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.

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