Wednesday, December 4, 2013

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

**The only difference between me and a madman
is that I'm not mad.**
Salvador Dali

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 12/3/13 -

12/2/13 -

Seattle touchdown sets off earthquake monitors - A celebration by football fans in the US city of Seattle, Washington, grew so loud on Monday evening it registered as a minor earthquake. Raucous fans jumped up and down during an early first-quarter touchdown in the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network detected the vibrations, measuring between a magnitude 1 and 2 earthquake.
Pacific Northwest Seismic Network recorded five separate seismic events during the game. It was not the first time fan celebrations shook Seattle. In 2011, the response to another US football touchdown registered at nearby seismic recording stations. CenturyLink Field, which is open to the air, also set a Guinness World Record for noise in September.

Russia - Shiveluch volcano. There was a powerful eruption of the Shiveluch volcano in Kamchatka on Tuesday: the volcano ejected ash from its crater to a height of 10 kilometers.

Italy - A new southeast crater has opened on Europe's most active volcano, with the eruption on Monday evening appearing to be from multiple fissures. It is Etna's third explosive show in a little over a week. This new eruption also produced lava flows that moved down the slopes of the volcano. This latest eruption didn't force any evacuations, but authorities reported that nearby Catania airport was closed for about an hour on Monday night.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical depression 33w is located approximately 354 nm west-northwest of Andersen AFB, Guam. The final advisory on this system has already been issued.


Extreme Windstorm Xaver is poised to batter Denmark and Germany. A developing extratropical low pressure system over the North Atlantic, dubbed "Xaver", is predicted to "bomb" into a potent storm with winds near hurricane force that will bring damaging winds and storm tides to the coasts of Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark on Thursday.
The center of the low will pass over southern Norway, bringing strong northwest winds that will funnel down the North Sea. The European model predicts that at 18 UTC on Thursday, winds on the west coast of Denmark will be sustained near 69 mph (110 kph), and will be near 115 mph (185 kph) at 850 mb (roughly a height of 5,000 feet or 1500 meters).
Xaver will be accompanied by intense thunderstorms capable of mixing the 850 mb winds down to the surface, and wind damage may rival that of October's Extratropical Storm "Christian" (AKA the St. Jude storm), which bottomed out at 968 mb. Christian killed 18, and did $1.4 billion in damage.
There is a smaller chance that the wind damage from Xaver will approach that of Windstorm Anatol, which hit Denmark, Southwest Sweden, and Northern Germany on December 3, 1999. Anatol had sustained winds of up to 91 mph (146 kph), killed 20 people, and injured over 800. Damage was $2.6 billion (1999 dollars) in Denmark, making it the costliest disaster in Danish history.
The predicted surface winds of Xaver will be similar to the ones the Netherlands experienced during the great February 1, 1953 North Sea storm that breached dikes in the Netherlands and England and killed over 2100 people. That storm bottomed out with a central pressure of 964 mb. Tuesday's 12Z European model run bottoms Xaver out at 968 mb, and the 18Z GFS is more intense, at 956 mb. However, the 1953 storm was much slower, and brought sustained winds in excess of 50 knots (57.5 mph) to the North Sea for more than 24 hours, allowing a huge storm surge in excess of 3 meters (10 feet) to pile up.
In contrast, "Xaver" will bring 50-knots winds to the North Sea for only about 9 hours, and the storm surge will not be as high as occurred in 1953. The maximum storm surge of Xaver will be in Germany and Denmark, farther to the east than occurred in the 1953 storm. The surge is predicted to occur near the time of high tide, and this will be one of the highest tides of the month, since we are only two days past the new moon.
Fortunately, the German coast is well protected by dikes, which should be able to withstand Xaver's storm surge. By Thursday night, Xaver's center will cross southern Sweden, and damaging winds from the storm will sweep the coasts of Poland, Lithuania, and southern Sweden.


Extreme weather becoming more frequent in Europe - A report on extreme weather events highlights a rise of 60% in the cost of damage caused by extreme weather across Europe in the past three decades.

For U.S. Christmas trees, a festival of blights - On top of a deadly soil disease, many Christmas tree farms are reeling from floods, heat waves and other severe weather events.
Christmas trees need up to a decade of growth to reach full size. Yet all that work can suddenly vanish amid disease or bad weather, two problems that increasingly plague U.S. Christmas tree farms from Oregon to Appalachia. No major Christmas tree shortages are expected in the U.S. this year, but the spread of a deadly water mold and the onset of climate change have nonetheless clouded the outlook for many farms.
Farmers in North Carolina, the country's No. 2 Christmas tree state behind Oregon, are losing $6 million every year to Phytophthora root rot which has a long history of killing crops, earning it a scientific name that means "plant destroyer." Phytophthora is a native pest but can run wild on tree farms, reportedly rendering soil unfit for production once it's there. "Phytophthora is a problem in most areas where true firs ... are grown. It's a national problem." The stakes are even higher in Oregon, where an uncontained Phytophthora outbreak could cost Christmas tree growers up to $304 million every year. No fungicide is known to control the pest on Christmas tree farms.
Meanwhile, other states have lost swaths of tannenbaums to another emerging scourge: extreme weather, which is widely forecast to worsen due to climate change. Tree crops in that state and New Hampshire have been battered lately by a spate of severe weather, including a spring heat wave and summer flash floods. "It probably took out as much as half the farm," one Christmas tree farmer says of this year's floods, noting the uncertainty created by wild weather swings. "You get used to 20 to 30 years of how everything works, and now you don't know anymore."
Midwestern tree farms have suffered similiar die-offs in recent years. A brutal drought and heat wave last summer killed an estimated 4,000 young Christmas trees in Michigan and Wisconsin, for example, representing about half of those states' new crops. Major tree deaths were also reported in Iowa, where one farmer described the losses as "by far the worse we've seen" in 32 years.
Recent losses of younger saplings aren't expected to affect Christmas tree supplies or prices this year, but they could in seven or eight years when those trees would have been reaching maturity. Farmers in some states are experimenting with alternative trees like Turkish fir, which is more resistant to root rot but has its own problems, including more vulnerability to hungry deer and late-season frosts than Fraser fir.

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