Friday, February 5, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Sometimes things have to fall apart to make way for better things.**
Ted Mosby

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 2/4/16 -

2/3/16 -

Underground Ramp Makes Himalayas 'Grow' Between Big Earthquakes - A subterranean ramp that is part of a major fault in the Himalayas may push up the earth after major earthquakes, new research has found. The new study mapped the fault line where the Indian Plate is diving beneath the Eurasian Continental Plate, which snakes across Tibet and Nepal. The fault is kinked, with one steeply diving "ramp" pushing up material that forms the world's tallest mountain.
The new study also corroborated other research that showed that the April 2015 Gorkha earthquake, which killed at least 8,000 people and injured thousands more, did not even come close to releasing all the stress on the fault. This pent-up energy means big earthquakes in the region could potentially happen sooner than one would otherwise expect.
The earthquake shifted Kathmandu 5 feet (1.5 meters) to the south and pushed it up by almost 24 inches (60 cm). The quake also caused Mount Everest to shrink by about 1 inch (2.5 cm).

Research team finds link between fault line slippage, large earthquakes - Movement along fault lines may be a strong indicator of when large earthquakes will occur. A report outlined its findings on how slow-slip events — movements between large tectonic plates — that occurred along a fault line approximately 1,000 kilometers long in Japan seemed to precede large earthquakes. In Japan, tectonic plates press into one another, leading to slow-slips. This movement often results in small earthquakes and, as slow-slips accelerate, larger ones.

A Japanese volcano about 50 km (30 miles) from a nuclear plant erupted on Friday, sending fountains of lava into the night sky. The Sakurajima volcano, on the southernmost main island of Kyushu, erupts frequently. The Sendai nuclear plant, run by Kyushu Electric Power, and on the same island, resumed operations last year. It was shut down, along with all of Japan's nuclear plants, after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered a meltdown at a nuclear plant north of Tokyo.

Sharks in a volcano! - Kavachi, near the Solomon Islands, is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the world. The volcano's peak lies 25 metres below the surface, and when it isn't erupting the crater is overflowing with orange hydrothermal fluid which can be seen for a kilometre or more downstream. A team of scientists studying its geothermal activity made the unexpected discovery of sharks swimming around in the hot, acidic waters inside its crater.


No current tropical storms.

Hurricane Patricia's winds reached a record 215 mph as it roared toward the west coast of Mexico in October. That's 15 mph greater than Patricia's previously thought top speed. It's the strongest wind speed ever measured in a hurricane in the Western Hemisphere. The record was set while the storm was offshore. Before it hit land, the storm "weakened" to 150 mph. That still made Patricia the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in Mexico.
Patricia hit a sparsely populated part of the country, limiting damage. Two people were killed and 10,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. In terms of barometric pressure, it was also the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere and second-strongest recorded anywhere in the world, trailing only Typhoon Tip in 1979.

Rapidly Intensifying Cyclones Drive Odd Phenomenon - In October 2015, Hurricane Patricia became the strongest storm ever measured by the National Hurricane Center. But what really worried authorities was the speed at which Patricia amassed her strength. The storm’s sustained winds increased from 85 miles per hour to 200 in 24 hours — the greatest 24-hour rise in intensity ever observed in the satellite era.
While forecast models have made huge strides in the last 30 years predicting the tracks of hurricanes, they still have a difficult time predicting the rate at which a storm will intensify and become dangerous. Now, a new study shows that storms like Patricia that grow rapidly are responsible for an odd phenomenon in tropical cyclones overall: stronger storms are sometimes more common than moderate ones. In this, tropical cyclones stand in stark contrast to most other kinds of weather systems, in which stronger events are uniformly rarer than moderate ones.

New Zealand and Pacific 'not off the hook' as tropical cyclone season starts to peak. Conditions are ripe for a tropical cyclone to form over the southwest Pacific as storm season reaches its height. Tropical cyclone season heats up in February and March, the busiest time of year for severe storms in the southwest Pacific including New Zealand. More than a dozen "named" cyclones are forecast to form as the strongest El Nino system in years gathers energy.


Britain is back on storm alert as experts warn to brace for fierce gales and torrential downpours in the coming days. More than two inches of rain is forecast in parts of the country with up to 90mph winds threatening a washout weekend. Stormy weather will make a comeback on Friday with the south in the firing line for the worst of the battering at the weekend. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for heavy and persistent rain reigniting fears of floods and travel mayhem. Northern regions will be affected by downpours on Friday before a stubborn band of rain moves southwards across the UK.


Australia - Record-breaking heatwave tipped for Perth as experts warn of heatstroke. Some suburbs will fare worse than others as Perth braces for a record-breaking heatwave. Saturday's temperature is predicted to reach a maximum of 36 degrees Celsius, following 35 on Friday, then Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are all expected to have temperatures of 40 degrees or above. It was the combination of high daytime and high night-time temperatures expected that caused heatwave conditions.
"To put this into some sort of context we have never before experienced - since we started taking observations at Mount Lawley in 1992 - a run of four consecutive days of 39 or above. And it's only ever happened twice before since we started taking records back in the 1870s. So whilst we are in February, and it's hot in February, these are the sorts of conditions that we've not experienced before."

Hawaii - Drought fears rise as lack of January rain sets records. Last month’s weather may have been great for the beach, but the lack of rain made it the driest January on record in several locations in Hawaii. “Drought impacts, mainly to the agriculture sector, started on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island and will likely spread and intensify over the coming weeks."
All of Oahu’s rain gauges recorded below average rainfall. Only .03 inches fell at the Honolulu Airport, about 1 percent of the normal 2.3 inches for January, setting a new record for the month. All of the rain gauges at lower elevations on Oahu — from Downtown Honolulu to Waianae — got less than 10 percent of normal rainfall. The highest rainfall total of 5.6 inches was recorded at Poamoho, but that is still 31 percent of the average for January.

Philippines - Farmers in 17 of Maguindanao’s 36 towns lost their rice and corn crops to the now two-month dry spell, feared to cause widespread hunger without downpours until summer. Field workers are still validating reports on the extent of crop damage in the other 19 Maguindanao towns. Rats had also destroyed vast swaths of rice and corn farms in Maguindanao last January.

Pakistan - At least 139 children died of waterborne disease in January in Pakistan's impoverished desert district of Tharparkar, which has been devastated by drought since 2013.


Absurd January Warmth in Arctic Brings Record-Low Sea Ice Extent - This winter’s freezing season in the Arctic is falling short. The extent of Arctic sea ice this week is hovering near record-low values for early February, based on observations that extend back to the start of satellite monitoring in 1979.
Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) shows that last month had the lowest overall Arctic sea ice extent of any January in the satellite record. The total extent of 13.53 million square kilometers (5.2 million square miles) was 1.04 million sq km below the 1981-2010 average and 90,000 sq km below the record from January 2011.
Only a few weeks are left before the return of polar sunshine puts an end to the freeze-up that typically starts in September and peaks in late February or March. Last year’s maximum extent occurred quite early - on February 25 - and it was the lowest in the satellite record, at 14.54 million square kilometers. This year appears to have a reasonable shot at breaking that record.
Hand in hand with the skimpy ice cover, temperatures across the Arctic have been extraordinarily warm for midwinter. Just before New Year’s, a slug of mild air pushed temperatures above freezing to within 200 miles of the North Pole. That warm pulse quickly dissipated, but it was followed by a series of intense North Atlantic cyclones that sent very mild air poleward, in tandem with a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation during the first three weeks of the month.
“January was absurdly warm in the Arctic." The average surface temperature in January between latitude 60°N and the North Pole was -18.2°C (-0.8°F), topping the previous record of -20.6°C (-5.1°F) set in January 2005. Just above the surface (925 mb), the average January temperature of -14.2°C (5.9°F) was well above the previous record of -16.5°C (0.7°F), also set in 2005. The fact that average readings at this level are warmer than at the surface reflects the strong inversion typical of the lower Arctic atmosphere, especially in winter, as cold air hugs the surface and milder air flows just above it.
Some of the most visible ice-extent deficits right now are in the Barents Sea, north of Scandinavia. Warm waters carried by the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC) can push all the way northeast into the Barents, making it one of the most variable of the seas that fringe the Arctic.Sea ice now covers less than half the area across the Barents that it did a year ago at this time. The difference in area -roughly 350,000 square kilometers - is bigger than the state of New Mexico. (Note that sea ice area is a somewhat different index than sea ice extent.)
Near the northwest corner of the Barents Sea, temperatures in Svalbard, Norway - at 78°N, the northernmost civilian community on Earth - have been far above average for the entire last month. From January 5 to February 3, the average in Svalbard was -4.7°C (23.5°F), which is a full 19°F above the norm - remarkable for a 30-day period. The coldest reading of the whole period, -11.9°C, was still above the average January high of -13.0°C! Temperatures pushed above freezing on four days, reaching 4.5°C on January 24 (still not a monthly record, though). The WU forecast shows Svalbard remaining unusually mild for at least the next week, with lows at or above the average highs.
The outlook for 2016 - Most of the attention around Arctic sea ice has focused on the dramatic losses in summertime, especially over the past decade. The minimum yearly extent set new record lows in 2007 and again in 2012. Both of these minimums were followed by a year or two of quasi-recovery, but then the long-term trend toward lower summer minimums resumed. Could 2016 set another new record minimum? It’s far too soon to make any confident predictions.
A record-low maximum could give the ice a head start on 2016 melting, but the ultimate outcome will depend mainly on weather patterns still to come, especially in early summer. Warm southerly winds and clear, sunny skies during June and July can make a huge difference in paving the way for a record minimum in September. Those on the front lines of experimental sea ice prediction stress the role of weather conditions in modulating how any one season will fare.
“Because the atmosphere is mostly unpredictable beyond 1 or 2 weeks, the sea ice forecasts initialized in late spring may not be able to accurately predict sea ice features that develop as a result of extreme summer atmospheric conditions." Idealized experiments suggest that the state of Arctic sea ice might be predictable with some skill as far as two years in advance. To reach this theoretical goal, we would need major advances in both Arctic observations and modeling.
There’s another catch: climate change itself may make the task harder. “Interannual variability of summer sea ice extent will likely increase in coming decades,nand some scientists suggest that this might lead to a reduction in predictability.”


A small asteroid named "2013 TX68" will fly by Earth on March 5th, and NASA says it could come as close as 17,000 km to our planet's surface. That would put it well inside the Clarke Belt of geosynchronous satellites. The space rock is about 30 meters wide, or 50% larger than the asteroid that broke up in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, three years ago. If an asteroid the size of 2013 TX68 were to enter Earth's atmosphere, it would likely produce an air burst with twice the energy of the Chelyabinsk event.

OZONE HOLE FORMS OVER THE UK - For the past week, sky watchers in the UK have witnessed a rare apparition of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs). Normally restricted to the Arctic Circle, the fantastically colorful clouds have appeared over the British Isles almost every day since Jan. 31st.
PSCs form in the lower stratosphere when temperatures drop to a staggeringly-cold -85ºC. High-altitude sunlight shining through tiny ice particles ~10µm wide produce bright iridescent colors by diffraction and interference. But there is more to PSCs than ice. Some polar stratospheric clouds contain very small droplets of naturally occurring nitric and sulphuric acids. These droplets destroy ozone. Indeed, a temporary ozone hole has formed over Ireland and the UK.
"The acid droplets destroy the stratospheric ozone layer that protects us from harmful solar ultra- violet rays. They catalyse unreactive forms of man-made chlorine into active free radicals (for example ClO, chlorine monoxide). The radicals destroy many ozone molecules in a series of chain reactions.."
This outbreak of PSCs is truly unusual. "Prior to this outbreak I have seen PSCs over the UK only twice in the last 20 years! This episode is exceptional at such low latitudes."
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Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.**
Martin Luther King Jr.

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 2/2/16 -

2/1/16 -

1/31/16 -

1/30/16 -

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1/27/16 -

1/26/16 -

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1/15/16 -

Indonesia - One dead, 22 injured as quake hits Maluku. A 5.4 magnitude quake that struck South Buru regency in Maluku on Sunday killed one and injured many others. 19 suffered light injuries and three suffered serious injuries in the quake. The quake, at a depth of 10 kilometers, hit the southern part of Maluku's Buru Island on Sunday at 6:22 a.m. It was also felt in the neighboring regency of Buru, damaging hundreds of houses and a mosque. The local administration and South Buru Disaster Mitigation Agency had difficulty managing the disaster and assisting victims because of limited access, high waves and bad weather in reaching the affected location.

In Oklahoma, now the U.S.'s earthquake capital, people are talking nervously about the big one as man-made quakes get stronger, more frequent and closer to major population centers.

Alaska - Mushing through a 7.1 quake on rolling, cracking, spurting river ice - While many Alaskans were uneasy during Sunday’s magnitude-7.1 earthquake, most had the security of being at home, close to family and near reliable Internet and phone lines to find out exactly what happened and where the worst damage occurred. However, some mushers, including those competing in the weekend’s Northern Lights 300 Sled Dog Race from Big Lake to Finger Lake and back, did not have such modern conveniences.
“It was the longest two minutes of my life... One of the last places I want to be during a 7.1 earthquake was running dogs down the middle of a frozen river. The ice was rippling and waving like a waterbed when someone jumps up and down on it. I was having a hard time keeping my feet. As the ice rolled and jumped, it cracked and snapped all around me. Water came shooting up through the cracks, and I was trying to figure out if we were all going to wash away.”

Puget Sound, Washington - A continuous tremor has been shaking from Vancouver Island south toward Olympia. Hundreds of tremors registered across the Pacific Northwest within a 25-hour span starting Monday. The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network plotted 427 tremors on a map. "What's happening is there's an episode where the deep plate boundary is kind of rumbling." The tremor can last three weeks and happens about once a year. It's been shaking 30 miles under Puget Sound since Dec. 22.
A seismologist believes the tremor is related to the 4.3 earthquake that shook under Victoria, British Columbia on Dec. 30. That quake was the largest in the Puget Sound region since the Nisqually quake of 2001. Seismologists are not alarmed.

Really Big One’ article puts NW earthquake risk on White House agenda - A story in The New Yorker about the Northwest’s coming megaquake and tsunami helped inspire the White House to plan a seismic resilience summit.

Chile - Several recent events suggest that a set of glacier-covered volcanoes in the southern Chilean region of Bío-Bío, which have been showing increasing activity since December, may be likely to erupt. The three mountains, known as the Nevados de Chillán, reach over 3200 meters in elevation, and have a set of glaciers totaling over 2 square kilometers in area on their summits. They have a long record of eruptions, with historical documentation from the 17th century. Radiocarbon evidence records eruptions that took place about 8000 years ago.

Azerbaijan's largest volcano awakes - One of the largest volcanoes of Azerbaijan Akhtarma Pashali awoke in the country’s Hajigabul region on the night of January 25. The mud volcano has ceased erupting. No victims were reported, as no settlements are located around the area. Akhtarma Pashali is located in 35 kilometers of the city of Shirvan. The diameter of the crater is approximately 10 square kilometers. The last eruption of this mud volcano occurred in 1963, while the first eruption of the volcano was reported in 1948. Over a thousand mud volcanoes are known to exist in the world.

Peru - Arequipa: Misti volcano is awake. The last eruption of great magnitude at Misti was 2,000 years ago. The Misti volcano has long been considered ‘asleep.’ However, studies by the Southern Volcano Observatory reveal that it is awake and emitting gases. It is currently considered the greatest risk in the South American country, as thousands of habitants reside near its crater.

The Popocatépetl volcano is one of the most dangerous volcanoes of the world, located 35 miles from Mexico City. It billowed huge clouds of black smoke and ash on Saturday. People living within a distance of 10 miles from the mountain are on yellow alert, which means they are all set to evacuate immediately in case activity increases. Before the last Popocatépetl eruption in 2000, 41,000 people were evacuated beforehand, due to early warnings. With 20 million people, Mexico City is the fourth biggest city in the world.

Hawaii - Mauna Loa is considered one of the largest active volcanoes on the face of the earth. Lava reaching temperatures over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit cover almost 90 percent of Mauna Loa, so one of the last things you would expect to find there are ice caves. The “Mauna Loa Ice cave” and the “Arsia Cave” are hidden more than 11,000 feet up Mauna Loa’s northern slope and are in danger of a complete meltdown.

Half of the three million people living in Naples in Italy have now been told they live within a new yellow danger zone of the Vesuvius supervolcano, the infamous peak which was responsible for the historic destruction of Pompeii in 79AD. People have been warned in the event of a catastrophic eruption those in the yellow zone could be hit by falling ash and rocks.
Officials in the city have added around 1.5 million people living in 63 towns and villages on the outskirts of Naples to an existing red-zone of 600,000 people, within the closest 200 square kilometres to the peak, who were already deemed most at risk - taking the total to 2.1 million.

Philippines - Authorities in Lanao del Sur are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed the mountain forests of Butig town near Cagayan de oro City, in the Philippines on Thursday night, with the nearby Mount Makaturing volcano high on the suspect list. The magma mount is one of the most active in the Philippines and sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
The 1,940-metre peak is believed to have erupted 10 times in the past, and could be due another as the last on record was in March 1882. According to locals, heavy smoke enveloped the area near the town as well as Alamada in Wao town and the blaze appeared "lava-like," as it glowed from the distance throughout Thursday night and into the early hours. Officials will probe if there is a connection between the volcano and the forest fire and the risk of any eruptions.

Indonesia - More than 1,200 people Wednesday remained evacuated from a 1.9-mile containment zone around Mount Egon in Kupang, eastern Indonesia, after toxic gas and volcanic ash erupted Tuesday. Within a 400 mile radius of Mount Egon there are also 25 other volcanoes and five of them are said to be currently erupting, while there are ten other eruption warnings in place.
Russia - There are fears seismic activity is also growing in the area around the Zhupanovsky volcano. Officials in Russia had to cancel flights near the Zhupanovsky volcano on Russia's eastern coast after it spewed lava five miles into the air, also Tuesday. The Russian explosion affected local air traffic, but the huge ash cloud is also drifting east over the Pacific Ocean so the impact on flights could be much wider.


Chile - If you thought Snowpocalypse 2016 was bad, be thankful that you weren’t along the coast of central Chile. El Niño whipped up a storm in the Pacific Ocean that battered the Chilean resort city of Viña del Mar. The waves rushing into the streets were so powerful that a wall of water actually engulfed a government SUV, overturning it.

Oregon - Sneaker wave south of Coos Bay: Caught on camera. The owner of the High Tide Cafe in Coos Bay, was recording the scene at the beach when a sneaker wave came in, sending him and others scrambling for safety.

There is evidence that a 9,300-foot-tall volcano on the island of Fogo, one of the world’s largest and most active volcanoes, collapsed during an eruption 73,000 years ago and generated an 840 foot wave so big that it swept over nearby Santiago Island. The findings raise the possibility that Fogo or another volcano could cause a similarly scary event today. Other volcanic islands, including some in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, are close to heavily-populated areas.

Ireland - Safety warnings Monday as hurricane force gusts set to batter Galway. The Road Safety Authority and Galway City and County Councils have issued safety warnings as hurricane force gusts were expected to batter Galway. Storm Henry was making landfall this lunchtime, bringing gusts of up to 130 kilometers per hour. A status orange wind warning – MET Eireann’s second highest alert level – was issued for Galway and eight other counties.
A second yellow wave alert was in place for Galway’s coastal regions, as high winds were expected to result in exceptional wave heights of up to 15 metres. The RSA said drivers should beware of fallen debris and strong crosswinds on exposed roads. Galway City Council was advising people to exercise extreme caution outdoors, especially near exposed shores.


No current tropical storms.

Texas - Galveston County commissioners have approved final plans for a $4.2 million hurricane emergency response shelter on the highest spot on Bolivar Peninsula. The agreement was recently reached with the High Island Independent School District. The 9,500- square-foot gymnasium-type building will be constructed, starting in March, on school property.
The building, reinforced to withstand hurricane-force winds, will not be an emergency shelter during mandatory evacuations. If a hurricane hits, the structure will be the base camp for emergency personnel to distribute supplies and park vehicles. Hurricane Ike slammed Galveston in 2008 and caused $29 billion in damage. More than three dozen people died.

Australia - Port Lincoln is experiencing severe flooding after being hit by the remnants of Cyclone Stan more than 3,200km away. The city located on the Eyre Peninsula in the Australian experienced strong rainfall after ex-Cyclone Stan crossed the South Australian border last night. The rain has hampered drivers and businesses with reports that there was 50mm of rain recorded at 9am with an additional 20mm recorded at lunchtime.
Cyclone Stan was previously a category two system with residents in Western Australia’s Pilbara region preparing for a potential category three cyclone over the weekend after a red-alert warning was issued. The ex-cyclone has since been downgraded but it was still strong enough to wreak havoc on Port Lincoln, 3,206km away from Pilbara, before sweeping through Adelaide.

Global Weather Oscillations says the 2016 - 2017 Atlantic hurricane season will be the strongest in over 4 years. GWO has issued the most accurate predictions of any organization over the past 7 years, and says - unlike the past three hurricane seasons that were dominated by hostile atmospheric conditions that subdued hurricane activity since 2013, and during the 2015 El Niño season - The next few years will be in a “Climate Pulse Hurricane Enhancement Cycle” that will provide very favorable conditions for development of tropical storms and hurricanes.

Raining fish in Ethiopia - Unusual fish-rain occurred on Sunday at 11: 30 pm in Dire Dawa City in the Eastern part of Ethiopia for a few minutes both in rural and urban areas. People in these areas were stunned by the occurrence. The Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute Livestock Director said that this phenomena occurs due to cyclone. In meteorology, a cyclone is an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth.
This is usually characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. If it is high cyclone, it can pick up fish with the help of air and come again down not far from the sea. "But I do not think it sprung from the Red Sea. It could not happen due to simple cyclone for it does not have the capacity to jack up fish." "We have information but we dispatched a team of professionals to examine the causes and consequences of the occurrence as it is the first of its kind in the country."


An invasion of poisonous snakes washed downriver in recent floods forced authorities to close beaches to summer holidaymakers in northern Argentina, officials said Monday. Floodwaters in the Rio Plata and Rio Parana carried a species of water lily and with it countless crawling, slithering creatures, south to beaches at the mouths of those rivers near Buenos Aires.
"We are raising awareness of the risk and danger present today. There are otters and species of snakes that are poisonous. The beaches of Quilmes have been closed as a precaution. We were cleaning up the coast during the week and while doing so we saw the snakes under the water lilies."
Inland river beaches were also closed over the weekend in the northern city of Rosario. Locals there spotted displaced animals such as otters, a wild boar and a fox cub as well as snakes, scorpions and stinging insects. Water covered the beaches and even the terraces of seaside bars in Rosario, as summer temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius. "It is dangerous because when there is not much beach there is more risk of coming into direct contact with rodents or snakes, whose dens are all flooded." Experts have blamed severe flooding in recent weeks in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay on the El Nino extreme weather phenomenon.

United Kingdom - Village suffers 'biblical' non stop rain for 81 DAYS and even the livestock are 'depressed'. Rain has fallen every day in the Welsh village of Eglwyswrw since October 26 and residents, farmers and their animals are all fed up.

This year the Met Office announced a new scheme to name the most furious storms to hit Britain - Storm Jonas hit Bristol Wednesday, bringing with it flooding and strong gusts. The Met Office confirmed it would not be naming this storm, which has killed nearly 30 people in the United States, because its impact and intensity has not been strong enough. But forecasters said that, had the storm ticked the criteria worthy of a name, it would have used Jonas rather than selecting Gertrude - which is next on the Met Office's alphabetically ordered list.

Flood warnings in place as Met forecasts more rain for UK - Cumbrian village of Glenridding flooded for fourth time this winter as more rain is forecast for end of week followed by cold snap at weekend. The Met Office has issued yellow warnings for rain across much of the country as the tail-end of the storm that battered the US at the weekend continued to sweep in from the Atlantic with more heavy rain expected on Friday. More than a dozen flood warnings remain in place for parts of north-west, north-east and south-west England and Wales.

Australia - One-in-100-year' rainfall triggers flash flooding in Geelong and surrounds. (Photos and video at link)

Australia - Darling Downs residents have been warned to brace for a massive storm and 'super cell' expected to reach the region tomorrow, bringing with it damaging weather conditions. Higgins Storm Chasers have issued a warning with a surface and upper trough bringing large hail, up to 8cm in diameter, damaging winds over 90kmhr, heavy rain with flash flooding and frequent lightning. The system will peak on Friday as a very potent storm set up.
"As far as severe storm set ups are concerned this ranks in the top five over the past 12 months and people need to be made well aware of the dangerous potential during Friday." There is an extreme risk of severe storms and possible supercells are forecast to heavily impact the entire South East of the state including central districts on Friday. The rare weather conditions are stretching over 2000kms up and down Eastern Australia.


French Foreign Legionnaires killed in Alps avalanche - Five French Foreign Legionnaires have been killed and six injured in an avalanche while on a training exercise in the Alps. The avalanche came down close to Valfrejus, not far from the Italian border, where some 50 soldiers were training off-piste. Search dogs and helicopters immediately began looking for the soldiers. Last week, two school pupils and a Ukrainian tourist were killed by an avalanche nearby.
A teacher is under investigation for manslaughter after he apparently led his pupils on to a closed ski run shortly before the avalanche in Les Deux Alpes, 124km (80 miles) away from Valfrejus. Heavy snow has fallen in the Savoie region recently. About 10 of the military team were immediately found by rescuers - but five had gone into cardiac arrest, and died. All the soldiers taking part in the exercises had avalanche detection kits, and rescuers were on the scene within minutes.
Two of those found by rescuers were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia. "For now the circumstances aren't very clear. We're still trying to carry out the rescue and trying to count everyone in the area, to know if we still have people there who've been buried." In 2012, an avalanche swept away five members of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment, killing one.

Winter storm in Midwest; tornadoes punch Deep South - Heavy snow and high winds continued to sweep across much of the Midwest with near-blizzard force on Tuesday, causing highway closures in Nebraska and flight cancellations in Colorado. Nasty weather also hammered the South, with tornado warnings issued in Mississippi and Alabama. At least two tornadoes hit Mississippi.


Zimbabwe - Drought: Farmers fear the worst. Farmers have already lost cattle and crops in the severest drought to hit the nation in a quarter of a century. But the worst may be yet to come.

Low water levels at Victoria Falls highlight southern Africa’s worst drought in 30 years - Tourists post pictures on social media of iconic falls known as “The Smoke That Thunders” looking decidedly tame as farmers endure record drought that will cause hunger across the continent.

Drought pushes Australian wildlife into crowded care - North Queensland wildlife carers are overrun with animals in care as drought conditions continue over much of the state. "It has just been dry for so long. We haven't had a good wet season really since Cyclone Yasi, so since then it has just been getting worse and worse." The group would normally attend about 500 macropods (kangaroos and wallabies) each year, but last year the number was more than 800.

El Niño: Urgent Need for Support as Drought Affects 14 Million People in Southern Africa - Families in drought-affected areas in southern Mozambique are rapidly running out of food, after the poor harvest of the previous year.

Ethiopia urged international donors on Sunday to offer aid promptly for relief operations to support 10.2 million people critically short of food, and said it was committed to allocating as much of its own funds as necessary.

2nd Disastrous Drought Year for Endangered California Salmon - Endangered native salmon suffered a second straight disastrous year in California's drought, with all but 3 percent of the latest generation dying in too-shallow, too-hot rivers, federal officials said Monday.


The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has embarked on a whole new version of its international cloud atlas, used by weather observers worldwide to ensure that clouds are described in a uniform fashion. The atlas was first published in 1939 based on work extending back to the 1800s. This opens the door for entirely new ways of presenting and documenting the world’s seemingly endless variety of clouds.
Another cool feature this time: you’ve got a chance to pitch in. The WMO launched a website in October that allows anyone to submit their photos and videos for consideration in the upcoming atlas. Your odds of getting imagery accepted will be highest if you go for the more obscure, harder-to-document cloud types and if you can provide details on the geographic and meteorological context of your image

Prof Stephen Hawking Has More Bad News For Humanity: We’re About To Wipe Ourselves Out - he said that our rush to understand and improve life through science and technology could be humanity’s undoing. He has previously suggested that colonising other planets will be the only way that the human race can survive, but he warns that we may lose Earth to some kind of major disaster before we have a chance to properly do so. Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years.
By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race. "However, we will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period.” It’s not the first time the professor has mongered doom; he has previously warned that AI robots will wipe us out unless we ban them first and that hostile aliens are about to destroy us.

The 21st century could be humanity’s last, according a leading scientific thinker - and what replaces us could be very strange indeed. Seth Shostak of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California argues that three big scientific advances are on the cusp of changing humans forever.
‘We can eventually produce offspring that are as different from us as dogs are from gray wolves. ‘The haphazard, bottom-up alterations to our species occasioned by Darwinian evolution will yield to the directed improvements of future engineers. Shostak believes that three technologies - genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and space travel - are about to change the human race forever.
Technologies such as ‘designer babies’ and computers which connect directly to human minds will soon change us profoundly. ‘The development of general artificial intelligence will surely be the most dramatic driver of change, because it is less a matter of improving our descendants than replacing them with our engineered successors. ‘Perhaps we can promulgate our culture and ourselves by putting chips in our brains or simply uploading our brains to the machines. But you can be sure that the result will not be Homo sapiens as we’ve known him for 50 thousand years.
He also says that genetically engineered humans will not just be possible - but inevitable. ‘The relentless interplay of science and technology ensures that genomic knowledge will spawn a growing number of applications. Curing disease is one of these, and it’s obviously desirable. But our efforts won’t be limited to merely fixing ourselves; we’ll also opt for improvement. You may hesitate to endorse designer babies, but hot-rodding our children is as much on the horizon as the morning sun.

El Nino rain spurring growth of deadly mushrooms - El Nino rain is helping to alleviate California's drought, but it's also spurring the growth of mushrooms that can be deadly to pets.


COLORFUL CLOUDS IN THE STRATOSPHERE - Clouds in the stratosphere are very rare. Yet for the past week they have been seen every day. These fantasticaly-colored clouds are floating more than 80,000 feet above Earth's surface. Normally, the thin air up there is crystal clear. Not this week. Water molecules are crystalizing in the lower stratosphere and the resulting ice crystals are assembling into polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs).
Also known as "nacreous" clouds, PSCs form in the lower stratosphere when temperatures drop to a staggeringly-cold -85ºC. High-altitude sunlight shining through tiny ice particles ~10µm wide produce bright iridescent colors by diffraction and interference. Because these clouds require extreme cold, they are most often seen around the Arctic Circle. In recent days, however, they have been spotted as far south as the UK. Indeed, a "stratospheric cloud event" appears to be underway.

It’s possible that there is a “mirror universe” where time moves backwards, say scientists. Although we experience time in one direction—we all get older, we have records of the past but not the future—there’s nothing in the laws of physics that insists time must move forward. In trying to solve the puzzle of why time moves in a certain direction, many physicists have settled on entropy, the level of molecular disorder in a system, which continually increases. But two separate groups of prominent physicists are working on models that examine the initial conditions that might have created the arrow of time, and both seem to show time moving in two different directions. When the Big Bang created our universe, these physicists believe it also created an inverse mirror universe where time moves in the opposite direction.


Why hasn't the mystery of Gulf War Syndrome been solved? - The term Gulf War Syndrome first hit the headlines after US and British soldiers reported unusual symptoms on their return home. The two governments set up disease registers, with more than 100,000 veterans being assessed, but these failed to find a pattern to symptoms which could indicate a new condition.
A study in 2009 found Gulf veterans were two to three times more likely to report 53 different symptoms, including chronic fatigue and nerve pain, compared with soldiers deployed to Bosnia. None of the symptoms were unique to the Gulf War, but they were experienced in far higher numbers. "They're known as medically unexplained physical symptoms...there is no obvious physical problem causing it."
One popular theory was that soldiers had become ill after exposure to depleted uranium in tank shells. However, troops not exposed to this were just as likely to suffer chronic health problems later on. The same was true of those exposed to fumes from burning oil wells. In fact, no link could be found between veteran ill health and specific jobs or tasks. Pesticides have also been suggested as a cause, perhaps affecting the nervous system. But detailed studies found no evidence of damage that could explain this.

Healthy People Who Were Vaccinated for the Flu Continue Dying - More deaths among otherwise healthy people are being reported all across the United States among children and adults who received this year’s flu vaccination. The flu shot causes Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and is not very effective in preventing the flu. He also explains that the CDC does not follow the law for vaccines in requiring long-term safety testing for the influenza vaccine like they do with other vaccines, as it is impossible to test a vaccine that changes every year.
So the flu vaccine is basically an experimental vaccine that they want to give out to 300 million people every year. There are also no studies showing the safety of giving the flu vaccine to the same person every single year. However, Dr. Geier points out that the CDC is in the business of distributing flu vaccines, because they represent 300 million doses per year, whereas all the childhood vaccines together only number 20 million.
He goes on to explain that flu is “the wrong thing to vaccinate against” because you have to keep re- vaccinating against it every year, unlike childhood infectious diseases, such as smallpox, that are only vaccinated for once.

One person has died and 12 others are hospitalized after eating packaged salads linked to a listeria outbreak. The salads were sold under a variety of names and came from a processing facility in Springfield, Ohio, run by Dole. The dozen who were hospitalized come from six states - Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Indiana. The fatality was in Michigan. Reports about these infections started coming in July.
The CDC is warning people not to eat salads packaged under the name Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar and President's Choice. The salads are sold to restaurants as well. If you have one of these packaged salads in your fridge look for the letter "A" at the beginning of the manufacturing code. Those are the ones you want to throw away.

6 Things A Food Poisoning Expert Refuses To Eat - Pre-cut and pre-washed produce. Uncooked sprouts. Red meat cooked medium rare, especially ground meat. Raw oysters and other raw shellfish. Raw or undercooked eggs. Unpasteurized (“raw”) milk and unpasteurized packaged juices.
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Friday, January 15, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

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

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 1/14/16 -

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Complete Dates and Times for Each Meteor Shower in 2016.

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

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

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

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 1/13/16 -

1/12/15 -


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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

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

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 1/11/16 -

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

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

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 1/10/16 -

1/9/15 -

1/8/15 -

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


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

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


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


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


NASA's Armageddon Office Aims To Protect Us From Doomsday Asteroids - Space agency unveils new Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
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