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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.0 OFF W. COAST OF BAJA CALIFORNIA
Yesterday, 3/4/14 -
5.8 OFFSHORE VALPARAISO, CHILE
5.0 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.1 FIJI REGION
5.1 OFFSHORE VALPARAISO, CHILE
5.2 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN
TROPICAL STORMS -
Current tropical storms - maps and details.
* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical storm Faxai is located approximately 577 nm northeast of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
Australia - Victoria 'desperate for rain', hopes of up to 20mm from Queensland storm. Come dawn on Wednesday, Queensland's tropical storm is expected to roll through Melbourne from the north-west, which could bring 20mm of rain to some metropolitan areas.
"We are all desperate for rain. We practically all want to see it across Victoria and in Melbourne where the gardens need a bit too." The rain would be welcome and may bring 20 mm-plus to some country areas, but winds could have the reverse effect, with up to 40km/h predicted first in a north-to-north-westerly direction, followed by south-westerly winds. "With the winds around the front there could be a negative on the fires, but on the positive side we are expecting reason rains which should help." The rain was expected to start to come through the Mallee, in the north-west on Tuesday afternoon and south in the evening.
Tropical Cyclone Kofi brought heavy rain and strong winds to Tonga, in the South Pacific March 1-2. The threat of death by electrocution during flooding in Tongatapu’s heavily-populated areas was a concern, as Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office pointed out that the power was not shut down in inundated areas.
Three teams were deployed in Tongatapu to conduct initial damage assessments after Kofi brought damaging winds and heavy rain to southern Tonga. “Houses in flood prone areas seem to remain connected to the grid even when these areas are inundated and water enters the buildings. Ho’umakelikou was only town that reported to have had electricity disconnected.”
Electrocution is a real danger to residents of flooded areas, and homeowners need to understand they are responsible for turning their own power off, according to Tonga Power Ltd’s managers, who also stressed the dangers of having temporary meter boxes connected via extension leads to homes surrounded by water. “But the difficulty is there are a number of homes that are regularly under threat of flooding and householders may not be aware of the need to switch off the electricity.”
Tonga Power has the responsibility for providing a safe network and power up to the property boundary, which is why they turned off the generators in a cyclone if there was danger of the network breaking and when live wires fell on the road. However, it was a different situation for individual homes. “When it gets to isolating a house or a group of houses, how do we know? Does Tonga Power disconnect selected transformers? Is it right to disconnect supply to say 40 homes connected to a transformer when say one, two or even 10 have flooding issues?” Tonga Power believed there should be a policy or rules in place to help make these decisions, and so this becomes a government matter.
The only way to minimize the occurrence of any fatalities would be through a widespread power shutdowns but this would have to be at the instruction from government or one of its agencies. “Householders can switch off supply to their homes by turning the main switch off. Tonga Power in many cases would need to switch off power to a transformer that can supply anywhere up to 50 or more homes. Failing that, we have to switch off sections of feeders, which shuts down supply to hundreds of homes and supply would have to be off for a long time, until flood waters dropped.” The only viable option is to switch off supply to individual homes, which is something Tonga Power has no control over.
The danger with houses flooded and still with power connected was that appliances may become unsafe and that exposed wiring may cause shocks and potentially electrocution. Extension leads were one example. A new connection of a Temporary Meter Box inspected by the Electricity Commission was usually connected by an extension lead strung to the house via trees and along the ground, and in some cases the homes were surrounded by water. With extension leads, if the house end of the lead came in contact with the water, it would liven the area around the house if the circuit breaker did not trip, so these types of supplies should be disconnected by the customer.
Myanmar salt industry to collapse, experts fear - Myanmar's once-booming salt industry, destroyed by Cyclone Nargis, will be completely wiped out within a couple of years unless it receives financial aid.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -
February was Singapore's DRIEST MONTH SINCE 1869 - During the month, there were only seven days of short showers, with some areas receiving as little as 0.2mm of rain. Drought has hit the wider region in recent weeks, threatening to raise food prices and slow economic activity.
Officials in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, started rationing water in February and forest fires have broken out in Indonesia's Riau province. While Singapore relies on Malaysia for about 60% of its water imports, experts say that the country's recent efforts in desalination and recycled water technology have made it much less reliant on neighbouring countries. Those new technologies can provide around 55% of the country's demand for water regardless of rainfall.
Nonetheless, Singapore's public water agency has started a campaign to urge residents to conserve water, as the dry weather is expected to persist into March. Nearby Malaysia and Indonesia could be harder hit, however, by continued dry temperatures. Malaysia and Indonesia account for 86% of the world's palm oil output - one of the most-used edible oils globally - and economists in the region warn that output could be hard hit by the dry weather.
Investor anxiety has caused the price of palm oil futures to surge in recent days, reaching a 17-month high. Malaysia's International Trade Minister has also warned in recent weeks that the drought could slow overall growth in the region if it persists. But he insisted the region was still on track for 5% economic growth this year, as agriculture is only a small portion of the Malaysian economy.
U. S. Drought sends beef prices soaring - Unrelenting drought across large swaths of the Great Plains, Texas and California has led to the smallest U.S. cattle herd since 1951.
Calfornia drought continues despite recent rain - As of Sunday, San Francisco's total precipitation for the 2013-14 rainy season was 10 inches below average.
Cattle prices tumble amid eastern Australia's drought - The New England region north of Sydney is traditionally some of the nation's best farming country, producing some of its finest beef cattle and wool. But much of the land is barren and has been without significant rainfall for over a year. Crops have failed and livestock has been sold off, while many dams are bone dry.
To survive, many farmers are having to sell their prized cattle, and in the New South Wales city of Armidale, the sale yard has been awash with livestock. An oversupply of animals means that prices here have tumbled. But what's good for buyers, who are often from the southern states of Victoria and South Australia where conditions have been far better, has put another dent into the livelihoods of hard-pressed farmers.
"Water and feed have both been really big issues, especially over the Christmas period. That culminated in a big sell off in the first week of January, and prices as a result have been very depressed. People can't see a way forward'. Farming has become a desperate struggle. Australia is well used to nature's extremes, but not only is this drought so severe, it arrived so soon after the previous big dry.
When farmers suffer, so do the regional towns and cities that feed off agriculture. First a local chemist may close, followed by the pub or bakery next door, and as jobs slowly disappear and residents leave, communities start to decline. "I've been up here [in] New England for 30 years and this is by far the worst we've ever seen for this part of the country. It is quite horrendous for a lot of people up here, and particularly because traditionally this is some of the safest country in Australia. So it is uncharted territory for a lot of people."
The long-range weather forecast is not optimistic."We're not looking too good at the moment in terms of rain and we're looking like having a dry autumn." More anxious times lie ahead for the region.
'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' / CLIMATE CHANGE -
U. S. RECORD COLD - An impressive blast of Arctic air has toppled more RECORDS FOR ALL-TIME MARCH COLD over the Eastern U.S., in the wake of the major snowstorm that brought 4 - 8" of snow from Missouri to Maryland. Fresh snow is very efficient at radiating heat to space, and the 3.8" of snow that fell in Baltimore on Monday helped drive the temperature down to 5°F on Monday night, tying the city's all-time March low temperature record set on March 4, 1873.
The temperature eventually dipped down to 4°F Tuesday morning, breaking the March record. Atlantic City, NJ, which got 5.5" of snow on Monday, also set a new all-time cold record for the month of March on Monday night, when the temperature fell to 2°F. The previous all-time low for the month of March was 3°F set on March 4, 2009. Official records for the Atlantic City area date back to 1874.
At least five other cities have set or tied all-time March cold temperature records during the current cold wave:
Charlottesville, Virginia set an all-time March low of 1°F Tuesday morning (previous record: 7°F on March 4, 1943.)
Billings, Montana set an all-time March low of -21° on March 2, 2014 (previous record: -19°.)
Pierre, South Dakota set an all-time March low on both March 1 and March 2, dipping to -20° (previous record: -19°F on March 11, 1998.)
Flint, Michigan set an all-time March low of -16° on March 3 (previous record: -12°.)
Rockford, Illinois tied its all-time March record low of -11° on March 3.
At least five U.S. cities have set records for their COLDEST winter on record. At least two, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Tucson, Arizona, had their WARMEST winter on record.
Two years ago: It was summer in March. There was an astonishing U.S. record-breaking "Summer in March" heat wave just two years ago, in 2012. It was the warmest March on record for the contiguous U.S., 8.6°F above the 20th century average for March, and 0.5°F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began in 1895, only one month, January 2006, had a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012.
Every state in the nation experienced a record warm daily temperature during March, and 25 states east of the Rockies had their warmest March on record. An additional 15 states had monthly temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. All-time March records were broken at 290 stations, with some stations breaking their all-time March record four times. There were 21 instances of the nighttime temperatures being as warm, or warmer, than the existing record daytime temperature for a given date. Four stations broke daily records by 30°F or more.
SPACE WEATHER -
The lifespan of a typical sunspot is two to three weeks. AR1990 is about to turn three MONTHS. Carried around by the sun's 27-day rotation, AR1990 is making its third transit of the visible solar disk. In previous apparitions it was known as AR1944 and AR1967.
Each time it has appeared, the sunspot has unleashed at least one strong flare, the most recent being the X4.9-class blockbuster of Feb. 25th. Since then, AR1990 has quieted and started showing signs of decay. Is this sunspot finally succumbing to time? Stay tuned.
The dimensions of the sunspot make it an easy target for relatively small optics. Its dark core is about the size of Earth, and it is surrounded by boiling granules as large as the state of Texas.
Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - with breaking news during the day.