Tuesday, October 22, 2013

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

** Celebrating Global Disaster Watch's 1000th post on blogspot today! Over 2,350,000 page views since July 2007. **
(The total including the previous hosting sites for the webpage - Angelfire and Home.att - is over 7 million page views since 1998.)

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 10/21/13 -

+ OARFISH AND QUAKES - Could the appearance of rare "sea serpents" washing ashore beaches in Southern California portend disaster? The question comes following the discovery of the carcass of a rare 18-foot-long oarfish off the coast of Catalina Island on Oct. 13, followed by another snakelike 14-foot-long oarfish found on Oct. 18 in Oceanside. Fishermen in Japan reported a sharp uptick in oarfish sightings in March 2010 following the massive magnitude-8.8 earthquake in Chile, and almost exactly one year later northeast Japan was devastated by its own magnitude-8.9 quake.
Oarfish, which can grow to more than 50 feet in length, are considered the longest bony fish in the world. They typically dive more than 3,000 feet deep, which makes sightings rare and has fueled various serpent legends throughout history. According to traditional Japanese lore, oarfish rise to the water’s surface and beach themselves to warn of an impending earthquake, a notion that some scientists have speculated could be supported by the bottom-dwelling fish being more sensitive to seismic shifts.
Known as the "Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace," over a dozen "ryugu no tsukai," or slender oarfish, either washed ashore or were caught in fishing nets in the Ishikawa, Toyama, Kyoto, Shimane and Nagasaki prefectures near the quake’s epicenter months before the 2011 quake hit, according to several reports. Scientists, however, say there is no data to support an actual link between the two phenomena.
A record number of sea lion sightings were reported along Southland, California, beaches earlier this year, including one "unusual mortality event" in April that saw hundreds of ailing sea lion pups washed ashore.

California Quake Faults Mapping Has Slowed - Very few earthquake faults in California have been mapped over the past two decades despite an ambitious campaign launched in the early 1970s to help scientists learn more about the state's seismic activity.

Philippines - Death toll in Visayas killer quake nearing 200. Quake death toll up to 183 as of Saturday evening, 9 people still missing, 583 people injured. 1937 aftershocks recorded so far. Residents in earthquake areas advised to boil drinking water.
The Philippine President says that the government needs at least P7 billion ($162.79 million) to rehabilitate the earthquake- stricken areas in central Philippines, particularly in Bohol province.

Klyuchevskoy (Kliuchevskoi) volcano in Russia's Kamchatka region climaxed a week of eruptions by spewing ash 33,000 feet (10,058 meters). The eruption prompted airspace warnings in Alaska. The villages of Lazo and Atlasovo in Kamchatka's Milkovo district were coated with a layer of ash following the eruption on Friday which churned out ash to a height of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). the eruption ended on Sunday. All told, seven volcanos were listed as “active or restless” in Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula and Northern Kuriles.
Eruption slideshow

+ India reporting a mysterious 'volcanic' eruption that took place on Sunday, October 13, close to the village of Tusom in the Ukhrul District of Manipur State in northeast India. The eruption apparently comprised a loud explosion, followed by boulders rolling down a hill, followed by a 'lava-like' substance which scorched plants and trees. The event led to the blocking of a road connecting Tusom to Somra in Myanmar. Indian officials have declined to comment on whether this is a true volcanic eruption until an investigation has taken place.
There are currently no active volcanoes in the India/Myanmar border region, or indeed anywhere in mainland South or Southeast Asia, however the region is located on the boundary between the Indian and Eurasian Plates, two tectonic plates currently in a state of collision, so volcanic activity here is, at least in theory, possible.
However it is also possible that the source of the eruption is a mud volcano, the result not of hot magma rising up from deep within the Earth, but of liquids or gasses being released suddenly from rocks into soft sediments, resulting in dramatic upwelling of mud and gas. A number of such mud volcanoes are known in northern Myanmar, associated with gasses which are released from oil fields there during (fairly frequent) earthquakes. Since the gasses released by these events are highly flammable, explosions and burning of vegetation are a possible side effect of such eruptions.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical storm Lorenzo is located about 650 miles (1020 km) east-southeast of Bermuda.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Francisco is located approximately 152 nm west of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

- Typhoon Lekima is located approximately 827 nm east of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Hurricane Raymond is located about 160 mi (255 km) WSW of Acapulco, Mexico.
- HURRICANE RAYMOND roared into life on Sunday just offshore from Acapulco, Mexico, rapidly intensifying from a minimal-strength tropical storm with 40 mph winds to a major Category 3 hurricane in just 24 hours. Raymond is the first major hurricane in the Eastern Pacific in 2013, making it the first year since 1968 that both the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic had made it into October without a major hurricane.
Raymond has brought more than 3" of rain so far to Acapulco, where a Hurricane Watch is posted. Raymond is expected to bring heavy rains of up to 8" 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. This was the second most expensive weather-related disaster in Mexican history, behind the $6 billion in damage (2013 dollars) wrought by Hurricane Wilma in October 2005.
Raymond is in an area with weak steering currents, and is likely to show some erratic movement until Wednesday, when a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build in and force the storm westwards, away form the coast. Given Raymond's very slow movement, the storm may weaken later today and on Tuesday, as it stirs up colder water from below. However, there is no evidence of weakening on the latest satellite loops, which show a well-organized hurricane with a prominent eye and impressive-looking eyewall clouds with cold tops that reach high into the atmosphere.

- In the Middle Atlantic, Tropical Depression Thirteen formed from an area of disturbed weather located about 650 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, intensifying into TROPICAL STORM LORENZO. It will not be a threat to any land areas.

- TYPHOON FRANCISCO headed towards Japan - Category 2 Typhoon Francisco has steadily weakened on Sunday and Monday, after spending just over a day as Earth's third Category 5 storm of 2013 on Saturday. Satellite loops show a large, cloud-filled eye and a decaying eyewall. Since wind shear remains low, the weakening is likely in response to cooler ocean temperatures, since 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 undergoing transition to an extratropical storm. Francisco's interaction with a cold front over Japan during this process will bring very heavy rains to Japan, and these rains (4 - 8 inches) will pose a serious flooding threat, as the soils have not had a chance to dry out much from the record rains that Typhoon Wipha brought last week.

China's 10th-largest city shuts down because of extreme air pollution - Harbin, China, the nation's 10th most populous city with a population of 11 million, has virtually shut down today because of extreme levels of air pollution reaching up to 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter. The safe level recommended by the World Heath Organization is just 25 micrograms per cubic meter. The dense pollution was created by stagnant air on a day when the city's heating systems kicked in for the first time this fall. With visibility less than 50 yards, the airport was forced to close, as well as most schools and some roads. (video and satellite images at link)

Powerful Typhoon Francisco on track for Fukushima - Typhoon Lekima develops in Pacific. There are concerns that the storms may collide. Both could hit the east coast of Japan later in the week.
Another powerful typhoon is taking a similar course to that of Typhoon Wipha, which caused massive damage to Oshima Island and other parts of the Kanto region around Tokyo. The Meteorological Agency is urging the public to pay close attention to information released on the typhoon. Super typhoon Francisco is forecast to strike Japan as a tropical storm at about 09:00 GMT on 25 October. Francisco is expected to bring 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 101 km/h (63 mph). Wind gusts in the area may be considerably higher.
Two tropical storms, Francisco and Lekima, are expected to hit the east coast of Japan around Thursday. The storms may indirectly affect Korea’s weather. The two typhoons could meet. “When two or more typhoons collide, they affect each other’s path and strength. It’s called the Fujiwara effect. Though we are expecting that they are moving along their own paths, there still is the possibility that the two could change course.”

Cyclone Phailin - Not a year passes without a cyclone wreaking havoc on towns and villages lining India's east coast. Cyclone Phailin, however, was quite unlike the others that preceded it, in more ways than one. Its intensity was such that meteorologists world over sat up and took notice. "You really don't get storms stronger than this anywhere in the world, ever. THIS IS THE TOP OF THE BARREL".
From the moment that TV channels and newspapers broke the news that a CYCLONE OF UNPRECEDENTED PROPORTIONS was going to hit, Vizagites expected gusty winds, thunderous skies, torrential rains and even tidal waves. Strangely, none of that ever happened. In what appeared to be an anticlimax, Visakhapatnam stayed eerily calm. 'It is the calm before the storm,' they thought. They couldn't have been more wrong. The storm gave Visakhapatnam a total go by. It was just as well, since the cyclone shelters built more than a decade ago near Visakhapatnam are in a state of utter disrepair.
Instead of heaving a sigh of relief, some Vizagites displayed a macabre sense of disappointment. Some others thought that Phailin had entertainment value and rushed to the beach, armed with cameras to capture the grand spectacle. The police had a tough time controlling the crowds.
The international scientific communityt was widely off the mark. Both London-based Tropical Storm and the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre forecast winds reaching 315 km per hour on landfall, classifying Phailin as the most powerful. A scientist of the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System run by the United Nations and the European Commission said, "Everything I know as a meteorologist tells me this is the equivalent of a Category-5 hurricane -- among the strongest on earth in 2013. That would mean Phailin could be the strongest cyclone ever measured in the Indian Ocean."
In the face of such international pressure, India's scientists stayed firm. They did not get swayed into upgrading the cyclonic wind speed to anything more than 220 kmph. They were proved right. They were also spot on in their predictions of the cyclonic path, location and the time of landfall.
India: Cyclone Phailin plundered fruit bowl - The mighty peripheral current of cyclone Phailin, which tore through the state of Odisha on October 12-13, has taken a heavy toll on mango, litchi and guava orchards. The total loss to fisheries and shrimp sectors during the recent cyclone and torrential rain in the state would be around Rs 364 crore. Phailin is estimated to have destroyed around 26 lakh trees in the state.


+ Wales is bracing itself for a WEEK of torrential rain after an "APOCALYPTIC" STORM left parts of the capital city under several inches of water over the weekend. Police in Cardiff were forced to close roads on Saturday afternoon while shops were forced shut by unexpected flash-floods. Pentrebane, Llandaff, Roath and Cathays were hit by the heavy rainfall while witnesses described how Whitchurch village was "turned into a well" in just half an hour.
A priest-in-charge of the Church of the Resurrection in Ely described the rain as "apocalyptic" and said many roads in the local area were closed because of flooding. "The weather was so horrendous and flooding all over the place in west Cardiff and police closed lots of the roads in Ely. It’s about the worst rain I have ever seen. It was horrendous."
"I’m not exaggerating when I say there was four or five inches of water on the road, cars were trapped, even buses were using the central camper of the road to get by. The rain was relentless, it kept coming down with the same ferocity for maybe half an hour, turning Whitchurch Village into a well. Heavy rain is set to continue over the whole of Wales this week while the Met Office said that high pressure to the north of the UK could bring above-average rainfall over the next two months. "It is likely there will be more flash flooding over the next few days." Driving rain and gusts of up to 50mph are likely to last all week. "This is due to a low pressure system barrelling in from the Atlantic, with the South and the East in for the most unsettled conditions."


+ AUSTRALIA WILDFIRES encircling Sydney suburbs - video (2:19). Firefighters are dealing with "UNPARALLELED CONDITIONS" as New South Wales continues to battle wildfires which have destroyed hundreds of homes. the fire service has warned conditions will worsen, possibly peaking on Wednesday, as three blazes merge to form one fire front.
Australia - The picturesque Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, had all the ingredients for a perfect firestorm last week, but its communities may only be the first of many ravaged by bushfires this summer. Heavy downpours across the southern states earlier this year had generated vast fields of wild grassland, while remarkably dry conditions and fierce winds in recent months cured it into the ideal bushfire fuel -- coarse and ready to ignite.
All it needed was the right set of weather conditions, which arrived spectacularly last Thursday with scorching temperatures, 90km/h gusts and humidity that frequently dipped below 10 per cent. That combination of heavy fuel, minimal rain and soaring temperatures meant the fire came early to the mountains. The destruction of more than 200 homes over a matter of hours in mid-October marked an ominous start to the nation's summer of extreme weather.
Meteorologists are forecasting that above-average temperatures will continue across every state and territory FOR MONTHS TO COME. And despite the best efforts of firefighters to stem the damage, bitter experience has taught them that only a change in weather can help firefighters deal a fatal blow to any blaze. "Around the Sydney region at the moment, it's really a day-to-day proposition according to what each weather system does. And it's not looking good going into the middle of the week. We're just hoping for rain. Nothing looks likely at the moment, not the sort of rain that's going to drastically change the situation."
"It's probably the most significant fire in terms of property loss in the Blue Mountains since about 1957. It's going to be a long, hard campaign for people." Meteorologists have also forecast an increased number of heatwaves and thunderstorms that could potentially spark further bushfires.
"We've just had our HOTTEST SUMMER ON RECORD FOR AUSTRALIA, our HOTTEST 12-MONTH PERIOD ON RECORD and our HOTTEST SEPTEMBER ON RECORD. We don't expect average or below-average temperatures ANYWHERE around the country during summer." Perth and Adelaide can each expect up to two heatwaves -- defined as five consecutive days with temperatures at least 5 C above average -- while Melbourne and Canberra can each expect one.
The extreme temperatures are not driven by Australia's traditional vulnerability to the El Nino and La Nina weather patterns, as that measure is neutral this season. Warmer ocean temperatures are blamed instead. Up to 27 thunderstorms are expected to strike within 150km of Brisbane, compared with a long-term average of 20 thunderstorms, posing a particular fire danger to towns near the Burnett River, north of Brisbane. Those towns -- which include Bundaberg, Kingaroy and Gayndah -- are surrounded by vegetation as a consequence of flooding rains delivered by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, which battered communities in January.
But the state's rural fire chief is also warning against complacency among drought-stricken communities in the state's west, where some pockets of vegetation still exist. "Certainly the seasonal outlook is for above-average bushfire potential in western Queensland because it is so dry. I suppose the mitigating factor is that in a number of those areas there isn't a lot of vegetation left because of the drought, the stock (needing to feed) and so forth. So (the vegetation is) inconsistent. And across coastal Queensland we're looking at an average season, but we're not lulled into complacency; an average season still has quite a deal of bushfires." Above-normal fire potential is also expected in Western Australia's Mid West and desert regions, where heavy rains "resulted in very high annual grass growth and high fuel loads".


Iowa scientists say climate change is affecting farming - A report looks at the extreme weather this year marked by the WETTEST SPRING ON RECORD followed by the second-driest July through September ever.

+ Worse than we ever imagined - Pacific Ocean is 'broken'. A sailor returning to the area reports, "After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead” . Nothing alive for over 3,000 miles. No longer saw turtles, dolphins, sharks, birds. Saw one whale, it appeared helpless with big tumor on its head.


California On Alert For Yellow Fever Carrying Mosquitoes - Californians have been warned to be on lookout for yellow fever-carrying mosquitoes, which are most commonly found in hot tropics of the world.


On Oct. 21, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 34 fireballs. (15 Orionids, 13 sporadics, 4 Leonis Minorids, 2 epsilon Geminids)

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