LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.
5.2 SULAWESI, INDONESIA
5.5 OFFSHORE MAULE, CHILE
5.5 OFFSHORE MAULE, CHILE
5.4 NEAR COAST OF CENTRAL PERU
5.0 WEST OF MACQUARIE ISLAND
Haiti has long had glaring inequality, with tiny pockets of wealth persisting amid extreme poverty. But the quake disaster has focused new attention on this gap, making for surreal contrasts along the streets above Port-au-Prince’s central districts. People in tent camps reeking of sewage are living in areas where prosperous Haitians, foreign aid workers and diplomats come to spend their money and unwind. The lights of the casino above this wrecked city beckon as gamblers in freshly pressed clothes stream to the roulette table and slot machines. In a restaurant nearby, diners quaff champagne and eat New Zealand lamb chops at prices rivaling those in Manhattan. A few yards away, hundreds of families displaced by the earthquake languish under tents and tarps, bathing themselves from buckets and relieving themselves in the street. The owner of the casino smiled and said business had never been better, attributing the uptick at his casino to the money coming into Haiti for relief projects.
“There’s nothing logical about what’s going on right now." The nongovernmental organizations “are flooding the local economy with their spending, but it’s not clear if much of it is trickling down.”
Scientists are increasingly pointing to storms as a trigger for earthquakes and landslides. New evidence shows that atmospheric low pressure systems can prompt a landslide to lurch downward. Pressure drops when warm daytime air results in low "tides," or when fast-moving storms race onto the scene. The effect on landslides and earthquakes only occurs when the pressure plummets suddenly, causing underground water and air to shoot toward the surface. That reduces friction between grinding subterranean plates, or under a landslide that's been held immobile by abrasive dirt and rocks. "Slides, earthquakes, glaciers, volcanic eruptions -- all of these things involve soil sliding on soil, or rock sliding on rock. And sliding is resisted primarily by one thing, and that's friction."
The same conclusion was reached by scientists in Taiwan. Low pressure accompanying typhoons sparked small earthquakes along the fault between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate. The scientists note that they make "a definitive connection between fault slip and changes in atmospheric pressure." Importantly, both studies say weather impacts can accelerate an earthly act that was bound to happen sooner or later. In other words, low pressure is not the cause of an earthquake, just the trigger.
With climate change, "storm systems are supposed to become more numerous and more severe. One can assume, then, if you've got more severe storms, or storms with, say, more extreme pressure changes, then the effects [on seismic activity] could be more pronounced in the future." That assertion comes as natural catastrophes are rising worldwide. In the 1950s, two mega-disasters, defined as killing thousands of people and uprooting hundreds of thousands more, would occur annually. Now, that number routinely reaches six a year, and often more.
TROPICAL STORMS -
Cyclone PAUL was 572 nmi WNW of Cairns, Australia.
Category one cyclone Paul will move across the Northern Territory in Australia today, whipping up wind and rain before being downgraded to a low. Paul is creating 110km/h winds near its centre, with gales at coastal and island communities. A cyclone warning has been issued for the eastern tip of the Northern Territory and surrounding islands. On Sunday night, Cyclone Paul was stationary on the coast near Cape Shield and was expected to move inland around Cape Shield and weaken to a low by Monday afternoon. A storm tide is expected between Cape Shield and Port Roper, with tides likely to rise significantly above normal high-tide levels. Damaging waves, heavy rain and dangerous flooding were likely on Sunday and Monday.
HEAVY RAINS, SEVERE STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
NORTH CAROLINA - Multiple mobile homes were overturned and people injured after a tornado touched down in North Carolina. Most of the damage centred around Davidson County, within the Piedmont region of central North Carolina. There was significant damage to a trailer park and injuries were reported in Lexington, while several trailers were damaged in Thomasville, with at least one person hurt.
The large tornado was reported to have touched the ground near Green St Baptist Church in Point, Guilford County. The storm was also producing 113km/h winds and hailstones as large as baseballs.
EXTREME HEAT / WILDFIRES / DROUGHT / CLIMATE CHANGE -
GUYANA - drought that has battered the tiny South American nation's rice and sugar exports and caused food shortages in indigenous communities. The government of the country of about 750,000 people is struggling to irrigate farmland, with water at storage points reaching dangerously low levels. Guyana is one of several countries in the region, including neighboring Venezuela, that have been parched by drought since the end of last year.
HEALTH THREATS -
AUSTRALIA - Health authorities are warning of a double whammy flu threat this year, with both the swine flu and more conventional strains in wide circulation.
Fatty foods can be as addictive as drugs - Scientists have finally confirmed what the rest of us have suspected for years: Bacon, cheesecake, and other delicious, yet fattening, foods may be addictive.