Sunday, September 8, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**It's not easy taking my problems one at a time
when they refuse to get in line.**
Ashleigh Brilliant

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 9/7/13 -

9/6/13 -

Guatemala - A magnitude 5.9 earthquake has left more than 100 people affected and 20 homes damaged, according to a preliminary report presented by the authorities. Mudslides stopped 104 people from getting away from the affected areas when the temblor struck on Friday.
Among them, two people were injured in the western province of Quetzaltenango in their attempted run to safety after the quake struck at 6.13pm on Friday (1013 AEST Saturday). About 20 homes have been damaged in the southwestern part of the country and 13 mudslides have blocked highways in the central region.
After the main temblor on Friday night, the National Seismology Institute registered more than 30 aftershocks, and expects these seismic movements to continue but with less intensity. The Guatemalan president called on citizens to remain calm. Civil Protection authorities are on orange alert (prevention) because of the quake.

+ Alaskan Earthquake Could Destroy California Coast - A large earthquake off the coast of Alaska could send a devastating tsunami towards California, causing the evacuation of nearly 1 million people and causing $10 billion in damage, a recent U.S. Geological Survey revealed.
USGS scientists met with state and local officials on Wednesday to discuss what might happen if a 9.1 earthquake -- similar to the one that struck Japan in 2011 -- occurred offshore of the Alaskan Peninsula. Researchers called the scenario “hypothetical, yet plausible,” warning officials to prepare for the worst.
In the hypothetical scenario, researchers said waves of up to 24 feet high could batter the California coast. “And this is not one wave. It won’t even look like a wave, it’s going to be surges. We’re only going to have like three-and-a-half hours between the time we determine it really is a big tsunami coming and the time that the waves get here.”
Areas worst affected would likely include the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Cruz and Monterey, Paso Robles, Santa Maria and parts of Los Angeles and Orange County. The Oakland Airport and low-lying islands like Alameda in the Bay Area and Balboa in Newport Beach could be entirely underwater. Researchers said the waves could decimate the ports of Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach, and force the evacuation of more than 750,000 people. In the destruction, crude oil, fuel, sewage and other contaminants could be emptied into the open sea. Fortunately, according to the survey, California’s two nuclear plants would likely not be at risk.
“The 2011 Tohoku earthquake was not anticipated, despite Japan having the best seismic and geodetic networks in the world and the best historical record in the world over the past 1,500 years. What was lacking was adequate paleogeologic data on prehistoric earthquakes and tsunamis, a data gap that also presently applies to the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands.”
Researchers said that proper evaluation and preparedness could greatly lessen the extent of such a disaster. "A number of steps can be taken by governments, businesses, and residents to help reduce the environmental impacts of tsunamis and to recover more quickly from these environmental impacts."


* In the Eastern Pacific -
Post-Tropical cyclone Lorena is located approximately 35 mi (60 km) SSE of Cabo San Lazaro, Mexico. The last advisory has been issued on this system.


+ Tropical Depression Eight - the latest minor blip on the almost inconsequential Atlantic hurricane season of 2013, formed at 2 pm EDT Friday just offshore of Tampico, Mexico. The depression made landfall less than three hours later, and had top winds estimated at 35 mph. The depression has already dissipated, but brought heavy rains that were expected to accumulate to 3 - 5" along its path. Tampico, Mexico recorded 2.60" of rain from the storm.

The remnants of Gabrielle are generating heavy thunderstorms a few hundred miles north of Puerto Rico and the Eastern Dominican Republic. High wind shear of 20 - 25 knots is inhibiting development, and wind shear is expected to stay high for the next five days. NHC put ex-Gabrielle's 2-day odds of development at 20% and 5-day odds at 40% in their 8 am EDT Saturday Tropical Weather Outlook. The disturbance is headed to the north at 10 - 15 mph, and is expected to turn to the northeast and pass several hundred miles east of Bermuda on Tuesday.

The tropical Atlantic is not looking like it will generate anything more interesting to study for at least the next week. A strong tropical wave is emerging from the coast of Africa this weekend, and all of the models develop this wave into a tropical depression just west of the Cape Verde Islands by Tuesday. Some of the models have been eager to intensify the storm into a hurricane by mid-week.
The storm is expected to track to the northwest into a region of ocean where the Azores Islands would likely be the only land area at risk from a strike. In their 8 am EDT Saturday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC put the 5-day odds of development at 80%. The new African tropical wave may become the Atlantic's first hurricane of 2013.
Why such a quiet Atlantic hurricane season - UNUSUAL DRYNESS over the Atlantic has been the main reason for this year's lack of hurricanes, it appears. . Part of the unusual dryness is due to dry air coming off the coast of Brazil, which is in severe to extreme drought, according to the global drought monitor. The cost of the Brazilian drought is at $8.3 billion so far this year, making it Brazil's most expensive natural disaster in its history.

Atlantic hurricane season - a record-breaking dud? - The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which forecasters had predicted would be more active than normal, has turned out to be something of a dud so far as an UNUSUAL CALM hangs over the tropics. As the season heads into the historic peak for activity, it may even enter the record books as marking the quietest start to any Atlantic hurricane season in decades.
"Virtually all the (forecast) groups were calling for above-normal hurricanes and intensive hurricanes and we haven't even had a hurricane at all, with the season half over." With records going back to 1851, there have been only 17 years when the first Atlantic hurricane formed after September 4.The all-time record was set in 1905 when the first hurricane materialized on October 8. In an average season the first hurricane shows up by August 10, usually followed by a second hurricane on August 28 and the first major hurricane by September 4.
Since the dawn of the satellite era in the mid-1960s, the latest date for the first hurricane to arrive was set by Gustav when it made its debut on September 11, 2002. If this year's first hurricane comes anytime after 8 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, it would replace Gustav as the modern-day record holder.
Seven named storms have been spawned by the 2013 season so far, including Fernand, which killed 13 people in central Mexico late last month. Most of the storms have been small, weak systems, however, proving an embarrassment to experts who had predicted an active season in reports that are eagerly awaited by the insurance and energy industries as well as many coastal homeowners.
"Statistical models can generally reasonably well replicate hurricane activity ... but there are always going to be years when you bust. We issue our final seasonal forecast in early August. But if we did put out a mid-season update, I would certainly back down from the prediction considerably. "
Colorado State University slightly lowered its seasonal forecast on August 2. But it still said 2013 would see above-average activity, with eight hurricanes and three that develop into major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale. Other prominent forecasts, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), were predicting an "above normal" season last month. An average season has six hurricanes.
The jury is still out on what exactly has put such a damper this year over the Atlantic basin and the Caribbean, where tens of millions of people live in hurricane danger zones. Tuesday marks the statistical "peak day" of the season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, and researchers say significant amounts of dry air and wind shear have helped keep a lid on hurricane formation.
The El Nino weather phenomenon - a warming of the tropical Pacific - which is part of the mix of unstable ingredients that can affect hurricane formation, is also not a factor this year, making the lack of storm activity harder to explain. "It's certainly a head scratcher." Wind shear has been near normal this year and warmer than average sea temperatures in the Atlantic favored storms. Dry air, from Africa as well as rarely mentioned flows associated with an extreme drought in northeast Brazil, may be a factor "helping to shut down this year's hurricane season."
It is still too early to write off 2013 as a year when tropical weather was unpredictable. "We are at mid-point of the six-month hurricane season. It is a mistake to believe that the second half of the season would resemble the first half." The first hurricane in 2001, Erin, only formed on September 9. "That season ended with 15 named storms including nine hurricanes, four of which became major hurricanes."

+ 1979 - Largest Tropical Cyclone Ever Recorded - Super Typhoon Tip in the northwest Pacific Ocean to the south of Japan and to the east of the Philippines on Oct. 12, 1979, was so large that it would cover almost the entire western United States from the Canadian border to the border with Mexico.
The circulation pattern associated with Tip was about 1,380 miles wide. That's close to the driving distance on I-95 from New York City to the upper Florida Keys. Tropical storm-force winds extended out up to 675 miles from the center of the super typhoon. For perspective, tropical storm-force winds in 2012's huge Hurricane Sandy extended up to 520 miles from its center.
Tip also holds the official record for being the most intense tropical cyclone in history based on atmospheric pressure. A pressure of 870 millibars was measured and winds were estimated to be 190 mph. Tip was located over the open Pacific Ocean when it was at its peak intensity, and made landfall in southern Japan while weakening from a typhoon to a tropical storm. Heavy rainfall from Tip caused flooding and mudslides in Japan that killed numerous people.


California - The cost of fighting the wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has risen to more than $89 million as the blaze enters its fourth week.

California drought worsens - Farmers say this year's agricultural water supply has been squeezed dry - wells are going empty, major reservoirs are at a fraction of historic storage levels.

+ Drought conditions have worsened across parts of the U.S. Midwest in the last week, including in the nation's leading corn-producing state as Iowa cooked in RECORD-BREAKING TEMPERATURES that topped 100 degrees. Farmers in Iowa and other neighboring states are now expecting this year's drought to reduce the fall harvest for corn and soybeans, though the impact isn't expected to be as bad as last year's drought — the worst since the 1950s.
About 98 percent of Iowa is in some level of drought. That's down slightly from the week before, but the area of the state in severe drought expanded to 32 percent from 22 percent from the previous week. The corn was in good shape up until about three weeks ago, before the heat set in, and no significant rain has fallen in much of the area for a nearly month. Soybeans are a big worry now. Plants are shorter than normal and haven't had enough moisture to fully develop.
The weekly drought monitor released Thursday tracked conditions from Aug. 27 through Tuesday morning. It shows little change nationwide: Nearly 62 percent of the contiguous states are in drought, about the same as the week before. But the portion of the U.S. corn production area in drought increased to 52 percent from 45 percent. Soybeans in drought also increased in the last week to 42 percent from 38 percent. Hay in drought was unchanged at 39 percent, but cattle in drought increased one percentage point to 53 percent.
The extreme heat in the Midwest and near record-low August rainfall combined to expand drought conditions from the eastern Dakotas southeastward into western Illinois. Small areas of severe drought also showed up in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin this week. Drought also expanded or intensified in Mississippi and Oklahoma. No changes were made in Nebraska and Kansas, except for a small improvement in extreme sections of southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, southwest Iowa, and northwest Missouri, where some rain fell.

Moderate drought and heat threaten Missouri soybeans - Farmers across mid-Missouri have seen completely different sides of Mother Nature this year. The summer started with heavy rain.

Texas - Drought drying up water supply in lakeside communities. The Governor said the drought poses an imminent threat of disaster in every county in Central Texas.

Drought conditions return for all of Hawaii - Every county in the state is now back under some level of drought conditions and looking at forecasts it could stay that way for awhile.

+ International Disaster Database - The main objective of the database is to serve the purposes of humanitarian action at national and international levels. It is an initiative aimed to rationalise decision making for disaster preparedness, as well as providing an objective base for vulnerability assessment and priority setting.


Arsenic in rice won't harm health immediately, but long-term risk unclear. Rice may contain measurable levels of arsenic -- a carcinogen -- but according to the Food and Drug Administration, consumers need not worry about their immediate health after eating rice and related products.


+ Job applicants in Chile presented with prank 'meteor strike' - The plan was simple and diabolical. The people from technology company LG tricked out an office in Chile, putting one of their TVs where the window should be and wiring the room with hidden cameras.
Then they invited in unsuspecting job applicants who were then confronted with falling meteors. The room goes dark, the victims grope around, then the lights come on and the stunt is revealed. The ad was posted on Monday and by Thursday morning it had well over 2 million hits on YouTube. Some people aren’t buying it, though, saying the “victims” are really actors. LG wouldn’t confirm nor deny the speculation.
It’s just the latest ad known as “prankvertising,” with advertisers scrambling to outdo one another with elaborate, arguably sadistic scenarios to grab the eye and go viral. Pepsi disguised NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon and had him take a car salesman on a harrowing test drive. And Nivea singled out people in a German airport, then plastered their faces on newspapers and TV screens saying they were wanted and dangerous. It was an ad for a new deodorant.
"There are real risks here: what if someone has a heart attack? What about the danger of alienating viewers?"

Friday, September 6, 2013
Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - with new items posted during the day.

**The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.**
William Shakespeare

9/5/13 -

Magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocks Guanacaste, Costa Rica - 44 km west of Sardinal, in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province at 6:29 a.m.Thursday, at a depth of 41.7km. It was described as three strong jolts over the course of about a minute. There are no reports of injuries or damage at this time. It marked one year to the day when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck the Nicoya Peninsula, also in the province of Guanacaste, on September 5th, 2012. That quake occurred at 8:42 a.m. local time.

New Zealand - New quake faults found. New research has revealed that some of the West Coast is sandwiched between enormous offshore fault lines and the Alpine Fault. They are the type that generate tsunamis, which is bad news for coastal townships because it is unknown when they will rupture.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) scientists today released a report from a two-year mapping project for the West Coast Regional Council, which wanted to assess earthquake and tsunami risk for its coastal communities. The report identifies 10 active marine faults in a 320-kilometre stretch from Hokitika to Farewell Spit. That includes three new faults, informally named the Farewell, Elizabeth and Razorback faults, and divides the 250km-long Cape Foulwind Fault into five segments.
The faults run parallel to the coastline within 30km of land, some only a few kilometres offshore, and vary in length from 10km to the longest, Kongahu Fault, at 120km. The largest could generate major quakes of magnitude-6.5 to 7.8. National tsunami modelling, prompted by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, showed no marine faults off the West Coast so the new research fills in a huge gap in understanding seismic hazards.
The latest information will be used to update the country's seismic hazard work. While the faults were relatively large and capable of causing severe quakes, the good news was they had extremely long recurrence intervals so would only rupture once every 7500 to 30,000 years. "But we've got no idea when the last earthquake occurred on any of them. For all we know, that may be very close." They were compressional faults, which typically would lift the seabed when they ruptured.
Work on the recent quakes in Canterbury and Seddon showed all faults interacted with nearby faults, which meant marine faults off Hokitika could stir up the nearby Alpine Fault. The Alpine Fault is New Zealand's largest fault, which spans 600km from Fiordland to Marlborough and ruptures every 330 years on average. No marine faults were found south of Hokitika down to northern Fiordland and none were further out to sea than 30km.

Peru - An Ubinas volcano erupted in southern Peru on Tuesday, high in the Andes Mountains near the border with Chile. The Institute of Geophysics of Peru said the volcano has been active in the past few days and they think that some of the snow and water from the cold days may have seeped in the cracks of the volcano and caused ash to erupt.

+ Geophysicists have discovered what they say is the largest single volcano on Earth, Tamu Massif, a 650-kilometre-wide beast lurking beneath the waters of the northwest Pacific Ocean. It's size is equivalent to the state of New Mexico or the British Isles.
The megavolcano has been inactive for some 140 million years. But its very existence will help geophysicists to set limits on how much magma can be stored in Earth's crust and pour out onto the surface. It also shows that Earth can produce volcanoes on par with Olympus Mons on Mars, which, at 625 kilometres across, was until now the biggest volcano known in the Solar System. “I’m not sure anybody would have guessed that.”
Tamu Massif has been long known as one of three large mountains that make up an underwater range called the Shatsky Rise. The rise, about 1,500 kilometres east of Japan, formed near a junction where three plates of Earth’s crust once pulled apart. Shallow rock cores from Tamu had previously revealed that it was made of lava. But geologists thought that the mountain, which rises 4 kilometres from the sea floor, might have built up from several volcanoes erupting such that their lava merged into one pile. The islands of Hawaii and Iceland were built this way.
Research has shown that all of its lava flows dipped away from the volcano’s summit, implying a central magma vent. “From whatever angle you look at it, the lava flows appear to come from the centre of this thing." Over time, the lava coursed downhill and then solidified, building up a volcano with a long, low profile similar to that of a shield laid on the ground.
The world’s biggest active shield volcano, Mauna Loa on Hawaii, has an areal footprint just 15% of Tamu’s — but Mauna Loa is taller, rising 9 kilometres from sea floor to summit. Not all of Tamu may have come from a single magma vent. There could be separate sources, deeper than the seismic waves penetrated, that could have oozed out lava and inflated the mountain from below. Because ship time is at a premium, the study is one of the first to peer at the internal geometry of these massive underwater mountains. It is possible that other megavolcanoes are waiting to be discovered. “There may be bigger ones out there."


* In the Atlantic -
Remnants of Gabrielle are located about 30 mi (45 km) NNW of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. After a brief 12-hour life as a tropical storm, Gabrielle weakened to a tropical depression over Puerto Rico. The remnants of Gabrielle are expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches over Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with isolated maximum amounts of up to 8 inches possible in areas of mountainous terrain. The last advisory has been issued on this sytem.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical storm Lorena is located approximately about 125 mi (200 km) W of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico. A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for Baja California Sur. On the forecast track, the center of Lorena will approach the southern Baja California peninsula on Friday and then be near or over land by Saturday.


+ India - More than 170 people have died in monsoon floods in the eastern Indian state of Bihar since last week. More than 5.9 million people in 3,768 villages in 20 districts have been affected. This year's monsoon rainfall in Bihar is down 26% on last year. This has led to a curious situation: 18 districts are facing drought, while 20 districts are flooded because of heavy rain in neighbouring states. (slideshow)

Cyclone causes floods in Western Georgia - A cyclone which struck from the Baltic to Georgia caused floods in several areas in the west of the country. According to the monitoring service under the Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia, the river burst its banks which led to flooding of some houses in the region of Adjara, as well as in the areas of Khelvachauri and Keda.
The level of water rose in rivers in the Samegrelo and Svaneti regions. There is a danger of flooding. Where the cyclone struck on the Black Sea coast of Georgia the heights of the waves reached two metres Wednesday night, but because of early intervention, neither people nor buildings located near the sea, were affected. In spite of this, there wa still the threat of storms and heavy rains on Thursday.
Despite heavy rains and wind, the infrastructure in the west and east of Georgia is not affected. Tbilisi is not affected by the strong wind and heavy rain. As the Georgian service for emergency situations reported, a few trees were felled by the wind in the city and did not cause significant damage to the capital. (photo)

+ Fog causes 100-car pile up on UK road - The pile-up on a bridge in heavy fog in England has left at least six people seriously injured and 200 suffering minor injuries in what witnesses described as "carnage". No one is believed to have died in the crash on the new Sheppey crossing bridge in Kent. It started around 7.15am local time and continued for 10 minutes as cars and lorries crashed into each other in visibility that was down to 20 metres.
There were reports of some motorists driving "like idiots" in the conditions before the crash that completely closed the A249 that goes over the bridge. The scene was full of buckled cars, lorries and even a car transporter as people waited at the side of the road to receive help from the emergency services. It was reported that people were trapped and a fleet of 30 ambulances and response vehicles went to the scene, with some casualties receiving treatment at the roadside.
"It's horrific. I've never seen anything like it in my life. All you could hear was cars crashing. We got out of our car and it was eerily quiet, with visibility down to just 20 yards." "There are no fatalities but ambulance crews are dealing with a large number of walking wounded casualties. Firefighters have used hydraulic cutting equipment to release five people from their vehicles."
There were collisions at the top of the bridge and at the foot of the approach to it. A lorry driver who saw the start of the accident used his truck to block the entrance to the bridge and stop more cars piling into the crash, a witness said. "He was going the other way and what he managed to do, which has probably saved lives, is he's gone down to the end of the carriageway, gone across the roundabout and actually blocked off the road so no more cars could actually enter the dual carriageway before the emergency services got there. Whoever that guy is I'd like to shake his hand because he's probably saved lives today."


+ California - Huge Yosemite wildfire started by hunter's campfire. The California wildfire that has burnt almost 371 sq miles (960 sq km) was ignited when a hunter's illegal campfire went out of control, investigators have said. The US Forest Service dismissed speculation the fire was started by illegal marijuana growers.
The blaze began on 17 August outside Yosemite National Park and is now 80% contained. No arrests have been made and the hunter's name is not being released. Further investigation continues. The Rim Fire is the fourth largest wildfire in California since 1932. It has burned more than 66,000 acres (27,000 ha) of world-famous Yosemite National Park and threatened to fill with ash a park reservoir that supplies water and hydro-electric power to San Francisco. 111 structures had been destroyed by the blaze. At one point, more than 4,000 structures were threatened and thousands were ordered to evacuate. Thousands of firefighters are still fighting the wildfire, but significant process has been made in the past week.


MERS - Blood tests indicate that many Middle East camels may have been exposed to MERS-CoV.

Chobani Greek yogurt - Stores were notified over the weekend to pull potentially spoiled product from its shelves. And it turns out the company knew about possible problems with tainted yogurt manufactured in its Idaho plant two or three weeks ago.
Customers have bombarded the Chobani Facebook page with complaints about bloated, puffy, fizzy and foamy yogurt containers, and one reported an exploding container. Several people reported that they had become ill after eating the yogurt. Said one person "I have been sick for a week and a half and couldn't figure out why. After reading the newspaper today, I know why. I still have 2 "puffy" containers in my fridge."
On Tuesday, Chobani said a type of mold common in dairy products may be to blame for the bloated packaging and bad-tasting yogurt. A message posted on the Chobani Facebook page on Aug. 31 states "There is nothing more important to us than the quality of our products. We're currently in the process of voluntarily removing and replacing some products from store shelves that did not meet our rigid quality standards." The recalled products have the code 16-012 and expiration dates from Sept. 11 to Oct. 7.
FDA notice


Interstellar Wind Changes Reveal Glimpse of Milky Way's Complexity - Shifting cosmic winds suggest that our solar system lives in a surprisingly complex and dynamic part of the Milky Way galaxy, a new study reports.
Scientists examining four decades' worth of data have discovered that the interstellar gas breezing through the solar system has shifted in direction by 6 degrees, a finding that could affect how we view not only the entire galaxy but the sun itself. "The shift in the wind is evidence that the sun lives in an evolving galactic environment."
Charged particles stream off the sun to form a huge invisible shellaround the solar system called the heliosphere. Outside of this shell lies the Local Interstellar Cloud (LIC), a haze of hydrogen and helium approximately 30 light-years across. The LIC is wispy, featuring just 0.016 atoms per cubic inch (0.264 per cubic centimeter) on average. LIC gas tends to be blocked by the heliosphere, but a thin stream makes it past the sun's magnetic field at the rate of 0.0009 atoms per cubic inch (0.015 atoms per cubic cm).
"Right now, the sun is moving through an interstellar cloud at a relative velocity of 52,000 miles per hour (23 kilometers per second). This motion allows neutral atoms from the cloud to flow through the heliosphere — the solar wind bubble — and create an interstellar 'wind.'" As the sun moves through it, it sweeps up neutral interstellar helium into a cone behind it.
Measurements by NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft showed that the wind has changed slightly over the past decade. A research team found that, over the course of 40 years, the wind had shifted by 6 degrees. What's causing this change in direction? It may be related to turbulence in the interstellar cloud around the solar system. "Winds on Earth are turbulent, and other data show that interstellar clouds are also turbulent. We find that the 6-degree change is comparable to the turbulent velocity of the surrounding cloud on [the] outside of the heliosphere."
Interstellar winds stream in from the direction of the constellation Scorpius, almost perpendicular to the sun's path through the galaxy. As the winds interact with the sun, they create a distinctive feature. "Helium is gravitationally focused to create a trail of helium known as the 'focusing cone' behind the sun as it moves through space." The dense cone makes the particles easier to study as they pack in behind Earth's star. The changing wind could have implications that go beyond understanding the region surrounding the solar system. It could also affect studies of the charged particles streaming off the sun. "When we try to understand the past and present heliosphere, we can no longer assume that the heliosphere changes only because of the solar wind. Now we have evidence that changes in the interstellar wind may be important."