Sunday, August 8, 2010

INDONESIA - One of Indonesia's most active volcanoes erupted Friday, sending lava and a searing gas cloud tumbling down its slopes. At least four people were swept away and feared dead and several others were seriously injured. "It happened so fast. There was no time for an evacuation."
Mount Karangetang, located on Siau, part of the Sulawesi island chain, burst just after midnight when heavy rains broke the volcano's hot lava dome, which spit out 1,110-degree Fahrenheit clouds of gas. Ash and lava crashed down the mountain's western slope, destroying at least nine houses, a church and a school. A road and a bridge also were badly damaged, leaving more than 2,000 people in the remote area completely isolated. Authorities were trying to evacuate residents living in at least one nearby village. In all, about 22,000 people live on Siau island.
The last time the mountain erupted was July 2006.

**Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.**
Thich Nhat Hahn.

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
8/7/10 -
8/6/10 -

MEXICO - New NASA airborne radar images of Southern California near the U.S.-Mexico border show Earth's surface is continuing to deform following the April 4 magnitude, 7.2 temblor and its many aftershocks that have rocked Mexico's state of Baja California and parts of the American Southwest.
The data reveal that some faults in the area west of Calexico, Calif., have continued to move at Earth's surface, most likely in the many aftershocks. This fault motion is likely to be what is known as "triggered slip," caused by changes in stress in Earth's crust from the main quake rupture. Ground motions on small faults have occurred since April 13, ranging from less than a centimeter to a few centimeters (half an inch to a few inches).
The April 4, 2010, El Mayor-Cucapah quake was centered 52 kilometers (32 miles) south-southeast of Calexico, Calif., in northern Baja California. The quake, the region's LARGEST IN NEARLY 120 YEARS, was also felt in southern California and parts of Nevada and Arizona. There have been thousands of aftershocks, extending from near the northern tip of the Gulf of California to a few miles northwest of the U.S. border. The area northwest of the main rupture, along the trend of California's Elsinore fault, has been especially active.
The largest fault movement occurred between May 21 and June 6 along a northeast-southwest trending fault known as the Yuha fault. This fault previously had slipped about 2 to 4 centimeters (1 to 2 inches) in the first days after the April 4th earthquake. Since April 13, the fault has slipped about another 2 centimeters (1 inch).
The fact that the Yuha fault has a trend towards the northeast is also significant, because it is very different from the northwest-trending major Elsinore and San Jacinto fault systems and the faults in Mexico that ruptured in the main earthquake. "This adds to evidence that the faults in Mexico are not directly connected to the Elsinore and San Jacinto faults and may explain why the magnitude 7.2 April 4 earthquake stopped before it reached California."

CHILE - Chilean authorities are working with seismologists in order to prepare for a possible earthquake that could strike the country "any day". A group of researchers studied the effects of the massive earthquake that jolted the nation in February, killing almost 500 people. They found that the quake raised the land by as much as 2.5m near the coast and shifted the coastline out to sea.
The 8.8-magnitude earthquake was "the fifth largest event in modern seismology". Seismologists had warned the Chilean authorities about a possible disaster which could happen at any given moment - but the state did not act.
"Scientists met with authorities in Talcahuano several months before the earthquake. And they warned them that there was a possibility of an earthquake and of a big tsunami." Models of the tsunami triggered by the earthquake show waves of up to one metre travelling across the Pacific Ocean. But the authorities didn't really take the scientists seriously."
The latest study showed that the predictions were correct, and February's disaster should be a "wake-up call" for the local authorities. They found an average slip of 10m - very similar to the forecasted data of 11.9m. "There was an earthquake in south-central Chile in 1835 and it was well documented...[with the data of] land level changes and a tsunami that followed. So that means that if we know that a region has not experienced an earthquake in 175 years, then we can say that there is about 11m of slip ready to be released. This way you can estimate the magnitude. And that's very important to know to prepare for it." Using the same method, scientists determined another area that was "ready" for a potentially devastating shaking - northern Chile, close to the border with Peru. "The region hasn't ruptured since 1877. We can estimate that it is ready for another magnitude 8 or 8.5 earthquake any day - it could happen tomorrow or it could happen in the years to come."

Tropical depression 05W was 257 nmi SE of Taipei, Taiwan.
Tropical storm COLIN was 161 nmi SSW of Hamilton, Bermuda.
Tropical storm ESTELLE was 310 nmi SW of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Tropical Storm Estelle forms in Pacific off Mexico's coast, not forecast to threaten land.

Tropical Storm Colin will affect the island of Bermuda in the western Atlantic Ocean. However, this tropical storm will NOT hit the US coast.
There have been hundreds of ocean rescues on rip filled beaches in North Carolina. For Wrightsville Beach it was 100, for Carolina Beach more than 80. Lifeguards stayed busy with more than 25 ocean rescues at Kure Beach, the most since Memorial Day last year. Dangerous rip currents fueled by Tropical Storm Colin continue to bash the coast. Heavy surf and dangerous side shore currents kept rescuers off the stands and in the water throughout the day on Saturday. With Tropical Storm Colin at a near standstill near the island of Bermuda it looks as though today may see even worse currents still. Tropical Storm Colin is expected to head north today, relieving rip current risks by early next week.


Nearly 1,700 dead, missing in China floods - The number of people killed or missing in devastating floods across China so far this year has risen to nearly 1,700, the government said Wednesday, warning the situation could still get worse. Parts of southern, central and northern China have been hit by summer downpours that have caused the worst flooding in a decade, triggered deadly landslides, cut off roads, and left villages inaccessible. "So far this year, 140 million people have been impacted in 28 flood-hit provinces, 1,072 have been killed and 619 people are missing."
August and September are the months when typhoons frequently form and make landfall, which could aggravate the situation. Some large rivers in the nation are still swollen to dangerous levels, more than 160 cities across China are flooded, eight small reservoirs have collapsed and more than 1,000 reservoirs are at risk.
At least 80 people were killed Saturday in landslides triggered by heavy rain in north-west China and 2,000 are missing. The landslides hit a mainly Tibetan area in Gansu province. The landslides buried a number of houses and blocked a river which has swollen to flood a wide area. Soldiers have been despatched to the hilly area to look for survivors. About 19,000 people living downstream from the landslide blocking the river have been evacuated. The landslides struck late on Saturday after torrential rains and a small hydro-electric power station was destroyed. "The water of the Bailong River then flowed into the county seat and many people were trapped. Now the sludge became the biggest problem to rescue operations. It's too thick to walk or drive through."

More heavy rain in Pakistan is frustrating efforts to help about 12 million people affected by severe flooding in much of the country.


Huge ice sheet breaks from Greenland glacier - A giant sheet of ice measuring 260 sq km (100 sq miles) has broken off a glacier in Greenland. The block of ice separated from the Petermann Glacier, on the north-west coast of Greenland. It is THE LARGEST ARCTIC ICEBERG TO CALVE SINCE 1962. The ice could become frozen in place over winter or escape into the waters between Greenland and Canada. If the iceberg moves south, it could interfere with shipping.
Cracks in the Petermann Glacier had been observed last year and it was expected that an iceberg would calve from it soon. The glacier is 1,000 km (620 miles) south of the North Pole. Nasa satellite images taken early on Thursday showed that Petermann Glacier lost about one-quarter of its 70km-long (43-mile) floating ice shelf. There was enough fresh water locked up in the ice island to "keep all US public tap water flowing for 120 days." There could be a beneficial outcome if the calving drifts to block the Nares Strait and effectively prevents the loss of more ice from the Lincoln Sea.
It was not clear if the event was due to global warming. The first six months of 2010 have been THE HOTTEST ON RECORD gobally. (photos)

RUSSIA - Russian health officials are warning people in Moscow to stay inside and avoid physical exertion as smog from the WORST WILDFIRES IN MODERN RUSSIAN HISTORY smothers the city. Haze and smoke are spreading through Moscow's streets, even seeping into the Metro network, and some people are wearing face masks indoors. Reports suggest the city's mortality rate rose by at least 30% in July. The national death toll attributed directly to wildfires is 52. Nearly 560 fires were still burning across central Russia as of Friday. Daytime temperatures in Moscow remain close to 40C (104F) with little sign of relenting in the next few days.
The smog has been affecting the capital for a week, and appeared to have been easing - before it worsened on Friday. Air traffic at two of Moscow's international airports has been disrupted. Seven regions are under a state of emergency. Nizhny Novgorod, Ryazan and Voronezh are reported to be the worst hit. Up to 2,000 homes have been destroyed in the blazes. Russia has announced it is banning the export of grain from 15 August to 31 December after drought and fires devastated about a fifth of its grain crop. It is THE WORST SMOG IN LIVING MEMORY.


Sunspots - People living in the northern hemisphere have experienced extreme heat in recent months, while temperatures in the southern hemisphere have been exceptionally low. The extreme weather may be related with sunspot activity said an expert in meteorology. The sun was relatively dormant, with little sunspot activity from 2007, until this July. The solar activity cycle, measured by the rise and fall in the number of sunspots, lasts about 11 years.
Solar activity reached a peak in 2000, when the Wolf index of sunspot activity hit 119.6. Since then sunspots decreased year by year, with index values lower than 10 seen since 2007. It is the first time that the sun has passed through such a lengthy dormant phase in the past hundred years.
Climate on the Earth depends on atmospheric circulation and the sun provides the energy that powers the circulation. Climate fluctuations also follow an 11-year cycle, similar to the solar cycle. Atmospheric circulation exchanges water vapor and heat in the northern and southern hemispheres to reach a balance when solar activities are normal. Extreme weather results from unusual atmospheric circulation patterns that interfere with the normal exchange of water vapor and heat between the hemispheres.
Another researcher disagreed. It was abnormal for the sun to such low levels of activity in recent years, but the intensity of illumination and heat transmitted from the sun to the Earth did not change dramatically. There is no definite evidence of the link between sunspots and climate fluctuations, he said.