Friday, April 1, 2011

U.S. Lulled on Need for Earthquake Resilience - The United States, lulled by a century of relatively modest earthquakes in populous places, is poorly prepared for the kind of jolt that devastated northern Japan and is inevitable in several parts of this country.
The California Emergency Management Agency cited a study with a simple conclusion: For each dollar spent on mitigation activities, an average of $4 in post-disaster costs is saved. Evidence from Oregon, one of the states most vulnerable to great earthquakes, points out the challenge of moving from such logic, on paper, to investments in vulnerable schools or coastal communities in the inundation zone for the tsunami that will accompany the next great thrust of the Cascadia fault off the Northwest Coast. The report identifies an 18-task road map for implementing the strategic plan adopted by the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, which would make the nation earthquake resilient. The road map tasks are required to develop the nation’s capacity to maintain important community functions and recover quickly following damaging earthquakes. The commitee estimated that the cost for its earthquake-resilience road map would be $306 million annually over the first five years.

**Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings -
always darker, emptier and simpler.**
Friedrich Nietzsche

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/31/11 -


World's deadliest volcano in Africa waiting to explode - Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world's deadliest volcanos, is waiting to explode and turn Goma, a city of a million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, into a modern day Pompeii. But scientists do not know when, since it is in the war-torn eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The two-mile high cauldron of lava is also one of the least understood. At the base of Nyiragongo sprawls Goma with its numbers swelling by the day as villagers from the countryside seek refuge from rebel and government forces. Twice in recent years Nyiragongo's eruptions have hit the city, destroying homes and sending residents fleeing. But now, seismologists believe, the risk is not just near the city, but directly beneath it. For the past 20 years the region has suffered nearly constant warfare.
"Goma is the most dangerous city in the world." In 2002, 350,000 fled after the volcano shot more than 15 million cubic yards of lava into downtown Goma, destroying 14,000 homes and burying buildings to the top of the first floor. In 1977, lava raced down the mountain, killing several hundred people, even though the flow had hardened before it reached the main part of the city. But both eruptions were mere grumbles compared with the devastation seismologists believe it is ready to unleash.

No current tropical cyclones.

AUSTRALIA - The cyclone watch for the Northern Territory has been cancelled. A tropical low pressure weather system of 1001ha is estimated to be 140km west northwest of Darwin and moving west at 10km/h. The system is expected to turn southwest and develop into a tropical cyclone as it nears the north Kimberley coast on Saturday morning. A small part of the tropical low split from the main system and passed over Darwin last night. "A small vortex came down near Darwin and that produced all the rain. The main low stayed near the Tiwis."
The track of the tropical low was not similar to that of Cyclone Tracy. "Tracy actually came and went past the islands, the whole system came into Darwin." March was a below-average month for rainfall, with 231mm in the gauge at Darwin Airport, where a normal expectation would be around 319mm. So far this Wet, Darwin Airport has clocked 2725mm of rain, with a month to go before it can beat the record of 3048.6mm at Pirlangimpi on Melville Island from the 1999-2000 wet season.
Things are looking better for the weekend, with more sunshine opening up. 'Rain will be easing off, but still a few showers, and potential storm, but a lot less that what we've seen. The active monsoon will hang around at least the weekend or early next week, but it depends what happens with this cyclone, it might take some of the weather with it."
The tropical low is expected to form into a cyclone tomorrow morning off the Kimberly coast There is a cyclone warning for areas between the NT border and Mitchell Plateau, and the coast between Mitchell Plateau and Cockatoo Island is on cyclone watch. Tides on Saturday will be higher than normal between Wyndham and Kalumburu, and heavy rain is expected in the Kimberlys.

AUSTRALIA - Power back on soon for cyclone victims. Ergon Energy expects north Queensland's cyclone-damaged power network will be completely repaired within the next three weeks. Sections of the network are still damaged from Cyclone Yasi which crossed
the coast in February. More than 3,500 defaults were recorded after the cyclone and a big push is underway to fix the last of the problems. At the moment there are certainly a number of customers, certainly in the Tully area, some in the Ingham area, that don't have power...We expect it will be finished probably within the next three weeks."

AccuWeather's 2011 hurricane forecast is out - expects “an active season with more impact on the U.S. coastline than last year.” It predicts 15 named tropical storms, with eight reaching hurricane strength, and three becoming “major” (Cat. 3) storms. That’s more than average, but less than 2010’s third-busiest 19, 12 and 5. Since no hurricane made U.S. landfall in 2010, predicting a “higher potential” this year seems a safe bet. The season officially begins June 1 and lasts through November.
This year's predictions are based on several factors. These include the El Nino/La Nina cycle in the Pacific. We're currently in a waning La Nina, and it will be in a neutral phase by summer - not cycling into the warm-water El Nino conditions in the tropical eastern Pacific, which tend to produce stronger westerly winds in the Atlantic. "Stronger westerlies would prohibit major storms, or a lot of storms, so it is a critical factor."
Saharan dust is another factor. When it blows west out over the Atlantic, it can inhibit storm formation. "Current projections ... suggest there will be episodes of dust affecting development, but no more than normal." They also factor in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. This is a long-term cycle of Atlantic surface water temperature and atmospheric factors. It has been in a positive, warm-water phase since 1994, and that has meant generally more active hurricane seasons than the historic average.
They believe the early part of the season will see the highest risk for the western Gulf of Mexico and the southern Caribbean. By the mid- and late-season months, the risk will shift to the eastern Gulf and Caribbean, as well as the Florida peninsula and the Atlantic coast from Florida to the Carolinas. (map of 2010 storm tracks)


AUSTRALIA - A disaster zone has been declared in the north Queensland township of Hideaway Bay which has been partially smothered by massive mudslides over the last few days. Only light rain fell overnight but with downpours expected today. People who were evacuated from their homes yesterday will not be allowed to return until the risk is reassessed. "We're expecting between 100 and 200mm of rain today, 10 houses are still evacuated and they'll remain evacuated. The area was declared a disaster yesterday afternoon but I haven't had any more reports of slips last night, and a geotech engineer will check the site again today before he goes back to Brisbane." More than 600mm of rain has been recorded around Hideaway Bay since Tuesday, triggering massive landslides which dumped knee deep mud and rocks across two roads.

WASHINGTON - Major flooding expected in King, Snohomish counties. Heavy overnight rain from a tropical storm in the area also prompted flood warnings for the Stillaguamish, Puyallup, Tolt and Green rivers in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. A flood watch remained in effect for eight other counties. The National Weather Service said the rain, delivered in the form of a "plume of subtropical moisture," was expected to be heavy at times on Thursday on the coast and in the mountains. Conditions should be drier by today. Two days of rain in the Cascades - and a forecast for another 4 to 8 inches Thursday - is what's causing the flooding. An avalanche warning was also issued for the Cascades and Olympics. The storm has largely skipped Seattle and central and north Puget Sound areas.


AUSTRALIA - Perth city has recorded its HOTTEST AND SUNNIEST MARCH ON RECORD. The Bureau of Meteorology reports that Perth's mean daily maximum temperature in March was 31.9c, breaking the previous record of 31.8c set in 1978. The average temperature for Perth in March was 29.5C.
Perth Metro also recorded zero rainfall during March, which has occurred on six other occasions, the last being in 2004. Up to March 31, Perth had not recorded rainfall for 58 days, the longest dry spell since a 78-day run between November 21 to February 6, 2010. Perth's longest dry spell since records began in 1876 was 83 days between December 15, 1974 and March 7, 1975. Daily temperatures in the city in the first three months of 2011 were mostly two to three degrees above normal.
Perth's mean daily maximum temperature for January to March was 32.9C, the HOTTEST START TO THE YEAR SINCE RECORDS BEGAN in 1897, breaking the previous record of 32.3C set in 1978. The average for the January to March period was 30.5C. Perth also recorded average daily sunshine of 11.0 hours in March, the sunniest March on record. The average rate of sunshine for March in Perth is 9.5 hours per day.