Sunday, January 26, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily summary of the latest natural disasters.

**The Constitution only guarantees the American people
the right to pursue happiness.
You have to catch it yourself.**
Benjamin Franklin

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 1/25/14 -

1/24/14 -

Japan - A powerful earthquake originating in what seismologists call the Nankai Trough off the Pacific coast could cut off tap water to roughly 8.32 million people in Osaka, or 94 percent of the prefecture’s residents.
The outage would be caused by damage to tap water infrastructure stemming from the intense oscillation, tsunami and liquefaction. An intense temblor would cut power to a combined 2.34 million households (55 percent) in the prefecture, and gas to 1.15 million (34 percent). Damage to buildings, distribution networks and other infrastructure would surpass ¥28 trillion. Any tsunami induced by the quake would put a combined 11,000 hectares of the area under water, roughly 3.6 times that estimated by the central government.
Osaka also assumes the quake would trigger tsunami that would reverse the flow of the Yodo northeast toward Kyoto and reach the prefectural border in about two hours. The water intakes at 12 points along the river might be rendered useless, and direct damage to water pipelines is also feared. One option would be to open dams upstream to push the seawater back out, which would resolve the tap water problem in 40 days.
Aside from drinking water, about 48 percent of Osaka’s cellphone networks could be damaged. The prefecture has about 20,000 relay stations. Train services of all types might be disabled, the report says. In one scenario, 1.91 million people could face evacuation while 1.46 million others are left stranded in the city. A university professor urged residents to get prepared. “Numbers of this scale cannot be ignored. Residents of the prefecture must raise their alert levels and get prepared.”

US earthquake fault zone alive and active, study finds - The New Madrid fault zone in the United States' midsection is active and could spawn future large earthquakes, scientists reported Thursday. 200 years ago the New Madrid fault wreaked havoc with huge earthquakes that made the Mississippi River flow backwards.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

No current tropical storms.

Australia - The Bureau of Meteorology says a cyclone could form off the Pilbara coast as early as next week. A low is developing in the South East Timor Sea and expected to cross into Australian waters tomorrow. Forecasters predict the low to move off the West Kimberley coast on Australia Day and then track parallel to the Pilbara on Monday.
It is possible a cyclone will form on Tuesday when the system is over water. "There it has the chance to turn into a cyclone. That's something we're going to be watching closely in the next few days." The threat of a cyclone follows a torrent of stormy weather in northern WA over the past week. A tropical low that entered the mainland near Darwin early last week dumped RECORD AMOUNTS OF RAIN across the Pilbara and Kimberley, causing flooding.
Extremely heavy rain was experienced throughout the Goldfields overnight, as that low continued to move further south. Leonora was hit with 155mm and more than 100mm was dumped in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Leinster recorded 78mm. Gindalbee station received 176mm in the rain gauge. The Bureau of Meteorology has also confirmed Tuesday was Broome's WETTEST DAY IN MORE THAN A DECADE. 171mm fell on Tuesday, making it the rainiest January day since 1997. It was also one of the wettest days recorded in the town overall. The Great Northern Highway in the Pilbara re-opened after being closed between Meekatharra and Newman due to the flooding.

Philippines - Fear of landslide gives survivors of Tropical Storm Sendong, living in sitio Calaanan in Barangay Canitoan, difficulty sleeping at night. “I cannot sleep in this house, I am afraid that another landslide would take place and kill my family,” said a resident of LGU-Crayola resettlement site in a hinterland area in Calaanan. She added that the thought of her family being covered with mud and rocks haunt her every time it starts to rain, especially during the low pressure area (LPA) that developed into tropical depression bringing with it incessant rains for two weeks.
“Every night I think about being covered with mud.” 34 families live in a relocation zone on a hill beside the mountain. A landslide on Tuesday last week that damaged homes. The cascading rocks and mud almost buried a two-year-old daughter as it hit a house. “There was something like an explosion when the mud and rock hit the backdoor of our house, my daughter was standing nearby.” They lived in Barangay Carmen before Tropical Storm Sendong devastated their home in December 2012.
Another resident from the same relocation site said while she was cooking on that same day, some small amount of mud started drifting toward her. She tried to shovel the mud but eventually stopped because it started coming in bulk. She asked her husband not to work after the landslide to help her shovel the mud but they did not shovel it because the mud amassed excessively. He stopped working for a week now to look after his family, that sleeps now, along with other eight families, in the AICID building, in another nearby evacuation site. “I sleep in the relocation site because I am afraid especially when it is raining.” The makeshift lavatory at the back of her house was covered with mud and is now rendered useless.
Eight houses in buildings 1 and 2 were damaged due to the landslide. The relocation site is a landslide-prone area. “Even if the houses were concrete it could not sustain against the landslide.” More landslides in the area are possible. The landslides happened because of the relentless rain due to Agaton that eventually weakened the soil. The houses at the foot of the mountain are unsafe. The houses should be five meters away from the foot of the mountain, and the slope should be 45-degrees with a “bench.” “This area is not suitable for a relocation site.”


Forecasters are warning of more heavy rain across parts of the UK, bringing further risk of flooding to some areas left struggling by recent storms. The Met Office has issued an amber warning for rain in south-west England on Sunday between 06:00 GMT and 14:00. Rain and strong winds are also forecast for parts of the South East, Northern Ireland, Wales and much of Scotland.
On Saturday, storms battered the Midlands region, with buildings struck by lightning and trees uprooted. The Environment Agency has 10 flood warnings in place for the south east and south west of England, meaning flooding is expected and immediate action is required. More than 100 flood alerts - meaning flooding is possible - have also been issued, more than half of them in the South East.
The Met Office said Sunday's amber warning meant areas of the Somerset Levels that are currently under water should "be prepared for further flooding". It said between 10 and 20mm of rain was expected to fall on saturated ground on Sunday. It has yellow warnings - the lowest of its three alert levels - in place for wind, snow and ice for most of Scotland. Ice and snow warnings are also in place for northern England, while people in Northern Ireland are warned to expect rain and high winds.
The higher-level amber warning is for rain in South West England, and yellow rain warnings are in place for London and the South East and south Wales. On Friday, Somerset County Council declared the situation there a "major incident" and asked the armed forces to consider helping villagers who had been cut off. The council warned that precautions to stop damage to property and risk to life "need to be taken now".
Sedgemoor District Council also declared a major incident on the Somerset Levels. The "biggest pumping operation ever" is continuing there, but much of the water has been going into already swollen rivers. "We've been banging on to the [Environment] Agency to clean the rivers out. First and foremost we need more pumps. I was shouting out for them a week before Christmas, but the agency said no."
The Environment Agency said it has 62 pumps operating non-stop in the Somerset Levels to drain an estimated 65 million cubic metres of water off an area spanning about 25 square miles. "The country has faced an EXTRAORDINARY COMBINATION OF WEATHER CONDITIONS OVER THE LAST SIX WEEKS. Our thoughts go out to those communities that have, and in some places continue to, experience flooding." Since 1 January, 569 flood warnings and 30 severe flood warnings have been issued. Winds of more than 50mph were reported with unconfirmed reports of tornadoes hitting in Cambridge, Nuneaton and Retford. South West Trains services were suspended on parts of the network after several trees fell on lines. Some of the Met Office weather warnings continue into Monday.


U.S. - Extreme winter weather causes massive semi, vehicle pileup. Another round of extreme winter weather, including subzero temps and whiteout conditions, has hit some areas of the United States, which is being dubbed by some as “Polar Vortex Part 2.”
In Northwestern Lake County, Indiana, more than two feet of lake-effect snow fell in less than 10 hours on Tuesday (Jan. 21), causing white-out conditions, and clogged traffic. "Traffic was slowed to a crawl or stopped on I-80/94 and I-65 for much of the day as motorists encountered dangerous white-out conditions and snow falling at a rate of 3-plus inches an hour.” The clogged roadways made it difficult for both INDOT crews and Indiana State Police to access these highways.
INDOT crews were on the roads in full call-out in the hardest-hit areas, plowing and salting 24 hours per day, alternating in 12-hour shifts. In a massive pile-up the involving more than a dozen semis near Michigan City, three people were killed and more than 20 were injured as a result of the continuing winter weather. The crash occurred Jan. 23 afternoon on eastbound I-94 near W 400 N, about three miles east of the Michigan City, Indiana, exit. Police say 46 vehicles, including 19 semi-trucks and several passenger cars that were crushed between and underneath the semis, were involved in the accident. (photos at link)

Wisconsin - Extreme weather causes second train to derail this week. A train derailment closed the Five Points Intersection and Academy St. in Janesville Wednesday morning. Two train cars carrying grain were knocked off the tracks around 5 a.m. The extremely cold temperatures caused a switch to malfunction. "If you have real cold weather, sometimes that steel gets brittle or causes switches to malfunction." said the Wisconsin Railroad Commissioner. He doesn't think people should be worried because railroad companies constantly monitor tracks for problems. "They invest an awful lot of money in [maintenance], making sure the tracks are safe, making sure that brush is cleared, there are no obstructions, that kind of stuff. And they take that pretty seriously."
On Sunday, 19 cars carrying coal derailed in Caledonia. No one was hurt in either incident.


California - Drought drains the Russian River. This time of year, the Russian River should be roaring but as it stands, it's barely whispering. "I don't sleep at night, number one," said the Sonoma County Water Agency spokesman. "I also think we have a dire situation on our hands."
Rock and dirt are now exposed on much of the river bed that in normal years would be underwater; a string of buoys that usually sits on top of the water to warn swimmers not to go any farther now sits on gravel. The river HASN'T BEEN THIS LOW IN LATE JANUARY SINCE THE 1950s. The situation is much different that it was eight years ago, when the river flooded.
The lack of water especially in the upper Russian River has already had a ripple effect in nearby communities because the river is the main source of water for Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Geyersville, Hopland and Ukiah. "Because the river is so low it is not recharging the ground water in a way it would normally this time of year when we would normally have literally a 100 times this flow."
On Wednesday the Cloverdale City Council ordered a 25 percent reduction in water use. Healdsburg did the same the day before. Residents are now prohibited from washing their patios with hoses and watering lawns will be restricted. Water officials say restrictions could get worse if it stays this dry. They add it will take 13 inches of rain this winter to match the rainfall totals of 1977, which was a bad drought year.

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