Friday, September 18, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.**
Joseph Joubert

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 9/17/15 -

9/16/15 -

9/15/15 -

9/14/15 -

9/13/15 -

9/12/15 -

9/11/15 -

9/10/15 -

9/9/15 -

9/8/15 -

9/7/15 -

9/6/15 -

9/5/15 -

9/4/15 -

9/3/15 -

9/2/15 -

9/1/15 -

8/31/15 -

8.3-magnitude quake rattles north Chile - 1 million evacuate. Thousands of residents of the small city of Illapel in northern Chile slept outside Thursday after a powerful earthquake destroyed their homes.

Chile Sees Extensive Damage After Earthquake - Officials say at least 11 people are known dead and one million people have been evacuated from coastal towns to escape a tsunami.

Aerial footage shows Chile quake damage - Drone footage shows the damage caused by an earthquake in the Chilean town of Los Vilos.

8.3-magnitude quake was felt in places across South America. Authorities worked into the early hours Thursday assessing damage in several coastal towns that saw flooding from small tsunami waves set off by the quake.
The magnitude-8.3 quake hit off northern Chile on Wednesday night, causing buildings to sway in the capital of Santiago and prompting authorities to issue a tsunami warning for the Andean nation's entire Pacific coast. People sought safety in the streets of inland cities, while others along the shore took to their cars to get to higher ground. "Once again we must confront a powerful blow from nature."
Numerous aftershocks, including one at magnitude-7 and four above 6, shook the region after the initial earthquake — the strongest tremor since a powerful quake and tsunami killed hundreds in 2010 and leveled part of the city of Concepcion in south-central Chile. Although officials cautioned it was too early to know for sure, it appeared Wednesday's quake had a much smaller impact than the 2010 tremor. If that turns out to be the case, it will be a sign that Chile's traditionally strong risk reduction measures and emergency planning had gotten better in the last five years.
"Earthquake impact is a little like real estate: what matters is location, location, location. But it is true that preparedness and risk reduction in Chile is ahead of that in much of the world, and that makes a difference." The tremor was so strong that people in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the other side of the continent, reported feeling it. People in Peru and Brazil also reported feeling the shakes. No injuries were reported outside Chile.
The shaking was powerful, but more worrisome was how long it lasted. "We went out in the street when we felt it was going on too long. It was more than a minute." Authorities said some adobe houses collapsed in the inland city of Illapel, about 175 miles (280 kilometers) north of Santiago and about 34 miles (55 kilometers) east of the quake's epicenter. Electricity was knocked out, leaving the city in darkness. "We are very scared. Our city panicked."
A magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami in south-central Chile in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts. That quake released so much energy, it actually it shortened the Earth's day by a fraction of a second by changing the planet's rotation. The quake had huge ramifications, both political and practical, prompting the Andean nation to improve its alert systems for both quakes and tsunamis. While Wednesday's tremor was strong by any estimation, the 2010 quake was 5.6 times more powerful in terms of energy released.
Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries because just off the coast, the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the South American plate, pushing the towering Andes cordillera to ever-higher altitudes. The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth happened in Chile — a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.

Aftershocks of Chile's 8.3 quake hit port city Valparaiso – video. The earthquake that hit off Chile’s northern coast Wednesday night caused buildings and flagpoles to sway, and the tsunami alarms to sound in Valparaiso.

Hawaii - Alert level for Mauna Loa volcano raised from normal to 'advisory,' but eruption not imminent. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists are closely monitoring recent signs of unrest on Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on Earth.

Scientists Solve Mystery Of Earth's Longest Continental Volcano Chain - There's a gargantuan chain of volcanoes lurking beneath Australia's surface, and scientists have long been puzzled by how these volcanoes came to be, until now. The volcanoes stretch some 1,243 miles across the continent from Cape Hillsboro in central Queensland to near Melbourne in central Victoria. It's nearly three times the length of North America's Yellowstone volcanic track.
According to a new study, the earliest volcanoes in the chain formed 33 million years ago as the continent of Australia shifted northward over a so-called "hotspot," which is a mantle plume fed by hot rock that slowly made its way to the Earth's surface from about 1,864 miles underground. Surprisingly, the hotspot sits away from tectonic plate boundaries, where most volcanoes are found. The "hotspot" was responsible for all of the volcanic activity along the chain. When the plume reaches around 80 miles beneath Earth's surface it can melt, which makes the volcanic activity visible on land.

Catastrophic Volcanoes Blamed for Earth's Biggest Extinction - Geologists hauling hundreds of pounds of 250-million-year-old rocks from Siberia, through Russian and American customs, say luck was on their side. Not only did they successfully transport the huge haul, but they also may have confirmed the cause of Earth's worst mass extinction.
The culprit? Catastrophic volcanic eruptions that spewed enough lava to cover Australia led to the die-off at the end of the Permian era, the researchers found. That die-off occurred about 250 million years ago and was the greatest mass extinction in Earth's history; 90 percent of marine species and 75 percent of land dwellers were wiped off the face of the planet over the course of about 60,000 years.
"The main question we and many other research teams are trying to answer is, 'What causes mass extinction?'These events shape the evolutionary trajectory of life on our planet, and are thus some of the most important events to occur in the 600 million years that complex life has inhabited Earth."
Scientists knew that a key factor behind this disaster may have been one of the biggest continental volcanic eruptions on record. It occurred in what is now Siberia, currently called the Siberian Traps, and spewed out as much as 2.7 million square miles (7 million square kilometers) of lava. This magmatism, or movement of magma, may have injected massive amounts of global warming gases into the atmosphere, wreaking havoc on the environment. These eruptions also led to acid rain that may at times have made the ground as acidic as lemon juice.
The scientists found that the eruptions started about 300,000 years before the mass extinction, continued during the die-off and lasted for at least 500,000 years after species stopped dying off. Most of the lava, about two-thirds of the total, spewed out before and during the mass extinction. One important question remains: Why did the mass extinction occur over tens of thousands of years even though the eruptions stretched over hundreds of thousands of years? That could be due to at least a couple of reasons. Perhaps a specific cluster of eruptions was key to the mass extinction, or the die- off only happened after a critical amount of lava was spewed.


Tsunami alert as Chile hit by powerful earthquake - The powerful 8.3 magnitude earthquake hit central Chile, causing buildings to sway in the capital Santiago and prompting officials to issue a tsunami alert.

The Chile Earthquake’s First Tsunami Waves Strike - A tide gauge less than 100 miles from the quake's epicenter has logged wave heights in excess of 14 feet.

Tsunami advisory for Hawaii, California after Chile quake - The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had originally issued a watch for Hawaii, saying a tsunami may have been generated by Wednesday's earthquake. They later downgraded the alert to an advisory, saying that current data indicated there would be no major tsunami in the state, but that sea-level changes and dangerous currents could pose a threat to those in or near the water.The center estimated that the effects from the tsunami would arrive in Hawaii about 3 a.m. (6 a.m. PDT) Thursday. A similar advisory was issued for southern and central California. The resulting surge was no higher than 13 inches.
After the 8.3 magnitude temblor hit Chile on Wednesday, tsunami waves of 15 feet were observed at Coquimbo, Chile, while Valparaiso and Quintero saw waves of about 6 feet. Between 3- and 10-foot waves could arrive in French Polynesia. Waves between 1 foot and 3 feet were possible along some coasts in Mexico, Ecuador, Japan, Russia and New Zealand.

New Zealand - Where the tsunami waves from the chile quake have hit the New Zealand coast.

Study Finds Greater Tsunami Risk From Southern California Quake - Californians may be used to hearing about the threat of potentially deadly earthquakes, but a new study finds that quake-triggered tsunamis pose a greater risk to Southern California than previously thought.
Tsunamis are monster waves that can reach more than 100 feet (30 meters) high. They are often caused by earthquakes; the 2004 Banda Aceh earthquake and tsunami killed about 250,000 people, while the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that struck offshore of Japan killed about 20,000 people and triggered a nuclear disaster. Tsunamis increase in size as the depth of water in which they occur decreases. Since water depth is usually shallow near coastlines, tsunamis can grow as they approach land, becoming particularly dangerous along heavily populated coastlines, such as those in Southern California,

Are American Cities Prepared For Massive Tsunamis? - Is Los Angeles ready for a massive tsunami? How about Honolulu or Seattle? It's possible that a tsunami could hit the East Coast. But it's cities along the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire" that are most at risk.
Hawaii is constantly threatened by tsunamis that originate far away. Those big waves can be deadly for some swimmers and boaters, but overall they're not the stuff of natural disaster nightmares. More dangerous are local or "near-field" tsunamis triggered by powerful nearby quakes. Think of the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 that contributed to more than 230,000 deaths. Coastal towns in Washington and Oregon run the highest risk of encountering these disasters. California and Alaska are also at risk.
Last month, a study found that an earthquake off the coast of Southern California could send a 23- foot-high wave more than a mile inland into the cities of Ventura and Oxnard. Near-field tsunamis are the real danger. They can sometimes hit within 10 to 15 minutes, too quickly for local governments to do much but give emergency responders a heads-up.
These tsunamis do, however, come with natural warnings. "In Chile, they actually teach in school: If the shaking is strong enough to throw you to the ground, the minute you can get up, run for high ground." In most areas of the United States, able-bodied people should be able to walk to a safe area within 10 minutes. The problem? Not everyone knows where those areas are.


* In the Western Pacific -
Typhoon 20w (Krovanh) is located approximately 141 nm southeast of Iwo To, Japan.
High 90 percent chance of cyclone between Cape Verde, Lesser Antilles in the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday. Another low pressure system, located about 350 miles southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands, has a high 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next two days.

Grace, 7th tropical storm of the season - The seventh named tropical storm of the eastern Atlantic hurricane season formed several hundred miles from the Cape Verde Islands September 5.

At 21 days and counting, Kilo to rank among LONGEST-LIVED TROPICAL CYCLONES ON RECORD - Typhoon Kilo, already the longest-lived tropical cyclone on on Earth so far this year, was well on its way to ending among the longest-lived on record at the end of last week.
Kilo formed from a cluster of thunderstorms way back on Aug. 20, as a tropical depression south of Hawaii. Since then the storm strengthened to a very strong hurricane, the westernmost in a trio of Category 4s, marking THE FIRST TIME THREE STORMS OF THAT INTENSITY SPUN SIMULTANEOUSLY in the northeast Pacific Ocean since satellite records began in the 1960s.
Then on Sept. 1, Hurricane Kilo crossed west over the international dateline and became a typhoon. East of the international dateline, Pacific Ocean cyclones are managed by NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center, which calls tropical cyclones “hurricanes.” The western side is monitored by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, where tropical cyclones are called “typhoons.”
Amazingly, Kilo had tracked nearly 4,000 miles over its 21-day existence. On average, storms that develop in the eastern Pacific Ocean have a life of about six days. 24 days as a tropical cyclone is far from the longest on record, but solidly in the top five longest- lived tropical cyclones that formed in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the top 10 longest-lived cyclones in any basin.
The record-longest tropical cyclone on Earth was Hurricane (Typhoon) John in 1994, which lasted an incredible 31 days on its westward journey across the Pacific — similar to Kilo’s track. Typhoon Kilo will end about a week short of John’s impressive record, but will likely snag the title of third- longest Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone on record.


Utah - Nine people have been confirmed dead and four others are still missing after two vehicles were swept away during flash flooding in a small polygamous Utah town. Three women and 13 children were in an SUV and a van on their way to watch the floods in the community of Hildale on Monday evening when a wall of water and debris swept them several hundred yards downstream.
'Once-in-a-century' flood - Flash floods are common in the small polygamous town of Hildale, Utah, but the volume and pace of Monday's rain was a "100-YEAR EVENT'. The torrent of water killed 12 people in this small town that straddles the state’s border with Arizona, as floods swept them away in their cars. The storm climax lasted about a half hour, pouring 1-1/2 inches of rain into a desert-like landscape with little vegetation and steep slopes. The Associated Press described the flooding as “like a bucket of water being poured onto a rock — it slid right off and began running downstream, picking up sediment to create the forceful, muddy mess that rushed through the city.”

Utah - Some of 7 killed in flash flooding new to climbing canyons. Rescuers traversed a 100-foot drop into a rugged section of Zion National Park on Thursday to find the last of seven hikers killed when fast-moving floodwaters rushed through a narrow Utah canyon.

RECORD SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA RAIN swamped roads, swelled rivers. A record-breaking storm slammed parched Southern California on Tuesday, cutting off power to thousands and jamming traffic.

Central Florida could see up to 11 inches of rain - With more rain in the Central Florida forecast, a flood watch is issued for coastal counties.

Japan hit by flooding and landslides, September 10 - Tens of thousands of people abandoned their homes and the city of Joso was flooded as heavy rain continued to fall in northeast Japan.
Video - House dragged away by flood.
Flooding in pictures .
Japan hit by second day of heavy rain, flooding and landslides - Heavy rain pummeled Japan last Thursday for a second straight day, flooding hundreds of homes and causing landslides that left one person missing. Tokyo was drenched overnight, but the hardest-hit area Thursday was north of the capital in Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures.
Bullet train service was partially suspended, and muddy raging rivers flooded some neighborhoods and streets. Japanese television footage showed abandoned vehicles and pedestrians wading through ankle- and knee-deep water. The rain followed Tropical Storm Etau, which caused similar flooding and landslides Wednesday as it crossed central Japan. The Fire and Disaster and Management Agency said 15 people were injured, two seriously, both elderly women who were knocked over by strong winds.

Video - Officials monitor expanding Russian sinkhole - As of September 5, a crater in Russia, which emerged 10 months ago has tripled in size to become a 120m-wide sinkhole. The sinkhole, near the town of Solikamsk, is believed to have been caused by flood erosion in an underground mine. The collapsing soil has already claimed a number of holiday homes, but officials say local people are not in danger.

Kentucky, 2003 - Lightning struck 800,000 gallons of Whiskey, caused Epic Firenado. In footage The Weather Channel broadcast last Thursday, a Jim Beam factory in Kentucky received an extra spark to their bourbon after lightning struck the plant back in 2003.


California - video. The massive Rough Fire is now 67% contained after days of cooler weather and some rain.
Blaze destroys 233 Sierra Nevada foothills homes - The latest on wildfires raging in drought- stricken California. The blaze in Amador and Calaveras Counties has charred more than 112 square miles and was 40 percent contained on Tuesday. It is still threatening another 6,400 structures. Forecasters say Northern California weather conditions were changing and the area could see some precipitation Wednesday.
Death toll in Northern California wildfires jumps to five - Two more bodies were found in areas scorched by one of the two devastating wildfires raging in Northern California for the past week, raising the death toll to 5.

Unseasonal sandstorm swept across Mideast - An unseasonal sandstorm swept across the Mideast last Tuesday, blanketing Beirut and Damascus, causing the deaths of at least five people and sending hundreds of others to hospitals with breathing difficulties.
Reduced visibility prompted the Syrian government to call off airstrikes against rebel fighters and threatened planned protests by Lebanese activists over the government's inability to deal with the country's rampant trash crisis. The storm also hit Jordan, Israel and Egypt. In Jordan, schools shut down or cut their days short.
In Syria, three people in the central Hama province died from the sandstorm and said there were more than 3,500 cases of people with breathing difficulties across several provinces. The sandstorm reached Beirut on Tuesday, a day after it engulfed eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. People, especially those with health issues, were advised to stay indoors while many of those who ventured onto the streets donned surgical masks.
The Lebanese Health Ministry said 750 people suffered breathing problems across the country, and that two women died because of the sandstorm. Airport officials reported some flight delays. "It is unbelievable. This must be some test," said a Damascus resident. "It's hot. Temperatures are high and above that we have this dusty weather! It is something beyond reasonable. Enough please!" Hospitals in the town of al-Mayadeen in the northern province of Deir el-Zour ran out of oxygen cylinders and were unable to take in more patients.


Israel Hit with Extreme and UNUSUAL Weather on Jewish New Year. “It Felt Like the Apocalypse”.
As Jews across Israel celebrated the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana earlier this week, parts of the country were hit with extreme flash flooding and, in some areas, hail, in an unusual change of weather. “It felt like the apocalypse, the rain has been torrential, there were about 10 lightning strikes in seconds, and even with your windshield wipers on high, it was impossible to see anything.”
Since the beginning of September, Israel has experienced a series of extreme weather changes, beginning last week with a sudden sandstorm that blanketed the country in thick yellow dust. The RECORD SETTING FIVE-DAY DUST STORM was also accompanied by a heat-wave, with NEW TEMPERATURE AND AIR POLLUTION RECORDS reached across Israel. Last week’s sandstorm is reported to be the WORST TO HIT THE REGION IN ISRAEL'S HISTORY. As the dust finally dissipated, it was only to be replaced with freak rainstorms and flash flooding in the Arava and Judean deserts.
Israel’s meteorological service issued flash flood warnings Tuesday, even going so far as to close the Eilat Airport, grounding domestic flights until the late evening. The flash floods led to road closures in from the central region of Mitzpe Rimon all the way just north of Eilat. The extreme change in weather also caused parts of southern Israel and the Galilee to be hit by a RARE hail storm. Witnesses reported hail the size of ice cubes.
“The Environmental Protection Ministry reported that in several parts of the country, air pollution levels were at their worst in the country’s 75-year history. Air pollution in Jerusalem was 173 times higher than average, 51 times higher in the Negev, and 32 times higher in the Galilee.” More than 600 people were treated for conditions “related to the weather,” the report said of the storm, which also affected Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Cyprus.
The weather “confused scientists and meteorologist[s], who were caught by surprise by the UNPRECEDENTED PHENOMENON.” In July in Iran, the city of Bandar Mahshahr recorded a heat index of 164 degrees. From bugs to earthquakes to fires to winds to rain to smoke to heat, there are reports of extremes around the globe, too.

NASA Says Three Feet of Sea Level Rise Is Unavoidable - Ocean levels around the world have risen about three inches since 1992 thanks to warming temperatures owing to the burning of fossil fuels. Now, new NASA research shows sea levels will likely rise three feet in the coming decades, and it’s too late to do anything about it.
The findings are based on satellite data that looked at sea levels, the amount of heat that’s already stored in the oceans, and how much water is being added by melting ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctica. “It’s pretty certain we are locked into at least three feet of sea-level rise, and probably more. But we don’t know whether it will happen within a century or somewhat longer.”
The three-foot figure is at the high end of what the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted two years ago, when it estimated one to three feet of sea-level rise by 2100. Even if the high point of sea-level rise is still a century out, the effects of encroaching seas will be felt much sooner. Low-lying areas such as Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, with a population of 14 million, could experience regular river floods within the next two decades. That would leave portions of the city completely inundated. For New Orleans, a city still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Katrina, NASA’s predictions raise concerns about whether projects to protect the city from future floods underestimate sea-level rise.
If the new normal means three feet of sea-level rise, hundreds of millions of people living in coastal regions will feel the effects first as increasingly destructive storms—like Sandy and Katrina—trigger frequent floods that could wipe out millions of homes and billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure.
Oceans have risen steadily on the East Coast of the United States, but on the West Coast, they have dropped about three inches over the past 20 years. Climate scientists attribute the phenomenon to a weather pattern called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. “But this is a temporary thing. We’re going to see sea-level rise on the West Coast sometime over the next 20 years, and we’ll probably see faster-than-average sea-level rise, so we have to be prepared.” Temperature increases account for at least one-third of the world’s sea-level rise. The oceans, which cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, absorb much of that heat.
“When heat goes under the ocean, it expands just like mercury in a thermometer." That expansion means more mass for the ocean and a higher sea level overall. Rising temperatures from the burning of fossil fuels are also melting the polar ice sheets at an accelerating rate, which contributes to most of the sea-level increase.

Giant Arctic Mosquitoes That Are Thriving in a Changing Climate - The Arctic mosquito, a larger, furrier version of the ubiquitous pests, are getting a longer breeding season as Arctic ponds warmed earlier in the year, researchers have found.

Frozen Giant Virus Still Infectious After 30,000 Years - It's 30,000 years old and still ticking: A giant virus recently discovered deep in the Siberian permafrost reveals that huge ancient viruses are much more diverse than scientists had ever known. They're also potentially infectious.


WHO finds possible cancer link to mosquito insecticide - A new report from the World Health Organization has found possible cancer links to popular weed killers commonly used by Canadian farmers and across the world. The report also found that an insecticide used to ward off mosquitos could contribute to the development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer. Malathion, glyphosate - more commonly known as Roundup – as well as diazinon, were classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans."
In March, 17 experts from 11 countries met to discuss the relationship between five different insecticides and herbicides – glyphosate, malathion, diazinon, tetrachlorvinphos and parathion - and cancer in humans. Malathion is used regularly in Winnipeg to fend off pesky mosquitos. Chemical fogging was adopted by the city in 2005 to combat the spread of the West Nile virus. Even though the practice was established in many other places, Winnipeg is the last Canadian city that continues to use the insecticide as part of an ongoing program.
Glyphosate is one of the most common agricultural herbicides in the world, and is used by the farmers across Canada. The popular weed killer is sold over the counter under the name Roundup. The researchers state that there is "limited evidence" that malathion could contribute to development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer. They cite studies from the U.S., Canada and Sweden on human exposure.
The research also points to past studies conducted on rodents, which connected malathion to the growth of tumours. The insecticide causes "chromosomal damage" and disrupts "hormone pathways." Debate about its use has raged in the city for more than a decade. Critics have long argued that the chemical sprayed into the air to kill adult mosquitos was instead hurting humans. "It's really something that needed to stop 10 years ago."
Glyphosate caused "DNA and chromosomal damage" in humans. In response to WHO's findings, the multinational agrochemical and biotechnology company Monsanto said that researchers "disregarded dozens of scientific studies that support the conclusion that glyphosate is not a human health risk."
Health Canada's policy is to re-evaluate pesticides on a 15-year-basis to ensure products meet current scientific standards. Diazinon is currently being phased-out because of safety concerns. However, glyphosate and malathion remain classified as safe.

Deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak in New York City, Illinois and California.

San Diego firm recalls cucumbers after salmonella outbreak - A California company is recalling its cucumbers after a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 285 people in 27 states and killed a San Diego woman. [Site note - This one got me. Came down ill after eating a salad with cucumbers the day before I saw this report.]

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.**
Sean O'Casey

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 8/30/15 -

8/29/15 -

8/28/15 -

8/27/15 -

8/26/15 -

Is New Jersey overdue for major earthquake? - In the past year, there have been more than 6,000 earthquakes in California, including two that have measured at least 4.0 on the Richter scale. Contrast that to New Jersey, where there have been seven earthquakes in the past year, which all measured 2.7 or less.
But don’t cross earthquakes off your list of natural disasters just yet. In fact, researchers say New Jersey is overdue for a moderate earthquake of 5.0 or greater. “Long overdue, (but) for how long, that’s the question." The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said 10 years ago that they’re due for at least a moderate earthquake.
In a more recent study, in 2008, the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America reiterated the same threat. “The region is not really well prepared for any level of shaking. The population density is so extremely high. ... Look at earthquake-related disasters. They don’t link to the large size of earthquakes, but the confluence of how close they are to people.”
Not to mention how close they are to suspension bridges, skyscrapers, utility lines and modern infrastructure. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting. We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.” One of the strongest earthquakes in New Jersey measured a 4.9 on the Richter scale — a moderate quake — that struck in 1783 and was felt throughout Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
Almost 90 years ago, Asbury Park experienced a 3.9 magnitude quake in 1927, and it toppled chimneys and knocked items off shelves. Earlier this month, a light earthquake was very noticeable to residents in and around Morristown. It measured 2.7, and was felt as far south as Jackson, and as far north as Suffern, New York. It measured “weak” to “light” on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.
Intense quakes are likely to happen in New Jersey every 100 years or less — which makes New Jersey earthquakes that much harder to predict — and means New Jersey is overdue for an earthquake. “Once in 10 generations is very difficult to study. That’s the biggest challenge (because) we live inside a stable plate.” A “stable plate” describes New Jersey’s tectonics. Here, the Earth’s crust “fits together and doesn’t deform very much."
Researchers don’t really understand why earthquakes happen on the East Coast, especially because in New Jersey, small earthquakes happen over a diffuse area and do not form an easily identifiable zone of action. “What makes us slightly more nervous these days is the recent Virginia earthquake. That event was rather large, there was serious damage, and of course, no prior history of such events recorded.”
In 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia was felt from Georgia to Maine, in Michigan and Illinois, and in Canada. “That (2011 earthquake) damaged a nuclear power plant — not severely, only to the extent that it had to shut down operations. It points out the issue of fragility on our infrastructure. The resiliency or vulnerability of our bridges, tunnels, power lines, pipelines, is a very important feature of the overall vulnerability of the metropolitan region.”
What makes East Coast quakes all the more unpredictable is that quakes here differ from those on the West Coast, where they are more frequent. Because the earth on the East Coast has different properties than the west, shakes from quakes are transmitted farther here than they are in California. Standard homeowner, renter, and business insurance policies typically do not cover earthquake damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Only 7 percent of homeowners who responded to an Institute survey in 2014 said they had earthquake insurance.
Only about 2 percent of homeowners in the Northeast have earthquake coverage, the survey revealed. Hurricanes and flooding are a much greater risk in New Jersey. “If an event is extremely unlikely, how much money is worth investing in safeguarding from it?” Although there is no reliable way to predict a major earthquake, let’s just say experts don’t think whole cities will crumble or be consumed by the ocean, as depicted by Hollywood.

Indonesia - Mt Lokon’s low alert status maintained despite eruption. The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) has maintained Mount Lokon’s status at siaga (Alert Level 3) despite an eruption on Saturday. “We hope residents won’t enter the 2.5-kilometer radius from the volcano’s Tompaluan Crater that we designated as a danger zone,” said an official on Sunday.
After Saturday’s eruption, volcanic tremors were still being recorded and there was a possibility of another eruption. “We hope everyone adheres to our recommendation on the volcano’s danger zone because more eruptions could be forthcoming and threaten the safety of residents if they continue with their activities within the radius deemed dangerous."
Lokon, an active volcano in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, erupted 11:48 p.m. local time Saturday, spewing volcanic ash around 1,500 meters high, which spread in a northern and eastern direction away from the volcano. Increases in Mt Lokon’s volcanic activity had been recorded since Friday before it erupted the following day. The volcano, which is one of the most active in North Sulawesi, last erupted on May.20.

Video - Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Erupts, Spewing Lava On The Big Island. A fast-moving river of molten lava from erupting volcano Kilauea crept over Hawaii's Big Island and flowed into the surrounding forest on Thursday. However, Geological Survey officials said the lava did not pose a threat to the surrounding communities.
The Kilauea volcano is one of the most active in the world, and has been erupting non-stop for 32 years. Witnesses said that the lava had moved about 0.8 km in less than 24 hours, and was now headed toward the subdivision of Eden Roc, on the eastern side of the island, and home to about 450 people. A magnitude 3.8 earthquake rumbled beneath the volcano on Thursday, and "low levels of seismic activities continue across the volcano."
While Kilauea's latest eruption isn't threatening surrounding communities now, the situation is being monitored closely as some of the lava flows "are marked by smoke plumes where lava is creeping into the forest." Kilauea's famous lava lake is a popular tourist attraction and overflowed its banks this past spring, sending lava and rocks into the air.


* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical storm Fred is located about 80 mi (125 km) ENE of Praia in the Cape Verde Islands. Hurricane conditions likely to spread over portions of the Cape Verde Islands soon.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Category Three Hurricane Ignacio still a major hurricane 350 miles east of The Big Island and tracking northwest. Located about 545 mi (880 km) E of Honolulu, Hawaii, the center of Ignacio is expected to pass approximately 200 miles northeast of The Big Island and Maui Monday and Tuesday. Rapid weakening is expected and Ignacio may be a tropical storm by Tuesday.

- Intense Hurricane Jimena moving west-northwestward toward the central Pacific, located about 1525 mi (2450 km) E of Hilo, Hawaii.

* In the Central Pacific -
- Category Three Hurricane Kilo is moving northwest near the international dateline, located about 570 mi (915 km) South of Midway Island. Slow weakening is forecast over the next couple of days.
Tropical Storm Fred forms in eastern Atlantic off Africa - Erika no longer a tropical storm, loses steam over Cuba. Tropical Storm Fred formed in the eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa on Sunday. Fred could reach hurricane status before or while it moves through the Cape Verde islands in 36 hours or so. Fred is the sixth named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season.
Meanwhile, the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika, which dissipated over Cuba on Saturday, was producing gusty conditions and heavy rain over parts of south Florida. It could regain tropical storm force over the next day or so, forecasters said, as it heads for the northwest Florida Panhandle.

Video - Dominica clears up after deadly tropical storm Erika. The prime minister of the Caribbean island of Dominica says that his country has been set back 20 years by tropical storm Erika. At least 20 people are known to have died in flooding and mudslides caused by the storm, and that number is expected to rise in the coming days.

As Florida Preps for Storm That Was Erika, Caribbean Tallies Damage - Hurricane Ignacio Strengthens as It Sets Path for Hawaii. Only remnants of the tropical storm that used to be Erika barreled toward Florida on Sunday night, but the state was still preparing for what the National Weather Service described as strong winds and heavy rain, and the governor was still urging vigilance.
Erika began weakening Saturday after it killed at least 20 people in the Caribbean last week and caused Florida's Governor to issue a state of emergency Friday. Flood watches were in effect from southern Georgia to Miami, and rip currents were expected all the way to the Carolinas.
In the Caribbean, hard-hit countries were still tallying the damage. In Dominica, where nearly 13 inches of rain fell in as many hours, the Prime Minister recounted Erika's "monumental" destruction in an emotional televised address: Bridges had been washed away. Highways and roads were destroyed. At least 20 people were dead, and more were missing.
"This is a period of national tragedy," he said, adding that the storm had damaged "nearly every community" on the island. "We have, in essence, to rebuild Dominica."
In Puerto Rico, 200,000 people lost power and million of dollars in crops were destroyed.
In Haiti, mudslides blocked roads, a prison was evacuated and rain appeared to have caused firey truck crash killed four people and injured 11 others.
In the Pacific, meanwhile, Hurricane Ignacio was churning toward Hawaii. The storm — once a Category 4 system — had begun weakening by late Sunday morning, a trend that was expected to continue in the coming days. Tropical storm watches were in effect for the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe, according to the National Weather Service, and the storm's center is expected to pass by the state to the north on Monday and Tuesday.

Fred Heading for Cape Verde Islands - Residents of the Cape Verde islands were going through a RARE experience Saaturday - a hurricane warning - as Tropical Storm Fred intensifies in the far eastern North Atlantic. As of 2:00 pm EDT, Fred was located about 195 miles east of the Cape Verde capital city of Praia. Outer rainbands are already beginning to reach the islands.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm from Invest 99L to Tropical Storm Fred in its 5:00 am EDT advisory. This made Fred one of just a handful of systems in the last 60 years of satellite monitoring to become tropical storms east of 20°W. Fred is moving into a well-defined pocket of UNUSUALLY WARM sea-surface temperatures (1-2°C above average, or about 27-28°C) that surrounds the Cape Verdes. Since SSTs are often just marginally warm enough to support tropical cyclones near the islands, this warm pocket is a important piece of Fred’s future. Computer models differ enormously in where Fred will be by Thursday; the 120-hour positions from the early-cycle guidance produced at 1200 GMT Sunday vary by more than 500 miles.
However, the models agree much more closely on track for the upcoming 48 hours, as Fred is projected to move steadily northwest through the heart of the northern Cape Verde islands. Neither of the high- resolution models bring Fred to hurricane strength, but statistical models push Fred just beyond that threshold, and NHC is predicting Fred to become a minimal hurricane by midday Monday local time. A hurricane warning is in effect for the Republic of Cabo Verde (the official name for the nation since 2013). To our knowledge, these are THE FIRST HURRICANE WARNINGS ON RECORD for the islands; tropical storm warnings were posted for Humberto in 2013 and Julia in 2010.
A historic hurricane for the Cape Verdes? The Atlantic's most terrifying and destructive hurricanes typically start as tropical waves that move off the coast of Africa and pass near the Cape Verde islands. This class of storms is referred to as "Cape Verde hurricanes", in reference to their origin. Despite the fact that the Atlantic's most feared type of hurricanes are named after the Cape Verde islands, the islands themselves rarely receive significant impacts from one of their namesake storms.
This is because tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa have very little time to organize into tropical storms before arriving at the Cape Verde islands, which lie just 350 miles west of the African coast. There is no reliable record of any bona fide hurricane having made landfall on the Cape Verde islands. The closest analogue for Fred is an 1892 storm that bisected the islands, moving between the northern cluster (Ilhas do Barlavento, or windward islands) and the southern cluster (Ilhas do Sotavento, or leeward islands).
This 1892 storm reportedly intensified to hurricane strength while passing south of the northwestern Cape Verde islands. Another close approach came from 1998’s Hurricane Jeanne, which reached hurricane strength while passing about 100 miles south of the southern islands. Decaying tropical cyclones in the open Atlantic have occasionally circled southeastward to take a swipe at the Cape Verdes as extratropical storms, but none have reached the island at hurricane strength.
There have been only two deadly tropical cyclones in Cape Verde history. Like Jeanne, they both passed south of the Ilhas do Sotavento. The deadliest was Tropical Storm Fran of 1984, which brushed the southermost islands on September 16 as a tropical storm with 50-mph winds. Fran brought sustained winds of 35 mph and torrential rains to the islands. The rains triggered flash flooding that killed more than two dozen people and caused damages of almost $3 million (1984 dollars.)
The other deadly named storm was Tropical Storm Beryl of 1982, which passed about 30 miles south of the southwestern islands on August 29, with 45-mph winds. The storm's heavy rains killed three people on Brava Island, injured 122, and caused $3 million in damage. The most recent named storm to affect the islands was Hurricane Humberto of 2013, which passed the islands to the south as a tropical storm. Humberto brought wind gusts of up to 35 mph and heavy rain squalls to the islands, triggering flooding that washed out roads and damaged homes.
Hurricane Julia of 2010, the easternmost Category 4 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, passed about 50 miles south of Sao Filipe, on the island of Fogo in the southern Cape Verde islands, as a tropical storm with 45 mph winds, bringing wind gusts of 30 mph and some minor flooding.
Although all of the Cape Verde islands should prepare for a potential hurricane, Fred’s predicted track would bring the worst impacts across the northern islands (Ilhas do Barlavento), which are even less experienced than the southern islands at dealing with the high winds and heavy rain of tropical cyclones. Fred could make a direct landfall on more than one of the northern islands, as its track will be roughly parallel to this chain.
Among the islands in line to feel Fred’s impacts first are the heavily touristed islands of Boa Vista and Sal, which lie on the stronger (right-hand) side of the projected path. Despite their name (which translates to “green cape” in English), the Cape Verde islands have a semi-desert climate, with an average annual rainfall of only around 10 inches, so the torrential rains of a tropical cyclone could have a big impact. Rains of 3-5” are predicted from Fred, with isolated totals of up to 8”. A direct landfall on the northwestern islands could produce not only heavy rain but high winds that would be EXTREMELY UNUSUAL, IF NOT UNPRECEDENTED.

Erika’s remnants are pouring on Florida, Cuba. The remnants of Tropical Storm Erika remain disorganized in the far southeast Gulf of Mexico. NHC gives the remnants only a 10 percent chance of regenerating into a tropical cyclone (which would again be named Erika) over the next five days as they slide northward along the west coast of Florida.
The heavy rain is not appreciated along the western half of the peninsula, where the last month has already brought 10-20” of rain and widespread flooding. Tampa needs less than an inch of rain through midnight Monday night to score its wettest July-August since records began in 1890 (old record 28.31” in 1960; total through noon EDT Sunday, 27.48”).
Flash flood watches now cover all of central and southern Florida. “Our aquifers are full. There's no more areas for the water to percolate to." Even as a leftover tropical cyclone, Erika may still cause significant damage in Florida over the next day or two. Erika has left forecast models, and forecasters, perplexed.

Three Category 4 storms lace the Pacific - where Hurricane Jimena, Hurricane Ignacio, and Hurricane Kilo have made a most impressive trio. All three reached Category 4 strength on Saturday and remained there on Sunday morning, a rare feat.
A Tropical Storm Watch remains in effect for the eastern Hawaiian islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Hawaii (the Big Island), with Ignacio located about 420 miles east of Hilo as of 8:00 am HST (2:00 pm EDT) Sunday. Ignacio is packing winds of 130 mph, but its steady northwest track will take it well north of the islands. Tropical storm force winds extend out to 125 miles (mainly on the north side), so gusty conditions may occur, especially at higher elevations.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center is warning that rainfall amounts of 2-4”, with isolated totals up to 6” at higher terrain, are still possible. There’s much higher confidence that huge waves will be impacting the islands: the CPHC warns of potential life-threatening surf, especially on the Big Island. There’s NO RECORD IN THE MODERN DATABASE OF A HURRICANE THIS STRONG TRACKING NORTH OF THE ISLANDS, so even well-experienced surfers could find themselves in unexpectedly treacherous conditions.
Meanwhile, Jimena and Kilo are raging far away from any populated land areas; Jimena is expected to slowly weaken, while the Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects that long-lived Kilo will maintain at least Category 3 strength for the next five days as it undergoes a gradual westward turn through the subtropical North Pacific. Kilo may cross the International Date Line around Tuesday, at which point it would be dubbed Typhoon Kilo. This was the case for Genevieve in 2014 and Ioke in 2006.


Two dead, massive outages after windstorm slams Washington state - A powerful windstorm toppled trees, killing two people in Washington state as work crews scrambled on Sunday to restore power to 450,000 customers. A father driving with his three-year-old daughter in Gig Harbor, just west of Tacoma, was killed on Saturday when a tree fell on his car.
Within two hours, a falling branch struck and killed a 10-year-old girl in Federal Way, just east of Tacoma. Gusting winds were blamed for massive power outages affecting as many as 450,000 customers. On utility websites, Puget Sound Energy said crews working through the night had been able to restore nearly 75 percent of affected customers by early Sunday morning, with 97,000 remaining without power, Snohomish PUD reported 88,000 remained without power, Seattle City Light had about 21,000 still affected and Tacoma Public Utilities had 500 customers still in the dark.

Landslides kill five in Nepal quake zone - Landslides triggered by heavy rainfall killed at least five people in central Nepal, four of them in a shelter for survivors of a devastating earthquake, police said Friday. Rescuers in Nepal’s Nuwakot district are still searching for a nine-year-old boy missing since an overnight landslide crushed two bamboo and tin shelters built for families displaced by the April 25 quake.
“The landslide occurred around 2:00 am, burying the shelters while the victims were sleeping inside. We have recovered four bodies and have been searching for the missing boy since early morning." Six quake victims injured in the accident have been taken to hospitals in Nuwakot and neighbouring Kathmandu for treatment.
In a separate incident, an 80-year-old woman died when a landslide slammed into her house in Nuwakot. Scores of people die from flooding and mudslides during the annual monsoon season in Nepal.


The sun swallows a comet - On Friday, Aug.28th, the sun swallowed a comet. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spotted the icy vistor from the outer solar system making a headlong plunge into our star. One comet went in; none came out.
Heated by the sun at point blank range, the comet's fragile ices vaporized, leaving at most a "rubble pile" of rock and gravel scattered along its sungrazing orbit. Any remains are invisible from Earth. The comet, R.I.P., was probably a member of the Kreutz family. Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a single giant comet many centuries ago. They get their name from 19th century German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who studied them in detail.
Several Kreutz fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most, measuring less than a few meters across, are too small to see, but occasionally a bigger fragment like this one (~10 m to 50 m) attracts attention. Because of their common parentage, sungrazers often come in clusters. For this reason, it wouldn't be surprising to find yet another one in the offing.
Monitor the Sungrazing Comet twitter feed for more sightings.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

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**Never fight an inanimate object.**
P. J. O'Rourke

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/25/15 -

8/24/15 -

8/23/15 -

8/22/15 -

8/21/15 -

8/20/15 -

Japanese climber first to attempt Everest ascent since Nepal quake - A Japanese climber will be the first to attempt to scale Mount Everest from the Nepal side this autumn following the devastating quake that killed 9000 people in the country in April this year. The earthquake claimed 19 lives at the base camp of the tallest mountain in the world where hundreds of climbers, guides and porters were getting ready for the spring climbing season.
"We decided to make an attempt on Everest in autumn to show the world that Everest and other peaks in Nepal are safe for climbing even after the quake." Spring (April-May) is the most popular season to climb Everest and other major peaks in the Nepalese Himalayas and most climbers avoid autumn (September-October) because of extreme cold and shorter days.
This is his fifth attempt to climb Everest. He had tried twice from the Tibet side and twice from the Nepalese side. In 2012, he lost nine fingers to frostbite while attempting to climb Everest. Climbing on Everest has remained affected for two consecutive spring seasons - last year it was due to an avalanche which claimed 16 lives and this year because of the quake.

New Zealand - Minor eruptions possible on Mt Ruapehu as crater lake cool. Adventurous tourists enjoy visiting the Mt Ruapehu crater lake, but are warned to be wary in the vicinity, as DOC and GNS have recorded a disruption to the normal temperature trends.
Minor eruptions on Mt Ruapehu could be on the horizon as the crater lake's temperature stalls at 15 degrees. The Department of Conservation and GNS Science are keeping a closer eye on the volcano following the temperature drop. There is a chance a minor eruption could occur. If one occurs it could affect the summit craters area.
However, the likelihood of any eruption is not high and the Volcanic Alert level set by GNS Science is still 1, its normal level. The lake usually fluctuates between 10 and 40 degrees, and does not stay one temperature for too long. However, it is currently 15 degrees and has been so for two weeks.
There are two reasons for it to remain relatively cold. "Firstly, it could just be normal fluctuation - sometimes the magma is putting out a lot of heat, and sometimes it's not, and that's the most common reason. [Secondly,] about 10 per cent of the time, the lake is cool because a blockage has developed in the vent between the magma and the lake."
A blockage could potentially cause an eruption, after pressure builds. Gas outlets at the crater lake were measured on Friday, and they appear to behaving normally. However, current scientific equipment could not determine whether a blockage had occurred for certain. "Because we can't be sure, we're taking the precautionary approach."
The lake last cooled below 10 degrees in 1998, and an eruption followed. Similar drops in temperature were recorded in 1995 and 1996. "At 17.5 degrees we'll start talking about it, at 15 degrees we'll start [advising the public to be cautious], and so on." Advisory signs were being erected.

Cotopaxi Volcano is spewing ash in Ecuador - The Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador has come to life after being dormant for over 70 years. After making it’s first big eruption, the capital of Quito saw its effects as ash rained down on the city. The capital is over 31 miles away, which gives perspective to how massive this volcano eruption can be.
Locals are afraid that gas and rock flows will effect the glacier capped peak. The melting ice could cause the surrounding areas to be flooded with volcanic mud. This is not the first time the locals have been worried about this. In 1877, a similar tragedy took place, claiming lives in the destruction.
Cotopaxi is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. Officials are keeping a close watch as the volcano is continuously having small eruptions. “Cotopaxi is considered one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes due to its proximity to population centers and very explosive activity, coupled with a tremendous potential for devastating volcanic mudflows, called lahars, which are formed by rapid melting of the icecap.”
In the 1877 lahar, the mudflow traveled over 202 miles to the coast of the Pacific. The Valle de Los Chillos is along the dangerous path of this volcano, and presently houses over 200,000 people along the lahar channels. “The last big eruption lasted three years, but if it is like Tungurahua volcano (south of Cotopaxi), it could last 16 years.” The government declared a state of emergency this week, and said that 325,000 people are at risk. Officials have restricted the press from reporting about the volcano to keep people back and out of harm’s way.
Some locals are feeling hopeless at the lack of news they are receiving. “We watch the news for information and there isn’t a single story about the volcano, yet I watched as it erupted again today.” The community feels “abandoned by the government.” Close to Cotopaxi and up river from Latacunga, the area has been destroyed by Cotopaxi on 3 separate occasions.
After the eruption on Saturday, “People were evacuating, but there was no information so the people panicked.” According to the locals there isn’t help from the government, police, or any civil service. There are no plans for evacuation, so the community has pulled together to work on exercises in case there would be a situation. However, the locals are not aware of where they are supposed to evacuate to.
Other residents are suffering the wrath of Cotopaxi from a distance. Romerillo, another town, is having ash rain down. The locals are concerned that the ash will contaminate the food for the animals, and some have reported that their cattle have started to get ill and die. The government stepped in and is trying to provide fresh food, not tainted in volcanic ash, for the livestock and animals to feed on.
Cotopaxi National Park is suffering due to the sudden events of the volcano. Over 200,000 tourists come each year,including mountain climbers seeking the challenge of one of the highest volcano peaks in the world. However, it has been shut down due to the eruptions, causing some locals to fear for their jobs and livelihood.


* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical storm Erika, located about 605 mi (975 km) E of Antigua, is expected to be near the northern Leeward Islands tomorrow night. Erika is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches over many of the Leeward Islands through Thursday.

- As a weakening Tropical Depression, Danny has crossed into the Caribbean. Tropical Storm Danny brought rain and strong winds Monday to the islands of the eastern edge of the Caribbean and then quickly dissipated as it headed west. Just a few days ago, Danny was a powerful, though compact, category 3 hurricane.
The storm and its remnants were expected to produce 2 inches to 4 inches of rain in the Leeward Islands and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as in drought-stricken Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Dominica received just over 2 inches of rain and fallen rocks blocked roads but there were no reports of injuries or flooding.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Storm Ignacio is located about 1530 mi (2460 km) ESE of Hilo, Hawaii.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical Storm 17w (Atsani) is located approximately 1065 nm south of petropavlovsk, Russia. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

- Tropical Storm 16w (Goni) is located approximately 128 nm north of Iwakuni, Japan. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

* In the Central Pacific -
- Tropical depression Kilo nearly stationary northeast of Johnston Island, about 540 mi (870 km) WSW of Barking Sands, Hawaii. Slow intensification is expected to begin tonight or Wednesday. Additional rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches are possible.

- Tropical storm Loke beginning to weaken as it accelerates northward, about 305 mi (490 km) NE of Midway Island. Large swells produced by Loke will cause rough surf across reefs and shorelines over the western portions of the Papahanaumokuakea marine National Monument, Hawaii, through this evening. As the surf from Loke diminishes, swells from former typhoon Atsani will start to affect the area.
' Typhoon Goni has lashed the Japanese mainland, leaving at least one person missing, more than 70 others injured as authorities urged more than 600,000 people to leave homes. Packing gusts up to 122 mph (180 km/h) Goni passed over Kyushu, one of Japan's four main islands, and continued its path over the Sea of Japan.
Typhoon Goni Cuts Path Through Japan’s Kyushu - Typhoon Goni made landfall on Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu, causing injuries and prompting evacuation orders. Cancellations of airline and train service affected thousands of people.
Goni, which had been the strength of a category 3 hurricane, came ashore in Kumamoto prefecture about 6 a.m. The storm cut a path through Kyushu and re-entered the sea near Shimonoseki, where 280,000 people in surrounding Yamaguchi prefecture were advised to evacuate due to concern over landslides. At least 33 injuries in Kyushu and Yamaguchi were attributed to the typhoon.
Japan Meteorological Agency issued warnings for high waves, landslides and flooding for prefectures in most of southern and western Japan. The storm was about 100 kilometers northeast of Fukuoka, Kyushu’s largest city, as of 11:45 a.m., and still packed wind gusts up to 180 kilometers per hour. The typhoon, which caused flights to be canceled in southern Japan over the weekend, continues to disrupt travel. Train lines, including Shinkansen bullet trains, were suspended in Kyushu.
Goni brought destruction after it turned northward in the Pacific last week, killing at least 14 people in the Philippines and prompting weather warnings in Taiwan. The storm is predicted to skirt the Korean Peninsula later in the week. Goni is Japan’s 15th typhoon of this season.
Atsani, the 16th typhoon, has since weakened to a strong tropical storm and is heading east out to sea. Japan is most likely to see typhoons make landfall on its main islands between July and October, with two or three coming ashore in a typical year. Typhoon Nangka made landfall in western Japan in July, leaving at least two dead and disrupting travel throughout the region. The number of typhoons formed in a season in Japan is usually in the 20's.

Flooding Rains Continue Across Philippines - Despite pulling away from the Philippines, Typhoon Goni will continue to impact the weather bringing additional flooding rainfall across Luzon. Flooding will remain a threat across western Luzon through at least Tuesday as a moist southwesterly flow coming from the South China Sea will continue to bring rounds of heavy rainfall.
Last week and over the weekend, Goni battered the northern Philippines and left 15 people dead, mainly due to landslides.In Baguio City, more than 760 mm (30 inches) of rain has fallen since Thursday. Many other parts of northwestern Luzon have received 250-500 mm (10-20 inches) of rain during the same time.
Manila dodged the heaviest rainfall thus far; however, residents should not let their guard down as heavy rainfall has flooded areas just to the north of the city and the threat for heavy rainfall in the city continued into Tuesday.
Downpours could bring a quick 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) of rain to areas around Manila on Tuesday. Similar to the past several days, the heaviest and most widespread rain is expected to fall to the north of Manila. The continuation of heavy will rain could cause additional life-threatening flooding and potentially more mudslides.

Hawaii is getting ready for a rare hurricane to hit - Tropical storm Kilo is expected to strengthen throughout the coming week and could make landfall as a category two hurricane by Thursday. "The water temperature? Record warm. Not just warm. Record warm." Kilo could be the first significant hurricane to hit the island directly in more than 20 years.

Danny Vaulted to Category 3 Status - Going against the grain of a hurricane-snuffing El Niño event, the tiny tropical cyclone became THE STRONGEST HURRICANE IN YEARS OVER THE DEEP ATLANTIC TROPICS. Hurricane Danny intensified dramatically on Thursday night and Friday morning, strengthening to Category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Danny was one of the smaller hurricanes on record in the Atlantic.
Due to Danny’s unusually compact size, hurricane-force winds extended only 15 miles from the storm’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended out up to 70 miles. It can be difficult for satellite- based instruments to estimate the intensity of very small hurricanes like Danny due to limited sensor resolution, but it’s clear that Danny was a surprisingly well-organized hurricane.

Hurricane Katrina - Through deadly winds, rain and floods, a New Orleans radio station fought to keep listeners alive during Hurricane Katrina.


Final Body Found After Deadly Landslide in Sitka, Alaska - Searchers in Alaska on Tuesday recovered the third and last body of three people who went missing after a landslide last week on Aug. 18.
The landslide that carried mud and trees sweeping down a road occurred after 24 hours of heavy rain in the mountainous community in Alaska's southeastern tip. The bodies of 2 brothers were found on Aug. 19 and Aug. 20, near the debris of a home that was destroyed. The National Weather Service recorded 2.57 inches of rain falling on Sitka over 6 hours by around 10 a.m., when the landslides occurred. There were six landslides in all, and a sinkhole also opened up.

Australia - A public school on the NSW south coast has been closed as a nearby dam wall threatens to break, in the midst of severe weather pummelling the region. The SES issued an urgent evacuation notice to residents living downstream from Jerrara Dam, west of Kiama, just before 10am on Tuesday. The dam's wall has shown signs of failing due to heavy rainfall in the area.
As the nearby village of Minnamurra would be the hardest hit if the dam wall collapsed, the SES is advising parents with children at Minnamurra Public School to collect them. If the dam busts, it will cause extremely dangerous flooding to areas. "We do not know what is going to happen. The dam is currently being decommissioned and we are noticing the water is spilling over the top and is too risky, we are asking residents to evacuate immediately." The evacuation order is expected to remain in place for 24 hours.
Kiama Council downgraded the evacuation warning for homes not in the dam's immediate downstream area at 12.15pm Tuesday but a red alert remained in place. "Roads may be congested or closed. You could become trapped and need to be rescued. Remaining in flooded areas is dangerous and may place your life at risk. Wherever possible, people should go and stay with family or friends, or make other accommodation arrangements." Several people are trapped in the area.
Other parts of New South Wales have been battered by wild weather, with giant hail stones, flash flooding and even a tornado. A tornado has swept through Dubbo on Monday and damaged several homes, while hailstones the size of 20 cent coins have pummelled parts of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Rain in the city jumped from 17 millimetres to almost 55 in just 41 minutes.
The extreme weather caused flash flooding, road closures, traffic delays and some serious damage. At least four people were rescued from floods, including a woman pulled from a vehicle. Sydney and the Illawarra region have been worst hit, but more than 100 calls to the SES have been scattered across the state. The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a flood watch warning for the region, along with the South Coast, Lachlan and Nepean River Valleys.
Rainfall totals in the range of 100-200mm were expected on Monday night and Tuesday, with higher localised falls of over 300mm possible. "Heavy rain and the potential for flash flooding (are) the main threats."

United Kingdom - A so-called "Spanish Plume" has brought heat, flash floods and heavy thunderstorms to parts of the UK. The plume carried hot, unstable air from France, pushing the mercury up. Temperatures across the South East were widely in the upper 20s - the mercury hit 30.7C in London, 30.3 at Heathrow Airport and 30.4 at Gravesend in Kent.
But with the heat also came torrential rain in parts of the country - 21.6mm of rain fell in an hour in the village of Bramham, West Yorkshire. The Met Office has issued a yellow "be aware" warning for downpours in the Midlands, parts of eastern England and into northern England and southern Scotland. "We've seen some very potent thunderstorms and they will continue to rumble on through the coming hours. We'll see further pulses of very heavy rain in southwest England and into Wales, northern parts of England, south and southeast parts of Scotland."
A Spanish Plume is colloquial term for a weather situation in which a large southwards dip in the high altitude jet stream develops to the west of Europe encouraging a deep southerly wind flow. This drives hot and humid air from Iberia north and northeast into northern Europe, including the British Isles. Forecasters also say the Spanish Plume can create a risk of tornadoes - but there is a low chance of that this weekend. The unsettled weather will continue for the rest of the weekend, then the cooler weather is set to return next week.


US west coast wildfires in 60 seconds - Wildfires are still burning across the west coast of the United States, and authorities are struggling to deal with them.

Resources Falling Short as Washington Wildfire Grows Into Historic Monster - Commanders blamed a "lack of resources" for the continued spread of the 260,000-acre Okanogan Complex of fires in Washington state. Scores more firefighters raced Tuesday to the Okanogan Complex of fires, the biggest wildfire in the history of Washington state and the nation's No. 1 summer wildfire priority. But it still might not be enough.
The complex of five fires near the north-central town of Omak grew by almost 14,000 more acres by Tuesday afternoon, to 258,339 acres, or more than 403 square miles. If it were a city, it would be the 10th-largest in the continental U.S. by area.
Nearly 100 new firefighters arrived at the fire, which has been only 15 percent contained since it started Aug. 15. In just 10 days, it has already cost nearly $10 million to battle. But the fire's northeastward is continuing unabated because, the incident team reported bluntly, of a "lack of resources to implement suppression actions." Crews were even being diverted from California, even though they're needed there for numerous fires burning hundreds of thousands of acres.

Man's Concrete Home Survives Raging Wildfire in Washington - A Washington man’s cement home is still standing after surviving a raging wildfire that passed his home and scorched acres of surrounding land. He was prepared for the inevitability of a wildfire when he built his thin-shelled, concrete dome in 1999 surrounded by dry fields in Okanogan County.
Earlier this week, he just happened to be working 30 miles out of town when he received a voicemail from a friend warning him about a fire approaching his home. After shuttling three vehicles off his property, he realized he had to hurry as the fire was only a couple hundred yards away. “The fire was getting close, in fact, there was a firefighter there at the time who got trapped inside when I shut the gate inadvertently.”
“I grabbed the hose, soaked my clothing down and doused the north side of the building as much as I could. [The fire] got close enough that it was super heated and getting uncomfortable out there in the smoke. I went inside, shut the door behind me and watched it move by.” He waited out the flames for about a minute as the fire passed by his home.
“The fire just roared across my property. I could see the flames dancing up over the windows." The only damage sustained was a service pole, which resulted in a loss of power. “The building survived as it’s supposed to. I was surprised the outside of the building didn’t have any damage at all. The whole 20 acres is just scorched.” His three-layered cement home is made up of polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane and cement.

As Polish river levels fall to RECORD LOWS amid a prolonged drought, the material remains of Poland's tortured 20th-century history are coming to light on newly exposed riverbeds, with Jewish tombstones and the human remains of Soviet fighter pilots and their plane being found in recent days.

Canada - Alberta declares that agricultural losses from extreme weather is a 'disaster'. The disaster declaration on Friday allows the province’s Agriculture Financial Services Corporation to access more funds for insurance compensation.
The dry weather and hail in 2015 has resulted in a “significant increase” in the number of claims across the province. Many Alberta counties and municipal districts have already declared local states of agricultural emergency due to heat and drought and are seeking government assistance. A spring and summer with insufficient rain has withered crops in many regions of Western Canada, including hay used by livestock producers to feed their animals.
Producers worry they may have to reduce their herds due to the price and lack of availability of hay, and the federal government has agreed to grant tax deferrals to western livestock producers in regions hit by drought. The Alberta government has responded by cutting rental fees for a program that helps farmers pump water to fill their dams and dugouts, and is also helping municipalities identify additional public lands for grazing.
Saskatchewan announced a similar measure last month to help its producers.

Japan to see average to warmer weather during September-November - Japan will see mostly average to warmer weather from September to November, the official forecaster said on Tuesday. Eastern Japan, including the most densely populated Tokyo area, will have a 50 percent chance of higher-than-average temperatures for the period, the Japan Meteorological Agency said in its monthly three-month forecast.


A Chunk of Greenland Ice the Size of an Asteroid Fell Into the Ocean - Imagine Manhattan buried under a thousand feet of ice. That’s how much of Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier fell into the Arctic Ocean last week, becoming a 7.8-square-mile iceberg.
“As a single event, this is a fairly rare size." But the phenomenon isn’t unusual, because glaciers on Greenland “pulse” seasonally. That means they break off at their edges and retreat inland in summer, and move back toward the ocean in winter.
Still, the ongoing retreat of the Jakobshavn Glacier is another sign that climate change is further destabilizing the ice sheet covering Greenland, one of the world’s biggest repositories of freshwater. Even with temperatures in the Arctic rising at nearly twice the global average, scientists have been surprised in recent years by the fast melt rate of Greenland’s land-bound ice, which contributes to sea-level rise.
Since the 1990s, the Jakobshavn has failed to regain the ground it loses in summer, and the glacier’s leading edge is now further inland than it has been in 135 years of record-keeping. NASA and European Space Agency satellites photographed the ice mass calving off the glacier between Aug. 14 and Aug. 16. The ESA estimated that the iceberg was 4,590 feet thick.
The United Nations climate agency has forecast that unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut sharply in the next 35 to 50 years, the ice sheets on both Greenland and West Antarctica will begin to completely collapse, speeding up rates of sea-level rise. Scientists estimate that together, they are losing 300 billion tons of ice annually owing to rising temperatures.
“I do think it’s important for people to understand that this not a surprise event. This is a signal that is consistent with what we expect from climate change. It’s a reminder that we should act, not that we should give up.”

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Land is the secure ground of home, the sea is like life, the outside, the unknown.**
Stephen Gardiner

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/19/15 -

8/18/15 -

Earthquake in Colorado - A magnitude 4.2 quake hit about 25 miles west of Trinidad in Las Animas County at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday.

California - Oakland Water Main Bursts Near Piedmont Where Quake Struck On Monday Repairs to the 82-year-old water main that broke in Oakland near the Piedmont border early Thursday morning were expected to last the rest of the day.


* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Hurricane Danny strengthens a little more, about 1030 mi (1655 km) E of the Windward Islands. Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours, but a weakening trend is expected to begin after that. Danny is a very small tropical cyclone. Hurricane-force winds only extend outward up to 10 miles (20 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km).

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical depression Three-C formed far southeast of the Hawaiian islands about 875 mi (1410 km) SE of Honolulu, Hawaii.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 16w (Goni) is located approximately 504 nm south-southwest of Kadena AB.

- Typhoon 17w (Atsani)is located approximately 325 nm east-southeast of Iwo To.


Footage captures moment lightning hits plane on runway - An airline passenger in the US was shooting mobile phone video of the runway at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport while his plane was delayed due to severe weather. He wanted to send some images of the storm to his wife, while letting her know he was running late. However, he didn't even realise the plane was hit by lightning until he watched the video later on.


Three firefighters were killed battling a wildfire in Washington state - Three firefighters died while battling the Twisp fire and four were injured near the eastern Washington town. (video at link)

July was the hottest month on Earth since records began, averaging 16.6 C (61.9 F), according to US scientists. That is 0.08 degrees higher than the previous record, set in July 1998 - a significant margin in weather records. Scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a report that they expect 2015 to be the hottest year on record.
Nine of the 10 hottest months since records began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. Scientists say global climate change and the impacts of the El Nino weather phenomenon are behind the record temperatures. The first seven months of 2015 have already set an all-time temperature record for the period. "A strong El Nino is under way in the tropical Pacific and this, combined with the long-term global warming trend, means there is the potential to see some very warm months throughout this year - as the new figures for July appear to show. "This is consistent with the Met Office's global temperature forecast which predicted that a record or near record year is very much on the cards for 2015."


Long Hours at Work Increase Stroke Risk 33%, Says Study - Workers who toil for long hours faced a high risk of both stroke and heart attack.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

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**It may be true that the government that governs best, governs least. Unfortunately, the same is also true of the government that governs worst.**
Jane Elizabeth Auer

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 8/17/15 -

California Probably Isn't in the Midst of a Quake Swarm - Early Monday morning, a significant chunk of the Bay Area's population was shaken out of bed by some seismic action, a window-rattling 4.0 magnitude quake. The short, sharp earthquake rattled the San Francisco Bay Area, breaking picture frames and cracking plaster without prompting reports of injuries or major damage. This is barely a week after another earthquake struck a few miles away, just offshore on the San Andreas fault. That quake probably had nothing to do with Monday's Hayward shaker. But that doesn't mean the quake risk is over.
Video - Dogs reactions to the quake.
Video - Weatherman's on-air reaction.

Nearly half of Americans live in areas prone to earthquakes - U.S. Geological Survey research indicates 143 million Americans live in earthquake-prone areas. California still tops the list of states most at risk of an earthquake.
"The new exposure estimate is nearly double the previous 2006 estimate, based on population growth and advances in science." Researchers looked at how populations have grown in earthquake-prone areas, and they say improvements in data collection provide a more accurate estimate than in years past.
The study looked at ground shaking, which is caused by the passage of seismic waves. This shaking causes most property damage during an earthquake and can range from weak and barely noticeable to violent or extreme, with catastrophic damage. As you might expect, California tops the list of states most at risk, but others may surprise you. Based on this new assessment, states in the eastern United States have a greater chance of having a damaging quake than was previously thought. A lot was learned from the magnitude-5.8 earthquake that hit Virginia in 2011; the quake caused considerable damage and forced the Washington Monument to close for repairs, which were just completed in May 2014.
The New Madrid earthquake zone in the central United States has more potential for a larger quake than previous estimates suggested. The zone could have a devastating earthquake that would be felt in nearly a dozen states, researchers say, threatening large cities such as St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta.
The magnitude-9.0 earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, triggering a Pacific-wide tsunami and causing a series of meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, along with the 8.2 earthquake that hit Chile in April 2014, have given scientists valuable data and insight into the U.S. Pacific Northwest earthquake zone. Scientists say they think that a quake with a magnitude as high as 9.3 is possible, a number previously thought to be impossible for the region.
The USGS' new assessment of California's earthquake risk was mixed. More faults were discovered, raising the earthquake threat for cities like San Jose and San Diego, while the estimated threat decreased for Santa Barbara and Oakland. Hazard probabilities increased for parts of San Francisco and Los Angeles, but they decreased in other parts of the cities, based on the new data.
The new USGS earthquake hazard map continues to show the highest threat levels in the western U.S. But other areas of the country, such as the central states surrounding the New Madrid fault, and Charleston, South Carolina, also show a high risk.

Video - New Eruption of Turrialba Volcano in Costa Rica.

The Japan Meteorological Agency on Monday remained on high alert for a major eruption at Mount Sakurajima. One of Japan's most active volcanoes could be headed for a much bigger eruption than the locals are used to seeing.
Mount Sakurajima erupts hundreds of times a year in small blasts, but scientists have studied the trends and history of the mountain and believe a big eruption could come soon. There are fears that it could be as large as the 1914 eruption that killed 35 people and was the most powerful in Japan in the 20th century.
Over the past few days, seismic activity began to ramp up at the mountain. A level 4 warning was issued Saturday by the JMA, and all residents within a 3-kilometer radius of the mountain were told they should prepare to evacuate. The alerts remained in place Monday despite a large decline in earthquakes at Sakurajima.
This is the first level 4 warning issued for Sakurajima since the 5-level scale was developed 8 years ago. "Right now that [evacuation possibility] is limited to 4,000 people on the same island as Sakurajima, but ash from any eruption (depending on the winds) could impact Kagoshima (population 600,000), located only 10 kilometers from Sakurajima."
The reason for the concern is that this activity is very similar to what happened in the days leading up to past major eruptions at Sakurajima. Scientists have installed sensors all over the mountain, which have relayed information in the past few days that suggests magma could be rising up the volcano, and that may lead to a large eruption soon. There is also a nuclear plant in Sendai, just 31 miles from the volcano.


* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Depression Eleven-E is located about 930 mi...1495 km W of the southern tip of Baja California

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 16w (Goni) is located approximately 678 nm southeast of Kadena Air Base.

- Typhoon 17w (Atsani) is located approximately 670 nm east-northeast of Andersen AFB.
Chance of cyclone developing near Cape Verde - A low pressure area near the West Africa's Cape Verde islands has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. That gives a moderate chance that the Atlantic could see its 4th tropical cyclone of the season this week. A tropical depression will likely form by the middle of the week while the system moves westward or west-northwestward across the Atlantic.

Hawaii - Viral Wind Models Showing Cyclone Hitting State. The latest Central Pacific Hurricane Center update puts chances of formation slightly higher at 50% as of the 2:00 p.m. update.
Recently, the wind model to the right has been going viral on social media, with several inquiries about whether it’s a hoax or reality. Readers are asking what exactly this model is showing and if they should be concerned.
A forecaster at the National Weather Service Honolulu office addressed the issue in his latest forecast discussion. "The computer models remain fairly bullish about developing a tropical cyclone in the monsoon trough far to the southeast of the islands. As far as local effects go, this is climatologically an area of some concern for the Aloha State. However, by the weekend, there is a spread of over 600 miles among the various models in where this future system would be IF it develops. Also, the models have an especially difficult time with the tracks of tropical cyclones that have not yet developed, as well as with the various factors that steer them in the long range. We will keep a close eye on this area in the coming days and should get a better idea of what will actually happen as time goes on."
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center released this update at 8:00 a.m. for an area of potential development. "Showers and thunderstorms associated with a broad area of low pressure located about 1200 miles southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii remain disorganized. Environmental conditions support development over the next couple of days as the low remains nearly stationary. Formation chance through 48 hours is medium at 40 percent. Elsewhere, no tropical cyclones are expected through Wednesday morning."
"If a tropical cyclone even develops we don’t know where it may end up. There is a lot of uncertainty that far out. But at the same time there’s that convective activity down around 140°W, down in the area where we typically look for possible development, so we are closely monitoring it right now. There’s no indication that anything has developed yet but we are raising the awareness of that and that’s why we went 40%. There are models that show tropical cyclone activity near the state and there are others that don’t. There’s a spread of 600 miles on the various models. We just want to make sure that people aren’t latching onto one particular solution and rather just being generally prepared."
For the public it’s good to be prepared for a hurricane, especially in this active season that they’re having. Be prepared for potential future hurricane threats, not specifically for one particular day, but prepare early and remain prepared throughout the season.


Hikers terrified as massive debris flow rumbles down Mount Rainier - A glacial debris flow rushed down Tahoma Creek on Mount Rainier Thursday, August 13. The distant rumbling sounded like a train at first, but then hikers saw a river of trees and boulders advancing toward them. The hikers at Mount Rainier, Washington, captured the accompanying footage last Thursday while walking on a trail that’s now closed for obvious reasons.
“This is crazy. I’m scared. Get back, I’m scared … The ground is shaking!” The hot and dry conditions this summer created a series of “glacial outbursts” Thursday on the western flank of the volcano. These glacial flash floods, of sorts, swept up fallen trees and rocks and rumbled with such ground-shaking force that they registered on seismographs.
The Mount Rainier National Park conducted aerial patrols after event and accounted for all hikers in the affected areas, and said nobody was hurt. “The rumble was getting louder and trees were falling down and it looked like a big pile of rubble was raging down the dry creek bed. We saw huge boulders, half the size of a Volkswagen bug, just raging down and falling over each other.” As he videotaped, a park employee came running down the trail, urging all the hikers on the trail to evacuate.
The debris flows, caused by the melting and dispersal of glacial ice, originated at 6,800 feet on the South Tahoma Glacier. They were the first such outbursts in more than 10 years. A ranger said, “Based on the summer we’ve had, and based on the recession of the glaciers, I was telling [colleagues] that this is the year when we’re going to have a debris flow.” (video at link)


U.S. Army troops mobilized to help fight Western U. S. wildfires - First time since 2006. (Video)

'Godzilla El Niño' looms as a possible drought buster for California - The developing warm-water event is already stronger than the 1997-98 El Niño, which caused severe rain and flooding.

Central Asian glaciers shrinking fast - Central Asian glaciers have melted at four times the global average since the early 1960s, shedding 27 per cent of their mass, according to a new study.


RECORD-BREAKING TOXIC ALGAE BLOOM worse than feared - The razor clam closure in Washington as a result of historic toxic algae bloom has impacted the local economy by millions of dollars. A record-breaking toxic algae bloom that began in May along the West Coast is denser, more widespread and deeper than scientists originally feared, and it has expanded into the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.
Algae blooms are not uncommon in the Pacific Ocean but the size and duration of this one, stretching from Southern California to Alaska, is historic, according to NOAA, and it continues to impact marine life and local economies to the tune of millions of dollars. The toxic algae bloom is up to 40 miles wide and 650 feet deep in places. “It’s UNPRECEDENTED.”
Toxic algae blooms are usually limited to one area of the ocean or another and disappear after a few weeks. This one has grown for months and it isn’t going away. “It’s been incredibly thick, almost all the same organism. Looks like a layer of hay. It’s really working its way into the food web and we’re definitely seeing the impacts of that.”
In the past month, 21 humback and fin whales have been found dead in southeast Alaska, and in July the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association received reports of dead and dying whales, gulls and forage fish in the Aleutian Islands. Samples are being tested for algal toxins. Extremely high levels of the algal toxin called domoic acid has led to the closures of recreational razor clam digging in Oregon and Washington, along with large portions of the Dungeness crab fishery in Washington, and the sardine and anchovy fisheries in California.
Coastal communities in Washington lost an estimated $9 million in revenue in May alone as a result to the razor clam closure. “Algal blooms in the ocean are made up of microscopic marine plants known as phytoplankton. Not all phytoplankton are dangerous, but certain species produce dangerous neurotoxins. Shellfish and some fish eat the toxic algae as part of their normal diet, which can then expose their predators — including marine mammals and humans — to the neurotoxins in amounts that can cause illness and, in extreme cases, death.”
The algae bloom coincides with sea surface temperatures that are well above average across the North Pacific and West Coast. “The primary reason they are above normal is a strongly positive Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which is a horseshoe pattern of warmer-than-normal waters along the coast of western North America. Though SSTs will drop some through the fall and winter, as it typically the case, the positive PDO and El Niño will remain, or even intensify, and as such, so too will the above- normal water temperatures. El Niño does not play a direct role, but generally speaking, El Niños are more likely to occur during a positive PDO.”
If this El Niño is the Godzilla of El Niños, then this toxic algae bloom is the king of all toxic algae blooms. (photo and map at link)


Scientists say the grime which clings to urban surfaces "breathes out" nitrogen gases when hit by sunlight. The dark muck is known to absorb such gases from the air, but it appears the nitrogen does not stay locked away.
In rooftop experiments in Germany, the researchers tracked the content of grime in both sunshine and shade. They say sunlit grime releases nitrogen in two forms: the toxic pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2), plus nitrous acid - a key driver of smog formation. The findings may explain a "missing" source of smog-producing gas in the skies of London.
"Rather than being a permanent sink for nitrogen oxide gases... grime exposed to sunlight can re-release some of these gases back into the urban atmosphere." In a laboratory, artificial sunlight can strip the nitrogen component from grime - which is essentially a cocktail of chemicals belched into city air by exhaust pipes and chimneys. In the latest experiments he worked with colleagues in Leipzig, Germany, to shift the work outside.
Two large trays of grimy glass beads - one shaded and one sunny - were exposed to the city air for six weeks "The ones which were exposed to sunlight showed 10% less nitrate than the ones which were shaded, suggesting that there is a photochemical loss [of nitrogen] consistent with what we saw in the lab." That 10% drop may seem like a small effect, but it reflects a "steady state" difference: as the sunshine eats away at the grime's nitrogen content, fresh nitrogen-rich grime is constantly being deposited.
"The amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) given off by exhausts in the centre of a city will probably be much higher than what grime can take up and then give back off again. But if some of it is transformed into HONO, then that really is important." Why? In part, because it might explain a puzzling gap in observations of polluted London air.
"If you put into a model all the known sources of HONO, from my work in London there's about 30% missing compared to the quantity of HONO that you can measure directly." This missing source is "very significant" for predicting ozone quantities - which the Met Office does as part of air quality forecasts. Some parts of London have levels of NO2 that are well above safety limits. The sheer quantity of grime in London could make it "a big potential source of pollution". "If grime is contributing, then we need scientists to tell us how much [gas] is coming off and what health effects it has."
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