Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late that one is open.**
Alexander Graham Bell


LARGEST QUAKES, 6.0 or larger -

4/3/16 -
6.9 VANUATU

4/2/16 -
6.2 ALASKA PENNINSULA

4/1/16 -
6.1 PAPUA NEW GUINEA
6.0 HONSHU, JAPAN

3/20/16 -
6.4 NEAR EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

3/19/16 -
6.0 ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA REGION
6.1 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.

3/12/16 -
6.3 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.

3/8/16 -
6.0 TONGA

3/2/16 -
7.8 SOUTHWEST OF SUMATRA, INDONESIA

Low-intensity quakes a daily affair in Nepal - A large number of earthquakes happen in the country every day, but hardly anyone notices most of them because they are of low intensity. A month into the April 25 mega quake, the country had experienced 1,300 aftershocks of less than 4 magnitude. For quite sometime after the mega quake, there occurred 500 low-intensity quakes every day.
These days, aftershocks seem to have become a thing of the past. But experts warn that non- occurrence of aftershocks accentuates the risk of a major quake event. Daily, 40 quakes measuring less than 4 magnitude are hitting the country. After the Magnitude-7.6 earthquake, 445 aftershocks measuring above 4 on the Richter scale have so far occurred in the country.

VOLCANOES -
Watch as the Popocatepetl volcano in central Mexico erupted on Sunday, spewing lava and clouds of ash into the sky.

Volcanic activity worldwide April 4 - Popocatépetl volcano, Bromo, Turrialba, Sangay...

SEA LEVEL CHANGES -

NASA took the wraps off a new website on Monday dedicated to tracking global changes in the sea level. It’s packed full of free online resources that will likely be useful to teachers, the climate-change-curious, and anyone just looking to dig into publicly available data. The Sea Level Change site is NASA instead of NOAA because the site focuses on space-based observations.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Fiji - Days of torrential rain are adding to the hardships faced by thousands of Fijians still struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Winston in February. Flooding has caused people in northern and western Viti Levu to evacuate their homes after waters rose during heavy rain, and schools have been closed.
While Tropical Depression 15F was slowly moving away, another tropical disturbance, Tropical Depression 14F was expected to develop into a category 1 tropical cyclone as it moved closer to Fiji. It would bring in more rain and strong winds. The Met Service said it was also monitoring the development of a new tropical disturbance, Tropical Depression 16F. (photos at link)

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

Maryland - Wind gusts of up to 62 miles per hour late Saturday and early Sunday knocked down several buildings and trees, cut power to tens of thousands of customers and was believed to have caused at least one house fire.
Gusts of up to 62 miles per hour were recorded in Frederick County. Downed trees were reported across the state. The wind gusts led to the collapse of several vacant and abandoned buildings in Baltimore.
A freeze warning is in effect from midnight through 10 a.m. Tuesday, with lows expected in the upper 20s to the north and west of Baltimore and in the lower 30s around the city and suburbs. Meteorologists warned that unprotected house plants and crops that have sprouted amid early spring warmth could be damaged or killed. Another freeze is likely Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Ten Civilizations or Nations That Collapsed From Drought - Drought is the great enemy of human civilization. Drought deprives us of the two things necessary to sustain life - food and water. When the rains stop and the soil dries up, cities die and civilizations collapse, as people abandon lands no longer able to supply them with the food and water they need to live. While the fall of a great empire is usually due to a complex set of causes, drought has often been identified as the primary culprit or a significant contributing factor in a surprising number of such collapses.
The most recent is modern Syria. Syria's devastating civil war that began in March 2011 has killed over 300,000 people, displaced at least 7.6 million, and created an additional 4.2 million refugees. While the causes of the war are complex, a key contributing factor was the nation's devastating drought that began in 1998. The drought brought Syria's most severe set of crop failures in recorded history, which forced millions of people to migrate from rural areas into cities, where conflict erupted. This drought was almost certainly Syria's worst in the past 500 years, and likely the worst for at least the past 900 years.

Drought-stricken Palau could dry up completely this month , officials warned Monday as the Pacific island appealed for urgent aid from Japan and Taiwan, including shipments of water. The tiny country of about 18,000 people declared a state of emergency last month, the latest Pacific island nation to do so as one of the worst ever El Nino-induced droughts in the region worsens. "We're still in the state of emergency, there's a sense of urgency to address the crisis."
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said last month the El Nino weather pattern - associated with a sustained period of warming in the central Pacific which can spark climate extremes - was unlikely to ease before the second half of the year. The Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia have also declared states of emergency, while Guam and the Northern Marianas are experiencing low rainfall.

A huge Saharan dust cloud is expected to bring 'blood rain' to the UK as the country basks in what could be the hottest day of the year. "Blood rain” is caused by Saharan dust mixing with rain leaving a reddish residue on buildings and cars. This phenomena is more common in southern European areas, such as Spain and the south of France, however due the dust can travel as far as Scandinavia. Weather experts say that temperatures could soar to up to 19 degrees Celsius in parts of the country on Thursday. This will make it hotter than Barcelona and Ibiza.

Millions of people in several eastern and southern African nations are facing malnutrition, disease, and other harm as a result of El Niño–related extreme weather patterns: drought in late 2015 and heavy rains in the past few months. “We have seen too much water in some places and too little in other places.”
“The severity of the situation is continuously increasing." Nations affected by drought and floods include Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The weather is exacerbating the vulnerability of people such as Somalis living in camps for displaced people and those living near outbreaks of cholera in Kenya. The effects of the weather patterns have extended longer than expected. “2016 looks like it will be a difficult year.”
Parts of Latin America and Asia are also being affected by drought and other extreme weather. The harm, especially in causing food insecurity, could extend into well into 2017, according to the United Nations.

Drought ravages Thai sugar cane crop - A global sugar shortage is looming and prices are soaring. The world's top sugar cane exporters, India and Thailand, are being ravaged by a severe drought brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon. Thailand - the world second-largest sugar cane exporter - is going to be shipping 20 to 30 percent less of the sweetener compared to last year. And the situation may even get worse next year.

Cloud-seeding season - Efforts to make snow and rain virtually out of thin air were once the realm of science fiction. Even today, they’re dismissed by some as fanciful and hardly worth the time. But after four historically dry years in California, the practice has been on the uptick. The stormy skies that came with this year’s El Niño provided ideal conditions for cloud seeding, which requires enough water vapor in the air so that the introduction of chemicals like silver iodide can coax the clouds to crystallize and send droplets to the ground.
From San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy watershed to the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Mokelumne River to the coastal mountains in Southern California, water managers say cloud seeding is boosting precipitation — sometimes by 10 percent or more. Many say that alongside this year’s slightly wetter winter it’s been essential to riding out the drought.
Critics of the practice say it’s tough to know exactly how effective it is in the field. Measuring how much more rain and snow a cloud produces when chemicals are introduced is virtually impossible. Another concern about the practice is the chemicals it uses. Silver iodide can be toxic to fish and even humans, though experts say not at the relatively small levels used for cloud seeding.
The water agency manager for Santa Barbara County said the criticism she hears most about her county’s cloud-seeding program is that it’s part of the purported “chemtrail” agenda. The conspiratorial fear is that the planes used to enhance precipitation are actually among a larger government fleet of aircraft that disperse subversive chemicals for dark purposes onto an unsuspecting population.

The month of March was short on moisture and now drought is creeping across much of Kansas. March is normally a wet month, so last month's dry conditions had a big impact. “Because it's the start of our wetter pattern, things go down very, very quickly when we don't get what we should be seeing. That became very worrisome and we've seen the expansion of the drought conditions in response to that."
The hardest hit areas so far have been the southwest and south central parts of the state. The coming months will be critical because they're normally some of the wettest. “If we are dry in April and May, then we are going to be increasingly in bad shape." If the drought persists the first agricultural impact will be damage to the state's winter wheat crop.

Two people were killed in the southern Philippines after clashes between police and thousands of drought-hit farmers protesting over a lack of food. A parched highway in impoverished Kidapawan city, capital of Cotabato province, had been barricaded by 6,000 farmers since Wednesday to demand 15,000 sacks of rice from the government. Gunshots were fired and rocks hurled into the air during a scuffle between police and demonstrators on Friday, as the authorities tried to disperse the crowds.
"We asked for rice. Instead, they gave us bullets. The farmers are starving because they have nothing to eat. We went there looking for a solution." 116 protesters were wounded while 89 others were missing. Police could not immediately confirm the fatalities, but said 40 of its men were also hurt in the ruckus, two of them in critical condition.
The Philippines has been gripped by a strong El Nino dry spell since December which has hit food production, particularly in the conflict-wracked south which is home to the country's poorest and where more than half of the population is reliant on agriculture. The state weather bureau had warned last year that rainfall could decrease by as much as 80 percent during the drought, which is expected to last until the middle of this year.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

The White House published a report Monday warning that “extreme heat can be expected to cause an increase in the number of premature deaths” - the same day the National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for April snowstorms.

SPACE WEATHER -

ANOTHER STREAM OF SOLAR WIND IS COMING - Geomagnetic activity is subsiding as Earth exits a solar wind stream that hit our planet's magnetic field on April 2nd. The quiet might not last long, however, because another stream of solar wind is coming. Estimated time of arrival: April 5th. NOAA forecasters say there is a a 55% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on Tuesday. Once again, Arctic sky watchers are favored for auroras.

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Vitamin D supplements may help people with diseased hearts - A trial on 163 heart failure patients found supplements of the vitamin, which is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, improved their hearts' ability to pump blood around the body. The team described the results as "stunning". The study also showed the patients hearts became smaller - a suggestion they are becoming more powerful and efficient.
The British Heart Foundation called for longer trials to assess the pills. Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones and teeth and may have important health benefits throughout the body but many people are deficient. The average age of people in the study was 70 and like many people that age they had low levels of vitamin D even in summer. "They do spend less time outside, but the skin's ability to manufacture vitamin D also gets less effective [with age] and we don't really understand why that is."
It is also not clear exactly how vitamin D is improving heart function, but it is thought every cell in the body responds to the vitamin. Most vitamin D comes from sunlight, although it is also found in oily fish, eggs and is added to some foods such as breakfast cereals.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**If you want to be more creative, the best thing you can do is to talk to people who disagree with you.**
Dr. Muthukrishna


LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -
None.

2/27/16 -
6.1 WESTERN INDIAN-ANTARCTIC RIDGE

Fukushima disaster: Ex-Tepco executives charged with negligence - Three former executives at a Japanese power giant have been formally charged with negligence over the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. The trio, formerly of Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), will be the first to go to court over the incident.
A citizen's panel ruled last year they should face trial, forcing prosecutors to pursue the case. The Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered a series of meltdowns following a massive earthquake and tsunami. Prosecutors in Tokyo had twice decided against pressing charges, citing insufficient evidence.
But in a rare legal move, the panel's ruling forced a compulsory indictment of the three. The panel said the three men did not take sufficient measures despite being warned of a risk of a tsunami near the Fukushima plant. They plan to plead not guilty on the grounds they could not have anticipated the size of the tsunami.
One of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded struck off the coast of Japan in March 2011, triggering a huge tsunami. Almost 16,000 people died and more than 2,500 are still listed as missing. None of the deaths, however, have been linked to the nuclear disaster, although there were a number of deaths in the subsequent evacuation.

Nepal - Extensive groundwater extraction in the Indo-Gangetic Plain over the last five decades has "significantly" contributed to the killer April 25, 2015, Nepal temblor and "probably all earthquakes" in the region beneath the Himalayan arc, Indian scientists claim.

MYSTERY BOOMS -
South Dakota - 2/27/16 - Police are investigating multiple reports of loud booms in Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas. The National Weather Service said they had not seen any indications of an explosion or other events that would show up on radar, and that there are no storms in the area. "There's nothing unusual on the radar that would suggest a meteor or a comet." However, NWS did offer a possible theory on what could be causing the booms: "After thinking a bit..one thing could be happening is this. There is a very sharp temperature change not too far off the surface (about 500 ft) tonight due to the warmer air aloft and fast cooling here at the ground. It's possible that as some aircraft are landing that this sound is bouncing off this temperature 'inversion.' It's a theory." Scanner traffic indicated that multiple people had called in to report the booms. Police were investigating reports in Hartford and at 85th Street and Marion Road. Police were unable to find the source of the noises. People have reported the booms in several areas around Sioux Falls and beyond.

VOLCANOES -
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued an eruption warning of Mount Io in southern Japan on Sunday. Experts observed an increase in volcanic earthquakes in the Kirishima mountain range on Kyushu island, urging tourists and hikers to avoid the 0.6-mile area around Mt. Io’s crater. The agency said at least 37 volcanic tremors have been recorded at the site by mid-Sunday. Intensified activity around the volcano dates back to July 2015.

Nicaragua: Strong Explosions in Momotombo Volcano - The Government of Nicaragua remains attentive to two strong explosions occurred today in the volcano Momotombo, located in the western Department of León. The explosions were perceived by residents of that territory and Managua. Since the beginning of the activity of the volcano on December 1st - after 110 years of relative calm - 68 explosions have been registered.

TSUNAMI / FREAK WAVES / ABNORMAL TIDES -

The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami killed many people who fled to evacuation places designated by local governments. About 30 per cent of the people in Kessenuma's Suginoshita district perished or went missing in the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011. Now residents of the district are planning to publish a book at their own expense about the tragedy that took so many lives.
"I want the next generation of people to understand that many lives were lost at a place the city had designated for evacuation in emergencies." The residents held evacuation drills, which included escaping to the hill, twice a year. "Designated evacuation places are not always safe. "Every possible safety measure should be taken, such as preparing life jackets and boats to escape in emergencies.

TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.

French Polynesia remains on cyclone alert - A orange alert remains in force in the western parts of French Polynesia as strong winds and rain continue. Tropical Cyclone Yalo in the south has broken up but a broad front is sweeping the most populated islands. On Rangiora in the Tuamotu archipelago, the heaviest downpour in living memory caused flooding of dozens of homes, with the mayor quoted as saying more than half a meter of rain fell during the night.

Tropical cyclones in the Philippines are becoming more extreme causing greater amounts of devastation and loss of life, a new study finds. It found that in the last two decades, there has been a slight decrease in the number of smaller cyclones (above 118 kilometers per hour) that hit the country. That means more Filipinos are at risk since more hazardous tropical cyclones (above 150 kilometers per hour) were shown to be on the rise, with the northern island of Luzon frequently affected.

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

Brits braced for -18C spring blast sparked by 'polar plunge'. - Snow is set to hit Britain this Easter as temperatures plummet to -18C. Forecasters say a “polar plunge” – the same phenomenon that caused 2010’s big freeze – could trigger the extreme weather.
The Met Office predicts colder than average conditions, with snow from Iceland until mid-March and sub-zero chills most nights. Late March and early April will see the threat of a longer freeze, bringing the “greatest risk” of snow and ice.
With Good Friday falling on March 25, families planning Easter getaways could be hit by severe travel disruption. A polar plunge is also known as “sudden stratospheric warming” where air heats up high over the North Pole, shunting cold, low-level Arctic air south to Britain for up to 14 days.
The weather event has caused severe temperature drops in the past including -18C conditions in 2009 and 2010, and lows of -13.6C in 2013. The Met Office spring forecast said: “The greatest risk of cold weather impacts is in late March and early April, due to the likelihood of a sudden stratospheric warming event in early March."

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

India - Farmer suicides rising due to successive drought, crop failure in Marathwada region Maharashtra cabinet will camp in Marathwada region from 4 to 6 March to get first-hard experience of the calamity’s intensity.

South Africa - The deadly drought has left many KwaZulu-Natal farmers in dire straits. The province is operating under a formal declaration of disaster. It has become a daily struggle for many. Subsistence farmers are also feeling the heat. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has pledged to maximise its disaster relief and water provision. (video at link)

Minnesota - On Saturday, the temperature in Minneapolis rose to 58 degrees, breaking a 120-year-old record. Typically they mercury reaches 50 degrees around March 9, but Saturday felt more like April. "I've seen some people out here in shorts and tank tops. Pretty extreme."

Wisconsin - record-breaking warmth. People headed outside this weekend to enjoy the record-breaking temperatures. Milwaukee's temperature hit 59 degree on Sunday, breaking by 5 degrees a record high for the day that had been in place for more than 100 years.

Canada - From record-breaking warmth to 'significant snowfall' in Toronto. Torontonians may have been dreaming of spring after record-breaking temperatures Sunday, but Tuesday may bring plenty of snow. The mercury climbed to a balmy 13.8C on Sunday, making it the warmest Feb. 28 Environment Canada has on record. Monday is expected to be a pleasant 5C, but then things will get real (cold) with an expected daytime high on Tuesday of -5C.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

Arctic warming - Why record-breaking melting is just the beginning. It has been an ‘absurdly warm’ winter in the Arctic this year, as temperatures within 200 miles of the North Pole peaked above freezing. Rapidly disappearing Arctic sea ice is about to set a new record after an “absurdly warm” winter at the top of the world. For the second year running, it will have grown to cover less of the Arctic Ocean than ever before.
The revelation comes as scientists are increasingly worried that the heating of the region could escalate out of control, as growing numbers of “feedback mechanisms” – which reinforce and accelerate the process – are being discovered.
Most attention on the melting sea ice so far has been focused on the increasingly low minimum levels it reaches each September. Its nine smallest-ever extents have all occurred in the last nine years, with the record being reached in 2012, when it covered only 3.41 million square kilometres - 44 per cent less than the average of the previous three decades, and a full 16 per cent lower than the previous record, in 2007.
But the amount by which the ice recovers each winter, peaking at the end of February and the beginning of March, though little publicised, is at least as important. Last year it reached only 14.54 million sq km on 25 February, its peak day – the lowest ever. Exactly a year later, at the end of last week, it was just 14.27 million sq km, a fall of 270,000 sq km.

New Zealand - "It has been a weird summer. All the talk of El Nino hasn't happened. It's almost like La Nina, the complete opposite." North Islanders worn out by sleepless, hot, humid nights can expect some cooler relief - briefly - from Monday night.
Showers, including occasional heavy bursts, today fell in the central North Island up to Auckland. The rainfall was welcomed by farmers whose pastures have dried out in some of the searing temperatures of our golden summer. And hefty rainfall is forecast overnight Saturday, with a severe weather watch in place. Two fronts are coming through in the first and second weeks of March.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**If people stand in a circle long enough they'll eventually begin to dance. **
George Carlin


LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -
None.

California - Two quakes roil Fresno in one week - Coincidence, experts say. The state’s midsection was roiled by two temblors in the span of a week The quakes were totally unrelated, geologists say. They don't portend the Big One on the mighty San Andreas Fault. California isn't about to slide into the Pacific Ocean.

After a significant earthquake in Baja California, scientists use satellite imagery to locate the fault responsible. The new fault line they discover doesn't seem capabable of creating seismic energy released during the quake. What is the satellite imagery missing? (video)

Earthquake wake-up call - preparing for the worst-case scenario in California.

Montreal Ranked #2 City Most Likely To Get Hit By A Major Earthquake In Canada - Torrential downpours of freezing rain; massive snow storms; golf ball-sized hail; all are examples of natural phenomenon that Montrealers are used to seeing put the city in a state of mild-to- complete chaos.
Granted, major earthquakes are seldom seen in the city (the last notable one was in 1732), but the city is in a precarious place when it comes to seismic activity and it seems as if we’re due for one. Granted, major earthquakes are seldom seen in the city (the last notable one was in 1732), but the city is in a precarious place when it comes to seismic activity and it seems as if we’re due for one.
A recent study performed by a catastrophe risk modeling consultant firm stated “it is only a matter of time” before a major earthquake hits the Montreal area, stating that there’s a 5-15% chance an earthquake will strike the region in the next 50 years. Vancouver is number 1.

VOLCANOES -
The Volcanoes of Nicaragua Sure Have Been Cranky This Year - Every year there seems to be a country that is having more than its fair share of volcanic eruptions. This is the sort of thing that happens when you have a random distribution of volcanic eruptions over time (and space to some degree, along the areas that have volcanoes). This year, it is Nicaragua that seems to be the focus of eruptions—at least more so than usual. The biggest newsmaker is Momotombo, where the volcano has produced numerous explosive eruptions over the last few weeks.

Indonesia - Volcanic smoking and ashes rise from Mount Sinabung during an eruption in Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, on Feb. 24, 2016. More than 10,000 villagers living near the volcano were forced to evacuate to safer places. Authorities have repeatedly called on local residents to remain patient in dealing with the impact of Sinabung's eruptions, which some experts have predicted will continue for five more years.

Japan - Mt. Kirishima ready to erupt. Scientists in Japan say another volcano is showing signs of being ready to erupt. Mt. Kirishima on Japan’s western Kyushu Island last erupted in 2011. Authorities say 158 tremors registered Tuesday at the Shinmoe Peak. Experts from Japan’s meteorological agency surveyed the peak’s surface temperature and other data Wednesday, but detected no abnormalities. Still, they said a small eruption is possible and kept the warning level at 2. That means hikers must act with caution when approaching within half-a-mile of the caldera.

TSUNAMI / FREAK WAVES / ABNORMAL TIDES -

Man killed when wave sweeps 4 into ocean in California - A large wave swept four people off a Los Angeles County jetty as high surf pounded much of the California coast, leaving one man dead and his three companions seriously injured. Redondo Beach firefighters responded late Wednesday after witnesses reported people in the water calling for help at King Harbor.
Rescuers pulled two men and two women from the waves at the base of the rock jetty. One man was dead at the scene. The three others were hospitalized in serious condition. It wasn't clear why the group was on the rocks late at night, but people routinely fish there. The surf this week was especially high and people were warned to stay away.
"You get one wave every three or four minutes. They feel they can get out and that's just not the case." A wave knocked a Harbor Patrol officer into the water during the rescue. He was not hurt. In San Diego, a large section of a cliff collapsed onto Ocean Beach below Wednesday afternoon. The parking lot by Sunset Cliffs had been fenced off as chunks of sandstone had been sloughing off the cliff face last week, part of a natural erosion process intensified by the winter storms.
The high surf subsided by Thursday night, but a similar pattern will return to the California coast Friday. Beachgoers were warned of dangerous waves, rip currents and possibly minor flooding. Waves just to the north and south of San Francisco could hit 11 feet, while sets topping 18 feet are expected along the Central Coast. Waves from 5 feet to 12 feet are predicted from Los Angeles to San Diego.
The cause is a large swell generated by a storm off Northern California. Authorities say swimmers should watch the waves before entering the water or ask lifeguards for advice. Meanwhile, Southern California's winter heat wave continues due to a high pressure ridge. Downtown Los Angeles hit 83 degrees on Thursday.

Monster Waves Slam Hawaii, Damaging Oceanfront Homes. And a second swell was barreling toward the islands. In Hawaii, a pair of gigantic, back-to-back swells generated waves large enough to overtake beach parks, wash across roadways and damage oceanfront properties.
"We're seeing very, very huge wave heights. We're seeing very dangerous situations." The initial swell brought wave faces of up to 70 feet in certain areas Monday. A stronger-than-usual El Niño was fueling one of the strongest surf events in Hawaii in 50 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In an unprecedented move, state officials shut down a 12-mile stretch of Kamehameha Highway, on the north shore of Oahu, in response to ocean surges that washed over the roadway. In addition to flooding, several areas experienced severe coastal erosion. A 30-foot stretch of beach on the north shore of Oahu reportedly disappeared overnight. Despite numerous beaches being closed, lifeguards were kept busy, rescuing dozens of people and issuing hundreds of warnings.
The historic event also wreaked havoc on oceanfront properties, including a home on Oahu that all but toppled into the ocean. If Monday's pounding swell wasn't enough, the National Weather Service warned Wednesday that another followed close behind. On north-facing shores, surf was forecast to rise rapidly from Wednesday and reach heights of 40 to 50 feet through Thursday. But the potentially perilous one-two punch had the Hawaii surf community abuzz. (videos at link)

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Yalo is located approximately 327 nm southwest of Papeete, Tahiti.

5 percent of Fiji's population is currently staying in evacuation centres after Tropical Cyclone Winston. 45,245 people are currently sheltering at 275 evacuation centres around the country. The death toll after Cyclone Winston stands at 42 however this number is expected to increase further.
There are reports of 122 people getting injured during the cyclone while 45 people have been hospitalized.The estimated cost of damage sustained around the country by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston is about $1 billion.

Fewer Tropical Cyclones Form After Volcanic Eruptions - Volcanic eruptions aren't all bad—in some cases, they can lower the frequency of tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic by emitting sulfate aerosols.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

At Least 5 Killed as Tornadoes, Howling Thunderstorm Winds Rake Eastern US - Whipping northward at interstate speeds, multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms raced from the Carolinas to New England on Wednesday and early Thursday. The springlike round of severe weather - which extended unusually far north for February - took one life in South Carolina and at least four in Virginia, making Wednesday the latter state’s deadliest tornado day since the notorious Super Outbreak of April 27, 2011. Three people, including a two-year-old boy, were killed in hard-hit Waverly, VA, and another man died in Appomattox County.
By 7 am EST Thursday morning, NOAA/SPC had racked up at least 17 tornado reports and more than 300 reports of high wind, extending from Florida to Maine. Hail up to baseball size was reported near Tungsten, NC, and Castle Heights, VA.
The surprise element Wednesday night was how far north the action extended. A wedge of cold air eroded more quickly than expected, allowing warm, moist air to surge north ahead of a slow-moving cold front. This warm front set the stage for late-night thunderstorms that would be impressive for the region in May, much less February. By late Wednesday night, severe thunderstorm watches had been placed as far poleward as southern Vermont and eastern Massachusetts “If not unprecedented, I'd characterize yesterday as ‘highly unusual’,” said a warning and coordination meteorologist for NOAA/SPC. The last time western Massachusetts experienced a severe thunderstorm warning in February was nearly 20 years ago - on Feb. 22, 1997.
Next week: rinse and repeat? After a more tranquil weekend and an uneventful start to next week, the eastern U.S. could see another powerhouse storm system. Long-range models are suggesting the potential for an inland nor’easter not unlike the one just departing, with severe weather again possible from the South to the mid-Atlantic and perhaps northward from there. El NIño commonly intensifies severe weather across the Gulf states during winter, but multiple rounds of severe storms north of the Carolinas would be a more unorthodox happening.

Powerful storm moves across Massachusetts - A second round of stormy weather brought hurricane-force wind gusts and heavy rains, leaving thousands of Massachusetts residents without power early Thursday.

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

Toronto under extreme cold weather alert early Thursday morning. Environment Canada says temperatures are expected to drop to -12 C by the evening.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Record-breaking warmth hits this Canadian city - Forget Florida for a winter getaway, Nova Scotia is the place to be. The village of Greenwood located in the western part of King's County was the country's hot spot Thursday morning with a staggering 17 degrees C. By comparison, it's only 13 degrees C in Orlando Florida.

Punishing Drought Leaves Haitians Desperate for Food - For the last three years, a punishing drought has driven Haitians who were barely getting by on marginal farmland even deeper into misery.

This El Nino won't end the drought after all - California's drought still remains, and the worst of it is still unchanged from last week. This follows a continuing trend of dry conditions returning to the West Coast. At the beginning of winter, there were high hopes this El Niño, one of the strongest in recorded history, would give California a much needed shot of rain water, something that's been in short supply for years.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

Canada - Extreme weather will cost Ottawa almost $1- billion yearly. The federal government can expect to pay nearly a billion dollars a year in disaster relief for extreme weather events – far more than the $100-million it has been budgeting – as the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes, winter storms and especially floods take a greater toll, the Parliamentary Budget Officer says in a report.

Federal payments to the Canadian provinces for disaster relief have skyrocketed over the past five years because of the increasing number of extreme weather events. The liabilities have “increased substantially because of a number of weather events that have caused heavy damage."
Between 2016 and 2021-22, payments can be expected annually to reach $229 million because of hurricanes, and winter storms. It is expected flooding will cost the DFFA program another $673 million over the five year period.
Besides the increasing number of large storms with greater intensity, the PBO cited four events over the last four years that ratcheted up the cost of the payments. They were the heavy rains in June 2014 in Saskatchewan, which is expected to cost the program $160- million; the Toronto ice storm of December 2013, which is anticipated to cost $120 million; and the Southern Alberta and southeastern B.C. flood of June 2013, which an expected cost of $1.3 billion. The fourth event was the flooding of the Assiniboine River in Manitoba in 2011. The program is expected to pay out $524 million to Manitoba and another $245 million to Saskatchewan. The report only mentions climate change in passing, and the reference is buried down near the bottom of the document.

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Some experts contend Brazil is exaggerating Zika crisis - Often drowned out by the dire warnings and fear surrounding Zika, some medical professionals are saying that Brazil and international health officials have prematurely declared a link between the virus and what appears to be a surge in birth defects.
A few even argue that the Brazilian government is being irresponsible, given that a connection hasn’t been scientifically proven between the mosquito-borne virus and the birth defect known as microcephaly, which causes infants to be born with abnormally small heads.
“It’s a global scandal. Brazil has created a worldwide panic. I’m not saying that Zika is not causing microcephaly, but I am saying that the ministry has yet to present any scientifically credible evidence to support that conclusion.”
Others argue there are still too many unanswered questions to blame Zika. Why are the vast majority of the cases of microcephaly being reported in Brazil? Why haven’t they also shown up in proportional numbers in other countries hit hard by Zika, such as Colombia? (The answer, some say, is that Brazil was hit by Zika first, and microcephaly cases might be expected to crest elsewhere in the months ahead.)
And how can conclusions be drawn from government statistics that are flawed and possibly vastly underreported in the past, before Brazilian officials required doctors to report microcephaly cases?

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Our bravest and best lessons are not learned through success, but through misadventure.**
Amos Bronson Alcott


LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -
None.

California - While Kern County had little to no damage as a result of Tuesday's 4.8 magnitude earthquake, a Caltech seismologist says that the earthquake stood out. "This event was particulary deep. It was down around 22 kilometers which, statistically for our area, is quite deep."
22 kilometers is a little over 13 and a half miles. Many of the California earthquakes peak at around 9 miles deep, depending on where the occur. Earlier this month, a study showed a correlation between oil fraching and a string of earthquakes that occurred in Kern County in 2005. Tuesday's quake probably had nothing to do with fracking.
"These earthquakes were way deeper than any operations that would be occurring." Instead, plate tectonics are most likely the reason for the earthquake. A strike slip fault occurred between the Pacific and North American plates. "One side of the fault moves sideways relative to the other. This was a right lateral motion, which means if you stood on one side of the fault and you looked at the other side, you would see it moving to the right."
This right lateral motion is similar to what happens along the San Andreas Fault. So is this Tuesday's earthquake a sign that bigger quakes are on the horizon? No. "At this point, there's no reason to believe that it is anything other than the normal earthquakes that we have here in Southern California because of our plate boundaries."

BOOMS -
Shaking along the Washington coast Tuesday wasn't an earthquake, seismologists say - Social media started percolating Tuesday afternoon with a number of reports along the central Washington coast of mild shaking, and wondering if they just had experienced an earthquake. However, none of the sensors at the Pacific Northwest Seismology Network triggered an earthquake alert - usually those alerts happen within moments of a quake.
So, was it a quake? A letter from PNSN seismologists to the Grays Harbor Emergency Management said that two seismographs on either side of Ocean Shores about 10 miles apart did pick up some mild shaking, but it was not a classic quake signature. Instead, there was a 20-second delay between when the two seismographs started squiggling. The speed of sound is about 10 times slower than the speed of quake energy spreading through the ground, and the 20-second delay suggests it was a sound event.
An earthquake would have shown up nearly simultaneously on the graphs. Bottom line: The seismologists' hypothesis was that it was caused by airplanes - possibly sonic booms, maybe from offshore military exercises.

About 6 p.m. on Tuesday, a massive boom rattled residents of the north Oregon coast in a fairly wide stretch of nearly 20 miles – from Garibaldi all the way up to Manzanita. It shook homes and windows, sending some out into the street to look for explosions, and it lit up social media.
It turned out to be just what many thought: a sonic boom from military aircraft doing exercises in the region. The incident echoed another similar situation earlier in the day at Ocean Shores, Washington, where residents there got spooked by a sonic boom around 3:30 p.m.
Sonic booms occur when a jet breaks the sound barrier, creating shockwaves in the air. The answer to all of it lay in social media the whole time: Oregon Air National Guard’s (OANA) Facebook page had a post about operations going from February 16 to 25. The OANA's 142nd Fighter Wing have been conducting routine F-15 night training missions in the region, to help keep Citizen- Airmen pilots based in Portland and Vancouver to stay current with mandatory Air Force requirements.
Nothing about this was known by residents at the time, however, so the community Facebook page for Rockaway Beach went into high gear with a barrage of tales and worries. A few hours later, one member discovered the post from OANA and the big questions were resolved.
Some residents caught on quickly to the sonic boom idea, with one writing: “We did go outside right after the boom that rattled the house and windows, and we could hear jets in the sky. We guessed military drills. I really want to know what it was!” A few darted outside their front doors half expecting to see smoke from an explosion.
The boom was heard and felt near Garibaldi, throughout the seven miles of Rockaway Beach, in Nehalem and in Manzanita – almost 20 miles of Oregon coastline. It's interesting to note Nehalem is a few miles inland from the beach. There don't appear to be reports of it at Cannon Beach, so it's possible Neahkahnie Mountain shielded the areas northward from the sound.

VOLCANOES -
A book written by a revered Italian geologist Mario Tozzi explains what could happen if Yellowstone super volcano erupted this year. It 'could erupt in 2016' and wipe out the Earth. Experts have long warned the Yellowstone super volcano will one day erupt and wipe out the planet – but it could be sooner than we feared.
His book 'Pianeta Terra Ultimo Atto' – which translates to 'Planet Earth, The Last Act' – suggests the volcanic caldera may awaken in 2016 and have disastrous consequences for the rest of the globe. The author's book – set in 2019 – covers a scenario after the super volcano erupts between now and the end of the year. He envisages the volcano exploding and covering the United States – and potentially leading to catastrophic disaster around the world.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Southern Pacific -
- Tropical cyclone Fourteen is located approximately 273 nm northeast of Rarotonga.

- Final advisory has been issued on Tropical cyclone Winston which is located approximately 367 nm northeast of Kingston Island. Winston is already exhibiting signs of being subtropical, with the mid-level warm core weakening and the wind field expanding. The system is forecast to complete subtropical transition, but is expected to maintain gale-force winds. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.
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Cyclone Winston - Fiji death toll reaches 42 with reports entire villages wiped out on remote islands.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Tornadoes Kill Three in Southern U.S. - Significant Tornado Outbreak in VA, NC. The deadliest severe weather outbreak thus far in 2016 hit the Deep South on Tuesday, when at least eighteen tornadoes tore across portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Hardest hit was Louisiana, where the town of Convent saw a tornado rip through an RV park, killing two and injuring 31, with seven of those people in critical condition.
An additional fatality was reported in a mobile home near Purvis, Mississippi. Major damage occurred late Tuesday morning in Prairieville, southeast of Baton Rouge, where a Gold's Gym and several other buildings nearby were heavily damaged around the time a tornado was reported in the area. Just 18 miles northeast, in Livingston, several homes had their roofs completely torn off.
For the second time this month, a tornado caused major damage in Escambia County, located in the far western portion of the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola. A rotating supercell thunderstorm that formed over the Gulf of Mexico moved ashore and spawned a tornado that crossed Interstate 10, flipping several cars and a tractor trailer on the Escambia Bay Bridge, leaving the highway closed from mile marker 17 to mile marker 43. Twenty-four units of The Moorings apartment complex in Pensacola were completely destroyed, and an additional six suffered minor damage.
Death toll rises to 7 - A powerful storm system swept across the East Coast on Wednesday, killing four people in Virginia and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the region. A day earlier, the system spawned about two dozen tornadoes along the Gulf Coast, damaging hundreds of homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Three people were killed and dozens were injured.
Forecasters had warned that more than 88 million people were at risk of seeing some sort of severe weather Wednesday. In the Midwest, heavy snow and biting winds led to mass flight cancellations at Chicago airports and school closings in several states.

Asia spring forecast - Flooding to threaten southeast China to Japan; Drought to persist in Southeast Asia. While much of Asia can expect dry and mild conditions, there will be areas of ongoing drought as well as the risk of flooding during the spring of 2016.
"The main players in Asia this spring will be the typical ones, including the monsoon and fluctuations in Indian Ocean water temperatures." In addition, El Niño may still have enough influence to factor into the western Pacific Typhoon season during the approach of summer.

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

An Australian icebreaker delivering supplies to Antarctica has broken free of its mooring in a blizzard and run aground. (video)

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Drought - South Africa is expected to harvest 1.63 million metric tons of sugar in the 2015/2016 season, the lowest since 1995 and down 22 percent on the previous period as a severe drought hits production. The worst drought in a century has hurt sugar and maize producing regions, piling pressure on sugar producers who are also grappling with cheap imports, forcing some mills to remain closed and reducing jobs in the sector.

South Africa - Widespread rain forecast despite extreme fire dangers. Cape Town - The South African Weather Service has warned of extremely high fire danger conditions expected in places over the northern interior of the Northern Cape, the Cape Winelands, central and Little Karoo on Wednesday, 24 February.

Drought threatens return in New Mexico after dry stretch. Marking an end to a record-setting stretch of warm, dry weather, snow fell around New Mexico on Tuesday, but forecasters warned that meaningful moisture has been in short supply and drought is threatening to creep back into the state.

SPACE WEATHER -

Is a rogue comet on a collision course with Earth? - Meteor shower was spotted in New Zealand during New Year celebrations. Never previously detected, the shower has been named the Volantids. Astronomers say they yet to trace the comet that produced the shower. They say the shower has provided an early warning of a potential hazard.

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

If you find yourself hitting the snooze button every morning, don’t blame yourself. Your work schedule could be to blame. A researcher believes that the ideal work day should start at 10am. It’s not rational to start the work day at 8am.
A growing field of research now shows that, for many of us, more than 70%, our work schedules are wildly out of sync with our natural body clocks — and experts are urging employers to take notice.When work schedules are aligned with people’s natural sleep patterns, they produce higher quality and more innovative work because they are more focused, less stressed and generally healthier. The opposite is also true – when employees are sleep deprived they are more likely to make major mistakes and suffer from workplace injuries. Research has even shown that night owls behave more unethically in the morning than at night and that early birds were more unethical at night.
By the time they reach high school or secondary school, teenagers are getting up, on average, three hours earlier than they should because of early school start times in some cases as early as 7:30am. The result: chronic sleep deprivation, that hurts their ability to focus and could lead to longer term health problems like obesity and diabetes.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Live life fully while you are here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go wild. Screw up. You're going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process.**
Anthony Robbins


LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -
None.

Earthquake swarm in New Brunswick community starting to settle down - The mayor of a small village in western New Brunswick says the earth - and residents' nerves - are calming down following a recent swarm of earthquakes. While the area is still experiencing tremors, they are nowhere near the strength of a 3.3 magnitude quake that shook homes and broke windows on Feb. 9.
"I think there's somewhat of a calming down over the last couple of weeks. It's almost like the unexpected doesn't happen when you have all the equipment here to monitor everything." Four seismic recording instruments were installed about 10 days ago and they have plotted about 30 minor tremors since then. "This gives us more data that we can work with to try and come up with some answers as to where the possible fault is that's generating the earthquakes and maybe provide some answers on a possible mechanism on what's causing these earthquakes to occur."
The equipment will remain in place for a few months, and scientists would like to get roughly 100 to 200 seismic events to have enough data. It's not possible to say if the tremors will continue. "Each swarm of activity is unique and these fluctuations in the size of the events and the frequency of the events, really it's not possible for us to come up with answers as to what's going to happen in the future."
An earthquake swarm occurs when numerous quakes happen in the same area over a short period of time. The McAdam area experienced a succession of earthquakes in the days before and since the 3.3 magnitude event, which broke windows and shook items off shelves.
This month's earthquakes were much stronger than those experienced in 2012 and again in 2015, but residents are somewhat reassured that the strongest quakes were centred northwest of the village. Asimilar earthquake swarm was recorded in neighbouring Maine about 10 years ago. Earthquake swarms may be occurring more often than we realize, but this one was felt because it was so close to homes in McAdam.

VOLCANOES -
Powerful volcano eruption in the Philippines - Footage has emerged from Philippines of the Bulusan Volcano eruption this week.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Winston is located approximately 404 nm southwest of Suva, Fiji.
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Cyclone Winston: Fears for isolated Fiji communities as death toll jumps - The death toll in Fiji has jumped to 42 amid fears for remote areas and islands yet to be reached by relief teams, days after a devastating cyclone. Cyclone Winston, thought to be one of the strongest storms to hit the Southern Hemisphere, left 8,500 sheltering in evacuation centres.
Teams are still being deployed. Officials said they met "grim images of devastation" on reaching Koro island. The Red Cross has warned that the toll could still rise further. The powerful cyclone, which struck last weekend, brought winds of over 320km/h (200mph), torrential rain and waves of up to 12m (40ft), flattening many buildings in parts of the main Viti Levu island and Koro islands.
It has been described by the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation as the worst to ever hit the country. The damage in remote outlying areas - so far seen only from the air - is reported to be especially bad. Pictures taken from Koro on Tuesday showed battered and demolished homes on the island Communication with many smaller and remote islands in the Pacific nation of 900,000 people have been down since the cyclone hit.
The death toll numbers "will continue to change as we have better access to information and establish communications". Officials are also warning of the threat of dengue and zika spreading, as both viruses are carried by mosquitoes which can breed in stagnant water left by the storm. The government has also advised families to bury or cremate the dead as soon as possible because of a lack of facilities for storing bodies.
Power is gradually being restored in the the main centres but mortuaries are still without electricity. Though the devastation has been described as "catastrophic", officials have also said the destruction could have been far worse had the storm not changed direction at the last minute, sparing the capital Suva its full impact.

Drone footage shows the extent of damage left by Cyclone Winston in Fiji over the weekend. Houses are seen to be destroyed and trees are strewn over the ladnscape after the storm brought power and communication lines down. Officials say at least 29 people have died as authorities and aid workers race to provide emergency supplies to survivors.

Cyclone Winston: Frustration grows as help fails to reach devastated communities in Fiji - There is growing frustration among Fijians who say they are yet to receive any help after a devastating cyclone struck the country on the weekend. More than 1,000 homes were destroyed in Rakiraki, a major town on the north coast of Fiji's main island Viti Levu, and 500 have been partially damaged. The town looks like a bomb had gone off, with barely a building left unscathed. Despite the devastation, the only sign of any aid relief is coming from the business community, which has handed out free cartons of water along Viti Levu's north coast. Authorities are yet to make contact with smaller islands impacted by the cyclone.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Three dead as tornadoes hit southern US - At least 7 tornadoes lashed Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida Tuesday, destroying homes and businesses. The deaths occurred when mobile homes were destroyed in Louisiana and Mississippi, officials said. Meteorologists said the storm system could hit Alabama and Georgia later on Wednesday.
Two people died at a trailer park in Convent, southern Louisiana, where 90% of the homes were destroyed. "These travel trailers were picked up, thrown a considerable distance and just mangled." The governor said it was a "minor miracle" that more people had not been killed because most of the trailers were occupied when the storm hit.
At least 30 people were taken to hospital in the state, most of them from the trailer park. The other death occurred near the southern Mississippi town of Purvis. A tornado was also reported in the northern Florida town of Pensacola. Local media reported that three buildings in an apartment complex had been badly damaged and thousands of people in the region were without power.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

There are very few periods in New England weather when the line “the weather’s been anything but typical” doesn’t apply. Even by this region's standards, the recent temperature changes have been extremely extreme. Researchers would need to do a statistical analysis of the most recent fluctuations to see just how out of the ordinary they are, but some research shows the temperature extremes, especially on the warmer side, are becoming more frequent.
Ten days ago, temperatures in Boston reached record cold levels we haven’t seen in half a century. This was followed a few days later by readings in the 50s. This past weekend, temperatures were averaging 10 to 15 degrees outside the typical range. Over half of the days this month have seen temperatures over 10 degrees above or below average: in other words, more evidence of wild swings. Much of New England has seen a similar pattern this winter.
In 2013, a study published looked at recent trends in winter temperature extremes in Eastern China and their relationship with the Arctic Oscillation, or AO, and El Nino/Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. The study found that, since the mid 1980s, parts of China were seeing more extremes during the winter, some of which may be connected to both oscillations. This year, both ENSO and the AO have been at the more extreme ends of the scale. There is likely a connection between what we have observed this winter and those atmospheric players.

This Incredible 'Boiling River' Is A Scientific Enigma - Hidden deep in the Amazon, this river "is a reminder that there are still great wonders to be discovered."
Located in a forest region called Mayantuyacu, the sacred boiling river, which is guarded by a shaman, flows hot - between 120 and 196 degrees Fahrenheit - for almost 4 miles and is about as wide as a two-lane road. While boiling rivers do exist in the world, they are usually found close to active volcanos. This river is especially remarkable because it runs more than 400 miles from the nearest active volcano - the only non-volcanic river known to boil on Earth.

SPACE WEATHER -

Large space rock burns up over Atlantic - The biggest fireball since the Chelyabinsk explosion has plunged through the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean. The event, which has only just come to light, occurred off the coast of Brazil at 13:55 GMT on 6 February. As it burned up, the space rock released the equivalent of 13,000 tonnes of TNT.
This makes it the most powerful event of its kind since an object exploded over Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013. That blast was much bigger, releasing the equivalent of 500,000 tonnes of TNT. More than 1,000 people were injured in that incident on 15 February three years ago, most from flying glass from shattered windows.
But the fireball over the Atlantic probably went unnoticed; it burnt up about 30km above the ocean surface, 1,000km off the Brazilian coast. Measurements suggest that about 30 small asteroids (between 1m and 20m in size) burn up in the Earth's atmosphere every year. Because most of the Earth's surface is covered by water, most of these fall over the ocean and do not affect populated areas.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Plans are nothing; planning is everything.**
Dwight D. Eisenhower


LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -
None.

Oklahoma - Earthquakes stronger this year, but quake count slightly less. This year, seven earthquakes of 4.0 magnitude or greater have occurred in the state. Through the same time last year, four earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 occurred. Since January 1 of 2016 until February 19 Oklahoma has recorded 339 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater. Through the same period last year the state had recorded 389 quakes. The strongest earthquake this year was a 5.1 that occurred February 13 in northern Oklahoma.

Major County, Oklahoma, records 35 quakes over previous week, including the rattling 5.1

VOLCANOES -
Mt. Bulusan spews 500-m high ash column - Philippines- Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon province spewed a 500- meter high grayish ash column around 5 p.m. Monday, drifting toward villages in the towns of Juban and Irosin.

Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung Eruption Captured in Time Exposure - Photos taken on February 21, 2016 show the eruption of the Mount Sinabung volcano in Sumatra.

PHOTOS: Nicaragua's Momotombo Volcano still putting on a show - By all appearances, Nicaragua's formerly sleeping giant Momotombo isn't going back to bed just yet.

Taking on the world's most dangerous volcano - Nyiragongo is a cone volcano that dominates the sky above the city of Goma, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in eastern Africa. It’s an active mountain that erupted in 2002; with the resulting lava flow destroying a large area of Goma and nearly shutting down the airport.

Volcano Activity Worldwide - Alaid Volcano (Northern Kuriles): New thermal anomalies have been detected from the volcano during the past days via satellite data. It is not known whether or not a new eruption is underway at the volcano which is rarely visited, but one of the most active ones in the area. Its most recent eruption from Oct 2015 to January this year produced spectacular lava flows that flowed into the sea and enlarged the uninhabited island. The Aviation Color Code was raised again to yellow. Colima Volcano (Western Mexico): As had been suspected last week, a new (still small) lava dome has appeared inside the volcano's summit crater. During an overflight on 19 Feb, it was seen to be approx. 25 m in diameter and 10 m tall.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Winston is located approximately 314 nm west-southwest of Suva, Fiji. Winston is forecast to weaken rapidly.
-----
At least 21 deaths had been reported by late Monday Fiji time as the island nation slogged through the daunting early stages of recovery from ferocious Cyclone Winston, the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere. Officials expect the death toll to rise when they're finally able to reach outlying islands that were hit hardest by the powerful storm, and it would not be surprising if Winston ends up being the deadliest and costliest natural disaster in Fiji's history.
Fiji's deadliest tropical cyclone in recorded history was Category 3 Cyclone Eric of 1985, which made a direct hit on the capital of Suva, killing 25. [29 now officially reported killed by Cyclone Winston.] Since satellite records began in 1970 (with high-quality satellite images only available since 1990), just eleven Catergory 5's (including Winston) have been observed anywhere in the South Pacific east of Australia. Winston is the strongest of these.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Extreme Weather Strikes Israel as Sea of Galilee Rises, Negev Floods - Following a week of unusually mild weather, winter returned to Israel this weekend as a large rainstorm struck from the north to the south, causing floods in the desert and dropping snow on the mountains in yet another round of apocalyptic weather in the Middle East.
The storm made itself felt in every part of the country. In the north, Mount Hermon was closed to visitors and skiers due to heavy snowfall, fierce winds, and heavy fog. The Sea of Galilee, which is at a near-constant risk of depletion, fortuitously rose by 1.5 centimeters.
In the southern Negev region, heavy rain has caused dangerous flash floods, washing out roads and stranding those unlucky enough to be caught in the storm. Ten hikers were rescued near the Ramon Crater by the volunteer Har Hanegev search and rescue unit.
The Ein Gedi area, near the Dead Sea, was particularly hard hit, with several schools closed on Monday following flash floods. Another rescue team was called in to extract a number of cars which had become stuck in the nearby Arugot Stream.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Severe droughts explain the mysterious fall of the Maya - We might finally know why the Maya abandoned their impressive limestone cities about 1,000 years ago. Thousands of ancient Maya cities are spread across southern Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, Belize and Guatemala. It’s likely that still more Maya ruins lie hidden beneath the region’s thick tropical forest. The first wave of droughts had finished off the Maya in the south, it looks like the second wave may have brought on their demise in the north. After this second wave of droughts there was to be no real recovery for the Maya. The droughts in the 9th Century had certainly been severe. But the 11th Century brought the worst drought that the region had seen for fully 2,000 years - a “megadrought”.

Drought-related harmful effects likely to spread eastern side of America in near future.

Without a 'March miracle,' drought-like conditions will continue in Southern California - Southern Californians can expect dry conditions and above-average heat this week as a stubborn high-pressure system continues to block the heavily anticipated El Niño rainstorms that weather officials warned of over the winter. Though experts predicted that the Pacific warming phenomenon known as El Niño could bring consecutive downpours to Southern California between January and March - now some say as late as April - nothing of the sort has occurred since the first week of the year.
That’s because a high-pressure system hovering over the Eureka, Calif., area has deflected most of the moisture and cooler temperatures that would flow south to Los Angeles and beyond. Downtown L.A. has receive only 4.99 inches of rain since Oct. 1. The historical average by the end of February is 10 inches.
This February has also been more than eight degrees warmer than its historical average. The current pattern is like the drought pattern from these last four years. “If March doesn’t come through, and April and May are typically drier months, we might be out of time by then.”
Southern California needs a “March miracle” to avoid a fifth year of drought-like conditions locally. But there is a silver lining for Californians. Though the high-pressure system may be blocking storms in Southern California, vital rain and snow is being steered toward the Sierra Nevada, which is seeing its highest snowpack in years.

Mystery wind drought that cut US wind power in 2015 is back - There’s a still in the air – and it is bad news for North America’s wind turbines. Last year saw the lowest average wind speeds in half a century across much of North America. There were long periods of motionless air across most of the Great Plains and the West, stretching through to Texas and Florida, and from Mexico to Canada.
And weather watchers say the wind drought was back again in the early weeks of 2016. In much of the American West, average wind speeds were a fifth below normal in the first half of last year. As a result, the electricity output of US wind farms fell 6 per cent despite their generating capacity increasing by 9 per cent. “The possibility of a prolonged wind drought is on the minds of many in the wind industry."
The immediate cause, say meteorologists, is a large ridge of high pressure that formed over the north-eastern Pacific and the western half of North America in mid-2013. This diverted wind-bringing storms far north into the Arctic. “The ridge was remarkable for its longevity, lasting from June 2013 through to mid-2015. It is the strongest in records dating back to 1960."
The still air in 2015 predated the formation of the current El Niño. Most meteorologists believe that the persistent high pressure is at least partly a result of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a fluctuation that is similar to El Niño but lasts for decades. In the past two years, the oscillation has switched to its “warm” phase, meaning that the wind drought could stick around through 2016.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

Huge parts of the ocean are humming. Scientists have puzzled over the source of the sound for several years. Huge clouds of small fish and crustaceans and squid tend to hide in the dark, deep water during the day, and rise up nearer the surface to feed at night. This happens in all oceans in the mesopelagic zone, a fish-rich area of little light that stretches from about 660 feet beneath the sea's surface to depths of around 3,300 feet.
It took hydrophones in the Pacific to reveal that the hum actually accompanies that daily rise and fall of the fish migration. Why the noise? Scientists can only speculate. It could be that the creatures "are truly, actively communicating - potentially to initiate migration." In other words, maybe the buzz is just a signal that "it's time to go." But there's another more mundane possibility.

Unpredictable February weather continues to hit Toronto - February has already been a month of extremes, and with a winter storm on the way in Toronto this week, it is still full of surprises. It’s been a shock to many, lulled by a warmer than usual winter that has caused many to think snow was a thing of the past. It is not just people who have enjoyed the balmy weather, also wildlife.
“Things like white-tailed deer and rabbits have a very easy go of it this year." This month’s up and downs have been so unusual, even those who know weather best have been caught a little off guard. “I’ve been in this business a half a century and I’ve never seen a February like this year,” said a senior climatologist with Environment Canada. Feb. 3 was 16 C while Feb. 14 saw record lows. “Over 175 years of records there’s never been a warmer day and then we had the coldest in 22 years on Valentine’s Day."
Overall though, El Niño has meant a warmer than usual winter and relief for water birds, many of which died over the last two winters.

Supercomputer quietly puts U.S. weather resources back on top - Three years ago European models delivered a blow to the U.S. weather apparatus. The European weather models accurately predicted the path and strength of the devastating Hurricane Sandy that hit the New Jersey coastline and caused $65 billion in damage.
Now, the U.S. is on the rebound with this monumental supercomputer that collects, processes and analyzes billions of observations from weather satellites, weather balloons, airplanes, buoys and surface stations from around the world to help meteorologists make better weather forecasts.
The brand-new Cray supercomputer — designed, owned and operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — processes 3 quadrillion calculations per second. You'd need about 12,500 high-end laptops to get close to that kind of power. Still, the supercomputer is merely the 18th fastest in the U.S. and 42nd fastest in the world. NOAA's purchase stemmed partly from competition from the top European weather model — ECMWF (European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasting). It predicted Sandy's now infamous and unusual left hook in 2012 days before the top American model — the GFS (Global Forecast System). The one-two punch pushed the U.S. to invest $44.5 million to develop better forecasts. NOAA installed the Reston computer and its backup twin in Orlando, a safe distance away in case of a natural disaster, late last year.
Together, they provide a 10-fold increase in computer power over previous systems and put American forecasting systems back on par or even above European ones. "It's a huge improvement over what they had...it was a "national embarrassment." In the months ahead, the supercomputer will focus on severe weather, storm surge and river forecasting, just in time for spring's flood season and summer's hurricane season.
The supercomputer showed its prowess last month, predicting an East Coast blizzard with great accuracy days before the storm. That's only a glimpse of what's to come. "We expect to see better forecasts for hurricanes, severe weather, floods and other extreme events this year."

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

FEARS OF ZIKA, DENGUE OUTBREAKS ON FIJIAN ISLANDS STILL CUT-OFF AFTER CYCLONE - There are fears the death toll could rise in the nation of 900,000 people when communication resumes with the smaller islands hit by Cyclone Winston.. Aerial footage of outlying islands showed whole villages flattened and flooded after Winston's destructive winds, up to 325 kph (200 mph), tore through the archipelago of 300 islands. Thousands of Fijians live in tin or wooden shacks in low-lying coastal areas.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**When you relinquish the spectacular, you are rewarded with the quieter joy of the ordinary.**
Eric Weiner


LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -
None

2/21/16 - 2/18/16 -
None 6.0 or larger.

2/17/16 -
6.0 HALMAHERA, INDONESIA

2/16/16 -
6.1 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE

2/15/16 -
6.0 TONGA

2/14/16 - 2/13/16
None 6.0 or larger.

2/12/16
6.2 SUMBA REGION, INDONESIA

New Zealand - No damage reported after 'severe' 5.0 quake rattles Wellington. A strong earthquake was felt across the lower North and upper South Islands on the 5 year anniversary of the Canterbury quake in which 185 died.

Japan - Few hospitals ready for post-Nankai Trough quake with support plans. Only 8% of about 600 responding hospitals that are likely to be affected by a predicted massive earthquake in the Nankai Trough running south of Japan’s mainland have created plans that would make it easier to receive outside support in the wake of disasters.
The findings come five years after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami devastated areas of northeastern Japan in 2011. The quake-tsunami disaster damaged some 300 hospitals, or nearly 80% of the total, in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

VOLCANOES -
Rare eruption of Iceland's most famous hot spring Geysir - The Great Geysir, Iceland's most famous hot spring, which has given the name to geysers all over the world, erupted yesterday. This rare event was captured on camera.
Earthquakes have been shown to revive the activity of Geysir and records from 1630 show that it erupted violently many times that year. Until 1896 however the hot spring was almost dormant before an earthquake that year caused eruptions to begin again, several times a day. In 1935 a man-made channel was dug through the rim which caused a revival in activity, but gradually the channel became clogged with silica making eruptions once again rare. In 1981 the channel was cleared and eruptions were simulated on special occasions by the additon of soaps, something later discouraged because of environmental concerns.
An earthquake in the year 2000 revived the geyser again and an eruption took place for two days straight, reaching 122 metres in height. In the last decade, eruptions have decreased considerably and it is now considered almost inactive.

Mount Paektu - Scientists say that North Korea’s nuclear program could cause a volcanic eruption of Mount Paektu, the country’s highest mountain.
The underground test site is 115km from the volcano and an explosion could increase pressure in the magma chamber beneath the 2744m mountain, driving molten rock upwards. “An underground nuclear explosion test near an active volcano constitutes a direct threat to the volcano."
North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test last month and although the blast was not as large as would be expected from the bomb that North Korea claimed to have set off, it still produced an earthquake measuring 5.1. The team calculated that an earthquake of 7.0, which has been recorded after nuclear tests in the United States, could create sufficient pressure to cause an eruption. Mount Paektu last erupted in 1903 and its eruption in AD946 was one of the biggest of the past 2,000 years. Between 2002 and 2006, scientists reported an increase in earthquakes and ground swelling around Mount Paektu, suggesting that the magma was shifting.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Winston is located approximately 337 nm west of Suva, Fiji.

Cyclone Winston - the Southern Hemisphere's Strongest Storm on Record. Mighty Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston smashed through the islands of Fiji Friday night and Saturday morning with top sustained winds estimated at 185 mph. These winds vaulted Winston into a three-way tie as the second strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in world recorded history.
Winston began its march at Category 5 strength through the Fiji Islands beginning at 18 UTC (1 pm EST) Friday. At that time, Winston had 165 mph winds as it moved westwards over the small Fiji island of Vanua Balavu (population 1,200). The island's airport was in the western eyewall of Winston, and at 18 UTC measured 10-minute average winds of 106 mph (roughly equivalent to 120 mph winds using the U.S. 1-minute averaging time.)
Winston continued to intensify, then crashed ashore on the Fiji island of Koro (population 4,500) at peak strength - sustained winds of 185 mph - near 02 UTC Saturday (9 pm EST Friday.) This is the second strongest landfall by any tropical cyclone, globally, in recorded history. Only Super Typhoon Haiyan's 190 mph winds at landfall in 2013 in Samar, Philippines have been rated higher.
After likely demolishing most of Koro with a long period of sustained winds of EF4 tornado strength, Winston weakened slightly, to 180 mph winds, while its northern (weaker) eyewall brushed the south coast of Fiji's second largest island, Vanua Levu. The city of Nambouwalu on the south coast of Vanua Levu reported 10-minute sustained winds of 121 mph at 06 UTC Saturday (roughly equivalent to Category 4 winds of 135 mph using the U.S. 1-minute averaging time.) Winston then wobbled more to the west-southwest, possibly due to interaction with the high terrain of the two largest islands of Fiji.
Maintaining winds of 180 mph, Winston slammed ashore along the northeast coast of Fiji's main island of Viti Levu in Rakiraki, a district of close to 30,000 people, near 07 UTC Saturday. The eye of Winston travelled westwards along the north coast of Viti Levu for two hours, pounding the entire north coast of the island with the strongest part of the storm, the southern eyewall. When Winston finally emerged from the island near 09 UTC Saturday, the storm was slightly weaker, but still had Category 5 winds of 160 mph.
At that time, the edge of Winston's south eyewall moved over the second largest city in Fiji, Lautoka (population 80,000). The top sustained winds at the Lautoka tide station were 83 mph, gusting to 110 mph. These 10-minute average winds imply that at least Category 2 hurricane conditions (95 - 100 mph 1-minute averaged winds) were likely experienced there (thanks go to wunderground member Carnivorous for this link.) Damage to Fiji is going to be severe to catastrophic, but it will be several days before the true scope of the destruction is realized.
Winston will likely weaken to Category 4 strength and head southwards during the remainder of the weekend, with no other islands in its path, thankfully. The cyclone may restrengthen slightly on Monday before a more significant weakening takes hold. (storm video at link)

Death toll from ferocious Fiji cyclone hits 18 as aid sent to islands. Authorities were still having trouble communicating with some islands, including places like Koro Island which suffered some of the worst damage. And more than 6,000 residents across Fiji were staying in emergency shelters after their homes were broken or swamped.
Winds from Cyclone Winston, which tore through Fiji over the weekend, reached 177 miles (285 kilometers) per hour, making it the strongest storm in the Southern Hemisphere since record-keeping began. Getting emergency supplies to the group's far-flung islands and remote communities was the government's top priority. Home to 900,000 people, Fiji has more than 100 inhabited islands. "The logistics of getting supplies and equipment to remote communities is difficult. Some have lost their jetties and it's uncertain if airstrips are able to be landed on."

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Winds Gusted to Near-Hurricane Levels in Chicago Area - After Friday's wind storm, the Chicago area is continuing to recover from damage inflicted by the 72 mile-per-hour winds ripped through the city and shredded roofs, windows, trees and fences.

Seattle, Washington, drowned its rain record Friday, setting an all-time high for wettest rainy season ever. They’ve had nearly 2 feet of rain, or 22.97 inches, since Dec. 1, breaking the previous 22.77-inch record set in the same time of year in 1998-99.
The record is for the period from December through February, called meteorological winter because it typically is the coldest stretch of the year. With more rain in the forecast, and more than a week left in the month, the old record is sure to sink even further.
After all the predictions of a monster El Niño this year, expectations were for a warmer, drier winter. Warmer came through in spades, with temperatures in Seattle so far during the month of February running about 5 degrees above normal.

In Colorado, unlike almost every other state in the country, it is illegal to collect the rain that falls from the sky into a rain barrel. Several Denver residents support a bill at the General Assembly that is scheduled to be heard in Committee on Monday. The bill would permit Coloradans to use no more than 2 rain barrels collecting a maximum of 110 gallons of rainwater.
A similar measure was introduced last year but failed after some Republican senators expressed concern that collecting rainwater could deplete the water supply of rivers downstream and for the rural residents who rely on them.

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

Disruptive snow, rain threaten eastern US, Great Lakes next week - A winter storm is expected to track from the southern Plains, threatening to unleash a large swath of disruptive snow and rain across the eastern United States and Great Lakes this week.
The springlike start to this weekend has not put an end to the risk of wintry weather in a part of the eastern U.S. and Great Lakes when a winter storm arrives this week. Latest indications point toward the worst of the winter storm impacting the eastern-third of the U.S. on Wednesday into Thursday.
Ahead of the main storm, a weaker system with rain will track from the Ohio Valley to the mid- Atlantic to end the weekend. It is not out of the question for the rain grazing places from the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to far southern New England to end as wet snowflakes.
Another system will spread rain and thunderstorms across the South early in the new week, while the more potent winter storm for the eastern U.S. takes shape in the southern Plains. "[The storm next Wednesday and Thursday] has the potential to be disruptive to travel because it could cover a large area with a wide variety of weather. How strong the storm becomes will determine the amount of wind and extent of coastal flooding. Given the timing of the storm, the highest astronomical tides related to the full moon will occur a couple of days ahead of the storm. Tides, however, will still be higher than average."
Regardless of which scenario pans out this week, colder air will sweep into the eastern U.S. in the storm's wake. An even harsher blast of arctic air may then sweep from the Midwest to Northeast next weekend or early in the following week.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

More severe drought is expected to hit Thailand between March and April, as authorities have already declared 11 provinces disaster zones due to water scarcity.

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Zika Virus Enabled By Shoddy Water, Sewer Systems - Shoddy water and sewer infrastructure is abetting the spread of the Zika virus, which has exploded throughout Latin America in the past year and is now documented in 20 nations. The virus is largely spread by mosquitos. Related to dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile, it has a foothold in urban areas where decrepit water and sewer systems provide a comfortable breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“The mosquito lays its eggs in containers of water, of a sort that are especially common in the huge slums of Latin American cities. With unreliable access to piped water, people there store water in rooftop cisterns, buckets and the like. Old tires and other debris can also become mosquito habitat. Water storage near homes is commonplace in areas where Zika has spread rapidly, like the cities of Recife and Salvador in northeastern Brazil, and where dengue experienced a surge in 2015, like São Paulo, Brazil’s largest state."
Why is this virus so threatening? “The main fear is that it may cause birth defects if pregnant women contract it. The possibility that the Zika virus causes microcephaly [in babies] — unusually small heads and often damaged brains — emerged only in October, when doctors in northern Brazil noticed a surge in babies with the condition."
Claims have emerged that pesticides, not Zika, are to blame for the rise in birth defects, but scientists and public officials, including U.S. health authorities, debunked that argument this week, according to USA Today. Nevertheless, “Brazil’s southernmost state halted the use of a mosquito larvicide that an Argentine doctors’ group warns could be behind the recent surge of babies born with microcephaly.”

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