Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Never fight an inanimate object.**
P. J. O'Rourke


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.0 - NORTH OF ASCENSION ISLAND

Yesterday, 8/25/15 -
5.4 KYUSHU, JAPAN
5.1 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA

8/24/15 -
5.5 TONGA
5.0 KOMANDORSKIYE OSTROVA REGION
6.0 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION

8/23/15 -
5.7 COQUIMBO, CHILE
5.1 NEPAL
5.5 OFFSHORE EL SALVADOR

8/22/15 -
5.1 ROTA REGION, N. MARIANA ISLANDS
5.1 MARIANA ISLANDS REGION

8/21/15 -
5.2 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS

8/20/15 -
5.5 EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG., P.N.G.
5.8 MOLUCCA SEA

Japanese climber first to attempt Everest ascent since Nepal quake - A Japanese climber will be the first to attempt to scale Mount Everest from the Nepal side this autumn following the devastating quake that killed 9000 people in the country in April this year. The earthquake claimed 19 lives at the base camp of the tallest mountain in the world where hundreds of climbers, guides and porters were getting ready for the spring climbing season.
"We decided to make an attempt on Everest in autumn to show the world that Everest and other peaks in Nepal are safe for climbing even after the quake." Spring (April-May) is the most popular season to climb Everest and other major peaks in the Nepalese Himalayas and most climbers avoid autumn (September-October) because of extreme cold and shorter days.
This is his fifth attempt to climb Everest. He had tried twice from the Tibet side and twice from the Nepalese side. In 2012, he lost nine fingers to frostbite while attempting to climb Everest. Climbing on Everest has remained affected for two consecutive spring seasons - last year it was due to an avalanche which claimed 16 lives and this year because of the quake.

VOLCANOES -
New Zealand - Minor eruptions possible on Mt Ruapehu as crater lake cool. Adventurous tourists enjoy visiting the Mt Ruapehu crater lake, but are warned to be wary in the vicinity, as DOC and GNS have recorded a disruption to the normal temperature trends.
Minor eruptions on Mt Ruapehu could be on the horizon as the crater lake's temperature stalls at 15 degrees. The Department of Conservation and GNS Science are keeping a closer eye on the volcano following the temperature drop. There is a chance a minor eruption could occur. If one occurs it could affect the summit craters area.
However, the likelihood of any eruption is not high and the Volcanic Alert level set by GNS Science is still 1, its normal level. The lake usually fluctuates between 10 and 40 degrees, and does not stay one temperature for too long. However, it is currently 15 degrees and has been so for two weeks.
There are two reasons for it to remain relatively cold. "Firstly, it could just be normal fluctuation - sometimes the magma is putting out a lot of heat, and sometimes it's not, and that's the most common reason. [Secondly,] about 10 per cent of the time, the lake is cool because a blockage has developed in the vent between the magma and the lake."
A blockage could potentially cause an eruption, after pressure builds. Gas outlets at the crater lake were measured on Friday, and they appear to behaving normally. However, current scientific equipment could not determine whether a blockage had occurred for certain. "Because we can't be sure, we're taking the precautionary approach."
The lake last cooled below 10 degrees in 1998, and an eruption followed. Similar drops in temperature were recorded in 1995 and 1996. "At 17.5 degrees we'll start talking about it, at 15 degrees we'll start [advising the public to be cautious], and so on." Advisory signs were being erected.

Cotopaxi Volcano is spewing ash in Ecuador - The Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador has come to life after being dormant for over 70 years. After making it’s first big eruption, the capital of Quito saw its effects as ash rained down on the city. The capital is over 31 miles away, which gives perspective to how massive this volcano eruption can be.
Locals are afraid that gas and rock flows will effect the glacier capped peak. The melting ice could cause the surrounding areas to be flooded with volcanic mud. This is not the first time the locals have been worried about this. In 1877, a similar tragedy took place, claiming lives in the destruction.
Cotopaxi is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. Officials are keeping a close watch as the volcano is continuously having small eruptions. “Cotopaxi is considered one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes due to its proximity to population centers and very explosive activity, coupled with a tremendous potential for devastating volcanic mudflows, called lahars, which are formed by rapid melting of the icecap.”
In the 1877 lahar, the mudflow traveled over 202 miles to the coast of the Pacific. The Valle de Los Chillos is along the dangerous path of this volcano, and presently houses over 200,000 people along the lahar channels. “The last big eruption lasted three years, but if it is like Tungurahua volcano (south of Cotopaxi), it could last 16 years.” The government declared a state of emergency this week, and said that 325,000 people are at risk. Officials have restricted the press from reporting about the volcano to keep people back and out of harm’s way.
Some locals are feeling hopeless at the lack of news they are receiving. “We watch the news for information and there isn’t a single story about the volcano, yet I watched as it erupted again today.” The community feels “abandoned by the government.” Close to Cotopaxi and up river from Latacunga, the area has been destroyed by Cotopaxi on 3 separate occasions.
After the eruption on Saturday, “People were evacuating, but there was no information so the people panicked.” According to the locals there isn’t help from the government, police, or any civil service. There are no plans for evacuation, so the community has pulled together to work on exercises in case there would be a situation. However, the locals are not aware of where they are supposed to evacuate to.
Other residents are suffering the wrath of Cotopaxi from a distance. Romerillo, another town, is having ash rain down. The locals are concerned that the ash will contaminate the food for the animals, and some have reported that their cattle have started to get ill and die. The government stepped in and is trying to provide fresh food, not tainted in volcanic ash, for the livestock and animals to feed on.
Cotopaxi National Park is suffering due to the sudden events of the volcano. Over 200,000 tourists come each year,including mountain climbers seeking the challenge of one of the highest volcano peaks in the world. However, it has been shut down due to the eruptions, causing some locals to fear for their jobs and livelihood.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical storm Erika, located about 605 mi (975 km) E of Antigua, is expected to be near the northern Leeward Islands tomorrow night. Erika is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches over many of the Leeward Islands through Thursday.

- As a weakening Tropical Depression, Danny has crossed into the Caribbean. Tropical Storm Danny brought rain and strong winds Monday to the islands of the eastern edge of the Caribbean and then quickly dissipated as it headed west. Just a few days ago, Danny was a powerful, though compact, category 3 hurricane.
The storm and its remnants were expected to produce 2 inches to 4 inches of rain in the Leeward Islands and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as in drought-stricken Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Dominica received just over 2 inches of rain and fallen rocks blocked roads but there were no reports of injuries or flooding.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Storm Ignacio is located about 1530 mi (2460 km) ESE of Hilo, Hawaii.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical Storm 17w (Atsani) is located approximately 1065 nm south of petropavlovsk, Russia. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

- Tropical Storm 16w (Goni) is located approximately 128 nm north of Iwakuni, Japan. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

* In the Central Pacific -
- Tropical depression Kilo nearly stationary northeast of Johnston Island, about 540 mi (870 km) WSW of Barking Sands, Hawaii. Slow intensification is expected to begin tonight or Wednesday. Additional rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches are possible.

- Tropical storm Loke beginning to weaken as it accelerates northward, about 305 mi (490 km) NE of Midway Island. Large swells produced by Loke will cause rough surf across reefs and shorelines over the western portions of the Papahanaumokuakea marine National Monument, Hawaii, through this evening. As the surf from Loke diminishes, swells from former typhoon Atsani will start to affect the area.
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' Typhoon Goni has lashed the Japanese mainland, leaving at least one person missing, more than 70 others injured as authorities urged more than 600,000 people to leave homes. Packing gusts up to 122 mph (180 km/h) Goni passed over Kyushu, one of Japan's four main islands, and continued its path over the Sea of Japan.
Typhoon Goni Cuts Path Through Japan’s Kyushu - Typhoon Goni made landfall on Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu, causing injuries and prompting evacuation orders. Cancellations of airline and train service affected thousands of people.
Goni, which had been the strength of a category 3 hurricane, came ashore in Kumamoto prefecture about 6 a.m. The storm cut a path through Kyushu and re-entered the sea near Shimonoseki, where 280,000 people in surrounding Yamaguchi prefecture were advised to evacuate due to concern over landslides. At least 33 injuries in Kyushu and Yamaguchi were attributed to the typhoon.
Japan Meteorological Agency issued warnings for high waves, landslides and flooding for prefectures in most of southern and western Japan. The storm was about 100 kilometers northeast of Fukuoka, Kyushu’s largest city, as of 11:45 a.m., and still packed wind gusts up to 180 kilometers per hour. The typhoon, which caused flights to be canceled in southern Japan over the weekend, continues to disrupt travel. Train lines, including Shinkansen bullet trains, were suspended in Kyushu.
Goni brought destruction after it turned northward in the Pacific last week, killing at least 14 people in the Philippines and prompting weather warnings in Taiwan. The storm is predicted to skirt the Korean Peninsula later in the week. Goni is Japan’s 15th typhoon of this season.
Atsani, the 16th typhoon, has since weakened to a strong tropical storm and is heading east out to sea. Japan is most likely to see typhoons make landfall on its main islands between July and October, with two or three coming ashore in a typical year. Typhoon Nangka made landfall in western Japan in July, leaving at least two dead and disrupting travel throughout the region. The number of typhoons formed in a season in Japan is usually in the 20's.

Flooding Rains Continue Across Philippines - Despite pulling away from the Philippines, Typhoon Goni will continue to impact the weather bringing additional flooding rainfall across Luzon. Flooding will remain a threat across western Luzon through at least Tuesday as a moist southwesterly flow coming from the South China Sea will continue to bring rounds of heavy rainfall.
Last week and over the weekend, Goni battered the northern Philippines and left 15 people dead, mainly due to landslides.In Baguio City, more than 760 mm (30 inches) of rain has fallen since Thursday. Many other parts of northwestern Luzon have received 250-500 mm (10-20 inches) of rain during the same time.
Manila dodged the heaviest rainfall thus far; however, residents should not let their guard down as heavy rainfall has flooded areas just to the north of the city and the threat for heavy rainfall in the city continued into Tuesday.
Downpours could bring a quick 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) of rain to areas around Manila on Tuesday. Similar to the past several days, the heaviest and most widespread rain is expected to fall to the north of Manila. The continuation of heavy will rain could cause additional life-threatening flooding and potentially more mudslides.

Hawaii is getting ready for a rare hurricane to hit - Tropical storm Kilo is expected to strengthen throughout the coming week and could make landfall as a category two hurricane by Thursday. "The water temperature? Record warm. Not just warm. Record warm." Kilo could be the first significant hurricane to hit the island directly in more than 20 years.

Danny Vaulted to Category 3 Status - Going against the grain of a hurricane-snuffing El Niño event, the tiny tropical cyclone became THE STRONGEST HURRICANE IN YEARS OVER THE DEEP ATLANTIC TROPICS. Hurricane Danny intensified dramatically on Thursday night and Friday morning, strengthening to Category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Danny was one of the smaller hurricanes on record in the Atlantic.
Due to Danny’s unusually compact size, hurricane-force winds extended only 15 miles from the storm’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended out up to 70 miles. It can be difficult for satellite- based instruments to estimate the intensity of very small hurricanes like Danny due to limited sensor resolution, but it’s clear that Danny was a surprisingly well-organized hurricane.

Hurricane Katrina - Through deadly winds, rain and floods, a New Orleans radio station fought to keep listeners alive during Hurricane Katrina.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Final Body Found After Deadly Landslide in Sitka, Alaska - Searchers in Alaska on Tuesday recovered the third and last body of three people who went missing after a landslide last week on Aug. 18.
The landslide that carried mud and trees sweeping down a road occurred after 24 hours of heavy rain in the mountainous community in Alaska's southeastern tip. The bodies of 2 brothers were found on Aug. 19 and Aug. 20, near the debris of a home that was destroyed. The National Weather Service recorded 2.57 inches of rain falling on Sitka over 6 hours by around 10 a.m., when the landslides occurred. There were six landslides in all, and a sinkhole also opened up.

Australia - A public school on the NSW south coast has been closed as a nearby dam wall threatens to break, in the midst of severe weather pummelling the region. The SES issued an urgent evacuation notice to residents living downstream from Jerrara Dam, west of Kiama, just before 10am on Tuesday. The dam's wall has shown signs of failing due to heavy rainfall in the area.
As the nearby village of Minnamurra would be the hardest hit if the dam wall collapsed, the SES is advising parents with children at Minnamurra Public School to collect them. If the dam busts, it will cause extremely dangerous flooding to areas. "We do not know what is going to happen. The dam is currently being decommissioned and we are noticing the water is spilling over the top and is too risky, we are asking residents to evacuate immediately." The evacuation order is expected to remain in place for 24 hours.
Kiama Council downgraded the evacuation warning for homes not in the dam's immediate downstream area at 12.15pm Tuesday but a red alert remained in place. "Roads may be congested or closed. You could become trapped and need to be rescued. Remaining in flooded areas is dangerous and may place your life at risk. Wherever possible, people should go and stay with family or friends, or make other accommodation arrangements." Several people are trapped in the area.
Other parts of New South Wales have been battered by wild weather, with giant hail stones, flash flooding and even a tornado. A tornado has swept through Dubbo on Monday and damaged several homes, while hailstones the size of 20 cent coins have pummelled parts of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Rain in the city jumped from 17 millimetres to almost 55 in just 41 minutes.
The extreme weather caused flash flooding, road closures, traffic delays and some serious damage. At least four people were rescued from floods, including a woman pulled from a vehicle. Sydney and the Illawarra region have been worst hit, but more than 100 calls to the SES have been scattered across the state. The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a flood watch warning for the region, along with the South Coast, Lachlan and Nepean River Valleys.
Rainfall totals in the range of 100-200mm were expected on Monday night and Tuesday, with higher localised falls of over 300mm possible. "Heavy rain and the potential for flash flooding (are) the main threats."

United Kingdom - A so-called "Spanish Plume" has brought heat, flash floods and heavy thunderstorms to parts of the UK. The plume carried hot, unstable air from France, pushing the mercury up. Temperatures across the South East were widely in the upper 20s - the mercury hit 30.7C in London, 30.3 at Heathrow Airport and 30.4 at Gravesend in Kent.
But with the heat also came torrential rain in parts of the country - 21.6mm of rain fell in an hour in the village of Bramham, West Yorkshire. The Met Office has issued a yellow "be aware" warning for downpours in the Midlands, parts of eastern England and into northern England and southern Scotland. "We've seen some very potent thunderstorms and they will continue to rumble on through the coming hours. We'll see further pulses of very heavy rain in southwest England and into Wales, northern parts of England, south and southeast parts of Scotland."
A Spanish Plume is colloquial term for a weather situation in which a large southwards dip in the high altitude jet stream develops to the west of Europe encouraging a deep southerly wind flow. This drives hot and humid air from Iberia north and northeast into northern Europe, including the British Isles. Forecasters also say the Spanish Plume can create a risk of tornadoes - but there is a low chance of that this weekend. The unsettled weather will continue for the rest of the weekend, then the cooler weather is set to return next week.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

US west coast wildfires in 60 seconds - Wildfires are still burning across the west coast of the United States, and authorities are struggling to deal with them.

Resources Falling Short as Washington Wildfire Grows Into Historic Monster - Commanders blamed a "lack of resources" for the continued spread of the 260,000-acre Okanogan Complex of fires in Washington state. Scores more firefighters raced Tuesday to the Okanogan Complex of fires, the biggest wildfire in the history of Washington state and the nation's No. 1 summer wildfire priority. But it still might not be enough.
The complex of five fires near the north-central town of Omak grew by almost 14,000 more acres by Tuesday afternoon, to 258,339 acres, or more than 403 square miles. If it were a city, it would be the 10th-largest in the continental U.S. by area.
Nearly 100 new firefighters arrived at the fire, which has been only 15 percent contained since it started Aug. 15. In just 10 days, it has already cost nearly $10 million to battle. But the fire's northeastward is continuing unabated because, the incident team reported bluntly, of a "lack of resources to implement suppression actions." Crews were even being diverted from California, even though they're needed there for numerous fires burning hundreds of thousands of acres.

Man's Concrete Home Survives Raging Wildfire in Washington - A Washington man’s cement home is still standing after surviving a raging wildfire that passed his home and scorched acres of surrounding land. He was prepared for the inevitability of a wildfire when he built his thin-shelled, concrete dome in 1999 surrounded by dry fields in Okanogan County.
Earlier this week, he just happened to be working 30 miles out of town when he received a voicemail from a friend warning him about a fire approaching his home. After shuttling three vehicles off his property, he realized he had to hurry as the fire was only a couple hundred yards away. “The fire was getting close, in fact, there was a firefighter there at the time who got trapped inside when I shut the gate inadvertently.”
“I grabbed the hose, soaked my clothing down and doused the north side of the building as much as I could. [The fire] got close enough that it was super heated and getting uncomfortable out there in the smoke. I went inside, shut the door behind me and watched it move by.” He waited out the flames for about a minute as the fire passed by his home.
“The fire just roared across my property. I could see the flames dancing up over the windows." The only damage sustained was a service pole, which resulted in a loss of power. “The building survived as it’s supposed to. I was surprised the outside of the building didn’t have any damage at all. The whole 20 acres is just scorched.” His three-layered cement home is made up of polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane and cement.

As Polish river levels fall to RECORD LOWS amid a prolonged drought, the material remains of Poland's tortured 20th-century history are coming to light on newly exposed riverbeds, with Jewish tombstones and the human remains of Soviet fighter pilots and their plane being found in recent days.

Canada - Alberta declares that agricultural losses from extreme weather is a 'disaster'. The disaster declaration on Friday allows the province’s Agriculture Financial Services Corporation to access more funds for insurance compensation.
The dry weather and hail in 2015 has resulted in a “significant increase” in the number of claims across the province. Many Alberta counties and municipal districts have already declared local states of agricultural emergency due to heat and drought and are seeking government assistance. A spring and summer with insufficient rain has withered crops in many regions of Western Canada, including hay used by livestock producers to feed their animals.
Producers worry they may have to reduce their herds due to the price and lack of availability of hay, and the federal government has agreed to grant tax deferrals to western livestock producers in regions hit by drought. The Alberta government has responded by cutting rental fees for a program that helps farmers pump water to fill their dams and dugouts, and is also helping municipalities identify additional public lands for grazing.
Saskatchewan announced a similar measure last month to help its producers.

Japan to see average to warmer weather during September-November - Japan will see mostly average to warmer weather from September to November, the official forecaster said on Tuesday. Eastern Japan, including the most densely populated Tokyo area, will have a 50 percent chance of higher-than-average temperatures for the period, the Japan Meteorological Agency said in its monthly three-month forecast.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

A Chunk of Greenland Ice the Size of an Asteroid Fell Into the Ocean - Imagine Manhattan buried under a thousand feet of ice. That’s how much of Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier fell into the Arctic Ocean last week, becoming a 7.8-square-mile iceberg.
“As a single event, this is a fairly rare size." But the phenomenon isn’t unusual, because glaciers on Greenland “pulse” seasonally. That means they break off at their edges and retreat inland in summer, and move back toward the ocean in winter.
Still, the ongoing retreat of the Jakobshavn Glacier is another sign that climate change is further destabilizing the ice sheet covering Greenland, one of the world’s biggest repositories of freshwater. Even with temperatures in the Arctic rising at nearly twice the global average, scientists have been surprised in recent years by the fast melt rate of Greenland’s land-bound ice, which contributes to sea-level rise.
Since the 1990s, the Jakobshavn has failed to regain the ground it loses in summer, and the glacier’s leading edge is now further inland than it has been in 135 years of record-keeping. NASA and European Space Agency satellites photographed the ice mass calving off the glacier between Aug. 14 and Aug. 16. The ESA estimated that the iceberg was 4,590 feet thick.
The United Nations climate agency has forecast that unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut sharply in the next 35 to 50 years, the ice sheets on both Greenland and West Antarctica will begin to completely collapse, speeding up rates of sea-level rise. Scientists estimate that together, they are losing 300 billion tons of ice annually owing to rising temperatures.
“I do think it’s important for people to understand that this not a surprise event. This is a signal that is consistent with what we expect from climate change. It’s a reminder that we should act, not that we should give up.”

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Land is the secure ground of home, the sea is like life, the outside, the unknown.**
Stephen Gardiner


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.4 EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG., P.N.G.
5.8 MOLUCCA SEA

Yesterday, 8/19/15 -
5.0 LAKE MWERU REGION, CONGO-ZAMBIA

8/18/15 -
5.1 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION

Earthquake in Colorado - A magnitude 4.2 quake hit about 25 miles west of Trinidad in Las Animas County at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday.

California - Oakland Water Main Bursts Near Piedmont Where Quake Struck On Monday Repairs to the 82-year-old water main that broke in Oakland near the Piedmont border early Thursday morning were expected to last the rest of the day.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Hurricane Danny strengthens a little more, about 1030 mi (1655 km) E of the Windward Islands. Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours, but a weakening trend is expected to begin after that. Danny is a very small tropical cyclone. Hurricane-force winds only extend outward up to 10 miles (20 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km).

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical depression Three-C formed far southeast of the Hawaiian islands about 875 mi (1410 km) SE of Honolulu, Hawaii.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 16w (Goni) is located approximately 504 nm south-southwest of Kadena AB.

- Typhoon 17w (Atsani)is located approximately 325 nm east-southeast of Iwo To.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Footage captures moment lightning hits plane on runway - An airline passenger in the US was shooting mobile phone video of the runway at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport while his plane was delayed due to severe weather. He wanted to send some images of the storm to his wife, while letting her know he was running late. However, he didn't even realise the plane was hit by lightning until he watched the video later on.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Three firefighters were killed battling a wildfire in Washington state - Three firefighters died while battling the Twisp fire and four were injured near the eastern Washington town. (video at link)

July was the hottest month on Earth since records began, averaging 16.6 C (61.9 F), according to US scientists. That is 0.08 degrees higher than the previous record, set in July 1998 - a significant margin in weather records. Scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a report that they expect 2015 to be the hottest year on record.
Nine of the 10 hottest months since records began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. Scientists say global climate change and the impacts of the El Nino weather phenomenon are behind the record temperatures. The first seven months of 2015 have already set an all-time temperature record for the period. "A strong El Nino is under way in the tropical Pacific and this, combined with the long-term global warming trend, means there is the potential to see some very warm months throughout this year - as the new figures for July appear to show. "This is consistent with the Met Office's global temperature forecast which predicted that a record or near record year is very much on the cards for 2015."

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Long Hours at Work Increase Stroke Risk 33%, Says Study - Workers who toil for long hours faced a high risk of both stroke and heart attack.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**It may be true that the government that governs best, governs least. Unfortunately, the same is also true of the government that governs worst.**
Jane Elizabeth Auer


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 8/17/15 -
5.0 FLORES REGION, INDONESIA
5.3 GULF OF ADEN
5.6 MARIANA ISLANDS REGION
5.1 KYUSHU, JAPAN
5.3 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION

California Probably Isn't in the Midst of a Quake Swarm - Early Monday morning, a significant chunk of the Bay Area's population was shaken out of bed by some seismic action, a window-rattling 4.0 magnitude quake. The short, sharp earthquake rattled the San Francisco Bay Area, breaking picture frames and cracking plaster without prompting reports of injuries or major damage. This is barely a week after another earthquake struck a few miles away, just offshore on the San Andreas fault. That quake probably had nothing to do with Monday's Hayward shaker. But that doesn't mean the quake risk is over.
Video - Dogs reactions to the quake.
Video - Weatherman's on-air reaction.

Nearly half of Americans live in areas prone to earthquakes - U.S. Geological Survey research indicates 143 million Americans live in earthquake-prone areas. California still tops the list of states most at risk of an earthquake.
"The new exposure estimate is nearly double the previous 2006 estimate, based on population growth and advances in science." Researchers looked at how populations have grown in earthquake-prone areas, and they say improvements in data collection provide a more accurate estimate than in years past.
The study looked at ground shaking, which is caused by the passage of seismic waves. This shaking causes most property damage during an earthquake and can range from weak and barely noticeable to violent or extreme, with catastrophic damage. As you might expect, California tops the list of states most at risk, but others may surprise you. Based on this new assessment, states in the eastern United States have a greater chance of having a damaging quake than was previously thought. A lot was learned from the magnitude-5.8 earthquake that hit Virginia in 2011; the quake caused considerable damage and forced the Washington Monument to close for repairs, which were just completed in May 2014.
The New Madrid earthquake zone in the central United States has more potential for a larger quake than previous estimates suggested. The zone could have a devastating earthquake that would be felt in nearly a dozen states, researchers say, threatening large cities such as St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta.
The magnitude-9.0 earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, triggering a Pacific-wide tsunami and causing a series of meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, along with the 8.2 earthquake that hit Chile in April 2014, have given scientists valuable data and insight into the U.S. Pacific Northwest earthquake zone. Scientists say they think that a quake with a magnitude as high as 9.3 is possible, a number previously thought to be impossible for the region.
The USGS' new assessment of California's earthquake risk was mixed. More faults were discovered, raising the earthquake threat for cities like San Jose and San Diego, while the estimated threat decreased for Santa Barbara and Oakland. Hazard probabilities increased for parts of San Francisco and Los Angeles, but they decreased in other parts of the cities, based on the new data.
The new USGS earthquake hazard map continues to show the highest threat levels in the western U.S. But other areas of the country, such as the central states surrounding the New Madrid fault, and Charleston, South Carolina, also show a high risk.

VOLCANOES -
Video - New Eruption of Turrialba Volcano in Costa Rica.

The Japan Meteorological Agency on Monday remained on high alert for a major eruption at Mount Sakurajima. One of Japan's most active volcanoes could be headed for a much bigger eruption than the locals are used to seeing.
Mount Sakurajima erupts hundreds of times a year in small blasts, but scientists have studied the trends and history of the mountain and believe a big eruption could come soon. There are fears that it could be as large as the 1914 eruption that killed 35 people and was the most powerful in Japan in the 20th century.
Over the past few days, seismic activity began to ramp up at the mountain. A level 4 warning was issued Saturday by the JMA, and all residents within a 3-kilometer radius of the mountain were told they should prepare to evacuate. The alerts remained in place Monday despite a large decline in earthquakes at Sakurajima.
This is the first level 4 warning issued for Sakurajima since the 5-level scale was developed 8 years ago. "Right now that [evacuation possibility] is limited to 4,000 people on the same island as Sakurajima, but ash from any eruption (depending on the winds) could impact Kagoshima (population 600,000), located only 10 kilometers from Sakurajima."
The reason for the concern is that this activity is very similar to what happened in the days leading up to past major eruptions at Sakurajima. Scientists have installed sensors all over the mountain, which have relayed information in the past few days that suggests magma could be rising up the volcano, and that may lead to a large eruption soon. There is also a nuclear plant in Sendai, just 31 miles from the volcano.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Depression Eleven-E is located about 930 mi...1495 km W of the southern tip of Baja California

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 16w (Goni) is located approximately 678 nm southeast of Kadena Air Base.

- Typhoon 17w (Atsani) is located approximately 670 nm east-northeast of Andersen AFB.
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Chance of cyclone developing near Cape Verde - A low pressure area near the West Africa's Cape Verde islands has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. That gives a moderate chance that the Atlantic could see its 4th tropical cyclone of the season this week. A tropical depression will likely form by the middle of the week while the system moves westward or west-northwestward across the Atlantic.

Hawaii - Viral Wind Models Showing Cyclone Hitting State. The latest Central Pacific Hurricane Center update puts chances of formation slightly higher at 50% as of the 2:00 p.m. update.
Recently, the wind model to the right has been going viral on social media, with several inquiries about whether it’s a hoax or reality. Readers are asking what exactly this model is showing and if they should be concerned.
A forecaster at the National Weather Service Honolulu office addressed the issue in his latest forecast discussion. "The computer models remain fairly bullish about developing a tropical cyclone in the monsoon trough far to the southeast of the islands. As far as local effects go, this is climatologically an area of some concern for the Aloha State. However, by the weekend, there is a spread of over 600 miles among the various models in where this future system would be IF it develops. Also, the models have an especially difficult time with the tracks of tropical cyclones that have not yet developed, as well as with the various factors that steer them in the long range. We will keep a close eye on this area in the coming days and should get a better idea of what will actually happen as time goes on."
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center released this update at 8:00 a.m. for an area of potential development. "Showers and thunderstorms associated with a broad area of low pressure located about 1200 miles southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii remain disorganized. Environmental conditions support development over the next couple of days as the low remains nearly stationary. Formation chance through 48 hours is medium at 40 percent. Elsewhere, no tropical cyclones are expected through Wednesday morning."
"If a tropical cyclone even develops we don’t know where it may end up. There is a lot of uncertainty that far out. But at the same time there’s that convective activity down around 140°W, down in the area where we typically look for possible development, so we are closely monitoring it right now. There’s no indication that anything has developed yet but we are raising the awareness of that and that’s why we went 40%. There are models that show tropical cyclone activity near the state and there are others that don’t. There’s a spread of 600 miles on the various models. We just want to make sure that people aren’t latching onto one particular solution and rather just being generally prepared."
For the public it’s good to be prepared for a hurricane, especially in this active season that they’re having. Be prepared for potential future hurricane threats, not specifically for one particular day, but prepare early and remain prepared throughout the season.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Hikers terrified as massive debris flow rumbles down Mount Rainier - A glacial debris flow rushed down Tahoma Creek on Mount Rainier Thursday, August 13. The distant rumbling sounded like a train at first, but then hikers saw a river of trees and boulders advancing toward them. The hikers at Mount Rainier, Washington, captured the accompanying footage last Thursday while walking on a trail that’s now closed for obvious reasons.
“This is crazy. I’m scared. Get back, I’m scared … The ground is shaking!” The hot and dry conditions this summer created a series of “glacial outbursts” Thursday on the western flank of the volcano. These glacial flash floods, of sorts, swept up fallen trees and rocks and rumbled with such ground-shaking force that they registered on seismographs.
The Mount Rainier National Park conducted aerial patrols after event and accounted for all hikers in the affected areas, and said nobody was hurt. “The rumble was getting louder and trees were falling down and it looked like a big pile of rubble was raging down the dry creek bed. We saw huge boulders, half the size of a Volkswagen bug, just raging down and falling over each other.” As he videotaped, a park employee came running down the trail, urging all the hikers on the trail to evacuate.
The debris flows, caused by the melting and dispersal of glacial ice, originated at 6,800 feet on the South Tahoma Glacier. They were the first such outbursts in more than 10 years. A ranger said, “Based on the summer we’ve had, and based on the recession of the glaciers, I was telling [colleagues] that this is the year when we’re going to have a debris flow.” (video at link)

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

U.S. Army troops mobilized to help fight Western U. S. wildfires - First time since 2006. (Video)

'Godzilla El Niño' looms as a possible drought buster for California - The developing warm-water event is already stronger than the 1997-98 El Niño, which caused severe rain and flooding.

Central Asian glaciers shrinking fast - Central Asian glaciers have melted at four times the global average since the early 1960s, shedding 27 per cent of their mass, according to a new study.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' -

RECORD-BREAKING TOXIC ALGAE BLOOM worse than feared - The razor clam closure in Washington as a result of historic toxic algae bloom has impacted the local economy by millions of dollars. A record-breaking toxic algae bloom that began in May along the West Coast is denser, more widespread and deeper than scientists originally feared, and it has expanded into the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.
Algae blooms are not uncommon in the Pacific Ocean but the size and duration of this one, stretching from Southern California to Alaska, is historic, according to NOAA, and it continues to impact marine life and local economies to the tune of millions of dollars. The toxic algae bloom is up to 40 miles wide and 650 feet deep in places. “It’s UNPRECEDENTED.”
Toxic algae blooms are usually limited to one area of the ocean or another and disappear after a few weeks. This one has grown for months and it isn’t going away. “It’s been incredibly thick, almost all the same organism. Looks like a layer of hay. It’s really working its way into the food web and we’re definitely seeing the impacts of that.”
In the past month, 21 humback and fin whales have been found dead in southeast Alaska, and in July the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association received reports of dead and dying whales, gulls and forage fish in the Aleutian Islands. Samples are being tested for algal toxins. Extremely high levels of the algal toxin called domoic acid has led to the closures of recreational razor clam digging in Oregon and Washington, along with large portions of the Dungeness crab fishery in Washington, and the sardine and anchovy fisheries in California.
Coastal communities in Washington lost an estimated $9 million in revenue in May alone as a result to the razor clam closure. “Algal blooms in the ocean are made up of microscopic marine plants known as phytoplankton. Not all phytoplankton are dangerous, but certain species produce dangerous neurotoxins. Shellfish and some fish eat the toxic algae as part of their normal diet, which can then expose their predators — including marine mammals and humans — to the neurotoxins in amounts that can cause illness and, in extreme cases, death.”
The algae bloom coincides with sea surface temperatures that are well above average across the North Pacific and West Coast. “The primary reason they are above normal is a strongly positive Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which is a horseshoe pattern of warmer-than-normal waters along the coast of western North America. Though SSTs will drop some through the fall and winter, as it typically the case, the positive PDO and El Niño will remain, or even intensify, and as such, so too will the above- normal water temperatures. El Niño does not play a direct role, but generally speaking, El Niños are more likely to occur during a positive PDO.”
If this El Niño is the Godzilla of El Niños, then this toxic algae bloom is the king of all toxic algae blooms. (photo and map at link)

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Scientists say the grime which clings to urban surfaces "breathes out" nitrogen gases when hit by sunlight. The dark muck is known to absorb such gases from the air, but it appears the nitrogen does not stay locked away.
In rooftop experiments in Germany, the researchers tracked the content of grime in both sunshine and shade. They say sunlit grime releases nitrogen in two forms: the toxic pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2), plus nitrous acid - a key driver of smog formation. The findings may explain a "missing" source of smog-producing gas in the skies of London.
"Rather than being a permanent sink for nitrogen oxide gases... grime exposed to sunlight can re-release some of these gases back into the urban atmosphere." In a laboratory, artificial sunlight can strip the nitrogen component from grime - which is essentially a cocktail of chemicals belched into city air by exhaust pipes and chimneys. In the latest experiments he worked with colleagues in Leipzig, Germany, to shift the work outside.
Two large trays of grimy glass beads - one shaded and one sunny - were exposed to the city air for six weeks "The ones which were exposed to sunlight showed 10% less nitrate than the ones which were shaded, suggesting that there is a photochemical loss [of nitrogen] consistent with what we saw in the lab." That 10% drop may seem like a small effect, but it reflects a "steady state" difference: as the sunshine eats away at the grime's nitrogen content, fresh nitrogen-rich grime is constantly being deposited.
"The amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) given off by exhausts in the centre of a city will probably be much higher than what grime can take up and then give back off again. But if some of it is transformed into HONO, then that really is important." Why? In part, because it might explain a puzzling gap in observations of polluted London air.
"If you put into a model all the known sources of HONO, from my work in London there's about 30% missing compared to the quantity of HONO that you can measure directly." This missing source is "very significant" for predicting ozone quantities - which the Met Office does as part of air quality forecasts. Some parts of London have levels of NO2 that are well above safety limits. The sheer quantity of grime in London could make it "a big potential source of pollution". "If grime is contributing, then we need scientists to tell us how much [gas] is coming off and what health effects it has."
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Monday, August 17, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.**
Ralph Waldo Emerson


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.2 KYUSHU, JAPAN
5.3 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION

Yesterday, 8/16/15 -
5.2 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 PACIFIC-ANTARCTIC RIDGE

8/15/15 -
5.5 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.
5.2 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.0 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
6.5 SOLOMON ISLANDS

8/14/15 -
6.6 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.3 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.1 KEP. TANIMBAR REGION, INDONESIA
5.6 NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.4 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.2 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.6 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.0 PAPUA, INDONESIA
5.0 NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.2 HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION

8/13/15 -
5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.0 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA
5.2 GUATEMALA
5.0 OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE
5.4 SOUTH OF KERMADEC ISLANDS
5.1 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.5 TAIWAN REGION
5.6 NEW IRELAND REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 MID-INDIAN RIDGE
6.0 MID-INDIAN RIDGE

8/12/15 -
6.5 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.4 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.1 FIJI REGION
5.2 OFFSHORE COQUIMBO, CHI

VOLCANOES -
Japan raises warning level on volcano not far from nuclear plant - Japan warned on Saturday that a volcano 50 km (31 miles) from a just-restarted nuclear reactor is showing signs of increased activity, and said nearby residents should prepare to evacuate.
Sakurajima, a mountain on the southern island of Kyushu, is one of Japan's most active volcanoes and erupts almost constantly. But a larger than usual eruption could be in the offing, an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency said. "There is the danger that stones could rain down on areas near the mountain's base, so we are warning residents of those areas to be ready to evacuate if needed."
The agency also said it had raised the warning level on the peak, 990 km southwest of Tokyo, to an UNPRECEDENTED 4, for prepare to evacuate, from 3. Roughly 100 people could be affected. Japan on Tuesday restarted a reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant, some 50 km from Sakurajima. It is the first reactor to be restarted under new safety standards put in place after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Critics have long pointed out that the plant is also located near five giant calderas, crater-like depressions formed by past eruptions, with the closest one some 40 km away. Still, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has said the chance of major volcanic activity during the lifespan of the Sendai plant is negligible.
Two years ago, Sakurajima shot ash some 5,000 meters into the air. Japan lies on the "Ring of Fire" - a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean - and is home to more than 100 active volcanoes. Last year, Mount Ontake in central Japan erupted unexpectedly, killing 63, the worst volcanic disaster for nearly 90 years. In May, a remote island south of Kyushu was evacuated due to another eruption.

Ecuador declares a state of emergency over massive Cotopaxi volcano - Cotopaxi is one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes. The president of Ecuador declared a state of emergency Saturday in response to volcano activity 30 miles away from the country’s capital.
A few hundred people were evacuated from two residential areas as the volcano began to spew ash. Officials will continue to monitor the situation and urged the public to remain calm. The Cotopaxi volcano has been under active watch since June when increased activity was detected by the Ecuadorian Geophysics Institute. The institute says that the volcano’s frequency and style of eruptions make it one of the world’s most dangerous.
The volcano’s last major eruptive period occurred in the late 19th century. That incident led to intense economic losses in the region. The President declared a state of emergency following increased activity in the Cotopaxi volcano near the capital, Quito, the day before. The decision, which comes in the wake of two minor explosions at Cotopaxi on Friday and led to a precautionary evacuation of small towns in the central part of the country, gives authorities greater flexibility to move government funds in the event of an eruption.
Video .

Mexico's Colima volcano - Colima volcano has been firing out plumes of smoke and hot ash in a series of small eruptions. The most recnt eruption is the latest in a summer of volcanic activity, with the last eruption just four days ago.

What's with all the volcanoes these days? - Volcanic activity in Cotopaxi, near the capital of Ecuador, is the latest incident in recent months, during which a number of volcanoes have come to life. Cotopaxi is the latest to reflect a recent series of volcanic activity around the world, including ash emissions from Raung volcano in East Java, Indonesia which led to the closing of airports in Bali and shallow explosions at Sakurajima volcano in Kyushu, Japan. In 2014, volcanoes in Hawaii, Alaska, Italy, and Iceland, among other places, showed signs of activity.
What’s causing these volcanoes to come to life? One cause could be shifts in the Earth’s rate of rotation. Since the late 19th century, relatively large changes in the velocity of the Earth’s spin tended to be followed by an increase in volcanic activity, a 2014 study found.
Altering the spin of a planet, even by a small amount, requires a huge amount of energy. It has been estimated that changes in the Earth’s rotation rate dissipate around 120,000 petajoules of energy each year – enough to power the United States for the same length of time. This energy is transferred into the Earth’s atmosphere and subsurface. And it is this second consequence that could affect volcanoes.
Another cause, scientists say, is climate change. Over the last few years, “new evidence suggests that the volcano-climate relationship can go the other way, too: Periods of warming after ice ages can lead to volcanic eruptions.' When glaciers melt as a result of rising temperatures, pressure on continents start to drop, while the rise in sea level increases pressures on portions of the Earth’s crust beneath the ocean. The changing pressures could cause increases in volcanic activity, although it was unclear whether human-caused climate change could lead to the same impact.
A more recent study, conducted in geologically active Iceland, found that less pressure on the Earth’s surface could result in a “softer, more molten subsurface,” which makes it easier for magma chambers to reach the surface and lead to volcanic eruptions. “As the glaciers melt, the pressure on the underlying rocks decreases. Rocks at very high temperatures may stay in their solid phase if the pressure is high enough. As you reduce the pressure, you effectively lower the melting temperature.”
As yet, there’s no solid evidence connecting these findings and the volcanic activity occurring in the world today. “The link between climate change and volcanism is still poorly understood.” Still, “this strange effect is a reminder that our planet can respond to change in unforeseen ways. Contrary to their brutish reputation, volcanoes are helping scientists understand just how sensitive our planet can be.”

TROPICAL STORMS -

*In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Depression Eleven-E was moving quickly northwestward away from land. Located about 490 mi (790 km) SW of the southern tip of Baja California.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 16w (Goni) is located approximately 140 nm northwest of Andersen AFB,

- Typhoon 17w (Atsani) is located approximately 239 nm northwest of Enewetak in the Marshall Islands.
-----
Tropical disturbance in Atlantic shows signs of development - A disturbance in the eastern Atlantic could grow into a tropical depression by midweek. The tropical disturbance is being given a 60% chance of developing over the next 5 days.
Although it popped up on the National Hurricane Center's radar Sunday morning, the tropical disturbance in the far eastern Atlantic already is showing signs of development. "Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for further development, and a tropical depression could form by midweek." For now the system is aiming generally west. It's far too early to say where it might go. The next storm will be named Danny.
The system currently is in a moist environment, which should allow it to organize and strengthen. But as it moves farther west across the Atlantic, it likely will encounter dry air and wind shear. Normally, four tropical systems develop in August. The last time August went without seeing any storms was in 1997 - and before that in 1961.

Experts say there are signs that the Atlantic hurricane season, traditionally the biggest driver of global insured losses, may have entered a relatively quiet period that could last for ten to 15 years. Insured losses fall as hurricane cycle cools - Global insured losses for the first half of this year have plunged to $16.5 billion, which is close to half the ten-year average of $29 billion. That is the finding of Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest reinsurer, in its preliminary estimates for the first six months of 2015.
This is the third consecutive year that insured losses from natural catastrophes during the first six months of the year have been below the average for the 2005-2014 period. A lack of disasters and catastrophes in regions with strong insurance market penetration has resulted in declining levels of insured losses since 2011, the year that saw the double disaster of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
It has been a record-equalling ten years since a major hurricane (Category 3 or above) made landfall in the US. The last was Wilma in 2005. “Should current trends from the first half of the year continue, there are currently no regions of the world on pace to surpass their ten-year average in 2015.”
Florida is the US state that has historically been most affected by hurricanes and tropical storms. Since 1871 there have been only five occasions, including the current one, when a ten-year period has elapsed between Category 3 hurricane landfalls. Mid-August traditionally marks the start of the peak hurricane season in the Atlantic, but this year has yet to see its first Atlantic hurricane.
The big insured losses tend to come from hurricanes striking the southeast US. “The hurricane cycle tends to be a good indicator for the industry. There has been nothing significant in Florida since 2005. In terms of hurricanes it has been a fallow time. The hurricane forecasters are starting to think we are moving into a period of lower hurricane activity that could last for the next ten to 15 years. That’s what they are thinking at the moment, although the science is not exact.
“There is a cyclical pattern and we were in the peak period during the past ten years.” The hurricane cycle is known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO, and is influenced by the sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic. When the sea temperatures are cooler there tends to be less hurricane activity. Since 2012 the AMO has been negative, with cooler sea temperatures.
Insured losses attributed to hurricanes have waned for most of the past decade, with the exception of Hurricane Sandy, which caused $65 billion of damage when it hit the northeastern US in 2012. That said, natural disasters have not gone away. They have shown up in places with much lower levels of insurance penetration. The earthquakes in Nepal, in April and May, claimed more than 9,000 lives and caused economic losses of at least $5 billion, of which only $160 million were insured losses. “The tragic events in Nepal are a reminder of the utility of insurance,” said Kurt Karl, chief economist at Swiss Re, in a note on the company’s preliminary sigma estimates for the first-half of this year.
“Insurance cover does not lessen the emotional trauma that natural catastrophes inflict, but it can help people better manage the financial fallout from disasters so they can start to rebuild their lives.” Insurance penetration rates were low in the Nepal earthquake region, and in the Philippines where some large typhoons have struck this year. The insurance industry was looking at how to increase coverage in those markets.
There is a wave of mergers and acquisitions among insurers and reinsurers. “What is driving that, more than a lack of catastrophes, is the emergence of new capital. You have collateralised reinsurance and cat bonds. And when the companies are booking profits they have to find ways to deploy that capital."

Philippines - Extreme northern Luzon will be directly hit by an incoming typhoon by the weekend, according to the state weather bureau.

GIGANTIC JETS ABOVE HURRICANE HILDA - Gigantic jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the tops of thunderstorms, reaching all the way from the thunderhead to the ionosphere more than 50 miles overhead. They're enormous and powerful.
"Gigantic jets are much more rare than sprites...it was not until 2001-2002 that gigantic jets were first recorded from Puerto Rico and Taiwan." Only a few dozen gigantic jets have ever been seen, mostly over open ocean.
Because gigantic jets are so rare, researchers are paying special attention to Hurricane Hilda. "Observations in recent years suggest that large thunderstorm clusters embedded in tropical cyclones harbor favorable conditions for gigantic jets. Hilda seems to confirm this. Extreme turbulent mixing in the storm top may assist in triggering these events."
Gigantic jets, and their cousins the sprites, reach all the way up to the edge of space alongside meteors, noctilucent clouds, and some auroras. This means they are a true space weather phenomenon. Indeed, some researchers believe cosmic rays help trigger these exotic forms of lightning, but the link is controversial.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Britain - Mancunian Way hole: Warning not to approach road collapse. Members of the public are being told not to cross a safety cordon around a large hole that appeared in a busy Manchester road on Friday. The warning came as United Utilities said a section of the Mancunian Way could be shut for at least two weeks. About two weeks' worth of rain fell in about six hours in Manchester on Friday.
Engineers reported work to stabilise the site was "hindered" by people crossing the cordon. The hole, which appeared after heavy rain, was "unsafe". "It's too dangerous at the moment to approach and assess properly." The hole was being monitored for any further collapse. "A full assessment won't be carried out until we are satisfied it is safe for inspection."
The Mancunian Way is one of the city's busiest roads, especially during rush hour A United Utilities spokesman said the collapse was "not caused by any aspect" of the water company's operations. Its engineers were part of an emergency operation to fix the damaged sewer under the hole, but it would take "the best part of two weeks" before they could hand over to the Highways Agency and Manchester City Council to oversee repairs to the hole itself.
A decision could be made on Monday with regard to how long the road section between the MacDonald Hotel and Fairfield Street would be closed. A council spokesman said the size of the hole could not be confirmed, adding: "We haven't measured the hole - we aren't keen on letting anyone get that close until we're confident the area around it is stable."
Witnesses on Friday said the hole was increasing and part of the pavement had eroded. Motorists continue to be diverted. The hole was potentially caused because soft sediment under the road had become weaker due to the wet weather. "[The water] can wash away sand and you end up with a small cavity opening up, particularly if there is a broken sewer."

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

Brace yourselves: Old Farmer's Almanac predicts super cold, slew of snow for much of U.S. - Just when you thought you had gotten over last winter, be warned: The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts it will be super cold with a slew of snow for much of the country, even in places that don't see too much of it, like the Pacific Northwest.
Look for above-normal snow and below-normal temperatures for much of New England; icy conditions in parts of the South; and frigid weather in the Midwest. The snowiest periods in the Pacific Northwest will be in mid-December, early to mid-January and mid- to late February. The 224-year-old almanac is 26 years older than its closest competitor, "The Farmers' Almanac."

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Montana declares state of emergency as U.S. Northwest battles blazes - Montana declared a state of emergency on Sunday to battle more than a dozen wildfires as blazes, fueled by drought and winds, also raged in Oregon, Idaho and the California wine region north of San Francisco. Wildfires have destroyed 50 homes in north central Idaho while a fire in north-central Washington nearly doubled in size, almost encircling the town of Chelan and forcing the evacuation of some 1,500.
The Reach fire, sparked on Friday by lightning strikes and high winds, had doubled to 55,000 acres (22,250 hectares) by Sunday. The fire also had started other smaller blazes further north. Better weather was helping to fight the blaze - the temperature was down 10 degrees Fahrenheit from the upper 90s (mid 30s Celsius) on Friday and winds were low. Power in Chelan has been restored.
There were about 727 firefighters tackling the blaze and the National Guard would be adding more troops on Sunday night or Monday. A Blackhawk helicopter was dropping water on the fire. More than a dozen wildfires have threatened homes and prompted authorities to advise residents to be prepared to flee should conditions worsen.
In Idaho, the fast-moving Clearwater Complex fire was 15-percent contained early on Sunday after burning 50 houses and 75 outbuildings on the outskirts of the community of Kamiah. Dozens of people in neighborhoods outlying the tiny logging town were told last week to flee in the face of the blazes, among more than 100 burning across the northern, southwestern and east-central parts of the state and in neighboring Oregon and Washington.
More than 770 fire personnel have been assigned to fight the blazes that make up the Clearwater Complex, which has scorched almost 53,000 acres (21,500 hectares) of dense spruce forests criss-crossed by river valleys containing rural communities. One of the fires in the complex was blamed last week for destroying a house and triggering the evacuation of several homes near Wieppe, the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office. On Sunday, residents of Greer, Idaho, were told they might have to evacuate. It was not clear how many people would be affected.

Temperatures soar as Israel hit with ‘extreme’ heat wave - Forecasters say high humidity levels to intensify heat; Jordan Valley gears up for temperatures up to 48º. A punishing heat wave wracking Israel was set to peak on Sunday, with temperatures projected to rise above 40°C (104°F) in some areas.
The heat wave, THE THIRD OF ITS KIND IN UNDER A MONTH, was expected to bring temperatures up to 37°C (99°F) in Jerusalem and 35°C (95ºF) in Tel Aviv. Forecasters at Israel’s Meteorological Service said most regions nationwide would experience “very high to extreme heat stress,” coupled with high levels of humidity, making temperatures feel even hotter than reported.
In the southern resort city of Eilat, vacationers were expected to brave a sweltering 46ºC (115ºF), while cities and towns in the Jordan Valley will endure a combination of high humidity and blazing heat, with temperatures up to 48ºC (118ºF). In Tiberias, temperatures are expected to climb to 45°C (113ºF). But with 35 percent humidity in the afternoon hours, it will feel more like 58° (136ºF). Meanwhile, at the Dead Sea, the 44ºC weather (111º F) will feel more like 48°C (119ºF) when factoring in humidity.
Tel Aviv’s relatively benign 35°C (95ºF) will feel more like 45°C (113ºF), given a whopping 60% humidity rate. Elsewhere in Israel, temperatures were predicted to climb to 42ºC (108º F) in Beersheba, 39ºC (102º F) on the Golan Heights and 35ºC (95º F) in Haifa.
The Health Ministry has urged the public, in particular the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases, to avoid exposure to the sun and heat as much as possible, avoid physical exercise, and drink plenty of water. Monday is expected to see a “slight drop in temperatures,” the weather service said, but warned that “there will still be very high heat stress and unseasonably high temperatures.” The weather will begin to drop on Tuesday, although it will also remain “unseasonably warm.”
The Meteorological Service also warned of the possibility of brush fires breaking out due to the high temperatures. The heat wave comes after searing temperatures earlier this month led to two deaths. A one-year-old baby died after she was hospitalized for heatstroke. Her father was also hospitalized with heatstroke and dehydration after the family hiked in the northern Hula Valley two weeks ago. Also two weeks ago, 18-year-old an IDF soldier died of heatstroke after collapsing in Jerusalem’s Old City.

SPACE WEATHER -

Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics.
On Aug. 15, the network reported 55 fireballs. (33 Perseids, 21 sporadics, 1 kappa Cygnid)
On Aug. 16, the network reported 54 fireballs. (40 sporadics, 12 Perseids, 1 Southern iota Aquariid, 1 Southern delta Aquariid)

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Few minutes of Tetris can block cravings - Playing popular block-stacking game Tetris for a few minutes can help people control their cravings. The research experiment showcased that the impact on cravings was long lasting.

Can fish oil prevent schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders? - In what is to be believed the first study of its kind, new research has revealed the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be effective for reducing the risk of psychosis.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Happiness is like a kiss. You must share it to enjoy it.**
Bernard Meltzer


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.2 OFFSHORE COQUIMBO, CHILE

Yesterday, 8/11/15 -
5.0 EASTERN XIZANG
5.1 KEPULAUAN BABAR, INDONESIA
5.4 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.1 VANUATU
5.1 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION

8/10/15 -
5.3 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.9 HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN
5.2 COQUIMBO, CHILE
5.7 TONGA
5.7 SOLOMON ISLANDS
6.9 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.1 SOLOMON ISLANDS

More than 5,000 earthquakes have hit northwest Nevada since swarm started in July 2014 - Seismologists studying a year-long swarm of thousands of mostly minor earthquakes in northwest Nevada say they could be the precursor for a big one.

Seattle's Old Brick Buildings Could See Huge Damage in Big Quake - The city first tried to require retrofits in the 1970s, but the regulations were repealed after fierce opposition.

Philippines - Phivolcs warns of quake risk in Davao. The next 7.0-magnitude quake will possibly be devastating to such areas as Davao City and would trigger the collapse of buildings.

VOLCANOES -
Indonesia - Sinabung volcano (Sumatra): volcanologists believe that magma supply to the growing lava dome has recently increased. This will likely result in more and larger pyroclastic flows that can threaten a number of villages that so far have been unharmed. These include Pasarpinter Gurkinayan, Simpang Sibintun, Perjumaan Batukejan, Jembatan Lau Benuken Tigapancur, Pejuman Tigabogor, Pentumbes, Jeraya, and Kutatengah on the SE slope.
The volcano is kepts at the highest alert status ("awas" or 4 out of 4) and an exclusion zone of 7 km is kept in place. At the same time, only smaller collapse events and a small pyroclastic flow on 7 Aug have occurred during the past week. Most of the previous lava dome and its dangerous lobes clinging onto the steep upper slopes had been destroyed by the collapses in late July and the first days of August.
This apparent calm, however, could make things only worse, as it gives a false sense of safety. Indonesian volcanologist warn that there should be no activities inside the 7 km radius zone (something which is not being observed at all, however).
The evaluation of the situation comes from a drastic increase of certain kinds of earthquakes detected under the volcano, so called low-frequency events that are indicators of internal fluid movements. Their numbers rose from a few events per day to several hundred on Saturday - a clear sign that something had changed inside the volcano, likely a batch of new magma had started to move towards the vent. (photos and webcams at link)

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical Storm Hilda weakening and slowing. Tropical storm watch remains in effect for Hawaii County. Hilda is located about 490 mi (790 km) se of Honolulu, Hawaii. Hilda may produce 6 to 12 inches of rainfall, with maximum values of up to 18 inches possible along and north of its path. These rains could result in life threatening flash floods and mud slides across portions of the Hawaiian islands late Wednesday and into the weekend.

* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Molave is located approximately 370 nm east-southeast of Yokosuka, Japan.
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South Asia's Deadly Rains of 2015; Tropical Storm Watch in Hawaii - A multi-week series of disastrous rains, floods, and mudslides has taken more than 400 lives and affected millions in a broad swath from Pakistan to Vietnam over the last several weeks. This is the height of the South Asia and Southeast Asia monsoon season, when life-giving rains sweep from the Indian Ocean across India and neighboring countries after the parched, scorching conditions that typify spring. Monsoon-related floods often produce hundreds of deaths across India each year.
This year’s Indian monsoon has brought an distinct patchwork of impacts. Although several regions have been affected by torrential downpours, others are wrestling with UNUSUALLY DRY CONDITIONS, in a monsoon that’s actually been skimpy for the nation as a whole.
The most widespread flood impacts have been in the Bay of Bengal region, from far eastern India across parts of Pakistan and Myanmar. Three weeks of flooding across five provinces of Pakistan have killed at least 151 people, and the government of Myanmar is seeking international assistance, as more than a million acres of farmland have been inundated and at least 46 people have died.
In the South Bengal state of eastern India, floods have taken at least 83 lives, and more than 300,000 homes have been destroyed or seriously damaged. Further west, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, flash flooding was the apparent cause of two train derailments that led to at least 29 deaths.
The worst of the rains were associated with Tropical Cyclone Komen. A weak but wet system, with top 3-minute sustained winds of only 45 mph, Komen moved inland over Bangladesh on July 29 but left behind a remnant low that drifted west near the India-Bangladesh border last weekend. Moist southwesterly flow on Komen’s east flank led to huge rainfall totals, especially along the hilly southeast coast of Bangladesh, where several locations reported between 40” and 50” for the 10-day period from July 24 to August 2.
A separate area of monsoon-related flooding has affected more than a million people in Pakistan and far western India. At least 166 deaths have been reported in Pakistan, where catastrophic flooding in 2010 - the nation’s worst natural disaster on record - caused more than 1,700 deaths and left some 11 million people homeless.
India’s monsoon falling short of average - Despite the flooding disasters scattered across parts of India, the nation is actually seeing a mix of drought and deluge this summer, leaning toward the dry side. The total amount of rainfall in the 2015 monsoon season to date across India (June 1 - August 11) has been only 91% of the long-term average.
The nationally weighted rainfall total for the Jun 1 - Aug 11 period was 501.8 mm (19.76”), compared to a typical value to date of 553.1 mm (21.78”). The 91% value is only a slight improvement over the start-of-monsoon outlook from the India Meteorological Department, which called for 88% of average over the entire monsoon season (June-September).
The driest areas have been concentrated along the nation’s northern tier, from Punjab to Assam states (20% to 40% below average) and in the southwest peninsula (20% to more than 50% below average). The central state of Telangana is making contingency plans for drought response should the second half of monsoon season turn out as disappointing as the first half did. In a mid-monsoon update on August 3, the IMD held to its 88% outlook. Such a deficit can cause severe stress on agriculture and the power grid, which relies heavily on hydroelectric power. However, a 12% reduction in rains would not rank in the top five for worst monsoons on record.
Cumulative rainfall from June 1 to August 11 across India has produced a patchwork of above- and below-average accumulations compared to a typical year. A total of 16 states have deficient rainfall, while 5 have an excess and 15 are near normal. The nationwide total rainfall for the period was 91% of average.
El Niño and the Indian monsoon - In recent decades, El Niño has been closely associated with deficient monsoon rainfall over India, so this year’s underwhelming rainfall is not a total surprise. But the relationship isn’t iron-clad. Monsoon rainfall was 2% above average in 1997 even as a strong El Niño very similar to the current one was building, and rainfall deficits are possible even without El Niño.
El Niño Modoki, the type where warming is focused in the central tropical Pacific rather than toward the east, tends to be more effective at suppressing the monsoon than a classic east-Pacific El Niño. The monsoon is also influenced by the Indian Ocean Dipole, measured by the east-west difference in sea-surface temperatures across the Indian Ocean. A positive IOD event tends to enhance moisture in the southwesterly flow over India that brings monsoon rain.
If the 2015 monsoon does end up falling short of the norm, it will be for the second consecutive year, as the monsoon of 2014 produced only 88% of average rainfall. Since most significant El Niño events last just a year, it’s UNUSUAL to have two low-rainfall years in a row. The last time two consecutive Indian monsoons saw below-average rain was during the two-year El Niño event of 1986 and 1987.
There’s also marked multi-decadal variability in monsoon rains. From 1921 to 1964, only three monsoon seasons produced less than 90% of average rainfall. Over the following period, 1965 - 1989, 10 of 24 years fell short of the 90% mark.
Averaged across the globe, the planet’s major monsoons appear to be collectively producing more rain in recent decades. A 2014 study found evidence for increased global monsoon precipitation between 1979 and 2011, but with substantial year-to-year variability in the mix. Theory, modeling, and observations all support the general trend toward intensified precipitation events in many areas, together with exacerbated impacts when drought does strike (the “wet get wetter, dry get drier” concept).

Tropical Storm Watch posted for Hawaii's Big Island for Hurricane Hilda - In the Eastern Pacific, a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Big Island of Hawaii as Hurricane Hilda heads northwest at 6 mph towards Hawaii. Hilda is under high wind shear of 25 - 35 knots, and the shear will increase to 30 - 40 knots by Wednesday. Although Hilda has remained remarkably intact in the face of this high shear, the storm's increasingly degraded appearance on Tuesday morning gives confidence that the increasing shear will cause the storm to unravel rather quickly.
Hilda is expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Wednesday evening; the Tuesday morning runs of our two most reliable models for predicting hurricane tracks, the European and GFS models, both showed Hilda weakening to a tropical depression before reaching Hawaii on Thursday. However, even if Hilda dissipates before reaching Hawaii, it will still be capable of bringing dangerous flooding rains to the islands, particularly to the Big Island.

In the Western Pacific, the European and GFS models predict that twin tropical storms will form in the waters midway between Hawaii and the Philippines' Luzon Island this weekend. Both of the these storms will have the potential to cause trouble for Asia late next week. (photos and maps at link)

Video - Watch a Typhoon Lift A China Airlines Boeing 747 Into the Air. ​Typhoon Soudelor made landfall in Taiwan with a fury this month, bringing with it sustained winds estimated at 120 mph with maximum gusts topping 145 mph by the time it reached Japan.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Dozens missing after landslide in Shaanxi, China - At least 26 people remain missing after a landslide in China's northwest Shaanxi province. About 1 million cubic metres of mud buried dormitories and homes owned by the Shaanxi Wuzhou Mining Company in Shanyang county early on Wednesday.
Officials said 14 people had been rescued, the operations had been greatly hampered by heavy rain. China has seen severe weather during the current monsoon season. The powerful Typhoon Soudelor hit southern China over the weekend bringing strong winds and rain.
Shanyang authorities were alerted to the landslide at 01:47 local time (17:47 GMT on Tuesday). Fifteen dormitories and three residential buildings were buried, trapping at least 40 people initially. The local government said on its website that people in the area surrounding the landslide had been evacuated, and that large machinery and rescue personnel had been brought in. Dozens of soldiers, some with sniffer dogs, were at the scene looking for signs of life.

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

Video - Scotland's poor summer: What is to blame? Parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland have been having an UNUSUALLY COOL AND WET summer so far. Some crops are failing and animals are being brought in from the fields early. There has even been snow on the mountains.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Video - Europe and Egypt swelter in heatwave. Much of central and eastern Europe is in the grip of a heatwave, with several countries breaking record temperatures. Egypt has also been affected.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

California blaze grows, prompting more evacuations - Wildfires are charging through several states in the parched West, scorching homes and forcing people to flee. Flames are plaguing some California residents, who had to evacuate for the second time.
Video - California fires: 1,000 homes evacuated near the California and Arizona border. A northern California wildfire has more than doubled in size since Monday despite cooler temperatures and higher humidity. The Jerusalem Valley fire erupted on Sunday near the community of Lower Lake. It has burned nearly 19 square miles.

SPACE WEATHER -

Meteors - Every night, a network of NASA all- sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented on Spaceweather.com. On Aug. 11, the network reported 86 fireballs. (46 sporadics, 38 Perseids, 1 Northern delta Aquariid)

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Legionnaires' Disease: Drugkmaker GlaxoSmithKline's North Carolina Plant Closed - A GlaxoSmithKline manufacturing plant in Zebulon town, North Carolina, was temporarily shut down on Tuesday after the bacterium causing the Legionnaires' disease was found in a cooling tower.
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Monday, August 10, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Work, Art, Begin.**


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.7 SOLOMON ISLANDS
6.9 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.1 SOLOMON ISLANDS

Yesterday, 8/9/15 -
5.1 FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS
5.0 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.1 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
5.0 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.1 SOUTH OF PANAMA
5.9 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.1 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE

New Zealand - A third of Christchurch quake claims still outstanding. Despite a ramp-up in settlements, a third of Christchurch earthquake insurance claims have yet to be settled nearly five years after the first huge quake.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Category 4 Hurricane Hilda weakens slightly but continues to move toward the Hawaiian islands, located about 815 mi (1310 km) ESE of Honolulu, Hawaii. Swells associated with Hurricane Hilda will produce large surf along east and southeast facing shores of the main Hawaiian islands over the next couple of days.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical depression Molave is located approximately 405 nm south of Yokosuka, Japan. Based on deteriorated covective structure and current assessment, this system is classified as subtropical. Therefore, the final warning on this system has been issued by the joint typhoon center. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.

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Typhoon Soudelor Winds Down; Hurricane Hilda Hits Category 4; - Hong Kong Sets All-Time Heat Record. Former Typhoon Soudelor, now a 50-mph tropical storm, is inland over eastern China after giving storm-savvy Taiwan ONE OF ITS MOST POWERFUL TYPHOON STRIKES ON RECORD. The damage in Taiwan appears to be widespread but not catastrophic, although at least 10 people are dead or missing.
Power was knocked out to a reported 3.22 million residents, the LARGEST STORM-RELATED OUTAGE IN TAIWAN HISTORY, and high winds toppled more than 2,000 trees in Taipei. Soudelor made landfall around 5:00 am Saturday local time as a Category 3 typhoon, with its strong right- hand flank passing over the island’s northern third, including the city of Taipei.
As classified using the extended Beaufort scale, winds speeds at the Taipei airport topped out in the Level 13 range of 83-93 mph. These are the second-highest speeds on record for Taipei, behind only the Level 14 winds (93-103 mph) observed during 1996’s Typhoon Herb.
While rainfall during Soudelor appears to have fallen short of at least two other typhoons (Herb and 2009’s Typhoon Morakot), the amounts were still impressive over wide areas, with a total of 52.52” reported at Datong Township in far northeast Taiwan.

Hilda vaults to Category 4 status - A burst of rapid intensification brought Hurricane Hilda from Category 1 to Category 4 status in just 24 hours, with sustained winds estimated at 140 mph by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center at 11:00 am Hawaii time on Saturday (5:00 pm EDT). Hilda showed little in the way of spiral banding late Saturday, taking on more of an annular configuration.
Already ONE OF THE STRONGEST HURRICANES IN RECENT YEARS over the Central Pacific, Hilda could intensify further over the next 24 hours. If Hilda manages to reach Category 5 strength, it will join the elite group of hurricanes of that intensity in the Central Pacific.
The year to beat is 1994, when three Category 5 systems plowed across the basin in just five weeks: Emilia, Gilma, and John. El Niño tends to enhance hurricane activity in the Central Pacific; interestingly, an El Niño was not underway during July-August 1994, though one did develop later in the year.
As Hilda gradually gains latitude on its west-northwest course, wind shear will take an increasing toll. Models continue to diverge on Hilda’s strength and track toward the end of the five-day forecast period, though most models recurve the hurricane well east of Hawaii. A weaker Hilda would be steered more by low-level easterly flow, perhaps nearing the islands as a tropical storm, while a stronger system would be influenced more by the upper-level westerlies and would be more likely to angle north.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, Tropical Storm Molave continues to spin harmlessly well southeast of Japan, and Invest 93 should remain weak as it traverses the open waters of the Northeast Pacific.

Scary Tornado caught on dashboard cam - Tainan, Taiwan on 8/9 as Typhoon Soudelor conditions continued in Tainan City.

Typhoon Soudelor slideshow - (32 photos).

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Lightning-Struck Teens Saved by Holding Hands - There was electricity in the air — literally — on a high-school couple's date Thursday in Claremont, California. It's just a good thing they were holding hands. The couple were struck by lightning while walking to get burgers and were likely saved from serious injury because they were holding hands. "It helped to diffuse the electrical current that ran through their bodies."
Despite being thrown 3 feet and feeling like they had been hit by a piece of metal, the teens finished their date, only later going to a doctor when their parents made them. The doctor told the teens the lightning probably entered one's head and exited through the other's left foot.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

BROKEN RECORDS PILING UP IN EUROPE, ASIA - As 2015 continues marching toward a new global record high temperature, the heat is making itself felt this weekend at a variety of locations across the globe. Excessive heat warnings are out for several south-central U.S. states, but records aren’t tumbling at the pace that they are in several other countries.
On Saturday, the Hong Kong Observatory reached 36.3°C (97.3°F), the hottest temperature in its 132-year history. The heat in Hong Kong was likely enhanced by sinking air around the southern periphery of Typhoon Soudelor.
Likewise, subsidence on the north side of Soudelor helped keep Tokyo toasty, as the city notched its eight consecutive day of at least 95°F temperatures on Friday. The streak was twice the previous record length of four days, recorded on five different occasions between 1978 and 2013. Records in Tokyo began in 1875. The streak was broken on Saturday, as temperatures topped out at 91°F, and the heat should stay just short of the 95°F threshold over the coming week.
Meanwhile, central and eastern Europe continues to broil in a sustained heat wave. In Poland, the Wroclaw Observatory hit an all-time record high on Saturday of 38.9°C (102.0°F), and highs soared above 95°F over a broad swath from Lithuania to the Mediterranean. Some areas will see relief over the next several days, but others are facing at least a solid week of torrid readings.

3,000 evacuated as wildfires burn for 3rd day in Spain in midst of an extended heat wave - Strong winds have fanned wildfires that have raged out of control for three days in southwestern Spain and made firefighting difficult, forcing the evacuation of 3,000 inhabitants, officials said Saturday.
Some 1,000 residents were evacuated from the town Hoyos in the early hours of the morning after overnight winds "reversed all yesterday's firefighting achievements." More than 6,500 hectares (25 square miles) had burned since flames were detected Thursday in the Sierra de Gata — a region of outstanding natural beauty.
Those evacuated joined another 2,000 inhabitants from the villages of Acebo and Perales del Puerto — as well as tourists who had been staying at a campsite nearby — who had been given shelter in the city of Caceres and the town of Moraleja.
Evidence pointed to numerous separate ignition points, indicating that "man's hand must be behind these fires." Regional government spokeswoman Cristina Herrera said 16 water-carrying aircraft and 300 firefighters — including a contingent from neighboring Portugal — were combatting the flames as Spain endured an extended heat wave. Firefighters succeeded in controlling a wildfire in the southeastern Murcia region, where 700 hectares had burned.

French pair who died in US desert likely saved their son - A French couple who died during an afternoon hike across the searing New Mexico desert likely saved their 9-year-old son by giving him two sips of water for each one they took before the supply ran out. The boy was dehydrated but in remarkably good shape when he was found alongside his dead father on a trail in the White Sands National Monument, Otero County.
The father and son were found Tuesday about an hour after park rangers found the mother dead. "That may be why he fared so well, is he was a lot smaller and probably had twice as much water. He was well hydrated, compared to the other two." They were tourists from the small town of Bourgogne, near the city of Reims, France. The couple appears to have died of heat- related causes. An autopsy to determine the official cause of death was pending.
The family had two 20-ounce (566-gram) water bottles when they set out on the hike along the national monument's Alkali Flat trail at about 1 p.m.. The trail is known for crystalline- white sand dunes and ends at the edge of the Alkali Flat, an ancient dry lake bed. There is no vegetation or shade, and the National Park Service warns summertime visitors to hike only in the cool hours and carry at least 1 gallon (3.8 liters)of water per person.
The high temperature at the monument Tuesday was 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius). Warning signs were posted in several languages, including French, at the trailhead. The boy told deputies that his mother began feeling ill and complained of an injured knee about a mile and a half (1,200 meters) into the hike. "So she made the decision that you guys go ahead and go on, I'm going to go back to the vehicle. She made it about a hundred yards before she went down."
The father and son were unaware that she was in trouble and continued on the trail, making it about 2,000 feet (600 meters) before the father collapsed. Park rangers on a routine patrol found the family. The boy's grandmother flew to Albuquerque and was reunited with him Thursday.

Missing hiker found dead in Yellowstone park, cause being probed - A missing hiker was found dead in Yellowstone National Park on Friday, prompting authorities to close the area around a popular trail while they investigate the cause.
The man, who worked in the park, had been reported missing by co-workers Thursday morning. He was found by rangers at around noon in the vicinity of the Elephant Back Loop Trail in the Lake Village area where he had been hiking. A conclusive cause of death has yet to be determined, but rangers investigating the incident had found signs of grizzly bear activity in the area, fur and patches of depressed grass, known as day beds, where one or more bears might have rested during the day.
Park officials have not released the hiker's name or provided additional details about the incident pending notification of family members, although they did say he was from Montana. The area around Elephant Back Loop Trail has been closed to hikers while the investigation continues. Fatal bear attacks are uncommon among the 3.5 million annual visitors who roam across Yellowstone's 2.2 million acres (8,900 square km).
But park officials say they are continually working to educate the public about the dangers posed by grizzlies and other wildlife. Two people were killed in separate bear attacks in Yellowstone in 2012, and four people have been injured by bison so far this year. Park visitation for 2015 is on a record pace, up 20 percent over last year.
Officials remind hikers to stay on designated trails, leave an itinerary with others, hike in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray.

Officials lift evacuations in Northern California wildfire - Video.

Nevada - Falling tree kills Forest Service firefighter battling Tahoe-area blaze. Lighting sparked a small wildfire over the weekend in the South Lake Tahoe area, which went on to kill one firefighter and injure another.

About 150 homes evacuated in fast-moving Arizona wildfire - A raging fire broke out on Saturday in a wildlife refuge in northwestern Arizona near the California border, forcing the evacuation of about 150 homes.
Authorities ordered the mandatory evacuations from homes in the rural area after the wildfire sparked on Saturday afternoon grew to 2,000 acres in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. As of late Saturday, an undermined number of structures had been burned. The American Red Cross had set up a shelter for displaced residents.
"This is a major one and we're aggressively trying to fight it." About 300 firefighters were called in to battle the so-called Willow Fire on the ground and in the air as the blaze roared through trees, grass and brush in Mohave Valley, south of Bullhead City, Arizona. Billowing smoke from the fire was appearing on radar. There was no estimate for how long it would take to contain the fire, and no injuries have been reported. The cause remains under investigation.

SPACE WEATHER -

Gigantic 4 mile high “pyramid” spotted on asteroid Ceres - The latest mystifying discovery by Dawn shows shows a large pyramid shaped formation with bright bands down the side.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft keeps revealing new mysteries as it approaches the dwarf planet Ceres, the latest discovery posted in a video on Thursday shows a 4 mile high pyramid shaped formation with bright bands down the side. The pyramid measures more than 20,000 Foot (6100 meters) and is sure to spawn a lot of new fringe theories, and fuel the old ones.
The NASA Science team said that “This mountain is among the tallest features we’ve seen on Ceres to date,” The team is yet to come up with an explanation as to why the pyramid is sitting in the middle of nowhere instead of being located in a crater as expected. Earlier Ceres also made a puzzling discovery in the now famous Occator crater which sports some of Ceres’ brightest spots, another phenomenon yet to be explained by NASA. There is currently no evidence pointing to the spots being ice and the science team is now investigating whether it could be salt deposits.
There are other fascinating discoveries that need to be studied further. Amongst these are a pair of large impact basins, Urvara and Yalode which have large cracks extending away from them. Ceres, refereed to as a “Dwarf planet”, is currently the largest known object in the asteroid belt with a diameter of approximately 587 miles (945 kilometres) making it the thirty-third largest know object in the solar system.
Ceres was the first asteroid ever to be discovered, on January 1, 1801. Originally it was classified as a planet but was later demoted to asteroid status as many other similar bodies were found. Dawn will continue its observations of Ceres around mid-August entering an orbit with an altitude of 900 miles (1500 kilometres) which is three times closer than it’s current orbit.

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Mysterious fungus killing snakes in at least 9 states - Hidden on hillsides in a remote part of western Vermont, a small number of venomous timber rattlesnakes slither among the rocks, but their isolation can't protect them from a mysterious fungus spreading across the eastern half of the country that threatens to wipe them out.
In less than a decade, the fungus has been identified in at least nine Eastern states, and although it affects a number of species, it's especially threatening to rattlesnakes that live in small, isolated populations with little genetic diversity, such as those found in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York.
In Illinois the malady threatens the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, which was a candidate for the federal endangered species list even before the fungus appeared. Biologists have compared its appearance to the fungus that causes white nose syndrome in bats, which since 2006 has killed millions of the creatures and continues to spread across North America.
It's unclear, though, if snake fungal disease, "ophidiomyces ophiodiicola" was brought to the United States from elsewhere, as was white nose fungus, or if it has always been present in the environment and for some unknown reason is now infecting snakes. "I think potentially this could overwhelm any conservation effort we could employ to try to protect this last remaining population. We don't have any control over it. It's just completely out there in the wild."
In New Hampshire, the disease helped halve the population of rattlesnakes — now estimated at several dozen — after it was first spotted in 2006, although it was only afterward that scientists linked the fungus to the decline. Vermont's population of timber rattlesnakes is down to two locations near Lake Champlain in the western part of the state with an estimated total population of several hundred.
The disease can cause crusty scabs and lesions, sometimes on the head. A microbiologist said he's been getting reports of snake fungal disease from all over the eastern United States. Not every location is reporting that the disease is threatening snake populations. "It does seem to be a disease that has different effects in different areas."
The fungus poses a greater risk to snakes that reproduce slowly, such as rattlesnakes, which can live up to 30 years, experts say. In Illinois every year the disease infects about 15 percent of the population of about 300 of massasauga rattlesnakes, most of which are in Clinton County, with a mortality rate of 80 to 90 percent.
"I think that in populations that have been shrunk due to other mechanisms, such as habitat loss, other environmental changes, those types of things, are more at risk of going extinct from snake fungal disease mainly because it's a smaller population. They have less of a buffer to withstand these diseases."
Part of the challenge in studying the disease is that snakes, especially venomous varieties, don't get much sympathy from the public, which makes funding studies harder. Snakes are also harder to find than, say, white-nose-infected bats where scientists can go into a cave and see tens of thousands of carcasses.

Shorter course of radiation better for early stage breast cancer - Women had a significantly higher quality of life and no difference in tumor control with shorter treatments.
Women treated for early breast cancer with shorter courses of radiation than standardly prescribed had a higher quality of life than those with longer treatment plans and no difference in controlling the growth of tumors, according to two new studies. "Patients who received the shorter course reported less difficulty in caring for their families' needs. This is a major priority for women undergoing breast cancer radiation. Most are busy working mothers, working inside or outside the home, and are juggling a number of priorities. It's paramount that we address this need."
The patients were reported to have 30 percent fewer incidences of dermatitis, 19 percent less breast pain, 8 percent less fatigue, 6 percent less difficulty caring for their families and 31 percent less acute toxic effects.
A large cohort study found similar significant improvements in comfort and quality of life "No longer do I regard the shorter course of treatment as just an option for patients, but rather the preferred starting point for discussion with patients if they need whole breast radiation."

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