arctic, more often than not, it cools the continents.” When the computer was invented in the 1940s, the inventors believed one of the first uses would be predicting weather and climate. They underestimated how complex that problem was. Now scientists trying to develop climate models that mimic the Earth's weather use supercomputers and still have difficulties.
One thing has been sure: Things have been weird in the Arctic. The maximum extent of sea ice in 2015 occurred on Feb. 25, earlier than average, and the minimum ice extent in September was the fourth lowest on record. The ice continues to get younger and thinner. All that has profound effects on the marine ecosystem.


Tropical mosquito could carry a new threat to California - the Zika virus. Aedes aegypti, a non- native, tropical mosquito, was discovered in Orange County for the first time in 2015. It's an aggressive, day-time biting insect capable of spreading such diseases as dengue, chikungunya and zika.

Heartburn Pills Linked To Increased Risk Of Kidney Disease - People who take popular heartburn pills known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may be more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than individuals who don't use these drugs, a study suggests.

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

Monday, January 11, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**It's okay to be uncertain. You are an adult in a time when the leaders of the world are acting like children.**
Alan Alda

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 1/10/16 -

1/9/15 -

1/8/15 -

Oklahoma earthquakes raise calls for restrictions on energy firms - Earthquakes in Oklahoma in the past week, including one of the strongest ever recorded in the state, have led to calls for the governor to make changes to oil and gas drilling regulations and reduce seismic activity scientists link to the energy industry.
Two large earthquakes were recorded in northwest Oklahoma on Wednesday, including a magnitude 4.8 quake. The quakes were part of a surge in seismic activity over the past several years. Scientists have tied a sharp increase in the intensity and frequency of quakes in Oklahoma to the disposal of saltwater, a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, into deep wells. Oil fields have boomed in Oklahoma over the past decade thanks to advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.


* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Ula is located approximately 249 nm east-southeast of Noumea, New Caledonia.

* In the Central Pacific -
Tropical storm Pali intensifies slightly as it continues to meander far southwest of Hawaii, about 1380 mi (2225 km) SW of Honolulu. The current forecast does not indicate Pali will become a hurricane, but environmental conditions may improve so that it could be upgraded to a minimal hurricane on Monday or Tuesday.
Vanuatu on red alert as Cyclone Ula, category 4 storm, approaches - Residents of Vanuatu are taking shelter as a category four cyclone brings heavy rain and strong winds to the same area devastated by the largest cyclone in the South Pacific island nation’s history last year. Disaster management authorities have issued a red alert for islands in Tafea, the southernmost of Vanuatu's six provinces.
"Most people are sheltering in schools and churches, the only permanent buildings on these islands. Some people are also sheltering in caves." The eye of the storm, Ula, is not expected to pass over any islands but the ring of the cyclone was causing damage. Islanders are bracing for winds expected to reach up to 165 kmph (100 mph), besides flash flooding, landslides and storm surges. Last March, tropical cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm, the highest classification, wiped out more than 90 percent of Vanuatu's crops, tore up homes and power networks, killed 11 and disrupted the lives of most of its 252,800 people.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened a major spillway Sunday near New Orleans for the first time in nearly five years, seeking to decrease the vast flow of the swollen Mississippi River as a safeguard to the low-lying city.
Heavy Mississippi Valley rain has propelled the river to its highest levels since record flooding in 2011, the last time the Bonnet Carre spillway was opened as a key relief valve in south Louisiana. The spillway was built 28 miles upriver from New Orleans after a devastating 1927 flood. "What we're witnessing right now is really an engineering miracle. So many of us for so long wanted to make sure our homes and our lives were protected by creating a levee system."
The Army Corps of Engineers' New Orleans District commander had said Tuesday that he was confident the high Mississippi River will pass safely through Louisiana to the Gulf of Mexico. The Bonnet Carre has been opened 10 times since 1931. Corps officials said the spillway is intended to help keep the immense flow of the Mississippi River at New Orleans below 1.25 million cubic feet per second — enough to fill the equivalent of the city's Superdome in less than 2 minutes.
The spillway opens up more than a mile of the Mississippi's east bank and pulls diverted river waters into a 5.7-mile floodway that empties into Lake Pontchartrain and, eventually, into the Gulf of Mexico. Authorities said it may be open for several weeks. The National Weather Service said the river was cresting Sunday at Tunica, Mississippi, and Helena, Arkansas, amid reports of some flooding in low-lying areas near Vicksburg and Natchez in Mississippi. Some local officials in Mississippi said they were making plans in the event some residents need to move temporarily.


Australia bushfire kills two, destroys scores of homes - At least two people have died in a bushfire which has destroyed 121 homes in Western Australia, reports said Saturday as officials admitted the emergency was not yet over. Fire crews found two bodies in burnt-out houses in Yarloop, some 110 kilometres (70 miles) south of Perth, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing police. Another two people are missing.
The bodies have not been formally identified but are believed to be those of two men in their 70s who had been reported missing after fire tore through the old mill town early on Friday, destroying scores of homes. That number of houses rose to 121 on Saturday after a fuller assessment, as hundreds of firefighters continued to battle the huge blaze which threatens nearby areas. "It is still a cause for concern. It has been a very challenging fire for us - it's still a challenge, (we're) not out of the woods yet."
Residents of Yarloop and other towns in the area were advised to evacuate if possible, with an bushfire emergency warning still in place. "There is a threat to lives and homes in Harvey, Cookernup, Wokalup and surroundings areas. Unless you are ready and prepared to actively defend your property, evacuate to the south via the South Western Highway if safe to do so."
The damage bill was going to be a "large one". Bushfires are common in Australia's hotter months, with four deaths in Western Australia last November. Australia's worst firestorm in recent years devastated parts of the southern state of Victoria in 2009, razing thousands of homes and killing 173 people.


NASA's Armageddon Office Aims To Protect Us From Doomsday Asteroids - Space agency unveils new Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

Friday, January 8, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.**
Ernest Hemingway

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 1/7/16 -

1/6/16 -

1/5/16 -

1/4/16 -

1/3/16 -

1/2/16 -

1/1/16 -

Strong Quake Kills 8 In Eastern India - A powerful temblor killed at least eight people before dawn on Monday as it rocked northeastern India’s Manipur state and neighboring parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar for nearly a minute. Falling debris from the 6.8 magnitude shaking injured more than 100 people as the quake left huge cracks in walls, damaged bridges and caused a new six-story building to collapse. The disaster left nearly 2,000 people homeless across the region.

Oklahoma hit with 70 quakes in a week - A swarm of more than 70 small earthquakes has rattled Oklahoma in the past week, raising concerns that the state’s quake problem is getting worse. The largest quake measured magnitude 4.8 and struck around midnight Wednesday near the town of Fairview. No significant damage has been reported, although it shook pictures and crockery. “It was felt all over the county, pretty much all over the state." Smaller quakes continued Thursday.

California quake danger grows: Two Bay Area faults linked in new research - Two East Bay earthquake faults long thought to be dangerous, but separate, may be linked in a 99-mile- long fault that could set off a much stronger quake than the 1989 Loma Prieta temblor, a federal scientist says.
As a linked fault, the two are more likely to cause a magnitude-7.2 quake, about three times stronger than the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta quake, which in 1989 violently shook the Bay Area, killed 63 people and caused an estimated $6 billion in damage. The Rodgers Creek Fault runs from above Santa Rosa into San Pablo Bay near Sears Point in Sonoma County. The Hayward Fault runs from below San Jose through the Oakland and Berkeley hills to West Contra Costa County and into San Pablo Bay.
The two faults were long thought to be about 2 miles apart under the bay, but "now it does look like there is a good chance that the faults are connected." A team in 2014 seismically mapped the earth under San Pablo Bay. Their search produced an image of a strand linking the two faults. Until then the Rodgers Creek and Hayward faults had been thought to be independent but capable of influencing each other. "It's been a bit of a mystery because no one has been able to locate the faults in the bay before."
The USGS calls the Hayward-Rodgers Creek lines a "fault system" with a 31 percent likelihood of a magnitude 6.7 quake or greater in the next 30 years, the highest probability among Bay Area faults. But the Bay Area might now have one 99-mile fault that could deliver quite a jolt - up to 7.2 in magnitude - because they are more likely to shift at the same time. Such a quake would affect millions of people and billions of dollars worth of property with widespread destruction of houses and apartments, studies show.


Video - High waves in Hawaii are tempting surfers - despite warnings from officials to stay out of the water. Life guards in Oahu rescued more than two dozen people from waves up to 35 feet (10.6m) high on Monday.


* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Ula is located approximately 225 nm west of Suva, Fiji,

* In the Central Pacific -
Tropical Storm Pali, is located far southwest of Hawaii, about 1430 mi (2300 km) SW of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Rare January Depression in Central Pacific; Atlantic Subtropical Storm Next Week? - After a record-smashing hurricane season in 2015, the Central Pacific is off to a record-early start with Tropical Depression One-C, which formed on Thursday morning in the waters about 1,500 miles southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. TD 1-C's genesis date of January 7 breaks by six days the record for earliest formation of a tropical cyclone in the Central Pacific set by Tropical Storm Winona on January 13, 1989.
TD 1-C was able to form because of an unusual wind pattern near the equator associated with El Niño - a burst of westerly winds near the equator, when combined with a more typical east-to-west flow of trade winds farther to the north helped create an area of counter-clockwise spin. A sprawling region of showers and thunderstorms associated with TD 1-C is located squarely atop some of the warmest waters associated with the powerful El Niño event now under way - 29.5°C (85°F).
Weak steering currents make it difficult to judge TD-1C's future path, although a slow motion northwestwards appears likely over the next couple of days. The models support the idea of TD 1-C attaining tropical storm strength between now and Saturday, January 9. If so, it will be named Tropical Storm Pali.
Only two tropical storms have been recorded in January across the Central and Northeast Pacific (the region north of the equator and east of the International Date Line) since reliable records began in 1949. The first one was 1989’s Winona, which attained tropical storm strength on January 13 and peaked with sustained winds of 55 knots. In 1992, Ekeka was christened as a tropical storm on January 28 well west of Hawaii before becoming a rare February hurricane, with Category 3 winds reaching 115 mph.
Remarkably, TD 1-C appears to have roots on the other side of the equator! Last week, a short-lived tropical depression (TD 9-C) originated as the northern member of a pair of twin cyclones. Such sets of twins usually straddle the equatorial Pacific, with the northern member rotating counterclockwise and the southern member clockwise.
In between, these circulations produce a zone of low-level westerly winds that can act to reinforce or intensify El Niño conditions across the equatorial Pacific. Last week’s twin cyclones were displaced so far south that the northern member (eventually to become TD 9-C) was located just south of the equator, close to the International Date Line, with a powerful westerly wind burst in between the cyclones.
On the south side of this wind burst, Severe Tropical Cyclone Ula has been threading its way around several Southwest Pacific islands since becoming a depression on December 29 and strengthening to a Category 3 cyclone by January 1. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects that Ula will continue its winding path well south of Fiji over the next few days, remaining at weak to middling tropical-storm strength.
Tropical cyclones developing near the equator are very rare, since the Coriolis force (a function of Earth’s spin) does not force areas of low pressure to rotate in either direction at 0° latitude. But tropical cyclones near the equator are not unprecedented. In 2004, the center of low pressure that eventually became Severe Cyclonic Storm Agni in the Northwest Pacific briefly moved south of the equator.
Agni became a depression at 1.5°N, tying with Tropical Storm Vamei (2001) as having the most equatorward development of any tropical cyclone on record. The recent strong westerly wind burst between the Pacific’s twin cyclones no doubt helped give TD 9-C some of the spin that it would have otherwise been unable to gain due to its equatorial location.
Elsewhere in the tropics - Unusual activity has been percolating in the Atlantic as well. On Tuesday, Brazil’s Navy Hydrographic Center identified a subtropical depression east of Rio de Janeiro. It was briefly classified as a tropical depression on Wednesday, although both designations had been removed in the center's analysis on Thursday morning.
It was once thought that tropical cyclones never formed in the South Atlantic, but Category 1 Hurricane Catarina shocked Brazil - and the world of tropical meteorology - when it crashed into the coast of Brazil’s Santa Catarina province on March 27, 2004, causing more than $300 million in damage. Forecasters are now tracking down subtropical systems in the South Atlantic about once per year, on average, though tropical storms (those with fairly symmetric warm cores) are much less common.
There is also potential for a large and powerful January cyclone to evolve over the North Atlantic subtropics between Bermuda and the Azores Islands early next week, as consistently predicted by the models. This cyclone is now several hundred miles northeast of the Bahamas, strengthening as an non- tropical system ahead of a subtropical jet stream typical of El Niño winters.
A strong upper-level ridge will develop to the north of the cyclone as it races east and then southeast. Phase-space diagrams show this system taking on subtropical characteristics (asymmetric warm core) this weekend and early next week. Upper-level winds will remain strong in the vicinity of this system, and ocean temperatures will be a marginal 24-25°C (75-77°F), suggesting that any potential development would be subtropical rather than tropical.
If this storm were to get a name, it would be "Alex." The Atlantic’s most recent tropical cyclone during January was Tropical Storm Zeta, which served as the closing act of the blockbuster 2005 hurricane season. Zeta formed on December 30 and survived until January 7, 2006, west of the Cape Verde Islands.


Migrating auks blown off course to inland Scotland - Hundreds of birds have been blown off course to inland Scotland by recent stormy weather. The Scottish SPCA said it has been caring for many little auks at its rescue centre in Alloa with reports of sightings in the Cairngorms, Perth and Stirling. Each winter, the seabirds migrate from the Arctic to northern Europe.

Albania – 100s Evacuated After Floods in 5 Counties - Two days of heavy rain in Albania has caused flash floods, river overflow and landslides in several parts of the country, including the counties of Tirana, Durrës, Lezhë, Shkodër and Dibër.

Flooding from the overflowing Uruguay and Cuareim Rivers in Uruguay has been affecting tens of thousands of people since late December in the departments of Salto, Paysandú, Artigas, Río Negro and Florida. By 31 December over 23,000 people had been displaced.

Kenya – 3 Months of Flooding Leaves 112 Dead and Over 100,000 Displaced.


Huge bushfire destroys Australia town - About 95 homes are destroyed and three people are missing in a massive bushfire that engulfed a small town in Western Australia.

Video - In Britain, December 2015 was a double record-breaking month. Last month was the warmest December on record since 1910 - and the wettest of any calendar month in that time. Temperatures have been around 4C above the long-term average. Some garden plants are still in bloom.


One small atomic war could trigger cruel nuclear winters and global famine - North Korea's fourth test of a nuclear weapon — whether it was a hydrogen bomb or not — calls attention to a well-known but sobering fact: There are a terrifying number of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of major powers around the world.
But worse, unprecedented and widespread devastation doesn't require the unlikely scenario of all those powers unleashing all the firepower at once, according to a recent study. In fact, that study found that a "limited, regional nuclear war" using 100 "small nuclear weapons" — the size of the bomb dropped at Hiroshima — could cause a nuclear winter that would last decades.
In the researchers' scenario, the after-effects of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan alone would eliminate between 20% and 50% of the ozone layer that protects us from the sun's radiation over populated areas; at the same time, surface temperatures would become colder than they've been for at least 1,000 years. Those combined effects "could trigger a global nuclear famine."

Scientists say humans have now brought on an entirely new geologic epoch - A group of 24 geoscientists on Thursday released a bracing assessment, suggesting that humans have altered the Earth so extensively that the consequences will be detectable in current and future geological records. They therefore suggest that we should consider the Earth to have moved into a new geologic epoch, the “Anthropocene,” sometime circa 1945-1964.
The current era (at least under present definitions), known as the Holocene, began about 11,700 years ago, and was marked by warming and large sea level rise coming out of a major cool period, the Younger Dryas. However, the researchers suggest, changes ranging from growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to infusions of plastics into marine sediments suggest that we’ve now left the Holocene decisively behind — and that the proof is already being laid down in polar ice cores, deep ocean sediments, and future rocks themselves.


The mystery of Chipotle's E. coli outbreak is stumping scientists and fueling conspiracy talk The first reports of E. coli sickening Chipotle customers were revealed in October. Three months and thousands of tests later, health investigators still can't find the source of the outbreak, which has since sickened 53 people in nine states.
That's unusual, according to several food-contamination experts. In five similar high-profile cases of major foodborne-illness outbreaks over the last couple decades, the source of the outbreaks was determined relatively quickly.
So will we ever identify the source of the outbreak? Probably not, according to an infectious-diseases specialist. The tests that various agencies are conducting to determine the source of Chipotle's outbreak are so rigorous that they would have already discovered the source, if it was going to be found, he said.
The mystery surrounding Chipotle's outbreak has sparked some conspiracy theories, including one that claims Chipotle's competitors planted E. coli on the company's food. More questions were raised about the Chipotle outbreak when a second, more recent wave of illnesses was reported. Five people fell ill in late November after eating at Chipotle in the previous week, and the strain of E. coli in those cases was different than the strain discovered in the larger, original outbreak.
The strain in the second wave of illnesses is rare in cases of foodborne outbreaks, according to the spokesman for the CDC.
Conspiracy theorists have used this oddity to support their case that the E. coli was planted on Chipotle's food. But the E. coli, while rare, has been seen before. "It's just not a common E. coli that we see behind many of the foodborne outbreaks that we investigate."
On top of the E. coli outbreaks, Chipotle restaurants have also been the source of norovirus and salmonella outbreaks in the last five months. The company revealed on Wednesday that it has been subpoenaed as part of a federal criminal investigation into one of the norovirus outbreaks linked to a restaurant in Simi Valley, California. Criminal investigations into foodborne-illness outbreaks are uncommon, and they typically indicate some suspicion of intent behind the food contamination.
But the sheer number of outbreaks has led to some questions. "The fact that Chipotle has an outbreak is not in and of itself unusual, but there are some unusual features. Even the E. colis are different and then they had this norovirus outbreak. One of the questions that comes up immediately is: Is this a coincidence or is this a systematic problem of food-handling distribution at Chipotle?"
Chipotle has committed to making major changes to its food preparation and testing to improve safety going forward. For example, the company will be moving some food preparation and testing to a central kitchen. Tomatoes, cilantro, and lettuce are among the ingredients that will now be prepared in the central kitchen and shipped to restaurants in plastic bags. Cooks will also take extra measures to kill germs, such as dipping onions in boiling water before they are chopped and adding cilantro to hot rice to get rid of microbes.

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook