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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