Monday, January 13, 2014

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

**I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.**
Thomas Jefferson

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 1/12/14 -

Puerto Rico - A strong earthquake out to sea has shaken Puerto Rico's northern coast, causing minor damage in some places. Dozens of people reported fallen items in their home and feeling buildings sway in the capital of San Juan, about 59 miles (96 kilometers) from the quake's epicenter. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 and struck just after midnight about 34 miles (56 kilometers) north of Hatillo. It said the quake occurred 17 miles (28 kilometers) deep. Puerto Rico's emergency management agency said there was no tsunami warning. (map at link)

Earthquakes in Puerto Rico - Puerto Rico has had: 4 earthquakes today; 27 earthquakes in the past 7 days; 145 earthquakes in the past month; 936 earthquakes in the past year.

Homes evacuated as lava pours from Guatemala volcano - Lava flowing from the Pacaya volcano near Guatemala City has prompted the evacuation of people living nearest the crater. Lava is flowing down one side of the volcano. Local news media report the number evacuated is small so far. The volcano has also been closed to tourists. The lava flow in some areas is as large as 600 yards wide and 1.8 miles (3km) long. The volcano just south of the capital city is also registering small explosions and emitting gas and ash.

Thousands flee Indonesian volcano - Hot lava, which has been spewing from the volcano for the past two weeks, has flowed into a river and filled up valleys with volcanic fragments. "So far, 25,516 people have been evacuated. There's nobody now within a five-kilometre radius of the crater. We are urging those living within seven kilometres southeast of the crater to move, too." Mount Sinabung is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia that straddle major tectonic fault lines, known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. It had been quiet for about 400 years but rumbled back to life in 2010, and again in September 2013.
Pictures: Mount Sinabung volcano eruption continues.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the South Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone Colin is located approximately 819 nm south-southeast of Diego Garcia.

- Tropical cyclone Ian is located approximately 739 nm south of Pago Pago.
Cyclone destruction in Tonga - The MOST POWERFUL CYCLONE EVER TO SLAM INTO TONGA has destroyed villages, flattened trees and left at least one person dead. Up to 70 per cent of houses and buildings in the central Ha'apai islands group - which is home to about 8000 people and bore the brunt of Cyclone Ian - were damaged or destroyed. The Tongan government on Sunday declared a state of emergency in the Ha'apai region after it was pounded by winds in excess of 200 kilometres an hour, which whipped up mountainous seas around coastal villages.
Although initial reports when the cyclone hit on Saturday said there had only been minor damage, the full extent of the destruction began to emerge when communications were partially restored a day later. 'Seventy per cent of houses (on Ha'apai) are damaged or blown away, and the rest of the 30 per cent are affected by water." Residents on Ha'apai's main island of Lifuka were reported to have huddled in churches for shelter as houses were destroyed in the furious cyclone. Lifuka was in the direct path of the cyclone. 'Whatever was on the island has been damaged, whether it's buildings, crops, roading or infrastructure, it's all been damaged."
It remained difficult to get a detailed picture of the destruction. "There is no communication. We did have a satellite phone but that also died. It is serious. The eye of the storm went right across the top of the island." Ian was downgraded to a category four cyclone on Saturday morning, but increased in intensity later in the day to be restored to the most severe rating of category five as it hit Ha'apai, knocking out contact with outlying islands.
Ian is the first category-five cyclone to belt into Tonga and the Ha'apai governor said he could see from one side of the island to the other - 'that's how devastated it is'. The Red Cross established a policy last year of maintaining containers of relief supplies on most islands, and they were able to provide immediate assistance. The field officer in Ha'apai reported widespread devastation. 'He told us that this was the worst ever damage from a cyclone. Most houses are flattened, roofs are off, trees and power lines are down.'

The year 2014 has just begun, but the tropical cyclone seasons in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have already claimed victims. Summer is in full bloom in the Southern Hemisphere, where two Category 4 storms formed last week: Tropical Cyclone Colin, which reached sustained winds of 135 mph midway between Madagascar and Australia on January 11, and Tropical Cyclone Ian, which intensified into a powerful Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds before roaring through the South Pacific islands of Tonga over the weekend. Tonga is an archipelago of 176 islands, with 100,000 people living on the 36 most populated islands. About 40% of the population lives in poverty.
In the Philippines, heavy rains from tropical disturbance 91W have triggered flash floods and mudslides that are being blamed for six deaths on the southern island of Mindanao on Saturday, with eight other people missing. Twenty-four hour rainfall amounts in excess of 300 mm (11.81") fell in northeast Mindanao. The disturbance will move slowly north over the islands through Tuesday, and bring torrential rains in excess of 5" to the islands of Leyte and Samar, ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November.


First U.S. Tornadoes of 2014 hit Virginia and Georgia - A modest severe weather outbreak over the Southeast U.S. on Saturday, January 11, brought the first tornadoes of 2014: three to Virginia, and one to Georgia:
EF-0 tornado near Waleska in Cherokee Co, GA, 3 mile path length, downed trees, damaged fence.
EF-0 in Isle of Wight Co., VA, 70-75 mph, 2 mile path, 50 yards wide, trees down, roof damage to homes, no injuries.
EF-0 near Smithfield, VA, EF-0, 75-80 mph, 1.4 mile path, 100 yards wide, trees down onto homes, no injuries.
EF-0 tornado in Hampton, VA, 80 mph, 1.25 mile path, 75 yards wide; trees snapped, shingles off homes, roof off City of Hampton school maintenance compound; Fox Hill Athletic Association building destroyed.
The STRONGEST WIND GUST EVER RECORDED at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, 86 mph, occurred at 1:57 PM Saturday, when a line of thunderstorms roared through central North Carolina.

RECORD RAIN floods Brazil - Extreme rainfall caused widespread flooding and mudslides in southeastern Brazil in December 2013.


US extreme weather caused by shifting Arctic Cyclone? - As residents of the United States and Canada were surprised by the frigid cold dipping below minus 30 degrees Celsius, Russians and other Europeans were also surprised by the January weather, with temperatures in Moscow rising some 11 degrees above average. In Germany tourists sat outside in the warm sun enjoying Italian Ice Cream. Now weather experts say the two anomalies are in fact connected.
As Americans kept struggling with extreme cold and snow brought on by a ‘polar vortex,’ people in central Russia were puzzled by warm rainy weather that melted all the snow away. Central Europe also experienced sudden warm-up, and trees in Moldovan capital Chisinau got confused to the point their buds started swelling, apparently in anticipation of the blooming season.
One of the reasons for the snowless January in Russia and the coldest winter in the last 17 years for the US is the shifting of the Arctic Cyclone towards North America, says a warning meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The arctic cyclone may come to Russia in a week or two, he said, predicting that the temperatures in the country could soon leap back to below zero and even below average. Russian meteorologists have said that the gradual return of winter is to be expected even sooner. According to the Hydrometeorological Centre of Russia, frost and snow is coming back, starting from this weekend and reaching minus 17 degrees Celsius on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, people in practically every US state (except Alaska and Hawaii) have been suffering the fate of the US East Coast and Midwest, which were hit by heavy storms ahead of Thanksgiving, and then have suffered Winter Storm Hercules, with its severe snowfall and chilling wind, just after New Year’s. The natural disaster grounded thousands of flights, halted some trains and traffic midway, cut power lines, leaving whole parts of cities in the dark, and was responsible for countless road accidents, some of them fatal. New York's Governor on Tuesday even declared a state of emergency due to a “polar vortex” raging in the state, describing the weather conditions as “life threatening.”
Weather experts, however, have stopped short of saying the anomalies are direct signs of global warming. "What is happening now in the US and Russia is due to “natural climactic variations,” said a spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization. The so-called Rossby planetary waves, which, among other factors, are responsible for the emergence of jet streams – the strong high-altitude winds blowing from west to east – are behind the extreme weather fluctuations.


Australia - Food prices to soar as drought-ravaged farmers prepare for more pain. Food prices are expected to soar within months without a downpour over drought-ravaged New South Wales.


Tyson Foods is recalling 33,000 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products that may be contaminated with a strain of salmonella.

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