Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

**I'm just here to establish an alibi.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 1/28/14 -

Greece's government announced emergency relief for the residents of the Ionian islands of Kefalonia and Ithaki Monday, a day after they were hit by a strong quake which caused damage and slightly injured seven people. Sunday's quake, whose magnitude was revised to 5.9, was followed by dozens of aftershocks that continued through Monday.
Frightened residents were preparing to spend a second night in their cars or town squares, fearing a possible bigger quake. Many recall the devastating quakes of 1953, when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck three days after a 6.4 temblor, killing hundreds, injuring thousands and destroying nearly all the buildings on the islands. “We need 48 hours to say with 99 percent certainty that this was the main quake.” However, that the multiple aftershocks are normal and expected.
Buildings erected in the area since 1953 have been constructed to strict anti-seismic specifications, and serious damage from Sunday's quake was limited. Rockslides shut some roads and many homes and stores suffered cracks and broken windows. Schools remained shut for a second day on both islands Tuesday while engineers inspected school buildings to ensure they are safe.
The state is setting aside 100,000 euros ($136 500) for the residents of each of the islands to meet immediate needs, while equal amounts were earmarked for the municipalities of both islands to provide to those “directly affected.” Two ferries with a combined capacity of nearly 4,000 passengers were dispatched to Kefalonia to provide housing for residents whose homes were damaged. Authorities also sent rescue vehicles and disaster response units on standby to Kefalonia, as well as police reinforcements. Earthquakes are common throughout Greece, but the vast majority are small and cause no injuries or damage.

Greece - Kefalonia Earthquake: Locals fear 1953 catastrophe may happen again. On Tuesday, for the third day in a row, the Greek island of Kefalonia was hit by continuous earthquakes, something that brings back memories of 1953 when the whole island was devastated by three strong quakes. Many locals live with the fear of a possible repetition of 1953 as the coincidences are many.
According to the Institute of Geodynamics in Athens, Greece, more than 130 quakes with a magnitude of over 3 have shaken the island. This seismic activity has turned the days and nights of the locals into a nightmare. Back in 1953, within 4 days, from August 9 to 12, the island was struck by three great earthquakes, all measuring above 6 on the Richter scale (6.4 on August 9, 6.8 on August 11 and 7.2 on August 12) and caused the death of 455 people. In addition, the event caused widespread damage on the infrastructure throughout Cephalonia and Ithaca.
This is the reason why the seismologists avoid officially announcing whether Sunday’s earthquake was the main one. In other words, the fact that this region is experiencing earthquakes of this magnitude has made scientists cautious over their estimations. A professor of seismology stated that “we must wait for a week to pass to say with 99 percent certainty that this was the main quake.”
On the contrary, another professor of Geology appeared more reassuring. He explained that “while no scenario should be ruled out, the genesis mechanism that brought the two quakes — the one of 1953 and the one this past Sunday — is different as the faults are not the same. One is located in the east part of the island and the other is located west of Palliki region.”
Meanwhile, the Island’s residents were warned that the forthcoming weeks and months will be a tough period for them as a barrage of aftershocks with an average magnitude above 4 is expected. (photo at link)

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone Eleven is located approximately 69 nm east-northeast of Willis Island, Australia.

Australia - Cyclone warning issued for north Queensland, set to hit Friday. A cyclone warning has been issued for parts of north Queensland as a tropical low gathers strength and heads towards the coast from Port Douglas, north of Cairns, south to Mackay.
The weather system was about 590 kilometres east-northeast of Cairns and 600km northeast of Townsville, and was moving towards the coast at 9km/h. At this stage forecasters expect it to cross the coast, possibly as a low-strength cyclone, on Friday morning, between Tully, south of Cairns, and Townsville. A cyclone watch remains in place for coastal and island communities from Mackay south to St Lawrence, and inland through the eastern interior north of Clermont.
A strong ridge of high pressure is combining with the low to generate gales along much of the east coast between Port Douglas and Mackay. Winds are expected to build to damaging gusts of 120km/h from this afternoon or evening, and will continue tomorrow and Friday. Forecasters are also warning of heavy rain, which may cause flash flooding, for coastal and inland parts of the north tropical coast and tablelands, Herbert and Lower Burdekin and the Central Coast and Whitsundays districts from this afternoon.
A dangerous storm tide is also expected between Port Douglas and St Lawrence, mainly on the high tide over the coming three days. "Large waves may produce minor flooding along the foreshore. People living in areas likely to be affected by this flooding should take measures to protect their property as much as possible and be prepared to help their neighbours.''


U.S. - A RARE and dangerous ice storm has begun in the Deep South, where Winter Storm Leon is tracking along the northern Gulf Coast, spreading a nasty mix of freezing rain, sleet, cold rain, and snow along a swath from Central Texas to Eastern Virginia.
Freezing rain was falling at a temperature of 28°F in Austin, Texas, where a 20-car pileup on an overpass was reported, as well as at least ten other car crashes in a 30-minute time span. A portion of Interstate 35 was closed due to the crashes and icing. Freezing rain was falling on the north side of Houston, Texas, and in Mobile Alabama.
Snow was falling in Jackson Mississippi, and sleet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The National Weather Service posted Freezing Rain Advisories along a swath from Eastern Texas across Southern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Southern Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, almost all of Georgia and South Carolina, and into Eastern North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. Ice accumulations of 1/4" - 1/2" are expected in much of this area, with isolated higher amounts.
Snows of 1 - 4" were possible just to the north of the freezing rain swath, with heavier amounts of 6 - 12" across southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina. The ice storm has the potential to cause significant damage to trees and power lines, resulting in widespread power outages. Travel will be very dangerous in a region unaccustomed to extreme winter weather.
An UNUSUALLY sharp southwards dip of the jet stream is allowing intensely cold air to spill southwards out of the Arctic and over the eastern half of the United States. The most extreme cold Tuesday morning was over the Upper Midwest, where the temperature fell to -35° in Northern Minnesota in Longville, with a dangerously low wind chill of -47°. Chicago bottomed out at -11°, with a wind chill of -30°, at 7 am CST. In Detroit, Michigan, the low hit -10°, with a wind chill of -27°.
Wind chill levels that low are EXTREMELY RARE in Southeast Lower Michigan, and the dangerously cold conditions prompted officials at the University of Michigan to cancel classes on Tuesday for only the fourth time since the college was founded in 1817 (the other closures came in January 1978, 1974, and 1945.) The latest round of snow on Monday brought the January total snowfall for Detroit to 37.1", establishing a NEW ALL-TIME JANUARY SNOWFALL RECORD.
Damage from Tuesday's Southeast U.S. ice storm may well run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, but it will not compare to the damage from the most expensive ice storm in U.S. history, the great February 1994 Southeast U.S. ice storm. That storm killed nine people and caused $4.7 billion (2013 dollars) of damage in portions of TX, OK, AR, LA, MS, AL, TN, GA, SC, NC, and VA. At least 2 million customers were without electricity at some point, and 1/2 million were still without power three days after the storm. Hardest hit was Northern Mississippi, which was deluged with 4 - 5" of freezing rain that created flooding problems. Ice thicknesses of 3.5 - 5.5 inches were common in the state, causing catastrophic damage estimated at $3 billion. Some residents were without power one month after the storm.
The number of blizzard warnings issued so far during the winter of 2013 - 2014 show that the Upper Midwest is giving Alaska a run for its money - a VERY UNUSUAL state of affairs!
62° in Alaska - The cold air flowing out of the Arctic into the eastern half of the U.S. is being replaced by warm air surging northwards over Alaska and the North Atlantic east of Greenland. The warmth in Alaska the past three days has been PARTICULARLY ASTONISHING, with Alaska observing its ALL-TIME WARMEST JANUARY TEMPERATURE of 62° on Monday 1/27 at the Port Alsworth Climate Reference Network station.This ties the January state record set at Petersburg on January 16, 1981. Port Alsworth is about 160 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Nome, Alaska recorded a high of 51°F on Monday. This was 38° above average, and the warmest temperature ever observed in any November through March in Nome since record keeping began in 1907. Ironically, exactly 25 years ago, Nome recorded its lowest temperature on record -- a bone-chilling -54° on January 27, 1989. Nome is located about 160 miles south of the Arctic Circle, and has just 6 1/2 hours of daylight this time of year.
All-time January heat records have been set over the past three days in Nome, Denali Park, Palmer, Homer (twice), Alyseka, Seward, and Talkeetna. Bolio Lake Range Complex in Fort Greely, Alaska, located about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks, hit 60° on Sunday. This is only 2° short of the all-time state January heat record of 62° set at Petersburg in Jan 1981.

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