Monday, July 22, 2013

**The good things we build end up building us.**

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday, 7/21/13 -
6.0 GANSU, CHINA (22 dead, 200+ injured)
5.0 CENTRAL ITALY (with many aftershocks, largest 4.8)

China - A powerful earthquake has struck China's north-west Gansu province, killing at least 22 people and injuring more than 200. The earthquake near Dingxi city had a magnitude of 6.0 and was shallow, with a depth of just 9.8 km (6 miles).
Dingxi local authorities say many houses have collapsed in the quake. At least 22 were killed and 296 were injured. In Gansu's Zhangxian county, at least 5,600 houses were seriously damaged and 380 collapsed, while some areas suffered from power cuts or mobile communications being disrupted. Crews of fire fighters and rescue dogs have already arrived at the scene.
The earthquake reportedly triggered a series of mudslides and landslides. "You could see the chandeliers wobble and the windows vibrating and making noise, but there aren't any cracks in the walls. Shop assistants all poured out onto the streets when the shaking began." In 2008, an earthquake in Sichuan province left up to 90,000 people dead and millions homeless.

New Zealand - The minute-long 6.5 earthquake shook New Zealand, halting trains and damaging Wellington's parliament building. The tremor was centred 35 miles (57 km) off the coast south of the capital at a depth of 6.3 miles. But while some structural damage and power cuts were reported, officials said there was no risk of a tsunami. More than 100 aftershocks have been recorded - the largest 4.9.
The quake hit at 17:09 (05:09 GMT) and was felt as far north as Auckland. It smashed windows, knocked stock off shop shelves and burst some water pipes, but there have been no reports of serious casualties. "It felt like the house was about to get up and walk down the street. " The earthquake caused power cuts in the city suburbs and prompted the temporary closure of its airport. "There's been a bit of structural damage, lots of shattered glass everywhere. Initially there were a few screams and panic, people thought it was another Christchurch." The 6.3-magnitude earthquake centred near Christchurch in February 2011 killed 185 people.
Sunday's tremor was the latest in a series that have shaken the lower half of New Zealand's North Island in recent days. New Zealand lies on the notorious Ring of Fire, the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim. The quake was the result of "oblique thrust" near the boundary of the Pacific and Australia plates. New Zealand experiences more than 14,000 earthquakes a year, of which only around 20 have a magnitude in excess of 5.0. (map & video)
Video - New Zealanders talking about the quake.
Workers in the New Zealand capital had been urged to stay away from the central city following the earthquake which rattled the Cook Strait on Sunday afternoon. Much of the damage from the 6.5-magnitude quake is centred in Wellington's Central Business District, with windows smashed, and some walls and facades damaged. Most damage is believed to be cosmetic, rather than structural, and Wellington City Council expects to have a better idea of its extent later on Monday.
The Earthquake Commission covers the first $NZ100,000 ($A87,055) of home damage, the first $NZ20,000 of contents damage, and the cost of insured residential land, before other costs fall on private insurers. The Christchurch earthquakes ran the Earthquake Commission's accounts dry, with its obligations reaching about $NZ12.5 billion - more than double the $6b in its natural disaster fund. However, the Earthquake Commission has a government guarantee to be able to meet its insurance obligations.
It's not yet clear how much that will cost the government, or what the impact on its plans for a planned return to surplus in 2014/15. "It's way too early to tell but there aren't indications that that is something that would be extremely material in the context of the government's books." The situation in Wellington is quite different to quake-ravaged Christchurch. "I understand the anxiety people feel and their nervousness, but there are quite different characteristics here."
The Greater Wellington Regional Council chairwoman warned that the 6.5 quake was not "the big one" the capital's been waiting for.


No current tropical storms.


South Carolina - Floods, washed out roads in soggy South Carolina. With soil moisture at near-record levels, emergency officials worry that if a decaying tropical storm moves over the state in the next month and brings more torrential rains, the results could be disastrous. "The ground cannot take much more rain."
A summer of rain has left its mark on South Carolina, undermining dozens of roads, flooding neighborhoods from the mountains to the coast, and ruining the South Carolina Botanical Gardens where 8 inches of rain fell in 4 hours on July 14, causing $200,000 worth of damage to the gardens.
Parts of Pickens County have received more than 60 inches of rain so far in 2013, which is more than the average rainfall for a year in the area. Nearly half of the state's 46 counties, spread all across South Carolina, have seen at least 40 inches of rain during this period. "We've had a 100-YEAR DROUGHT, 100-YEAR HEAT WAVE and 100-YEAR FLOOD all IN THE PAST FOUR YEARS."
Outside of the botanical gardens and a few other pockets of the state, the heavy rains haven't caused major damage. Part of that is because the precipitation has pulled the state out of a long drought.
Lake Hartwell, in the northwest part of the state,. earlier this month, crested at 665 feet, less than 6 inches from the record level set almost 50 years ago. All that water has to go somewhere, and it is causing a slow moving flood downstream.
In Jasper County, the Savannah River is cresting at its HIGHEST POINT IN 20 YEARS, chasing people from their homes. Boats have also become a familiar sight in neighborhoods in Horry County, where the Waccamaw River went over its banks, or in Bamberg, Dorchester and Colleton counties, where the Edisto River is reaching LEVELS NOT SEEN IN 40 YEARS.
The rains have washed out several roads and caused sinkholes to form on others. About 16 roads across the state remained closed this weekend, including U.S. 178 in Pickens County near the North Carolina state line, where crews expect to spend a month cleaning up a mudslide. Dirt roads in rural areas of the state also remain a mess because they will have to dry out before crews can get equipment out to smooth them over.
Road crews have worked plenty of overtime in the past two weeks hustling out barricades to block flooded roads or doing inspections on bridges after heavy rains. "We keep doing the same the thing over again, just in a different place each time we get another storm."
The forecast for the next week or two is similar to conditions all this summer - fast-growing storms with quick bursts of heavy rain. "Not everyone is getting it on the same day, but overall, for these two months, everybody has gotten above average rainfall." That has left soil moisture at near-record levels for this time of year. That means it takes a lot less rain to cause a flood, which could be dangerous as the calendar turns toward August. South Carolina can get dying tropical storms and hurricanes that can bring a foot or more than rain in only a few days.
Lakes, rivers and the ground can't take that type of rain, and catastrophes from inland flooding have happened in the Carolinas before. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd dumped 20 inches of rain on eastern North Carolina, where the ground was already saturated from the rain brought by Hurricane Dennis days earlier. It led to 52 deaths in that state and some $6 billion in damage there. But it is way too early to know if anything like that might happen this year.
If it does happen, South Carolina's amazing yearly rainfall record of 120.21 inches at Hogback Mountain in Greenville County might be broken. That record was set in 1979 when weakening hurricanes David and Frederick moved over the Upstate. "The wild card is always tropical season. We can get one of these things to move through and blow all types of records away."

Arizona - Heavy rains flood Phoenix area; prompt road closures. Flash floods dropped up to two inches of rain in some areas.

Video - Dramatic rescues as floods hit Mexico.


Britain braced for tropical storms - Britain is set to turn tropical with high humidity and the hottest day of the year so far, before "violent" thunderstorms bring a dramatic end to the heatwave. The UK has seen ITS LONGEST PROLONGED HEATWAVE IN SEVEN YEARS, although temperatures dipped slightly over the weekend.
But the mercury is expected to reach 33C on Monday, with the Midlands and the south of England the likely contenders for the hot spots. The hottest day of the year so far had been last Wednesday at Hampton waterworks, south west London, with highs of 32.2C. Conditions will be "very, very humid...So while 33C would be about a degree higher than the hottest temperature so far, it will feel even warmer. It's going to be sticky, oppressive and close, and will make things feel quite uncomfortable."
People should make the most of the sunshine however, with cooler weather on the way, and potentially heavy storms on Tuesday. The Met Office has issued a rain warning for most of England and all of Wales, with localised flooding possible in places. The hot weather has taken its toll on the UK in recent weeks, with grass fires in London, mountain blazes in the Welsh valleys and forest fires in Fife, Scotland. Hundreds of premature deaths are believed to have been caused by the heatwave.

Video - California wildfire continues to rage.

Oklahoma - A smattering of summer showers has provided much-needed rain across much of Oklahoma, but nearly a third of the state, including major agricultural producing counties in western Oklahoma, remains locked in an extreme drought. It is a major improvement from a year ago when nearly the entire state was experiencing at least moderate drought. Thanks to the 2-year-old drought, Oklahoma's beef cow herd has dwindled more than 30 percent. Loss of surface water for cattle to drink in pasture ponds is in some cases more of a problem than a lack of grass for them to graze.