Friday, January 17, 2014

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

**Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time,
because then you won't have a leg to stand on.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 1/16/14 -

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the South Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone Deliwe is located approximately 325 nm southwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Fresh cyclone brews as Tonga recovers. A fresh cyclone is brewing in the Pacific near the Solomon Islands as humanitarian groups struggle to get relief supplies to outlying islands in Tonga devastated by Cyclone Ian.
Solomons forecasters said the region's second cyclone of the summer could hit this weekend, a week after Ian slammed into Tonga, killing one person, leaving about 4000 homeless and destroying crops on outer islands. Weather forecasts advised Solomon Islanders to keep listening to radio outlets for advice as the strengthening tropical depression in the region 'poses threats to lives and properties'.
Damage from Cyclone Ian was expected to run to several million dollars in Tonga where the Red Cross had not been able to reach all the affected people in the scattered islands four days after the storm passed. 'We've reached about 95 per cent so far.' The United Nations issued a report on Thursday saying more than 50 per cent of 1,130 affected buildings on Tonga's central Ha'apai islands, which bore the brunt of Cyclone Ian, were destroyed. A further 34 per cent of the buildings and all but four of the 17 schools 'have major damage.'
The Tear Fund New Zealand aid organisation urged the Tongan government to seek international help urgently before the devastation was forgotten. 'The fact is they have a very short but clear window of time to raise support for this, and then it will drop off the radar. The needs of the Tongan communities will be eclipsed soon enough in the media by other needs and other issues and the window will have passed. My view is that if they want significant international support, they should ask for that now.' They expected the government would appeal for help within the next few days when the full cost of the damage was known.
Tonga - Widespread destruction caused by tropical cyclone Ian that hit Tonga last week is raising fears of a disease outbreak.

Warmer Pacific worsened cyclone risk for East Asia - China, Korea and Japan have been placed in the firing line of powerful tropical cyclones by a warming of water in the western Pacific.


RECORD WARMTH AND DRYNESS have hit California this month, as one of the worst drought in state history continues to intensify. San Francisco Airport observed its warmest January day on record on Wednesday: 73°. This beat the previous all-time January record of 72° set twice before (on January 13, 2009 and January 24, 1948). Oakland hit 77° on Wednesday, and Monterey topped out at a remarkable 83° -- which would be a daily record on many summer days.
The record January heat has been accompanied by record dryness. California recorded its driest year in its history during 2013. The most widely used measure of drought in the U.S. shows that December 2013 drought conditions in California were the 2nd most intense for any December going back to 1895, with only December 1898 being worse.
Less than an inch of precipitation has fallen over more than 95% of the state so far in January 2014, and the prospects for significant rain for the next ten days look bleak. A large and persistent ridge of high pressure has set up over the West Coast and shows no signs of budging. Since rain-bearing low pressure system tend to travel along the axis of the jet stream, these storms are being carried well to the north of California into Southeast Alaska, leaving California exceptionally dry.
Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor showed that the area of California experiencing extreme drought expanded from 28% to 63% over the past week, and January 2014 drought conditions are expected to challenge 1899 for the dubious honor of worst January drought in state history.

California - Colby fire above Glendora burns homes, spews smoke over L.A. Basin . The fast-moving blaze is the likely harbinger of a rare winter fire season sparked by the DRIEST CONDITIONS ON RECORD.
The fast-moving wildfire in the hills above Glendora burned at least 1,700 acres of withered brush and five homes Thursday, and sent a smoky pall over much of the Los Angeles Basin. Weather officials had been warning about the fire danger for months, capped by a January that had the windy, nosebleed feel of October. The native chaparral that burns so easily in normal circumstances was parched and ready to combust.
The fire sent smoke and ash south and west toward the Pacific Ocean. People as far away as Huntington Beach and Santa Monica smelled the wood smoke and saw their shadows cast in an eerie red light. Commuters on the 10 Freeway reported seeing the flames from as far away as West Covina, with cars caked in dust and ash 30 miles from the fire.
Winds were gusting to 30 mph Thursday morning and were projected to climb to 40 mph by Thursday night. With relative humidity expected to remain in the single digits through Friday and temperatures forecast to hover in the 80s and 90s, "it's not going to get any better" for firefighters. The blaze was first reported about 5:30 a.m. Three men arrested later by police said it started with an illegal campfire they were using to keep warm in the pre-dawn chill. A gust of wind blew embers down the canyon.
About 550 firefighters and support staff, with two tanker planes and eight helicopters, scrambled to keep the flames from spreading into Glendora's northern neighborhoods or moving west into parts of Azusa. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for all residents north of Sierra Madre Avenue and east of San Gabriel Canyon Road. By late evening, those orders had been lifted for many neighborhoods.
Meteorologists say there is no end in sight to the high-pressure ridge over the Pacific that is keeping storms offshore and parching the state from Humboldt to San Diego. Federal fire officials are well past being able to identify a "fire season," so a large blaze in January is no longer seen as an anomaly. California's year-round potential for fire comes with a steep cost. CalFire and U.S. Forest Service officials maintain a system of hiring seasonal fire crews that are laid off as the traditional fire season fades. But when the winter fire outlook factors in the state's prolonged drought and super-dry fuels, fire bosses must make a calculation: weighing the expense of keeping crews on standby versus scrambling to find appropriate resources to throw at an unexpected winter fire.
Likewise, costly firefighting equipment such as helicopters and water-scooping planes are not usually kept on contract past the fall months. Thus, when a blaze is sparked at this time of year, agencies pay a premium to hire aircraft at a moment's notice.

Bushfires in Australia's Victoria state have killed one person, as parts of the country face another day of soaring temperatures. A body was found in the Northern Grampians area. Authorities say the bushfire in the area is out of control and have told residents to evacuate. There are also blazes in the states of South Australia and New South Wales, with several fire alerts in place.
South-east Australia has faced days of soaring temperatures. Earlier this week, hot weather led to power outages for tens of thousands of households and play at the Australian Open tennis tournament was briefly suspended. Both Melbourne and Adelaide experienced weather above 40C (104F) on Friday. There were at least 43 blazes in Victoria, 16 in South Australia, and 12 in New South Wales on Friday. "We will get more [fire] starts, that's pretty much guaranteed. "
As of 12:00 (01:00 GMT), the fire in the Northern Grampians was 210 sq km (81 sq miles) in size. "We are covered in smoke, there is a massive plume that looks like an atomic bomb has gone off over the top of the mountain." "Huge masses of trees igniting. Probably flames reaching 40, 50, up to 100 feet (30m) in the air." The CFA described the fire as "fast moving" and "out of control" in a warning notice urging residents to evacuate. In other areas, residents were told to shelter indoors as it was too late to leave. 2013 was recently declared Australia's HOTTEST YEAR ON RECORD.

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