Thursday, October 31, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - reporting the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet,
you'd best teach it to dance.**
George Bernard Shaw


Not much to report today.

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 10/30/13 -

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Korsa is located approximately 234 nm north-northeast of Manila, Philippines.

Insect fragments and animal hairs taint 12 percent of imported spices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says. The FDA said it looked at the safety of spices after outbreaks involving the seasonings. The agency also found pathogens in the spices, including salmonella. “Nearly all of the insects found in spice samples were stored product pests, indicating inadequate packing or storage conditions. The presence of rodent hair without the root in spices generally is generally indicative of contamination by rodent feces.”
FDA’s study identified 14 outbreaks involving spices from 1973 to 2010 that resulted in 2,000 people reporting illnesses worldwide. The number of outbreaks may be low because people use small amounts of spices on food or cook the seasonings before eating. The FDA from fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2009 found about 7 percent tested positive for salmonella, twice the rate of other FDA regulated food products. The highest prevalence of salmonella was in leaf-based seasonings like basil and oregano and they identified Mexico as the country with the highest percent of exports of contaminated spices, followed by India.
The U.S. is one of the largest importers of spices with more than 80 percent of the supply provided by other countries. About 400 people in the U.S. die from salmonella poisoning each year and 42,000 cases are reported annually, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said underreporting may make the actual number of cases about 29 times higher. The infection can cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
The prevalence of tainted spices is about the same as the agency found 30 years ago in a smaller sampling experiment. The FDA published the data on salmonella contamination in the journal Food Microbiology a year ago and issued yesterday’s report to warn consumers about the risk. The agency called the findings “surprising” at the time because spices have a low water content compared with other foods.
McCormick & Co, the largest U.S. seller of flavor products by revenue, posted a statement on the quality of its spices and herbs on its website. “Whether they’re grown in the United States or other parts of the world, McCormick exercises the same high level of quality control throughout our supply chain -- including several million ingredient analyses each year and a natural steam pasteurization process.”
Red and black pepper intended for use in Italian deli meats were implicated in a 2010 salmonella outbreak that affected 272 people in 44 states and Washington, D.C. Pepper falls under the “fruit” category of seasonings, as does cumin and mustard. Fruit spices were preceded by leaf and root seasonings in prevalence of salmonella. Turmeric and ginger are examples of root spices. Bark or flower spices like cinnamon and saffron had the lowest levels of salmonella prevalence.
Almost 9 percent of spice shipments from India were contaminated with salmonella, the FDA said, compared with 14 percent of 136 shipments from Mexico. Canada came in with the lowest salmonella presence at less than 1 percent of its 110 shipments.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - reporting the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**In America, anybody can be president.
That's one of the risks you take.**
Adlai Stevenson

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 10/29/13 -

Philippines - 3,019 aftershocks in the two weeks after the Bohol quake. The death toll from the devastation caused by the October 15th quake also continued to rise, reaching 218.

Canada - British Columbia not prepared for a severe earthquake - $75-billion in damages possible. A severe earthquake off the south coast of B.C., which would be followed by a tsunami, would cause $75 billion in damages to buildings, bridges and pipelines.

Zhupanovsky volcano erupts in Russia - A new eruption started this week at the Zhupanovsky volcano, about 70 km northeast of the capital of Kamchatka, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. It last erupted in 1959. It is a complex volcano composed of several overlapping cones aligned on a roughly east-west oriented axis. The new eruption comes from the same vent that has been also the site of all known historical eruptions, located west of the highest point of the volcanic massif.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical depression Krosa is located approximately 585 nm east of Manila, Philippines.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical storm Raymond is located about 530 mi (850 km) SW of the southern tip of Baja California.
Tropical depression Krosa is forecast to strike the Philippines as a tropical storm at about 03:00 GMT on 31 October.

Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy was Tuesday - Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States.
Sandy's area of ocean with twelve-foot seas peaked at 1.4 million square miles - nearly one-half the area of the contiguous United States, or 1% of Earth's total ocean area. Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall (9:30 am EDT October 29), the total energy of Sandy's winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules - the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969, and equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs.
At landfall, Sandy's tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been larger. Sandy's huge size prompted high wind warnings to be posted from Chicago to Eastern Maine, and from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Florida's Lake Okeechobee - an area home to 120 million people.
Sandy's winds simultaneously caused damage to buildings on the shores of Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore, and toppled power lines in Nova Scotia, Canada - locations 1200 miles apart. Over 130 fatalities were reported and over 8.5 million customers lost power - the second largest weather-related power outage in U.S. history, behind the 10 million that lost power during the Blizzard of 1993.
Damage from Sandy is estimated at $65 billion, making it the second most expensive weather-related disaster in world history, behind Hurricane Katrina of 2005. (photos & more info at link)


Texas - Approaching storm system brings flooding potential. As a powerful storm system approaches from the western U.S. and interacts with moisture from the Gulf and from the remnants of Pacific Tropical Storm Raymond, the stage is set for Central Texas to potentially again get smacked by heavy rain, reminiscent of what hit early this month.
The rain is expected to begin Wednesday afternoon and last through early Thursday, and could pose a significant flash flood risk. A very familiar situation is setting up as an approaching cold front is set to interact with a decaying tropical system over Texas during the next 48 hours. This situation is nearly identical to decaying tropical storm Octave, which interacted with a cold front to produce up to one foot of rain in parts of Austin.
As was the case with that storm system, current rainfall outlooks from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center are not terribly impressive - calling for widespread amounts of 2-3 inches by midday Thursday, mainly east of I-35. But as was also the case previously, the KXAN in-house high-resolution forecast model is ramping up rainfall estimates drastically - now calling for up to 9 inches of rain in parts of Central Texas Wednesday night into Thursday morning. While that rainfall total seems drastically high compared to climatology, that model's estimates verified during the previous weekend flash flood event, and may verify again this time around.
Flash flood risk will be enhanced further this time around as the last several heavy rainfall events have saturated the once-thirsty ground. As the ground is now largely waterlogged, any further heavy rainfall will quickly run off, enhancing stream flows and endangering low water crossings even more quickly.

Australia cleans up after wild winds wreak havoc - New South Wales is mopping up after another extreme weather event, with roofs torn of homes and one woman struck by lightning as severe thunderstorms and gale-force winds tore across a large part of the state.
Just days after State Emergency Service crews were helping to battle the bushfire emergency around Sydney and the central coast, they were out again on Tuesday afternoon and into Wednesday responding to 740 calls for assistance due to storm damage. In Sydney, wind gusts of up to 95km/h lashed the harbour and gusts of up to 92km/h hit the city when a southerly change moved through between 1pm and 3pm.
The SES responded to 500 calls across the Sydney metropolitan area, including for damaged roofs, a collapsed verandah at a boarding house in Newtown, and a roof torn off a primary school in Balmain. Most calls were for fallen trees and roof damage. "There were a lot of roofs blown off, quite a few incidents of the sheeting coming off completely."
An elderly couple was trapped in their car at Lansvale, near Liverpool, for 30 minutes after a tree and powerlines fell on their vehicle. They were taken to hospital with possible back, neck and limb injuries. Trees and powerlines also fell on three people at Engadine in Sydney's south.
"Further north there was more instability with the system. We had intense thunderstorms that became severe, and a number of places saw hail and also damaging winds. Sydney missed out on the thunderstorms and heavy rain. The combination of thunderstorms and heavy rain and strong wind gusts caused much more damage further north than in Sydney."


RECORD-BREAKING 'HEAT WAVE' recorded in Moscow, Russia - A warm spell in Moscow broke a record on Tuesday as temperatures climbed to 14.9 degrees Celsius – the highest since 1895. Until Tuesday, the highest temperature ever recorded on October 29 was 14.8 degrees.
UNUSUALLY HIGH TEMPERATURES hit Moscow this week, exceeding the norm by 5-8 degrees. Cooler weather is expected by the weekend, with highs around 7-12 degrees, but that is also above average. This year's fall weather had already broken records, with September getting three times the average amount of rainfall, MORE THAN EVER RECORDED IN 130 YEARS of record-keeping.

Chain reaction crashes on I-10 in Arizona dust storm kills 3 - Three people were killed and at least 12 injured after a dust storm led to multiple crashes Tuesday on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson.


Trailer Truck-Size Asteroid buzzed Earth inside Moon's orbit Tuesday. A space rock the size of a tractor-trailer flew harmlessly by Earth (Oct. 29), zipping between our planet and the moon.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - reporting the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**It has become appallingly obvious that our technology
has exceeded our humanity.**
Albert Einstein

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 10/28/13 -

Saturday's 7.1 Earthquake in Japan Was 2011 Aftershock - The earthquake off northeastern Japan on the weekend was an aftershock from the devastating earthquake of March 2011 which generated a tsunami.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical storm Raymond is located about 645 mi (1035 km) SW of the southern tip of Baja California. Raymond is quickly weakening.
Philipppines - New tropical depression spotted east of Visayas. The tropical depression could intensify into a tropical storm while it draws nearer as it remains over the Pacific Ocean. The tropical storm may enter the Philippine area of responsibility by Tuesday afternoon


+ A MIGHTY ATLANTIC GALE is battering Western Europe with hurricane-strength wind gusts, waves up to 25 feet high, and driving rains. As of 2 am local time Monday, the peak wind gust from the storm in the UK was 92 mph, at the Isle of Wight in the English Channel. Powerful winds have also swept the north coast of France; winds in Brest, France hit 41 mph, gusting to 67 mph at 2 am local time Monday, and gusted as high as 65 mph at Caen. With the trees still in leaf, winds this strong have the potential to cause heavy tree damage and large scale power outages.
The storm is moving quickly, and sustained winds of 35 - 45 mph will arrive along the coast of the Netherlands by 6 am local time Monday, by noon in Denmark, near 6 pm in Southern Sweden, and near midnight Monday night in Estonia and Southern Finland.
The storm is being called the 2013 St. Jude's Day storm and "Christian". The storm has the potential to be one of the more destructive extratropical storms to hit Western Europe in the past decade. The most recent storm of note to hit the region was Winter Storm Joachim of December 15 - 17, 2011, which had a central pressure of 964 mb and brought a peak wind gust of 131 mph to Auvergne, France. Damage was estimated at $325 million. (photo at link)
+ High winds leave Belgians reeling - video (1:12). Pedestrians blown down the street.
+ The storm battering north-western Europe has killed eight people - four of them in southern England - and transport is severely disrupted. Two people died when their car was crushed by a falling tree in Gelsenkirchen, in western Germany. Two children in the car were injured.In Brittany, western France, a woman was swept out to sea. And in the Dutch city of Amsterdam a tree felled by the wind crushed a woman by a canal.
Many trains were cancelled in and around London and in north Germany. In many cases in the UK fallen trees had to be cleared from railway lines. At least 50 flights have been cancelled at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands, and there are severe delays at Hamburg airport. In the UK as many as 600,000 homes suffered power cuts, though many were later reconnected. Power cuts also hit 42,000 homes in northern France, and at Belle-Ile in Brittany a woman was swept into the sea from a cliff.
Emergency services in Denmark and Sweden have issued storm warnings, as Scandinavia faces winds gusting at about 100mph (162km/h). The storm system deepened as it crossed the North Sea. One site in eastern Denmark, Kegnaes, reported a gust of 115mph mid-afternoon. Along Germany's North Sea coast many ferries were confined to port and shipping on the Elbe was also disrupted.
UPDATE - Thirteen die as storm crosses north-western Europe - six were killed in Germany. The major Atlantic storm packing hurricane-force winds pummeled England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands early Monday, knocking out power to 220,000 homes in England and blocking roads and railways with fallen trees.

India - ‘Rogue’ weather system. Very severe cyclone Phailin was well tracked and anticipated, but the same cannot be said about the rogue weather system (well-marked low-pressure area) flooding the country’s east for the past week now.
The India Meteorological Department on Sunday said that the system has weakened into a conventional low-pressure area. It weakened further by Monday. But unlike Phailin, the rogue system held onto its strength, even if much lower, after crossing land. In comparison, Phailin broke up on impact and gradually weakened over land.
The “slow grind” allowed the well-marked low-pressure area to vent its fury on Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Gangetic West Bengal over the past week. International agencies failed to predict accurately how this system would behave. Most of them expected it to cross Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and enter the Arabian Sea.
What upset these outlooks was the arrival of a western disturbance (seasonal low-pressure wave) over North-West India. Associated winds are westerly and blow counter to approaching systems from Bay of Bengal. They blocked the well-marked ‘low’ over Andhra Pradesh. The latter stalled, and could only afford to move east-northeast.
It would appear as if the track of the rogue system could have been tracked, according to a leading meteorologist who did not want to be quoted. This is because the western disturbance that deflected the rogue system from its path was itself tracked right from Europe/the Mediterranean and well in advance. Had its arrival been plotted in good time, the impact on the rogue system could have been anticipated and, as in the case of Phailin, and the coastal States warned sufficiently early.

Alaska - Storm was expected to bring winds and "copious tropical moisture" to Southcentral Alaska. A high wind warning was posted for the Anchorage Hillside and Turngain Arm starting early Monday morning, with gusts to 75 mph possible. The same storm, with "copious tropical moisture," is expected to bring heavy rain to areas to the south, including parts of the Kenai Peninsula. The National Weather Service said southeast winds of 35-50 mph were possible, with the potential for 75 mph gusts. The same storm system has resulted in a flood watch for areas to the south, including Whittier and Seward, with up to 5 inches of rain possible Sunday and Monday.


+ Deadly Heat Waves Could Be Predicted 20 Days In Advance By Newly-Identified Weather Pattern - Researchers have found a distinct atmospheric pattern that could anticipate U.S. summer heat waves up to two weeks in advance. The finding could allow scientists to warn the public of heat waves 15 to 20 days before the fact, which could help prevent instances of heat stroke and other temperature-related fatalities.
The research team looked at a 12,000-year simulation model that focused on weather in the Northern hemisphere. They noticed when a telltale "wavenumber-5" pattern emerged, a heat wave often occurred soon after. "It may be useful to monitor the atmosphere, looking for this pattern, if we find that it precedes heat waves in a predictable way. This gives us a potential source to predict heat waves beyond the typical range of weather forecasts."
Wavenumber-5 is a "sequence of alternating high- and low-pressure systems (five of each) that form a ring circling the northern midlatitudes, several miles above the surface." The pattern is also associated with "stagnant" or slow weather conditions, which have been linked to heat waves. Heat waves are considered to be the "most deadly weather phenomena on Earth." In 2006 a heat wave was responsible for at least 600 fatalities. In 2003, a European heat wave killed over 50,000 people.


Child poverty 'can shrink brain' - Poverty in early childhood can shrink the brain, a study has shown. The finding may help explain links between deprivation and poor mental ability and performance at school.
Poverty is associated with smaller hippocampus and amygdala brain regions. Both have roles in processing memory, and the amygdala is also linked to emotional reactions. Amounts of grey and white matter were also lower in the brains of poor children. Grey matter contains the cell bodies of neurons while white matter consists of the axons, or wiring, connecting different parts of the brain together.
The brain-shrinking effect of poverty was significantly more pronounced in children with stressful home environments whose parents lacked nurturing skills, the scans showed. "We've known for many years from behavioural studies that exposure to poverty is one of the most powerful predictors of poor developmental outcomes for children. A growing number of neuroscience and brain-imaging studies recently have shown that poverty also has a negative effect on brain development. What's new is that our research shows the effects of poverty on the developing brain, particularly in the hippocampus, are strongly influenced by parenting and life stresses that the children experience."
"We actually stumbled upon this finding. Initially, we thought we would have to control for the effects of poverty, but as we attempted to control for it, we realised that poverty was really driving some of the outcomes of interest, and that caused us to change our focus to poverty, which was not the initial aim of this study."

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - reporting the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**Imitation is the sincerest form of television.**
Fred Allen

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 10/27/13 -

Did the oarfish predict Saturday's 7.1 Japan quake?! - The power and timing of the quake has some wondering if the beachings of two oarfish in Southern California over the last two weeks are somehow related. In Japanese folklore, oarfish are harbingers of earthquakes and scientists theorize they could be more sensitive to seismic disturbances.
However, no solid evidence of this exists. Also, the oarfish beached themselves across the ocean from Japan, when there are plenty of oarfish in the waters off Japan. No oarfish have been sighted in the region of the recent quake.
Earthquakes happen with or without oarfish, so their appearance is unlikely to be of any practical use in predicting quakes. Major quakes occur almost weekly somewhere in the Pacific Ring of Fire, so any oarfish sighting can be argued to predict something, when in reality the fish were likely just caught in powerful underwater currents. Despite their size, oarfish are known to be weak swimmers.
On Saturday morning, local time, the 7.1 quake struck off the coast of the Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. The power and proximity of the quake make it notable. The quake has struck within 231 miles of the stricken Fukushima Daiiachi nuclear power plant. Japanese officials declared a tsunami warning for Honshu island, with a possible tsunami height of three feet, enough to be dangerous along the coast itself, but unlikely to cause major damage inland. The warning was not extended to any other region or across the Pacific. There were no reports of significant damage or casualties. The quake was felt 300 miles away in Tokyo.

Philippines - Bohol quake fatalities continue to rise, death toll at 215. Of the infrastructure affected by the quake, three bridges and two roads are still not passable in Bohol, Cebu and Negros Occidental. The damage caused by last week's magnitude-7.2 quake in Central Visayas breached the P2-billion mark Saturday evening,

Mount Etna eruption reduces flights to Sicily - The north-east crater of Europe's most active volcano continued to belch ash Sunday, a day after it erupted, but its south-east crater was dormant. The volcano is in almost constant activity, although the last major eruption was in 1992. The latest eruption was preceded by a series of underground tremors.

Tanzania - Mt Meru volcano 'likely to erupt again'. It has been passive for a long while, but Tanzania's second highest mountain, Mount Meru, is reportedly apt to erupt without notice, putting lives at risk. Mt Meru volcano, which had three eruptions between 120 and 90 years ago, is a potentially dangerous volcano, with more than 1 million people living around it.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Hurricane Raymond is located about 690 mi (1115 km) SW of the southern tip of Baja California. No threat to land.

India - Odisha was the worst hit by cyclone Phailin and now it is being pounded by flash floods. It has rained nearly three times more compared to the rains during the cyclone.

Storm to hit UK rush hour transport - Rail services across much of southern Britain are cancelled for the morning rush hour as a severe storm continues to batter parts of England and Wales. The Environment Agency has issued eight flood warnings - all in south west England - and 144 flood alerts across England and Wales.


A CME swept past Earth during the late hours of Oct. 26th, but its impact was weak and did not spark significant geomagnetic activity. Attention now shifts to Oct. 28th when the first of the CMEs from last week's X-flares is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field. NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of polar geomagnetic storms.
Active sunspots AR1875 and AR1877 are approaching the sun's western limb where they will become magnetically connected to Earth. Energetic particles accelerated by flares on that side of the sun are funneled back toward our planet by spiraling magnetic fields.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - reporting the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**Well done is better than well said.**
Benjamin Franklin

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher. [Eerily quiet since yesterday]

Yesterday, 10/26/13 -
None 5.0 or higher.

10/25/13 -

+ JAPAN - 7.1 EARTHQUAKE & TSUNAMI WAVES (3 feet high). The quake struck off the Fukushima region of Japan on Saturday (3:10am local time), triggering tsunami-driven waves that hit three cities along a 200-mile stretch of the east coast that was briefly under a tsunami advisory.The first waves hit Soma, Kamaishi, and Ishinomaki-shi Ayukama, but that none topped three feet, the threshold for issuing a stronger warning.
The epicenter was located 231 miles east of Japan's Honshu Island at a depth of 6 miles. The tremor was felt 300 miles away in Tokyo. The USGS, which initially reported the quake at a magnitude of 7.3, later downgraded it to 7.1. It prompted the tsunami advisory for an area stretching from the northern edge of Iwate Prefecture to the southern tip of Chiba Prefecture.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued its initial tsunami warning at 1:14 p.m. ET for Fukushima Prefecture, warning residents to "get out of the water and leave the coast immediately." The warning was later expanded to include Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki, and Chiba Prefectures. A man visiting Japan who has felt many earthquakes while at his home in California, said Saturday's earthquake varied in intensity and "seemed to be the longest one I've experienced."

+ Wall of rock rises out of the ground in the Philippines - new fault triggered by the large quake on Oct 15. As the magnitude 7.2 earthquake ended on Oct. 15, residents of Sitio Kumayot in Barangay Anonang heard an explosive sound like a thunderclap. Villagers watched in horrified disbelief as the ground cracked open and, with smoke and the stench of sulphur spreading, one side started to rise.
The emerging wall of rock and earth missed by a hairline the toilet of a baker. “We will be living forever in fear, being so close to the fault line." The rock face, about three meters high and two kilometers long, raised fears among villagers that more cracks would appear on the ground and swallow them up.
Government scientists said the appearance of the yet unnamed fault, which does not exist on the country’s map of fault lines, triggered the powerful earthquake in Central Visayas. “We are 100 percent sure that this is the generator (of the earthquake),” The rock face appeared near the quake’s epicenter at the boundary of Sagbayan and Catigbian towns.
The ground rupture pushed the ground upward from two to three meters, cutting through mountains, roads and possibly settlement areas. Phivolcs teams are still studying the extent of the fault line which could extend 100 kilometers or longer.
Aside from structural damage, residents in southern Cebu towns of Alegria and Badian and Carcar City have complained that ground water turned to “milo” brown. “The earthquake may have disturbed the clay-limestone land formations in these areas, affecting their water table and underground water channels."
They are now checking reports of possible liquefaction in several areas in Cebu and Bohol. Severe liquefaction could result in the sinking or submersion of lands. Areas near the river and those reclaimed from the sea are more prone to liquefaction. Structures in reclaimed areas should have stronger foundations and must use materials that can withstand strong ground shaking and liquefaction. “We recommend that no structures should be built on top of a fault and within the five-meter buffer zone on both sides of the fault." (photos at link)

Mount Etna volcano erupted in Italy on Saturday, sending up towering ash cloud; airspace briefly closed. Etna is putting on a show with a large plume of ash visible after the volcano erupted. Mount Etna erupts relatively frequently, but the volcano has not had a major eruption since 1992.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical storm Raymond is located about 730 mi (1175 km) SSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Raymond is strengthening and is expected to become a hurricane today.

Atlantic hurricane season quietest in 45 years, experts say. Apart from Tropical Storm Andrea, which soaked Florida after moving ashore in the Panhandle in June, none of this year's cyclones has made a U.S. landfall.


India - Cyclone-hit Odisha, Andhra Pradesh face flood crisis, 30 dead. The death toll in the current spell of torrential rains battering Andhra Pradesh and Odisha for the past five days rose to 30 on Friday. The two states are still realing from the devastation caused by Cyclone Phailin.
Latest visuals of floods in AP & Odisha - Days of torrential rains have unleashed floods in southeast India, particularly Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, that have killed dozens of people.

Warnings over storm due to hit England and Wales - Weather forecasters are warning of stormy conditions in England and Wales on Sunday night and Monday. A Met Office amber alert for high winds in southern Wales, southern England, much of the Midlands, the East, and London and the South East is in place.
There is concern about possible heavy rain, falling trees, building damage and gusts of up to 80 mph (120 kph), or possibly higher on exposed coasts. The Met Office said the predicted storm was not one "you would see every year". It says 20-40mm (0.80-1.6 ins) of rain might fall within a period of six to nine hours across all areas.
A yellow alert warning of heavy rain that could lead to surface water flooding and disruption is in place for all areas, apart from London and the east of England. This is the lowest level of the three warnings issued by the Met Office and advises people to "be aware". An amber alert, advising people to "be prepared" for potentially hazardous conditions, is one level up from this.
The Environment Agency has warned of the possibility of surface water flooding on Monday but currently assesses it as a "low risk". "EA teams are out working to minimise river flood risk, clearing debris from streams and unblocking culverts. We will continue to closely monitor the situation ready to issue flood warnings if needed. We are supporting local authorities who will respond to any reports of surface water flooding. Seafronts, quaysides and jetties should be avoided due to the risk of overtopping by waves and wind blown shingles."
The storm is contained in an area of low pressure in the Atlantic which developed off the east coast of the US. It is currently "hurtling along" on the back of a strong jet stream and is expected to deepen and strengthen through Sunday as it approaches the UK. The strongest winds are expected on the storm's southern and western flanks. Forecasters said the "very intense low pressure system" would bring the potential for strong winds, especially on exposed coasts in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent.
The AA said stormy conditions could cause "significant travel disruption on Monday morning... one of the busiest times on the roads". The Met Office says the public should be prepared for the risk of falling trees as well as damage to buildings and other structures, bringing disruption to transport and power supplies. It says the storm is expected to run across the country in a north-easterly direction but there is still some doubt about the "timing, intensity and track of the low".
"Strong wind and torrential rain is an unpredictable and hazardous combination, which can be quite overwhelming when you're driving. There's likely to be tree and other debris on the roads as well as potential flooding, so it's very important to keep your speed down and drive with great care."
The Met Office is predicting gusts in some areas could be similar in strength to storms in March 2008, January 2007, October 2000 and January 1990. Wind speeds of 115 mph were recorded during the so-called Great Storm of October 1987. "Present thoughts are there are three storms it's comparable to - March 2008, January 2007 and October 2000. They certainly weren't as powerful as the 1987 storm." He said computers had made it much easier for forecasters to accurately predict weather patterns and warn people to take precautions before storms hit.
15 million UK trees fell in 1987 and more are now "exposed" because of a reduction to woodland areas for the building of roads, railways and housing. Part of the reason so many trees fell was that many were in "full leaf" at that time, catching "the wind like a sail", and the same risk applied to the forecast storm. "The truth is, if the wind blows sufficiently strongly, it will blow trees down and so our preparedness is about how we deal with the aftermath."


What This Winter Is Packing for the U.S. - As the first snaps of cold weather hit parts of the country this month with snowflakes and below-freezing nights, many people are looking toward the upcoming winter with curiosity, eagerness or fear of what’s to come. As the first models are starting to hint at a big snow year for the Northeast and a cold, dry winter for the Pacific Northwest, experts cautioned that even the most advanced understanding of physics and meteorology can’t produce a truly reliable long-term weather forecast.
There are just so many variables, many of which can change in an instant. “A three-to-six month weather outlook is still more of a horoscope than an actual scientific prediction - your horoscope may be a little more accurate, in fact,” said Paul Douglas, senior meteorologist and co-founder of WeatherNation TV, a new 24-hour national weather channel. “To be honest, any forecast beyond two weeks should come with a warning much like on a pack of cigarettes. In the end, some things are inherently unknowable.”
Among the factors that determine whether a winter will be lion-like or lamb-like, perhaps the most well known is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, also known as ENSO, which describes shifts in the temperature of surface waters in the Pacific Ocean. Pacific warming is called El Niño. Cooling is called La Niña. And those patterns have far-reaching influence on atmospheric conditions across the country by influencing where the jet stream runs and how much moisture ends up in the air.
This year is shaping up to be ENSO neutral. There is neither an El Niño or a La Niña brewing, meaning basically that anything could happen. Some models are hinting at a mild El Niño by late winter or early spring, which could deliver stormy weather to the West Coast and extra moisture to the southern half of the country.
But ENSO is far from the only factor that might sway weather forecasts over the next few months. Oscillations in the Arctic and North Atlantic also play a role, and those can flip from one week to the next. Among other dynamics, there’s also the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which shifts every few decades.
These and other events help explain why two La Niña years can be so different from each other. They also explain why long-term forecasts are so often wrong. Although meteorologists were predicting lots of hurricanes this year, for example, the season fizzled.


+ TWO X-CLASS SOLAR FLARES Friday - possible serious effects over the next couple of days. (X is the largest class of flare, as measured in X-ray wavelengths.) The sun shot out a pair of gigantic solar flares early Friday, An X1-class solar flare occurred at about 1 a.m. PDT, followed by an even larger one about eight hours later.
The latest activity disrupted high-frequency radio communications. But these flares, and the material they ejected from the sun, were not pointed at Earth. When such coronal mass ejections head toward Earth, that's a bigger deal. Such a geomagnetic storm could conjure the Northern Lights, as well as "affect power grids, cause airlines to reroute flights from polar regions". The sunspot group that has been active Friday is rotating nearer the center of the sun. If the flares keep up, there could be more serious effects in store for Earth in the next three or four days.
this is the "lowest solar maximum since back in the 1900-1910 time frame." But that doesn't mean that X-class flares and their attendant problems will not occur. "These things are going to pop up, just less frequently. You can’t get complacent."
'X-Class' Solar Flare Event Caused A Temporary Radio Blackout.
+ Interconnected global solar eruption? - There may be more to this X-flare than meets the eye. The X1-flare was bracketed by two erupting magnetic filaments, each located hundreds of thousands of kilometers from AR1882. In other words, the X1 flare might have been just one piece of an interconnected global eruption.
On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big. It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity. "The August 1st event really opened our eyes. We see that solar storms can be global events, playing out on scales we scarcely imagined before."
More flares are in the offing. There are now three sunspot groups on the Earthside of the sun capable of strong eruptions: AR1875, AR1877 and AR1882. NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of M-flares and a 10% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours.

WEEKEND FORECAST: Solar activity remains high. NOAA forecasters estimate a 70% chance of M-flares and a 35% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. Over the next three days (Oct. 26-28), a series of CMEs created by the recent limb eruptions will deliver glancing blows to Earth's magnetic field, possibly sparking polar geomagnetic storms.
The X1-flare of Oct. 25th was remarkable not only for its strength, but also for its interconnectedness. The flare was bracketed by two erupting magnetic filaments, each located hundreds of thousands of kilometers from the instigating sunspot AR1882. Saturday, Oct. 26th, it happened again. There was a sequence of flare activity around sunspots AR1875 and AR1877 followed by a filament eruption off the SW limb.
Instead of being a sequence of unrelated events, these flares and eruptions are likely connected by magnetic fields, which thread through the whole broad region. Like dominoes falling, one explosion triggers another as shock waves follow magnetic fields from blast site to blast site. The filament punctuated the sequence by hurling a part of itself into space. SOHO has observed a CME emerging from the blast site, but it is too soon to say whether it is heading for Earth.
X2-FLARE BLASTS EARTH'S IONOSPHERE: Electromagnetic radiation from yesterday's X2-class solar flare had a significant effect on Earth's upper atmosphere. As a wave of ionization swept across the dayside of the planet, the normal propagation of shortwave radio signals was scrambled. During the time that terrestrial shortwave transmissions were blacked out, the sun filled in the gap with a loud radio burst of its own.
Solar radio bursts are caused by strong shock waves moving through the sun's atmosphere. (Electrons accelerated by the shock front excite plasma instabilities which, in turn, produce shortwave static.) They are usually a sign that a CME is emerging from the blast site - and indeed this flare produced a very bright CME.

On Oct. 26, 2013, the All Sky network reported 27 fireballs. (16 sporadics, 7 Orionids, 1 Leonis Minorid, 1 epsilon Geminid, 1 Southern Taurid, 1 xi Draconid)

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - reporting the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**The man who goes alone can start today;
but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.**
Henry David Thoreau

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 10/24/13 -

Philippine earthquake created miles-long rocky wall - The deadly 7.2 earthquake that struck the Philippines last week created a spectacular rocky wall that stretches for kilometres (miles) through farmlands, astounded geologists said Thursday.
Dramatic pictures of the Earth-altering power of the quake have emerged as the government worked to mend the broken central island of Bohol, ground zero of the destruction. A "ground rupture" pushed up a stretch of ground by up to three meters (10 feet), creating a wall of rock above the epicenter. "Our people have walked five kilometers [three miles] so far and not found the end of this wall. So far we have not gotten any reports of people getting swallowed up in these cracks. The fault runs along a less-populated area."
A photograph on the institute's website showed part of the rock wall grotesquely rising on farmland behind an unscathed bamboo hut. Another house was shown lodged in a crack of the Earth, while a big hole on the ground opened up at a banana farm. The ground fissures from the quake were AMONG THE LARGEST RECORDED since the government agency began keeping quake records in 1987.
"Most of our other quake records show a lateral [sideways] tearing of the earth, though we've also had coral reefs rising from the sea," in a 6.7-magnitude earthquake that hit the central island of Negros last year. The Philippines lies on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire made up of chains of islands created by volcanic eruption that are also frequently hit by earthquakes. "There is no immediate danger" either from the continuing aftershocks or from the ground fissures. The death toll in the Bohol quake is now at 201. Over 600,000 families or 3.1 million people were affected by the quake on Oct. 15. The number of injured is now at 720.

Indonesia's Mount Sinabung Volcano Erupts - The volcano in western Indonesia erupted on Thursday, unleashing a column of dark volcanic material high into the air weeks after villagers were returning home from an earlier eruption. The explosion at Mount Sinabung, located in North Sumatra province, shot black ash 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) into the air, but there were no reports of injuries or damage.
Villages, farms and trees around the 2,600-meter (8,530-foot) -high rumbling volcano were covered in thick gray ash, prompting authorities to evacuate more than 3,300 people. Most were from two villages within 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) of the mountain in Karo district. No lava or debris spewed from the volcano, and nearby towns and villages were not in danger, but authorities warned tourists to stay away from the danger zone located 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from the crater.
Last month, more than 15,000 people were forced to flee when the volcano rumbled to life after being dormant for three years, belching ash and smoke and igniting fires on its slopes. The volcano's last major eruption in August 2010 killed two people and forced 30,000 others to flee. It caught many scientists off guard because it had been quiet for four centuries. Mount Sinabung is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

Kamchatka Volcano Spews Ash 5km (3.1 miles) into the air - Zhupanovsky volcano lies about 70 km northeast of the capital of Kamchatka. It is a complex volcano composed of several overlapping cones.

Hawaii - Lava flows still active, burning forests north of Puu Oo. The northeast spatter cone in Kilauea Volcano's Puu Oo vent continues to feed the Kahaualea 2 lava flow, which is burning through forests to the north.

India - People in Manipur evacuate due to landslides, volcanic eruption fear is baseless. Heavy rains have been lashing Tusom village of Ukhrul in Manipur for the past three days which resulted in a massive landslide. Ukhrul district of Manipur lies close to the Indo-Myanmar border.
Villagers immediately evacuated the area fearing volcanic eruptions after the massive landslide. The mudslide was followed by eruption of black soil from a village hill by which the road linked between the districts headquarter and Tusom have been badly affected. Though this disaster took place on October 13, it took several days for the villagers to inform the officials. A media team took two days to reach the spot due to disturbed connectivity between local areas. Some local media even wrongly reported the mudslide as volcanic eruptions.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical storm Francisco is located approximately 659 nm southwest of Ykosuka, Japan.

- Typhoon Lekima is located approximately 194 nm east-southeast of Iwo To, Japan.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical storm Raymond is located about 335 mi (535 km) SSW of Manzanillo, Mexico.
Tropical storm summary -
Raymond weakens, moves away from Mexico - Tropical Storm Raymond continues to move away from the coast of Mexico, and will no longer bring heavy rains to the country.

Tropical Storm Lorenzo has died in the Middle Atlantic, done in by high wind shear. None of the reliable computer models for tropical cyclone genesis are predicting any new storms developing in the coming five days. During the first week of November, the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), a pattern of increased thunderstorm activity near the Equator that moves around the globe in 30 - 60 days, will bring rising air over the Caribbean, increasing the odds of a tropical storm developing then.

Typhoons Francisco and Lekima weaken - Typhoon Francisco has weakened to a tropical storm, and is bringing heavy rains to Japan as it stays offshore and heads northeast, parallel to the coast.
Super Typhoon Lekima, which stayed at Category 5 status for a day and a half, has now weakened to a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds. Satellite loops show that Lekima is still an impressive typhoon with a prominent eye surrounded by a solid ring of eyewall clouds with very cold cloud tops. Lekima is predicted to recurve to the northeast without affecting any land areas. While Lekima was at peak strength between 12 and 18 UTC on Wednesday, its eye expanded greatly in size while the storm stayed at Category 5 strength, something that is VERY UNUSUAL TO SEE.

Cyclone Phailin left as many people homeless as Hurricane Katrina did - Cyclone Phailin, which hit the east coast of India last week, has left more than one million people homeless, causing destruction on the scale of Hurricane Katrina. Rain adds to Ganjam woes more than a week after cyclone Phailin battered Ganjam, killing 13 in the district, one more death was reported on Wednesday as the area was battered by heavy rains.


+ "Fogmageddon" grips Seattle, Washington - Video. Seattle is known for its gray skies and rainy weather, but experts say the dense fog and temperatures in the 40s or 50s that have blanketed the city over the past several days is OUT OF THE ORDINARY.
A meteorologist writes on his blog, “I have forecast here for many decades and I can not remember a situation that is even close.” The cause is an odd combination of long-lasting high pressure, drought, and dense low clouds. The high pressure on either side of the city is trapping colder air in the middle, close to the ground. The resultis fog, and lot of it.
The current foggy streak is standing at seven days. The No. 1 spot goes to a 13-day streak from December of 1985. But according to local reports the current weather pattern could make a run at the record with the sun not in the forecast at least for the next several days. Ironically the only thing that will wipe out the dreary conditions is a low pressure system; in other words a storm. Such a system is on the way but is not guaranteed to hit the city. The earliest it will get there, if at all, is sometime next week.


+ Australia - Firefighters are working to strengthen containment lines around three blazes burning uncontained in the Blue Mountains as the bushfire emergency in NSW eases. As the state's bushfire crisis enters its ninth day, there are 57 bushfires burning across the state, with 23 uncontained, the Rural Fire Service says.There are three "Watch and Act" alerts current for blazes burning at Springwood, Mt Victoria and Lithgow that have now burnt through almost 60,000 hectares of bush since sparking late last week.
Other fires that previously threatened property in the Lake Macquarie area and Southern Highlands have been downgraded to "Advice". An RFS spokeswoman says firefighters in the Blue Mountains are taking advantage of cooler temperatures to strengthen containment lines."The threat is continuing to ease but we're still asking people to be vigilant because there is such a large amount of fires still active. Overnight it has been back burning on most of those fires and patrolling the containment lines, as well as mopping up and blacking out." With the cooler weather we want to strengthen those containment lines."She said there were currently more than 800 firefighters in the field and 72 aircraft deployed.
Forecasted cooler weather for the Blue Mountains would assist firefighters through Friday, but low humidity was also expected and would add to the fire risk. Winds were expected to be from the northeast and northwest at up to 30km/hr. More than 120,000 hectares of bush has so far been burnt across NSW since the crisis began last Thursday.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - reporting the latest earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**Sometimes it is not enough that we do our best;
we must do what is required.**
Sir Winston Churchill

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 10/23/13 -

Philippines - Quake victims face hunger and disease. Dozens of families in Bohol province now have to contend with water-borne diseases and hunger as many areas continue to grapple with food and water shortage. Since the quake struck, residents in several towns in Bohol have had no access to clean and potable water because water reservoirs were also destroyed by the 7.2 temblor. “It’s hard to survive. We’re experiencing starvation because food rations are delayed and we are also in dire need of drinking water."
Ways to find food and water is a daily problem for residents of the towns of Carmen and Sagbayan, two of the hardest-hit areas. Officials fear that these towns may soon face diarrhoea outbreak because the people have no choice but to drink water from questionable sources. Children, along with their parents, line the national highway that links Sagbayan and Carmen towns, begging for food and water from passing motorists.
Residents have complained that delivery of government aid has been slow, despite claims by authorities that seven helicopters had been dispatched to the calamity areas to deliver supplies.“Why is it that until now the non-delivery of supplies to certain places remains an issue?” The Bohol provincial government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development have so far jointly distributed 130,475 family food packs to 34 municipalities with a daily dispatch of 20,000 packs. But the main challenge, is the delivery of goods to areas where the roads have been rendered impassable by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake. Bohol has enough rice supply for the next 30 days.
The quake totally damaged at least 2,000 houses and partially damaged 5,000 others in the town of Carmen. Funds are needed not only in quake-hit Bohol but also conflict-hit areas in Zamboanga City as well as provinces affected by typhoon Santi in Central Luzon and areas devastated by typhoon Sendong.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical storm Lorenzo is located about about 975 mi (1570 km) E of Bermuda. Expected to weaken.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Francisco is located approximately 141 nm southeast of Kadena Air Force Base, Japan.

- Super Typhoon Lekima is located approximately 505 nm southeast of Iwo To, Japan.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical storm Raymond is located about 280 mi (450 km) S of Manzanillo, Mexico. Raymond weakened to a tropical storm on Wednesday and turned to the west, moving away from Mexico's Pacific Coast.
Tropical storm summary -
Raymond weakens to a tropical storm; threat diminishes for Mexico - Tropical Storm Raymond continues to spin just offshore of Acapulco, Mexico, but its top winds have weakened to 65 mph. As of 8 am EDT Wednesday, Raymond was stationary, and centered about 190 miles west-southwest of Acapulco. Raymond brought 7.05" of rain Saturday through Tuesday to Acapulco. All watches and warnings have been discontinued for the coast of Mexico, but Raymond is expected to bring an additional 1 - 2" of rain to the coast. A ridge of high pressure was forecast to build in later Wednesday and force the storm west-southwestwards, away from the coast.

Tropical Storm Lorenzo in the Atlantic no threat - Tropical Storm Lorenzo continue to head eastwards into the Middle Atlantic, and will not be a threat to any land areas. The wind shear is forecast to remain in the high range through Friday, which will likely destroy the storm by then.

Typhoon Francisco weakening, but will still bring heavy rain to Japan - Typhoon Francisco continues to weaken, due to cool waters and increasing wind shear, and is now a Category 1 storm with 80 mph winds. Francisco is traversing a large cool patch of ocean left behind by the churning action of Typhoon Wipha last week.
Francisco will make its closest approach to Japan on Thursday and Friday, and will likely be a tropical storm undergoing transition to an extratropical storm. Although the latest computer model guidance keeps Francisco well offshore from Japan, the storm will still bring plenty of tropical moisture over Japan, which will be capable of causing mostly minor flooding problems.

Super Typhoon Lekima reaches Category 5 strength - The Western Pacific has made up for a slow start to its typhoon season, and has now cranked out its third Category 5 super typhoon of the year. Super Typhoon Lekima intensified to Category 5 status about 1,500 miles southeast of Japan at 18 UTC on Tuesday. Four Category 5s is a fairly typical number of these top-end storms for Earth to experience in one year. Satellite loops show an impressive typhoon with a prominent eye surrounded by a solid ring of eyewall clouds with very cold cloud tops. Lekima is predicted to recurve to the northeast without affecting any land areas.

India - Cyclone impact: 3 die in Ganjam by inhaling generator gas. At least three persons, including two women, have died of asphyxiation while four others were struggling for survival after they become ill after inhaling the gas.


Australia - Sydney and the Blue Mountains to its west endured extreme fire weather conditions on Wednesday without catastrophe, as "aggressive" and "high-risk" fire fighting strategies kept the 71 fires burning in New South Wales from causing major devastation.
The fire conditions in the region were about as bad as it gets on Wednesday. The high temperature in Sydney hit 92°F, with sustained winds of 34 mph gusting to 47 mph, and a humidity as low as 4%. Temperatures are expected to be cooler today, but westerly winds blowing from the dry interior of Australia will still be blowing strongly, keeping fire danger extreme.
Australia has just had its hottest September on record, and the 12-month period ending in September 2013 set a record for the hottest 12-month period in Australian history. Australia's warmest summer and 3rd warmest winter on record occurred during this 12-month period. It has also been quite dry in the fire region over the past few months, with soil moisture levels in the lowest 10% historically for this time of year. However, the latest drought statement from the Bureau of Meteorology is not showing that long-term drought conditions exist. (this is the same link as the tropical storm summary above)
Australia's military faces criticism after it is blamed for an army explosives exercise that was the cause of one of the major bushfires in New South Wales. The pilot of a waterbombing aircraft has been killed while battling a bushfire in rugged country on the NSW south coast.
UPDATE - Crews remain on edge after a flare-up of a bushfire burning out of control at Springwood in the Blue Mountains. An air crane is being sent to the fire, one of three blazes currently at "watch and act level" in the mountains west of Sydney along with fires at Lithgow and Mt Victoria. "It's starting to flare up around Linksview (Road Fire) again." RFS officials were assessing whether to lift the alert for the fire to "emergency".
While Thursday's conditions in the Blue Mountains are much more favourable than Wednesday, there was still work to be done. "The immediate high risk danger has passed, but by no means has the danger passed completely." A watch and act warning remains in place for a fire at Gateshead, southwest of Newcastle. A fire at Minmi, also in the Newcastle area, has been downgraded, but remains uncontained and is causing spotting along the M1. A fire burning in the Hawkesbury near Colo had also flared up and was headed east towards isolated communities in Upper Macdonald and Perrys Crossing. It was not near many homes.
"It will take literally weeks of work from firefighters and hopefully heavy rain to ensure this situation is brought under control and those fires extinguished. Attention is now turning to the rebuilding task, which is clearly both heartbreaking and daunting."


+ Excellent summary of the events taking place in the oceans - Besides the giant dead oarfish, other species of marine life have been rapidly disappearing, among them million of sardines off the coast of British Columbia. Commercial fisherman were shocked recently when they could not find one sardine on their recent fishing trips. “They've given up looking, pulled the plug."
Starfish have also been dying off by the thousands, turning into mush in the ocean. The Vancouver Aquarium is ‘alarmed’ at the mass die-off of starfish that is happening on the ocean floor. “They’re gone. It’s amazing.” Not only are the starfish dying on the U. S. West Coast but reports have been coming in of the same things happening on the East Coast. In July, researchers reported that sea stars were dying in a similar way from New Jersey to Maine.
The starfish die-off is also happening to other species including Chitons, Abalone, Mussels, Sun Stars and Salmon from the West Coast of California to Vancouver. Add to that recent dolphin and whale strandings, coral reef destruction and other mortality reports of marine life - and the prognosis is grim. (more at link)


Jerky treats made in China have killed 600 dogs in mysterious outbreak. The poisoned jerky treats have killed some 600 pets (10 cats) and sickened around 3,600 more since 2007. Some of the cases have been diagnosed as "kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder." Overall, a little less than two-thirds of the cases have been some kind of gastrointestinal illness. Nearly a third have "involved kidney and urinary systems."
The FDA released a summary of complaints potentially tied to jerky treats, including quite a few from this year. In the FDA's search for answers, the agency has run lots of tests on various jerkies, tenders and strips made with chicken, duck, sweet potato, dried fruit and combinations of those ingredients. "To date, none of the tests have revealed the cause of the illnesses." The investigation has focused on products imported from China. "We still are extensively testing treats for a number of things. We do seem to be getting some leads, but we still have a little bit of a ways to go."
In late 2011, FDA warned pet owners about a potential problem with chicken jerky products for dogs. Many dog owners and vets complained to the agency about illnesses that appeared to be associated with jerky. There were other FDA warnings dating back to 2007. Now, the FDA wants your help. "If you have a dog or cat that became ill after eating jerky pet treats, the Food and Drug Administration would like to hear from you or your veterinarian." (online reporting at link)
What should pet owners be on guard for? Loss of appetite, listlessness, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), drinking a lot more water and also increased urination. See a veterinarian if you suspect a problem.


SOLAR FLARE! - Earth-facing sunspot AR1877 erupted on Oct. 24th at 00:30 UT (Oct. 23rd at 5:30 pm PDT), producing an M9-class solar flare. A flash of extreme UV radiation from the flare ionized Earth's upper atmosphere and created a brief HF radio blackout on the sunlit side of the planet. Stay tuned for updates about this significant event.

SOLAR TSUNAMI AND RADIO BURST: Sunspot AR1875 erupted on Oct. 22nd (21:20 UT), producing an impulsive M4-class solar flare and a loud burst of shortwave radio static. An amateur radio astronomer in New Mexico was listening at the time of the eruption. "I knew this flare was a strong one by the force of the radio shock front. It nearly lifted me out of my chair!"
At the time of the flare, he was also monitoring the sun using an "H-alpha" solar telescope tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen. The telescope recorded a tsunami of plasma emerging from the blast site. The tsunami was the source of the radio emission. Shock waves at the leading edge of the tsunami cause plasma instabilities in the sun's atmosphere. Those instabilities, in turn, generate shortwave radio emissions. The Oct. 22nd outburst was classified as "one of the strongest radio blasts of the solar cycle so far. Hopefully it bodes well for future activity." AR1875 poses a growing threat for X-class solar flares.

ERUPTING FILAMENT AND EARTH-DIRECTED CME: During the early hours of Oct. 22nd, a long filament of magnetism erupted on the sun: movie. The explosion hurled a lopsided CME into space, and a new analysis suggests it could be Earth-directed. The eruption occured squarely on the Earthside of the sun, but the CME is not squarely Earth-directed. The bulk of the ejecta will fly north of the sun-Earth line. Nevertheless, the CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 24-25. It might even merge with a pair of minor CMEs traveling ahead of it. If so, the combined impact would be more likely to spark a geomagnetic storm. (video at link)

On Oct. 23, the All Sky Fireball Network reported 28 fireballs. (15 sporadics, 10 Orionids, 2 epsilon Geminids, 1 southern Taurid) (path map at link)

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - reporting the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

**The fundamental cause of trouble in the world
is that the stupid are sure while the intelligent are full of doubt.**
Bertrand Russell

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 10/22/13 -

Indonesia earthquake kills 1, injures 2 - A 5.2-magnitude earthquake struck western Indonesia, killing one villager, injuring two others and damaging dozens of buildings. The U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday's quake was centered about 32 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Reuleuet town in Aceh province.

Earthquake hits northern Israel for fifth time in a week - A mild earthquake hit northern Israel on Tuesday, marking the fifth quake in a week. The earthquake hit the north-western part of the Kinneret at 8:50 A.M. local time.
A major earthquake could be catastrophic - The four minor earthquakes in only four days raised worry about the possible loss of life that may occur in the event of a major earthquake in the region. A major Israeli earthquake could cause thousands of deaths.

Washington - Quake-triggered landslides pose significant hazard for Seattle. A new study suggests the next big quake on the Seattle fault may cause devastating damage from landslides, greater than previously thought. “A major quake along the Seattle fault is among the worst-case scenarios for the area, since the fault runs just south of downtown.”

UPDATE - India mud volcano ruled out - Expert says Ukhrul hill caved in due to tectonic plates movement. All speculations regarding an eruption of hot liquid from a probable mud volcano in Ukhrul has been cleared after experts explained that the sinking of a portion of the hill on October 11 midnight resulted due to movement in the tectonic plates.
Though the phenomenon is quite similar to a mud volcano, as sometimes there are incidents of mud spurts during such cases, people of the area have nothing to worry about. The exact location where the hill side has sunk is three km from an international border village- Tusom Chirsitian village under Chingai sub-division, which is five kilometres from the Indo-Myanmar border pillar number 129 and 115 kms from the district head quarter.
The portion of hill range about one and a half kilometre long has been submerged though no one was injured as it occurred at midnight. Though the villagers themselves could not find out the real cause, there was continuous heavy rainfall in the area for three days and just one day before the hill slope sank, the sun shone brightly and the sky became clear. There was no sound in the night, and the villagers found the slope caved in only when they came out for their daily routine in the morning.
When asked if there was any spurt of gases or hot substances in the area the next morning or thereafter, he said there was nothing of that sort nor was there any unfamiliar smell except for water flowing. The rock particle found in the hill range is Ophiolite Rock and the area where the hill slope disintegrated stands upon the adjoining area between the Tusom Tectonic field and Somra Tectonic field. There could have been a slide earthquake in the area which could have made the tectonic fields active resulting in the sinking of the hill side. During such occurrences, water will be released from inside due to the hydrostatic pressure and sometimes accompanied by mud but it cannot be considered as mudslide.
Manipur is an earthquake prone area and there will be frequent earthquake occurrences of various variations on the Richter scale and as such people should not construct high-rises in the hills and even in the valley regions of the state. Ever since the sinking of the hill side, the Manipur village has remained totally cut off with Myanmar village Somra, with the only connecting road being carried away. The two villages have been trading with each other through this road. Though the hill side sank on October 11, about a fortnight ago, the village remains cut off to date, the government is yet to provide for an alternative which has resulted in several hardships for both Manipur village and Somra village in Myanmar.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical storm Lorenzo is located about 830 mi. (1335 km) Eastt of Bermuda. Expected to weaken soon.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Francisco is located approximately 291 nm southeast of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

- Super Typhoon Lekima is located approximately 580 nm east -northeast of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Hurricane Raymond is located about 140 mi (225 km) WSW of Acapulco, Mexico. Still parked off the coast of southern Mexico.
Tropical storm summary -
Hurricane Raymond weakens, but still drenching Mexico - Hurricane Raymond continues to spin just offshore of Acapulco, Mexico, as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds. As of 11 am EDT Tuesday, Raymond was stationary, centered about 135 miles west-southwest of Acapulco. Raymond brought 5.67" of rain Saturday through Monday to Acapulco, where a Hurricane Watch is posted.
Raymond is expected to bring heavy rains of up to 12" to the coast, and this is an area where heavy rains are definitely most unwelcome. Hurricane Manuel hit this region of Mexico with extreme torrential rains when it made landfall on September 15, triggering deadly mudslides and flooding that left 169 people dead or missing and caused $4.2 billion in damage. Raymond is in an area with weak steering currents, and is likely to show some erratic movement until today, when a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build in and force the storm west-southwestwards, away from the coast. Recent satellite loops show a weakening trend, as the southeast eyewall is now missing, and the storm's heavy thunderstorms have diminished in intensity. This weakening may be due to the colder waters from below that Raymond's winds have churned to the surface.

Tropical Storm Lorenzo forms in the Middle Atlantic - The 12th Atlantic named storm of 2013, Tropical Storm Lorenzo, was born on Monday afternoon. Lorenzo's formation brings this year's Atlantic tally to 12 named storms, which is one more than the long term average. However, Lorenzo is going to be one of those weak, short-lived tropical storms that likely would have been missed before satellites came along in the 1960s. The storm will not be a threat to any land areas.
There have been three other weak, short-lived tropical storms in 2013 that stayed far out to sea that may have been missed before satellites came along -- Dorian, Erin, and Jerry. There has been a large increase in the number of "shorties" -- Atlantic tropical storms lasting two days or less -- since the 1950s.

Typhoon Francisco weakening, likely to miss Japan - Typhoon Francisco has steadily weakened since becoming Earth's third Category 5 storm of 2013 on Saturday, and is now a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds. Francisco is now traversing a large cool patch of ocean up to 2°C colder than the surrounding waters, left behind by the churning action of Typhoon Wipha last week.
By the time Francisco makes its closest approach to Japan on Thursday and Friday, it will be a tropical storm undergoing transition to an extratropical storm. However, the latest computer model guidance keeps Francisco well offshore from Japan, and the storm's heaviest rains will miss the country. This is good news for Japan, which is still cleaning up from the record rains that Typhoon Wipha brought last week.

Impressive Typhoon Lekima hits Category 4 strength - The Western Pacific has made up for a slow start to its typhoon season, and has now cranked out its fifth major Category 3 or stronger typhoon of the month. Typhoon Lekima is an impressive Category 4 typhoon with 145 mph winds, intensifying over the warm waters of the Western Pacific about 1,500 miles southeast of Japan. Satellite loops show that Lekima is another very well-organized typhoon with a prominent eye surrounded by a solid ring of eyewall clouds with very cold cloud tops. Lekima is predicted to reach Category 5 strength on Thursday, but will likely recurve to the northeast without affecting any land areas.

+ Hurricane Raymond - Hundreds of people have been evacuated from coastal communities in western Mexico that could lay in the path of Hurricane Raymond. Raymond is currently stalled some 135km (85 miles) off Mexico's Pacific coast and has weakened to a category 2 hurricane. But the authorities asked locals not to let their guard down as heavy rains continued and could set off landslides. A hurricane warning remains in place from Tecpan to Lazaro Cardenas.
Torrential rains are forecast to continue for the next 24 hours in the western states of Guerrero and Michoacan. The area is still struggling to recover after it was hit by Tropical Storm Manuel last month. Manuel and Ingrid, another storm which hit Mexico almost at the same time, left more than 150 people dead and caused billions of dollars of damage. Raymond's movements are "erratic" and "completely unpredictable" and could still head towards the coast.
More than 1,000 people have been evacuated from villages clinging to perilous hillsides and schools remained closed for some 35,000 pupils. In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Manuel an entire village was buried under a landslide in the mountains of Guerrero, and the memory of that disaster has made locals more wary.


Australia - The ground shook as a storm, described as a mini tornado, lifted roofs off buildings and left a trail of destruction in the south-west Victorian town of Ararat. A local hardware store sustained the most damage in the Tuesday evening storm, with stock being picked up by the winds and dropped throughout the nearby area.
A brick building, used by community groups for storage, was flattened with the equipment inside it destroyed, while parts of house roofs were damaged in the mini tornado. The storm also brought fences down, uprooted trees and brought down powerlines, but damage was confined to a small part of the town. "My father was quite shocked by the severity of the incident, he said it was one of the loudest noises he has ever heard in his life and the whole ground shook. It was really quite a violent incident given that it only lasted for a number of seconds."
The event was described as a "microburst" - an intense burst of damaging wind. "It was quite short and sharp and came and went very quickly, but left some damage." Power remains cut off to a number of properties in the area.


Australia - Blue Mountains fire is an emergency again. The Springwood fire is flaring as winds pick up. The bushfires are beginning to rear up in the NSW Blue Mountains, where strong winds are playing havoc with blazes that ruined communities last week. The fire at Springwood, where almost 200 homes were destroyed, has once again been upgraded to the HIGHEST WARNING LEVEL.
The fire was flaring on Wednesday under high winds and sending off ember showers. "Activity is increasing right across different parts of the fire grounds throughout the Blue Mountains. The strong winds are proving to be very difficult for the firefighters, for aircraft and is increasing fire behaviour." Blue Mountains residents not prepared to defend their homes from fire were advised to leave on Wednesday morning. Crews were also being re-directed to protect homes at Bilpin and Berambing in the Blue Mountains.
The other emergency warning is in play west of Newcastle at Minmi, where a school has been evacuated. The M1 Pacific Motorway, formerly known as the F3, was closed in both directions between Beresfield and Seahampton due to the Minmi fire.
A number of fires were also starting in the Hawkesbury region, near Putty, due to lightning strikes. Winds were expected to worsen this afternoon, adding to the fire threat. "These very strong winds gusting up to 100km/h across the mountain ranges are expected to continue right down along the coastal fringe through the Sydney basin. Conditions are going to be worse across much of the fire weather area throughout the balance of this afternoon."
There are now more than 60 bushfires in NSW including 22 that are uncontained. Thousands of firefighters are on the field and 95 aircraft available. THE WORST FIRE CONDTIONS WERE YET TO COME. "We are now about two hours away from what is expected to be the worst part of the day and the winds regrettably are significantly picking up."
One Blue Mountains landlord has attempted to increase rent for people who had lost their homes and were seeking emergency short-term accommodation. "Regrettably, despite some wonderful stories of great community spirit which has gone on during this fire crisis, there is always going to be the odd alternative."
New bushfire emergency alert has been issued for a fire at Lake Macquarie, near Gateshead.
New fire threatens homes west of Newcastle - An emergency warning has been issued for residents of Minmi, west of Newcastle, where a fire is burning near the M1.
Embers threaten Springwood homes - An emergency warning has been issued for Springwood, where homes are being threatened by an ember shower from the nearby bushfire.
There is "real potential for more loss of homes and life". Temperatures on Wednesday were expected to be in the upper 80s, humidities less than 10%, and sustained winds of strong winds of up to 100km/h (60mph). These conditions will be "about as bad as it gets". Insurance claims from the huge fires that have ravaged areas just west of Sydney over the past week are already set to exceed $97 million (U.S. dollars), even though the worst-hit areas have not been assessed yet. This price tag already makes the disaster Australia's fifth most expensive fire on record.
In total, 59 fires are burning across the state, 19 of which are uncontained. Hundreds more firefighters have been deployed to the Blue Mountains to work alongside the 1,000 already there, making it one of the largest firefighting contingents ever assembled in the state's history. Residents have been urged to leave the area. Authorities have warned that weather conditions on Wednesday could see the fires reach "unprecedented" levels.
Up to 5mm (0.2in) of rain fell across fire grounds on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. "Whilst that is some welcome relief in terms of moderating the current fire behaviour, it has compromised considerably the ability to continue with the back-burning operations that were planned throughout the evening." Back-burning is controlled burning of key areas aimed at depriving a fire of fuel and prevent it travelling in a certain direction.
The fires have been burning in the Blue mountains near Sydney since Thursday, with a state of emergency was declared at the weekend. "There's not been fires quite like this before - so big, so intense and so fast. We're talking about a fire that at some points is five storeys high. [Wednesday] is going to be a horror day in terms of the weather and could be a horror day in terms of the fire."
On Tuesday fire crews deliberately joined two large fires - State Mine and Mount Victoria - in order to prevent them linking up with a third. One man has died - possibly of a heart attack - while trying to protect his home. Hundreds of people have been left homeless by the bushfires.
In January 2013, parts of NSW and Tasmania were hit by fires as temperatures soared to record levels, with average national temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius. One person died in Tasmania and several hundred buildings were destroyed.
+ UNPRECEDENTED Australian wildfires - Video (2:17)


Argentina's agriculture, livestock and fishing ministry has declared four provinces to be in a state of agricultural emergency due to drought, storms, hail and frost. Argentina's drought has become “critical” in almost all of the country's northern oilseed and grain growing regions, with risks to crop forecasts for soybeans and sunflowers.

Climate change boosts wine production in Vermont - Because of climate change, vineyards are adding newer grape varieties, which wouldn't have survived there before climate change.

U.S. farm families follow drought with record harvest - After drought crippled corn yields in 2012, farmers across the Midwest in 2013 are harvesting what COULD BE THE LARGEST CORN CROP EVER.


+ COMET EXPLOSION - Almost 450 million km from Earth, Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) has exploded. Amateur astronomers are reporting a 100-fold increase in the comet's brightness compared to predictions, and the comet's atmosphere or "coma" now resembles that of exploding Comet 17P/Holmes in 2007. It can't be seen with the naked-eye.
The outburst does not necessarily signal a disintegration of the comet. Possibly, a local vein or cavern of deep ice in the comet's nucleus has been exposed to sunlight. Rapid evaporation of fragile ices could account for the comet's bigger- and brighter-than-expected atmosphere. Monitoring in the nights ahead might reveal clues to what happened ... and when.

On Oct. 22, 2013, the All Sky Fireball network reported 38 fireballs. (22 sporadics, 12 Orionids, 4 southern Taurids)

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