Sunday, March 29, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Knowledge is having the right answer.
Intelligence is asking the right question.**


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.6 MOLUCCA SEA
5.0 SOUTHERN IRAN

Yesterday, 3/28/15 -
6.0 MINAHASA, SULAWESI, INDONESIA
5.5 FIJI REGION
5.7 ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE

3/27/15 -
5.4 CRETE, GREECE
5.3 ECUADOR
5.0 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
5.2 RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS
5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.5 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 MOLUCCA SEA

3/26/15 -
5.0 MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES

3/25/15 -
5.1 VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA REGION
5.0 KEPULAUAN BABAR, INDONESIA

3/24/15 -
5.0 OFFSHORE TARAPACA, CHILE
5.2 SOUTHERN PACIFIC OCEAN
5.2 MOLUCCA SEA
5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA
5.2 OFF EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

3/23/15 -
5.1 FOX ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS
5.1 MINAHASA, SULAWESI, INDONESIA
5.8 TAIWAN
6.4 TARAPACA, CHILE

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Maysak is located approximately 768 nm east of Yap, Micronesia.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Flood torrents devastate Peru and Chile - (dramatic video). Heavy rains have brought torrential floods and mudslides to parts of Peru and Chile - including the Atacama desert, one of the driest regions of the world. Several people have been killed, and homes destroyed. Thousands are without electricity and clean water and the clean-up operation is being hampered by the scale of the destruction.
It should be snow falling in the mountains, but instead it is falling as rain because of unusually warm ocean temperatures. At the same time, other parts of Chile are suffering from severe drought.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

63.5°F in Antarctica: Possible Continental Record - 14 YEARS of rain in 1 day in Chile. The WARMEST TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDED ON THE CONTINENT OF ANTARCTICA may have occurred on Tuesday, March 24, when the mercury shot up to 63.5°F (17.5°C) at Argentina's Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The previous hottest temperature recorded in Antarctica was 63.3°F (17.4°C) set just one day previously at Argentina's Marambio Base, on a small islet just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Prior to this week's remarkable heat wave, the hottest known temperature in Antarctica was the 62.6°F (17.0°C) recorded at Esperanza Base in October 1976.
(The World Meteorological Organization has not yet certified that this week's temperatures are all-time weather records for Antarctica, though the Argentinian weather service has verified that the temperatures measured at Esperanza Base and Marambio Base were the highest ever measured at each site.) A new all-time temperature record for an entire continent is a RARE event.
The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming spots on Earth. While the Earth as a whole warmed up by 1.3°F between 1900 and 2011, the Antarctic Peninsula warmed by 5°, forcing massive ice shelves to disintegrate and penguin colonies to collapse. A 2012 paper in Nature found that the recent warming is faster than 99.7% of any other given 100-year period in the last 2000 years.
New all-time national and territorial heat records set or tied in 2015 - So far in 2015, five nations or territories have tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history. For comparison, only two nations or territories did so in 2014, and nine did in 2013.
The most all-time national heat records in a year was nineteen in 2010 (21 records at the time, but two have been broken since.) Since 2010, 46 nations or territories (out of a total of 235) have set or tied all-time heat records, and four have set all-time cold temperature records. Since each of those years ranked as one of the top twelve warmest years in Earth's recorded history, this sort of disparity in national heat and cold records is to be expected.
Here are the national heat and cold records set so far in 2015:
Antarctica set a new territorial heat record of 17.5°C (63.5°F) at Esperanza Base on March 24. Previous record: 17.4°C (63.3°F) at Marambio Base, set the previous day.
Equatorial Guinea set a new national heat record of 35.5°C (95.9°F) at Bata on March 17. Previous record: 35.3°C (95.5°F) at Malabo in February 1957.
Ghana tied the national record of highest temperature with 43.0°C (109.4°F) at Navrongo on February 12.
Wallis and Futuna Territory (France) set a new territorial heat record with 35.5°C (95.9°F) on January 19 at Futuna Airport.
Samoa tied its national heat record with 36.5°C (97.7°F) on January 20 at Asau. Previously record: same location, in December 1977.

Amazing rains in the Chilean desert - Unusually heavy thunderstorms and torrential rains that began on Tuesday have caused destructive flooding that has killed seven and left nineteen others missing. Unwelcome rains fell last week in Earth's driest place Chile's Atacama Desert.
Antofagasta, which averaged just 3.8 mm of precipitation per year between 1970 - 2000, and has a long-term average of 1.7 mm of precipitation per year, received a deluge of 24.4 mm (0.96 inches) during the 24 hour period ending at 8 am EDT March 26. That's over fourteen years of rain in one day!
The heavy rains were from a cold front that hit the Andes Mountains. Unusually warm ocean temperatures approximately 1°C (1.8°F) above average off of the coast meant that high amounts of water vapor were available to fuel the storm and generate exceptionally heavy rains. Heavy precipitation events are common in Chile during El Niño events, like we are experiencing now. El Niño brings warmer than average waters to the Pacific coast of South America where Chile lies.

March heat SHATTERS RECORDS in bone-dry Los Angeles. A series of heat waves this month - including a brief one one that ended Friday - brought a grim new distinction to hot, dry Los Angeles. This is the first March since record-keeping began in 1877 that has had six days with highs in the 90s or above in Los Angeles. That shattered the record set in 1977, when there were three days of highs in the 90s.
Overall, temperatures are warmer, and the trend is expected to continue for the next three months. “This type of weather is VERY UNUSUAL."
Almost every day this year temperatures have been on average 10 degrees above normal in California, while there has been little precipitation. “We are not only getting warmer, but we are also losing water." Downtown Los Angeles on Friday tied a record for the day, hitting 91 degrees.
A high-pressure system coupled with weak offshore flows caused temperatures to increase throughout the Southland. temperatures will return to normal by Sunday. Next week will also be warm with temperatures seven or eight degrees above normal.
Dry conditions have worsened in California, and mountain snowpacks have shrunk over the last few weeks, according to the latest U.S. drought report. Rainfall fell short of supplying any significant moisture to relieve the drought.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.**
Paramahansa Yogananda


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.5 TAIWAN
6.4 TARAPACA, CHILE

Yesterday, 3/22/15 -
5.2 CASPIAN SEA, OFFSHORE TURKMENISTAN
5.1 NORTH INDIAN OCEAN
5.5 GUAM REGION
5.2 FIJI REGION

3/21/15 -
5.3 KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA
5.0 NEAR COAST OF NORTHERN PERU
5.2 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.4 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.1 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.

3/20/15 -
5.3 PUEBLA, MEXICO
5.6 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 NEAR COAST OF NICARAGUA
5.7 WEST OF MARIANA ISLANDS
5.0 LOYALTY ISLANDS
5.0 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS

5.3 Quake Shakes Central Mexico Friday - Some Evacuations in Capital. A moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake shook central Mexico on Friday, causing buildings to sway in the capital and sending hundreds of people into the streets. The quake hit at 4:30 p.m. local time in the state of Puebla near Tulcingo del Valle, a town in a sparsely populated area about 100 miles (163 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City. It had a depth of 31 miles (52 kilometers).
Many evacuations were reported in the capital but officials received no reports of damage or injuries. The city is vulnerable to distant earthquakes because much of it sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds. They jiggle like jelly when quake waves hit. A magnitude 8.1 quake in 1985 that killed at least 6,000 people and destroyed many buildings in Mexico City was centered 250 miles (400 kilometers) away on the Pacific Coast.

Cliff collapse on California hiking trail leaves 1 dead. One person is dead and another being treated for life-threatening injuries after a bluff collapsed at a popular Northern California hiking trail.
The two visitors were standing on the Arch Rock lookout point at Point Reyes National Seashore just before 6 p.m. on Saturday when the bluff gave way. The pair fell about 70 feet and were covered with rocks and debris. The National Park Service had posted signs at the site two days earlier warning hikers that a fissure along the top of Arch Rock may have weakened the cliff and that walking along the edge was dangerous.One of the hikers was pronounced dead at the scene. The other was airlifted to a hospital. They have not been identified.

Australia - Aerial drone footage of Christchurch's Avonside suburb was released yesterday, showing the current state of the area after September 2010 quake. Avonside was one of the worst-affected areas of the quake.
Empty properties and eerily quiet streets can be seen as Coldplay's 'Fix You' track accompanies the video. It serves as a reminder of the liquefaction and destruction that ripped through Canterbury. According to Christchurch City Council resources, there are 1314 households in Avonside. Of these, about 50 percent are in the red zone.

VOLCANOES -
Russia - The Shiveluch volcano erupted for the fourth time on Sunday morning, creating a seven kilometer-tall plume of ash, leading scientists to issue warnings for local residents and airlines. The Shiveluch volcano is in Russia's far-eastern Kamchatka territory.
"Satellite data shows ash plumes drifted about 225 km to the north-east of the volcano." A plume of ash over seven kilometers tall rose as a result of the eruption, leading scientists to issue a warning for aircraft. The scientists also issued an ash alert for Kamchatka's residents, advising them to stay indoors and and stock up on food and water.
The volcano is one of five currently erupting or restless in Kamchatka, with the others being Zhupanovsky, Klyuchevsoy, Karmysky and Bezymianny. Kamchatka, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, is known for its active volcanoes, and Shiveluch, one of the region's biggest, has been erupting since 2009. (video at link)

ABNORMAL TIDES -

Britain battered by extreme high tides as at least seven flood warnings are issued across the country following solar eclipse. 'Supertide of the century' triggered by the solar eclipse has threatened many parts of the UK with flooding. More than 40 surfers turned out to catch a rare 6ft high wave on the River Severn known as a bore. Seven flood warnings were issued along with 34 alerts across the country.
The Thames Barrier was closed for the 175th time in its 30-year history to protect London from the high tides linked to yesterday's solar eclipse and 'supermoon' which has caused rising water levels. Flooding of homes and businesses is expected in North Tyneside and Sunderland as well as the Somerset coast and the Wye Estuary at Brockweir.
High tides have been forecast for the next two days. Tides will be 2.5m higher than other times in Milford Haven, south Wales, 1.5m higher in Plymouth, Devon, and the Isle of Mull, western Scotland, and 0.5m higher in London on the tidal Thames. Flood alerts were issued for parts of Teddington and Twickenham as well as the River Avon sand Devon coast. (photos at link)

TROPICAL STORMS -

- Tropical cyclone Nathan is located approximately 242 nm east-northeast of Darwin, Australia.
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Tropical Cyclone Nathan to Strengthen Before Third Landfall - Tropical Cyclone Nathan has been plaguing Australia for nearly two weeks and the threat is not over yet as a third landfall is expected.
Cyclone Nathan intensifies off NT coast - Tropical cyclone Nathan is set to intensify off the coast of the Northern Territory before weakening on its way back inland. The cyclone has been lashing the NT with wind gusts reaching up to 140km/h in some areas.
It was moving northwest over Arnhem Bay, west of Nhulunbuy, at 13km/h on Sunday with the destructive core approaching Elcho Island, which was severely damaged by Cyclone Law in late February. Destructive winds were set to develop on Sunday evening for Elcho Island, while a storm tide, with damaging waves and dangerous flooding, is also expected between Elcho Island and Cape Shield.
The cyclone will strengthen into a category 3 offshore on Monday morning. "That's because it's expected to stay a bit further offshore, so it should be able to reach that strength. (It will) stay that way into the latter part of Monday and then hopefully it will be progressively attacked by winds around it so it should weaken off."
It's expected to weaken to a category 1 or 2 system before making landfall again around Tuesday. "So we have a weakening trend as it approaches the coast again, but in the near future it's expected to intensify." The cyclone intensified to a "high end" category 2 on Sunday, crossing the coast between Nhulunbuy and Cape Shield in the morning.
Residents from Cape Shield to Alyangula are being told it is now safe to leave shelter areas, but to wear strong clothing and footwear, and be aware of fallen power lines and debris.
Elcho Island battered as cyclone Nathan intensifies. Beleaguered island hit by destructive winds as Nathan strengthens off the Northern Territory coast. Elcho Island has undergone a battering as tropical cyclone Nathan intensified off the Northern Territory coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology said Nathan was estimated to be about 50km north/north-west of Galiwinku with wind gusts up to 140km/h late on Sunday, and its destructive core of sustained winds of about 120km/h continued to affect Elcho Island for several hours into Monday.
Nathan was moving north-west at 12km/h and was set to increase in intensity to a category three level over open water, as it moved along the coast on Monday, before turning south- west towards land later in the night. Elcho Island was severely damaged by cyclone Lam in late February, and a storm tide, with damaging waves and dangerous flooding, was also expected between Elcho Island and Cape Shield.
Earlier, the bureau said Nathan would remain a category three cyclone into the latter part of Monday, then weaken to a category one or two system before making landfall again around Tuesday. “Gales may extend further west to Milingimbi and Maningrida early on Monday and may extend west to Croker Island overnight Monday or Tuesday morning if the system takes a more westerly track. Gales may extend further west to Cape Don and Point Stuart during Tuesday.” A flood watch was current for northern coastal rivers.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

Great Lakes buoy to new heights after 15 years of low water levels (video). After 15 years of below-average water levels, Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron are now well above normal, suggesting that climate change's impact on the fourth seacoast may be more complicated than previously thought.
While people in the drought-stricken western United States watch lake and reservoir levels relentlessly plunge, the three largest of the Great Lakes have recorded one of the most rapid increases in water levels on record, according to a new analysis. The quick turnaround – about two feet for Lake Superior and three feet for Lakes Michigan and Huron between January 2013 and December 2014 – ended what researchers have called an unprecedented 15-year period when lake levels fell below their long-term average.
The turnaround suggests that global warming's impact on the nation's fourth seacoast may be more complicated than implied in past projections, which pointed to a long-term decline in water levels. Recent research points to a more complex picture, he says, one less clear on whether lake levels will increase, decrease, or remain relatively stable. Instead, the focus is expanding to include the potential for extreme swings in lake levels.
The rate at which water levels in the three lakes have risen is nothing short of remarkable, notes the team that performed the analysis. Although the analysis includes three lakes found on standard maps, Lakes Michigan and Huron are considered one lake from a long-term hydrological perspective. For Superior, the increase marked the largest two-year, January-to-December increase ON RECORD, with near or above-average increases recorded for almost every month during the period.
For Michigan-Huron, the increase fell just short of a three-foot increase recorded between January 1950 and December 1951. The Michigan-Huron system not only recorded above-average increases in the late spring and summer both years, but the system saw UNUSUALLY LARGE increases in September and October 2014, an UNUSUAL TIME OF YEAR for increases.
Lake levels have gone through dramatic changes in the past, but the 15-year decline and its two-year turnaround appear to be different. In the past, changes in lake levels were closely tied to precipitation patterns, with little overall change to evaporation rates. The recent recovery would seem to be no different. Precipitation in the region has run about 10 percent above average during each of the last two years.
In the fall and early winter, water levels decline as colder, drier air comes in contact with the warmer lake water, leading to evaporation. But the region also experienced two bitterly cold winters, thanks to a persistent pattern in the jet stream that allowed frigid Arctic air to plummet south into the eastern half of the continental US, a pattern that was centered over the Great Lakes. Ice built up, covering ever-larger expanses of the lakes to near-record extents, preventing evaporation.
Ironically, where pockets of open water existed, "evaporation rates were through the roof" because of the UNUSUALLY SHARP TEMPERATURE CONTRAST that remained between the extremely dry, chilled air and the water. Unlike past swings in lake levels, the changes over the past 17 years have occurred as a result of a more complex interplay between ice cover, air temperature, water temperature, and evaporation.
The 17-year period of extremes began with a record El Niño event in the tropical Pacific and ended with back-to-back years when the polar jet stream weakened sufficiently to allow bitter Arctic air to linger over large swaths of the eastern US – a pattern that several climate scientists say they have tied to the impact of global warming on the Arctic's summer sea ice. As a result, these changes appear to be more closely tied to "drivers of regional change that are connected to the larger climate picture that are possibly causing things to happen in the Great Lakes that haven't happened in the past."

SPACE WEATHER -

“The last three big meteor events in history have been over the Russian mainland...it’s just that in comparison to Earth’s oceans, Russia is the next biggest thing to hit.” Researchers now have a plethora of new atmospheric fireball and meteor detection methods at their disposal. NASA and other U.S. Government agencies have better sensors that now help look at such high altitude events. There are also more dash cams and security cameras and cell phone cameras; including cell phone apps, capable of easily filing reports of these bolides to a central office.
Have we underestimated the threat from near-Earth asteroids? We have a pretty good understanding of where 95 percent of the near-Earth asteroids (one km in diameter and up) actually are. But, surveys of near-Earth objects of 100 meters or less are not even one percent complete. “We used to think that a 20 meter-sized meteor wasn’t that big a threat. But the Chelyabinsk meteor was only 20 meters and we saw what it could do.”
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you're waiting.**


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.4 PUEBLA, MEXICO
5.5 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 NEAR COAST OF NICARAGUA
5.7 WEST OF MARIANA ISLANDS
5.0 LOYALTY ISLANDS
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS

Yesterday, 3/19/15 -
5.0 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.0 PERU-ECUADOR BORDER REGION
5.2 MOLUCCA SEA
5.0 OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE
5.0 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF KAMCHATKA

3/18/15 -
5.1 NEAR COAST OF SOUTHERN PERU
5.4 OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE
6.2 OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE
5.0 NEAR N COAST OF PAPUA, INDONESIA

3/17/15 -
6.2 MOLUCCA SEA
5.5 FIJI REGION

VOLCANOES -
Villarrica volcano in southern Chile, which erupted earlier this month before settling down, has entered a more active phase again, expelling gas and ash into the atmosphere, Chilean authorities said on Wednesday. Villarrica, located near the popular tourist resort of Pucon around 750 km (460 miles) south of the capital Santiago, is among the most active in South America. On March 3 a short-lived eruption of ash and rock led to the evacuation of thousands from the nearby area. The volcano was likely become more active in the following hours, with lava expected overnight, but a major event was not expected.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the South Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Nathan is located approximately 291 nm east-southeast of Gove Airport, Australia.
Nathan continues to track along the northern periphery of a deep layer sub-tropical ridge located over central Australia. Upon re-emerging over water in the Gulf of Carpentaria, it is expected to reintensify as favorable conditions persist. The system is expected to make a second landfall.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

U.S. Spring Flood Forecast - No Widespread Major Flooding Expected. Rivers in western New York and eastern New England have the greatest risk of spring flooding because of a heavy snowpack of 3 to 9 inches of snow water equivalent, coupled with the potential for heavy spring rain to fall on the snow and cause a sudden melt- water pulse.
Significant river ice across northern New York and northern New England increase the risk of flooding related to ice jams and ice jam breakups if there is a quick warm-up with heavy rainfall. The latest 16-day forecast from the GFS model does not call for any heavy rainfall events capable of triggering widespread moderate flooding through the end of March, though.

Drought a bigger concern than flooding in the U.S. this year - Meanwhile, widespread drought conditions are expected to persist in California, Nevada, and Oregon this spring as the dry season begins. “Periods of record warmth in the West and not enough precipitation during the rainy season cut short drought-relief in California this winter and prospects for above average temperatures this spring may make the situation worse.
El Niño finally arrived in February, but forecasters say it’s too weak and too late in the rainy season to provide much relief for California, which will soon reach its fourth year in drought. Current water supply forecasts and outlooks in the western United States range from near normal in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, and upper Colorado, to much below normal in the southern Rockies, portions of the Great Basin and in California.

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

Spring brings New York snow storm - New York welcomed the first day of spring Friday with a snow storm that could dump up to six inches (15 centimeters) in parts of the northeastern United States. More than 1,150 flights were cancelled within, to or from the United States on Friday, including to and from airports in Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia.
The rare spring-time snow follows one of the coldest Februaries on record in the northeast. Boston, just over 200 miles (320 kilometers) northeast of New York, broke its record for the most snow in one winter with 108.6 inches (275.8 cm) at the city's Logan airport.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Hidden paths could be behind Antarctic glacier melt - Scientists have discovered two pathways that are likely channelling warm ocean water under a massive Antarctic glacier, which could contribute to rising global sea levels, a study revealed Tuesday.
The 120-kilometre (75 miles) long Totten Glacier, more than 30 kilometres wide, is the largest in East Antarctica and melting more quickly than others in the area. Research showed that a trough just under five kilometres wide has formed as a gateway deep underneath the glacier, along with another tunnel. These could allow warmer sea water to penetrate the glacier base.
"The Totten Glacier is the most rapidly thinning glacier in East Antarctica and this melt has the potential to drive substantial regional ice loss. The study identifies direct pathways for warm ocean water to reach under the glacier; a likely reason for the observed thinning."
During a voyage to the frozen region during the past southern hemisphere summer, researchers found the waters around Totten Glacier were around 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than other areas. Up until recently the East Antarctica ice sheet was thought to be surrounded by cold waters and therefore very stable and unlikely to change much.
The Australian Antarctic Division said there was enough ice in the Totten Glacier alone to raise global sea levels by at least 3.5 metres, roughly equivalent to the projected contribution of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet, if it were to completely collapse. "While the Totten melt may take many centuries, once change has begun our analysis reveals it would likely be irreversible."
The study used aerial surveys from Australia's Casey station to detect the deep trenches. Aircraft equipped with radar, laser and other sensors for determining ice thickness and mapping the bedrock and seafloor bathymetry flew over the glacier over five summers from 2008 to 2013. "The findings from this study present a strong case for using aerial surveys in other parts of Antarctica, including the virtually unknown Antarctic inner continental shelf."

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' -

Huge sinkholes burst open on banks of Dead Sea as water dries up - Environmentalists say mismanagement of water resources around the Dead Sea has produced more than 3,000 sinkholes.
The saline lake — bordered by Jordan, Israel and the West Bank — is evaporating at nearly four feet per year, which leaves behind the salt pockets responsible for the dangerous sinkholes. The first sinkhole appeared in the 1980s, but new ones appear every single day. They grow in groups and collapse into one another to create massive craters.
In 2005, Smithsonian magazine said that roughly 1,000 sinkholes had been reported. The new 3,000-plus figure indicates that they have been appearing at an accelerated rate in recent years. There are fears that an overnight sinkhole might cause Route 90, which runs along the lake, to collapse. “If nothing is done, it’s only a matter of time until someone dies." Israel’s Transportation Ministry closed down a nearly 1,000-foot stretch of the highway in January after several meters on its eastern side sank roughly five centimeters.

SPACE WEATHER -

A severe solar storm struck Earth Tuesday, creating vivid views of auroras — often referred to as the Northern Lights — and potentially affecting power grids and GPS tracking. The storm intensified around 10 a.m. ET Tuesday to G4 status, just one notch below the highest level solar storm.
The geomagnetic storm is the strongest so far of the current solar cycle, which happens every 11 years or so. The event happened in response to a pair of coronal mass ejections that were observed leaving the sun on Sunday. CMEs, which are basically bursts of gas and magnetic field emitted from the sun, can impact power systems, radio transmissions and GPS signals when they interact with the Earth's atmosphere.
Before sunrise, bright auroras were sighted over several northern-tier U.S. states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, the Dakotas and Washington. Space Weather said that if the storm effects continued through Tuesday evening, there was a "very strong possibility" that the northern lights could be seen as far south as the middle United States, even Tennessee and Oklahoma. That also means much of Russia and northern Europe, as far south as central Germany and Poland, had the potential for the sky show.
The current solar cycle is also expected to bring a total solar eclipse Friday, the first of its kind in 16 years. The event is expected to be a serious challenge for Europe, which has the world's largest interconnected grid. As much as 35,000 mega watts of solar energy — the equivalent of nearly 80 medium size conventional power plants — will be pulled from Europe's electrical system. It has the potential to knock out photovoltaic power production.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**I'm sick of following my dreams.
I'm just going to ask where they are going and catch up with them later.**
Mitch Hedberg

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 3/16/15 -
5.1 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
5.6 TONGA
5.9 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.

3/15/15 -
5.9 SULAWESI, INDONESIA
5.2 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.3 VANUATU
5.1 OFFSHORE CHIAPAS, MEXICO
5.2 BANDA SEA
5.8 PAGAN REG., N. MARIANA ISLANDS
5.4 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Bavi is located approximately 312 nm north of Yap, Micronesia.

* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Nathan is located approximately 273 nm northeast of Cairns, Australia.
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Death toll rises after Cyclone Pam - A UN team in Vanuatu says 24 people are confirmed dead and 3,300 have been displaced by Cyclone Pam, with communication to outlying islands still down.
Pictures
A tropical cyclone catastrophe of nearly UNPRECEDENTED DIMENSIONS is unfolding in the unlucky South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, as relief teams reach the hardest-hit areas from the Friday the 13th strike by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam.
The latest situation report from the government of Vanuatu lists 24 deaths and "widespread severe damage". The death toll is sure to grow as relief efforts reach some of the more remote areas that received the brunt of the storm.
Cyclone Pam is almost certainly the most destructive tropical cyclone in Vanuatu's history - and possibly for the entire South Pacific east of Australia. At its peak, Pam's 165 mph winds made it one of only ten Category 5 storms ever rated by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in the waters east of Australia. The official tropical cyclone warning center for the area, the Fiji Meteorological Service, estimated that Pam's central pressure bottomed out at 896 mb, making it the second most intense tropical cyclone in the South Pacific basin after Cyclone Zoe of 2002.
Pam was at its peak strength, with 165-mph Category 5 winds, when it passed over several small Vanuatu Islands to the north of Efate Island, Vanuatu's most populous island (population 66,000.) Pam is one of only two Category 5 cyclones in recorded history to make landfall on a populated island in the waters east of Australia.
The only other Category 5 landfall event among the nine other Category 5 storms to affect these waters since 1970 was by the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the basin, Cyclone Zoe of 2002. Zoe made a direct hit as a Category 5 storm on several small islands in the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands with a total population of 1700. There was one other close call: the eye of Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Percy passed 15 miles east of Ta'u, American Samoa, on February 16, 2005, but caused minimal damage.
Pam's weaker southwest quadrant eyewall hit Efate on Friday the 13th, bringing terrible damage there. Continuing to the south, Pam hit the southern islands of Erromango (population 2,000) and Tanna (population 29,000), Even though Pam had weakened slightly to 155 mph winds by this time, these islands took a catastrophic pounding, since they were hit by the stronger southeastern portion of the eyewall, where the clockwise spin of the storm aligned with its southerly forward motion to create the strongest winds.

Cyclone Olwyn: a costly event for Western Australia - Though much weaker than Pam, Severe Tropical Cyclone Olwyn made its presence known on Friday as it raked a lengthy portion of Australia’s western coast, with peak winds of 100 mph near landfall. Olwyn’s path - paralleling the coast and gradually inland, with the strongest winds on the landward side - is roughly analogous to a hurricane moving slowly north-northeast up the west coast of Florida.
Olwyn produced winds of 70 mph, gusting to 87 mph, in the town of Carnarvon. The region’s banana crop, part of an agricultural system that produces roughly $70 million US in value each year, was reportedly wiped out, and more than 1,000 residents were still without power on Monday. Olwyn accomplished the rare feat of passing almost directly over a profiler (an upward-pointing, wind-measuring radar) located at Carnarvon’s airport. The profiler detected 115-mph winds at about 3000 feet above ground.

Cyclone Nathan takes a breath at sea before returning to north Queensland, Australia. Residents of Townsville and northern communities warned to prepare for Nathan doubling back on Thursday or Friday.
The category two storm is expected to intensify to at least a category three and turn towards the north Queensland coast on Thursday or Friday. Nathan came very close to Cooktown, north of Cairns, last week before making a U-turn and heading back out to sea. But modelling indicated the cyclone was not yet done with Queensland.
“There’s still quite considerable uncertainty exactly where it will cross the coast if it does that.” Forecasters hope to have a better idea of where Nathan might make landfall in the next 24 to 48 hours. “Anywhere further south of [Townsville] doesn’t look too likely at this stage." Residents and anyone heading to north Queensland should keep a close eye on weather forecasts.
Nathan remains a category two storm about 520km east-north-east of Cooktown.

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

Boston has broken the record for the snowiest winter in the city's recorded history. The National Weather Service said the city received 108.6in (275.8cm) of snow this winter, beating the 1995-1996 record of 107.6 inches.
The record was broken around 19:00 local time (23:00 GMT) on Sunday, when 2.9in fell on the city. This season, the Massachusetts city saw more snowfall than any winter since 1872, when records were first kept. This winter, Boston has been forced to close schools, public transit, and businesses as it has dealt with the record snow.
There is the potential that this season's record could grow. In years past, the city has recorded several inches of snow during the month of March. Other US cities have recorded far more snow. The small village of Copenhagen, New York has recorded more than 240in of snow. The snowfall season is recorded from 1 July to 30 June each year.

More snow possible for Atlantic Canada after record-breaking storm - A late winter storm dumped as much as 59 centimetres of snow on Atlantic Canada overnight, and Environment Canada warns more could be on the way.
A special weather statement issued Monday evening for much of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick says snow is possible on late Tuesday and Wednesday in areas including Halifax, Saint John and Fredericton. The same storm could bring snow and blustery conditions to St. John’s and much of Newfoundland on late Wednesday and into Thursday.
Heavy snowfall and gusting winds forced road closures, vehicle pile-ups and dozens of flight cancellations Monday at airports including Halifax, Moncton, Charlottetown and St. John’s. Residents of Sydney, N.S., got the most snowfall: 59 centimetres. It was the most received in a single day since 1964. Other cities that were hard hit include Edmunston and Charlottetown, which each got 48 centimetres, Moncton, which got 44 centimetre, and Saint John, which got 36 centimetres.
"This just keeps on coming for us." Despite the seemingly never-ending onslaught of nasty weather, residents are trying to stay positive. "People are certainly fed up, but the Maritime way is to kind of roll with these snowstorms. They've certainly had enough of winter. People want it to be over there is no question, but some people are just trying to make the best of it at this point."

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

In Lake Tahoe, drought threatens winter, way of life - There’s something disconcerting about life at Lake Tahoe these days. It’s still winter, but visitors are renting bikes instead of snowshoes and kayaks instead of skis. Come summer — without last-ditch torrential rains — the lake level is expected to be at such a historic low that some marinas will have to dredge for boats to launch.
California’s epic drought, entering its perilous fourth year, has combined with a pattern of warming temperatures to cast a “Twilight Zone” quality on one of the state’s most popular winter destinations and iconic landmarks. “It’s bizarre what people are doing now. It’s so out of season." Long-term predictions by Lake Tahoe scientists warn that by the end of the century, summers could be two months longer and temperatures 8 degrees hotter than when Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.
The Central Sierra snowpack on Friday was 17 percent of the historic average. The record-low Sierra snowpack levels also raised grave concerns about wildfires throughout the Tahoe region.

Record-melting heat across western U.S. - From California to North Dakota, a large part of the nation’s northwest half experienced summer-like heat over the weekend. Some of the more ominous reports came from fast-drying California, where the rainy season is limping to a halfhearted end.
Many stations around Los Angeles and San Diego set record highs near or above 90°F on each day Friday through Sunday. In the San Francisco Bay area, all-time monthly heat records were notched on Saturday at Salinas Airport (92°F), San José (89°F), Monterey (87°F), and on Sunday in Fresno (91°F). The heat pushed into the northern Rockies and northern Great Plains on Sunday, with the all-time March record falling at Rapid City, SD (84°F).
Many other locations saw their warmest day for so early in the season. In North Dakota, both Fargo (75°F; normal high 35°F) and Grand Forks (70°F; normal high 33°F) had their earliest 70°F readings on record - though by just one day, as the Great Warm Wave of March 2012 headed toward its amazing apex starting on March 16. More records appeared certain to fall over the central Great Plains on Monday, with even the impressive numbers from 2012 in jeopardy at some locations.

Baked Alaska - Alaska's Kenai Peninsula has been practically tropical this winter. A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Alaska, has been dumbfounded. "Homer, Alaska, keeps setting record after record, and I keep looking at the data like, Has the temperature sensor gone out or something?"
Something does seem to be going on in Alaska. Last fall, a skipjack tuna, which is more likely to be found in the Galápagos than near a glacier, was caught about 150 miles southeast of Anchorage, not far from the Kenai. This past weekend, race organizers had to truck in snow to the ceremonial Iditarod start line in Anchorage.
Alaska is heating up at twice the rate of the rest of the country. A new report shows that warming in Alaska, along with the rest of the Arctic, is accelerating as the loss of snow and ice cover begins to set off a feedback loop of further warming. Warming in wintertime has been the most dramatic — more than 6 degrees in the past 50 years. And this is just a fraction of the warming that's expected to come over just the next few decades.
Of course, it's not just Alaska. Last month was the most extreme February on record in the Lower 48, and it marked the first time that two large sections of territory (more than 30 percent of the country each) experienced both exceptional cold and exceptional warmth in the same month.
All-time records were set for the coldest month in dozens of Eastern cities, with Boston racking up more snow than the peaks of California's Sierra Nevada. A single January snowstorm in Boston produced more snow than Anchorage has seen all winter. This year's Iditarod has been rerouted—twice—due to the warm weather. The race traditionally starts in Anchorage, which has had near-record low snowfall so far this winter. The city was without a single significant snowstorm between October and late January, so race organizers decided to move the start from the Anchorage area 360 miles north to Fairbanks.
But when the Chena River, which was supposed to be part of the new route's first few miles, failed to sufficiently freeze, the starting point had to move again, to another location in Fairbanks. A recent study said that Alaska's rivers and melting glaciers are now outputting more water than the Mississippi River.
Last year was Alaska's warmest on record and the warm weather has continued right on into 2015. This winter, Anchorage has essentially transformed into a less sunny version of Seattle. As of March 9, the city has received less than one-third of its normal amount of snow. In its place? Rain. Lots of rain. In fact, schools in the Anchorage area are now more likely to cancel school due to rain and street flooding than cold and snow.
Of course, it wasn't always this way. Alaska's recent surge of back-to-back warm winters comes after a record-snowy 2012, in which the National Guard was employed to help dig out buried towns. The Pacific Ocean near Alaska has been record-warm for months now. This year is off to a record-wet start in Juneau. Kodiak has recorded its warmest winter on record.
A sudden burst of ocean warmth has affected statewide weather before, but this time feels different, residents say. In late February, National Weather Service employees spotted thundersnow in Nome - a city just 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle. "As far as I know, that's unprecedented." To get that outside of the summer is incredibly rare everywhere, let alone in Alaska.
Climate scientists are starting to link the combination of melting sea ice and warm ocean temperatures to shifts in the jet stream. For the past few winters, those shifts have brought surges of tropical moisture toward southern Alaska via potent atmospheric rivers. This weather pattern has endured so long it's even earned its own name: the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.
The persistent area of high pressure stretching from Alaska to California has shunted wintertime warmth and moisture northward into the Arctic while the eastern half of the continent is plunged into the deep freeze, polar-vortex style. The warm water is making its way north into the Arctic Ocean, too, where as of early March, sea ice levels are at their record lowest for the date.
The resurgent heating of the Pacific (we're officially in an El Niño year now) is also expected to give a boost to global warming over the next few years by releasing years of pent-up oceanic energy into the atmosphere, pushing even more warm water toward the north, melting Alaska from all sides.
In early November, Super Typhoon Nuri morphed into a huge post-tropical cyclone, passing through the Aleutians very near Shemya Island on its way to becoming Alaska's strongest storm on record. Despite winds near 100 mph, Shemya emerged relatively unscathed. A few days later, the remnants of that storm actually altered the jet stream over much of the continent, ushering in a highly amplified "omega block" pattern that dramatically boosted temperatures across the state and sent wave after wave of Arctic cold toward the East Coast. Barrow was briefly warmer than Dallas or Atlanta.
For southern Alaska, fire season has been coming earlier in recent years, and 2015 looks to be no exception.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

Weather weirdness? Not a single tornado has been reported to the National Weather Service so far in March, which typically marks the first month of severe weather season in the Plains and Southeast. The only other year since 1950 that there have been zero tornado reports in the first half of March was 1969.
Just seven severe weather reports — two for large hail and five for strong winds — have been reported so far this month. From 1991 to 2010, an average of 80 tornadoes were reported in the month of March across the United States, with the largest number being reported in the South.
January and February were also extremely quiet. February was eerily quiet, with only two tornadoes reported during the month; one in California, the other in Florida. Only three other Februaries since 1950 saw two or fewer tornadoes in the U.S.: 2010 (1), 2002 (2) and 1964 (2).
At the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), only four tornado watches were issued in January and February combined, the fewest in the year’s first two months since 1985 required only two tornado watches. While the strongest tornadoes typically occur in the month of April, March has been known for extreme severe outbreaks in the past.
The most recent notable early-March outbreak was on March 2-3, 2012, when 70 tornadoes — two of them as strong as F4 — caused over $3 billion in damage in the Southeast and Ohio Valley. The outbreak was the second most deadly in early March.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Lost time is never found again.**
Benjamin Franklin


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.8 PAGAN REG., N. MARIANA ISLANDS
5.2 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS

Yesterday, 3/14/15 -
5.0 SOUTHERN PACIFIC OCEAN
5.1 ATACAMA, CHILE
5.4 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

3/13/15 -
5.0 NEAR COAST OF AISEN, CHILE

3/12/15 -
5.2 SOUTH OF ALASKA
5.0 CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 GUAM REGION
5.0 GUAM REGION
5.2 GUAM REGION

Quake in Eastern China Kills 2, Damages Thousands of Homes - An earthquake in the eastern Chinese city of Fuyang has killed two people and damaged thousands of homes. The quake struck in the Anhui province city Saturday afternoon, and 13 people also were injured.
The quake struck in the Anhui province city Saturday afternoon. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake measured magnitude 4.7. More than 10,000 homes were damaged, more than 4,000 of them seriously, and 155 collapsed. Fuyang is a city of about 10 million people in a region that relies on coal mining and agriculture.

VOLCANOES -
Costa Rica volcano spews ash in MOST POWERFUL ERUPTION IN 20 YEARS - Costa Rica's Turrialba volcano belched a column of gas and ash up to 3,280 feet (1 km) into the air on Thursday in its most powerful eruption in two decades, and local authorities started to evacuate residents from the surrounding area.
Four explosions emanated from the volcano in central Costa Rica on Thursday, and ash reached parts of the capital San Jose some 30 miles (50 km) away, where the airport was closed. It was the volcano's strongest eruption since 1996. "We have recommended the evacuation of people and small animals as a precaution. The last explosion was very strong."
Costa Rica's emergency services ordered the closure of access roads near the volcano, which is major tourist draw, and were evacuating a radius of just over a mile around the volcano. Turrialba erupted in October, when it also sprinkled the capital with ash after it spewed magma for the first time since around 1863.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm 03w (Bavi), located approximately 216 nm east of Andersen AFB.

* In the Southern Pacific -
- Tropical cyclone Pam is located approximately 646 nm southeast of Noumea, New Caledonia.

- Tropical cyclone Nathan is located approximately 242 nm north-northeast of Cairns, Australia.
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Vanuatu suffers huge cyclone damage - Cyclone Pam tore though Vanuatu and badly damaged or destroyed up to 90% of houses in the Pacific island state's capital.
The death toll from Pam , a category five tropical storm that has hit islands in the South Pacific could run into the dozens, the UN's relief agency says. Cyclone Pam battered Vanuatu with winds of up to 270kph (170mph).
Pictures on social media showed buildings badly damaged and trees and power lines down. Authorities on the islands had earlier issued a red alert to residents after the cyclone changed direction and began moving towards populated areas. Communications have been knocked out over a wide area and aid agencies said on Saturday it could be several hours before a clear picture emerges.
Although thousands of people spent the night in emergency shelters, many more were forced to ride out the storm in their own homes. Pam had already caused major damage on other Pacific islands, including Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. Tuvalu, a group of nine tiny islands north-east of Vanuatu, has also declared a state of emergency after the cyclone caused flash floods there.
There were unconfirmed reports that 44 people had died in Penama province in the north-east of Vanuata. The Vanuatu Meteorological Services said it expected torrential rainfall, flash flooding, landslides and storm surges. The government had lost contact with some parts of the northern provinces.
The cyclone was expected to be worse than Cyclone Uma, which killed 50 people in 1987. Located about a quarter of the way from Australia to Hawaii, Vanuatu has a population of 267,000 spread over 65 islands. About 47,000 people live in the capital, Port Vila. "Thousands of families are living in makeshift, flimsy houses which will not withstand the immense winds and rain we're expecting. Families need to urgently evacuate to safe buildings or the results could be catastrophic."
Meanwhile, category three Cyclone Olwyn has hit the coast of Western Australia with wind gusts of up to 195kph (120mph). People in the state's coastal region were warned to move to higher ground to escape dangerous flooding.
Category 5 Cyclone Pam is ONE OF THE STRONGEST TROPICAL CYCLONES EVER RECORDED in the waters east of Australia. Pam rapidly intensified and reached top sustained winds of 160 mph Thursday, making it one of only ten Category 5 storms ever recorded in the basin since satellite records began in 1970.
Pam is likely to be one of the most destructive natural disasters in Vanuatu's history. The storm passed over or very close to the three small, southernmost islands of Vanuatu on Friday. Regardless of Pam's track, its waves caused major coastal damage; the significant wave height of the storm was 44 feet at 2pm EDT Thursday. Storm surge was also a concern, as well as extreme flash flooding from Pam's torrential rains.
After passing Vanuatu, Pam is likely to weaken significantly, but the storm may still be capable of bringing tropical storm-force winds to New Zealand on Sunday. High surf causing erosion and coastal damage will be the main threat from Pam to New Zealand, though.
Pam caused significant flooding on the low-lying island of Tuvalu, located over 700 miles northeas Since Tuvalu is located in an area with very deep water offshore, this flooding was likely due to large waves crashing onshore and running up inland, rather than an actual storm surge from winds piling up water over a shallow coastal shelf.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Angola - Floods caused by torrential rains have killed 62 people - 35 of them children - in the Angolan city of Lobito. The flood water has reached 3m (9.8ft) in some areas of the city since Wednesday. Scores of homes have been destroyed and rescue teams are still searching for missing people. Large parts of Angola have been hit by heavy rains since January.
In the capital Luanda, at least one person died this week and hundreds of people were left homeless after 137 houses were destroyed by the rains.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

A forest fire in Chile is threatening the port cities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, and a state of emergency has been declared. More than 4,500 people have been evacuated and a further 10,000 may need to be moved. They estimate that about 300 hectares (740 acres) of land have been affected. Valparaiso is still recovering from a forest fire last April that killed 15 people, injured more than 500 and destroyed nearly 3,000 homes.

March rain misses drought-stricken part of Oklahoma - The drought is the worst across southwestern Oklahoma, where lakes and reservoirs are almost empty.

Last week in the Brazilian city of São Paulo, home to 20 million people, and once known as the City of Drizzle, drought got so bad that residents began drilling through basement floors and car parks to try to reach groundwater. City officials warned last week that rationing of supplies was likely soon. Citizens might have access to water for only two days a week.
In California, officials have revealed that the state has entered its fourth year of drought with January this year becoming the driest since meteorological records began. At the same time, per capita water use has continued to rise.
As reservoirs dry up across the world, a billion people have no access to safe drinking water. Rationing and a battle to control supplies will follow.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' -

More giant craters spotted in Russia's far north - Russian scientists have now discovered seven giant craters in remote Siberia. Scientists say that rather than aliens or meteorites, the holes are caused by the melting of underground ice in the permafrost, which has possibly been sped up by rising temperatures due to global warming. "The phenomenon is similar to the eruption of a volcano."
As the ice melts, methane gas is released which builds up pressure until an explosion takes place, leading to the formation of a crater. When they appear the craters are empty, and little by little they fill up with water. In the space of two or three years they become lakes and it is difficult to study them." Some may have formed dozens or hundreds of years ago, but went unnoticed in such remote regions of the planet.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Cross country skiing is great if you live in a small country.**
Steven Wright


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.1 SOUTH OF ALASKA
5.0 CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 GUAM REGION
5.0 GUAM REGION
5.2 GUAM REGION

Yesterday, 3/11/15 -
5.0 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
5.2 OFF COAST OF COSTA RICA
5.4 OFF COAST OF COSTA RICA

SPACE WEATHER -
Monster solar flare - Wednesday's event caused an hour-long blackout in high-frequency radio communications over wide areas.Solar flares are often accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), enormous clouds of superheated plasma that streak through space at millions of miles per hour. Powerful Earth-directed CMEs can wreak havoc, causing geomagnetic storms that can disrupt power grids and satellite navigation.
It's unclear at the moment if a CME is associated with Wednesday's event. However, the SWPC has already issued a minor geomagnetic storm warning for Friday (March 13) as a result of three CMEs the sun unleashed on Monday (March 9).
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**If we choose to constantly focus on what makes us unhappy in life, then we'll always be unhapppy.**
Steven Aitchison


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 3-10-15 -
6.2 NORTHERN COLOMBIA
5.2 SOUTHWEST OF AFRICA

6.2 Quake Shakes Colombia; No Initial Reports of Damage - A strong earthquake shook eastern Colombia on Tuesday, causing buildings to sway in the capital and elsewhere but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The quake had a magnitude of 6.2 and was centered near the city of Bucaramanga, about 175 miles (280 kilometers) north of Bogota. It was reported to be 91 miles (147 kilometers) deep and shook buildings across the Caribbean coast as well as western Venezuela.
The government palace in the eastern city of Cucuta suffered structural damages and two communications towers had been knocked out of service. In Barrancabermeja, bricks from the roof of the city's main church fell to the ground. The city's oil refinery, the country's biggest, was unaffected.
In Bogota, whose residents are accustomed to earthquakes despite Colombia's location in a seismically-active area, office workers poured into the streets after being told to evacuate tall buildings. Photos of fallen roof tiles from the city's new airport circulated.

Chance of Mega-Quake Hitting California Increases - Estimates of the chance of a magnitude 8.0 or greater earthquake hitting California in the next three decades have been raised from about 4.7% to 7%. Scientists are virtually certain that California will be rocked by a strong earthquake in the next 30 years. Now they say the risk of a mega-quake is more likely than previously thought.
The chance of a magnitude-8 quake striking the state in the next three decades jumped to 7 percent from 4.7 percent, mainly because scientists took into account the possibility that several faults can shake at once, releasing seismic energy that results in greater destruction. While the risk of a mega-quake is higher than past estimates, it's more likely — greater than 99 percent chance — that California will be rattled by a magnitude-6.7 jolt similar in size to the 1994 Northridge disaster.
The chance of a Northridge-size quake was slightly higher in Northern California than Southern California — 95 percent versus 93 percent. "California is earthquake country, and residents should live every day like it could be the day of a big one." The latest seismic calculations largely mirror previous findings issued by the USGS in 2008. Back then, scientists also determined that California faced an almost certain risk of experiencing a Northridge-size quake.
The new report included newly discovered fault zones and the possibility that a quake can jump from fault to fault. Because of this knowledge, the odds of a catastrophic quake — magnitude 8 or larger — in the next 30 years increased. There is a 93 percent chance of a magnitude 7 or larger occurring over the same period and a 48 percent chance of a magnitude 7.5 — similar to previous estimates.
Thousands of quakes every year hit California, sandwiched between two of Earth's major tectonic plates, the Pacific and North American plates. Most are too small to be felt. Of the more than 300 faults that crisscross the state, the southern segment of the San Andreas Fault — which runs from central California to the Salton Sea near the U.S.-Mexico border — remains the greatest threat because it hasn't ruptured in more than three centuries.
The report found there is a 19 percent chance in the next 30 years that a Northridge-size quake will unzip the southern section compared to a 6.4 percent chance for the northern section, partly because it last broke in 1906. The southern San Andreas is "ready to have an earthquake because it's really locked and loaded." The report is a forecast, but it is not a prediction. Experts still cannot predict exactly where or when a quake will hit anywhere in the world.
In recent years, the USGS and several universities have been testing an early warning system designed to detect the first waves of a jolt and send out an alert before the slower-moving damaging waves. Proponents have said a few seconds of notice can allow trains to slow down, utilities to shut off gas lines and people to duck for cover. The public alert system — still in pilot phrase — needs more funding before it can be rolled out statewide.

VOLCANOES -
Air traffic under threat in Kamchatka, Russia, fearing volcano eruption - A code of high threat to air traffic has been enforced in Kamchatka in Russian Far East following discharge of volcanic ashes by two Kamchatka volcanoes simultaneously on Tuesday.
A cloud of gas-ash particles rising above the Kluchevsky and Zhupanovsky volcanoes is nearly five kilometers high. A tail of ashes from the Zhupanovsky volcano has spread to a distance of 187 kilometers east of the volcano, and the ash tail from the other one has spread 92 kilometers southeast.
The Zhupanovsky volcano is situated 100 kilometers north of the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The other volcano is situated barely 30 kilometers from the settlement of Klyuchi of the Ust-Kamchatsky district.

Iceland - There are indications that the caldera of Bárðarbunga volcano, which fed the Holuhraun eruption, has begun rising again. The rising of the caldera could mean that magma is accumulating in the magma chamber, building pressure, which might eventually lead to another eruption.
It can be caused by two things: (A) The ice below the sensor is flowing into the depression … (B) The caldera has started rising again because magma from the mantle is flowing into the magma chamber below Bárðarbunga. I’m inclined to believe the latter explanation, but time will tell. If (B) is correct, it is likely that the flow of magma from the depths into the magma chamber will take many years before it reaches the position which Bárðarbunga had before the eruption which began in 2014."
Other scientists have predicted that Bárðarbunga will erupt again in the near future and that the eruption in Holuhraun was the first in a series. The eruption carried on while the caldera subsided and magma flowed out of the magma chamber and into the intrusive dike connecting Bárðarbunga, which lies under Vatnajökull glacier, with Holuhraun north of the glacier.

TROPICAL STORMS -

* In the Southern Pacific -
- Tropical cyclone Pam is located approximately 696 nm north-northeast of Noumea, New Caledonia.

- Tropical cyclone Nathan is located approximately 212 nm north of Cairns, Australia.
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In the South Pacific Ocean about 1,800 miles east of Australia, Tropical Cyclone Pam has quickly intensified to a Category 1 storm with top sustained winds of 90 mph as of 8 am EDT Tuesday. Pam has generated quite a bit of hype over the past few days, thanks to eye-popping model projections by the GFS and European models which show the cyclone intensifying into a Category 5 monster with a central pressure less than 880 mb by late this week.
If this forecast verifies, it would make Pam one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, world- wide. However, these models are not known for making reliable intensity forecasts, and are generally disregarded by NHC for intensity forecasts in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific. The HWRF model, which is one of our better intensity forecast models, predicted that Pam would reach a central pressure of 902 mb by Friday, which would make it a still-formidable Category 5 cyclone.
Pam is an UNUSUALLY LARGE cyclone over extremely deep warm water, with widespread surface temperatures above 30°C (86°F). With wind shear a moderate 10 - 20 knots and expected to be in the low to moderate range this week, Pam should be able to undergo a period of rapid intensification into at least a Category 4 storm. Fortunately, no major populated areas are in the projected path of Pam, although a westward shift in track could threaten the islands of Vanuatu.

RARE subtropical depression off the coast of Brazil - A rare subtropical depression, with characteristics of both a tropical and a non-tropical system, has formed in the South Atlantic waters off the coast of Brazil. Sea surface temperatures are near 27°C, which is about 0.5°C above average, and 1°C above what is typically needed to support a tropical storm.
By Thursday the storm will begin losing its tropical characteristics as it moves over cooler waters, and it is unlikely the storm has time to become fully tropical. The unnamed storm is not a threat to make landfall. Tropical and subtropical storms are so rare in the South Atlantic that until 2011, there was no official naming of depressions or storms done.
In 2011, the Brazilian Navy Hydrographic Center instituted a naming system with nine names, of which two have been used so far (Arani in 2011, and Bapo in 2015.) If this week’s storm becomes a subtropical storm, it will be called Carl. Brazil has had only one landfalling tropical cyclone in its history, Cyclone Catarina of March 2004.
Catarina is one of fewer than ten tropical or subtropical storms to form in the South Atlantic, and the only one to reach hurricane strength. An unnamed February 2006 storm may have attained wind speeds of 65 mph, and a subtropical storm brought heavy flooding to the coast of Uruguay in January 2009, killing fourteen people. Tropical cyclones rarely form in the South Atlantic Ocean, due to strong upper-level wind shear, cool water temperatures, and the lack of an initial disturbance to get things spinning (no African waves or Intertropical Convergence Zone exist in the proper locations in the South Atlantic to help spawn tropical storms).

Big hurricanes reached U.S. during prehistoric periods of ocean warming - Intense hurricanes, possibly more powerful than any storms New England has experienced in recorded history, frequently pounded the region during the first millennium, from the peak of the Roman Empire into the height of the Middle Ages, according to a new study.
A new record of sediment deposits from Cape Cod, Mass., show evidence that 23 severe hurricanes hit New England between the years 250 and 1150, the equivalent of a severe storm about once every 40 years on average. Many of these hurricanes were likely more intense than any that have hit the area in recorded history, according to the study.
The prehistoric hurricanes were likely category three storms – like Hurricane Katrina - or category four storms – like Hurricane Hugo - that would be catastrophic if they hit the region today.

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

'Icebergs' wash ashore on Cape Cod - Forget frozen waves. The historic winter of 2015 — which has dumped 105.7 inches of snow in Boston, 2.2 inches shy of the snowiest ever — is leaving mini ”icebergs” on the shores of Cape Cod.
Sseveral giant chunks of ice washed up on the Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet over the weekend. The spectacle is probably a “once-in-a-generation” event due to the extraordinary amount of ice on the Massachusetts Bay.
Last month, a surfer and photographer captured images of another once-in-a-generation kind of event: photos of waves on Nantucket turning to slush. “When I got to the top of the dunes, I could see that about 300 yards out from the shoreline the ocean was starting to freeze. They were perfect, dreamy slush waves.” The oddity even impressed a University of Alaska glaciologist. “I have never seen frozen waves like this. Cold but calm water is what normally freezes easiest.” (photos at link)

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

Chile is facing an eight-year dry spell that has left fruit withered, miners grappling for enough water to run plants and the forestry industry facing some of the worst wildfires in the last century.

Canada - Lots of records were broken all over British Columbia on Monday because of the high temperatures that blanketed the province. There were 11 records broken including one in Kelowna. On Monday the temperature in Kelowna reached 18.6 degrees and the old record from 2005 which was 17.8 degrees was broken. Penticton also set a weather record on March 9th with a new high of 18.1 degrees. The old record was set in 2013 and was 17.3 degrees. A record was also broken in Summerland with a high of 18.1 degrees, the old record was 16.6 degrees in 2005.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

There’s a calm across the U.S.’s tornado-prone regions, a quietness that seems odd when you consider the calendar. Through March 9, the U.S. has racked up only 28 preliminary tornado reports, compared to an average of 95 for the same time span (Jan. 1 to Mar. 9) during the years 2000 – 2014.
We’ve had quiet starts to tornado seasons before - in 2002, there’d been only 5 tornadoes by this point in the year - but 2015 stands out even more for its utter lack of strong thunderstorms. The dearth of severe weather comes into focus when we look beyond tornadoes. Through March 9, we’ve seen 119 preliminary reports of severe wind, compared to a 15-year average of 708.
Even more striking is the almost-complete absence of large hailstones. The 15-year average up to this point in the year is 362 reports of severe hail (at least 1” in diameter), but in 2015 thus far, we’ve had only two such reports, both occuring in northern Louisiana on Feb. 1.
It’s pretty easy to see what’s caused the severe-weather drought of early 2015. A stubborn upper-level trough over Hudson Bay has kept northwest flow dominant across the eastern half of the country, shunting potentially unstable air masses well out to sea before they have a chance to generate thunderstorms. Even high-contrast fronts, like the one that plowed through the South last week, haven’t enough upper-level support ahead of the cold air in order to produce severe weather.
The large-scale patterns have been so clear-cut that even the ambiguity that might prompt a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch has been in short supply. So far this year, SPC has issued just four watches (all tornado watches). This is the latest we’ve gone without at least one severe thunderstorm watch, and the lowest total number of watches through March 9, in records that go back to 1970. On average, more than 30 watches have been issued by this point. The first nine days of March 2015 didn’t see a single severe weather report or a single watch; no March in the official record has gone past March 10 without at least one watch.
Variability in tornado seasons is increasing - After the catastrophic tornado season of 2011, which took more than 550 U.S. lives, the pendulum swung hard in the other direction. The period 2012 – 2014 saw the fewest tornadoes of any three-year period going back to 1950, when reliable tornado records began. As for 2015, the odds appear slim for any major severe outbreaks in the U.S. over at least the next week.
It’s important to remember that a season that gets off to a slow start can still become active by spring. And even a below-average season, such as 2013, can feature a few devastating days, such as the deadly outbreaks in late May 2013 that struck in and near Shawnee, Moore, and El Reno, Oklahoma.
If it seems like tornado seasons are getting more variable, your impression is backed up by research. Looking only at twisters with at least F1/EF1 strength on the Fujita/Enhanced Fujita damage scale, the study found that the number of days with at least one F1/EF1 tornado has dropped since the 1980s, while the number of days with at least 30 such tornadoes has risen dramatically. As a result, twisters are becoming more concentrated into a few high-intensity days each year.
About 20% of all tornadoes in the decade 2004 - 2013 occurred on the three biggest days of each year, whereas this was the case for only 10% of all tornadoes before that decade. The reasons behind the shift aren’t yet clear, but the authors observe, “If the variability continues to increase, it could lead to an even greater concentration of tornadoes on fewer days.”
Seasonal timing is becoming more variable too, according to the study. For example, in all but three years from 1954 to 1996, the 50th F1/EF1 tornado of the year was reported between March 1 and April 10. But in the subsequent period (1997 – 2013), just 6 of 17 years saw the 50th twister occur in that early-spring interval, which implies that seasons are getting off to faster and/or slower starts.

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