Friday, April 9, 2010

Whatever I take, I take too much or too little;
I do not take the exact amount.
The exact amount is no use to me.
Antonio Porchia

This morning -

Yesterday -
4/8/10 -

The Baja California earthquake - the strongest to hit the region in more than a century - jostled fault lines, triggered 500 aftershocks in a day and will leave the area shaking for weeks. Baja, a state in Mexico bordering Southern California, experienced at least five aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater and can expect continued tremors for a month or more as the earth settles. While the risk of an even larger earthquake is elevated, it diminishes each day that passes. The magnitude 7.2 Baja earthquake occurred Sunday and was the third powerful temblor to roil the Americas this year, following one in Haiti and one in Chile.
Small tremors boost the chances of triggering a larger quake. No consensus exists among scientists over whether a large earthquake increases or decreases the likelihood of a bigger future temblor. Some scientists theorize that large earthquakes behave differently, relieving so much pressure they reduce the chances of another big one.
The earthquake on Sunday, which rattled the California-Mexico border, was as large in energy magnitude as the disaster in Haiti, and the third major quake in the Western Hemisphere over the last three months. Even placed in the slow-moving context of earth time, these quakes were major events. The Sunday shaker was magnitude 7.2, the strongest in Southern California in two decades, and felt by more than 20 million people, though it mercifully only killed a few people. The Chilean crackup in February was magnitude 8.8, one of the most powerful seismic episodes ever recorded. The magnitude 9.2 Good Friday quake of 1964 in Alaska was the largest ever recorded in U.S. history. Just outside of Anchorage, you can walk cliffs that were flat beaches on the Thursday before the quake, and stroll through unworldly ghost trees that were plunged deep beneath the coastal plain, now standing in saltwater.

No current tropical cyclones.


BRAZIL - Some 200 people are now feared to have been buried by a landslide in Rio de Janeiro, following the heaviest rains in decades. Mud came crashing down into a slum in Niteroi, across the bay from Rio, sweeping away at least 50 homes. A nursery for children was among the 50 buried buildings. Rescuers are still searching for survivors of previous mudslides. The number of confirmed dead is 150 but is now expected to rise steeply. "In our experience, it's an instant death [for those caught in their homes]." Torrential downpours that began on Monday afternoon set off dozens of landslides. Most of the victims have been the residents of the shanty towns built on the hills around Rio, Brazil's second biggest city. Forecasters say rain is likely to continue, but will not be as heavy. (photos, map)
Picking up the pieces in Rio - photos & map.

COLUMBIA - 3,000 families across the country have been affected the floods, landslides and high winds that have battered the country in the last two weeks. The central Colombian department of Risaralda was battered with heavy rains and gail force winds over Easter, leaving 80 families homeless. Most of the damage was in the departments of Antioquia, Cauca, Choco and Caqueta Quindio, but the families struggling to deal with the devastation are spread over twelve departments. (photo)

BANGLADESH - Tens of thousands of people have been left marooned and homeless by rising floodwaters in Bangladesh. Villages were inundated when the riverbanks protecting families’ homes were swept away. Many of those are the same people who survived when Cyclone Aila devastated south western Bangladesh on May 25 last year. More than 45,000 people are stranded in the two neighbouring sub-districts of Dacope and Shyamnagar, which were some of the areas worst hit by Aila. The area, in south western Bangladesh is a flood plain, crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers and is at particular risk from cyclones and high tides. People rely on a 7,500km-long network of flood embankments to survive. Much of this network was rinsed away by the 2009 cyclone network, leaving hundreds of thousands of people even more vulnerable than usual.
Flooding struck Dacope just days after work finished to fix last year’s damage to the embankments. Many families are now being driven to leave their villages permanently. “It's been almost a year and our situation is not improving at all. These new floods have broken our backs. We have few other choices. It’s impossible to continue living this way any more." People in Shyamnagar tried to finish repair work themselves, only for their work to be washed away by the Klolpetua river, which flooded 15 villages, affecting more than 25,000 people. “We repaired the dykes and our villages emerged from the water. A week later, we are homeless again." Most people have now left their homes, seeking shelter in nearby villages.


Is climate change affecting New Zealand? Are Northland, Auckland and Waikato the first New Zealand regions to start seeing the extreme weather patterns caused by man-made global warming or is it all just hot air? Over the past decade Northland has seen some incredible extremes. The main being a switch from devastating floods to devastating droughts within months of each other. For the past 5 years it appears that Northland seems to have two settings - wet or dry. Actually, make that extremely wet or extremely dry. Record breaking rainfall in winter, recording breaking dry patches in summer. Not to mention extreme frosts last year that turned inland parts of Northland into South Island winter postcards. But it's not just Northland. Auckland is also seeing extremes too... from the hottest recorded Auckland temperature last February, to the hottest August on record to one of the coldest Octobers on record - all in 2009. Now Aucklanders have had their driest quarter on record and little rain is in the short range forecast.
Many climate change experts say it's about global extremes rather than global warming. Is this simply a localised event that is bringing havoc to isolated communities? The answer can't be definitively given - as this period of time, on a global scale, is far too small.

U.S. - Southern New England on Wednesday saw RECORD HEAT, as well as fire danger warnings, less than a week after RECORD FLOODING. The temperature Wednesday hit 92 degrees in Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn., setting records for the day in both cities. The temperature hit a record 90 at Boston's Logan International Airport. That's the earliest date ever for a 90-degree reading in Boston. The "typical" first 90-degree day in Boston is June 5, and a "typical" year sees only 13-14 days of 90 degrees or warmer there. Providence last month also set a record for March rainfall; Boston had its second-rainiest month on record. The weather service on Wednesday issued a red flag warning for much of southern New England. That means an enhanced danger of brush fires. Plants that have yet to bud can burn under the right conditions even if the ground is still wet.


Regulators looking at antibacterial in soap - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of triclosan, a widely used antibacterial agent found in soap, toothpaste and a range of other consumer products. The agency stressed there are no grounds to recommend any changes in the use of triclosan but said some recent studies merited a closer look. An animal study showed the chemical may alter hormone regulation and several other lab studies showed that bacteria may be able to evolve resistance to triclosan in a way that can help them also resist antibiotics. "Despite the fact that this chemical is found in everything from soaps to socks, there are many troubling questions about triclosan's effectiveness and potentially harmful effects, especially for children." Simply washing the hands physically removes the excess bacteria, and many experts agree that soap containing triclosan does little or nothing extra to remove bacteria. Triclosan has been in use for about 30 years.