Friday, February 28, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

**Excuse me while I do
the annual boogaloo.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 2/27/14 -

Popocat├ępetl volcano (Mexico) - Surge in activity destroys existing lava dome and leaves new crater. The volcano's activity increased Wednesday. CENAPRED counted no less than 544 small to moderate emissions during the 24 hours between 25-26 Feb.
An overflight with the support of the Navy showed that the most recent lava dome (number 48) had been destroyed by this activity. At its place, a new funnel-shaped pit, approx 80 m deep was seen. At the bottom of this crater, a new lava dome of 20-30 m diameter already made its appearance. The elevated activity had been preceded by volcano-tectonic earthquakes of magnitude 2.6 and 1.6 Wednesday and the day before. The volcano's alert level remains unchanged at "Yellow phase 2".

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical depression Three is located approximately 308 nm south-southeast of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Fiji hit by heavy rains and flooding as tropical depression approaches the country. Fiji will likely be spared the worst of a tropical depression that's formed over the country. Heavy rain over the past two days has brought flooding to several parts of the main island of Viti Levu, including the capital Suva. At 6am local time, the tropical depression was located about 170 kilometres north-northeast of Labasa, and was moving north-east at about 14 kilometres an hour.
The director of Fiji Bureau of Meteorology says there remains a risk of the depression intensifying as it crosses Fiji. "We're now focusing on this tropical depression - it's projected to come down over the Fiji group later tonight and early tomorrow, and expected to leave the Fiji group tomorrow. Indications are it will possibly become a tropical cyclone later Saturday, early Sunday, and by that time it should be on its way out of Fiji. If it does come South over Fiji group, it's bound to bring more rain, but hopefully not the winds associated with it."
The climate advisor to the Pacific Regional Environment Programme says the tropical depression is still likely to form into a cyclone, which is now expected to hit Tonga. "We could see a cyclone out of this depression - the good new for Fiji is that it won't probably occur until it has moved away form the Fiji region towards Tonga - which is not so good news for Tonga. In Fiji we have been spared he worst of any destructive winds - there's just been very heavy rain." Category Five Tropical Cyclone Ian storm devastated the northern Tongan islands of Ha'apai last month, leaving one person dead and more than a thousand buildings destroyed.
Rain and flood warnings - There are flood warnings on the main island of Viti Levu, and officials say the current high tide could cause extra problems. Schools have closed and non-essential government staff have been told to stay home. "Most of the heavy rain we experienced over the last two days has eased...but there's still quite a bit of heavy rain in the north, which will bring flooding to parts of the north. Most of the rivers remain high, if not over their banks, so it won't take much further rain to bring more flooding. We are expecting more rain to come later today and we anticipate there will be further flooding out of this situation."
The most populated areas are the hardest hit. "People are prepared in terms of taking heed of the warnings they've been given meaning that they were moved to safer ground." Fiji's Ministry of Information says schools will remain closed on Friday and government employees should remain home until further notice. A number of evacuation centres have been opened and people are moving in. On its Facebook page, the Ministry of Information says unnecessary travel is discouraged, while transport and road accessibility may be limited. It advised people to store essential items including boiled drinking water and keep a first aid kit within reach.


U. S. - A very moist “Pineapple Express” atmospheric river of moisture from the Hawaiian Islands was bringing much-needed rains to nearly all of California Thursday. A narrow “Atmospheric River” of moisture is extending from the subtropics near Hawaii into Southern California. A larger pulse of moisture is curled up a few hundred miles offshore, and will arrive on Friday.< br/> As of 7 am PST, Downtown Los Angeles had received 0.97" of rain since midnight. The last calendar day when Los Angeles received more than 1" of rainfall was over two years ago - Oct. 5, 2011, when 1.15” fell. Substantial rains also fell in Central California, and heavy rains triggered a rock slide that shut down Highway 1 in Big Sur Wednesday night.
Rains that fell over California on February 8 - 9 raised water levels on the critical Central California reservoir Folsom Lake by twelve feet in one day, and boosted water levels above the record low levels set during 1977. Rainfall in the Folsom Lake drainage basin on February 26 - 27 has been about 0.5 - 1.5", which will raise the lake level even more.
A second, stronger storm system will hit California on Friday and Saturday, generating 1 - 3" rainfall totals for most coast and valley locations in Southern California, with 3 - 6" in the foothills and coastal mountain slopes. The powerful storm will be capable of spawning severe thunderstorms with wind gusts in excess of 58 mph, and a few waterspouts and weak tornadoes.
The NWS office in Los Angeles is warning that Friday and Saturday's storm has the potential to bring rainfall rates of up to 1 - 2" per hour in the foothills and coastal mountain slopes, which will be capable of causing debris flows in areas recently burned by fires. About a foot of snow will likely fall from 6000 feet to 7000 feet, and 1 - 3' of snow is likely above 7000 feet. In the Sierras of Central California, 1 - 2' of snow is expected.
This storm, which has been named "Titan", will move eastwards over the weekend, and an Arctic front will combine with moisture associated with Titan to produce near-blizzard conditions across the northern Rockies Friday into Friday night. As it moves through the Central Plains, the storm will strengthen and begin to pull Gulf moisture northward into the cold air, triggering moderate to heavy snows across portions of Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri Saturday night into Sunday.
The snow will spread across Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. on Monday, and along the southern side of the snow band, a significant ice storm is likely. The ice storm will affect Oklahoma through Southern Missouri, northern Arkansas and northern Kentucky Saturday night and Sunday, and by Sunday night, parts of the Mid-Atlantic across Virginia and Maryland may also see significant icing. Small changes in the track of the storm will move the areas of freezing rain tens of miles north or south of the current forecast, so stay tuned to the latest forecasts. (rain & drought maps)


New research suggests a strong link between the powerful smell of pine trees and climate change. Scientists say they've found a mechanism by which these scented vapours turn into aerosols above boreal forests. These particles promote cooling by reflecting sunlight back into space and helping clouds to form.
The research fills in a major gap in our understanding, researchers say. One of the biggest holes in scientific knowledge about climate change relates to the scale of the impact of atmospheric aerosols on temperatures. These particles form clouds that block sunlight as well as reflecting rays back into space. They can be formed in a number of ways, including volcanic activity and by humans, through the burning of coal and oil.
One of the most significant but least understood sources of aerosols are the sweet-smelling vapours found in pine forests in North America, northern Europe and Russia. These aerosols have confounded climate models as scientists haven't been able to accurately predict how many of the particles form. Now an international team of researchers say they have solved the chemical mystery by which the rich odours become reflective, cooling particles.
They've long understood that the smell of pine, made up of volatile organic compounds, reacts with oxygen in the forest canopy to form these aerosols. The scientists now found that, in fact, there is an extra step in the process, what they term a "missing link". They've discovered ultra-low volatility organic vapours in the air that irreversibly condense onto any surface or particle that they meet.
"These vapours are so crazy in structure from what we had known before. It turns out that this level of craziness is what gives them the special properties to stick to those smallest particles and help grow them up in size to become aerosols." The scientists say that having a clear understanding of the way in which forest smells become aerosols will improve the accuracy with which they can predict the ability of these particles to limit rising temperatures.
"It's certainly crucial for explaining the response of the boreal forest to a changing climate. It's thought that the vapours being emitted from the vegetation in the pine forests are contributing roughly half of the aerosols over the forest. We've found the reasons how the vapours get converted into particles, so we are basically explaining around 50% of the aerosol particles."
The authors believe that this is playing a significant role in reducing the impact of rising temperatures. They argue that this effect is likely to strengthen in the future. "In a warmer world, photosynthesis will become faster with rising CO2, which will lead to more vegetation and more emissions of these vapours. This should produce more cloud droplets and this should then have a cooling impact, it should be a damping effect."
"One very important thing is that before now, people haven't had the instrumentation to detect these ultra-low volatile compounds. When you pull them through a metal tube into your instrument they come into contact with the tube walls and they are lost, you won't detect them. We have an instrument that is as wall-less as can be, we have a very high flow of air and a very short inlet line so that it is almost sampled right from atmosphere."
The scientists stress that the new understanding is not a panacea for climate change as forests will stop emitting vapours if they become too stressed from heat or lack of water. However, the vapours could have a significant impact in the medium term. "If you go into a pine forest and notice that pine forest smell, that could be the smell that actually limits climate change from reaching such levels that it could become really a problem in the world."


Northern Lights illuminate the UK - Large parts of the UK, from Scotland to southern England, saw a RARE spectacular display of the aurora borealis, better known as the northern lights.

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