Sunday, August 18, 2013

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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 8/17/13 -

8/16/13 -
Aftershocks continued in Sicily

New Zealand - Dozens of aftershocks continued to rattle the top of the South Island and the Wellington region since Friday's 6.6 quake which hit at 2.31pm. Thousands of quake-rattled Wellingtonians fled the city, choking roads, as the tremor and a swarm of aftershocks rocked the capital. The quake was dangerously shallow at a depth of about 8 km (5 miles). It damaged homes and roads and destroyed a bridge. A quake of similar strength in the same area three weeks ago broke water mains.
A seismologist with New Zealand quake monitoring agency GeoNet, said the series of quakes since July had followed an UNUSUAL PATTERN. "Normally you get a big quake and then the aftershocks get smaller in magnitude." The July quake was on a fault line near Seddon that had not previously been mapped. It was too early to determine if Friday's quakes were on that same fault. A different fault line runs through Wellington, and many in the city fear an earthquake along that fault could result in a major disaster. (photo)

+ An earthquake shook Mexico's capital with authorities putting it at a moderate magnitude of 5.3. There have been no reports of damage or injuries from Friday's quake but many office workers evacuated their buildings after it set off alarms citywide. Mexico's national seismology service says the quake was centred in the southern state of Guerrero. Mexico City is vulnerable to distant earthquakes because much of it sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds. They jiggle like jelly when quake waves hit.

Pacaya volcano (Guatemala) - Another paroxysm with strong strombolian explosions and a lava flow occurred Thursday night from the Mackenney crater. Starting at about 19:15 (local time), eruptive activity increased accompanied by volcanic tremor. Strombolian explosions ejected bombs and blocks to a height of 500 m above the crater and showered the outer flanks.
Ash fall was reported from nearby villages such as El Rodeo and El Patrocinio. At the height of the eruption, a lava flow issued from the west flank and reached a distance of 500 m. As a safety measure, 32 people from the village of San Francisco de Sales on the SW base of the volcano were evacuated to shelters in San Vicente Pacaya on the northwest side. After about 2 hours, activity started to wane again.


+ Underwater Avalanche! Melting Ice Caps Could Trigger Tsunamis. If melting ice caps trigger rapid sea level rise, the strain that the edges of continents could experience might set off underwater landslides, new research suggests.
Submarine landslides happen on every continental margin, the underwater parts of continental plates bordering oceanic plates. These underwater avalanches, which can happen when underwater slopes get hit by earthquakes or otherwise have too much weight loaded onto them, can generate dangerous tsunamis.
A staggering half of all the Earth moved by submarine landslides over the past 125,000 years apparently happened between 8,000 and 15,000 years ago. "This time period coincides with the period of most rapid sea level rise following the end of the last ice age." Since these prehistoric disasters coincided with changes in climate, previous research suggested natural global warming might have been their cause, but what exactly the link might be was unclear. To learn more, researchers generated 3D computer models of the effects of 395 feet (120 meters) of sea level rise on the continental margins off North Carolina and Brazil's Amazon coast.
The rapid sea level rise that happened between 8,000 and 15,000 years ago was due to melting ice caps, which were originally hundreds to thousands of feet high. These glaciers placed weight on the planet's rocky surface, building stress on faults in the Earth for millennia. The later thinning and retreat of these glaciers raised sea levels by about 395 feet, increasing the amount of pressure these critically stressed faults experienced across their entire length by an amount similar to that of the average human bite. This would be enough pressure to set off the faults, triggering underwater landslides, the models showed.
The scientists added that such underwater landslides could have helped release vast quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas, from the seabed. This could have, in turn, driven profound changes in the oceans and the atmosphere, such as the warming of the climate.


In the Atlantic Ocean -
Tropical depression Erin is located about 955 mi (1535 km) WNW of the Cape Verde Islands. Erin has weakened to a depression again. Erin weakened to a tropical depression, then regenerated into a tropical storm Friday as it continued westward over the open waters of the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical depression Twelve is located approximately 373 nm southward of Kadena Air Base, Japan.

Tropical depression Thirteen is located approximately 109 nm northwestward of Kadena Air Base, Japan. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

In the Central Pacific -
Tropical storm Pewa is located about about 1065 mi (1715 km) ESE of Wake Island. Pewa could become a typhoon in the next day or two.

Tropical disturbance near Gulf of Mexico has 50% chance of becoming a cyclone. A low-pressure system could be forming between the northeastern tip of Honduras and the Cayman Islands. It could turn into Tropical Storm Fernand during the weekend.

Tropical cyclone developing south of Kauai, Hawaii - The storm intensified overnight Thursday and had an 80-percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next two days.


Yemen - Wedding party swept away in floods. At least 27 members of a Yemeni wedding party have died after the vehicles they were travelling in were swept away by heavy floods. The victims, including women and children, were travelling through Wadi Nakhla in Taiz province, in the south of the Arab country. The bride survived the incident. Several other people have been killed by flash floods in Yemen over the past two days. Yemen, at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is prone to flooding during the Monsoon season. (map)

Russia - More than 17,000 people have been evacuated in Russia's flood-hit far east as floodwaters wreak havoc across the region. The deluge has been declared a natural disaster in the worst-affected regions of Amur and Khabarovsk, where the Russian President called on the army to participate in rescue operations. He promised that all damaged infrastructure would be repaired, and that while the situation was difficult it was "under control".
"Large areas are flooded, telephone and electricity lines, roads and bridges have been damaged in dozens of towns. The damage is enormous." Temporary shelters have been opened up, mostly in schools, to shelter evacuated residents. In the worst-case scenario up to 100,000 people could be evacuated. Massive rains since the end of July saw the Amur River - the longest in Siberia which borders northeastern China - burst its banks, as well as one of its tributaries the Zeya. Devastating floods last July in the town of Krymsk in the south west killed 172 people and raised questions about the authorities' handling of disasters.


Idaho - A fast-moving central Idaho wildfire forced the evacuation of 2,250 homes near the tourist towns of Hailey and Ketchum.
+ The wildfire burning near a ski resort community in Idaho prompted officials to initially order 1,600 homes to be evacuated on Friday night as winds whipped flames through forests of sage and pine. The Beaver Creek wildfire spaned 100 square miles, and was approaching the Sun Valley Ski Resort area, which includes a number of multi-million dollar luxury homes owned by celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Hanks.
The blaze was sparked by a lightning strike in the Sawtooth National Forest on August 7. It was unclear how many people were effected by the mandatory evacuations. Many of the homes in the evacuation zone are second homes, which may or may not have been inhabitable at the time the evacuation order was issued.
"Conditions are changing rapidly, the fire is fast and furious." The fire spread quickly Friday night due to 30 mph winds, low humidity and an abundance of dry foliage on the ground. "It's safe to say we've got a lot of structures at risk." At the Sun Valley Ski Resort, water canons usually used to create snow on the ski fields in winter were used to battle the blaze.
Because of the high value of many of the homes in the area, private fire-fighting crews have been sent by the homes' insurers to provide additional protection. "There are private engines that insurance companies have sent in. They're on site, they're working with our local firefighters and law enforcement." The fire was about 20 percent contained as of Friday night. (video)

+ Video - Wildfires sweep through the Portuguese island of Madeira.


U.S. Drought Continues To Stress West - Drought expands in California; dryness takes more real estate in the Midwest. Western pastures saw yet another week of stressful conditions, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday.
Drought has expanded significantly in southern California, now with significant portion of the region classified as "extreme drought." Nevada continues with extreme drought conditions this week, which extends into Idaho.
Impacts are beginning to be felt as a result of the continued dry pattern. Some portions of the Western U.S. are experiencing THE DRIEST JANUARY TO JULY ON RECORD, and surrounding areas are seeing dried-up rivers, stressed vegetation and possible water restrictions.
Wildfires are also ongoing; the National Interagency Fire Center reported nearly four dozen active, large wildfires on Aug. 14, mostly in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Specifically, in southwestern Idaho, the Pony Complex has charred more than 140,000 acres of timber, brush, and grass, while the Elk Fire has consumed nearly 100,000 acres of vegetation.
Pasture and rangeland conditions have declined a bit as a result of changes in the West. The most dramatic increase this week was noted in Washington, where the pastures and ranges jumped from 20% very poor to poor to 34%. Luckily, the southern portion of the Western U.S. is beginning to come around as portions of New Mexico and eastern Colorado saw improvement this week. Areas of exceptional drought were eased in both states.
Very poor to poor pasture and rangeland has also improved in the Southwest, especially in Arizona where percent of pastures rated very poor to poor dropped from 82% to 58%. The High Plains and Southern Plains states, hammered particularly hard during the 2012 drought, saw beneficial rains, especially across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Conversely, Moderate Drought and Abnormal Dryness expanded from eastern Texas into Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. That dryness also extended further into Illinois this week, with areas of short-term dryness holding steady in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin. A majority of the land area east of the Mississippi, however, is drought-free.
During the August 15-19, 2013 time period, there is an above-normal chance for precipitation in the Southeast and in areas of the High Plains. Temperatures are expected to be above-normal in the West, mostly centered on the Rockies, and below-normal in the Southern Plains and into the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. From August. 20-25, hot weather will build across the country and near to below normal rainfall will be noted in most areas.


Pandemic H1N1 flu - Researchers who studied lung tissue samples from 50 people who died of pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) influenza infections in 2009 say they found clear evidence that the intense immune response known as a cytokine storm played a role in their demise.
The scientists found that the peak levels of virus in the victims' lungs correlated with "remarkably" high levels of certain cytokines in the same tissues. Cytokines and chemokines are messenger proteins that promote inflammation in response to infections. When respiratory infections like flu cause the immune system to produce cytokines in excessive quantities, they can cause too much fluid buildup in the lungs, making the illness worse. That happens in H5N1 avian flu cases and is believed to have contributed to the high death rate in the 1918 flu pandemic.
The role of the immune response in causing severe lung damage in pH1N1 patients has had little attention. Some experts have suggested that certain drugs that dampen inflammatory responses, such as statins, could be used as treatments for flu.

+ Polio in Somalia - UN warns of 'explosive' outbreak. At least 105 cases of polio have been recorded in Somalia this year - almost half the number of cases around the world in 2012.
The World Health Organization is trying to eradicate polio and the number of cases has fallen dramatically. Polio is now only considered endemic in three countries - Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Somalia was declared polio-free six years ago and some four million people have been vaccinated. Another 10 cases have been recorded in north-eastern Kenya, where about half a million Somalis have fled. Only 223 cases of polio were recorded globally in 2012 - down from 350,000 in 1988.
Polio is highly infectious and is exacerbated by poor sanitation and a lack of clean water. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. On Wednesday, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said it was closing all its programmes in Somalia after 22 years working in the war-torn country. It said in a statement that the decision had been taken because of "extreme attacks on its staff". In many parts of Somalia the charity is the only provider of health care ranging from basic medical supplies to major surgery.

The Procter & Gamble Company has recalled specific lots of dry pet food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.