Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**Every path hath a puddle.**
George Herbert

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/26/13 -

Earthquakes don't kill people, buildings do, seismologists say. The greatest risk of dying during an earthquake comes from collapsing structures and flying debris. Thanks to Japan's stringent seismic building codes, during the 2011 magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake, fewer than 600 people were crushed by falling rubble. More than 90 percent of the country's deaths were from drowning during the ensuing tsunami.
But in China, where seismic building codes are often flouted, the magnitude-8.0 Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 killed more than 69,000 people. In 2010, an even smaller quake, a magnitude-7.0, killed more than 220,000 people in Haiti. Japan spends five times more money on reducing its earthquake damage risk than the United States. An international nonprofit called the Global Earthquake Model has an aim to freely provide the same sophisticated earthquake risk-assessment tools used by Japan to poorer countries.
GEM can't predict when or where an earthquake will hit. Instead, the GEM community would create a series of databases and open source software so that anyone could identify areas at risk from future earthquakes and shaking damage. If GEM succeeds, for the first time, the world will have a pooled earthquake resource accessible to all. GEM's massive ambitions include a database of the fragility of every building on Earth, a global earthquake catalog for the past 1,000 years, and a map of every known active fault. Add those up and out pops a rough estimate of dangerous areas to live. In future years, GEM databases will incorporate social vulnerability, or the ability to withstand the losses from an earthquake.
Despite Japan's deep investment in understanding its earthquake hazard, the location and enormous size of its great 2011 earthquake took the country by surprise. And few other countries can match Japan's long written and geologic history of earthquakes, or good monitoring network for current temblors. It won't be long before an earthquake kills 1 million people, experts predict. Megacities are sprawling along major fault lines around the world, often with no thought to earthquake-safe construction. But the deaths can be prevented. In the United States, Chile and Japan, building codes let earthquakes up to magnitude-7 roll through with relatively little damage. Mexico and Japan have earthquake early warning systems.
"The earthquakes aren't going to go away, but it is possible to build metropolitan regions that are far more resilient to earthquakes...GEM is contributing to a global recognition of risk, and one of the things I think is really true is that we've got to recognize the risk to which we're exposed before we change the way we build our cities."


In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Kong-rey is located about 324 nm south-southeast of Taipei, Taiwan.

Fernand's life as a tropical storm was brief, lasting just 15 hours at tropical storm strength on Sunday evening and Monday morning. But heavy rains from Fernand have caused the greatest death toll from a 2013 Atlantic named storm yet: thirteen people. Fernand dumped more than 150 mm (5.90 inches) over a few isolated regions. The victims all died in in flash floods in Mexico's mountainous terrain west of Veracruz, due to landslides that came down upon houses. Fernand hit Veracruz at 12:45 am EDT Monday morning as a tropical storm with 50 mph winds, and dissipated on Monday evening. The other deaths from this year's named storms include three people killed from floods due to Tropical Storm Barry (two in Mexico and one in El Salvador), and one person killed (in the Dominican Republic) due to flooding rains from Tropical Storm Chantal.

A tropical wave that came off the coast of Africa on Sunday is located about 300 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. This disturbance is moving westward at about 15 mph, has a modest amount of spin, but is relatively thin on heavy thunderstorm activity. It has not yet earned status as an area of interest ("Invest") by NHC, but they are giving the wave a 30% chance of developing by Sunday. The wave could spread heavy rains and gusty winds to the northern Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Sunday.

A tropical wave expected to emerge from the coast of Africa on Friday and track over the Cape Verde Islands is developed by some models. This wave would appear to have a high chance of recurvature, though.


Sudan - Four peacekeepers are missing in Sudan's Darfur region after being swept away by floods.The peacekeepers were escorting an aid convoy when a "powerful current" swept them away. Another two peacekeepers were found alive by a rescue team. The peacekeepers were en route to Misterei, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south-west of the regional capital Geneina, when a flash flood hit. "The incident occurred while the peacekeepers attempted to pull out their truck which was stuck in the mud of a river valley."
More than 300,000 people across Sudan have been affected by floods that have killed nearly 50 people in August. The region around the capital Khartoum had been particularly badly hit and was experiencing THE WORST FLOODS IN 25 YEARS. In August last year three peacekeepers from Tanzania drowned after their armoured vehicle became stranded while crossing a swollen river in Sudan. The UN estimates that more than 300,000 people have died in Darfur, mostly from disease, since rebels took up arms in 2003.


The huge wildfire near California's Yosemite National Park has continued to spread and is now showering ash on a reservoir serving San Francisco. The fire now spans more than 250 sq miles (650 sq km).
Fanned by strong winds, the fire is burning at the edge of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which supplies San Francisco with 85% of its water. The Rim Fire is raining ash on the key reservoir that supplies water and hydro-electric power to San Francisco. City officials say they are moving water to lower reservoirs and monitoring supplies for contamination. The blaze is also threatening thousands of homes and some of California's renowned giant sequoia trees.
Officials say the fire is 20% contained after burning for more than a week - up from 2% containment on Friday. Some 3,680 firefighters are tackling the flames in difficult terrain. Visibility in the smoke-ridden area is down to 100ft (30m), but ash reportedly falling on the reservoir like snow has not yet reached the water intake valves. The blaze has become so large that it was reportedly creating its own weather patterns.
The blaze began on 17 August in the Stanislaus National Forest from a still unknown cause. Evacuations, some voluntary and some mandatory, are taking place. Despite the threat to some 5,000 homes, only a few have been destroyed. The blaze is also threatening power lines that bring electricity to San Francisco. The Rim Fire is one of 50 major wildfires burning in the western US. Lack of rain and snow have made it a bad year, with 5,700 fires being tackled so far.


Doctors highlight danger of breathlessness - People who feel breathless from light exertion should go back to their doctor for an explanation. Unexplained breathlessness is not OK, say a group of doctors who have banded together to tell people about a deadly lung disease. The disease is pulmonary hypertension, which affects thousands of people and can kill quicker than untreated lung cancer if not caught in time. Part of the problem is that doctors have been taught it is "very rare" and often mistake it for asthma or other illnesses. But the disease is far more common than thought.
One form of the disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension, is of particular concern. Although it can affect anyone at any age, most patients are girls and young women and most die or need a lung transplant within four years if not treated. However, if diagnosed and treated in time, many respond well to a simple oral medicine. Time lost because of delayed treatment cannot be regained. Even 12 weeks is significant. Patients must go back to their doctor after a month if the treatment they have received for breathlessness is not working. Go back until you find an answer. Something is not ok if you can't keep up with others walking on the flat or up a gentle slope due to breathlessness."
One of the problems with the disease is that it affects the lungs and the heart, and has fallen between the cracks between different medical specialities. The average person with the disease has five GP visits before being referred to a specialist. They then see three different specialists before they are referred to a centre that understands the condition. "It is taking people too long to have critical tests. Breathlessness can be just as life threatening as chest pain. Doctors must take it seriously....Don't put it down to being overweight or unfit."