Friday, July 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 -

Yesterday, 7/23/15 -

7/22/15 -

7/21/15 -

Scientists warn the Bay Area can expect a much larger quake “any day now” from the fault that produced Tuesday's 4.0-magnitude earthquake in Fremont. The quake struck at 2:41 a.m. on the Hayward Fault at a depth of 5 miles. While the shaking rattled nerves, no major damage was reported.
But residents may want to take the Bay Area’s latest quake as a reminder to be prepared for a “big one.” Scientists warn a much larger quake is due on the Hayward Fault, which extends from San Pablo Bay in the north to Fremont in the south and passes through heavily populated areas including Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward and Fremont.
“We keep a close eye on the Hayward Fault because it does sit in the heart of the Bay Area and when we do get a big earthquake on it, it’s going to have a big impact on the entire Bay Area." The last big earthquake on the fault, estimated to have a 6.8-magnitude, occurred in 1868. It killed about 30 people and caused extensive damage in the Bay Area, particularly in the city of Hayward, from which the fault gets its name.
“The population is now 100 times bigger in the East Bay, so we have many more people that will be impacted. The past five major earthquakes [on the fault] have been about 140 years apart, and now we’re 147 years from that 1868 earthquake, so we definitely feel that could happen any time.”
Residents wwere urged to take steps to prepare for a major earthquake, even though Tuesday morning’s quake was not likely to have much of an impact one way or the other on the likelihood of a major event occurring on the same fault.

Tour operators criticise all-clear given to Nepal trek area - Nepal's most popular trekking region has been declared safe by a government-commissioned report following earthquakes in April and May that killed more than 9,000 people. However the study on quake damage to the Annapurna area has been criticised by some tour operators.
They say that the report is flawed because it was rushed and made on the basis of only a week's fieldwork. The quakes have had a devastating effect on Nepal's tourism industry. There were about 17,000 fewer tourists between May and July this year than in the same period in 2014.
A severe storm last October - peak trekking season - killed visitors hiking the Annapurna Circuit and has added to the tourism sector's woes. The British-funded aid study - carried out by structural engineering company Miyamoto - revealed that the Annapurna region was not as badly damaged by the earthquakes as initially feared, with only a tiny number of trails in the area requiring repair. The report's conclusions have been welcomed by the Nepalese government.
A second World Bank-funded Miyamoto report on quake-damage in the Everest region is due to be published imminently. Officials say that it too will conclude that that area is safe once again for people to visit. But trekking and mountaineering operators are not happy with the way that the studies have been conducted.
They say they were not consulted during the field studies despite their geographical and practical knowledge of the two regions. The Nepal Trekking Agents Association President said that the operators would not send clients to either region on the basis of the two reports. "Such assessments need to have the involvement of stakeholders like us to have any credibility."
He said the industry could not take risks in the absence of reliable geological reports. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25 April - and the aftershocks that followed it - caused thousands of landslides and left other hilly and mountainous areas unsafe. The quake caused an avalanche at the Everest base camp where at least 17 people died. A major aftershock on 12 May caused a massive landslide in the Annapurna region, dangerously blocking a river along the trekking trail.
Because the reports commissioned by the government were based on about one week of fieldwork, they were "totally insufficient. We were assured that our experts would be taken into the field, but those who carried out the studies failed to do so." But Miyamoto officials insisted that representatives from trekking and mountaineering companies were consulted.

Five Volcanoes Erupt In Indonesia, Blanketing Skies In Ash. Eruptions of ash at five volcanoes shrouded the skies over parts of the Indonesian archipelago Wednesday, forcing three airports to close.
Mount Raung on Java island blasted ash and debris up to 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) into the air after rumbling for several weeks. Ash erupted also from Gamalama and Dukono mountains on the Moluccas islands chain, Sinabung volcano on Sumatra island and Mount Karangetang on Siau island, darkening the skies.
A total of more than 13,000 people have been evacuated due to the volcanic eruptions since last month, mostly from around the slopes of Sinabung in Tanah Karo District. "Our evaluation showed there is no extraordinary natural phenomenon that triggered simultaneous eruptions of the five volcanoes." All the eruptions are natural and normal occurrences in a nation with about 130 active volcanoes.
An eruption of Raung early this month sparked chaos as the airport in the tourist hotspot of Bali and four other airports in the region were shutdown, stranding thousands of holiday- goers. Last week, the ministry closed Sultan Babullah airport in North Maluku's Ternate town after eruptions at Gamalama and Dukono sent volcanic ash up to 1,700 meters (5,570 feet) into the sky.
Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood-prone plains, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

Undersea volcano called Kick 'em Jenny rumbling off Grenada — An active underwater volcano off Grenada's northern coast called Kick 'em Jenny was rumbling Thursday and regional disaster authorities were put on alert, though they said it posed no threat of triggering a destructive tsunami.
Since its discovery in the 1930s, Kick 'em Jenny has erupted beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea at least 12 times, most recently in 2001. The volcano, which rises 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) above the seafloor on a steep slope of the Lesser Antilles ridge, hasn't caused any known deaths or injuries.
The Seismic Research Center at the University of the West Indies said seismic activity had increased in the volcano, which sits 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of Grenada. Recreational divers have reported seeing some "degassing" on the seafloor off Grenada's west coast as gas-rich magma bubbles.
Center researchers put the alert level at "orange," which means an eruption could take place within 24 hours. An eruption would stir up high waves and heat surrounding waters to boiling temperatures. Scientists say the volcano can also shoot hot rocks up through the water column.
Under the alert, all boats must stay at least 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the volcano. Kick 'em Jenny poses the greatest threat to mariners since the gases it releases can lower the density of water so significantly vessels can lose buoyancy and sink. "There is no need to move people away from coastlines." People were advised to go about their lives normally. But some were jittery as seismic activity ramped up, knocking out Internet service.
"People are just wondering what's next." In a 1939 eruption, Kick 'em Jenny shot a cloud of ash 270 meters (900 feet) above the sea surface. Its eruptions since then have been weaker.

A discovery of ‘mutant daisies’ has been made near the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.


In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Depression Felicia is weakening and is located about 465 mi (745 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja California.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Halola is located approximately 234 nm east-southeast of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

- Tropical storm Twelve is located approximately 255 nm northeast of Manila, Philippines.
RECORD 117-MONTH MAJOR HURRICANE DROUGHT continues - It has been 117 months since a major hurricane, defined as a Category 3 or above, has made landfall in the continental United States, according to 2015 data from the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
This is the longest span of time in which no major hurricane has struck the mainland U.S. in NOAA hurricane records going back to 1851. The second longest time between major hurricane strikes was the eight years between 1860 and 1869—146 years ago.
A recent study confirmed that the current "admittedly UNUSUAL" drought is “UNPRECEDENTED IN THE HISTORCAL RECORD."That study found that major hurricane droughts only occur every 177 years, and calculated that there is less than a 5 percent chance (0.39%) that the current drought will end this hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30.
Hurricane Wilma, the most recent major hurricane to strike the U.S., was a Category 3 when it made landfall in North Carolina on October 24, 2005—almost 118 months ago. Since the end of the 2005 hurricane season, the U.S. has experienced a nine-year major hurricane “drought,” which is approaching 10 years at the end of the 2015 season this November.


Rain, Wind, Severe Storms to Whip Central Europe Saturday - An UNUSUAL, midsummer, strengthening storm system will cause soaking rain, howling winds and severe thunderstorms to target central Europe to start the weekend.
The storm will initially push rain across southern England, including London, and northwestern France on Friday. A couple of thunderstorms will also rumble in northwestern France, and it is not out of the question for one to turn severe. While the soaking rain shifts to the Netherlands, Denmark and southern Scandinavia on Saturday, more severe impacts will unfold on Saturday from Belgium and the Netherlands to Poland and Slovakia as the storm strengthens.
"Given that this [type of strengthening storm system] NORMALLY OCCURS IN FALL OR WINTER as opposed to midsummer, some very anomalous and dangerous weather is possible in parts of Europe on Saturday." Winds on the backside of the intensifying storm will howl from Belgium and the Netherlands to northeastern Germany on Saturday before spreading to Denmark and northwestern Germany at night. This includes Brussels, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Berlin.
Wind gusts will average 65 to 95 kph (40 to 60 mph) with the strongest winds whipping toward and along the coast. "Some sporadic damage and power outages are possible." Damage also threatens to unfold farther east across Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and far northeastern Austria as severe thunderstorms erupt Saturday afternoon. "Some thunderstorms will produce damaging straight-line wind gusts up to 95 kph (60 mph), large hail up to the size of golf balls or hen eggs and even a few tornadoes."
Warsaw, Wroclaw, Brno, Vienna, Bratislava and Kosice are among the communities facing the severe weather danger. The rain falling northwest of the severe weather around the Netherlands, Denmark and southern Scandinavia on Saturday is not expected to produce widespread flooding, but any downpours will create hazards for motorists by reducing visibility and heightening the risk of vehicles hydroplaning when traveling at highway speeds.
Drier weather will briefly return to central Europe on Sunday as the threat for severe thunderstorms shifts to eastern Belarus and neighboring parts of Russia.

Britain to be lashed by torrential rain, gales and floods from tomorrow - Parts of the country are braced for heavy showers to dump more than two inches of rain - A MONTH'S WORTH OF RAIN - IN A MATTER OF HOURS. Forecasters are warning of chaos on the roads with the risk of flooding across the southern half of the country. It will also be cooler than average for the time of year with temperatures feeling more like autumn than the middle of summer. (photos and maps at link)

South Asia monsoon: Analysing fresh water could be key to forecast - The Indian Ocean contains a distinctive layer of fresh water from rain and rivers which may influence the South Asian monsoon, scientists have said. They are urging meteorologists to include the less saline water in their weather forecasting models.
Meteorology officials in South Asia admit they have been slow to consider the role of fresh waters. They are already struggling to forecast monsoon rains due to a range of factors including climate change. Monsoons account for 70% of the rainfall in India and neighbouring countries between June and September. But longer dry periods and heavy rainfall within a short space of time during monsoon season in recent years have caused concern in South Asia.
And this is already being seen this year, with higher rainfall than normal in June - whereas July and August are predicted to have lower than normal rainfall. Some meteorologists based in the region believe the freshwater element could be a vital missing link. Major rivers such as the Ganges, Bramhaputra and Irrawaddy flow into the Bay of Bengal. A team of international scientists are currently researching the issue.
Around 60% of the total rainfall in Pakistan comes from the Indian monsoon, while the remaining rains are from winter monsoons from the Arabian sea between December and February. "It's not just scientists from Pakistan but from the entire South Asia region who are not familiar with the fresh water concept and we need to take it into account."
Scientists are seeking to gather more data but not everything is freely available But scientists say even if countries around the Bay of Bengal really wanted to factor fresh water into their monsoon prediction models, detailed data was not available. "At present we only have long-term mean data on the river discharge and we have no data for year-to-year variability because of the sensitivities between countries in the region." Sharing of water resources data has been a contentious issue between India and its neighbours for years. "The countries will have to reach an understanding if they really want to understand what fresh water is doing to the salinity of the ocean and the monsoon systems." said Professor Goswami.


Raging Fire Forces Evacuation in Glacier National Park - Helicopters are patrolling the area for any missing hikers within the Montana park grounds. An elite team is taking command of efforts to beat back the wildfire in Montana's Glacier National Park that has sent tourists fleeing from hotels and campgrounds.
The Type 1 Incident Management Team, a group that responds only to the highest-priority fires, began arriving Thursday and was scheduled to take command that night. Firefighters braced for gusting winds and warm temperatures that could spark a fresh run by the flames that have charred more than 6 square miles. (video at link)

Wragg Fire near Lake Berryessa burns 6,900 acres in Napa County, California. More than 500 firefighters and multiple helicopters and planes are battling the Wragg Fire near Lake Berryessa. (video at link)
The Latest: Some people in California wine country who have evacuated because of the wildfire are being told they can return to their homes. Evacuations have been canceled late on Thursday for about 50 of the 200 or so homes whose residents were told to get out. The fire's threat has diminished substantially in some areas and the fire did not grow much Thursday. More than 10 1/2 square miles have burned since the fire broke out near Napa Valley on Wednesday.

Crews fighting a wildfire in southeast Washington are working to prevent flames from reaching a watershed that provides drinking water for the city of Walla Walla. Firefighters are removing fuels and securing lines to prevent it from reaching the boundary of the Mill Creek Watershed. The blaze has destroyed one home and threatens dozens others as an estimated 1,000 firefighters battled it in steep, challenging terrain. It has scorched nearly 9 square miles of grass, shrubs and timber about 10 miles east of Walla Walla, a city of 60,000 people.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Don't fear failure. It is not failure but low aim, that's the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.**
Bruce Lee

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/20/2015 -

7/19/15 -

7/18/15 -

7/17/15 -


* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Halola is located approximately 211 nm southeast of Iwo To, Japan.


Unusually heavy rains in Southern California strand drivers, flood streets. Bone-dry California got more rain on Sunday than it could handle - enough to wash out a bridge on the highway to Arizona.
Hundreds of drivers found themselves stranded in the middle of the desert after an overpass along California's busy I-10 freeway suddenly became a bridge to nowhere. The bridge collapsed when a swollen creek eroded the hillside, leaving a truck hanging over the edge. It took nearly two hours to rescue the injured driver. "This collapsed bridge is gonna cause a huge problem for thousands and thousands of people every single day. This is the major corridor from the L.A. area to out east."
This UNUSUAL July rain is the remnant of Tropical Storm Dolores. In Southern California it caused flash floods, turning streets into fast-moving rivers, forcing road closures and leaving drivers stuck. "This parking lot has now become a river," said one driver. In Riverside County, firefighters rushed to protect homes with sandbags and patrolled flooded neighborhoods. "There are a couple of people here that they're trying to rescue." In Irvine, ticket holders waded through knee-high water to see an outdoor rock concert.
And the wet weather also took out the ballgame. The Angels were rained out at home Sunday night for the first time in 20 years. A helicopter helped dry the field before Monday's double-header. July is normally the driest month of the year in Southern California. More than a quarter-inch of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles Saturday, BREAKING A NEARLY 220- YEAR-OLD RECORD.
All of that rain, of course, is welcome in bone-dry California but despite this kind of damage, not enough rain to even put a dent in their nearly four year long drought. California transportation officials say Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Los Angeles will remain closed indefinitely. Their plan is to eventually divert traffic onto the westbound lanes while they tear down and rebuild this bridge.
California bridge collapse strands drivers en route to Arizona - An elevated section of Interstate 10 collapsed Sunday amid heavy rains in the California desert, injuring one driver, stranding many others, and halting travel for thousands by cutting off both directions of a main corridor between Southern California and Arizona. “Interstate 10 is closed completely and indefinitely."
A bridge for eastbound traffic about 15 feet above a normally dry wash about 50 miles west of the Arizona state line gave way and ended up in the flooding water below, the California Highway Patrol said, blocking all traffic headed toward Arizona. "Oh my God, we are so stuck out here. There’s no end to the cars that are stuck out here."
The rains came amid a second day of showers and thunderstorms in Southern and Central California that were setting rainfall records in what is usually a dry month. Rain fell Sunday afternoon in parts of Los Angeles County’s mountains, the valley north and inland urban areas to the east.
The city also was expected to get a late repeat of Saturday’s scattered showers and occasional downpours as remnants of Tropical Storm Dolores brought warm, muggy conditions northward. Saturday’s rainfall BROKE RECORDS IN AT LEAST 11 LOCATIONS, including five places that had THE MOST RAIN EVERY RECORDED IN JULY on any day.


June 2015: Earth's WARMEST JUNE ON RECORD. June 2015 was Earth's warmest June since global record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Monday. NASA also rated June 2015 as the warmest June on record.
A potent El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific that crossed the threshold into the "strong" category in early July continues to intensify, and strong El Niño events release a large amount of heat to the atmosphere, typically boosting global temperatures by at least 0.1°C. This extra bump in temperature, when combined with the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, makes it likely that 2015 will be Earth's second consecutive warmest year on record.. Four of the six warmest months in recorded history (for departure from average) have occurred this year, according to NOAA.
For the oceans, the June global sea surface temperature was 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average, the HIGHEST FOR JUNE ON RECORD, and tied with September 2014 as the highest monthly departure from average for any month. Nine of the ten highest monthly departures from average have occurred since May 2014.
Global land temperatures during June 2015 were also the warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in June 2015 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 3rd warmest in the 37-year record. The lowest 8 km of the atmosphere heats up dramatically in response to moderate to strong El Niño events, with a time lag of several months - as occurred during the El Niño events of 1998 and 2010. Thus, we should see Earth's lower atmosphere temperature hit record levels late this year and/or early next year.

Deadliest weather disaster of June 2015: Pakistan's brutal heat wave. The deadliest weather-related disaster of June 2015 was an intense heat wave in Pakistan that killed approximately 1,242 people. If these numbers are correct, this year's heat wave would beat the 1991 heat wave (523 deaths) as Pakistan's deadliest in recorded history, and would rank as Earth's eighth deadliest heat wave. The terrible heat wave that hit India in May 2015 ranks as Earth's fifth deadliest heat wave.
By the time summer is over, it is possible that a third heat wave may be added to this list: the on-going European heat wave. Excess mortality in France, the U.K., and Italy during the late June to early July portion of Europe's 2015's heat wave was over 1,200 people: 700 in France, at least 447 in the U.K., and 140 in Italy. Hundreds more probably died in surrounding countries, during some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Western Europe.
Direct deaths, not excess mortality, are tabulated in the database for heat waves, though, and direct deaths can be a factor of eight less than deaths tabulated by considering excess mortality. For example, the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and EM-DAT list the total direct deaths from the U.S. heat wave of 1980 at 1,260, but NCDC estimated that the combined direct and indirect deaths (i.e., excess mortality) due to heat stress was 10,000. Extreme heat capable of causing high excess mortality will affect portions of Southeast Europe late this week, when some of the highest temperatures on record will likely occur.

Arctic sea ice falls to 3rd lowest June extent on record - Arctic sea ice extent during June 2015 was the 3rd lowest in the 36-year satellite record, and June snow cover was the 2nd lowest. A large area of high pressure that has set up shop north of Alaska is expected to persist for the remainder of July, and is likely to bring sunny skies and a warm flow of air into the Arctic that will lead to rapid ice loss in the coming weeks.
Later this month, low pressure is expected to develop over Northeastern Eurasia, which could lead to the establishment of the Arctic Dipole pattern. This pattern of airflow develops in response to high pressure north of Alaska and low pressure over Northeastern Eurasia, and brings large amounts of warm air into the Arctic.
The Arctic Dipole pattern occurred in all the summer months of 2007, and helped support the record 2007 summer reduction in sea ice extent (that record was beaten in 2012, a year that did not feature an Arctic Dipole pattern.)

One billion-dollar weather disaster in June 2015: flooding in China. Thankfully, only one billion-dollar weather-related disaster hit the Earth last month, flooding in China that caused $2 billion in damage and killed sixteen people. With eight billion-dollar weather disasters occurring during the first half of 2015, Earth is on pace for its lowest number of such disasters since 2004, when sixteen occurred.


Arctic ice 'grew by a third' after the unusually cool summer in 2013. Researchers say the growth continued in 2014 and more than compensated for losses recorded in the three previous years.
The scientists involved believe changes in summer temperatures have greater impacts on ice than thought. But they say 2013 was a one-off and that climate change will continue to shrink the ice in the decades ahead.
The Arctic region has warmed more than most other parts of the planet over the past 30 years. Satellite observations have documented a decrease of around 40% in the extent of sea ice cover in the Arctic since 1980. But while the extent of the retreating ice has been well recorded, the key indicator that scientists want to understand is the loss of sea ice volume.
Researchers have been able to use data gathered by Europe's Cryosat satellite over the past five years to answer this question. This polar monitoring spacecraft has a sophisticated radar system that allows scientists to accurately estimate the volume. The researchers used 88 million measurements of sea ice thickness from Cyrosat and found that between 2010 and 2012, the volume of sea ice went down by 14%.
They published their initial findings at the end of 2013 - but have now refined and updated them to include data from 2014 as well. Relative to the average of the period between 2010 and 2012, the scientists found that there was a 33% increase in sea ice volume in 2013, while in 2014 there was still a quarter more sea ice than there was between 2010-2012.
"We looked at various climate forcing factors, we looked at the snow loading, we looked at wind convergence and the melt season length of the previous summer. We found that the the highest correlation by far was with the melt season length - and over the summer of 2013, it was the coolest of the five years we have seen, and we believe that's why there was more multi-year ice left at the end of summer."
The researchers found the colder temperatures allowed more multi-year ice to persist northwest of Greenland because there were simply fewer days when it could melt. Temperature records indicate that the summer was about 5% cooler than 2012. The scientists believe that the more accurate measurements that they have now published show that sea ice is more sensitive to changes than previously thought.
They argue that while some could see this as a positive, when temperatures are cooler it leads to an increase in sea ice, it could also be a negative when the mercury goes up.
"It would suggest that sea ice is more resilient perhaps - if you get one year of cooler temperatures, we've almost wound the clock back a few years on this gradual decline that's been happening over decades. The long-term trend of the ice volume is downwards and the long-term trend of the temperatures in the Arctic is upwards and this finding doesn't give us any reason to disbelieve that - as far as we can tell it's just one anomalous year."

El Nino intensifying, could rival strongest in recorded history - The present El Nino event, on the cusp of attaining “strong” intensity, has a chance to become the most powerful on record. The event — defined by the expanding, deepening pool of warmer-than-normal ocean water in the tropical Pacific — has steadily grown stronger since the spring.
The presence of a strong El Nino almost ensures that 2015 will become the warmest on record for Earth and will have ripple effects on weather patterns all over the world. A strong El Nino event would likely lead to enhanced rainfall in California this fall and winter, a quieter than normal Atlantic hurricane season, a warmer than normal winter over large parts of the U.S., and a very active hurricane and typhoon season in the Pacific.
Some of these El Nino-related effects have already manifested themselves and, over the U.S., will become particularly apparent by the fall and winter. Frequent and persistent bursts of wind from the west, counter to the prevailing easterly direction, have helped this year’s El Nino sustain itself and grow. Warm water from the western Pacific has sloshed eastward, piling up in the central and eastern part of the basin.
The sprawling area of warm waters has proven to be a boon for Pacific tropical cyclone activity, near record levels through mid-summer. Through a positive feedback mechanism, these cyclones have likely helped to reinforce the westerly push of warm waters. The 2015 El Nino event is now neck-and-neck with record-setting event of 1997-1998 in terms of its mid-summer intensity.
That 1997-1998 event was notorious for its winter flash floods and mudslides in California. The atmospheric footprint of this year’s event — given the time of year — is statistically EXTREMELY RARE and has a less than one in 1,000 chance of occurrence.
Although the El Nino is still officially classified as a “moderate” strength event, one of the world’s leading El Nino experts explained it could well become a “strong” event by the end of the month. “The strength of the departure from normal sea surface temperatures was enough to call it a strong event for just last week. But to call it an officially strong event, we need for it to stay at that level or higher for a full month. And the average for July could make it.”
The large group of El Nino models, both dynamic (based on physical processes) and statistical (based historical data), mostly forecast at least a strong event — likely to peak in the fall. Collectively, the IRI described the model simulations as “off-the-charts”. “[El Nino] is growing and the prediction models say it’s going to get stronger. And that’s our prediction, that it will become a strong event, most likely.”
A few models, notably the European model and the National Weather Service CFS model, point to the possibility of a near-record event in which a very strong or “super” El Nino develops. The only two super (or very strong) El Ninos in the historic record occurred in 1982-83 and 1997-98. Perhaps hinting at an El Nino rivaling history, models have been trending stronger with their forecast month after month after month — as they absorb more data reflecting the true state of the current event and how it’s evolving.
While some models show El Nino possibly maxing out in record territory, NOAA climate analysts expressed some skepticism about such projections. NOAA says the “forecaster consensus” is for a strong event but doesn’t specify how strong. Its forecast calls for El Nino to persist through the winter (90 percent chance) and early spring (80 percent chance). (graphics and map at link)
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/16/15 -

7/15/15 -

7/14/15 -

7/13/15 -

7/12/15 -

7/11/15 -

7/10/15 -

6.4 Magnitude Quake Rocks Barbados - A strong earthquake struck Thursday in the ocean northeast of Barbados and was widely felt throughout the Caribbean, but officials said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Supermarkets and other businesses were evacuated and people moved away from the shore right after the quake hit. Earthquakes are common in the Caribbean but this was particularly strong and shallow. Residents were urged to be cautious, given the size of the quake. The US Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.4 quake was centered 81 miles (132 kilometers) northeast of Bridgetown at a shallow depth of about 3 miles (5 kilometers). It hit at 11:16 a.m. local time. (15:16 GMT).
The earthquake was felt across much of the Caribbean, from nearby St Vincent and the Grenadines and to Venezuela, Guyana and Trinidad in the south.

4.6 quake rattles southern Oregon after series of quakes - A series of earthquakes rattled southern Oregon overnight on Wednesday. The largest quake measured at 4.6 magnitude and was about forty miles away from Lakeview, Oregon, near the Nevada border. A second quake registered at 4.0 and three others measured at 3.4, 3.4 and 3.2. The quakes were all relatively shallow, measuring no larger than 6 miles deep.

‘The Really Big One’? Get ready now, quake experts advise. Predictions of a massive earthquake off the Northwest coast are scary, but experts say preparation will help you survive such a quake. There’s an 80 percent chance that an earthquake like the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually shaker in 2001 could happen in the next 50 years.
This week’s New Yorker magazine article, “The Really Big One”, didn’t sugarcoat it: Seattle and several other Northwest cities are destined to be pummeled by a massive earthquake, on a date to be determined. The destruction is inevitable — though maybe not as bad as the article’s prediction that everything west of Interstate 5 will be “toast.” “Communications may black out, transportation may grind to a halt, stores conceivably could run out of goods for a while, but that doesn’t constitute ‘toast’ in one’s mind.”
The abridged survival version: Make sure homes are stocked with supplies for seven to 10 days. After a quake, it’s safer to stay where you are — hitting the streets will only lead to more congestion on the roads, which may be impassable anyway. Create a communications plan with loved ones, just in case. Get under a table or desk if you feel the earth move. [Webpage note - Other research says don't hide under the furniture, instead lay on the floor next to a table or desk. Then you won't be trapped under the table if it collapses under failing beams and debris, but it will leave you with a potentially survivable space.]
Should such a large quake occur, “parts of Seattle will definitely be isolated, which is why the recommendation is to be able to survive on your own for at least three days and perhaps a week." Many homes and structures will “fare relatively well,” especially wood-frame ones. And yes, Seattle will recover. “My philosophy is be prepared, not paranoid — and enjoy the spectacular landscape provided to us by tectonic forces.”


Still looking for victims of the 2011 Japanese tsunami - Diving into the world of the dead. Twice a month two Japanese men put on scuba gear and go diving. One is looking for his wife, the other for his daughter, both of whom were swept away by the devastating tsunami that struck Japan four years ago. They know they are no longer alive, but the hope of finding something - anything - gives them a much- needed sense of purpose.
Underneath the glittering waters of Onagawa Bay, in Japan's north-eastern Miyagi Prefecture, fridges, TVs, cars, trucks and fishing gear lie scattered on the sea floor, under a layer of mud. "Imagine a big city, put it in a grinder and throw it all into the ocean," is how one oceanographer described the effect of the Japanese tsunami. Under water, things are still mostly where they were left by the violence of the waves.
In the sunlight up above, on the other hand, everything has changed. The wreckage of a thriving port has been cleaned away. In its place there is now a vast expanse of concrete - empty except for, in one corner, a modest shrine. This is where the Onagawa branch of the Shichijushichi Bank used to stand and the shrine is there to commemorate it. When the tsunami warning sounded at 14:50 on the afternoon of 11 March 2011, the bank's employees were busy tidying up the damage caused by the earthquake that had shaken the building a few minutes earlier.
Their manager was out seeing clients. Driving back along the coast he could see the sea sharply withdrawing - a sure sign of an imminent tsunami. As soon as he walked in he told everyone to stop and to climb on to the roof of the two-storey building as quickly as possible. Sure enough, as soon as they got there, they heard the siren and the municipal broadcast warning people to evacuate to high ground - just a few hundred metres away were the steep slopes of Mount Horikiri, where some people were already seeking shelter. One employee asked if she could go home because she was worried about her children. The manager said he couldn't stop her, so she ran to her car, which was parked 300m away, and drove home.
The manager told those remaining to watch the sea, just 100m away in normal conditions, and to listen out for further news. The radio warned that a 6m-high tsunami would hit at 15:10. As the workers stood nervously on the roof they debated whether there was time to flee to the nearby hospital - a much taller and stronger building, but they decided to stay. After all, a 6m-high tsunami would only reach the first floor. Some went down to get their coats - it was cold, there was still snow on the ground.
The tsunami swept into Onagawa moments later. Footage filmed by a survivor shows how the dark water moved swiftly and relentlessly into town, pushing over everything in its path. Buildings gave way and cars and trucks were picked up like toys, and acted like floating battering rams adding to the wave's destructive power. Within minutes the sea had engulfed areas that were once considered safe. The bank flooded quickly - it took just five minutes for the water to fill half the building.
The workers decided to climb up even higher on top of an electrical room standing on the roof of the two-storey building. As they climbed the 3m vertical ladder the strong wind almost blew them off. The bank employees became trapped on the roof by the rising water. Many people witnessed their desperate bid to escape to safety.
The tsunami turned out to be far, far bigger than anyone expected. The town's defences had largely been based on the worst tsunami in living memory - a 6m-high tsunami in Chile in 1960. But this one reached more than three times higher. As a consequence many designated shelters were inundated - even the hospital was flooded, killing four people in the building itself and an estimated 16 in the car park.
"Onagawa was one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami." The coastline of the region is a series of submerged river valleys shaped "like the teeth of a saw", and tsunamis reach great heights as the water funnels into the crevices. A town has little chance in this battle between ocean and mountain. Satellite pictures show how the sea reached in and clawed the town away. More than 5,000 buildings were washed away or damaged beyond repair. A satellite image of Onagawa shows an empty space where once there were homes and businesses.
Local authorities were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, the staff reeling from their own personal losses, on top of massive practical and logistical problems. Getting around was almost impossible, bridges and roads were blocked. Almost one in 10 of the town's residents was dead or missing. The majority of survivors were staying in special accommodation for evacuees. They spent their days searching for loved ones, picking through the chaos and walking for miles along the breakwaters on the shoreline.
Of the 13 people on the roof, one, amazingly, survived - he held on to floating debris and was swept out to sea, almost losing consciousness in the icy water before he was rescued by a fishing boat hours later. The bodies of four bank staff were found, but eight are still missing. The worker who left the building by car survived. "I couldn't understand why they escaped to the rooftop. There's no more escape there. If they had escaped to the mountain, they could have climbed to a higher place. I thought evacuation to the mountain was a matter of course."
Although the town began to rebuild, for the bereaved families it was hard to move on. "We are still stuck in 2011." An estimated five million tonnes of debris was dragged into the sea by the tsunami. Two- thirds sank just off the coast, covering the sea floor and damaging the marine environment. About a third floated away, in giant patches that could be tracked on satellite images. Boats, buoys, propane tanks and refrigerator doors are still washing up on the shores of North America and Hawaii.
But much of the tsunami debris has joined the "plastic smog" that collects in oceanic gyres. The bodies of more than 2,000 people, of the 16,000 estimated to have died, have never been recovered. Four years on, this is less likely to happen - organic matter will have mostly "returned to nature." "I want to search for my daughter as long as my body allows me to. If I just give up, there's zero chance. If I keep searching, I might have a chance at least." (photos at link)

OSU quake expert warns his own school not to build in Newport, Oregon's tsunami zone - The Hatfield Marine Science Center sits near the mouth of Yaquina Bay, a tsunami inundation area with soils prone to liquefaction. A large earthquake near the coast could generate a wave 43 feet high, according to researchers. An Oregon State University earthquake expert is redoubling opposition to his school's plan of building a science center in Newport's tsunami zone.
Bucking OSU and the Oregon Legislature, which recently approved bonding for the building, he painted a worst-case scene of hundreds trying to evacuate the structure after it's been rocked by a magnitude-9 earthquake. Picture survivors, including injured, disabled and elderly people in a driving rain, attempting to negotiate a mile of rough, liquefied sandbar strewn with live power lines. Imagine their plight as 43-foot tsunami waves rip apart the Yaquina Bay Bridge, large ships and a liquefied-natural-gas tank - turning them into projectiles.
"Really nobody can calculate if or how many people would die in that building during the next tsunami. It's not possible to mitigate it to ensure that everybody would survive." The tsunami scenario pits some of the best minds at OSU against one another in a battle of wills that has so far remained collegial. Oregon State engineers believe designs for the expanded Hatfield Marine Science Center can pass peer review and produce a world-class demonstration of how to build in a tsunami zone.
Other opponents say no amount of advance planning will prevent catastrophic damage when the big one strikes. He said the clash represents a cultural divide between engineers and earthquake geologists. "Engineers are trained to try to make things work for the clients wishes, and so mitigation is often the first choice. We geologists, though, would call that putting lipstick on a pig."
He not only repeated statements that the planned building should be sited elsewhere, but also recommended relocating existing OSU and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buildings already in Newport's South Beach. The area also includes other government-agency offices, the Oregon Coast Aquarium and establishments including a brewpub.
In his vision, South Beach would become a park now - instead of a memorial later. He notes a memorial park in Hilo, Hawaii, where a "clock of doom," frozen at 1:04 a.m., commemorates 96 residents killed by a 1946 tsunami.
He said OSU should build its new science center on high ground, pumping in any seawater needed for research – and probably saving money in the process. But an OSU spokesman said OSU labs need large quantities of seawater procured at high tide. The building's maximum occupancy will be 350, well below building-code restrictions of 500, which was the upper number originally proposed. Faculty and students in the building will research marine science and critical issues facing coastal communities – including tsunamis. They will live on high ground.
In their latest findings, scientists say that a tsunami generated by a quake of magnitude-8 or higher has a 24 percent chance of hitting northern Oregon, including Newport, during the next 50 years. The Oregon Resilience Plan recommends locating "critical facilities" outside of tsunami inundation zones. Those include police stations, fire stations, hospitals, elementary schools and high schools.
The report and OSU's approach parallel Japan's strategy. Japan has passed tsunami-zone construction laws since 2011, when an offshore magnitude-9 earthquake triggered towering waves that killed more than 19,000 and caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Actually, the planned OSU building would violate Japanese law. But OSU can get away with siting it in the subduction zone because here, secondary schools aren't designated as essential facilities.
"We're going to go against what would essentially be illegal in Japan. Putting a school building in a tsunami zone intentionally is moving in the wrong direction."


* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Catgory 3 Hurricane Dolores is located about 2400 mi (385 km) SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Swells generated by Dolores are affecting portions of the coast of southwestern Mexico and Baja California Sur, but the storm track is away from the coast. Gradual weakening is expected to begin later today, and Dolores could be a tropical storm by early Saturday.

- Tropical storm Enrique is located about 1655 mi (2665 km) W of the southern tip of Baja California, and is weakening. Enrique is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression today, and become a remnant low by Friday.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 11w (Nangka) is located approximately 142 nm southeast of Iwakuni, Japan.
A strong ridge to the northeast of Nangka should keep the hurricane on a north-northwest bearing until landfall on Saturday local time near the islands of Shikoku and western Honshu. This track would put some of Japan’s biggest cities on the more dangerous eastern side of Nangka, so it's weakening trend is good news indeed. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects Nangka to be a Category 1 storm at landfall.
Heavy rains, high winds, and some power outages can be expected in the cities of Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka, as Nangka comes ashore and encounters Japan’s mountainous islands. Further to the north, Tokyo may experience tropical-storm-level impacts. The north-northwestward path of the storm is nearly perpendicular to the coastline, which would maximize any coastal flooding from Nangka (a major storm surge is not expected, though).

- Typhoon 01c (Halola) is located approximately 148 nm west-southwest of Wake Island.
It now appears Halola will remain weak enough and far enough south of Wake Island to avoid major impacts there. Wind shear has kept Halola from strengthening as much as expected, but the shear should relax in a couple of days, which will give Halola a chance to intensify. Halola could approach Japan next week, although the long-range models suggest the typhoon will recurve before that point.

* In the Atlantic -
There are no systems of interest in the Atlantic basin, and prospects are minimal for any tropical development there for at least the next several days.
Hurricane Dolores Hit Category 4 Strength - EARLIEST TRIO OF CATEGORY 4 HURRICANES ON RECORD for Northeast Pacific. A pulse of rapid intensification late Tuesday and early Wednesday pushed Hurricane Dolores to borderline Category 4 intensity in the Northeast Pacific. Dolores’s peak winds surged from 85 mph at 3:00 pm EDT Tuesday to 130 mph at 3:00 am Wednesday, which translates to a leap from Category 1 to Category 4 status in just 12 hours.
Of the season’s first four named storms in the Northeast Pacific, only Carlos has fallen short of Category 4 strength. Dolores is the EARLIEST OCCCURRENCE OF THE SEASON'S THIRD CATGORY 4 SYSTEM in this basin, beating out Hurricane Frank, which became a Cat 4 on July 17, 1992.
Northeast Pacific records go back to 1949. It’s also the first time that three of the first four named systems in the Northeast Pacific have all reached Category 4 intensity. Dolores’s record comes no major surprise, given the persistently favorable wind shear and very high sea-surface temperatures induced by a strong and still-intensifying El Niño event. A very strong pulse of the Madden-Julian Oscillation has influenced the eastern tropical Pacific for the last few weeks, enhancing the upward motion that fuels hurricane development. This MJO event is now subsiding, but the presence of a strong El Niño continues to favor above-average activity in the Northeast Pacific.
Especially noteworthy with this El Niño is the northward extent of the UNUSUALLY WARM WATER off Baja California and the U.S. Pacific states, meeting up with the “blob” of warm water off the Canadian west coast that’s persisted for months. Even with these impressive anomalies, SSTs are still far too cool to support tropical development immediately off the California coast.
However, the zone of SSTs greater than 26°C, which is considered the threshold for maintaining a tropical cyclone, now EXTENDS SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES FURTHER NORTH THAN USUAL. This lays the groundwork for any hurricane recurving toward the southwest U.S. to maintain its strength longer than usual, all else being equal.
Of course, the particulars of any given storm (its strength, structure, upper-level support, etc.) will determine how much of an impact might result. Over the next few weeks, residents of southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico will need to keep tabs on any hurricanes whose track would take remnants in their direction, as the risk for heavy rain, flash flooding, and even tropical-storm force winds could be elevated by the presence of such warm SSTs upstream.


Moisture- Packed Atmosphere Fueling a Week of Severe Weather - While the North Atlantic has yet to produce a hurricane this year, extremely muggy air across a broad swath of the Midwest has millions of people keeping an eye out for severe storms. The upper-level flow is often too weak by midsummer to support supercells, but a band of stronger jet-stream winds now extends from the Midwest toward the Northeast, lending support to evening thunderstorms congealing overnight into mesoscale convective systems (MCSs).
One such MCS maintained itself across a JAW-DROPPING DISTANCE: it developed over Minnesota on Sunday night and was still recognizable as a weak line of storms pushing offshore from the Carolinas early Tuesday morning. Four tornadoes were reported late Sunday as the system organized over western Minnesota, and NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) logged several hundred reports of high wind over the MCS track on Sunday night and Monday.
Was this event a derecho (a long-lived, thuderstorm-related wind storm)? Although its winds were widespread, most reports were in the 60 – 70 mph range, which resulted in mainly minor damage. Derechoes typically have at least a few reports of winds gusting to at least 75 mph. However, the Sunday-Monday event as a whole is consistent with the characteristics of derechoes put forth in a widely cited 2005 BAMS paper.
Severe storms regenerated behind the initial MCS on Monday evening, bringing more heavy rain and high wind to parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia that were struck the night before. Tennis-ball sized hail (2.5” diameter) was reported by a CoCoRaHS observer at Burnham-Wegewisch, IL (in Cook County, just southeast of Chicago), and hail close to 4” in diameter was observed near Marseilles, IL.
Far west of the main action on Monday evening, a lone supercell in central Kansas produced a photogenic tornado northwest of Hutchinson. By Monday evening, close to 200,000 customers had lost power as a result of the day’s storms, and flash flooding led to at least one fatality and some 150 homes damaged or destroyed in Johnson County, KY. All told, Monday produced a total of at least 477 “filtered” severe reports in the SPC database. That's the largest number on a single date since November 17, 2013.
Yet another large MCS was making its way across southeastern Ohio on Tuesday afternoon. SPC has placed a region from eastern Kentucky and Tennessee through the Carolinas in an enhanced risk of severe weather for Tuesday afternoon and evening, with a large slight risk area covering much of the east-central U.S. and a smaller slight-risk area in western Kansas.
What’s making this summer so humid? From the Midwest to the Southeast, the summer thus far has been marked by frequently sultry conditions. Dew point readings in the vicinity of 75°F have been commonplace; for a temperature of 95°F, this would correspond to a relative humidity of 53% and a heat index of 108°F. Nashville recorded a dew point of 81°F on Tuesday afternoon, its highest reading since August 1995.
The moist conditions have been fostered by consistent southerly flow of near-surface air from the Gulf of Mexico, and at times by upper-level moisture streaming into the U.S. from the tropical Pacific, where El Niño continues to intensify. Some of the moisture has arrived from below, as summer heat allows water vapor to escape from wet soils left behind by record-setting rains.
Both Texas and Oklahoma saw THEIR WETTEST MONTH ON RECORD in May, and Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio all saw THEIR WETTEST JUNES ON RECORD. The extremely unstable air across the Midwest this week is also a partial byproduct of agriculture. The highest U.S. dewpoints in July are often found not along the Gulf Coast but in the heart of the Corn Belt, as the enormous leaves of fast-growing corn plants send vast amounts of moisture into the air through evapotranspiration.
The highest reliably measured dew point in the United States — an excruciating 90°F — was reported at Appleton, Wisconsin, on July 13, 1999 (with an air temperature of 101°F!). As farmers learn how to pack plants ever more tightly into limited space, there’s more leaf area per acre, which means more moisture pulled into the plant from deep roots can be sent back into the atmosphere.”


Photos - The 9 most amazing clouds. They can take the form of jellyfish or UFOs.

Extreme weather hits Papua, Indonesia - 11 dead. At least 11 people from three districts in Lanny Jaya regency, Papua, have died after extreme cold weather hit the area earlier this month. Extremely cold temperatures along with hail had occurred in Ku- yawage, Goa Baliem and West Wano districts from July 3 to 5.
“During the three days, HAIL CONTINUOUSLY FELL FROM MORNING UNTIL EVENING. At the same time, local residents experienced extreme cold weather as the air temperature dropped to minus 2 degrees Celsius." Similar hailstorms had not occurred since 1989, when Lanny Jaya was still a part of the Jayawijaya regency. Most local residents were not prepared for such extreme weather.
“It was the first time many locals had experienced such low temperatures in their whole lives. In West Wano district, 11 residents died because they could not stand the extreme temperatures. Meanwhile, many other residents have been suffering from diarrhea after the hail.”
At least 1,200 families live in the three isolated districts, which can only be reached by small aircraft or by walking for two days from the regency’s capital city of Tiom. The local administration is planning to send medical assistance and food supplies to the three districts in a chartered aircraft on Wednesday, as the hail had also severely damaged residents’ farmland and killed a large number of livestock.
“The local residents are not only facing a food crisis but are also vulnerable to diseases.” Meanwhile, in the neighboring Puncak regency, thousands of people in the Agandugume district have also been struggling with a food crisis with a number of hailstorms having hit the area beginning earlier this month.
“We are currently facing the dry season, the rain has not come for quite a long time. At nights, however, hail falls. Frost has covered residents’ plants, like potatoes, tubers and vegetables, leaving them damaged." The food scarcity has forced residents to eat wild ferns in order to survive.
Puncak regional administration is planning to send rice stocks to the district but has so far faced difficulties in transporting them due to bad weather and technical constraints. “We have recently managed to drop only eight sacks of rice to Agandugume as the flight can be only taken once a day due to bad weather." Like the three isolated districts in Lanny Jaya, the Agandugume district is located between 2,300 and 2,500 meters above sea level and can only be accessed with small aircraft. The district is situated just below the 4,884-meter Puncak Jaya mountain, one of the world’s seven tallest summits.
At noon, the air temperature in the area has been ranging from 10 to 12 degrees Celsius, while at night the temperature can drop to 3 degrees. “The latest report confirmed that there are 6,150 people living in three villages that have been recently hit by hail. We have prepared rice and clothes to be sent to the affected areas. However, we are still unable to send them due to bad weather."

Scientists have discovered a winged dragon - "This is the most exciting time maybe in the history of palaeontology." Scientists have discovered a winged dragon - a winged dinosaur - an ancestor of the velociraptor - that they say was on the cusp of becoming a bird. The find is part of an "increasingly complex picture" of emerging evidence "that certainly a lot of [dinosaurs] and possibly even all of them had feathers or at least downy hair. It will blow some people's minds to realise that those dinosaurs in the movies would have been even weirder, and I think even scarier - like big fluffy birds from hell."
The 6ft 6in (2m) creature was almost perfectly preserved in limestone, thanks to a volcanic eruption that had buried it in north-east China. And the 125-million year-old fossil suggests many other dinosaurs, including velociraptors, would have looked like "big, fluffy killer birds". But its large body makes it unlikely that it could fly.
"It has short arms, and it is covered in feathers [with] proper wings with layers of quill- pen feathers. So even though this is a dinosaur, even though it is a close relative of velociraptor, it looks exactly like a turkey or a vulture...So maybe [wings] did not evolve for flight - perhaps they evolved as a display structure, or to protect eggs in the nest. Or maybe this animal was starting to move around in the trees and was able to glide."
China is the epicentre of palaeontology right now. "There are [museum] storerooms full of new dinosaur fossils that have never been studied before.


Study show high-risk areas for Lyme disease growing - The geographic areas where Lyme disease is a bigger danger have grown dramatically, according to a new upper Midwest. But now more areas in those regions are considered high risk. "The risk is expanding, in all directions."
There are now 260 counties where the number of Lyme disease cases is at least twice what's expected, given the size of each county's population. That's up from 130 a decade earlier. Overall, 17 states have high-risk counties. The entire state of Connecticut, where the illness was first identified in 1975, has been high-risk for decades. Now, high-risk zones encompass nearly all of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and more than half of Maine and Vermont.
Other states that saw expansion of high-risk areas include Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York along the Eastern seaboard, and Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota in the Midwest. Some counties have dropped off the high-risk list, including those in Virginia, Georgia, Missouri and North Carolina where significant clusters were reported in the 1990s. Scientists now think those were a different condition caused by a different tick's bite.
Lyme disease is most common in wooded suburban and far suburban counties. Scientists aren't sure why high-risk areas are expanding, but it likely has something to do with development and other changes that cause the deer and ticks that carry the bacteria to move. The disease is transmitted through the bites of infected deer ticks, which can be about the size of a poppy seed.

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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

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None 5.0 or larger.

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Frustration grows among Nepal quake survivors as monsoon swamps camps. Two months after massive twin earthquakes killed 8,897 people in Nepal, nearly three million survivors, many in mountainous, hard-to-reach areas, still needed shelter, food and basic medical care as the yearly monsoon bore down on the Himalayan nation, the U.N. said in a report released last week.
The report said that while government-led recovery was "scaling up", there were still at least 2.8 million people - some 10% of Nepal's population - that needed urgent help. The government has distributed more than $80 million in aid across quake-hit areas, including $150 in cash to over 250,000 families, to help make temporary shelters, officials said, and the Nepal Red Cross Society said most of the government's shelter distribution was done.
But the Red Cross also warned that people who are staying in haphazard camps far from home, risk falling through the cracks. At the two boggy camps in Gajurkot, where nearly 500 people settled after their homes were destroyed in hard-hit Sindhupalchowk district, diarrhoea, infection and trauma cases were all on the rise. Neither of the camps had drainage, leaving rainwater to pool up around the tents and making snakes frequent visitors.
Several residents said they had yet to receive any cash payment from the government. "We are forced to live like animals." The economy, propped up by aid and remittances, is expected to slump to an eight-year low of 3 percent growth this fiscal year, after thousands of tourists fled the country and decimated the crucial tourism industry. Nepal said it will need $6.6 billion for reconstruction over the next five years, and has so far received donors' pledges worth $4.4 billion.
But in a country with a history of weak oversight, some donors worry the funds could be squandered. "To expect the politicians to come and help us is a myth. We don't even want to see their faces on television."

Warning over Indonesia's Sinabung volcano - People living close to Mount Sinabung in Indonesia have been told to move out of their homes as fears grow that the volcano could soon erupt. Huge plumes of ash and smoke have been seen rising from the crater. The volcano, which is on the island of Sumatra, is one of the most active in Indonesia. (video at link)


* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical storm Ela is moving northwest and is not a significant threat to Hawaii. Located about 765 mi (1230 km) E of Honolulu, Hawaii.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Chan-Hom is located approximately 138 nm south of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.

- Tropical storm Linfa is located approximately 45 nm north-northeast of Hong Kong.

- Super typhoon Nangka is located approximately 182 nm north-northwest of Saipan.
Tropical Storm Ela Little Threat to Hawaii - Category 3 Chan-hom Heads for China. Tropical Storm Ela, the first named storm of the 2015 Central Pacific hurricane season, got its name Wednesday night when an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found a small area of 40 mph winds to the northeast of the center. Named storms are RARE in the Central Pacific (west of 140°W longitude) this early in the season; the last time the Central Pacific saw a named storm this early in the year was on June 21, 2001 (Tropical Storm Barbara).
Ela's formation so early in the year was aided by ocean temperatures about 2°F above average. Ela is headed northwest at 15 mph on a path that should keep the center of the storm at least 200 miles to the northeast of the islands at the time of closest approach on Saturday. Satellite loops continue to show an unimpressive storm. Conditions should cause weakening of Ela.

Dangerous Category 3 Typhoon Chan-hom headed for China - Intensifying Category 3 Typhoon Chan-hom is headed northwestwards at 15 mph towards China, and promises to be a dangerous and very expensive typhoon for a portion of the country unused to strong typhoons. Thursday morning satellite images showed that Chan-hom was a huge storm with a prominent 15-mile diameter eye that was contracting as the storm continued its slow intensification process. Some dry air to the northwest of the storm was keeping the intensification rate relatively slow, as was the lack of a strong upper-level outflow channel.
The typhoon is on a track to pass between Japan's Miyakojima and Okinawa islands today. Since Chan-hom's wind field is exceptionally large, with tropical storm-force winds that go out 230 miles from the center, these islands will receive an extended pummeling. As of noon EDT Thursday (midnight local time), Kadena Air Base on Okinawa had already seen sustained tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 mph for eight hours, with sustained peak winds of 58 mph, gusting to 78 mph, at 11:57 pm Thursday local time. With the center of Chan-hom expected to make its closest approach to the island near 2 pm EDT (3 am Friday local time), Okinawa can expect to see at least an 18-hour period of sustained tropical storm-force winds.
On Friday, as Chan-hom approaches China, ocean heat content will fall and wind shear is expected to rise, which should cause weakening. Even so, Chan-hom's very large wind field will be capable of bringing an UNUSUALLY HIGH STORM SURGE to the coast; the storm surge may be one of the five highest in the past century for the coastal region just to the north of where the center makes landfall on Friday evening. However, the exact landfall location in China is quite uncertain, as a strong trough of low pressure is expected to turn the typhoon northwards as the center nears the coast on Friday.
As Chan-hom curves to the north a weakens due to interaction with land, the storm is expected to pass very close to Shanghai as a very large and very wet tropical storm. Significant wind damage, coastal flooding, and flooding due to heavy rain is possible in Shanghai, which is China's most populous city (14 million people.)

Elsewhere in the tropics - Typhoon Linfa hit South China's Guangdong province on Thursday at 12:15 local time Thursday as a Category 1 typhoon with 75 mph winds. Linfa has since weakened to a tropical storm, and is expected to track west-southwest towards Hong Kong. Category 4 Super Typhoon Nangka (155 mph winds) is just below Category 5 strength, but is fortunately affecting only a sparsely populated portion of the Northern Mariana Islands. Nagka is on a track that could bring it near Japan on Friday, July 17, but it is too early to assess the risk this storm might pose to Japan.

The Atlantic remains quiet, and is dominated by high wind shear and stable dry air. None of our reliable genesis models are showing tropical storm formation in the Atlantic over the next five days.

Earlier this week - Typhoons in the Pacific are multiplying like gremlins, putting China at risk. Three tropical cyclones, two of which appear destined to be powerhouse storms of near-super typhoon strength, are spinning slowly across the western tropical Pacific Ocean, with a fourth storm about to be born on Monday. The most dangerous storm of the group — Typhoon Chan-hom — has already made its presence felt, as it dumped more than a foot of rain in Guam over the Fourth of July weekend.
The storm struggled to intensify for the first several days of its life, but it was still forecast to deepen into a super typhoon, with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, by Thursday. It may affect southwestern Japan, including Okinawa, on Thursday, Taiwan on Thursday night, and China on Friday night through Saturday..Typhoon Chan-hom may come close to the island of Okinawa, and brush past the northern part of Taiwan, or possibly make landfall there, on July 10.
The area at greatest risk for a direct landfall from this storm appears to be between Shanghai and Wenzhou, China, on July 11 and 12. This puts a large, urban area at risk of seeing strong winds of greater than 75 miles per hour, as well as heavy rain and storm surge-related flooding. About 2 million people call Wenzhou home, while Shanghai is far larger, with a population of about 14.3 million. This part of the Chinese coast has a long history of encounters with typhoons, though many of the landfalling storms there have been weakening as they approached land.

Following about four days behind Chan-hom is Typhoon Nangka, which is forecast to pass across the Northern Mariana Islands while intensifying into the equivalent of a Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane. It too could be an eventual threat to China or Japan.
Then there is Tropical Storm Linfa, which made landfall in the northern Philippines' island of Luzon over the weekend, dumping copious amounts of rainfall in the process. Linfa is meandering between the Philippines, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, and is likely to stumble ashore in a rather disorganized state, its center wobbling to and fro.
But that's not all. There's likely to be another tropical cyclone forming behind Typhoon Nangka, where the Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued a tropical cyclone formation alert on Monday.

The MJO as the jumper cable of Pacific storms - The sudden burst of activity in the central and western Pacific Ocean follows a six-week lull in activity there, after this part of the world had its MOST ACTIVE START TO THE TYPHOON SEASON ON RECORD. Three of the first four typhoons that developed reached the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, and THE PLANET HAS ALREADY SEEN AS MANY CATEGORY 5 STORMS AS IT TYPICALLY DOES IN A GIVEN YEAR.
There are two primary reasons for the increase in storm activity. The first is a strengthening El Niño event, which is bringing much above average ocean temperatures to a broad area of the tropical Pacific Ocean, roughly from the international dateline eastward to South America. El Niño events tend to increase the amount of storminess in areas just north and south of the equator, and these tropical thunderstorms, if given the right encouragement from the atmosphere, can start to organize, take on some rotation and intensify into a fledgling tropical cyclone.
But the El Niño does not explain the whole picture. It has been present during the entire spring and summer, yet the tropical Pacific went into sleep mode for six weeks. The other factor at work is a global weather cycle known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO. Named after meteorologists Roland Madden and Paul Julian, who first described the cycle in 1971, the MJO is an eastward-moving disturbance of clouds, rainfall, winds and pressure that circles the globe in between 30 to 60 days or so, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The MJO has two phases, an enhanced rainfall phase and a suppressed rainfall phase. Recently, the central and western Pacific entered into a particularly strong enhanced rainfall phase, after being in a six-week suppressed phase. The enhanced rainfall phase favors increased thunderstorm activity across the ocean basin, resulting in more tropical cyclones. once the MJO turned favorable over the abnormally mild Pacific, it's as if someone lit a match — and boom! Four tropical cyclones at once.

El Nino Gets Reinforced by Cyclones as Event to Last Until 2016 - The El Nino forming across the Pacific has been turbocharged by a series of tropical cyclones that helped to shift the direction of trade winds, potentially adding to warming that’s evoking parallels with the record 1997-98 event.
Several cyclones, including a RARE storm in the Southern Hemisphere this month, resulted in a strong reversal of trade winds near the equator, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday. That’s set to increase temperatures below the surface, which then may raise sea- surface temperatures further in the coming months.
El Ninos can affect weather worldwide by baking Asia, dumping rain across South America and bringing cooler summers to North America. This year’s pattern, the first since 2010, will probably bring warmer, drier weather to palm oil regions in Southeast Asia. Tropical commodities including palm oil are to be favored over other raw materials such as gold and copper this half as the El Nino raises risks, according to Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.
The “El Nino will persist until at least the end of 2015. Models also indicate that further warming is likely. Historically, El Nino reaches its peak strength during the late spring or early summer,” in the southern hemisphere. Three of five sea-surface temperature indexes are at their warmest sustained weekly value since the 1997-98 event. The so-called temperature anomaly in the central Pacific in June was the second warmest on record for the month, behind only 1997. The El Nino of 1997-98 was the strongest on record.


Italy - A tornado has swept through the outskirts of the Italian city of Venice - destroying large numers of homes and other buildings. (video at link)


Germany Breaks its All-Time Heat Record - Germany BROKE ITS ALL-TIME HEAT RECORD on Sunday July 5, when the mercury soared to 104.5°F (40.3°C) at the official Kitzingen station in Bavaria. The record is now confirmed as official. The previous official national heat record recognized by the German meteorological agency was 104.4°F (40.2°C), set in July 1983 and matched in August 2003.
Numerous cities in Germany set all-time heat records over the weekend, including Saturday's 100.2°F (37.9°C ) reading at Berlin's Dahlem station, which has a very long period of record going back to 1876. Frankfurt beat its all-time heat record on Sunday - both at the airport (38.8°C) and downtown (39.0°C).
More near-record heat on the way - Germany has joined four other nations that have set ALL-TIME JULY NATIONAL HEAT RECORDS this month: the Netherlands, the U.K., Thailand, and Colombia. Intense heat continued over portions of Europe the next three days, with more national July heat records at risk. The fiercest heat was to be over Poland on Monday, over Germany, Switzerland, and Austria on Tuesday, then shift to Southeast Europe on Wednesday. High temperatures close to the highest values ever measured can be expected in all these locations.
Poland's all-time hottest temperature is 104.4°F (40.2°C), measured on July 29, 1921 at Proszkow.
Switzerland's all-time hottest temperature is 106.7°F (41.5°C), measured on August 11, 2003 at Grono.
Austria's all-time hottest temperature is 104.9°F (40.5°C), measured on August 8, 2013 at Bad Deutsch-Altenburg.
Liechtenstein's all-time hottest temperature is 99.3°F (37.4°C), measured on August 13, 2003 at Ruggel.
Andorra's all-time hottest temperature is 101.3°F (38.5°C), measured on July 16, 2005 at Andorra La Vella.


Thailand's capital is sinking into the Earth at an alarming rate - Thailand’s capital is both glitzy and gritty, a city of glass towers and cement hovels teeming with nearly 10 million people. All that steel and concrete and humanity sits on what was once marshland. The ground beneath is spongy and moist. Imagine a brick resting on top of a birthday cake. That’s Bangkok — and it’s sinking into the Earth at an alarming rate.
Thailand’s disaster specialists have been warning of this coming calamity for years. One expert has said he’s “worried about Bangkok resembling Atlantis.” Another previously told GlobalPost that the city will be under five feet of water by 2030. Previous estimates showed that Bangkok is sinking more than three inches per year. But newer data suggests the rate is closer to four inches per year.
The predictions for 2100 are even more dire. By then, Bangkok will be fully submerged and unlivable. Like global warming, which will accelerate the city’s submersion by raising the sea level, Bangkok’s sinking woes are repeatedly shrugged off. Thailand’s military and civilian rulers alike tend to obsess over immediate concerns (namely power, prestige and money) and keep punting the problem along.
But the monsoon season, currently underway, tends to bring this crisis to mind. A nasty storm can suddenly turn Bangkok’s streets into gushing streams. Sewers overflow, taxis churn through fetid water and, occasionally, kids can scoop up displaced fish wriggling above the asphalt. Four years ago, during a particularly severe flood, GlobalPost found families in neck-deep waters on their second-story balconies.
The director of the Southeast Asia Regional Research Center predicts the city’s outskirts will be the first to go. Parts of the shoreline beyond Bangkok are already lined with pumps that grunt noisily and purge invading seawater. They don’t always work. During heavy rains, saltwater flows in the streets. Bangkok is swallowed up a little more each day.
Experts tend to offer two solutions. The first is to erect a massive seawall that could cost nearly $3 billion — about half of Thailand’s current GDP. The second option? Giving up entirely and moving the capital to higher ground.

Massive El Niño growing in California , say models — There is growing evidence California could see an even stronger El Niño event this winter than the 1997 one that caused massive flooding across Northern California. Stunning images from Japan's Himawari 8 Weather Satellite, just activated Tuesday, show what could become a historic El Niño in full bloom.
"Almost all models are showing consistency that we're seeing a stronger and stronger tendency for that to hold in place through the winter season. It could rival that of 1997." In recent days, cyclones and typhoons, including one mammoth storm heading toward China with cloud cover the size of Texas, have helped shift the trade winds from west to east, pushing warm sub-surface water toward the coast of South America and making it all but certain an El Niño event will last at least through the fall.
California has been a drought for 4 years. California has been a drought for 4 years. "What we want is just enough water to come in slowly enough for the watersheds to hold that. The nice thing is that so many of them are dry that they have the capacity, but the flip side of that is, as anybody knows in a desert climate, is that terrain is just parched and so a lot of that can be runoff if those storms are too warm."
In this El Niño year, if the models hold up — and climatologists said they seem almost certain it will — it could soon be the beginning of the end of California's historic drought, even if it may come at a price. "Yes, El Niño's great, and it could provide us with relief and replenish some of these reservoirs. The flip side of that is it could mean catastrophic flooding, too."


Child's Mysterious Paralysis Tied to New Virus - Mysterious cases of paralysis in U.S. children over the last year have researchers searching for the cause of the illness. Now, a new study suggests that a new strain of a poliolike virus may be responsible for some of the cases.
So far, more than 100 children in 34 states have suddenly developed muscle weakness or paralysis in their arms or legs, a condition known as acute flaccid myelitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Previously, researchers linked a virus called enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), which can cause respiratory illness similar to the common cold, with some of these cases.
But only about 20 percent of children with paralysis tested positive for EV-D68, and even in these cases, it wasn't clear if EV-D68 was the cause of the child's condition. In the new study, researchers say that one case of paralysis, in a 6-year-old girl, is linked with another strain of enterovirus, called enterovirus C105. This virus belongs to the same species (enterovirus C) as the polio virus.
Although the new study doesn't definitely prove that enterovirus C105 was the cause of the girl's paralysis, it suggests that there are other viruses besides EV-D68 that are contributing to the outbreak of acute flaccid myelitis.
The study should make researchers aware that "there's another virus out there that has this association with paralysis. We probably shouldn't be quite so fast to jump to enterovirus D68 as the [only] cause of these cases." The 6-year-old girl was previously healthy, but she caught a cold from members in her family, and developed a mild fever. Her fever and cold symptoms soon went away, but she was left with persistent arm pain. Then her parents noticed that the girl's shoulder appeared to droop, and she had difficulty using her right hand.
This virus may have gone unrecognized in the current outbreak until now because it is relatively new, and can be hard to detect. "The presence of this virus strain in North America may contribute to the incidence of flaccid paralysis and may also pose a diagnostic challenge in clinical laboratories." The researchers noted that enterovirus D68, and now enterovirus C105, have been found in the respiratory tract of children with acute flaccid myelitis, but so far, these viruses have not been found in the spinal fluid of these patients. That's important because a virus in the respiratory tract would not necessarily cause paralysis.
"You can have a virus in your respiratory tract that’s not doing anything to your nervous system." In order to more definitively link these cases of paralysis with enterovirus, researchers would need to find the virus in the spinal fluid. But so far, tests have not found the virus there.

Squirrel virus may have killed 3 German men - The deaths of three squirrel breeders in Germany between 2011 and 2013 are being blamed on a virus that apparently jumped from the animals to the men. Researchers believe the men contracted the virus directly from the squirrels because there is no evidence it can move from human to human.
The new form of bornavirus, a type usually found in horses, sheep, birds and rodents, has the potential to spread but has not been shown to do so from human to human. The three men died within two to four months of developing symptoms of encephalitis - fever, chills, weakness, confusion and difficulty walking. The condition, characterized by swelling of the brain, is usually caused by a virus, however testing did not reveal what caused their brains to swell.
At least two of the three men were known to have been bit or scratched by variegated squirrels, an exotic breed native to southern Mexico and Central America, leading researchers to run genetic tests on one of the animals. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control advised people in February not to feed or get close to squirrels after the potential link was made while additional studies were conducted.
Doctors have said that the threat to other people remains low as additional humans and animals have yet to be found with it, and researchers are still unsure exactly how each of the men contracted the disease. "It's likely that bornavirus, commonly found in horses and sheep and capable of causing neurological symptoms, was present in the squirrels that scratched these men, causing the neurological and behavioral symptoms. It is possible that this virus could spread to squirrels here in the U.S. and occasionally to humans, but we wouldn't see sustained spread, as there is no evidence of spread from human to human."

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 6/23/15 -

6/22/15 -

6/21/15 -

6/20/15 -

6/19/15 -
None 5.0 or larger.

6/18/15 -

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6/16/15 -

6/15/15 -

6/14/15 -

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.


No current tropical storms.


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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