Thursday, December 27, 2012

U.S. - A powerful winter storm that spawned tornadoes in the Deep South and brought Christmas Day snow to Dallas moved east on Wednesday, bringing blizzard conditions in Indiana and Ohio and severe thunderstorms in the Southeast. The death toll has risen to six from the winter storms in the nation's midsection.
A powerful winter storm system pounded the nation's midsection Wednesday and headed toward the Northeast, where people braced for the high winds and heavy snow that disrupted holiday travel, knocked out power to thousands of homes and were blamed in at least six deaths. Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed, scores of motorists got stuck on icy roads or slid into drifts, and blizzard warnings were issued amid snowy gusts of 30 mph that blanketed roads and windshields, at times causing whiteout conditions.
"The way I've been describing it is as a low-end blizzard, but that's sort of like saying a small Tyrannosaurus rex." The system, which spawned Gulf Coast region tornadoes on Christmas Day and a historic amount of snow in Arkansas, pushed through the Upper Ohio Valley and headed toward the Northeast. Forecasts called for 12 to 18 inches of snow inland from western New York to Maine starting late Wednesday and into Thursday and tapering off into a mix of rain and snow closer to the coast, where little accumulation was expected in such cities as New York and Boston.
The storm left freezing temperatures in its aftermath, and forecasters also said parts of the Southeast from Virginia to Florida would see severe thunderstorms. Schools on break and workers taking holiday vacations meant that many people could avoid messy commutes, but those who had to travel were implored to avoid it. Snow was blamed for scores of vehicle accidents as far east as Maryland, and about two dozen counties in Indiana and Ohio issued snow emergency travel alerts, urging people to go out on the roads only if necessary.
Some 40 vehicles got bogged down trying to make it up a slick hill in central Indiana, and four state snowplows slid off roads as snow fell at the rate of 3 inches an hour in some places. Two passengers in a car on a sleet-slickened Arkansas highway were killed Wednesday in a head-on collision, and two people, including a 76-year-old Milwaukee woman, were killed Tuesday on Oklahoma highways. Deaths from wind-toppled trees were reported in Texas and Louisiana.
Traffic crawled at 25 mph on Interstate 81 in Maryland, where authorities reported scores of accidents. More than 1,400 flights were canceled by evening. In Arkansas, some of the nearly 200,000 people who lost power could be without it for as long as a week because of snapped poles and wires after ice and 10 inches of snow coated power lines. SNOW HADN'T FALLEN IN LITTLE ROCK ON CHRISTMAS SINCE 1926, but the capital ended Tuesday with 10.3 inches of it.
Other states also had scattered outages. As the storm moved east, New England state highway departments were treating roads and getting ready to mobilize with snowfall forecasts of a foot or more that was expected to start falling late Wednesday and through Thursday. Behind the storm, Mississippi's governor declared states of emergency in eight counties with more than 25 people reported injured and 70 homes left damaged.

**Live to the point of tears.**
Albert Camus

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
Cluster of 4.0+ quakes OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE (near Maule)

Yesterday -
12/26/12 -

12/25/12 -

12/24/12 -

The earthquake and a pipeline explosion rattled Russia's Black Sea coast - Wednesday, a gas pipeline explosion and mild earthquake struck near the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi, the second earthquake in the area in the past three days. On Sunday, a 5.5 magnitude earthquake was recorded 47km (29mi) southwest of Och'amch'ire, Georgia, with the epicenter of the quake about 150 km (93 miles) off Sochi in the Black Sea.
The epicenter of Wednesday's earthquake, which measured 5.3 in magnitude, was roughly 20 miles east of Sunday's epicenter. Striking at 0242 local time (2242 GMT), the quake caused little or no damage to buildings. Shortly before the earthquake, a gas pipeline ruptured and exploded near Sochi. The cause of the explosion is unknown at this time. The city's power plant switched to fuel oil to power the city's electrical grid. Sochi is located on the Black Sea coast of Georgia. It is the first Russian city to be awarded a Winter Olympics.
Georgians panicky, expect major earthquake on Black Sea coast - Thousands of people have remained outdoors in Batumi, Poti, Kobuleti and Kutaisi for several hours in fear of a devastating earthquake. The quake rumors started spreading after tremors early on Wednesday morning damaged dozens of homes on the Black Sea coast.
Georgian television reported the evacuation of hospital patients in Batumi. Doctors said the patients insisted on the evacuation. Fishermen said that FISH HAD LEFT THE COASTAL WATERS, which might be an omen of a powerful earthquake. The Georgian National Seismology Center said it was impossible to forecast an earthquake and the panic was totally groundless. The center said that quakes happened in the Black Sea along the Georgian coast in the previous century, although that area was subject to less seismic activity than the Caucasian Ridge.
Dozens of tremors have happened in the sea at the depth of ten kilometers, 40 kilometers away from Anaklia, since December 23. The most powerful of them were the earthquakes on December 23 (5.7 points) and on the 25th (5 and 5.5 points) - the Tuesday tremors were recorded at 40 kilometers from the coast of Georgia in the Black Sea. In the ones on Sunday, the epicenter was also at 10 km's depth underneath the Black Sea while the distance to the shoreline was 29 and 32 km.

Quake jolted Canadians from complacency - After Canada’s largest earthquake in more than 60 years struck off British Columbia on Oct. 27, many residents complained that the provincial government failed to issue a timely tsunami warning. Authorities waited for more than 40 minutes after U.S. authorities registered the quake at magnitude 7.8 — the size of the one that leveled San Francisco 106 years ago. During that delay, a killer tidal wave could have swamped Vancouver Island, with 760,000 people living near sea level just off the Canadian mainland.
One provincial government official, when pressed about the reasons for the delay, told a reporter: “The earthquake was your warning.” Many West Coast Canadians, appalled by the government’s response, are urging action to prepare for the “Big One,” which scientists predict could hit populated areas such as Vancouver, Seattle and Portland, and threaten about 8 million people. “It’s definitely a hot spot."
“The focus has traditionally been on California. But there’s been 10 or so damaging earthquakes, magnitude 6 or 7 plus, in the Pacific Northwest, just over the last 160 years.” Earthquakes of that strength can cause buildings to shake violently and kill as many as 25,000 people at the epicenter.
The latest Canadian temblor created little damage, despite its size and location over a major earthquake fault. The earthquake struck about 450 miles north of Vancouver Island off the coast of the Haida Gwaii archipelago. “We really dodged a bullet this time. That earthquake was huge.”
British Columbia’s emergency management agency is upgrading its warning system to pass along alerts immediately from the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center to local officials, major media outlets, and first responders. The agency said it also will use social media and email to warn people. It has created a mobile version of its website for smartphones and is developing an interactive map of tsunami warning zones.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of December 26 - Significant eruptive activity continued over the holiday at Plosky Tolbachik (Kamchatka Peninsula), Popocatepetl volcano (Mexico) and Tungurahua volcano (Ecuador), while two additional volcanoes (Copahue and San Cristobal) also kept Chile and Nicaragua on alert.

Nicaragua - Authorities say they've ordered the evacuation of some 300 families living on the flanks of the country's highest volcano after it began spewing hot gas and ash. A yellow alert was declared on Wednesday in a 2.9km radius around the San Cristobal volcano to allow the evacuation of residents who would be at highest risk during a significant eruption.
San Cristobal began spewing out hot gases and ash on Tuesday. The authorities declared an amber alert covering 5 sq km around the volcano. 15 eruptions had been recorded over the past day at the volcano northeast of the capital of Managua. The volcano had emitted regular small eruptions, but larger ones were unpredictable. Authorities had wanted to move the closest residents away from the volcano as a precaution.

Chile lowers alert level over Copahue eruption - Chilean authorities increased the alert level of Copahue volcano when it began spewing ash on Sunday, a possilbe prelude for a coming eruption. The “change in the alert level implies that we maintain a close monitoring of the volcano” and emergency plans in case of a large eruption remain in place.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical Depression Wukong was located approximately 285 nm south-southwest of Manila, Philippines. The last warning has been issued on this system.

Tropical storm Wukong struck the Philippines at about 12:00 GMT on the 26th. Just three short weeks after Typhoon “Bopha” hammered the Philippines leaving some 1,050 people dead and more than 800 missing in the southern Philippines, the less intensive storm hit.
Due to the influence of Wukong (local name Quinta), 5,748 passengers were stranded at a dozen of ports in central Philippines by 7 a.m. Wednesday. Siargao and Dinagat were ordered evacuated. Twenty-one provinces in Visayas and Mindanao were placed under either Storm Signal 1 or 2 as Tropical Storm Quinta continued to intensify while moving toward Eastern Visayas. Tropical depression Quinta intensified into a storm on Christmas Day.

Thousands still homeless after Evan - More than 8000 people remain homeless over a week after Cyclone Evan ripped across Samoa, Wallis and Futuna and Fiji, the United Nations said today.

Cyclone risk in Indonesia said increasing - Sutopo predicted more cyclones would hit in Indonesia in March to April next year while floods and landslides would hit many parts of the country from January to March.


Severe snowstorm hits US, bears down on East Coast - Drivers have been recommended to stay at home as many roads have become treacherous. A severe winter storm that whipped up tornadoes in the southern US has brought heavy snow to the Midwest and threatens disruption in the east.
More delays are expected as the storm moves towards New York state and Maine, where as much as 18 inches (46cm) of snow is expected in the next 24 hours. The National Weather Service has warned of near-zero visibility in Buffalo, New York, where heavy snowfall is predicted to combine with high winds. Weather warnings are in place from Florida and the Gulf Coast all the way up to New England.
Little Rock, Arkansas, saw its first snow on Christmas Day in 83 years, while in neighbouring Oklahoma seven inches of snow was blamed for a 21-vehicle pile-up on an interstate highway outside Oklahoma City. Thirty-four tornadoes were reported in the southern states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday. A large section of a church roof in Mobile, Alabama, was ripped off by a twister.
Video - Tornadoes on the Gulf Coast.