Thursday, November 28, 2013

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

There will be no update on Friday this week.
**Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say,
abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.**
George Eliot

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 11/27/13 -

New Zealand Earthquakes Weakened Earth's Crust - A series of deadly earthquakes that shook New Zealand in 2010 and 2011 may have weakened a portion of Earth's crust, researchers say.
DCI New Zealand lies along the dangerous Ring of Fire — a narrow zone around the Pacific Ocean where about 90 percent of all the world's earthquakes, and 80 percent of the largest ones, strike. A devastating magnitude- 6.3 quake struck New Zealand's South Island in 2011. Centered very close to Christchurch, the country's second-largest city, it killed 185 people and damaged or destroyed 100,000 buildings. The earthquake was the costliest disaster to ever strike New Zealand, consuming about one-sixth of the country's gross domestic product.
This lethal earthquake was the aftershock of a magnitude-7.1 temblor that struck 172 days earlier (in 2010) in the area, causing millions of dollars in damage to bridges and buildings, and seriously injuring two people. Although the 2010 temblor was stronger than its aftershock, it caused less damage because it occurred farther away from any city. The 2011 earthquake was, in turn, followed by a number of large aftershocks of its own.
Scientists found that most of the earthquakes that struck New Zealand during these two years released ABNORMALLY HIGH LEVELS OF ENERGY, consistent with those seen from ruptures of very strong faults in the Earth's crust. The scientists analyzed seismic waves detected before and after the quakes. Based on this data, including seismic waves from more than 11,500 aftershocks of the 2010 quake, they mapped the 3D structure of the rock under the Canterbury Plains, similar to the way ultrasound data can provide an image of a fetus in a womb. (photos)
Canterbury earthquakes were HIGHLY UNUSUAL - The Canterbury earthquakes were even more unusual than first thought and unlikely to occur anywhere else in the world, new research reveals.
Research showed the UNUSUAL ROCK STRUCTURE of the region meant the Canterbury earthquakes produced some of the strongest vertical ground accelerations EVER SEEN in an earthquake. The makeup of this unique dense and thick slab of rock could have implications for other regions around the lower South Island. ''There will be few other places in the world where a similar earthquake sequence might occur."
The research showed that the strong quakes in Canterbury also could cause widespread cracking and weakening of the earth's crust - challenging the common assumption that the strength of the crust was constant. Normally rocks become hot and ''plastic'' at depths of about 10km. However, the researchers found that strong, brittle rocks continued to a depth of about 30km under Canterbury. ''Strong rocks store and release strain differently to weak rocks."
This UNUSUALLY thick and dense slab of rock helps to explain the long and energetic aftershock sequence in Canterbury. Seismic energy would have dissipated more quickly in softer rock.The researchers were now focussed on determining how widespread this strong rock unit is in the lower half of the South Island. "This is important for defining the earthquake hazard for people living between mid-Canterbury and Southland."
Researchers found that rock properties had changed significantly over a wide area around the Greendale Fault, which ruptured on 4 September 2010 producing a magnitude 7.1 quake. "This finding was entirely unexpected, but it explains why the main shock released so much energy." Most of the quakes in the two-year-long Canterbury sequence released ABNORMALLY HIGH LEVELS OF ENERGY - this was consistent with the ruptures occurring on very strong faults that store energy slowly and gradually and are hard to break. The Canterbury quakes had their genesis 100 million years ago when very strong rocks became emplaced under Canterbury.
The delay between the September 2010 and Feburary 2011 quakes also may have been caused by a ''strength recovery'' required for the crust following the cracking following the September quake.

South Carolina - 11/25/13 - Reports of mysterious “booms” light up Twitter on Monday evening. Twitter came alive with reports of loud booms off of James Island. It happens at least once a year: Residents along the coast report hearing and feeling booms that rattle their windows and shake their walls. The media investigates, calling local seismologists and the Air Force asking if they might know the source of the explosion and – nothing. Everyone shrugs their shoulders and mutters “Seneca Guns”, an unexplained phenomenon that dates back more than 100 years.

Arizona - 11/26/13 - Mysterious booms rock Verde Valley. More mysterious 'booms' reported in Verde Valley area. Last year, about this same time, residents in Verde Valley heard some mysterious, unexplained booms.
"It was a whole series of booms. Up to six or seven. It was fast, it went loud. We were quiet and then my daughter down the hall screams really loud, ‘Did you hear that?' I sat there for a second and I heard another set." Residents in communities in and around Verde Valley and as far as Flagstaff called 911 or their police and fire departments to report the strange booming sounds. "It sounded like thunder, but underground. Like muffled thunder. And all the dogs in the neighborhood, all of them that were outside all started barking at once."
CBS News first received reports of the explosion-like noises shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday and began checking with law enforcement and government sources. The U.S. Geological Survey reports no significant earthquake activity in Arizona that could have created the booms. The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office had deputies in the area who either heard it or tried to respond to resident calls. They found nothing.
Last year around this same time, similar mysterious booms were heard by other residents in the Verde Valley. There is some military activity that takes place with the U.S. Air Force flying planes over the area. "It is kind of strange that it would be re-occurring and, in that case, maybe it indicates some sort of man-made source. Who knows?"
The Sedona Fire District dispatched a crew to check a report of a strange odor, but that was unfounded and may not be related to the sounds. The Camp Verde Marshal also received a number of phone calls about the booms. Officers found no evidence of any explosions. But the Verde Valley contains large expanses of uninhabited land. "Maybe when the light comes back they'll find something." "It was just, ‘boom-boom-boom-boom-boom all over the Verde Valley."
Reports of similar booms are once again being called in to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office. This time, primarily from the town of Chino Valley. "The way to describe it is like a hammer being slammed down next to the house. It was two hard hits and the house jumped, if felt like a jump, and I could hear the windows rattle a little bit, some glasses rattled." The first mysterious sound happened Monday around 10:20 a.m. and the second one at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday. It was a vertical jolt and after having lived through plenty of earthquakes while a resident in Southern California, a resident was sure it wasn't one. No earthquakes were reported in Arizona by the U.S. Geologic Survey on Tuesday.
The Verde Valley area had the same type of mysterious sounds about this time last year near Sedona. Last year, the calls went to the sheriff's office and the fire department. The Yavapai county Sheriff's Office on Tuesday said it checked out the reports. "Deputies conducted searches on both sides of Mingus Mountain, Prescott and Verde basins, and the source of the booms is classified unfounded."

Pennsylvania - 11/23/13 - Police say source of booms still unexplained. Police are puzzled by reports of booms heard throughout Philadelphia last week. Reports came in last week from some residents of the Woodland Hills neighborhood about hearing booms late at night. "We got a call on Saturday about booms around Azalea Drive and Chaney Avenue. Our officers went out there but couldn't find anything." The sounds might have originated in the country but were picked up by city residents.
Earlier this year it was discovered that a similar boom was caused by an explosive target used to blow up a beaver dam in the Williamsville community. The targets, which are often available for purchase at pawn shops and gun shows, explode when hit by a high-powered rifle round.

Small explosion rocks restless Alaska volcano - Mt. Cleveland, an active volcano in the Aleutian Islands underwent a brief, small explosion Tuesday. The AVO currently lists Cleveland at a yellow alert level; it has been at that level since being downgraded from orange following its eruption in May.


Ocean rip currents deadlier than bushfires in Australia. They might not make headlines like bushfires, floods, cyclones and sharks, but a study shows rip currents kill more people in Australia than all those threats combined.
There were an average 21 confirmed deaths involving rips per year between 2004 and 2011. The average yearly death toll from bushfires, floods, cyclones and shark attacks paled in comparison, with 5.9, 4.3, 7.5 and one respectively. "Rips account for greater overall loss of human life than other high profile natural hazards. Yet they do not get anywhere near as much attention and dedicated funding."
Events like bushfires have the capacity to claim many lives in a single disaster. "On the other hand, rip currents are almost always present and rarely result in more than one death at a time. But in the end, more people die as a result of them."

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the North Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone Lehar is located approximately 215 nm east-northeast of Chennai, India.
Lehar weakens to a tropical storm - threat to India lessens. Cyclone Lehar has met up with dry air and strong upper level winds that have torn into the storm, reducing it to a tropical storm with 65 mph winds at it heads west-northwest at 17 mph towards India's Bay of Bengal coast. Satellite images show that Lehar is much less organized than before, with a much diminished area of heavy thunderstorms. Cooler waters near shore and continued dry air and wind shear as the storm nears landfall will keep Lehar below hurricane strength until landfall. Landfall is expected to occur between 06 - 12 UTC today, November 28, in the Andhra Pradesh state of India.
UPDATE - The very severe cyclonic storm Lehar weakened to a cyclonic storm Wednesday, as wind speed fell to 90 kmph from 180 kmph, hours before landfall expected on Thursday. It changed direction and may now make landfall as a cyclonic storm between Machilipatnam and Nellore.
“It will cross the coast as a cyclonic storm, similar to the pattern of Helen and, within the next 12 hours, it will further weaken into a deep depression. Many areas across Telangana, including the city, may get heavy rainfall on November 28 and 29 under the influence of Lehar as it is moving west-north-west.”
The declining trend started as the wind field of the system weakened though it was moving steadily. The Cyclone Warning Centre in Visakhapatnam forecast that the cyclonic storm may strike the coast as a tropical storm and the point of landfall will be near Perupalem beach in West Godavari district.
Lehar is currently located over the Bay of Bengal at about 450 km east-southeast of Machilipatnam and 400 km south-east of Kakinada. It is moving at a very slow pace of 15 kmph. It will move west-north-westwards and will weaken gradually crossing the AP coast near Machilipatnam as a cyclonic storm on November 28 afternoon. According to the Meteorological department, four coastal districts of Krishna, Guntur, East and West Godavari, are likely to be heavily impacted by the storm. Visakhapatnam, Prakasam, Nellore, Vizainagaram and Srikakulam will be less affected.
“Lehar is very unpredictable. It is coming under the influence of the Northeast monsoon and is losing its strength. It is approaching the coast, but the impact is thankfully less than predicted." Very rough sea conditions, with very high waves on November 28 accompanied by a storm surge of 1.0 metres above astronomical tide will inundate low-lying areas of West and East Godavari, Guntur and Krishna districts of AP and Yanam district of Puducherry.
Fishing operations have been suspended and coastal hutment dwellers have been moved to a safer place. Squally wind speeds reaching 70-80 kmph, gusting to 90 kmph, will commence along and off coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, and could cause extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts, agricultural crops, and communication systems. Coastal areas have been getting heavy rains from Wednesday evening, and the intensity is expected to increase today, (photo, plus 16 photos of Cyclone Helen damage from last Friday.)


Winter storm Boreas - Tornado in North carolina. Heavy snow piled up Wednesday in parts of the Northeast and Appalachians while rain drenched locations closer to the coast as a winter storm disrupted millions of travelers heading out for Thanksgiving.
Nationwide, nearly 475 flights had been canceled and more than 3,600 had been delayed as of late afternoon. Some of the worst delays were at Philadelphia and the three New York City area airports. Although the storm will be long gone by Thursday morning, howling winds in its wake could spell trouble for some of the big balloons at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City.
Snow fell in the Appalachians and portions of the interior Northeast. A heavy snowstorm forecast for Pittsburgh -- and dubbed the "Gobblegeddon" -- failed to develop as snow turned to rain in the city, but did strike northern counties, bringing more than 9 inches to Mercer County. Snow was reported falling as far south as Atlanta. The city picked up 0.4 inch of snow, which was only the third time measurable snow fell there in November since 1930.
Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories remained in effect as of late afternoon Wednesday in the central and southern Appalachians, portions of northeast Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania, upstate New York and northern Maine. More lake-effect snow was forecast to fly on Thursday around the Great Lakes.
Flood watches also remained in effect for drenched eastern portions of the Northeast. Earlier Wednesday, the weather service confirmed that an EF-2 tornado hit Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, injuring two people. This was the same storm that blitzed the Southwest earlier in the week, killing at least 12 people in traffic accidents. More than 43 million people were expected to travel over the long holiday weekend. (photos at link)

Canada's winter weather forecast - Country in for series of extreme 'wild swings, from freezing to mild. Canadians are being warned to expect wild swings in the weather this winter, giving each month of the season its own “distinct personality.”
The Weather Network is forecasting periods of intense storms that could leave Canadians thinking they’re heading for one of the nastiest winters in a while, followed by spells of relatively tranquil weather. “A lot of ups and downs - that’s the real headline for the next three months. We think that like how much of November has gone with these wild swings in temperature, from mild to cold to mild again, that we’ll keep that trend.”
The predicted twists and turns will stem from there being no El Niño or La Niña in the tropical Pacific to send “strong signals” and drive North American weather patterns. “This year we don’t have either. We have what we affectionately dub ‘La Nada’ - which is ‘the nothing'. That’s a big part of our reasoning why there’s going to be a lot of extremes and how each month of the winter may have a very distinct personality - because of a fight that’s going on between the milder air from the south and the classic cold arctic air from the north.”
The country is likely heading into a “highly variable and changeable winter.” The Atlantic region will be “fairly stormy” but is on track for fewer Nor’easters than usual, with temperatures and snowfall at or near normal levels. Ontario and Quebec will also see temperatures balance out at close to normal levels, but the next three months will be marked by a “see-saw” of Arctic air and more moderate temperatures, as have been seen in recent weeks.
While the Prairies have gotten a “quick start” to winter with recent storms, over the course of the season conditions will see temperatures in line with the norm, while conditions in the North will also skew close to normal. The “La Nada” weather pattern should leave much of British Columbia at or below its usual levels of precipitation. “As a result we don’t think there’ll be quite as many ‘Pineapple Expresses’ that come through. We’ll still get our share of rain but we may not see quite as much as we usually do.”


+ Wildebeest herd makes 'RARE' early return to Tanzania - Thousands of wildebeest have returned early from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park in a move park officials say is rare.The animals began migrating from Kenya to Tanzania in September and were not expected to return until April.
Park officials have "NEVER EXPERIENCED THIS BEFORE". Drought in Tanzania was the likely cause. A lack of pasture in Tanzania due to the drought was probably the reason why they had made the journey north so early. "They look very thin."
The UNUSUAL OCCURRENCE is likely to have a positive effect on tourism in Kenya, less so for Tanzania. The annual migration of more than one million wildebeest between the Seregenti National Park in Tanzania and Kenya's Masai Mara Game Reserve is a spectacle that draws tourists from around the world. The sight of wildebeest crossing the crocodile-infested Mara River has been described as the seventh wonder of the world.


Australian seas contain an invisible potential killer more deadly than any sharks, crocodiles, jellyfish or snakes. The first in-depth test of its kind in waters around Australia found widespread pollution with micro-plastics - plastic particles less than 5mm long which would go unnoticed by the casual observer.
The research concludes there are on average more than 4000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of water. And scientists warn there could be disastrous effects on the food chain - including humans - unless action is taken to cut the amount of plastic being flushed away. Many of the plastics found contain toxic chemicals which could work their way up the food chain to humans.
"There is increasing evidence that marine animals, ranging from plankton to whales, ingest large amounts of plastics loaded with pollutants, which may then be incorporated into the food chain. We need to decrease plastic waste and toxicity, regulate plastic disposal on land at an international level, and better enforce the laws prohibiting dumping plastics at sea."
The study did a dragnet at 57 locations around Australia, plus waters near Fiji. They found evidence of micro-plastics at 53 sites, a 93 per cent hit rate. The majority came from broken down polyethylene and polypropylene, which are used to make fishing gear and disposable packaging like water bottles and plastic cups. The sources of the pollution could be both domestic and international.
High concentrations were found close to Sydney and Brisbane, but also in remote areas where ocean currents converge, like south west of Tasmania and Western Australia's North West Shelf. The pollution level is lower than the world's worst-hit oceans - for now. The study says the so-called "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", between the United States and Japan, contains 334,271 pieces of plastic per square kilometre.


Salt in medicines 'poses a health risk' - Soluble painkillers used by millions of people could pose a health risk because they are high in salt, UK researchers are warning. Some formulations taken at maximum dose tip users over the recommended daily sodium intake for an adult, with potentially dangerous consequences. The study found a link between effervescent tablets and heart attacks and stroke.
Many effervescent medicines contain salt. This is because in order to fizz and dissolve, they contain a substance called bicarbonate, which is often combined with sodium. Compared with patients taking the same drugs without salt, those who regularly took effervescent or soluble medications increased their risk of having a heart attack, stroke or dying from a vascular cause by a fifth. They were also seven times more likely to develop high blood pressure or hypertension, which the researchers say is at the root of the problem.
"We know that high salt causes hypertension and that hypertension leads to stroke." The British Heart Foundation said it was important to remember that the research applied to people who were taking these medicines every day - it did not mean that occasional use could damage your heart health.
"It is extraordinary to think that sodium has been hiding in our medicines all this time. Without clear labelling on these products, it is impossible to know how much additional sodium you would be eating, so it is shocking to find you could be having more than your daily maximum from medicines alone. Eating too much sodium - in any form - puts up our blood pressure, which puts you at increased risk of strokes and heart attacks, the biggest killers in the world."


Critical time for Ison - 'comet of the century'. Astronomers are anxiously waiting to see if the comet survives its encounter with the Sun. Comet Ison will reach its closest approach to our star at approximately 18:35 GMT today.

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - with breaking news during the day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2013

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

**The nice thing about being a celebrity is that
if you bore people they think it's their fault.**
Henry Kissinger

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 11/25/13 -

Indonesian Volcano Prompts More Evacuations - but it's still safe says an expert. The volatile Sinabung volcano in the northern part of Indonesia's Sumatra island continued spewing thick plumes of volcanic ash and rubble Tuesday. Nearly 18,000 people have had to flee the eruption.

The Volcano In Indonesia Is One Of 35 Volcanoes Currently Erupting Worldwide - The Sinabung is just one of 35 active, erupting volcanoes in the world. Of the 35, seven are in Indonesia. Most of Indonesia is situated along the “Ring of Fire” - a horseshoe shaped ring around the Pacific where most earthquakes and volcanic eruptions take place. (map)

Seven Volcanoes in Six Countries Erupt within Hours - But no Sign of Doomsday. The recent eruptions of seven volcanoes in six countries within the space of just a few hours sparked doomsday prophecies and claims that Armageddon was coming. But the End of Days is not nigh, experts have said. The high incidence of eruptions over a short period of time was a natural occurrence.
The erupting volcanoes were Indonesia's Mount Sinabung and Mount Merapi, Italy's Mount Etna, the Colima volcano in Mexico, Guatemala's Fire Mountain and Vanuatu's Yasur volcano, and an undersea volcano off the Japanese coast formed a new island. "This is perfectly normal. At any one time there can be on average 10-20 volcanoes erupting every day. So there's nothing particularly unusual, just coincidence that those all happened within an hour or so. Etna is one that's making the news a lot at the moment but Etna has been almost continuously erupting for 100 years so there's no real link between it erupting and anything else occurring."
Mount Etna has a constant supply of magma so there were no huge explosions. Kilauea in Hawaii is similar. "On the other end of the scale are volcanoes like Sinabung in Indonesia. A volcano like this is over a magma chamber which has to reach a critical point to erupt. To create these big explosive eruptions the magma chamber has to become over-pressured - like a champagne cork. You need the force. The magma chamber tends to sit there for a very long time, it crystallises and starts releasing gas, and that pressure builds up and causes the eruption. Those don't tend to erupt as often as ones like Etna and Hawaii. They don't build up pressure in the same way."
There were slightly more eruptions during autumn and winter but the seven recent contemporaneous eruptions were nothing out of the ordinary. "We looked at eruptions over the last 300 years, which was about 3,000 eruptions, and we noticed there was a tendency for slightly more eruptions to take place in autumn and winter. Our hypothesis was to do with changes in the Earth's crust. We suggested that one thing that could change global stresses in that sort of way is the movement of water because the mass of the ocean reaches its maximum around September and in the Northern Hemisphere winter that water is taken out of the ocean and deposited in the Northern Hemisphere, which is actually quite a large load."
The reason for increased concerns over small volcanic clusters is the increased ability to report eruptions. "We're much more aware of volcanic activity around the world, just because of the proliferation of smartphones and webcams. It's just so much easier for this information to be distributed globally. When something dramatic happens, it is usual for people to be more aware of similar occurrences. It's a natural bias towards reporting things that might not have been out of the ordinary. It's not an alignment of the sun. There's nothing that's causing huge volcanic activity, this is all perfectly normal. It's mostly that we're just getting must better reports now, so people are able to report on it and take photos so we are able to see eruptions much more than we ever have."

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the North Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone Lehar is located approximately 390 nm southeast of Visakhapatnam, India.

Category 1 Cyclone Lehar headed towards India - Dangerous Category 1 Cyclone Lehar is slowly intensifying as it heads west-northwest at 10 mph towards India's Bay of Bengal coast. Lehar has not been able to form a prominent eye, and is likely having problems getting organized in the face of moderate wind shear.
Ocean temperatures are a very warm 28 - 29°C, and Lehar should be able to attain Category 2 strength before landfall Thursday. Cooler waters near shore and an increase in wind shear as the storm nears landfall will likely mean that Lehar will be weakening as it comes ashore.
Landfall is expected to occur near 06 UTC Thursday, November 28, in the Andhra Pradesh state of India. This is the same portion of the coast that Cyclone Helen hit on Friday as a tropical storm with 40 mph winds. Helen's heavy rains killed eleven people, caused widespread severe agricultural damage, and left the soils saturated, which will make the rains from Lehar doubly dangerous. Also of concern is the storm surge, which will impact a portion of the coast that is heavily populated and low-lying. The India Meteorological Agency (IMD) is predicting a storm surge of to 2 - 3 meters (7 - 10 feet) to the right of where the eye makes landfall.

Tropical Cyclone Lehar has already passed over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Port Blair, the capital of the Andamans, recorded 237mm [9.33 inches] of rain in less than 48 hours.
Lehar has since moved to the east of the islands and is making slow progress towards the northwest. It is expected to gain strength as it moves over the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal in the coming days. A lack of wind shear, a change of direction with height, will aid its development.
As Lehar approaches India’s Eastern Ghats, it is expected to be the equivalent of a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale (5 being the highest). Landfall will occur close to Machilipatnam, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, at 13GMT on Thursday. At this time sustained winds are predicted to be 175 kph with gusts of 215 kph. Winds of this strength are sufficient to cause a substantial risk of injury or death due to flying or falling debris.
The deadliest element of many of these storms is the surge – the elevated water level produced by the wind. In this case, the latest forecasts suggest a surge of just 0.6 metres. But with around 700,000 people living within 5 metres of sea level within the affected area, the authorities are leaving nothing to chance. The commissioner for Andhra Pradesh disaster management department said that an evacuation would begin on Tuesday.
Warnings and advisories have already been issued to fishermen operating off the coasts of Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha. Lehar will strike the region just one week after a much weaker tropical cyclone, Helen, hit the same area, and barely six weeks after Severe Tropical Cyclone Phailin caused widespread damage and destruction, killing 45 people.

Australia - Damaging winds, with gusts in excess of 100km/h and flood rains are expected in the Gulf of Carpentaria and Mornington Island today as ex-Tropical Cyclone Alessia hovers near the coast. The low is in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, about 240km west-northwest of Mornington Island and moving southeast.
It is expected to move south to southwest towards the coast today. The Weather Bureau expects possible flash flooding along coastal and adjacent inland areas west of Burketown. Rainfall totals over 24 hours are expected to be in excess of 150mm. Places which may be affected include Burketown, Mornington Island and Westmoreland Station. A storm warning also has been issued for the northern tropical coast and tablelands and parts of the Peninsula, Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders and Herbert and Lower Burdekin. Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds and heavy rainfall this afternoon.
Cyclone Alessia may be reborn as it heads over the Gulf of Carpentaria as a low-pressure system and turns around for a second shot at the Territory. Alessia crossed the coast 8km southeast of Daly River mouth at 6:30pm on Sunday and was downgraded to a low shortly afterwards as it tracked east.
The low pressure system was forecast to move into the western gulf Tuesday morning. "It'll stall there for a couple of days and then it'll head back into the Top End early Thursday. Some models are getting excited but the forecast doesn't show much credibility. Friday, Saturday, or early Monday it'll move into the Timor Sea."
The cyclone risk is low for three days. "It's going to move over water and the Gulf water is quite warm for this time of year. Friday, Saturday, Sunday we'll see increased showers over the western Top End." A fallen power line was the worst of the reported damage in Darwin. No damage was reported from Daly River or Wadeye which were closest to the cyclone's path.
But surfers were smiling as a 1m swell hit northern suburbs beaches after Alessia became a low-pressure system and cruised over Katherine. That's as close as the Territory gets to perfect surfing conditions. The Weather Bureau has issued a flood warning for possible "significant" creek rises in the the Arnhem and Roper-McArthur districts for Tuesday. Rainfall of up to 80mm fell in those areas in the 24 hours to 9am Monday. Showers with rain up to 100mm, gusty storms, and creek water level rises were expected until Thursday.

Weak 2013 Atlantic hurricane season draws to close November 30th - Tropical Storm Andrea was the only tropical system to make U.S. landfall during the Atlantic 2013 hurricane season. The Atlantic hurricane season averages about 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. This year, we experienced 13 tropical storms, but only two - Ingrid and Humberto - became hurricanes. Neither was considered "major," a storm that reaches Category 3 strength. It was the fewest number of hurricanes since the 1982 season.


A very wet and windy storm for the U. S. east coast - Winter storm Boreas has tapped into an "Atmospheric River" of very moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, and the amount of water vapor available to make rain (the "Precipitable Water") will be NEAR RECORD HIGHS (for November) along the East Coast.
For example, in New York City, the Precipitable Water is expected to be near 1.7" on Wednesday morning; there has been only one higher value of Precipitable Water recorded there in November since 1948 (2.02" on November 11, 2003.)
All this moisture will generate heavy rains for coastal New England and the Mid-Atlantic, with rain amounts of 3 - 4" commonplace. The low clouds and strong winds accompanying these rains will slow air travel throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Fortunately, river levels are low due to moderate drought in much of the Northeast, and only minor flooding is expected from the heavy rains.
Accompanying the heavy rains along the coast will be high winds; a Wind Advisory for sustained winds of 20 - 30 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph, is in place along much of the coast from Delaware to Maine. While the rains will be gone on Thursday in time for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, winds will still be strong, making conditions potentially too dangerous for the balloons used in the parade. These balloons are not allowed to fly if the city experiences sustained winds of 23 mph with gusts of 34 mph. The forecast calls for sustained winds of 15 - 20 mph gusting to 40 mph on Thursday. (map & photo)


Flu pandemic in 2009 killed 10 times more than thought - Deaths from H1N1 influenza in 2009 may have been 10 times higher than previously estimated, killing 123,000 to 203,000 people from respiratory illness worldwide, according to a new analysis.

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - with breaking news during the day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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

**Everybody pities the weak;
jealousy you have to earn.**
Arnold Schwarzenegger

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 11/25/13 -

Indonesia's Mount Sinabung volcano erupts 6 more times - Powerful bursts of hot ash and gravel erupted from the rumbling volcano in western Indonesia early Monday, sending panicked villagers streaming down the sides of the mountain.
Six new eruptions in the morning sent lava and searing gas tumbling up to 1.5 kilometres down the slopes of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province. Volcanic material spewed as high as 2,000 metres into the air a day after authorities had raised the volcano's alert status to the highest level.
About 15,000 people have been evacuated from 17 villages in the danger zone five kilometres around the crater. The evacuation zone was expanded from three kilometres. Thick, gray ash covered villages, farms and trees as far as 70 kilometres north of Mount Sinabung's crater, hitting the towns of Binjai and Langkat.
"Everything turned hot surrounding us. We were running in panic under the rain of ash and gravel ... I heard many women and children screaming and crying." Fruit and vegetable farms were destroyed by the ash and schools were disrupted. The 2,600-metre Mount Sinabung has sporadically erupted since September. An eruption in 2010 killed two people and caught scientists off guard because the volcano had been quiet for four centuries.

Volcanic Eruption Sends Rocks Raining Down on Italy - Mt. Etna erupted twice in less than a week earlier this month. The first eruption took place on Nov. 16, the second on Nov. 23.
Lava flows were reportedly shot 700-800 meters in the air. Lightning was also present during the explosion, as well as plumes of gas, smoke and ash. The ash traveled across the region, coating Giardini Naxos on Sicily with black dust. It also pushed across the Strait of Messina and into the mainland. Chunks of ash and rock fell from the sky, as big as 2 centimeters in diameter.
Four air corridors that service Sicily's Catania Airport and a local highway were closed for a time as a result of the raining volcanic debris. "They must be spewed high into the sky and then carried by the winds. Those type of rocks are rather light and full of air." Some rocks and ash can also fall from the sky much like rain, as they are sent into the atmosphere and can collect on clouds to be rained down with later precipitation.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the North Indian Ocean -
Category 1 Tropical cyclone Lehar is located approximately 565 nm southeast of Visakhapatnam, India.

Dangerous Category 1 Cyclone Lehar is intensifying as it heads west-northwest at 8 mph towards India's Bay of Bengal coast. Lehar is expected to continue to intensify to a major Category 3 storm until just before landfall, which is expected to occur near 03 UTC Thursday, November 28 in the Andhra Pradesh state of India. This is the same portion of the coast that Cyclone Helen hit on Friday as a tropical storm with 40 mph winds.
Helen's heavy rains killed eleven people, caused widespread severe agricultural damage, and left the soils saturated, which will make the rains from Lehar doubly dangerous. Also of concern is the storm surge, which will impact a portion of the coast that is heavily populated and low-lying. The India Meteorological Agency is predicting that Lehar will generate a storm surge of up to 1.6 - 2.9 meters (5.2 - 9.5 feet) to the right of where the eye makes landfall.
In addition to Cyclone Helen, India's Bay of Bengal coast also was hit this year by Tropical Cyclone Phailin, a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds, which killed 44 people and did $1.1 billion in damage on October 12. It's UNUSUAL for India to get hit by so many named storms in one year.
During the past two centuries, 42 percent of Earth's tropical cyclone-associated deaths have occurred in Bangladesh, and 27 percent have occurred in India.
Andhra Pradesh Mass Evacuation Planned - India's east coast is braced for more severe storms as Tropical Cyclone Lehar looks set to reach Andhra Pradesh - just days after the area was battered by Cyclone Helen. Lehar will be stronger than Helen. While Helen had wind speeds of 100 kmph, Leher could see speeds of more than 150 kmph.

Cyclone “Helen” damaged ready-to-harvest rice crops in an estimated 460,000 hectares in India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Helen has caused widespread damage to paddy crops in the East and West Godavari districts and to coconut plantations in the Konaseema area.

Disease and hunger fears after Somalia cyclone - Two weeks ago a tropical cyclone struck the northeast coast of Somalia, killing more than 100 people and thousands of head of livestock. The storm struck the autonomous region of Puntland on November 8, after hitting the Philippines earlier.


Calm solar cycle prompts questions about impact on Earth - The surface of the sun has been surprisingly calm of late - with fewer sunspots than anytime in in the last century - prompting curious scientists to wonder just what it might mean here on Earth.
The sunspots appear in roughly 11-year cycles - increasing to a daily flurry and then subsiding drastically, before amping up again. But this cycle -- dubbed cycle 24 - has surprised scientists with its sluggishness. The number of spots counted since it kicked off in December 2008 is well below the average observed over the last 250 years. In fact, it's less than half.
"It is the weakest cycle the sun has been in for all the space age, for 50 years." The intense electromagnetic energy from sunspots has a significant impact on the sun's ultraviolet and X-ray emissions as well as on solar storms. Solar storms can interrupt telecommunications and electronic networks on Earth. Sunspot activity can also have an impact on the Earth's climate.
Cycle 23 hit its maximum in April 2000 with an average of 120 solar spots a day. The cycle then wound down, hitting bottom around December 2008, the point at which scientists marked the start of the current cycle. The minimal solar activity at the end of cycle 23 led astronomers to predict a slow cycle 24. But the reality fell even below expectations. In the first year of the cycle, during which solar activity should have risen, astronomers counted 266 days without a single sun spot.
"The forecast peak was 90 sunspots." Even though the activity has risen over the past year, "it's very clear it is not going to be close to 90. The sunspots number peaked last year at 67, almost half a typical cycle." The last time a sunspot cycle was this slow was in February 1906, the peak of cycle 14, with just 64 spots a day. The "very long minimum: three years, three times more than the previous three cycles of the space age" was a major surprise.
Cycle 24 has ALSO DIVERGED FROM THE NORM IN ANOTHER SURPRISING WAY. Typically, around the end of each 11-year sunspot cycle, the sun's magnetic fields switch direction. The northern and southern hemispheres change polarity, usually simultaneously. During the swap, the strength of the magnetic fields drops to near zero and reappears when the polarity is reversed, scientists explain.
But this time, SOMETHING DIFFERENT SEEMS TO BE HAPPENING. The north pole already reversed its polarity several months ago -- and so it's now the same polarity as the south pole. According to the most recent satellite measurements, "the south hemisphere should flip on the near future."
Scientists are watching the sun carefully to see whether cycle 24 is going to be an aberration -- or if this solar calmness is going to stretch through the next cycle as well. "We won't know that for another good three or four years." Some researchers speculate this could be the start of a prolonged period of weak solar activity.
The last time that happened, during the so-called "Maunder Minimum" between 1650 and 1715, almost no sunspots were observed. During the same period, temperatures dropped sharply on Earth, sparking what is called the "Little Ice Age" in Europe and North America.
As the sunspot numbers continue to stay low, it's possible the Earth's climate is being affected again. But thanks to global warming, we're unlikely to see another ice age. "Things have not started to cooling, they just have not risen as quickly."

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - with breaking news during the day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

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

**People demand freedom of speech to make up for
the freedom of thought which they avoid.**
Soren Aabye Kierkegaard

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 11/24/13 -

+ HIGHEST ALERT STATUS RAISED FOR SINABUNG VOLCANO, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. It was raised to the highest level on Sunday after it repeatedly sent hot clouds of gas down its slope following a series of eruptions in recent days.
Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province unleashed fresh volcanic ash and gravel as high as 5000 metres and searing gas down its slope up to 2km. The 2600-metre-high mountain has sporadically erupted since September after being dormant for three years. "We are in a situation of high alert due to the danger of searing gas."
About 12,300 evacuees from eight villages around the mountain were packed on Sunday in crowded government camps away from the fiery crater, while more than 6000 others fled earlier to temporary shelters in 16 safe locations. Airlines have been notified to avoid routes near the mountain.
The volcano's last 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 volcano in western Indonesia erupted eight times in just a few hours late Saturday and early Sunday, "raining down rocks" over a large area and forcing thousands to flee their homes. Mount Sinabung has been erupting on and off since September, but went into overdrive late Saturday and early Sunday, repeatedly spewing out red-hot ash and rocks up to eight kilometres into the air.
Several thousand people left their homes overnight, taking the total number of those who have fled since the volcano rumbled to life to around 12,300. “People panicked last night as the eruption was accompanied by a loud thunderous sound and vibrations. Then it started raining down rocks.”

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the North Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone Five (Lehar) is located approximately 695 nm east-southeast of Visakhapatnam, India. Forecast to strike India as a severe cyclonic storm on November 28.
+ Australia - Alessia has been downgraded to below cyclone strength, but strong winds and heavy rain are still lashing the Top End. Ex-Tropical Cyclone Alessia was about 110km south of Darwin overnight Saturday, with winds near the centre below gale force, but still packing a punch at about 95km/h. The storm weakened after making landfall 6.30pm (CST) on Sunday.
Heavy rain is still likely to cause localised flooding and may lead to significant stream rises in the Darwin-Daly, Arnhem and western Roper-McArthur Districts. The storm is tracking towards the east at about 30km/h. Authorities had been warning residents to prepare for the Category one tropical cyclone's arrival on Sunday.

India - Met dept issues cyclone warning in coastal Odisha. The Indian Meteorological Department has issued cyclone warning number 4 for coastal Odisha regarding upcoming tropical storm Lehar today. The warning is two notches below Phailin, which devastated the state on October 12. However, the distance warning signal, meant for ports, has been kept at two.
The cyclonic storm 'Lehar' , created over the Andaman Sea, moved north-west-wards with a speed of 20 Kmph during past six hours and lay centred about 200 km east-south-east of Port Blair and 1380 Km South-east of Gopalpur. The system will intensify further, and cross Andaman & Nicobar Islands, close to Port Blair. "It would then emerge into South-east Bay of Bengal, and intensify further gradually into a very severe cyclonic storm. It would cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Machillipatnam and Kalingapatnam near Kakinada around 28 November." The upcoming cyclone is no threat to the state, still as a precautionary measure, all coastal district collectors have been asked to stay alert.

Storm surge caused by Yolanda was 'unexpected' in Philippines - Before Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) entered the country, the weather bureau already predicted it would cause a storm surge, but the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) did not expect the damage it brought could be that massive and destructive.
“We predicted a storm surge will hit the coastal areas (of Yolanda’s path), but we had no idea it would affect the inland areas as well." A storm surge is an offshore rise of water associated with a low pressure weather system, typically tropical cyclones and strong extratropical cyclones. Storm surges are caused primarily by high winds pushing on the ocean’s surface. The wind causes the water to pile up higher than the ordinary sea level.
Had they known in advance that the storm surge would sweep its way farther inland they would have advised the people to evacuate to safer areas. "We could have saved many lives, including our colleague who we lost during Yolanda’s landfall.”
There have been super typhoons in the past but not as intense as Yolanda. “Today’s TYPHOOONS ARE NO LONGER NORMAL.” Typhoons are part of the earth’s dynamics, but changes are experienced due to a lot of factors. “The fingerprint is very small, if at all. If the winds are 200 miles per hour (mph), global warming might have contributed 5 mph to that 200 mph.”
“Haiyan was just as subject to this year’s climate as the numerous others that weren’t so impressive. Extreme intense tropical cyclones are rare, but have always been a part of nature - we don’t need to find an excuse for them...“it seems likely Haiyan would have been nearly as destructive whether or not the planet had warmed over the past century.”
“Seas have been rising significantly faster in the Philippine Seas, where Haiyan struck, than the world on average.” Meanwhile, the areas of the world that experience this type of weather disturbance must brace for typhoons with more force that could claim numerous lives and damage millions of pesos in properties and infrastructure. “New, stronger typhoons will come in.”


Thanksgiving Eve nor'easter now looks certain to make holiday travel difficult. It looks increasingly certain that a major storm will hit the eastern half of the United States on the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year.
But here’s the twist: Don’t expect a white Thanksgiving in New York, Boston, or other big cities. Along the coast, the tempest will manifest itself more like a tropical storm than a snowy nor’easter. That means a deluge of heavy rain and sustained high winds - terrible travel conditions, by any definition. In fact, a three- to four-inch blast of chilly rain is now expected across a broad swath of the southern and eastern US, including the major travel hubs of Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, DC, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.
Virtually the entire US will be affected by this storm: whether directly by rain, wind, snow, or ice, or indirectly via cascading travel delays. The storm’s incredibly poor timing will enhance the impacts of an otherwise only slightly worse than average early winter atmospheric medley. The AAA predicts 43.4 million Americans will venture farther than 50 miles over the coming holiday weekend, the vast majority of them by car.
Low clouds and high winds will force many hub airports to reduce takeoff and landing frequency during the storm’s peak on the day before Thanksgiving, so expect delayed and cancelled flights. And heavy rains will mean slow going on already congested highways along the east coast.
The silver lining? This storm will be a relatively quick mover, spending less than a day over any particular location. That means timing could be everything when making plans and anticipating the storm’s next move. And come Thanksgiving morning, the storm will effectively be gone, leaving bone-chilling air in its wake but relatively great travel conditions for those stuck in the rebooking line. Lingering strong winds will force New York’s Thanksgiving Day parade to firmly tether their humongous balloons. (maps and timeline at link)
+ A deadly wave of Arctic cold continued its assault across much of the U.S. on Sunday after blasting the Southwest with heavy rains, flooding, snow and sleet blamed for eight deaths. The front could also bring havoc to Thanksgiving travel later in the week.
On Sunday, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories remained in effect for much of New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma, where "significant" sleet and ice accumulations were expected. The weather system roared east, bringing bitter cold temperatures and stiff winds that dropped wind chills overnight into the teens and lower in much of the Northeast.
In Boston, the wind chill temperature dipped to 0 degrees early Sunday. Hours earlier, I-189 in Burlington, Vt., was forced to close after snow squalls, wind and cold were blamed for a series of accidents. "We are forecasting a high of 31 degrees in New York City today, where the normal high for this time is 51 degrees. Even the normal high for January is 38 degrees. It feels like we're in the middle of winter and it's not even Thanksgiving."
The storm already has affected much of the Western U.S., causing hundreds of rollover accidents and prompting officials to cancel events and close roads. New Mexico was bracing for another round of storms after parts of the state were blanketed in snow and freezing rain blamed for a crash that killed a 4-year-old girl. Three other storm-related deaths were reported Saturday in a crash in the Texas Panhandle involving nearly a dozen vehicles.
"There is a lot of precipitation still rolling into parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas. It's 26 degrees in Oklahoma City, so they will be looking at frozen precipitation. We could even see sleet in Dallas. That's pretty impressive." The system is set to slog through the Southeast, bringing flooding rains and thunderstorms to Georgia and states along the Gulf Coast just as Americans are making their final dashes home for Thanksgiving.
The weather front has been blamed for three deaths in California and one in Arizona. In California, where the storm system hit first, prompting flooding and water rescues in recent days, three deaths have been linked to the storms since Thursday, as authorities found one body near downed power lines, one man crashed his vehicle into a tree and a woman was killed when a tree fell on a parked car.
In Arizona, firefighters recovered the body of a man who was swept away by high waters Friday in the Santa Cruz River in the southern part of the state. In Nevada, snow in high elevations in the rural, eastern part of the state stranded dozens of cars. No fatalities were reported and authorities got the road open again by Saturday.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

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

**If you want to make an apple pie from scratch,
you must first create the universe.**
Carl Sagan

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 11/23/13 -

11/22/13 -

Mount Etna erupts, showers volcanic ash on towns. Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano, has erupted again, showering volcanic ash on towns dotting the mountain's slopes and nearby Taormina. The latest paroxysm at the New SE crater of Mt Etna occurred just less than one week after the previous one last weekend.

Pakistani island born from an earthquake is already disappearing - The island that emerged off the coast of Pakistan after an earthquake is shrinking, raising concerns among researchers and local residents.
The island appeared a half mile off the port city of Gwadar several hours after a magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit interior Pakistan Sept. 24. The epicenter of the quake was in Baluchistan, about 250 miles from the coast. Initial reports from scientists said the island was about 60 feet above sea level, about 500 feet long and 600 feet wide.
The island's surface is "mostly muddy" and covered with large rocks and stones. The island has begun to disappear and is now about 10 feet underwater "and the process is ongoing." The island is projected to vanish completely in several months, a forecast that has upset local residents for whom it has become a source of income. Tourists pay "handsome amounts of money" to hire local boats to take them to the island.
A survey found a diverse biology on the island, with an unusually large number of small fish swimming in its waters. Those fish had attracted other fish, which have given local fishermen the opportunity to catch bigger fish than they had been accustomed to.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the South Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone Alessia will hit Australia today.

* In the North Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone Five is located approximately 840 nm east-southeast of Visakhapatnam, India. It is forecast to strike India as a severe cyclonic storm on November 28.
Cyclone Helen made landfall on Friday in Andhra Pradesh, India, leaving seven people dead and causing a lot of damage to the agricultural lands. Hundreds of thousands were evacuated as the severe cyclone slammed into southeastern India, packing strong winds and torrential rains. The heavy rains, accompanied by wind speeds at almost 110 kmph disrupted communication lines.
The National Disaster Response Force teams have already begun damage control. Over 17,000 people have been evacuated. The cyclone was expected to weaken by Saturday morning. The damage was mainly in Machilipatnam division in Krishna district, Amalapuram division in East Godavari district and Naraspuram division in West Godavari. Crops in about one lakh hectares, ready for harvest, were damaged in West Godavari district. Standing paddy and horticulture crops like banana and coconut were damaged in East Godavari district. Trees and electric poles fell in several areas.
Cyclone Helen changed course, threat of successor looms - On Thursday, severe cyclone Helen prowled the waters and it kept changing its bearing over the west-central Bay of Bengal. It gave nothing away with regard to location and track on Thursday, shifting both at will, and spooked weathermen on the watch.
The storm delayed landfall by at least 24 hours and changed location to Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The crossover was expected into Friday evening only. They did not rule out the possibility of rapid weakening in which case the storm would track more southwest than west.
Close on the heels of Helen, the Andhra Pradesh coast is threatened with the prospect of another likely cyclone early next week. India Met Department had already said that a causative ‘low’ will form over the boiling cauldron of south-east Bay of Bengal around the time when Helen hits the coast. It will rapidly deepen into a depression (Five). The destructive cyclone in the making will barrel towards Andhra Pradesh coast by Tuesday. The area of landfall is projected to be the same one as Helen hurtled into on Friday.

Rare November Tropical Cyclone to Impact Australia - An UNUSUALLY EARLY-SEASON tropical cyclone developed late Friday, local time, and will impact northern Australia this weekend. Tropical Cyclone 02S (Alessia) spinning in the Indian Ocean between Indonesia and Western Australia will continue its slow journey eastward this weekend, reaching the northwestern part of the Australia Sunday.
While the cyclone is not expected to gain much intensity, it can still spread drenching rain and gusty winds across the region. The storm should have the intensity of a minimal tropical storm in the Atlantic or Pacific basins. That does not mean the cyclone will not pose hazards. Places along its path could still be subject to wind gusts of 60 to 80 kph (40 to 50 mph) and rain amounts of 75 to 150 mm (3 to 6 inches). Sporadic tree damage and power outages, as well as flash flooding incidents, may unfold.
The path of Tropical Cyclone Alessia takes it to the waters of the Timor Sea, then near the far northern tip of Western Australia's Kimberley region Saturday night local time and into the Northern Territory later Sunday. While weakening would occur as it crosses the Northern Territory, the window for it to strengthen could open again next week if it tracks over the warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria. However, it is looking more likely that the storm may turn southward and remain over land, preventing additional strengthening.
It is VERY RARE to get a November cyclone near Australia. The Australian cyclone season officially starts in November, but tropical activity typically holds off until December. "The earliest cyclone to impact the northwest coast [of Australia] in a season was on Nov. 19, 1910, when the eye passed over Broome." The last tropical cyclone to form in the Timor Sea and strike western Australia in November was Quenton from 1983. Quenton formed on Nov. 26, then made landfall along Eighty Mile Beach on Nov. 29. (map at link)


A powerful storm system has caused hundreds of accidents across the Western U.S. and it has marched eastward with predictions of widespread snow, freezing temperatures and gusty winds. The fierce weather has caused at least eight deaths, including one in New Mexico, and prompted advisories Saturday afternoon in New Mexico and Texas.
As thick, gray clouds covered the Southwest, forecasters said the storm would sweep across the South and toward the Atlantic Coast next week, causing problems for holiday travelers. The “Nordic outbreak” will “produce a mixed bag of wily weather that will end up impacting much of the nation.” In New Mexico, authorities and residents braced for the second hit of a one-two punch - what forecasters in Albuquerque called the “big kahuna.” The storm already had blanketed parts of the state with snow and freezing rain and caused a rollover accident that killed a 4-year-old girl in the eastern part of the state.
The system is expected to bring widespread snow through the rest of the weekend, with as much as 3 feet on some mountain peaks and several inches in the lower elevations. High temperatures in some parts will reach only the single digits, and the wind is expected to continue to howl through the valleys and canyons. A winter storm warning will remain in effect for much of the state through Monday. The first wave of wintery weather resulted in some difficult driving conditions along Interstate 25 and other highways in New Mexico on Friday.
Seven other storm-related deaths were reported around the region. Three were reported Saturday in a crash in the Texas Panhandle involving nearly a dozen vehicles. Several traffic accidents were reported in Texas Saturday, including one that injured three members of singer Willie Nelson’s band when their bus struck a pillar on Interstate 30 near Sulphur Springs, about 75 miles northeast of Dallas.
In California, where the storm system hit first, prompting flooding and water rescues in recent days, three deaths have been linked to the storms since Thursday, as authorities found one body near downed power lines, one man crashed his vehicle into a tree and a woman was killed when a tree fell on a parked car.
In Arizona, firefighters recovered the body of a man who was swept away by high waters Friday in the Santa Cruz River in the southern part of the state. In Nevada, snow in high elevations in the rural, eastern part of the state stranded dozens of cars. No fatalities were reported, and authorities got the road open again by Saturday.

California - Extreme winds caused chaos in Bay Area Thursday and Friday. Extreme winds resulted in power outages, downed trees and blocked roads. Two people were killed Thursday night in wind-related accidents in Oakland, a city that was bearing the brunt of extreme winds in the Bay Area that have left thousands without power, brought down trees and fueled fires throughout the region.
A collision between a vehicle and a fallen tree killed an occupant of the car. Another person was killed when a power line came down on a street. Police are still investigating how that person was killed. A wind advisory was issued in the afternoon by the National Weather Service for areas including the hills, valleys and coastal areas in the North Bay and the hills and valleys of Alameda and Contra Costa counties and coastal San Mateo County.
The advisory was expected to be in effect until at least Friday morning with winds of between 20 and 35 mph are expected in some areas, and gusts of up to 45 mph possible in the valleys. In elevations higher than 900 feet gusts could be between 45 and 69 mph.
A downed tree and power line caused a grass fire at Napa Road and state Highway 12 in Sonoma County, and the high winds has made other fires reported in Oakland and Martinez difficult to contain Thursday. A total of about 25,000 PG&E customers were without power in the North Bay, the majority in Sonoma County, while about 42,500 customers lost power in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
The California Highway Patrol has issued wind advisories for the San Mateo, Benicia, Carquinez and Bay bridges and is advising motorists to use caution. One tree blocked all northbound lanes of northbound Interstate Highway 238 on the edge of San Leandro after falling on a car at 6:24 p.m. Several cars struck the downed tree before the highway was closed by the CHP. It was entirely closed for about an hour before one lane was opened to traffic.


Winter Storm Boreas likely to become season's first Nor'easter on Thanksgiving Eve. A potent winter storm (Boreas) is bringing snow and difficult travel conditions to Arizona, and will spread a variety of dangerous winter weather across Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah over the weekend.
On Monday and Tuesday, the storm will dump heavy rains over the Southeast U.S., before emerging over the coastal waters of the Mid-Atlantic on Wednesday morning. The models are in fair agreement that Boreas will then intensify into the season's first significant Nor'easter on Wednesday afternoon, bringing heavy rain to coastal New England and the Mid-Atlantic, snow farther inland at higher elevations, and minor coastal flooding due to strong winds.
The potential for 6+ inches of snow in Upstate New York and the northern portions of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine looks good, and there is the possibility that Washington D.C. and Philadelphia could get 2 - 4" of snow Wednesday afternoon and evening, after a period of heavy rain. With the storm still five days away, confidence in the timing of the storm and the potential location and amount of snow is low, and we will have to see how the models evolve in their handling of this potential Thanksgiving Eve Nor'easter.


Australia - Drought returns to haunt farmers in north-west New South Wales. The rain stopped coming 18 months ago and families face a grim daily battle.

Winter to offer little drought relief in California - Even a normal season wouldn't be enough to end the state's drought and pull the state out of its persistent drought, a top U.S. climate official asserts.

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - with breaking news during the day.

Friday, November 22, 2013

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

**Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly,
while bad people will find a way around the laws.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 11/2/13 -

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the North Atlantic Ocean -
Post-tropical storm Melissa is located about 265 mi (425 km) NNW of the Azores. Gale-force winds still possible over portions of the Azores, but the last advisory has been issued on this system.

* In the North India Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 04b is located approximately 120 nm south of Visakhapatnam, India.
Tropical Storm Melissa expected to unravel soon - Melissa has lost tropical characteristics because of cooler waters and its fast forward progress.

Cyclone Helen to hit Andhra Pradesh coast today - According to the Indian Meteorological Department, cyclone 'Helen' will cross the Andhra Pradesh coast between Nellore and Machillipatnam. People are being evacuated from low-lying areas. Severe cyclonic storm 'Helen' over the West Central Bay of Bengal is likely to trigger heavy rains together with strong surface wind in some places.
Thousands of people have been evacuated from coastal areas in eastern India, as the strong cyclone approaches. Cyclone Helen is generating wind speeds of up to 120kmh (75mph).
India's weather office says the cyclone is expected to be accompanied by storm surges of up to 1.5m (5ft). The Indian Meteorological Department has classed Cyclone Helen as "severe" and has warned of "extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts". It says there will be "minor damage to power and communication lines due to uprooting of large avenue trees".
Twenty rescue teams had been deployed in the flood zone. "Evacuations of thousands has already taken place and provision for food, water and shelter are also on track." The aim was for "zero casualties".
Last month stronger Cyclone Phailin destroyed tens of thousands of homes, uprooted trees and blocked roads in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states. At least 27 people died. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated ahead of Phailin, which was classified as a "very severe" cyclone.

Australia - Darwin to get first cyclone of the season. The Northern Territory looks set to experience its first cyclone of the season this weekend. A tropical low system forming south-east of Bali is moving eastwards towards the Kimberley and Top End coast, and it's likely to become a category one cyclone at some point on Friday afternoon.
"When it gets gale force winds around more than half of it sustained for more than six hours, it will become a tropical cyclone." Once this happens, it will be named Cyclone Alessia, provided no other systems in the region form before then. "It's expected to brush the north Kimberley coast overnight on Saturday and Sunday morning." The Bureau rates the likelihood of the cyclone reaching the Darwin area on Sunday as "high", with a more than 50 per cent chance.


Jet stream blamed for extreme late-year storms - Severe storms across the Midwest have prompted citizens across the state to question whether storm season is over. Sunday’s storm affected millions as it swept across Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
81 tornadoes were reported in the area, but it’s common for the same tornado to be reported multiple times – the average number of tornadoes nationally for November is 35. But fall tornadoes are not new. “It’s not actually that untypical to get an outbreak of severe weather. There is a secondary peak in the fall, and that happens when the cold air starts to come down from Canada the clash tend to make stronger wind stream.”
This wind stream, also referred to as the jet stream, makes the storms more powerful. The air current that encircle the globe splits the cold and warm air high up in the atmosphere. “Sometimes we get a lot of moisture that produces severe weather. Usually in the fall we get arctic plunges, but this year it’s been a little different. A jet stream is like a conveyor belt. There are really strong winds, and as it spreads out, it’ll lift moisture up from the ground, and it can create really strong storms...They (storms) tend to be moving a lot faster, 50 to 60 miles an hour instead of 20 to 30."
The arctic plunge – when a plunge of cold air up in Canada dives south into the plains and pushes all the warm air out – would make it unlikely for another storm to happen this fall in Nebraska.


U.S. Winter forecast - Expect increased chances of a warmer than average winter across much of the Southern U.S. and New England, and a cooler than average winter across portions of the Northern Plains near the Canadian border, said NOAA.


California's drought is the worst since 2007 - In the Drought Monitor map released on Nov. 21, one-third of the nation is in moderate or worse drought, with the worst of the drought in the west.
Plagued for years with a lack of water, growers across California are now facing a new kind of drought - a labor shortage in the fields

Drought likely to persist or develop in the Southwest, Southeastern U. S. - Winter is likely to offer little relief to the drought-stricken U.S. Southwest, and drought is likely to develop across parts of the Southeast.

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - with breaking news during the day.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

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

**There are no facts, only interpretations.**
Friedrich Nietzsche

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 11/20/13 -

New Zealand - Alcohol use 'masks' quake troubles. Canterbury health and welfare agencies are worried earthquake-related stress is helping to fuel alcohol and drug abuse more than three years after the area experienced a devastating quake.

Homes of Fukushima quake survivors crumble in Japan - Some of the temporary homes set up for survivors of the 2011 Japanese earthquake are beginning to crumble. Built specifically for those whose homes in Fukushima were completely destroyed, some of the walls and roofs are now starting to fall away.
There are so many requests for maintenance, builders can't keep up. "Some of these structures are tilting to one side and now have quite large gaps in them, which have the potential to let a lot of wind and snow in when the winter comes." The Government hopes to check all of the homes by the end of the year, and has renewed their lifespan out until early 2015.

Nishima-Shima volcano (Japan) - Submarine volcanic eruption. A NEW ISLAND WAS BORN WEDNESDAY in the Pacific Ocean in Japan's Izu (or Volcano) island chain. It is being produced by a new submarine eruption which is currently taking place about 500 m southeast of Nishino-Shima island.
The eruption was first spotted by Japanese navy Wednesday morning at 10:20 (local time) who documented surtseyan activity at the eruption site (explosive interaction of sea-water and lava, generating violent jets of steam and ash). It appears that the eruption has already built an island of about 200 m diameter in size, which suggests that the vent was already located in very shallow waters. A small steam and ash plume rising to about 2000 ft (600 m) was reported. The last known eruption of the volcano occurred in 1973. (video at link)
Coast guard footage shot on Wednesday showed heavy black smoke and clusters of rocks exploding out of the sea to form the tiny island near the Ogasawara Islands, about 621 miles to the south of Tokyo. The new islet is about 200 meters, or 650 feet, in diameter. Ash and smoke continued to erupt out of the crater, with the smoke reaching a height of almost 600 meters.
"Smoke is still rising from the volcanic island, and we issued a navigation warning to say that this island has emerged with ash falling in the area." The new island is close to Nishinoshima, another uninhabited island in the Ogasawara chain of islands, which is also known as Bonin Islands. The Japan archipelago, which consists of several thousands of islands, is part of a seismically active region in the Pacific Ocean known as “Ring of Fire.”
According to volcanologists, it would be too early to say whether the new island would survive, as there were past instances when newly formed islands did not last long due to erosion. Japan witnessed similar a volcano eruption in the region in the early 1970s and mid-1980s, and tiny islets, formed at that time, were partially or completely eroded by ocean tides. “If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory.”
Two months ago, Pakistan also reported the birth of a new island after a huge earthquake struck the country’s southwest. Scientists believe that new island - a mass of mud floating in the Indian Ocean - may be a mud volcano that erupted because of the earthquake. (dramatic photos at link)

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the North Atlantic Ocean -
Subtropical storm Melissa is racing east-northeastward over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean about 980 mi (1575 km) W of the Azores.

* In the North India Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 04b (Helen) is located approximately 128 nm south-southeast of Vvisakhapatnam, India.
Cyclone Helen to hit South India today. India's southern coast is likely to be hit by a cyclone packing winds of 100-120 kilometers an hour Thursday evening. A month after facing cyclone Phailin, Andhra Pradesh is gearing up for the new storm.

Tropical Storm Melissa - Melissa has transitioned into a mainly warm-air system and is, for now, a full-fledged tropical storm. However, its peak wind speeds have decreased.


Italy - Emergency services sifted through the devastation left by a cyclone that tore through the island of Sardinia as STORMS AND FLOODS CONTINUED TO BATTER SOUTHERN ITALY ON WEDNESDAY. 16 people have been confirmed killed by Cyclone Cleopatra, revising an earlier death toll of 18, as extreme rainfall inundated houses, swept away cars and caused rivers to burst their banks late on Monday night. One person was still missing.
The bad weather moved across to mainland Italy overnight, with storms pummelling Rome and flooding vast areas of the southern province of Crotone, closing roads and railway lines.
Residents of Olbia, a town of 50,000 people that was among the worst hit areas of Sardinia, said the cyclone had left them with nothing, and that help was not coming fast enough. "My boyfriend and I escaped by swimming through the window. They say the army is here to help, but we have not seen anyone. My family and my neighbors, we all said the road was dangerous, we have a permanent risk of flooding. We told the mayor's office many times, and no one did anything."
Some roads collapsed in the storm, which uprooted trees and swept away bridges and left streets blocked with debris. Among the dead were a father and his 3-year old son, swept away by a wave of water as relatives tried to save them. "He was saying 'Granddad! Granddad!', and I couldn't do anything. We threw them a rope but they couldn't catch it, the force of the water was too great."
Authorities said the cyclone had displaced 1,700 people, many of whom had been put up in hotels and emergency reception centres, and that 46 people were injured, three of them critically. Local residents of Sardinia used social media to offer spare beds to those who had to abandon flooded homes.


On Monday, China had been battling the first blizzard of the winter for a third day, with deaths reported on dangerous, icy roads.The blizzard swept through the northeast Chinese provinces of Jilin, Heilongjiang and Liaoning since Saturday, leaving many highways and schools closed, and flights and trains delayed on Monday.
"Right now, the city is pretty much like the world in the slow-motion modes often seen in Hollywood romances," wrote one Heilongjiang citizen. However, the reality is far less romantic. At least four people have been killed and seven others injured in traffic accidents on slippery frozen roads in Jilin. The provincial public security department has mobilized extra traffic police to conduct 24-hour patrols of the roads and urged drivers to show caution.Heilongjiang.
Frozen highways have been closed in most northeastern cities. Though air and rail traffic have remained operational, there have been reports of delays to flights and trains. In the populous downtown areas, the traffic is even worse. Hundreds of vehicles have been creeping along the streets of Harbin at the same speed as pedestrians. A taxi driver in Harbinsaid that his first and last fare of the day took him over an hour, rather than the usual 10 minutes in good weather. "So, I decided to go back home earlier and won't work until the storm's over."
As vehicles struggled their way through snow with an average depth of 20 cm, there have been long queues at bus stops and taxi stands. More than 20,000 police and members of the public have been working in rounds to clear snow and ice from the streets, but their efforts have not been enough, with snow continuing to accumulate. Despite the inconveniences, many citizens have shown warmth in the chilly days by helping each other. Pictures of people lending a hand to push cars trapped in snow have sprung up on Weibo and won thousands of "like" hits.
Luckily, victims from the twin earthquakes that jolted Songyuan City of Jilin on October 31, resettled in warm shelters before the blizzard. More than 4,000 households were affected in Chaganhua Town, the epicenter of the quakes with a magnitude of 5.5 and 5.0 respectively. Though no deaths were reported, many people's houses have been left unlivable. Most of the quake victims have found a place to live by renting houses or turning to relatives for help. However, some have had to turn to shelters built by the government.
On Monday morning, meteorological observatories issued warnings for heavier snow during the next 24 hours, adding that the blizzard was expected to wane on Tuesday.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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

**It is much more comfortable to be mad and know it,
than to be sane and have one's doubts.**
G. B. Burgin

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 11/1/913 -

Double eruptions in Indonesia - Sinabung, Merapi volcanoes erupted Monday, spewing ash and causing another wave of mass evacuation in the country. Two volcanoes are erupting in Indonesia, prompting warnings for flights and evacuation preparations.
Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province unleashed volcanic ash as high as 8,000 metres, the highest of its eruptions in recent days. The mountain has sporadically erupted since September after being dormant for three years.
Officials raised the alert status of Sinabung to the second-highest level after an eruption early this month, prompting evacuation of more than 6,000 villagers living near its slopes. Its activities have continued since then, sometimes unleashing lava down the slopes. "It was the strongest eruption in the recent days." The Transportation Ministry issued a notice for all airlines to avoid routes near the mountain. Residents in Medan, the provincial capital about 50 kilometres northeastward, could see black smokes billowing from Sinabung.
Hours earlier, Mount Merapi, Indonesia most volatile volcano in Central Java, spewed volcanic ash about 2,000 metres into the sky, causing ash to fall in several towns. Indonesia which is located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, has 129 active volcanoes, making it prone to seismic upheaval. (video)
Massive rumbling from Mount Merapi on Monday morning caused panic among hundreds of residents living on the slopes of the volcano who promptly headed to evacuation assembly points.
The volcano, located on the border between Yogyakarta and Central Java provinces, erupted at around 4:53 a.m., spewing volcanic materials 2 kilometers into the air and covering areas east of the volcano with dust and ash. “Mount Merapi experienced a phreatic eruption. Its status remains normal due to a lack of activity.”
Phreatic eruptions are steam explosions caused by the vaporization of water usually due to heat generated by proximity to a body of magma, thus forming an accumulation of high-pressured gas which triggered an eruption. Heavy rain fell over the Yogyakarta region from Sunday noon until the evening. “On Monday at 4:52 a.m. before the eruption, BPPTKG detected an earthquake in Ciamis, West Java, at a magnitude of 4.7 on the Richter scale. The tectonic quake is believed to have shaken the magma chamber of Mount Merapi causing it to release gas from below.”
The phreatic eruption caused volcanic ash to scatter over a radius of 60 kilometers east of the 2,900-meter high mountain, covering areas around Boyolali regency. “Residents living around Mount Merapi were at one point alarmed due to the heavy rumbling.” The phreatic eruption on Monday morning was similar to one on July 22. “But today’s was more powerful than the July 22 eruption.”
After the eruption, 600 families living in Kalitengah Lor, Kalitengah Kidul and Srune hamlets, in Glagaharjo village, Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, immediately gathered at their respective assembly points to be evacuated. Villagers in Turgo village, Turi district, Sleman, located on the western flank of Mount Merapi, also fled their homes, but they returned home a few hours later as the situation returned to normal. The volcanic ash also affected residents in nearby towns. In Surakarta, Central Java, residents were shocked by the sight of volcanic ash covering streets, gardens and roofs. The ash rain continued until around 10 a.m. on Monday.
Surowedanan village in Boyolali, located around 17 km from the peak of Mount Merapi, was also covered by volcanic ash. “This morning, when I went out of the house at around 5 a.m., I saw ash everywhere." Residents were wearing masks when they ventured out of their homes as the ash was still falling along with the drizzle. The volcanic ash from Mount Merapi did not disrupt flights at the airport, as the weather was clear and wind velocity was normal. However, the airport authorities remained on alert and cleaned the runway twice in the morning. The wind blowing from the north was quite helpful as it blew the volcanic ash away from the airport.
Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. In 2010 its eruptions left more than 300 people dead and forced almost 400,000 people to take refuge at 639 shelters in Klaten, Magelang, Sleman and Boyolali. The 2010 eruption also killed the volcano’s spiritual keeper. In 1994, as many as 60 people were killed when the volcano erupted, while 1,300 died in a 1930 eruption.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the North Atlantic Ocean -
Subtropical storm Melissa is located about 725 mi. (1165 km) E of Bermuda. Melissa is no threat to land. Melissa, the 13th Atlantic named storm of 2013, is slowly transitioning to a tropical storm as it heads north over the Central North Atlantic, far from land. Ocean temperatures are near 25°C, which is barely warm enough to support a tropical storm, but wind shear is a moderate 10 - 20 knots, which may allow Melissa to become fully tropical by Wednesday morning. Conditions should cause Melissa to rapidly deteriorate on Wednesday. Satellite loops show that Melissa has a large circulation, but only limited heavy thunderstorm activity near the center. Melissa will not be a threat to any land areas.

* In the North India Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 04b is located approximately 240 nm east-northeast Chennai, India. The fourth tropical cyclone of the Northern Indian Ocean season has formed and is headed for landfall in India. Tropical storm Four is forecast to strike India at about 06:00 GMT on Thursday, November 21.


+ Damage surveys continue in the Midwest U.S. after a stunning and violent late-season severe weather outbreak swept through on Sunday, killing at least eight people and leaving widespread significant damage. Two violent EF-4 tornadoes and one strong EF-3 tornado hit Illinois, killing six, making Sunday Illinois' deadliest November day for tornadoes in its history.
The most widespread damage from Sunday's outbreak occurred in the town of Washington (population 16,000), about 140 miles southwest of Chicago, where a violent EF-4 tornado destroyed or heavily damaged 250 - 500 homes and an apartment complex. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged 85 preliminary tornado reports from Sunday, along with 455 reports of high wind gusts and 32 reports of hail. Seventeen of the wind gusts were in excess of 74 mph (hurricane strength.)
The grand total of 572 severe weather reports for the day were the most of any day of 2013, surpassing the 538 total reports from June 13. The 85 preliminary tornado reports is also the highest for any day of 2013, surpassing the 62 reports from January 29.

+ Sardinia, Italy hit by deadly Cyclone Cleopatra and floods. At least 18 people, including four children, have been killed in flooding on the Italian island after a cyclone and heavy rain. A number of people are reported missing after rivers burst their banks. Cars were swept away and bridges collapsed.
The area around the north-eastern city of Olbia was worst-hit - in some places the water was up to 3m (10ft) deep. More than 440mm (17.3in) of rain fell in 90 minutes overnight into Tuesday morning. Hundreds of people across the Mediterranean island have been moved from their homes because of the flash flooding. "We're at maximum alert. We haven't seen a situation as extreme as this, perhaps for decades - especially because it's been across the whole island."
The situation on the island was "dramatic". A mayor said that the city had been hit by an "apocalyptic"' storm. Some city residents used social media to offer shelter to those forced out of their homes. Further bad weather is expected in the coming days.
The flooding was caused by a deep area of low pressure that has been sitting over the Mediterranean, bringing sustained heavy rain. The unstable conditions are expected to move across Italy and further east, bringing further downpours and the threat of flooding, particularly in Venice. The storm caused extensive damage to farms in Sardinia and disrupted a number of flights to and from mainland Italy. (photos, video and map at link)

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