Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Every morning we are born again. It is what we do today that matters most.**
Guatama Buddha


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.0 SOUTH OF KERMADEC ISLANDS

Yesterday, 6/23/15 -
6.5 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.7 TONGA

6/22/15 -
5.0 ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE

6/21/15 -
6.0 FIJI REGION

6/20/15 -
6.5 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.5 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.4 OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE
6.5 OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE

6/19/15 -
None 5.0 or larger.

6/18/15 -
5.0 MARIANA ISLANDS REGION
5.2 VANUATU
5.0 RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS
5.3 HALMAHERA, INDONESIA

6/17/15 -
6.9 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE

6/16/15 -
5.9 FIJI REGION

6/15/15 -
5.7 KEPULAUAN SANGIHE, INDONESIA
5.0 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
5.8 EAST TIMOR REGION

6/14/15 -
5.1 SOLOMON ISLANDS

Japan - An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 struck deep under the seabed off the coast of Japan south of Tokyo on Tuesday. The quake's epicenter was near the Ogasawara islands south of Tokyo. A tsunami warning had not been issued. The quake's preliminary depth was put at 480 km (300 miles) below the seabed. There were no immediate reports of damage.
Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas, and a magnitude 8.5 quake struck the area around the chain of islands that run south from Tokyo last month. Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

TROPICAL STORMS -

No current tropical storms.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Pakistan heatwave - Death toll crosses 700 people in Sindh. The death toll from an ongoing heatwave in Pakistan's southern Sindh province has passed 700, as mortuaries reached capacity. At least 744 people died in Karachi and 38 in other areas. Officials have been criticised for not doing enough to tackle the crisis.
On Tuesday as temperatures reached 45C (113F), Pakistan's PM called for emergency measures and the army was deploying to help set up heat stroke centres. There is anger among local residents at the authorities because power cuts have restricted the use of air-conditioning units and fans. Matters have been made worse by the widespread abstention from water during daylight hours during the fasting month of Ramadan. 612 people had died in the main government-run hospitals in the city of Karachi during the past four days. Another 80 are reported to have died in private hospitals.
Thousands of people are being treated in the Sindh province, and some of them are in serious condition. Many of the victims are elderly people from low-income families. Hot weather is not unusual during summer months in Pakistan, but prolonged power cuts seem to have made matters worse. Sporadic angry protests have taken place in parts of Karachi, with some people blaming the government and Karachi's main power utility, K-Electric, for failing to avoid deaths.
There's anger on the street about the government's slow response to the crisis. The provincial PPP government appeared aloof and unresponsive. The federal government of Prime Minister woke up to the tragic deaths on the third day. While politicians blamed each other for not doing enough, the army - always keen to seize opportunities to demonstrate its soft power - sprang into action to set up "heat stroke relief camps".
By the fourth day, a campaign was launched to reiterate steps people should take in sizzling temperatures. Many in Karachi feel that had the authorities moved proactively many lives could have been saved. The hope now is that with the expected pre-monsoon rains later in the week the weather will improve. That will certainly provide much-needed respite to millions affected by the heatwave, but it won't change the chronic underlying problems this ever-growing city of 20 million faces - a dysfunctional infrastructure and poor governance.
The body's normal core temperature is 37-38C. If it heats up to 39-40C, the brain tells the muscles to slow down and fatigue sets in. At 40-41C heat exhaustion is likely - and above 41C the body starts to shut down. Chemical processes start to be affected, the cells inside the body deteriorate and there is a risk of multiple organ failure. The body cannot even sweat at this point because blood flow to the skin stops, making it feel cold and clammy. Heatstroke - which can occur at any temperature over 40C - requires professional medical help and if not treated immediately, chances of survival can be slim.
The all-time highest temperature reached in Karachi is 47C, recorded in 1979. Last month, nearly 1,700 people died in a heatwave in neighbouring India.(map and photos at link)
UPDATE - Heat Wave Death Toll Rises to 2000 in Pakistan's Financial Hub - A heat wave in Pakistan's financial hub of Karachi and surrounding areas has killed about 2,000 people in the past two weeks, THE MOST IN RECENT MEMORY. Temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) have claimed about 1,500 lives in Karachi and 500 in other parts of southern Sindh province.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.**
Tennessee Williams


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.1 SOLOMON ISLANDS

Yesterday, 6/13/15 -
5.0 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE
5.6 NEAR N COAST OF NEW GUINEA, PNG.
5.1 MINDORO, PHILIPPINES
5.1 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.0 SUMBAWA REGION, INDONESIA
5.3 ALASKA PENINSULA

6/12/15 -
5.1 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
5.2 SABAH, MALAYSIA
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
6.0 TONGA
5.0 TONGA
5.1 TONGA

6/11/15 -
5.1 MARIANA ISLANDS REGION
5.0 SOUTHEAST OF RYUKYU ISLANDS
5.4 GALAPAGOS ISLANDS REGION
5.4 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.5 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.6 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6/10/15 -
5.0 SUMBA REGION, INDONESIA
5.0 HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION
5.0 NEW IRELAND REGION, P.N.G.
6.1 ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE
5.1 FIJI REGION
5.6 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

6/9/15 -
5.4 CRETE, GREECE
5.1 GREENLAND SEA
5.3 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE
5.5 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE
5.3 GREECE
5.6 PACIFIC-ANTARCTIC RIDGE

6/8/15 -
5.4 TONGA
5.0 MARIANA ISLANDS REGION
5.0 GALAPAGOS ISLANDS REGION
5.4 CARLSBERG RIDGE
6.0 HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION

6/7/15 -
5.2 GALAPAGOS ISLANDS REGION
5.0 GUAM REGION

6/6/15 -
5.2 PAPUA, INDONESIA

6/5/15 -
5.5 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE
5.6 MID-INDIAN RIDGE
5.1 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION

6/4/15 -
6.0 SABAH, MALAYSIA
5.0 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.1 REYKJANES RIDGE
5.0 GUAM REGION

6/3/15 -
5.0 HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION
5.0 FIJI REGION
5.1 FIJI REGION
5.0 AUCKLAND ISLANDS, N.Z. REGION

6/2/15 -
5.0 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.0 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.1 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
5.0 OFFSHORE O'HIGGINS, CHILE
5.0 NORTHERN PERU
5.1 NORWEGIAN SEA
5.0 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE

6/1/15 -
5.1 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.
5.9 OFF COAST OF OREGON
5.0 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.1 NORTH OF SVALBARD
5.3 OFF COAST OF OREGON
5.0 BANDA SEA
5.7 OFF COAST OF OREGON

5/31/15 -
None 5.0 or larger.

5/30/15 -
5.3 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.4 TAJIKISTAN
6.2 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.9 TONGA
5.1 BIAK REGION, INDONESIA
7.8 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.0 EAST OF KURIL ISLANDS
5.3 NEAR COAST OF ECUADOR

5/29/15 -
5.8 SOUTHEAST INDIAN RIDGE
6.8 ALASKA PENINSULA
5.2 ATACAMA, CHILE

A series of moderately powerful earthquakes struck off the coast of Oregon overnight last Sunday and on Monday, but did not trigger tsunamis. On Monday, a magnitude 6.0 quake struck off the coast of the West Coast state at a depth of 8.1 miles (13 km) at about 1:11 p.m. local time. Earlier, a 5.5-magnitude earthquake hit at 3:46 a.m. at a depth of 9.3 miles (15 km). A magnitude 5.8 temblor occurred just before midnight on Sunday at sea 280 miles (450 km) west of Yachats at a depth of 6 miles (10 km).

A Strange, Remarkable Quake Hit Wyoming 2 year ago - An earthquake struck Wyoming two years ago that made little sense, scientifically speaking — but experts seem closer to solving the mystery.
Called the Wind River Earthquake, it hit with 4.7 magnitude in an area that rarely sees such seismic power. Hardly surprising, since the Wind River area has little tectonic-plate movement that would normally trigger such an earthquake. But a new study says the quake may not have originated with tectonic plates grinding against each other at all. The Wind River Earthquake may have started deeper, in "the Earth’s hotter and more viscous mantle." Such a quake might be caused by crust falling into the mantle, which lies between the Earth's higher crust and deeper core.
These deeper quakes remain "a highly controversial topic," but this one "occurred well within the mantle, and likely over 20 km [12.4 miles] deeper than the base of the crust." If true, the finding makes the Wind River Earthquake one of the three deepest ever recorded in the area.
Still, some things don't fit: While such deep quakes can occur in volcanic regions, when fluid or magma flows in the Earth's mantle, they usually affect a smaller area; the Wind River quake ruptured nearly 11 million square feet. And Wind River is noticeably far from the nearest volcanic region. So what's up? Perhaps the mantle was so brittle that it failed and triggered the quake, say researchers, who admit that the causes remain debatable.

TSUNAMI / FREAK WAVES / ABNORMAL TIDES -

California Faces Tsunami Threat From A 'Complicated Logjam' Of Faults Off West Coast. New research into the little known, fault-riddled, undersea landscape off of Southern California and northern Baja California has revealed more worrisome details about a tectonic train wreck in the Earth’s crust with the potential for magnitude 7.9 to 8.0 earthquakes.
Despite being criticized for its shaky science, the release of “San Andreas” - starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a rescue-chopper pilot trying to save his family - has triggered a scientific debate over whether the catastrophe shown in the movie could happen in real life. The disaster flick shows a massive earthquake caused by a shift in the San Andreas Fault, which forms the tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate.
In a new study, scientists warn that while the extent of damage shown in the movie is unlikely to happen in real life, there are several long faults with the potential for tsunami-generating earthquakes within 90 miles of the U.S. West Coast. “There are many active faults offshore southern California which could produce greater then magnitude 7 quakes and tsunamis.” However, unlike the movie, such disasters would probably be caused by the little known California Continental Borderland - an undersea landscape off the coast of Southern California and northern Baja California.
The surveys of the region show a “complicated logjam” of faults produced by the movement of the Pacific Plate, which is sliding northwest relative to the North American Plate. Two of the largest faults in this logjam are the Santa Cruz-Catalina Ridge Fault and the Ferrelo Fault. “What they were searching for are signs, like those seen along the San Andreas, that indicate how much the faults have slipped over time and whether some of that slippage caused some of the seafloor to thrust upwards.”
While analyzing this data, the researchers found that the blocks of crust were being subjected to vertical movements in the region because of a phenomenon known as “transpression,” which happens when faults slip horizontally relative to each other. Such a process, believed to be responsible for the creation of the Transverse Ranges in southern California, has the potential to cause the seafloor to rise and send a tsunami-generating pulse toward the shore.
However, the results of such a process would still not be as dramatic as shown in the movie. “It's not that it's not a risk. It's just not as big a risk as the ones we see from the big subduction zones.” Subduction zones are regions where one tectonic plate is being forced under another. Such a zone is not present off the coast of southern California.
But, even if the resulting tsunami generates one to two-meter surges, it could have a huge impact on ports in the region. “We’ve got high resolution maps of the surface of Mars. Yet we still don’t have decent bathymetry for our own backyard.”

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Eastern Pacific -
Slow-moving hurricane Carlos weakened a little but expected to restrengthen...located about 80 mi (130 km) SSW of Acapulco, Mexico.
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Heavy Rain Threat for Texas/Louisiana; Hurricane Carlos a Threat to Mexico - An area of low pressure over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula formed Saturday morning, and has the potential to become a tropical depression over the Gulf of Mexico on Monday. The disturbance, designated Invest 91L by NHC on Saturday morning, was bringing a large area of intense thunderstorms to the Western Caribbean on Saturday afternoon, as seen on satellite images.
Strong easterly winds of 29 mph, gusting to 43 mph, were observed at the Yucatan Basin buoy on Saturday morning. The heavy thunderstorm activity will push across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and into the southern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, then move north to northwest towards Texas and Louisiana on Monday. Ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are warm enough to support a tropical storm, and the atmosphere is very moist. The disturbance will push northwestwards over Texas by Tuesday, but it is uncertain how much rain Texas and Louisiana might get from the storm.

Hurricane Carlos a heavy rain threat for Mexico - Tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches are up for the Southwest coast of Mexico, as Hurricane Carlos continues its slow intensification process. Carlos became a hurricane about 140 miles south of Acapulco, Mexico, at 11am EDT June 13, marking the second earliest date that we've observed the Northeast Pacific's third hurricane of the year. The record is held by the third hurricane of 1956, which reached hurricane strength on June 12.
With very warm waters of 30°C (86°F) beneath it and wind shear a moderate 10 - 20 knots, Carlos is likely to continue a slow intensification process through Monday. On Monday and Tuesday, decreasing ocean temperatures, increasing interaction with land, and drier air will likely cause Carlos to weaken. Satellite loops and radar out of Acapulco shows that the outer spiral bands of Carlos have pushed onshore, but the storm's heaviest rains were just offshore on Saturday.
Acapulco recorded sustained winds of 26 mph, gusting to 39 mph, at noon EDT Saturday. The computer models are now more unified in showing Carlos coming closer to the Mexican coast, and Carlos represents a dangerous heavy rain threat to the coast. The Saturday run of the reliable European model showed Carlos making landfall near Manzanillo, Mexico on Tuesday morning; the Saturday run of the equally reliable GFS model showed a Tuesday evening landfall near Manzanillo. Heavy rains of 5 - 10 inches will likely affect portions of the Southwest Mexican coast Saturday through Wednesday, which will cause flash flooding and mudslides.

Boat With More Than 450 People Sinks in China’s Yangtze River - Rescue work was under way but strong winds and rain were hampering the search. A passenger ship carrying more than 450 people sank in the Yangtze River during a cyclone in southern China, and eight people have been rescued.
Further rescue work was under way but strong winds and rain were hampering the search. The boat was going from Nanjing to the southwestern city of Chongqing when it sank at about 9:28 p.m. Monday night in Hubei province. The captain and chief engineer, who were both rescued, said the ship sank quickly after being caught in a cyclone. The boat was carrying 405 Chinese passengers, five travel agency employees and 47 crew members.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Georgia flood - Tbilisi residents warned over zoo animals. Heavy flooding in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, has killed eight people and officials are warning residents to stay indoors to avoid animals that have escaped from a zoo. The missing animals include tigers, lions, bears and wolves. It is believed that a zookeeper is among the dead.
A hippopotamus was cornered in one of the city's main squares and subdued with a tranquiliser gun. Rescue workers are searching submerged homes to check for trapped residents. Dozens of people have been left homeless after their houses were damaged or destroyed. People have been told to stay indoors until the animals have been found. The Mayor said the situation was "very grave".
Other animals have been recaptured or killed though it is unclear how many are missing. Helicopters are now circling the city as part of a search and rescue operation. Tbilisi's vice-mayor estimated the preliminary damage at $10 million (£6.43m). (video and photos at link)

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Wildfire in drought-parched Northern California threatens small town - An out-of-control wildfire raging through a Northern California forest as the state battles a devastating drought has forced authorities to warn about 250 people to evacuate or prepare to leave their homes in a remote town, officials said on Friday.
The fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest follows an outbreak of lightning-sparked blazes in neighboring Oregon that prompted authorities to warn residents that drought and low mountain snowpack could lead to a destructive fire season. California's so-called Saddle Fire has charred at least 880 acres (360 hectares) since a lightning strike sparked it on Tuesday.
The flames are tearing through forest land, much of it in areas scorched by a 2004 blaze that has left dead and downed trees on the ground which could provide ample fuel for the latest wildfire. Also the area has many damaged trees with limbs at risk of falling. Firefighters have not managed to build any solid containment lines against the wildfire. "It makes it a really dangerous situation for our firefighters out in the field."
Authorities placed a handful of residents on the outskirts of Hyampom, a town about 200 miles (320 km) north of San Francisco, under mandatory evacuation orders on Wednesday and told the rest of the town of about 250 people to prepare to leave if flames get near. Those orders remain in place. One front of the fire is just a couple miles north of the town, and if it advances to the southeast the blaze could destroy homes. So far, the blaze has not destroyed any structures.
Nearly 200 firefighters are battling the fire, setting backfires to clear trees that could be consumed by the blaze and dropping flame retardant by helicopter. The wildfire is the first major Northern California blaze in an annual fire season that normally runs from June to September in that region. It also is the nation's highest-priority wildfire.
Since it began, the fire has advanced in the late afternoon hours when winds and heat increase and moisture levels drop. "We have lots of resources out there, we're feeling good about the people we have on the ground, we feel hopeful about being able to catch this in the next few days."

Huge Sections of California are Sinking Because of the Drought - California's epic statewide drought has lead to mandatory water restrictions and a new state pastime, droughtshaming, but less-discussed is the fact that the drought is SINKING THE STATE. The Center for Investigative Reporting looked into just how bad the sinking has gotten and found that there's not a lot being done to monitor the phenomenon at a statewide level, and equally little money being put toward studying it, despite the fact that it's causing infrastructural problems across California and will continue to do so.
CIR also found that key elements for studying the dangerously accelerated sinking of the state aren't accessible to scientists because "California allows agriculture businesses to keep crucial parts of their operations secret." The cause of the sinking is known, and it's happened in California before. Once, it was even as bad as geologists think it might be now. Back then, it took more than $1 billion just to repair some of the damage.
Subsidence is caused when water is pulled out of underground water aquifers in "unsustainable amounts." This usually happens during food production — as the water is pumped up to the surface, the ground beneath starts to lose what's holding it up, like a Capri Sun pouch relieved of its fruit-flavored contents. Pumping water from underground sources isn't new, but it's a practice that's been kicked into overdrive during the drought. (That's been the habit during previous droughts in California too.) "Groundwater now supplies about 60 percent of the state's water," says CIR, though they don't note the pre-drought percentage.
Even though subsidence is a real, known thing, and its causes are known too, there's apparently no state-level structure in place for scientists to monitor where this drought-related sinking is at its worst, how fast its happening, or anything much about it at all, really. "We don't know how bad it is because we're not looking everywhere," a scientist with the US Geological Survey says. The last time a thorough sinking survey was done was the 1970s.
What is known is some of the damage the sinking has already caused: a dam that's part of a larger canal system is sinking and will cost more than $60 million to fix; water wells for both public and private uses "are being bent and disfigured like crumpled drinking straws as the earth collapses around them"; a Fresno County elementary school is in the middle of a "miles- long sinkhole" that makes them vulnerable to floodwater; and two bridges over canals in the same county have sunk so low they are almost totally underwater. (They've sunken before in previous droughts, like giant drought monitors.)
Unfortunately, many agencies mentioned in the article, both state and private, are not in the habit of charting subsidence-related repairs, and so they can't really offer information toward calculating how much sinking is happening or what it's costing people.
Subsidence-watching has a history in California. Years of charting the phenomenon show that the sinking was at its worst in the 1960s. (Repairs to just some of the infrastructure that was damaged then cost about $1.3 billion, according to a California Water Foundation estimate.) The drastic sinking slowed in the 1970s — after the completion of a massive public works project to build a system of canals that would ferry water to these drier, agricultural climes from elsewhere in the state. Doing so meant that people could ease up on sucking the ground dry.
But startling damage has been done. Between 1925 and 1977, the earth in one tower 40 miles west of Fresno had fallen about 30 feet. There's a famous picture documenting where a farmer would have been standing in 1925 and where he was actually standing in 1977. A 2012 report looking at the San Joaquin Valley suggests that, at least in that area, rates of subsidence could be nearing 1960s peaks again. 2012 figures showed that in the area around one town, land was sinking as much as a foot a year. It hasn't been monitored since, but it's possible land could be sinking two feet a year — a new record.
Tens of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure repairs are required in the area because of the effects of the sinking, and it's not just there. " Vineyards in Sonoma and Napa counties, areas around Paso Robles and Santa Barbara, and agricultural regions encircling Los Angeles" have all shown signs of subsidence, though, as mentioned, it's not clear at what rate.
Last year, the state passed a law aimed at regulating groundwater use, but farmers don't have to comply until 2040. One scientist with the geological says that even if farmers stopped sucking water out of the ground today, the water levels are so low that the sinking would have effects for years at least, and maybe for decades. California is still sinking, and it's getting worse.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Art teaches nothing, except the significance of life.**
Michael Korda


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.1 SOUTHEAST INDIAN RIDGE
6.8 ALASKA PENINSULA
5.2 ATACAMA, CHILE

Yesterday, 5/28/15 -
None 5.0 or larger.

5/27/15 -
None 5.0 or larger.

5/26/15 -
5.6 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.6 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.4 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.7 BIAK REGION, INDONESIA
5.6 ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE

5/25/15 -
5.4 WESTERN INDIAN-ANTARCTIC RIDGE
5.3 SOUTHEAST OF EASTER ISLAND
5.1 SOUTH OF TONGA
5.2 SEA OF JAPAN
5.1 NEAR S. COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.3 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE

5/24/15 -
5.2 CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.7 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.4 TONGA
6.3 TONGA
6.4 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.0 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE

5/23/15 -
5.0 BANDA SEA
5.8 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.0 TARAPACA, CHILE
5.0 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.4 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.2 SOLOMON ISLANDS

5/22/15 -
6.8 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.2 SOLOMON ISLANDS
6.9 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.3 OFFSHORE TARAPACA, CHILE
5.1 NEAR S COAST OF PAPUA, INDONESIA
5.0 VANUATU
5.0 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
5.0 NEW GUINEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA

5/21/15 -
5.7 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.0 SOLOMON ISLANDS 5.0 TONGA

5/20/15 -
6.8 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS REGION
5.1 PERU-ECUADOR BORDER REGION
5.4 MOLUCCA SEA
5.5 TAJIKISTAN
6.0 TONGA

5/19/15 -
6.7 PACIFIC-ANTARCTIC RIDGE
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.9 VANUATU
5.1 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE

5/18/15 -
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 GUATEMALA
5.6 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 CARLSBERG RIDGE
5.8 MID-INDIAN RIDGE

5/17/15 -
5.5 EAST OF SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS
5.0 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.2 MARIANA ISLANDS REGION
5.2 OFF COAST OF PAKISTAN
5.5 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
5.0 LA RIOJA, ARGENTINA
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.

5/16/15 -
5.6 NEPAL
5.1 NORTHERN PERU

5/15/15 -
5.0 OFFSHORE GUATEMALA
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 NEAR COAST OF CENTRAL PERU
5.9 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.1 EAST OF NORTH ISLAND, N.Z.
5.3 SOUTH OF AFRICA
5.4 EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG., P.N.G.
5.3 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.2 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

7.0 magnitude quake strikes offshore Alaska - An earthquake, downgraded to 6.8, struck off the southwest coast of Alaska late on Thursday. The quake's epicenter was 104 km (64 miles) south-southeast of Ugashik and 61.7 km deep. The agency upgraded the temblor to a 7.0 after initially stating it was slightly weaker.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that based on its available data, no tsunami was expected. The USGS said the quake was unlikely to cause casualties and notable damage, and there were no immediate reports of such. The area near the quake, centered some 400 miles (643 km) southwest of Anchorage, is lightly populated.

Movie Review: 'San Andreas' is full of faults - In the film, the San Andreas Fault awakens, unleashing back-to-back jolts that leave a trail of misery from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Skyscrapers crumble. Fires erupt. The letters of the Hollywood Sign topple. Dwayne Johnson stars as a helicopter-rescue pilot trying to save his family after a massive earthquake that is more ridiculous than impressive, though the scale is enormous.

What Will Really Happen When San Andreas Unleashes the Big One? - A major earthquake will cause plenty of destruction along the West Coast, but it won’t look like it does in the movies where a giant earthquake will strike California this summer, the Hoover Dam will crumble and a massive tsunami will wash across the Golden Gate Bridge. That’s the scenario that will play out on the big screen in San Andreas.
The moviemakers consulted the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center before they started filming, but “they probably didn’t take much of my advice,” he says. While the actual threats from the Big One are pretty terrifying, they are nowhere near the devastation witnessed by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and his onscreen companions.
Even the largest of San Andreas' quakes can’t produce a massive tsunami like the one that swells over San Francisco in the movie. “The really big tsunamis, like the one that hit Japan, are caused by earthquakes that generate a major displacement of the ocean floor.” The San Andreas fault sits far inland, and the land slips past on either side. For that reason, a quake also can’t cause the fault to split apart into a giant chasm as it does in the film.
And despite the warnings of distraught movie scientists, even the largest of California's quakes won’t be felt by anything but seismometers on the East Coast. That doesn’t mean California is off the hook, though. While the movie may be more fantasy than reality, the Big One is coming, and it will produce plenty of destruction. “We think Southern California is locked and loaded, that the stresses have really built up, and when things start unleashing, they could unleash for years,” says a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist.
California sits at the border between two major tectonic plates — the Pacific plate, which is moving northwest, and the North Americanplate, which is sliding past it to the southeast. The two plates don’t just meet at a single line, and the state is crisscrossed with dozens of earthquake faults. The San Andreas is the most worrisome, because it generates the quakes that are really dangerous to California residents.
The northern San Andreas leveled San Francisco in 1906, but it’s been a lot longer since the southern part of the fault ruptured. On average, Southern California has seen big quakes every 110 to 140 years, based on records of past earthquakes and studies of earthquake faults. The last big quake near Los Angeles, a magnitude 7.9, struck Fort Tejon in 1857. Farther south, near Palm Springs, the fault hasn’t ruptured in over 300 years. “Eventually the fault will have to break."
While seismologists can’t predict exactly when that will happen, every few years they release a forecast for the likelihood of such an event. The latest forecast, published earlier this year by the USGS, estimates a 7 percent chance that a magnitude 8 quake will occur in California within the next 30 years. That’s about as big as earthquakes can get in California — a magnitude 8.3 quake might be possible if the entire San Andreas fault were to rupture from the Mexico border up to northern California. “We don’t think that’s likely.” Overall, such a quake would cause some $200 billion in damage, 50,000 injuries and 2,000 deaths, the researchers estimated. But “it’s not so much about dying in the earthquake. It’s about being miserable after the earthquake and people giving up on Southern California.” Everything a city relies on to function — water, electricity, sewage systems, telecommunications, roads — would be damaged and possibly not repaired for more than a year. Without functioning infrastructure, the local economy could easily collapse, and people would abandon Los Angeles.

VOLCANOES -
A volcano erupted on a small island in southern Japan on Friday, spewing black clouds of ash and rock towering into the sky and prompting authorities to tell residents to evacuate the island. No injuries were reported after Mount Shindake erupted about 10 a.m. (0100 GMT) in spectacular fashion, sending dense pyroclastic flows of rock and hot gases seaward.
The agency raised the volcano alert level for Kuchinoerabu island, where Shindake is located, to five, the highest on its scale. Shindake also erupted in August last year for the first time since 1980. A military helicopter was sent to survey the island and assess damage. The Coast Guard had dispatched a ship to help evacuate the residents.
"There was a really loud, 'dong' sound of an explosion, and then black smoke rose, darkening the sky. It smelled of sulfur." A few people on the island were still unaccounted for. One person, who lives in an area that is generally off-limits, was to be evacuated by boat as he could not travel safely to the shelter by land. "The skies here are blue, but smoke is still rising to the west."
Kuchinoerabu is 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of the main southern island of Kyushu. A heavily forested, mountainous island bordered mostly by rocky cliffsides, it is a national park supported mainly by tourism and fishing. Footage showed the mountain shrouded in light gray ash as the clouds from the eruption cleared. Kuchinoerabu usually can be reached only by a once-a-day ferry from Yakushima island, 12 kilometers (about 7 miles) to the east, which has an airport and a population of more than 13,000 people.
Japan, which sits atop the Pacific "Ring of Fire," has dozens of volcanoes and is frequently jolted by earthquakes. In March 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake rocked northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 18,500 people and ravaged much of the northern Pacific coast. Authorities recently closed part of a popular hot springs about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Tokyo because of fears Mount Hakone, which sits to the southeast of Mount Fuji, might erupt.
The eruption last September of another volcano, Mount Ontake in central Japan, killed 57 people. The eruption on Kuchinoerabu was stronger than Mount Ontake's. Since the 2011 disasters, "this sort of activity has continued. Probably the eruptions will continue."

TROPICAL STORMS -
* In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical storm Andres was located about 800 mi (1285 km) SSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Strengthening Andres expected to become a hurricane today.

Tropical Storm Andres Forms in the Northeast Pacific, is not a threat to Mexico. The Northeast Pacific's first named storm of 2015 is here. Tropical Storm Andres formed at 11 am EDT on Thursday, in the waters about 690 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico.
The first named storm of the Northeast Pacific hurricane season usually forms by June 10, so we are nearly two weeks ahead. According to the database of Eastern Pacific storms maintained by NOAA's Office for Coastal Management, the formation of a tropical storm in May in the Eastern Pacific is not uncommon, 33 named storms have formed in May in the 45 years since accurate satellite records began in 1970.
Sea surface temperatures are UNUSUALLY WARM in the region, at least 2°F (1.1°C) above average, thanks in large part to the intensifying El Niño event underway in the Eastern Pacific. Andres will likely be able to take advantage of these warm waters and become a hurricane this weekend, but the storm will stay well out to sea and not affect any land areas for at least the next five days.

NOAA predicts an above-average Eastern Pacific hurricane season: 18.5 named storms. Andres is the first salvo in what is likely to be a very busy Northeast Pacific hurricane season. NOAA's pre-season prediction for the Eastern Pacific hurricane season, issued on May 27, calls for 15 - 22 named storms, 7 - 12 hurricanes, 5 - 8 major hurricanes, and an ACE index 110% - 190% of the median.
The mid-point of these ranges gives us a forecast for 18.5 named storms, 9.5 hurricanes, and 6.5 major hurricanes, with an ACE index 150% of average. The 1981 - 2010 averages for the Eastern Pacific hurricane season are 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Hundreds seek safety from Texas floods, severe weather kills 16. Hundreds of people fled areas near Texas rivers that overflowed their banks on Thursday as the state reeled from severe storms this week that killed at least 17 people, flooded cities and set a RECORD FOR THE WETTEST MONTH.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch stretching from south of San Antonio to Dallas, through Oklahoma, where severe weather this week killed an additional six people, and into Kansas. Thunderstorms pelted large parts of the affected region. The city of Wharton, about 60 miles (100 km) southwest of Houston, issued a voluntary evacuation notice for about 300 homes along the Colorado River, where water was expected to rise through Friday.
The Brazos River flooded about 30 miles (50 km) west of Fort Worth and was expected to crest on Thursday evening. Hundreds left their homes on Wednesday as the waterway began breaching its banks. the average rainfall across the state was 7.54 inches (19 cm) in May, breaking the record of 6.66 inches (17 cm) set in June 2004, according to records that date to 1895. "It has been ridiculous."
The body of a man was found on the banks of the Blanco River in San Marcos, authorities said late on Thursday, bringing the number of fatalities to at least 17. The man, who was discovered among flood debris, was not yet identified. The body of a boy was recovered on Wednesday near San Marcos, Hays County officials said. The boy was thought to have been swept away in Blanco River floods that ripped houses off their foundations.
The new storms could hinder rescue workers searching for those washed away along the river. "We are not expecting another surge of the river, but it is going to shift debris piles." There was no damage estimate available for Texas, which has a $1.4 trillion-a-year economy and is the country's leading domestic source of energy.
Lots of photos and videos of Texas and Oklahoma flooding and damage.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**The sea has neither meaning nor pity.**
Anton Chekhov


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.4 EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG., P.N.G.
5.3 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.2 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

Yesterday, 5/14/15 -
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 BANDA SEA
5.4 OFF COAST OF PAKISTAN
5.1 OFFSHORE ATACAMA, CHILE
5.1 NEAR COAST OF NICARAGUA
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.3 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 KEPULAUAN BABAR, INDONESIA

5/13/15 -
5.0 NEPAL
5.2 EAST OF NORTH ISLAND, N.Z.
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 MOLUCCA SEA

5/12/15 -
5.2 NEPAL-INDIA BORDER REGION
6.8 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 SOUTH OF AFRICA
5.0 TONGA
5.0 NEPAL
5.3 NEPAL
5.2 NEPAL
5.1 NEPAL
5.0 NEPAL
5.0 NEPAL
6.2 NEPAL
5.5 NEPAL
5.4 KEPULAUAN BABAR, INDONESIA
5.6 NEPAL
7.3 NEPAL
5.1 SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA

5/11/15 -
5.3 MID-INDIAN RIDGE
5.3 MID-INDIAN RIDGE
5.0 HALMAHERA, INDONESIA
5.5 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.2 KURIL ISLANDS
5.1 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE
5.0 MOLUCCA SEA
5.1 FIJI REGION
5.0 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION

5/10/15 -
5.9 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.1 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.4 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.6 OFF COAST OF CHIAPAS, MEXICO

5/9/15 -
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.4 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.3 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.

5/8/15 -
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.9 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.7 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.

5/7/15 -
5.0 MENDOZA, ARGENTINA
5.4 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 TONGA REGION
5.0 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA
5.4 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 SOUTH OF MARIANA ISLANDS
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
7.1 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.

Death toll in Nepal's fresh earthquake reaches 83, over 1900 injured. Two weeks after more than 8,000 people died from a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal, a new quake measuring 7.3 struck on 12 May.
The second massive earthquake to hit Nepal in less than three weeks has killed 83 people, including 17 in India and one in Chinese Tibet, and injured nearly 2,000, with thousands staying outdoors as the country was jolted by dozens of aftershocks overnight. Officials put the number of wounded at 1,926.
Authorities said there was no news of the UH-1 helicopter of the US Marine Corps that went missing on Tuesday during a relief sortie. Six US Marines and two Nepal Army personnel were in the helicopter. With the fresh casualties, the total death toll in Nepal since the April 25 quake has crossed 8,200. The home ministry said 382 people had been reported as missing.
Aftershocks continued on Tuesday night and in the early hours of Wednesday, forcing people to stay outdoors. Eight houses were reportedly destroyed in the capital Kathmandu following Tuesday's quake. Nepal's National Seismological Centre said 33 aftershocks of more than 4- magnitude were recorded since 12:50pm on Tuesday. One of them, of 6.2-magnitude and with its epicenter at Dolakha, was recorded 21 minutes after the 7.3-magnitude quake. Another one, of 5.9-magnitude and with its epicenter at Dhading, occurred at 3.10am on Wednesday.
Fresh landslides after Tuesday's quake were reported from 38 districts and key highways were blocked in some areas. Authorities immediately launched operations to clear them. Tuesday’s quake exacerbated the devastation caused less than three weeks ago by the devastating 7.8- magnitude temblor. The fresh quake had its epicentre 68 km west of the town of Namche Bazaar near Mount Everest. Tremors were felt in India all the way from the border states of Bihar and West Bengal to Gujarat and Delhi.
Seventeen people were killed in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Indian home ministry said in a statement. Chinese media reported one person died in Tibet after rocks fell on a car. Tuesday’s quake flattened buildings in Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal that were already weakened by the April 25 earthquake. The fresh tremors, which lasted nearly a minute, came just as residents of Kathmandu and other districts were picking up the pieces after last month’s quake that displaced millions.
Mountaineers seeking to scale the world's tallest peak called off this year's Everest season after 18 people died when last month's quake triggered avalanches. There were no climbers or sherpa guides at the base camp when Tuesday’s quake struck. (video)

Nepal’s devastating earthquake underlines the risks of China’s Tibet dam-building binge. The earthquake that rattled Nepal on April 25, killing thousands, also cracked a huge hydroelectric dam and damaged many others. Things could have been much worse, though. The collapse of one of these could have let loose a deluge of water and debris downstream, a disquieting prospect given that more than 400 dams are being built or are slated for construction in the Himalayan valley.
This underscores the risks of China’s recent push to dam rivers in Tibet. Threatened by a lack of natural energy sources, the Chinese government has been on a dam-building bender. China now has more installed hydropower capacity than the next three runner-up countries combined. But the government has only just begun to harness the power created as runoff from Himalayan glaciers flows across Tibet, plunging around 3,000 meters. The biggest of these rivers, the Yarlung River (a.k.a. Yarlung Tsangpo, Yarlung Zangbo), cuts along the bottom third of the autonomous region before hanging a sharp right into India and Bangladesh, where it’s called the Brahmaputra. In November of 2014, the government unveiled Tibet’s first truly huge hydropower project — a 9.6 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) project spanning the Yarlung River’s middle reaches, called the Zangmu dam.
Unfortunately, like much of the rest of the Himalayan valley, the bedrock around the Yarlung River is unusually tectonically active. Worse, the weight of dammed reservoirs has been linked to more than 100 earthquakes, most notoriously, the 2008 earthquake in nearby Sichuan, which killed around 80,000. Why take the risk? The Chinese government says the hydropower projects will solve Tibet’s electricity shortages. But it’s not clear Tibetans actually need it.
The region surrounding the Yarlung River has too few people and too small an economy to require all that electricity, a geologist and chief engineer at the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau says. The Zangmu dam will provide 2.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year. That’s around 80% of what Tibet consumes in total — and four more dams are in the works for other sites along the Yarlung River.
Mining companies probably need that electricity more than nomadic herders. Among Tibet’s bounty of natural resources, a significant share of its gold and copper mines sit within convenient reach of current or planned Yarlung River hydropower stations. Other likely beneficiaries of Himalayan wattage are energy-strapped Chinese provinces to the east. Though Tibet has less than 0.25% of China’s population, it holds around three- tenths of its water power resources.
The government has long planned to turn Tibet into a base for the “West-East Electricity Transmission Project,” shunting energy from China’s resource-rich western regions to the coastal provinces, which are far more industrialized yet also resource-scarce. This hints at ugly odds behind China’s dam-building frenzy in Tibet. A single earthquake, let alone dam collapse, could devastate many in Tibet. Unfortunately for them, the ultimate winners of this cheap-power gamble will be too far away to feel it.

VOLCANOES -
Washington - A tunnel dug to help drain a lake whose natural outlet was blocked when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 is narrowing. Experts say if it fails, Interstate 5 in Washington state could be inundated.
The Spirit Lake Tunnel was built after the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, when ash and debris blocked the lake's natral outlet into a local creek. When lake levels began to rise, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bored a 1.6-mile tunnel through bedrock to provide Spirit Lake a new outlet.
The tunnel opened in 1985. Last fall and spring, inspections found that the tunnel floor was rising. Geologists say shifting rock formations under the surface are to blame.
"The bottom of the tunnel is actually pushing up into the tunnel and deforming the shape." In October 2013, the tunnel had an opening of eight feet, six inches. One year later, the tunnel was constricted to seven feet, one inch. In April of 2015, the uplift reduced the opening to six feet, eight inches.
"That was a pretty gross and significant movement that I had not seen in the 30 years I've been inspecting the tunnel." If the tunnel were to collapse, the lake could fill up and overflow, causing a catastrophe. In a recent report, the U.S. Army Corps wrote that "this worst case possibility would destroy all transportation routes" to the west of the lake, in southern Washington along the Cowlitz Valley, including Interstate-5 and the main North- South rail lines.
The tunnel still has a ways to go before it can no longer drain the lake. "I don't think that is imminent. We have time." The Army Corp of Engineers, which inspects and maintains the tunnel for the U.S. Forest Service, is now working on designs to fix the problem. It hopes to make emergency repairs to the tunnel by later this year. So far, there is no price tag on the fix.
Two Washington senators and a congresswoman have raised serious concerns about the problem. "Complete failure of this tunnel in the shadow of Mount St. Helens could be catastrophic to Washington state on multiple levels." (video)

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Western Pacific -
Typhoon Dolphin is located approximately 135 nm east of Andersen AFB.
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Tropical Storm Ana Starts Hurricane Season Early - Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t start officially until June 1, but this year we’ve already seen our first named storm. Tropical storm Ana spent this weekend off the southeast coast, transitioning from a cluster of thunderstorms into a tropical system late on Friday night.
Ana moved onshore just northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, at 6 a.m. Sunday, with 45 mph sustained winds. She dropped 2 to 7 inches of rainfall near the South Carolina – North Carolina border, and created some coastal erosion. Overall, an unremarkable storm, except for how early in the year she developed.
NASA scientists estimate that a tropical system, strong enough to get a name, occurs this early in the year only once or twice every 100 years. Ana was the second-earliest tropical storm or hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., behind an unnamed storm in February of 1952.
All this drama comes at a time in history when the U.S. has been in a hurricane drought, of sorts. Over the past nine years there have been 59 hurricanes in the Atlantic. But during that time, no hurricanes of Category 3 or higher have hit the U.S. coastline. Such a string of lucky years is likely to happen only once in 177 years, according to a new NASA study.
Storms weaker than Category 3 can still be dangerous. Sandy in 2012, Irene in 2011, and Ike in 2008, together caused over $100 billion of damage. As for this upcoming hurricane season, the official predictions haven’t been released yet. But statistical analysis suggests that, for any given year, there is a 40 percent chance of a Category 3 or higher hurricane landing across the U.S. coastline.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

New Zealand - Evacuations after heavy rain, floods and slips in Wellington region. The Wellington region was battered on Thursday with torrential rain that caused slips, travel disruptions and left one person dead.
An elderly man was found dead in floodwaters after torrential rain brought chaos to the Wellington region. Police discovered the body of the 80-year-old man near Sladden Park, in Bracken St, Petone. More heavy rain and traffic disruptions are expected on Friday after the deluge that left homes flooded, roads turned to rivers, and trains cancelled. Thousands of commuters were stranded in Wellington, once again highlighting the fragility of the road network.
The region was hit by a deluge of rain overnight causing slips and flooding, with 117.4mm falling in Paraparaumu and 96mm in Lower Hutt in the last 24 hours. Residents are being advised by Civil Defence to stay out of floodwaters because of potential sewage contamination and electrical danger.
All commuter train services across the Wellington region have been cancelled until Friday afternoon at the earliest. Schools, businesses and homeowners have all been affected, with 18 homes evacuated. (video)

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Texas Removed From Worst Category of U.S. Drought Monitor For First Time Since 2012. Just one year ago, more than 20 percent of Texas was labeled under the most extreme category of the U.S. Drought Monitor – "exceptional." But for the first time in nearly three years, the entire Lone Star State has been removed from that distinction.
In fact, more than three-fourths of Texas is no longer in any drought at all. That's big news for a state that has been ravaged by drought since 2010. During the most recent of its weekly assessments, however, the Drought Monitor found more than 2.7 million people are still affected by drought in Texas, so the state hasn't completely recovered from the long-term drought just yet. Sections of the state were still listed Thursday as abnormally dry or in moderate, severe or extreme drought.
Parts of the Houston metro area received more than 10 inches of rain this week. Corsicana last weekend was doused with 11 inches of rain. Wichita Falls has already picked up more rain this year - 15.79 inches through May 13 - than in all of 2011, their record driest year - 12.97 inches. At least one inch of rain has fallen four separate days this month, two more than occurred in all of 2011.
More rainfall is on the way for Texas in the coming days, and that should continue to shrink the area that's still highlighted by the Drought Monitor. On the other hand, additional rainfall could actually be bad news for parts of the state that have already seen dangerous flooding, which may cause water to rise over roadways and into homes.

Australia - Record Queensland drought could get worse with El Nino. Drought has been declared in more than 80 per cent of Queensland, with fears El Nino will only make things worse.
Queensland is experiencing its MOST WIDESPREAD DROUGHT CONDITIONS ON RECORD, with 80.35% of the state drought-declared. During the past six months western and northern Queensland has generally seen below average rainfall. In the southeastern districts rainfall has actually been above average in some parts. However, the reason for drought declaration of so much of Queensland is that widespread healthy falls haven't been experienced since the back-to-back La Nina events finished in early 2012.
During the past 26 El Nino events, 17 have resulted in widespread Australian drought. Thankfully El Nino is not the only climate driver to affect Queensland weather in the coming months. During June and July there is actually a higher than usual chance of above average rain in southwestern Queensland. This is due to the presence of warmer than usual waters in the Indian Ocean off the Western Australian coastline. Northwest cloudbands drawing upon this moisture are likely to be more frequent in the coming months and could bring some decent rain.
Therefore, with drought in place and El Nino on the way it is likely to be a very hard season for Queenslanders, but hopefully enough rain will fall in coming months to get them through to the next wet season.

'This Could Be a Mess': An Apparent Drought in North Korea Brings Fear of Famine - A severe drought could bring North Korea to the brink of famine this summer, according to experts who keep close tabs on the Hermit Kingdom.
"If they get a lot of rain over the next two months, then they've dodged a bullet. If they don't get good rain, then this could be a mess." Satellite imagery showed alarmingly low reservoirs and dry lakebeds throughout the country's agricultural region. Even the lake next to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's vacation house appeared lower than usual.
They reviewed images dating from November 2012 to March 2014, so it is possible that rainfall has helped refill those water bodies since then — but it's not likely. A severe drought struck North Korea last year, and this past winter was also dry, leading to wildfires in recent months. Much of the precipitation North Korea sees in a given year comes during the wet season in June and July.
Without significant rainfall soon, North Korean farmers might not be able to grow enough food to feed the country's nearly 25 million people. The financial excesses of the country's elite are well documented, and Pyongyang lacks sufficient foreign currency reserves to make up for the shortfall. And while international aid has helped address the country's food shortages in the past, its distribution to the North Korean people depends on the country's paranoid government.
A report on the situation from United Press International cited South Korean media saying that North Korean officials had called for a "national mobilization" in response to the drought. But North Korea is ill-prepared to contend with an extended drought. He noted that, in addition to food shortages, low water levels could also lead to blackouts because of the country's dependence on hydroelectric dams.
"North Korea is a poor, repressive country with a dated infrastructure and opaque political culture. It would probably be very difficult for them to adapt to a severe climactic shock." Of course, it's impossible to provide a clear picture of what's happening in North Korea because of the regime's ironclad grip on information. But the country has a tragic, well- documented history with famine.
In the early 1990s, after the Soviet Union collapsed and ended its subsidies to the communist country, North Korea ran out of the fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides necessary to grow enough crops to feed its people. A deadly famine ensued and between 600,000 and 2.5 million people perished.
Few experts believe famine on that scale would hit North Korea again. News outlets have been unsuccessfully predicting another famine for the past few years, but harvests lately have been good, and black markets sanctioned by corrupt bureaucrats are now booming in the country and distributing food more efficiently than the overweening state. Still, in the twisted world of North Korea, Kim arguably has little incentive to work too hard to keep his people fed. "There's a line of thought that says, 'As long as he keeps the army in good shape and the city of Pyongyang in shape, the rest of the country can go to hell. If you're starving, the only thing you're interested in is getting food in your belly. There are no revolts during famines."

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

A Rare Mid-Year El Niño Event Is Strengthening - The robust El Niño event anticipated for more than a year is finally coming to fruition, according to the latest observations and forecasts. NOAA's latest monthly analysis, issued on Thursday morning, continues the El Niño Advisory already in effect and calls for a 90% chance of El Niño conditions persisting through the summer, with a greater-than-80% chance they will continue through the end of 2015.
These are the highest probabilities yet for the current event, and a sign of increased forecaster confidence - despite the fact that we're in northern spring, the very time when El Niño outlooks are most uncertain. Forecasters and computer models alike have been confounded by this event.
In a classic El Niño, the ocean and atmosphere are synchronized in a mutually reinforcing pattern that pushes warm sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) and thunderstorm activity along the equator eastward for thousands of miles, from Indonesia toward South America (see Figure 1). Sometimes the atmosphere doesn't respond to a "kick" from the ocean, and an embryonic El Niño fails to develop. This was the case last spring, when a powerful oceanic Kelvin wave (a broad, shallow, slow-moving impulse) pushed warm water east across the Pacific tropics.
Keying off this wave, many of the global models used in El Niño prediction called for a moderate or even strong El Niño by the fall of 2014. However, the normal east-to-west trade winds never reversed, which helped torpedo the needed ocean-atmosphere synchrony. The ocean tried again last fall with another Kelvin wave, but again the atmosphere failed to respond, and the SST warming disappeared after a few weeks.
This time, things appear to be different: SSTs have warmed for the last several months, and more recently, trade winds have weakened. As of Monday, the weekly-averaged SSTs over the four regions monitored for El Niño were all at least 1.0°C above average. If the values for all four regions can sustain this feat throughout the next month, it'll be the first time this has happened since November 1997, during the strongest El Niño event of the 20th century.
Just as significant, the persistently warmer-than-normal SSTs over the western tropical Pacific have now cooled, which helps support the reversal of trade winds so critical to El Niño. The current SST map now resembles a more textbook-like El Niño signature, and there is every indication that the ocean-atmosphere coupling will now continue to grow.
An event out of season - As far as the eastern tropical Pacific goes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. El Niño - "the Christ child" in Spanish - gets its name from its tendency to bring above-average SSTs to the coasts of Peru and Ecuador around Christmastime. The climatology of the eastern Pacific tends to support El Niño and La Niña development during the northern autumn, maximum strength in the winter, and decay in the spring.
The current event is thus bucking climatology as it continues into northern spring. The three-month departure from average in the Niño3.4 region reached the El Niño threshold of +0.5°C in Oct-Nov-Jan 2014-15, and it's hovered in the weak range (+0.5 to +1.0°C] ever since, with a value of +0.6°C for Feb-Mar-Apr 2015. Only 12 of the 65 prior years in the historical database of El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events have seen a value of at least +0.5°C during the Feb-Mar-Apr period.
Water temperatures in the Niño3.4 region are normally at their warmest in May, so the current warm anomaly is leading to especially toasty SSTs of around 29°C (84°F).
If this El Niño event does intensify, as models strongly suggest it will, it'll be one for the record books. There are no analogs in the database for a weak event in northern winter that becomes a stronger event by summer. Persisting into northern fall will also greatly raise the odds of this becoming a rare two- year event.
In every case since at least 1950 when El Niño conditions were present by Jul-Aug-Sep, the event continued into the start of the next calendar year. Two-year El Niños are more unusual than two-year La Niñas, but they do happen, as in 1968-1970 and 1986-1988.
Northern spring is an especially difficult time to predict El Niño evolution. Computer-model skill at predicting ENSO is at its lowest then, in part because of reduced east-west gradients in SSTs across the tropical Pacific, but also due to factors that have yet to be fully understood.
"The Spring Barrier is the climate forecaster’s equivalent of mayhem." Skill does begin to improve for forecasts produced in May, so we can begin placing more trust in the 2015-16 El Niño predictions from this point onward - although even model runs produced in August still miss about a quarter of the winter variability in ENSO.
How strong will it get? This week's Niño3.4 SST anomaly of +1.0°C is at the threshold of a moderate-strength event. Another 0.5°C would push the event into the strong range, which was last observed in late 2009 and early 2010. "We have had some pretty unusual (non-persistent) behavior of the ENSO-system in the last four years that was anticipated better than by flipping a coin, especially last year, but certainly not perfectly."
Because it's quite rare to have intensifying El Niño conditions at this time of year, it's difficult to glean a confident signal from past events on how El Niño might affect U.S. summer weather. The global effects of El Niño arise from a shifting of showers and thunderstorms into the central and eastern tropical Pacific, which causes a reverberating sequence of atmospheric waves that tend to enhance precipitation in some areas and reduce it in others. In midlatitudes, these relationships, called teleconnections, are usually strongest in the winter hemisphere; for example, Australia often falls into drought when El Niño is developing in Jun-Jul-Aug.
If a strong El Niño does develop and persists into northern winter, the likely U.S. impacts would be more clear-cut, including wetter-than- average conditions across the southern half of the country, from California through Texas to Florida. This month could be seen as a sneak preview of sorts, with soggy conditions prevalent across the central and southern Plains and two unusually-wet-for-May systems reaching southern California, one last weekend and another now on its way.
There is some hope for drought relief in the Golden State, given that the odds of an wetter-than- normal California rise sharply for the strongest El Niño events, but by no means would a wet winter be guaranteed. The strong El Niño of 1987-88 (which happened to be the second year of a two-year event) produced a drier-than-average winter from California to Washington.
Given that El Niño tends to suppress hurricane formation in the North Atlantic, the odds of a quiet season in that basin are growing by the month. However, a season with few storms doesn't necessarily translate into a low-impact year: the anemic 1992 season included the catastrophic Hurricane Andrew. And it's possible (though unlikely) to have a busy Atlantic hurricane season even during El Niño.
Right in the middle of the weak-to-moderate two-year El Niño event of 1968-70, the Atlantic produced its most active season in 36 years, with a total of 18 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and 5 major hurricanes - including the horrific Hurricane Camille.
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.**
Alexander Pope.


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.5 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 SOUTH OF MARIANA ISLANDS
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
7.2 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.

Yesterday, 5/6/15 -
5.1 VANUATU
5.0 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.4 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.7 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.2 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.4 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.

5/5/15 -
5.5 MID-INDIAN RIDGE
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.6 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.3 VANUATU
5.2 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.2 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.2 VANUATU
5.2 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.5 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.5 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.8 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
7.4 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.

5/4/15 -
5.4 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.7 BALLENY ISLANDS REGION
5.1 IRAN-PAKISTAN BORDER REGION
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 MOLUCCA SEA
5.6 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND

5/3/15 -
5.8 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.2 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.5 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.8 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.2 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

5/2/15 -
5.7 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.0 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.

5/1/15 -
5.2 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
6.8 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 SOUTH OF JAVA, INDONESIA
5.2 SOUTHEAST OF LOYALTY ISLANDS

4/30/15 -
6.7 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.8 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.0 ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE

4/29/15 -
5.4 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 OFF COAST OF CENTRAL AMERICA
5.1 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.0 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN

4/28/15 -
5.5 OAXACA, MEXICO
6.2 FIJI REGION
5.1 STATE OF CHUUK, MICRONESIA
5.3 NEAR COAST OF ECUADOR

4/27/15 -
5.2 INDIA-BANGLADESH BORDER REGION

4/26/15 -
5.6 NEAR COAST OF NORTHERN PERU
5.2 NEPAL
5.0 NEPAL
6.7 NEPAL
5.2 FIJI REGION

4/25/15 -
5.5 NEPAL-INDIA BORDER REGION
5.1 TAIWAN REGION
5.3 XIZANG-NEPAL BORDER REGION
5.2 NEW GUINEA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA
5.3 NORTH OF HALMAHERA, INDONESIA
5.0 NEPAL
5.2 NEPAL
5.1 XIZANG-NEPAL BORDER REGION
5.6 WESTERN XIZANG
5.0 NEPAL
5.4 NEPAL
5.1 NEPAL
5.0 NEPAL
5.3 NEPAL
5.0 XIZANG-NEPAL BORDER REGION
5.0 NEPAL
5.1 NEPAL
5.7 XIZANG-NEPAL BORDER REGION
6.7 NEPAL
5.3 NEPAL
5.3 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
7.8 NEPAL
5.1 GUAM REGION

4/24/15 -
6.1 QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS REGION
5.1 MOLUCCA SEA
6.0 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
5.1 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.4 OFF COAST OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
5.2 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.

4/23/15 -
5.1 RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS

4/22/15 -
6.3 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
5.0 SOUTHERN PERU
5.2 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND

Strong 7.2 Quake Rocks Papua New Guinea, Local Tsunami Possible. A powerful earthquake rattled Papua New Guinea on Thursday — the fourth strong quake to hit the South Pacific island nation in a week — prompting a tsunami warning for nearby coasts.
The 7.2-magnitude quake struck about 150 kilometers (94 miles) southwest of the town of Panguna on Bougainville Island at a depth of 22 kilometers (14 miles). The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves of up to 1 meter (3 feet) were possible within 300 kilometers (186 miles) of the epicenter on the coast of Papua New Guinea. There was no threat of a tsunami beyond that.
There were no immediate reports of damage. Because the epicenter was so far offshore, the chance of serious damage on land was less likely. "It's not a particularly strong earthquake in global terms, but it could still have generated a tsunami, so it's a bit too uncertain at this stage to be sure."
Thursday's quake was located in a different area of Papua New Guinea than the previous three temblors that rattled the region over the past week, and was therefore an unrelated event. Papua New Guinea sits on the Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.

Lots of earthquakes across California - is there a connection? The series of earthquakes across California aren't all connected, experts say.
It was an active seismic day in California, with small earthquakes rattling residents across Northern California and the Inland Empire on Wednesday morning. Earthquake experts said there’s no reason to think they’re connected. Even the three quakes in Riverside County were too far apart to all be linked. The first two, a magnitude-3.7 and -2.7 that struck shortly after midnight, both were traced back to the San Jacinto fault zone. But the third temblor, a magnitude-3.1 near Corona at 9:11 a.m., occurred in a different fault zone.
Scientists are still studying the details of the third earthquake, which occurred near the Elsinore and Whittier faults. As for the first two, it seemed like business as usual for the San Jacinto fault zone, a major network of faults in Southern California. "We see relatively small earthquakes [on the San Jacinto fault], but it's relatively active."
Hundreds of miles north, in California’s East Bay area, three small earthquakes shook the Concord area Wednesday morning. The first temblor, a magnitude-3.0, occurred at 7:01 a.m. Half an hour later, a magnitude-3.5 quake and a magnitude-2.6 quake hit within three minutes of each other. The three quakes were centered about two miles from Pleasant Hill, four miles from Walnut Creek and 51 miles from Sacramento.
Farther up the state, a 3.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Redding area at 11:30 a.m. The epicenter was about five miles from Shasta Lake and 149 miles from Sacramento.

Nepal quake - Officials were struggling to find 1,000 EU citizens who are unaccounted for in Nepal, six days after the 7.8 earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people. Most are thought to have been trekking in the Everest or remote Langtang regions. Many are hoped to be alive but isolated by the quake. The fate of thousands of Nepalese in remote communities is also unknown.
At Kathmandu's historic Durbar Square, soldiers and volunteers form human chains to remove the debris, brick by brick. The bricks come from historic buildings levelled by the earthquake. Many are very old and are being stored so that they can be used to rebuild these ancient sites. The soldiers are joined by aid workers - but also tourists.
Nearly 14,000 people were injured in the disaster. Relief and rescue teams have reached most areas but many people remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Twelve EU citizens are known to have died so far. Some of them were killed by avalanches, triggered by the quake, that struck base camp below Mount Everest.
Landslides and poor weather have hampered efforts to deliver aid to isolated districts. Fights have broken out with victims demanding evacuation being left unable to board helicopters. China is expected to send more aircraft, but still more will be needed - along with road vehicles to carry relief supplies. There has been growing anger at the government's response to the disaster, with a number of protests breaking out.
The tent cities which sprang up around Kathmandu in the days following the quake have almost gone as the fear of aftershocks subsides. The quake destroyed seed stocks for the mid-May rice- sowing season, as well as stone huts that were storing grain. If farmers miss this month's planting season, they will be unable to harvest rice - Nepal's staple food - until late 2016.

Europe's Sentinel-1a satellite has got its first good look at the aftermath of Saturday's big quake in Nepal. The radar spacecraft is able to sense ground movement by comparing before and after imagery acquired from orbit. Researchers can see how the fault ruptured east from the epicentre, and did not break the surface. This may indicate that not all the strain built up in the rocks prior to the earthquake was released in the magnitude-7.8 event and its subsequent aftershocks.

Nepal Earthquake videos -
Climbers engulfed in avalanche.
Whole mountain came to life.
Looking for survivors.
Moving debris stone by stone

VOLCANOES -
Wired' Underwater Volcano May Be Erupting Off Oregon - Axial Seamount, an undersea volcano located 300 miles (480 kilometers) off the coast of Oregon, appears to be erupting and may be spewing out lava about a mile beneath the sea. Researchers were alerted to the possible submarine eruption by large changes in the seafloor elevation and an increase in the number of tiny earthquakes on April 24.
"It's kind of like a balloon — as magma is going into the balloon, it's inflating, and it pushes the seafloor up. As more and more magma gets in, the pressure builds. Eventually, it reaches some critical pressure where [the seamount] can't hold it in anymore, and then it squirts out."
After the volcano erupts, the seafloor drops very rapidly, "like letting air out of a balloon." Last week, the center of the volcanic crater dropped by nearly 8 feet (2.4 m) over a period of 12 hours, and the number of tiny earthquakes increased from hundreds per day to thousands per day. On April 24, there were 8,000 earthquakes in one day. (The earthquakes are too small to cause any harm to coastal residents or to trigger a tsunami, the researchers noted.)
The seamount last erupted in April 2011.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Western Pacific -
Typhoon Noul was located approximately 809 nm east-southeast of Manila, Philippines.

Tropical depression 07w is located approximately 201 nm south-southeast of Pohnpei, Micronesia.
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National Hurricane Center says 70 percent chance of cyclone near southeast U.S. coast - A non-tropical low pressure system located about 220 miles south-southeast of the South Carolina-North Carolina border has a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours. "A subtropical or tropical cyclone could form later today or on Friday, and interests along the southeast coast of the United States should monitor the progress of this system."

Strengthening Typhoon Noul heads for Philippines, with possible stronger storm to follow - Typhoon Noul continues to slowly intensify as it moves on a course to make landfall in the northern Philippines on May 10. Meanwhile, a tropical depression has formed upstream from Typhoon Noul, as expected by some computer models.
The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts this system to become Typhoon Dolphin, and predicts it will intensify significantly in the coming days as it heads northwest. This storm may be a threat to Japan or the Philippines early next week. Typhoon Noul is intensifying in the Western Pacific Ocean, and appears to be headed for a collision with the northern Philippine island of Luzon this weekend as a compact but intense storm.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center, operated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force, has shifted the storm's projected forecast track to potentially make landfall in Luzon, before recurving to the northeast toward Japan early next week. Previous forecasts had shown that Noul would miss the Philippines entirely. As the world's most disaster-prone nation, however, it has endured everything from typhoons to volcanoes; this year, the Philippines lies in the path of what could be some particularly vicious storms that will be supercharged by unusually mild ocean waters. The overabundance of ocean heat content is in large part related to an El Niño event in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which has boosted ocean surface temperatures in parts of the tropical Pacific, and altered wind and weather patterns.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Afghanistan landslide buries remote village, killing 52. 97 houses collapsed in north-eastern Afghanistan after a huge landslide swept through a village in Khawahan district, Badakhshan province, near Afghanistan's border with Tajikistan. The affected area was not accessible by road due to heavy snow, seriously hampering rescue efforts. The region regularly suffers landslides when snow begins to melt in the spring.
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Friday, April 22, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?**
E. M. Forster


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
6.1 QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS REGION
5.1 MOLUCCA SEA
6.0 SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
5.1 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.4 OFF COAST OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
5.2 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.

Yesterday, 4/23/15 -
5.1 RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS

4/22/15 -
6.3 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
5.0 SOUTHERN PERU
5.2 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND

4/21/15 -
5.0 NEAR N COAST OF PAPUA, INDONESIA
5.4 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.4 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.3 CENTRAL PERU
5.0 KURIL ISLANDS
5.0 KURIL ISLANDS
5.1 NEPAL
5.1 FIJI REGION
5.1 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION

4/20/15 -
5.1 BALLENY ISLANDS REGION
5.7 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.9 TAIWAN REGION
5.5 TAIWAN REGION
5.2 TAIWAN
6.4 TAIWAN REGION

New Zealand - 'Buildings sway' as 'severe' 6.2 quake strikes top of South Island. Dozens of people have reported feeling a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which hit near Kaikoura in the South Island this afternoon. The quake struck at a depth of 50km, 35km south- east of St Arnaud, at 3.36pm. It was classified as "severe" by GeoNet, the highest intensity available.
More than 4500 "felt reports" have been recorded on GeoNet, however more than 90% of them listed the quake as "light". There could be aftershocks up to a magnitude 5 over the coming days or weeks. GNS received one report describing the intensity as "damaging" and more than 20 saying the intensity was "strong". Spark said its mobile phone network is congested following the quake, and that congestion is now affecting other parts of the country.
It felt like two quakes back to back, the first not so bad and the second felt like a "big jolt". The council building was evacuated but did not appear to be damaged. There were no reports of damage elsewhere, but people would be sent out to check. Southern Ambulance Communications said it received no call outs. Near the epicentre, a Department of Conservation worker said it was a "big ol' wobble and shudder", saying it was the worst he's felt since he moved to the region.
A Saint Arnaud resident described it as the most severe earthquake they had felt in 11 years living in the area. The woman described it as a "violent jolt" that lasted for around 40 seconds. A spokesperson for the Rainbow Ski Field, in the Saint Arnaud Range, said it was a "very scary earthquake! Mountain was roaring with rock falls." The ski field is assessing access roads for rock fall. Hanmer Springs Animal Park said the quake "freaked the animals out" and a few customers were preparing to run too. The park cares for ponies, donkeys, llamas, alpacas and more.
At the Alpine Lodge in St Arnaud the quake felt "very heavy". The lodge had a few glasses and bottles fall from a chiller but otherwise everything was ok and all guests are safe. A worker at the Kaikoura New World supermarket said produce had fallen off the store's shelves. The supermarket was evacuated as a precautionary measure but New World staff are now back in their building. (video at link)

More than 143 million people in the U. S. Lower 48 states, nearly half the population, now live on shaky ground, earthquake scientists say. That's because more people have moved into the quake-prone West Coast and some quake zones were recently expanded, according to researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The research didn't include Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, but scientists using older data estimated that nearly half of Americans — or 150 million people — live in earthquake regions. About 28 million people face the highest threat, mostly along the West Coast where the San Andrea Fault cuts through California and a huge undersea fault lurks off the Pacific Northwest.
The latest calculations by the USGS, Federal Emergency Management Agency and California Geological Survey were reported Wednesday. There have been a few previous attempts to figure out how many people live in quake-prone areas. A federal estimate two decades ago found that 75 million people in 39 states were at risk of shaking.
The USGS last year updated its national earthquake maps that increased the quake danger for one-third of the country. While the Pacific coast remains a seismic hotspot, other regions as the Rockies, Midwest, New England and parts of the Southeast also face an elevated risk. "The distribution of earthquake risk is much broader and wider beyond the West Coast."
The new work focused on the Lower 48 states because scientists don't yet have updated maps for the whole country. Researchers didn't take into account regions where small earthquakes have been caused by oil and gas drilling. If those were included, the number of people exposed to shaking would be higher.
The team also calculated potential economic losses from damaged buildings such as homes, hospitals, schools and fire stations. The average loss amounted to $4.5 billion with the greatest financial hit to California, Oregon and Washington. "We've always been told that we should be prepared. But this study puts some teeth into the recommendation."
Government scientists have been testing a West Coast seismic alert system designed to detect the initial shock waves from a large jolt, calculate the strength and give a few seconds of warning before the arrival of slower, damaging waves. Supporters say an early warning system would allow trains to stop, companies to shut off gas lines and people to duck under a table until the shaking stops. Only select scientists and companies currently receive the alerts.

VOLCANOES -
Thousands evacuated after volcano eruption in Chile - The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile has erupted for the first time in more than four decades, sending a plume of smoke and ash several kilometres high. Emergency services declared a red alert and about 1,500 people were evacuated from the nearby town of Ensenada as a precaution. Calbuco is near the tourist town of Puerto Varas, about 1,000km (625 miles) south of the capital Santiago.
Among Chile's most active volcanoes in the past, it last erupted in 1972. Authorities said no hot rocks or lava had been seen so far, only ash. The eruption came as a surprise. Chile's National Emergency Office ordered an evacuation in a 20km radius and flights over the volcano were suspended.
"There are a lot of people out in the streets, many heading to the gas stations to fill up." Chile has the second largest chain of volcanoes in the world after Indonesia, with around 500 that are potentially active. It is southern Chile's second volcano eruption in as many months. In March, the Villarrica volcano erupted in the early hours of the morning, spewing ash and lava into the sky.
Fears of a third eruption - Southern Chile covered in ash after volcano erupts twice. Southern Chile dug itself out from under a thick layer of gray ash Friday while keeping a wary eye on the Calbuco volcano after it spectacularly erupted for the first time in half a century.
The volcano, which unexpectedly burst into life with two eruptions Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, forcing 4,500 people to evacuate, caused alarm again early Friday when it emitted a large puff of smoke. The head of the National Geology and Mines Service said the volcano was still in "crisis phase," though initial warnings of a possible third eruption have not materialized so far.
The ash cloud meanwhile continued to drift, disrupting flights across a large swath of South America, including one plane from Sydney to Santiago that was forced to turn back after five hours. In Buenos Aires, on the other side of the continent, American Airlines, United, Delta and Air France all cancelled flights to and from Europe and the United States. Chilean authorities have declared a state of emergency, sent in the army and evacuated a 20-kilometer radius around Calbuco, which is located in Los Lagos, a region popular with tourists for its beautiful mountain landscapes dotted with volcanoes and lakes with black-sand beaches.
Scores of evacuated residents gathered at the police barricade outside the town of La Ensenada, anxious to check on their homes and feed their pets. On the other side of the security perimeter, the evacuation area was turned into a scattering of ghost towns blanketed with ash up to one meter (three feet) thick. In La Ensenada, a town of 1,500 people that was the first to be evacuated, workers used heavy trucks to plow the roads clear as a handful of residents ignored the evacuation order to shovel the ash and debris off their rooftops. The weight of the ash caused some roofs to collapse.
Authorities said that if the current conditions held, residents would be allowed to return home for a few hours in the afternoon to retrieve some belongings, after fleeing with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Ash particles spread over southern Uruguay and a broad belt across central Argentina, though the national weather services said they were at high altitude and did not impair visibility.
Experts cautioned that a third eruption could still follow. "We're still in what is considered the crisis phase," said the head of the National Geology and Mines Service. "We cannot rule out a new eruption."The situation remained "unpredictable." There have been no reports of injuries so far, but officials warned the ash could be harmful for people, animals, crops and infrastructure. Authorities handed out protective masks in affected towns in both Chile and Argentina. Officials have also warned of the risk of flooding from hot lava melting snow and ice high in the mountains.
The first eruption, which lasted about 90 minutes, spewed a giant mushroom cloud of ash into the sky, which turned hues of pink and yellow as the sun set over the area. Seven hours later, the volcano shot red and orange plumes of lava into the sky, as bluish-white bolts of lightning sliced through the billowing ash cloud. Until minutes before the first blast, volcano monitoring systems had picked up nothing.
"It was so silent, it didn't give any warning. The smoke just shot straight up into the sky and formed a giant mushroom. It was really impressive. It was a spectacular landscape." The volcano had last erupted in 1961 and showed light activity in 1972. The latest eruptions had opened up four new craters, giving Calbuco six in all.
It is the second eruption in Chile since March 3, when the Villarrica volcano emitted a brief but fiery burst of ash and lava. Chile has about 90 active volcanoes. The long, thin country has been hit by a series of natural disasters in recent months, from flooding in its usually arid north, home to the world's driest desert, to wildfires in its drought-hit southern forests.
Timelapse video of the eruption .

Magma intrusion is likely source of Columbia-Ecuador border quake swarms - The "seismic crisis" around the region of the Chiles and Cerro Negro de Mayasquer volcanoes near the Columbia-Ecuador border is likely caused by intruding magma, according to a report by the Servicio Geológico Colombiano. The intruding magma appears to be interacting with the regional tectonics to spawn micro-earthquakes, which at their peak of activity numbered thousands of micro-earthquakes each day.
Most of the earthquakes were less than magnitude 3, although the largest quake to date was magnitude 5.6 that took place in October 2014. When the earthquake swarms began in 2013, the Colombian Servicio Geológico Colombiano and the Ecuadoran Instituto Geofísico of the Escuela Politécnica Nacional collaborated to set up a monitoring system to observe the swarms and judge the risk of volcanic eruption for the surrounding population.
The largest perceived threat of eruption came in the fall of 2014, when the activity level was changed from yellow to orange, meaning a probable occurrence of eruption in days to weeks. Due to the occurrence of a magnitude 5.6 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, some houses in the area were damaged and local residents decided to sleep in tents to feel safe.
Data collected by the new monitoring stations suggest that most of the earthquakes in the area are of a type of volcano-tectonic quakes, which occur when the movement of magma - and the fluids and gases it releases - creates pressure changes in the rocks above. Based on the seismic activity in the area, the researchers infer that millions of cubic meters of magma have moved into the area deep under the Chile and Cerro Negro volcanoes. However, both volcanoes appear to have been dormant for at least 10,000 years, and the tectonic stress in the region is compressive — both of which may be holding the magma back from erupting to the surface.
So far, there have been no signs of ground swelling or outgassing at the surface, and the rate of earthquakes has slowed considerably this year from its peak of 7000 - 8000 micro-quakes per day in the fall of 2014.

Titanic Blob of Magma Found Beneath Yellowstone Supervolcano - A giant blob-shaped reservoir of searing-hot rock has been discovered far below the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park — one that could fill the Grand Canyon more than 11 times over, researchers say.
The discovery doesn't raise the risk of future eruptions at Yellowstone. However, a better understanding of the Yellowstone supervolcano's plumbing could shed light on any hazards it might pose. The newfound blob-shaped magma reservoir lies in the lower crust. The molten rock extends from about 12 to 28 miles (19 to 45 kilometers) deep, and measures about 30 miles (48 km) long northwest to southeast and 44 miles (70 km) long southwest to northeast. This magma reservoir is about 11,200 cubic miles (46,700 cubic km) in size.
Previous studies had identified an oddly shaped magma chamber closer to the surface of the Yellowstone supervolcano, one 2,500 cubic miles (10,420 cubic km) in size, enough to fill the Grand Canyon about 2.5 times. This chamber looks like a gigantic frying pan, with a "handle" rising to the northeast, measuring about 19 miles (30 km) long from northwest to southeast and 55 miles (90 km) long southwest to northeast. This chamber lies about 3 to 9 miles (5 to 14 km) beneath the surface of Yellowstone National Park.
Scientists think the "frying pan" magma chamber is filled with both melted rock, or magma, and hot crystals — a mixture similar to a syrupy, shaved-ice dessert. However, the shallow magma chamber discovered previously was too small to account for the amount of material ejected by past Yellowstone eruptions. Scientists also could not explain the very high levels of carbon dioxide escaping from the area.
Earlier studies also detected a mushroom-shaped plume of hot rock rising from the Earth's mantle underneath the magma chamber. This mantle plume surges upward from a depth of at least 440 miles (710 km) in the Earth's mantle, and some researchers suspect it originates 1,800 miles (2,900 km) deep near the Earth's core. The plume is roughly 50 miles (80 km) wide as it rises through the Earth's mantle, spreading out like a pancake after it hits the uppermost mantle, at a depth of about 40 miles (65 km).
Scientists said the newly found magma chamber connects the smaller reservoir above it to the mantle plume below it. "For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone."
Supervolcanoes are capable of eruptions surpassing anything ever recorded by humanity. There are roughly a dozen supervolcanoes on Earth today, and one of the largest encompasses Yellowstone National Park. The park is a caldera, or giant crater, that is about 40 by 25 miles (65 by 40 kilometers) in size. Each of three cataclysmic supervolcano eruptions at Yellowstone pelted much of North America with volcanic ash.
The Yellowstone supervolcano's last cataclysmic eruption took place about 640,000 years ago, although lava seeped onto the surface in the area as recently as 70,000 years ago. A supervolcano eruption today would be cataclysmic, but the chance for one at Yellowstone is maybe one in 700,000 every year.
The researchers emphasized that the Yellowstone supervolcano is no closer to erupting than before. "This finding does not change the volcano hazard evaluation of Yellowstone that has already been assessed. These findings do not tell us if a future eruption of Yellowstone is more or less likely."
By understanding how supervolcano plumbing works, scientists can now develop new models to better estimate the hazards they pose. "Our study opens up many new directions and future opportunities in volcano research. For example, it will be interesting to see if the existence of the lower crustal magma reservoir is a common feature for all the volcanic systems around the globe."

TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

House washed away in Australia storm - Video. Mobile phone footage shows a house being washed away by floodwater in Dungog in New South Wales during a fierce storm. The weather was expected to worsen before easing on Wednesday.
Australia storms - Heavy rain and strong winds have continued to batter New South Wales in Australia. The storm has caused millions of dollars worth of damage. Three people have died trapped in their home by floodwaters and three others are missing after their cars were washed away. A cruise ship that was stuck at sea during the storm, with thousands of people on board, has now docked in Sydney. The authorities there have urged people to avoid all unnecessary travel.
Some of the most powerful storms for years have pummelled New South Wales destroying homes, cutting power and downing trees. Described by the premier of New South Wales as "wreaking havoc", the storms brought the HIGHEST RAINFALL TOTAL SINCE RECORDS BEGAN in 1897, to Dungog, a town north of Sydney. Wind speeds topped 135 km/h during the storms.
Clean-up begins after storms lash New South Wales - Cyclonic winds and flooding have caused devastation in some areas of the state. A clean-up operation has begun in New South Wales in the wake of violent storms that battered the Australian state. Police have confirmed the deaths of four people. Three were killed in Dungog, where homes have been washed away by flooding.
An 86-year-old woman died in the Central Hunter region when her car was swept into floodwaters. Emergency services have declared 12 communities natural disaster areas. The fierce weather WAs expected to ease later on Thursday. All severe weather warnings have been cancelled across NSW. The storm has left some areas devastated, with roads flooded, homes swept away and power poles snapped.
Emergency Services said that it would be some time before the full cost of the disaster is known. "There are cells still active off the coast of New South Wales, and indeed the fact that the flood waters may well still increase, means that we won't know the entire cost of this particular disaster for many days to come." Som 190,000 homes in the state are still without power but state-owned supplier Ausgrid said that electricity had been restored to 30,000 properties.
During the days of stormy weather, parts of NSW experienced more than 30cm (one foot) of rainfall, wind gusts of more than 100km/h (60mph) and WAVES REACHING RECORD HEIGHTS of 15m (50ft). The debris of houses destroyed by cyclonic winds are seen on April 22, 2015 in Dungog, Australia. Earlier, rising river levels also threatened more than 200 homes in south-western districts of Sydney and forced residents to evacuate. The Insurance Council of Australia has said that it has received 19,500 claims, with losses estimated at US $100 million.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

Giant Waves Quickly Destroy Arctic Ocean Ice and Ecosystems - The biggest waves seen in northern sea ice show how this vital cover can be crushed much faster than expected. The chance encounter of a Norwegian research vessel with the LARGEST WAVES EVER RECORDED AMID FLOATING PACKS OF ARCTIC ICE shows how such rollers could reroute shipping, damage oil platforms and threaten coastal communities with erosion. Large waves can penetrate more deeply into ice cover and break it up faster and more completely than anyone had suspected.
It turned out that although the ice damped incoming waves, it also contributed to its own destruction. Ice near the outer edge of the pack absorbed some energy from arriving waves but also focused the remaining energy into pulses that could strike deeper into the pack, lifting it as the waves rolled beneath. The rise and fall strained ice to the breaking point. Once broken, the smaller ice chunks allowed the largest waves to pass almost unhindered and attack solid ice farther in. The ice went from blocking almost all the wave energy to none at all within just one hour. The process happened so fast, in fact, that they calculated waves were destroying the pack at a rate of over 16 kilometers of ice an hour.
Scientists had never imagined that Arctic waves could break up pack ice so quickly. Historically, the region’s extensive ice cover left no large expanses of open water needed by storms to whip up really big rollers. But climate change has brought milder winters, warmer sea temperatures and bigger storms, which create a vicious cycle that promises less sea ice and more wind and open water to generate ice-crushing waves.
The waves’ unexpected speed and ferocity makes them impossible to predict with current low- resolution computer models, based on ice observations that are typically updated only daily. That could spell disaster for mariners, oil companies and native communities who are unprepared for large waves or rely on sea ice to protect them. And that is to say nothing of wildlife like polar bears and walruses that rely on abundant sea ice to survive.
They do not expect the record waves of 2010 to stand for long. As the ice-breaking feedback loop accelerates in years to come, more and more towering waves are likely to batter the shrinking ice cap. For the Arctic Ocean, there are stormy times ahead.

Bees may get hooked on nicotine-linked pesticides - Bees may be getting hooked on nectar laced with widely used nicotine-related chemicals in pesticides they cannot even taste, in the same way humans are addicted to cigarettes, new research has found. Adding to evidence of potential harm from the chemicals, another field-scale study published on Wednesday also found that exposure to so-called neonicotinoids affects reproduction and colony growth in some bee species.
Europe has placed restrictions on three such pesticides, citing concerns for bees, but debate continues about the impact of low doses on these and other non-target insects. Supporters of neonicotinoids - made by companies including Bayer and Syngenta - say they have a major benefit because they destroy pests and boost crop yields. Critics, however, fear they contribute to a decline in bees, which are crucial for crop pollination.
Honeybees and bumblebees drank more from pesticide-containing solutions, implying that naturally foraging bees would do likewise. "There's a conundrum that they are attracted to the stuff that actually is having a negative impact on their motor function and their ability to collect food and forage." The most likely reason lies in the similarity of the chemicals to nicotine, which itself is produced by tobacco plants to prevent against attacks by insects. In large amounts it is toxic, but a little bit acts as a drug.
"As soon as it gets into their blood they are getting a little buzz, as it were, and they are responding to that." Separately, a team of Swedish researchers found that oilseed rape sown from seeds coated in neonicotinoids reduced wild bee density, solitary bee nesting and bumblebee colony growth. Neonicotinoid exposure did not significantly impact honeybee colonies, possibly because they have larger colonies with more workers and are better equipped to deal with damage, but scientists said the evidence against the chemicals was growing.
"At this point in time it is no longer credible to argue that agricultural use of neonicotinoids does not harm wild bees."

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Risk low for human infection from US strains of bird flu - The strain of avian flu that has been identified in 12 U.S. states and led to the extermination of more than 7 million birds is different from the H5N1 bird flu virus that has spread from birds to humans in the past. There have been nearly 650 cases of H5N1 human infections, reported from 15 different countries, since 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Two different strains have been discovered in the United States this year. The H5N2 strain is in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. It has also been identified on farms in Ontario, Canada. The H5N8 strain has been identified in California and also in Idaho, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows.
There have been no cases of the highly infectious disease in humans since the outbreak started in the United States at the beginning of the year. This is the most widespread bird flu outbreak in North America in more than three decades. In the cases involving human infection outside the United States, illness from the H5N1 virus occurred only among people who had direct contact with infected birds.
Warmer weather should help lower the number of infections in birds and curtail the virus' spread. "As we get into spring and summer, sunshine comes and ultraviolet light will kill influenza virus."

The olive oil you're buying is probably a rip off - Good olives are supposed to be green, but many used for olive oil have rotted.The olive oil you're buying probably isn't as healthy as you think. About 70% of the olive oil Americans buy isn't extra virgin.
"Since olive oil became so popular there isn't enough of the good stuff to go around. Even if there were, many consumers aren't willing to pay for it. As a result, the majority of olive oil Americans buy isn't from Italy or extra virgin as advertised. "Americans are addicted to cheap products. But people should know the risks of consuming subpar olive oil."
Extra virgin olive oil is made by crushing olives and extracting the juice and has no additives or other ingredients. Nutrition experts rave that extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants, such as the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal and asoleuropein, which is linked to healthy cholesterol. But many cheaper oils don't have these benefits, and can even be harmful.
Costco recently started buying Greek olive oil to ensure better quality. Make sure only one country is listed as the source. If the label says "product of Italy" or "imported from Greece," it means that the olives used were probably fresh. If multiple countries are listed, chances are the olives were imported and might have rotted.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a 17 oz. bottle of olive oil is cheaper than $10, it's probably not good quality. Trust your instincts. Tasting olive oil is important. If the olive oils tastes grassy, bitter, or peppery, go with another brand the next time you buy.
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