2005 - Disasters from January - June

[A lot of the source articles are no longer available, due to news sites making many of their articles available for only a limited time. I have all the URLs though and if you would like any of the links to check or to use as source references, email me(Crystal) at disasterwatch@att.net and I can send them to you.]

Thursday, June 30, 2005 -

There have been a low number of moderate quakes the last two days, so today could be active.
A 4.0 quake that rattled Southern California Monday afternoon was centered just a few miles from a 4.9 earthquake that struck the area 11 days ago. The quake was centered about 75 miles east of Los Angeles. On Sunday, the Lake Tahoe region was jolted just before noon by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake.

Truckee, Nevada's 4.8 earthquake on Sunday is the latest in recent activity over several years. Between August of 2003 and January 2004, an "earthquake swarm" rattled the Sierra with frequent, small temblors, then suddenly stopped. Slide Mountain under Mount Rose moved up and east about 3/8 of an inch. Then, about a year ago on June 3, a similar-size earthquake struck northeast of Sunday's epicenter.

83 tremors have hit the New Madrid Seismic Zone in the central U.S. in the past six months. "We are not aware of what the reasons are. We know some underlying things but we are limited in the understanding of the situation." According to scientists, the possibility of a "Big One" hitting the Heartland is seven percent.

The weather has gone haywire in southeast Queensland and northern NSW, Australia, where unusually warm winter nights, unseasonably heavy rain, storms, floods, gales and high seas have been caused by a freak influx of tropical air from New Caledonia. The low-pressure system, known as a severe East Coast Low, last occurred in southeast Queensland in 1996. "These events usually produce wild seas and a lot of rain."

A storm system has caused serious flooding on the Gold Coast of Australia, with people trapped in cars and rising water causing havoc in many suburbs. "We have flooding happening in every suburb, we have entrapped persons in motor vehicles, we have lots of damaged roofs." Police were very worried about some of the stranded people. Further rain was expected to bring more flooding. The southern end of the Gold Coast had recorded falls of 368mm in the past 24 hours. A police spokesman said almost the entire Gold Coast was under water. It was believed two people missing on the Gold Gold were swept off the Coomera Causeway. Strong winds and falling trees caused widespread damage on the Gold Coast. One of the areas worst affected by the heavy rain was the northern NSW town of Lismore, where about 3000 residents were told to evacuate their homes to escape rising floodwaters.

Freak weather storms have led to flash-flooding in parts of Oxfordshire, England leaving some motorists trapped in their vehicles. Many homes have been affected by lightning strikes. The worst affected area is Oxford but people throughout the county have been affected by flooding, lightning strikes and fire alarms being set off.
People were braced for more bad weather on Wednesday evening as forecasters warned new storms in the east were on the way. Ice cube-sized hailstones hit Suffolk.

In far western Queensland, Australia a freak storm has turned the desert white overnight. Deep drifts of hail have covered parts of Nooyeah Downs - a vast cattle station near Thargomindah, about a thousand kilometres west of Brisbane. Locals described the images of ice filling dry creek beds, and moving like glaciers over a red desert. "It was sitting about two inches deep, and with the rainfall washing it down towards the creeks it got into the creeks and blocked the creeks off and there's sort of anywhere between two and two-and-a-half feet deep packed with ice and it's unbelievable. It's sort of half pea-size hail. You could see where the masses of ice have actually sort of slid along on the inside bend of a creek there where it's actually pushed it along and moved all the sort of stones that are anywhere between pebble-sized to sort of two-and-a-half inches just sort of scraped them all along the ground, scoured the ground as it's all moved around...looking at the depth of it, mate, it's going to sit there for nearly four or five days."

Flood worries continued unabated across the Prairies of Canada on Wednesday as officials issued a flood watch for all of southern Manitoba and some Albertans prepared to fight swollen rivers for the third time this month.

In a landslide in India, two labourers were killed and up to 12 others were believed to be trapped. A tunnel they were building to bring water to an Indian village collapsed in the landslide triggered by heavy rain. Navy divers were among the rescue workers trying to reach the survivors, but heavy rainfall was hampering relief efforts. Heavy rainfall across western India over the past three days has caused flooding and inundated low-lying areas.

In Japan, heavy rain set off flooding and landslides in Niigata Prefecture on Tuesday, prompting authorities to call in the Ground Self-Defense Force for help. Residents of Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, were evacuated on rubber rafts Tuesday as a local river flooded over due to heavy rain. In the city of Uonuma, a mudslide swept a van carrying five people some 5 meters down a road and into a rice paddy. Police are warning the public to pay special attention to the possibility of mudslides, due to ground that was weakened by the major earthquake and aftershocks in the region last October.

When powerful thunderstorms moved through the region Monday, Plymouth, New Hampshire was hit particularly hard by lightning. Firefighters from 17 communities were called in to help. "I've never seen anything like it in my 30 years with the Fire Department." In just five minutes, Plymouth fire crews received nine calls for lightning strikes in the community. Witnesses described the scene as frightening. "The ground would shake."

The worldwide cost of major storms will rise by two-thirds unless governments start taking immediate action to reduce global warming, a report has warned. Without extra efforts to cut global warning, the cost of insured damage in a severe hurricane season in the U.S. could rise by three-quarters. The cost of Japanese typhoons could also increase by three- quarters. "Governments now have a chance to make rational choices for the future, before it is too late."

Families in England have been urged to start saving water as the country suffers its worst drought in nearly 30 years. The southeast of England has had the driest winter since 1976. The region has experienced eight consecutive months of below average rainfall and a dry spring followed by a hot dry start to summer has resulted in low groundwater, river and reservoir levels.

At least 16 people have died in northern Italy during a weeklong heatwave, with health officials warning that one million people are at risk from the soaring temperatures. A chunk of hot Saharan air is stalled over Italy, causing temperatures up to 36 C in the hottest areas in the north.

International scientists have downgraded the risk of an imminent bird flu pandemic, hailing as "very good news" indications that the virus has not mutated. "Since the virus is widely spread, the risk is still there but not as imminent as we initially might have suspected." In spite of the encouraging news, the WHO advises the international community to stay on guard, as influenza viruses are inclined to change frequently.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005 -

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake south of the Fiji Islands has occurred.

Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii began shuddering a year ago, as swarms of earthquakes suggested an eruption might be on the way. Suddenly the swarms stopped, although the mountain's swelling has continued, indicating something is building far below the surface. Mystified scientists, some of whom speculated late last year that Mauna Loa's 20-year sleep was nearly over, couldn't figure out what would come next. The mystery has yet to be solved. Starting last Dec. 15, shaking had reached new highs — more than a week of 40-plus temblors a day. Then the volcano shut down right about the time the massive earthquake off Indonesia launched the catastrophic tsunami that swept through the Indian Ocean in late December. The mountain currently continues swelling, although slowly.

The threat posed to the United Kingdom by tsunamis is very low, but cannot completely be discounted, a government report says. Even so, the wave heights produced are unlikely to exceed those of storm surges, against which coastal centres have existing defences. Nonetheless, current warning systems may be adapted to cope with tsunamis. An 8.6 earthquake and ensuing tsunami which destroyed Lisbon, Portugal on November 1, 1755, generated waves with a maximum height of 18m (60ft). There is also firm geological evidence that a tsunami hit the coasts of Scotland and north-east England following an undersea landslide off Norway about 8,200 years ago.

Heavy rains caused flooding across Central America, leaving 31 dead in El Salvador, including 21 people killed in a bus that was carried away by floodwaters. Authorities were searching for nine others who were missing. Three were killed in San Pedro Puxtla when their homes were carried away by floodwaters. Four people died in a landslide that destroyed about 40 homes in the town of Apaneca. Three were killed in another landslide that buried two homes in Comasagua. Hundreds have been evacuated to higher ground since the rain began Sunday. Landslides have blocked highways, isolating at least one town. In neighboring Honduras, eight people have died and 200 houses damaged during three days of flooding.

Storms and floods are wreaking havoc across south-east Queensland, Australia. "We are getting very strong winds to the south and strong rains and high seas." The Gold Coast hinterland had been battered overnight, with Springbrook recording a staggering 175mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am. There was a rockslide on the Cunningham Highway at Cunningham's Gap. A low pressure area that brought the treacherous conditions was expected to move south to New South Wales tomorrow.

Mammoth boulders hurtled down a mountainside in Vermont on Saturday afternoon, slicing trees on their way toward Route 5A and Lake Willoughby. Three boulders the size of small cars came down the hillside during the afternoon. There have been landslides in the area in the past, but they were not as loud. On top of that, about an eighth of a mile north there appeared a sinkhole, 3 or 4 feet deep and 5 feet in diameter.

This year's wildfires in California are frighteningly fast, much faster than even big fires of seasons past. Fires that would have taken two to three weeks to consume thousands of acres are racing across the same terrain in just two to three days. Near record rains last fall, winter and spring made this the second-wettest rainy season in the area's recorded history. Where once wild grasses grew to 2 or 3 feet tall, luxuriant stretches stand shoulder-deep on a tall man. These stands are fueling wildfires around San Bernadino county, creating a threat particularly to residents in mountain and foothill communities.

A wildfire that quadrupled in size within a few hours was yesterday threatening to engulf a small town in Utah. The blaze grew from 2,000 to 8,000 acres in less than 12 hours and was about three miles from New Harmony. It was one of 19 separate fires covering about 500,000 acres across seven American states - Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Many were started by lightning strikes.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005 -

A geophysical sweet spot on the San Andreas is a miniature earthquake machine. The size of a football field, it rattles with microearthquakes - in this case, earthquakes of magnitude 2 - with surprising regularity. Right next door, within a 2-mile radius, are more microquake clusters. Scientists with a National Science Foundation initiative called EarthScope are building an underground observatory known as SAFOD, or the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth. Just last week SAFOD's giant Texas-style drill bored to an inclined depth of 11,000 feet, coming to within 1,000 ft. of the San Andreas. Around July 4, the giant drill's steel teeth should chatter through to the fault itself, reaching the far side of the San Andreas later this summer. Last year's Parkfield quake affected the broader San Andreas system. Stress has been off-loaded to the section of the fault directly south of the rupture, and that has at least the potential to set the stage for a larger upheaval. It's not inconceivable that the next moderately strong shake-up at Parkfield could lead to the unzipping of a longer section of the fault, spawning a quake of, say, magnitude 7.

High temperatures quickly melted mountain snowpacks in southern Asia, filling the rivers of Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan with run-off.

Some areas of southern Manitoba, Canada have received half their usual annual rainfall in the month of June alone. Residents are on flood alert after heavy rain fell overnight on Sunday.

There have been more deaths in Pakistan from a searing heatwave that's killed at least 196 people. Parts of Pakistan have suffered their highest temperatures for 11 years. Weather officials say relief from monsoon rains is not expected until early next month. The hot weather has also led to floods in parts of northwestern Pakistan, where melting snow has caused rivers to overflow.

Monday, June 27, 2005 -

Thpusands of people were evacuated in India's northern Himachal Pradesh state after a breach in an artificial lake in neighbouring Tibet threatened downstream villages. A flood warning was issued as the level of the Parechu river, which flows from China's Tibet to India, rose 12 to 15 metres after an artificial lake formed by a previous landslide breached its banks. In August last year China warned that the lake in Tibet's Ali prefecture could burst through the landslide debris and release a torrent of water. The threat was averted as the lake froze in the winter.

Manitoba, Canada has suspended construction of a massive dike as the flood danger lessens near northern communities, but is putting southern towns on the alert as forecasters predict heavy rains. Crews had been racing to build a nine-kilometre-long dike along a stretch of road in the Rural Municipality of Kelsey, which lies east of The Pas and about 550 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

The Pearl River in China's Guangdong province has begun to recede after two weeks of the most intense flooding in the region's history.

In Sparks, Nevada crews were cleaning up after an intense thunderstorm dumped 1 1/2 inches of rain and caused widespread street flooding in east Sparks. Friday night's freak storm sent a river down usually dry Pah Rah Canyon and runoff over yards of dozens of homes along at least 20 city streets. "I've been here for 10 years and I've never seen anything like it. The rain was coming down like hoses. What's amazing is that only a mile or so away they had only a little rain." The storm, which also dropped hail, caused scattered power outages.

In Utah, the Westside Complex Fire west of the Shivwits Indian Reservation burned more than 59,000 acres and forced the evacuation of Gunlock, and two fires on the eastern side of the county threatened homes and forced the closure of Interstate 15. Lightning Saturday afternoon ignited the Blue Springs Fire on Dixie National Forest land west of I-15 near exit 30 and had burned at least 2,000 acres and forced the evacuation of five to eight homes. The current winds combined with lightning from thunderstorms, and the hot, dry conditions are creating extreme fire conditions throughout the area. Weather conditions are not expected to change before Wednesday.

In Ohio it has been one extreme to the other - floods in January, a springtime of abundant rainfall and extremely chilly temperatures – including snow on April 24 – and now 90-degree temperatures in mid-June. “Just when you think you have seen it all … we’ve never had a year like this.” It has been a long time “since it was this hot and dry in June.” All areas have received some rain during the past week, however, the amounts recorded since April 1 indicate a rainfall deficit throughout Ohio.

Alarming evidence is emerging from Asia that the bird flu virus, which has killed more than half of those known to have caught it, is spreading. Patchy reports from China and Vietnam suggest that the disease is affecting larger clusters of people, raising concern that it is mutating into a highly infectious strain that will sweep through the world. The Civil Contingency Secretariat in Britian, which says its job is to "look for trouble", keeps tabs on about 100 potential threats from floods to major accidents in factories to a terrorist attack. It now rates bird flu as among the greatest of them all. Plans are being made to close schools and cancel sporting events in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. Officials have also been scouring the country to find sites for mass mortuaries.

Burial grounds have been earmarked in Hawke's Bay (New Zealand) for a deadly flu epidemic that could kill thousands of the region's people. The nightmare scenario is part of health authorities' planning for an event they say is "a matter of when - not if". The first suspected case of human-to-human transmission of bird flu was reported in Vietnam two weeks ago.

Vietnam's agriculture ministry was quoted as saying on Saturday that the mutation of the bird flu virus was increasing the infection possibility between humans. A ministry report says laboratory test results overseas and at home showed the antigen structure of virus is changing. The mutation of the virus explains why Vietnam did not detect major outbreaks in poultry in recent months but people still fell sick of avian influenza.


Sunday, June 26, 2005 -

Saturday was a quiet quake day, although there was a 5.4 in Nicaragua yesterday and a 5.3 in Sumatra, Indonesia this morning.

In the December Sumatra quake, the greatest surprise for scientists was how the rupture expanded along the fault line as it broke north. It slowed down farther north, sparing Thailand, Myanmar and India from the severity of the damage that occurred farther south. Scientists would not have predicted that pattern, and they will be busy for years studying whether friction or some other force they had not recognized can play a role in great quakes.

Doctors have identified a lung and brain infection that has paralysed dozens of victims of the Indonesian tsunami long after the disaster and which may have spread among thousands of unwitting survivors. “Tsunami lung” appears to start with a bacterial lung infection caused by breathing in mud and polluted water, and spreads to the brain, causing abscesses followed by paralysis. “People who survived the wave frequently aspirated not only water but soil and particulate matter.”

The ground beneath the world's biggest cities is being turned into a Swiss cheese of tunnels, shopping precincts and car parks as they try to cope with expanding populations, making them vulnerable to floods and other natural disasters, safety experts warn. Too little thought has gone into protecting underground structures against such threats as flood and fire. The biggest risks are being taken in megacities in developing countries where building practices may not be as stringent as they are in more developed countries. But western cities are also vulnerable. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of comprehensive maps of tunnels and other underground spaces.

An intense heat wave has settled in across Eastern Canada, prompting heat alerts all the way from Nova Scotia to Ontario.

Inadequate rains caused by a delayed monsoon have triggered fears of a drought in Orissa, India. The state received 80 percent less than normal rainfall (216 mm). The monsoon hit the state June 23, much later than its scheduled arrival June 10. In the past 50 years such a delay has been observed only five times, including this year, and in all previous occasions the state witnessed severe drought.

Northern Italy appears to be heading for a severe drought this summer with potentially disastrous effects on the region's agriculture. The water in rivers, lakes and reservoirs is only about half of what it normally is in June, and production of fruit, vegetables and rice are all in danger. A similar drought caused havoc for farmers in 2003 but this year the impact could be even greater because the water shortages have started a month earlier. Water levels in the River Po, which cuts across northern Italy from west to east, feeding irrigation channels on the fertile Po plain, are rapidly approaching record lows.

Lightning-sparked wildfires continued to burn across Arizona on Saturday as crews worked to contain the blazes in hot, dry conditions. Fire officials throughout the state said they were concerned that another round of afternoon thunderstorms could fan flames and make conditions dangerous for firefighters. They were also concerned about the possibility that lightning could spark another round of wildfires.

Spectacular electrical storms battered England yesterday along with the torrential rain. The Met Office recorded more than 3,600 lightning strikes across the South West and Wales in 11 hours. Devon and Cornwall had roughly 3,625 lightning strikes - extend that to cover the Channel slightly then it was 4,749. A boy of 12 was found "smouldering" face down in the road after being hit by lightning in Huntingdon and was seriously ill in intensive care last night. At least three homes in Plymouth were hit and damaged by lightning. Eight BA planes were hit by lightning as they flew through storms.


Saturday, June 25, 2005 -

Sumatra, Indonesia quakes yesterday: 4.9, 5.3, 5.1 (Jawa).

U.S. State Department officials yesterday acknowledged that U.S. scientists predicted a tsunami could form after the December 26 earthquake, but claimed that they failed to issue a warning because such waves are rare in the Indian Ocean. Scientists in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India, the worst affected countries, have often alleged that the scientists in the U.S. Geographic Survey were aware of the impending tsunami and deliberately withheld information of the disaster, but this is the first time U.S. officials have ever admitted to it.

Six months after the tsunami, bodies are still being pulled from the water and from ruined buildings on the Thai island of Phi Phi.

Animal warning instincts during the tsunami - Suddenly the birds flocked together chirping wildly, the dolphins made peculiar sounds, the monkeys ran up the tree-tops and elephants trumpeted, pulling at their chains. The dolphins guided divers in Thailand to safety. These scenes just before the devastating tsunami struck on December 26, come alive on the "Animal Planet," in its program on how different animal species sounded the alarm on that fateful day.

Weird summer weather in Canada - a northern Manitoba city kicked off its annual summer festival Friday with light snow flurries. The snow melted as soon as it hit the ground. The summer snow continues a week of wacky weather in the province. On Thursday, hailstones the size of baseballs and severe thunderstorms struck the southeastern town of Altona, which also had five centimetres of rain in less than an hour.

Hundreds of people who fled a rising river in a northeastern Saskatchewan village in Canada are trying to settle into an emergency shelter in Prince Albert, where they may have to stay for weeks.

In the south of England, thousands of music fans at a festival awoke in their tents yesterday to rain and flooding of almost biblical proportions. Instead of the normally green, lush fields which are reserved for tents on the organic farm, the site resembled a series of muddy lakes with hundreds of nylon tents appearing to float mysteriously on top of the water. A river in the area rose by a foot in the space of 15 minutes. Elsewhere, the inclement weather caused further problems, with south-west England in particular being battered by freak storms. There were several reports of houses being struck by lightning as heavy rain and hail moved through England and Wales, and at least one confirmed sighting of a tornado.

In New Delhi, India, of late, the weather has been behaving rather strangely. What starts out as a hot day, ends with a squall in some areas of the city, hail in others and nothing at all in yet others.

The number and size of wildfires is growing in southern Nevada. A wildfire near Goodsprings has grown to about 20-thousand acres. At least 18 blazes are burning - and smoke and ash are casting a pall over the Las Vegas Strip. The National Weather Service has warnings out about hazardous fire conditions, with forecasts for triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds. Almost 40-thousand acres have burned since Wednesday around southern Nevada.

Residents who fled a racing wildfire near Phoenix, Arizona returned Friday to find many homes intact but others reduced to piles of ash with only the chimneys standing.

Health authorities in New Zealand say the spread of a dangerous strain of the flu – known as Hong Kong B – is reaching epidemic proportions. Children are worst affected. Some school had 70 or 80 per cent of children reported sick. Three have died of flu complications in the last six weeks. The outbreak has caught New Zealand's health officials by surprise. "2003-04 we had only one B Hong Kong strain, and somehow all of a sudden it started to take off." Flu experts are warning that it's only a matter of time before the strain makes its way to Australia.

Half a million Americans could die and more than 2 million could end up in the hospital with serious complications if an even moderately severe strain of a pandemic flu hits, a report predicted on Friday. But the United States only has 965,256 staffed hospital beds. In an average year, influenza kills an estimated 36,000 Americans and puts 200,000 into the hospital. A more serious strain strikes every few years and a so-called pandemic strain emerges once every 27 years, on average. The more virulent strains sweep around the world within months. "This is not a drill. This is not a planning exercise. This is for real."

Some Canadian doctors are quietly building personal stockpiles of an antiviral flu drug for their families in case of a pandemic, but the practice may be viewed as unethical. The antiviral drug Tamiflu, or oseltamivir, is currently considered the best way to prevent and treat bird flu. Doctors and other health-care workers will be among the first to receive antivirals from the federal government's stockpiles during a pandemic, but their families won't be eligible for the drugs. Pills are $5 each.

Tests have confirmed that the United States has its second case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.

Friday, June 24, 2005 -

Cluster of quakes in Dodecanese Islands, Greece - 6/23: 3.2, 3.8, 2.9, 2.9, 2.9, 2.7, 2.9, 3.2, 3.6, 3.0, 4.2, 3.4
6/24: 3.0, 3.4, 3.3

Easter Island quakes - since 6/18: 4.9, 5.2, 4.7, 5.7, 4.8, 4.8, 5.2, 4.8, 5.5, 4.8

The recent activity on the New Madrid fault line in the center of the U.S. is an anomaly. "It's unusual, and we don't have any reason to believe there is increased risk. But any time you have this kind of activity in an area that has a 25 [percent] to 40 percent chance of a 6.0 or greater in the next 50 years, it will draw attention." The zone, named for the town of New Madrid, Missouri, is hundreds of miles from a tectonic plate boundary, which defies the logic of coastal earthquake science. There appears no reason for a "high level of concern" at the moment but so little is known about New Madrid that it's even more unpredictable than its coastal cousins. "The system is capable of producing a quake near 4.0 magnitude every three years." But New Madrid already has spawned four earthquakes this year of similar size, along with nearly 100 smaller quakes. Such activity may or may not be the precursor to a much larger quake.

A massive crack in the earth opened up last week in Claude, Texas and its creating a stir among geologists. Geologists said Tuesday the crack was a joint in the earth's crust. They believe the opening is that of a weak point in the joint where one spot slips away from the other. Some parts measure more than 30-feet deep and it drained what used to be a pond. Experts say earth cracks are common but the size of the crack in Claude is not. (photo) (Site Note - Reportedly another crack was discovered in Mexico, but I could find no link to confirm it.)

In Utah, geologists are examining three large cracks in the earth that may have developed from pumping groundwater. The features vary in width from the size of a pencil to 15 feet. The largest crack is about 1,000 feet long. "What we think they are is something common in Arizona and in the Las Vegas basin where ground cracks developed from the mechanism occurring in agricultural areas and urban areas where there is a lot of ground water pumping." Though the cracks aren't deemed life threatening, they are potentially hazardous to property. One crack came within 50 yards of a home. One portion of the largest crack eroded away nearly 150 feet of U.S. Highway 56.

In Florida there have been a number of roadway sinkholes in recent months. One sinkhole that made headlines nationwide was the one that opened up in early March in Columbia County and drained millions of gallons of water from a pond and forced dozens from their homes. That sinkhole was estimated to be 150 feet wide, 275 feet long and about 50 feet deep and was one of several that were discovered in Columbia County. The latest area where a depression is suspected of being a sinkhole is about 3 feet wide on the westbound shoulder of SR 26. In May, a routine inspection of Interstate 75 turned up a sinkhole about 15 feet wide and more than 70 feet deep.

Tremor levels at Anatahan volcano remain high - on Saturday reaching its highest levels since May. The volcano emitted thick ash clouds on Wednesday and a moderately dense cloud of ash and steam on Thursday.

Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano spewed a giant vapor and ash column some 900 meters (3,000 feet) high, local authorities reported. The volcano, located some 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of Mexico City, has been showing signs of activity all year. Another volcano, the Colima, located some 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of the capital, has also shown significant signs of activity.

Scientists who are watching Mount St. Helens say the volcano's eruption persists at a slow but steady pace. The new lava dome continues to sprout from the crater. Over the past few weeks it's developed quite a high spine at the north end of the new dome and the highest point is now higher than any point on the new dome has been since it started growing last November. Lava is still emerging to build the new dome, which is now 600 feet taller than the old dome. The new extrusion will likely crack and flake off periodically. Small earthquakes continue to rattle inside the mountain.

Heavy floods have slammed into towns across southern China, killing almost 90 people, leaving dozens missing and forcing 700,000 to run for their lives. There may be worse to come, with torrential rains forecast to pound the region at least until the end of the week, with damage so far estimated to be worth 4.6 billion yuan ($707.49 million) Millions of people have been affected by the rain and floods, the worst in the region for years. "The flood waters are enormous. They crashed down like a waterfall and submerged the whole city" of Wuzhou. Wuzhou may face another kind of environmental crisis as well, as reports came in that vehicles containing pesticides were being overturned upriver. The Xijiang river, which runs through Wuzhou, is swollen to over 26 metres, nearly nine metres above the warning level, in the worst flooding in nearly a century.

In the southeastern coastal province of Fujian, China, a landslide triggered by the rains, has swept a bus into the turbulent Min River. Two people have been found, but 23 passengers are missing, feared dead. Police say the whole mountain-side shook and then the side of the mountain collapsed, pushing the bus into the river. The death toll from heavy rains and flooding in China stands at 528 dead over the past two weeks and 137 missing. A 100-meter-long crack was found in the mountain. Local residents say it is quite possible that a stronger landslide will come in succession.

Torrential rains pounded Hong Kong today, bringing flooding and landslides as well as traffic gridlock. The Hong Kong Observatory issued a "red rainstorm warning" as rain pelted down at 50 millimeters (1.97 inches) per hour, drenching the city that has had only one rain-free day this month. Hong Kong was drenched by 508.6 millimeters of rain in May, about 200 millimeters above average. More heavy downpours and thunderstorms are expected over the weekend, although the weather was expected to improve by the middle of next week.

In Canada, seven hundred people were being evacuated from the northeastern Saskatchewan village of Cumberland House Thursday as a wave of water from the swollen Saskatchewan River descended on the region. The water is not expected to crest until the weekend, but already ankle-deep water has spread across the only road leading into the community. The problem is also making residents of northwestern Manitoba nervous. Town officials in The Pas expect the river's level to rise by about two metres, reaching its highest level since 1965. Flooding in southern Alberta over the past several weeks caused damage with an estimated cost of $200 million.
Hailstones the size of baseballs pounded areas of southeastern Manitoba Thursday afternoon.

Freak storms hit Europe - A violent electrical storm struck the Paris region on Thursday, flooding hundreds of houses, disrupting two lines on the metro system and causing delays at the city's two main airports. Elsewhere, lightning struck an electrical center in Switzerland, blocking about 100 trains in the second major breakdown to hit the Swiss railway system in two days.

While those in North Yorkshire, England are still coming to terms with the destruction caused by Sunday's freak weather, they are being urged to brace themselves for a repeat performance. Thunderstorms could spell disaster as heavy rains are forecast for a second time in less than a week. Up to 50 millimetres of rain – or more – is expected to fall in parts of the region, putting homes and businesses at risk from further flooding.

Authorities have recovered the bodies of two teenagers who had been missing since severe weather flooded Colorado Springs on Tuesday. The two boys were out playing when the rain and hail came down so fast that the water level almost reached the tops of cars. The boys apparently were caught in the downpour and drowned in a rain-swollen creek. The sudden storm dumped up to a foot of hail and about an inch of rain in Colorado Springs, trapping dozens of motorists. More than 30 people had to be treated for hypothermia or other injuries.

A severe storm bounced across southeast Idaho, with Oakley reporting the worst damage. There was a report of several inches of hail which fell southwest of Burley, as well. "We really don't know what to call it right now. Some people reported seeing funnel clouds touch down, but we don't know if this was actually a tornado, although it sure felt and looked like one." One resident reported watching the wind twist one large tree in six circles before it was flung to the ground.

Record-breaking winds on Tuesday in Eastern Washington and northern Idaho blew down trees and fanned numerous small fires and power outages. Areas east of the city of Spokane were hit hardest. The wind blasts originated in southeastern Washington when two thunderstorms moved off the Blue Mountains and into the rolling wheatlands of the Palouse, then collapsed, producing a long line of high winds that extended down to the surface from 10,000 feet as they moved toward Spokane.

An extreme cold snap across eastern Australia has caused heavy snowfalls in regional areas. Snow had extended to lower parts of the eastern states, with unusually heavy falls being recorded in the NSW regional towns of Bathurst and Orange. Ice descended on 800-1000m areas of Stanthorpe, about 200km south-west of Brisbane, because of rain coupled with temperatures hovering around 2C. "The temperature isn't unusual for Stanthorpe but it's usually dry when it gets this cold and this time there is was an inclination of rain."
In Australia four times more Victorians have been hit by influenza (95) than at the same time last year (25), indicating an early start to the flu season. The figures do not necessarily mean there will be more people struck down by flu this year. "It may mean the flu season has started earlier." In recent years the flu season began in late July.

At least 375 people have died from sunstroke and dehydration in a month-long heat wave sweeping India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as South Asia endures one of its hottest summers on record. Officials reported drinking water shortages in the giant states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as ponds and lakes dried up.

Lexington, Kentucky is in the developing stages of a possible drought, and is 1.6 inches of rainfall behind normal levels for June.

As summer begins, the National Weather Service is already declaring drought conditions for southeastern Wisconsin.

D1 drought expanded into extreme eastern Iowa and also into east-central Illinois and across far northwestern Indiana. Persistent dryness led to the development of D2 drought in north-central Illinois, where some locations have seen less than 40 percent normal rainfall in the past 60 days. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released on June 16 indicated the potential for drought to expand across northern and central Texas, with drought conditions persisting northward from Texas into Illinois.

Britain's largest fish, the basking shark, is moving north and conservationists believe the migration could be a sign that climate change is already changing the habits of marine wildlife. The sharks are also arriving earlier in Scotland, with the first sightings this year in May. They are not usually seen in large numbers in northern waters except during the peak of the summer in July and August.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005 -

Five earthquakes struck Japan on Monday, injuring at least one person and swaying buildings across the country's main island. The moderately strong quakes registered a magnitude of between 4.1 and 5.6. The quakes damaged a dozen houses and public buildings in Kashiwazaki City. Officials issued aftershock warnings for the next few days.

Reventador Volcano in Ecuador has resumed eruption, which is expected to affect two major oil pipelines. "Reventador is in the second phase of the eruption process which only consists of a lava flow circulating in the volcanic crater." A thin ash layer could fall over the inter-Andean zones and cover the Heavy Crude Pipeline and the Trans-Ecuadorian Oil-Pipeline System, causing maintenance problems. Volcanologists believe there exist at least 13 potentially active volcanoes in Ecuador. Ecuador had a 4.8 quake yesterday.

In New York, the weather this spring was so wildly fluctuating, that the high and low temperatures of these past months averaged out to be pretty much average. Summer should be "normal." That means warm weather that steadily grows warmer, with the occasional thunderstorm. It was a weirdly varied few months of extreme heat and unseasonable cold. "Spring isn't usually smooth-going, but we've had some wild swings in temperatures and conditions." The average temperature in May was 5 degrees below normal. On the hottest day in June, the temperature soared to 90 degrees and that was followed by a rainy cold snap.

Lightning struck near a boardwalk Tuesday where a crowd had gathered to watch an eruption of the Old Faithful Geyser, injuring 11 people, one seriously. The lightning was part of an intense mid-afternoon storm that also produced heavy rain and hail.

A landslide buried a Black Sea beach in Ukraine with soil on Tuesday, killing at least one 16-year-old Russian sunbather and officials believed another four people were still trapped. Four others were pulled out alive. A witness told officials that he and others were saved by running into the sea when the landslide occurred. "It went on for three minutes with dust everywhere. You could see nothing. We ran into the sea to escape." Days of heavy rain were likely to blame for the landslide.

Floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains killed more than 20 people in three southern Chinese provinces and disrupted traffic on a rail line linking the mainland with Hong Kong.

A mudflow triggered landslides on the railway line Lazarevskoye-Vodopadnoye overnight on Tuesday in the Caucasus region. Fifteen cargo wagons derailed as a result of landslides - “a big section of the railway was blocked.” According to preliminary information, four landslides went down. The situation is complicated by the fact that the only highway on the Black Sea coast is also landslide stricken.

A massive rock slide spilled onto a heavily traveled highway Tuesday in a narrow canyon west of Denver, injuring a truck driver and closing the road. The slide covered about 100 feet of highway with rock and debris up to 30 feet deep.

With tens of thousands of deaths in the sizzling summer of 2003 still fresh on people's minds, Europe suffered in a new heat wave yesterday, the first day of summer, while farmers warned of a historic drought. "The current wave could present a health risk for the population as of June 21". Record temperatures for mid-June have been registered in northern France. Since May, temperatures in Portugal and Spain have often surged above 40 degrees Celsius and the national weather institute predicted that "temperatures will be 1 to 2 degrees higher than usual from July to September".

More than 40 people have died in extremely hot weather across Pakistan, with the searing temperatures expected to continue for at least two more days. June and July are traditionally the hottest months in Pakistan before seasonal rain cools the temperature before the mild autumn.

Melbourne, Australia will have to find new water supplies as global warming stretches existing resources to their limit, a new report has found.

The annual southwest monsoon reached more parts of western and eastern India yesterday bringing cooler temperatures to states that have reported scores of heat-related deaths since early June.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005 -

Turkey continues to be hit by multiple small tremors - on Monday: 2.9, 3.1, 3.0, 3.6, 2.9, 3.4, 2.9, 2.7, 3.2, 4.2, 3.1, 3.0, 3.1, 3.0

A 3.0 quake in Kentucky was felt in four states and was the second in under 12 hours in the area. It was centered nearly on top of the Mississippi River. An earlier earthquake about 15 miles away also registered 3.0 on the Richter scale. Quakes of 4.0 occur only about once every 18 months or so in the New Madrid fault region. There have been three so far this year with the latest earlier this month near Ridgely, Tennessee.

Three inches of rain, a month’s worth, fell in three hours, leaving a long trail of devastation in England. Communities are still cut off by the deluge that was impossible to predict. A major recovery operation was under way in dozens of rural communities that fell victim to a freak summer storm. It sent flash floods surging through homes and businesses, leaving a trail of muddy devastation. Across a 20-mile stretch of North Yorkshire, between the market towns of Thirsk and Helmsley, Sunday afternoon’s deluge turned small streams and meandering rivers into raging torrents. The waters were so powerful that they gouged giant craters in roads, created landslides, swept cars and caravans downstream and demolished buildings that had stood for more than 200 years. The damage will cost tens of millions of pounds to repair. "Thunder had rumbled for ages and when the rain came it was like a tropical downpour. It lasted for about half an hour." Then the Willow Beck River rose suddenly 13ft (4m), burst its banks and sent a torrent to submerge homes under 6ft of water.

A change in the jet stream has turned Britain into a divided nation, with the North drenched in heavy storms while the South suffers from a desperate shortage of water. Parts of the northwest have had rainfall equivalent to 140 per cent of what is usual between November and May, leading to flooding. Meanwhile, many southern areas have had seven successive months with below-average rain, the lowest recorded since the drought of 1975-76. This summer might see a repeat of the record heatwave of August 2003. This past winter and spring, a large block of high pressure has sat in the Atlantic instead of over Europe. Nobody knows why the high pressure developed in the Atlantic.

In the U.S. there are an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes each year. During the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 67 people per year in the U.S., more than the average per year of deaths caused by either tornadoes or hurricanes.

With an estimated 24,000 lightning strikes recorded across Northwestern Ontario, Canada, over the previous 24 hours, the Ministry of Natural Resources was expecting to see up to five wildfires flare up by the end of the day on Monday.

An influenza pandemic would dramatically disrupt the processing and distribution of food supplies across the world, emptying grocery store shelves and creating crippling shortages for months, an expert warns. "We're pretty much screwed right now if it happens tonight," said Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He pointed to the short-term shortages that occur when winter storms threaten communities, then suggested people envisage the possibility of those shortages dragging on for somewhere between 18 months and three years as the expected successive waves of pandemic flu buffet the world. A flu pandemic could sicken at least a third of the world's population and kill many millions - a pandemic is widely viewed as the single most disruptive and deadly infectious disease event known to humankind.

A Vietnamese doctor who treated bird flu patients has contracted the disease himself, a state newspaper reported on Friday.

Monday, June 20, 2005 -

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck off Northern California's coast Sunday, the fifth moderate or strong tremor to hit the state in a week. "It was just another aftershock 200 km off the coast. Nobody that I'm aware of felt it." The quake's epicentre was 454 km north-west of San Francisco.

A quake registering 5.5 has occurred in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan.

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.9 shook northern Japan but there was no risk of a tsunami. The focus of the earthquake was 10km deep in the Niigata region in the same general area as a quake that killed 40 people and injured thousands last October. There were no immediate reports of damage.

A strong earthquake registering 5.6 or 5.7 on the Richter scale has jolted Tokyo, Japan, but there are no reports of casualties or damage.

An earthquake hit an area in eastern Iran on Sunday but there were no immediate reports of casualties. According to ISNA it was measuring 5.3 degrees on the Richter scale.

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake south of the Fiji Islands has occurred.

(Link usually available one day only.) Between 20 and 30 aftershocks have shaken Banda Aceh city and the surrounding area each day following the monster quake that rocked Aceh on Dec. 26 last year. However, most of the aftershocks were not felt by residents as they were too weak. The aftershocks mostly had their epicenters some hundreds of kilometers southwest of Banda Aceh and between 20 and 30 kilometers beneath the sea.

"At Yellowstone, "we're watching a trend that shows a larger uplift sustained over several years." (Previously what we've seen is one year the ground may rise up and the next year it may subside a few millimeters or centimeters.) "If we continue to see this accelerated uplift, it might be the early stages (of an event)." Past events show the caldera erupts every 600,000 years. The last super-eruption was 630,000 years ago, and the current research shows some interesting developments. Although the pattern of eruptions indicate the caldera is due to blow again, it probably won't be in our lifetime. "It would not be surprising if another large eruption were to occur at Yellowstone within the next few 1,000 years. The overall consensus is there's nothing currently indicating the caldera is on the path of erupting in a big way, but if it were to begin along that path it wouldn't be a surprise to the geological community." Currently staff from several universities around the country are researching the Yellowstone caldera. The caldera is 31 miles across and is referred to as a "super volcano," one that erupts 1,000 times more ash than a normal eruption.

The United States Geological Survey has reported a swarm of 10 volcano-tectonic earthquakes (between magnitude 0.5 and 1.75) were occurring beneath or within a few kilometers of Sarigan Island. Sarigan Island is a volcano, one of many in the Marianas Island chain, but it is a volcano with no previously known modern eruptive history. The detected activity on Sarigan may be the precursor of that volcano’s first activity since the Holocene era. It is located about 95 nautical miles north of Anatahan and is the next island north of Anatahan, another volcano that has recently entered a more violent eruptive phase. The seismicity on Anatahan has reached its highest since early May. Anatahan's rumbling volcano is displaying small explosions every 10-20 seconds. Anatahan continues emitting a dense ash plume that rose to 10,000 feet in the air.

The Caribbean island of Montserrat, absent from the tourism radar for 10 years while being pummeled by the Soufriere Hills volcano, will open a new airport July 11 on the northeast side of the island, which was largely spared the volcano's ravages. The volcano, which buried the capital city of Plymouth under 40 feet of ash and rock, has been quiet since 2003.

Flash floods struck North Yorkshire, England - villages were cut off, roads washed away and nine people were reported missing during a night of heavy storms. Two RAF helicopters were scrambled to rescue the missing people when they were tracked down in the market town of Helmsley, which was worst hit, and where people were rescued from cars, trees and the roofs of isolated homes. Drivers abandoned their cars and climbed trees to escape rising waters after the River Rye burst its banks.

Extreme weather ushered in the British summer yesterday as southern England basked in the hottest June day since 1976, and Scotland and the North were hit by storms and floods. A forecaster said that the temperature was unlikely to reach such levels again this month, but the South would enjoy high temperatures for the next seven to ten days. The ingredients are in place for higher temperatures and a punishing drought this summer, especially in the South. Reservoirs have endured below average rainfall for seven of the past eight months and one of the driest winters in the past 100 years. Two contrasting weather patterns are to blame for the present conditions. A pocket of humid air from North Africa is driving the heatwave in the South. It originated in the Sahara and collected moisture as it drifted across the Mediterranean and up the Bay of Biscay to southern England. A cooler front has been moving from Northern Ireland across the Irish Sea into Scotland. The collision of the weather patterns has had explosive consequences, leading to spectacular thunderstorms and heavy downpours across parts of Wales, northern England and Scotland. In Hawarden, Cheshire, 41mm, or roughly a month’s average rainfall, fell in two hours yesterday. "Further north there is a risk of golf-ball-sized hailstones which only happens about twice a year. It’s a normal summer pattern but this time it’s been rather more dramatic.”

Flooding that has forced the evacuation of about 1500 people in Calgary, Alberta, Canada swamped or cut off hundreds of homes in the city after two rivers overflowed their banks following days of heavy rain. A state of emergency remained in force for a second day as officials feared the Elbow and Bow rivers that merge in the city could swallow more homes in eight vulnerable neighborhoods. The rain that has pounded the western Canadian city of nearly one million people for more than a week finally stopped, but authorities said the danger had not passed. The volume of water gushing down the Elbow, the smaller of the two waterways, was pegged at seven times the normal amount. Much of the rest of southern Alberta dealt with similar problems due to the heavy rains that have swelled rivers and streams throughout the region.

Hundreds of people are without power after a windstorm swept through southern Manitoba, Canada, early Sunday morning, knocking down trees and powerlines. A tornado touched down in Gretna near the U.S. border, and hit Emerson, Altona, and Letellier with winds gusting to 140 kilometres an hour. High winds caused damage at Altona Airport in southern Manitoba. As many as three twisters were reported in Altona.

The number of "yahoos" tearing up the road with their eyes dangerously glued to the sky in pursuit of storms is an increasing danger in Canada's tornado alleys, says one of the country's top storm chasers. Professionals have noticed a marked increase in the number of people putting themselves and others at risk as they race after storms. The problem is not nearly as pronounced in Canada as it is in the United States, where storm chasing tourism thrives and destructive tornadoes strike more often, but it is a building trend.

The death toll from a severe heatwave smothering much of India reached 427, as the weather office reported that annual monsoon rains are moving slowly toward the parched regions. New Delhi's streets were largely deserted Sunday as the temperature touched 44 C amid reports of growing water shortages in crowded middle-class residential districts. On Saturday temperatures in many parts of the country, particularly Orissa and West Bengal, exceeded 50 C. Purulia recorded their highest temperature in 50 years.

Severe drought is drying up drinking water in cities and towns across Australia, threatening to shut down major population centers. Worst hit is the farming town of Goulburn, population 25,000, southwest of Australia's biggest city, Sydney. Its main dam, Pejar, is a cracked-earth dustbowl holding less than 10 percent of its 1,000-megalitre (220-million-gallon) capacity. The town will become the first in Australia to run out of water in six months, if it gets no substantial rain and if emergency action for new water supplies fails to work. Goulburn residents are likely to become the first Australians to start drinking treated sewerage returned directly to their water supply. Goulburn's water usage has been halved and will be cut further if it does not rain. Each person is now down to 120 litres a day - a washing machine full - compared with 400 litres in big cities. Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent and the vicious cycle of droughts and floods has been a feature of the landscape since humans arrived millennia ago. But scientists say global warming is changing rainfall patterns, particularly in the populated southwest and southeastern corners, causing a long-term drop in annual rainfall and greater extremes of weather. The current dry spell is so severe that farmers say it is worse than the 2002 drought, which has been classed as the worst in a century.

The impact of heavy snowfall in the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona last winter is still being felt. Coconino National Forest officials are considering whether to rebuild, reroute or just close off a popular hiking trail now buried beneath tons of trees and snow from a powerful avalanche. The avalanche knocked down trees, some more than 50 feet tall, cutting a swath more than 100 feet wide down a stretch of Abineau Canyon. The avalanche may have been the biggest in the area in the past 50 years. The trail is now buried under up to 15 feet of debris.

A landslide toppled down a shed on Sunday afternoon in the city of Jian'ou, east China's Fujian Province, where 5 people had taken shelter from rain, killing two women and a child. One victim was a passenger of a minibus, which was forced to pull up on the road nearby due to an earlier landslide.


Sunday, June 19, 2005 -

Six months after the tsunami swept into the island of Sri Lanka, demolishing communities along 400 miles of coast, up to 500,000 survivors have still not been rehoused. Relief workers warned last week that most of those still in emergency accommodation are unlikely to have new homes even by the first anniversary of the disaster. Thousands of them are in emergency tents, while tens of thousands more occupy more solid housing of variable quality - some of it with sanitation and drainage that relief workers fear will not cope with the coming monsoon season. The vast numbers still trapped in transitional accommodation are unable to work and dependent on handouts and the rainy season is beginning, making it unlikely that any major construction will begin until December.

A new Portland, Maine marina has suspended operations, a victim of the freak storm that played havoc with the region's boating community last month. The intensity of the May 23 storm caught the National Weather Service by surprise. At the time, there was a large area of low pressure centered off Massachusetts. Meteorologists became alarmed that night when they saw on the radar a smaller area of circulating winds - within the larger low-pressure system - heading toward the Maine coast south of Portland, with its winds moving in a counter-clockwise direction. That night, the Coast Guard's 47-foot rescue boat ran aground. In Falmouth, nine boats pulled free from moorings and ended up on beaches, and the waves damaged floats and gangways. From Boothbay to Portsmouth, N.H., boats were breaking away from moorings and docks. "We had stuff littered all over the place." The storm's intensity was surprising for May. "We are dealing with something above and beyond what was anticipated."

About 2,000 people in Calgary, Canada are being asked to leave their homes because of unprecedented flooding in the Bow and Elbow Rivers and Fish Creek. A state of emergency was declared in the city because of the severity of the threat. "This is a critical situation." Two of four exits from the town northwest of Calgary are impassable, and "if we lose those (other) exits, we won't have a place to go, or to get out. " "It's still raining here and still raining upstream and we're confident we're going to get more water." The Bow River is at the highest level in 10 or 15 years. Some regions have received as much rain this June as they normally receive all year.

The frequency of major forest fires can be predicted using relatively simple mathematical models based on the frequency of much smaller fires. Earthquakes, floods, landslides and fires all depend on "self-organized criticality" - an accumulation of small changes that causes an abrupt change in the state of a system. For example, patches of new growth in a forest gradually form larger and larger areas of fuel that can cause a major wildfire.


Saturday, June 18, 2005 -

California has been rattled by a fourth notable earthquake in a week, the latest off the state's northern coast late Thursday, with a strong magnitude of 6.7. Seismologists are investigating whether it was an aftershock from the magnitude 7.2 earthquake on Tuesday. The latest quake was south of and farther out to sea than the 7.2 quake. There is a good chance it was an aftershock. Seismologists do not consider it particularly noteworthy that four significant seismic events occurred within a few days in California and off its coast. The latest quake was unlikely to be linked to the magnitude 4.9 earthquake that struck Southern California earlier. That quake was centred near Yucaipa, 125km east of Los Angeles, according to the US Geological Survey. The quake shattered glass and jostled shelves in the immediate vicinity and produced strong shaking felt as far away as San Diego. A 5.2 quake shook the Anza area of Riverside County in southern California on Sunday. Southern California typically experiences two to three quakes in the magnitude 5 range every year.

Does the earth rumbling in California over the past few day mean the "Big One" is coming? Tom Henyey of the University of Southern California's Department of Earth Sciences doesn't think so. He says the four earthquakes that ranged in magnitude from four-point-nine to seven-point-two are not indicative of a huge quake. Although it's surprising that the four tremors happened so close together, they occurred in areas that have been seismically active for decades. Nevertheless, some Californians aren't taking chances and have been purchasing earthquake survival kits.

Scientists are convinced another giant tsunami will one day sweep across the Indian Ocean. Almost six months after the deadly December 26 tsunami, scientists are keeping a close eye on aftershocks and the increased earthquake activity around Indonesia as they try to work out when the next big one will hit. "It could happen any time, it could take another 20 to 50 years, or another 200 years." A big earthquake is just as likely in the Pacific Ocean in the region above New Zealand. A tsunami generated from that area could hit New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, possibly within a decade.

The Indian Ocean tsunami's devastating waves upset some of Sri Lanka's key ecosystems, the U.N. environmental agency warned Friday. Nearly six months after the disaster that killed more than 31,000 people in Sri Lanka, studies have found that the tsunami waves have pushed seeds of so-called alien invasive species from their coasts farther inland on the tropical island. "We learned in graphic and horrific detail that the ecosystems, such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses which we have so casually destroyed are not a luxury. They are lifesavers capable of helping to defend our homes, our loved ones and our livelihoods from some of nature's more aggressive acts." Well over 500 million kilograms (1,100 million pounds) of rubble were created by the tsunami, posing an enormous challenge to the solid waste management system.

At least eight people have been killed and hundreds injured after a hurricane and hailstorms whipped through parts of China, destroying nearly 200,000 homes. 825,000 people were affected. Officials have said this year's floods could be worse than usual.

Severe flooding caused by storms and torrential rains has left up to 48 people dead in Afghanistan and washed away more than 1000 homes.

A powerful thunderstorm descended on Ocean County, New Jersey, Thursday evening, knocking down tree branches and leaving flooded streets in its wake. "It just blew up real quick. It must have been just a freak windstorm. It got very, very windy, very quick." "It sounded like a train going through the house." The winds lasted for 15 to 20 minutes. "It was so strong." Radar put wind gusts between 65 and 70 mph.

New South Wales, Australia police say they are extremely concerned about the safety of five Chinese tourists and two guides who are reported missing in the Kosciusko National Park in a blizzard. Officers are worried because of the extreme weather conditions.

As many as 130 people have died in the past month as a severe heat wave continues to grip many regions of India.
Meanwhile Officials in the Cyclone Warning Centre said the Southwest Monsoon, which had remained almost static in the southern districts of the state after entering on June eighth, was showing some signs of moving. The Bay of Bengal arm of the monsoon, which had also remained constant for some time, had started moving from the eastern bay to the west central bay. This may result in coastal districts of India getting rains in two to three days.

A "hot weather health warning" was launched Friday by El Paso, Texas health authorities as a string of 100-plus-degree days continued, and as forecasters said the high could reach 105 on Sunday. There have already been 46 heat- related incidents and two heat deaths and they are just starting the heat.

Heat and drought are plaguing Arkansas. "The thing about this drought is that it has come so much earlier. Usually, our droughts come in July and August, but this has hit us in May and it can be really devastating." The worst may be yet to come.


Friday, June 17, 2005 -

A magnitude 6.6 (upgraded from 6.4) earthquake off the coast of Northern California has occurred, near Ferndale - the site of a small cluster yesterday, and near the site of the 7.4 quake -
200 km (125 miles) W of Eureka, California
200 km (125 miles) W of Fortuna, California
225 km (140 miles) WSW of Crescent City, California
495 km (305 miles) WNW of Sacramento, California

The U.S. state of California has been hit by its second notable earthquake in two days (now by a third quake). No casualties have been reported in the quake, which had a magnitude of 4.9 (downgraded from 5.3) and its epicentre near the town of Yucaipa, 126km (79 miles) east of Los Angeles. Tremors were reported across a large area spanning the major cities of Los Angeles and San Diego. It was the fifth quake (now a 6th) to hit the Americas' Pacific coast in the last week.

Chile is struggling to recover from Monday's 7.9 earthquake, with a toll of more than 6,000 affected and several million in damages, especially infrastructure such as bridges, highways and roads. 48 hours after the shake, reports indicate massive devastation, and indicated that more victims may yet be reported, while recovery efforts are centered on the transfer of the wounded, restoring basic services and reopening of roads. Of the 6,018 victims, 835 are staying in temporary shelters while the rest remain in their homes despite the extent of the damage, in some cases irreparable. There are water shortages due to power outages in small rural villages like Huara, where ninety percent of the housing has been destroyed and numerous wounded still wait to be ferried to the capital.

A new crater has formed on the Colima volcano in western Mexico following powerful eruptions. Volcanologists discovered the crater during a monitoring flight over the 3 860-metre-high colossus. Considerable amounts of volcanic boulders have piled up around the crater because of continuous explosions. A big rock is now protruding from the crater. The structural changes are a sign of the continuing explosiveness of the volcano. Eruptions at a level of past intensity, or even stronger, can be expected. There is also a risk of debris avalanches, which could develop following heavy rains. But there is no immediate danger to the population.

The intensity of eruption on the volcano on Barren Island has increased since it became active on May 28 with a new vent having evolved which is likely to form a new crater. Unlike earlier eruptions, the present ones were explosive in nature throwing up lava in the form of pyroclasts, comprising cinders, boulders and lapilli, with great force up to 100 metres. A thick column of smoke, gas vapours and ash accompanied the pyroclasts, which were being blown in a north-easterly direction due to the prevailing wind conditions.

Geologists studying fossils in Alaska and Oregon have discovered what they believe is a signal that occurred a few years before major coastal earthquakes in the past. Seismologists have known for some time that really big quakes with the potential to create a killer tsunami hit the Pacific Northwest coast every 500 years on average. But the interval in between can vary from just a few centuries to 1,000 years. The last one struck the area in 1700, so it is not out of the question that another could hit in the near future. A few years before several large earthquakes in the past, freshwater foraminifera died out and saltwater species suddenly appeared. This happened because the coast dropped slightly in elevation, allowing salt water to infiltrate the marshes at high tide. Two to five years later, a major earthquake struck. Four of the five quakes studied from the past 3,000 years, including the 1964 Alaska earthquake, were followed by a tsunami.

The tsunami generated by the 7.2 California quake was almost imperceptibly small (about one centimeter in height), not worthy of a warning. But the flurry of phone calls, evacuation orders and activity after the quake showed there are still glitches in the tsunami warning system. Because of faulty phone equipment, an emergency broadcast system didn't work in the state of Washington. To geologists, it was pretty clear within five minutes of the earthquake that this was not going to produce a tsunami. Yet the evacuations up and down the West Coast continued because the tsunami warning remained in effect. The seismic signal detected from the quake put it in the middle of a tectonic plate off California known as the Gorda Plate - rather than at the edge of the plate where a more massive subduction quake can take place. The location alone made a major tsunami unlikely.

Word of the tsunami warning was delayed for over an hour because of a mistake on the part of the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service's Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issued the tsunami warning at 7:56 p.m., just six minutes after the earthquake. The tsunami warning was to alert the public that a tidal wave could reach the coast within 25 minutes of the earthquake. But if you were watching television or listening to the radio, you likely didn't see or hear about the warning until 8:58 p.m., more than one hour later. The Weather Service put out a special weather statement, which does not active the Emergency Alert System. Not only did the weather service put out the wrong bulletin, but it took 30 minutes to do it because forecasters could not find the proper computer code.

If a tsunami had been generated from Tuesday's quake, it would have hit shore in Oregon before it struck buoys in the ocean that scientists rely on to detect tsunamis. "Travel time to the buoys was about 48 minutes. Travel time to the coast was 30 minutes."

A huge mudslide killed at least 21 people when it buried houses and cars in a Guatemalan highland town, and the government fears more may be dead. Torrential rain pushed thousands of tonnes of mud and rocks down a hill above the town of San Antonio Senahu. At least 45 people were injured and an unspecified number are unaccounted for.

A landslide killed five people in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan. The five, all from a family of shepherds, died Tuesday in the rockfall 500 km east of Dushanbe. The slide also dammed a river, creating a small lake that posed a danger to two mountain villages. Villagers were being evacuated while workers tried to open a channel and allow the lake to drain.

(Link usually available one day only) A boy is missing and three people are dead after a landslide hit the remote Loloana Gido village in Nias island on Saturday. The size of the landslide had made it difficult for the search team to find the missing boy and the village's remote location meant it was impossible to send heavy machinery there for earth moving. "This is the first landslide following the earthquake (in March). The landslide might have been caused by the heavy rains in the island in the last couple of days, causing landslides in higher ground where land structures are not yet stable after the earthquake." Residents were alerted to the landslide, which occurred early in the morning, when they heard a thunderous sound and stones rolled down into the village. The main landslide occurred next. The dirt had pushed several houses about 20 meters away from their previous locations. Residents living near the landslide area were told to leave their villages in case there were more slides.

A warning came out Wednesday from Arizona state fire officials that weather conditions over the next few days will make Arizona extremely sensitive to wildfires. The third week in June has historically been incendiary in nature. The Aspen fire started two years ago today. The three-year anniversary for the start of the Rodeo-Chediski fire, the largest in state history, is Saturday. Arizona should expect more blazes of that magnitude. "I think the major fires are just starting."

A thick layer of haze called the ‘Atmospheric Brown Cloud,’ is a new phenomena considered responsible for the recent climatic anomalies that are throwing life out of gear across Asia including India. "Environmentalists have been crying themselves hoarse about these frightening scenarios for years, but they are routinely dismissed as Cassandras who are raising needless alarms. But ground realities show that across the world there exist all manners of freak climatic phenomena."

Only five tornadoes have touched down this spring in Illinois - a pace that could spin up the fewest twisters since 1979 when 12 twisters hit. This year's five tornadoes are well behind the 22 that usually touch down through May, and far short of the 54 Illinois saw last year. Tornadoes could rebound in June, which averages about ten twisters. It is the fourth driest spring on record which means farmers will likely see an average harvest at best. Forecasts show dry weather could continue.

Desertification threatens to drive millions of people from their homes in coming decades while vast dust storms can damage the health of people continents away, an international report says. Two billion people live in drylands vulnerable to desertification, ranging from northern Africa to swathes of central Asia. 41 per cent of the world's land area is dryland, including most of Australia, the western part of North America and much of the Andean region of South America.

A just released report is ringing alarm bells over New Zealand's increasing drought risk. The report predicts a two-to-four-fold increase in severe drought across many eastern parts of New Zealand by the 2080s. The report is alarming as the areas mentioned include a large proportion of prime farm land.

Thursday, June 16, 2005 -

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake off the coast of Aisen, Chile has occurred 1530 km (950 miles) SSW of Santiago, Chile.

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake in the Volcano Islands, Japan region has occurred 260 km (160 miles) N of Farallon de Pajaros, N. Mariana Islands. The same area also had a prior 5.0 quake yesterday.

Several small quake clusters have occurred in two areas near the 7.2 California quake area: off the coast of Ferndale 3.7, 3.5, 4.5, 4.6 and off the coast of Petrolia 3.6, 2.9, 2.7. Small aftershocks continue to shake Anza, California, site of the 5.2 quake on the 12th.

Two army porters were buried alive in a snow avalanche near the Line of Control in the Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Scientists believe they have evidence of a wave the size of a 10-story building. It happened on September 16 last year when Hurricane Ivan stormed across the Gulf of Mexico and tore into the coast of Alabama, accompanied by 210km/h winds and storm surges more than 2m high. While still out at sea the hurricane also produced a series of giant waves, one of which stood 28m from crest to trough, a new world record for a wave. At the height of the storm the wave reached 40m. By comparison, the tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean in December stood about 9m high as it hit shorelines, although in some parts of Indonesia it was reported to have reached 20m. Scientists predict that if a future volcanic eruption sends a large part of the island of La Palma in the Canaries into the sea, it could cause a wall of water 900m high. Reassuringly, they do not expect it this century. The sea currents generated by the hurricane broke another world record: the maximum current on the sea floor was 2.25m/s compared with the Gulf Stream, which reaches top speeds of about 1.5m/s.

"Climate change, or global warming, is a natural phenomenon observed throughout the earth's history. However, in the last century, concern has grown at the pace that climate change has been progressing, particularly because of human activity aggravating and distorting natural processes... In the short term, climate change can and has led to increased flooding, drought, famine and eradication of plant and animal species, among other effects. In the long-term, scientists have warned that global warming has the potential to cause catastrophic consequences for the planet."


Wednesday, June 15, 2005 -

A 6.3 quake has hit New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

Eyewitness accounts of the 7.8 earthquake which struck northern Chile on Monday.

A mudslide closed a 16-mile stretch of the main highway linking New York City and Montreal after a storm dropped 6 inches of rain on the area in a few hours. More rain was likely in the area from the remnants of Tropical Storm Arlene through Friday.

Friday's mountain torrent in China's Heilongjiang province, said to be the worst to hit the area in 200 years, was caused by two days of heavy rain, killing 88 pupils and four villagers. Seventeen people are missing.

The English country garden is unlikely to survive in the South East beyond the next 100 years, scientists say. Climate change means the rolling lawns and herbaceous borders of Surrey, Kent, Hampshire and Sussex may be replaced by olive groves and grape vines, more like the Mediterranean. "It is already happening - you can already see fields of sunflowers." Experts say summer temperatures in the South East are expected to be up to 3C warmer by 2050 with 35% less rainfall. If the current rate of warming continues, summers could be as much as 6C warmer by the 2080s, the scientists say.

There is a pioneering plan to tackle climate change by capturing CO2 from power plants and storing it safely in depleted North Sea oil and gas fields. Carbon capture and storage could be up and running within a decade, by 2015.

A winter of decent insulating snow, followed by early spring with no late frosts, has basically created bug paradise in Alaska. The jump start has put 2005 about three weeks ahead of schedule. It's the Incredible Return of the Bugs, sequel to last spring's fierce hatch, and many people say they've never been pricked and pestered with such vengeance. "We're talking jillions here: mosquitoes, aphids, dragonflies, midges, gnats, hornets, beetles and assorted creepy-crawlies." No one keeps statistics; there's no "bug index." But many people insist they've never seen the like.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 -

Aftershocks recorded so far have been small: 3.7, 3.5, 4.5, 4.3

A 7.0 quake has hit off the coast of northern California 91 miles WSW of Crescent City.

Quakes continued in Adak, Alaska with the largest so far measuring 6.8 and the most recent 5.5 at 6pm CDT - (5.2, 5.0, 4.7, 4.8, 5.0, 4.7, 5.2, 4.2, 4.0, 6.8, 5.1, 4.5, 4.6, 4.0, 5.5)
Small aftershocks continued in Anza, California.

A series of quakes hit the Rat Islands,Aleutian Islands in Alaska this morning - in a one hour period - (5.2, 5.0, 5.2, 5.2). This is near Adak, Alaska, the same area that had another cluster of quakes (4.4, 5.7, 4.0, 4.4) on Friday.

A powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake shook Chile's northern mining region yesterday, causing at least eight deaths, cutting power and driving residents from their homes in the port city of Iquique. The quake was also felt in the coastal cities of Arica and Antofagasta in Chile, in the Bolivian capital, La Paz, and in southern Peru. One man was confirmed dead in a landslide triggered by the earthquake and five others died after their car was crushed by a falling boulder on a mountain road. There was no chance of a tsunami, as the epicentre was in the mountains, not in the ocean. The quake occurred at 6.44pm local time (10.22 AEST) and lasted nearly a minute. Two 4.8 aftershocks have been recorded.

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake off the West coast of Northern Sumatra has occurred 325 km (205 miles) SSW of Banda Aceh, Indonesia. At the same time a 5.2 quake hit the nearby Nicobar Islands.

In Jamaica a 5.1 quake damaged 12 homes and completely destroyed 2 homes in a mostly rural southern farming area of this Caribbean tourist island over the weekend. The tremor struck at 11 p.m. EDT Sunday. The quake also triggered a small landslide. It was the strongest quake in Jamaica in more than a decade. The tremor is being attributed to the Rio Minho-Crawle River fault. 13 aftershocks were recorded over a five-hour period.

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in Tonga has occurred 2250 km (1400 miles) NNE of Auckland, New Zealand.

People are talking about what Sunday's quake in Anza, California means for the San Andreas Fault that runs right through the Coachella Valley and is capable of producing massive earthquakes. The area is still overdue for a major quake. Major quakes hit the southern section of the San Andreas Fault about once every 150 years. The last quake hit 148 years ago. All of Palm Spring's fire stations are equipped with an earthquake early warning system.

Volcanic activity on Anatahan in the Mariana Islands remained 'moderately high" after the second strongest eruption sent ash 45,000 feet into the air over the weekend. Tremor levels remained high, recording small long-period earthquakes that occurred frequently. The volcano continues to emit a dense ash plume that is rising to 10,000 feet and is moving southwesterly. The ash plume extends about 160 nautical miles west of the island. From that point, the plume turned southwest and extended another 400 nautical miles. The volume of ash emitted by the volcano has yet to be ascertained.

In a huge quake on the Cascadia subduction zone off the U.S. west coast, the two crustal plates could abruptly slip apart vertically by at least 50 feet in three successive blocks from south to north, generating a 9.2 magnitude quake. Aside from enormous quake damage on land for hundreds of miles, estimates are that the resulting tsunami would pile a wave more than 20 feet high crashing onto the Oregon-Washington coast, inundating Seattle and the entire Puget Sound region as well as Portland and the mouth of the Columbia River. Crescent City in California's Del Norte County would see a wave of more than 11 feet, and the tsunami sweeping the coast at the Golden Gate and Monterey Bay would be more than 10 feet. At Santa Barbara, the wave height would be 6.5 feet, and smaller waves would crash against the shore as far south as the tip of Baja California.
Another giant earthquake is nearly a certainty in the unstable coastal regions of Oregon and Washington, but many scientists are also considering the effect of an event that would have no precedent in recorded history - and have concluded that an even greater tsunami might be generated if an asteroid were ever to plunge into the ocean off the West Coast. Calculations indicate a tsunami from the crash would be far more devastating than anything known in history: Peak wave heights would reach 17 feet in southern Alaska, more than 55 feet all along the California coast, 15 feet in Hawaii, and 20 feet at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.The specific asteroid that worries most has been designated by NASA astronomers as 2004MN4, and it is expected to pass within 26,600 miles of Earth less than 25 years from now.

In Taiwan floods caused by torrential rains have claimed three lives and forced authorities to evacuate hundreds of residents from low-lying areas. A 65-year-old woman was buried alive by a mudslide at Tsochen. Thousands of homes in Pingtung were cut off by the floods. Dozens of southern mountainous villages are at risk of landslides. The Central Weather Bureau warned of persistent torrential rain over the next few days.

A cyclone has hit the village of Iormuganlo in eastern Georgia, tearing roofs off houses, tossing people into the air and injuring 13. The storm lasted several minutes and kilometers of roads and a bridge were destroyed in a deluge in the same region.

Substantial sections of Scotland's road network are at a potentially high risk of landslides, according to government reports ordered after three major landslips last year. Roadside drains could be overwhelmed as rainfall increases because of climate change. Three main routes were blocked when they were engulfed by landslides within a week of each other last August. Three times as much rain as normal fell that month in parts of Scotland. "There is a high potential for such events to cause serious injury and even loss of life although, fortuitously, such consequences have been limited to date....The lengths of the road and the slope lengths they involve are substantial."

Spain and Portugal are suffering one of the worse droughts on record since 1947, with far-reaching economic consequences. Beef prices have shot up 14% in line with increased prices for cereal-based animal feeds. Tomato prices rose 11% last month and are now 54% higher than the same time last year. Canary Island banana prices are up 38% on last year. The drought also threatens to ruin melon, water-melon, olive, vegetable and citrus crops. Any surviving produce is clearly more expensive. Spaniards are bracing themselves for a hard, hot summer. After a week of forest fires, the Portuguese public fear a repeat of the summer scenario two years ago, when a spate of wildfires left 20 people dead and destroyed more than 400,000 hectares of land. In the meantime, forest fires are already ravaging parts of the Iberian peninsula with no significant rainfall predicted until the autumn.

Drought stress in Ontario, Canada is beginning to have an impact on crops.

Persistent drought and a border dispute with neighbouring Ethiopia is pushing Eritrea further into poverty and increasing food shortages.

The Chinese government, while denying the reports of human deaths from bird flu, has adopted emergency measures in Xinjiang, its remote north-western province, and has sealed off affected areas with roadblocks and closed all nature reserves. China similarly denies that any people have been infected. But the government admits to alerting its heath departments around the province to prevent the spread of the disease and to opening special departments in hospitals for "screening patients with fever". Unconfirmed reports say that more than 100 people have died, suggesting that the virus may have evolved to pass from person to person, breaking the final barrier preventing a worldwide catastrophe and potentially killing up to 50 million people worldwide.

Monday, June 13, 2005 -

There are proposals to set up an international expert panel tasked with reducing the casualties and damage caused by natural disasters. "What we're looking at is... setting up a system where the best scientific understanding of volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and near-Earth objects striking our planet is pooled together and brought to those international bodies through the appropriate channels." The panel would also consider floods, mudflows, tropical cyclones, storm surges and energy surges from the Sun.

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in the Molucca Sea has occurred 155 km (95 miles) NNW of Ternate, Moluccas, Indonesia (population 83,000).

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake in the South Sandwich Islands region has occurred 3405 km (2110 miles) SE of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake in Southern California has occurred 35 km (20 miles) S of Palm Springs, California (population 42,000). There were over 250 aftershocks yesterday.

The earthquake that shook the Coachella Valley in California on Sunday morning caused minimal physical damage but it did rattle the nerves of many who felt the rumbling. The sensation of the earth moving underfoot is enough to make even longtime residents of "earthquake country" uneasy. In addition to the initial jolt - the potential for aftershocks, which are sometimes greater than the first shaking, is higher in the minutes and hours following a quake. The likelihood that any given quake is a precursor to a larger event is about 5 to 10 percent in the moments following the shaking. By early this morning the likelihood that the Anza quake foreshadows a larger temblor is less than 1 percent.

Real-time Forecast of California Earthquake Hazard in the Next 24 Hours.

A mountain flood that swept through a primary school in north-west China might have killed as many as 200 people.

A rescue team recovered seven bodies in the northern Viet Nam province of Quang Ninh, after a landslide triggered by torrential rain killed 11 people on Thursday and stormy weather caused havoc across Viet Nam. Meanwhile, rough seas are devastating a 5km stretch of beach that runs through a village in central Thanh Hoa Province. Since April, the ecological tourism area near the village of Quang Cu has suffered serious erosion as waves batter the coastline, encroaching onto land by 15m in places and sweeping away 15,000sq.m of pine forest, as well as threatening the lives and property of local people. In an effort to limit the erosion damage, Quang Cu villagers have built a 3km-long embankment about 50m from the sea, but this is proving ineffective in many areas.

A senior White House aide, who previously worked as a lobbyist for the oil industry, has resigned days after it emerged that he edited government papers to play down the threat of global warming.

The chief executive of BT has become the first boss of a British company to admit that climate change is already affecting his company, and that environmental damage could threaten the stability of the world's financial system. BT boss Ben Verwaayen reveals that extreme weather in the form of flooding and high winds has hit BT's British operations, and he fears that this is just the beginning. Carbon dioxide levels are now higher than they have been for the last 420,000 years and have risen by 34 per cent since 1750.

The heat wave in Canada could be the start of a summer-long trend. As people in Ontario and Quebec suffer through the first heat wave of the season, Environment Canada is projecting abnormally high temperatures this summer across the country. Forecasters expect the current heat wave to end in mid-week. But climatologists said another one will be along quickly enough.


Sunday, June 12, 2005 -

Our Planet Earth from Space - Every 20 minutes this website shows new images of Earth from space with all earthquakes of the past 48 hours, current cloud cover, temperatures, hurricanes, active volcanoes, satellites, day/night zones, the moonphase, natural disasters and epidemics.

Preparations - If a monstrous global disaster strikes, how will you survive it?

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in Sakhalin, Russia has occurred 1935 km (1200 miles) N of Tokyo, Japan.

Volcanic eruptions may be an agent of rapid and long-term climate change, according to new research by British scientists. Volcanic aerosol [airborne] particles reflect the Sun's rays back out to space and also create more clouds that have the same effect. It all helps to cool the planet for a year or two. New findings show that volcanic eruptions have another, more indirect effect: the resulting sulfuric acid from the volcano helps to biologically reduce an important source of atmospheric greenhouse gases. At the extreme, this effect could cause significant cooling for up to 10 years or more. So volcanoes may exert a more powerful influence over Earth's atmosphere than was thought.

Tropical Storm Arlene came ashore near the Alabama-Florida border on Saturday afternoon, affecting areas hit by the more powerful Hurricane Ivan almost nine months ago. At its worst, Arlene's winds reached nearly 100 km/h and heavy rain pounded a 200-kilometre region between Pensacola, Fla. and Mobile, Alabama. As its winds dropped to about 55 km/h in the evening, officials downgraded Arlene's classification to "tropical depression." Arlene was expected to move northward along the Mississippi-Alabama state line, possibly reaching Tennessee by this afternoon.

The freak weather season claimed 68 lives yesterday as torrential rains brought floods to China and mudslides to Peru.

Around 8pm on Friday a fierce thunderstorm – propelled by galeforce winds – tore through the town of Adelaide, Australia which has a population of 300. Described by locals as a mini-tornado, it took just two minutes to tear roofs and walls from 18 homes and public buildings. "It's certainly like nothing seen before in South Australia." Just three days ago the people of Karoonda were celebrating – after three months of drought the heavens were opening and their hopes for a decent grain crop were resurrected. "We've waited three months for rain and we should all be on our tractors but we have to fix the town first. What's happened here is devastating." Among the worst-hit was 73-year-old Eileen Burdett whose home was ripped apart. "I just felt some force telling me to get out quickly...When I looked behind there was the ceiling and water and dust crashing behind me...I'd be dead if I hadn't got out of that chair."

Toronto has declared an extreme heat emergency, as parts of Ontario and Quebec swelter through unseasonably hot temperatures. It was about 10 degrees hotter than normal. Environment Canada warned people to get used to it, because the heat wave seems likely to continue. "We've had more summer this week than we had all of last year in Eastern Canada." Extreme heat kills an average of 120 people a year in Toronto, 121 in Montreal, 41 in Ottawa and 37 in Windsor, Ontario.

Torrential rains in northwestern Colombia unleashed mudslides Friday on an impoverished mountainside neighborhood in Colombia's coffee-growing region, killing at least six people. Another four people were reported missing.


Saturday, June 11, 2005 -

Quake clusters in recent days:
Alaska -
6/9 Chuathbaluk - 4.8, 3.9, 3.3
6/9 Atka - 3.4, 3.0, 4.0
6/10 Adak (Rat Islands) - 4.4, 5.8, 4.2, 4.4

Indonesia -
6/3 Nias - 5.8, 4.6, 4.5, 4.6, 4.2, 4.5
6/5 Nias - 4.5
6/6 Nias - 4.5
6/9 Nias - 4.6, 4.7
6/10 Nias - 5.5
6/11 N. Sumatra - 5.2, 5.0
6/3 Kepulauan - 4.5
6/5 Kepulauan - 4.7
6/4 Simeulue - 4.6
6/8 Simeulue - 6.1
6/6 Nicobar - 4.3
6/7 Andamans - 5.0
6/10 Papua, Indonesia - 5.1

Iceland -
6/7 4.6, 4.6, 4.6, 4.4, 4.9, 4.4, 4.6
6/8 5.0, 4.3. 4.7
6/9 4.7, 4.6

Anatahan's volcano unleashed its fury anew in another strong eruption that kicked up ash to 30,000 feet in the air, resulting in an ashfall in the Northern Mariana Islands. It was a 7-minute long eruptive pulse and one of the vocano's strongest recent eruptions, second only to the record 50,000 feet last April. The tremor levels have continued to be variable with occasional small explosions.

Detailed maps identifying the reach of the December tsunami, as well as vulnerable areas in Tamil Nadu and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands should the disaster recur, have been prepared. The 'Tsunami Inundation Mapping in the Coastal Districts of Tamil Nadu' gives detailed information on areas that went under water on December 26 when giant tsunami waves hit India's coast from 9am to about 2pm. There are about 200 areas in the eastern coastline which could go under water if such events recur. Flooding occurred in some areas in Nagapattinam, which are as far as 1.1km away from the sea. "On an average, inundation occurred at a distance of 50 m to 1.1km from the sea on Tamil Nadu's coast."

The latest December tsunami analysis shows that waves up to 10m high struck the east coast of Sri Lanka, while on the west coast the waves dropped to a few metres high as the tsunami was bent around the tip of the island. On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, 9m-high waves hit Banda Aceh, while waves of more than 15m pounded Lhoknga, 15km to the southwest. At Lhoknga, wave-driven water was forced inland and up to 25m above sea level. On a nearby island this "run-up" was more than 31m. Between Banda Aceh and Lhoknga, waves inundated about 65sqkm. In some areas, the Sumatran coastline was moved permanently 1.6km inland, after inundated ground sank and waves scoured away coastal land.

The threat of avalanches lingers in many Western U.S. mountain ranges where it's been an unusual season for one of nature's more unpredictable phenomena. Since late October, at least 27 people have died in the United States in avalanches, which is about the average. What's unusual is that two of the deaths occurred in developed ski areas, including the most recent one last month in Colorado and another in January when a teenager was swept off a ski lift near Las Vegas. In the previous 19 years, just three of the 416 known avalanche deaths in the nation — well below 1 percent — occurred within ski areas. In southern Nevada, an expert said there may have been no way to predict the slide that killed a 13-year-old snowboarder at Mount Charleston. "When this avalanche released, it was unprecedented."

A tornado struck a small village in northeastern China killing nine people and injuring 14 others.

At least 40 children were killed when a flash flood struck a primary school in north-eastern China.

Potentially drought-breaking rain fell in parts of the New South Wales, Australia, far-west. Up to 50 millimetres had been recorded at Ivanhoe, while 20mm fell around Hillston and 39 at Whitecliffs. "That'd be the best rain that we've had here since November 12, 2000."

A leading environmentalist has warned that Australia is now entering long-term climate change, which could cause longer and more frequent droughts. He also predicts that the ongoing drought could leave Sydney's dams dry in just two years. If Sydney's dams dry up, the city's ground water supply would last just 10 days. Global warming is threatening Australia's chance of returning to a regular rainfall pattern. The shifting weather patterns as the planet warms up has the tropics expanding southwards and the winter rainfall zone is sort of dropping off the southern edge of the continent. Disturbances in the ozone layer - "That is causing wind speeds around Antarctica to increase and, again, drawing that winter rainfall to the south." The third phenomena, which is the most worrying, is the recurring El Nino weather pattern. "That's occurring as the Pacific Ocean warms up, and we're seeing much longer El Ninos than we've seen before and often now back-to-back el Ninos with very little of the La Nina cycle, the flood cycle, in between."

Friday, June 10, 2005 -

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in the Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands has occurred, 2175 km (1350 miles) WSW of Anchorage.

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake in the Queen Charlotte Islands region has occurred, 625 km (385 miles) WNW of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Papua New Guinea is a hotspot for volcanic activity. Relief supplies are on their way to villages where volcanic ash has fallen after the eruption of Mt Langila on the island of New Britain. More than 2000 villagers around Kilenge and Cape Gloucester on the island's western end have had their food crops covered and water supplies contaminated by falling ash. There are numerous cases of respiratory problems, sore eyes and skin rashes since the increase in volcanic activity began in April. Mt Tavurvur on the eastern end of New Britain continues to send ash plumes across the nearby town of Rabaul. 9000 Manam Islanders remain in plantation care centers on the PNG mainland's north coast after the eruption of their island's volcano in October last year.

This week's eruption of the Volcàn de Colima in the Mexican state of Jalisco exceeded the magnitude of all minor events in the last 20 years. And if history repeats itself, some geologists fear the recent activity could be only the beginning of a larger event to come — one that could parallel or exceed the damage caused by its last major eruption in 1913, which turned the summit into a 500-meter-deep crater and blew ash 125 kilometers north into Guadalajara. And its base, on which some communities have been built, might no longer be stable and could itself face an impending collapse. It has taken on a pink, rust coloration, which means that volcanic gases have altered the slope. "This commonly feared pastel coloring indicates a weakness in the deposit and the potential for a collapse." (photo)

The first storm of the Caribbean hurricane season headed for oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico causing crude oil prices to top $54 a barrel on Thursday. Last year a severe hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico produced a record-breaking surge in crude oil prices. Tropical storm Arlene was brewing up winds of about 65 kilometres an hour off the coast of western Cuba. The storm is poised to enter the Gulf of Mexico today, and people in the U.S. from Florida to Louisiana are being warned to stay alert for weather updates. Arlene is the first named storm system of the year, with these other names waiting in the wings: Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katrina, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma. U.S. meteorologists say there's a 70-per-cent chance that the 2005 hurricane season will be worse than usual.
The storm swept already-saturated South Florida with sporadic rain and gusty wind Thursday as it moved from the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf of Mexico. Particularly heavy rain spread across central and western Cuba, the Cayman Islands, parts of Central America and the Florida Keys on Thursday. Forecasters warned of 15 inches by the end of today in Cuba. Forecasters said heavy downpours up to 5 inches, flooding, rough seas and other unpleasant conditions could be in store for South Floridians as the sprawling system pulses north through the Gulf. The storm is not expected to grow into a hurricane.

Dry conditions already fueled a number of fires in Nevada and firefighters there expect much worse to come. Tens of thousands of acres are on fire at the moment just northwest of the Las Vegas Valley. For firefighters, it's like ominous foreshadowing in the movies. Wildfires are not supposed to start this early and be as big in this area.

At least 12 people died after heavy rains triggered landslides and flooding in northern Vietnam.

Unseasonally cold weather in June brought snow and floods to much of Europe. Fresh snow fell Wednesday on parts of Austria and temperatures dipped below freezing in corners of Croatia, England and Scotland. Cooler-than-usual temperatures and hailstorms have inflicted millions in damage on crops in Italy. Croatia had snow and strong winds. Heavy rain flooded several villages in central Serbia.


Thursday, June 9, 2005 -

Another top scientific specialist in tsunamis is warning that continuing earthquake activity is increasing stress on fault lines that caused the December tsunami, making them vulnerable to another rupture and another tsunami within a year. His team predicted a quake in the Indian Ocean region for late March, about two weeks before it occurred. John McCloskey says the area under the Mentawai Islands west of Sumatra is most at risk of an earthquake with a magnitude of eight or more on the Richter scale. The displacement of the earthquakes in March and December changed the stress values everywhere in the region. The Batu section of the Sunda trench, south of the Mentawai islands, last ruptured in 1935 and has slowly slipped ever since. As a result, the total stresses there are probably too low to cause a giant rupture. Of greater concern to McCloskey is the section of the trench south of Siberut, which is at the northern end of the Mentawai islands. This section last ruptured in 1797, which means it has more than 200 years of accumulated stress waiting to be released. The seismic history of this section indicates that major quakes strike there about every 230 years. In addition, the new calculations show that the March earthquake expanded the Sumatra fault's stressed section by about 125 miles (200 kilometers) and has not relieved any stress there. Indonesia's Sumatra region is at risk from mega-earthquakes that could trigger waves 10 metres high, the same seismologists say.

An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of Sumatra on Wednesday. The tremor was centered 270 kilometers southwest of Medan, North Sumatra, and was recorded at 2:34 p.m. (0634 GMT). The quake prompted panic on the island off Simeulue.

The latest earthquake to hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra has caused massive earth craters to appear in Thailand's southern province of Trang. Several houses in Wang Wiset district reported cracks, while officials from the Department of Mineral Resources have discovered four-metre deep soil craters. The limestone soil of the area is particularly prone to earthquake-related subsidence, as limestone is characterized by air bubbles under the soil.

An earthquake measuring 5.5 points on the Richter scale occurred in the northeastern part of Taiwan on Wednesday.

A British researcher says an eruption of Mount Vesuvius near Naples, Italy, could kill as many as the Indonesia tsunami. Vesuvius is one of the most serious problems facing Europe. The worst damage from the eruption would likely be caused by rapidly moving streams of hot gas and ash, called pyroclastic flows. Much damage is caused by the debris entering buildings through open windows and doors. A person cowering in a corner might escape the scorching material untouched. A study shows that heat-resistant coverings on windows and doors could hold the damage down significantly but serious preparations need to be made in advance.

The Department of Fisheries has warned tourists and trawlers to avoid all activities in the Andaman Sea until October due to high waves and strong wind, or even storms, during the rainy season. His advice followed an accident off Thailand's southern resort island of Phuket earlier this week when a tourist boat capsized, killing one tourist, while the rest (18) were safely rescued by naval officers. "All marine activities should particularly be avoided in the Andaman Sea."

Less than a month after a tornado devastated Western Australia's southwest, residents are again preparing for severe weather, with hail, thunderstorms and strong winds moving through the region. The State Emergency Service has advised sheep farmers in the state's south west of the serious risk of sheep and lamb losses, while Perth householders have been warned to secure loose objects and stay indoors during high winds.

Powerful thunderstorms slammed the Upper Midwest and caused heavy flooding, leaving one man missing in Minnesota, destroying a small-town city hall in South Dakota, forcing 30 people out of their homes in North Dakota and knocking power out to more than 200,000 customers in the Minneapolis metro area and downing trees. Hail nearly 3 inches in diameter was reported in Meade County and many other areas also reported hail. Rain pounded some areas for hours.

A series of huge landslides has blocked the scenic Beartooth Highway, a major tourist magnet that winds through a high mountain pass into Yellowstone National Park, likely closing it all summer. Construction crews plowed a path around the lowest mud and rock slide south of Red Lodge on Tuesday and prepared to attack the next slide in the series, but that work only serves to clear a route for contractors who will have to make millions of dollars in repairs. The mountainside highway is closed part of the year by snow and typically opens during the Memorial Day weekend, but on May 19-20 the slides and washouts damaged or destroyed 13 segments of a 12-mile stretch. State officials estimated more than 500 million tons of debris cascaded down the mountainsides. The slides were blamed on snowmelt and heavy rain, and water is still flowing across the highway in spots. There have been three very minor tremors in the same west Yellowstone area within the last seven days: a 1.5 earthquake on June 2, a 1.2 tremor on June 5, and a 1.4 on June 6. Two of the tremors had epicenters less than 2 miles deep.

A controversial new report published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds the northern Gulf of Mexico is sinking much faster than geologists thought. By century's end, much of southern Louisiana may sink into the Gulf of Mexico. The Texas coastline, including Galveston, could soon follow. Instead of minimal geologic subsidence along most of the Louisiana coast, as previously thought, the state's entire coastal region is sinking at least 5 feet every century. Every building on land certified as safe from flooding may, in fact, be in danger if Louisiana's benchmarks are flawed.

An urgent appeal for $7.5 million in urgent drought relief for the tiny Horn of Africa country of Djibouti has received almost no response. Djibouti is suffering from a worsening drought following three failed rainy seasons. A severe food crisis threatens three of the country's six rural zones. Limited rainfall has been insufficient to replenish water catchments and regenerate pastures. As a result, many of the animals on which Djibouti's pastoralists depend for survival have died. The situation has been exacerbated by the migration to Djibouti of pastoralists from neighbouring areas in Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia due to drought in their own countries.

Portugal, which is suffering though its worst drought in decades, is currently sweltering through a heatwave. The national weather office has issued a heat warning for eight of the country's 18 regions because of forecasts that temperatures there would hover near 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) over the next few days. Over 200 firefighters are battling a large wind-fueled wildfire.


Wednesday, June 8, 2005 -

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake on the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge has occurred 1050 km (650 miles) ENE of Scott Island, Antarctica and 2820 km (1750 miles) SSE of Wellington, New Zealand.

Officials were evacuating residents of some nearby villages on Tuesday after western Mexico's Volcano of Fire erupted for the second time in two days, shooting burning rock high in the air and dusting the region with ash on Monday night around 11pm. A voluntary evacuation was in effect at the three villages nearest the crater and people in other towns were urged to be ready to move. The volcano staged spectacular eruptions Thursday night, Friday morning, and Sunday afternoon (the strongest eruption in decades), as well as on May 23 and May 30.

Ulawun volcano on the Papua New Guinean island of New Britain erupted on Monday. The volcano exhaled ash and steam. Ulawun is one of Papua New Guinea’s most active volcanoes.

On May 24, 2005, Colombian officials ordered 9,000 people living near the flanks of the Galeras volcano to evacuate, as seismic activity increased and the threat of eruption loomed. According to reports from Colombia’s Institute of Geology Mining published on June 1, the volcano is likely to erupt in the coming days or weeks.

Seismologists have located a relatively small and isolated patch of exotic material deep within the Earth that may be a "root" for mantle plumes that connect Earth's hot and tumultuous core to the surface. Specifically, the researchers have found a spot at Earth’s core-mantle boundary, 3,000 km (1,900 miles) deep inside Earth that could play a pivotal role in the formation and existence of volcanic islands and island chains like Hawaii. It is an ultra low velocity zone, a region where seismic waves propagate extremely slowly, under the southwest Pacific Ocean.

Five people were killed and 11 injured in a landslide caused by heavy rain in northwestern Colombia on Monday. Hundreds of tons of rocks and mud fell to a road near Cisneros city, burying a bus and a taxi. Six people were still missing. The rainy season, starting in March, will last until late June or early July. This year's heavy rain has left at least 35 people dead and more than 94,000 homeless in Colombia.

Typhoon Nesat is moving north toward Japan over the Philippine Sea with winds of 213 kilometers per hour (115 knots or 132 mph) with gusts to 259 kph (140 knots or 161 mph), making it the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane. It was the fourth tropical cyclone to form in the region in 2005.

A heat wave sweeping through the region for the last two weeks has killed some 100 people in South Asia up through last Friday. Bangladesh, especially its northern districts, is responsible for at least one-third of this casualty figure. Weather experts are saying that the raging heat wave is yet to die down and may even continue for another week. The extreme weather condition covers a vast swathe of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh and is the worst of its kind in recent memory. All the heat should have been absorbed by the cool monsoon winds and rains, but during the last fifteen-plus days that the heat wave has been singeing the entire region in South Asia, there has been no rain. The monsoon should have already begun by now, but the advent of the monsoon has been halted by the heat wave from the west. Weather forecasters hope that, though delayed, the monsoon rains will start by the middle of June. In Bangladesh last Friday, the temperature rose as high as 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit). The situation is worse in India. In Andhra Pradesh the temperature reached 45 degrees Celsius and in Orissa at Talcher town it reached the sizzling 48.5 degrees Centigrade.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 -

Fifty-four people have been injured in a strong 5.7 earthquake in eastern Turkey. The quake jolted Bingol province of eastern Turkey at 10:41 a.m. (0741 GMT), damaging scores of houses and injuring 54 people. At least 10 aftershocks also shook the region.

A man is dead, several injured and hundreds left homeless in Lae, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, following a major 6.0 earthquake early Sunday morning. "Many people were lucky to escape with minor injuries as the houses collapsed on them while they were fast asleep." Reports say that hundreds of people are homeless.

The Indonesian Institute of Sciences is worried about the possibility of another massive earthquake that could trigger a tsunami of the west coast of Sumatra, thus endangering the lives of the 800,000 inhabitants of Padang, West Sumatra. A seismologist at LIPI's Geotechnology Research Center, Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, told The Jakarta Post in Padang that the 200-year cycle of huge quakes, centered around Siberut island and Sipora-Pagai islands in the Mentawai island chain, had almost come full circle.
"The quakes in Nias and Aceh have definitely increased the possibility of a huge quake in Mentawai. We are afraid that the 6.9 magnitude quake, with its epicenter in Siberut island, last April 10, could trigger a truly massive quake," he said. The April 10 quake was not actually massive, unlike those that took place on Dec. 26 in the Aceh-Andaman segments and on March 28 in the Nias-Batu islands segments. In addition, it had not taken place in the Siberut or Sipora-Pagai segments, but between the two segments. It had also not affected the rising and sinking of the islands. Based on reports, the massive quake on Dec. 26 in Aceh caused the northern coast of Simeuleu island to rise by 1.3 meters while the south coast sank by around 50 centimeters. A similar event occurred on Nias island during the March 28 quake. During the 8.7 magnitude quake, the western part of the island was lifted by about three meters above the surface of the sea.
Moreover, coastal areas in Laweha district were lifted by an average of 3.5 meters. By contrast, Banyak and Singkil islands on the western side of Nias sank by about 1.5 meters. However, the quake in Nias failed to produce a tsunami as the epicenter was located precisely underneath the island. The rising and sinking of the islands along the west coast of Sumatra was due to natural processes that had been happening since time immemorial. The same thing would also occur in the two segments of the Mentawai Islands. The Sipora-Pagai segment was last hit by a magnitude 8.5 earthquake in 1833, while the Siberut and Sipora-Pagai segments were last hit simultaneously by an 8.3 magnitude quake in 1797.
"Based on our analysis using the Global Positioning System, the Mentawai islands are sinking by about a centimeter each year. During the 200 years since the last massive quake, the islands have sunk by two meters. Then a massive quake occurred again and raised the islands back up two meters. They are now sinking again gradually at 1 centimeter per year."
The quake that struck the Mentawai islands in 1797 triggered a tsunami in Mentawai and Padang. Based on historical records, Padang town was hit by a five-meter-high tsunami. "A similar occurrence is a possibility, with the worst-case scenario being simultaneous earthquakes in two segments, the Siberut and the Sipora-Pagai segments, which would be capable of producing a 9 magnitude quake and a tsunami." Padang is the most susceptible area in the event of a tsunami as 80 percent of its 800,000 inhabitants live only a few hundred meters from the coastline at an elevation of just five meters above sea level. "I'm not worried about Mentawai due to its sparse population, most of whom generally live in villages behind which are hills to which they can flee. There are almost no multistory buildings there. It's different in Padang, however." (From the Jakarta Post - National News, June 7)

Minor flooding along the Laramie River in Wyoming on Monday followed a weekend of heavy rain and a freak snowstorm that brought down tree limbs all over town.

England and Wales have had their driest November to March period in 30 years. But April 2005 was wetter than average for the UK as a whole. The dry spell spanned two complete seasons across most of the UK with five consecutive months of below-average rainfall. Parts of central and south England had just 60% of their average rainfall. But downpours in west and north Scotland recorded 108% and 120% respectively.

Central Australia had its driest year on record. Dry weather in May in the southern parts of the Northern Territory perpetuated the "long-running dry spell", leading to many places experiencing their driest 12 months on record.

The rate of rural suicide in Australia is amongst the highest in the world as farmers battle the stress of years of drought, failed crops, and mounting debt.

Drug-resistant "superbugs" causing hospital infections and deaths around the world can live for weeks on bed linen, computer keyboard covers and under acrylic fingernails. Some types of the bacteria are now nearly impossible to kill even with the strongest antibiotics.


Monday, June 6, 2005 -

Three earthquakes measuring 4.8, 4.3 and 4.1 on the Richter scale rocked Taiwan Sunday, but there were no reports of damage or casualties. Taiwan's worst earthquake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, occurred in September 1999 and left about 2,400 people dead.

A 5.5 quake shook Turkey today - they have frequent small quakes.

Mexico's "Fire Volcano" spewed ashes almost 5 km high yesterday, its fiercest eruption of rock and lava in more than 15 years and its third big explosion in two weeks. On May 23 and May 30 the volcano, located in a sparsely populated rural area about 482km from Mexico City, belched lava and glowing rocks, but prompted no evacuations. Sunday's explosion was 20 per cent larger than the May 30 eruption.

At Barren Island's volcano, lava and fireballs erupt from the crater every few seconds. On Thursday a Coast Guard helicopter hovered close to the volcano and another team steered an inflated raft towards the 354-metre high uninhabited island to collect samples of the lava flowing into the rough sea. This is the only active volcano along the North-South trending volcanic arc between Sumatra and Myanmar. The sudden eruption may be an after-effect of the December 26, 2004 tsunami, as predicted by the Geological Survey of India, say experts. (photo)

View 22 dramatic short videos shot by victims during the December tsunami plus a 10 minute Tsunami Memorial Video.

Forecasters in China on Sunday warned that the worst flooding was yet to come. A week of torrential rains and heavy flooding has killed at least 204 people in China and left 79 others missing. Strong rainfall is expected to pound the Yangtze River, China's longest river, in the coming 10 days and trigger more floods and landslides. In coming days, the Three Gorges area of the river is expected to see 35 to 50 millimeters (1.4 to 2 inches) of rainfall, more than the typical 30-45 millimeters in previous years. The river will enter an even rainier period starting mid-June. Thousands of people perish every year from floods, landslides and mudflows in China, with millions left homeless, and officials have warned this year's floods could be worse than usual. The China Meteorological Administration warned last month of an "apocalyptic" summer of severe drought and floods.

In Utah a mudslide shut down a mountain highway outside Cedar City on Friday. The slide was triggered by an avalanche that drove a battering ram of debris onto state Route 14. "When this came down it just brought the whole forest - millions of tons of mud and trees and rocks." There was an 8-foot snow fracture line where the avalanche started near the top of a mountain slope at about 10,000 feet in elevation. The avalanche ran for two miles down a ravine to the highway, piling debris 300 feet wide before it. The slide may have been aided by heavy rainfall on Friday, but the mountain slope seemed ready to release on its own and remains dangerously unstable.

A new study finds 125 large lakes in the Arctic have vanished as temperatures rose over the past two decades. The sudden draining could alter entire continental ecosystems. Many other lakes have shrunk. The lakes once sat atop permanently frozen soil called permafrost. Other studies have shown permafrost is melting around the world, causing low-lying ground to slump and rock to fall from mountains.

Climate changes have doubled the number of hurricanes in the last 15 years. Tropical storms and hurricanes killed thousands in Caribbean nations last year, and could claim more lives this year because the region is not prepared to cope with the deadly natural disasters. "I've warned the world it is not going to get better, it is going to become worse."

Water is being rationed in half of Spain to save it for domestic use, as parts of the country suffer the worst drought for 60 years. Swimming pools are empty, city fountains are turned off and golf courses have been ordered to reduce watering. Some reservoirs in the south-east are more than three-quarters empty. With no fresh rain expected in the affected areas until the autumn, authorities have decided they must protect domestic supplies through the busy summer tourist season. While one half of Spain gasps for water, the other is well stocked. Spain's green north-west has abundant supplies.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the world, `is in the gravest possible danger'. The Australian Government will this week send out 35,000 kits to health professionals to help them recognise and manage cases of severe respiratory illness. The kits provide infection control guidelines and advice on what to expect during an influenza pandemic. At the launch of the kits in Sydney today, it was said that even the best advice painted a grim picture for the future. "On all the best advice we have, we're looking at a whole lot of pretty grim possibilities."


Sunday, June 5, 2005 -

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake in eastern New Guinea, P.N.G. has occurred.

The Barren Island volcano is emitting a greater quantity of smoke after heavy rain had led to a decrease in the flames. Lava is still flowing out of the crater.

* Lightning sparked nearly two dozen wildfires Friday, burning hundreds of acres in southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona. Much of Utah has been living under flood watches as the mountain snowpack melted late in the season after temperatures warmed up. But the areas that lightning hit Friday were dry enough to start the fires.

* Crews in Canada have contained a large forest fire that burned dangerously close to a town in north-central Quebec and caused 700 people to flee. There is vast devastion there and Chibougamau could be in trouble again if the wind shifts. There are 72 forest fires burning in the province, covering more than 100,000 hectares. About a third of them are burning out of control. Hot and sunny conditions are expected through the weekend, but rain is forecast for Monday.

* A western Manitoba, Canada, town has declared a state of emergency due to flooding as other areas of the province struggle to recover from an earlier deluge. On Wednesday, a rare storm system dumped 150 millimetres of rain on the southwestern part of the province in less than 12 hours, causing severe flooding. On Saturday in Strathclair 50 millimetres of rain fell overnight, just as water levels were beginning to recede. "They're having water coming into town from several different directions...There's quite a concern because there's a lot more water coming from the east and the north so the town is in a bad way." More thunderstorms are expected in the region, where some communities hit by the earlier storm received more rainfall in a single day than they usually see in half a year.

* China has dispatched disaster teams to flood-stricken areas, after torrential rain razed mountain villages, possibly killing hundreds of people. Three days of rain in Hunan and the western provinces of Sichuan and Guizhou killed at least 88 and left 73 missing. But with houses uprooted and mountain torrents flattening buildings, many more are feared dead. The flooding, an annual event in China that causes huge loss of life, has affected nearly 6 million people so far and caused direct economic losses of 2.47 billion yuan ($300 million). More than 70,000 homes were destroyed and 215,000 people evacuated.

* Three days of heavy rains have left 24 people dead and more than 29,000 homeless in Brazil's northeastern state of Pernambuco. A total of 134 homes were completely destroyed and 1200 more were damaged.

It was the sixth driest May in Missouri since the weather service starting keeping records 111 years ago. Only the years 1901, 1911, 1914, 1932 and 1934 had drier Mays. 1.04 inches of rain fell in May, a month when five inches of precipitation is the norm. "We're setting on the edge of something really serious." Heavy rains in January brought the state to a drought-free situation. But below normal rains the past three months has brought about a moderate drought over much of the state. Statewide, rain totals in March, April and May averaged 7.13 inches, nearly five inches below normal. With heavy rain in January, the grass in lawns and pastures didn't put down roots as deep as usual. "Now that we're drying out, we're starting to see wilting and yellowing of grasses that we usually associate with the hot months later in the summer."


Saturday, June 4, 2005 -

* An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale shook the Indonesian island of Nias on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or property damage.

* The 4.0 temblor felt across northwest Tennessee on Thursday caused little damage, but it was strong enough to remind people they live in one of the country's most active earthquake zones. The New Madrid seismic zone produces close to 200 quakes a year. But most are around magnitude 2.0 and unnoticed by anyone but scientists. Quakes of magnitude 4.0, on average, occur once every 18 months or so in the New Madrid region. Yet quakes measuring just over 4.0 occurred in the area of Blytheville, Arkansas last month and in February.

* December 26 tsunami research - An international team of the world's leading scientists has just returned from the first scientific expedition to dive 4,500 meters into the Indian Ocean to explore the seabed site of the 2004 Asian tsunami. The mosaic of photographs the team has released show a 3 meter high x 8 meter wide section of compacted sediment nearly 3 miles down, only a small part of a huge cliff that was faulted and upthrust during the enormous earthquake and which undoubtedly contributed to the creation of the tsunami. The team was "surprised to find absolutely no evidence of deep-sea animals at the site during a 14 hour dive with the ROV submersible. This is unprecedented in 25 years of sampling the deep sea."

* The National Hurricane Center is watching a system in the Gulf of Mexico for signs of tropical development. At this time, forecasters say upper-level winds do not appear favorable for tropical formation. However, locally heavy rains in Florida will likely continue for the next day or so. The hurricane center is also tracking a westward-moving tropical wave near the Windward Islands. Tropical cyclone development is not anticipated.

* History reveals that New York and the Northeastern U.S. have been hit hard by hurricanes before, and with little warning. Scientists say the next major hurricane to strike the city is a question of when, not if.

Printable hurricane tracking maps

* A five-year drought with little-to-no rain in the Turkana district of Kenya's Rift Valley Province threatens the traditional pastoralist lifestyle of its communities, who up to now had managed to survive in the harsh, arid climate of northwestern Kenya. Water and grazing land have become so precious, in fact, that there has been an increase in the use of small arms to settle disputes over what little resources remain. Most riverbeds have long-since dried up, and apart from relief agency-sponsored bore holes, there is no water. April and May are meant to be the long-rains months for Turkana. This year, the rains have been sporadic and unpredictable. As the drought has deepened, child malnutrition in some districts has gone well over the World Health Organization's global acute malnutrition (GAM) critical threshold of 15 percent. GAM has exceeded 20 percent and 30 percent in Marsabit and Turkana. The survival of these communities depends on the June rains of 2005. Without them, analysts believe, the crisis will deepen and create one of the worst famine scenarios in Kenya on record.

Saturday, June 4, 2005 -

* An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale shook the Indonesian island of Nias on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or property damage.

* The 4.0 temblor felt across northwest Tennessee on Thursday caused little damage, but it was strong enough to remind people they live in one of the country's most active earthquake zones. The New Madrid seismic zone produces close to 200 quakes a year. But most are around magnitude 2.0 and unnoticed by anyone but scientists. Quakes of magnitude 4.0, on average, occur once every 18 months or so in the New Madrid region. Yet quakes measuring just over 4.0 occurred in the area of Blytheville, Arkansas last month and in February.

* December 26 tsunami research - An international team of the world's leading scientists has just returned from the first scientific expedition to dive 4,500 meters into the Indian Ocean to explore the seabed site of the 2004 Asian tsunami. The mosaic of photographs the team has released show a 3 meter high x 8 meter wide section of compacted sediment nearly 3 miles down, only a small part of a huge cliff that was faulted and upthrust during the enormous earthquake and which undoubtedly contributed to the creation of the tsunami. The team was "surprised to find absolutely no evidence of deep-sea animals at the site during a 14 hour dive with the ROV submersible. This is unprecedented in 25 years of sampling the deep sea."

* The National Hurricane Center is watching a system in the Gulf of Mexico for signs of tropical development. At this time, forecasters say upper-level winds do not appear favorable for tropical formation. However, locally heavy rains in Florida will likely continue for the next day or so. The hurricane center is also tracking a westward-moving tropical wave near the Windward Islands. Tropical cyclone development is not anticipated.

* History reveals that New York and the Northeastern U.S. have been hit hard by hurricanes before, and with little warning. Scientists say the next major hurricane to strike the city is a question of when, not if.

Printable hurricane tracking maps

* A five-year drought with little-to-no rain in the Turkana district of Kenya's Rift Valley Province threatens the traditional pastoralist lifestyle of its communities, who up to now had managed to survive in the harsh, arid climate of northwestern Kenya. Water and grazing land have become so precious, in fact, that there has been an increase in the use of small arms to settle disputes over what little resources remain. Most riverbeds have long-since dried up, and apart from relief agency-sponsored bore holes, there is no water. April and May are meant to be the long-rains months for Turkana. This year, the rains have been sporadic and unpredictable. As the drought has deepened, child malnutrition in some districts has gone well over the World Health Organization's global acute malnutrition (GAM) critical threshold of 15 percent. GAM has exceeded 20 percent and 30 percent in Marsabit and Turkana. The survival of these communities depends on the June rains of 2005. Without them, analysts believe, the crisis will deepen and create one of the worst famine scenarios in Kenya on record.


Friday, June 3, 2005 -

* A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in the Nias region of Indonesia has occurred.

* A magnitude 6.1 earthquake in Salta, Argentina occurred on Thursday.

* A high magnitude earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale shook the northeastern region of India on Thursday, causing panic among residents in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh along the border with China's Tibet region.

* A moderate earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter Scale was felt in the south of the Fiji at 2pm Thursday. Seismologists believe that Fiji is in an area where earthquakes should not exceed 7 on the Richter Scale.

* A minor 4.0 earthquake struck northwestern Tennessee early Thursday, jarring some residents awake but causing no reported damage. "I felt my house shake twice, my bed shook twice and I heard a big boom." The area where the quake hit is in the New Madrid fault zone, a seismically active area that runs along the Mississippi River.

* The volcanic eruption on Barren Island, situated near the Andamans, has further intensified but heavy rainfall and inclement weather has made it impossible to keep watch on the island. "A fresh survey team today found that lava is spewing out of the volcano with more intensity and the quantity of gas emission has also increased manifold." The weather will remain same for at least the next 48 hours, signalling that keeping an eye on Barren island will be difficult for at least two more days.
There has been a lot of fresh lava deposited on the surface of the island after the volcanic eruption. The occurrence, coming a decade after its last such fury, will result in a new map for the uninhabited land nestled in the Indian Ocean. A slew of post-monsoon scientific expeditions are being planned to take a peek at India’s only live volcano.

* Colima's volatile Volcano of Fire staged a spectacular midnight eruption in Mexico, scattering its flanks with glowing rock and spewing ash on nearby towns early on Thursday. No injuries or damage were reported. It also experienced explosive eruptions on May 23 and May 30.

* There is a 77 percent chance of at least one major hurricane making landfall in the United States this year. An updated forecast by William Gray and his team raises the predicted number of storms to 15 named storms, with eight of those becoming hurricanes. Four of the hurricanes are expected to be intense, with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. An earlier forecast predicted a total of 13 named storms and seven hurricanes, three of which were expected to be intense. Continued warming of the ocean will spur high hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin this season and increase the probability of a storm moving inland. "We have adjusted our forecast upward from our early April forecast and now expect tropical cyclone activity to be about 170 percent of the average seasonal activity," The long-term average is 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year. In the last 10 years only six of the 38 major Atlantic basin hurricanes crossed the U.S. coastline. In 2004, three major hurricanes made landfall. Hurricane season officially began on Wednesday.

* Snow in tropical Somalia, Africa - The first snowfall in this part of the world has claimed one life and caused extensive damage to properties. Puntland, northeastern part of Somalia has never recorded snowfall before last night when snow storms with high winds destroyed homes in Rako town. Aside from this unexplained snowfall on this tropical land, Somalia has experienced very strange weather in the past few months. Floods killed people and forced rivers to overflow banks in almost all parts of the country. Many cities from Hargeisa in the north to Baladweyn in central were affected badly by heavy rains and floods. Many people were killed and thousands of livestock washed away by this strange weather. The country is still struggling to recover from last month’s killer weather.

* Manitoba, Canada was under tornado and flood watches on Thursday after a day of exceptionally heavy rain and reports of two tornadoes touching down in the province's southwestern corner Wednesday night. Heavy rains have been pummelling the region, giving some communities more rainfall in a single day than they usually see in half a year. "This is very, very unusual. This kind of storm is going to be, according to our statistics, a 100-year event kind of thing."

* During the 2004 - 2005 winter season, more than 800 civilians and Army personnel were reported killed by avalanches in the Pakistan Karakoram / Hindu Kush / Kashmir mountains. The actual fatalities are probably above 2,000. "On this trip, I saw the most snowfall I've witnessed in 29 trips to the region since 1993. The Pakistan Meteorological Department has also issued a recent warning for all 2005 mountaineering expeditions" due to the highest snowfall in 40+ years. Twelve Pakistani armymen were killed by an avalanche in the Siachen area on Thursday. Seven people are feared dead in an avalanche that swept through the village of Hajipora in southern occupied Kashmir early Monday.

* Earlier this year, scientists warned that destructive landslides would be possible in California and they point to Laguna Beach as a wake-up call for other coastal communities to be on the lookout for any slight earth movement. "We're not out of the woods yet." Laguna Beach has been dry since a trace of rainfall nearly a month ago, but before that, Southern California had its second-rainiest season on record. The region has gotten nearly 28 inches of rain since last July, more than double the annual average. Last January, a landslide crashed down into the coastal community of La Conchita, in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, killing 10 people.

* In Arizona, biologists are plucking leopard frogs and eggs out of drying pools and taking them to museums and zoos to protect the adults and allow tadpoles to develop. Wildlife experts note that plants and animals have more difficulty adapting to drought in the forests and mountains. But in the desert, where drought conditions exist 43 percent of the time, species like the Chiricahua leopard frogs should be better able to adapt. "When you see frogs declining,it throws a red flag and shows something is going wrong."

* Imagine Tucson, Arizona looking like Africa. A local researcher worries it could happen and, as evidence, he points to this year's wildfires. It hasn't been native grasses that burned. This was buffelgrass. "Buffelgrass is probably the most destructive plant pest ever to strike the Sonoran Desert." Buffelgrass fires burn so hot, native plants are too thin-skinned to survive. They die and the buffelgrass thrives. If we don't get rid of it, instead of Sonoran desert, "you end up with an African savannah that burns every year."

* A potentially deadly airborne fungus has spread from Vancouver Island, Canada to the province's mainland, officials from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control warn. Since 1999, there have been 129 cases of the disease resulting in four deaths on Vancouver Island.

* A 50km-long iceberg is on the move again after more than a month lodged offshore from Antarctica's Casey station. Personnel at Casey had noticed B15G shift in recent weeks, pirouetting from its north-south position to east-west.

* A comet has been added to the list of potentially threatening near-Earth objects. Comet Catalina 2005 JQ5 is the largest - and therefore most potentially devastating - of the 70 objects now being tracked. However, the chances of a collision on June 11, 2085 are very low.


Thursday, June 2, 2005 -

* A magnitude 5.9 earthquake in Arunachal Pradesh, India has occurred.

* A magnitude 5.8 earthquake south of the Fiji Islands has occurred.

* Heavy rain has triggered floods and mudslides in southern China, leaving about 200 people dead or missing and more than 3500 homes were toppled in Xinshao and Lianyuan counties in Hunan. "Villagers, cadres and rescuers were washed away by floods. More than 10,000 people were left homeless after their homes were either washed away, flooded or toppled." More than 60,000 villagers had been evacuated.

* A massive landslide took place on Wednesday morning on the expressway between Nanchang and Jiujiang,in east China's Jiangxi Province, breaking off the traffic but no casualty was reported. Strong rainfalls hit Jiangxi since May 31, bringing about landslides and mountain torrents in many parts of the province.

* A major mudslide yesterday destroyed 12 homes and badly damaged at least 15 luxury homes in the wealthy California coastal town of Laguna Beach, south-west of Los Angeles, but no injuries were immediately reported. Forty more homes were evacuated. It was not immediately clear what triggered the slide as there has been no rain in the area for weeks, although they had a near-record winter rainy season.

* In a clarification to a story from last week on a freak storm in Cayo, Belize, the National Emergency Management Organisation has stated that two Santa Elena schools that suffered damage on Thursday were not in fact official hurricane shelters. According to a NEMO release, that designation was withdrawn from the buildings at least five years ago when inspections revealed they did not satisfy the requirements for shelters.

* Unusual weather hit Covington County, Alabama, when the late afternoon showers turned into a series of at least three different tornadoes cited in various parts of the county. If the storms were tornadoes, in all likelihood they were only F-0 - the lowest possible rating. However, it's more likely the windy storms were something called a mezzo cyclone. According to weather officials, tracking possible tornadoes of this nature is difficult because there was no actual "severe" weather associated with the funnel clouds, just individual periods of intensity that led to the apparent formation of the possible funnel clouds. The National Weather Service in Mobile explained the difficulties in tracking the possible tornadoes - and the unusual nature of the weather phenomena.

* Rainfall is down between 5 and 7 inches in most of Central Illinois since March 1 and tornadoes are absent. "The soil is only getting about 35 to 50 percent of the moisture it typically gets." If they have below normal precipitation for June, they will likely get into a severe drought condition. When 2005 started, it seemed unlikely Central Illinois would end up in a drought. It was the sixth wettest January since 1895 with a statewide average of 5.56 inches of precipitation. Central Illinois had average precipitation in February. There are equal chances Central Illinois will receive average rainfall, about 4 inches, in June. That doesn't mean the drought would disappear, however. "It will take a long time to get back up to normal." The lack of springtime rain has helped keep the number of tornadoes to only five. By this time last year, there had been 54 tornadoes throughout the state. In 2003, there had been 95 confirmed tornadoes by May 31. "We've had no confirmed tornado for the month of May. That's quite rare. May is usually the peak month." The weather service didn't even issue one tornado warning in May, something that hasn't occurred since 1979. Tornadoes rely on widespread thunderstorms with hefty amounts of rain. Those types of storms usually come up from the south or the southwest, but most storms approaching Central Illinois recently have come from the northwest and had less moisture. In 2001, Illinois only had six tornadoes by May 31 but had an active July, August and October.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005 -

* An earthquake registering 5.7 on the Richter Scale jolted the Kyushu region in southwestern Japan on Tuesday.

* A 5.6-magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Aceh province centered under the Indian Ocean, 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of Banda Aceh on Tuesday, causing frightened residents to flee homes and other buildings. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

* Many villagers living in the shadow of Mexico's fiercest volcano, which this week fired its angriest blast in at least 15 years, shrug off the danger of lava and falling rocks. Locals feel they are so experienced in volcano watching they do not need scientists or emergency workers to tell them when to flee. "We will know when we see danger. The recent explosions are not dangerous for us." A thin plume of white smoke rose from the volcano on Tuesday morning and the danger of evacuations seems to have diminished.

* Several new wildfires were burning Monday in Alaska, including a 1,000 acre blaze close to the Alaska Peninsula village of Pilot Point. So far this fire season, 165 fires have burned a total of nearly 10,000 acres. By this time during last year's record fire season, 91 fires had burned only 214 acres. The major fire season started significantly later last year than this year. "Just because this fire season began earlier doesn't automatically mean it's going to be worse, although that is everyone's worst fear."

* Freak weather hit Wicken, England on Monday as a tornado whipped across the sky. Residents could not believe their eyes when they looked out the window to see the 30ft high tornado circling the village. Moments before the tornado appeared, the area was hit with hailstones and immediately afterwards loud claps of thunder were heard, although a storm never broke. "Giant hailstones turned the streets white in Newmarket, and thunderstorms and lightning left a trail of destruction elsewhere in the country." (photo)

* Weekend storms in southern Arizona were not typical of May weather. "We had an unusual pattern that developed in the past few days with record heat and moisture and drier air coming in after that." While visiting the grave site of his son, a 70-year-old Tucson man was struck and killed by lightning Saturday night. Deaths caused by lightning strikes are unusual in Tucson, even during severe storms. Typically, severe lightning occurs during the monsoon period from late June to mid-September.


Tuesday, May 31, 2005 -

* An island near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has experienced a violent volcanic eruption. The dormant volcano erupted with lava flowing to the ocean. A routine Coast Guard patrol on Saturday witnessed the eruptions on Barren Island - a thickly vegetated, three-km-wide strip with a history of volcanic activity dating back to 1787. Inhabited mostly by rats, birds and goats, this island lies 135 km north-east of Port Blair on the inner arc extending between Sumatra and Myanmar. Lava from the 1.6 km-sized crater is reportedly ending up into the sea from the western side of the island. “When we landed, we saw red fireballs every few seconds and fresh lava on the ground." What is of major concern was the presence of strange staggering harmonic tremor on the ground all around the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Barren Island is a northward extension of the Java-Sumatra volcanic belt. Some geologists have been predicting that the northern extension of the Java-Sumatra volcanic belt will be the cause of another tsunami soon. ( Quakes in Northern Sumatra so far today - 5.1, 5.3, 5.2)

* Mexico's "Fire Volcano" spewed a column of rock, ash and lava almost three miles (5 km) into the sky on Monday in its largest eruption for at least 15 years, and some say 20 years. The government was considering evacuating tiny communities around Colima volcano, because the activity is gradually increasing. A shower of volcano ash closed the airport at the city of Colima 19 miles (30 km) away and lava crept down the side of the mountain. "The lava is very dense and is moving slowly. It has caused the grass to burn." The volcano's last major eruption was in 1913, but it has blown up intermittently in the last decade.

* Ash plumes from Anatahan's erupting volcano continue to affect navigational visibility with ash emissions still going on despite fluctuating seismicity on the island in the Mariana Islands region.

* The tsunami that struck their shores five months ago not only killed thousands of Nicobarese, it cracked the very foundations of their economy and their society. For thousands of years India's gentle Nicobarese tended their coconut plantations and reared pigs on the sandy shores of their island paradise. Today, the tribespeople have turned their backs on the sea, and may be turning their backs on their ancient way of life. "People have not come out of their shock and trauma. People are scared by the sound of the waves at night." The bodies may have been cleared away, but little else seems to have changed since Dec. 26. Village after village has been literally wiped off the map.

* About 10 persons are feared to have been buried under a avalanche early this morning at Kapran in South Kashmir. Fresh snowfall in the upper reaches and rains in the plains have disrupted normal life in the valley. In February this year, severe snowstorms in the area and avalanches had left at least 200 persons dead.

* Communications in Thailand's northern province of Nan have become temporarily paralyzed due to a landslide following 7 hours of torrential rain.

* Parts of the California mountain ranges received 180 percent of normal snowfall this year. A quick warming trend has brought flooding to some areas, and a profusion of waterfalls unlike anything seen for many years. Waterfalls have sprung up in spots that have been dry for years. Astounding amounts of water are pulsing off the tops of thousand-foot cliffs. As many as 100 waterfalls are running hard right now that typically are dry in a normal rain year.

* Sunday's storms dropped a record amount of rain for that date at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. A record rainfall of 3.56 inches fell at the airport Sunday, breaking the old mark of 3.36 inches set in 1978.

* Lightning killed three people and a man was missing as storms swept Bulgaria, flooding farmland and destroying roads.

* The West Nile virus is more threatening than widely believed, and new research finds that even so-called mild cases of West Nile fever can impair people for weeks or months. West Nile was long considered a serious problem only for the elderly and frail, and more of a nuisance illness for everyone else. Since 1999, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have counted more than 16,600 human cases and 654 deaths. It's sobering news as North America gears up for a seventh season of the mosquito-borne virus. West Nile's most perplexing complication: polio-like paralysis or severe muscle weakness that often strikes healthy people in their 30s, 40s and 50s. In much of the world, West Nile is a fairly mild illness. But the form working its way through the United States appears similar to a more virulent Israeli strain.


Monday, May 30, 2005 -

* A magnitude 6.2 earthquake in the Kermadec Islands, New Zealand has occurred.

* (From India) There are early indications of some major underwater disturbances in the same spot off the Sumatra coast that caused the catastrophic tsunami. The landslide that caused the tsunami has weakened the earth’s crust in that region. Recently, the British Royal Navy published some pictures of the landslide that caused the South Asian Tsunami. These pictures confirm what scientists were worried about. The Indian plate is pushing under the Burma plate. Recent Geological observations in January showed that the tectonic plate disturbance 20-30 miles below the surface is actually increasing around the same exact epicenter and may be setting up even a larger earthquake and tsunami. The damage is so severe that it is possible that further quick bursts of severe tremors and accompanying landslide and tsunami could happen at any time.

* High above La Conchita, California, where 10 people were crushed to death in January by a landslide, what remains of the slope looms like a sleeping monster, poised to pounce. "It's frozen in mid-explosion. It looks like it's ready to drop."

* Floridians are starting to freak out about the upcoming hurricane season. Of the 10 most costly catastrophes in the United States, eight were hurricanes or tropical storms.

Sunday, May 29, 2005 -
* A series of quakes hit Rat Islands, Aluetian Islands, Alaska early this morning in a 17 minute span: a 4.2, a 5.1, a 4.6 and a 4.5.

* A 5.7 quake has hit Southern Sumatera, Indonesia.

* The March 8.7 earthquake that struck near Nias island off Sumatra was so powerful that it created about 10 new islands ranging in length from 100 meters to 1.5 kilometers. The seabed near the northwestern coast of Nias island upheaved about 2 meters due to crustal movements caused by the quake. The quake also pushed the northwestern coastline out to sea by up to 1 km.

* A freak storm hit the one part of Belize generally regarded as an inland safe-haven during hurricanes and other bad weather. High winds accompanied Thursday afternoon’s localised thunderstorm. The storm toppled signs, uprooted trees, snapped utility poles, ripped off roofs ( including a major section of the roof of a school which was a designated hurricane shelter) and left the community traumatised.

* Record breaking heat kicked off the Memorial Day weekend across Oregon. Portland sat at 95 degrees at 5 p.m. Friday, five degrees above the previous record. Scappoose, Hillsboro and Vancouver, Wash., were all above 90 and Troutdale sat just below at 89 degrees.

* Friday the National Weather Service issued its first-ever heat advisory for Seattle, Washington. The advisory covering the urban corridor from Tacoma north to Everett was prompted by a second day of record temperatures. Thursday's high temperature of 89 degrees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport broke a 58-year-old record.
Meanwhile, residents in the Northeastern U.S. were basking in the sun Friday after several days of rain, blustery winds and temperatures in the 40s and 50s. It was the third coldest May on record for New England.

* In London, England temperatures reached over 31C (88F) on Friday - the hottest May day since 1953 - as a plume of hot air swept across Europe. By Saturday temperatures across the country dropped by up to 10 degrees.

* Dikes and dams will not be enough to stop the deluge. With climate change, people will have to learn to live with floods and tidal waves, scientists at an international conference said Friday. During the past two years, more than 600 floods have been recorded in the world, causing the deaths of 19,000 people and damage valued at about 25 billion dollars. The figures do not include the deaths of the 273,000 tsunami victims.

* Though 1.19 inches of rain has been recorded in Fairbanks, Alaska so far this May - more than twice the average - it has done little to abate fire activity in what has been an uncharacteristically busy spring. Red-flag warnings were issued Friday for the areas around Delta Junction, Healy, Fort Yukon and Bettles. May's fire activity has been fueled by dry grasses and duff, with an assist from the highly flammable cotton-like aspen seed floating on the breeze.

* For the past six or seven years, Utah's fire season has started earlier than normal - in May - because of the drought. This year, however, the fire season is expected to start in mid- to late June, which is more typical historically. With record rainfall followed by record heat, weeds that have thrived are now dying and drying, ushering in a potentially dangerous fire season.

* "An official from China's agricultural department said the death toll from bird flu in the West of China is five times greater than official reports have stated. The number of migratory birds killed was much larger than people had thought, he said. He added that the reports refer only to the death of birds and that no humans have died. Rumours are rife among experts and throughout the internet that there has been a massive cover-up. People are saying nobody really knows how bad the situation really is/was. Rumours abound that many humans have perished."

Saturday, May 28, 2005 -
* European - Meditterranean Seismological Centre - current updates.

* Volcanic tremors resumed under the Anatahan Volcano in the Northern Mariana Islands on May 18. Tremor activity peaked on May 20 then declined until May 23. The tremor amplitudes have since resurged.

* Flash floods poured over the Khasi Hills after heavy unseasonal rains fell in Bangladesh starting on May 24. Located along Bangladesh’s northeast border with India, the hill region is particularly prone to flooding during the summer monsoon, but these rains and floods came early. To the east, rivers in India are also swollen. According to news reports, 100,000 people have been affected by the floods, and 10 have died.


Friday, May 27, 2005 -

* An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale has jolted the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra.

* Scientists are urging Portland, Oregon's city planners and emergency services to get ready for the Big One. They say an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 or greater is overdue for the Northwest, and that the area is not prepared for the aftermath of such a powerful temblor. Using geological records and historical data, scientists estimate that a huge quake hits the area every 500 years or so - the last big quake on the fault line was over 500 years ago. Besides coastal tsunamis, people should expect massive damage to buildings, bridges and highways if a large quake hits the ocean fault line.

* The first earthquake in South Africa's recorded history was observed by a ship's captain passing Robben Island in 1620, but little more of seismological note occurred until mining began in earnest in the late 1880s. Today an array of detectors scattered around the country record thousands of tremors each day, and more than 80% of them are caused by SA's extensive mining industry. SA's gold mines are the deepest in the world.

* An active underwater volcano has been discovered near the Samoan Island chain about 2,400 miles southwest of Hawaii. During a research cruise to study a Samoan hot spot, scientists uncovered a submarine volcano growing in the summit crater of another larger underwater volcano, Vailulu’u. This new volcano, dubbed Nafanua, did not exist just fours years ago. It has a growth rate averaging eight inches per day, and currently stands at 300 meters, or nearly 1,000 feet. Within decades, continued growth of Nafanua could bring the summit of this volcano from its current depth of 600 meters to a depth of approximately 200 meters — close enough to the sea surface that it could provide a potential hazard to ocean navigation and coastal communities. Such hazards may include the explosive reaction between red-hot lava and seawater, or tsunamis that may be caused by the collapse of the newly built volcano.

* U.S. researchers have designed a house they say is better able to withstand a tidal wave and are planning to build 1,000 of them in Sri Lanka, one of the countries hit by last year's deadly tsunami. "The problem in Sri Lanka is the government wants to relocate people from the coast further inland. This would come at a huge social, cultural, environmental and economic cost. So the aim of this project is to investigate technological strategies that could guarantee safety at lower cost." Each house would cost between $1,000 and $1,500 to build.

* Fifteen people, including five children and four women, were killed and many injured in massive landslides which were perhaps the worst natural disaster to have struck Nagaland in recent times. Nagaland is in the north-east of India. The series of massive landslides occurred at Mokokchung town and destroyed a number of houses in the wee hours catching everyone in their beds. The landslides were triggered by the heavy rains that lashed Mokokchung throughout the night.

* An emergency situation at the Taldinskaya-Yuzhnaya coalmine that is now under construction in Kuzbass, Russia could have been caused by an underground landslide. A landslide was apparently triggered by heavy rains, the floods reached the mine tunnel at a depth of 20 metres through cracks in the soil and washed the roofing, which resulted in a cave-in that trapped five workers inside on Thursday morning. All the people stranded underground are alive and communication with them has been established. Efforts are currently underway to clear away the cave-in, which is seven-eight metres long.

* Winter and spring rain patterns boosted the growth of grasses and low-lying vegetation — setting the stage for a worse than normal fire season in the U.S. Southwest, Northern Rockies and Alaska, federal wildfire forecasters say. The forests in the higher elevations of the Northwest and the Northern Rockies have missed out on all their snowpack. A wetter-than-normal winter caused flooding and mudslides in Arizona, New Mexico, southern Nevada and Southern California, followed by a dry spring. Much of the Southwest’s vegetation has already dried. Excluding Alaska, last year was a relatively mild fire season in the West, burning 1.4 million acres.

* Climate change threatens to increase the number of the world's hungry by reducing the area of land available for farming in developing countries. ``In some 40 poor, developing countries with a combined population of two billion, including 450 million undernourished people, production losses due to climate change may drastically swell the number of undernourished people, severely hindering progress in combating poverty and food insecurity.''

* Since last Friday, record-breaking temperatures have been melting the excessive winter snowpack in many areas of the Western U.S. - forcing rivers and creeks out of their banks. Temperatures are breaking records across western Colorado, with the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction reporting that the city has seen record highs every day from May 20 to May 23. Flood watches and warnings stretch across most of Utah, and have done so for most of the past week.

* A major blackout hit large parts of Moscow on Wednesday morning in the middle of a record heat wave, shutting down the stock market and cell phone networks and trapping twenty thousand people in subways and 1500 in elevators. The temperature in Moscow reached nearly 87 degrees Wednesday afternoon, the highest it has been on May 25 since 1891.

* The United Nations has held a crisis meeting overnight at the start of a tour of five countries in southern Africa where the drought is turning deadly. UN officers say they expect the number of people needing food aid in the region to double in the next 12 months. And in Zimbabwe many people are said to be on the brink of starvation already.

* Shellfish beds from Maine to the Cape Cod coast are closed from the largest outbreak of red tide in 12 years in Massachusetts Bay. “The current bloom is big, much larger in fact than the last outbreak in the Bay 12 years ago, and much more widespread. This is an unusual event.” The reasons why are unclear.

* U.S. health authorities are taking urgent precautions against a 'flu pandemic' that experts warned could erupt at any time. "A human flu pandemic could cause 20 percent of the world's population to become ill. Within a few months, close to 30 million people would need to be hospitalised, a quarter of whom would die. Although these figures are speculative, they are among the more OPTIMISTIC predictions of how the next flu pandemic might unfold. Once a pandemic influenza strain is identified, a vaccine will take many months to produce, and our current stockpile of antiviral drugs is insufficient to meet the likely demand."

* There are rumors and recent allegations of the occurrence of human cases of avian influenza in Qinghai province, China, with fatality rates exceeding 60%. The descriptions of the human cases were quite detailed. Initial reports described the deaths of six tourists, points of origin, and names of four fatalities. A report on 18 locations in Gangcha County was also quite specific, including the number of infections and deaths for each region. Since there were no reported discharges, the case fatality rates could go to 100%. In addition to 200 cases in Gangcha Country, there were small numbers of infections and deaths in surrounding communities. This number and frequency of deaths in a region with confirmed H5N1 deaths of migratory birds demands a detailed explanation.


Thursday, May 26, 2005 -

* A new estimate of the effect of an earthquake along the little-known Puente Hills fault under Los Angeles, California, shows that damage could occur on an unprecedented scale. An earthquake of magnitude 7.2 to 7.5 would result in 3,000 to 18,000 deaths; 142,000 to 735,000 displaced households; and up to $250 billion in property damage. The disaster would be the costliest in U.S. history. A full Puente Hills fault rupture is a rare event. In 2003, a research team found that the fault had ruptured in earthquakes of magnitude 7.2 to 7.5 at least four times in 11,000 years.

* Yellowstone National Park's tallest and most infamously unpredictable geyser erupted Monday for the first time since the fall of 2003. The geyser spewed about 11,500 gallons of mineral-rich water during the eruption, much of it spraying the nearby parking lot. The geyser then slipped into its blustery steam phase. The geyser, which has had intervals ranging from four days to 50 years, has had more major eruptions in the past five years than at any time since the early 1980s. In recent years, Steamboat has erupted once in 2000, twice in 2002 and three times in 2003.

* A state of emergency has been declared by municipal officials in the Lunenburg area of Nova Scotia, Canada. Residents have been advised to brace for more rain following a record-setting deluge in recent days. The south shore of Nova Scotia has been hit hard by torrential rain with 248 millimetres of rain so far this month, more than double the monthly average.

* Mountain torrents flushed a bus into a river, leaving 11 people dead and three others missing in northwest China's Xinjiang region. The accident happened Saturday in Lop county, which has had continuous rain and flooding in recent days.

* The middle of Europe could become crowded by "climate change refugees" escaping a thawing Arctic to the north and Mediterranean droughts to the south.

* Scientists have renewed their warnings about the potential global effect of a flu pandemic on health and economy. Experts estimate a fifth of the world's population could be affected, with 30 million needing hospital treatment and around 7.5 million dying. "The arrival of pandemic flu will trigger a reaction that will change the world overnight. There will be an immediate response from leaders to stop the virus entering their countries by greatly reducing and even ending foreign travel and trade - as was seen in parts of Asia in response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic. These efforts are doomed to fail given the infectiousness of the virus and the volume of illegal crossings that occur at most borders. But government officials will feel compelled to do something to demonstrate leadership. Individual communities will also want to bar 'outsiders'. Global, national and regional economies will come to an abrupt halt."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005 -

* The Colombian government has ordered the evacuation of 9000 people living on the slopes of the Galeras volcano near the border with Ecuador which scientists say could erupt soon. "We want vulnerable people to leave high-risk areas." Scientists monitoring tremors within Galeras, which is just outside the southern city of Pasto, say it could erupt within days or weeks.

* Seismicity on Anatahan volcano has been fluctuating, but the USGS said yesterday that it was intensifying. Volcanic ash emissions have been a major concern for aviation.

* Continuous rainstorms caused a landslide in the county of Ziyuan, southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which killed two primary school pupils and injured one on Monday.

* In Edinburgh, Indiana, high winds blowing sand across a county road from a farm field caused zero visibility and two accidents. No one was seriously injured Monday afternoon on the road just south of Edinburgh, about 25 miles south of Indianapolis. “Its just a freak thing.” Every time the wind picked up, visibility dipped to a level at or near zero, depending on wind direction. “I couldn’t see anything, and I couldn’t even tell if I was on the road.”

* On Jan. 20, 2005 a solar outburst shocked Earth with the highest dose of radiation measured in five decades, leaving scientists to rework theories of how space storms operate and showing that interplanetary space travel will be a deadly serious business. The tempest arrived frighteningly fast. The raging proton storm peaked in 15 minutes. Normally, the most intense part of a proton event takes two hours or longer to build up. "That's important because it's too fast to respond with much warning to astronauts or spacecraft that might be outside Earth's protective magnetosphere." Scientists are now scratching their heads over the oddity of this eruption. "Since about 1990, we've believed proton storms at Earth are caused by shock waves in the inner solar system as coronal mass ejections plow through interplanetary space. But the protons from this event may have come from the Sun itself, which is very confusing." The surprising January flare came on the heels of a series of other very large but otherwise normal flares from the same sunspot group. Scientists can't say why the fifth event was so unusual.

* Following what Petsmart calls "freakish" circumstances, the company said Tuesday that it will test its rodents for a virus that killed three people after they received organs from a donor who contracted the disease from her pet hamster. Experts now believe they can link at least six deaths of organ transplant patients to a rodent virus, which raises questions about whether others may have gone undetected and whether the germ also could spread through blood transfusions. About 5 percent of mice, hamsters and other rodents carry LCMV and about 2 percent of the general public has antibodies to it, which means they have been exposed to it at some stage. The virus usually causes little or no illness in healthy people.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 -

* An earthquake jolted the Johannesburg, South Africa area early on Monday and caused collapses in a mine of Gold Fields, the world's fourth biggest gold producer. A rescue team has been deployed following a tremor shortly after 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Monday. "Paramedics have gone down. All the workplaces collapsed." The mine was still assessing the impact of the tremor. The company's own equipment recorded an impact of between 5.5 and 5.8 on the Richter scale. Earlier this month, five miners died when seismic activity struck at the mine's number two shaft.

* The US Geological Survey has opened up a "Real Time Forecast" map for California earthquakes. The forecasts currently only look out 24 hours. This week a magnitude-4.7 aftershock in the Parkfield area, where a medium-sized quake occurred last September, has caused probabilities in the region to jump to around 1%.

* Countries hit by last December's devastating tsunami around the Indian Ocean will take at least five to 10 years to recover with the help of international aid. Aceh, the hardest hit area, suffered losses estimated at $4.5-billion, equivalent to the province's entire Gross Domestic Product. "There was one tsunami in Asia on December 26, but there is not [only] one disaster."

* Mexico's "Fire Volcano" erupted today in the western state of Colima spewing lava and glowing rocks in its biggest explosion since 1999. There were no immediate plans to evacuate any of the tiny villages that lie around the volcano.

* As more people move into hazardous areas, Hawaii County has no detailed plan to deal with any eruption of Mauna Loa that might threaten the South Kona or Kau districts on the Big Island. Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory have said Mauna Loa is slowly building toward an eruption, although there are no signs that it will take place soon. Ocean View is the worst-case scenario in terms of minimal warning time. Part of the 4-mile-wide, 5-mile-long subdivision sits on top of Mauna Loa's southwest rift zone, meaning an eruption could theoretically break out inside the community.

* A tornado hit stables in the UK at Coates near Whittlesey, just as hailstones rained down on Peterborough – turning gardens into a scene befitting Christmas more than May. The sky suddenly turned black and the wind started picking up. "It was like something from the film, The Day After Tomorrow. Everything was flying about in the garden and then, after about 30 seconds, we were left with a scene of total chaos." The freak weather hit the home at about 6:45pm on Saturday. Bizarrely, many homes nearby were unaffected.

* In Bangalore, India, the city witnessed an unprecedented dust storm and gusty winds, followed by torrential rain, on Monday evening, throwing life out of gear. The wind velocity touched a furious 90 kmph. One person was crushed to death and two were injured when a tree fell on them. Over a hundred trees were uprooted. The city plunged into darkness when the snapping of power lines caused outages. South Bangalore areas again reported hailstorms. "This one was more furious than Saturday's." Residents had to remain indoors as it rained ice pieces. Officials said Bangalore could well see more of extremes in weather - hot day hours followed by wet evenings.

* Hurricane Adrian was an unusually early hurricane and it shut down the trade winds in the entire Caribbean, which, according to both official weather statistics and Bonairian locals, has not occurred this early in the season in fifty years.

* In China more than 800,000 people are without drinking water in western Guangdong Province because of the continuing drought. There has been less than 600 millimetres of rain in Zhanjiang since September, 75 per cent less than the previous year. Xuwen County has had no rainfall for as many as 238 days.

* Rural Australians may be suffering from a recently identified psychological condition known as solastalgia, says a researcher conducting the nation's first study into the effects of drought on mental health. Solastalgia, or "drought as traumatic environmental change", is among a number of psychological problems afflicting drought-stricken rural communities. Solastalgia, is "a form of nostalgia where a negative change in the environment will affect you...Losing a garden is often quite dramatic, it's often the only thing that's between them and a vast landscape of dust." Solastalgia describes the pain experienced when the place a person lives is under assault and destruction, a loss of a sense of belonging to a particular place and a sense of desolation about its disappearance. "It's the homesickness you feel when you're still at home." Most of New South Wales has been drought-declared since 2001, and other states are also affected.

* In California, the Southland heat wave set a high temperature record and tied two others Sunday and may have contributed to the deaths of two people. The mercury Sunday reached 104 degrees at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, breaking the record of 101 set on May 22, 1988. Temperatures have been running about 10 degrees higher than usual but should return to normal this week.

* Record highs were set in Waco, Texas both Saturday and Sunday, the National Weather Service said, and records may have been broken again on Monday in Central and North Texas.

* Intense heat and low humidity are fueling more wildfires around Arizona. Four fires started over the weekend. Only one is contained.

Monday, May 23, 2005 -

* A 5.1 earthquake shook Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta this morning, but there were no reports of casualty or damage. Some parts of Pakistan have been witnessing a series of earthquakes from time to time, but these have been mostly of low or moderate intensity. However, two years back, as many as 22 people lost their lives, when a tremor struck in the northern parts of Pakistan.

* A powerful earthquake measuring 5.6 points on the open-ended Richter scale was registered at the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island on Sunday at 06:00 local time. Six minutes later there was a 5.0 quake in the nearby Nias region of Indonesia, followed a minute after that by a 5.1 quake. Witnesses in Banda Aceh said many residents ran out from their houses as the quake jolted the city for about 15 seconds. At around the same time “high tidal waves” were registered near the coastline of the Indian State of Kerala. Local authoritiesin India urgently evacuated 15,000 residents and organised 16 tent camps for refugees on nearby hills.

* Various aid organizations are using tropical hardwood timber that has been illegally harvested from nearby mountains to build structures for the local people on the west coast of the tsunami ravaged island of Sumatra. These individuals certainly need homes and livelihoods, which will be facilitated with the return of their fishing boats, but by using materials that negatively impact the local ecosystem on many levels, the stage for a new disaster is being set. The tropical rainforests in these mountains are among the most botanically biodiverse and delicate in the world and are home to numerous species, many of which are already endangered. Deforestation will increase the incidence of landslides and flooding and reduce the already threatened habitat for endemic species.

* Mother Nature has rushed spring forward by nearly 10 days worldwide, on average, in just 30 years. What this means, biologists say, is that the global environment is changing so fast that the slow evolutionary process of species adaptation can't keep up. Europe's spring moved ahead 15 days, while North America's has advanced six days, on average. But areas north of 45 degrees north latitude - from Maine to Washington state - saw spring species arriving more than 13 days earlier. This has all happened while average global temperatures have risen about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 30 years. The consensus of mainstream climate scientists is that temperatures will rise another 4 to 10 degrees over the next century.

Sunday, May 22, 2005 -

* A magnitude 5.6 earthquake Sumatra, Indonesia has occurred.

* A Japanese geologist says he has discovered another tectonic plate under the Tokyo area, a find that may force Japan to rethink earthquake forecasts and preparations for the capital. Present government estimates say Tokyo has a 90 percent chance of being hit by a major earthquake in the next 50 years. If findings are confirmed, the geology of the Tokyo region is even more complex than current models indicate, with four tectonic plates layered on top of one another in some areas.

* A top earthquake expertin Thailand believes the two large dams located in the quake-prone province of Kanchanaburi were created with almost zero tremor tolerance. He has urged the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to carry out emergency evacuation drills as soon as possible.

* An eruption of the Galeras volcano in southwest Colombia is likely in the coming days or weeks. The prediction comes after a surge in seismic activity and higher temperatures inside the crater.

* At least 15,000 villagers were evacuated after a freak tide caused a surge of seawater in the southern Indian state of Kerala, triggering memories of December's devastating tsunami. Seawater crashed into fishing hamlets in Trivandrum, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Thrissur and Kannur districts. Meteorologists did not say what caused the tide.

* Flash floods have killed 27 people, many as they slept, in eastern Ethiopia in the town of Dire Dawa.

* China has introduced emergency measures to prevent the spread of bird flu after discovering that migratory birds were killed by the virus earlier this month. The virus has killed at least 53 people in south-east Asia since late 2003. The World Health Organization has warned of the great potential threat should the virus develop the capacity to spread easily between humans.

Saturday, May 21, 2005 -

* A magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the Peru-Ecuador border region has occurred.

* Like slow-moving bookends, two earthquake faults are squeezing northern metropolitan Los Angeles nearly a quarter inch a year. The strain is rapidly accumulating within an area 7.5 to 16 miles (12 to 25 kilometers) south of the San Gabriel Mountains, primarily in the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys and nearby hills. The Los Angeles segment of the Puente Hills Fault is being squeezed the most. It and nearby faults in the area, such as the upper Elysian Park Fault, may be more likely to break than those elsewhere in metropolitan Los Angeles.

* The December 26 tsunami triggered by the underwater earthquake off the coast of Sumatra left no point on earth undisturbed. "No point on Earth remained undisturbed at the centimetre level. The earthquake's uplift reduced the capacity of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, raising sea level around the world by about .1 millimetre. If not for the remarkably slow plate movement at the northern end of the earthquake, there might have been much more widespread and severe damage on the coasts of India, Myanmar and Thailand...The rupture opened lengthwise at 5,000 miles per hour during the first 10 minutes of the earthquake. Seismometers in Russia and Australia recorded the event like a noisy fire engine racing northward."

* At least 47 Chilean soldiers, mostly teenagers, are missing and believed to be dead after Wednesday's blinding snowstorm, the worst storm in 30 years in the Andes, which slammed into the mountain region where they were on a training march. Five bodies of soldiers frozen to death have already been recovered.

* A third ferry in southern Bangladesh has sunk in less than a week. A wooden fishing boat being used as a ferry was carrying about 100 people when it sank in the Meghna River estuary during a severe storm Thursday night. Since 1997, at least 3,000 people have died in more than 260 shipping disasters.

* Hurricane Adrian failed to live up to its billing Friday, quickly fizzling out over Honduras after striking an unprecedented blow to the Salvadoran coast. Adrian was the first hurricane on record to directly hit El Salvador. Officials in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua reported some small-scale evacuations and flooding. (photo)

* Where do hurricanes usually form? There are seven main basins of tropical cyclone formation.

* A huge wandering iceberg is tearing up the Antarctic. B-15A slammed into the Drygalski ice tongue a month ago and broke off at least two city-sized chunks. Now it is poised to strike another feature sticking out from the continent. At 71 miles (115 kilometers) long, B-15A is the largest free-floating object in the world. It is expected to lumber into the Aviator Glacier any day now. If B-15A gets stuck, as it has before, researchers fear it could block sea ice behind it, thwarting animals that need to move from shore to the open sea.

Here is the complete article from yesterday, as I see that the page is now requiring you to register to get the info -
"A devastating tsunami could strike Australia's east coast, Tasmania included, sometime in the next 10 years, a geophysicist has warned. University of Queensland professor Peter Mora said forecasts showed an earthquake measuring up to nine on the Richter scale could occur north of New Zealand. Prof Mora said this could trigger a wall of water up to 10 metres high that would decimate Australia's east coast. "There is a high level of seismic activity within the earth's plates surrounding Australia ... the north-east of Australia is very exposed," he said. Prof Mora said New Zealand would not act as a buffer for Australia against the tsunami because of the forecasted position of the earthquake. "Any islands north, such as Fiji, would be impacted tremendously," he said. "I doubt North or South America would be affected that much because they are so far away - but Hawaii would be." It could strike any part of the mainland's east coast, and even Tasmania. Possibly, depending on the shape of the seafloor, Melbourne also might be affected. He said the threat was "very real" and had much more potential than many Australians thought. "I think it is a misconception that Australia is safe from natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis," Prof Mora said. "We are actually very prone." He said research partners in the US, who had an 80 per cent success rate of forecasting the locations of large earthquakes, were behind the forecasts detrimental to Australia. Prof Mora said the US researchers' accurate forecasts included 13 out of 14 earthquakes in California since 2001 as well as last year's tragic Indian Ocean earthquake that generated the devastating Boxing Day tsunami. Although he welcomed the federal government's $68 million commitment towards a tsunami warning system, he said an international approach to predicting tsunamis' exact impacts on coastal communities was paramount. Prof Mora is the director of the University's new Earth Systems Science Computational Centre, which is part of a push to set up an international institute focused on solid earth and tsunami computer simulation."

Friday, May 20, 2005 -

Adrian is weakening rapidly after moving inland. At 2 am PDT all coastal warnings for Guatemala and Honduras have been discontinued by their respective governments and the Hurricane Warning for the entire coast of El Salvador has been replaced with a Tropical Storm Warning. The Tropical Storm Warning will likely be discontinued later this morning. Continued weakening is expected during the next 24 hours...and the circulation of Adrian may dissipate before reaching the waters of the Caribbean Sea.

* The Earth is still ringing like a bell today from the December Indonesian earthquake. The quake rearranged the Earth's surface. "A sizable portion of the Earth was distorted. Normally, we see deformation of the surface a few hundred kms away. But here we see deformation 4,500 kms (2800 miles) away, and five or six times the deformation we have seen in previous quakes." Seismologists now believe that the 9.15 magnitude earthquake was probably twice as powerful as previously estimated. The violence was also was more enduring: much of the movement along the fault line happened half an hour after the initial shock and continued for up to three hours. It set new records - the longest fault rupture ever seen; the longest duration; and the most energetic swarm of aftershocks ever observed.

* A devastating tsunami could strike Australia's east coast, Tasmania included, sometime in the next 10 years, a geophysicist has warned. Forecasts showed an earthquake measuring up to nine on the Richter scale could occur north of New Zealand. This could trigger a wall of water up to 10 metres high that would decimate Australia's east coast. "Any islands north, such as Fiji, would be impacted tremendously. I doubt North or South America would be affected that much because they are so far away - but Hawaii would be." Researchers in the US, who have an 80% success rate of forecasting the locations of other large earthquakes, are behind the forecasts. The researchers' accurate forecasts included 13 out of 14 earthquakes in California since 2001 as well as last year's tragic Indian Ocean earthquake that generated the devastating Boxing Day tsunami.

* Troops in Chile's Andes mountains have vanished after a 'snow tsunami'. Chile's army has launched an airborne search for an entire company of soldiers missing after the fierce snowstorm in the Los Barris range in southern Chile, close to the Argentinian border. Five soldiers died and 95 are missing after a "tsunami of snow" struck during a large-scale exercise. A total of 433 troops were affected by the unexpected snowstorm. Senior officers based in the capital Santiago were struggling to respond to the disaster.

* Brisbane, Australia residents and businesspeople have begun a huge clean-up after freak storms flooded buildings, felled trees and left hailstones in heaps around the city. Parts of Brisbane were lashed by a freak hail storm, with no official warning and little time for residents to take precautions. The storm began brewing late Thursday afternoon and battered the city a short time later. "It was absolutely freakish, no notice on the radio, no warning whatsoever."

* A state of emergency remained in force in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty region yesterday as authorities and residents started counting the cost of flash flooding that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people and destroyed or damaged dozens of houses. One of the worst affected areas was Tauranga, a city of 91,000 people on the east coast of the North Island, where slips and mudslides destroyed or damaged dozens of houses. A total of 309mm of rain fell in Tauranga during a 24-hour period from Tuesday night, about a third of the year's normal rainfall.

* A Russian village was left baffled yesterday after its lake disappeared overnight. Fishermen from the village of Bolotnikovo said, "It is very dangerous. If a person had been in this disaster, he would have had almost no chance of survival. The trees flew downwards, under the ground." Water in the lake might have been sucked down into an underground water-course or cave system, but some villagers had more sinister explanations. "I am thinking, well, America has finally got to us," said one old woman, as she sat on the ground outside her house.

* County public works officials are continuing to try to stabilize a still-moving landslide in La Honda, California, that ruptured a local road and has forced one family to leave its home. A landslide in 1998 destroyed several homes in the Cuesta La Honda area, off Highway 84, and closed Scenic Drive east of Canada Vista. Repairs failed to stabilize the entire landslide mass. Residents spotted new fissures after heavy rains soaked the area this spring.

* The first hurricane of the season rumbled toward Central America's Pacific coast on Thursday, killing two people and forcing thousands from their homes as it lashed the region with rain. Hurricane Adrian was upgraded from a tropical storm on Thursday afternoon and threatens to cause flooding and mudslides in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Hurricane Adrian will likely break up over Central America, but it could re-form as a new storm in the Atlantic. Its eastward track makes it somewhat rare, forecasters said. "It is a little unusual for a Pacific hurricane to cross Central America and continue eastward." This afternoon the system is expected to have crossed Central America and continue on into the Caribbean and keep moving closer to Cuba. It will likely be out of the Caribbean by Monday morning. If the winds continue to circulate counter-clockwise after it crosses Central America, the system will keep the name Adrian. However, if the storm loses the circulation over the mountains and reforms over the Caribbean, it will get the name Arlene, the first name on the Atlantic names list for 2005. The Atlantic hurricane season is still two weeks away. Satellite map.

* Forecasters predict a record-breaking heat wave over the next four days in Phoenix, Arizona, with 110-degree temperatures expected nearly a month earlier than normal. The average date for reaching 110 degrees is June 20. If predictions hold, the thermometer will get there by Saturday. The sudden increase in temperature comes after an unusually mild month. The heat wave is due to a strong high-pressure center over northwest Mexico.

Thursday, May 19, 2005 -

* A strong magnitude 6.8 earthquake rattled Indonesia's Sumatra island today, sparking panic on a nearby island where a large quake killed hundreds in March, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

* An earthquake registering a preliminary magnitude of 5.4 jolted Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo today. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages.

* An earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale jolted Resadiye town of northern Turkish city of Tokat today. There were no immediate reports of casualties but the quake damaged several houses in the town.

* Residents of Port Hedland, in Western Australia's Pilbara region, have been shaken by an earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale.

* A moderate 5.3-magnitude quake rattled sections of El Salvador Wednesday, but no injuries or damage were immediately reported.

* For the second time in four days, a ferry has capsized in waters off Bangladesh, leaving dozens of people missing and feared dead. A storm accompanied by high winds and heavy rain struck the double-deck ferry Tuesday as it carried about 250 people along the Padma River about 40 kilometres from Dhaka.

* Hundreds of people have been evacuated and houses have collapsed amid flooding and landslides caused by heavy rain on New Zealand's North Island.

* An exceptionally bright "fireball" was spotted late on Tuesday slicing through the sky over Finland before exploding over the country's border with Russia. The phenomenon was witnessed by dozens of people in the eastern part of the country.

* Ten people have died in a heat wave in the eastern Indian state of Orissa that has sent the temperature above 46 degrees celsius. The heat wave has been made worse by power cuts across the state. Soaring heat has affected most of India, but no deaths have been reported from other regions.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 -

* Two separate earthquakes measuring 4.1 and 3.6, respectively, on the Richter scale jolted the city of Zarand, Iran in the southeastern province of Kerman within 20 minutes in the early hours this morning. People have been sleeping outside this week as multiple quakes have officals fearing a big one.

* A 6.0 quake has hit the west coast of Northern Sumatra.

* Large quakes this morning - 6.2 in Tonga and 6.0 in S. Sandwich Islands.

* The Indian Army on Monday rescued more than 300 tourists at Nathula Pass in Sikkim after a massive avalanche had left them stranded for over seven hours. Equipped with bulldozers, they took seven hours to clear the ice. The team also rescued seven adults and two children trapped inside a vehicle under 14 ft of snow.

* Tropical Storm Adrian - The government of El Salvador has issued a tropical storm watch for the entire coast of El Salvador and the government of Guatemala has issued a tropical storm watch for the Pacific coast of Guatemala. Satellite map.

* Tropical Depression One-E seems to be on an unusual, early-season path toward the coasts of Guatemala or El Salvador and could cause torrential rains over Central America by Wednesday. The tropical depression in the Eastern Pacific is likely to grow into a tropical storm - perhaps even a hurricane - that could hit Central America by the weekend. By Tuesday evening, the depression already had top sustained winds of 35 mph - approaching the 39 mph level at which it would become a tropical storm. Forecasters said there was a chance it could reach hurricane strength of 74 mph before hitting land. The storm is likely to be weakened by Central America's mountains, but preliminary forecasts suggested it could emerge over the Caribbean as a tropical depression and regain some force while moving toward the Cayman Islands and Cuba. Most Pacific storms tend toward the northwest, marching roughly parallel to the coastline and then edging out to sea or veering inland. Since 1966, only one tropical depression has ever hit the coasts of Guatemala or El Salvador in May.

* Baffling diseases are emerging from Africa — Some of the viruses are notorious, such as Ebola and HIV. Others have less familiar names: Marburg and Lassa fever. But they all have emerged in recent decades from sub-Saharan Africa, perplexing scientists and, in the case of HIV, killing millions. Africa is recognized as an ideal incubator for new pathogens. "For every virus that we know about, there are hundreds that we don't know anything about."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 -

* Residents of the southern Iranian province of Kerman have been advised by officials to sleep out under the stars after a string of hefty tremors raised fears of an imminent "big one". In the space of the last five days, Zarand has been hit by at least five tremors measuring between 2.7 and 5.4 on the Richter scale. Zarand was hit by a 6.4 Richter scale quake in February, with 612 people killed and 1,400 injured.

* One in 10: those are the odds, most experts say, that a Big One will hit B.C. and the U.S. West Coast in the next 50 years. Such subduction quakes have struck off the West Coast 13 times in the past 6,000 years, about every 500 years. The most recent subduction quake there hit on Jan. 26, 1700 - releasing about the same force as the killer quake and tsunami last December. Crustal quakes of magnitude six or seven occur on land in B.C. and northern Washington state with great regularity. A seven quake can be expected every 30 or 40 years, and a six about every 20.

* Volcanic eruptions have killed more than 300,000 people since 1500 - from lava flows, ash falls, mudflows, tsunamis and posteruption starvation. This link has a list of some of the deadliest volcano activity in the past 500 years, and the approximate death tolls.

* Many residents of Indonesia's Sumatra island fled to higher ground before dawn today after rumors that a notorious volcano had erupted sending a tsunami hurtling toward the coast. The panic was prompted by reports that Mount Anak Krakatoa, a volcano off Lampung province's southern coast between Sumatra and Java islands, had erupted, but when dawn arrived the rumor was seen to be false.

* A freak blizzard and sand storm killed 15 explorers in a mountainous region in the remote northwest China on Friday. More than 70 explorers, hired by a company connected to oil giant China National Petroleum Corp., were working in Haixi prefecture in Qinghai province, bordering Tibet, when they were hit by a "heavy snowstorm, rainstorm and sandstorm simultaneously. Fifteen explorers were found dead and 13 others injured in the snowstorm which was unlikely to happen once in a century."

* NOAA issued a space weather warning yesterday - "This event registered a 9 on the K-Index, which measures the maximum deviation of the Earth's magnetic field in a given three-hour period." Possible impacts from such a geomagnetic storm includes widespread power system voltage control problems; some grid systems may experience complete collapse or blackouts. Transformers may experience damage. Spacecraft operations may experience extensive surface charging; problems with orientation; uplink/downlink and tracking satellites. Satellite navigation may be degraded for days, and low-frequency radio navigation can be out for hours. Reports received by the NOAA Space Environment Center indicate that such impacts have been observed in the United States.

* Typhoon Muifa, a small, but potent, typhoon east of the Philippines, has stalled in the Philippine Sea just east of Manila. Flooding and mudslides will result from the copious amounts of rain expected to fall over the next 48 hours. Large and powerful waves have been battering the eastern coast of the northern Philippines. The system is forecasted to weaken gradually over the next 5 days as it heads towards southern Vietnam.

* U.S. forecasters predicted on Monday that up to 15 tropical storms and hurricanes would form in the Atlantic and Caribbean this year, another busy season on the heels of one that hammered Florida with four hurricanes and swamped U.S. oil production. If the forecasters are right, the 2005 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, would continue a string of mostly above-average stormy seasons that began a decade ago.

* People living on the cyclone hit Cook Islands of Pukapuka and Nassau are again raising concerns about their temporary housing conditions and an ongoing shortage of fresh water. Two months after Cyclone Percy struck the islands, some families are still living in a school building.

* Exotic corals, usually found in "warmer waters", may be making a home for themselves along the coast of Wales. Divers discovered the pink sea fan and the scarlet and gold cup coral have already moved into the Irish Sea from the Mediterranean and North Africa. They are now trying to determine whether species are arriving on warm currents carried by the Gulf Stream across the Atlantic from the Caribbean.

* An Environment Canada weather station operator says 2005 will be the warmest year ever recorded in the northern hemisphere. Wayne Davidson says he's invented a way to predict the year's weather by measuring the width of the disc of the sun. He says the bigger the sun on the coldest day of the year, the warmer the year will be. His observations have noted changes in the appearance of the sun, brighter dusks and dawns during the community's months-long winter night, and instances when the sun appeared on the horizon earlier than astronomical timetables dictated.

Monday, May 16, 2005 -

* A magnitude 6.6 earthquake south of the Kermadec Islands has occurred, 700 km (435 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand.

* Scientists know that Mount Rainier, an active volcano, will one day awaken as Mount St. Helens did in 1980. It could gradually build up and explode, or part of it could simply collapse, perhaps with very little warning. It could happen in 200 years, or it could happen tonight. One day a rumble that sounds like a thousand freight trains will alert Orting, Washington, of the danger. If everything works right, sirens will wail and the town's 4,400 residents will have less than 45 minutes to evacuate - or be buried by an avalanche of mud and debris tumbling off the flank of Mount Rainier. The town was built atop a 500-year-old mudflow that buried the valley 30 feet deep. The USGS ranks Mount Rainier as the third most dangerous volcano in the nation. Other studies call Rainier the most dangerous volcano in the world.

* A giant U.S. Navy hospital ship has arrived off Papua New Guinea to provide medical aid to thousands of islanders displaced by volcanic eruptions on Manam Island. Medical teams will provide assistance to residents of Madang and to about 9000 islanders evacuated to temporary camps on the mainland after the Manam eruptions in October and November. The aid program to assist the islanders so far has been labelled a disaster, with accusations of mismanagement and misuse of funds by disaster relief officials as food and other aid failed to reach the camps where the young and elderly are now dying.

* At least one person was killed and 122 others injured when a pile of rocks collapsed in central China, burying 18 houses. Rescuers were still trying to establish if anyone remained missing under the rubble, which came crashing down yesterday evening. It was not immediately clear what caused the rocks to collapse, or why they were there, but the pile was the responsibility of a Coal Industrial Group, suggesting the area was a mine or a quarry. Eighteen houses were buried, some up to 100m away from where the rocks were piled.

* A ferocious storm has ripped through the south-west of Western Australia, with severe winds and torrential rain closing roads, damaging buildings, felling trees, bringing down power lines and closing schools. A cold front embedded with a line of severe thunderstorms swept across the state's south-western coastline about 6am. Wind gusts peaked at 142km/h at Rottnest Island, just off the coast of Perth, and reached 100km/h in Perth suburbs. Staff at an ABC radio station cheated death when a 38m crane collapsed on their building at the height of the violent storm.

* Bangladesh authorities fear at least 100 people have drowned after a ferry capsized in a remote area of the country's south during high winds and strong currents on the Char Kazal river near Badnatoli, about 250km south of Dhaka, on Sunday morning.

Sunday, May 15, 2005 -

* Despite the damage, the Galapagos Island eruption is deemed a 'natural process'. The volcano erupted and destroyed part of the ecologically delicate Galapagos Islands, threatening to kill vegetation and some animals on the island of Fernandina. No humans live on Fernandina, the westernmost island in the formation. The volcano, also called Fernandina, shot a column of ash and gas 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) into the air while lava descended its banks. Ecuadorean authorities said they would not declare the island, which is formed mostly of lava, a disaster area. The eruption has not interrupted air traffic to and from the Galapagos.

* Toba supervolcano is showing no signs of impending eruption according to an Australian scientist. (This link is usually only available for one day, so may not work.) "I have been misquoted in the press who had me saying that the next supervolcano eruption would be in Lake Toba, Sumatra. There are around 100 supervolcanoes or calderas around the world. These have not erupted in the historic times, and therefore it is a matter of time before one does erupt", said Australia's volcanologist Ray Cas. "Some scientists do think that some eruptions of these supervolcanoes can be triggered by large scales of regional earthquakes, of the sort that has been experienced around Sumatra in the last few months. In other words, there will have to be very large volumes of molten rocks or magma in the below-the-ground surface, below the volcano. And we will normally see evidence of this, if that is the case. We'll see increased rates of gas release from gas fumeroles, and the opening of new gas fumeroles. At present, there is no evidence that, that condition exists at Lake Toba. But there is no question that in the future some time, the Toba supervolcano could erupt again. However there is no evidence at the moment that it will happen in the foreseeable future." {You don't hear alarm bells from the Lake Toba supervolcano?} "At this stage not. One immediate potential risk could be if there was a fault in Lake Toba, if there is movement on the floor of the lake, that could generate some tsunamis in the lake." {How do we know if that happens?} "Once an earthquake occurs, seismologists can actually calculate where the earthquake occurred. If it is immediately underneath Lake Toba, then it is likely there has been movement of the crust. The question is whether the movement is sideways or there is a vertical component. If there is a vertical component, it will almost certainly trigger tsunamis within the lake."

* Like oil in the 20th century, water could be the resource that triggers armed conflicts at the end of this century, according to experts forecasting changes in the world's major rivers caused by global warming. Big increases and decreases in the flow volume of the rivers will leave some areas parched while putting others under the constant threat of flooding, according to the research group.

Saturday, May 14, 2005 -

* A 6.9 magnitude undersea earthquake rocked Indonesia’s Sumatra Island early today, triggering panic in several cities. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The temblor was centred 50 kilometers southwest of the city of Padang on west Sumatra.

* India's government is funding research into whether emissions of gases from hot springs could give valuable warnings of imminent earthquakes or tsunamis. Scientists noticed a dramatic rise in gases coming from deep within the earth at hot springs in the region days before the Dec. 26 tsunami. "The levels of deep earth gases like helium shoot up when large plates down below the earth put pressure on each other...This observation is exciting, but also very frustrating because we cannot predict when or where the earthquake or tsunami would occur."

* Cumbre Volcano, in the Galapagos Islands, spewed rivers of lava and sent columns of steam 7km into the air yesterday. Cumbre is on the unpopulated island of Fernandina, one of the Galapagos Islands, which are a major tourist attraction.

* Mexico's famous Volcano of Fire has erupted again, sending up towering plumes of smoke and ash and starting forest fires. Tuesday's eruption was the most violent since March 2004, and sent ash into the nearby city of Jalisco. Pieces of burning rock were sent flying more than a mile away. (Has eruption video and a slideshow - also has video of the New York landslide.)

* Author claims cover-up after 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens - Author Frank Parchman claims Washington State officials knew in 1980 that a major eruption by Mount St. Helens was imminent, and that they did nothing to warn people in the area. Parchman claims that six days before the massive May 18 eruption, scientists urged the late Washington governor Dixie Lee Ray to clear the area around the volcano. The author claims the governor ignored the warning.

* The continuous low amplitude tremor on Anatahan Island that began on May 10 and continued through Wednesday has diminished. Satellite images showed the ash plume diminishing as well. "The ash is only moderately thick [and] now rises to only 8,000 feet." Vog - volcanic smog - from the active volcano still extends westward for 550 nautical miles north of Anatahan to the Philippines.

* Conservative climate and hydrological models suggest that the average sea level will rise by about a foot by 2050, regardless of what new actions we take to reduce greenhouse gases. In some cases, entire nations will disappear. One of the consequences of rising seas will be a surge of "climate exiles" who have been flooded out of their homes in poor countries. Up to 200 million people could lose their homes to rising seas by 2080. How should those of us in rich countries deal with this wave of immigrants? As the top greenhouse-gas emitter, the United States could be expected to absorb 21 percent of the climate-change exiles a year. If such a program were to start in 2010, the United States would have to be prepared to accept 150,000 to a half-million immigrants a year for the next 70 years or so. (The United States now allows one million legal immigrants annually).

* For the first time in three years, the U.S. Drought Monitor does not show exceptional drought - its most severe category - anywhere in the Western U.S.

* On Thursday the rain-swollen Simuay river burst its banks and flooded two towns on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. A seven year-old boy is missing and more than a hundred people were displaced. 17 other villages have been flooded and crops destroyed. Heavy rain has soaked the Cotabato river basin of Mindanao over the past two weeks.

* Geologists say rock falls are considered a form of landslides, and landslides are fairly prevalent in Utah this year. A boulder broke loose yesterday and destroyed a Provo bungalow. Far more dangerous than boulders breaking loose, though, are avalanches. Forecasters say usually by May the wet avalanche season is over. This year it's just beginning and warm temperatures forecast for the weekend are going to melt an already unstable snow pack.

* Torrential downpours brought by seasonal "plum rain" weather fronts yesterday caused at least four casualties and disrupted railways services in northern and central Taiwan. Up to press time last night, rescuers were still searching for four people who were struck by a landslide in Nantou Country while mountain climbing. During the "plum rain season" from May to June, weather fronts linger over Taiwan almost constantly.

* Increased solar activity causing disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field may cause whales to run aground in the North Sea, say researchers. Analysis of whales stranded between 1712 and 2003 shows that more are stranded when solar activity is high. 87 of the 97 reported sperm whale strandings over the past 300 years in the North Sea region occurred when the length of the Sun's activity cycle was below average.

* A coronal mass ejection is heading for Earth following a strong solar flare on May 13th. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras when the cloud arrives on May 14th or 15th. The display, if it materializes, will be best over high latitudes - e.g., Alaska and Canada. But CMEs sometimes spark auroras over lower latitudes, too.

Friday, May 13, 2005 -

* Three separate mild earthquakes ( 4.6, 3.6, 3.9 ) jolted Marivan and Zarand, two Iranian cities in the western and southeastern provinces of Kurdestan and Kerman, Thursday and Friday. Marivan was also shaken last March by an earthquake with its epicenter in Iraq. Zarand was hit by a strong 6.6 magnitude earthquake on February 22, 2005, which claimed over 600 lives and leveled some 20 villages.

* A large number of small quakes are continuing to occur in Baja, California.

* Quakes on Thursday - A 6.5 quakes occurred on the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge, a 5.7 in the Solomon Islands, a 5.1 in Northern Sumatra, and 2 small quakes in Turkey, one in Haiti.
On Wednesday a cluster of 6 quakes, 4.3 and up, hit Iceland.

* An acute water shortage in central India has made it tough for men of one village to find wives because families are reluctant to condemn their daughters to a life of hardship, fetching water. It is quite unusual in rural villages not to have an arranged marriage at a young age, but nearly a tenth of the 1,200 residents in Karhod are bachelors between the ages of 25 and 60.

Thursday, May 12, 2005 -

* A moderate earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale shook eastern France.

* Rescuers have recovered the bodies of five miners a day after a tremor caused tunnels to collapse at a gold mine near Johannesburg. Five others were rescued.

* A 4.1 earthquake early Sunday morning in Napa County, California has geologists rethinking about the probabilities of a strong temblor along the Green Valley Fault in Solano County. Geologists say the quake could be an indication that the fault, which they believe is a finger of the better-known San Andreas Fault, could be more active than many believed, particularly if the Contra Costa County segment trembled at the same time. Scientists offer two theories about Sunday’s shaker. They say it either relieved some surface pressure and will likely go dormant for a time, or the temblor indicates that pressure deeper in the fault could be building.

* Discovery Channel and the BBC are teaming up for a new two-hour documentary special entitled 'Journey to the Heart of the Tsunami'. The filmmakers are attempting to understand what caused December's devastating tsunami, with camera crews exploring the Indian Ocean seabed. The first dive took place Wednesday. The film will air this fall.

* Life in hundreds of tent camps across Indonesia's tsunami-devastated countryside on the northern tip of Sumatra island is brutal. The people in the camps are being cared for by a veritable Noah's Ark of aid groups that have set up shop in a land that looks like it's been through a nuclear holocaust. The government in Jakarta, 1,700 km (1,100 miles) away, has been slow to allocate money while promised international aid has been held up as Indonesia created a reconstruction agency to manage cash inflows. 187,625 people are living in tent camps, 108,833 are living with friends and relatives, and just 69,930 are living in the crude wooden barracks the government has built. Overall, the government has said there are nearly 600,000 homeless.

* Updated guidance on how to cope in a heatwave has been issued by the U.K. government's health adviser as the country gears up for hot temperatures. Early indications hint at a warmer than average July and August this summer. In 2003, about 27,000 people across Europe died directly because of the heat. "The UK has one of the highest rates of 'excess' winter deaths in the European Union and we do not want the same needless suffering to happen throughout our hotter summers too."

* More than $5 million in flood damage prompted officials in north central Idaho to declare a state of emergency, while wild storms drenched parts of southern Idaho, turning farm fields into mud bogs and intersections into ponds. The National Weather Service warned of possible mud and debris slides in parts of north central Idaho. Four consecutive days of heavy showers in pockets of a state that is in the midst of a persistent six-year drought brought a mix of despair and relief. In Nez Perce County the tally was $5.33 million in damage from a series of flash floods Friday and Sunday afternoon. Along Garden Gulch, a rural canyon east of Lewiston, residents were still digging out from beneath a 5-mile-long pile of mud and debris that came cascading down the hillside after a violent rainstorm Sunday afternoon.

* A large-scale landslide in Monday night in northern China's Shanxi Province, buried 24 farmers whose fates are still unknown. Sixteen residents survived the catastrophe which engulfed 11 houses.

* Towns and villages across Chechnya have been seriously affected by floods caused by recent heavy rains.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 -

* A South African miner died and four others were trapped two kilometres underground after a 3.2 quake caused tunnels to collapse in a gold mine west of Johannesburg. On March 9 a quake hit a pit in Stilfontein, 160km south-west of Johannesburg, killing one miner and leaving 38 others trapped underground for about 12 hours.

* South Africa will be split into two extreme climate zones in the east and west within the next 50 years. The Western and Northern Cape will become more drought-stricken while Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal will endure long dry spells followed by torrential rain and flooding. Bleak predictions of how climate change would impact on water supplies and agriculture were presented by the South African National Biodiversity Institute at a meeting.

* Extreme weather events, such as storms and heat waves, can vary substantially in frequency and severity in a region depending on how vegetation responds to global warming. As vegetation responds to climate change, those changes in ground cover may affect where and how often extreme weather events occur. "Changes in vegetation cover can push the region toward more or fewer extreme events – it depends on where you look." As vegetation responds to the greenhouse effect, the number of extremely hot days could double in frequency in semi-arid areas, such as the Great Basin and the California coast in the U.S.

* Climate change is already affecting the growth of plants, the productivity of farms, and habitats for animals in Australia. "Atmospheric temperatures are increasing, oceans are becoming warmer, sea levels are rising, rainfall patterns are changing. The amount of sunlight reaching the earth's surface directly is falling, as are evaporation rates from land-based water bodies and potential evaporation rates from the soil and vegetation."

* Climate change researchers have detected the first signs of a slowdown in the Gulf Stream — the mighty ocean current that keeps Britain and Europe from freezing . They have found that one of the “engines” driving the Gulf Stream — the sinking of supercooled water in the Greenland Sea — has weakened to less than a quarter of its former strength. Such a change could have a severe impact on Britain, which lies on the same latitude as Siberia and ought to be much colder. There are two other areas around the north Atlantic where water sinks, helping to maintain circulation. Less is known about how climate change is affecting these. The weakening of the Gulf Stream is destabilizing currents worldwide, and will lead to radical climate changes in other areas. The nature of these changes is not known, and the current US administration has blocked US environmental agencies from studying the phenomenon, so the severity of its effect in this country is not under study. At the least, food production and liveability in the eastern half of North America will be severely challenged. (Did you see 'The Day After Tomorrow' movie?!)

A big spot is growing on the sun - again. Sunspot 758 is almost as wide as the planet Jupiter; two days ago it was sparse and unimpressive. Like sunspot 756 in late April, this new active region demonstates how quickly big sunspots can materialize - even during solar minimum.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 -

* Another strong earthquake hit Tuesday morning, local time, in the same area of the Indian Ocean where two giant quakes have struck since last December. The latest temblor was 6.5 magnitude and hit several hundred miles to the southeast of the main quake area. A 4.9 quake hit Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia. A 5.4 hit near the north coast of Papua, Indonesia. A strong 5.5 aftershock also shook the capital of Indonesia's Aceh province, Banda Aceh, yesterday at 8:30am, prompting panic among the population. Inhabitants rushed out of their homes and offices and gathered in the streets as the earthquake hit. Since December's quake there have been more than 1,000 subsequent earthquakes and significant aftershocks in the area. Hundreds of the aftershocks, more than a dozen of them significant, have struck near northwestern Sumatra since the major quake there occurred March 28.

* Greece's Peloponnese peninsula was rocked early today by an earthquake measuring 4.4 points on the Richter scale. The area was hit by earthquakes of similar strength in 2002.

* A leading weather expert has warned China may face an apocalyptic summer of severe drought and floods. Two massive rain belts are predicted for the months of June to August that will impact the area between the Yangtze River and the mid- to upper reaches of the Yellow River. Prolonged drought may be felt in the rest of the country, with less rainfall expected in many areas. Northeastern Sichuan and western parts of Tibet, as well as parts of southern Guangdong and Hainan provinces, are suffering the worst drought in 50 years.

* Record temperatures in many parts of New South Wales, Australia have worsened the big drought with 87 per cent of the state now officially drought-declared.

* Scientists who monitor climate changes believe that increased rainfall is a sign of global warming. They argue that a global warming trend should be measured not just with a thermometer but with other weather gauges, including rainfall counts. Weather is becoming more extreme - the best evidence for this is the 24-hour rainfall amounts, and those numbers are going up.

* One dead in Romania floods, 1,000 homes damaged.

* Haiti calls for storm season help as floods kill 11.

* For more than 250 years the cause of lightning strikes has been a mystery, but now scientists believe they have traced the answer to cosmic rays from outer space. A major experiment in Florida is now being prepared to test the theory that cosmic rays - from the sun and other stars - are a crucial element in causing thunderbolts.

Monday, May 9, 2005 -

* A strong aftershock measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale shook the capital of Indonesia's Aceh province, Banda Aceh, today prompting panic among the population.

* Ashes blanket areas surrounding Mount Kanlaon in the Philippines as the volcano continues to show signs of activity. Ashes and steam clouds rose from 300 to 500 meters above its crater. There have been volcanic earthquakes from its activity during the 24-hour seismic monitoring period.

* A landslide threatened townhomes in Utah again on Saturday as several bands of showers and thunderstorms passed through central Utah on Friday and Saturday. The landslide was moving as fast as two feet an hour Saturday morning, raising concern for the four townhomes it is threatening. The leading edge of the slide was moving so fast Saturday morning that it was crumbling as the mayor watched. But by Saturday night the movement had slowed significantly. The next storm is expected to begin moving into the area late today and should last into Wednesday.

* In Malaysia, the drought that has lingered from the beginning of this year has forced people in at least 10 villages in the Gual Periok state constituency to use water from swamps and rivers for their daily need. Wells in the villages, located on high ground, have dried up.

* Steak and lamb could be off the menu for many Australians this winter as meat prices climb because of the worsening drought. Almost half of the country's farming land is drought-affected. And the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon, with rainfall for the first four months of the year the second-lowest on record.

Sunday, May 8, 2005 -

*It was a nice quiet news day, I couldn't find anything to report.

Saturday, May 7, 2005 -

* There is a largely unreported psycho-traumatic epidemic in the tsunami hit areas. There have been few confirmed reports of disease outbreaks, but WHO estimates that up to 10 percent of people who were caught up in the tsunami and were not already experiencing mental problems were affected seriously enough to require psychological support. WHO officials believe that half of those suffering from post-tsunami psycho-traumatic problems will eventually recover even if they receive no support. But that leaves an estimated five per cent of the affected population – tens, possibly hundreds of thousands - at risk. Resources to tackle this are not available. WHO is committed to a six-month plan designed to ensure that next time a major disaster breaks, its mental effects will not be under-played.

* The Yellowstone caldera has been classified a high threat for volcanic eruption, according to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey. 18 volcanoes are in the very high threat group. Yellowstone is classified with 36 others as high threat. Yellowstone ranks 21st most dangerous of the 169 volcano centers in the United States. Recurring earthquake swarms, swelling and falling ground, and changes in hydrothermal features are cited in the report as evidence of unrest at Yellowstone. They do not paint the devastating picture portrayed in a recent TV docudrama but said smaller threats exist. For example, a lower-scale hydrothermal blast could scald tourists strolling along boardwalks. Emissions of toxic gases from the park's geothermal features also pose a threat. Five bison dropped dead last year after inhaling poisonous gases trapped near the ground due to cold, calm weather near Norris Geyser Basin.

* A freak hail storm dumped several inches of ice on southern Oaxaca City, Mexico and killed at least seven people on Thursday. The overnight storm pelted the city with ice, causing the roofs of shacks to cave in and leaving more than 30 centimetres of hail in some areas.

* A widely reported fireball over Spain this year appeared on Jan. 29 at 10:30 p.m. Another passed over the northwestern U.S. at 7:40 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. On April 24 a dazzling fireball streaked across the sky in the northeastern U.S. "It was such a weird thing...The ball was very distinct, and bright, bright green, and had a long bright white tail." The great fireball of April 25, 1966, occurred 39 years ago almost to the day from this year's event. It was seen by thousands from Washington, D.C., to eastern Canada and was the most widely observed and photographed fireball of its time.

* A Russian court has ruled that an astrologer can proceed with a lawsuit against the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for its plans to bombard a comet. The astrologer claims the destruction of the comet will "disrupt the natural balance of the universe."

Friday, May 6, 2005 -

* A magnitude-4.1 earthquake hit Kern County, California on Thursday but no damage or injuries were reported. The temblor struck at 7:29 p.m. and was centered 13 miles east of Maricopa and 24 miles south-southwest of Bakersfield. A magnitude-5.1 earthquake struck in the same area April 16 and was felt as far away as downtown Los Angeles. Several dozen aftershocks followed that quake.

* After years of debate about the safety of Milliken Dam, the city of Napa, California, will bore holes in the concrete face to permanently lower storage capacity by 30 percent. City officials have been keeping the reservoir, located in the hills above the Silverado Resort, less than full since 2000 when the state said the dam might fail in a major earthquake. The planned fix will lower the water level 16 feet below full. If the Green Valley Fault, located a mile away, should let loose, the dam should remain intact.

* Can one earthquake cause another? A developing theory holds that quakes can pressure highly stressed fault lines and trigger subsequent seismic events. Some scientists believe that some faults can be ruptured by less pressure than that needed to inflate a car tire. The orientation of a fault — north-south or east-west — can affect how a fault responds to seismic stresses. "Over the long term, [a regional stress field] produces faults of similar orientation. So when [a fault is acted upon], it almost always increases the stress on the neighboring fault, because if they have the same orientation, it increases the stress."

* In the wake of the Sunday 4.1 earthquake and aftershocks that shook large portions of Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and north Mississippi, residents need to think about ways to protect their homes and families. The 4.1 magnitude quake was minimal compared to what the region's New Madrid fault zone is capable of producing. Take a safety-check walk around your home, know how to shut down your home's utilities, assemble a disaster kit (or purchase a top-of-the-line one - this is the website of a loyal reader of 'Global Disaster Watch'.)

*A 6.3 and a 5.7 quake struck off the coast of Panama - apparently far enough out to sea that they caused no damage, I could find no news reports.

* The world needs to plan now for the next flu pandemic. Governments must speed up the approval of new flu vaccines and the resources to inject them or the next pandemic will kill hundreds of millions of people and bring the global economy to a halt, a leading expert on infectious diseases says.

* With solar minimum near, the sun continues to be surprisingly active. "Sunspots are devilishly unpredictable. They're made of magnetic fields poking up through the surface of the sun. Electrical currents deep inside our star drag these fields around, causing them to twist and tangle until they become unstable and explode. Solar flares and CMEs are by-products of the blast. The process is hard to forecast because the underlying currents are hidden from view. Sometimes sunspots explode, sometimes they don't."

* In the past, some scientists wrote off "rogue waves" as rare or even mythology. However, new satellite data collected by the European Space Agency’s ERS satellites has confirmed what too many ship captains have come to know. Ocean waves that rise as tall as ten-story apartment buildings are a leading cause of large ship sinkings. A scientific team counted more than ten individual giant waves around the globe more than 75 feet high during a three-week period. Rogue waves are more common than most people realize, and scientists are starting to predict when and where they will strike.

Thursday, May 5, 2005 -

* At least four people are now reported killed and 26 others injured when an earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale jolted the western Iranian town of Borujerd on Tuesday.

* A strong 5.6 undersea earthquake rocked parts of Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Aceh province Wednesday, prompting people to flee their homes, but there were no reports the temblor generated any giant waves. Witnesses said the quake jolted the provincial capital of Banda Aceh for about 30 seconds. Previous to this quake Wednesday there was a 5.0 quake in Nias, Indonesia; a 5.2 in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia; a 5.4 in the Nicobar Islands, India region; and a 5.4 in the Mariana Islands. Also on Wednesday was a 5.9 quake in Tonga, a 4.8 in Nias and a 4.9 in Simeulue, Indonesia and a 5.4 in the South Sandwich Islands.

* Almost six years to the day after Ulladulla, Australia was covered in a meter of hail, another freak hailstorm swept across town leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. In the early hours of April 27, 1999 Milton and Ulladulla was blanketed in more than a metre of hail causing chaos for residents. In a bizarre turn of events another freak hailstorm Friday April 29 wreaked havoc on the community causing millions of dollars in damage to homes, cars and businesses. The Department of Meteorology said Friday's freak hailstorm was an isolated and very rare incident with a sudden onset. "There was intense activity from eight kilometres in the atmosphere...Severe storms are very rare in April compared to the summer months and the warm weather conditions would have contributed to the hailstorm on Friday."

* At least 28 people have been killed and scores injured in torrential rains in the past four days in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The region has suffered severe storms since the weekend, bringing hail, rain and high winds that damaged homes and crops, uprooted thousands of trees, brought down telephone poles and killed 400 livestock in at least six districts. The pre-monsoon rains were likely to continue for two more days. Parts of the state have been hit by six successive years of drought that have reportedly driven some 6000 farmers unable to meet loan payments for seeds and pesticides to commit suicide.

* Earth is about to glide through a stream of space dust trailing Halley's Comet, producing a mild but beautiful shower of meteors called the eta Aquarids. The shower is most intense over the southern hemisphere, where dark-sky observers might see one meteor every few minutes or so. Northern hemisphere rates are much lower but not zero. When should you look? The shower's peak spans May 5th and 6th. Try the hours before local dawn on both dates.

* In Alaska, five to seven fires likely kept burning from September to May underneath the snow cover after a record 6.7 million acres of the Interior burnt last summer. "It's really similar to a coal fire" that follows the seam underground. "It will keep moving and moving and moving." Spruce duff burns in all directions at up to an inch a day. If it reaches snow or permafrost, that portion of the fire dies. But another arm will keep moving forward, or sideways, or down. Over three or four months, a small hot spot can grow into a fire 10 feet square. Nearly 50 fires gave the 2005 fire season a hectic start over the past week. A stubborn Billy Creek fire is the only one among those that is suspected of overwintering. Though record temperatures last week contributed to many of the blazes, officials don't expect a repeat of last year's epic season, when fires raged from June through August. It will depend mostly on how many lightning strikes occur and whether precipitation levels are close to normal.

* A massive avalanche has injured as many as seven climbers and obliterated their Camp 1 on Mt Everest. The huge wall of ice and snow hit the 6000m-high camp early yesterday. Freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls have blanketed the area in recent days. There are as many as 22 expeditions and 200 people on Everest. The snow and the massive wave destroyed most of the tents at Camp 1 (between 40 and 60, depending on the sources). After the avalanche, only 5 tents remained undamaged. Surprisingly, there have been no reports on missing climbers. Right now all the expeditions are positive that there have been no fatalities. Several expeditions, some in a seriously injured state, have begun to be evacuated down from the mountain by a group of Sherpas. It is the second accident to hit the mountain this week. On Sunday an American fell more than 10 metres to his death on the Khumbu Icefall.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 -

* At least one person was killed and 26 others were wounded in a strong 5.0 quake which hit Iran near the western city of Boroujerd on Tuesday. The quake heavily damaged four villages: Hassankhani, Tabrijan, Ganjineh and Delikhan. Another tremor measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale shook the city today. Seven earthquakes measuring from 2.8 to 4.1 on the Richter scale have shaken Boroujerd in the past one week.

* Sunday morning, May 1, at 7:37:32 am, yet another moderate earthquake struck on the New Madrid Fault. It measured magnitude 4.1, the same as the quake of just over two months ago on February 10. Once again seismic forces ripped a fracture the size of a 160-acre farm through the basement rock, this time 10 kilometers below the Little River drainage, 6 miles west-southwest of Dell, Arkansas. Residents of Keiser a few miles south reported the shaking intensity in their town as high as level VI, strong enough to cause some damage. The New Madrid Seismic Zone, stretching from east central Arkansas to the southern tip of Illinois, is a major source of concern. The fault zone fractured in 1811 and 1812, producing a series of giant earthquakes felt across what is now the eastern half of the United States and the strongest earthquake to strike the contiguous 48 States in recorded history. The USGS says there is a one in ten chance of another giant earthquake on the New Madrid Fault in the next fifty years.

* A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in central Peru has occurred.

* A magnitude 5.7 earthquake south of the Mariana Islands has occurred.

* Although Anatahan volcano's eruptive activity in the Mariana Islands has declined since Sunday, several long-period earthquakes have been occurring since Monday. The largest was 2.0 magnitude. There were also significant ash emissions yesterday morning. A thick ash plume has reached Philippine airspace.

* The 10 most dangerous U.S. volcanoes ranked by both the destructive capacity of each volcano, along with the people and property at risk. 1. Kilauea, Hawaii - erupting now. 2. St Helens, Washington - erupting now. 3. Rainier, Washington 4. Hood, Oregon 5. Shasta, California 6. South Sister, Oregon 7. Lassen Volcanic Center, California 8. Mauna Loa, Hawaii - signs of unrest. 9. Redoubt, Alaska 10. Crater Lake, Oregon

* Officials in a small Quebec village are assessing the risk of a major landslide after three smaller slides in the past week forced almost 100 people from their homes. Heavy rains have also opened up a large fissure in the earth on the hillside above the centre of the village, located 75 kilometres northeast of Quebec City. "It's an immense block of ground ... "You couldn't remove it in one day." Some people are concerned for the village's very existence.

* Ecologists are worried about possible radioactive contamination after a landslide dumped debris into a Kyrgyzstan river near aging uranium ore dumps. About 300 thousand cubic meters of material fell in the Mayli-Say River near old and poorly maintained uranium ore dumps in the western Osh province of Kyrgyzstan. The landslide caused the river to change its path but so far has not damaged the uranium dumps. Millions of people in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan potentially are at risk. Rains expected in May could cause other landslides.

* An unexpected landslide stuck Ramban town in India yesterday, pulling down two-storys of the well-known Shaan Hotel and eight shops in the town market. The landslide, caused by incessant rains in the area since morning, buried over 40 people, who were rescued by police contingents. Hundreds of vehicles are stranded.

* A freak storm that lasted about two minutes has killed at least five people and left a trail of destruction across Tamil Nadu, India, especially Chennai city. The storm, said to be the tail-end of a cyclone that lashed the east coast with winds at 99 km per hour, hit early Monday.

* Freak snowfall fell in the tribal belt of Himachal, India since Sunday. The continuous bad weather was unusual for Shimla and other mid-hills during the month of May, except for 1987 when Shimla town had snowfall on May 5.

* Freak weather conditions in Scotland created a mini tornado which damaged around 30 homes in a village. “It was very bizarre. It was like a gale, a very bad winter storm, but it was confined to the very local area."

* An unusually harsh winter followed by heavy spring rains has pushed the rivers of Central Europe higher than their typical spring levels.

* More and more areas of Australia are once again heading for serious drought - one of the worst droughts in Australia's history. In recent months temperatures around the nation have been soaring to levels never seen before. There are warnings of a new El Nino. And yesterday the Bureau of Meterology reported that the last three months were the second driest on record.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005 -

* Two strong, shallow earthquakes on the West Coast of South Island, New Zealand early today reportedly caused minimal damage. The first quake, measuring 6 on the Richter scale, struck at 3.35am 10km south of Haast, and was strong enough to wake people on the other side of the Island. The second quake, five minutes later, measured 5.7 and was 10km southwest of the town. Both quakes were between 10km and 15km deep. The first shake was felt in Christchurch as a strong, sharp swaying for about 10 seconds. The aftershock was felt for about five seconds. The centers of the two earthquakes had been close together and close to the Alpine Fault, which runs almost the length of the South Island. But the quakes appeared to be a kind of pushing up motion, rather than along the fault, so were probably not directly related to the fault. The second earthquake was larger than normal for an aftershock, but otherwise there had been fewer and smaller aftershocks than would have been expected. A couple of magnitude 3 aftershocks had been felt, but for a shallow magnitude 6 earthquake, several magnitude 5 aftershocks would have been expected.

* When lava and water mix they can explode like a giant bomb, said a pair of geologists studying an unusual volcanic event on Monserrat in the West Indies. In July 2003, a massive pyroclastic flow of red hot ash and lava from the Soufriére Hills volcano on Monserrat hit the sea and created a massive steam-driven explosion. The blast wave of steam, volcanic ash and rock flattened everything in a three-square-mile area, killed animals more than 1,000 feet up the side of the mountainous island, scorched plants and softened the plastic on a local seismometer.

* A cyclone that has brought squalls up to 25-36 meters per second to the south of the Kamchatka peninsula is gradually subsiding and moving eastwards to the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, the storm warning is still in effect for ships off the Kamchatka coast. The height of waves reached five meters near the south-eastern coast of the peninsula. The cyclone approached Kamchatka from the Okhotsk Sea May 1. The cyclone is moving eastwards south of the peninsula, and its impact is still significant. Snow, rains and squall were registered practically in all districts of the region. The impact of the cyclone will be strong on the peninsula for another day. Weather forecasters also noted that unsteady weather will persist on the south of Kamchatka over sea winds for another five days.

* Increasing levels of CO2 are causing the amount of space debris orbiting the Earth to increase faster than previously thought. While CO2 is causing a global rise in temperature at the Earth's surface, it has the opposite effect in the upper part of the atmosphere known as the thermosphere. Here, in a region of space that contains the International Space Station and many other satellites, the temperature and the atmospheric density are falling rapidly. It will take longer for satellites to re-enter the atmosphere in the later half of this century, which will put the satellites at greater risk from collisions with orbiting debris.

Monday, May 2, 2005 -

* The December Indonesian earthquake could be the first of a series of giant quakes that will rock the world in the next 10 to 15 years, scientists have warned. They found that quakes such as the one in Indonesia can destabilise the whole of the earth's crust, so that one is followed by others, often thousands of kilometres away, within a few years. "The four biggest earthquakes of the 20th century all happened within 12 years of each other, a pattern we see repeated with other quakes over many decades." The Mediterranean is among areas at high risk, particularly the coasts of Greece and Turkey and the scientists are urging the installation of a tsunami warning system there as a matter of urgency. At least 232 tsunamis have hit Europe since prehistoric times. "Many of them were so powerful that they altered the course of civilisation."

* A mild 4.1 earthquake centered in northeastern Arkansas was felt across a wide area of the nation's center Sunday morning, in Missouri, southern Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and northern Mississippi in addition to Arkansas. No major damage was reported.

* An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.9 jolted the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu, rattling the city of Fukuoka and extensive surrounding areas on Sunday, but causing no major damage. The quake was said to be an aftershock of the magnitude 7 quake that hit the northern Kyushu area on March 20.

* 169 volcanoes in the United States and its territories have little or no regular monitoring and need to be watched for potential eruptions, a new report warns. The U.S. Geological Survey said Friday that monitoring gaps exist for volcanoes in Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Wyoming and the Northern Mariana Islands that could pose a hazard both on the ground and to aviation and they are calling for a 24-hour, seven-day Volcano Watch Office and increased monitoring at many of the peaks. Since 1980, 45 eruptions and 15 cases of notable volcanic unrest have occurred at 33 U.S. volcanoes.

* After sending thousands of panicked villagers fleeing their homes when the eruption began on 17 April, Mount Karthala on the Grande Comore Island has been largely stable and has not released any lava or toxic gas as initially feared. No deaths or injuries have been reported. While the activity of Karthala has receded over the past week, vulcanologists do not rule out the possibility of a new eruption in the coming weeks or months.

* Anatahan volcano on Saturday erupted with its second strongest activity for the year but on Sunday activity dropped.

* 74,000 years ago on the island of Sumatra, the eruption of Toba Volcano was the largest eruption in the last two million years, and, according to some theories, almost wiped out our human ancestors. The scale of the Toba eruption is difficult to comprehend. Pyroclastic flows (hot flows of ash and pumice) covered an area of at least 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 sq mi), with deposits as thick as 600 m (2,000 ft) near the vents. Ash fall was widespread over much of southeast Asia. An ash layer approximately 15 cm (6 in) thick was deposited over the entire Indian subcontinent.

* Unusually high giant 6-7 foot high waves have been lashing some parts of India's Andhra Pradesh coast leading to panic. The unusual phenomenon revived memories of the killer tsunami of December 26 and fishermen and others living near the coast ran to safety. "Ever since the December 26 quake, which triggered the tsunami, changes have been occurring in the ocean. The cause of this turbulence may be landslides and movement of rocks in continental shelves," explained the director of the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre. He added that while there was no need for panic, people along the coast should take precautions. The colour of the waves, said eyewitnesses, was normal, unlike the tsunami waves. The unusual tidal waves were first experienced Wednesday night at Uppada and seen again on Thursday morning and evening at various coastal points. "I have never seen such high tidal waves," said a fisherman in Uppada. He and dozens of others stopped fishing and moved to higher places.

* Along the Oregon coast, ancient 55,000-year-old spruce trees that were buried in a landslide are suddenly visible. Why they have now been unburied is a mystery whose answer may lie in rising sea levels, more intense wave action, or a period of greater storm activity. "At times in our past, the sea level was much higher, and at other times, the coast line was miles out into where the ocean now is."

* Two people drowned and an elderly woman was missing after flash floods swept through a village in Siberia's Irkutsk region, forcing the evacuation of 222 people on Friday. The Biryuza river, blocked by massive ice and swollen after abundant rains, flooded the village's streets for hours, destroying 24 homes and damaging 93 more. Floods have also threatened the city of Krasnoyarsk some 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) northwest.

* Flood situation report in the country of Georgia.

* More than 30 people have been killed in flash floods in Saudi Arabia. Heavy rains and high winds combined to sweep cars off roads and destroy houses in the southern Asir province and the city of Jeddah. Jeddah was reportedly pelted with hail, power lines collapsed and metre-deep waters surged through the streets. Local media have described the storms, on Wednesday and Thursday, as the worst in more than a decade.

* Spain has suffered its driest winter and early spring since records began almost 60 years ago. Rainfall from November to the end of March this year was 37 per cent below the average for the period and the lowest since records started in 1947. Neighbouring Portugal is suffering its worst drought for 25 years.

* For the world’s limited numbers of tsunami scientists, knowledge of the shape of the seabed is a crucial part of their quest to discover the danger zones. Scientists know more about the surface of Mars than about the ocean floor of our own planet.

*More than four years after solar maximum, the sun continues to produce big sunspots. There's one transiting the solar disk now that's about five times wider than our entire planet Earth - in other words, big enough to see with the unaided eye, but do not stare at the blinding sun. Visit http://Spaceweather.com for safe solar observing tips, plus a movie of the growing 'spot'.

* There is an alarming disparity among international humanitarian response efforts. While the Sudan and the tsunami-affected countries are receiving strong financial support, the response to most humanitarian crises around the world remains severely under-funded and neglected. Only 9% of the requested funds have been committed for all other emergency appeals in the first quarter of 2005.

Friday, April 29, 2005 -

* An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale hit the seas off Simeulue, West Sumatra. Hundreds of aftershocks, more than a dozen of them significant, have struck near northwestern Sumatra since the 8.7 major quake there on March 28.

* Seismicity for Simeulue, Indonesia : since 1990, in 2005, and quakes 7.0 and up since 1900.

* Aceh's already shattered landscape faces further devastation if donor countries do not immediately supply the tsunami-stricken province with sustainable timber. Exactly four months after the event, major reconstruction has still not begun in Aceh where thousands of people remain displaced and homeless. One million cubic metres of timber will be needed to rebuild Aceh over the next five years."If the amount of timber needed for the reconstruction of Aceh was sourced locally, the result would be massive deforestation, which would lead to further floods and landslides and the potential for further tragedy for the Indonesian people."

* A tsunami scare was caused as sea water inundated a coastal area in Tuticorin, India last evening, submerging nearly 300 huts and forcing the residents to move to safer places. The water entered the huts at Inigo Nagar, 200 metres from the coastline, submerging them. The water receded after three hours. Waves gushing in for 100 metres from the coastline is a normal phenomenon during full moon days, however, last night the sea seemed to be abnormally rough.

* A large quake in Lake Tahoe could cause a 30-foot tsunami. Major temblors (7.0 and up) hit the area in 3,000-year cycles, scientists say. They are trying to determine just when the last big one hit. It is estimated that the probability would be no more than 2 to 4 percent for another Tahoe earthquake that large within the next 50 years.

* The recent earthquakes and aftershocks were among the factors that led to the recent rise in temperature in Malaysia. A source from the Meteorological Department was quoted as saying that the recent earthquakes had caused more carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere, which caused a warming effect. “If the temperature continues to increase, it will bring about the El-Nino effect,” said the source. Prior to the earthquakes, the department had forecast rain for this month and May.

* Anatahan Volcano's eruption actvity appears to be escalating anew. It is currently about one-fourth of the intensity it reached on April 6th, which was its strongest historical eruption.

* Two scientists have been using subsurface imaging to track a plume of partially molten rock under Yellowstone National Park. They say the plume is moving upward. They describe the column as 60 miles in diameter, tilted 20 degrees in a northwest direction and extending 300 miles below the Yellowstone volcanic caldera. They also found a plume of downward moving rock that extends 160 miles under the neighboring Wind River Basin.

* Fish living in freezing Antarctic waters can adapt to rising temperatures and may be unfazed by climate change, new research shows.

* A growing body of evidence shows that living things, from insects to plants and other animals, are responding to the planet's shifting climate. Warming over the past two decades has encouraged genes to spread from fruitflies at tropical latitudes into flies in more temperate areas. "We were surprised at the speed of the change." A second study this week emphasizes that the warming is unlikely to end soon, thanks to a steady heating of the world's oceans that will keep air temperatures on the rise long after the release of greenhouse gases is curbed.

* Flash floods have killed at least 10 people in Yemen and destroyed acres of agricultural land in the poor Arab state. Tens of houses were also destroyed by rushing water in the past two days after heavy rains lashed several parts of the country.

* Two villages in eastern Serbia which have been flooded by the Tamic River for the past eight days were preparing for the worst as water levels were expected to rise. More downpours fell upstream in neighbouring Romania. "The current situation is stable but we fear new floods due to heavy rain in Romania in recent days." The flood has already had a "catastrophic" effect on the area.

* Ethiopian authorities warned of new deaths and damage as non-stop rains on Thursday pounded parts of southeastern Ethiopia where devastating weekend floods have left at least 88 people dead and nearly 60,000 displaced.

Thursday, April 28, 2005 -

* A freak hailstorm in Thailand's northern province of Phrae has left 211 houses damaged and one house completely destroyed. The hailstones were the size of limes.

* Flash floods swept through three villages in the tsunami-stricken Indonesian province of Aceh, leaving 15 people dead and five missing. The floods, which destroyed about 490 homes in the village of Lawe Mengkudu in southeastern Aceh, were caused when a river burst its banks after a day of heavy rain.

* Torrential rains battered western Romania, flooding thousands of homes and disrupting rail and road traffic in what local officials said were the worst floods in 50 years.

* At least 72 people have been killed, 100 reported missing and thousands made homeless by devastating floods that have swept southeastern Ethiopia. The river was beginning to subside but the situation in Godie and Mustahil is far from safe as the rush of receding waters has the potential to cause further damage.

* Heavy rains flooded a dry riverbed running through the capital of Somalia's northern enclave of Somaliland, forcing 1,000 people from their homes.

* If the Midwestern U.S. gets an earthquake like it did 200 years ago, soils along the Mississippi River could turn into quicksand and cause some buildings to sink, geologists say. Current building codes in St. Louis, Missouri, say that an earthquake big enough to cause liquefaction is so unlikely as not to matter. Liquefaction requires an earthquake of at least magnitude 5.0, and probably of magnitude 6.5. Yet there is evidence that the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812, estimated at more than magnitude 7.5, caused liquefaction 150 miles away in the St. Louis region.

* An earthquake, not operators of the nuclear power plant, may be the reason for the Chernobyl catastrophe, says a group of Russian and Ukrainian specialists. There are indications that geophysical and atmospheric processes on the Earth's surface undergo sharp changes preceding earthquakes and calamities. All the physical fields and mediums - electromagnetic, dynamic, temperature, acoustic and others - are disturbed. Scientists say that in 1986, beginning on April 20, the atmospheric pressure around Chernobyl sharply began to change. The critical point happened on April 25, just before the power plant catastrophe.

* A team has discovered a new active "thrust fault" at the base of the Himalayas in Nepal. This new fault likely accommodates some of the subterranean pressure caused by the continuing collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia. As India continues to collide with Asia, the Himalayan Mountain Range grows a centimeter or more each year, and then the monsoons help bring about the erosion of the same mountains.

* The "dead zone" area of the Gulf of Mexico – a region that annually suffers from low oxygen which can result in huge marine life losses – has appeared much earlier this year, meaning it could be potentially larger in 2005 and affect marine life more adversely than normal, researchers are reporting.

* An expanding, oxygen-starved "dead zone" in Lake Erie is generating a massive international mobilization of scientists, high-tech equipment and research vessels to find clues to the biological mystery.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 -

* A violent storm hit Cambodia's Siem Reap, the gateway town to the famed Angkor Wat temple complex, One woman was killed and 50 homes flattened. The freak storm hit suddenly on Sunday evening completely destroying 50 houses and 93 other houses have had their roofs damaged. At least 10 people were injured,.

* Typhoon Sonca is weakening as it spins north across the Philippine Sea.

* Stargazing experts have been fielding dozens of calls from people who spotted a massive meteor in the daytime sky over western Manitoba on Saturday. "About half the people only heard it because of the sonic boom – the explosion – and people were thinking maybe it's a plane crash or something like that. They ran outside and would see this cloud of smoke that was expanding in the upper atmosphere that was visible for tens of minutes...The people who see it described it as a flaming baseball or a Roman candle with all sorts of flames and trailing smoke arching across the sky and then detonating in a final explosion." Astronomers say this type of spectacle doesn't happen often. "We've been trying to find other references to meteors that were bright enough to be seen in the daytime, and there's a handful throughout all recorded history in the Prairies at all. There was one in Manitoba maybe 20 years ago..It's a very rare kind of thing. Most of the meteors that we see at night are just little grains of sand, and a really bright one might be the size of a marble. But this was probably the size of a suitcase."

* A new study predicts that the devastating Sumatran earthquake, which resulted in the tragic tsunami of 26 December 2004, will have left a ‘scar’ on Earth’s gravity that could be detected by a sensitive new satellite, due for launch next year. Seismological data suggests that, during the event, the seafloor on either side of a fault line running for 1000 km along the bottom of the Indian Ocean dramatically changed height, producing a ledge, 6 metres high. Such a large-scale movement will change the gravitational field of the Earth. The Earth’s gravity altered, in an instant, by as much as is expected from six years' worth of melting at the Patagonian Ice Fields in southernmost South America.

* A study has revealed that the Dec 26 tsunami considerably changed Tamil Nadu's shoreline in India.

* Anatahan continues to steam after its largest eruption in recorded history on April 6, 2005. This major eruption was a continuation of its third historical eruption, which began early in January 2005. Anatahan is located in the Northern Mariana Islands in the North Pacific Ocean and has been responsible for blanketing Guam and other nearby islands with volcanic haze.

* The week-long eruption of Mount Karthala on the main island in the Indian Ocean Comoros archipelago, is over, experts said Saturday, but they did not rule out the possibility of further eruptions.

Monday, April 25, 2005 -

* Up to 40 people have been killed by a flood in eastern Ethiopia. The Wabe Shabelle river burst its banks after 48 hours of continuous heavy rain, flooding and / or washing away 35 villages in one of the most remote regions of the Horn of Africa country. "Many [people] are still hanging onto trees for dear life."

* The National Weather Service is warning that conditions are right this spring for a dynamic breakup in Alaska's Interior. Computers are telling meteorologists and hydrologists that breakup this year could involve flooding, ice jams and significant erosion in fire-ravaged areas. Record-setting snow depths and water-content measurements have hydrologists warning of the potential for spring floods along several major Interior rivers. For instance, the "volume flow forecast" for the Yukon River around Stevens Village is 116 percent of normal for April through July. That means enough water will flow by to cover 48.2 million acres of land with 1 foot of water. "Forty-eight million acres is about the size of South Dakota." The Yukon River near the Dalton Highway crossing water content was measured at 180 to 190 percent above normal, and in the White Mountains, water content was 150 percent.

* At least 3 earthquakes jolted the Marianas last week, with the largest a 5.5 magnitude.

* A rare late spring snowstorm dumped about a foot of snow on parts of the Midwest Sunday, knocking out power to thousands of customers and canceling a Major League Baseball game for the second day in a row. The two-day storm sent temperatures 25 degrees below the norm of around 60 across parts of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

* A meteor shower Sunday night sparked a flurry of frantic phone calls to police departments across New England. There were reports of everything from meteors and missiles to multicolored objects in the sky, but the bright lights apparently came from the Lyrid meteor shower.

Sunday, April 24, 2005 -

* The water in Dominica's Boiling Lake, which mysteriously seeped out and stopped boiling last year, is almost back to normal and can again be visited though there's a chance of gas emission and steam exploding. The lake stopped boiling December 24 and the water level dropped about 40 feet (12 meters). The lake is "boiling again but not as powerful as normal." The second largest of its kind after New Zealand's Rotorua, the lake is about 200 feet (60 meters) wide. It is almost as deep as usual, the water temperature is 138 degrees Fahrenheit (58.9 Celsius) instead of its normal 195 degrees (90.6 Celsius) and it is jet black instead of light gray. The lake has stopped boiling three times in the past 100 years. In 1901, toxic fumes killed two people when it suddenly filled up months after it emptied. The crater also stopped boiling in 1977 and 1999.

* Some theorize that the last three super-eruption intervals at Yellowstone indicate the volcano is primed to blow again soon. But geologists say three supereruptions are too few to draw any conclusion. Scientists also say that despite close monitoring, there is no evidence that either a catastrophic eruption or a smaller lava eruption at Yellowstone is in the works any time soon.

* In Jamaica, the cost of damage done to the agriculture sector from the recent drought and bush fires has been estimated at more than $270 million. The agriculture sector was also affected last year by Hurricane Charley and Ivan which did widespread damage across the island. The recovery of the sector was further devastated by the onslaught of a drought this February.

* A prolonged drought in the Amazon could lead to a massive die-off in the world's largest rainforest according to a study released in Science last week. Fire and drought, once rare in much of the Amazon, may now pose the biggest threat to the survival of the Amazon ecosystem. In the state of Rondônia, which has been especially hard hit by deforestation, the amount of clear-cut area now exceeds the area of remaining rain forest timber stands.

* There is a widespread die-back of eucalyptus trees in Tasmania's north-west. There are several theories as to what has caused it. There is no disease in the trees but one cause is global climate change and several years of drought.

* Reduced snowfall in the Himalayas, caused by global warming, is threatening marine life in the distant Arabian Sea. The phenomenon could also aggravate global climate change.

Saturday, April 23, 2005 -

* In India, 1200 villages in the Uttaranchal are highly prone to landslide disaster. A report says that these villages live on the verge of destruction by earthquakes, landslides and rockfalls as they are located in one of the most seismically active area of the country.

* Hundreds of homes were flooded and dozens of livestock drowned in a village in eastern Serbia on Thursday after the river Tamis burst its banks overnight. The flooding, which is threatening to spread to many other villages, was thought to be the worst in the area in 40 years.

* The Volcano of Fire in the western Mexico state of Colima spouted ash, fumes and some red-hot rock, civil defense officials said Thursday. There have been no further evacuations due to the eruptions, which started late Tuesday.

* The tsunami that hit the Tamil Nadu and Andaman and Nicobar coasts last year has irrevocably altered the marine ecology of the Bay of Bengal region, says a preliminary tsunami impact assessment report. Most of the coral reefs in the Great Nicobar islands have been reduced to rubble. Many islands such as Kurusadai,Valai-Thalayari and Appa have been divided into two as the waves have submerged the connecting sand tracts. Other islands have been eroded and their size reduced.

* "It's time to realize that global warming and the rising seas that will result are not the only marine problems humans will have to face during the next century. Our strident exploitation of the waters of the world has begun to haunt us in the form of rogue waves and dying marine species...oceans have become gigantic amphitheaters, magnifying the din of human exploitation...Analysis of traffic volume has shown that the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans have become the most disturbed marine environments on Earth along with the heavily trafficked waters surrounding Indonesia...According to oceanographers, the fact that monster waves don't damage massive ocean liners more often is surprising...Rogue waves damage or sink one or two ships each week."

Friday, April 22, 2005 -

* Scientists have issued a fresh warning about the effect of climate change on Antarctica , saying that more than 200 coastal glaciers (out of 244) are in retreat because of higher temperatures. A dramatic acceleration in recent years has exposed numerous islands which were once ice-smothered.

* A stream which runs from the New Zealand eruption site to the river has turned a greyish, muddy color as a result of Tuesday's huge blast. The regional council is sending scientists to take samples of the material contaminating the water and analyse its potential effects. Experts say the river may "run muddy" for several weeks. If so, it could significantly affect those who use the river for recreational purposes or source water. The site of Tuesday's hydrothermal eruption now appears quiet, says the farmer whose Reporoa farm adjoins it. On average, hydrothermal eruptions happen once or twice a year in New Zealand. However it is uncommon to have more than one in the same geothermal system.

* A new method to forecast North American hurricane activity has been developed by a team at University College London. The U.K. researchers use winds averaged throughout July to predict the severity of the hurricane season that generally runs from August to October. It cannot forecast individual hurricanes but it can at least give a strong indication of how destructive a coming season might be. Hurricanes are not caused by wind but by high sea-surface temperature. However, it is the wind that determines how the storms develop and whether they will head for land or not. It is too early to make predictions for the 2005 hurricane season.

* A Jordanian national is suing U.S. cable's CNN for scaring him by reporting an 9.0 earthquake could strike in Jordan. The CNN report said a massive earthquake might destroy Jordan, causing panic among many Jordanians, the lawsuit charged. "Since CNN enjoys large credibility among the Jordanian audience, the law suitor took the report titled 'Bye Bye Amman' very seriously and was in a state of panic for several days," the lawsuit said.

* The size of earthquakes likely to hit Los Angeles may be smaller than previously thought. Scientists were able to discern that the crust in the area of rapidly expanding suburbs in northern Los Angeles County is broken up into blocks, rather than being a single piece of crust. "From the size of the blocks, and data from the 1971 and 1994 earthquakes – which are the largest shocks recorded in this area – we calculated that the maximum earthquakes for the study area should be limited to magnitude of about 6.8." A magnitude 7.2 earthquake is roughly five times more powerful than a 6.7 quake, so downgrading the maximum magnitude is significant.

Thursday, April 21, 2005 -

* A cloud of steam and water blasted out of a New Zealand paddock hurling rocks, scaring cows and leaving a 50m crater in one of the area's biggest geothermal eruptions in 50 years. The eruption's force came as a surprise even though Rotorua is an area known for geothermal activity. The geyser hurled rocks sized up to 60cm in diameter. It was one of the biggest eruptions in the area since an almost identical one in 1948. The hydrothermal eruption left a 50m-wide crater and two hectares of debris. The ground may take months to cool. The major part of the eruption lasted about two hours but it was still spewing steam up to 10m high five hours later. The area had been heating up in the past year, with three new hot springs forming. With the energy now taken out of the vent, no further eruption is expected. (photo)

* Mount Spurr volcano continues to rumble but appears no closer to an eruption than it did over the winter, according to scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory. One or two tiny earthquakes rumble through the mountain 80 miles west of Anchorage every hour. Warm acidic water, pooled in the main crater, may even be flowing down the mountain, hidden under snow. Over the past nine months, a dozen sensors on the ridges around the volcano have located the positions of at least 3,000 earthquakes within about eight miles of the summit, and observed thousands more too small to be pinpointed. "From a worldwide perspective of active volcanoes, when they become restless like this, about 50 percent of the time it culminates in an eruption and about 50 percent of the time it just stops." That the gas is escaping Spurr's main vent instead of Crater Peak, two miles away, intrigues the observatory's scientists.

* The strong 5.8 earthquake that struck southern Japan on Wednesday damaged hundreds of buildings, triggered landslides and injured at least 58 people.

* A small 3.6 earthquake hit Kern County, California on Wednesday, the strongest in a series of 30 aftershocks that have struck the area since a magnitude-5.1 earthquake rattled the region over the weekend. No damage or injuries were reported.

* For the first time, the solid inner core of the Earth has been directly detected and its existence confirmed, seismologists have reported. New evidence of a solid iron inner core to the planet comes from a digital broadband seismic array in Germany.

* Rogue waves, which weather observers and oceanographers are at a loss to explain, are becoming increasingly common. The European Space Agency believes rogue waves have been a major cause of the sinking of some 200 supertankers and container ships over the past 20 years.

* Five thousand residents in Danba, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, who live near a possible landslide site, are starting to return home thanks to efforts to prevent a huge hill from moving. The hill moved about 6 millimetres on February 2, then as much as 33 millimeters on February 22, posing a great threat to the residents below. More than 40 counties in Sichuan stand on flat slates, the result of huge landslides tens of thousands of years ago. Chongqing, Guizhou, Yunnan in Southwest China and Hubei in Central China have all witnessed landslides, not unusual in such a mountainous region.

* Heavy avalanches in the upper western reaches of the Himalayan Ganges are "an indication of a disaster in the making". The highest snowfall in a decade was received this year and the recent floods in Assam and Bihar have created "room for concern". The Red Cross has warned that impact of the floods in North India could extend to neighbouring countries. "With a major disaster almost waiting to strike, it is becoming imperative for the Government to set the entire disaster management machinery on a high alert in conjunction with the neighbouring countries likely to be affected."

* A powerful cyclone from South East Asia brought hurricane winds with gusts up to 30 meters per second and downpours to the Primorye Territory of Russia. It will swoop down on the Khabarovsk Territory and the Amur Region over the next few days. Wind gusts tore away house roofs in Vladivostok and window glass was smashed in many houses. Two cyclones – from China and Mongolia – approached Primorye last night. They joined into a powerful whirlwind over the territory. The cyclone will rage up to April 24.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 -

* AN earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale has jolted Japan's southern Kyushu island, injuring at least 10 people in an aftershock exactly a month after a major tremor. A day ago, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake jolted the Pacific Ocean near Torishima, an uninhabited volcanic island 500km south of Tokyo known for endangered birds. On April 11, an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale rattled Tokyo as commuters headed to work, but there were no damage or casualties. The latest quake is believed to be an aftershock of the March 20 7.0-magnitude quake, which killed one person and injured more than 700 people in the Fukuoka region.

* Fears that volcanic ash has poisoned drinking water mounted on Tuesday among 10,000 Comoros islanders who fled the eruption of Mount Karthala on Sunday that poured black rain into wells supplying their homes. Officials are also concerned that volcanic dust might have seeped into groundwater, threatening to contaminate supplies piped to about 50,000 people living in the capital Moroni. Karthala erupted after more than a decade of silence on Sunday, causing parts of the sides of the giant crater at the 2,361-metre summit to collapse into a cauldron of lava and hurling burning boulders into the sky that streaked like shooting stars. Skies above the summit were clear on Tuesday, but there continued to be a raised level of seismic activity in the depths of the mountain.

* Medical aid workers on earthquake-hit Nias Island fear a malaria epidemic could break out. The situation is worse than that after the December tsunami, which also struck the island. "After the tsunami a huge amount of sea water contaminated the pools of standing water. Mosquitoes can't breed in salty water so that put an end to their breeding cycle. This is not the case this time around." Also documented are small outbreaks of German measles in the island's north-west and chicken pox in the south, which could lead to epidemics. Aid is being hampered by the extreme isolation of settlements in hilly areas and the destruction of bridges.

* Indonesia, still reeling from the series of natural disasters, plans to use text messages to alert people of impending disasters predicted by an early warning system. Such a system would allow more than 80 per cent of all mobile phone users in a given area to be quickly informed of any impending natural disaster and would generate a rapid response from government officials.

* An iceberg the size of Luxembourg has smashed into another vast slab of ice that juts out from Antarctica. The 115km-long B-15A iceberg broke off a 5km-long section of the Drygalski ice tongue when it collided with the prominence in the Ross Sea. About the same size as Jamaica, B-15 had an initial area of 11,655 sq km but subsequently broke up into smaller pieces. Since then, B-15A has drifted its way to McMurdo Sound, where its presence blocked ocean currents and led to a build-up of sea ice.

* Dry conditions across much of upstate New York have resulted in numerous brush fires and prompted warnings from officials about outdoor burning.

* More than 150 wildfires erupted in New Jersey from April 11 through Sunday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 -

* The volcano erupted on the main island of the Comoros archipelago in the Indian Ocean early today, sending thousands of people fleeing. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. Lava is flowing to the eastern and probably southeastern slopes of the mountain. Currently a rain of ashes continues countrywide. Authorities said they would not prevent people from returning to their homes on the slopes of the volcanic mountain although the volcano remains unpredictable. "We don’t mind if they (return) because now we consider that wherever they might be, conditions are almost the same.”

* A magnitude 5.9 earthquake in the Izu Islands, Japan has occurred, 675 km (420 miles) S. of Tokyo.

* An earthquake of moderate 5.0 intensity shook the Andaman Sea region in the early hours yesterday at 3.08 a.m. Earlier, a tremor measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale jolted the southern Sumatra region in Indonesia at 2.54 a.m..

* A magnitude 5.9 earthquake on the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge has occurred, 4125 km (2560 miles) SE of Wellington, New Zealand.

* A magnitude 4.5 earthquake struck western France on Monday and could be felt dozens of kilometers (miles) from its epicenter, but there were no reports of injuries or damage. It was the second minor earthquake in this seismically active region this month.

* Many Russian scientists think we are witnessing a new period of global seismic activity. The Indian Ocean earthquakes that occurred off the coast of Sumatra on December 26, 2004 and March 28, 2005 are among the top ten most powerful quakes in the last century. The energy released by the earthquake on December 26, 2004 was roughly equivalent to that of the global nuclear arsenal or annual global energy consumption.

* Scientists say there is a 15-percent chance a near-event tsunami will happen between Vancouver, British Columbia, and northern California in the next 50 years. A near-event tsunami is caused by a nearby earthquake on the order of 8.5 or 9 in magnitude. The only warning is the earthquake itself. Anyone in nearby coastal areas have around 10 to 30 minutes to evacuate before a large, destructive wave could hit the coast. With a distant tsunami caused by an earthquake somewhere else in the Pacific Ocean there would be several hours warning.

* The coal industry paid at least three greenhouse skeptics about $1 million over a three-year period. According to Ross Gelbspan, former Boston Globe editor, global warming is not only real, it is perhaps the most important story of the day. "The failure of the press to adequately cover global warming," he argues, “lies in the indifference or laziness of hundreds of reporters who are betraying their professional obligation to their readers and viewers...One way that the press could make this issue much more accessible to the public is to mention the connection between global warming and increasingly extreme weather events...I do a lot of traveling and my sense is that people have become really freaked out by the weather. They know something is wrong even if they don’t understand greenhouse gases. They sense something is changing and that makes people instinctively uncomfortable...The science is very clear — we need to cut our emissions worldwide by 70 percent in a pretty short time. ..There’s no question in my mind that there is a potential for retaliation against the U.S. from people whose homelands are going under from rising sea levels, whose crops are destroyed by weather extremes, and so forth. The U.S.’s continuing indifference to this issue could well prompt more anti-US attacks and more instances of terrorism...We are running the risk of a rapid climate change event. Were that were to happen, we’d see mass migration, all kinds of wars, political chaos. "

Monday, April 18, 2005 -

* Mount Karthala erupted on the Indian Ocean Comoros Island on Sunday, forcing hundreds of villagers to flee in fear of poison gas as the crater spewed ash and flung boulders over molten lava. Darkness enveloped homes near the summit as black rain pounded the mountainside, sparking panic among residents afraid of the kind of noxious fumes that seeped from the volcano a century ago, killing 17 people. Dust is still falling, with torrential rains and high winds sweeping across the region. Dry river beds have turned to raging torrents as rainwater coursed down the volcano's slopes. Parts of the sides of the 3 km (1.8 mile) wide crater have reportedly collapsed and enormous chunks of rocks hurled for several kilometres. Authorities were checking for contamination after locals reported a grey discolouration in the drinking water. "For the moment the eruption is confined to the inside of the crater, which is spewing ash and blocks of stone."

* A magnitude 4.8 earthquake on the Kenai Penninsula in Alaska has occurred, 60 km (40 miles) SSE of Anchorage, Alaska (pop 260,000).

* A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in the Kep. Mentawai Region, Indonesia has occurred, 115 km (70 miles) SW of Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia (pop 721,000).

* The tremors in Indonesia have been getting closer to Padang, which lies halfway down Sumatra. Last Sunday the city was rocked by a series of quakes that lasted until the early hours of Monday morning, triggering mass panic as people fled to the hills. 'We are all aware that something is not right,' said one woman. 'My dog has started attacking its puppies and I'm no longer hearing the frogs that used to croak in the back garden. Such signs cannot be ignored.'

* Another 1,800 bodies were found in the rubble left by the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunamibetween April 6 and April 13 in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh and the nearby district of Aceh Besar. That raises Indonesia's death toll to 128,715, with 37,603 still missing. Between 49,622 and 50,533 people in total remain unaccounted for around the Indian Ocean.

* A slight 4.2 earthquake hit Cairo, Egypt, Saturday evening, causing no damage.

* Most San Francisco Bay Area residents would not have the basic supplies or planning necessary to handle the aftermath of a major earthquake, the Bay Area chapter of American Red Cross reports. They are reminding people to prepare and maintain a disaster readiness kit. The kit should contain water, food, first aid, tools and supplies, sanitation materials, and clothing and bedding.

* A freak wave towering a reported 21 metres (70 feet) has struck a luxury cruise ship in the mid-Atlantic. The ship, which can carry 2200 passengers, was forced into a South Carolina port for repairs after the drama at the weekend. When the wave struck, it smashed two windows and flooded 62 cabins. "The sea had actually calmed down when the wave seemed to come out of thin air at daybreak,"..."Our captain, who has 20 years on the job, said he never saw anything like it."

* Last Thursday a whirlwind tore roofs and damaged plantations in Fiji, in Vanuakula Village, Naitasiri. The trough of low pressure Fiji is facing "is unusual because it has been there for more than three weeks".

* In India the annual monsoon rains will arrive early and bring above-normal rain over most of the country in June, a state-run research body says. The June-September monsoon season was expected to hit the southern state of Kerala around May 26. They predicted the country as a whole would see "above normal rainfall" in June, and said large parts of the northeast and eastern regions were likely to see flooding in June. In 2004, rain arrived over the southern Kerala coast two weeks ahead of schedule in mid-May and rainfall was 110 percent of the long-term average in June. Overall monsoon rains in June-September were erratic and 13 percent below the long-period average.

* Glacier National Park is expected to be devoid of its ice formations by 2040, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists. What's more, the Earth's Northern Hemisphere has been growing greener in the past two decades as temperatures rise, according to NASA satellite images. Global warming may also be behind the rise of disease, insects and catastrophic wildfires in U.S. forests. "This isn't just one or two years of normal variability — this is a substantial trend over a half-century." In Alberta, Canada, aspen leaves are emerging three weeks earlier than a century ago.

* Eight people perished in avalanches in Utah this past winter, the most since 1951, when the U.S. Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center began keeping records. They accounted for 30% of the 26 avalanche deaths in the United States this winter season. It is surprising there weren't more deaths in an avalanche season some call "historic." Between Oct. 24 and April 10, more than 300 slides broke in Utah. The winter was punctuated with above-normal temperatures and atypical storm systems steeped in tropical moisture which meant unusually heavy snow.

* Oregon and RAINS (Regional Alliances for Infrastructure and Network Security) are launching a locally-targeted emergency alerting service featuring real-time tsunami warnings with evacuation routes. RAINS' Connect & Protect service captures NOAA/National Weather Service's tsunami warnings when issued, and immediately sends localized alerts via computers, pagers and cell phones, to local citizens responsible for public safety - thus dramatically increasing the speed and reach of the warnings within a community.

Sunday, April 17, 2005 -

* Hundreds of people fled villages on the slopes of Mount Karthala on the largest island in the Comoros archipelago after black smoke belched from the crater, sparking fears of an eruption. "The ground has started trembling and we have seen cracks appearing." Residents near the affected villages described a strange smell wafting from the volcano, followed by a steady drizzle of black rain on the Indian Ocean island. "Villagers are in total darkness, gritty rain is falling and visibility is zero."

* A moderate earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale was felt in Tokyo and its vicinity but there was no fear of tsunami tidal waves, and no immediate reports of casualties or property damage.

* A powerful 6.3 undersea earthquake sparked widespread panic on the Indonesian island of Nias. The town was blacked out for about 30 minutes after the quake, but electricity was restored and police used megaphones to urge residents to remain calm. It was the second quake to hit the area in a day after a tremor measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale shook the seabed 256km west of Sumatra island.

* More than 43,000 people living beneath the volcanic shadow of Mount Talang in western Indonesia have been evacuated as it continued spewing hot ash on Saturday. The volcano is still on its highest alert level and continues erupting hot ash. Local officials had sealed off an area of five kilometers (three miles) to visitors and residents from Mount Talang's three craters. Mount Talang is among 11 rumbling volcanoes that are under close watch for possible new disasters by vulcanologists. (Note - this link may be unaccessible as Jakarta Post only leaves articles available for a day.)

* A magnitude-5.1 earthquake struck in Southern California at 12:15pm on Saturday and could be felt dozens of miles away in downtown Los Angeles, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

* With the exception of a tsunami, every form of natural disaster has afflicted Staunton, Virginia, over the last hundred years — floods, storms, blizzards, drought, hail, sinkholes and two palpable earthquakes, the first of which, at magnitude 5.8, jiggled the city into a momentary panic on May 31, 1897.

* Cedar City, Utah is preparing with grim determination for a monster snowpack, possibly the most waterlogged in the West, to melt in the mountains above, possibly releasing a spectacular flood. Crews are raising the bed of a state highway and fortifying ditches, the city engineer is praying for gradual warming that would release water slowly over time, and elected officials are preemptively declaring a state of emergency they may not need for a month. City officials are spooked by a snowpack 40 percent larger than any other in more than a half-century of record-keeping. Southern Utah has snowpacks of as much as 372 percent of normal at some high-mountain locations.

Saturday, April 16, 2005 -

* The mysterious appearance of clams in two locations in Malaysia has been interpreted by experts as portending a natural disaster. Hundreds of sea cucumbers mysteriously appeared at several beaches in Port Dickson, and just 8 days later, residents of Langkawi were astounded to find large numbers of a species of clam in Sungai Kuala Melaka on Tuesday. In Penang, hundreds of cockles began appearing several days ago at Teluk Bahang. The phenomenon could be indicative of a looming earthquake. “I’m confident that an earthquake will happen soon and the public should be careful and be prepared for the possibility of tremors happening in Malaysia.” The appearance of cockles at Teluk Bahang is an indication of two possibilities – either a tsunami will happen again or the phenomenon is the result of the December disaster. “We should do an immediate study to see whether the cockles’ ecological system and habitat were destroyed."

* Indonesia's Mount Talang sent out fresh clouds of dust and continued to rumble on Friday, ruling out an early return home for about 20 000 frightened people who have fled villages on its slopes. Elsewhere in the country, which is still recovering from the December 26 earthquake and tsunami and a second killer quake last month, three temblors with magnitudes of more 5 or more rocked parts of Java Island.

* Indonesia has placed 79 active volcanoes on close watch following heightened volcanic activity as massive aftershocks continued to hit Sumatra island daily since the Dec 26 earthquake. Some scientists fear the seismic activity has the potential to trigger a major eruption while the government has urged the public to remain calm. "In Aceh, there are three active volcanoes. After the massive earthquake of Dec 26, there was no increase in activity."

* Fears of an imminent major eruption from almost a dozen rumbling Indonesian volcanoes were subsiding Friday as scientists played down the chances of a natural disaster despite a series of new earthquakes.

* A volcanic alert was issued Thursday on Mt Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture in Japan after a small volcanic eruption was observed. The alert prompted a disaster prevention council there to ban entry to within a 1-kilometer radius of the volcano's crater. The eruption of Mount Aso came after hundreds of small quakes rumbled through the mountain over the past two weeks.

* A meteorite which residents described as a "huge ball of fire" was spotted breaking up over the eastern Spanish regions of Catalonia and Valencia on Tuesday.

Friday, April 15, 2005 -

* Eleven volcanoes are now under close watch in Indonesia after the series of powerful quakes awoke intense subterranean forces and increased the chances of a major eruption. Hot ash has been raining down on the slopes of Mount Talang on Sumatra island since Monday. Mount Merapi on Sumatra has been on alert since last August, but along with seven other peaks, is now under closer watch. Tangkuban Perahu in west Java and Krakatau in the Sunda Strait have both been raised from “normal’ to “alert’ on Wednesday following an observed increase in volcanic activities. The giant crater of Lake Toba super-volcano on Sumatra island has also been recording increased activity. Indonesia has more than 130 volcanoes. Scientists are unable to determine whether the activities of Mount Talang have slowed down or if energy is building up for a bigger eruption. The population around the Tangkuban Perahu volcano has a population of some 7.5 million people.

* Anatahan Volcano continues to spew ash and smoke a week after its strongest historical eruption. The plume of volcanic smog has reached the Philippines Sea, 1200 miles west of Anatahan.

* An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale has rattled Indonesia's Sumatra island. The Hong Kong Observatory has described the quake as intense, and says it was centred about 150 kilometres south-west of Padang city on Sumatra island. The quake comes a little more than a day after a tremor measuring 5.3 hit the same area.

* An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale shook the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh in India on Thursday, but there were no reports of any casualties. Panic-stricken people ran out of their homes and waited on the streets after the tremor which caused cracks in some homes.

* A landslide which hit the area surrounding the southern Kyrgyzstan town of Mailuu-Suu on Wednesday evening is in alarmingly close proximity to huge radioactive dumps from Soviet-era uranium mines and is causing concern among the authorities. The land movement halted the flow of a key river and water source in Mailuu-Suu and blocked the road. "A land mass of around 300,000 cu metres, several hundred metres in width and up to 10 metres high ripped across the river Mailuu-Suu forming a blockage." The risk of further landslides in the area is high as unstable hillsides saturated with water from winter snow and recent rains are prone to collapse. A landslide could disturb the dumps and either expose radioactive material within the core of the enormous waste piles or push part of them into nearby rivers, contaminating water for hundreds of thousands of people. The Central Asian region is prone to various natural disasters, including earthquakes, landslides, floods, avalanches and drought. According to the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, natural disasters have killed about 2,500 people and affected some 5.5 million (almost 10 percent of the total population) in the region over the past decade.

* The return of warm, windy weather has already led to numerous wildfires across southern and central Michigan.

* A freak wind blew through Wildwood, British Columbia, Canada last week, leaving some residents wondering if it was a mini-tornado. People experienced the strange phenomenon just after 10 pm on Wednesday, April 6. "It popped my screen door open, right from the lock..It pushed my window in. I have the old wooden-style windows and I saw it go in and go out. But it only lasted less than five minutes. It was just there and it came, and poof, it was gone." Some people thought there had been an earthquake. "My walls started shifting and my roof felt like it was going to fly off."

Thursday, April 14, 2005 -

* Officials have moved more than 25,000 people out of their homes on the slopes of Sumatra's Mount Talang after raising the alert level because the volcano continues to spew ash. The region is now on top alert as ash rises as high as a kilometre above the volcano's crater. More villagers living near Mount Talang will be moved from their homes in the days ahead. Increased amounts of volcanic activity and gas emissions are still occurring at two other Indonesian volcanoes - Anak Krakatoa, which has been rising off the southern tip of Sumatra island since its parent volcano Krakatoa exploded with massive force in 1883, and Tangkuban Prahu in Java.

* From Moscow - "Seismic readings have shown that an area West of the Northern area of Sumatra (below the Ocean floor) is still very active and earthquakes have been recorded at various magnitudes. There seems to be a tremendous pressure building as the Continental plates push into each other and the question is, which area will be affected most by the end result? Logic, and the results we are seeing now, suggest that Sumatra (which sits on the edge of the India/Australia plate) will end up the loser in this battle. It is our belief that a new earthquake (possibly the largest ever recorded in modern times) will again occur just off the West coast of Northern Sumatra, which will result in a tsunami perhaps 80 meters high (near the epicenter) and this will trigger a volcanic eruption on the Island itself. Many of the smaller Islands off the west coast of Sumatra may be lost completely."

* Rural homes in Montana from Hill to McCone counties endured their fourth night without power Tuesday in the wake of a freak spring storm. Wind gusts of up to 85 mph, coupled with heavy sleet and snow, snapped hundreds of power lines across the region like rows of dominoes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 -

* Mount Talang in Indonesia is on the verge of a full-blown eruption, according to some scientists. It began spewing ash on Tuesday, and officials urged 20,000 residents of Sumatra within the fallout zone to evacuate.

* A second volcano in Indonesia, Tangkuban Perahu, on Java island, sprang to life and began rumbling overnight, prompting scientists to raise the status of the volcano to "alert" and declare it off limits. There have been hundreds of volcanic earthquakes recorded in the last several days. There was new panic as a volcanic earthquake struck Talang at 10:00 am (0300 GMT), causing many to rush out of the buildings, mosques and schools that they have been sheltering in since evacuating their villages from Sunday's 6.7 quake. Thousands of people on the islands have refused to leave temporary hilltop camps, with forecasts by scientists of a third impending disaster fuelling rumours that a quake and tsunami could strike at any time.

* A third volcano in the area, Child of Krakatoa, in Sunda straits, west of Java, has been experiencing more than 32 volcanic quakes in the last two days. Authorities have been told to stop tourists and local people from coming to the Child of Krakatoa area. ''We are worried about poisoned gas released by the activities.'' Volcanic activities at Krakatoa reportedly have no relation to the Sumatra earthquake.

* "The first super-eruption at Yellowstone ejected into the atmosphere 2500 times more volcanic material than the Mount St Helens eruption of 1980; the ground beneath Yellowstone could hold more than 25,000 cubic kilometres of molten rock; an eruption could send as much as 2 billion tonnes of sulphuric acid into the stratosphere; and the death toll from a Yellowstone super-eruption would top 1 billion people. And that's just for starters." "We took the scenario...to the FEMA in Washington and said, 'OK, we have this scenario, how would you deal with it?' And their jaws hit the floor."

* The United States has been accused of covering up cases of mad cow disease.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 -

* Mount Talang Volcano coughed into life Tuesday on Indonesia's disaster-blighted island of Sumatra, spreading new panic in the wake of the recent tsunami and earthquakes and prompting thousands to flee their homes. The volcano's activity comes just two days after the city of Padang was hit by the powerful 6.7 magnitude quake that caused only minor damage. The massive December quake activated Leuser Mountain, a volcano in Aceh province along the same range of peaks as Talang, while the Nias quake sparked activity in lake Toba, an ancient crater in Sumatra.

* Extreme gales, rain and hail have claimed 10 lives and destroyed 20,000 homes in southwest China when violent storms hit the region on Friday. Another two people were injured and one person was missing after strong gales swept through more than 20 cities and counties including Guangyuan, Santai and Daxian.

* A hailstorm in Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality in China left 18 dead, one person missing and 25 injured. One hailstorm lasted for about one-and-a-half hours on Friday. Some hailstones were as big as eggs, and even small ones were the size of peas. "Many houses were pierced by the hail. It is the most serious hailstorm for 20 years in the county." The biggest hailstone, which fell in Chongqing, reached 13 centimetres in diameter. Qianjiang District in Chongqing was the worst affected, with hailstones destroying more than 27,800 houses and local crops. Last week, many regions in China were hit by sudden changes of weather and large temperature drops. The region also had its most serious dust storm of this spring on Friday.

* Unusually late cold weather and snow at the end of the worst winter in years have killed 21 children in Afghanistan. The snow also destroyed 150 homes and killed hundreds of farm animals in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, near the border with Tajikistan and China.

Monday, April 11, 2005 -

*Several powerful earthquakes struck off the west coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island yesterday. First a 6.8 quake hit near Siberut Island, 109km southwest of Painan, a neighbouring town to Padang, causing panic among residents fearful of another tsunami. It was followed by quakes of 5.8, 6.3, 5.5, 5.9, 5.3, 5.2, 6.4 and 6.1. The tremors come two weeks after the massive 8.7 earthquake centered on the same Indian Ocean geological faultline.

* A magnitude 6.1 earthquake jolted central Japan near Tokyo this morning, rocking buildings in the city's center.

* Japan's preparations for major tsunami are insufficient, even though huge earthquakes are expected in such areas as Tokai and Tonankai.

* Earth faces a one in three chance in the next 70 years of being hit by an earthquake big enough to destroy a major city. There is an even bigger chance (35% - 70%) of a giant tsunami during the same period. There is estimated to be only a 7% possibility of a volcanic eruption big enough to change Earth's climate. Not until March 16, 2880 - 875 years away - is there a known threat of a 1 km-wide asteroid colliding with Earth, with a one in 300 chance of "object 1950DA" colliding with Earth.

* At least 13 people were killed and scores of houses damaged when a powerful storm with gale-forced winds slammed into parts of the eastern Indian state of Bihar, India.

Friday, April 8, 2005 -

* The powerful eruption of Anatahan Volcano on Wednesday sent such a huge ash plume into the air that it plunged the Marianas region into darkness. Smoke was sent 50,000 feet (15,240 metres) into the air, darkening skies over the Northern Marianas Islands and aircraft were warned to steer clear of Anatahan Island where the volcano is located. Residents said the sky was as dark as night although it was only morning. In May 2003 the volcano erupted for six weeks. In April 2004 it erupted and continued until late July. The present activity started on January 6 this year. The seismicity at the volcano since the latest eruption has been very low, almost background level.
Overnight rain washed away a dusting of ash from Anatahan Volcano, which continues to erupt on an uninhabited island in the Pacific.

* On Sunday evening, the Discovery Channel is showing the two-hour disaster movie, "Supervolcano". It blends science fact with a harrowing drama that speculates what might happen if a giant volcano should blow at Yellowstone National Park. The force of a single super-eruption at Yellowstone would be the equivalent of 1,000 Hiroshima bombs exploding every second.

* A severe earthquake estimated at 6.5 on the Richter scale struck a mountainous region in Tibet early on today. No casualty or accurate damages has been reported yet.

* Tiny, but powerful Cyclone Adeline-Juliet is spinning west across the Indian Ocean. The storm has kicked up powerful waves, but is not threatening any landmass.

* An early spring storm covered parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario with as much as 22 inches of snow.

* The World Health Organisation has issued a warning alerting Angola's neighbours to the threat posed by the deadly Marburg virus. The death toll from the virus has jumped from 159 to 174 in the last three weeks, now spreading to seven of the poor southern African country's 18 provinces.

Thursday, April 7, 2005 -

* A eruption from Anatahan Volcano rocked a remote group of islands in the Pacific Ocean Wednesday, spewing ash more than 15,000 metres into the sky. Officials have placed the Northern Mariana Islands off limits, ordering aircraft and ships to avoid the area. The eruption is the strongest since the volcano, about 120 kilometres north of the main island of Saipan, became active in May 2003. The eruption is the fourth in the past two years.

* Bigger than normal earthquakes have been shaking things up in Mount St. Helens' crater since Sunday night, but fog and rain have kept scientists from seeing just what's going on. About a half dozen quakes have had magnitude 3 or greater. Scientists think the quakes are related to the erupting lava dome inside the volcano. The lava dome is erupting from a straw-like conduit that draws molten rock to the surface from a deep underground pool.

* Reports of devastation caused by last week's freak rainstorm in New Zealand continue to trickle in, especially from coastal areas of South Wairarapa. A huge sweep of the southern coast was battered in the furious onslaught that brought down hundreds of slips, wiped out bridges and fences, tore away culverts and stripped top soil from grazing land. The large coastal stations along the stretch are said to have suffered millions of dollars of damage. Strangely, the storm hit some areas and virtually missed others at intervals along the coast. Climate change and shifting weather patterns are likely to bring storms such as this more frequently.

* A minor 2.3 earthquake shook southeastern Massachusetts on Tuesday evening, prompting a flood of worried calls to area police departments. New England averages six noticeable earthquakes a year.

* An unusally harsh winter followed by heavy spring rains has pushed the rivers of Central Europe higher than their typical spring levels.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -

* Three months of intensive drought caused wildfires to break out in the Dominican Republic around the Jose del Carmen Ramirez National Park on March 11. Approximately 100,000 hectares have been consumed by the fires in the past three weeks. To date there are no reported casualties, though 70 people were evacuated from the area when the wildfires began. While firefighters have contained the wildfires, the drought has reduced the availability of water for human consumption and the irrigation of crops.

* Ninety seconds of wild weather in New Zealand are being blamed for hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to a prototype Gebbies Pass wind turbine which plunged 30m from the turbine’s tower to the ground in squally conditions on March 10. Freak winds caused the rotor to become unbalanced, with the wind changing from a 50kmh north-westerly to a 90kmh south-westerly in about 90 seconds.

* In Bangladesh, more than 10 million people in coastal areas of the country remain vulnerable to cyclone and other natural calamities.

* Fear of another earthquake and possible tsunami are prevalent amongst the populations of both Nias and Simeulue, aggravated by frequent and continuing aftershocks, and the majority of people continue to sleep outdoors. Large numbers of the 78,000 residents of Simeulue are also reportedly moving to higher ground. Assessment reports on Simeulue are confirming indications of more severe damage on the western and southern coasts than had been thought in the early days following the second earthquake. Estimates of 70-100 percent building damage in some villages are being confirmed. All remaining school structures on Simeulue that had survived the 26 December quake collapsed after the second upheaval. High seas, broken port facilities and heavily damaged road and bridge infrastructures continue to impose serious challenges to a comprehensive humanitarian response.

* In Lahewa, Indonesia, the earthquake that savaged this ocean-side town the night of March 28 killed mostly ethnic Chinese, members of merchant families wealthy enough to live in multi-floor brick and concrete houses that came tumbling down on them with lethal force. The quake also did major damage to the families' factories and company offices, which provide a majority of the jobs and income in the town. By a fluke of topography, the tremors raised the seafloor in the harbor, closing it off to the boats that in normal times carry out exports. Most of the town's 36,000 people survived, their small wooden houses less dangerous to them in event of collapse. But with relief aid slow to arrive, hunger is creating fear of uprisings.

* A great earthquake is "overdue" in the Himalayas. There are a dozen examples of regions across the Himalayas that could rupture and produce an earthquake with a magnitude over 8.

* Disaster-related economic losses topped $145 billion in 2004, the latest in a disturbing upward trend. The majority of the losses in 2004 were caused by weather-related events: a string of powerful hurricanes in the Atlantic, a record 10 typhoons in Japan, and flooding across the globe. While the loss of human life from the devastating Asian tsunami is overwhelming, the economic cost was only an estimated $10 billion.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 -

* Indonesian authorities now say more than 2,500 people were killed in last week's earthquake on the Indonesian island of Nias.

* A 4.8 magnitude earthquake jolted Nias on Monday. The quake, the latest in a series of aftershocks, shook Nias for about two minutes.

* On Sunday a quake of 4.3 on the Richter scale rocked northeastern Japan at 5:41 pm, followed by a 3.7 tremor nine minutes later. At the same time, a moderate intensity earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter Scale struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

* Clouds have prevented scientists from seeing what is going on at Mount St. Helens after three quakes Sunday night and early Monday that were greater than magnitude three. The quakes "do seem to be getting a little bit larger and that's of interest, but what it all means we don't know." Scientists lost most of their instruments in a minor eruption last month in the crater. Weather has not allowed them to replace the GPS and seismograph packages.

* A tremor monitoring and early warning network for the Three Gorges reservoir area was set up in Chongqing, western China's biggest municipality. Geological disasters like landslides, collapses and muck-rock flows were very common before the construction of the Three Gorges Project, sparking fears about possible calamities after the water storage.

* At least one person is confirmed dead and two are believed dead following an avalanche on Saturday in Northwest China's Qinghai Province. The three were among a six-member climbing team. Another avalanche in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture occurred last month, the largest in Qinghai Province in recent decades, devastating over 266.6 hectares of grassland.

* Volcanic eruptions at Anatahan Volcano reached a new peak at 1am on Monday, its highest activity in the last two months. Seismicity dropped dramatically after the peak. Last year's peak was on February 2nd and it had a higher magnitude than this one.

* Lingering drought in the western US could produce a highly damaging wildfire season that could start as soon as May, forecasters predict.

* Conditions are ripe for a bad wildfire season in both the Northwestern and Southwestern U.S. It was a dry, warm winter across the Northwest, with experts in some areas saying they can’t remember the last time the snowpack was this low. It was just the opposite in the Southwest, with record winter rainfall that flooded deserts and caused murderous landslides. In parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, the snowpack is only about 25 percent to 50 percent of normal. The U.S. Drought Monitor, which tracks conditions across the country, rates vast tracts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho as “exceptional drought,” the worst of five drought categories. “In a lot of places, there’s no comparison". The snowpack - “it’s never been this low before.”

Monday, April 4, 2005 -

* Two intense aftershocks, 6.2 and 6.1, struck northwestern Indonesia yesterday in the latest of a barrage of jolts since a massive quake nearly a week ago killed about 1300 people.

* A tsunami expert says that the Indian Ocean region could be rocked again “within days ... sending a tsunami surging towards Australia, and elsewhere.” There was no major tsunami from the 8.7 quake because it occurred in much shallower waters than the December quake, so less water was displaced. The waters were probably about 100 to 200 metres deep, compared to the ocean above the December temblor which is about ten times that depth. The ocean floor heaved across a much larger area in the December quake — about 2,40,000 sq km compared to 30,000 sq km in last Monday’s quake.

* Twenty-four people in Iran were hurt on Sunday after an earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale hit the southern town of Ravar.

* A 5.4-magnitude earthquake rattled northeastern Japan early today, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage and no tsunami alert.

Sunday, April 3, 2005 -

* “Conditions in the Atlantic are very favorable for an active hurricane season." Bill Gray, the nation’s leading hurricane forecaster, warns that he expects this season to be even more active than he forecast in December and new numbers suggest this year could be nearly as active as last year. Gray’s prediction, for the season that begins June 1, now calls for 13 named storms with more than half – seven – growing into hurricanes with sustained winds topping 74 mph. Of those, he said three will become intense storms with winds topping 111 mph.

* A temporary tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean region has come into operation, as scientists warned that the massive tremors that caused the December 26 disaster last year was likely to cause a series of major earthquakes.

* The tilt of the earth is likely the cause of the Ice Ages - In the past million years, the Earth experienced a major ice age about every 100,000 years. The Earth’s rotation axis is not perpendicular to the plane in which it orbits the Sun but is offset by 23.5 degrees. This tilt explains why we have seasons and why places above the Arctic Circle have 24-hour darkness in winter and constant sunlight in the summer. But the angle is not constant – it is currently decreasing from a maximum of 24 degrees towards a minimum of 22.5 degrees. This variation goes in a 40,000-year cycle. The ends of the ice ages corresponded to times of greatest tilt.

* Over half the world's population is exposed to one or more major natural hazards that could significantly impact them. Taiwan is probably the most vulnerable place with 73% of its land and population exposed to three or more hazards.

Saturday, April 2, 2005 -

* Indonesia 'can't handle next disaster' - Troubled efforts to help survivors on Indonesia's quake-hit Nias island were mitigated by tsunami aid already in place, but the country risks greater loss in the future unless its relief infrastructure is strengthened, officials say. Logistical nightmares have dogged the arrival of aid on the remote tropical island where broken roads and a shortage of petrol meant relief workers were still struggling to reach people in isolated areas six days later, even as new aftershocks claimed possible fresh casualties and spread panic. The Welfare Minister said the country's national disaster agency, Bakornas, was inadequate for the coming catastrophes that scientists say are a near certainty.

* It will take at least three months to fully restore electricity and water to the earthquake-ravaged Indonesian island of Nias.

* The massive tremor that struck northern Indonesia this week has confirmed experts' fears that a December earthquake set off a domino effect of seismic instability that could last decades and kill thousands.

* Another aftershock measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale jolted the Indonesian island of Nias as it was still reeling from the powerful earthquake six days ago.

* The Kartala volcano on the island Grande Comore is at risk of an imminent eruption, according to seismic observations done in Comoros. The last time Mount Kartala erupted, in 1991, nearby villages incurred a large amount of damage. An anticipated eruption in 2003, however, failed to occur. During the last week, the volcanological observatory on Grande Comore has observed "significant and abnormal" seismic activities at the volcano. The entire Comoran archipelago - with the four major islands Grande Comore, Anjouan, Moheli and Mayotte - was created through volcanism in geologically modern times. The volcanoes are a result of the island of Madagascar's drifting from the African continent and subsequent tensions in the stretching sea floor.

* Volcano Ebeko in Russia has covered the city of Severo-Kurilsk on Paramushir Island, the Kuriles, with a heavy smell of hydrogen sulfide.

* Something strange is stirring in and around local waters in Florida. "Something's going on in the North Atlantic." In the last few months, fish and bird species have been popping up in places they're not normally found. These transients aren't arriving in huge numbers, just an oddity here and there - an Arctic bird off St. Augustine Beach, an armored catfish normally in South America found in the Indian River Lagoon, spiny dogfish normally farther north found in Ponce de Leon Inlet.

* Something’s happening at both Poles - “Just a decade ago we glaciologists were talking about gradual changes in glaciers taking place over centuries. Now we’re seeing things that we didn’t think glaciers could do in terms of their speed of response.” The collapse of Antarctica ice shelves because of warmer summer temperatures has caused the vast glaciers and ice sheets behind them to begin sliding into the sea at a remarkable pace. Unlike the floating ice shelves, thinning glaciers contribute to global sea-level rise. There is enough ice to raise sea levels by 20 feet. By comparison, the sea-level rise predictions are only about two feet by 2100. The news from the Arctic is even more troubling. In November an international team of scientists completed an unprecedented four-year study of the region that found it is warming at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the planet. The Arctic and the Greenland ice sheets contain enough ice to raise sea level by some 23 feet. “Greenland is melting much more rapidly in the past two or three years than anyone imagined possible.”

* Even astronomers are baffled by a huge glowing object that cut across the sky above the Northern Territory and Western Australia last night. It stretched from horizon to horizon and lasted for about one minute. Meteors generally are sighted for about 5 seconds. Audio report

Friday, April 1, 2005 -

* The latest quake to hit the Indonesia region has again altered the landscape. Three months after the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster saw Indonesia's Sumatra island nudged slightly towards Sri Lanka, the 8.7 quake has made substantial changes on shorelines around the islands. In some areas, the land has tilted, exposing large tracts of beach that were once below the water line and thrusting coral reefs up into the air, while dipping other low lying coastal areas into the sea. "The same lifting occurred on the top part of Simeulue island after the first earthquake on December 26, 2004, while the lower part of Simeulue dropped." Eyewitnesses say the latest quake also triggered a moderate tsunami, 3m in height, which caused a small amount of damage on Simeulue and the Sumatra coast area of Singkil, where it surged several hundred metres inland.

* Bad weather is hampering relief efforts on the Indonesian island of Nias, the area worst affected by Monday's earthquake. Rescue workers have abandoned the search for survivors in the main town, Gunung Sitoli, and will concentrate their efforts elsewhere. Without desperately needed equipment, people continue to dig through layers of rubble by hand. The town remains without electricity and the water purification system is down.

* Monday's quake off north-western Indonesia killed 17 people on the island of Simeulue, according to UN estimates, which is substantially lower than the 600 people estimated to have died on neighbouring Nias. However, an emergency assessment of half of Simeulue's districts yesterday found the scale of the damage was greater than initially believed. Entire villages on the small island of Simeulue were destroyed in the quake and 40 per cent of the population has fled their homes in terror.

* A tsunami estimated at nearly half the size of the one that hit Thailand on Dec. 26 was produced in some areas along the northwestern coast of Indonesia following Monday's 8.7-magnitude earthquake. The new findings appear to confirm the suspicions of many Seattle scientists who earlier this week said such a large quake almost certainly produced a tsunami. Although smaller than December's tsunami it was large enough to tear down buildings and kill anyone still living near the shoreline.

* A sailor has described how his boat was tossed 180 degrees by the swell created by the Indonesian underwater eathquake. "The boat just started doing some really strange things. At first it made booming sounds, as though it was hitting something, then it began to get sucked downwards. The boat rose and fell really sharply...About 20 minutes later, the water started rushing ... with incredible force. The boat was dragging anchor. The current moved (with) a 180-degrees swing. Then it happened again, the third time the current changed. It rushed for 20 minutes. Big waves."

* The warning system covering the Pacific Ocean might save many lives if a tsunami strikes Southern California. But nothing can stop the destruction, estimated to be $42 billion.

* The 2000-year eruption cycle of many of the world's super-volcanoes has passed and vulcanologists around the globe are simply watching and waiting for an imminent disaster. So says another scientist who warns that it is only a matter of time before "super volcanoes", which he said were the greatest threat to the planet, could cause disasters on a magnitude greater than anything modern humankind had ever encountered. "It could be in a few, 50 or another 1000 years but sooner or later one is going to go off."

* The likelihood that Toba – the largest supervolcano on Earth – will erupt has increased significantly due to geological stresses generated by the recent quakes. Worse, Toba sits directly atop the faultline running down the spine of Sumatra. That is where seismologists say a third quake might strike. Because of the increased risk, scientists are calling for increased monitoring of Toba.

* Newfoundland, Canada residents dealt with record-setting falls of snow and rain with waist-deep drifts and washed-out roads in many communities on the island Thursday.

* The Ebola-like Marburg virus claims nine more victims in Angola, making it the worst ever recorded. The number of deaths from the disease, which has no cure, since the start of the outbreak in October, stands at 126.

* Lake Powell, one of the largest reservoirs in the western United States, has lost more than 60-percent of its water to the worst drought in 500 years.

* In March 2005, experiencing some of the most severe drought conditions in decades, were India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and southern China. Fires filled the skies with smoke.

Thursday, March 31, 2005 -

* More than 700 aftershocks have rattled the Indonesian island of Nias since the huge earthquake hit on Monday. The region was shaken by 48 aftershocks after the initial earthquake late on March 28, a further 628 over the next two days and 51 in the first eight hours of today.

* An Australian scientist says it is only a matter of time before another quake strikes Indonesia. "We can be 100 percent certain that there will be more quakes after this...But the problem is we can't predict just when they will occur – they could occur tomorrow or 50 years from now...Some people have likened it to a zipper...If you start pulling it apart, it will sort of pop, pop, pop. The fact that one has gone it's likely the next one is going to go and then the next one." It is likely any future quake would occur south of the latest.

* A large number of people on the Indonesian island of Simeulue were saved from the worst of this week's earthquake by their wooden houses. "They are quite weak. They are partly collapsed but nobody really died inside these buildings."

* Five Australians remain unaccounted for in the aftermath of the latest Indonesian earthquake. 12 of 17 Australians who had been in the region off the west coast of Sumatra have been accounted for.

* Only the 9.5 quake that struck Chile in 1960 was bigger than the Indonesia quake of Dec. 26, 2004. Because of the angles the plates met at in the Chilean quake, it caused less damage than the smaller Indonesian quake. After the quake, the floor of the Indian Ocean split northward from Sumatra for 1,200 kilometres, twice the distance previously thought and making it the longest earthquake on record. In theory, the Dec. 26 event released so much strain that there shouldn't be another quake of the same magnitude or a similar tsunami for another 400 years. Further south, the analysis suggests, there is the potential for a "great earthquake" with tsunami-generating potential. The study was written before the earthquake on March 28 shook the same plate boundary, west of Sumatra and south of the tsunami-triggering quake of Dec. 26. The researchers also suggest Sri Lanka and southern India were badly hit in December by tsunamis generated by the thrust of the ocean floor to the east, rather than from the epicentre off Sumatra.

* The December quake had the odd characteristic of having had a long, slow slip in the northern end of the giant fault followed by a sharp rapid move in the southern section. "We determine the rupture length to be 1,200 km - the longest ever recorded," and the quake lasted more than eight minutes at its peak power.

* Geophysicists for the U.S. Geological Survey and other laboratories initially described Monday's quake as an aftershock. Aftershocks are additional, smaller earthquakes that occur after the main shock and in the same geographic area. They can rattle a region for months or years. Generally, the larger the main shock, the more intense the aftershocks will be and the longer they will persist. But anything 8.0 or greater is considered to be a great earthquake in its own right. The entire planet might absorb one temblor like it over an entire year. And while Monday's quake also occurred in the Sumatra Trench, it appears it occurred on a different segment, and the displacement was heading south for about 240-480 kilometers (150-300 miles). December's quake ruptured a segment of the fault extending for more than 1,125 kilometers (700 miles) to the north. The latest quake was followed by at least five true aftershocks on the southern segment that measured between 6.7 and 5.5. "If this one broke to the south, then it's not an aftershock in any meaningful sense. At this point it looks more like a triggered earthquake.''

* A new United Nations report says we are using up our natural resources too fast and are in danger of destroying about two-thirds of the Earth's ecosystems.

* In Vietnam, climate changes have prolonged the dry season and shortened the rainy, lowering water levels nationwide, especially in southern provinces.

* A landslide occurred in the northern mountainous province of Bac Can in Vietnam on Mar. 29, leaving three people dead and two others injured.

* About three times the average volume of lava from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has been flowing into the ocean each day at five separate entry points over the past week. The increased activity is a result of magma which began inflating Kilauea in January. Last week the vog created each day contained up to 4,500 tons of sulfur dioxide — triple the past average.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 -

* A dam burst in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday has unleashed massive floods, washing away hundreds of houses and shops. Flooding caused by melting snow and torrential rains had already killed around 200 Afghans in recent weeks.

* There are fears for about 10,000 people living on the tiny Banyak Islands, close to the 8.7 magnitude quake's epicenter. By late Tuesday, contact had not been made with the islands. Most of the deaths from Monday night's earthquake in the Indian Ocean were on Nias, 75 miles south of the epicenter. By the end of Tuesday, the island's death toll stood at about 330, but government officials said it could climb as high as 2,000. The Dec. 26 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami left 340 dead and 10,000 homeless on Nias. Relief efforts for Nias face daunting obstacles, as the quake damaged Gunung Sitoli's airstrip which prevents all but small planes from landing. There is very little food or water available to survivors and medical care is also a major problem.

* Among the countries with quicker responses to the latest huge quake and the ensuing tsunami threat were Thailand and Sri Lanka. Thai police with loudspeakers fanned out to order thousands of residents and tourists to evacuate. Less sucessful were India and Indonesia. India's tsunami warning came at 11:30 p.m., nearly two hours after the quake. In Indonesia, thousands of coastal residents didn't wait for government warnings. They felt the quake and fled. In Banda Aceh - "We ran outside to see these ancient huge trees swaying in the middle of the trunk. Electrical towers were swaying back and forth like a picket fence on a windy day."
Based on current information, experts cannot really determine why such a large quake did not generate a sizable tsunami. Tide gauges in the Maldives and the Cocos Islands registered tsunamis from 2 to 9 inches high. The orientation of the fault in this quake appears to have sent the wave southwest into the open Indian Ocean and eventually to Antarctica. Indeed, preliminary modeling results indicate the tsunami headed in this harmless direction. It had in its path a channel between two large islands. When the tsunami passed through, the wave may have lost much of its focus.

* The height of the cupola of Shiveluch volcano in Kamchatka has grown by more than 50 m during the last 20 days and continues to increase. The cupola is growing due to the increased speed of the outpouring of the new magma substance which was released during the destruction of the volcano's body. The nearest neighbor of Shiveluch - Klyuchevsky volcano - is in a state of high activity. In the past 24 hours the ash train stretched to a distance of over 200 km from the volcano and several lava flows have been continously flowing down the slopes.

* Since at least October 2004, the Ambrym Volcano in Vanuatu has been sending sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. By March 2005, it was the largest point source of sulfur dioxide on the planet. Ambrym Volcano is not erupting in the traditional sense with thick ash plumes and explosive bursts of lava, rather it is leaking sulfur dioxide gas from active lava lakes in what scientists call “passive” or “non-eruptive” emissions. Despite these gentle names, the leaking volcano still poses a tremendous hazard to the local population as it produces acid rain. Passive emissions can also be a precursor to explosive eruptions, and thus provide a warning signal that the volcano’s activity may be changing. Once in the atmosphere, sulfur dioxide creates a bright haze that reflects sunlight back into space. Since less sunlight reaches the Earth, the sulfur dioxide haze has a cooling effect on the climate.

* Several swimmers were injured and shark nets torn from their moorings when the effects of Cyclone Hennie, currently raging in the middle of the Indian ocean, were felt 3 000km further on the KwaZulu-Natal coast of South Africa.

* "A global epidemic, or pandemic, would be caused by a new, lethal flu virus, one to which people would have no immunity. The new flu would spread around the world within weeks and could infect one third of all people, killing 1 to 5 percent of them. That's what happened in 1918, when the Spanish flu killed 25 million in six months; some historians place the total killed at 100 million...In recent months normally sanguine health officials have been making increasingly dire predictions of a nightmarish 1918-style assault, one that could kill up to 2.2 million people in the United States...The doctors are spooked by the continuing outbreaks of a new strain of avian influenza that has sickened at least 69 people and killed 46 in Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia in the past 16 months."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 -

* The huge 8.7 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia overnight did not trigger a tsunami but a witnesses on a island that suffered major damage said the ocean surged 30m inland. At Nias island, south-west of Sumatra, the sea rose more than it did during last year's December 26 tsunami, which left Nias relatively unscathed but wreaked destruction elsewhere. Thousands of people have taken to the hills near the town and were refusing to come down. There are still plenty of aftershocks and many people still trapped under rubble.

* An expert is warning of a third massive earthquake off Sumatra. He says that the 8.7 quake has made another massive earthquake in the region more likely. After the December quake he warned that there was a likelihood of two more quakes in the region. “The location of the latest quake is exactly were we warned it would be...We said there were two locations off Sumatra where the stresses had been increased by the Boxing Day earthquake and were likely to indicate another earthquake. From the information we have received it looks as if this is one of them, this will be confirmed in the next few hours...We were concerned about two events and it looks like this is one of them.” Ominously he warned that the latest quake is likely to have added to the stresses on the earth’s crust at the second site he was worried about and makes a third massive quake a reality. “It seems to me that this earthquake will also increase the stresses on the other site and make another quake more likely.” The fault line for the other site “runs right through the city of Banda Aceh” on the northern tip of Sumatra, he said. The study of data overnight will detail whether he is right. “We will be doing comparisons of stress levels over the next 12 hours,” he said.

* Yesterday’s quake was about 15 times smaller than the December quake. The epicentre of yesterday’s event, 125 miles northwest of the town of Sibolga, is at the edge of an area of particularly high stress on the Sunda Trench fault. This line of seismic weakness extends directly to the south of the Sumatra-Andaman fault, which ruptured with such devastating consequences in December and was placed under greatly increased pressure by the previous event. Scientists were relieved, but initially perplexed by the apparent absence of another tsunami, despite the earthquake’s offshore epicentre. Early indications were that this was because the epicentre was deeper than the December event, at about 19 miles (30km) underground, and because of its lower intensity. The rupture is likely to have extended about 190 miles (300km) southwards along the Sunda Trench, seismologists said.

* Two back-to-back episodes of "Nova" are airing tonight on PBS. The first, at 8 p.m., is an hourlong show on the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami: "Wave That Shook the World." The second episode, "Krakatoa," begins at 9 p.m. and runs 90 minutes.

Western Mexico's "Volcano of Fire", otherwise known as the Colima Volcano, has shown an increase in seismic activity during the last 24 hours. More thick lava, vapour and ash have been emitted by the volcano in the past day and some small explosions were also registered. The activity sparked forest fires on the southeastern slopes of the volcano. The emissions and seismic activity are expected to continue within the normal range of recent weeks, officials said.

* In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this almost certainly will be the coolest March in more than 20 years. Through last Wednesday, below-normal temperatures were posted on every day but one, March 7, when the thermometer soared to 69. Incredibly, the first 16 days of March were 7.2 degrees colder than the first 16 days of January and 4.5 lower than the comparable February period. Those March temperatures should have been about 15 degrees higher than January's and February's. The negative phase took hold in mid-February, and this particular one has tied a record for the most number of days with extreme negative values. As a result, since Feb. 18, above-normal temperatures have been recorded on just three days.

Monday, March 28, 2005 -

* The massive earthquake off the coast of Indonesia today had a "100 per cent" chance of spawning a tsunami in Asia, a US expert said. He stressed, however, that U.S. seismologists had not yet received any reports of tsunamis from Asia, more than three hours after the quake. The areas hardest hit by the December 26 tsunamis would likely be LESS seriously affected by any fresh tsunami waves, as the quake's epicentre was more southerly. "I think it's too early to sound the all-clear. People need to get off those beaches in the Indian Ocean and move inland and up and get (to the) third floor or above if that's possible."

* A 25cm tsunami had already hit Australia's remote Cocos Island and bigger tidal surges were expected to strike Australia's west coast. "That's fairly big for the deep ocean." An alert has been issued for a one metre surge expected to hit the Western Australia coast. The wave will not be very easily seen. "You may, if it's a nice, quiet surf day, see the sea drop about a foot or so...It will go up and down over a period of tens of minutes, but you'd have to be watching very carefully to see it." "Whatever tsunami was going to hit Indonesia has already happened. Other places though might still be in danger... Madagascar and places like that, which are probably the most likely place after Indonesia to have any damage, has still got a few hours (to go)."

* Alhough no major tsumani had yet been reported near the quake epicentre off Indonesia's Sumatra island, a big tidal surge could still be heading across the Indian Ocean towards Africa.

* The huge earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra was part of a domino effect from the devastating December quake, a seismologist said today. December's quake and today's occurred on a geological subduction line which is 5000km long. "I'm not saying that this domino effect will move the whole way around, but the parts of the fault which haven't broken yet will experience some stress as a result of what happened...One of the faults we looked at was in the trans-subduction zones. It seems, from the information I have at the minute, that that was the one that has failed today...It's too early yet to say what the effect will be. But the next part of the line will certainly experience some stress as a result of this."

* Between 1000 and 2000 people were probably killed on the island of Nias after today's quake off Sumatra.

* At least 80 per cent of all multi-storey buildings in the main city of Gunung Sitoli had been destroyed, trapping thousands of people under the rubble.

* At least two people have been confirmed dead on the outlying Indonesian island of Nias after a huge 8.7 earthquake in waters off the coast of Sumatra today. Hundreds of houses had collapsed in the island's capital. Many people were left trapped under buildings as thousands of residents fled to higher ground. "The roads are broken and public facilities were damaged." There were several aftershocks after the main quake.

* Seismologiststs warned less than two weeks ago that Sumatra was at imminent risk of being hit by a quake of roughly the same magnitude that struck the Indonesian island today.

* A warning was issued, but no tsunami had struck the region more than two hours after the massive earthquake. Thousands of people had fled their homes in Banda Aceh today.

* Russian scientists have warned that many of the country's nuclear, hydroelectric and thermal power plants are situated in earthquake-prone areas. "Approximately 40 percent of the country's territory are earthquake-prone areas. They are high-risk zones for earthquakes measuring more than six points on the Richter scale." In Russia the seismic belt extends from the Caucasus to the Kamchatka Peninsula.

* Japan's government has drawn up a 10-year plan that aims to halve the deaths and economic damage from major earthquakes which experts say are likely to hit western and central Japan. The plan would call for areas at risk of tsunami to produce tsunami hazard maps within the next five years. The government scenarios focus on three known earthquake zones, which experts have for years been warning are due for major earthquakes.

* A strange weather pattern is affecting the Western U.S. "Picture an east-west line running from California to Colorado, just north of Colorado Springs. South of the line, there have been record snows and rains, but north of it, there have been record droughts. Southern California has had floods, but Montana expects a terrible wildfire season...Snow levels in southern Colorado are more than 130 percent of average, but the eventual runoff will mostly help other, downstream states."

Sunday, March 27, 2005 -

* Two moderate earthquakes were reported in different parts of central India in the past 24 hours, but no loss of life or property was reported.

* An earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter Scale has been recorded in the Banda Sea in eastern Indonesia.

* A magnitude 5.9 quake hit the northwestern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on the 25th. Though an event of this magnitude is considered moderate, it is stronger than the quakes hitting the area over the past few weeks. In all, since Dec. 26, a total of 583 significant aftershocks have hit the area, which includes the northwestern portion of Sumatra, and the Nicobar and Andaman islands. The current pattern generally is for only one or two quakes - in the range between magnitude 4.5 and magnitude 5.5 on the Richter scale - to hit in close proximity, with some daily clusters containing as many as five quakes and some days registering no activity at all.

* On Monday Japan will begin relaying to six western Pacific nations information on where and when earthquake-spawned tsunamis might hit their shores. Japan and its neighbors agreed in 1999 to set up such a system, but the Dec. 26 tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean has given the project greater urgency. The countries involved in the warning system are - China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, and South Korea.

* The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii was spilling lava into the ocean at five places by early yesterday, treating larger-than-usual crowds to the eye-popping explosions.

* Another cyclone hit Kamchatka, Russia on Saturday, halting transport communication between Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and eastern, western and central regions of the peninsula. The cyclone came from the side of Japan to Kamchatka's coast and will remain in the peninsula's southern regions for a day. The storm in the Sea of Okhotsk has isolated the settlement of Oktyabrsky in the southwest of the peninsula. Waves cover the highway along the coast, and traffic is impossible there at present.

* About 2,300 avalanches are reported to the Colorado Avalanche Center in an average winter. More than 80 percent of these fall during or just after large snowstorms. The most avalanche-prone months are, in order, February, March and January. Avalanches caused by thaw occur most often in April.

Saturday, March 26, 2005 -

* Spinning like giant LP records on the ocean floor, microplates are one of the least understood features of plate tectonics. About a dozen microplates are known, mostly in the Pacific Ocean. Microplates are relatively small compared to the major plates and are found at mid-ocean ridges, where two larger plates are pulling apart and new crust is formed. They grow over time – some reaching hundreds of miles across and rotating about 15 degrees every million years.

* When a volcano blows and you think you're safe by the sea after the main event subsides, watch your back. That's the message in a new study of an eruption in the Caribbean. The Soufriere Hills Volcano, on the island of Montserrat, is an ongoing menace. When its dome collapsed in 2003, it shot out tremendous flows of hot gas and ash. These pyroclastic flows hit the ocean at the mouth of a river. The interaction with cool seawater created a fresh pyroclastic explosion and ash surge that spread back onto the island. The expanding turbulent cloud of rock, steam and ash flowed back onto land at temperatures of 600 degrees and speeds of about 130 miles per hour. The reverse surge reached 1,050 feet above sea level and flowed nearly two miles inland, devastating an area of nearly three square miles that had not been affected by the main eruption. Places at particular risk from reverse surge: Mount Augustine and many Aleutian volcanoes in Alaska, Caribbean volcanoes such as Mont Pelee, and Unzen in Japan.

* Austrian glacier ski regions are covering parts of their precious ice with sheets of plastic foil during the summer months in an effort to counter increased melting levels caused by rising global temperatures. What might first appear a whim has deadly serious undertones. Global warming is rapidly encroaching on the one-time regions of "eternal snow" located at 2,500 metres or higher. Melting glaciers are disastrous to the environment. The whole water content of a mountain range may be lost with inestimable effects on plant and animal life.

* Many native British species are struggling to cope with the "stop-start spring", wildlife experts say. A survey involving 65,000 wildlife sightings suggests that frogs and bumblebees are among the hardest hit.

Zambia - The situation is unprecedented because there are not many known seasons when Zambia has had drought in February, that is when they usually have the heaviest rains and even floods. Low rainfall in most parts of Zambia has affected maize yields while some crops have failed to mature due to the scorching heat. "This scanty rainfall has happened as a complete opposite to the weather bureau forecast." Last year, Zambia recorded an unprecedented food surplus, enabling it to export to neighbouring countries.

New South Wales, Australia - About 60 per cent of NSW remains in drought. The last rain in the central region was an inch in November last year and areas have been in drought since 1989. Dust storms are frequent and in February, they were hit by one of the worst storms on record.

Cuba - About half a million people, half the population of the north-eastern Cuban province of Holguin, is suffering the consequences of the worst drought in the territory in the last century. Holguin, 743 kilometers east of Havana, has barely received 37 percent of the historical average rainfall.

Brazil - A three month drought has destroyed an estimated 13 million tons of grain, believed to be the worst crop loss in the country's history.

Montana, USA - Drought continues to tighten its hold on Montana, as evidenced by the month of February which was the driest in the 111 years for which records exist.

Friday, March 25, 2005 -

* The Marburg virus, a severe form of hemorrhagic fever like the Ebola virus, has killed 98 people in northern Angola and has now spread to the capital Luanda, killing two people there. Angolan health officials are battling to contain the outbreak which was detected in October in Uige and has claimed the lives of scores of children. There is no cure.

* Eruptions at the Klyuchevskaya Volcano are becoming increasingly violent, prompting Russian officials to raise the volcanic alert to its highest level, reserved for major explosive eruptions. Seismic activity around the volcano has increased to match Klyuchevskaya’s continuous eruptions. On top of both Klyuchevskaya and Sheveluch, its northern neighbor, a thermal hotspot was detected over the crater, an indicator that molten rock is near or on the crater’s surface.

* Twenty five years ago this week, Mount St. Helens began to rumble and grumble, and within two months it exploded with a 24-megaton blast thousands of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Nearly every day through May 18, The Daily News will reprint volcano articles from 25 years ago.

* Fantastic displays of lava are occurring from the Kilauea volcano and are visible to large crowds of visitors at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park this week.

* An earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale shook eastern Turkey causing panic but no casualties were reported.

* Sunday's earthquake in Japan offered a vivid reminder of the vulnerability of modern cities - showers of glass shards raining down on sidewalks and pedestrians, subway passengers groping around in the dark, and people spending hours trapped in darkness in elevators.

* 306 more dead bodies have been recovered in the past week in Aceh province, site of the devastating tsunami in December.
The Asian tsunami may have killed up to four times as many women as men. A report suggests that women were less able to survive because they had to take care of their children during the ordeal, and in some cases lacked swimming and climbing skills. "In some villages, it now appears that up to 80% of those killed were women. This disproportionate impact will lead to problems for years to come."

* All around Lake Victoria, drought has withered African crops. Millions are facing food shortages in countries throughout East Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Brundi, Rwanda, and Uganda.

* By the end of this century, a heavy storm could make Boston’s waterfront, financial district, and much of the Back Bay at times resemble Venice, according to a federally funded global warming study. Climate change could produce a storm surge that would paralyze Boston’s infrastructure. Even the scientists’ conservative estimate of a two-foot rise in the sea level would have devastating effects. Climate’s Long-term Impacts on Metro Boston (CLIMB), estimates a whopping price tag of $94 billion for the Boston metropolitan area for large storms and other anticipated impacts of global warming in the next 100 years.

Thursday, March 24, 2005 -

* Nearly 10,000 houses have been destroyed and more than 25,000 damaged by flooding and landslides caused by melting snow in north-west China in the Xinjiang region. At least one person and nearly 5000 head of livestock were killed. The raging waters have also destroyed 796ha of crops and inundated large tracts of arable land. Snow on the Tianshan Mountains was much thicker than usual this year, and had melted faster than expected as temperatures rose quickly at the beginning of the month. There are still snowpacks that haven't melted on the mountains so they are preparing for more floods.

* Tropical storm Hennie has been upgraded to Cyclone Hennie. At present the eye of the storm is located 330 miles north north-east of the island of Mauritius. The storm is on a collision course with a boat, Doha 2006, which is currently leading the Oryx Quest race. The high pressure systems in the South Atlantic and the southern part of the Indian Ocean have forced Doha 2006 to sail an extra 2,000 miles.

* An earthquake probability map released by a Japanese research committee indicates that about 10 percent of the nation will be hit by quakes with intensities between lower 6 and 7 on the Japanese seismic scale every 100 years.

* Earthquakes along a set of fault lines in the Pacific Ocean emit small "foreshocks" that can be used to forecast the main tremor. It is the first demonstration that some types of large imminent earthquakes may be systematically predictable on time scales of hours or less. Quakes on land generally do not show many foreshocks and cannot be predicted with this method. It is hypothesized that both foreshocks and main tremors are caused by an earlier trigger event – possibly a slow, smooth sliding along the fault line that fails to generate seismic waves.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005 -

* Heavy rain warnings were issued for areas of Kyushu on Tuesday, two days after a massive earthquake hit the region, triggering fears of landslides in areas that residents have been forced to evacuate. As of 5 p.m. on Monday, the reported number of quake-related injuries stood at 737 people. Aftershocks of the initial quake continued on Tuesday, ranging between 1 and 3 on the 7-point Japanese scale. Officials have issued a warning saying there is a possibility of an aftershock measuring up to an upper 5 on the Japanese scale occurring over the next few days. (photo)

* As many as four people were killed in Manali, India early today as unseasonal rains triggered landslides cutting off nearly half a dozen villages. Areas have been lashed by heavy thundershowers and light hail since early this week with the upper reaches getting fresh blanket of snow. On the outskirts of Manali dozens of homes, located on hill slopes, were literally washed downstream under rubble consisting of mud and rocks, catching the locals unaware. Cold wave conditions have revived in higher hills of the state with snowstorms, icy winds, rains, and cool air across the country's heartland, puzzling meteorologists, who say the phenomenon is rare in the subcontinent where March usually brings the onset of summer.

* A landslide in Scotts Valley, California, yesterday destroyed a home and came within seconds of burying its owner and a friend under a sea of mud. It appears heavy saturation from recent rainfall sent mud barreling down the hill.

* A freak tornado claimed five lives and caused another eight injuries overnight on Monday in northern Vietnam. More than 160 houses and nine local school buildings collapsed when the tornado and torrential rains hit two remote communities. The area was still being battered by rains on Tuesday.

* Six people died and scores were injured when a freak dust storm lashed India's Kanhaur and Khagjana villages on Sunday night. Sources, however, put the number of death caused by the freak storm much higher than the official six. According to some eyewitnesses, the sky suddenly became dark at around 7:00 PM on Sunday night and within minutes the village witnessed a strong hailstorm that lasted nearly five minutes. This was followed by a heavy rainstorm coupled with strong wind. The site of devastation reportedly looks like a war-zone.

* An extreme weather system dumped up to 70mm of heavy rain and sent gale force winds in excess of 100km/h roaring along the Australian coast from Wollongong to Newcastle due to a rare low pressure system. Storms like that come along only once every few years, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, and this type of storm is more common in autumn and winter.

* An eruption by Shiveluch has fully destroyed a seismic station and camp for vulcanologists, located eight kilometers from the volcano. After one-fifth of the volcano's crown caved in, a massive pyroclastic stream of lava flowed down the giant's slope more than 20 kilometers long. There were no people in the area during the event. Scientists believe that this eruption of Shiveluch was the second largest since a disastrous eruption of 1964. Also active is Shiveluch's neighbor - Klyuchevskoy - which began erupting on January 17. Flowing down the slope of Klyuchevskoy are several continuous streams of lava.

* Alert Level No. 1 has been raised over Mt. Kanlaon in the Philippines after a moderate emission of grayish volcanic plume on Jan. 21. Phreatic explosion could suddenly occur wherein the volcano would spew ash and stones that could be deadly for trekkers in the vicinity.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 -

* A series of 13 aftershocks above 4.0 rattled Japan's southern Kyushu island today, two days after a powerful 7.0 earthquake left one dead and more than 700 injured. Sunday's quake damaged 780 homes and 63 roads and triggered at least nine landslides in the region. More than 2830 people are at shelters. 85 total aftershocks have occurred. The temblor jolted the northern Kyushu region that was believed to be less prone to quakes. Only four earthquakes registering 4 have hit its prefectural capital in the past 100 years. Sonic prospecting conducted by the Japan Coast Guard found what appeared to be active faults in two areas of the seabed off the western coast of Fukuoka Prefecture. But the length of the faults remains unknown. The ground in Higashi Ward, Fukuoka, slipped about 17 centimeters southwest due to Sunday's earthquake while ground in Maebara, Fukuoka Prefecture, slipped about nine centimeters south. Solid ground of hard basalt and short jolts helped limit the damage to people and buildings.

* In the lower North Island of New Zealand an earthquake measuring 4.1 was the latest in a string of earthquakes in the same area in recent weeks, with the largest measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale.

* A small 2.0 earthquake rumbled through western Kentucky, making some loud booming noises but causing no damage.

* Download a free trial of QuakeSaver - a Windows screensaver which shows, geolocalized on a true color Earth map, recent earthquakes. You can choose to display past day earthquakes, or past week earthquakes on the full world map, or select a specific region. Free to try, $15 to buy. (Site note - I have no experience with this product.)

* The New South Wales Government in Australia has warned residents to prepare for severe winds and possible flash flooding later today.

* A secondary school in Kenya was closed yesterday after a freak storm destroyed buildings on Sunday evening, injuring several students. Four students are battling for their lives in the hospital after the walls of the house they were sheltering in collapsed on them. The storm also destroyed seven other schools, buildings, and homes in the adjacent Katito, Nyamlori and Thur Gem villages. Over 1,000 families were estimated to have been affected by the floods following the heavy downpour that has been pounding the area for the last four days.

* Two tornadoes ripped through northern Bangladesh late Sunday, killing at least 37 people, injuring nearly 1,000 and destroying thousands of homes. The tornadoes hit at almost the same time in two areas of the same region, blowing away 1,400 mud-and-straw huts in dozens of villages in Gaibandha and neighboring Rangpur districts. One village was almost entirely wiped out. Powerful storms kill hundreds of people annually in Bangladesh, but most take place during the summer monsoon and few people would have been prepared for a storm so early in the year.

* Only 22% of adults in America are aware of the term "supervolcano" according to results from an online survey conducted for Discovery Channel. Discovery Channel presents an opportunity for viewers to explore the Yellowstone supervolcano and witness for the first time a fact-based dramatic portrayal of what could happen if it erupted, in SUPERVOLCANO, a two-hour docudrama premiering April 10, 8:00 - 10:00 PM (ET/PT). Immediately following the docudrama, Tom Brokaw hosts a one-hour scientific epilogue to explore further information about a supervolcano. 81 percent of adult Americans said they were not aware that this type of eruption underneath Yellowstone is likely to happen again.

Monday, March 21, 2005

*A 6.4 and a 5.8 quake have hit Argentina. No news links yet. Location link

* In Afghanistan torrential downpours sparked floods and at least 200 people were missing Sunday. 24 people have been confirmed dead.

* The 7.0 quake that shook southern Japan on Sunday has produced 85 aftershocks so far. One person was killed and more than 500 others injured as it rocked office buildings, knocked out power and prompted a tsunami warning. It was Kyushu's first earthquake measuring over 6.0 on the Richter scale in eight years since May 1997.

* The quake in Japan triggered a moderate 4.0 earthquake in Korea which shook buildings and homes in the country for about 30 to 60 seconds, forcing some people to evacuate in the southeastern port city of Pusan and other southern regions. No casualties were reported. South Korea, which is separated from Japan by the East sea, is relatively free of quakes. The Korea Meteorological Administration put out a tsunami warning a full 27 minutes after the earthquake occurred, exposing serious flaws in the early warning system. A tsunami would have struck Korea's southern coast no more than 10 minutes after the warning, rendering it virtually useless.

* Due to the December Indonesia quake, a crack has developed in the Burma plate between the northern Andaman Islands and the southern Nicobar Islands. Land from the islands' capital Port Blair to the north has gone up, whereas land to the south has sunk. "There is an indication of an anti-clockwise twist as well around Port Blair." Indira Point, where a lighthouse marked India's southernmost limit on Great Nicobar island, has sunk by between 1.4 and 1.5m and is now under water. Worst affected has been the island of Katchal in the southern Nicobars, where the entire coastal belt of the island and most of its villages are now under water. The nearby island of Trinket has split in two.

* In Australia, debris from Cyclone Ingrid is estimated to take about three months to clean up.

* A mudslide closed a British Columbia, Canada highway early Sunday, cutting off Whistler from Vancouver and catching at least one driver in a flash flood.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

* In Pakistan, at least 41 pilgrims died when a torrent of water swept away their tractor trailer. The incident occurred Friday in the mountainous area of Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province as the pilgrims were returning from visiting a shrine. The deaths are the latest due to severe weather. About 500 people died in a single week last month in freak floods, landslides and avalanches.

* Torrential downpours caused Afghanistan's longest river to flood its banks across the country, killing at least 24 people and leaving hundreds more homeless. Floods destroyed about 700 houses in several villages. More floods are expected as warmer weather and rainstorms melt some of the deepest snowpacks in decades.

* At least five people were killed and 13 were missing after a freak storm tore through the Philippines.

* A powerful 6.4 earthquake shook southern Japan on Sunday, injuring dozens of people as it rocked office buildings, knocked out power and prompted a tsunami warning. It was centered at an "extremely shallow" depth below the ocean floor off the coast of Kyushu Island. It was followed by a series of aftershocks, including a 4.2-magnitude quake. About 100 people were forced to flee the tiny island of Genkai after their houses collapsed.
UPDATE: The number of people injured by the powerful earthquake that struck Kyushu has risen to 155. Tsunami warnings issued by the meteorological agency have been lifted. Authorities are warning residents that aftershocks with a magnitude of up to 6 are possible.

* An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale on Friday jolted Indonesia's tsunami-devastated province of Aceh. Over the past few days, at least 16 aftershocks have shaken the province.
A second quake of around 7.5 on the Richter scale is likely to hit south-east Asia within a year , as the previous quake in December left the area very vulnerable, a group of British scientists warns.

* A top Iranian scientist called on the government Tuesday to move the country's capital to a new location because of evidence that a major earthquake is due to hit Tehran that could kill hundreds of thousands of residents. Tehran is "a city of 12 million people living on a geological time bomb". The vast majority of buildings in Tehran - which rests on the convergence of some 100 known fault lines - are believed to be incapable of withstanding a moderate earthquake measuring even 6 on the Richter scale. There is a 90 percent chance of a 6.0-magnitude quake hitting the capital and a 50 percent chance of a 7.5-magnitude earthquake, according to the latest calculations. The probability of a severe earthquake in Tehran in the next 10 years hovers around 65 percent. "Recent events suggest pressures building deep beneath its crowded streets could explode sooner." Between 143,000 and 178,000 Iranians have perished in 19 major earthquakes from 1909 - 2003.

* Cyclone Ingrid may have packed winds of 300 kilometres an hour, a figure never recorded before in Australia. Ingrid was in a class of its own, by starting and ending as a category 5 tropical storm and affecting Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

* Homes in Haumoana, New Zealand, were evacuated on Thursday as huge waves battered houses, causing extensive flooding and damage. The devastation at the Hawke's Bay beach resort of Haumoana will become an increasingly familiar sight as seas continue to rise, the Insurance Council says. Haumoana is a wake-up call for all New Zealand. Almost every coastal area in the country suffers from erosion and the problem will get worse with rising sea levels and climate changes.

* In India two persons were killed and three others severely injured in a landslide triggered by heavy rainfall at Chakwa in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir.

* In Norway, the danger of potentially lethal snow-slides in the mountains is greater this Easter than it has been for many years, due to a dangerous combination of a lot of cold winter snow and an early holiday season. Areas that are normally safe during a later Easter are far more risky this year because it is colder and there is much more snow than during an average Easter break.

Friday, March 18, 2005

* Severe and unseasonal snow storms have left at least 36 people dead in southwest China, with about 190,000 people snowed in and 21,000 collapsed houses. More than eight million people have been affected by the blizzards in Yunnan province, which normally enjoys a mild climate but had a metre (three feet) of snow in some areas between March 3-12.

* A study of the most powerful solar flare over the last 500 years suggests a similar one in the future would be strong enough to kill astronauts in a poorly shielded spacecraft. Solar flares send high-energy protons streaming through the solar system. In January, the two men on the International Space Station had to shelter in the bulkier Russian side of the station during a powerful series of flares. Scientists have only been able to directly measure the radiation from solar eruptions for the past four decades. The sun probably produces flares bigger than any seen in this time.

* Good news at Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, things are slow right now. During February 2005, there were only 61 earthquakes in the region, the largest registering only 2.8 magnitude on the Richter scale. The ground in the caldera "breathes" regularly, rising and falling in response to the activity below. Between the 1920s and the 1980s, the ground rose about three feet, but since has subsided. Recently, the surface in one area of the caldera rose about six inches (15 centimeters), but that, too, has subsided. A large uplift would be one indication of a possible eruption. Other signs would include carbon-dioxide releases with carbon and helium isotope ratios indicating the gas originated in the mantle. The rising magma also would release sulfur and chlorine gases. Geologists say they have gotten very good at assessing these changes, using them to warn of pending eruptions.

* A seismologist in India says that the country has moved eastward, closer to Indonesia due to the massive earthquake which triggered the tsunami in December.

* In South Africa another tremor rocked DRDGold's North West mining operations on Thursday, barely a week after an earthquake there left one miner dead and scores injured.

* Koyna Dam has survived over 100,000 quakes during its 42-year existence. The town of Koyna was the epicentre of another earthquake measuring 5.1 on Richter scale on Monday which shook the entire western part of India.

* In Viet Nam this year , the Mekong Delta could face its worst drought in a century.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

* The slip that caused last year's devastating quake placed increased stress on the Sumatran fault and on the adjacent undersea Sunda Trench. The build-up of stress is likely to trigger another large quake and perhaps a tsunami. Both of the faults have been significantly loaded, in stress terms, by the 26 December quake. The timing of another large quake has not been pinpointed, but similar events elsewhere in the world have occurred within a few years of each other, or even just a few months.

* Scientists issued a fresh warning yesterday that the northern Caribbean may be at a high risk for a major tsunami, based on historical records.

* Oregon "is going to get annihilated" when a major tsunami and offshore earthquake strikes. An 8.5 quake would cause an estimated $12 billion in damage, 5,000 fatalities and countless other casualties. A third of schools and emergency facilities would be out of operation immediately. Any building built before 1994 is inadequate.

* Many underwater volcanoes are erupting simultaneously all over the world, especially around the Pacific Ring of Fire, according to Indian scientists. Tectonic disturbance is steadily rising. They are saying the probability of a mega- or multiple mega-volcanoes is very high now. According to some there is 74,000 year cycle of mega volcanoes and it is due in 2012.

* House of Representatives yesterday raised alarm over the imminent volcanic eruption at Lake Nyos, which may destroy several villages in Nigeria and asked the Federal Government to step into the matter. The same problem occurred in 1954, 1982, 1985, and 1986, which witnessed large volcanic explosions and massive emission of gases and caused the death of 1,800. The imminent explosion is feared due to the high carbon dioxide content of the waters.

* Scientists and geologists in India and China dispute media reports that state that melting glaciers in the Himalayas could lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people. They have found evidence that the water shortages predicted are not going to happen, because the higher temperature is also causing more rain and snowfall in the glacial resources. Excess rainfall and snowfall keep the net water resource at the same levels.

* Huge waves have pushed tons of ice into communities in eastern Newfoundland, Canada, damaging roads, wharves and properties from Bonavista Bay to the Avalon Peninsula. Monster waves smashed one community's harbour beyond recognition, destroyed parts of a breakwater and ripped apart asphalt on some roads. The surge was the worst they had seen in more than 25 years. The waves may grow stronger before the low-pressure system drifts offshore sometime Thursday.

* A landslide destroyed about a dozen houses in the Afghan capital overnight, just days after police evacuated residents who complained that their homes on a hillside were shifting. Kabul is in the grip of a post-Taliban housing shortage and the city's fast-expanding population has built scores of precarious dwellings on steep-sided hills inside the city.

* In Malaysia, a freak storm on Monday affected about 1,000 residents of Kampung Panchor in Ampangan, and Kampung Jai in Lenggeng.

* It is extremely rare for a cyclone to make landfall, degrade, then re-intensify over open water, but that is exactly what Cyclone Ingrid did in Australia.

* At least four wildfires have been burning since Sunday in the savannas of central Colombia, fanned by hot and windy weather.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

* The December tsunami got more media attention in the first six weeks after it struck than all of the world's top 10 "forgotten" emergencies combined have received in the past year, and squeezed out coverage of other humanitarian topics. The experts chose Congo, northern Uganda, western and southern Sudan, West Africa, Colombia, Chechnya, Nepal and Haiti as the most neglected humanitarian hotspots.
"For many of the fishing folk who survived, the next tsunami is coming now, the disaster's just begun. Their lands are being grabbed and the government… wants to put the beaches to commercial use."

* Indonesia has announced it will begin installing a tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean by October.

* Seismic activity in the area of the Indian Ocean basin where the giant earthquake struck last Dec. 26 has started up again after a lull. There have been six significant aftershocks in the area over the past week, including one registering a magnitude 5.5. There now have been a total of 568 significant aftershocks in the quake area.

* In-depth information on the research cruise to investigate the Juan de Fuca Ridge quakes off the coast of Vancouver Island.

* Five people were injured Monday when a strong 5.8 earthquake hit eastern Turkey, damaging buildings two days after a 5.7 quake shook the region.

* The tremors that rocked Pune and Mumbai, India on Monday are a common phenomenon for the people living in the Koyna region in Satara. The region receives almost six tremors a day or a staggering 2000 shocks a year. The debate is still open on whether the high seismic activity in the region was triggered by the mammoth Koyna dam built in 1962. Until the dam came about, the region was barely seismic. But five years later, Koyna was jolted by a quake measuring 7.1 on the Richter Scale.

* A minor 3.5 earthquake rocked parts of the Utah-Arizona border Monday evening. The region has historically been a hotbed for small quakes about 2.0 magnitude. Chances of more quakes are considered to be slim.

* Cyclone Ingrid, which has battered Australia's north for a week, yesterday slammed into the coast for a third time.

* Hundreds of avalanches occurred across Austria over the weekend, and three people were killed Sunday. Several other people were injured.

* A 10-year-old was killed in a landslide in Utah, buried under tons of dirt and sand. Officials are not sure exactly what triggered the landslide, although wet weather may have been a factor.

* Global warming and changes to the earth's environment are accelerating the spread of diseases. Six per cent of all Malaria cases of the past 25 years have been caused by climate change.

* This season's warm weather has been out of the ordinary in Alberta, Canada. Typically in March, the average temperature for the entire month is -4.9C but during the first 11 days this area had an average temperature of 3.6C. The average daytime high during those same 11 days was 8.7C. The direct cause has been that rather than the regular northerly winds the area would get at this time of year, warm southwest winds have been blowing in from the Pacific.

* As many as 90 fires have ignited in the piney woods of East Texas in just the past few days.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

* In Hawaii, two of the Big Island's volcanoes - Mauna Loa and Kilauea - are active. Mauna Loa, whose mass makes up half the island, has been swelling for 2 1/2 years and quaking in a way never recorded before. An eruption "is not an if, it's a when." The smaller but feistier Kilauea volcano has been spewing lava for 22 straight years, and shows signs of a bigger event to come. A surge in population at the same time that Mauna Loa and Kilauea seem to be acting strangely has some scientists nervous. Lava burying entire subdivisions has become a "significant worry." Kilauea historically has had violent eruptions roughly at the same rate as Mount St. Helens - about every 100 to 200 years. Her last big one was 240 years ago. An eruption is inevitable, but "it could mean next week or next century. Or next millennium. Civilizations can rise and fall between the clock's ticks."

* Tropical Cyclone Ingrid is bearing down on the coastline of Australia's Kimberley region. Women and children in the remote community of Kalumburu are preparing to evacuate.

* Chinese scientists believe the ongoing collision of tectonic plates is pushing Mt Everest upwards by 10 millimetres every year and they are sending an expedition to re-measure it.

Monday, March 14, 2005

* Cyclone Ingrid has hurled its 235km/h force at the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, Australia, ripping off roofs, levelling one home and flinging huge mahogany trees onto buildings.

* The threat to Western Australia from Tropical Cyclone Willy, which has been hovering off the state's coast for three days, has petered out.

* Another cyclone hit south Kamchatka in the small hours of Sunday. The wind is strong, snowfalls are heavy and waves are high in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific. Vessels do not dare to leave the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The cyclone is moving inland and the avalanche hazard is high in the mountains.

* Five people have been killed by avalanches in the French Alps over the past few days, with the two latest fatalities reported on Sunday.

* A strong 5.7 aftershock rattled the capital of Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Aceh province but there were no casualties or damage.

* The bodies of 90 people killed in December's earthquake-triggered tsunami were discovered in Indonesia's Aceh province in a single day this weekend.

* A fireball and an earthquake have shaken Olympia, Oregon. A fireball flashed across South Sound and the Northwest shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday. The fireball was described as a blazing flash of green or turquoise light with a tail that moved from east to west in the southern sky. The mystery light was reported as far north as Canada and as far south as Medford, Oregon. There were no reports of a sonic boom. "That means it didn't land." In Oregon, some residents reported the bright light as a flaming object that generated noise that was heard from Salem to Medford. Observers on the Oregon coast described it as red and noisy. Twenty minutes earlier, a small 3.3 earthquake struck north of Olympia.

* In Britain in Scarborough, a freak wave washed a family of four into the sea. Her boyfriend and one child were rescued but the mother and her 11 year-old son did not survive. Another daughter is still missing. The waves had been larger than usual because of a spring tide.

* Dozens of wildfires flared up Saturday in counties across southwest Alabama, fanned by strong winds and dry weather.

* South Carolina forestry firefighters battled more than 80 wildfires statewide Saturday, including a mile-long blaze near Gaston that destroyed two homes.

* The melting of sea ice at the North Pole may be the result of a centuries-old natural cycle and not an indicator of man-made global warming, Scottish scientists have found. After researching the past 300 years, scientists believe that the outer edge of sea ice may expand and contract over regular periods of 60 to 80 years. This change corresponds roughly with known cyclical changes in atmospheric temperature.The amount of sea ice is currently near its lowest point in the cycle and should begin to increase within about five years.

* Global warming is causing Himalayan glaciers to rapidly retreat, threatening to cause catastrophic water shortages for hundreds of millions of people who rely on glacier-dependent rivers in China, India and Nepal, the World Wide Fund For Nature WWF warns.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

* Cyclone Ingrid continues its destructive path across the Northern Territory of Australia. Croker Island, northeast of Darwin, has been badly damaged, but there have been no reports of injuries. Stronger than Cyclone Tracy which decimated the territory's capital more than 30 years ago, Ingrid was predicted to move west and strike Darwin some time tonight.

* The 5.7 earthquake in southeastern Turkey has injured at least seven people and triggered an avalanche. Recent heavy snowfall is hampering efforts to reach small villages.

* On the island of Madagascar, unusually heavy rains came down in the first week of March, causing severe flooding across the central latitudes of the island.

* A powerful earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale hit the region of Saravan in Iran close to the border with Pakistan. There were no casualties immediately reported, but some of the houses were partly damaged.

* A Palestinian seismology expert says that studies indicated the possibility of an earthquake measuring 6.5 to 7.0 degrees to hit the Palestinian territories and Israel. A tremor of this magnitude would cause massive destruction and loss of life. He also warned that powerful tidal waves in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea could also recur, adding that tsunamis have been recorded in the region's history.

* Cuba's worst drought in a century has left one in six Cubans without running water, a situation that will get worse if weather prediction prove true.

* A severe drought is affecting most of Thailand.

* Drought in Vietnam has led to coffee prices in London rising to a five-year high. Water shortages and the threat of forest fires due to the long drought continue to plague Vietnam.

* A serious drought is gripping the impoverished country of Cambodia.

* A prolonged dry spell across Malaysia and Sumatra was contributing to numerous fires burning across the region, which billowed thick, choking smoke out over the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca.

* A drought disaster has been declared for western North Dakota and the upper Missouri River basin.

* The state of Washington is facing its worst drought in almost 30 years.

* Last year's weather in the U.S. Midwest was so perfect, it was unlike anything seen in more than a century. Ideal weather conditions -- not too cloudy, not too hot, just enough rain -- fueled record harvests in every major Midwest crop. "A climatological evaluation revealed that summer 2004 conditions were unlike any experienced during the past 117 years...Never before have corn, soybeans, sorghum, and alfalfa hay all achieved record yields in the same year." Sunny summers with below average temperatures and plentiful rainfall occurred only in 1927 and 2004. "The atmospheric circulation pattern during summer 2004 was unusual, but these conditions and their crop impacts are not considered indicative of those expected with a change in climate due to global warming."

* The bleak, searing cauldron of Death Valley has been transformed by shock rainstorms. Since last summer, hardly a month has passed without a soaking from the heavens, from modest downpours to flash floods uprooting roads and buildings. It has been the wettest season since records began in 1911. The last major explosion of wild flowers, during the El Nino-ravaged winter of 1997-98, caused valley regulars to say at the time that they had seen nothing like it in their lives. Christmas week was the wettest week on record in Death Valley. "The freak of nature on display in Death Valley reflects the bizarre climatic behaviour across the American West all winter. Since Christmas, the weather in Los Angeles has more closely resembled the steady downpours familiar in Seattle and the Pacific North-west. The canyon roads of the Hollywood Hills have at times resembled rushing streams. The Los Angeles river, usually a trickle confined to a concrete casing, has raged and overflowed. And one coastal community near Santa Barbara was devastated when the hillside behind crumbled and collapsed, crushing several houses."

Saturday, March 12, 2005

* Water samples and photos of the seafloor 200 miles
off the coast of Vancouver Island showed no evidence that fresh lava had pushed up to the surface. The thousands of small earthquakes that rattled the area beginning Feb. 28 might not have signaled an eruption, but they might have rearranged the plumbing in nearby hydrothermal fields. Chemical analysis of water samples collected over the vent fields already hint at some changes, and more detailed studies will provide a fuller picture. While signals from seismographs and a network of acoustic sensors showed that magma was moving underground, scientists couldn't tell until they reached the area whether the molten rock had breached the surface.

* An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 shook southeastern Turkey on Saturday, causing panic and minor structural damage. At least one person was hurt. The quake struck around 9:36 a.m. and was centered in the town of Karliova in rural Bingol province - where a magnitude 6.4 quake killed 177 people in 2003.

* An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale jolted the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido early today.

* Tropical cyclone Ingrid is approaching Darwin, Australia, which has been placed on the highest "Cyclone Warning" alert. Darwin was battered 30 years ago by Cyclone Tracy and Ingrid is even more powerful. Cyclone Ingrid blasted over the Cape York Peninsula earlier and killed five people in a boat from Papua New Guinea.

* The category three cyclone Willy will weaken today and is not expected to hit the West Australian coast.

* Scientists at Mount St. Helens have located the likely source of Tuesday's blast, the same vent that blew steam-and-ash plumes in October and January. Tuesday's outburst now fits clearly within the pattern of the ongoing eruption of thick magma rising from a common source through the same openings in the rock. Before the blast, a network of seismometers placed in and around the volcano by the U.S. Geological Survey recorded an upturn in tremors that slowly built up over two hours. "The increase in seismicity was very subtle." The question now is whether the pattern of rumbling that preceded the latest explosion can help predict future eruptions of Mount St. Helens. Since Tuesday, the volcano has remained calm, while continuing to emit small plumes of steam and squeeze out immense volumes of thick magma. Global positioning system instruments in place around the volcano have found no evidence that its sides are swelling as occurred before the massive 1980 eruption.

* Western Mexico's Volcano of Fire spewed hot lava and rock Thursday, the latest in a series of spectacular but non-threatening eruptions in the past few weeks. Since Sept. 29, scientists have reported nearly daily eruptions from the volcano. The Volcano of Fire spewed ash over neighboring villages, a day after a belch from the Popocatepetl Volcano near Mexico City caused a brush fire.

* Two stratovolcanoes on Kamchtka penninsula, Kliuchevskoi and Shiveluch, are currently erupting simultaneously. The village of Klyuchi located between the two volcanoes is suffering periodic ash falls but is otherwise safe. Aviation is at greater threat, with volcanic ash particles capable of disabling aircraft engines: Kamchatka is on a major airline route, and aircraft have had to divert around eruptions in the past.

* An avalanche in the French Alps killed three hikers and slightly injured six others. It was the worst single mountain accident of the season.

* A Danish skier has been killed in an avalanche in Austria , raising the death toll this winter to 32. More deaths are feared this weekend as the risk of avalanches is rated high.

* Friday was the hottest March 11 ever in eight of the 11 Bay Area stations that keep records going back at least 30 years. On Friday, San Francisco, California broke a 91-year-old record by 1 degree to become the hottest March day in the city's history. Oakland and San Jose also had their hottest March days ever Friday, with highs of 88 and 87, respectively. The month's heat records for San Jose and Oakland were set last year, both at 85 degrees. The heat came from a weather pattern more typical in spring and fall: High pressure in Nevada causes winds to blow into the Bay Area from the east rather than the west.

* An earth tremor in South Africa injured six miners one day BEFORE the 5.0 earthquake that hit DRDGold's North West operations on Wednesday, trapping 42 mineworkers underground. Trade unions are enraged that this foreshock was disregarded. Rescue teams travelled 6km underground before reaching the 42 miners, a task that took 12 hours and involved digging rocks away with their hands. The head of the seismology department warned that “there will still be a lot of aftershocks and a more substantive investigation should be done” before mining resumes.

* Shaking was registered on the U.S. Geological Survey seismograph in Orlando, Florida measuring 2.7 on the Richter Scale. Central Florida is not an active earthquake area. Sonic booms are being blamed for the tremor which startled residents Friday evening across the county. Two Navy fighter jets reportedly streaked toward MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. On June 16, 2003, Manatee County experienced a similar boom. The military disavowed any knowledge of aircraft in the area and that boom remains a mystery.

* The mysterious blasts were heard in central and western Kutch, India early this month triggering panic. A geologist says they have no connection whatsoever with an earthquake or any movement in the earth’s crust. Here too sonic booms are being blamed. These mysterious sounds were not from below the earth but from the air. But officials however could not specify as to what elements in the atmosphere caused the sound. ‘‘It may be sonic boom from super-sonic aircraft of the Indian Air Force."

* On March 8, North Carolina had mystery booms also. The mysterious booms rocked much of downtown Winston-Salem on Saturday night and may remain forever a mystery. About 8:20 p.m., 911 dispatchers started getting a wave of calls reporting the booms. Saturday's booms were about the 10th such report they have had from the Winston-Salem area in the past five years. "These are not anything new. They've happened to our state for a long time." But a sonic boom could not have come from a plane leaving or landing at Smith Reynolds Airport because the plane would be going too slow, said the air traffic manager at the airport. Loud noises and vibrations that struck the Konnoak Hills neighborhood in 1994 turned out to be small earthquakes, the largest of which measured 1.7 on the Richter scale. There are more active fault lines in the states that border North Carolina than there are inside the state, and there is no seismic equipment to record quakes.

Friday, March 11, 2005

* Both Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank are investing in new
'emergency offices' in Tokyo due to increasing concerns that a
huge earthquake is just around the corner and will knock
them out of business in Japan's capital. Duplicate trading floors
linked to the Tokyo Stock Exchange cost $10 million to build
and $5 million a year to maintain. The sense of urgency has been
rising. The number of major earthquakes in the Tokyo area has
increased by 37 percent in the period 2000 – 2004. Tokyo was
rocked by 93 earthquakes measuring more than five on Japan's
seven-stage seismic scale in the four years. That compares with
68 temblors in the previous four years. The city has a 70 percent
chance of being hit by a magnitude 7 earthquake in the next 30
years. New York-based Morgan Stanley has had backup
offices in New York and London since the early 1990s.
Deutsche Bank already has a duplicate headquarters and a data
backup center in Japan's capital and may add a third one by 2007.

* The North American Plate is pushing California north into Oregon
and Washington, a massive land mass pushing up against the
unmovable tectonic plate that much of western British Columbia
sits on. Most of California, Oregon and southern Washington are
sliding north just fine, but because there is no give to the north, the
land is crumpling in on itself in the Puget Sound region. That action
has created a cluster of massive cracks that run from northwest to
southeast. Those faults are where the pressure forces the land to
buckle. Snohomish County is ground zero in Washington. There
have been as many as three major earthquakes on the South
Whidbey Island Fault in the past 3,000 years. Similar evidence
suggests that there have been similar quakes on the Seattle and
Tacoma faults.

* One miner has died and four others are still trapped 2,400
meters underground at Stilfontein, South Africa's North West
province, after Wednesday's 5.0 earthquake.

* Severe tropical cyclone Willy, which is hovering off Western
Australia, has been upgraded to category three. It is not
expected to affect the coast for at least two days.

* In Australia, parts of the Northern Territory were being evacuated
as Cyclone Ingrid threatened to reintensify and batter coastal
communities. After menacing far north Queensland for more than
a week, Ingrid was expected to strike somewhere near the
4000-strong mining town of Nhulunbuy by early this morning.

* The U.S. government is expanding its Pacific tsunami-warning
network to include the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
About 90 per cent of tsunamis occur in the Pacific, but Atlantic
events can happen. Scientists said they plan to upgrade sea-floor
and tidal gauges in U.S. waters, add more high-tech tsunami
detection buoys, and staff their warning centre 24 hours a day.
The extra staff aim to warn the public within five to seven minutes.

* At least half a billion cases of malaria occur each year, say
scientists who warn the World Health Organization's estimates
are off by nearly 50 per cent.

* The latest Mt St Helens eruption surprised scientists. Scientists
do not know what caused the larger-than-normal plume, but said that
in the hours preceding the incident, the seismograph readings had
changed. Although the peaks, indicating the strength of each seismic
burst, weren't higher than normal, the line separating them was
"noisier." The plume rose very rapidly and higher than in previous
months. That indicates there was an explosive element inside, rather
than just a collapse of the crater's roof. Scientists will spend the next
few days combing through the hours of data before the plume to see if
they missed any markers.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

* A 5.3 quake hit South Africa, described by local seismologists as
"very exceptional" for the area. Emergency workers have
rescued 24 gold miners trapped more than 2km underground.
Officials evacuated around three quarters of the 3200 miners
underground when the quake hit the area. Mining officials said
their seismic monitoring system picked up four large seismic events
and a number of smaller ones. About eight tremors were recorded.
The quake, which jolted buildings as far away as Johannesburg,
injured 23 miners and 50 people on the surface. Aftershocks are
expected. There is quite serious damage - two blocks of flats were
evacuated because some walls went down. There are reports of
broken geysers, broken windows and huge cracks in houses.
16 - 42 miners still remained trapped. Without ventilation, the
rock temperature can go up in excess of 50C. They have not
established any communication with the missing miners.
The miners union argues that recent underground mine tremors are
not natural and have something to do with management negligence.
Earlier this week, Harmony Gold also experienced a seismic event
at one of its Free State shafts, while only two weeks ago, workers
were also killed after an underground quake at AngloGold's Tautona
mine. The union says that the Ministry and Department of Minerals
and Energy should take away the mining license of this company.

* Also in South Africa, four people were killed and thousands were left
homeless when hail storms and flash floods struck in Ndwedwe,
near Tongaat in KwaZulu-Natal. Residents said was the worst storm
they had ever seen. The mayor said he could not believe the extent of
the damage. "The weather changed dramatically - there was sun
one minute and in only a short period of time the storm had
caused severe damage."

* Some 330 people have been evacuated from a small town in Italy's
southern region of Calabria where a landslide has wrecked more
than 100 homes. More people are expected to be affected by the
landslide which began several days ago amid freak rain and
snow storms.

* Heavy rains have caused wide-spread flooding across western

* In 2007, scientists will launch Project Neptune, which will monitor
potential tsunami threats along the coast of western North America.
Part of the project includes a 3,000-kilometre network of powered
fibre-optic cable on the seabed over the Juan de Fuca Plate where
last week shifting plates on the ocean floor triggered nearly 4,000
small earthquakes along the Northern Juan de Fuca Ridge.

* Some geologists believe rising pressures on one edge of a tectonic
plate can produce a build-up of stress that may eventually prompt
a quake at the other end. The Juan de Fuca plate appears on maps
as a single triangular-shaped mass (as large as Oregon and Washington),
but pressure from rising magma at one side is unlikely to prompt quakes
at the other side according to other geologists. "It's not a one-to-one
thing. It doesn't seem to correlate to sudden movements at the other
end. The pressure may be taken up by faults in the middle of the plate.
Also, some places have slow quakes, ground deformation events that
do not snap. Vancouver Island has moved west and then come back
again, moved west and then come back again."
Shortly after the current quake swarm ended there were two magnitude
five quakes south of the swarm, on the edge of another, smaller plate,
the Gorda Plate, west of Coos Bay. Many geologists say that these
two were unrelated to the swarm.

* At Mt St Helens, ash continued to spew out of the volcano, but
government scientists have said that they do not expect any
violent eruptions similar to the 1980 explosion, which destroyed
200 homes and blew off the top of the mountain. Instead they
say Mount St. Helens will continue to grow, similar to a series
of eruptions and a lava dome-building phase in 1986.

* Geologists have called for a taskforce to be set up to consider
emergency management in the event of a massive volcanic eruption,
or super-eruption. The recommendation comes in a report timed
to coincide with a BBC TV drama that depicts a fictional super-eruption
at Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, USA. The authors want to
highlight the issue, which they feel is being ignored by governments.
They emphasise that while catastrophic eruptions of this kind are
rare in terms of a human lifetime, they are surprisingly common on a
geological scale. One past super-eruption struck at Toba in Sumatra
74,000 years ago and is thought by some to have driven the human
race to the edge of extinction. Signs from DNA suggest human
numbers could have dropped to about 10,000, probably as a
result of the effects of climate change. "The U.S. is the place
where we see the largest number of super-eruptions. But that
may be because more work has been done there."

* New Canadian research shows that forest fires are becoming
larger and more intense due to the effects of climate change
and are adding enormous amounts of greenhouse gases into
the atmosphere. Fires in the northern hemisphere's boreal forest and
peatlands are of particular concern because the region holds 40 percent
of the planet's terrestrial carbon. That's almost twice the amount in the
world's tropical forests. Forests are a "wild card" about how fast and
how far global temperatures will rise. There could be a big disaster
ahead. Fires in recent years have been two or three times as large as
anything ever seen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

* Cyclone Ingrid, Australia's worst cyclone in 30 years, has been
downgraded from category five to category four. It is now within
the same category as Australia's infamous Cyclone Tracy, which
ravaged the country's north coast. Ingrid was not expected to hit
until this morning. It's most likely to cross the coast in relatively
unpopulated areas.

* Mount St. Helens in Washington state has erupted, sending a
plume of steam and ash 7,600 metres into the air. Mount St. Helens
grew a dome top 80-stories high in December, expanding at a rate
never seen before by scientists studying the volcano. At the time the
dome formed, scientists said it would take 11 years before the volcano
would erupt the way it did back 1980. A partial collapse of the dome
in the crater may have triggered Tuesday's ash burst.

* The Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat increased its activity on Sunday.
Skies were hazy over St. Maarten and the surrounding islands as
a result and some people reported a fine dust coating on vehicles and
homes. Volcanic ash flow was mostly North-Northeast, with most of
the ash cloud remaining over the extreme eastern northeast Caribbean.

* The ongoing eruption of the Shiveluch Volcano in northeastern Russia
continues. (Satellite image).

* "The eruption of a super volcano "sooner or later" will chill the
planet and threaten human civilization, British scientists warned
Tuesday. And now the bad news: There's not much anyone can
do about it. Several volcanoes around the world are capable of
gigantic eruptions unlike anything witnessed in recorded history,
based on geologic evidence of past events." Super eruptions are
up to hundreds of times larger than any eruptions seen in tens of
thousands of years. "They could result in the devastation of world
agriculture, severe disruption of food supplies, and mass starvation.
The chances of a globally destructive volcano explosion are five to
10 times greater than a globally destructive asteroid impact.

* Drought has already lasted a month in São Paulo and Paraná, Brazil's
main sugarcane states.

* In Jamaica, crops that just began recovering from storms that hit
six months ago are again under threat, this time from drought,
which is in its 3rd month, and bushfires. No significant rainfall
is expected before May.

* Slideshow of a Utah avalanche engulfing a skier - he survived.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

* There is a growing intensity of explosions at Klyuchevskoi volcano
on Russia's Kamchatka penninsula due to an increased volume of lava
over the past two days. The ash plume now stretches for more
than 70 kilometers and volcanic bombs are hurled to a height of more
than 800 meters. Continuously rolling down the western slope of the
volcano is a lava flow with a temperature of about 1,100 degrees.
There is now a high probability of massive mud flows rushing down
the slopes of the volcano.

* Scientists are still looking for evidence of a new volcanic eruption off
the coast of the Pacific Northwest in North America. "We don't
know if there has been ejection of magma on the sea floor. It has all
the characteristics of magma movement, but it could all be below the
sea floor." A ship checked the region after a similar earthquake swarm
in 2001 but failed to find any new lava on the floor. "This (area off
Vancouver Island) is where plates are being created. Tsunamis come
from where plates are being destroyed."

* Booming noises were heard all over Winston-Salem, North Carolina
over the weekend. Officials with the city's office of emergency
management think the Twin Cities experienced a seismic tremor.
Officials were told the equipment only registers activity above 4.0
on the Richter Scale. There were no reports of injury or structural damage.

* "Seismic activity in the area of the Indian Ocean basin where the
giant earthquake struck last Dec. 26 at last may be quieting down.
There have been no significant aftershocks since last Thursday and
only five in the past week...Before last week, multiple aftershocks
had been continuing on a daily or near-daily basis for more than two
months, with some of the events hitting with surprising strength."

* The geologist who warned in July that Indonesia was due for a
major quake says that only the northernmost portion of the boundary
where the two tectonic plates meet ruptured in December. "The fact
that most of the other part of the section has generated few great
earthquakes in more than a hundred years is worrisome ... other parts
within the section of this fault should be considered dangerous over
the next few decades...I have no doubt that within the next century
we'll have million-person losses, caused by natural disasters in the
developing world. There will be hundreds of thousands more deaths
in the next 10 to 15 years because of earthquakes alone."

* A man taking an avalanche awareness class has died after being trapped
in a slide outside the boundaries of the Aspen Highlands ski area.
Twenty people have died nationwide in avalanches this winter.
Since the winter of 1990-91, avalanches in the Aspen, Colorado
vicinity have claimed more than a dozen lives.

* In the Philippines, environment authorities expressed alarm over
the destruction caused by wildfires in the remaining forests of
Central Luzon, warning that provinces with large tracts of grasslands
near forest areas are most prone to fire breakouts this summer. Forest
fires usually break out during the months of February until May.

* Tropical Cyclone Ingrid has quickly grown into a massive storm.
Ingrid is slowly bearing down on the northeastern coast of Australia
as a growing Category 4 storm.

* For nine months there's been barely a drop of rain anywhere in
central Australia. The red centre is in the grip of a worsening
drought, with their lowest rainfall on record for the last nine months.
Native mammals are starting to die, and wild birds are migrating to
town in search of water. A curious botanical phenomenon is taking
place. Native trees and shrubs are bursting into flower or new seed,
as if there's been a recent deluge of rain. In the grip of its driest spell
on record many of these normally drought resistant trees are in fact in
the process of dying. What appears to be happening is that the native
vegetation is responding to the prolonged dry conditions and are
setting large quantities of seed in the event that conditions like this
continue. A local naturalist says he's seen nothing like it before. So
hopefully when conditions become favourable again the species
will be able to regenerate.

Monday, March 7, 2005

* Cyclone Ingrid has intensified and moved towards the Far North
Queensland coast in Australia, packing destructive winds of more
than 200km/h and torrential rain.

* The 5th cyclone of the season in the South Pacific, Cyclone Rae,
is gathering strength west of the already storm-battered Cook Islands.
Rae has developed from the storm system that brought flooding to parts
of Fiji and Samoa in recent days. Rae is expected to stay only at
tropical storm strength.

* A series of small earthquakes rattled the Granite Falls area in the
state of Washington. The strongest was a magnitude 3.5 temblor
that hit around 5:20 am centered near Lake Roesiger. Two smaller
quakes hit a few hours earlier.

* The latest in the series of quakes off the Pacific Northwest coast was
a 4.1 on Sunday. They had detected nearly 3,800 small quakes as
of late Thursday. This area is where the Juan de Fuca and Pacific plates
of the earth's crust are moving apart, and it experiences intense occasional
bursts of activity between periods of quiet. There were clusters of quakes
here in 1999 and 2001 going on for a week or so with a thousand quakes.
"We don't feel there is a tsunami threat, even though there is vertical motion,
in that we have never seen a tsunami generated from a mid-ocean ridge."

* If a tsunami strikes Oregon, there are no warning sirens. The
only warning may be the violent shaking of the ground from a massive
earthquake just offshore. And if that happens, experts say, the
moment the ground stops shaking run for your life to high ground.
If a major earthquake strikes the Cascadia subduction zone, the
quake will have barely stopped shaking when the tsunami strikes.
"There is no time for an alarm, no time for orderly evacuation, no
time to find family and friends, and no time to drive a car over roads
and bridges that already may be destroyed. The waves could hit
some places as soon as 10 minutes after the quake."
The tsunami will cause more damage than a nuclear bomb. For
centuries, the Cascadia subduction zone has been quiet. Too quiet.
The fault is where the Juan de Fuca plate is forced beneath the
Continental plate, locked so tightly that they only move a few
centimeters each year and the pressure builds up. A magnitude 9
earthquake would cause entire chunks of the coast to fall
right into the sea.

* A moderate earthquake, measuring 5.4 magnitude, hit southern Quebec
early on Sunday and was felt across the New England states as far
away as Boston. There have been no reports of injuries or damage.
It was the second quake in the past week in the area. The quake
occurred at about 1:17 am Sunday, about an hour after another
earthquake was detected at Severnaya Zemlya near the North Pole.
"It's very interesting. (Zemlya) is a pretty odd spot for an earthquake...
One of the latest things today in seismology is triggered earthquakes,
or whether shocks in one area can cause tremors in other locations.
I'm sure plenty of people would be eager to say the North Pole quake
set off Quebec's, although there is no concensus on the theory of
triggered earthquakes."

* A strong earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale rocked
high-rise buildings in Taiwan early Sunday. A quake with a
magnitude of 4.2 struck seven minutes before the major quake.
There were a series of aftershocks including one measured at 5.0
on the Richter scale and one with a magnitude of 4.7.
Seven quakes jolted the area in 8 hours, leaving at least three people
injured and cutting off power to some 20,000 homes.

* Rumblings at Mount Spurr in Alaska are creating hazardous
conditions for extreme skiers, snowboarders and pilots landing
in the area. Possible dangers include unstable snow and ice and
higher concentrations of potentially lethal gases and acidic water
that could be strong enough to burn skin. Heightened seismic activity
has been recorded there for months. New measurements taken during
flights over the volcano this week show the presence of sulfur dioxide,
indicating activity stemming from molten lava, not simply heating of
ground water. Researchers also spotted water at a summit lake
bubbling up - either from increasing heat or gases floating to the top.

* Mayon and Taal volcanoes in the Philippines have been showing signs
of restiveness since last week. The Philippine Institute of
Volcanology and Seismology said Alert Level 2 has been hoisted
over Mayon after monitoring stations recorded rumblings from
the volcano. Meanwhile, Alert Level 1 was hoisted over Taal
volcano in Batangas as 19 high frequency volcanic earthquakes
were recorded in the area last week.

* Officials are likely to declare a drought emergency for the state of
Washington within the next several days, with temperatures remaining
stubbornly high and snowfall uncommonly low. Parts of the state
already have endured five straight years of drought.

* Montana is at such high risk for a wildfire "blowup" this summer
that the Governor wants at least some of the 1,500 National Guard
soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere to return home for the wildfire season.
Blow-ups could also occur in Idaho and Washington, and in
Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada.

* Three elderly people were missing on Saturday after a landslide
near the southern Italian city of Naples.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

* An earthquake "swarm" that began last weekend has resulted in
thousands of small earthquakes off the Oregon coast in recent
days. 1500 quakes were recorded in the first 36 hours of the cluster
and they are continuing, but at a 'moderate' pace. These earthquake
swarms generally ranged from magnitude 2 to 4, and typically occur
in swarms during seafloor spreading events. The site is on the
undersea Juan de Fuca Ridge northwest of Astoria called the
Endeavor segment.

* A scientific SWAT team from Seattle is sailing this afternoon for
the spot off the coast of Vancouver Island where they suspect an
underwater eruption is under way. This is an area of the Juan
de Fuca Ridge in the article above, where swarms of earthquakes
started rattling the ocean bottom 200 miles offshore on Sunday.
In the past six days, the area has been rocked by nearly 4,000
temblors, most tiny, but some exceeding magnitude 4. The Juan
de Fuca plate is a tectonic time bomb capable of producing
earthquakes and tsunamis on par with the disaster that struck the
Indian Ocean in December. An eruption along the ridge doesn't
directly raise the risk of an earthquake on the subduction zone,
but the regions are closely linked, like pieces in a puzzle.

* Survivors of the tsunami who were along India's southeast coast
say there was not one, but three waves that roared onto their beaches
at 8:40 the morning of Dec. 26. Most people survived the tsunami's
first surge, but about 40 minutes later, a more powerful wall of water
sliced across the coastline, leaving a swath of destruction. A half-hour
later, another wave hit. A large tsunami-generating earthquake only
a few miles off the U.S. Northwest coast, which has a history of such
quakes, could have even more dire results than what India experienced
when the tsunami hit them in December. One scientist said of
the damage in India - "It's what I had imagined for every single
coastal community in California, Oregon and Washington."

* Highly toxic waste washed on to Somalia's coastline by the December
tsumani has spawned illnesses with symptoms like radioactive exposure
in villagers along the shore of the shattered African nation. In the late
1980s, European firms dumped wastes such as uranium, lead,
cadmium, mercury, industrial, hospital, chemical, leather treatment
and other waste in northern Somalia. Somalia watchers have said
that the country's warlords controlling fiefdoms along the shoreline
were paid hefty amounts of cash to allow waste to be dumped there.
Radioactive contamination could cause "serious long-term effects
on human health as well as severe impacts on groundwater, soil,
agriculture and fisheries for many years".

Friday, March 4, 2005

* A small earthquake with a magnitude of 2.5 struck in northern
New York Wednesday night along the US-Canadian border.

* Since Jan. 28, there has been an "extended swarm" of quakes in
Arizona. The swarm includes a 4.0 earthquake that hit on Jan. 28,
and another of the same magnitude on Jan. 30. Both quakes occurred
near the same general area as the 4.6 reported at 5am on Wednesday.
Geophysicists said there is no clear explanation for this burst of seismic
activity, other than that the area apparently lies along a fault line.
"Probably there's a fault there, but no one has mapped it." Another
quake, of lesser but undetermined magnitude, hit around 2 p.m.
Wednesday but scientists have not been able to calculate that
quake's magnitude.

* At least two people were killed and a number of houses
smashed Thursday in a landslide in West Java.

* At least 14 people were killed and more than 25,000 driven from
their homes as torrential rains lashed south-western Pakistan, still
recovering from last month's devastating floods.

* An unusual European cold snap has resulted in snow-covered
palm trees in the Mediterranean, travel chaos on the continent
and a rise in heating costs. In some parts of The Netherlands snowfall
was up to 50 centimetres (20 inches), the highest March levels in the
ast 20 to 25 years. In Turin, the thermometer fell to -8 C (17.60F)
overnight, 1.5 C lower than the previous record low for March set
in 1971, while Rome suffered its coldest March for 18 years. In
Spain, Madrid has seen its heaviest snowfall for about 15 years.
Spain has experienced its lowest temperatures in decades this month.
The cold snap of the last 3 days has been one of three or four of the
most significant in the last 30 to 40 years. In Austria there have
been a large number of avalanches, with almost daily reports of
skiers and others caught by snow while travelling away from
prepared pistes. Ironically, Portugal is suffering one of its worst
droughts in a century. About 75 percent of the Iberian nation is
suffering from "extreme and severe" drought during what should
be its rainy season.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

* Greenland witnessed record winter high temperatures last weekend. The official record of 16.0 C (60.8 F) was recorded in the town of Paamiut (Frederikshob) on the western coast of Greenland. The temperature is the highest recorded winter temperature since record keeping began in 1958. Greenland's coastal areas do not typically have harsh winters, but this temperature was forty degrees above normal for the month. The warm air spread northward, raising temperatures all across the ice sheet before dissipating in the high arctic.
During the second week of Feburary, a completely unprecedented and unexplained heat wave struck Greenland. Already, melt off Greenland's glaciers has reached record proportions. The warm air originated in the Caribbean, and rolled north along the frontal edge of the jet stream. It was not an unusual formation for summer, but for it to appear in midwinter was unprecedented.

* The temperature shot up to a blistering 38.3°C in Alor Star, Malaysia on Sunday, marking the second highest temperature ever recorded in the country. Hot and dry weather is expected to continue until the end of March. Hundreds of fires have broken out in Peninsular Malaysia and are ravaging 8,600ha of land in six states. The hotspots, most of which are peat fires, have resulted in the deterioration of air quality. Many of these fires have been raging since Feb 12. For peat fires, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the fire as it usually spreads underground.

* India says it has given up hope of rebuilding six islands in the tsunami-hit Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, where nearly 6,000 people are still listed as missing and the infrastructure is in a shambles two months after the disaster.

* On the Northwest coast of the U.S. a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami similar to the recent catastrophe in the Indian Ocean could be imminent. The last enormous tsunami-triggering earthquake there, 305 years ago, may have been the first in a recurring cluster of quakes, new research indicates.

* A strong 5.7 earthquake shook Peru's capital and the surrounding coast and mountains Wednesday, but it did not cause injuries or damage.

* A light 4.6 earthquake struck northern Arizona Wednesday morning. People more than 100 miles away reported feeling the tremor.

* A rare drought maintains its grip on south China's Hainan Province where a total of 554,800 rural residents are almost without drinkable water.

* As Eritrea experiences a fourth consecutive drought cycle widespread malnutrition is threatening, resulting from worsening food shortages.

* Palmerston in the southern Cook Islands is the latest island to bear the brunt of Cyclone Percy as it cuts a path through the Pacific, leaving a trail of damage in its wake.

* Much of Europe shivered under near record low temperatures yesterday, with snow and ice creating disruption on the roads and causing air and rail delays. In Romania, three people including a one-month baby died of the cold, and temperatures in the capital, Bucharest, fell to their lowest since 1932. The Rome observatory said temperatures in the Italian capital fell to their lowest level in 200 years, with an absolute record low for the country of minus 32 celsius in the mountains separating Umbria and the Marches. In Portugal, the main hospital in the town of Guarda, 370km north-east of Lisbon, was forced to cancel all non-emergency surgery when water pipes froze. The Evros river in the northern Greek region of Thrace overflowed after heavy rain and snowfall in the Bulgarian uplands, flooding farmland and a village where about 300 inhabitants had to be evacuated. Britain called in the army to help deal with disruption caused by heavy snow after southern England was hit by severe weather. Electricity consumption in Austria hit the highest point since the beginning of the year, and fuel oil suppliers said they were running out of stock. Bulgarian ski resorts enjoyed their heaviest snowfalls for 20 years.

* Heavy snowfalls and squall winds brought by the Balkan cyclone has left Ukraine's 124 populated localities in five regions cut off from electric power supply for a third day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

* Darwin, Australia has been rocked by an earthquake measuring
7.1 (upgraded) on the Richter scale. Its epicentre was in the
Banda Sea near Indonesia. There were no immediate reports of damage.
Although it was the biggest in several years in the Banda Sea, it
was unlikely to have done any significant damage and "very
unlikely to cause a tsunami".

* In the minutes following December's catastrophic earthquake off
the Indonesian island of Sumatra, a wave of biblical proportions -
a surge of seawater more than 90 feet high - inundated stretches
of the remote western coast. When the tsunami hit Sri Lanka hours
later, it displaced 2 million cubic yards of sand - enough to bury a
football field 1, 000 feet deep. Isolated villages on Sumatra's western
coast just south of hard-hit Banda Aceh caught the full brunt of the
giant tsunami and were swept away without a trace - perhaps only
15 minutes after the ground began to shake on Dec. 26. A surge of
lesser height struck low-lying Banda Aceh, but it swept 4 miles on
shore, killing tens of thousands. (this article is oddly placed on the
linked site - go down the page to the article headline 'Scientists find
tsunami produced 90-foot wave'. The article initially repeats part of a
fossil article, but the wave information follows that.)

* More than 100 bodies were still found in a single day in Aceh more
than two months after the Indonesian province was devastated
by the earthquake-triggered tsunami.

* Even though the state of Washington has the second-highest quake
risk in the United States, after California, most Puget Sound-area
communities still are not even close to being prepared for a major quake.
The Seattle Fault zone, a series of shallow faults that run east-west ,
represents the highest known seismic risk to this region. The potential
impact from a magnitude 6.7 quake on the Seattle Fault includes more
than 1,600 deaths and 24,000 injuries, economic losses of about
$33 billion, and the destruction of nearly 10,000 structures with
another 30,000 left uninhabitable. "This scenario rivals the largest
natural disaster to ever hit the United States."

* Temperatures plunged to record levels yesterday as the European
continent experienced one of its worst cold snaps in years. At
least 25 people were injured in Germany in two pile-ups on a motorway
engulfed in thick fog. A 30-car pile-up also cut off Scotland's main
highway linking Glasgow to Edinburgh, but no one was injured. Trains
were forced to return to stations in Spain's Grenada and Almeria,
while frozen tracks led to the cancellation of dozens of trains in
Switzerland. Records were broken across the continent:
The mass of snow covering the Czech Republic was "probably the
largest in the last 40 years".
The Swiss capital Bern registered -15.6C, its coldest at this time of
the year since data began to be collected in 1901.
Croatia had its coldest night since 1963, with -21C in the central
parts of the country.
France beat records set in 1971. It was coldest in the village of
Saugues in the western region of Haute-Loire where thermometers
registered -29.5C overnight.
Worst hit though was the Berchtesgaden region near Germany's
border with Austria, with temperatures of -43.6C, close to the -45.9C
record set in 2001.
At Stuttgart airport, the mercury dropped to -18.6C - the lowest
temperature in March in 105 years.
The cold snap has so far caused 80 million euros ($134 million)
worth of crop damage in the region, including 26 million tonnes
of strawberries.

* The traffic on the Transcaucasus highway that links Russia with
Georgia is closed over an avalanche hazard.

* Thick haze is shadowing winter crop-growing areas in eastern China.

* Shiveluch volcano erupted on Sunday and a large ash cloud is hanging
over Kamchatka and the Okhotsk Sea, with ash still falling. The
seismological station, located 8 km off the volcano, went off the air,
probably put out of action by a 10 km pyroclastic flow (scorching
fragmental avalanche).

* Hawaiian residents who live downwind from the long-active Kilauea
volcano may have elevated risks of adverse health conditions because
of high levels of sulfur dioxide and aerosol particulates that drift downwind.
"Basalt volcanoes - like Kilauea or Masaya in Nicaragua - can emit a great
deal of sulfur dioxide into the lower atmosphere even when not erupting.
By contrast, Washington's Mount St. Helens is a dacite volcano that
emits sulfur dioxide primarily during eruptions, and even then injects it
high into the atmosphere, where the immediate impact on humans is less."

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

* There was widespread damage on the islands of Pukapuka and Nassau
after Cyclone Percy slammed into the area. A search is under way
for a person missing on the northern Cook Islands. On Pukapuka, with
a population of 600, only 10 houses weathered the storm intact . On
Nassau "all the homes are reportedly severely damaged or destroyed",
although the 70 residents are safe. Percy continued to weaken as it turned
south, taking the storm away from the populated islands of the Northern
Cooks. Percy is the fourth cyclone to batter the region during February
and the Cook Islands were battered by all three earlier cyclones – Olaf,
Nancy and Meena.

* Three moderate earthquakes were recorded within an hour in the
Pacific Ocean west of Vancouver Island early Monday, but they
were far enough at sea that none was felt in populated centers.
The tremors came four years to the day after the 6.7 Nisqually
earthquake that rattled Puget Sound in Washington state.

* The avalanche risk is not over in the Kashmir disaster that has
killed 278 people.

* It has been the deadliest winter in nearly two decades in Japan
where heavy snow since December has killed 61 people.

* Experts have become increasingly worried over recent months about the
threat of a pandemic. Last year, the World Health Organization said a
pandemic was "inevitable" and countries should start preparing. There
were three flu pandemics during the 20th century. The worst one in 1918
killed up to 50 million people. Several countries, including Canada, the
U.S. and Australia, have already started building up reserves of flu drugs.

* A catastrophic event flooded the Martian surface five million years ago
and then froze out, a team of European scientists has announced.
A huge, frozen sea lies just below the surface of Mars. Water
flowed in some kind of massive catastrophic event; pack ice formed
on top of that water and broke up, and then the whole thing froze rigid.
There is a possibility that primitive micro-organisms survive on Mars today.

Monday, February 28, 2005

* An hour after the massive Indonesia quake occurred, scientists
could actually detect the entire state of Alaska undulating up
and down, rising and falling an inch or more every 30 seconds
for several minutes. The power that represents over such a distance
is astounding. There is mounting evidence that the earthquake
in the Indian Ocean on Christmas weekend also triggered a second
earthquake 6000 miles away in Alaska. That second quake was minor,
but the fact that it happened at all was a revelation to scientists.

* As meteorologists puzzle over the meanderings of the jet stream to
explain the spring-like weather in Oregon, they offer a word of
caution: Wildfires could start early this year. Near-record low
rainfall in January and February, low snowpack and above-average
temperatures have accelerated the seasonal transition,
setting the stage for wildfires months ahead of normal.

* Cyclone Percy, the fourth such South Pacific storm in a month,
has torn across the Pacific island group of Tokelau, causing
widespread damage and injuring one person. Strong wind and
surging sea had begun to batter Swain's Island, about midway
between the Hawaiian Islands and New Zealand. Communication
was lost with Swain's Island in American Samoa as Percy

* A cyclone raging in the south of Kamchatka is moving along
the peninsula's eastern coasts. It has brought heavy
precipitation. Another cyclone is being formed near Kamchatka's
southeast coast, and the snowfall will not stop there in the
next 24 hours, meteorologists say. Heavy snowfalls create
avalanche danger in mountainous regions of the peninsula.
[site note - This type of 'cyclone' has been raging in Kamchatka
since November of last year. Dates Kamchatka cyclones
were noted on Global Disaster Watch: November 29,
December 9, December 21 & 24. In 2005: January 9,
January 30 & Feb. 3, Feb. 11 & 12]

* Meteorologists in Bulgaria said that a Mediterranean cyclone is
expected to pass through the country after bringing rain
and cold air that might cause grave icing. After a week of
spring-like weather and temperatures as high as ten degrees
centigrade Bulgaria was once again caught in the winter grasp.
The heavy rain poured all over Bulgaria the entire day on
Saturday and it turned into snow Sunday.
[site note: Bulgaria was hit by another cyclone on Feb. 6].

* Rain, hail and lightning made a surprise return to saturated Southern
California on Friday and authorities warned of avalanche danger.

* The strong high-pressure ridge that steered four hurricanes
toward Florida last summer is still out there - and could
direct more storms their way this year. "So people should plan
on this being another above-average season." The ridge has
already caused Palm Beach County to have its wettest month ever
in September - followed by the driest four-month period ever,
from October through January. The ridge last year prevented
hurricanes from turning north in the Atlantic, forcing them
on a westerly track toward Florida.

* Sign up to get Florida hurricane updates delivered by e-mail.

* A magnitude 6.7 earthquake in Simeule, Indonesia has occurred
285 km (175 miles) S of Banda Aceh, Sumatra.

* A magnitude 5.8 earthquake near the east coast of Honshu, Japan
has occurred, 610 km (375 miles) NNE of Tokyo.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

* A total of 612 people died and 1,400 were injured
in the 6.4 earthquake that hit southeastern Iran
this week.

* Afghanistan is facing potentially "catastrophic" floods
once their weeks of heavy snow melt. In Kashmir remote
villages have been cut off for the past week after a series
of avalanches. Six villages have been completely buried
under snow after an avalanche crushed houses. Thousands
are still stranded along the main highway.

* Fresh water supplies in countries hit by the Asian tsunami
are under serious threat, according to a UN report. Drinking
water sources have been contaminated by salt water and sewage,
and every well in Sri Lanka may have been affected.

* If a quake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale were to hit
the Tokyo region around 6:00 pm, it would kill 13,000,
displace 7 million people, and cause 1.1 trillion dollars
in damage. 850,000 houses and buildings would be completely
destroyed or burned. Seismologists warn that a quake of
this size may occur at any time.

* The impact of a severe earthquake on a radioactive waste
treatment plant is almost 40 percent greater than previously
estimated, according to a new study. The $6 billion
plant under construction at the Hanford nuclear reservation
in the state of Washington is being built to treat millions
of gallons of highly radioactive waste left from Cold
War-era nuclear weapons production. Engineers now are working
to apply that new number to the plant's design; the process
could take four to six months.

* Mount St Helens activity is growing more spectacular.
Cracks are continuing to developing on the new lava dome
inside the crater and steam continues to rise through
those cracks. Rockfalls from the dome continue and cause
occasional plumes of ash, some of which rise above the rim.
A GPS unit on the bulging east arm of the glacier continues
its rapid (4 feet per day) trek northward. Dome building
has slowed this past month, yet the new lava dome has grown
to well over 550 feet.

* Korovin volcano on Atka Island in the Aleutians erupted
briefly on Wednesday, sending ash and steam to about
8,000 feet and making some residents nervous. The Alaska
Volcano Observatory reports that two other restless volcanoes
Mount Spurr west of Anchorage and Mount Veniaminof on the
Alaska Peninsula remained relatively quiet Thursday. Korovin's
color code was upgraded to "yellow."

* Powerful lava discharges to the altitude of up to one kilometre
from the Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano crater have been reported
from Kamchatka. A steam column as high as 1.5 kilometres is
also billowing from the volcano. Its active eruption continues.
The last time lava flows were seen on Klyuchevskaya was in 1994.

* In Hawaii, Kilauea volcano is experiencing a swarm of earthquakes
beneath the summit that started in mid-January. Kilauea's summit
continues to inflate, with the rate increasing from 8 cm/yr
(3 inches/yr) to over 40 cm/yr (15 inches/yr) in January 2005.
Mauna Loa volcano's summit region abruptly stopped inflating at
the end of January 2005. Since July 2004, the rate of inflation
and number of deep earthquakes has increased. Weekly earthquake
counts have varied from 5 to over 150 in the last half of 2004
but have been less than 10 since the beginning of 2005. Unlike
the past seven months, when nearly all the quakes were 30 km
(18 mi) or more deep, and of the long-period type, most of the
nine this past week are shallower and the more typical
short-period type.

* The Australian-Pacific Centre for Emergency and Disaster
Information says Cyclone Percy has formed in seas between
Tokelau and Tuvalu.

* The Cook Islands was battered by Cyclone Olaf, the third
cyclone in the last 15 days.

* Another landslide prompted officials to evacuate more homes
in La Jolla, California.

* Some provinces in the south of Mozambique are facing the threat
of drought due to irregular rainfall.

* Forecasters and other weather experts say the continuing drought
has gotten worse this winter in western South Dakota and likely
will continue.

* No snow plus warm weather will lock Montana in drought
for a seventh year.

Friday, February 25, 2005

* A 6.0 earthquake yesterday was recorded near Simeulue
Island, part of Indonesia's Aceh province which suffered
the heaviest casualties in the December 26 quake. There
were no reports of damage or casualties.

* The Institute of the University of Tehran in Iran has recorded
10 aftershocks, ranging from 3.7 to 4.8 on the Richter scale,
since Tuesday's earthquake measuring 6.4.

* Los Angeles' mayor has asked the US Government to declare
the city a disaster area after six days of storms triggered
mudslides and flooding that led to the deaths of nine people.
Residents of some suburbs of the city were left wading waist-deep
in briny waters, while entire hillsides collapsed under the
weight of the water, sending scores of homes crashing
dramatically down slopes. At least 99 homes have been rendered
uninhabitable. Damage is estimated at 10 million dollars.

* The La Soufrière volcano, located on St. Vincent island in the
Caribbean, is NOT erupting according to officials. Concerns were
raised after persons indicated that there was an unusual smell
of sulphur in the air. In addition, there appeared to be a bluish
film on the mountains in some parts of the island. There were
no increased activities at La Soufriére as shown on the
monitoring stations set up around the volcano. The volcano
last erupted in April 1979. The possibility of volcanic
activities taking place in the Southern Grenadines surfaced
a few weeks ago when a diver observed bubbles rising from
the sea bed in the area in question. Officials say that all
the gases observed coming out from the Grenadines are
something normal - not at all related to any volcanic activity.

* "Since the last solar maximum ended, the sun has continued to
act strangely. Recently, sunspot 720 directed a massive proton
storm toward the earth and the moon, and a few days ago one
of the longest solar filaments ever recorded appeared on the
sun's surface. These filaments are magnetic anomalies and are
associated with solar explosions. They are rare in general, and
quite rare outside of high solar activity periods. At present,
the surface of the sun is quiet, but three days ago a massive
explosion took place on the side presently facing away from us.
Solar activity continues high, and is probably a major contributor
to weather chaos on earth."

* The Western Cape of Africa is going through a one-in-a-100-year

* In Malaysia the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will
carry out cloud seeding to produce rain if drought in the country
gets any worse.

* The river that defines the border between Greece and Turkey
is at its highest level in 50 years.

*Three quakes may have nudged Maryland on Wednesday morning.
They caused no damage or reports of injury. They occurred in an
area about 10 miles north of Annapolis that scientists say is
prone to small earthquakes. The first quake, with a magnitude of
about 2.0, occurred about 9:22 a.m. The second, of similar magnitude,
occurred at 11:01 a.m. A third, smaller quake was recorded at 12:08.
There have been 57 earthquakes noted in Delaware since 1871, when
a 4.1 rocked Wilmington. The last quake before these latest three
was a 1.7 Newark quake in August 2003 that lasted for 15 seconds.
If indeed all three quakes originated in the state, then Wednesday's
quakes were unusual, in that it was the first time in the state's
recorded history that three earthquakes struck the state in one day.
However, seimologists are now unsure whether three quakes
actually occurred.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

* The skies have cleared over Kashmir but officials
warn that the warmer temperature could lead to more
avalanches. People living in high altitude areas have
been asked to relocate "immediately". Thousands of
travellers remain stranded for the seventh
straight day on the main highway. The entire
village of Viltengnar has been flattened by the snow.
"Some bodies have been buried, some are lying inside a
mosque and others lie scattered on the snow. The
entire village ... is devastated." Several hundred
people have been killed across India, Pakistan and
Afghanistan in the region's worst winter in decades.

* Singapore has been hit by their worst dry spell in 29 years.

* Wildfires raged in Chile's renowned Torres del Paine
national park for a sixth day on Wednesday, forcing
officials to evacuate all tourists.

* A huge slab of rock fell off the new formation inside Mount
St. Helens' crater this week, exposing the glowing hot rock
beneath and shaking the mountain like an earthquake.
The formation is now approximately 1,500 feet long and
almost constantly on the verge of collapse. Around 3:00 a.m.
on Tuesday, a camera captured the volcano spewing sparks
and then a massive chunk slid away to reveal molten rock
inside the whaleback's core.
Mount St. Helens' new lava dome is unleashing almost nonstop
rockfalls down its swollen sides, sometimes sending billows
of ash and dust over the crater rim.

* The Iranian quake death toll is creeping close to 550. Thousands
of survivors of the magnitude 6.4 quake, many angry at the slow
pace of relief efforts, faced another bleak night on freezing and
rain-soaked slopes.

* The ground shook during a very small earthquake Wednesday
morning in Maryland, but there are no reports of damage or injuries.

* Poor sanitation and unsafe water kill more people every MONTH in
developing countries than the total death toll in the Indian Ocean
tsunami, the international Red Cross says.

* Two months after the launch of the world's biggest international aid
effort, nobody has "the faintest idea" how much has been donated
to help the tsunami victims, a United Nations representative says.

*The three sons of a couple from North Vancouver killed in Thailand
during the tsunami disaster have received pictures of their
parents' final moments, including images of the deadly waves.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

* Due to the December 26 earthquake, by about one month
after the quake, Bangkok, Thailand, had moved horizontally
south-westwards by about 9cm, and Phuket had moved
horizontally by about 32cm south-westwards as well.
Researchers in Malaysia have found that country has been
moving westwards by 1cm every WEEK since the quake, and
that a similar phenomenon was probably happening in southern
Thailand. It is common for land to move by 1cm a YEAR.

* The magnitude 9 earthquake off Indonesia's Sumatra island that
triggered December's devastating tsunami apparently gave no
warning whatsoever, researchers said on Monday. It was
a potent reminder that pinning a quake down to a day, a week
or even a decade has proven impossible.There are some suggestions
that very low-frequency seismic activity might predict some quakes.
"We just don't understand what those signals mean."

* Scientists have long believed another big San Andreas quake is imminent,
and some think the Central California town of Cholame could be the
spot. The Fresno-Clovis metropolitan area of 500,000 just 75 miles
to the southwest is well within the destructive range of a monster
earthquake. A scientist raised the Cholame possibility late last
year after discovering mysterious tremors 15 to 40 miles below
the town. At that depth, the Earth's rigid crust starts turning
into a silly putty, called the mantle. Last year the subtle tremors
at Cholame far below any known earthquake were first recognized.
Cholame's claim to seismic fame is a connection to a violent 1857
earthquake, estimated between 7.8 and 8.0. Scientists say a fault
rupture started south of Cholame and opened a scar across the
landscape for more than 200 miles to San Bernardino. It might
have killed thousands of people if Central and Southern California
had been more populated. This part of the San Andreas isn't
extremely complicated. But deep tremors may add a dimension that
nobody anticipated, if they are indeed connected to earthquakes.
The phenomenon was just discovered in Japan during 2002. Instead
of lasting a matter of seconds, as most earthquakes do, the tremors
at Cholame can last 20 minutes or longer. The faint jostling had
shown up on seismic readings for a long time, but it was dismissed
as background noise.

* The death toll from the 6.4 earthquake in central Iran
climbed to at least 420 people by late Tuesday, with more
than 900 others hospitalized, as rescuers continued to
uncover bodies in dozens of flattened villages. Frightened
of aftershocks, thousands of Iranians spent the night in
tents and temporary shelters in bitter cold.
Some 30,000 people in about 40 villages spread over
a wide, mountainous area have been affected. The casualties
could have been far worse had the earthquake struck a
major city instead of a more sparsely populated area. The
focus of this earthquake was four times deeper underground
than the quake in Bam, lessening the impact.

* As the search for 120 people still missing in the debris
of a garbage landslide in Indonesia went into its third
day, officials said that the intense heat caused by decomposing
refuse meant those trapped in their homes under tons of waste,
soil and debris stood very little chance of survival. Those
who had not suffocated or been crushed to death have probably
died of heat exposure. The layer of waste is hot on the inside
and most of the victims found yesterday had their skin peeled.
"It is as if they had been in an oven." Rescue efforts were
complicated by the threat of intermittent rain triggering further
landslides. Officials put the number of those feared dead at 173.

* If Earth's climate warms steadily in coming decades, as many
scientists predict, heavy smog and extreme weather events could
increase health risks in the United States and around the world.

* The world is teetering on the edge of a deadly pandemic spurred
by avian flu. The world is in the gravest of danger and governments
must make emergency plans immediately, a top official from the
World Health Organization says.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

* A 6.4 earthquake has hit several villages in south-eastern Iran,
killing at least 170 people and injuring 5000. Between
30% to 70% of the buildings in six villages around Zerand (740km or
460 miles from the capital, Tehran) have been damaged or destroyed.
People in Zerand are reported to be outdoors despite rain for fear
of aftershocks. The epicentre of the quake is about 200km or 120
miles north-west of Bam, where 30,000 people were killed by an
earthquake in December 2003. Iran has at least a minor earthquake
almost every day. It is at the confluence of three of the Earth's plates
and is literally being squeezed by them. The death toll may rise sharply.

* An earthquake measuring 4.7 rocked Taiwan today, but there were
no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

* Earth and rubbish dislodged by heavy rain has buried houses in Java,
Indonesia, killing 40 people and leaving scores missing.

* Heavy rains pelted Los Angeles for the fifth straight day causing
multi-million dollar homes to collapse and claiming three lives
as mudslides trapped residents in their homes. Scores of people
were evacuated from their homes due to severe flooding. Hailstones
hit central Los Angeles and homes were caked in layers of mud as
a monster storm system wreaked havoc across southern California.
940mm of rain have made this winter the wettest in L.A. in 22 years.
Rainfall totals are already three times above normal for this time of year.
La Conchita - the coastal hamlet where 10 people were killed by a
landslide in January - was deserted as the U.S. Geological Survey
warned that none of the roughly 150 remaining homes could be considered
safe. The town northwest of Los Angeles faces a "rather bewildering
variety of landslide hazards."

* At least 139 people have now been killed in Kashmir following
the worst snowfalls in two decades. Scores more are missing.
Thousands of travellers remain stranded for the fifth consecutive day
on the main highway. Officials have warned of more avalanches that
could make opening roads difficult in the next few days.

* Hawaiian scientists have been closely watching Kilauea's
Pu'u 'O'o crater, where at least five vents inside the
crater have been spattering frequently since Feb. 1.
On Feb. 10, the activity escalated. It was the first lava
flow out of the vents inside the crater in over six months.
Activity outside the crater increased as well with several
vents erupting into dome fountains that sprayed molten
rock up to 50 feet in the air. The vigorous spattering
was enough to destroy a nearby seismic monitoring station.
Kilauea has been erupting continuously since Jan. 3, 1983.

* Mount Etna in Sicily is having another eruption. A
crack in the volcano's southeastern slope emerged
Thursday night,and lava is pouring down. This eruption
is not dangerous for people, as there are no settlements
on that slope. There have been a number of tremors.

* Lava has flowed down the slope of the Klyuchevskoi
volcano, melting a large section of the massive
Ehrman glacier. The Klyuchevskoi volcano is
located on the Kamchatka Peninsula (North-East Russia).
Mud flows may rush down the volcano's slopes now
that the ice is melting away. However, any lahars
(rock grouts and debris flows) will not form within
the next 30 days. At the same time, scientists believe
that powerful soot emissions from the volcano's crater,
as well as those spewing out of the neighboring
Shiveluch volcano, may threaten aircraft.

Monday, February 21, 2005

* A ferry capsized when it was hit by a cyclone overnight near the Bangladesh capital
of Dhaka. Eighty-one people are confirmed dead and at least 100 more are missing.
Some survivors contradicted the official figure for the missing, saying up to 500 people
could have been on board. "The wind came out of nowhere." Officials say that
the ferry was caught in a pre-monsoon cyclone.

* Indian-administered Kashmir is virtually paralysed by the heaviest snowfalls
in two decades - nearly 40 people have died in avalanches and more
than 60 others have been reported missing since Saturday. Dozens of houses
in the region have been damaged by the heavy snow, and the army has saved
as many as 30 people trapped inside. 4.5 metres (15 feet) of snow has fallen
in some places. Several thousand motorists remain stranded.

* Parts of England have been hit by the most snow some areas have seen in years
and forecasters are warning more blizzards are expected over the next few days.
The coastline is bearing the brunt of the weather.

* Huge falls of rain were recorded in and around Sydney yesterday, while hail stones
as big as cricket balls wrecked houses in the Hunter region. The rain comes
on the back of devastating storms yesterday that left more than 35,000 properties
without power and an Irish tourist in hospital after he was struck by lightning.

* Global warming could result in severe drought conditions in parts of Washington
state one out of every two years by the middle of this century. Currently
severe droughts on average occur roughly one year in every seven.

* People who live in or near the Irmo area of South Carolina reported a loud
boom, followed by vibrations on Friday. The United States Geological Society
says it was an earthquake measuring 3.1 on the Richter Scale. The initial quake
was followed by an aftershock shortly before 3:00 p.m. Friday. The aftershock
registered 1.5 on the Richter scale.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

* Was the magnetar blast reported yesterday related to the December
tsunami? Scientists have made no such connection. They say the
blast affected Earth's ionosphere, which is routinely affected to a
greater extent by changes in solar activity. Yet the blast packed
so much power it briefly altered Earth's upper atmosphere. No known
eruption beyond our solar system has ever appeared as bright upon arrival.
Some researchers have speculated that one or more known mass extinctions
hundreds of millions of years ago might have been the result of a similar blast
altering Earth's atmosphere. There is no firm data to support the idea, however.

* Shooting out jets of energy or blobs of stuff the size of Earth at nearly
light-speed, exploding stars called supernovae may hold more potential
peril than anyone had ever imagined, according to a growing suspicion
among some researchers. While scientists have long tried to link supernovae
to mass extinctions on Earth, there is no solid evidence. But recent
observations of high-energy emissions in space have some scientists
suggesting that our planet may in fact get fried every now and then.

* The bird flu virus could mutate to pass from human to human
and trigger a pandemic, the latest scientific evidence
suggests. The recent spurt of human infections increases the
likelihood that a mutant strain will arise that can spread
between humans. Although H5N1 has only killed 42 people
so far, its death to infection rate is 76%. "It's impossible to
predict what the consequences would be. We might have a
relatively mild pandemic like we did in 1968. Alternatively,
we could have a relatively severe pandemic as occurred in
1918 or perhaps even worse."

* The world is unlikely to face an explosive Sars outbreak
like the one of two years ago, say experts.

* President Bush has declared a major disaster in American
Samoa where Cyclone Olaf rampaged across the Manu'a
islands group destroying homes and knocking out electricity
and water supplies.

* Heavy rains in Somalia over the past year have ended a drought
cycle that had lasted more than three years.

* Many areas in Thailand's second largest city of Chiang Mai in the northern
region have been hit by severe drought.

* Severe drought in the central and southern provinces of Vietnam has
wreaked havoc on farmers and could possibly cause food shortages.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 -

* Afghanistan is facing its worst winter in more than a decade.
Up to 1,000 children may have died because of the intense
cold and lack of food, and that could be a conservative estimate.

* An outbreak of plague at a diamond mine in Democratic
Republic of Congo has killed 61 miners and infected hundreds,
sparking a panicked exodus of thousands of people. The
highly contagious disease can kill its victims within
48 hours.

* An earthquake measuring 6.9 rocked Indonesia's Sulawesi
island on Saturday, causing the tide to rise and sparking
fears of another tsunami. There have been 556 significant
aftershocks since the main quake.

* In the Andaman and Nicobar archipalego many of the islands
are still submerged at places and the aftershocks also
damaged the housing and public infrastructure. The massive
tidal waves caused extensive erosion and submersion due
to tipping down of the islands.

* A flash of radiation on December 27 was so powerful that it
bounced off the Moon and lit up the Earth's atmosphere. A
neutron star only 20km across, on the other side of our galaxy,
released more energy in a 10th of a second than the Sun emits
in 100,000 years. It's distance, 50,000 light-years away, puts
it beyond the centre of the Milky Way and a safe distance from
Earth. "Had this happened within 10 light-years of us, it would
have severely damaged our atmosphere and would possibly
have triggered a mass extinction." It's probably the biggest
explosion observed by humans within our galaxy since 1604.
It was an event that is sometimes characterised as a 'star-quake',
a neutron star equivalent of an earthquake. (Note the date -
the 9.0 Indonesian quake occurred at the same time.) The
initial burst of high-energy radiation subsided quickly but
there continues to be an afterglow at longer radio wavelengths.
This radio emission persists as the shockwave from the
explosion moves out through space, ploughing through nearby
gas and exciting matter to extraordinary energies.

Friday, February 18, 2005

* Super-cyclone Olaf, one of the most powerful in the South Pacific
for years, hit American Samoa's Manu'a Islands yesterday,
with damage expected to be severe. The cyclone swung towards
the Cook Islands, already hammered twice by cyclones in the past
fortnight. It was expected to hit the Cooks and possibly Niue today.

* Two weeks of torrential rains and snow in Pakistan have now
resulted a death toll of at least 640.

* Severe winter weather over the past several weeks have left many
areas of Afghanistan completely cut off. Food and medical
supplies are being sent to many of these areas by air but UN
officials say they are finding it difficult to reach many parts
of the central Ghor province. More than 160 have been have been
killed in avalanches and accidents caused by heavy snowfall.
One hundred more have died from diseases caused by the intense cold.

* A strong 6.0 earthquake measuring shook the tsunami-ravaged
Indonesian town of Banda Aceh Thursday but there was no immediate
report of any casualty. Seconds after the first quake, another
5.9-magnitude quake was felt in the Aceh provincial capital.

* A global disaster is in the making with regional water supplies
being dramatically affected by climate change in the decades
immediately ahead. The western U.S. is already experiencing
water shortages and research suggests that the region could face
a water crisis within 20 years. In the South American Andes and
western China, millions of people could be left without adequate
water during the summer due to accelerated melting of glaciers.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

* Four more aftershocks hit the Indian Ocean area on
Tuesday and Wednesday near the site of the Dec. 26 earthquake.

* The 6.2 earthquake in Xinhua, China on Tuesday destroyed 900
homes. The earthquake also partially damaged 6000 other homes.

* A moderate 4.8 earthquake rattled Alaska's largest city,
Anchorage, on Wednesday morning but caused no serious damage.
There were a very high number of minor quakes in Alaska on Wednesday.

* Emergency measures are being taken in Samoa and American Samoa
as they face a very strong Cyclone Olaf. Meteorologists forecast
that the South Pacific cyclone will miss the major centers of
population but it has already caused flooding and brought down
power lines and trees in some coastal areas. Meanwhile the Cook
Islands has escaped the full force of Cyclone Nancy. The cyclone
weakened to a category two storm and passed to the west.

* Flash flooding tsunami waters, following the massive meteor
impact in the Gulf of Mexico, may have messed up the geological
record 65 million years ago, say New Mexican and Mexican geologists.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

*Super Cyclone Olaf seems likely to spare Samoa
from a direct hit after it curved away from the
South Pacific nation, but nearby American Samoa
is still in danger, forecasters say.
* Cyclone Nancy has caused significant damage to several islands
in the southern Cook Islands and a number of people have
been moved to evacuation shelters.

* Indonesia's Mount Egon volcano spewed smoke for a
fourth day and some 2000 people living nearby
have been placed on alert. Sunday's eruption was
the first since last September.

* A 6.4 earthquake shook the Indonesian province
of North Sulawesi overnight but there were no
immediate reports of damage or casualties.

* An earthquake measuring 6.2 has occurred in north-western China.

* A earthquake measuring 5.4 shook the Tokyo area of
Japan before dawn yesterday, jolting many residents
out of bed and causing minor injuries to at least
twenty-eight people.

* Floods and landslides have killed more than 80
people and left at least 60,000 homeless in
Venezuela and Colombia. A week-long storm has
pounded the region. "This has been very unusual.
It doesn't rain like this normally at this
time of year."

* An avalanche hit a village in the Panjshir valley north of
the Afghan capital. At least 10 people were killed in
their mud-brick home and 17 others injured. Dozens of
families are still threatened by potential avalanches. The
latest snowfalls, the heaviest in several years, have
claimed the lives of at least 95 people over the past weeks.
This year's snowfalls were welcomed by the drought-hit
country's farmers but have threatened tens of thousands
of refugees who still live in crushing poverty in refugee camps.

* Drought is worsening in Brazil.

* The severe water shortage emerging in Thailand could be partly caused
by the gigantic earthquake which generated the tsunami disaster,
disaster officials said. The entire southern province is drying up. It
is possible the Dec 26 quake off Sumatra might have opened subterranean
cracks which drained off surface and underground water. If there
are no early rains, the area is headed for a water crisis in April and May.

* For the second time in the span of a month, a landslide in
Greenfield, Pennsylvania has forced people out of their homes.

* February is fire season in southeastern North Carolina, and this
year is off to a busy start.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

* Two tropical cyclones have started battering several South
Pacific island nations in a "critically dangerous situation".
Cyclone Olaf has hit the western end of the Samoan archipelago.
Winds in excess of 250km/h (155mph) are expected over the next
24 hours. A slightly weaker Cyclone Nancy has begun causing damage
to parts of the Cook Islands. Officials are concerned that the
cyclones may cross paths, and either create one giant storm or
strike in short succession. Olaf is expected to become a Category
Five Super-Cyclone, the most powerful on the scale. Two cyclones
in such close proximity is unusual and very dangerous.

* Scotland's seasons are changing beyond all recognition as a
result of global warming. Nature watchers have compiled
a list of astonishing sightings the last few years. Spring arrives in
Scotland two weeks earlier than it did 30 years ago and is now
a full month earlier than it was in 1920. The trend is accelerating
and 2005 may be the earliest ever. It is not just spring that is
changing. Summers are hotter and drier. Autumn is taking a long
time to arrive and lasts longer. Leaves are still on many trees in
November and winter is being squeezed.

* Historical droughts in the Columbia River Basin were more severe
than anything in recent memory, including the drought of
1992-93. A study of tree rings found four droughts between
1750 and 1950 that were "much more severe than anything in
recent memory" because they persisted for years. Drought like
the one in the 1840s, for instance, simply hasn't been part of the
modern water systems experiences. The current drought "pales
in comparison with some of the earlier droughts we see from the
tree-ring record," going back 2000 years.

* Blasts accompanied by tremors, which were experienced in
India in the Talala region, are swarm-type micro earthquake
activity. The epicentre of the mysterious blasts and
tremors was in Devaniyanes, about four km from the main
affected area of Haripar and Talala. A study has revealed
that the region has below it black rock to a depth of about
35 km. The heat released due to inter-sliding of two plates of
this rock had been causing blast-like sounds and tremors.
According to the study report, a total 384 tremors were recorded
in the affected region between January 13 and February 2.
Of this, 356 tremors measured less than 1, 20 tremors
between 1 and 2, and eight tremors between 2 and 3 on the
Richter scale. These tremors - termed as micro-level quakes
by the experts - did not cause any damage. These tremors,
however, brought back the memories of the 2001 earthquake
among the residents in about five villages in Talala taluka.
The villages have been experiencing a series of tremors
for the last two months.

* Parts of north Wales have been hit by an earth tremor,
3.1 on the Richter scale and centred on Colwyn Bay. Police
said they have had scores of calls from people reporting loud noises
and violent shaking of their homes lasting more than 10 seconds.
In December, similar reports of seismic activity were put down to
a sonic boom from a military jet. The area around the Menai Strait
lies on a geological fault and people living in the area have
experienced tremors in the past.

* Effects of the 7.9 Denali Fault Earthquake in Alaska in 2002,
such as swaying objects and sloshing swimming pools, reached as
far as the East Coast. Most notably, however, the Denali Fault
Earthquake triggered earthquakes 2000 miles away, with quake
swarms across Canada and as far away as Yellowstone National
Park, California and Utah. This is the first time seismologists have
documented this effect at such great distances. Of all the
earthquakes recorded in U.S. history with a magnitude greater
than 7, California has had only 16 and Alaska has had more than 80.

* A weak El Nino that had a minor impact on global weather recently
will diminish and end during the next three months, U.S weather
forecasters say. El Nino conditions are unlikely to reemerge during
the remainder of 2005. The current El Nino emerged in October
and remained relatively weak compared to previous ones.

* 2005 could be the warmest year since records started being kept
in the late 1800s due to the weak El Nino and human-made
greenhouse gases, NASA scientists say.

Monday, February 14, 2005

* Arizona has been hit by the latest in a series of winter storms
that have pushed streams out of their banks in the midst of a
drought. A threat of flooding forced residents to evacuate part
of one southeastern Arizona community Sunday. Heavy rain
fell across wide areas of Arizona on Friday and Saturday as
the storm arrived from California, where three deaths were
blamed on the high wind and drenching rain. It was the third
round of storms to strike Arizona since late December, but
officials have said the storms aren't enough to pull Arizona
out of its nine-year drought.

* In Pakistan, heavy rains, snowfalls, landslides and floods have
brought the death toll to more than 300 while over 1000 persons
are missing and hundreds of others displaced. Ten people are
feared dead under a landslide in a village near Abbotabad, seven
people died in Balakot, three in Bandah, three in Khaibar Agency,
nine in Mardan, five in Voneer and Shab-e-Qadr and three girls in
Malikabad, Nbakrah and Bannu.

* The mountainous regions of Greece have been hit with heavy snowfalls
in the past few days. Five people were killed and six injured in an
avalanche that hit a group of 28 mountain climbers in southern Greece.

* Two tropical cyclones, Nancy and Olaf, are threatening a wide
area of the South Pacific. Olaf is expected to affect Samoa
within the next 24 to 48 hours, bringing heavy rain and rough seas.
Nancy was intensifying northeast of Pago Pago in American Samoa,
projected to head towards the Cook Islands which narrowly
escaped severe damage when struck a glancing blow by Cyclone
Meena last week.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

* The death toll from floods and a week of torrential rain and avalanches
in Pakistan has passed 340. Between 1,000 and 1,500 people
are still missing in coastal villages in the worst-hit southwestern province
of Baluchistan. Nearly 18,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in
the region. In Pakistan-held Kashmir, the death toll rose by eight to 46.
Rains eased up Sunday, but three more days of rain is forecast in parts
of Baluchistan and northern and northwestern Pakistan, starting
Monday or early Tuesday.

* Floods and mudslides have killed 40 people in Venezuela
as torrential rains have battered the coastline of the South American
country for a week. Unseasonal rains have forced the government
to deploy coast guard boats to evacuate hundreds of families trapped by
landslides on coastal roads. Fears have been raised of a repeat of five years
ago, when tens of thousands of people were killed when massive mudslides
destroyed towns and villages along Venezuela's coastal Vargas state.
In neighbouring Colombia, heavy rains triggered flooding and mudslides
that killed at least 18 people and forced 22,000 more from their homes
in the north-eastern part of the country.

* Rumors of an earthquake in the Afghan capital Kabul and Pakistan's
northwestern city of Peshawar, caused tens of thousands of scared
residents to spend a chilly night out in the open. The rumours spread
after relatives and friends in Peshawar called people in Kabul telling
them an earthquake was likely to hit the region.

* Last week's low-pressure system that brought severe storms to eastern
Australia broke about 100 weather records. "This rain event
was extremely unusual because of the wide area covered by the
heavy rain. Records are often created in isolated spots, often as a
result of slow-moving thunderstorms, but it is much rarer for extreme
rainfall to occur across such an area." Among the records set were:
all-time daily rainfall records, wettest February day records, first
sub-zero maximum temperature ever recorded in Australia in February,
and coldest February day records.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

* Hundreds of people were swept into the Arabian sea in
south-west Pakistan where heavy rains caused a large dam to burst.
Rescue workers have now recovered at least 80 bodies from the
surging water, but 400 people are still missing. Pakistan has been hit
by 10 days of heavy rain and snow.

* Avalanches and heavy snow in India's Kashmir region have left
3000 passengers stranded on a highway for 5 days in subzero
temperatures and they are sending frantic rescue messages.
Avalanches have claimed the lives of 18 people since Monday.
Stranded passengers denied Government statements that it was
supplying food and shelter to stranded people.

* There is increased danger of avalanches in Kamchatka, Russia's
mountainous regions at present as a powerful cyclone approaches
the peninsula's coasts.

* 2004 was the fourth warmest year on Earth since temperature
measurements began worldwide at the end of the 19th century.
The warming effect of the El Nino current could make 2005
approach or beat the record warmth of 1998, NASA said.
The warming trend is already significant enough to permanently
make the seasons warmer. The regions with the highest rise in
average temperatures last year were Alaska, the Caspian Sea
region and the Antarctic Peninsula.

* A 5.5 earthquake and aftershocks rumbled through southwest
Yukon near the Alaska border Friday afternoon, but weren't
expected to have caused damage or injuries in the region.

* Real-time updates of what aftershocks scientists expect to follow
any significant earthquake in California should be online in about a
month. The new forecasting tool was developed by U.S. Geological
Survey researchers. Once the automatically updating model is up and
running, the public will be able to look to the map much as people look
to weather forecasts to gauge what scientists believe may occur in their
area and the probabilities that a particular area will experience strong
shaking within the next 24 hours. The new map combines forecasting
models made for long periods of time based on what is known about the
geology and history of earthquakes with more complex models that take
into account clustering of aftershocks in the short term. The Web site for
the Pasadena office of the USGS is http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov .

Friday, February 11, 2005

* 2004 was the deadliest year for earthquakes in five centuries.
The deadliest quake on record occurred Jan. 23, 1556, when an
8.0 earthquake killed about 830,000 people in Shansi, China.

* A small 4.1 earthquake centered in northeastern Arkansas rattled
parts of several states Thursday but caused no major damage.
The quake was centered in the New Madrid seismic zone, which
covers parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.

* The Arkansas quake is "yet another wake-up call to the central
United States about the serious potential for earthquakes, the
hazard it poses to those living in the region, and the need to strengthen
the region's buildings and structures...Contrary to what many believe,
the strongest earthquake activity on record in the continental 48
United States was not in California. It was in the central U.S. in the
early 1800s." Since 1900, moderately damaging earthquakes have
struck the seismic zone every few decades.

* A powerful cyclone is moving from Japan's shores towards the
Kamchatka Peninsula at a velocity of up to 60 kilometres an hour.
The cyclone is expected to hit the Peninsula's southeast today
bringing heavy snowfalls and wind velocity of up to 30 metres per
second. A severe storm is also expected to originate in the Sea of
Okhotsk, Bering Sea, and the Pacific Ocean near the Kamchatka coast.

* At least 20 people have been killed after a dam burst in heavy
rains in Pakistan in a southern coastal town. Many more
people have been injured and hundreds have been made homeless.
Several villages and part of a town were swept away when rains
breached the dam. Dozens more people have died during continuing
bad weather in Pakistan in the past two weeks with heavy rain and
snow causing a series of landslides and avalanches. Some parts of
the country have received the heaviest rain and snow in seven years.

* Cuba is concerned about possible forest fires because of a serious
drought which has extended for months.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

* The first pictures of the undersea site of the huge earthquake
that caused the Asian tsunami were revealed on Wednesday
by British scientists. The 3-dimensional computer graphics show
a scene of devastation off the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, with
colossal landslides up 100 metres high and 200 metres long, and
fresh cracks, hundreds of metres long, in the seabed.
The images show "slide scars'' more than six miles wide.

* A strong 5.7 earthquake struck Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Aceh
province Wednesday, shaking buildings as terrified residents fled for
higher ground in cars and on foot. Even before the tremors subsided,
police officers and soldiers began shouting "Tsunami! Tsunami!''
causing mayhem for about a half hour. Also Wednesday, a powerful
6.7 earthquake rocked the Pacific seabed near Vanuatu island.
Although Vanuatu is on the same tectonic plate as Sumatra, the
quake was not connected with the Dec. 26 quake, seismologists said.

* An intense 6.2 earthquake near Japan's Bonin Islands was recorded
early today more than 1000km south-east of Tokyo.

* The lava currently flowing down the slopes of Kluchevskoi volcano
in Russia will inevitably give way to powerful mudflows that are
usually 500 meters wide at the front and which are flowing east of
the Klyuchi village 30 km away from the foot of the volcano. The
mudflows will be carrying huge stones with a diameter of up to
three meters and tree trunks and pose a serious threat to people
and equipment in their way. The local residents have been warned
about the risk.

* A landslide in Japan destroyed six houses, killing one woman
on Tuesday afternoon in Aira, Kagoshima Prefecture.

* In Japan's Niigata Prefecture some of the heaviest snow in 19 years
has been falling. It is the same area where thousands of residents still
take shelter in temporary housing after their Oct. 23 earthquake.
Elsewhere, record winter snowfall had been recorded as of Monday
in 10 locations in Hokkaido and six prefectures, Niigata, Aomori,
Fukushima, Gunma, Tochigi, and Kyoto. The snow is not expected to
let up anytime soon. Despite initial signs of a mild winter with little snow,
waves of bitter cold air swept in from Siberia in late December, causing
the unusually heavy snowfall.

* At least 20 people were killed as heavy rains and snow lashed
a vast region of Pakistan. 11 residents died when a boulder
rolled down a hill amid heavy snow and crashed on to their house.
The hill resort of Murree, near the capital Islamabad, has
been hit with 12 feet (four metres) of snow in the past five
weeks - a ten-year record. The rain in Baluchistan
was the heaviest in 15 years.

* Iran is having one of its harshest winters in decades, the worst
weather for 34 years, and the forecast is for more snow in the coming
days. Record snowfall has disrupted ordinary life in the Iranian capital,
Tehran, with schools closed for most of the week and many people
unable to get to work. Some villages in the mountains are cut off.
Thousands of travellers are stranded in northern Iran.

* This year's snowfall is the heaviest in years in Afghanistan.

* Manali, India has received their heaviest snowfall in 25 years.
They have been experiencing heavy snow for the last two weeks
along with cold temperatures. As many as 3,000 people are
believed to be stranded on a key mountain highway following
avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall.

* Snowfall this
winter in southern Kashmir is the heaviest in five years.

* Record-breaking snowfall paralyzed the New England area
of the U.S. last month. Boston's January total was 43.1 inches
- more snow than in any month since the National Weather Service
began keeping records in 1892.

* Utah is having a very unusual winter - days of heavy snowfall
in the mountains and heavy rain in the valley, and long, long intervals
of sunny, warm weather in between, the pattern repeating itself over
and over. Utah is one of the few places in the country with good
snow. California has also received good snowfall. In other parts
of the country snow has been scarce. No one know for sure what
brought on the unusual weather. "We are currently in the midst of a
light El Nino weather system, and while the precipitation pattern
looks like an El Nino, the storm track production shows we're not.
Why we're in this pattern, no one really understands."

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

* A 6.7 earthquake in the South Pacific near Vanuatu caused
thousands of people living in coastal settlements in the Papua New
Guinea capital to flee their homes after a tsunami alert was issued.
The quake was preceded by a smaller, 6.1 magnitude quake yesterday
off the PNG island of New Britain. Both earthquakes were centred
far below the surface of the earth and neither caused any damage.
More than 2000 people were killed in 1998 when tidal waves struck
the north coast town of Aitape following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake
off the country's east coast. Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu lie in the
same tectonic collision zone as Sumatra.

* Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula on
Tuesday spewed incandescent gas and vapour to an altitude of up
to three kilometres.

* Three tremors shook northern Nepal Tuesday morning. Nepal
has been hit by big tremors every 70 to 75 years. The last one,
measuring 8.2 R, occurred in Kathmandu Valley in 1934, and killed
between 10,000 and 12,000 people.

*Keep an eye on the quakes in California, the
western U.S, and the Caribbean.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

* At least 10 people have been killed in avalanches in eastern Tajikistan
that have isolated several mountainous regions. The avalanches were
triggered after recent heavy snowfall. Authorities have received no word
from dozens of mountain villages that have been isolated by the snow.
Around 3000 people were evacuated from the Nurobad region.

* Australians are "sitting ducks" until a tsunami warning system is installed,
a leading geoscientist said today.

* Seismologists have determined that the Dec. 26 Sumatra earthquake
was actually 9.3, three times larger than originally thought, making
it the second largest earthquake ever instrumentally recorded. These
results have implications for why Sri Lanka suffered such a great impact
and also indicate that the chances of similar large tsumanis occurring
in the same area are reduced. Strain accumulated from subduction
of the Indian plate beneath the Burma microplate has been released,
leaving no immediate danger of a comparable ocean-wide tsunami
being generated on this segment of the plate boundary. However, the
danger remains of a local tsunami due to a powerful aftershock.
There is also danger of a large tsunami being generated by
a great earthquake on segments to the south .

* The number of people believed killed in December's tsunami disaster
topped 295,000 today, six weeks after the catastrophe, as Indonesia
again increased its number of dead. The number of people confirmed
dead has risen to 114,573 while the number of people missing and
almost certainly dead remains at 127,774.

* The outflow of lava from two volcanoes continues in Vanuatu.
A number of families from Ambrym are seeking refuge on other islands
in the wake of persistent damage being caused by the volcanic activity.
The Ambrymese are bracing for serious food and water shortages, if
the two volcanoes continue to spew ash into the air. Many water sources
have been contaminated by acid rain and gardens are withering with
many of their fruits discovered to have been cooked from the inside.

* A slow-moving landslide in Anaheim Hills, California, has put
three new multimillion-dollar homes in danger of collapsing.

* Drought might have some link to a high number of childhood
leukemia cases in Sierra Vista - University of Arizona researchers
are looking into a possible connection.

Monday, February 7, 2005

* Small quakes in Washington state appear to be on the rise, while
numerous daily quakes continue to occur at Mt. St. Helens.

* Severe tropical Cyclone Harvey was heading for the Australian coast
and intensifying, with high winds of up to 190 km/h. It will likely cross
the coast somewhere near the Northern Territory and Queensland border.
Harvey was expected to make its landfall in a largely unpopulated area.
Residents have been advised to expect much greater than normal tides.

* The Cook Islands seem to have escaped the worst of Cyclone Meena
which had been forecast to cause widespread devastation.

* An earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale hit the island of
Samar in central Philippines Sunday afternoon.

* Snowpack is at or near record lows in many parts of the Western U.S.
- a discouraging sign that suggests the long drought there may continue
for yet another year. Snowpack is at record lows in parts of Montana
after an unseasonably warm spell in January. Snowpack in the Black
Hills of South Dakota has tied the lowest reading in the last 62 years.
In Washington state, January's snowpack was the lowest in 28 years.
Washington's Yakima Valley snowpack was just 25 percent of normal,
and chances for a turnaround look grim. On the other hand, in mid-January,
Colorado's snowpack stood at 121 percent of average. The Sierra
snowpack was about 150 percent of normal as of mid-January. However,
the heavy snows ceased abruptly about then, and a persistent dry
high-pressure ridge settled in. Extreme or exceptional drought, the
worst conditions, were reported in much of Montana, Wyoming and
Idaho, with pockets of extreme drought in Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

* When the Amazon river basin floods, the Congo basin dries up,
and vice versa. This previously undocumented pattern is called
a seesaw oscillation. "The possible implications are that we could
identify precursors of climate conditions that would improve the
predictability of floods and droughts in the tropics." The world has
three main rainfall centers where intense storms with a global reach
originate: the Western Pacific Ocean, the Amazon River basin and
the Congo River basin.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

*"Do we have to have a significant asteroid or meteor
impact before people think, "Oh, we need to have an early
warning system after all" which is exactly what has happened with
the tsunami." According to one politician, governments are "willing
to impose all kinds of incredibly strict regulations on farming to try
and eliminate miniscule health dangers but they stand by doing very
little about a potentially Armageddon type impact which in actuarial
terms stands to kill far more people than CJD, BSE, food poisoning
and phosphates put together...We're off to fight a war in Iraq on the
basis of imaginary weapons of mass destruction. They're willing to do
nothing in the face of a guaranteed weapon of mass destruction which
already has Earth's name written all over it and which we haven't yet
identified...I'm absolutely sure there is going to be a significant impact
at some point in the next few years. There just is."

* Mount Veniaminof on the Alaska Peninsula reportedly spurted red
hot lava into the air Thursday that could be seen from Perryville,
which is located about 20 miles to the south. Veniaminof has been
active for the last month, sending up plumes of ash and prompting flight
restrictions in the area. Residents say they grew a little more concerned
when they witnessed the shooting lava. The volcano is at code orange,
meaning an eruption is possible, but experts say there is no immediate danger.

* Lava from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii is flowing into the ocean
in two new places. The lava is about 2,000 degrees.

* There was a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in Simeuleu, Indonesia
yesterday 360 km (225 miles) S of Banda Aceh, Sumatra and
1590 km (990 miles) NW of Jakarta, Java, Indonesia.

* There was a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in the Andaman Islands
India region, early today.

* There was a magnitude 5.5 (5.9?)earthquake in the Nicobar Islands,
India region, on Saturday 325 km (200 miles) NNW of Banda Aceh,
Sumatra, Indonesia.

* There was a magnitude 5.7 (5.9?) earthquake in the Nicobar Islands,
India region, on Saturday 320 km (195 miles) NNW of Banda Aceh,
Sumatra, Indonesia.

* The magnitude 7.1 earthquake in the Celebes Sea near the
Philippines yesterday was located 2220 km (1380 miles) NE of
Jakarta, Java, Indonesia.

* A cyclone in the Mediterranean has created one of the gravest
winters in decades in half of Bulgaria. Blizzards have sealed
off half the country, two people have died and meteorologists are
forecasting a freezing weekend with temperatures dropping to minus 18 on
Sunday and Monday until the Mediterranean cyclone draws off. A state
of emergency has been declared in 35 municipalities and nine districts
to date. The storm hit on Friday accompanied by hurricane speed wind.

* Cyclone Meena is heading for the Cook Islands. Forecasters
in Fiji say it is moving away from American Samoa, in an easterly direction
at a speed of five-knots and it is intensifying rapidly.

* A thick winter smog is blanketing southeastern Quebec and much
of southern Ontario because of unusually warm weather and is
unlikely to lift before some time next week. In Quebec, pollution
levels in the air are three times the normal level for this time of year,
and Ontario's Environment Ministry has issued its first-ever smog
alert in the month of February.

Saturday, February 5, 2005

* A 7.1 (or 6.9 earthquake) hit today in the Celebes Sea off
of the southern Philippines. No aftershocks are expected from
the quake and there was no sign of any possible tsunami, the
civil defence office said. Although about five quakes hit the
Philippines every day, few if any are felt. Only three major,
destructive tremors had been recorded in more than 30 years.

* In the Wellington, Australia region, civil defense
experts are planning for a quake of at least 7.3. The area
has been rocked by several quakes in the past month, including
one of magnitude 5.5 on January 21 – the region's biggest for
30 years. Experts warn they can expect more. One planning
scenario assumes 500 people will be killed. At least 1500 more
will need hospital treatment and 5000 will be trapped in
collapsed buildings. Wrecked buildings will be left to burn
and trapped people forced to look after themselves for
several days after an inevitable big earthquake. But less
than half of the households are prepared for such a disaster
with stockpiles of at least three days' supply of water, food
and other essentials in an emergency survival kit. "In the first
three days, nobody will be able to do anything for anyone."
Their 1855 earthquake, which caused significant damage and
caused permanent changes to the shorelines by lifting land
from the harbour, was a magnitude 8.2.

* The waters of the Indian Ocean continue to slosh
between the west coast of Australia and the distant east coast of
Africa more than a month after the world's most devastating tsunami.
The aftershocks keep coming. Planet Earth is still reverberating,
"ringing like a bell". The difference between more common large
quakes and the magnitude 9.0 quake has been compared to
"tapping a bell with a spoon and belting it with a hammer".

* Energy from the giant Sumatra earthquake traveled 7,000
miles to shake up an Alaska volcano. Mount Wrangell
shook with at least 12 tiny earthquakes as the energy waves
from across the globe passed through the mountain during a
10 minute-period about one hour after the quake struck Sumatra.
Large earthquakes often trigger volcanic activity - the 7.9 Denali
Fault earthquake in 2002 triggered similar unrest in volcanic
features at Yellowstone and northern Mexico - but the
Sumatra-Mt.Wrangell connection covers more than one quarter
of the globe. "If in fact seismicity at Wrangell was triggered by
the Sumatra quake, this would be the long-distance record
at about 11,000 kilometers (about 7,000 miles)." Wrangell was
the only Alaska volcano that seemed to react.

* A 6.3 earthquake jolted the northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific
this morning. It's not immediately clear whether there were casualties
or damage. The quake came three days after another 6.3 magnitude
rattled the Mariana islands and Guam.

* The 5.1 earthquake that jolted West Java on Wednesday damaged
at least 3,287 houses. Residents initially thought the tremor was a
result of activities of a geothermal power plant belonging to PT
Chepron Texaco Energy Indonesia. Hundreds of people went to
the plant to protest.

* An earthquake measuring 5.5 shook India in the northeastern
region early on Friday causing panic among sleeping residents.
"We ran out of our homes with the tremor shaking our beds. It
was followed by a hooting noise." The region has experienced at
least seven moderate tremors during the past two months.

* A severe cold wave in India has the entire Kashmir valley reeling.

* Heavy snow in Japan has dealt yet another blow to the
quake-ravaged Chuetsu area of Niigata Prefecture, claiming the
lives of 10 people and injuring many more.

*The foul sulphur odor blowing from the Anatahan volcano is causing
a big stink 200 miles to the south on Guam. It's so bad the National
Weather Service early Friday morning issued a Volcanic Haze and
Ash Fall Advisory for Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan.

* Tropical Cyclone Meena is intensifying as it sweeps past
the South Pacific archipelago of the Manua group of islands.
Schools in American Samoa have been closed and residents have
been warned to prepare for possible flooding.

* The north-west of Australia may still be hit by a severe cyclone
this February. The latest weather patterns support predictions of
an average number of cyclones, with one or two coastal impacts.
There have only been two weak tropical cyclones in the region
so far this season.

* A cyclone continues to rage over Kamchatka, Russia. The
precipitation intensity has subsided, but the windstorm remains there
with the wind speed reaching 29 metres a second. The cyclone will
remain in the region for at least 24 hours. Earlier it had completely
isolated the settlement of Zavoiko from the rest of the territory.

Friday, February 4, 2005

* Increased seismic activities of Mayon Volcano in central
Philippines has been recorded during the past 24 hours as
Alert Level 2 remained hoisted over the volcano. A team of
geologists and seismologists have been dispatched to conduct
ground deformation surveys around the slopes. The last ground
deformation reading was conducted in September last year when
a slight inflation was noted on the slopes of the volcano.

* A 3.0 magnitude earthquake shook the north Puget Sound area
early Thursday, jolting many residents awake but causing no major
damage. The quake under south Whidbey Island was widely felt
Thursday morning from Mount Vernon to north Seattle, Washington.

* Tremors continue to rock Andaman and Nicobar Islands with two
quakes of moderate intensity rocking the region early yesterday.

* More than 500 aftershocks have now struck the Indian Ocean area
where the giant earthquake hit on Dec. 26.

*Although India claims that its nuclear reactors in Tamil Nadu state
withstood the tsunami lashes, workers and local residents around
the Kalpakkam nuclear facility are feeling insecure and unsafe after
the facility was deluged. At least 60 to 80 people were killed and
more than 1,000 houses damaged at Kalpakkam, 50 miles south
of Madras. The heavy protection walls on the seashore simply
disappeared without a trace. Some 300 workers were missing from
the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor site, whose foundation pit was
flooded by the tsunami.

* A severe snowstorm in Afghanistan has led to the crash of an
Afghan airliner with 96 people on board. It crashed in the country's
northern mountainous region. All flights out of Kabul were cancelled
Thursday because of the weather. But Kabul airport officials had
told the pilot the weather was good enough for him to make his flight.

* The heaviest rain in 156 years of records in Melbourne,
Australia was caused by a cold-climate cyclone. It dumped 120mm
of rain on the city in 24 hours. The damage bill for the deluge has been
estimated at $100 million.

*Drought and few ice jams have caused the US Army Corps of
Engineers to keep flows at some of the lowest river levels in recent
years in St. Joseph, Missouri.
*In South Dakota, moisture and snow levels already at record
lows this year, and many ranchers say they are willing to try anything
if it will break the drought cycle.
*Florida has issued an alert over potential wildfire danger -
drier temperatures, drier weather conditions, colder temperatures,
the general lack of moisture and the dead trees left from
hurricane damage, that is a prescription for wildfires.
*Yuba County, California, has been declared an agricultural
disaster area due to drought.
*U.S. Great Plains states could face a widespread drought in the
next few decades, a new study reports.
*A prolonged drought in Perlis, Malaysia, has caused the water
level at the Timah Tasoh Dam in Beseri to drop drastically. No end
to the drought is in sight.
*The International Federation of Red Cross says Eritrean food
stocks have run out after four years of successive drought.
*Due to the drought situation, hundreds of villagers in rural areas
of Karachi, Pakistan, have migrated to the city areas in search
of fodder and water.
*The aid agency, Save The Children, warns that up to 8,000 children
face serious risks to their health and education as drought grips Fiji.
* Africa's Western Cape politicians and religious leaders will join
forces on Thursday in Piketberg, one of the areas of the province
worst hit by drought, to pray for rain.
*In Uganda, prolonged drought since December last year is likely
to cause a rise in food prices countrywide.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

"Military activity in Russia has increased to a level not seen in
decades and many high level military officials have been leaving
the region by aircraft bound for [the safety of] the great underground
city beneath Yamantau Gora Mountain it is being reported. Much
frantic activity is also being seen with many thousands of animals
migrating towards the interior spaces between our mountains and
leaving costal areas with much speed.
Strange news has also been received from the United States that a
mistake in their Emergency Broadcasting System signaled an evacuation
of one of their Eastern coastal regions, Connecticut. Though being
dismissed by many Americans as a mistaken order this message does
provide a notice that the American authorities are also aware of
impending events and are themselves in preparation for the massive
evacuations of their costal residents. It is interesting to note too that
the time frame as specified in this warning coincides with the massive
continuing sun explosions now occurring. It is estimated that the giant
explosive regions of the sun, soon to be facing earthward, will occur in
less than a week's time. Continued bombardment of the earth of the
massive and increasing energy 'blasts'are wrecking unprecedented
damage upon the Southern Hemispheric Regions and greatly affecting
all of the earth's weather systems."
There is more at - http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index675.htm
including the 1500 volcanoes activating and the increase in meteors
hitting the earth, unprecedented in recent history. The Russians and
others are baffled that the U.S. population is not recognizing the signs
of approaching disaster. They are preparing - should we be?

*Shocking weather has plagued Australia in the past 48 hours.
Victoria is one of the worst hit states, yesterday recording its
coldest February day on record. Rainfall in the southern and
central districts is setting new records.
A massive dust storm, the worst in a decade, or possibly 20 years,
has caused havoc across western Queensland, with regional
airports shut down, a Qantas flight diverted and residents urged
to stay indoors. "It isn't unknown but coming this far north is a
little bit less usual." Such severe dust storms occur only every
two to three years.
The dust storm was followed by winds from unusual directions,
large hail, flooding, record rainfall and storm force winds that had
emergency crews up all night in Melbourne and police yesterday
warned people to stay out of the city. "The impact of the storm
has been so sudden and so significant." "It's a fairly big, ... quite
unusual event. "
Wild storms have whipped across Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and
south-east Queensland, with Melbourne recording its heaviest rainfall
since records began in 1856. The storms were caused by an intense
low pressure system that brought chaos. Heavy rain and large hail
stones pummelled parts of Sydney and the Central Coast the day
before also, causing flooding, while winds of more than 90km/h
brought down trees and power lines and tore roofs off buildings.

* The heaviest snow in two decades in Japan has killed three people.
The area was rocked on October 23 by a quake registering 6.8
on the Richter scale which killed 40 people and injured
some 2,900. It was Japan's deadliest tremor in a decade.

* The heaviest snowfall in several years in Afghanistan - At
least 16 people were killed as heavy snow caused accidents
there and in Pakistan. At least 400 vehicles were stranded
on Sunday in the eastern suburbs of Kabul after a snowslide
blocked the road.

* Heavy snowfall in Bulgaria has forced authorities to call a state of
emergency in the country's northeastern Silistra region.

*A powerful mud flow rushed down the slope of Klyuchevskoi
volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula (Russian Far East). The mud
flowed all the way from the Ehrmann and Cherny glaciers (that are
located on the slopes of the volcano), subsequently reaching the
Kamchatka river. The mud flow traveled along a road east of Klyuchi,
sweeping away trees that had been felled by lumberjacks along a
dried-up river. The latest mud flow was apparently triggered off by
all-out volcanic-bomb eruptions or a lava flow. Even more powerful
mud flows can rush down east of Klyuchi, which is located 30 km
from the foot of the volcano, possibly damaging roads and threatening
human lives. A powerful glow can be seen above the huge volcano's
crater at night even in bad weather. Meanwhile volcanic bombs are
hurled some 200-300 meters into the air.

*Scores of people have reported sick on the South Pacific island
of Guam because of haze and ash from an erupting volcano in a
neighbouring island in in the Northern Marianas. The Anatahan
volcano, north of Saipan, the centre of the Northern Marianas,
erupted for the third time on January 5 and remains active.

*The earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale that hit the
city of Hakkari in Turkey killed two and injured 26. People
have rushed to buy tents after not enough were provided by
The Turkish Red Crescent Society.

*One person was killed in the 5.2 quake in Java, Indonesia. The
quake also left many houses damaged in the hardest-hit district
of Garut in West Java province and power was cut.

*The amount of energy that has been released in the aftershocks
of the 9.0 Indonesian quake is higher than any other case in the
world ever recorded. The Richter scale readings are not going down.
The aftershocks are between 5.2 and 6.2 on the scale. After a series
of aftershocks there is a gap of approximately 78 hours before the
next series appears.

*Almost 65 people are still missing a week after Cyclone Ernest
lashed southwest Madagascar, killing 15 people.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

*Over the weekend earthquakes hit from New Zealand to
Japan. Now Russia is predicting that several of their
volcanoes are next and the U.S.G.S. has increased the watch
levels in Alaska for all of their volcanoes. This has been described
as an activity level not seen in 5000 years.(scroll
down to 'TAA Notes' section)

*More unexplained rumblings, this time from Melbourne, Australia.
An overwhelmingly large number of residents reported feeling a
rumbling that they thought was an earthquake shortly after 3am.
A Geoscience Australia spokesman said it appeared something had
occurred but no one was sure what. The national body which
measures earthquakes said there was no evidence of an earth
tremor in Melbourne. A small localised tremor may have occurred,
spanning about 20km and measuring no more than roughly
1.3 in magnitude.
A lightning bolt may be behind the reports of the tremor. A lightning
bolt struck a power pole in Melton in Melbourne's west and blew
the 6m pole and an attached transformer to bits, leaving nothing
more than a stump. Asked how the impact would have travelled
so far across Melbourne, a spokesman said: "I'm fascinated by that".
Oddly enough, there was no record of thunder or lightning in
Melbourne last night.

*The Indian Ocean region which was rattled by a 9.0 magnitude
earthquake on December 26, will take at least a month more to
stabilise. History shows that the chances of another quake of
high magnitude during the stabilisation process are remote.

*A moderate 5.2 earthquake rocked parts of Indonesia's main
island Java this morning, causing panic among residents and cracks
to some buildings but no casualties.

*A new phenomenon has stunned the people of Central Sulawesi,
Indonesia, in the wake of a recent 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the
region. New hot springs have emerged in Bobo subdistrict, Donggala
regency, southeast of Palu, shortly after the quake jolted the area
on Jan. 24. ( article was on www.thejakartapost.com/ on Jan. 31)

*Studies show that there are 12 to 13 tsunami exceeding 1 metre
every century and around 4 to 5 that exceed the 5 metre mark.
One or two will exceed the 10-metre mark. Japan gets more tsunamis
than any other country on the planet followed on a wide margin by
Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Hawaii, Chile, Alaska, Australia,
West Coast of U.S., Mediterranean Coast and the East Coast of U.S.

*The hundreds of tremors that have shaken Ecuador's coast in
the past 11 days may presage a major earthquake in the region,
but the danger of a massive tsunami is negligible, a geophysicist
said Monday. Since Jan. 20 there have been 317 earthquakes
measuring between magnitude 4 and magnitude 6 off the coast
which indicates a buildup of energy from the Nazca plate, which
is pushing under the South America plate off the western coast
of the continent. Despite the possiblity of a large quake, the
geography of the coast does not allow the formation of tsunamis
similar to the one that struck the Indian Ocean in December. In
1942 a quake of magnitude 8 struck the area, and one of nearly
magnitude 9 occurred in 1906, but neither caused a tsunami.

*While Arizona is seldom thought of as "earthquake country," the
National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program has classified the
state as "high risk," its second most serious category. There have
been three temblors with a magnitude of 6.2, all north of Flagstaff -
in 1906, 1910 and 1912. A 3.9 quake on Sunday was centered
5 kilometers (3.1 miles) beneath the surface in the Chevelon Butte
Area. A 3.8 magnitude quake occurred in the same region on Friday;
a similar series of small quakes shook the area from March through
July of 1989. The region surrounding the quake is riddled with volcanic
residue, a fact that makes it virtually impossible to distinguish a clear,
single fault line. The remote area doesn't reveal any visible surface
breakage, nor would any be expected in such low-magnitude tremors.
There may, in fact, be several faults cutting through the terrain.

*A new Italian space probe may be able to predict earthquakes,
giving people time to take preventive measures, Italian media reported
on Monday. Italian scientists say the probe might be able to give a
4 to 5 hour advance warning of quakes by picking up variations in
the radiation belts surrounding the Earth. The probe was handed
over to a delegation of Russian scientists on Friday and will be
launched from a Russian space base on February 28. The first
results are expected in about seven months time. This mission
is a preliminary experiment and more missions might be needed
to categorically prove the hypothesis.

*Scientists predict coral reefs could begin to collapse in as little
as 30 years from now because of CO2 emissions.

*The massive B-15A iceberg is blocking sea ice in McMurdo Sound,
Antarctica, and may prevent penguins from reaching food in the open
sea. The sea ice is also blocking the supply route to science stations
expecting to receive supplies this month.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

*Scientists continue to monitor two volcanoes that the Alaska
Volcano Observatory says could send dangerous ash into the
air at any time. Mount Spurr, 80 miles west of Anchorage, shook
itself from a 12-year sleep in early July and has been in Code
Yellow status ever since, with daily small earthquakes. Code
Yellow indicates an eruption is possible and could occur with
no warning. Mount Veniaminof, about 500 miles southwest of
Anchorage, changed from Code Green, or "dormant," to Code
Yellow about Jan. 1. On Jan. 10, the observatory upgraded its
activity to Code Orange, indicating the volcano is "in eruption."

*The Ebeko volcano on Paramushir Island in Russia has become
active and may soon erupt. In late January an increase in seismic
activity began under the volcano. The eruption of steam above
Ebeko is now 300-500 meters high. The residents of Severo-Kurilsk,
which is situated in just 7 km from the volcano, can already smell
the sulphurous gas.

*A steam plume that rose from the crater of Mount St. Helens
was visible for miles on Sunday afternoon, however scientists
said it was nothing more than a "low-level emission" symbolic
of the continued growth of the volcano's new lava dome.
Steam plumes rising from Mt. St. Helens the past two weekends
could be viewed easily from downtown Portland, Oregon.
Growth of the new lava dome inside the crater of continues
accompanied by low rates of seismicity, low emissions
of steam and volcanic gases, and minor production of ash.
Scientists say the eruption activity appeared to be slowing on Mount
Hood after four months of magma pushing up into the volcano and
spilling into a lava dome on the crater floor. The activity was said to
now be slower than when it began in late September of 2004.

*Geologists have added Bangkok and its neighbouring provinces
to the national map of quake-prone areas for fear of more violent
seismic activity arising from the undersea quake off Sumatra
that caused the deadly tsunamis in December. Bangkok had
been previously classified as having a low earthquake risk, but
the magnitude 9.0 quake on Dec 26 has geologists worried it
may have activated fault lines in western Thailand.

*An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale
struck the lower North Island, New Zealand, at 6.31am
today. The quake was the latest in a flurry of seismic
activity in recent days. This morning's quake was centred
at the same location as seven of ten quakes which shook
the Wairarapa and Wellington in a ten-hour period on January 18.
The biggest measured 5.3. A 5.5 magnitude quake struck on
January 21 - the largest in the region for nine years. It was
quickly followed by a smaller quake, measuring 3.7. On
January 28 the region was rocked by another small earthquake,
measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale.

*A strong earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale struck
off western Greece in the Ionean Sea early on Monday, but no
casualties were reported.

*An earthquake registering a preliminary magnitude of 5.8, jolted
eastern Hokkaido Monday evening.

*A powerful snowstorm that raged in Moscow on Friday was
the heaviest day's snowfall since weather records began, forcing
planes to divert away from airports, snarling city traffic and making
pedestrians wade through meter-high snowdrifts. Winter's return
came after some of the mildest January temperatures on record.
January may turn out to be the snowiest since city weather records
began in the 19th century. This month's snowfall is twice the January
average. Such severe snowfalls only take place every 25 or 30 years.
More snow is expected throughout this week.

Monday, January 31, 2005

*Slumbering supervolcanoes powerful enough to wipe out much
of the planet may awaken much sooner than it had previously
been thought. Experts believed it would take hundreds of thousands
of years for reservoirs of molten rock, or magma, beneath a
supervolcano to build for an eruption. But a new study indicates the
time between super-eruptions can actually be tens of thousands of years
- and many are already long overdue. Recent measurements indicate
that over the past century the earth above the Yellowstone
magma chamber has risen almost 19 inches. Scientists say this
is telling evidence of pressure building below.

*Papua New Guinea's Manam volcano has erupted, killing one man.
The recent spate of eruptions started last Thursday with three more
eruptions recorded on Saturday. Authorities have reported several
houses burnt down from the hot emissions while others collapsed
under the weight of ash dust and pyroclastic. The whole island is
devastated with villages, houses, boats, canoes and gardens
destroyed by rocks thrown out by the Manam volcano. Authorities
dispatched a vessel to the island yesterday afternoon to evacuate
over 2,000 islanders who had refused to move earlier or who had
returned recently. 210 inhabitants of the neighbouring Boesa
Island have refused to be moved to the mainland.

*More than 410 major aftershocks have occurred since last
month's disastrous earthquake in Indonesia's Aceh province
and the rumblings are likely continue for several weeks,
a geophysics agency said today.

*It had been almost 100 years ago that a tsunami smashed into
Simeulue Island but the people still remembered what their
forefathers told them to do to save themselves: Run to the hills!
That collective memory saved almost the entire population of
the Indian Ocean island of 78,128 even though it was the
closest point to the epicentre of the December 26 earthquake
and resulting tsunami. About 18,000 people remain in the hills.

*A strong earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale
struck off western Greece in the Ionean Sea yesterday,
but no casualties were reported.

* Landslides could be heading to the benches of Pleasant Grove,
and to Provo Canyon, warn Utah Geological Survey officials.
Evidence is mounting that above-normal rain and snowfall this winter
could bring slow-moving landslides of the kind that flattened the
town of Thistle 22 years ago. The Pleasant Grove bench has seen
149 percent of the normal precipitation, with 3.7 inches more
water than normal. The lower portion of Provo Canyon is having
its wettest year in recorded history. The area has seen 7.7 inches
more water than normal so far this winter - about 170 percent of
the normal precipitation. The landslides are unlikely to move until
the so-called landslide season, which begins March 1 and continues
through June 15. If they move, the landslides are likely to slowly
engulf areas below them, rather than flash down the mountain. No
official public announcement of the danger is immediately planned,
as "this is not the kind of hazard that would cause the loss of life.
We are expecting mostly property damage."

*Snowfall on Thursday night in Jammu, India, was their first in
recorded history. Weather anomalies have become a rule rather an
exception across the world. Snowstorms, droughts and floods have
been reported one after the other over the past two-three weeks
from across the world in a pattern unprecedented in the recent past.
But none of this has anything to do with either the devastating
Indonesian quake and the tsunami that followed, says Dr M. Rajeevan,
Forecasting Director, India Meteorological Department. "These
phenomena can at best have very severe but short-term impact
for the topography, but that's about it. They do not hold any
long-term implications, especially for the atmosphere."

Sunday, January 30, 2005

*There have been 4 quakes around 6.0 off the coast of Ecuador
this week. On January 1st an article was published that predicted
exactly this location. The article is alarming - "According to our theory,
there exist latitudinal lineaments (cracks of the earth's core), which
pose potential danger in terms of seismic activity. If we are to follow
equatorial crack westward of South East Asia, we could expect
rather serious seismic cataclysms in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon,
Nigeria and Gabon." "Earthquakes are also likely to hit equatorial
countries of South America. Southern part of Ecuador and the islands
in close proximity to it will be most susceptible to the quake.
Should the seaquakes occur, the waves can easily cover the
entire southern part of Colombia, Ecuador and northern part
of Peru." According to the Russian scientists, the number
of earthquakes in the earth has increased exponentially over the
past few years, a phenomenon not seen in modern human history.
According to some Russian scientists, another major earthquake
in the same vicinity as the Indonesian one, and a series of the same
near the equator, is evident in near future. The resultant Tsunamis
will be three to five time as severe as this last one. The angular
momentum theory also says earth has become more wobbly and
there is a fair possibility that we will see a polar inversion like
the North Pole will become the South Pole and vice versa.
*With a different opinion is the director of Ecuador's Geophysics
Institute who on Tuesday said that the series of offshore earthquakes
that rattled Ecuador's Pacific coast over a five-day period, starting
last week, do not signal an impending giant quake or tsunami.
Two additional and larger quakes hit Ecuador this Friday.
In Ecuador, the shock wave from the December Indonesia quake
displaced the earth's surface more than two centimeters,
or nearly an inch.

*Since early July 2004, an increased number of earthquakes
has been recorded from beneath Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii.
From week to week, the numbers fluctuate but generally remain
well above the norm. Through January 20, more than 1750
earthquakes related to the ongoing seismic activity have been
recorded. They are "long-period" (LP) earthquakes, which
means that their signals gradually rise out of the background
rather than appearing abruptly. Such a concentrated number of
deep LP earthquakes from this part of Mauna Loa is unprecedented,
at least in our modern earthquake record dating back to the 1960s.
The rate of expansion has been increasing slowly over the past
several months; the acceleration is particularly noticeable
since August of 2004.

*A feeble earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale jolted
southeast Spain on Saturday, causing minor damages but no casualties.

*A cyclone with frosty winds and a snowstorm moved from the Sea
of Japan to Sakhalin, Russia on Saturday.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

*Experts yesterday said that there was an "unusual
earthquake pattern" in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
with more than 120 tremblors recorded in the last month.
This kind of unusual release of large energy "is unheard
of in the history of seismology," the seismologists from
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre say. Of these events,
over 33 were above 5 on the Richter scale. "This is
unusual and alarming as large amount of energy is
being released so frequently." The earthquakes recorded
had both `strike slip' (lateral movement) and `dip slip'
(vertical movement). The strike slip would put tremendous
pressure on the Himalayan range while the dip slip will
create local disturbance, they said.
*Two years ago, drought-stricken farmers in a village on the
southern coast of India made their way into the Guinness Book
of World Records by planting over 80,000 trees, the highest
number of saplings planted in a 24-hour period. On Dec. 26, as
the killer tsunami struck down thousands of people and homes ,
the casuarina and eucalyptus trees which had been planted saved
the lush green village of Naluvedapathy. Villagers say trees
are perhaps the only defence against a future tsunami, as
they considerably weaken the waves and reduce the impact.
*A sad fact of life among the Maldives fishermen, Sri Lankan
farmers and grieving families in a dozen nations swept over by
last month's catastrophic waves: Almost no one in such poor,
developing lands has insurance. When the tsunami's roiling waters
poured through Banda Aceh, some small merchants tried frantically
to rescue their precious goods or save their shops, rather than
flee to safety in their upstairs homes. And they died doing so.
*An increase in seismic activity was registered between 1994 and
1996, which could be seen in a sharp surge in total annual seismic
energy. This occurs when the number of earthquakes measuring
magnitude 8.0 and greater increases. The situation is likely to continue
and there are currently no grounds to believe that the situation will
improve in the next few years and that there will be fewer earthquakes.
A Russian institute has been conducting a unique experiment since
1992 with U.S. scientists to forecast the strongest earthquakes
using algorithms elaborated at the institute. A similar experiment with
Italian scientists to forecast violent earthquakes in Italy and adjacent
regions has been underway since mid-2003.
*At least four people were killed and 79 others are still missing
from last Sunday's cyclone which caused severe
floods that washed away two towns on Madagascar's west coast.
More than 11,200 people were made homeless after cyclone
Ernest struck Faux Cap, the southernmost tip of the
huge Indian Ocean island.
*The coming weeks could bring the most severe thinning
of the ozone layer over northern Europe since records
began. The conditions are being driven by unusual weather in
the high atmosphere above the Arctic. The stratosphere, where
the ozone layer lies, has seen its coldest winter for 50 years;
there have also been an unusually large number of clouds.
*There was a recent fatal landslide in North Vancouver, Canada
and there is a massive, unstable slope that hovers threateningly
above Whistler Village where the 2010 Winter Olympics is headed.
In a worst-case scenario, the entire mass would slump into the creek,
causing a dam that could burst and send tons of mud and
water into the village. There have been several major movements
of the slump, including two since 1997.

Friday, January 28, 2005

*Nicobar Islands on Thursday witnessed a series of 14 moderate
intensity earthquakes at frequent intervals with the strongest one
recorded at 5.8 on the Richter scale. The quakes bring the number
of moderate aftershocks, since the magnitude 9.0 quake struck
this area off Sumatra, to 305. The seismic events in the area had
been decreasing in intensity and frequency since mid-January, but the
new quakes - though they apparently caused only minor damage
and few injuries - raised renewed fears about the possibility of
another major quake and tsunami.

*The continuing bizarre pattern of aftershocks ranging between 5.2
and 6.2 on the Richter in the Tsunami hit Nicobar island of India has
the tribal people saying that many miles below the earth's surface,
something is happening they have never experienced before. According
to sources, the tectonic level disturbances, based on recorded and
plotted aftershock quakes, are very slowly moving northwards towards
Assam in India. A theory exists that says the recent massive earthquake
in Indonesia's Aceh province really has its roots in the series of
earthquakes in Assam over the last three years. It seems the Andaman
plate line of 700 miles may be collapsing. That
would be a much larger catastrophe.

*It sounds insignificant alongside the Indian Ocean tsunami, yet
an almost imperceptible annual rise in the world's oceans may
pose a huge threat to ports, coasts and islands by 2100 if
temperatures keep rising. Many of the world's biggest cities
are near coasts - including Calcutta, Dhaka, Lagos, London,
New York, Shanghai and Tokyo. Flooding could cause
billions of dollars of damage.

*The U.S. West Coast is being urged to get ready for a great quake.
Experts told Congress that there is a one-in-five chance of a
cataclysmic earthquake occurring off the West Coast in the
next 50 years. It would send a 45-foot tsunami crashing into
the West Coast in as little as 15 minutes. Damage to roads
and bridges would render the emergency response nearly impossible.

*Mt. St. Helens, Washington - Last week's steam blast has subsided.
A great part of the glacier has disappeared. It is believed that the
water that did not leave in the form of steam is now in underground
chambers and has found its way to the underground water table.
The area of the dome and uplift covers about 60 city blocks.
The current mild activity does not remove the need to have a
response plan. Over a million seismic events have occured since
September 2004. Those in the surrounding 500 mile radius need
to have a preplanned Volcano Emergency Response. Team
Amber Alert advisory suggests that activity will remain mild
and unpredictable. More upcoming events will have increased
ash and projected debris.

* Klyuchevskoy volcano in Kamchatka, Russia, is erupting volcanic
bombs, three to seven meters in diameter, up to 300 meters high.
One bomb consisting of red-hot magma is erupted every 15 seconds.
The crater of the volcano is a fountain of magma. Seismic stations
have been continuously detecting a series of small earthquakes
called volcanic tremor. If the power of the eruption that began
on January 17 keeps on growing at the same rate, in three to
four months, as lava streams downhill, the volcano might
become a danger for people living at the peninsula.

* Avalanches on French mountainsides have killed one man, but
rescuers were able to pluck two people alive from the snow.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

*People in Nicobar Island, Andaman, India, Maldives, and Sri Lanka
coastal areas are reporting that the animals in these areas are again
showing strange behavior. The fishermen and their families this time
are taking these signs seriously and are refusing to move near the
ocean. The tribal people of Andaman Nicobar Island have again
moved to the high grounds. The pattern of aftershocks from the 9.0
Indonesian quake is also supposedly strange. ( Proceed With Caution
- people are also reporting heavy UFO sightings.)

*Australia could be hit by an earthquake measuring seven on
the Richter scale because the plate they are on is breaking up,
research has found. The Indo-Australian plate is under considerable
stress from its neighbouring plates in Indonesia and Asia. The
energy generated from the connection points between plates at
Sumatra and Java are transferring back into the plate, causing
immense tectonic stress.

*At the time of the 1906 San Francisco, California, earthquake
city leaders set the official number of dead at 478 people, but
a San Francisco librarian says she can prove the quake
killed close to 3,400 people.

*Victoria, Australia's State Emergency Service had its busiest
night in a decade last night after the worst flash flooding
in the Geelong area for 25 years.

* Global warming is reaching the point-of-no-return, with
widespread drought, crop failure and water shortages the
likely result, according to an international report highlighted
in the British press.

Global warming may be twice as bad as expected, according
to a new assessment of a commonly-used yardstick of
possible carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution.

*The drought of the past two years in the Western Cape of
South Africa has been described as the worst since 1978 and
has already led to farmers leaving the land.

*A prolonged drought in Rwanda and Tanzania has significantly
lowered water levels on Lake Victoria, affecting hydropower
and sparking an energy shortage.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

*A string of moderate earthquakes, the largest 5.5, shook
Turkey's border with Iran on Tuesday evening, killing two
people and damaging dozens of buildings. At least 22 people
were injured when they jumped from windows or balconies in
panic. Four others were treated for shock.

* Dozens of earthquakes have hit Ecuador over the
past week, sparking alarm in fishing villages. A magnitude-6
quake rattled houses Monday night. A top geophysicist Tuesday
dismissed the chances of a major temblor or tsunami.

*Three people were injured in China in a 5.0 earthquake.

*A moderate 4.7 undersea earthquake rumbled across the ocean bottom
off Nova Scotia, Canada, but caused no tidal activity.

*In Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada,
aboriginals who fear they will be hit by a tsunami
are making plans to move their villages to higher ground.

*Dramatic video released by the U.S. Geological Survey on
Tuesday shows just how fast the lava dome that has been
rising inside Mount St. Helens crater has been growing. The
lava dome is now half the size of the old lava dome, which took
five years to build. This one has grown to its massive size in just
four months.

*Papua New Guinea's Tavurvur Volcano is emitting ash
plumes as high as 3km, ending 11 months of calm. Seismic data
revealed signs of renewed volcanic activity in the middle of last year.

*A 4.5 kg (10 lb) meteorite which landed in northwest Cambodia
started fires across rice fields on Monday, around 200 miles
northwest of the capital, Phnom Penh. The black lump of celestial
rock sent villagers scurrying for cover when it thumped into
the ground, making a noise like a bomb exploding,
and narrowly missing the village.

*At least four skiers died yesterday in avalanches in the French
Alps and hopes faded for a Canadian couple missing since Monday
while snowboarding in Switzerland.

* Heavy rain and flash floods have killed 29 people in
Saudi Arabia's western city of Medina. The storm is
believed to have been the worst to hit the desert
kingdom in some 20 years and caused enormous damage to
roads, electricity and communications networks. Although
Saudi Arabia is one of the most arid countries in the world,
severe rainstorms are common in the mountainous
region along its west coast.

*Located along the northeastern coast of the South
America, Guyana has been inundated with record
rain through the month of January. The resulting
floods are affecting coastal regions, particularly
the nation's capital, Georgetown.

*Even as cleanup from the December 26 tsunami continues in northern
Sumatra, southern Sumatra has been inundated with floods
which were caused by heavy rains which started on January 11.
About 17,000 hectares of rice and corn have been
destroyed in the region.

*A major epidemic in tsunami-hit regions appears very
unlikely now, according to WHO,
but malnutrition is on the rise.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

*Hundreds of bodies are still being pulled daily from the rubble
in Indonesia, while many more lie unidentified in mass graves in
Thailand as tsunami-hit countries struggle to even count their dead.
The overall number of presumed dead currently stands at more than 280,000.
In Indonesia's worst-hit Aceh province more than 1000 bodies a day are still
being recovered. Body collection could take another four weeks to complete.

*The northeastern United States was emerging from one of the worst
snowstorms in the past century, with at least 18 deaths across eight states
linked to the blizzards.

*A cold weather snap gripped much of western Europe yesterday
with temperatures dipping below zero and snow and ice
affecting traffic in many areas.

*Chinese scientists plan to remeasure Mt Everest amid fears the highest
mountain in the world is shrinking due to global warming. Everest is believed
to have shrunk by as much as 1.3 metres due to the melting of
glaciers. A staggering 7 per cent of the country's glaciers are
vanishing annually under the sweltering sun.

*The world may have little more than a decade to avert
catastrophic climate change, politicians and scientists say.
"Our planet is at risk. With climate change, there is an ecological
time-bomb ticking away, and people are becoming increasingly
concerned by the changes and extreme weather events
they are already seeing."

Monday, January 24, 2005
*A magnitude 6.3 earthquake in the Nicobar Islands region of
India has occurred. There was brief panic in the streets.
*A magnitude 6.2 earthquake in Sulawesi, Indonesia has occurred
1545 km (960 miles) ENE of Jakarta, Java, Indonesia. One
person was killed, thousands of people fled in panic, fearing
a tsunami, and several buildings in the town of Palu were damaged.
After the initial quake, there were a series of weaker aftershocks.
*A magnitude 5.5 earthquake in the Mid-Indian Ridge has
occurred 2730 km (1700 miles) SSW of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
*A magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea
has occurred 135 km (85 miles) SW of Antalya, Turkey.
*Portugal is struggling to cope with the nation's worst drought in
more than two decades. Desperate farmers in southern Portugal
have resorted to cutting leaves off trees to try to
save cattle from starvation.
*Nova Scotia, Canada, is suffering through its third blizzard in a week.
*Fourteen deaths are linked to the blizzard that hit Northeastern U.S.
*Austrian rescuers are looking for a missing snowboarder after
at least four people died in avalanches.

Sunday, January 23, 2005
* Klyuchevskoi volcano, in Kamchatka, started an eruption on
January 17 and is currently gaining momentum. The glowing crater
has been throwing bombs (rounded lava masses) 50 to 100 meters
up. Gas-and-ash clouds rise as high as a thousand meters above
the crater. Klyuchevskoi summit crater eruptions usually last a month
to several years. They are a tremendous danger for air transport.
*An earth tremor in Muthariputhurai village, Sri Lanka, forced 1800
residents to move to safer areas to spend the night on Friday, fearing
a tsunami. Cracks have opened in more than 10 houses. Fishermen
from the area said they had noticed unusual changes in the sea Friday
compared to calmer waters that prevailed in previous days and many
of the fishermen did not venture out into the sea to fish on Friday.
*A light earthquake was felt on Saturday afternoon in the
Dead Sea and northern Jerusalem.
*Geologists yesterday scaled down their assessment of the impact
of the Dec 26 quake on a dormant fault line off Ranong coast.
*A magnitude 6.4 earthquake in the Solomon Islands has occurred.
*Seventy families in Tijuana, Mexico, have been forced out
of their homes by a landslide.

Saturday, January 22, 2005
Noteworthy earthquakes on Friday:
*A magnitude 6.0 earthquake near the coast of Ecuador,
preceded by a 4.8 and followed by a 4.8, a 4.5, and a 4.9.
*A magnitude 5.6 and a 5.2 earthquake off of Honshu, Japan.
*A magnitude 5.6 earthquake in Mindanao, Philippines.
*A magnitude 5.5 earthquake in the Taiwan region.
* Kanlaon Volcano in the Philippines spewed steam Friday morning,
sending the Negros Occidental government into full alert. It has
been almost a year since Kanlaon last showed signs of activity.
*The magma-fueled explosion at Mount St Helens, which destroyed
instruments placed there only 36 hours before, marked a change in
a relatively placid pattern in which lava pushed its way smoothly up
onto the crater floor. Scientists are trying to determine why ash and
rocks exploded from a vent on the north side of the new lava dome.
"That is unusual." The new dome, between the old dome and the
south wall of the crater, has grown nearly 13 percent since
scientists made their last calculation on Dec. 11.
*The greatest mass extinction in the 3.5-billion-year history of life
on Earth probably occurred as a result of climate change
resulting from a series of huge volcanic eruptions.
*Although mild in global terms, a 2.7 quake that hit Scotland
is fairly significant because it was the biggest in the
Perthshire area for 15 years.
*The 5.5 quake that rocked greater Wellington, New Zealand caused minor
damage but was the largest in the region for nine years. The quake
follows a flurry of seismic activity in the lower North Island on Tuesday
when 10 earthquakes were recorded over a 10-hour period.
*Two days after a mudslide killed a woman in North Vancouver,
Canada, weather officials are warning people living in the area
that a weekend rainstorm could lead to more slides and flooding.
A report written after a 1979 mudslide in North Vancouver
warned about the danger of more slides in the area, specifically
mentioning the backyard that killed a woman as it collapsed
onto the slope below this week.

Friday, January 21, 2005
* Three earthquakes (4.6, 4.3, 4.9) rocked Ecuador's Pacific
coast Thursday, causing no damage or injuries but leaving some
residents panicking that a tsunami would follow. The quakes
would have had to be at least 7.5 or stronger to generate a tsunami.
*An earthquake with a preliminary measurement of 5.4 on the
Richter scale jolted southern Taiwan Thursday afternoon.
*New Zealand's capital Wellington was rocked by a 5.5 earthquake.
*An enormous earthquake near Wellington which struck 150
years ago established New Zealand's reputation as the "Shaky
Isles". Now scientists have found that it was even bigger than
they thought. The magnitude was at least 8.3 and it
generated a tsunami. The Rimutaka and Tararua Ranges
actually moved as much as 18.5m north of the adjoining
countryside - by far the biggest horizontal movement along
a vertical fault line ever recorded.
*Thai researchers and media warned on Thursday the earthquake
which triggered the Asian tsunami may have moved the tourist
resort island of Phuket by 15 centimetres and activated an
offshore fault line. Villagers had found "a stream of bubbles
popping up from the crack in more volume and at a speed
greater than those of boiling water." A one kilometre stretch
of the ocean floor appears to have split open as a consequence
of the quake. "It's possible that the December 26 earthquake
has revived the dormant Ranong fault. When a fault becomes
active it releases bubbles."
*Some massive earthquakes like the one that generated the recent
tsunami in South Asia are preceded by slight sinking along nearby
coastlines two to five years before the rupture, according to a new
study. If coastal subsidence is common before subduction zone quakes,
areas such as those ringing the Pacific Rim could be on the lookout
for subsidence as a warning of possible future megathrust quakes
like the Dec. 26 9.0 Sumatra-Andaman Islands earthquake.
*Another neighbourhood south of Vancouver, Canada, may be
in danger of mud and debris coming away from steep banks after
Wednesday's landslide, emergency officials said.
*The amount of fresh water entering the Arctic Ocean from
the rivers that feed it is increasing, UK scientists report.
The rise in fresh water entering the Arctic Ocean could change
the global distribution of water and could also affect the balance
of the climate system itself and even possibly alter the
behaviour of the Gulf Stream.

Thursday, January 20, 2005
*Nearly 220,000 people have been confirmed dead in the Asian
tsunami after Indonesia raised its toll dramatically.
* Mass exodus from Indian islands - thousands of settlers on India's
Andaman Islands are returning to the mainland since the tsunami.
Rumours of islands tilting after the earthquake, rising sea levels and
possible flooding of many coastal regions during high tides have
triggered the panic. Nearly 200 aftershocks, some measuring more
than six in magnitude, have been felt in the archipelago since the
December 26 earthquake. "People suspect major below-the-earth
changes that will affect the islands. They don't think it is safe to be
here any more." Even the Indian navy has said its ships were
encountering rougher waters and higher sea levels. The Geological
Survey of India has sent a team to study the changes
in the island's topography.
*The UN's disaster chief has outlined a 10-year plan of investment
to avert a natural disaster that could be 100 times worse than
the Asian tsunami. "Perhaps the most frightening prospect" is a
natural disaster in a city with a population of 10 million or more. He
said many cities, including Tokyo, were extremely
vulnerable to natural disasters.
* Tsunami threaten even landlocked Switzerland. An avalanche
or a rockfall in the wrong place could generate a giant wave.
While this has never happened in the Swiss Alps, an underwater
earthquake in Lake Lucerne 400 years ago triggered huge waves
which left the city of Lucerne under water. And nearly 40 years ago,
a huge landslide into an Italian dam reservoir created a wave
that killed around 2,500 people.
*A swarm of earthquakes that shook the lower North
Island, New Zealand on Tuesday does not indicate a
massive tremor is around the corner, the Institute of
Geological and Nuclear Sciences says. Ten earthquakes
were recorded over a 10-hour period, with the biggest
reaching 5.3 on the Richter scale.
*After a year of dormancy, seismic preparations for the eruption
of Klyuchevskoi volcano started a month ago. Small earthquakes
and seismic swarms were detected near the volcano. The seismic
stations on the Kamchatka peninsula are registering a great number
of surface earthquakes and fluorescence above the crater. "This
activity began just prior to the two large quakes - the Antarctic and
the Sumatra quakes mirrored activity seen from the Cascades to the
Solomon Islands. Scientists have few explanations except to be
watchful for seismic related vulcanism."
* Flooding, mudslides and avalanches continue to take their toll
in vast areas of British Columbia, Canada. One person has died.
A Vancouver geoscientist says Wednesday's mudslide in North
Vancouver comes as no surprise – and he warns that more
could occur within days. Environment Canada has warned that as
much as 300 mm – twice the rain that would normally fall during
the entire month of January – might fall over the next three days.
*A woman was killed and several villages were flattened in a
landslide caused by heavy rains in central Malawi.
* Landslide undercuts eight homes in Oceanside, California.
Eight severely damaged homes sit at the top of a rain-soaked slope
that is slowly migrating westward. At the bottom of that slope are
10 more homes with a growing berm of earth creeping into
their back yards.
*Storms left a trail of damage as they swept across southern NSW,
Australia yesterday, bringing cyclone-force winds, large hail and heavy rain.
*Fears grew last night in Australia that Perth's worst bushfire in 45 years
would break containment lines and again threaten suburban properties,
with hot, windy weather conditions forecast for the weekend. Insured
losses from last week's bushfire on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula
are expected to top $26 million, with millions of dollars more of
uninsured damage.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005
*At least 2.5 billion people have been affected by natural
disasters over the past 10 years - an increase of 60% over
the previous decade, the UN says. More than 478,000 people
were killed from 1994 to 2003. Floods and earthquakes are the
deadliest natural disasters, accounting for more than half of the total
casualties over the course of the decade. Asia is the continent
most affected during the period, accounting for more than half
the casualties and more than 90% of those injured, left homeless
or needing emergency assistance.
*Three young men who ran along a Chilean beach shouting a
false warning that a tsunami was on its way sent thousands of
panicked people scrambling for the hills Monday.
*An earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale shook India's
northeast today, causing panic.
*A magnitude 6.2 earthquake in the Hokkaido, Japan
region has occurred 915 km (570 miles) NNE of Tokyo.
*A magnitude 6.3 earthquake off the east coast of Honshu, Japan
has occurred 240 km (150 miles) SE of Tokyo.
*The eruption of Eurasia's highest volcano, Klyuchevskoi, started
again Sunday night in Kamchatka.
*New instruments installed on the lava dome at Mount St. Helens
have stopped transmitting. Scientists can't tell what happened until
the weather clears, but they think the instrument package, installed
Friday, may have been wiped out by a rockfall or steam emission.
Before they stopped transmitting Sunday, the instruments indicated
that the lava dome was continuing to grow vigorously.

Monday, January 17, 2005
*A magnitude 6.6 earthquake in the State of YAP, Micronesia
has occurred 515 km (320 miles) WSW of Hagatna, Guam.
*The capital of India's Andaman Islands, Port Blair, has shifted over
a metre (yard) following a huge earthquake that sent tsunamis smashing
into Asian shores, the country's chief mapmaker said Saturday. The
Andaman straits is one of the world's most important shipping lanes.
New mapping will be required for the region. The Port Blair land mass
has fallen 25 centimeters and water levels surrounding the island have
risen 1.5 meters (yards). But the sea level will come down with time.
Since the quake, the Andamans have been rocked by around
133 large aftershocks.
*An Oregon well drilled 300 feet deep to study fluctuations in
groundwater has proved extremely useful for monitoring major
earthquakes around the world. This well is more sensitive than most,
geologists say. In the case of the Dec. 26 tsunami quake, the
maximum change in water level was almost 18 inches.
*Despite a history of tsunamis, Mexico's earthquake-prone
Pacific coast and its spectacular beach resorts are ill-prepared
for a wave near the scale of last month's Indian Ocean tsunami,
experts say. Scientists fear Guerrero state, home to the massive
tourist resort of Acapulco, is long overdue for an earthquake.
*Natural disasters can be a threat to the growing expansion
of big cities underground, the United Nations says. It says
developers often burrow beneath the surface without knowing
enough of the risks and with inadequate plans to lessen
the effects of any disaster.
*The first typhoon of 2005 has emerged in the southern part of
the Pacific Ocean. Tropical typhoon Kulap is located south of
the Philippines and is moving to the northeast, posing a threat only
to ships. Seventeen typhoons arose in the Pacific Ocean in 2004,
affecting the Philippines, Japan, Korea and the Russian Far East.

Sunday, January 16, 2005
*A magnitude 6.2 earthquake south of the Fiji Islands has occurred
1500 km (930 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand.
*If a quake measuring 8 on the Richter scale hit quake-prone
Nepal, it would kill more than 40,000 people and leave
100,000 to 200,000 injured. It would raze 60 percent of the
buildings, rendering 60,000 to 90,000 people homeless. Nepal
ranks 11th among the list of the most earthquake-prone countries
with its past history predicting a major tremor every 70 to 75 years.
*On Monday, Japan will mark the 10th anniversary of the
Great Hanshin Earthquake, which claimed 6,433 lives.
*What knowledge do you need to save yourself from a tsunami?
*Alaskans shouldn't be lulled by the existence of high-seas buoys
in the Pacific Ocean into thinking they are much better protected
from danger than residents of Banda Aceh in Indonesia, according
to earthquake and tsunami experts there. Three of the six bouys
currently deployed have been out of service for a year. The buoys
are deployed to warn the rest of the Pacific Rim about tsunamis
generated by earthquakes in unstable Alaska. An Alaska-generated
wave would probably hit the shore there BEFORE it
reaches the first buoy heading south. The western Aleutian buoy
is currently out of service, as is the buoy off Unalaska and one
other off the Oregon coast.
*Rescuers spent all day Saturday digging through a massive snow
pile but found no traces of five people feared dead in a
300-yard-wide, 500-yard-long avalanche in Utah.
The danger of more avalanches remained high in the Wasatch
Mountains, which received as much as eight feet of wet, heavy
snow over the last two weeks. Six people have already been
killed in Utah avalanches this winter and it's still relatively early
in the season. The total is the highest since the state began
keeping records of avalanche deaths in 1951.
*The Canadian Avalanche Centre has issued a special avalanche
warning covering most of British Columbia's mountains.
*Active sunspot region 10720 continues to produce energetic
solar flares. The latest (and thus far, the most significant event)
was a major class X2.6 event at 23:02 UTC on January 15.
This event was associated with a very fast coronal mass ejection.
Although most of the mass appears to have been ejected well
north of the Earth, there is a definite Earthward-directed component.
It is probable that this event will impact the Earth sometime on
January 17 or 18 , serving to prolong levels of disturbed space-
weather conditions and auroral activity. Friday's major class M8.6
solar flare is expected to impact the Earth during the mid to late
UTC hours today and has the potential to produce moderate to
strong levels of auroral activity across the middle and
perhaps even the lower latitudes.

Friday, January 14, 2005
*Shock waves from the Indonesian earthquake sped around the
globe for 6 hours. The jolt to Sri Lanka lifted the surface of the
earth over a range of nearly four inches. Even in Ecuador, the shock
wave displaced the Earth's surface more than two centimeters, or
nearly an inch, but the movement was too slow to be perceptible to humans.
*The number of tsunami victims now tops 180,000.
*There was no torrent of foreign help in 1970 when a cyclone sent a
wall of water crashing up the Bay of Bengal in East Pakistan, killing far
more than the number who died in the current tsunami disaster. Official
records today say 200,000 died and another 100,000 went missing,
but it may have been as high as 400,000. Much of the foreign aid that
did arrive, belatedly, as the realization of the scale of the loss grew,
was stolen - or appropriated - by the Pakistan military.
*Gondolas are running aground and hotel docks hang in midair as
Italy's lagoon city Venice, more commonly awash at high tide, dries
out because of good weather and an unusual combination
of planetary influences. The new moon this week has helped
push water levels to their lowest point in more than a decade.
*The growth of activity of the Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano on
Russia's Kamchatka peninsula has been registered. Seismological
stations located in the gigantic volcano zone registered a sharp
growth of earthquakes on it on Wednesday. However, they say
it is premature so far to speak of the beginning of an eruption.

Thursday, January 13, 2005
*A tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean could be up
and running by next year, a UN agency says.
*Each time a cyclone hits, the successive year has shown an
increase in fish production. But what has the tsunami done to
the sea? Ocean scientists and marine biologists are completely in
the dark whether the tsunami has created any change in deep-water
marine life and in the chemical and physical composition of the sea.
The scientists are baffled as large-scale mortality of marine-life or
carcasses of fish coming to the shore have been almost
unreported after the tsunami.
In October 2004, a field officer working for the Central Marine
Fisheries Research Institute had reported that a species of fish
found only in deep-waters had been caught by fishermen in
shallow waters and this could be a warning for the onset of a
natural calamity. The fish normally changed its inhabitation only
when the seas experienced turbulence, which had been reported
before in 1977, 1979, 1987 and 1996. In all these years
some sort of natural calamity had struck, including a tsunami
in Japan and cyclones in the Bay of Bengal.
*Aboriginals who live in the villages that dot the rugged, west coast
of Vancouver Island in Canada believe one day they'll face an
earthquake and tidal wave similar in destructive force to the quake
and tsunami that hit southeast Asia. Three hundred years ago, on
Jan. 26, 1700, they did have a massive tsunami caused by a
magnitude nine earthquake. It will happen again say
both aboriginals and scientists.
*The Thai capital should brace itself for a major earthquake, a
Cabinet minister has warned as he called for a review of the
country's safety measures and disaster warning system. High-rise
buildings in Bangkok shook after the 9.0 Indonesian quake.
The epicentre was 780 miles from the Thai capital.
*Fearing a quake could strike Nepal in the future, given its history
of being hit by tremors roughly every 75 years, the American
embassy there has called a meeting of its citizens residing in the
country to advise them on what to do in the event of a disaster.
Nepal has the record of being hit by a major quake every 70-75
years and is falling into that time frame again.
*Countries in the Caribbean region are facing real threats of major
earthquakes and tsunamis, U.S. scientists said Wednesday. With
nearly 20 million people now living in this tourist region and a major
earthquake occurring on average every 50 years, scientists say it is
not a question of if it will happen but when. The most recent major
earthquake, a magnitude 8.1 on Richter scale in 1946, resulted in a
tsunami that killed a reported 1,600 people. Each time an earthquake
occurs on the offshore Puerto Rico and Hispaniola trenches, it adds
stress to the Septentrional fault zone on Hispaniola.
*A magnitude 6.8 earthquake in the central Mid-Atlantic Ridge
has occurred 1290 km (800 miles) ENE of Fernando de
Noronha, Pernambuco, Brazil.
*A landslide caused by heavy rains killed six children and one
adult in a shantytown by the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
*An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale rocked northern Iran
late Monday, panicing residents and injuring more than 100 people.
*A magnitude-4.3 earthquake shook the Southern California desert
near Palm Springs early today, setting off some car alarms but
apparently causing no damage or injuries.
*At least nine people have now died in bush fires sweeping
through South Australia. 14 people are missing and casualities
are likely to rise. Firefighters warn it could take days for outbreaks
to be contained, although cooler conditions are now helping.
*Costa Rica's President has declared a national emergency
after three days of heavy rain led to flooding on the Caribbean
coast. More than 7,000 people have been evacuated from their
homes and there is one confirmed death.
*The death toll in a California mudslide rose to six as rescuers
continued searching for survivors. L.A. has seen its wettest
15 consecutive days on record.
*Three motorists died and thousands of homes suffered power
cuts as winds over 100mph hit parts of the UK, Scotland, and
Northern Ireland. The worst storms have passed but warning are
out for swollen rivers and blizzard conditions.
*Scientists say the North Pole moved as a result of last month's
earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The quake, the fourth most
powerful in the last century, shifted the earth's north pole about 2.5
centimetres, or one inch, closer to 145 degrees east longitude,
roughly in the direction of GUAM. Scientists also calculate the
quake made the earth slightly rounder, and made the day
shorter by 2.68 millionths of a second.
*The nuclear-powered U.S. submarine that ran aground in the
Pacific last week near GUAM, killing a sailor and injuring 23 others,
ran into an undersea mountain that was not
on the navy's charts.
*The northern section of one of the world's busiest shipping
channels, the Straits of Malacca, may have had its draught
altered by several metres in the aftermath of the December 26
sub-sea earthquake, according to reports. The reports said
water depths in parts of the Straits of Malacca could have
dropped from 4000 feet before the quake to as low as 100 feet.
It may take months if not years to re-chart altered coastlines
throughout the region.
*Was the Malaysian coastline affected by the Dec 26 quake?
Probably not. Sumatra would not have moved closer to
Peninsular Malaysia because the peninsula and the
Indonesian island are located on the same tectonic plate.
While seawater has moved further inland in Aceh,
Indonesia, this does not seemed to have happened in Malaysia
and Malaysian mapping does not need revising. "Malaysia was
lucky. If there were high tide and strong wind when the
tsunami hit, it would have been a super wave or storm that
could swallow up all the infrastructure along the coast of Penang."
* Fifty-four sinkholes have appeared in Perak since the earthquake
off Sumatra on Dec 26. The earthquake could have caused the
sinkholes although tremors were not felt in the affected areas.
Scientists are not sure if there is a link between the two incidents.
Some of the sinkholes are the length of an Olympic-size swimming
pool. The area is unstable and still sinking. There is a possibility
that an entire 30,000 sq metre area could collapse.
*Lopevi volcano in Malampa, Vanuatu, which is active
and last erupted violently in June 2003, may be a time bomb waiting
to go off that could result in a tsunami if the island collapses into the
sea, devastating nearby islands. Volcanic crises reported since
1863 appear to have occurred in cycles of 15 - 20 years. Since
1998, the Lopevi volcanic activity has significantly increased with
frequent strombolian to vulcanian eruptions. Moreover the renewal
of activity since 1998 is the precondition for future slope collapses
forming debris avalanches. No scientific equipment is permanently
installed on this volcano.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005
*Since its December 26 nightmare began, the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands haven't spent a day without suffering a big
tremor of magnitude 5 or more. By Monday evening, the
number of big aftershocks had reached 124. There may be
no let-up for months, even a year.
*Hundreds of people left their homes for higher ground in the
capital of India's tsunami-hit Andaman and Nicobar islands, after
high tide waters entered low-lying areas, officials said today. A
high tide warning has been issued across the remote chain of islands
in the Bay of Bengal and people in the capital, Port Blair, have been
asked to stay away from the low-lying coastal areas during
the high tides until Wednesday. Officials say last month's undersea
earthquake may have altered the topography of some of the islands
in the Andaman and Nicobar chain, making low-lying areas more
vulnerable to flooding during high tides.
*A business idea blogger started to notice that an earthquake
would be reported in the news shortly after he had experienced
a hearing sensation. He reported an extremely strong sensation two
days before back-to-back earthquakes in Japan (6.8 and 7.3)
in September. He posted that he felt something bigger was still
coming though, because of the intensity of the hearing sensation.
*While most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes or landslides,
the potential for an asteroid-caused tsunami remains a
threat the world should watch out for.
*Experts say there is no hard evidence that earthquakes trigger
volcanic eruptions. Even if there were a link, scientists say the
epicentre of the 9.0 earthquake - although lying relatively close
to active volcanoes of the Indonesian archipelago - is still too far
away and too close to the surface to cause spark an eruption.
An earthquake of approximately the same magnitude as the latest
quake in the Indian Ocean caused a tsunami on Russian Pacific
coast in 1952 that killed 14,000 people on the Kuril archipelago.
The Kuril quake did not cause an increase volcanism in Kamchatka.
Scientists admit, however, that they have observed earthquakes
unrelated to eruptions that appeared to increase volcanic activity
hundreds of kilometres away. The understanding is that volcanoes
cause earthquakes, not the other way round.
One thing that has been established, is the more or less regular shift
of geological activity between the northern and southern hemispheres.
"The period of this shift is believed to be about six years. It correlates
with the well-known Chandler's wobble - the effect whereby the poles
of the Earth shift location periodically." So, while the earthquake and
the tsunami hit hard, scientists believe the worst has already happened.
* Volcanic eruptions on Anatahan island, about 200 miles north
of Guam, continue to escalate, with explosions reported to have
increased by about 40 percent.They are now occurring
once every 10 seconds.
*The percentage of Earth's land area stricken by serious drought
more than doubled from the 1970s to the early 2000s, according
to a new analysis.
*Less of New South Wales, Australia, is in drought but things
are still bad and might get worse.
*At least five people have died in bushfires raging on South
Australia's Eyre Peninsula, police say. About six people have been
rescued from the sea after fleeing the bushfires.
*Australian weather forecasters say conditions off the coast will
further deteriorate as severe tropical cyclone Kerry starts moving
towards Queensland.
*The threat to Sri Lanka's tsunami-battered shores from a cyclone
that was building off its east coast appears to be dissipating.
*At least two people were killed, 10 hurt and up to a dozen
were missing yesterday in a mudslide after a hillside saturated by
five days of rain collapsed onto a coastal Southern
California neighbourhood. 15 - 20 homes were involved, in
some cases houses were piled on top of each other and then
covered with up to 10m of mud, rock and debris, complicating
rescue efforts. A series of winter storms have pummelled the
state almost unrelentingly since mid-December, bringing 40%
more rainfall than the area typically gets all winter.
*A giant iceberg the size of Long Island is on a collision course with
a floating glacier in Antarctica. Though the iceberg's pace has slowed
in recent days, NASA scientists expect a collision to occur no later
than January 15, 2005. It is "a radical and uncommon event".

Monday, January 10, 2005
*Guatemala has declared a state of alert after three volcanoes
in the south American nation have become active again, almost
simultaneously. Over the past week, the three volcanoes, Pacaya,
Santiaguito and Fuego, have been spewing out lava, ashes and
rocks in a low magnitude, forcing local inhabitants to be evacuated.
This is after a gap of 31 years of non-activity.
* Volcanic eruptions on Anatahan island have escalated, with the
volcano spewing pyroclastic rocks hundreds of feet into the air,
while seismicity and ash emissions continued to intensify on the
uninhabited island 200 miles north of Guam. A relatively full-scale
strombolian eruption is now under way and
has been for the last two days.
*Moderate volcanic earthquakes rocked Taal Volcano on Sunday,
causing some residents to flee the area for fear of a possible tsunami.
Philippine officials advised the public to remain calm, adding that
volcanic quakes do not usually result in tsunamis. Alert status of the
volcano has been raised to Level 1 due to increased level of
earthquake activity, although there has been no intensification of
seismic activity that may indicate an imminent eruption.
*Sri Lanka's tsunami-battered shores are in danger of being hit by
a cyclone which is building off its east coast.
*A string of storms gives parts of the Sierra their most snowfall
in nearly 90 years.
*At least 7 deaths are blamed on California's storms.
The mudslides, floods, power outages and traffic crashes spawned
by the storm were among the worst in a decade.

Sunday, January 9, 2005
*Huge areas of Asia are still vibrating almost two weeks after
the 9.0 earthquake which triggered the tsunami. It was a relatively
rare seismic event which could reverberate for another few weeks.
Much of the planet is still ringing like a bell, although the early
vibrations were much stronger than the current ones.
*Researchers say the South Asian earthquake that spawned
deadly tsunami waves also made water rise and fall by at least
3 feet in a Virginia well some 9,600 miles away from the quake's
epicenter. The speed of the seismic wave was about 7400 mph.
*Ten people have died as hurricane-strength winds and fierce rains
battered Sweden, Denmark and the north of England. More than
1000 homes were flooded and 200,000 others left without power.
*The ashy lava has stopped flowing from the crater on the south-east
side of Mount Etna in Sicily. Now only white gas is coming out of the
summit mouth of the volcano, probably the result of a degassing
phenomenon. No variations in the seismic activity or in the scale
of the tremor of the internal magmatic movement has been noted.
Etna webcam.
*According to Russian scientists, an eruption of the Bezymyanny
volcano will soon start in Kamchatka. The activity of the volcano
has increased significantly recently. The latest Bezymyanny eruption
occurred on June 19-20, 2004. It erupts once or twice a year.
*A powerful cyclone is also currently approaching Kamchatka.
*Astronomers have now ruled out the possibility that Asteroid
2004 MN4 will strike the Earth in April 2029. Scientists searched
back through older observations to find some older images of 2004
MN4 that gave them enough data to recalculate the asteroid's path,
and see that it doesn't pose a threat to the planet. The passage of
the asteroid by the Earth in 2029 will alter its subsequent trajectory
and expand the asteroid's position uncertainty region, so the
asteroid's subsequent motion after it passes in 2029 is less certain
than it is prior to the 2029 close Earth approach. However,
current risk analysis indicates that no subsequent Earth encounters
in the 21st century are of any concern.

Saturday, January 8, 2005
*A leading Indian seismologist says that the observations made
between October 15 and November 30 by the US-based
International Earth Rotation Service had revealed early signals
of increase in the earth's wobble BEFORE the huge Indonesian quake.
Earth's wobble is normally supposed to increase during monsoon
because of increased oceanic and atmospheric circulations and should
decrease around this time. But instead the wobble was more
pronounced before the December 26 earthquake. These wobble
deviations were followed by the earthquake near New Zealand
on December 23 with a magnitude of 8.1. Earthquakes above
8 magnitude are called great earthquakes and occur once a year
on an average. But on December 26, only three days later, northern
Sumatra experienced the quake of 9.0 magnitude. There is a
revolutionary theory, which was given in 1967 by two scientists
from Canada, which says that wobbles are co-seismic
with great earthquakes. The IERS data is showing an increase
in oscillations in the earth's rotation and "this shows that the earth
is more disturbed than before."
*A soy bean farmer in Thailand's northeastern province of Loei
has discovered a deep crater on his land, which he believes to
have been caused by the December 26th Indonesian earthquake.
Geologists have been called in to investigate the crater,
which is said to be getting deeper.
*Many Fontana, California residents got an early start Thursday
morning after a wave of earthquakes, centered one to two miles
north of town, rattled the area. Two 3.6-magnitude earthquakes
struck within seconds of each other at 4:11 a.m., and felt like one
strong shake. A magnitude-3.3 hit a mile north of the city at 6:22 a.m.
followed by a 4.4 at 6:35 a.m. "It feels like something big is going to
happen," said one resident. "With the tsunami and earthquake
overseas, I wonder if all of this could be related."
*Bangladesh recorded a moderate tremor, intensity being 5.1 on
the Richter scale, on Thursday. The Bangladesh Meteorological
Department reports that this was the sixth tremor recorded since
the devastating undersea earthquake of December 26 that triggered
the world's deadliest tsunami in Asia. Experts said they are not sure
whether the tremor was an aftershock of the December 26 quake,
but the Indonesian quake had been immediately followed by four
aftershocks in Bangladesh on that same day.
*International aircraft have been warned to steer clear of Anatahan
Volcano that has erupted in the north Pacific, firing an ash plume 4575
metres into the air. The volcano on uninhabited Anatahan Island in
the Northern Mariana Islands became active again on Tuesday.
Anatahan has erupted four times since it burst into life in May 2003.
It is around 2250km south of Tokyo.
*Almost four months after Mount St. Helens' rumblings began,
the mountain's behavior has settled into something semi-constant.
Scientists now think it's unlikely that there will be any significant,
explosive eruption. But the volcano continues "dome-building eruptions."
Tens of thousands of cubic feet of hot lava continue to creep into
the 2,000-foot-deep crater of the volcano. There have been significant
changes in recent days. Just in the past week, earthquake activity
underneath the mountain has declined. While there are still almost
constant very small earthquakes, a whole range of earthquake activity
- the slightly larger quakes of roughly 1 on the Richter scale - has mostly
stopped. What's left are much smaller earthquakes and a few larger ones.
"It could mean that this dome-building eruption is coming to a close, or
maybe we've run through this slug of magma, or maybe it's something
very brief and it's going to pick up again."
*Asteroid 2004 MN4 is being tracked very carefully by many
astronomers around the world, and the impact probability
has risen to about 1.6%, which for an object of this size
corresponds to a rating of 4 on the ten-point Torino Scale.
Nevertheless, the odds against impact are still high, about
60 to 1, meaning that there is a better than 98% chance
that new data in the coming months will rule out any
possibility of impact on Friday the 13th in April of 2029.

Friday, January 7, 2005
*One of the largest and most active volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula
has grown increasingly restless since the turning of the new year,
sending up small ash plumes and experiencing increased seismic
tremors. The Alaska Volcano Observatory on Tuesday upgraded
Mount Veniaminof Volcano's level of concern to yellow for activity
considered higher than the normal background. There is no
evidence from the seismic data collected at this time that
events larger than those already observed will occur.
*Instruments recorded about 1,500 aftershocks in the 48 hours
following the Asian quake and tsunami and 1000 more since then.
The death toll has now topped 165,000.
*High sea levels and big tides may flood low-lying areas of the capital
of the tsunami-hit Andaman islands next week. They anticipate high tide
to touch 2.11 metres on Saturday and three days later to peak at a
record 2.40 metres before settling down by January 14. Scientists are
also debating whether parts of the Andamans have settled deeper into
the Indian ocean since the massive earthquake off nearby Indonesia
or if tide patterns have changed following the tsunamis. "If (the) latter
is the case then we must re-write tide charts or else there will be
chaos in the maritime industry."
*As the umpteenth aftershock rattled the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
and sent terrified people scurrying for life, a few who looked to the
Geological Survey of India for answers found the gates of its ramshackle
office closed. The two geologists in the GSI office are believed to have
left for their hometowns. They said they would be back only in March
when everything settles down. As it stands now, the GSI building is
tilted to one side. The wooden columns holding it up have cracked and
the administrative apathy post-tsunami looked much
the same as it did before it.
*Water supplies on some Indian Ocean islands may have been
ruined for years or decades by salt water from the tsunami.
*Experts from Madras University have said that the U.S.
Meteorological department's prediction, that a major aftershock
might happen in Assam, India, before January 11 is likely wrong.
Assam was put on an high alert after this warning. Earthquakes of
higher magnitude will occur hours after the first one. But such high
magnitude quakes in the same area will not occur days
after the major quake.
*Indonesia and Thailand were warned almost immediately of the
massive undersea earthquake last month that sparked deadly
tsunamis across the Indian Ocean.
*The BBC has postponed the broadcast of a docu-drama about a
massive volcano eruption in Yellowstone National Park to avoid offence.
* Tropical cyclone Kerry, which threatened to hit northern Vanuatu
has weakened overnight, however, there are warnings it could intensify.
*A two-week hot spell in February, which set new temperature
records, contributed to 2004 being ranked the tenth
hottest year on record in Australia.
*In 2004 Canadians endured flash floods, three record snowfalls
and record warm and dry weather.
*An apparent meteor with a flaming tail and accompanying
sonic boom Tuesday evening over northeast Wisconsin
prompted scores of telephone calls to law enforcement authorities.

Thursday, January 6, 2005
* Fresh tremors sent some hungry and homeless running for their
lives yesterday and today, but others were determined to survive
and rebuild their lives in Indonesia's devastated Banda Aceh.
Two moderate intensity quakes, registering 5.7 and 5.8 on the
Richter scale struck yesterday. The largest so far today was 6.2.
*Just 11 days after Asia's tsunami catastrophe, conspiracy theorists
are out in force, accusing governments of a cover-up, blaming the
military for testing top-secret eco-weapons or aliens trying to
correct the Earth's "wobbly" rotation.
*On December 20th, 6 days before the huge Indonesian quake,
geologists were expressing concern over recent incidents of tremors
and their heightened pace in Sri Lanka, even though it was believed
to be in a "safer territory" in the region.Geologists say the
frequency of these tremors has increased to about one in every
two years in the recent past. "This could sometimes mean nothing.
The tremors could eventually die off or on the other hand they could
probably get increased." There is a hi-activity centre (epi-centre)
located 300 kilometres southwestern coast of Sri Lanka in the
Indian Ocean.that has been monitored for the past 100 years by
geologists. "Earthquakes are like heart attacks. It is hard to predict
if Sri Lanka is getting increasingly vulnerable or not."
*The movement of tectonic plates that caused the Indian Ocean
earthquake and tsunamis was so great that it could have reduced
the risk of future quakes, a leading earthquake scientist says.
But the earthquake could also have added stress in the surrounding
region. The risk could be raised for earthquakes in Japan but there
is no current evidence of that. Most likely the huge quake,
combined with Japan's more frequent smaller quakes, might be a
protection against bigger disasters. Japan's last significant tremor,
on November 28 in the remote Hokkaido region, measured 7.0 on
the Richter scale. Japan has never experienced a quake of the
magnitude of the one in the Indian Ocean.
* Mysterious tremors deep beneath the San Andreas Fault could
portend future earthquakes, according to University of California,
Berkeley scientists. Most of the tremors are five times deeper -
20-to-40 kilometers below the surface - than the average quake
on this part of the fault. 10 separate tremors lasting at least four
minutes were identified from Dec. 22, 2001, to Dec. 22, 2003.
The area studied was the site of the magnitude-8.0 1857
Fort Tejon earthquake. What's most striking is that deep tremors
like this series have never been recorded before on a strike-slip fault
such as the San Andreas. There are no seismic waves typical of
ordinary earthquakes. Scientists have estimated that this segment
of the fault has ruptured in a large quake roughly every 140 years.
It is now 148 years since the Fort Tejon event, so the possibility
of another one may be steadily increasing, they say.
Similar deep tremors have been detected recently along the
coast of the Pacific Northwest, known as the Cascadia
Subduction Zone, as well as in Japan - and there, too, scientists
are struggling to understand what their import is.
*2004 was a year of unusual seismic activity. Twelve months ago,
almost to the very hour of Sunday's Indonesian earthquake, a
similar jolt devastated the city of Bam in Iran. There were also
killer earthquakes in Morocco in February and on Japan's main
island of Honshu in October. Similarities are being drawn to quake
activity in 1906 - ten weeks before the great San Francisco quake
there was one of magnitude 8.2 on the frontier between Colombia
and Ecuador; then on Feb. 16 there was a violent rupture under
the Caribbean island of St. Lucia; on March 1, 200 people were
killed by an earthquake on Formosa; and then Mt. Vesuvius in Italy
erupted, killing hundreds. The grand finale of 1906's seismic
upheaval took place in Chile in August, with a quake that killed
twenty thousand people. "Common sense suggests what science
has yet to confirm: that the movement among the world's tectonic
plates may be one part of an enormous dynamic system."
*New Zealanders complaining about unseasonal summer rain in
recent weeks have received proof of changing climatic conditions
after icebergs were sighted in local waters for the first time since 1948.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005
*More than 11,000 foreign tourists and expatriates were dead,
feared dead, or unaccounted for today at 4am AEDT, nine
days after devastating tsunamis swept south Asia.
* Photos taken in Thailand of the waves approaching
while people watched, unsuspecting of the danger.
*In India, all along the coast of Gujarat, the largest in the country,
people are witnessing "strange phenomena" - from the sea "crying",
to its level rising and boats wobbling in a strange fashion, to the fish
catch going down. "It is like the sea is crying, a wail coming out,
something we haven't heard ever...the roar of the sea is
not the same...There is something strange brewing."
Psychologists say it is fear psychosis that has gripped
the coastal populace for whom the formerly familiar sea is appearing
strange and is now an object of fear.
* Mystery 'blasts' and frequent 'tremors' have been shaking
some parts of India. Coming close on the heels of the tsunami
terror-floods, the villagefolk are interpreting the incidents as omens
of something more horrific and have begun living outdoors. Similar
unexplained "blasts" were reported from another district too, over
a year back. "On Monday night there were major tremors making
it difficult for us to sleep. Between 8:15 and 8:20 pm there were four
vibrations and these were followed by blasts...there was a vibration
and everything began shaking, even the street animals began running
helter-skelter." Reportedly the frequency of the "blasts" has increased
since Monday and there were 22 "blasts" during the day continuing
through the night. A seismologist says although he heard the "blasts"
during his visit, the tremor was not felt by him. He has asked for a sensor
to be installed in the area. The blasts are reported to have begun in the
last week of November. Since then many people have left the village
and large-scale migrations have been reported from nearby villages.
*The families of Australian tsunami victims might have to wait up to
seven years to receive the proceeds of wills and life insurance if
their loved ones' bodies are not found, law experts say.
*An Indonesian has been rescued by a passing ship after surviving
for eight days afloat on an uprooted tree in the Indian Ocean.
*Burma's assertion that it largely escaped the devastation of the
Indian Ocean tsunami had failed to allay concerns about the
disaster's impact on one if the world's poorest and most secretive
countries, experts and aid workers said.
*Due to recent heavy rainfall in southern California and the
triggering of several debris flows in the mountain ranges west
of Los Angeles, the USGS is issuing a landslide advisory for
southern California.

Tuesday, January 4, 2005
*Meulaboh, the city closest to the epicentre of the December 26
Indonesian earthquake, is 90 percent destroyed. There is no
infrastructure; the roads and airstrip are cracked open; bridges
have collapsed. Indonesian warships are starting to evacuate
refugees along the coastline; no one knows how they survived this long.
*In Aceh province, some 800,000 people are believed to be
living without clean water, according to aid workers. Perhaps
two-thirds live in areas accessible by road, but the rest are
marooned in wastelands where bridges and roads
have been washed away.
*The United Nations emergency relief co-ordinator says tens of
thousands of Indonesians in Sumatra and Aceh will likely perish
before aid workers can reach them.
*Authorities are warning that it could take more than a year before
all the bodies from the disaster in Asia are identified.
*Southerm California residents are bracing for another strong
Alaskan storm system that could wreak more havoc in flood-prone
areas and dump up to two more feet of snow in the mountains.
Rain is epected to be steady and heavy into Tuesday and could
cause mudslides and debris flows.
*The new dome at Mt St Helens, barely three months old, now
looks similar in size to the 876-foot-tall lava dome that took six
years to ooze up from the crater floor in the 1980s.
*A magnitude 5.7 earthquake north of Macqarie Island has occurred
305 km (190 miles) W of Auckland Island, New Zealand.

Monday, January 3, 2005
*There are remarkable geologic parallels between what just
happened in East Asia and what could happen in the North
American Pacific Northwest. 19-21 major earthquake events
have occurred in the Northwest during the past 10,000 years.
During at least 17 of these events, the entire fault zone appears
to have ruptured at once, causing an earthquake around
magnitude 9, and major tsunamis. "There are clusters of
earthquake events on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and there
are big gaps. And we're either in a cluster right now or at the end
of one." "Whether the current cluster is over yet, we just don't know.
One possibility is that we could be done with this cluster and looking
at a period of many hundreds of years before the next earthquake."
"The other distinct possibility is we could still be in a cluster of events.
If that's the case, the average time interval between earthquakes
within a cluster is already up. We would be due just about any day."
* Earthquake patterns in India indicate that strain is accumulating
in some parts of this region. Experts have predicted the probability
of a devastating earthquake (of a magnitude greater than eight ) in
this region at any time before 2010. Any delay in the occurrence
of the earthquake will only increase its magnitude. As many as three
earthquake clusters have appeared in the region and in one of these,
in 1988, their last major quake occurred, at magnitude 6.6, killing 1500.
* Quakes come in clusters, either on a global basis or along fault lines.
Clumps of quakes hit Turkey in the 1930s and '40s. A similar pattern
appears in the enormous Alaskan earthquakes of the '50s and '60s.
There were other periods when there were global flurries of earthquakes -
five of the 10 largest earthquakes of the 20th century hit between 1957
and 1965. The biggest known earthquake was a 9.5-magnitude event
that rocked Chile in May 1960.
*Shocking as it seems now, scientists already knew that after years
of relative quiet in the Indian Ocean, a large and violent adjustment
was looming. Studies of coral atolls had shown clusters of giant
earthquakes, in the region occurring about every 230 years. The
last cluster had begun in 1797 and ended in 1861. Just three weeks
ago Dr Kerry Sieh, an American expert, presented a paper at a
conference in San Francisco warning that the next giant earthquake
off Sumatra might be only a few years away. Last July he had become
so concerned at the likely massive loss of life that he printed and
distributed 5,000 posters and brochures around some of the islands
later hit by the earthquake. Sieh believes another quake
could be on the way: "There is some evidence that the stresses on
the tectonic plates south of the epicentre may now have increased
and raised the chances of another major earthquake."
*It was widely reported, based on information supplied by a U.S.
Geological Survey scientist in California, that Sumatra moved
100 feet to the southwest due to the 9.0 quake. But it was not true.
The northwest corner of Sumatra sits on the Burma plate and may
have moved southwest several yards.
*Leading scientists have spent the past two years lobbying the
United Nations for a tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean.
The governments of Indonesia and Australia, worried about a series
of smaller earthquakes off Java, felt the region needed a tidal
wave warning system similar to that used in the Pacific.
*The massive Sumatran quake moved the ground in New Mexico.
Although the quake was nearly 10,000 miles away, it still moved
the surface of the earth there by over a centimeter. It was actually
a greater displacement than they have experienced from many of
their 'felt' earthquakes in the region.
*Geologists used to say that mega-earthquakes like the one that
hit Southeast Asia last week could not trigger temblors on the other
side of the globe. Today, some experts are not so sure. Evidence
is mounting that large earthquakes can rattle geologic formations
more than 1,000 miles away - and perhaps even set off volcanic
eruptions days, months or years later. There's also an intriguing hint
that major earthquakes might occur in clusters: Nearly a third of
the biggest quakes of the past century struck during a 20-year
span between 1950 and 1970.
*Andaman's active volcanos Barren-1 and Narcondam have started
erupting. The chain of islands in Andaman and Nicobar are facing tremor,
aftershocks, volcanoes and high winds. Most of Andaman's tribals
went higher ground before the tsunami. So did the animals. According
to some Indian Air Force chopper pilots, some people among the tribes
sensed the devastation way before it hit. They even moved their
belongings and make-shift homes to higher grounds where
waves could not affect them.
*The Assam government Sunday instructed all district heads to
stockpile essential commodities and activated its emergency wings
in the wake of an earthquake warning sounded by a U.S. agency.
Scientists at the Center for Earth Observing and Space Research at
George Mason University in Virginia - who have been analysing
seismic data since the tsunami disaster on December 26 - found the
aftershocks moving north and warned this could trigger a major quake
in Assam, India. The area has experienced at least half-a-dozen tremors
of moderate intensity in the past two months. There is total panic with
people not sure what to do and how to escape the disaster if it happens
at all. People were preparing for the worst by stocking up on water bottles
and other essentials, though residents were still staying put in their homes.
*Six members of a family got buried under a landslide in the vicinity
of Abbottabad in Pakistan on Saturday duing heavy rains.

Sunday, January 2, 2005
*Countries hit by the Asian tsunami disaster could take up to
10 years to recover, the U.N.'s Kofi Annan warns.
*Where you can send donations for the tsunami victims.
*Severe weather in Sri Lanka is disrupting efforts to help more
than one million people affected by the tsunami. Flash floods
have prevented aid workers reaching some parts of the island.
At least 10 camps sheltering thousands of tsunami survivors were
hit by the flash floods and had to be evacuated.
*Survivors in the Andaman Islands accuse officials of underplaying
the disaster and failing to hand out aid.
*The first outbreaks of communicable diseases are now being
seen in areas hit by last Sunday's killer waves in Asia.
*A 10-year-old British schoolgirl saved the lives of hundreds
of people in southern Asia by warning them a wall of water
was about to strike, after learning about tsunamis in geography class.
*Experts say that existing Pacific warning systems are good for
transoceanic events but virtually useless for detecting a localized
tsunami triggered by a landslide after an earthquake. For Long
Beach, California, the danger comes from landslides at or near
offshore ocean canyons between Palos Verdes Peninsula and
Santa Catalina Island. Officials there are looking into installing
a new warning system.
*At 8pm on February 22, 1491, a tsunami more than 10 times as
great as the Sumatra one almost certainly hit Australian shores,
rising at its peak to 130m above sea level. That event was probably
caused by a comet or meteor smashing into the ocean, but an
equally devastating flood could happen at any time, caused by an
earthquake on a geological fault running down the west coast
of New Zealand's South Island.
*A dry end to the summer rainy season has left Southwest Florida
with the worst drought index the region has seen in more than a decade.

Saturday, January 1, 2005
*A 6.6 quake off the west coast of northern Sumatra hit early today.
*The death toll from the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunamis in the
Indian Ocean has reached 150,000.
*Since the big quake, the total number of large aftershocks in the area
has reached 93.
*The Andaman islands police chief says most of the thousands of
people missing there are probably dead.
* Message board for persons missing in the tsunami.
*Arjuna Seneviratna witnessed and survived the tsunami wave that
struck Sri Lanka. People were being flung into the air like confetti.
"If I had been 150m (500 feet) inside the coastline I would have been
hit by flying debris, by 250 cars, by brick walls, by reinforcement bars.
I would not have drowned, I would have been beaten to death."
*The earthquake that triggered deadly tsunamis in south Asia
and eastern Africa caused ripples in underground
water as far away as Missouri. Shock waves from the 9.0 magnitude
earthquake caused fluctuations in Missouri groundwater levels
tracked by a network of monitoring wells. One theory for the
fluctuation is that seismic waves alternately
compressed and relaxed the bedrock.
*Bangladeshis are thanking their lucky stars and wondering how
they came out of Sunday's quake-tsunami calamity relatively unscathed.
Geologists attributed Bangladesh's good luck to a natural process of
sedimentation, making the sea bed shallow along the coast. Billions
of tons of sediment, which the country's numerous rivers carry into
the sea, have created a natural barrier against tsunami.
*A second tsunami with deadly high tides like the one that hit the
Indian coast on Sunday is highly unlikely in the next few days.
*Nearly every day, Larry Park rises early and drives the Pacific
Northwest looking for earthquakes. In the bed of his pickup,
he has installed a rotating 3-foot disc that he says picks up certain
vibrations that telegraph impending quakes around the world.
This week, he said his data indicated another Big One brewing
beneath the same area of south Asia where the 9.0 earthquake
unleashed the killer tsunami. He warned the governments of India,
Indonesia and Australia. India, fearing another tsunami, took him
seriously enough to issue a public warning, which caused tens of
thousands of people in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand to flee their
coastal homes in panic yesterday. No quake or giant waves materialized.
*The northwest coast of Western Australia is on cyclone alert
this weekend as a tropical low develops off the coast.