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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
Yesterday, 2/15/14 -
5.0 - ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE
"Light to Moderate" Quake Rattles South Carolina, Georgia - A small earthquake struck South Carolina late Friday, rattling residents and rocking homes both in South Carolina and across the border in Georgia. The quake measured 4.1 on the Richter scale, downgraded from an original reading of 4.4. The quake happened at 10:23 p.m. EST. The quake was centered 7 miles (12 kilometers) west-northwest of Edgefield, which is about 25 miles north of Augusta, Georgia.
Local residents reported hearing rumbling, no damage. At the time of the quake, the snow and ice dumped by an unusually severe winter storm were melting, and once-frigid temperatures were rising. Historically earthquakes are not uncommon in the region. "We usually get a number of earthquakes a year, but they average around 1 to 2 magnitude. They are usually minor shakes or vibrations."
4.6 magnitude quake hits Greek island - Since January 26, Kephalonia has been struck by 2 quakes over 5.0 in magnitude, and hundreds of aftershocks over 3.5, resulting in some damage.
Indonesia - Volcano Eruption Forces Evacuation of 200,000. At least four people have now been reproted killed after Kelud volcano on Indonesia's main island of Java staged a major eruption. A spokesman from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said small eruptions are possible and lightning has been striking the volcano's peak. The disaster agency said tremors from the volcano were still being felt, but scientists did not expect another major eruption. The eruption of Mount Kelud could jeopardize the 2014 general election as it is likely to wreak havoc on logistical preparations.
TROPICAL STORMS -
Current tropical storms - maps and details.
No current tropical storms.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
UK storms - Engineers have been working through the night to restore power to thousands of homes cut off after the storms. The Energy Networks Association said almost one million properties had been affected over the past week but fewer than 30,000 were now without supply.
However, the prime minister warned flood levels would remain "very high" and in some areas continue to rise despite an improved weather forecast. "The agencies are working together now very closely which I think really is the key to it, the military, the police, the local councils and the power companies all doing their best to get to these sites. Sometimes there's water getting into some of the sub stations, more often it is simply lines brought down by the very, very strong winds."
"We have not been sitting around in Whitehall agonising over the current state of climate change, we have been dealing with the problems that people are facing at the moment. Making sure there are enough troops, there are enough power company workers, there are enough sandbags, making sure people have the help they need. "There will certainly be time after this to look and see how we can better protect people."
The Energy Networks Association warned some homes would still be without power on Sunday. The Labour leader said the events of recent weeks showed climate change was a "national security issue" for the UK.. He said Labour had warned climate change could destabilise "entire regions of the world" and now Britain's homes, businesses and livelihoods were "under attack". "The science is clear. The public know there is a problem. But, because of political division in Westminster, we are sleepwalking into a national security crisis on climate change."
The Met Office has a yellow severe weather warning - meaning "be aware" - for ice for most of the UK until 10:00 GMT. The Environment Agency has 16 severe flood warnings - meaning "danger to life" - in south-east and south-west England. After sunshine and light winds on Sunday, next week would be unsettled with further spells of rain but not as stormy as recently.
The Environment Agency said the Thames Barrier had been closed for a RECORD 16th CONSECUTIVE TIME to help lower river levels. "We continue to see the very real and devastating impacts that flooding can have on communities and business.We know the distress that flooding can cause and are doing everything we can to reduce the impacts. Despite an improving forecast the risk of flooding will continue for many communities in southern parts of England over the next few days. "We ask people to remain vigilant and take action where necessary."
Extreme weather gripping the UK as 85mph winds and rain trigger 24 'threat to life' flood warnings. The extreme weather triggered 24 "threat to life" flood warnings and a Met Office alert that the UK was under a "multi-pronged attack."
Photos - Aftermath of the storms
A cruise ship passenger has died after the vessel was hit by a large wave in the English Channel. The wave hit the UK-based cruise ship MS Marco Polo as it headed for its home port in Essex. Water crashed through a window injuring several passengers. An 85-year-old man and a woman in her 70s were airlifted off the ship but the man later died.
A number of the 735 passengers on board suffered minor injuries. The 22,000-tonne vessel had been on a 42-night voyage and was heading back from the Azores when the wave struck. "CMV regrets to advise that earlier today their cruise ship MS Marco Polo, en-route to her home port of Tilbury from the Azores, was hit by a FREAK WAVE during adverse sea conditions in the south western approaches of the English Channel."
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
U. S. - Another big snowstorm blankets region. Nor’easter could drop foot of snow. Just two days after a storm dumped more than a foot of snow in some parts of the state, another nor’easter walloped Massachusetts on Saturday and residents prepared to dig out yet again during an unusually harsh winter.
Thousands of residences lost power along the South Shore and on Cape Cod, including more than 5,700 households in Plymouth and Sandwich, as winds were forecast to be gusting over 60 miles per hour into the early morning. Power was later restored to many of the homes. More than 100 flights scheduled to depart from Logan International Airport were canceled Saturday.
Areas along the Interstate 91 corridor that were hit hardest by Thursday’s snow, such as Ludlow and Southwick, were expected to be spared the worst of the storm. Instead, coastal areas that got off easy earlier in the week bore the brunt, with forecasters predicting a foot of snow in a swath of communities south of Boston, 8 to 12 inches east of Interstate 95, and 12 to 18 inches in Plymouth County.
Snow began falling in Boston around 1 p.m., but the storm was expected to drop the most snow between 6 p.m. and midnight before blowing out of the region by dawn Sunday. The snow was wet and heavy, which had forecasters warning that roof collapses were possible and utility companies positioning crews in anticipation of power outages. At a Saturday afternoon news conference the Governor drivers to be cautious and warned that extended power outages were possible. Asked about rumored shortages of road salt, he said the state had enough for now. “MassDOT is all right for about another week. We won’t be all right if we continue having weather events like this.”
Before Thursday’s storm, Boston had used $12 million of its $18.5 million snow removal budget. Many nearby towns and cities blew through their budgeted snow funds in January, while the state owes plow contractors more than $30 million in back pay after exhausting its $43 million budget. At Logan International Airport on Saturday, travelers anxiously scrutinized screens listing flight delays and cancellations. Some tried to snag seats on earlier flights, attempting to escape the city before the worst of the storm hit Saturday night.
Sunday temperatures were expected to creep into the upper 30s, but dip into the teens Sunday night. That could create black ice and slippery conditions on roadways Monday, forecasters said, though the Presidents Day holiday should mean lighter traffic than usual. Another mix of wintry weather could arrive Tuesday, but forecasters on Saturday were unsure whether it would rain or snow.
The back-to-back storms added to what has been an UNUSUALLY SNOWY winter. Through Friday, National Weather Service instruments in Boston had tallied 49.5 inches of snow since Dec. 1, nearly double the average of 27.3 inches over the same period. “If we go on at this pace, we’re going to have a banner year for snowfall. Things could die off, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”
New England is hardly the only part of the country experiencing UNUSUAL WEATHER this winter, with snow falling in the deep South and parts of California experiencing historic drought. “It’s been A STRANGE WEATHER PATTERN THIS SEASON FOR MOST OF THE COUNTRY.” The main culprit is the ABNORMALLY SERPENTINE path of the jet stream, a steady flow of air that travels west to east across the United States.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -
Arizona - Record-breaking heat possible this weekend in Phoenix area with a high pressure system hovering over the West Coast.
California drought threatening "Cantaloupe Center of the World" - The drought gripping the most productive U.S. agricultural region may claim more than half that land located in Fresno County. California is in bad shape water-wise. Despite some relief in early February, the rainy season is half over and reservoirs are still far below capacity.
Drought-stricken states prepare for landmark year in fires - A three-year drought that has spread across the West has dried out the fuel - trees, shrubs and grasses - that feeds fires.
Drought in Brazil - The drought, Brazil's worst in decades, is a catastrophe, costlier than even the western United States drought, for a total cost of almost $9 billion. Droughts and desertification are also destroying once arable, inhabitable land from North America to Europe to Africa and Asia.
'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -
Wavier jet stream 'may drive weather shift' - New research suggests that the main system that helps determine the weather over Northern Europe and North America may be changing. The study shows that the so-called jet stream has increasingly taken a longer, meandering path. This has resulted in weather remaining the same for more prolonged periods. "We may have to get used to winters where spells of weather go on for weeks - or even months."
The observation could be as a result of the recent warming of the Arctic. Temperatures there have been rising two to three times faster than the rest of the globe. : "This does seem to suggest that weather patterns are changing and people are noticing that the weather in their area is not what it used to be."
The meandering jet stream has accounted for the recent stormy weather over the UK and the bitter winter weather in the US Mid-West remaining longer than it otherwise would have. "We can expect more of the same and we can expect it to happen more frequently." The jet stream, as its name suggests, is a high-speed air current in the atmosphere that brings with it the weather. It is fuelled partly by the temperature differential between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes.
If the differential is large then the jet stream speeds up, and like a river flowing down a steep hill, it ploughs through any obstacles - such as areas of high pressure that might be in its way. If the temperature differential reduces because of a warming Arctic then the jet stream weakens and, again, like a river on a flat bed, it will meander every time it comes across an obstacle.
This results in weather patterns tending to becoming stuck over areas for weeks on end. It also drives cold weather further south and warm weather further north. Examples of the latter are Alaska and parts of Scandinavia, which have had exceptionally warm conditions this winter. In the UK, storm after storm has rolled across the country.
With the UK, the US and Australia experiencing prolonged, extreme weather, the question has been raised as to whether recent patterns are due to simple natural variations or the result of manmade climate change? It is too soon to tell. "The Arctic has been warming rapidly only for the past 15 years. Our data to look at this effect is very short and so it is hard to get a very clear signal. But as we have more data I do think we will start to see the influence of climate change."
The idea that changes in the polar north could influence the weather in middle latitudes - so-called "Santa's revenge" - is a new and lively area of research and somewhat controversial, with arguments for and against. "Fundamentally, the strong warming that might drive this is tied in with the loss of sea-ice cover that we're seeing, because the sea-ice cover acts as this lid that separates the ocean from a colder atmosphere. If we remove that lid, we pump all this heat up into the atmosphere. That is a large part of the signal of warming that we're now seeing, and that could be driving some of these changes."
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