Monday, September 16, 2013

Start your day here, with a summary of the natural disasters.
Then follow Global Disaster Watch on Facebook during the day for breaking news.

**When the Japanese mend broken objects,
they emphasis the damage by filling the cracks with gold.
They believe that when something's suffered damage and
has a history, it becomes more beautiful.**
Barbara Bloom

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 9/15/13 -

+ Megaquake aftershocks pose lasting danger - Tokyo, Santiago at risk after megaquakes 400 kilometres away. Scientists are warning residents of Vancouver and other cities in earthquake zones to take heed of new evidence that megaquake aftershocks can pose a great danger for years, even hundreds of kilometres from the epicentre of the original earthquake.
Even though Greater Tokyo is located 400 kilometres from the epicentre of the devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan’s east coast in March 2011, the incidence of smaller earthquakes in the city of 36 million people jumped 10-fold after the megaquake. Today, two years later, the rate of earthquakes in Tokyo is THREE TIMES HIGHER than it was before the megaquake, likely because of the stress caused by the relatively distant quakes on the fault located beneath Tokyo.
Santiago, Chile, saw a similar increase in earthquakes after the February 2010 magnitude 8.8 megaquake, which was also 400 kilometres away. "Aftershocks just one magnitude smaller than their main shock are common, and there is a small probability that an aftershock will be larger than its main shock. Thus, they cannot be dismissed as harmless."
The authors noted that Tokyo and Santiago have each been nearly destroyed twice by earthquakes since being founded around 1600. They also warned that other cities within reach of earthquakes — such as Vancouver, Taipei, Manila, Lima and Jakarta — could suffer a similar fate.
"Mine is a humbling science. We cannot predict earthquakes and we cannot tell the public what they really deserve to know — which is how big, when and where. This is particularly true for the West Coast of Canada with the great subduction earthquake off somewhere in its future, something along the same scale as what Chile and Tokyo have just experienced. And so the best we can do is say there is a modest probability, over let's say the life of your home mortgage, of experiencing that earthquake, so be prepared."
If a megaquake were to strike California, its aftershocks could be felt in Vancouver." While B.C.'s monitoring system is a good start, officials should modernize building codes to account for aftershocks. The recent findings about aftershocks haven’t yet been incorporated into national assessments of earthquake risk. In fact, models used to assess earthquake risk usually assume the opposite, that a megaquake reduces the risk of subsequent earthquakes by relieving accumulated stress on the fault at the epicentre.

+ Quake-Causing Hotspot Hides Under Eastern U.S. - Is there a blow torch under North America that causes rare, but deadly, earthquakes? Some geologists think they might have found the buried track of just such a hotspot from Missouri to Virginia.
Hotspots are points in Earth’s interior that melt the crust above, generally creating volcanoes. The classic hotspot is the Hawaiian Islands, which stretch out in a line for 1,500 miles, tracing the movement of the Pacific Plate over the Hawaiian hotspot over millions of years. Most hotspots are seen on thinner, oceanic crust, like that of Hawaii. When they burn up through continents, they generally leave their trace in the form of diamond-bearing rocks, which are pretty rare.
But a team of Chinese and American scientists think they have found the track of a hotspot hidden in the very old, thick crust of Eastern United States, based on seismic data from the 2011 Virginia 5.6-magnitude earthquake. That event essentially lit up the structure of the crust in that part of North America for the USArray seismic network to see.
That seismic data has revealed an unexpected scar in the lower part of the crust extending from eastwards from Missouri to Virginia. The seismic anomaly, as it is called, cuts through the New Madrid rift system, which is responsible for some of the most powerful earthquakes in North American history. It also crosses a 75-million-year-old diamond-bearing formation in Kentucky. Despite all this, there is no sign of the hotspot track on the surface.
To back up their claim, they created a geodynamic model to show how a plume of heat upwelling from the Earth’s mantle could create just such a seismic feature on the underside of a thick continental crust. “We suggest that the hotspot track could be responsible for…reactivation of the New Madrid rift system and seismicity of the eastern United States.” If so, this is a big deal and could explain a lot. It will be interesting to see how well this is accepted by other researchers.

+ Indonesia - Mount Sinabung volcano in the North Sumatra district of Karo erupted on Sunday morning, forcing hundreds to evacuate nearby villages. evacuate nearby villages.“Evacuees have been placed in buildings and houses around the Karo district offices. We’re still gathering data on their number.”
Fire and thick, black smoke started billowing from the crater of Mount Sinabung at around 3 a.m. Volcanic ash and small rocks soon began landing on the villages of Sukameriah, Kutarayat and Kutagugung. Village residents have been evacuated or have left of their own volition. The Center for Vulcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) raised the volcano’s alert status from Level II, “Waspada,” to Level III, “Siaga,” with Level IV being the most severe.
The government has closed down all human activity within three kilometers of the crater. No damage or injuries have yet been reported. But the response has been progressing slowly, because the BNPB do not maintain a field office in Karo. After an eruption in 1600, Mount Sinabung was dormant for more than 400 years. It resumed activity in 2010.


* In the Atlantic Ocean -
Hurricane Ingrid was located about 110 mi (175 km) ENE of Tampico, Mexico. The center of Ingrid should be very near the coast of Mexico within the Hurricane Warning area this morning. Dangerous storm surge. Ingrid is expected to produce 10 to 15 inches of rain over a large part of eastern Mexico, with isolated amounts of 25 inches possible.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical storm Manuel was located about 15 mi (20 km) N of Manzanillo, Mexico. Dangerous storm surge. Manuel is expected to produce 10 to 15 inches of rain over portions of the Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacan, with isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches possible. Manuel was weakening after landfall near Manzanillo on Sunday afternoon. Manuel is expected to dissipate today.

* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Man-yi is located approximately 237 nm southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.


+ Tropical storm Ingrid's impact on Texas - Flooding from Hurricane Ingrid has already killed two people in Mexico, and Tropical Storm Manuel's floods have killed three people.
In South Texas on Sunday, Ingrid had already brought a storm surge of one foot to South Padre Island, where a coastal flood warning has been posted. Large swells up to seven feet high are causing dangerous surf, and the South Texas coast will receive a severe battering from waves expected to reach twelve feet high by today. No flash flood watches are posted for South Texas as present, but 2 - 4" of rain may cause some isolated flooding problems. Radar-estimated rainfall from the Brownsville radar shows that some areas north of the city have received 3" of rain, and coastal areas of Mexico 100 miles south of the border have received 5 - 10".
Ingrid weakened Sunday morning, and was barely a hurricane, but the storm's heavy rains remain a major threat to Eastern Mexico. Ingrid is still embedded in a very moist environment with high ocean temperatures, making re-intensification likely if the wind shear drops, which appears likely, as Manual weakens after making landfall Sunday afternoon.
All of the models predict that a ridge of high pressure building in to Ingrid's north will force the storm nearly due west into the coast of Mexico on Monday. The soils along the Mexican Gulf Coast in the state of Veracruz where Ingrid will be dumping its heaviest rains are already saturated from the rains of Tropical Depression Eight and Tropical Storm Fernand, and the expected 10 - 15 inches of rain, with isolated amounts of up to 25", will cause extremely dangerous flash flooding and mudslides.
On the other side of Mexico, Tropical Storm Manuel made landfall on Sunday afternoon, and will bring similar prodigious amounts of rainfall.
Ingrid's intensification into a hurricane on September 14 came eighteen days later than the usual appearance of the Atlantic's second hurricane of the season, which is August 28.

Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel triggered rain, landslides and floods as they neared Mexico's east and west coasts Sunday, killing at least 19.
+ Video (1:13) - Mexico hit by two severe tropical storms.

Typhoon Man-yi makes landfall in Japan bringing torrential rains this morning to western Japan. The major typhoon made landfall in the country’s central region, prompting the weather agency to warn of “UNPRECEDENTED HEAVY RAIN” and urge people to take safety precautions.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a “special warning” in three western Japan prefectures of Fukui, Kyoto and Shiga, in the first such issuance since the warning system was introduced late last month. The special warnings were later lifted in Kyoto and Fukui.
Local authorities issued evacuation orders to a total of nearly 400,000 residents in Kyoto, Shiga, Hyogo and Mie prefectures. In Kyoto Prefecture, some 260,000 residents were ordered to evacuate, including about 81,000 in Fukuchiyama.
Precipitation during 48 hours through Monday morning reached about 300 ml in parts of Kyoto city and Otsu city, surpassing a monthly average for the month of September. It topped 500 mm in parts of Mie and Nara prefectures. In eastern Japan, gusts in Saitama and Gunma prefectures broke windows and caused other damage.
Typhoon Man-yi made landfall shortly before 8 a.m. near Toyohashi in the central Japan prefecture of Aichi. As of 10 a.m., the typhoon, the 18th of the year, was moving northeast near Iida, Nagano Prefecture, at a speed of 45 km per hour. It had an atmospheric pressure of 975 hectopascals at its center, with gusts of up to 162 kph. The typhoon is expected to reach waters off the northeastern coast of Sanriku on Monday night. The heavy rainfall and gusts caused suspension of bullet train services of parts of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line as well as those of the Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen lines.


+ Colorado Floods Are Being Called 'Biblical' - Six people now confirmed dead. 500+ still unaccounted for. Colorado's flooding may be linked to recent droughts, which have hardened the soil of the Colorado River Basin, preventing it from absorbing much of the rainfall. Forest fires may also shoulder some of the blame; a portion of the vegetation normally responsible for trapping rainwater burned to the ground in recent years. [Has a collection of links for the most striking flooding pictures.]
+ Colorado - Rain grounds 16 rescue helicopters; roughly 1,000 stranded. Fire fighters are helping residents cross fast-flowing and treacherous rivers, and pilots, when able, landed whenever and wherever possible to give masses of those trapped a flight to safety. The key is being able to fly.
Officials estimated Sunday roughly 1,000 people needed to be evacuated from canyons south and west of Fort Collins. Roughly 200 were waiting and ready Sunday to board and leave the Big Elk Meadows area above Lyons, where helicopters sent by the National Guard rescued 432 people Saturday. But that didn’t play out similarly Sunday, as continued rains grounded the 16-craft air fleet flying out from Christman Field in west Fort Collins.
At a moment’s notice, when conditions improve, the air fleet is ready whisk people out, deliver much-needed water and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), and fly in vehicles equipped to handle rough terrain. The National Guard dropped more than 7,000 meals to stuck people Saturday, and hundreds of people were flown out by seven military-grade helicopters. By Sunday, most of whom could be rescued by emergency crews traveling by road had been rescued. (videos)

Utah - Rain brings flooding to Salt Lake County, flash flood watch. Heavy rain hit Utah on Saturday, flooding homes across the state.
"When the rain hit today, it just broke through. There’s mud everywhere out here. It just has been flowing right off the mountainside. The soil is so saturated, it’s not holding anything. It’s just running down the hill." Flood water also washed into apartments near the new Bingham Highway and 9500 South about 2 p.m..
In Herriman, 18 homes flooded about 1:30 p.m. at the Farm Gate Apartment. Twenty-three displaced residents were relocated to Herriman City Hall while about 75 volunteers joined city employees sandbagging the area. As of 5:45 p.m., residents were returning and the Red Cross was helping them move into vacant units while crews continued to clean up.
Fire crews shut down portions of the Mountain View Corridor on Saturday afternoon to drain retention ponds in the southwestern Salt Lake Valley, but the road was reopened about 6:20 p.m.. The ponds were being emptied in order to handle possible rain Saturday night. Fire crews were draining the ponds onto the road, causing sporadic closures.
In Wayne County, flooding had closed more than 30 miles of State Road 24 west of Torrey. Flash flooding also damaged State Road 95 in Garfield County. Park City public safety crews spent Saturday afternoon on standby after Poison Creek swelled with rain water. No buildings were flooded as of Saturday evening, though passersby had made several calls expressing concern over the high water.

+ New Mexico & Nevada - Under threat of more rain, NM cleans up after flooding damages neighborhoods, claims 1 victim. Another round of rainfall moved across New Mexico on Sunday, renewing the threat of heavy runoff from already saturated soils and flooding in low areas as residents faced a major cleanup effort from damage left in the wake of days of relentless rain.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for much of central and northern New Mexico. In the northeastern corner of the state, where the chance for heavy rain was greatest, residents who live along the Gallinas River were being warned that the waterway could swell again. “As long as you get the right thunderstorm right over your area, I wouldn’t be surprised if more records are broken as far as one-day rainfall totals because we still have that abundant moisture in the area.”
For a state that has been in the grasp of an UNPRECEDENTED DROUGHT, numerous RECORDS HAVE FALLEN in the past week as flood waters have broken through dams, inundating neighborhoods and leaving behind muddy swaths of debris. Some areas received close to 10 inches of rain since the deluge started Tuesday. Parts of Albuquerque have seen more than 4 inches, marking the WETTEST SEPTEMBER ON RECORD FOR THE CITY.
“A lot of locations have had more moisture for the month of September than they’ve had all this year or maybe even all of last year as well." All the rain is helping New Mexico out of the drought, but the cost has been high. At least one person has been killed, and state officials estimate the overflowing of rivers and the runoff has caused millions of dollars in damage. It was along a state road in Ash Canyon in the southern New Mexico county that authorities found the body of a man in his partially submerged rental car. He died after his car was washed into a ravine and carried nearly a mile from the road.
The massive flooding prompted the governor to issue a state of emergency Friday. Officials said heavy rain caused the Rio Grande and nearby creeks to overflow in Sierra County, forcing an unknown number of residents to evacuate. The flooding also ruptured an aging earthen dam in southern New Mexico and an earthen canal in Las Vegas.
It was raining again in Las Vegas on Sunday, and authorities were warning residents that the Gallinas River was expected to rise, reaching levels similar to those that resulted in flooding just days earlier. There were reports of some homes flooding Sunday and sandbags were being distributed. “We’re closing down the river walk as much as possible for safety reasons.”
Heavy rains raised the Gila River by 15 feet in the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument area, prompting the closure of the monument and nearby campgrounds. The National Weather Service said more rain in southwestern New Mexico would likely result in flooding along the river into Monday. Morphy Lake, Brantley Lake and Coyote Creek state parks all remained closed Sunday due to the rains and flooding.


Deadly fungal disease detected outside the Pacific Northwest - A rare fungus found in soil and trees has sickened hundreds of people in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest in the last decade — and killed dozens — but scientists now say they’re seeing different strains of the potentially deadly bug in additional U.S. states.
As of June, 171 cases of infection caused by Cryptococcus gatti, a fungus once confined to tropical climates, had been reported in the U.S. That includes at least 100 cases in Oregon and Washington, where officials have been tracking an outbreak since 2004. But at least 25 cases have been detected in eight states outside of the Northwest since 2009 — and six of those patients died.
No one’s calling it a public health crisis; officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they just want to raise awareness. “It is really, really rare; very few people get infected by this. You can still go outside, you can still do your daily activities.”
Of the six patients in the new tally who died, four succumbed to severe lung and brain infections before they were diagnosed. A previously healthy 18-year-old Georgia woman showed up at a community hospital with a headache and fever — and died within two weeks of getting sick. Thirteen of the newest U.S. cases were reported in California, with five more in Georgia, two in New Mexico and one each in Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan and Montana.
C. gattii could be an unrecognized source of pneumonia and meningitis across the U.S. “I think it’s something that has been going on and we haven’t found it because we haven’t looked for it." In the newly documented cases, doctors who encountered patients with puzzling fungal infections took their diagnoses a step further and insisted on testing for C. gattii.
People are typically infected when they inhale the airborne spores of the fungus that began causing disease and deaths in 1999 in Canada. Before 1999, C. gatti was mostly found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. But that year, it showed up on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where it began infecting people and animals. By 2004, it was making people sick in Oregon and Washington and by 2011 it had become a reportable disease in those states. C. gattii is alarming because it can strike healthy people and because it has a long incubation period — from a few days to several months in some cases. Although many people are exposed to it, doctors don’t know why only some are sickened by it.
There’s not really anything hikers and other outdoor-lovers can do to reduce their risk of contracting a C. gatti infection. The new information is more of a warning for doctors and health workers to consider the bug when they’re stumped by a puzzling infection.