Monday, September 30, 2013

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**It is foolish to tear one's hair in grief, as though
sorrow would be made less by baldness. **

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 9/29/13 -

Pakistan - The death toll from the 7.7 earthquake that devastated an impoverished region of Pakistan climbed past 500 on Friday. 515 people have now been confirmed dead following the temblor which struck the remote area on Tuesday.
More than 30 villages, containing some 20,000 homes, were flattened across 15,400 square miles of the remote Balochistan region -- AN AREA ALMOST DOUBLE THE SIZE OF NEW JERSEY. Dozens of bodies are being recovered every day from mud homes whose walls and beams have been reduced to dust and rubble.
In addition to the destruction caused to houses, communications have been badly disrupted and rescue workers are finding it difficult to get to bodies. Balochistan, which accounts for roughly 44 percent of Pakistan's land mass but only 5 percent of its population, is the most impoverished Pakistani province.

[FYI - You may not want to go to this link, it was destabilizing my browser.] Experts had forewarned Balochistan government six years ago about the quake risk - In the second week of January 2006, the Pakistan Meteorological Department wrote a letter to the Balochistan government warning about the seismic threat to the province. Based on scientific understanding of seismology and “regression analysis of past seismic data,” a major earthquake was “over due” in Balochistan.
The letter was written three months after the devastating 2005 earthquake. With the government’s attention deservedly focused on the affected areas in the north, they were worried that the stress building up underground in Balochistan’s “highly active seismic zone,” which includes provincial capital Quetta, would go unnoticed. Over the seven years since then, Pakistan’s southwestern province has been jolted by five earthquakes of varying intensity, the latest of which hit Awaran on Saturday. Four of these quakes had their epicenter located in the province.
The collective death toll from earthquakes in the sparsely-populated province stands at around at least 575 since 2008 and there has been considerable damage to infrastructure. The letter resulted in some action but perhaps no detailed follow-up. Nevertheless, it seems to suggest that a seismic risk alert is possible.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology have suggested the use of a phenomenon called the “thermal infrared anomaly” as a precursor tool for predicting earthquakes. The stress that builds up in a region before an earthquake causes enhanced thermal infrared emission from the Earth’s surface. This emission, which increases the land surface temperature, can be detected through satellites in the form of a thermal infrared anomaly.
The anomaly could exist in the “earthquake preparation zone” a few days to a few hours before the quake hits. They confirmed the presence of the anomaly using satellite data for three earthquakes including the Dalbandin earthquake in Balochistan in 2011. “We could tell that there could be an earthquake in the near future based on such indicators. But it is virtually impossible to predict the exact time of an earthquake.”
The deputy regional director for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network believes the September earthquakes probably released the hazardous energy indicated years ago by the PMD. “The kind of energy released in the Awaran earthquake takes around half a century to build up.” But the PMD has recorded around 16 aftershocks and a major earthquake in Balochistan since the September 24 earthquake. This suggests there might be more energy trapped underground and the PMD is also concerned about the Makran area for future quakes.
The inevitable uncertainty does not mean there is something to be said for preparedness. Adherence to seismic building codes especially in densely populated areas and use of lighter material instead of concrete could help save lives. The rural and remote areas vulnerable to earthquakes, where people might not afford modern solutions, could perhaps benefit from awareness about how to respond to a quake. Awareness-raising in schools and preventing people from building huts on a slope or beneath a hill could serve as starting points for better preparation.

Jebel Zubair (Red Sea, Jemen) - new submarine volcanic eruption. A submarine eruption started Saturday (28 Sep) NW of the island Jebel Zubair and SW of the site of the 2011-12 eruption. The activity manifestated itself in the form of a strong SO2 anomaly and steam plume spotted on satellite imagery.
No signs of activity are visible on images taken on 27 Sep, which confirms that the eruption started Saturday. The presence of the significant steam plume suggests that the eruption vent is a shallow depth (less than 100 m), and possibly in the stage of producing so-called surtseyan activity (violent steam-driven explosions breach the surface with jets of water and steam, and become more and more rich in lava fragments as the vent becomes shallower).


* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical depression Eleven is located about about 1070 mi (1725 km) ENE of the northern Leeward Islands. Had been expected to become a tropical storm Sunday. It should move in the general direction of the Gulf of Mexico.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Wulip is located about 157 nm east-northeast of Da Nang, Vietnam. Expected to reach coastal areas of Vietnam today.

- Tropical depression Twenty-One is located about 634 nm southeast of Yokosuka, Japan.

Atlantic activity - A low pressure system (97L) generating heavy rains from Haiti to Panama. On the forecast path, 97L will bring heavy rains of 2 - 4" to Jamaica and Southwest Haiti on Sunday and Monday, to the Cayman Islands and Central and Eastern Cuba on Monday and Tuesday, to Western Cuba on Tuesday and Wednesday, and to South Florida on Wednesday and Thursday. Not likely to develop into a tropical depression in the next 5 days.
Tropical depression Eleven in the Central Atlantic will likely become Tropical storm Jerry today.

Wutip, the 21st tropical storm of this year came into being in the Central part of South China Sea. It will bring more than 7 grade gales to the east-central Guangdong coast of China and threaten the security of sea-related vessels and offshore work. The general director of Guangdong Provincial Flood Control, Drought Prevention and Windproof Headquarters noted that they should pay close attention to the dynamics of “Butterfly” [international name Wutip; in the Philippines Paolo] , strengthen analysis and judgement and notify the fishing boats to go back to the harbour in advance as soon as possible.
It is expected that “Butterfly” will move slowly at a speed of 5-10 km towards the west and the south sea surface of Hainan, its intensity strengthens gradually. Due to the joint influence of the “Butterfly”, the cold air and the southwest monsoon, there will be 6-7 level gales in Guangdong east-central coast. Wind force in the northern and central parts of the South China Sea is 8-9 grade and gusts are up to 10-11 grade.

Thailand - The Weather Bureau warned of heavy rains in the Northeast today when tropical storm Wutip is expected to hit upper Vietnam, as parts of Thailand, notably Isaan, continue to reel under floods. The department also warned that people living in flood-risk areas in Central and Eastern Thailand should brace for heavy rains and possible landslides during this period. According to the forecast, most of Bangkok, estimated at 80 per cent of the capital, will see rainfall.
In the meantime, the Royal Irrigation Department's Water Analysis Centre reported yesterday that the country's major reservoirs now contain 47,262 million cubic metres of water, about 67 per cent of their capacity. So, they could still hold another 22,800 million cubic metres of water. The centre also said reservoirs in the Central and Northeast continued to rise due to rain. It affirmed that the department would focus on managing water in reservoirs, taking into account the volume of rain while also aiming to store enough water over the next two months for the upcoming dry season.
There is only a slim chance of runoff from the North causing a repeat of the 2011 flood crisis in Bangkok. Thailand has had 1,245 millimetres of rainfall so far this year, 32 per cent lower than in 2011. The capital would have no overall problem, except the city's eastern side that may face minor flooding, provided there was no rain storm in the north of Bangkok in the next few days. They believe the flood situation in Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani would improve in the next couple of days. If Wutip heads to Ubon Ratchathani, the situation there could worsen, as the province had taken in floodwater from Si Sa Ket and let it through to Prachin Buri.
Riverside residents in Pa Sak in Ayutthaya were urged to move their belongings higher after Pa Sak Cholsit Dam brimmed at 93 per cent capacity. Uthai Thani's Muang district saw a barrier on the Tak Daed river bust, inundating some 20,000 rai of rice fields in tambon Nong Phai Baen and Noenm Lek. In Prachin Buri, all seven districts were hit. Kabinburi district's tambon Kabin was under three metres of water, while farmland and homes in other areas were under two metres of water.
Sri Mahapho saw 200 flood-hit villagers from tambon Tha Toom and Sri Mahapho continue a road-block protest for the second day, calling for the opening of the Had Yang water-gate to drain water. All five districts in Si Sa Ket have been submerged, including Muang district, with 1,850 residents evacuated to 12 shelters. There were nine deaths. In Phetchabun in the Upper Central region, 12 villages in tambon Ban Khok in Muang district suffered the "WORST FLOOD IN 15 YEARS". The water level has affected 2,000 homes. [photos at link]

Mexico - Handling of storms spawns public fury in Mexico. Critics cite substandard construction, officials' failure to heed warnings.
As the death toll continues to rise from twin storms that flooded much of Mexico, government officials are coming under intense criticism for their handling of the crisis, for failing to act on warnings and for allowing shoddy construction that exacerbated the destruction. The governor of Guerrero, the hardest-hit state, has been singled out for chastisement since it was revealed that he was at an all-night party with other politicians as the storm bore down on his state's tourism gem, Acapulco, and numerous mountain villages that would be cut off for days and where the most people died.
"It rained and it rained, and the governor drank and drank," read one particularly harsh headline, which carried a photograph of him arm in arm with his party partners before a festively decorated table and with a full mariachi band in the background. He has since taken pains to make himself highly visible in rescue efforts and the distribution of aid.
Mexico was hit nearly two weeks ago by two storms that pounded its eastern and western coasts simultaneously: Tropical Storm Manuel, which did major damage to impoverished Guerrero and other Pacific states, and Hurricane Ingrid, which lashed the Gulf Coast, including Veracruz state. According to the most recent figures released Wednesday by the federal government, 139 people were killed nationwide and at least 53 remained missing, most of these in the tiny village of La Pintada, in Guerrero, where a mudslide tore through the modest homes, burying everything and everyone in its path. Bodies are slowly being pulled from the mud, which is pushing the death toll higher days after the worst rains stopped.
September is on course to being the rainiest month in Mexican history. The twin storms spawned damage in 26 of Mexico's 31 states; 312 "municipios," or counties, were declared in a state of emergency and 250 in a state of disaster. The storms destroyed or crippled highways, bridges, tunnels, schools and airports.
But the storms were not entirely to blame. Years of corruption, politically expedient building in geographically dicey locations, illegal logging that deforests much of the countryside and other abuses have rendered parts of Mexico especially vulnerable to the extreme whims of weather. Plus, through generations of Mexican calamity, governments at all levels have routinely ignored or downplayed warnings, opting instead to take advantage of high-profile disaster relief operations that look good on camera. "We develop in unbuildable zones; we build with garbage; we design without planning. Some do business, others die."
The Mexican Senate demanded an investigation of the action officials took in preparing for and responding to the storms. The governor of Guerrero speaking this week at a nationally televised accounting of storm damage, accepted no personal responsibility for failures. [many photos at link]


Floods sweep across Southeast Asia - Thailand and Cambodia struck with floods leaving several dead. Heavy monsoon season has flooded 27 provinces in Thailand, killing nine and forcing evacuations in at least nine districts. Thousands fled their homes on army lorries with food and water in plastic bags. "The water came too fast, the dam was damaged by the floodwater. We used sand bags to mend it, but it collapsed two days later." Prachinburi was declared one of the worst hit in the country. Streets have been turned into waterways and cars replaced by boats. Many of the residents are too scared to leave their homes. So far, about 1.5 million people from 420,000 households have been affected.
Elsewhere in Cambodia, floods have killed at least 20 and left more than 33,000 families affected. Approaching Typhoon Wulip will cause torrential downpours not only in Vietnam, but across the region, so the flooding is likely to get worse. The Chinese province's meteorological department on Saturday morning launched a grade three emergency response alert. The meteorological department have already warned local fishermen operating in the central area of South China Sea to dodge the storm center and avoid outdoor activities until further notice.

Philippines - The death toll from monsoon rains rose to 31 on Saturday. The latest fatality died because of a landslide in Bauan, Batangas. Two others are still missing while eight were reported injured. The monsoon rain has so far affected 123,160 families, or 588,147 people, in 330 villages in 34 towns and 11 cities in seven provinces. Of these, 5,779 families or 25,087 people are staying in 103 evacuation centers.
Although it has left the country and is headed toward Vietnam, Tropical Storm Paolo (international name: Wutip) continued to enhance the southwest monsoon even as a Low Pressure ARea east of Samar island may yet strengthen into a tropical depression. The LPA was still in the Philippine Sea and if it intensifies into a tropical depression within the Philippines it will he named Quedan, the 17th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year.