Monday, December 16, 2013

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

No update on Tuesday this week.

**The power of accurate observation is frequently called
cynicism by those who don't have it.**
George Bernard Shaw **

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 12/15/13 -

Volcanic eruption shuts Italy airport - The eruption of the Mount Etna volcano in Sicily has forced the closure of nearby Catania airport because of the plumes of ash billowing into the sky. Twenty-one scheduled departures from the airport had to be scrapped and 26 arrivals re-routed to alternative destinations. The smaller airport of Comiso in the area was also closed down.
The company that manages Catania airport said in a statement on Sunday that "the wind direction and intensity" meant the ash was a risk to flights and it had to close off its air space. The company will review the situation on Monday. Etna is an active volcano and eruptions are frequent but the latest activity, which began on Saturday, is the most intense in months. The lava flow down one side of the mountain is visible from Catania and Taormina, a popular seaside resort. Three small earthquakes were also registered around the volcano on Sunday. (photos at link)

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

No current tropical storms.


Snow cyclone cuts Sakhalin Island from mainland Russia - The city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on the Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East has been buried under tons of snow following two days of heavy snowfall. Hundreds of passengers have been stranded in the airports on the islands of Sakhalin Island and Kurile Russia’s Far East for the second day running over a strong snow cyclone. Around 300 more passengers are waiting for flights on the island at the alternate airport in the city of Khabarovsk, Russia’s Far East.
“The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk airport is suspended for arrivals and departures. Two airplanes from the Moscow airports Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo are staying at the Khabarovsk airport. The airliners had to make the landings at 11:06 local time and at 12:28 local time at the crash stripes of the airport. The airport in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk will be closed until 18:00 local time, as bad weather prevents the runway from being cleaned.”
Dozens of people are waiting for their flights at the airport in the Sakhalin main regional city. Those who failed to fly to Moscow were accommodated at the neighboring hotel. More than 65 flights bound for Moscow, Khabarovsk and Seoul have delayed since the breakout of the storm.
Weather reports predict that the cyclone will have reached the central Kurile Islands on Monday. The snowfall will subside on Sakhalin Island and a slight blizzard is forecast. The wind velocity makes about 15 meters per second in the southern part of the island and the air temperature is 2-3 degrees Celsius.

A regional cold snap that has hit the Middle East persisted on Friday, locking down most of Palestinian territories and occupied Jerusalem while spreading to Egypt, with some Cairo suburbs seeing snowfall for the first time in years. Torrential rain also lashed parts of the country.
The cold weather was part of a storm, dubbed Alexa, which has been pounding much of Lebanon and parts of northern Syria since Wednesday, pushing temperatures below zero and dumping snow and heavy rains. “It is the first time in very many years” that it has snowed in the suburbs of Cairo.
In the Sinai Peninsula, the storm deposited a blanket of snow several centimetres thick in the mountainous area around Saint Catherine’s monastery for the FIRST TIME IN DECADES. On the Mediterranean coast, gardens, streets and houses in the town of Ras Al Bar were also covered by a layer of white. The northern coastal city of Alexandria only received light snowfall, but authorities shut the port for the third consecutive day because of the bad weather and strong winds. An UNUSUAL blanket of snow surprised residents in the Gaza Strip who stopped to take pictures of snowy scenes.
But the Palestinian territory was also hit by heavy rain that flooded roads and made them impassable. Emergency workers used fishing boats to evacuate 700 people from their homes and provide food, blankets and torches to hundreds of others caught in high water. In Lebanon, snow fell on northern and eastern regions where tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are staying, many of them in flimsy plastic tents.
A Lebanese security official said a three-month-old Syrian baby died on Friday in the northern town of Akroum. The official said the newborn had respiratory problems and the cold spell may have aggravated his condition. Severe weather delayed the start of the first United Nations airlift of aid items from Iraq to Syria for a second day on Friday. The bad weather has taken a toll on the 2.2 million refugees living outside Syria and the 6.5 million people displaced within the country.

Storms leaves piles of snow behind in U. S. Northeast - Mounds of snow are piled throughout New York and New England after a blustery storm swept through, leaving behind more than a foot of snow in some areas. Albany, New York, got at least 12 inches.
"We usually get these big snow storms in January and the snow on the ground usually stays until springtime since it's always cold here in Albany. Last year was a bit weak in snow until end of February actually. So we're happy to have a solid snow covering on the ground earlier than usual this season."
The storm spared major metropolitan areas like Boston and New York, but some areas in Maine and along the U.S.-Canada border saw significant snow. The Maine cities of Biddeford (16.5 inches total) and Kennebunkport (14 inches) topped the list, while Exeter, New Hampshire, received 13.5 inches of snow over the weekend. The good news for New Englanders and New Yorkers was that the storm quickly moved out of the Northeast.
By Sunday afternoon, 350 flights into, out of, or within the United States were canceled. New England Highway traffic may be treacherous, with the problem compounded by high winds. Massachusetts expects to use 10,000 tons of salt and 2,000 vehicles during the storm. Speed limits on major roads had been lowered to 45 mph.
The eastward-moving storm dropped snow earlier across the Midwest and western Pennsylvania, with 9 inches reported in Urbana, Illinois. Millions of people are experiencing the big chill as the system dropped snow along a swath more than 1,000 miles long. FedEx said winter weather and high winds caused major disruptions at the company's Memphis, Tennessee, hub that could delay shipments across the United States. Chicago has already been hit hard. The snow that fell Saturday afternoon was wet, making it heavy and difficult to shovel. (10 photos at link)

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