Thursday, August 30 , 2012

Alaska to stockpile food, just in case (Corrected link from yesterday) - Alaska is known for self-reliant residents who are accustomed to remote locations and harsh weather. Despite that, the Governor worries that a major earthquake or volcanic eruption could leave the state's 720,000 residents stranded and cut off from food and supply lines. His answer: Build giant warehouses full of emergency food and supplies, just in case.
For some in the lower 48, it may seem like an extreme step. But unlike the rest of the lower 48, help isn't a few miles away. When a fall storm cut off Nome from its final fuel supply last winter, a Russian tanker spent weeks breaking through thick ice to reach the remote town. Weather isn't the only thing that can wreak havoc in Alaska, where small planes are a preferred mode of transportation and the drive from Seattle to Juneau requires a ferry ride and 38 hours in a car.
The state's worst natural disaster was in 1964, when a magnitude-9.2 earthquake and resulting tsunami killed 131 people and disrupted electrical systems, water mains and communication lines in Anchorage and other cities. The state plans two food stockpiles in or near Fairbanks and Anchorage, two cities that also have military bases. Construction on the two storage facilities will begin this fall, and the first food deliveries are targeted for December. The goal is to have enough food to feed 40,000 people for up to a week, including three days of ready-to-eat meals and four days of bulk food that can be prepared and cooked for large groups. Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, has about 295,000 people, and Juneau, its third largest, about 31,000.
An estimated 90 percent of commodities entering Alaska are delivered through the Port of Anchorage. Air service is also a critical link to the outside world and generally the only way to reach many rural communities. A volcanic blast emitting a large amount of smoke and ash could disrupt supply lines by air and water for an extended period, and an earthquake could knock out airport runways or ports. Those are just some of the disasters that might require emergency supplies.
State officials have been working to encourage individual responsibility, with talks at schools and public gatherings. A statewide disaster drill is planned for October. Over the past year, the state has acquired or purchased water purification units and generators designed to work in cold climates, including units that could power facilities like hospitals.
Delivery of the food stockpiles would be staggered over three years. It would be replaced after it's used or expired, and it's entirely possible that much of the food will never be needed. It is not clear what the state will do with the expired, unused food. The project has a budget of around $4 million and hasn't generated any real controversy.

**I think and think for months and years.
Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false.
The hundredth time I am right.**
Albert Einstein

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
8/29/12 -

Japan estimates monster quake could kill 320,000 - Japan's government on Wednesday unveiled a worst case disaster scenario that warned a monster earthquake in the Pacific Ocean could kill over 320,000 people if it happened off central and western Japan, though the probability of such an occurrence is extremely low. That death toll would dwarf last year's quake-tsunami disaster toll.

Volcano Webcams

Peru's El Misti Volcano is active - Peruvian geologists have revealed that recent activity at El Misti signals that the volcano is active. Last Thursday researchers found that El Misti – located 17km outside the city of Arequipa – had recently recorded the highest amount of seismic activity than in the past five years. 224 earthquakes were registered at El Misti - an event known as an earthquake swarm - and which signaled that the volcano was no longer dormant.
El Misti experienced 143 volcano tectonic earthquakes, which were caused by the fracture of rock inside the volcano, due to sudden changes in pressure and temperature. Despite the recent increase in activity, there were still no conditions for an eruption to occur at El Misti, which last erupted sometime between 1450 and 1470. For an eruption to happen, El Misti would have to experience continued earthquakes, which “would have to occur after long-term movements of magma, and causing these earthquakes known as tremors, with lava.”

In the Atlantic -
- Category 1 Hurricane Isaac was located about 70 mi [110 km] WNW of New Orleans, Louisiana. Heavy rain threat from Isaac to spread inland during the next few days, water levels remain high along the northern Gulf Coast.
- Tropical storm Kirk was located about 1085 mi [1745 km] ENE of the northern Leeward Islands. No threat to land.

In the Eastern Pacific -
- Hurricane Ileana was located about 335 mi [535 km] SW of the southern tip of Baja California. No threat to land.

In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical storm Tembin was located approximately 85 nm south of Kunsan AB, South Korea. The final warning has been issued on this system by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.

South Korea braces for second typhoon - Flights have been grounded, schools have closed and scores of sea ferry routes have been shut as South Korea awaits Tembin.

Hurricane Isaac sidestepped New Orleans on Wednesday, sending the worst of its howling wind and heavy rain into a cluster of rural fishing villages that had few defenses against the slow-moving storm that could bring days of unending rain. Isaac arrived exactly seven years after Hurricane Katrina and passed slightly to the west of New Orleans, where the city's fortified levee system easily handled the assault. The city's biggest problems seemed to be downed power lines, scattered tree limbs and minor flooding. Slashing rain and wind gusts up to 100 mph buffeted New Orleans skyscrapers. Just one person was reported killed, compared with 1,800 deaths from Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi. And police reported few problems with looting.
But in Plaquemines Parish, a sparsely populated area south of the city that is outside the federal levee system, dozens of people were stranded in flooded coastal areas and had to be rescued. The storm pushed water over an 18-mile levee and put so much pressure on it that authorities planned to intentionally puncture the floodwall to relieve the strain. State officials said they would cut a hole in it as soon as weather allowed and equipment could be brought to the site.
"I'm getting text messages from all over asking for help." By midafternoon Wednesday, Isaac had been downgraded to a tropical storm. The Louisiana National Guard wrapped up rescue operations in Plaquemines Parish, saying they felt confident they had gotten everyone out and there were no serious injuries but would stay in the area over the coming days to help.
Isaac's maximum sustained winds had dropped to 50 mph by early this morning. Even at its strongest, Isaac was far weaker than Hurricane Katrina, which crippled New Orleans in 2005. Because Isaac's coiled bands of rain and wind were moving at only 5 mph — about the pace of a brisk walk — the threat of storm surges and flooding was expected to last into another day as the immense comma-shaped system crawled across Louisiana.
"We didn't think it was going to be like that. The storm stayed over the top of us. For Katrina, we got 8 inches of water. Now we have 13 feet." In Plaquemines Parish, about two dozen people who defied evacuation orders needed to be rescued. The stranded included two police officers whose car became stuck. "I think a lot of people were caught with their pants down. This storm was never predicted right since it entered the Gulf. It was supposed to go to Florida, Panama City, Biloxi, New Orleans. We hope it loses its punch once it comes in all the way."
The storm knocked out power to as many as 700,000 people, stripped branches off trees and flattened fields of sugar cane so completely that they looked as if a tank had driven over them. West of New Orleans in St. John the Baptist Parish, flooding from Isaac forced 1,500 people to evacuate. And thousands in the area needed to evacuate. Rising water closed off all main thoroughfares into the parish, and in many areas, water lapped up against houses and left cars stranded.
In addition, the National Weather Service said there were reports of at least three possible tornados touching down in coastal counties. No injuries were reported. None of the reports had been confirmed because there was no way for survey teams to assess the area to determine whether damage was done by tornadoes or straight-line winds until the weather cleared.
Isaac came ashore late Tuesday as a Category 1 hurricane, with 80 mph winds near the mouth of the Mississippi River. It drove a wall of water nearly 11 feet high inland. The storm stalled for several hours before resuming a slow trek inland, and forecasters said that was in keeping with its erratic history. The slow motion over land means Isaac could be a major soaker, dumping up to 20 inches of rain in some areas. But every system is different. "It's not too bad, but the whole coast is going to be a mess."
Forecasters expected Isaac to move inland over the next several days, dumping rain on drought-stricken states across the nation's midsection before finally breaking up over the weekend. The storm was expected to weaken to a tropical depression today. (photos) Video


H1N1 pandemic hit kids with neurological conditions hard - Among kids who died during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the disease was most lethal for those who had neurologic conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

More Salmonella cases likely linked to mangoes.

4 dead so far as West Nile disease becomes epidemic in Michigan. West Nile disease - a mosquito-borne illness - has reached epidemic proportions in Michigan, particularly in older suburbs that ring metro Detroit and Grand Rapids.