Friday, February 14, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 2/13/14 -

+ Thousands of people are evacuating their homes in Indonesia after a volcano erupted in east Java. Mount Kelud spewed ash and debris over a large area, including the city of Surabaya, about 130km (80 miles) away.
Two people died after their houses collapsed under the weight of ash. Some towns were said to be covered by 4cm (1.6 in) of ash. Three major airports in Surabaya, Solo and Yogyakarta were forced to shut down because of low visibility. There are also fears that debris could damage aircraft engines.
At the Yogyakarta airport: "The current conditions are that volcanic ash is now covering the runway, apron and tarmac. We have already measured the thickness of the volcanic ash, which is at 5cm on the runway and tarmac." Officials raised an alert on Thursday around an hour before the volcano erupted, and urged around 200,000 people living in 36 villages in a 10km (6 mile) radius around the volcano to evacuate. However, it is not clear if they have all left their homes.
Many in Indonesia are quite used to volcanic eruptions, and are reluctant to leave their homes and belongings. Officials said two people died after their homes, which appeared to have weak structures, could not withstand the weight of gravel and ash, and caved in. The man and woman in their 60s were killed in two separate homes in the sub-district of Malang on Java. Some of the evacuees tried to visit their houses on Friday morning to gather clothing and valuables, but were forced to turn back by the continuous stream of volcanic ash and rocks from the volcano.
The volcano spewed ash and gravel that flew as far as 200km (124 miles) away. The nearest town from the volcano, Kediri, looks completely grey and white. The thick dust makes it dangerous for pedestrians and vehicles to be on the road, and authorities say residents are volunteering to sweep the streets.
Mount Kelud - which had been rumbling for several weeks - erupted at about 21:50 local time (16:50 GMT) on Thursday. However, the head of Indonesia's Volcano and Geology Agency said the eruption was gradually subsiding. Experts say the volcano tends to quieten down after a large eruption, and more big eruptions are unlikely. The volcano last erupted in 1990, killing dozens of people.
UPDATE - Two people have been crushed to death on the Indonesian island of Jakarta after a volcanic eruption blanketed rooftops with rocks and ash, causing homes to cave in. Thousands of Indonesians have been evacuated and three international airports have been closed after the volcano erupted, hurling red-hot ash and rocks.
Flights from Australia to Bali, Jakarta and Phuket have been cancelled. Qantas has delayed until Saturday its services to and from Sydney and Jakarta, affecting flights which were both due to depart on Friday. The ash cloud has also altered flight paths from Australia to Singapore. Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has cancelled Friday flights to and from Phuket, Denpasar in Bali and the Australian territories of Christmas and Cocos islands.
The mountain in East Java province erupted late on Thursday, about 90 minutes after authorities raised its status to the highest level. About 200,000 people living in 36 villages within 10 kilometres of the crater have been urged to evacuate. "It is spewing lava right now while gravel rain has fallen in some areas. We worry that the gravel rain can endanger people who are evacuating." A series of huge blasts unleashed stones and gravel, causing panic among villagers who immediately fled to safer areas.
In 1990, Kelud kicked out searing fumes and lava that killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds. In 1919, a powerful explosion that reportedly could be heard hundreds of miles away killed at least 5160. Earlier this month, Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province erupted as authorities were allowing thousands of villagers who had been evacuated to return to its slopes, killing 16 people. Sinabung has been erupting for four months, forcing the evacuation of more than 30,000 people. (video at link)


+ Caribbean faces threat of biggest tsunami ever recorded - The Caribbean could be at risk from a mega-tsunami that scientists warn could devastate coastlines from Florida to Brazil following a volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands. The monster wave generated by part of a mountain collapsing into the sea would be the biggest ever recorded and would be travelling at speeds of up to 500mph.
The massive wall of water would likely make first landfall on the West Saharan coast of Morocco, where the wave could measure as much as 330ft from trough to crest. The greatest destruction was nevertheless expected in the built-up coastal areas of the Caribbean, Florida and Brazil, according to a new forecast. The tsunami could reach heights of 130ft to 164ft throughout the region and travel several miles inland, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
Earlier research had predicted that a future eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands was likely to cause the western flank of the mountain to slide into the sea. An updated model predicts more accurately the size of the tsunami and the areas it will impact. The model predicts that after the landslide the tsunami would travel a distance of almost 155 miles in just 10 minutes and would reach the Caribbean and Florida in eight or nine hours.
The forecast goes on to predict that a wall of water 164ft high could smash into the coasts of the Caribbean and Florida, while Brazil’s northern coast could be hit by a wave more than 130ft high. "The collapse will occur during some future eruption after days or weeks of precursory deformation and earthquakes. An effective earthquake monitoring system could provide advanced warning of a likely collapse and allow early emergency management organisations a valuable window of time in which to plan and respond."
"Eruptions of Cumbre Vieja occur at intervals of decades to a century or so and there may be a number of eruptions before its collapse. Although the year-to-year probability of a collapse is therefore low, the resulting tsunami would be a major disaster with indirect effects around the world. Cumbre Vieja needs to be monitored closely for any signs of impending volcanic activity and for the deformation that would precede collapse."

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the South Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone Fobane is located approximately 649 nm south-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius.


Britain - River Thames breaks records for water flows in January. The amount of water flowing through the Thames this January was the HIGHEST RECORDED FOR JANUARY SINCE RECORDS BEGAN IN 1883. New data from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology shows that the rate of water flow has now exceeded 275 metres per second for more than 50 days. Southern Britain is likely to have THE WETTEST WINTER EVER RECORDED.
Scientists from the Centre measure water flow on all the major British rivers. This winter has been a busy time for their instruments, as they have detected record-breaking rates of flow on a majority of rivers in Southern Britain. At Kingston upon Thames, south-west London, the river has been recorded exceeding 275 cubic metres per second for 52 days. While the river has seen higher flows, especially before 1950, the scientists say THE DURATION OF THIS INTENSE FLOW IN NEARLY TWICE THE PREVIOUS LONGEST TIME ON RECORD.
"Not only has the river Thames been extremely high, its been extremely high for a long time, throughout January and now in February and the total volume of water coming down the Thames has been the highest since 1883." The researchers say that increased flood defences and changes to the flow of the river mean that the number of houses at risk of flooding is much lower than the deadly flood of 1947. The CEH estimate that the overall rainfall picture for southern Britain is heading towards a new high.
"Our rainfall figures suggest it's been the wettest winter since 1910, and here we have some data on river flow records, and many of these are very exceptional and many of these have exceeded the total in January over the whole period of record." The outlook remains grim and could remain that way for weeks if not months. Not only are the rivers at record levels, and likely to rise with the threatened downpours due over the next few days, but because the amount of water in the ground is now so high there is no room left for fresh accumulations.
"The Met Office are forecasting that we've got more heavy storms to come, at the moment, the rivers are already flowing over banks. But we've got the added problem that the groundwater levels are rising, so with the combination of those two we are likely to have severe flooding for the next few months."(map at link)
More chaos to come as experts warn of ANOTHER storm - Tens of thousands of homes are still without power as Britain prepares for yet ANOTHER devastating storm. A month’s worth of rain is expected in just two days as experts warn of more hellish downpours this weekend. A weather system over the Atlantic will send yet another violent storm - the eighth this winter - crashing into Britain from Thursday night.
Winds, which reached 108mph Wednesday night, stopped trains in their tracks, blew roofs off stations and closed major transport links on a day dubbed "Wild Wednesday". The savage storms killed a 70-year-old after he was electrocuted trying to cut down a tree. Some 80,000 households remain without electricity. "We have seen some pretty horrendous conditions. Wales has suffered very strong winds of over 100mph, gusts in excess of 80mph and 90mph quite frequently on land, and that has caused a lot of damage across the network across Wales so that is where we are seeing the majority of those people off supply at the moment."
The weather continues to cause travel chaos, with warnings that passengers should expect more major disruption on the rail network. Virgin Train's sertvices remain suspended after they urged passengers to avoid travel. After a brief respite, Britain faces more chaos as another storm brings heavy rain, strong winds and further risk of flooding today and into the weekend. The West Country is expected to have 70mm (2.75in) of rain - MORE THAN THE REGION WOULD NORMALLY GET IN THE WHOLE OF FEBRUARY.
Snow was expected in northern England and parts of Scotland and today more rain and winds of up to 80mph will arrive from the Southwest. The Ministry of Defence said more than 2,000 military personnel were on "high- readiness" to respond to requests in flood-affected areas. Wednesday residents in parts of the UK were warned not to venture out after the Met Office issued a "red" weather warning for exceptionally strong winds in western Wales and north-west England.
Severe flood warnings remain in place in Berkshire, Surrey and Somerset, where severe flooding has caused hundreds of homes to be evacuated. The River Thames is predicted to rise to its highest level in more than 60 years in some places. Residents in Windsor, Maidenhead and communities in Surrey - where nearly 1,000 people have been evacuated - have been warned to expect severe disruption and risk of flooding.
The Assistant chief of the defence staff, who is co-ordinating the armed forces response, described the weather as an "almost unparalleled natural crisis". Wednesday night, north-west England from Liverpool to Carlisle bore the brunt of the wind. Residents of a block of flats in Old Trafford, Manchester, were trapped when their only staircase collapsed onto parked cars below. Rail travel the length of the country was paralysed. Virgin Trains, which operates the West Coast main line serving London Euston, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, halted all services. Swamped, it urged all passengers to "abandon travel" and said those already on trains would be dropped off at the nearest station.


U.S. - The memorable winter of 2014 continues over the Eastern U.S., where an intensifying Winter Storm Pax has dumped up to a foot and a half of snow. Snowfall rates of 3" per hour have been observed in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York Thursday morning.
A band of super-heavy snow set up over northern New Jersey, with some reports of 3 - 4" of snow falling in just 30 minutes. As of 9 am EST, over a foot of snow (12.3") was observed at the Baltimore Airport, 7" at New York City's Central Park, and 11" in Washington D.C.. The 8.8" of snow so far yesterday in Philadelphia makes the winter of 2013 - 2014 the 5th snowiest on record there, and the first time since record keeping began in 1884 that Philadelphia has had four separate six inch or greater snowstorms in a winter.
At least thirteen deaths are being blamed on the storm, including car crashes on icy roads that killed seven people in Texas on Monday and Tuesday. As of 10 am EST on Thursday, approximately 700,000 customers were without power, with 470,000 of these in Georgia and South Carolina.
Freezing rain amounts up to 1/2" were common there, and the ice storm was the worst to affect Georgia since 2000, when a January ice storm knocked out power to approximately 500,000 customers. However, only a few locations in the Southeast recorded 0.75 - 1.0" of ice, and the catastrophic ice storm that was feared did not materialize.
The worst ice conditions from the storm generally rated a "3" on a scale of 1 to 5 of the Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation Index. The impacts expected from a level 3 ice storm: "Numerous utility interruptions with some damage to main feeder lines and equipment expected. Tree limb damage is excessive. Outages lasting 1 - 5 days."


Extreme Weather Hits Hard Worldwide - From unprecedented storms and flooding in the UK to severe drought in California and Brazil, 2014 has kicked off with some exceptional and weird weather events.
The UK is experiencing its most exceptional period of rainfall in 248 years, with hundreds of flood alert warnings covering much of the country and hundreds of home left inundated. The prolonged storms have played havoc across the country since December, with more than 130 severe flood risk warnings — meaning a potential threat to life — issued and more than 5,000 homes flooded. This week fourteen severe warnings remain in place, with no let up of the rain in sight.
Across the globe in Brazil, residents in Sao Paulo — South America’s largest city — are facing the opposite problem, as record heat and drought have sparked fears of water shortages. The city is on alert following warnings the system that provides half the its drinking water could run dry in the next 40 days. Like cities across Brazil, Sao Paulo is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years, with last month the hottest January on record. The combination of low precipitation and extreme heat right across the country are not only sparking fears of water shortages but also of crop damage and higher energy prices.
The Western U.S. is facing similar problems, as the state of California is in the grips of what is likely to be the region’s worst drought in 500 years. Low snowpack in the mountains are leaving the state’s creeks, rivers and reservoirs — which provide essential water and hydroelectric power for cities and the agricultural industry — dry, putting food prices at risk. Meanwhile, wildfires continue to plague the region at increased rates.
Brazil and California aren’t the only places experiencing record drought and heat. In Alaska, record high temperatures have triggered a series of extremely large avalanches, with debris piles more than 30-metres thick blocking off towns from highway access. Stifling heat in Australia is also causing havoc, after the country suffered through its hottest January in 13 years — the fourth hottest on record. The dry and hot conditions have left scores of wildfires raging across southeast Australia, and are threatening the country’s agriculture production, as farmers struggle to provide water for their cattle and crops.
A slew of deadly flooding events are also hitting communities around the world. In Bolivia flooding and landslides have so far claimed 42 lives this year, while flooding in northern Indonesia has killed 13 people and driven tens of thousands more from their homes, and in Mozambique 11 people have been killed in flooding. Extreme rainfall is also hitting countries across mainland Europe. Large parts of France and Italy are under flood alert, with hundreds of people being forced out of their homes. The heavy rain and flooding have also claimed three lives in Italy and two in France.
In Romania heavy snowfall has been the problem, blocking roads and railways across the country and leaving schools closed and thousands stranded both in their homes and on the roads. Cold weather has also been playing havoc in Slovenia, where trees, buildings and cars have been encased in thick ice, causing perilous conditions as power lines and tress tumbling to the ground. The government estimates that around 40 percent of the country’s forests have been damaged by the cold snap.

Extreme weather keeps battering Viet Nam - Viet Nam is forecast to continue being battered by extreme weather this year after a RANGE OF UNUSUAL WEATHER PHENOMENA appeared recently. "We'd rarely seen dense frequency of storms and tropical low-pressure systems attacked the country like last year."
As many as 14 storms and five tropical low-pressure systems were reported in Viet Nam in 2013. This was the highest number within five decades. A rarely-seen snowfall blanketed northern mountainous Lao Cai Province's Sa Pa Town in the middle of last December with thick snow of up to 50cm – the THICKEST WITHIN 50 YEARS.
Local residents in northern provinces sometimes suffered daily temperatures of 32 degree Celsius during Tet (Lunar New Year), the summer-season temperature during the winter-spring time. The UNUSUAL hot weather caused disruption to the country's forestry production. Over 13ha of forest were set on fire nationwide only in January, 47 per cent higher than the same period last year.
The head of the Centre of Meteorological and Climate Prediction said that drought, strong storm, torrential rain and sea-level rise would hit the country with higher frequency as well as with strong intensity in the future. The number of hot days was predicted to rise from 30 to 45 each year, especially, in southern region. Icy weather was forecast to hit northern provinces this month, but it would not prolong.
This month, rainfall would reduce by half compared to the same period last year in northern mountainous areas, Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) and southern region. Rainfall would be about 5-25mm in northern mountainous Son La Province and Ha Noi; 10-20mm in northern Hai Phong City and northern Thanh Hoa Province. In the meantime, rainfall would be only 10mm in central highland and southern region.

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