Thursday, February 13, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

**Where there is love, there is life.**
Mahatma Gandhi

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 2/12/14 -

Azerbaijan jolted by a strong earthquake of 5.7 magnitude on the Richter scale. The quake came after over 500 minor ones hitting the country in recent months. The quake took place at the depth of 55 kilometers in the northeast Hajigabul region and lasted for about 30 seconds. It was followed by strong tremors across Azerbaijan and even abroad measured three to five magnitudes on the Richter scale.
The strong quake was RARE in this region of the country. Fortunately, there was no report on the casualties or damages. Aftershocks were also expected, but to date, the situation is calm.The Head of Republican Seismological Service Center of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences believes a new earthquake - if it happens - will not be as strong as the first one.
"Saatly, Imishly and Hajigabul have experienced weak earthquakes in the past but a 5.7 magnitude on the Richter scale is rare." Earthquakes in this region were unexpected because this zone is not seismically active. For the last month, some 3 to 4 notable earthquakes jolted Azerbaijan including quakes in the Caspian Sea. One of the Sea's quakes took place this year with 5.1 magnitude on the Richter scale.
Some sources predict more strong earthquakes in Azerbaijan this year. But it is impossible to give a short-time forecast including epicenter, time and strength of earthquakes. "Azerbaijan is located in a seismically active zone. It faced more than 6,000 earthquakes last year. About four of the quakes were measured on three to four magnitude on the Richter scale. This year we had four notable quakes."
The quake in Hajigabul lasted about 30 seconds - that is longer than the last strong earthquake in Azerbaijan, on November 2000. It was measured 6.2 magnitude on the Richter scale in the epicenter and lasted 12-13 seconds. The depth of the last quake was also notable as onshore earthquakes in Azerbaijan usually take place in 15-25 kilometers depth. Both earthquakes in Baku in 2000 and in north-west Zaqatala region in 2012 left heavy casualties and damages."Deep earthquakes usually have bigger radius of shake more violently but leave less damages, while superficial quakes are more dangerous."
Earthquakes horrify most people with their aftermath. The last strong quakes in Zaqatala caused serious destructions, while Baku escaped heavy damages. Buildings in Baku could stand quakes of 8-9 magnitude on the Richter scale. "Predictions are useless. Buildings must be built in a way to stand possible earthquakes. So, efforts must be stepped up to make stronger buildings. It is more important to think how to minimize destruction risks, rather than to make groundless forecasts."
Strong earthquakes are rare in Azerbaijan. That is why most people don't know how to act during the tremors which may take lives. There are still no educational courses on earthquake to raise public awareness. "It is necessarily to show and to explain practically how to behave during earthquake in schools and in kindergartens." By taking safety precautions and remaining cold-minded during and after the quakes, one person can help not only himself, but also injured ones.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the South Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone Fobane is located approximately 702 nm southeast of St. Denis, La Reunion.


Ireland - More than a quarter of a million homes and businesses in Ireland have been hit by power cuts as hurricane force winds swept in from the Atlantic. Roofs were blown off buildings and dozens of trees flattened cars up and down the country while a major emergency was declared in the heritage city of Kilkenny after more than two dozen weather-related incidents.
The Kinsale gas platform off the coast of Cork recorded wind gusting to 96 knots or 178km/h while inland hurricane force winds of 177km/h were recorded. Shannon and Cork airports closed runways for some time, rail services in the south were disrupted because of debris on lines and trains out of one of Dublin's main stations, Heuston, were cancelled because of a signalling breakdown. Ireland's meteorology service issued repeated red warnings over the risk from the storm - its highest threat level - as it moved north-east across Ireland.
Cork and Kerry bore the brunt of the storm but the Midlands and Dublin were next in line as the deep but fast moving hurricane force Atlantic depression moved in. Initially 100,000 homes and businesses mainly along the south and south-west coasts suffered black outs, but as the rush hour commute was in full swing electricity bosses warned the number had more than doubled. About 200,000 homes and businesses are expected to spend the night without power.
"The gusts that we have measured, they are not record breaking, but they are widespread and there are large areas of the country involved." The storm is believed to be the worst to hit Ireland since the winter of 1998. Electricity supply chiefs in ESB said they had 2,100 separate faults reported across its network from falling trees, debris and telegraph poles while more than 10,000 communications faults were reported to the main landline phone service. The ESB Networks managing director said the storm was of a different magnitude than anything to hit the country over the last month. "We are dealing with a situation that is as bad if not worse than anything that we have seen in the past decade."


A historic Southeast U.S. winter storm is pounding Georgia and South Carolina with heavy snow and thick coatings of freezing rain. Car crashes on icy roads from the storm have already killed six people - -four in Texas, and two in Mississippi - -and travel will be extremely dangerous over much of the South on Wednesday.
As of 9 am EST on Wednesday, freezing rain amounts as high as 1/2" had already been observed in Central South Carolina near Columbia. Freezing rain rates as high as 0.1" per hour are expected along a swath from Atlanta, Georgia to the northeast coast of South Carolina. Over 1" of ice may accumulate from freezing rain in areas near Augusta, Georgia.
Strong winds will combine with the freezing rain to blow down trees and power lines, and the Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation Index rates the potential impacts from areas which receive at least 3/4" of ice accompanied by winds in excess of 15 mph at a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5. At this level, expect "prolonged and widespread utility interruptions with extensive damage to main distribution feeder lines and some high voltage transmission lines/structures. Outages lasting 5 - 10 days."
As of 9:45 am EST, 78,000 customers in Georgia had lost power, and power outages were increasing at a rate of 30,000 customers per hour. About 30,000 customers had lost power in South Carolina.
Atlanta, Georgia, which was shut down by the 2.6" of snow Winter Storm Leon brought to the city on January 28, has been shut down again on Wednesday by Winter Storm Pax. Downtown Atlanta had already received 1/2" of sleet and 1/4" of freezing rain as of 7:30 am EST, making travel dangerous or impossible. Up to 1/2" of ice and 3 - 5" of snow are predicted for the city; Atlanta has only had seven snowstorms in its history greater than 4".
The 7 am EST weather balloon launched from Atlanta iced up too much and was lost at about 630mb (12,500'). They decided not to launch another one, since it would probably suffer the same fate. The sounding showed a classic freezing rain profile: temperatures near freezing at the surface, cooling to 24° at 2600', with a a 3000-foot thick layer of warm air above that, peaking at a temperature of 38°.
That thick layer of cold air above the surface is supercooling the rain as it falls though, allowing the rain to freeze at impact even if the surface temperatures are 33°. One positive aspect: the ice from this storm will melt out rather quickly compared to previous historic Southeast U.S. ice storms. High temperatures are expected to warm into the lower 40s by Thursday and lower 50s by Friday across South Carolina and Northern Georgia.

A winter storm of "historical proportions" is bringing large quantities of snow to the US north-east, after gridlocking traffic and causing power cuts across the South. Storm affecting the US east coast as havoc persists in SouthTraffic in areas of North Carolina ground to a halt and many had to abandon their cars for the night.
A huge winter storm is affecting the densely populated US north-east, after wreaking havoc in the South. Across the typically mild South, more than half a million homes and businesses lack power, and thousands of flights have been cancelled. The mammoth storm has affected people in about 22 states from Texas to Maine and caused at least 12 deaths.
The most crowded swathe of the US - between Washington DC and Boston - is braced for up to 8in (20cm) of snow. A band stretching from North-eastern Pennsylvania through New York State's Hudson Valley and into New England could see 10-20in of snow on Thursday, the National Weather Service warned. Airlines grounded more than 3,300 flights on Wednesday and have already cancelled at least 3,700 flights for Thursday, including more than half of those between New York and Washington.
The storm, described by the National Weather Service as an event of "historical proportions", leaves in its southern wake a wreckage of snapped tree limbs and power lines coated in as much as an inch of ice, motorways turned to car parks, road accidents, and residents shivering in darkened homes. Forecasters said it was one of the worst storms to strike Atlanta, the largest city in the South, since 1973.
President Barack Obama declared a disaster in the state of South Carolina and all northern counties in Georgia. On Wednesday evening, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) said it was moving supplies, including generators, meals, water, blankets and cots to an emergency centre in Atlanta.
At least 12 deaths have already been blamed on the storm, including three people killed when an ambulance slid off an icy Texas road and caught fire and a man in Georgia who slipped and fell on a patch of ice. Thousands of vehicles have been backed up on snow-covered motorways around Raleigh, North Carolina, with some people abandoning their vehicles. A resident of Raleigh left her office shortly after mid-day, but after two hours had only driven a few miles. She eventually abandoned her vehicle and continued on foot, arriving home four hours later. "My face is all frozen, my glasses are all frozen, my hair is all frozen. I know how to drive in the snow. But this storm came on suddenly and everyone was leaving work at the same time. I don't think anybody did anything wrong; the weather just hit quickly." (maps & photos at link)

Video - How the polar vortex and U.S. storms are linked.

Great Lakes Ice Cover Is the LARGEST WE'VE SEEN. One effect of the persistently cold winter of 2013-2014 is showing up on the world's largest group of freshwater lakes. According to an analysis by NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, ice covered 78.7 percent of the Great Lakes on February 6. Not since early 1996 has ice been so widespread on the Great Lakes.
This is an abrupt turn around from the past four winters, during which the peak ice coverage remained around 40 percent or less. The 40-year average is just over 51 percent. Dating to 1973, the two years with the largest ice coverage were 1979 (94.7 percent peak) and 1994 (90.7 percent).
When looking at individual lakes, just over 92 percent of Lake Superior, just under 88 percent of Lake Huron, almost 95 percent of Lake Erie, and around 53 percent of Lake Michigan is ice covered. Much deeper Lake Ontario is only about 29 percent of ice covered. As a result, caves near the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are now open to foot traffic, thanks to sufficiently thick ice on Lake Superior.
Will the cold persist to allow the ice to continue to spread? Through most of the upcoming week, temperatures will remain generally much colder than average over the Midwest and Northeast. Beyond that, there are some preliminary indications the cold may finally ease up the following week, but that outlook remains too uncertain at this time. (photos and chart at link)

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - with breaking news during the day.