Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

**There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough,
people will believe it.**
William James

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 6/26/14 -

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

No current tropical storms.


Minnesota - As flood waters around the state keep rising, the Governor has extended an emergency declaration for 35 counties for another 30 days, saying he expects a new $3 million disaster assistance account will be exhausted.
The governor, who's been touring flooded areas of the state, said it may take several weeks to assess the flood damage caused by recent heavy rains. Local officials will have to wait until the waters recede to compile the damage estimates. "There's a lot of human suffering and it's very painful. Yet, people are very resilient and very strong and to see the help that people give their neighbors and friends and even complete strangers is very extraordinary."
It may be necessary to call a special legislative session to approve more disaster aid, and the state will probably qualify for federal disaster assistance. State public safety officials say more than half of all Minnesota counties felt the damage of recent storms and flooding. Even though the rain has stopped for now, water levels on lakes and rivers are still rising.
The latest heavy rainfall is similar to the major floods in 1997. "It's not unprecedented, but it certainly is significant that we have this many counties that are being impacted by a weather system." The Mississippi River is expected to reach its highest level in St. Paul and downstream in Hastings later this week.
State of emergency in St. Paul - The mayor has declared a state of emergency as the city braces for the worst flooding it's seen since 2001. The Mississippi River is predicted to rise another two feet before cresting in St. Paul on Thursday. At the peak, waters will reach a projected six-and-a-half feet above flood stage. Fourteen cities and counties have made similar declarations.
The city of Waterville in Le Sueur County is experiencing some lake flooding that could endanger a water treatment facility. The city sits between Lake Tetonka and Lake Sakatah. Volunteers have filled and placed about 20,000 sandbags around buildings to protect them from encroaching water. Several homes are surrounded by water from nearby lakes, and a few will be completely destroyed. The city has closed four streets and parts of three others due to the flooding.
Evacuated residents of a flooded town in southeastern Minnesota have learned it could be as much as two weeks before they can return to their homes. Electrical and phone service are out in Blakeley, a town of about 500 that was evacuated last week because of the rising Minnesota River. Roads and highways around the town have been washed out, damaged by mudslides and others are blocked by fallen trees. Some of the roads will have to be rebuilt.
About 75 people have been displaced by the flooding. Mudslides and flood waters have blocked and damaged roads, making it difficult for power crews to get in to start making repairs. An Xcel Energy spokesman says work crews still can't get into Blakeley. Thirty-three customers there are without power.
When the National Guard arrived in the city of Rainy Lake Thursday night, Rainy Lake was pushing into shoreline lawns already at flood stage and predicted to rise another 16 inches. For a while the water was rising faster than the sandbag dikes. Now the lake is only expected to rise another five inches, and Guard-built dikes are plenty tall to handle such levels.
All told, homes on Rainy Lake and Rainy River are surrounded by something over 300,000 sandbags. In case of another thunderstorm, two sandbag filling machines are still set up, and Koochiching County still has 12,000 sandbags in reserve.
More rain appears likely in the seven-day forecast. Forecast models continue to show the likelihood of more rain later this week. The best chance for heavy rain, along with the possibility of severe weather, could be Friday night and Saturday, mainly for the southern half of Minnesota. A long-range seven-day forecast paints a bullseye of possible precipitation right over Minnesota. If this model works out, most of the state would receive well over two inches of rain during the next week. (photos)


India - Rain pain: Maharashtra stares at water scarcity threat. A “scarcity threat” looms large over Maharashtra, with below-average rainfall and rapidly-depleting water levels in reservoirs.
According to the India Meteorological Department’s latest report, Maharashtra has received 31.7 mm rainfall — 52 per cent below the long period average against the normal level of 66.2 mm during the period. There is only 20 per cent water availability in 100 major reservoirs of the state. Of the 35 districts, 18 have received scanty rainfall.
“Sowing during the kharif season has completely stopped for want of rainfall. Annually, sowing is done on 12 million hectares, excluding sugar cane. Of 12 million hectares, soybean and cotton is sowed on four million hectares each on the situation while jowar and other kharif crops are sown on the balance area. The monsoon is expected to revive within a week... However, if it still prolongs, then there will be an adverse impact on the agricultural production in the state.”
Water in the reservoirs had been receding fast and the available water was now reserved only for drinking and could not be used for farming. “Already, tehsildars have been empowered to deploy tankers in their jurisdiction while the government has already announced relief until June 30 in the payment of power bills charged for lift irrigation. The sub-committee will review the prevailing situation across the state that has arisen due to below-average rainfall and take necessary steps to provide much-needed relief to farmers and members of the general public."
According to government data, water in the reservoirs would be available for a month. If the monsoon does not revive, most cities and towns, including Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik and Aurangabad, would face acute water scarcity. A government official said that only 20 per cent water was available in major reservoirs while there was zero availability in 20 other projects.
The official recalled that farmers in the state had faced severe drought-like conditions in the beginning of 2013 due to two successive years of low rainfall. Many parts of the state faced untimely rains and hailstorms during January and April this year, which caused huge damages to farm produce and horticulture crops.


Widespread negative impacts of pesticides 'IMPOSSIBLE TO DENY" - Neonicotinoid pesticides are causing significant damage to a wide range of beneficial species and are a key factor in the decline of bees around the world, say scientists.
Researchers, who have carried out a four-year review of the literature, say the evidence of damage is now "conclusive". The scientists say the threat to nature is the same as that once posed by the notorious chemical DDT. Manufacturers say the pesticides are not harming bees or other species.
Neonicotinoids were introduced in the early 1990s as a replacement for older, more damaging chemicals. They are a systemic insecticide, meaning that they are absorbed into every cell in a plant, making all parts poisonous to pests. But some scientists have been concerned about their impact, almost since the moment they were introduced.
Much of the worry has surrounded their effects on bees. There's been a well documented, global decline in these critical pollinators. Many researchers believe that exposure to neonicotinoids has been an important destabilising factor for the species.
An international scientific taskforce on systemic pesticides have reviewed over 800 peer reviewed papers that have been published in the past 20 years. Their assessment of the global impact says THE THREAT POSED GOES FAR BEYOND BEES. In their report, to be published next month, they argue that neonicotinoids and another chemical called fipronil are POISONING THE EARTH, THE AIR AND THE WATER.
The pesticides accumulate in the soil and leach into water, and pose a significant problem for earthworms, freshwater snails, butterflies and birds. The researchers say that the classic measurements used to assess the toxicity of a pesticide are not effective for these systemic varieties and conceal their true impact. They point to one of the studies in the review carried out in the Netherlands.
It found that higher levels of neonicotinoids in water reduced the levels of aquatic invertebrates, which are the main prey for a whole range of species including wading birds, trout and salmon. "There is so much evidence, going far beyond bees. They accumulate in soils, they are commonly turning up in waterways at levels that EXCEED THE LETHAL DOSE for things that live in streams. It is impossible to deny that these things are having major environmental impacts."
The scientists are very worried about the prophylactic use of neonicotinoids, where seeds are coated in the chemicals and the plant grows up with the ability to destroy pests already built in. "It is a bit like taking antibiotics to avoid getting ill. The more they are used, the stronger the selective pressure you place on pest insects to become resistant to them. Using them as prophylactics is absolute madness in that sense."
The task force argues that with neonicotinoids and fipronil making up around a third of the world market in insecticides, farmers are over-relying on them in the same way as they once became over reliant on chemicals like DDT. "We have forgotten those lessons and we're back to where we were in the 1960s. We are relying almost exclusively on these insecticides, calendar spraying 20 times or more onto a single field, IT'S A COMPLETELY BONKERS WAY."
While neonicotinoids don't accumulate in human or animal tissue in the way that DDT once did, the modern pesticides are more lethal, about 6,000 times as toxic compared to the older spray.
Representatives of manufacturers say that there is nothing new in the task force study. "There is very little credible evidence that these things are causing untoward damage because we would have seen them over 20 years of use," said Bayer, one of the manufacturers of neonicotinoids. "If you look at the tree bumblebee, it is eating the same food as the other bees, and is being exposed to the same pesticide load and weather conditions and yet it is flourishing, whereas some other bees are not. If it were pesticides causing the mass destruction of our fauna, surely you would see effects on all bees?"
The European Crop Protection Association said the task force was being selective in their evidence, pointing to recent studies carried out by industry showing that the declines in bee populations have been overstated. "We respect the scientists who have produced this research, but it appears that they are part of a movement that brings together some academics and NGOs whose only objective is to restrict or ban the use of neonicotinoid technology regardless of what the evidence may show," a spokesperson said.
Europe already has a two-year moratorium in place meaning that neonicotinoids can't be used on flowering crops such as oilseed rape. Last week, President Obama announced the creation of a pollinator health task force to look at the impact of pesticide exposure on bees and other insects.
AND THEY DON'T EVEN WORK! "We have been using these things for 20 years and there's not a single study that shows they increase yield. I'm not personally in favour of an outright ban but I think we should use them much more judiciously - if they don't benefit yield we should stop using them."


Astronomers have spotted an UNUSUAL SERIES OF ERUPTIONS FROM THE SUN, thanks to a suite of spacecraft. They've witnessed a fast succession of "puffs" forcing the slow ejection of a massive burst of plasma from the sun's corona taking place over a period of three days.
The outermost layer of the sun is called the corona. This magnetized plasma has a temperature of millions of degrees and extends millions of miles into space. In this case, the spacecraft spotted puffs emanating from the base of the corona and rapidly exploding outward into interplanetary space. The puffs themselves occurred about once every three hours and after about 12 hours, a much larger eruption of material began.
"Looking at the corona in the Extreme UltraViolet light we see the source of the puffs is a series of energetic jets and related flares. The jets are localized, catastrophic releases of energy that spew material out from the sun into space. These rapid changes in the magnetic field cause flares, which release a huge amount of energy in a very short time in the form of super-heated plasma, high-energy radiation and radio bursts. The big, slow structure is reluctant to erupt, and does not begin to smoothly propagate outwards until several jets have occurred."
Because multiple spacecraft witnessed the "puffing" and subsequent eruption, the scientists managed to create a 3D configuration of the eruptions. This allowed them to estimate the forces acting on the slow eruption and even discuss the possible mechanisms for the interaction between the slow and fast phenomena. Currently, the scientists plan to further investigate this event in order to find out whether there are shock waves, formed by the jets, passing through and driving the slow eruption, or whether magnetic reconfiguration is driving the jets, allowing the structure to slowly erupt. The findings could tell scientists a bit more about the sun and the forces that drive it.

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