Thursday, October 17, 2013

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**Lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at you.**
David Brinkley

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 10/16/13 -

+ Philippines - 140 people are now reported to have died in the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the central Philippines on Tuesday. Relief efforts are continuing on the island of Bohol, which bore the brunt of the quake, and in neighbouring Cebu.
Residents are experiencing aftershocks in the wake of the quake. At least 132 of the casualties were from the island of Bohol. People were also killed in the province of Cebu, and historic churches, as well as roads, markets and buildings, were reported damaged on both islands. At least three people were pulled from the rubble in Cebu on Wednesday.
"[The quake] affected all the towns in the whole island province because the epicentre was in the middle of the island. People are afraid of going back to their homes for fear of aftershocks. We hope this will stabilise soon so they can return to their respective homes." "There are still areas that need search and rescue [personnel] and there are areas where they need more aid." (video )

Bohol quake among deadliest in Philippine history - The 7.2-magnitude earthquake, which so far has more than 150 fatalities and heavily damaged well-known landmarks in Central Visayas, would go down in history as among the country's deadliest quakes and the second most powerful in the 21st century.
The deadliest and strongest quake recorded is the 7.9-magnitude midnight shocker in Mindanao in August 16, 1976. It triggered a tsunami in the Moro Gulf that swept through more than 600 kilometers from the coastline and claimed over 4,500 lives.
A 7.8-magnitude quake struck Luzon in July 16, 1990 and devastated the cities of Baguio, Dagupan and Cabanatuan. The remains of destroyed structures can still be seen today, most notable of which was the Hyatt Terraces and the Baguio Park Hotel. "It was said to be the most destructive earthquake on record within the Cordillera Region. There were numerous aftershocks that followed and the strongest, which occured at 3:15 a.m. of July 18, lasted for eight seconds and measured 5.3 on the Richer scale."
In November 30, 1645, the Manila Cathedral and other newly-built churches in Manila were severely damaged by a 7.5 quake in Luzon. No earthquake was felt for 40 years before it and residents constructed "tall, spacious and palatial" homes -- 150 of which collapsed during the earthquake.
Claiming over 270 lives, an earthquake that shook Casiguran, Aurora in August 2, 1968, affected even the urbanized Manila and caused the collapse of major buildings in Binondo and Escolta.
The recent Bohol quake can be considered the fifth worst seism that rocked the country as it registered 7.2 in the Richter scale. Earthquake Report called it a "massive extremely dangerous earthquake." The magnitude of its aftershocks ranged from a virtually unfelt 2.8 to a radical 5.1. "Based on theoretical calculations, nearly 3.6 million people should have felt a very strong shaking and 7.6 million people a strong shaking."

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical storm Francisco is located approximately 167 nms Southwest of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical depression Priscilla is located about 695 mi (1115 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Priscilla is anticipated to become a remnant low by Friday.
Tropical storm summary -
Typhoon Wipha roared past Japan on Tuesday as a Category 1 typhoon, bringing destructive winds and high rains that triggered flooding being blamed for at least 17 deaths. Most of the deaths occurred on Izu Oshima island, about 75 miles south of Tokyo. An astonishing 33.44" (824 mm) fell in just 23 hours on the island, triggering flash floods and mudslides that killed 16 people and left 50 missing. Tokyo received 9.69" (246 mm) of rain in 19 hours from Wipha, with winds that reached 50 mph, gusting to 72 mph. At the time Wipha was deluging Tokyo, the typhoon was merging with a cold front and undergoing the transition to an extratropical storm - the same process Hurricane Sandy underwent as it approached landfall in New Jersey in October 2012. The counter-clockwise flow of air around the center of Wipha lifted up copious amounts of tropical moisture over a cold front over Japan, resulting the near-record rainfall amounts observed.
Wipha is the fourth named storm to hit Japan so far in 2013, and the deadliest typhoon to hit Japan since Typhoon Tokage of October 2004. The other named storms to hit Japan in 2013 were Tropical Storm Man-Yi on September 16, Tropical Storm Toraji on September 4, and Typhoon Danas, which hit Okinawa on October 7. An average of 2.8 tropical storms or typhoons per year hit Japan during the period 1951 - 2003. Japan's record busiest year was 2004, when ten named storms hit, six of them at Category 1 or higher strength.

Tropical Storm Francisco is headed towards Japan - It's been an active October for typhoons in the Western Pacific, and there is at least one more typhoon on the way. Tropical Storm Francisco has formed in the waters east of the Philippines, and is forecast to become a major Category 4 typhoon by Sunday as it heads north-northwest towards Japan. Models predict that Francisco will come very close to Japan on Wednesday, October 23. Francisco's formation gives the Western Pacific 27 named storms so far in 2013. That is the average number of named storms the Western Pacific sees during an entire year. The last time there were more than 27 tropical storms or typhoons in the West Pacific was in 2004, when there were 32.

In very short order, Francisco has strengthened into a Category 1-equivalent typhoon, according to the latest warning posted by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. It’s forecast to crawl slowly north over the next day or so, passing about 168 miles west of Andersen Air Force Base about 8 a.m. Friday, packing sustained 104-mph winds and 127-mph gusts at its center. Marine weather and high-surf warnings have been posted for Guam by the island’s National Weather Service. Authorities continue to advise caution while driving on Guam road, to watch for flooding and drive more slowly than usual.
Tropical depression 26W morphed rapidly into Tropical Storm Francisco, and will hang around Guam long enough to cause some heavy rain and wind, but far enough away that it doesn’t become a major concern. Still, Guam has had enough rain in the last few weeks than it’s had in a similar period in a very long time.
Once Francisco picks up forward speed, it’s forecast to travel northwest and split the difference between Okinawa and Iwo Jima, likely following the same track as Wipha did earlier this week.

+ China flood protests - The authorities in the city of Yuyao in eastern China are on high alert after angry residents clashed with police over the government's flood relief efforts. Residents say little was done to help after Typhoon Fitow struck last week. Thousands of people protested in front of the government office, throwing stones and overturning vehicles.


Cyclone Phailin stalls monsoon withdrawal in India - The fierce Cyclone Phailin may have been limited to the eastern coast, but it has affected the weather system on the country's western side. The cyclone has impeded the withdrawal of monsoon, which continues to hover over Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
Weather experts say it may take at least a week before it bids adieu to Mumbai and Maharashtra. In the past four decades, the latest Mumbai monsoon withdrawal date has been October 26 and there are chances that this record may be bested. "Tthe country has received the longest monsoon this year and Phailin is one of the reasons the monsoon's withdrawal has been halted."
The city of Mumbai, too, may have its longest ever monsoon if the rainfall continues till next week. In 2010, the monsoon set over the city on June 11 and withdrew on October 26. The trend was somewhat similar in 2011, when the onset and withdrawal dates were June 11 and October 24, respectively. However, in 2012, the monsoon set over the city on June 17 and withdrew on October 12. "This year, the monsoon covered the entire country within 15 days of hitting the Kerala coast."
Cyclone Phailin, in the meantime, has weakened and stopped causing any more destruction. "It has disintegrated into a low pressure depression and is lingering over Jharkhand. Once it dissipates completely, and the landmass remains dry for a few days, we will be able to declare withdrawal of the monsoon."

Laos plane crash - 49 feared dead after national airline flight hits EXTREME BAD WEATHER. A Lao Airlines flight has crashed in the south-east Asian nation, apparently killing all 49 people aboard, including passengers from 11 countries.
"Upon preparing to land at Pakse Airport the aircraft ran into extreme bad weather conditions and was reportedly crashed into the Mekong River." The plane crashed about four from the airport at Pakse. A passenger manifest faxed by the airline listed 44 people: 17 Lao, seven French, five Australians, five Thais, three Koreans, two Vietnamese and one person each from Canada, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and the United States.


Australia - Three major bushfires burning in New South Wales. A home is ablaze, a regional airport is closed and authorities are warning of a serious threat to life as bushfires burn across NSW. A total fire ban remains in place for several areas of the state on Thursday, with temperatures of 34C forecast. It was nudging 34C in Sydney at 1pm (AEDT) on Thursday, with gusty winds.
Of most concern to firefighters at 1pm were three fires. In the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, near Lithgow, more than 100 firefighters were battling a massive blaze that was skirting the village of Oaky Park and spotting into Clarence. A new fire had also broken out at Springwood. "The sky is very dark with the sun burning orange through the dark smoke." Residents who hadn't already evacuated before noon were advised to take shelter in their homes.
In the Southern Highlands, south-west of Sydney, a fire at the village of Balmoral, in Wingecarribee, was moving very quickly. "They're saying that one house is already alight, that could be because the house was alight and it's spread, or not, we don't know. It's all happened very quickly."
And at Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, Newcastle airport was closed around 12pm and all flights in and out were suspended because of a bushfire burning nearby. Passengers are advised to not come to the airport and to contact their airline for flight details. Similar conditions on Sunday saw six homes lost to fires at Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, and near Kempsey on the north coast.
Attempts to waterbomb in Lithgow were being hindered by 90km winds, which were also capable of carrying embers up to six kilometres. "The problem is when you've got aircraft over fires like that with (those) winds, a lot of the time they're just getting knocked around in the sky."
Homes at Clarence, Dargan, Doctors Gap and Hartley are expected to come under threat from the fire, which has already burnt more than 1000 hectares of bushland. Two evacuation centres have been set up. Meanwhile, more than 130 firefighters are fighting the blaze near Port Stephens. "Some of the pictures we're getting from up there, it's just incredible. It's just a mass smoke cloud over the whole town." The fire at Balmoral Village was approaching the township of Yanderra and residents were being urged to move towards Bargo.


Most Stunning Recent Drought-to-Flood Shifts - When persistent domes of high pressure aloft squelch rainfall for weeks on end, it can turn what had been a wet spring into a flash drought. Conversely, when an area in drought suddenly receives the remnants of a tropical cyclone or a front stalls in the summer with a deep moisture plume, cracked ground can suddenly be covered by feet of water in a flash flood.
"The weather has quickly gone from drought to deluge in the past, but in recent years there have been PARTICULARLY DRAMATIC CONTRASTS between exceptionally wet and exceptionally dry, both in terms of switching from one to another at a location in a short period of time, and with those extremes geographically juxtaposed close to each other at the same time." There's increasing evidence that stronger, more persistent blocking upper-level high pressure systems, as well as increased water vapor in a warming world, will lead to more of these shifts in the future.
"The new normal in the coming decades is going to be more and more extreme flood-drought-flood cycles. We'd better prepare for it, by building a more flood-resistant infrastructure and developing more drought-resistant grains, for example." From 1980-2012, four of the top 10 costliest weather disasters in the U.S. were either droughts or floods, not counting flooding from tropical cyclones.
A few recent examples of rather extraordinary U.S. drought-to-flood shifts over the past few years -
- As of March 2013, a large swath of Nebraska, western South Dakota, eastern Wyoming, eastern Colorado and western Kansas were in exceptional drought, the most dire category. Dugouts and stock ponds in western South Dakota and northeast Wyoming had dried up. With a lack of snow cover, there was concern from the National Weather Service about "little or no runoff this year."
However, a pair of snow events dumped over a foot of total snow in Rapid City in March. From April 8-10, Winter Storm Walda dumped 22.4 inches of snow in Rapid City, S.D., their second heaviest snowstorm of record, at the time. After another pair of moderate snow events dumped another 15 inches-plus of snow from April 16-22, Rapid City set its snowiest single month on record, measuring a whopping 43.4 inches of snow in April 2013. Its average snow for an entire season is 41.1 inches. A May storm then dumped 4 to 8 inches of rain in the northern Black Hills, and near-average summer rainfall continued to erode the long-term drought in western South Dakota and northeast Wyoming.
In October, Winter Storm Atlas dumped up to 58 inches of snow in the northern Black Hills, and a whopping 23.1 inches of snow in Rapid City. Atlas was the second heaviest snowstorm of record in downtown Rapid City, topping Winter Storm Walda almost six months earlier. Rapid City had just picked up two of its three heaviest snowstorms in just six months! This was immediately followed by an abrupt warm-up into the upper 60s just a few days later, melting 18 inches of snowpack in Rapid City in just three days. Just one week after Atlas, another windy, but warmer storm dumped over 4 inches of rain in the northern Black Hills, with rainfall roughly around one inch in Rapid City.
If that wasn't enough, another storm on Oct. 14-15 dumped over a foot of snow in the northern Black Hills, and over one inch liquid precipitation in Rapid City. In just over six months, over 19 inches of liquid equivalent precipitation, including over five feet of snow, was measured in Rapid City. Average annual precipitation (rain, melted snow) is 16.18 inches. Thanks to this wetter shift, by October 8, drought had been erased from virtually all of western South Dakota and northeast Wyoming.
- By late May 2013, Albuquerque had set its record driest two-year period dating to the 1890s. In late June, almost half of the state of New Mexico had slipped into exceptional drought, the worst drought category. Elephant Butte Reservoir had shrunk to only 3 percent capacity by late July, the lowest levels there since 1972. This reservoir supplies drinking water for nearly half of the population of El Paso, Texas.
A little less than two months later, torrential rain raised the reservoir five feet. Significant flash flooding swamped many parts of New Mexico. While summer's thunderstorm season is an annual occurrence in the Desert Southwest, thanks to the North American monsoon, rain of this magnitude must have seemed inconceivable just a few months earlier during the peak of the drought.
- After a rather lackluster snow season in 2012-2013, Colorado's long-term drought persisted into the summer of 2013. In mid-June, 12 counties in southwest Colorado qualified for federal disaster relief. As of July 9, the entire state remained in drought. What followed in mid-September will likely be the first billion-dollar flood disaster in the state's history.
Parts of Boulder, Larimer, Jefferson and southwest Weld Counties, as well as the east side of the Denver metro area, were swamped with over 10 inches of rain, much of which fell in a three-day period from Sept. 11-13. Floodwater roared through the Big Thompson Canyon and Boulder Canyon, among other locations, sending the Cache La Poudre, St. Vrain and South Platte rivers into flood. In another oddity, the South Platte River flood crest moved downstream to another drought-stricken state, Nebraska.
(more at link)


Solar eruption could help Earth prepare for technology melt-down - A sobering study published this month in Space Weather warns why we need to get better prepared for disruptive space weather events – particularly coronal mass ejections.
The current solar maximum – a period of high solar activity – is showing only a moderate amount of sunspot activity. However, recent space weather events, some of which have resulted in geomagnetic storms on Earth, have been far from insignificant. Several solar eruptions have hurled vast amounts of solar material into space in the past year or two. One of the most impressive events actually narrowly missed the Earth on July 23-24 last year.
The speed and magnitude of this disturbance were extreme (to say the least). It travelled from the sun's surface out to the distance of Earth's orbit (1 AU; astronomical unit, the mean sun-Earth distance) in 19 hours. Typically, space scientists allow two to three days' travel time for coronal mass ejections. The 2012 event – one of the fastest ejections ever measured – was initially estimated to be travelling at 2,500 km/s, almost ten times greater than typical solar wind speeds!
Had that coronal mass ejection occurred approximately one week prior, Earth would have been in the direct firing line. This would no doubt have spawned many and serious problems across a number of technologies. If the solar disturbance had hit Earth, it would have been one of the most intense storms of the past century. The resulting geomagnetic storm would have been much worse had it occurred close to an equinox at the most vulnerable time of the day. If the disturbance had taken place at the most vulnerable time of the day, at the most vulnerable time of the year, it would have been the most intense geomagnetic disturbance in the technological age.