LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
5.1 SUMBAWA REGION, INDONESIA
6.6 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
5.2 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.9 EASTERN SEA OF JAPAN
ICELAND - Volcanic activity at the crater on Fimmvörduháls in south Iceland increased Monday afternoon after having subsided the night before and Monday morning. Shortly after 6 pm, a series of earthquakes measuring 2-2.5 on the Richter scale shook the region. The seismic activity is an indication of the force of the eruption, which is gradually decreasing. GPS monitors that measure tectonics show that the lithosphere has ceased expanding and even contracted a little. However, that is no certain indication that the eruption is about to finish. Roughly estimated, 15-20 million cubic meters of solid volcanic debris might have spurted to the surface from inside the earth since the eruption began on March 21. The lava now covers approximately one square kilometer. (photo)
TROPICAL STORMS -
Cyclone PAUL was 655 nmi WNW of Cairns, Australia.
AUSTRALIA - Having been hit by two tropical cyclones so far this season, Queensland had been the center of tropical cyclone activity, but with the recent arrival of Tropical Cyclone Paul, it is now the Northern Territory's turn to experience heavy rains and gusty winds. Paul originated from a low pressure circulation embedded within the monsoon trough over the Arufura Sea between the northern coast of Australia and New Guinea. As the circulation drifted southward towards northern Australia it intensified slowly and only became a Category 1 cyclone on the evening of March 28, when the center was right over the northeast coast of the Northern Territory where it brought wind gusts of up to 110 kph (~70 mph).
A 3-D perspective of the storm was created from data from TRMM's Precipitation Radar instrument. The most prominent feature is a deep convective tower, which penetrates up to 9 miles (15 km) high. This corresponds with an area of intense rain in the northwestern eyewall evident in the TRMM's image of horizontal rainfall. These tall towers are associated with convective bursts and can be a sign of future strengthening as they indicate areas where heat, known as latent heat, is being released into the storm. This heating is what drives the storm's circulation. Despite Paul's proximity to land, it was able to intensify into a Category 2 cyclone (equivalent to a minimal Category 1 hurricane) by the following morning with wind gusts of up to 140 kph (~85 mph). Paul is hovering over land along the coast and is expected to weaken slowly over the next day or so; however, it could eventually re-emerge over the very warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and re-intensify.
FIJI - Residents of an island in northern Fiji say they will run out of food in less than two weeks if government aid does not reach them. When Cyclone Tomas hit two weeks ago, the Fijian government promised food aid would be sent to outlying areas as quickly as possible. But on Taveuni Island, residents say hundreds of people are still without food, clothing and tents. More than 500 homes were destroyed by the cyclone, with a damage bill of $US18 million.
HEAVY RAINS, SEVERE STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
U.S. - The second major rainstorm of the month pounded the Northeast on Tuesday, pushing rivers over their banks, closing roads and schools, prompting evacuations, and SHATTERING AT LEAST ONE RAINFALL RECORD. In Rhode Island, officials expect THE MOST SEVERE FLOODING TO HIT THE STATE IN MORE THAN 100 YEARS. "The worst is still ahead of us. We're in a serious, serious situation." National Guard troops were activated in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, where neighborhoods still recovering from earlier flooding were again swamped after two days of unrelenting rain. A storm two weeks ago dropped as much as much as 10 inches of rain on the same region. Although the rain tapered off in many areas Tuesday afternoon, forecasters said the region's rivers might not crest until Wednesday or even Thursday.
By Tuesday afternoon, Providence had recorded more than 15 inches of rain for the month, becoming THE RAINIEST OF ANY MONTH ON RECORD, breaking a mark set in 2005. Boston also SET A RECORD FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH, topping a mark set in 1953, with nearly 14 inches of rain. It is now the second rainiest month since record keeping began in 1872. New Jersey and parts of New York City also SET MARCH RECORDS, and Portland, Maine, was approaching one.
Hundreds of people across Rhode Island evacuated their homes. Scattered evacuations were reported in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and officials in New Hampshire warned residents in flood-prone areas to prepare to leave. No injuries had been reported in those states from the storm as of Tuesday evening.
In New York City, a mudslide caused some interruptions on a commuter rail line in the Bronx. Airports including LaGuardia and Kennedy in New York and Newark Liberty in New Jersey also reported weather-related delays.
AUSTRALIA - The damage bill for last week's hail storm in Perth could top the $880 million in claims for Melbourne's flash flood in January. There have been 89,000 claims totalling $650 million so far in Western Australia, but these figures are likely to rise further. The hail storm devastated Perth and the south-west when it hit late in the afternoon on March 22, blacking out about 200,000 homes and businesses, damaging thousands of cars and flooding roads and residences.
HEALTH THREATS -
Study says entry screening may have worked - Countries that began screening incoming travelers after the World Health Organization issued its pandemic alert last year may have delayed local transmission 7 to 12 days. Entry screening at airports, ports, and border crossings "may lead to short-term delays in local transmission of a novel strain of influenza virus." Resources need to be balanced against expected benefits.
South Africa faces wide outbreak of Rift Valley fever - An outbreak of Rift Valley fever that began in South Africa in February has expanded to five of the country's nine provinces, with 63 human cases and 2 deaths in three provinces. Rift Valley fever is transmitted among animals by mosquitoes. Most human cases are mild, with severe disease occurring in about 1% of cases. In severe cases, the virus can cause meningoencephalitis, retinal disease, or bleeding, and there is no specific treatment. Disease experts are concerned about the possibility of an introduction of the virus into the United States. South Africa has had sporadic cases of Rift Valley fever in recent years. The last major outbreak was in 1974-76, when an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 human cases occurred. South Africa is particularly alert to disease outbreaks at the moment, because the country will host the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament from June 11 to July 11 in venues around the country.