Thursday, February 19, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Imagination is more important than knowledge.**
Albert Einstein

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 2/18/15 -

2/17/15 -


* In the Southern Pacific -
- Tropical cyclone Marcia is located approximately 508 nm east of Cairns, Australia.

- Tropical cyclone Lam is located approximately 315 nm east-northeast of Darwin, Australia.
Australia - Cyclone Marcia: Brisbane residents warned to expect 90kph winds, up to 500mm of rain, as wild weather hits coast. More than 6,500 sandbags have been filled.
Brisbane could experience wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres per hour and receive up to 500 millimetres of rain over the next few days as Cyclone Marcia in the Coral Sea makes its way closer to the Queensland coast from Thursday until Saturday.
"Brisbane will be hit with heavy rain, flash flooding and thunderstorms from Thursday evening. There's also the potential of wind gusts up to 90 kilometres per hour and a warning across the coast for high tides which could exceed their highest tides of the year." The city could expect a downpour.
"We're expecting widespread rainfall totals of 200 to 400 millimetres from Thursday and that could even reach over 500 milimetres by Friday. We're expecting to see those totals in many places across south east Queensland, Brisbane included." The bureau has also issued a flood watch warning.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has advised people to secure loose outdoor items and avoid flood waters. "Every weather event is different but there will be impacts from the heavy rainfalls and damaging winds. The severe winds can bring trees down so people should be on alert."
Tropical Cyclone Marcia due to hit Queensland as category five system - Tropical Cyclone Marcia is continuing to rapidly intensify and is due to make landfall as a category five system on Friday morning. The category four cyclone looms about 150 kilometres off the coast and is due to hit land between Mackay and Gladstone about 8:00am. A very destructive central core, spanning less than 100 kilometres, would generate gusts up to 295 kilometres an hour, the Bureau of Meteorology warned.
There is hope that the cyclone would cross in a remote area. "That is the indication at the moment, but anything can change here." It is on track to hit St. Lawrence, which has a few hundred locals, as a category five and is expected to travel south over land reaching Maoura and Biloela as a category one system on Friday night.
A cyclone watch has been issued for areas between Bowen to Double Island Point, extending inland to Blackwater, Moura, Biloela, Monto, Taroom, Mundubbera and Murgon. Destructive winds are expected to develop about coastal and island communities between Mackay and Burnett Heads tonight. Gales are now beginning to occur about coastal and island communities between Mackay and Double Island Point, and are expected to extend north to Bowen later this evening and inland to areas including Blackwater, Moura, Biloela, and Monto overnight and Friday.
"We are strongly advising coastal residents to self evacuate. It has been 25 years since we have seen anything of this calibre." The Whitsunday Islands are in lockdown and many regional airports are due to close this evening. "This is a serious event. It has changed drastically since this morning."
Cyclone Marcia was originally due to make landfall in the very early hours of Friday, but it has slowed as it built in intensity. The cyclone developed quicker than usual, going from category two at 11:00am to a category four at 6:00pm.
Heavy rain may lead to flash flooding, with some 24 hour totals expected in excess of 300 millimetres on the coast and nearby ranges. A flood watch is current for the Wide Bay and Burnett, south-east coast and the Darling Downs and Granite Belt districts. More than 200 swift water rescue officers have been sent to flood-prone areas.
ABNORMALLY HIGH tides will be experienced today and Friday with water levels expected to rise above the highest tide of the year on the high tide. Residents between Mackay and Double Island have been warned of the potential for a dangerous storm tide. Closures were expected to be in place for several days.

Australia - Tropical Cyclone Lam: Eye passing near Elcho Island with power lost, wind gusts at 205kph. Trees felled by Cyclone Lam at Galiwinku community on Elcho Island.
Several hundred people in the community of Galiwinku on Elcho Island are experiencing the brunt of Cyclone Lam with winds of up to 205 kilometres per hour hitting the area as the system moves towards the Northern Territory mainland. Earlier on Thursday, hundreds of people from the Aboriginal community of Warruwi were evacuated to Darwin on helicopters and planes. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has advised it expects the cyclone, currently a category three system, will strengthen to a category four as it crosses the NT's mainland coast between Milingimbi and Gapuwiyak early on Friday morning.
Elcho Island was currently bearing the brunt of the cyclone. "Residents should be bunkered down in safe housing at the moment. The next concern is, as the cyclone moves closer to land on the south-west trajectory and then mainland, locations and communities between Milingimbi and Elcho Island will be next in line as we move into the overnight period."
A man in a cyclone shelter on Elcho Island said he could feel the sturdy building vibrating in the gale force winds at 6:00pm (CST). He said he had seen the wind tearing trees from the root and throwing them 100 metres. The mood in the shelter was panicked, he said, with the power cut about 5:30pm and concerns there would not be enough food and water to last through the cyclone. He said he had heard a friend's roof was missing and the main store was also damaged.
Up to 5,000 people in remote Arnhem Land Indigenous communities have so far been directly affected by the cyclone. Warruwi, which is the largest community on South Goulburn Island, is in line to be hit hard by Cyclone Lam, which early Thursday changed course and began heading south-west towards land. More than 430 people have been evacuated from Goulburn Island to Darwin showgrounds, where they have been temporarily housed.
There was sufficient shelter and authorities had decided not to evacuate residents from Elcho Island, which the BoM had predicted would be hit by winds of up to 220kph. "There is built-to-code premises and shelters in those communities. They are able to sustain and shelter people from a category three, which is as per the code."
At 5:00pm CST on Thursday BoM reported the cyclone was 30km north of Galawinku and 140 km west north-west of Nhulunbuy, about 600km east of Darwin. It was gusting at 205kph and moving south-west at 10kph. In the early hours of Thursday morning the category three storm had altered its westerly course and began moving south- south-west. The cyclone was expected to make landfall on the coast near Elcho Island overnight on Thursday or early Friday, before weakening once it was over land. Even a category three cyclone would have very destructive wind gusts of up to 220kph.
Maningrida is currently on a cyclone warning including possible wind gusts of up to 170 kph. The stores in Maningrida are well stocked, but the meeting heard that supplies are running low in other communities more directly in the forecasted path of the cyclone.The eye of the storm is forecast to cross the coast well to the east of the community, but cyclones in the Top End are notoriously difficult to predict. Tropical Cyclone Lam was originally predicted to stay in the Gulf of Carpentaria, but left and headed west along the NT coast.


With temperatures in the teens in Washington D.C., the C&O Canal is frozen solid. So are tens of millions of people from Maine to the Carolinas. "And now to add insult to injury there's been some of the coldest air in the last couple of decades invading the Northeast from the Arctic."
What's behind it all is the polar vortex. "The polar vortex is essentially the coldest air found in the Northern Hemisphere, and it's situated up in the Arctic in the bulk of the winter. But occasionally, a lobe of that will dip south above the jet stream and allow that cold air down into the Middle Atlantic states. Sometimes last winter, it was into the northern Plains."
But while the polar vortex has pushed that mass of cold air south in the eastern part of the country, it's moved in the opposite direction out west - bringing warm, dry weather. "We really have a snow drought out west. We won't have that water available for irrigation and drinking water out West as we go into next summer." The worst could be yet to come, in the form of flooding if the New England ice pack melts too quickly.
Polar vortex to unleash RECORD-BREAKING COLD in eastern US on Thursday, Friday - The coldest air of the season is surging south this week, leading up to what could be historic cold for parts of the eastern United States. Thursday and Friday’s polar outbreak could set all-time February low records from Tennessee to Virginia. With a fresh coat of snow, Washington has the potential to dip below zero for the first time since 1994. All of this is courtesy of a plume of not just Arctic, but Siberian air that has been trudging across the North Pole and into North America over the past week.
But if Thursday is bad, Friday will be much worse, when sub-zero temperatures dig in across the Midwest, the entire states of Ohio and West Virginia and east into the Mid-Atlantic. The GFS model is forecasting Friday morning lows below minus 20 degrees in parts of Michigan, Indiana, southern Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and far western Virginia.
Records for February low temperatures are in jeopardy in Cincinnati; Knoxville, Tenn.; Roanoke, Va., and Charleston, W.Va., says the Weather Channel. While not everyone will see record-breaking lows this week, the entire eastern half of the United States will see below-average temperatures. When combined with winds, the outbreak will create dangerously cold wind chills on Thursday and Friday morning. Most of the eastern half of the country is painted with wind chill advisories and warnings from the Upper Midwest south into Florida. (maps)
15 of the most astonishing snowstorm photos.


500-Pound Fireball Over Pittsburgh - With a brilliant flash of light, a fireball pierced the predawn sky over Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Not one, not two, but three NASA cameras caught footage of the fiery streak—which turned out to be a two-foot-wide, 500-pound meteor traveling at some 45,000 miles per hour, according to NASA’s Meteor Watch Facebook account.
The cameras are part of NASA's All Sky Fireball Network, a system of 15 specialized cameras that record black-and-white footage of meteors. Dozens of people fortunate enough to be awake around 4:45 a.m. in Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania caught a rare glimpse of the blast when it lit up the sky like a full moon. A few even reported hearing a delayed boom following the sight.
NASA also created a simulated trajectory of the recent meteor that shows it traversing through the asteroid belt somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, and hurtling toward the northeastern United States. The event comes nearly two years to the day that a much larger space rock exploded over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk, injuring more than 1,000 people.
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