Sunday, October 28, 2012

A tsunami warning is in effect for the British Columbia coast after a 7.7 earthquake struck the Queen Charlotte Islands region at about 8 p.m. local time Saturday night.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located 198 kilometres south-southwest of Prince Rupert at a depth of 10 km. Earthquake Canada measured the quake at a magnitude of 7.1. The U.S. Geological Survey also meaured two aftershocks at magnitude 5.8 at 8:14 p.m. PDT, and magnitude 4.8 at 8:52 p.m. PDT.
The Alaska Tsunami Warning Center and Environment Canada both issued a warning for the area from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Cape Decision, Alaska. They advised all coastal residents in those areas to move to higher ground, stay away from all harbours, inlets, including those sheltered from the sea, and not return to such areas until directed to do so by local emergency officials. Waves were expected to arrive at Langara by 21:16 PDT and the northern tip of Vancouver Island by 21:17 PDT on October 27.
Emergency Info BC said the first waves seen are usually not the largest, and the waves can go on for several hours. Earthquake Canada said the quake was felt across much of north-central B.C., including Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Quesnel, and Houston and that no injuries have been reported. Officials asked those in the area to try to keep phone lines clear, and listen to the radio for updates and instructions.
Tsunami warning issued for southern Alaska - The National Weather Service issued a warning for coastal areas of southeast Alaska including the small community of Craig. The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska was trying to warn everyone with a boat on the water to prepare for a potential tsunami.
The first wave was expected to Craig about 9:10 p.m. local time, but it wasn't expected to be large, about 1-foot. "That's the predicted arrival time for the first wave, which typically is not the largest but nevertheless we don't expect the maximum wave height to be large." Any forecast that includes waves of 1-foot to 3 1/2-feet qualifies for an advisory threat level, which does not mean a full-fledged evacuation. "It does mean pulling back from harbors, marinas, getting off the beach."
The earthquake likely would not generate a large tsunami. "This isn't that big of an earthquake on tsunami scales. The really big tsunamis are usually up in the high 8s and 9s." The earthquake occurred along a "fairly long" fault - "a plate 200 kilometers long" in a subduction zone, where one plate slips underneath another. Such quakes lift the sea floor and tend to cause tsunamis.
UPDATE - The first wave from a small tsunami has been reported in a southeast Alaska community. State officials say a wave with a height of about 4 inches was measured in Craig late Saturday evening.
The quake has triggered a tsunami that has officials from Alaska down to Hawaii warning residents to seek higher ground. In a bulletin issued at 10:44 p.m. PT, the U.S. National Weather Service’s West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said that “the earthquake has generated a tsunami which could cause damage” to regions covered in its warning.
A tsunami warning was issued immediately after the quake for a region from the north tip of Vancouver Island to Cape Decision, Alaska. A tsunami warning was also issued for Hawaii. “A tsunami has been generated that could cause damage along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii. Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property.” The agency has also issued a tsunami advisory for the Washington-B.C. border to the north tip of Vancouver Island. An advisory was also issued for the Oregon and California coasts. “Those feeling the earth shake, seeing unusual wave action or the water level rising or receding may have only a few minutes before the tsunami arrival and should move immediately.
A tsunami had been forecast to hit Langara Island, at the northern tip of Haida Gwaii, around 9:16 p.m. PT. However, Emergency Info BC tweeted shortly before 11 p.m. PT that two waves under 50 cm were recorded in the region. The agency said that a warning means a tsunami is “expected and imminent” in low-lying coastal areas, and residents should move inland or to higher ground immediately. An advisory indicates that a low-level tsunami is expected. Residents under a tsunami advisory are being told to stay away from beaches and shorelines “until further notice.” The agency warned that a tsunami is a series of waves that “could last several hours.”
The quake struck just after 8 p.m. local time about 139 km south of Masset in the Haida Gwaii region, at a depth of about 17 kilometres. The quake was followed by eight aftershocks, the first one being the strongest at a magnitude of 5.8. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. A local resident said he was concerned for his home because of the violent shaking, which knocked the power out. “It was pretty intense right from the get-go."
The quake triggered a tsunami warning from Environment Canada, which advised residents to seek higher ground or move inland. “Do not return until directed to do so,” the agency said. “Closely monitor local radio stations for additional information from local authorities.” Some low-lying communities, including Sandspit, Bella Bella and Prince Rupert, were being evacuated as a precaution. A tsunami could do more damage to the region than the quake itself. “A 7.7 is a strong earthquake, capable of producing significant damage or casualties in populated areas. But...Haida Gwaii itself is pretty sparsely populated. And even though the West Coast of northern British Columbia there is fairly sparsely populated, the biggest risk could be if a tsunami has been generated.” (maps)

**The elevator to success is out of order.
You’ll have to use the stairs… one step at a time.**
Joe Girard

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
7.7 QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS REGION - 202 km (126 miles) SSW of Prince Rupert, BC, Canada or 263 km (164 miles) S of Metlakatla, Alaska.

Yesterday -
10/27/12 -

10/26/12 -

Iceland warns of threat of big earthquake - Icelandic authorities warned people in the north of the island on Thursday to prepare for a possible big earthquake after the BIGGEST TREMORS IN THE AREA FOR 20 YEARS.

Frequent Quakes Jolt Northwestern Iran Again - Several tremors jolted parts of Northwestern Iran on Saturday, almost three months after a couple of devastating earthquakes ruined several towns and villages in the region.
The biggest of the tremors measuring 4.4 on the richer scale struck the city of Varzaqan, East Azarbaijan Province, at approximately 02:01 local time (2231 GMT Friday night). The epicenter of the main quake, which was followed by at least 5 aftershocks ranging from 2.6 to 4.1 degrees on the Richter scale, was located in an area 46.67 in longitude and 38.42 in latitude.
Iran sits astride several major faults in the earth's crust, and is prone to frequent earthquakes, many of which have been devastating. The worst in recent times hit Bam in southeastern Kerman province in December 2003, killing 31,000 people - about a quarter of its population - and destroying the city's ancient mud-built citadel. The deadliest quake in the country was in June 1990 and measured 7.7 on the Richter scale. About 37,000 people were killed and more than 100,000 injured in the northwestern provinces of Gilan and Zanjan. It devastated 27 towns and about 1,870 villages.
Around three months ago, two quakes in Northwestern Iran also claimed the lives of 306 people and injured more than 4500 others. An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale jolted Ahar in East Azerbaijan province at 16:00 hours local time (1130GMT) on August 11. Almost an hour later another quake with magnitude 6 on the Richter scale jolted Varzaqan at 17:04 hours local time (1234GMT) in the same province.

Japan quake-hit nuclear plant "may still be leaking radiation" into sea - The operator of Japan's quake-struck Fukushima nuclear power plant said on Friday it could not rule out the possibility that it may still be leaking radiation into the sea after the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Volcano Webcams

New Zealand scientists investigating an active undersea volcano that erupted three months ago have discovered significant changes to the seafloor. Niwa research ship Tangaroa has mapped the Kermadec volcano that erupted 800km northeast of Tauranga on July 19, producing a pumice raft the size of Canterbury.
The eruption was strong enough to breach the ocean surface from a depth of 1100 metres. There had been volcanic activity every year for the past decade, but this was the largest by far. "It is a substantial eruption. Had it occurred on land in New Zealand, it would have been a bit of a disaster."
The volcanic caldera, which is like Lake Taupo, known to produce large and violent eruptions, spewed up to 10,000 more material than the Mt Tongariro eruption on August 6. It was mapped in 2002, showing a 1km-high undersea mountain with a 5km wide, 800-metre deep central crater.
This week, scientists found a new volcanic cone which has formed on the edge of the volcano, towering 240 metres above the crater rim. They also found one side of the caldera wall is bulging in towards the volcano's centre, indicating where an eruption may occur in the future or it may lead to an undersea avalanche. Several cubic kilometres of new material has also been added to the volcano, with large volumes of freshly erupted pumice accumulating on the caldera floor, raising it by up to 10 metres.
"We couldn't find any biology on the floor and the immediate vicinity has been completely wiped out." Fresh volcanic rocks, up to beach ball size, will be brought back to Niwa for analysis.

California - Salton Sea volcanoes much younger than previously thought. The Salton Buttes, a line of four small volcanoes on the Salton Sea'ssoutheastern shore, are not only still considered active by scientists, new research indicates they last erupted thousands of years more recently than previously thought. The buttes last erupted between 940 and 0 B.C., not 30,000 years ago.
Earthquake swarms in August and a region-wide rotten egg smell in September recently reminded Southern California residents they live next to an active volcano field, tiny though it may be. At the time, scientists said the phenomena did not reflect changes in the magma chamber below the Salton Sea. But now, researchers may need to revise estimates of the potential hazard posed by the Salton Buttes - five volcanoes at the lake’s southern tip. The buttes exist because California is tearing apart, forming new oceanic crust as magma wells up from below. The sinking Salton Trough is the landward extension of the Gulf of California, and marks the boundary between the Pacific and North America tectonic plates.

Montserrat - Scientists warn Soufriere Hills volcano has not gone to sleep. Scientists monitoring the Soufriere Hills volcano say it remains “capable of renewed activity” even though there are no immediate precursory signs of this despite two brief episodes of ash venting and gas release.

In the Atlantic -
- Hurricane Sandy was located about 330 mi [530 km] S of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. High wind watches and warnings remain in effect for the mid-Atlantic states and southern New England. Significant storm surge is also expected. Gale force winds are expected to arrive along portions of the mid-Atlantic coast by late today or tonight and reach Long Island and southern New England by Monday morning. Winds to near hurricane force could reach the mid-Atlantic states by late Monday.
Given the large wind field associated with Sandy, elevated water levels could span multiple tide cycles resulting in repeated and extended periods of coastal and Bayside flooding. In addition, elevated waters could occur far removed from the center of Sandy. Furthermore, these conditions will occur regardless of whether Sandy is a tropical or Post-tropical cyclone.

In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Son-Tinh was located approximately 205 nm south-southeast of Hanoi, Vietnam. The system was forecast to maintain its intensity over the next 12 hours given the ample outflow and perennially warm waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. After this time, the warm moist air from the Equator will be restricted by the Indochinese peninsula and the influx of relatively cooler and drier continental air from China will begin to weaken the system. However, Son-Tinh will still be at a modest tropical storm strength when it approaches Hanoi. The remnants may curve sharply, and re-emerge back over the Gulf of Tonkin. In this scenario, the system would be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.

Deadly tropical storm Son-Tinh batters Philippines - At least 24 people have been killed as a result of tropical storm Son-Tinh in the Philippines. The death toll was updated after casualty reports were received from the central and southern Philippines. About half of the victims were killed by landslides and by drowning, while others were hit by debris or electrocuted. Huge waves spawned by the storm battered coastal towns. More than 15,000 people are sheltering in government evacuation centres. At least six people remain missing. The Philippines see between 15 and 20 major storms or typhoons each year, that occur mainly during the rainy season in the summer and autumn. The storm was heading westward towards Vietnam at 22km/h (14mph) per hour.

'Frankenstorm' bears down on US east coast - Storm threat sparks mass evacuations in US. Millions of people in US coastal areas have been warned to get out of the way of the major storm likely to hit land in the next two days.
Hurricane Sandy is heading north from the Caribbean, where it left nearly 60 people dead, to threaten the eastern US with sheets of rain, high winds and heavy snow. Sandy is expected to affect as many as 60 million people when it meets two other powerful winter storms.
Experts say it does not matter how strong the storm is when it hits land because the RARE hybrid that follows will cause havoc over 700 miles (1300km), from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. "This is not a coastal threat alone. This is a very large area."
States of emergency have been declared in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, Connecticut and a coastal county in North Carolina. The US Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia was reportedly sending a whole fleet of ships out to sea to avoid the storm. Delaware ordered mandatory evacuations for coastal communities by Saturday night. New Jersey declared a state of emergency on Saturday as hundreds of coastal residents started moving inland. New York's governor was considering shutting down the subway to avoid flooding, while six states warned residents to prepare for several days of lost power.
Sandy weakened briefly to a tropical storm early on Saturday but was soon back up to Category 1 hurricane strength, packing 120km/h winds about 540km southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, by 5pm (8am AEDT). Experts said the storm was most likely to hit the southern New Jersey coastline by late on Monday or early on Tuesday.
What makes the storm so dangerous and UNUSUAL is that it is coming at the tail end of hurricane season and the beginning of winter storm season. "So it's kind of taking something from both." The storm COULD BE BIGGER THAN THE WORST EAST COAST STORM ON RECORD - the 1938 New England hurricane known as the Long Island Express, which killed nearly 800 people.
Experts said people should expect high winds over a 1300km stretch of land and up to 60cm of snow as far inland as West Virginia. The storm is so big, and the convergence of the three storms SO RARE, that "we just can't pinpoint who is going to get the worst of it," said the director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
American meteorologists expect a combination of high winds, heavy rain and extreme tides, as well as snow in some areas. Up to 10in (25cm) of rain, 2ft of snow and extreme storm surges are forecast. "It's going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impact for a lot of people." It could make landfall anywhere between Virginia, Maryland or Delaware up through New York or southern New England.
As the storm swirled away towards the US East Coast, officials in the Caribbean reported that the hurricane cost at least 58 lives in addition to destroying or badly damaging thousands of homes. While Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas took direct hits from the storm, the majority of deaths and most extensive damage was in impoverished Haiti. (path map)
Video - Calm before the storm in New Jersey.

How UNUSUAL is Hurricane Sandy's track? There have been only 6 hurricanes with surface pressures at or below 960 millibars (lower pressure = stronger cyclone) within 200 nautical miles of the Eastern Seaboard north of Virginia Beach, Virginia to have also made a U.S. landfall: Irene (2011), Bob (1991), Gloria (1985), Esther (1961), "Long Island Express" (1938), Unnamed (1869)
Interestingly, not one of these particular landfalling systems occurred in late October. The two most recent examples occurred in late August. Gloria, Esther and the "Long Island Express" were in late September. The 1869 hurricane was in early September. Not in this list was Hazel, which made landfall as a category four hurricane on October 15, 1954 near the N.C. and S.C. border, taking a quick northward path into eastern Canada as an extratropical storm. A total of 195 were killed in the U.S. and Canada, with severe rainfall flooding in Toronto.
What about the "Perfect Storm"? Despite the significant damage from coastal flooding, beach erosion, and high winds, the center of the "Perfect Storm" never made U.S. landfall. While it's the pressure gradient that ultimately drives wind speed, the lowest central pressure of that historic storm was "only" around 972 millibars. Sandy could have a significantly lower central pressure. [Very early this morning, Sandy's minimum central pressure was 960 millibars.]