Tuesday, December 6, 2011

**When restraint and courtesy are added to strength,
the latter becomes irresistible.**
Mohandas Gandhi

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
12/5/11 -

AUSTRALIA - Earthquake shakes cyclone-proof towns. The largest earthquake to hit Western Australia this year struck off the coast Monday morning reverberating more than 100km inland. Residents in the Pilbara town of Onslow told the ABC they felt their houses shake this morning when the earthquake struck shortly after 3am. The epicentre was about 40km north east of Exmouth and 80km west of Onslow. Geoscience Australia has estimated the quake was quite shallow but could have caused damage up to 15km from it's epicentre. There had been no power outages in Exmouth or Onslow as a result of the quake. There had been no reports of injury or damage to property.
The lack of damage was largely due to Onslow's "cyclone alley" location, which meant most of the town's buildings are built to category D cyclone rated conditions and can take a good "shake". But the tremor came in two bursts and was "quite an experience. It sounded like a banging. Then the bed started to shake and I wasn't sure what it was. It's like an energy that comes up from the ground - it's a weird feeling." The first tremor lasted about four seconds, ebbing into a slight rumble, then flared again.


INDONESIA - Mount Merapi residents refuse to leave volcano zone. Hundreds of people left homeless by a volcano eruption in Indonesia last year are insisting on returning to the danger zone. Mount Merapi is considered Indonesia's most active volcano and last year's violent eruption killed more than 300 people. Some villagers are refusing to accept a government ban on rebuilding in the area because the volcano is expected to erupt again in a few years. The United Nations says it's a common problem around the world, because people won't abandon their land.
It's sleeping for now but locals know what it's capable of. In November and December last year the cauldron threw out tonnes of lava, ash and boulders, killing more than 300 people and pummelling thousands of homes to pieces. "We lost everything. I went back and couldn't find where my house was. I tried to find any remains, but could not find any." But more than 500 families have ignored a ban and returned to the most dangerous zone. "Our economy is from up here, our livestock is up here. If we live down there, we can't earn a living anymore." The government's offered them land and 30 million rupiah - or about $3,000 - to build in a safer area. But those refusing the government's hospitality think there's another motivation behind the offer. "We were asked to move to a land further down because they are going to turn it into a national park." The regent of the area says that's not the case and it's about keeping people safe. Another 2,680 families are still homeless from the disaster and most of them are staying in temporary government villages made of bamboo and corrugated tin. After the people relocate to a new place, which is far more comfortable and more enjoyable, these people who refuse will reconsider. But even those who've accepted the government's hospitality are growing weary of the three years it may take to get a permanent house. Mount Merapi's been active for thousands of years and erupted eight times since 1984. Exactly when the next one will be is anyone's guess.
Indonesia closes airport after Gamalama volcano erupts - Indonesia closed a domestic airport in eastern Indonesia on Monday after Mount Gamalama volcano spewed ash 2000 metres into the air. Mount Gamalama, which forms the entire island of Ternate in North Maluku province, erupted late Sunday and forced the airport in Ternate town at its foot to close Monday. "It's a safety measure. The volcanic ash may pose a risk to planes. If there is no more eruption, the airport may be opened tomorrow." The volcano caused some panic when it erupted. "It shot ash and dust particles 2,000 metres into the sky. There were no reports of casualties or injuries but people did panic for a while, screaming as they ran out of their homes. The situation has calmed and many residents have gone back home. We will continue to monitor the volcanic activity." The volcano last erupted in 2003, when no fatalities were recorded.

In the Pacific -
Tropical cyclone 01s (Alenga) was located approximately 570 nm west of the Cocos Islands.

Birth of first Southern Indian Ocean season tropical storm - The Southern Indian Ocean cyclone season is off and running and NASA's Aqua satellite saw the birth of Tropical Cyclone 01S. Tropical Cyclone 01S formed Dec. 5, 2011. TC01S has maximum sustained winds near 55 knots (63 mph/102 kmh) and is rapidly consolidating and organizing, so strengthening is forecast. At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) on Dec. 5, TC01S was located about 545 nautical miles west of the Cocos Islands. It was moving to the west at 7 knots 8 mph/13 kmh). Microwave satellite instruments showed an eye developing in TC01S. There is also tightly curved banding of thunderstorms around the low-level center. T01S has intensified rapidly over the first 12 hours of its existence. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasters expect TC01S to strengthen to hurricane-force over the next two days and track to the southeast, staying at sea.


SOUTH AFRICA - Heavy rainfall floods Eastern Cape. According to forecasters La Nina, which brings with it wetter-than-normal summers, has set in from December and is due to stay until April next year. La Nina involves the cooling of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, causing a general global cooling.
Eastern Cape residents have already experienced a foretaste of the phenomenon, with heavy deluges in many parts of the province last week turning playing fields into swimming pools and roads into rivers.
In Nelson Mandela Bay the total rainfall for November was almost DOUBLE the norm - 97mm at the Port Elizabeth Airport compared with an annual average of 49mm. "National rainfall will be above normal for at least the next five months. The minimum temperatures in the interior will be below normal, while maximum temperatures will also be lower than normal." Last week the World Meteorological Organisation said this year had been the warmest on record for a year in which La Nina had occurred. Temperatures are usually higher during El Nino, the weather phenomenon typically associated with drought and heat, which brought Eastern Cape farmers to their knees in 2009 and early 2010. "Any rainfall is welcome, because they [farmers] experienced a couple of dry seasons [in the Eastern Cape]."