Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A 5.7 earthquake rocked Southern California, shaking the Los Angeles area and forcing a halt to the Toronto Blue Jays-San Diego Padres game in San Diego. The quake was centered five miles southeast of Ocotillo near the U.S.-Mexico border. It struck Monday at about 9:30 PDT. The quake was initially reported as a magnitude-5.9 temblor. It was felt as a gentle rolling motion in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Orange County.
The quake follows a series of temblors that struck Southern California over the weekend, including a pair of moderate earthquakes that rattled a desert area east of San Diego. Residents in downtown San Diego could feel the ground rumbling during at least one of the Saturday quakes. There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries from Monday night's earthquake.
More than two dozen aftershocks [44 so far], struck Monday night near the US-Mexican border in southern San Diego County. The aftershocks - ranging up to 4.5 magnitude - were concentrated in the same general area as the 5.7 quake.

**A stitch in time saves nine.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
6/14/10 -

TAIWAN - A 5.4-magnitude earthquake struck directly below one of the largest cities on the east coast of Taiwan today. The quake hit at 8.31am (10.31am AEST) 32km below the city of Hualien, one of the main cities on the thinly populated east coast which is home to about 110,000 people. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes as the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates. In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude tremor killed around 2400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island's recent history.


RUSSIA - SARYCHEV VOLCANO - Almost a year after it spectacularly erupted, Sarychev Volcano showed more modest signs of activity on June 11. Satellite images show apparent water vapor filling Sarychev’s summit crater, forming an almost perfect circle of white. A much fainter, barely discernible plume blows away from the summit toward the east. Sarychev Peak is a stratovolcano and reaches a height of 1,496 meters (4,908 feet). It forms the highest point on Matua Island. This volcano ranks among the most active in the Kuril Islands, which extend southwestward from the Kamchatka Peninsula. (image of last year's eruption)

No current tropical cyclones.

In the tropics, a VERY RARE tropical wave for this time of year so far out in the Atlantic is getting its act together right now. It looks like we could have our first tropical depression of the 2010 season, and perhaps our first named storm - Alex in the next 12 to 24 hours. The only other time we've had a storm this early so far out in the ocean was Tropical Storm Ana back in 1979. Climatology tells us that any storm that forms this far out so early in the season shouldn't survive, but the SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES ARE OFF THE CHARTS right now, and over the next day or so upper level winds will be pretty light, so chances are good we'll see Alex show up, and the Lesser Antilles will need to keep an eye on this for at the very least heavy rain and strong winds by week's end. (map of June tropical storm origin locations)


OKLAHOMA, ARKANSAS - Heavy rains have inundated Oklahoma City, stranding motorists on flooded roads and leaving swaths of the city under water. Rescue workers scoured the city by boat to help people left clinging to trees and waiting on roofs. The flooding has caused massive damage but officials had no reports of deaths. In Oklahoma City, officials warned motorists to stay away as roads were transformed into virtual rivers and low-lying areas turned to lakes.
Meanwhile, police in the state of Arkansas have found the body of a 20th person killed when heavy rain flooded camping areas early on Friday. Checks are being carried out to determine whether the girl is the last person reported missing since the flash floods, which sent a wall of water crashing through the area in the middle of the night.

CHINA - At least 16 people died today and seven others were injured when part of a mountain collapsed on work sheds at a construction site in southwestern China. The huge landslide happened in the early hours in Sichuan province's Kangding county and rescue work was under way. Some people were missing, but no figure was given. Landslides are common in China during the rainy season in spring and summer. Last month, at least 19 people were killed and another 71 injured when a train derailed in a mountainous area of east China after a landslide damaged the tracks.

BANGLADESH - Landslides triggered by heavy rains have killed at least 23 people and left several others missing in southeastern Bangladesh. Mudslides struck early today in two areas in the southern coastal area. 19 bodies have been recovered. Another landslide has killed four members of a family in a separate area. Huge chunks of mud buried the victims' home. Rescue operations are continuing but rains are hampering efforts.


BP engineer called doomed rig a 'nightmare well' - BP took measures to cut costs in the weeks before the catastrophic blowout in the Gulf of Mexico as it dealt with one problem after another, prompting a BP engineer to describe the doomed rig as a "nightmare well," according to internal documents released Monday. The comment by a BP engineer came in an e-mail April 14, six days before the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that killed 11 people and has sent tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf in the nation's worst environmental disaster.
BP made at least five questionable decisions in the days leading up to the explosion. "The common feature of these five decisions is that they posed a trade-off between cost and well safety. Time after time, it appears that BP made decisions that increased the risk of a blowout to save the company time or expense."
In securing the final section of the deepwater well, the company apparently chose a riskier option among two possibilities - running a single string of steel casing from the seafloor to the bottom of the well, instead of hanging a steel liner with a "tieback" on top. Despite warnings from its own engineers, "BP chose the more risky casing option, apparently because the liner option would have cost $7 to $10 million more and taken longer. BP apparently rejected advice of a subcontractor, Halliburton Inc., in preparing for a cementing job to close up the well. BP rejected Halliburton's recommendation to use 21 "centralizers" to make sure the casing ran down the center of the well bore. Instead, BP used six centralizers. An official recognized the risks of proceeding with insufficient centralizers but commented: "who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine."
BP also decided against a nine- to 12-hour procedure known as a "cement bond log" that would have tested the integrity of the cement. A team from an oil services firm was on board the rig, but BP sent the team home on a regularly scheduled helicopter flight the morning of April 20. Less than 12 hours later, the rig exploded. BP also failed to fully circulate drilling mud, a 12-hour procedure that could have helped detect gas pockets that later shot up the well and exploded on the drilling rig.


Study raises questions about age-group impact of H1N1 - A study by French researchers suggests that the H1N1 influenza pandemic may not have differed from seasonal influenza epidemics in its effects on different age-groups quite so much as has been supposed.