Sunday, February 2, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

**Problems worthy of attack
prove their worth by fighting back.**
Paul Erdos

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 2/1/14 -

1/31/14 -

One of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, Mount Sinabung, erupted again Saturday, spewing searing toxic gas down the slopes of the mountain and killing at least 14. The rumbling volcano in western Indonesia unleashed fresh clouds of searing gas Saturday that killed at least 14 people and injured three others.
Several eruptions of Mount Sinabung Saturday in North Sumatra province sent lava and pyroclastic flows down the southern slopes as far as 2.8 miles away. The volcano was still spitting clouds of gas and lava as high as 6,500 feet, and the number of dead could rise as the rescue efforts are hampered by darkness. The latest eruption came a day after villagers who fled earlier eruptions returned home thinking it was safe. On Friday authorities allowed nearly 14,000 villagers to return home after they fled following previous eruptions. The dead include four high school students who were on a school trip to see the volcano and a local journalis.

Alaska - Shishaldin Volcano's Alert Status upgraded after Unusual Activity. The Alaska Volcano Observatory upgraded the alert level at Shishaldin Volcano in the Aleutian Islands on Thursday after observing some unrest. The observations don't mean Shishaldin is in imminent danger of eruption. The yellow status just indicates behavior that isn't normal.

Yellowstone Giantess Geyser Erupting for the First Time in Two-and-a-half years - Yellowstone National Park's Giantess Geyser typically erupts two to six times per year, but yesterday was the first in two-and-a-half years that it erupted. Giantess Geyser erupted for more than 40 hours. Giantess eruptions often last more than a day.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

No current tropical storms.

Australia - As Queenslanders mop up after cyclone Dylan, forecasters say another one could be on the way. A cyclone watch has been declared for coastal areas from the NT border to Kowanyama on Cape York. A tropical low is 320km west of Mornington Island and 370km west northwest of Burketown and moving east southeast at 23km/hr. It is expected to enter the Gulf of Carpentaria late tonight or early tomorrow and may develop into a cyclone in the next 24 to 48 hours.
The system is not large but is of more concern to forecasters than ex-Cyclone Edna off the Queensland coast. Edna was downgraded to a low at 10pm last night, after making cyclone intensity for just 12 hours. It was being pushed away from the coast by a second weather system but was still being monitored.
"It's nearly 200km northeast of Mackay and continuing to move northeast. The Coral Sea will still remain pretty active this week and there is a risk of it developing into a cyclone again but at the moment we don't expect it to cause any immediate threat." The monsoon trough was lying across the Gulf of Carpentaria, which was likely to allow the second system to move into the the region over the next 24 hours.
"It depends on how long it (sits) over the water as to what chance it has of developing into a cyclone. It might be Monday night or into Tuesday morning at this stage." If it formed up it was expected to be a category 1 - the smallest tropical cyclone. It was tracking across the southern gulf but might turn back west towards the Northern Territory on Tuesday.
Rain and storms are expected across Cape York and the drought-hit Gulf today. Scattered showers and storms are also occurring north and west of Longreach. A high fire danger remains in the southern interior and southwest. Ex-tropical storm Dylan dumped rain on the parched inland across the weekend. More than 50mm of rain has fallen as far inland as Longreach since Dylan crossed the coast as a category 2 cyclone early on Friday morning. The rain inland is meanwhile expected to fall into today and - while the drought which has two-thirds of the state in its grip is far from broken - the paddocks are now green. The weekend rain was the first to fall in 10 months on Glenlea station, northeast of Clermont.
But forecasters were caught by surprise early yesterday when a low pressure system just off the central Queensland coast turned suddenly into a cyclone - Edna. The category 1 cyclone was last night located just over 400km northeast of Mackay, and was expected to weaken this morning as it moves slowly towards the coast - before then potentially reforming on Tuesday and heading north. The weather system did not pose any immediate threat to the mainland but that communities north of Rockhampton were experiencing "heavy falls".
Dylan's remnants - which were late yesterday north of Longreach - were forecast to continue drifting across Queensland and then into the north of South Australia. At Goorganga station, south of Proserpine, 260mm of rain has turned open paddocks into a vast network of lagoons alive with magpie geese, ducks and brolgas. "This truly is a land of drought and flooding rains. Those poor buggers out west have been to hell and back, they deserve a break. We'd readily swap some of our water for their dust.''
Much of the state was still very much in drought. "Where the rain has fallen it is very positive, it is fantastic and it's a good time to get it but we need some more monsoon activity to follow this cyclone and hopefully provide that relief we are desperately in need of. Some of the parts where the cyclone caused the heaviest falls were closer to the coast and they were not drought-declared areas. There wouldn't be too many parts of the state where we would be able to say there is a lot of joy."
Cyclone Dylan was the first east coast cyclone of the season. It carried with it gusts of up to 135km/h. Most damage was from storm surges, which battered coastal areas from Townsville to Rockhampton. Low-lying areas along the coast were inundated during king tides and some beaches were severely eroded. On Great Keppel Island, three cabins and two sheds have been washed away. Authorities are urging people to prepare their homes for heavy storms and floods in coming weeks as the summer monsoon continues. February is always considered a particularly "active" time for cyclones."We're entering the peak cyclone months for Queensland." (video at link)


United Kingdom - Forecasters are warning of further gales and heavy rain to come, as a search is under way for an angler who went missing in bad weather. Elsewhere, six fishermen were rescued by helicopter after their boat was damaged by a huge wave. Three severe flood warnings, meaning there is a danger to life, have been issued. The Environment Agency said the flood risk would continue over the next week. There was no sign of any respite in the weather in the coming week, with more disruption possible in many areas.
Two of the severe flood warnings are in place on the Severn estuary, near Gloucester. The third covers the south Cornwall coast between Land's End and Plymouth. Rescue teams are searching for the sea angler who was night fishing off the Aberdeenshire coast when he went missing in the early hours of the morning. The man was at Tangle-Ha, north of St Cyrus, when he disappeared from rocks in rough conditions.
In Cornwall, a crew of French and Portuguese fishermen had to be winched from the sea by a helicopter on Saturday. Their boat had foundered in dire weather conditions off the north Cornish coast. A crowd gathered as the River Parrett on the Somerset Levels burst its banks.
Wales and parts of south-west England would be affected on Monday with up to 20mm of rain in places, but worse was to come in the middle of the week. "There will be a fairly major storm coming in from the Atlantic on Tuesday night going into Wednesday. There will be widespread gales and heavy rain and there is the potential for disruption from that system. It is a fairly extensive system and most parts of the UK will be affected."
At high tide on Sunday, waves were driven onto the seafront at Aberystwyth on the Ceredigion coast for the second time this year. Aberystwyth suffered flooding and damage to the promenade a month ago and repairs have just been finished. Some 600 university students living on the seafront were either rehoused or accepted the offer to travel home or to another part of the UK for the weekend. In Newgale, Pembrokeshire, 10 people were rescued after the bus they were travelling in was hit by a large wave on the seafront and surrounded by water. No injuries were reported.
The latest warnings come after the wettest January on record for parts of southern England. Up to and including 28 January, the South East and central southern England had a record 175.2mm (6.9in) of rainfall in January - beating the previous record of 158.2mm for the same parts of England set in 1988. (photos & maps at link)


U.S. - Winter Storm Maximus, the 13th named storm of the winter season in the U.S., will have deposited a wintry mess from coast to coast by the time it is finally over Monday. This storm has brought multiple waves of snow, sleet and freezing rain from west to east across the country.
One wave of wintry precipitation from Maximus is moving toward the Northeast Sunday while another emerges into the Plains. Snow will push into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Sunday night from West Virginia and northern Virginia up the I-95 corridor into Philadelphia, New York City, and far southern New England. This snow will quickly pull away by late afternoon Monday. To be clear, this won't be a major snowstorm with high winds and high snowfall totals over a widespread area. However, with general 1-to-4 inch snow totals (and higher amounts of 6 inches or more just north and west of Washington, D.C.), expect significant travel headaches Monday by road and by air. (video, map & more info at link)


California's first significant snow storm of 2014 hit the Sierras on Wednesday and Thursday, dumping up to 2 feet of snow, with a melted water equivalent of up to two inches. However, this modest snowstorm was not enough to keep the Sierra snowpack from recording its lowest snow amounts in more than 50 years of record keeping during Thursday's Sierra Snow Survey. The survey found a snow pack that was only 12% of normal for this time of year. Until Thursday, the lowest statewide snowpack measurement at this time of year was 21% of average, in 1991 and 1963. Since snowpack in the Sierras forms a crucial source of water for California, the dismal snow survey results are a huge concern.

The forecast: little drought relief in sight - One of MOST PERSISTENT AND INTENSE RIDGES OF HIGH PRESSURE EVER RECORDED in North America has been anchored over the West Coast since December 2012. While the ridge has occasionally broken down and allowed low pressure systems to leak though, these storms have mostly brought spotty and meager precipitation to California, resulting in California's driest year on record during 2013.
January 2014 could well be its driest January on record. The ridge inevitably builds back after each storm, clamping down on any moisture reaching the state. Since rain-bearing low pressure systems tend to travel along the axis of the jet stream, these storms are being carried along the axis of the ridge, well to the north of California and into Southeast Alaska, leaving California exceptionally dry.

The latest runs of the GFS and European models show that the ridge is now building back, and it appears likely that California will see no significant precipitation until at least February 7. A weak upper level low will move along the coast on Sunday and spread some light rain along the immediate coast, but this precipitation will generally be less than 0.25" - too little to have any significant impact on the drought. The ridge will not be as intense when it builds back, though, which gives some hope that a low pressure system will be able to break the ridge by mid-February and bring the most significant rains of the winter rainy season to California.

Worst California drought in 500 years? "This could potentially be the driest water year in 500 years.” Research on tree rings shows that California has not experienced such an extreme drought since 1580. "If you go back thousands of years, you see that droughts can go on for years if not decades, and there were some dry periods that lasted over a century, like during the Medieval period and the middle Holocene. The 20th century was unusually mild here, in the sense that the droughts weren’t as severe as in the past. It was a wetter century, and a lot of our development has been based on that." It's no wonder, then, that the overall agricultural impact of the drought could reach $1 billion this year.

California's drought woes are part of an on-going 14-year Western U.S. drought that began in 2000, and peaked between 2000 - 2004. The 2000 - 2004 drought was the most severe Western North America event of its kind since the last mega drought over 800 years ago, during the years 1146 - 1151. The latest generation of climate models used for the 2013 IPCC report, project that the weather conditions that spawned the 2000 - 2004 drought will be the new normal in the Western U.S. by 2030, and will be considered extremely wet by the year 2100. If these dire predictions of a coming "megadrought" are anywhere close to correct, it will be extremely challenging for the Southwest U.S. to support a growing population in the coming decades.

Megadroughts in the Western U.S. can develop from natural causes, as well, and the current pattern of cooler than average ocean temperatures in the Eastern Pacific and warmer than average ocean temperatures in the Atlantic increase the odds of drought conditions like the ones we have seen during the current megadrought. Tree ring data show that the area of the West that was affected by severe drought in the Medieval period was much higher and much longer than the current drought. It is “indeed pretty scary. One lasted 29 years. One lasted 28 years. They span the entire continental United States." Two megadroughts in the Sierra Nevada of California lasted between 100 and 200 years.

How cold has this January been in the U.S.? While it was a very cold January in the Midwest, this has been counterbalanced by record warmth over the Western U.S. and Alaska, caused by an unusually extreme kink in the jet stream. "This January’s average temperature nationally has probably been close to normal since the western half of the nation has been almost as much above average as the eastern half was below average. The only region that will most likely have experienced a TOP 10 coldest January will be the Upper Midwest." In the U.S., only four stations set all-time low minimum temperature records in January, compared to 34 that set all-time high maximum temperature records.

Globally, January will rank between the 5th and 15th warmest January since record keeping began in 1880. Of particular note were the amazingly warm January temperatures in the Balkans. "Over 90% of all stations in the Balkans from Slovenia to Croatia to Bosnia to Serbia To Montenegro to Kosovo etc., have DESTROYED their previous record of warmest January ever (many locations have 100 - 200 years of data.) In many cases the monthly temperatures were 7 - 9°C (13 - 16°F) above average, and the new records were 3 - 4°C above the previous record. This is for THOUSANDS of stations, almost all of them. In Slovenia, for example, Mount Kredarica is the only station in the whole country not to have set its warmest January on record."


Chicago at times in January was colder than the South Pole as extreme weather gripped much of the U.S.


H1N1 Flu hitting hard with 147 dead so far in California this season.

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