Friday, March 7, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

**Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs,
but not every man's greed.**
Mahatma Gandhi

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 3/6/14 -

Clue to earthquake lightning mystery - Mysterious lightning flashes that appear to predict earthquakes could be sparked by movements in the ground below, US scientists say.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

No current tropical storms.

Australia - Two tropical lows tracking toward north Queensland could form into cyclones and cross the mainland, forecasters say. The Bureau of Meteorology says there's a high chance a low pressure system between PNG and the Solomon Islands, about 1000km northeast of Cairns, will form into a cyclone in the Coral Sea on Saturday.
It's difficult to predict whether the storm will cross the Queensland coast and where it might cross as it's moving at such a slow rate. "At the moment we couldn't rule it out as it's still a fair way offshore but it is moving towards the Queensland coast. But if that is the case it's still a few days away from occurring." On Thursday afternoon the system was moving about 20km/h in a southwest direction.
Residents between St Lawrence and Cairns should expect heavy rain and high hinds over the weekend. If it forms into a cyclone it will likely be called Gillian. There's a moderate chance another weak tropical low off the Top End could form into a cyclone as it nears western Cape York on Sunday. The system will bring heavy rain and strong winds to areas north of Weipa and the Torres Strait Islands over the weekend and early next week.
There have been four cyclones in the region so far this wet season. Cyclone Dylan made landfall between Airlie Beach and Bowen on January 31 as a category two cyclone, causing flooding and other minor damage along the north and central Queensland coast. The following day Cyclone Edna formed but petered out in the Coral Sea. Cyclone Fletcher made landfall as a category one storm between Karumba and the Gilbert River Mouth in the Gulf of Carpentaria on February 3 but it was a fizzer.

NOAA Issues El Niño Watch - NOAA has issued an El Niño Watch for the summer and fall of 2014, giving a 50% chance that an El Niño event will occur. "While all models predict warming in the tropical Pacific, there is considerable uncertainty as to whether El Niño will develop during the summer or fall. If westerly winds continue to emerge in the western equatorial Pacific, the development of El Niño would become more likely. However, the lower forecast skill during the spring and overall propensity for cooler conditions over the last decade still justify significant probabilities for ENSO-neutral. The consensus forecast is for ENSO-neutral to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014, with about a 50% chance of El Niño developing during the summer or fall."
None of the El Niño models predict La Niña conditions for peak hurricane season, August-September-October 2014, and 8 of 18 predict El Niño conditions. Temperatures in the equatorial Eastern Pacific need to be 0.5°C above average or warmer for three consecutive months for an El Niño episode to be declared; sea surface temperatures were -0.6°C from average as of March 3, and have been +0.1 to -0.7°C from average since April 1, 2013. El Niño conditions tend to make quieter than average Atlantic hurricane seasons, due to an increase in upper-level winds that create strong wind shear over the Tropical Atlantic.
The potential El Niño event has been made more likely over the past month due to the intensification of a strong "Westerly Wind Burst" (WWB) along the equatorial Pacific west of the Date Line. As of March 6, 2014, westerly winds that were more than 10 m/s (22 mph) stronger than average had developed between 140 - 150°E, just north of New Guinea. These UNUSUALLY STRONG westerly winds were acting to push warm water piled up to the east of the Philippines eastwards towards South America.
The "Westerly Wind Burst" was due, in part, to the counter-clockwise circulation of wind around Typhoon Faxai, which became a tropical storm on February 28 and later intensified into a Category 1 typhoon. The Madden Julian Oscillation , a pattern of increased thunderstorm activity near the Equator that moves around the globe in 30 - 60 days, was also likely involved in amplifying the WWB. In order to keep the momentum of this WWB going and trigger a full-fledged El Niño event, some additional west-to-east push of winds is likely needed during March and April.
Some extra push may come from a tropical disturbance (96P) that has developed this week south of the Equator to the northeast of Australia. The clockwise circulation of air around this storm is bringing increased westerly winds to the Equator in the region of the WWB, and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center was giving this disturbance a "medium" chance of developing into a tropical depression or tropical storm by Friday. The GFS and European models predict that this storm will move southwards and bring heavy rain to the Queensland province of Australia over the weekend.


UK storms caused 'greatest tree loss in a generation' - The winter storms that battered the UK caused the greatest loss of trees since the Great Storm of 1987 in some areas. More than 50 sites were surveyed, with some losing hundreds of trees including valued ancient specimens. Many trees were uprooted and blown over rather than snapped, due to the saturated ground.
The trust said that despite the damage, the losses could have been worse. The National Trust's nature and wildlife specialist said: "Increased storminess, and increased extreme weather events generally, are likely to stress trees further, especially veteran trees. We will have to think carefully about where we establish trees and what species we plant." Gardeners, rangers and foresters told the trust that the losses of trees had been the greatest in more than two decades on some sites, while others suffered little damage.
Killerton Estate in Devon suffered some of the biggest losses, with more than 500 trees blown over, including 20 that were significant to the estate's landscaping. Specimen trees were badly damaged or blown over in gardens and parks, particularly in south-west England and Wales, but gardens outside the west also suffered, with Tatton Park near Manchester, Nymans in Sussex and Scotney Castle in Kent all affected.
Mottisfont Abbey and the New Forest, both in Hampshire, lost hundreds of trees across three areas. Stourhead in Wiltshire, meanwhile, suffered the loss of 400 trees across the wider estate, including an oak which could have been between 200 and 250 years old and planted by the man who created the landscape garden. Other trees lost included a rare black walnut at Hatfield Forest, which was the largest in Essex.
"People love and need trees, and the loss of specimen trees in gardens and parks, and of ancient beeches and oaks in the woods and wider countryside, hurts us all and damages much wildlife. We value and venerate these old sentinels and need to become increasingly aware of the power of the weather."


Ukraine's Wheat, Corn Face Mounting Drought Risk - Winter-wheat crops and corn prospects in Ukraine face mounting risk from an intensifying drought in central and eastern areas amid political tensions.

Extreme weather drives surge in price of worldwide food prices - World food prices rose Feb. for the highest amount in 19 months.


FIREBALLS OVER CANADA AND NEW MEXICO - March 6, 2014 began with a bang. "Last night, here was a significant fireball over north central New Mexico at precisely 00:19:20 am MST. It was brighter than the full Moon and shook houses from its sonic boom." Approximately two hours later, a similar fireball streaked over Yellowknife, Canada, exploding so brightly that the flash turned the night sky blue.
"We had quite colourful auroras all night. All of sudden at 02:13 local time, one shooting star started from Western sky and exploded towards North. It got so bright that I had to close my eyes like someone used electric flash in front of me. A few minutes later, we could hear the huge explosion from the direction of the fireball fell. What an exciting night!!!" As far as we know there is no conection between these two events or the asteroid 2014 EC, or asteroid EF, which flew past Earth on March 6th. They are probably random meteoroids of the type that strike Earth's atmosphere every night.


Malaria 'spreading to new altitudes' - Warmer temperatures are causing malaria to spread in the African and South American highlands, traditionally havens from the disease.

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