Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
This morning -

Yesterday, 8/25/14 -

8/24/14 -

3-D Representation of SF Quake Near Napa

More than 150 people were injured and hundreds of homes destroyed when the magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit near Napa Valley, in northern California Sunday. It was the strongest earthquake to strike the region since the 6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989.
The tremors were so strong they burst gas lines in a mobile home community. “We did have a major water main break just outside the mobile home park, which really complicated the fire fight.” In the historic downtown area, bricks crumbled from buildings, windows shattered, and streets buckled. At one point at least 64,000 residents were without power.
California is on the geological Ring of Fire, putting it at great risk for major quakes. As clean up begins, scientists continue to warn that California is in the danger zone for a much bigger one. Scientists estimate there’s a 99 percent chance of a quake 6.7 magnitude or larger in the next 30 years, especially in Southern California. “The question is not if but when Southern California will be hit by a major earthquake – one so damaging that it will permanently change lives and livelihoods in the region.”


Iceland volcano - The magma from Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano could be moving towards another large volcanic system. Data recorded by a team suggests that 50 million cubic metres of molten rock has moved in the last 24 hours.
If it continues on a northern trajectory it could feed into the Askja volcanic system, potentially triggering a large eruption. "It's headed straight for it." But they cautioned that volcanoes were hard to predict.
"It's moving at about 4km a day towards Askja, and if it keeps going it will get there in a few days. We know there is a lot of molten rock sitting under the ground beneath Askja, which is a major volcanic system. If this molten rock hits that, we know it is likely to trigger it to erupt. But who knows, it may just stop. It is still at 5km-depth, and it is possible it could freeze there and not a lot more will happen. That is perfectly plausible."
Over the last 10 days, they have detected large numbers of earthquakes, which have been moving north over a distance of about 40km. They are caused as magma flows beneath the ground, cracking the rocks as it moves. On Tuesday morning the Bardarbunga volcano was hit by a magnitude 5.7 earthquake, the largest since tremors began in the area last week.
The team estimates that about 350 million cubic metres of magma have moved in this period, which is about twice the amount of molten rock that was blasted into the air during Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull eruption in 2010. "It is a huge amount of magma, creating an enormous subterranean channel of molten rock."
The dyke - the underground "plumbing system" that carries the molten rock - could join up with other underground fissures, creating a large network of magma. Several scenarios are possible. "One is that it erupts under the glacier. That is bad news because this kind of eruption can drive the big ash clouds that can go up 35,000-40,000ft, and that is what happened in 2010 with Eyjafjallajokull."
Eyjafjallajokull eruption The ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull eruption in 2010 created a major disruption for air travel. However that scenario is looking less likely because the magma is moving beyond the thick ice of the glacier into shallower terrain beyond. If it erupts in this region, with less ice-cover, it could create "fire-fountains" - spectacular plumes of lava, which can be dangerous, but carry less ash.
"The third scenario is that it keeps going north, it keeps feeding molten rock and it hits the Askja system and triggers that - then goodness knows what will happen. It could make a lot of disruptive ash all over Iceland."
The last time that the Askja volcano had a major eruption was in 1875. The ash-fall caused crops to fail and killed livestock, triggering a wave of migration away from the north east of Iceland. "Magma could be heading along a dyke towards Askja, which last erupted in 1961, or it might bypass it and be injected northwards along a fissure that passes to the east of Askja, where there have been several earthquakes in the past week."
"In neither case is an eruption inevitable. Many dykes never reach the surface. An eruption along a dyke could be a spectacular affair, beginning as a 'curtain of fire' feeding an expanding lava field. That sort of eruption is most unlikely to produce a column of fine ash that would get high enough to be a hazard to more than a local aviation.
"I would anticipate a bigger problem if an eruption of stored, gas-rich magma were to begin at Bardarbunga itself, but even that would cause major disruption to air travel only if it was powerful enough to reach about 20 km high and if the wind carried the ash southeast over the UK and mainland Europe."
On Saturday, Iceland raised its level of alert to the aviation industry to red, warning of an imminent eruption, but then lowered it on Sunday to its second-highest level, orange. Airspace over the site has been closed, but all Icelandic airports currently remain open.
Largest Tremor Yet Jolts Area Near Iceland's Bardarbunga Volcano.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

*In the Atlantic -
Hurricane Cristobal moving northward. Expected to pass northwest of Bermuda tomorrow. Located about 545 mi (875 km) SW of Bermuda. Tropical storm conditions are possible on Bermuda late Wednesday and Wednesday night. Swells generated by Cristobal are affecting portions of the United States East Coast from central Florida northward to North Carolina and will spread northward later this week.

*In the East Pacific -
- Tropical depression Karina is located about 1210 mi (1950 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Karina is expected to degenerate into a remnant low today and dissipate by Wednesday.
- Hurricane Marie gradually weakening. Located about 605 mi (970 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Swells generated by Marie are affecting much of the Baja California peninsula and the southern Gulf of California. These swells are spreading northwestward and will reach the Southern California coast later today. Marie is still a large hurricane. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 60 miles...95 km...from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 275 miles.
Cristobal is the third hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. There is no way that we would have known Cristobal was a hurricane based on satellite data. The storm is stretched out in a long line of heavy thunderstorms, has no eye or low-level spiral bands, and is giving early August's Hurricane Bertha some stiff competition for ugliest Atlantic hurricane of the century.
Along with Hurricane Arthur and Hurricane Bertha, Cristobal gives us three Atlantic hurricanes so far this year, exceeding the entire 2013 Atlantic hurricane season total. The second (and final) hurricane of the 2013 season (Ingrid) did not arrive until September 14. On average, the third hurricane of the Atlantic season arrives on September 9, and the third named storm of the year on August 13.
The last time the first three named storms in the Atlantic became hurricanes was in 1983, when Alicia, Barry and Chantal all became hurricanes (if we exclude 1992, when an unnamed subtropical storm formed prior to the arrival of Hurricanes Andrew, Bonnie, and Charley.)
Cristobal continues to dump heavy rains over the Central and Southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands as the storm heads northeastwards out to sea. Satellite loops show that Cristobal is struggling with wind shear, with a center of circulation partially exposed to view, and all the heavy thunderstorms pushed to the south and east sides of the center. The only land area at risk from Cristobal is Bermuda.

New tropical wave coming off coast of Africa this weekend - A large and powerful tropical wave will move off the coast of Africa on Friday evening, and the GFS model has been very aggressive in recent runs about developing this wave into a tropical storm within a day of its emergence. The other reliable models for tropical cyclone genesis have not been developing this wave right away. Residents of the Cape Verde Islands should anticipate the possibility of heavy rain and strong winds on Saturday as the wave moves west at 10 - 15 mph across the islands.

The Gulf of Mexico is worth watching - In the Gulf of Mexico, heavy thunderstorm activity has diminished since Monday along a weak cold front stretching from South Florida to the Louisiana coastal waters. Some models show a weak area of low pressure developing along this front and moving westwards over Texas by Friday; keep an eye on this region for development.

Powerful Hurricane Marie generating huge waves in Eastern Pacific - The Eastern Pacific's Hurricane Marie had weakened to a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds on Tuesday morning, but was still generating huge swells that were bringing large waves to the coasts of Southern California and Mexico's Baja Peninsula.
A High Surf Advisory is in effect for Los Angeles, where waves of 10 - 15 feet will potentially cause structural damage to piers and beachside property as well as significant beach erosion. The powerful surf will be accompanied by strong rip currents and long-shore currents, making for very hazardous swimming and surfing conditions through Thursday. Satellite loops on Tuesday morning showed a steady degradation of Marie's cloud pattern, with the eyewall cloud tops warming and the areal coverage of the strongest thunderstorms decreasing. The storm is headed to the northwest over cooler waters and into drier air, and will not affect any land areas.

Past event - Mesocyclone's Effect: Supercell Towered Over the Carolinas. Swirling supercell thunderstorms brewed over the border between North and South Carolina in May, showering the area with chunks of hail as big as baseballs. The huge storm column stretched 50,000 feet (15,000 meters) tall. NASA's Earth Observatory recently released a photo that a pilot took as he flew an ER-2 aircraft over the storms on May 23. Normal commercial airplanes fly at around 30,000 feet (9,000 m), but the ER-2 soared around 65,000 feet (20,000 m).
An anvil-shaped cloud typically forms in a thunderstorm when cooler winds push warm air up into the atmosphere, and a particularly powerful updraft can produce a huge dome-shaped cap called an "overshooting top." Severe storms, like the supercell in the photo, tend to have large and long-lasting overshooting tops. A spinning vortex of air called a mesocyclone lies at the heart of a supercell.
When the mesocyclone interacts with strong updrafts, the storms can churn out tornadoes and produce destructive hailstorms. Most of the supercells over the Carolinas in May produced quarter-size hail, but some of the strongest storms rained down baseball-size pieces.

The Guatemalan government has declared a state of emergency in 16 of the country's 22 provinces because of a drought that has caused major agricultural losses in Central America. As of last week more than 236,000 families had been affected mainly in western and central Guatemala.
The state of emergency declaration has to be approved by lawmakers so the government can provide funds to those who have lost their crops, and to stabilize food prices. Central America is suffering ONE OF ITS WORST DROUGHTS IN DECADES, and experts say major farm losses and the deaths of hundreds of cattle in the region could leave hundreds of thousands of families without food. The losses are largely in the region's staples of corn and beans.


WHO withdraws Ebola virus staff in Sierra Leone as so many health care workers are being infected.

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