Wednesday, January 16, 2013

'BOMB CYCLONE' blizzard claims one life in Japan - 900 others injured. HEAVIEST SNOW SINCE 2006 snarls Tokyo traffic, flights.
The heavy snow that blanketed eastern Japan over the holiday weekend left one man dead and injured more than 900 others, while Tokyo commuters dealt with slippery streets as they returned to work Tuesday. A low-pressure system, dubbed a "bomb cyclone" by the local media, dumped 8 cm of snow in nine hours, the heaviest snowfall in the Tokyo region since January 2006. An elderly man in Shiojiri, Nagano Prefecture, died after falling into a drainage ditch as he cleared snow around his house and drowned.
At least 891 injuries were recorded in Tokyo and the area around it, many involving elderly people who slipped on snow-covered streets or motorists involved in accidents. As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, Yokohama registered 7 cm of snow, while the Otemachi district in central Tokyo had 6 cm. Traffic networks around the Tokyo metropolitan area continued to be disrupted Tuesday morning. Rail services were largely back to normal, but many domestic flights were canceled and some sections of key expressways were impassible.
At Narita International Airport, about 3,400 travelers were forced to spend Monday night in a terminal after snow caused airlines to cancel 71 flights. Airport officials distributed sleeping bags, water and crackers to the stranded travelers. Normal flight operations at Narita resumed Tuesday, except for a few delays. At Tokyo's Haneda airport, two of the four runways were temporarily closed Monday while snow was removed. On Tuesday, Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. canceled more than 30 flights, mainly in the morning.
The Japan Road Traffic Information Center said some parts of expressways around the Tokyo area, including the Tohoku, Joban as well as metropolitan expressways, continued to be closed to traffic Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, 49 schools and kindergartens closed in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama. The snow delayed mail and parcel deliveries as well.
At Tokyo Skytree in Sumida Ward, employees were busy clearing snow and taking steps to prevent snow left on the tower from falling and hitting pedestrians. Around 26,000 households lost power at least temporarily in Tokyo and five nearby prefectures as power cables were severed under the weight of snow.

**We are all special cases.**
Albert Camus

No update on Thursday this week.

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/15/13 -

Small quake strikes near Boothbay, Maine - A small 2.5 quake that shook Maine's midcoast had many homeowners thinking they'd heard an explosion, and caused officials at the Maine Yankee nuclear storage site to enact a disaster plan.
This is the third earthquake to hit the state in a matter of months. In December, a 2.3 magnitude tremor was centered in the town of Waterboro. Officials say it was likely an aftershock of a 4.5 quake that was felt throughout New England in October. On October 16, a quake that registered a 4.0 on the Richter Magnitude Scale was reported in southern Maine. There were no casualties or any reported structure damage.

Big aftershocks continue in Southeast Alaska more than a week after 7.5 quake - The most recent Southeast earthquake struck 68 miles from the small community of Craig. Shortly before 6 a.m. Monday, a magnitude 5.5 earthquake hit off Prince of Wales Island, about 70 miles southwest of Craig. The epicenter was at a depth of about 6 miles. The earthquake did not trigger a tsunami alert.
The larger 7.5 quake 10 days earlier originated from the same region, known as the Queen Charlotte fault system. This was surprising to geologists and seismologists who have seen little activity in the area in recent years, much less activity on such a large scale.
After the massive earthquake rocked Southeast Alaska just before midnight on Jan. 4, sizeable aftershocks continued to resonate in the area 10 days later. The area has seen hundreds of aftershocks, some quite sizeable, including several greater than 4.0 in magnitude.
Monday's 5.5 quake may be the largest aftershock yet, though. Previously, the strongest aftershock was a 5.1 that rattled teeth in Southeast just hours after the initial quake. Prior to the 7.5 this year, the Queen Charlotte fault system had last seen a big temblor more than 40 years ago - a 1972 quake measured at a 7.6.

Aftershocks to Philippine quake found within nearby megathrust fault - On 31 August 2012 a magnitude 7.6 earthquake ruptured deep beneath the sea floor of the Philippine Trench, a powerful intraplate earthquake centered seaward of the plate boundary. In the wake of the main shock, sensors detected a flurry of aftershocks, counting 110 in total.
Many aftershocks were located near the epicenter of the main intraplate quake, but at shallower depth and all involving normal faulting. Some shallow thrusting aftershocks were located farther to the west, centered within the potentially dangerous megathrust fault formed by the subduction of the Philippine Sea plate beneath the Philippine Microplate, the piece of crust housing the Philippine Islands.
In the past century, the most powerful earthquakes have occurred within megathrust faults. The particular portion of the megathrust fault nearest to the 31 August intraplate earthquake, and the section that housed the shallow thrusting aftershocks, HAVE NOT HAD A STRONG EARTHQUAKE SINCE AT LEAST 1600. That aftershocks from the main intraplate shock took place within the interplate boundary suggests that the two systems may be coupled.
Previous research in other locales suggests that the rupture of a nearby megathrust fault sometimes follows on the heels of a large offshore intraplate thrust earthquake. Similarly, previous research has found that the stress accumulation that could lead to the rupture of an intraplate thrust earthquake can at least in part be explained by the build-up of stress in a nearby interplate boundary. The authors suggest that more work needs to be done to identify whether there is an accumulating slip deficit within the Philippine Trench megathrust fault.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of January 14

New Zealand - Mountains stay on eruption alert. Nearly two months since Mt Tongariro last blew, GNS volcanologists say there's every chance of another sudden eruption, just as at neighbouring Mt Ruapehu and White Island to the north. There was fresh activity at all three volcanoes last year.

Volcano lava flows worry Italian island - The flanks of the Stromboli volcano north of Sicily spewed lava towards the sea on January 14, after the volcanoe churned into activity. Spectacular lava flows and smoke from an active volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli on Monday sparked fear among inhabitants but geophysicists said the situation was under control.
Stromboli is part of the seven-island Eolian Archipelago just off Sicily in southern Italy. The volcano is active but on Monday there was a particularly powerful eruption and sustained lava flows following four days of heightened activity. Stromboli's mayor told the island's 500 inhabitants that they were not at risk and experts from Italy's civil protection agency are due on the island for further controls shortly.
"We are afraid," one resident said. "No-one has really explained to us what the situation is and what we should do."
New lava flow on Sciara del Fuoco on Stromboli - Another collapse of parts of the northern crater rim occurred Monday around 14:30 local time. Lava continued to issue from the NE cone and form a lava flow with currently 3 branches, one of which reaches about 400 m elevation. Glowing rockfalls reached the sea.
During the afternoon, small pyroclastic flows generated by material sliding down the Sciara could be seen. Strong explosive eruptions from the main NE vent continue to occur at intervals of 30 minutes approximately.

In the South Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone Emang was located approximately 580 nm southeast of Diego Garcia.

Tonga prepared for possible cyclone - Tonga is gearing up for the possible cyclone as a tropical depression heads for the centre of the island chain. Forecasters say it may develop into a cyclone in the next day or so.
There's a good chance a tropical depression will pass by the island chain without strengthening into a cyclone. Although the news is good, the tropical depression is still out there and it could turn around, gather strength and come back. And the government is preparing in case the worst does happen.
"We are starting to identify evacuation centres... We'll start announcing which places to go to and things like that if this develops into a tropical cyclone." Weather information and a warning on the possible threat started on radio and television on Sunday. Forecasters expected the weather front to move over Tonga late on Tuesday afternoon. But the authorities are on standby.
"We have alerted most of the utilities, the police force, Tonga Defence Services, Tonga Red Cross and all the associated agencies that deal with disaster management." No public warnings have been issued as the depression has not yet formed into a cyclone. A Tropical Cyclone Alert that was previously in force for Vava'u and Ha'apai is now cancelled, but a strong wind warning is still in force for the rest of Tonga.

NASA satellites see Cyclone Narelle torn apart - Tropical Cyclone Narelle has fallen far from being a powerful cyclone in the Southern Indian Ocean. A time series of infrared images from an Aqua satellite instrument provides a clear picture of Narelle's disintegration.
Tropical Storm Narelle is growing weaker as it continues to track in a southerly direction parallel to the coast of Western Australia. Narelle may have not reached its full fury, but it played a big part in the hot and muggy conditions that had Perth residents ducking for cover yesterday. High humidity during the day had tired people venting their discomfort.


FREAK STORM ruins tiny Western Australia wheatbelt town - The tiny West Australian town of Karlgarin has been virtually blown off the map after a freak storm blasted through the state's Great Southern region on Tuesday evening.
The State Emergency Service and Volunteer Emergency Service volunteers were working to help people in the Wheatbelt town, after destructive storms caused damage to up to 12 buildings in the small community. The storm front hit the town about 5pm (WST), bringing heavy rain and strong winds of up to 90km/ph.
Virtually every building in the tiny town suffered significant roof damage, including the local school, post office and caravan park. Hyden VES volunteers were supported by local emergency services volunteers, with Department of Fire and Emergency Services staff in Karlgarin to assess the full extent of the damage. The CEO of the Kondinin shire said he was not sure if the historic town, which was first settled in the 1920s, could recover.
"It is small town, and it is paying the cost this morning. Every building has suffered damage, with most of the roofs blown off. "It is heartbreaking to see the amount of destruction that has occurred. Being such a small community it might take a bit to come back from that, if it can at all."
Power utility Western Power crews are working to restore power to about 5600 people across the South West and Great Southern regions following storms overnight. "While the damage to the network isn't severe, it is extremely widespread with faults spanning over an area of about 200 square kilometres. Strong winds have flung trees, branches and other debris in to powerlines. The small town of Karlgarin appears to have suffered the most extensive damage." A helicopter is also surveying the remote powerlines to check for faults.


CHANCE OF X-FLARES - An X-flare could be in the offing. The magnetic field of big sunspot AR1654 is growing more complex. It is now classified as a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field, which means it harbors energy for X-class eruptions. Any explosion today would be Earth-directed.


Australia -
New South Wales fire leaves devastation in its wake - In the northwestern NSW town of Bugaldie a bushfire has reduced homes to piles of crumpled tin and warped iron gates, and dead stock litters a hillside.
Victoria at 'considerable risk' of bushfires - Victoria's premier says there is considerable risk of bushfires in many parts of the state amid high temperatures over the next couple of days.

The burning of wood is a major source of black carbon the world over. Black carbon, or soot, is making a much larger contribution to global warming than previously recognised, according to research. The report warns that the role of black carbon is complex and can have cooling and warming effects.
Scientists say that particles from diesel engines and wood burning could be having TWICE as much warming effect as assessed in past estimates. They say it ranks second only to carbon dioxide as the most important climate-warming agent. Black carbon aerosols have been known to warm the atmosphere for many years by absorbing sunlight. They also speed the melting of ice and snow.
This new study concludes the dark particles are having a warming effect approximately two thirds that of carbon dioxide, and greater than methane. "The large conclusion is that forcing due to black carbon in the atmosphere is larger. The value the IPCC gave in their 4th assessment report in 2007 is half of what we are presenting in this report - it's a little bit shocking."
The researchers say black carbon emissions in Europe and North America have been declining due to restrictions on emissions from diesel engines. But they have been growing steadily in the developing world. However as these type of particles don't last very long in the atmosphere, cutting their number would have an immediate impact on temperatures.
"Reducing emissions from diesel engines and domestic wood and coal fires is a no-brainer as there are tandem health and climate benefits. If we did everything we could to reduce these emissions we could buy ourselves up to half a degree less warming, or a couple of decades of respite."
"Mitigation is a complex issue because soot is typically emitted with other particles and gases that probably cool the climate. For instance, organic matter in the atmosphere produced by open vegetation burning likely has a cooling effect. Therefore the net effect of eliminating that source might not give us the desired cooling."
Black carbon is said to be a significant source of rapid warming in the northern United States, Canada, northern Europe and northern Asia. The particles are also said to have an impact on rainfall patterns in the Asian monsoon. Last year a six nation coalition of countries began a combined effort to curb the impact of short lived climate agents such as black carbon. The authors say that while cutting back on soot is important, cutting carbon dioxide emissions is the best way to address climate change in the long term.



- Milo’s Kitchen® is voluntarily recalling its Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats from retailer shelves nationally. No other Milo’s Kitchen® products are affected.
- GIANT Food Stores, LLC and MARTIN’S Food Markets, following a recall by Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC, removed from sale several varieties of smoked salmon due to possible contamination by listeria monocytogenes.
- Delifish has decided to expand a voluntary recall to include additional cold smoked products.