Friday, May 15, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TROPICAL STORMS -

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

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

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

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

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

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

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

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

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

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TROPICAL STORMS -

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

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

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

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

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

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

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

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -

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

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

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

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

The olive oil you're buying is probably a rip off - Good olives are supposed to be green, but many used for olive oil have rotted.The olive oil you're buying probably isn't as healthy as you think. About 70% of the olive oil Americans buy isn't extra virgin.
"Since olive oil became so popular there isn't enough of the good stuff to go around. Even if there were, many consumers aren't willing to pay for it. As a result, the majority of olive oil Americans buy isn't from Italy or extra virgin as advertised. "Americans are addicted to cheap products. But people should know the risks of consuming subpar olive oil."
Extra virgin olive oil is made by crushing olives and extracting the juice and has no additives or other ingredients. Nutrition experts rave that extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants, such as the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal and asoleuropein, which is linked to healthy cholesterol. But many cheaper oils don't have these benefits, and can even be harmful.
Costco recently started buying Greek olive oil to ensure better quality. Make sure only one country is listed as the source. If the label says "product of Italy" or "imported from Greece," it means that the olives used were probably fresh. If multiple countries are listed, chances are the olives were imported and might have rotted.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a 17 oz. bottle of olive oil is cheaper than $10, it's probably not good quality. Trust your instincts. Tasting olive oil is important. If the olive oils tastes grassy, bitter, or peppery, go with another brand the next time you buy.
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Monday, April 20, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.**
Vincent Van Gogh


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.8 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
6.6 TAIWAN REGION

Yesterday, 4/19/15 -
5.3 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
5.3 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.3 MAURITIUS - REUNION REGION

4/18/15 -
5.4 OFF E. COAST OF N. ISLAND, N.Z.

4/17/15 -
6.5 FIJI REGION
5.3 CRETE, GREECE
5.2 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
5.0 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN

Powerful quake hits Taiwan and Japan, tsunami warning lifted - One man died and another was hospitalised on Monday in a fire caused by a powerful quake off Taiwan that also set buildings shaking in the capital Taipei and sparked a short-lived tsunami warning in far southwestern Japan. Japanese forecasters had warned the 6.6 magnitude earthquake could cause a tsunami as high as one metre (three feet) affecting several islands in the Okinawa chain, but lifted the alert around an hour later, with no abnormal waves recorded.
No damage was reported in Japan, but a four-storey apartment building in part of New Taipei City caught ablaze after an electrical box outside the block exploded in the quake. One elderly man who lived in the building "showed no signs of life" at the scene, the fire service said. Another resident was hospitalised after choking in the blaze. Residents and office workers were evacuated from a building in central Taipei because of a feared gas leak and reports said several vehicles were trapped in the basement. It was not immediately clear if there were any people stuck with their cars.
In Japan, local authorities urged people to move away from the coast and seek higher ground, in a drill that has become fairly regular in a country prone to powerful earthquakes and occasional devastating tsunamis. "We are issuing warnings via the radio. We want residents to get as far as possible from the sea." Boats were seen sailing out to sea - common practice when a tsunami warning is issued because away from the coast, a tsunami is little different from a swell. However, an hour after the quake, the Japan Meteorological Agency cancelled the warning.
The US Geological Survey said the 6.6 magnitude quake, which Japanese authorities had originally put at 6.8, struck 71 kilometres (44 miles) east of Hualien, Taiwan at 0143 GMT. In Tokyo, officials were still collecting information, but that the quake did not appear to have done serious damage. Japan sits at the confluence of four of the earth's tectonic plates and records more than 20 percent of the planet's most powerful earthquakes every year. Strict building codes and a long familiarity with the dangers mean quakes that might cause devastation in other parts of the world are frequently uneventful in Japan. However, occasional disasters prove exceptionally deadly, and more than 18,000 people were killed by a huge tsunami that smashed into the northeast coast in 2011 after a huge 9.0 magnitude earthquake.
The chief of Taiwan's Seismology Center, warned there could be more quakes. "This was the third quake measuring more than 6.0 magnitude in Taiwan so far this year - we would not rule out the likelihood that there might be more strong quakes of this scale."

Rare oarfish creates a buzz in New Zealand - A nearly 10-foot-long oarfish washed ashore along a New Zealand salt marsh. Oarfish rarely wash ashore, but when one does the bizarre-looking sea creature usually creates a bit of a stir, as one did the other day on the southeastern coast of the south island of New Zealand.
A man was walking along the salt marsh in Aramoana when he encountered on the beach an unusual sea creature that some have previously mistaken for some sort of sea serpent. He phoned the Department of Conservation service manager and asked him to come take a look. “It was very unusual looking."
In his 20 years at DOC, the manager had never seen anything like it, so on Thursday morning he contacted the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and asked if theycould identify the sea creature. “From his description I guessed it would be an oarfish and when his photos came through it was confirmed. There are thought to be only two species and this is the southern one, Regalecus glesne.”
This oarfish was nearly 10 feet long, but they can grow up to 36 feet; an 18-footer was discovered off California in 2013. Oarfish are typically found in deep water in tropical oceans. Not surprisingly, the find created quite a buzz. “Little is known about the oarfish. When this was dissected, its stomach was full of krill. Other specimens have also been found stuffed full of krill. They have been some caught on video in recent years and they have been observed swimming vertically with their pectoral fins out to the side, which is how they get their name `oarfish.’”
It is rare to find an oarfish washed up in this area — only five reports of them over the past 150 years, the last being in nearby Dunedin in 1998. “The oarfish was in great shape. Its stomach was full, so it did not starve to death. It seems the strandings often occur after earthquakes or storms, and we have just had a storm here, so I think it just got washed in and stranded on the salt marsh.”[Site note - Oarfish washing ashore have sometimes been viewed as a sign of impending earthquakes.]

TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Cars Battle High Waters After Flash Floods in Houston, Texas - Intense rains came down hard and fast in Houston, Texas on Friday night, leading to flash flooding in the area. Houston was hit with rainfall rates of 2-3 inches an hour. The heaviest rain hit the south side of Houston, near the suburbs of Pasadena. The rain was expected to continue throughout the night.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -

March 2015: Another WARMEST MONTH ON RECORD FOR THE PLANET - March 2015 was Earth's warmest March since global record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center on Friday. NASA rated March 2015 as the 3rd warmest March on record.

Wildfire threatens 300 homes in drought-stricken Southern California - A wildfire near Corona, California, is threatening at least 300 homes as 335 firefighters work to quell it. The "Highway Fire" was incinerating 300 acres in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, early Sunday, and emergency officials have evacuated many residents. Others were in a dilemma about how to react to the potential danger to their homes.
The fire's rapid spread has caught some by surprise. Officials first became aware of it through reports of trees on fire early Saturday. It jumped quickly from 30 acres of coverage to 175 acres over the course of the day. By early Sunday, it had nearly doubled to 300 acres. "This is an example of what the drought has done, these fuel conditions, normally this wouldn't burn in this kind of area."
The spread of the fire was described as "aggressive." Around 1 a.m. Pacific time, firefighters had the blaze 15% contained. So far, no one has been reported injured, and no homes reported burned. But residents' homes are in imminent danger. The probability of some catching fire on a scale of one to 10 is "at a six". (video at link)

Despite Seattle’s reputation for rainy weather, Washington's governor declared a drought emergency in nearly half the state on Friday, warning that the classification could encompass the entire state by early May. Last month, a drought emergency had been declared in three regions of Washington state.
“This is an ongoing emergency, and we’re going to have some long, hard months ahead of us. We’re moving quickly so that we’re prepared to provide relief to farms and fish this summer.” Experts said rainfall in the state is normal, but snowpack is just 24 percent of the norm, meaning river flow will be much lower than usual. Washington state last declared a drought in 2005.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' -

Scientists in Norway think it may be raining worms in parts of the country. - A biologist came across thousands of earthworms scattered across the mountains while out skiing. They were unlikely to have tunnelled through the snow because it was too deep, so it appears they rained down from the sky.
I saw thousands of earthworms on the surface of the snow. When I put them in my hand I found that they were alive." Worms start to emerge from the ground towards the end of winter, and it's possible that some were swept up by strong wind. It's not unusual for the mountainous areas of Norway to experience high winds, so the worms could have been carried quite a distance, before falling back to Earth as earthworm rain.
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.**
Ernest Hemingway


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.3 CRETE, GREECE
5.2 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
5.0 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN

Yesterday, 4/16/15 -
5.0 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
6.1 CRETE, GREECE
6.1 CRETE, GREECE
5.2 OFFSHORE SUCRE, VENEZUELA

4/15/15 -
5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.4 NEW IRELAND REGION, P.N.G.
5.5 CYPRUS REGION
5.3 NEI MONGOL-NINGXIA BDR, CHINA
5.0 NEAR COAST OF CENTRAL PERU

Earthquakes strike parts of northern China - An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 has struck in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. An earlier earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 hit the north-western Gansu Province, killing at least one person. The China Earthquake Networks Centre believes the two tremors could be connected. (Video footage from China's CCTV shows people fleeing buildings during one of the earthquakes.)
The two earthquakes have toppled scores of houses. A 4.5-magnitude quake hit Lintao County of the northwestern province of Gansu around 3 pm, killing one person in Yaogou Village, about 20 km from the epicenter. About 30 houses were flattened, and 200 were damaged.
Half an hour later, a 5.8-magnitude quake hit Alashan Left Banner, in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at half past 3 pm. The quake was followed by a 4.0-magnitude aftershock five minutes later. No casualties or property damage have been reported, as the area is remote and sparsely populated. Local authorities are still checking for possible damage. The quake was felt in the nearby cities in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Wuwei in Gansu Province.

6.1 magnitude quake strikes off Greek island of Crete - The earthquake struck under the Mediterranean seabed east of the Greek island of Crete on Thursday, but local authorities said there were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage. The quakes epicentre was 20 kilometers below sea level, 50 km east of Crete on the Cretan-Rhodes ridge where the African tectonic plate meets the Eurasian plate.
In Greece, the Athens Observatory said the tremor, which happened at 1821 GMT, struck some 14 km off the small island of Kassos and was strongly felt on nearby Crete. "I jumped up from my chair, the ground shook for at least five minutes. I did not see any material damage but it is nighttime and it's difficult to see what has happened." Greece is one of Europe's most earthquake-prone countries. In January 2014, several thousand people found themselves homeless on the holiday island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Islands after a 5.8 magnitude quake.

VOLCANOES -
Peru - Ubinas volcano erupts again this morning. Today marks the third eruption of Ubinas in two days. It erupted this morning around 8:00 a.m. and lasted for about 6 minutes, with the extent of damages resulting from the spread of ash. The IGP recommends that local communities wear masks and goggles for the time being to protect from the ash layer.
The South Volcano Observatory of the Geophysical Institute of Peru recorded two loud explosions from the volcano yesterday, causing a yellow alert to be raised for the communities near-by. The first explosion occurred in the morning with ashes reaching 3,800 meters and the second one in the afternoon which resulted in a column of ashes reaching 1,500 meters high.
Today ashes reached 1,800 meters high above the crater and spreading at least 15 kilometers outwards from the volcano. The ashes were primarily directed southeast toward the communities of Ubinas, Escacha and Anascapa. After today’s explosion, Ubinas has erupted four times in the last 8 days. Three days ago snowmelt and another eruption causes a massive mudslide. A video was captured by the IGP monitoring team who happened to be recording data at the time.
Video footage of the mudslide.

Mexico's Colima volcano has spewed a giant 3.5-kilometre-high column of ash that rained down on a nearby city. The Jalisco state civil protection agency said a "moderate" quantity of ash fell on Ciudad Guzman, a town near the western state of Colima, where the volcano is located.
A civil protection official said there were no reports of damage or injuries in the city of 100,000 people. Officials urged the population to use masks if they venture out of their homes, remove excess ash from rooftops so they do not collapse and cover water drains. The 3,860-metre mountain, also known as the Volcano of Fire, is among the most active in the country. (video at link)

New volcano discoverd in Columbia - In the Andes Mountains, in Colombia, hides Escondido, a potentially active volcano. The discovery was made by the researchers of the Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes of the Italian National Research Council (IDPA-CNR) and of the Servicio Geológico Colombiano.
Escondido was identified by the research team during an exploration campaign in the Andes Mountains. It lies in an area in which volcanic activity had been previously considered as practically absent. “Although it is believed that the planet has been fully explored, the discovery of pyroclastic deposits perfectly preserved with a thickness of eight metres suggests the presence of intensive explosive activity originated from a volcanic structure that had not been identified before. This find shows that discoveries of this type are still possible and bring about implications regarding the proper assessment of natural risks and the possible use of geothermal energy associated with magma ascent through the Earth’s crust”.
“Our study shows that Escondido had its last activity about 30,000 years ago, and that its identification substantially changes the perception of the distribution of recent volcanism in the central Cordillera of the Northern Andes. It also reveals that magmas ascent through the crust and the activity of the tectonic processes are more pervasive than previously thought”.

TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical storms.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

A rare suspected tornado in Oregon swept across a parking lot at a community college in the city of Eugene, lifting up a Jeep with two people inside and damaging three other vehicles, officials said on Wednesday.
Oregon gets only a handful of tornadoes each year, and they are usually weak, said a National Weather Service meteorologist. Meteorologists believe this was a small tornado and are working to confirm that determination. No one was injured from the suspected tornado on Tuesday afternoon at Lane Community College in Eugene, about 100 miles (161 km) south of Portland.
The Jeep with the two people sitting inside was lifted about 5 feet (1.5 meters) off the ground before dropping back down. A car was flipped around in the air and landed on another vehicle, and a fourth vehicle was flipped over and landed on its roof. The Oregonian newspaper on its website posted photos submitted by a student at the college showing a sedan lying on its roof on a grassy space in the parking lot and another vehicle with part of its roof and windshield caved in.

India - Record rain in Chennai. The city that was bracing for the hottest part of the year had a sudden swing in weather on Wednesday, a RARITY for April. For the FIRST TIME IN 70 YEARS, Meenambakkam received 103.2 mm rainfall on Wednesday.
Residents woke up to a pleasant monsoon-like day as an upper air cyclonic circulation over Lakshadweep area had brought good rains over many parts of the State since Tuesday night. However, the weather observatory in Nungambakkam recorded only 2.6 mm of rainfall between 8.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. The prevailing weather system had brought down the Wednesday temperature to 29.3 degree Celsius, which is five degrees less than the average temperature experienced in April.
Several areas, particularly in south Chennai, had a heavy downpour during morning hours, something more like a cloud burst. Rains lashed several places like Taramani, Velachery, Guindy, and Adyar and in just an hour, some places recorded nearly 100 mm of rainfall, which is RARE for the season.
Moisture was being drawn from the Bay of Bengal across the State and this brought rains over many parts of the State. While northern districts, including Chennai, would have rains till Thursday, wet spell would continue in southern region of Tamil Nadu for a few more days. Summer rains are usually preceded by an intense period of heat. But this was not one of the typical weather systems that occur during noon.
“This type of organised weather activity is rare and May is more likely to get rains than in April. In summer, areas away from the coast get more rains." Weather bloggers point out that the interaction of the cyclonic circulation with another system over Bay of Bengal and constant moisture incursion had brought heavy downpour over the city in April. In the last 15 years, rainfall over the city crossed 20 mm only twice in April. In, 2001 and 2005, Nungambakkam recorded 83 mm and 60 mm in April.

HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -

Ice jams, possible rain raises flooding concerns for parts of Maine - State and local officials are keeping a close eye on a massive ice jam on the St. John River in Allagash that could affect towns downriver if it lets go over the next 24 hours.
The St. John River rose about 15 feet in 90 minutes behind the jam in Allagash at about 4 a.m. Thursday. This was considered a historically rapid rise and ranked among the top five fastest river level increases since records have been kept over the last 70 years. “We expect it to let go sometime today. People along the St. John River really want to pay attention.”
Downriver, municipal officials were heeding that advice. Ice jams can cause water to rise rapidly upriver from their location, creating flooding conditions. When the ice jam breaks up, all that backed up water is released and can cause more flooding problems in low-lying areas as it rushes downriver. “We estimate it takes about two hours and 45 minutes for the ice to get from [Allagash] to Fort Kent, assuming it does not jam up somewhere in between.” If the ice jam in Allagash does let go and the water dammed up behind it flows down the river to Fort Kent, the town is ready.
“We have our game plan in place. It is a concern with everything all jammed up.” Officials with the county’s emergency management services also were on the ground in the St. John Valley Thursday. “I am not pushing the panic button at this point. I think we have a good handle on things, and we are not in ‘emergency’ mode by any means yet.”
Officials also are keeping an eye on an ice jam on the Aroostook River near the Fort Fairfield and Caribou town line that caused flooding Wednesday night and prompted the Maine Department of Transportation to close a section of Grimes Road, also known as North Caribou Road. A flood warning was issued for all of northern Maine as ice jams and melting snow will cause some river levels to rise in Aroostook County through Friday evening.
The weather service also is tracking a series of storms expected to bring up to 3 inches of rain to parts of the state on Monday and create flooding conditions in areas Down East that were hit with record snowfall this past winter. “Those rains will be taking the snowpack with it, and that could produce [the equivalent to] a 3- to 5-inch rainstorm. It sounds like Down East will be in the bullseye of that rain event.”
In central Maine, both the Penobscot and Piscatiquis rivers have peaked and their levels are falling. “How much rain we do get remains a big question. But it won’t be super warm over the next couple of days, so the remainder of the snowpack will be a slow, controlled runoff from now into next week.” In the Augusta area, the Kennebec peaked Wednesday and levels were falling. Heavy rains do have the potential to bring river levels up around the state and the potential for flooding is above normal next week.

'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' -

An oil slick, a band of rainbow sheen that stretches for miles off the coast of Louisiana, marks the spot where an oil platform toppled during a 2004 hurricane, triggering what might be the longest-running commercial oil spill ever to pollute the Gulf of Mexico. Yet more than a decade after crude started leaking at the site formerly operated by Taylor Energy Company, few people even know of its existence. The company has downplayed the leak's extent and environmental impact, likening it to scores of minor spills and natural seeps the Gulf routinely absorbs.
An Associated Press investigation has revealed evidence that the spill is far worse than what Taylor — or the government — have publicly reported during their secretive, and costly, effort to halt the leak. Presented with AP's findings, that the sheen recently averaged about 91 gallons of oil per day across eight square miles, the Coast Guard provided a new leak estimate that is about 20 times greater than one recently touted by the company. Outside experts say the spill could be even worse — possibly one of the largest ever in the Gulf.
Taylor's oil was befouling the Gulf for years in obscurity before BP's massive spill in mile-deep water outraged the nation in 2010. Even industry experts haven't heard of Taylor's slow-motion spill, which has been leaking like a steady trickle from a faucet, compared to the fire hose that was BP's gusher. Taylor has kept documents secret that would shed light on what it has done to stop the leak and eliminate the persistent sheen.
The Coast Guard said in 2008 the leak posed a "significant threat" to the environment, though there is no evidence oil from the site has reached shore. The sheen "presents a substantial threat to the environment" and is capable of harming birds, fish and other marine life.
Using satellite images and pollution reports, the watchdog group SkyTruth estimates between 300,000 and 1.4 million gallons of oil has spilled from the site since 2004, with an annual average daily leak rate between 37 and 900 gallons. If SkyTruth's high-end estimate of 1.4 million gallons is accurate, Taylor's spill would be about 1 percent the size of BP's, which a judge ruled amounted to 134 million gallons. That would still make the Taylor spill the 8th largest in the Gulf since 1970.
"The Taylor leak is just a great example of what I call a dirty little secret in plain sight." Taylor has spent tens of millions of dollars to contain and stop its leak, but it says nothing can be done to completely halt the chronic slicks. The New Orleans based company presented federal regulators last year with a proposed "final resolution" at the site, but the details remain under wraps. For years, the government has allowed the company to shield other spill-related information from public scrutiny — all in the name of protecting trade secrets.
Industry experts and environmental advocates are baffled by Taylor's inability to stop the leak and its demands for confidentiality. "It's not normal to have a spill like this," said an industry consultant and former engineering manager for Shell Oil Company. "The whole thing surprises me. Normally, we fix things much more quickly than this."
Five years ago, it took 87 days for BP to cap its blown-out Gulf well and halt the worst offshore oil spill in the nation's history. The disaster, which killed 11 rig workers, exposed weaknesses in the industry's safety culture and gaps in its spill response capabilities. Taylor's leak provided earlier evidence of how difficult it can be for the industry to prevent or stop a spill in an unforgiving environment. But the company has balked at sharing information that could help other offshore operators prepare for a similar incident, saying it's a valuable asset.
Whether it can profit from any industry innovations is debatable. The company sold all its offshore leases and oil and gas interests in 2008, four years after founder Patrick Taylor died. Down to just one full-time employee, Taylor Energy exists only to continue fighting a spill that has no end in sight.
Hurricane Ivan whipped into the Gulf of Mexico in 2004, churning up waves that triggered an underwater mudslide and toppled Taylor's platform. The platform stood roughly 10 miles off Louisiana's coast in approximately 475 feet of water. The mudslide buried the cluster of 28 wells under mounds of sediment. Taylor tried to remove the unstable sediment covering the damaged wells, but determined it was too dangerous for divers.
Without access to the buried wells, traditional "plug and abandon" efforts wouldn't work. In 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Rita disrupted the company's response efforts for several months. In 2007, slick sightings became more frequent near the wreckage. In 2008, the Coast Guard, concerned about the environmental threat of the leak, ordered additional work, including daily monitoring flights over the site.
A year ago, federal officials convened a workshop on the leak. Months later, the company presented regulators its proposal for a final resolution at the site. That plan remains confidential, but Taylor Energy President has said experts and government officials agree that the "best course of action ... is to not take any affirmative action" due to the possible risks of additional drilling.
Long before Taylor's leak, the industry learned of the risks of drilling in the Gulf's mudslide-prone areas. In 1969, Hurricane Camille caused a mudslide that destroyed a platform and damaged another. The company's last remaining full-time employee said Taylor didn't do anything to assess the risk of mudslides at its platform besides verifying that the previous leaseholder's permits and designs met regulatory requirements.
Even people whose job it is to know about such leaks didn't know about this one. Plaquemines Parish's coastal restoration director only found out about it in December 2012 when he spotted one of Taylor's slicks during a flight to BP's Deepwater Horizon site. He was stunned when a Coast Guard official informed him oil had been leaking there for years. "That's right off of our coast. It's really close. I would have thought somebody would have shared it with us."
In a recent court filing, Taylor said experts concluded in March 2014 that the sheens contained an average volume of less than 4 gallons per day. But AP's review of more than 2,300 pollution reports since 2008 found they didn't match official accounts of a diminishing leak. In fact, the reports show a dramatic SPIKE in sheen sizes and oil volumes since Sept. 1, 2014. That came just after federal regulators held a workshop to improve the accuracy of Taylor's slick estimates and started sending government observers on the contractor's daily flights over the site.
From April 2008 through August 2014, the average sheen size reported to the Coast Guard was 2 square miles with an average volume of 11 gallons of oil, according to AP's analysis. Since then, the daily average sheen size ballooned to 8 square miles with an average volume of 91 gallons. When confronted by AP with evidence of the spike, the Coast Guard attributed it to an improved method for estimating the slicks from the air — with the clear implication that far more oil had been spilling for years than had been reported.
After initially providing AP with an outdated, lower estimate, the Coast Guard then disclosed a new estimate — that approximately 16,000 gallons of oil have been spotted in slicks over the past seven months. That is roughly six times higher than its 2013 estimate, of about 4,500 gallons a year, and 20 times higher than the figure cited by Taylor in a Feb. 19 court filing. The company hasn't disclosed the much larger leak estimate in any publicly accessible court filings.
In many reports over the years, there are glaring inconsistencies between the estimated size of the sheen and the corresponding volume calculation. While Taylor insists it has acted "responsibly" throughout its spill response, the pattern of dubious pollution reports makes it difficult to assess the company's reports of progress in controlling the leak. The response to Taylor's leak also reinforces how the government, lacking the industry's expertise and resources, often must rely on companies and their contractors to assess and contain offshore spills. A presidential commission that investigated BP's spill identified that as a weakness.
A Taylor spokesman declined to comment on AP's findings, but the company's lawyers have dismissed the Waterkeeper Alliance's lawsuit as a "sham" that shouldn't tarnish Patrick Taylor's legacy. Taylor, who died less than two months after Hurricane Ivan, is renowned in Louisiana for championing a program that has provided free state-paid college tuition to thousands of students. The company says oil released from the site now comes from the sediment around the wells, not the wells themselves; the Coast Guard statement says the source of the slicks is unknown.
Taking into account the reported change in estimation methods, AP's analysis doesn't show any statistically valid drop in sheen sizes or oil amounts over time. Sky Truth said the slick sizes should be steadily shrinking if the wells really are sealed and the recent sheens are residual oil oozing from the sediment. "The persistent size of the oil slicks we're seeing just don't jibe with those low leak-rate estimates we've seen from those officials." Gaps and complex variables in the data make it impossible to pinpoint how much oil has actually spilled. The operations coordinator for NOAA's Emergency Response Division, said estimating the volume of slicks is hindered by the difficulty of determining the thickness of the oil. Oil slicks from both natural and man-made sources are common in the Gulf of Mexico. Every year, millions of gallons of crude seep naturally from cracks in the seabed. Massive spills like BP's are rare, but offshore accidents often pollute the Gulf with smaller quantities of oil.
The Interior Department also says small leaks have been detected from abandoned wells that may have been unsuccessfully sealed by the companies that drilled them. A 2010 AP investigation revealed federal regulators weren't routinely inspecting more than 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf. Fumes sickened researchers during a boat trip to the site, even though they were wearing respirators. The slick stretches for several miles. "It's just amazing how much oil is there."

HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS

Middle Age Now Lasts Until ... 74 - Researchers from Vienna's International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis contend that being considered elderly shouldn't rely on one's actual age, but on how long people are expected to live after retirement. The UK's Office for National Statistics estimates the average retiree may enjoy her golden years for up to 24 years after the standard UK retirement age of 65 (compared to just 15 years after retirement in the 1950s. Using a definition of old age that means someone has 15 or fewer years left to live, IIASA scientists then pegged that magic transitional age at 74.
And this trend is only expected to continue. "Older people in the future will have many characteristics exhibited by younger people today...There is a massive nine-year difference in average life expectancy between the poor and the affluent and a shocking 19-year difference in healthy life expectancy." These findings of extended longevity are relevant because they'll affect certain societal needs, such as collecting pensions and other senior perks, and help people design financial plans that work. Meanwhile, a Cardiff University professor advocates not focusing on age, but on living well. "It is important not just to live longer, but to live healthier."
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