Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**I'm sick of following my dreams.
I'm just going to ask where they are going and catch up with them later.**
Mitch Hedberg


LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 3/16/15 -

3/15/15 -


* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Bavi is located approximately 312 nm north of Yap, Micronesia.

* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Nathan is located approximately 273 nm northeast of Cairns, Australia.
Death toll rises after Cyclone Pam - A UN team in Vanuatu says 24 people are confirmed dead and 3,300 have been displaced by Cyclone Pam, with communication to outlying islands still down.
A tropical cyclone catastrophe of nearly UNPRECEDENTED DIMENSIONS is unfolding in the unlucky South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, as relief teams reach the hardest-hit areas from the Friday the 13th strike by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam.
The latest situation report from the government of Vanuatu lists 24 deaths and "widespread severe damage". The death toll is sure to grow as relief efforts reach some of the more remote areas that received the brunt of the storm.
Cyclone Pam is almost certainly the most destructive tropical cyclone in Vanuatu's history - and possibly for the entire South Pacific east of Australia. At its peak, Pam's 165 mph winds made it one of only ten Category 5 storms ever rated by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in the waters east of Australia. The official tropical cyclone warning center for the area, the Fiji Meteorological Service, estimated that Pam's central pressure bottomed out at 896 mb, making it the second most intense tropical cyclone in the South Pacific basin after Cyclone Zoe of 2002.
Pam was at its peak strength, with 165-mph Category 5 winds, when it passed over several small Vanuatu Islands to the north of Efate Island, Vanuatu's most populous island (population 66,000.) Pam is one of only two Category 5 cyclones in recorded history to make landfall on a populated island in the waters east of Australia.
The only other Category 5 landfall event among the nine other Category 5 storms to affect these waters since 1970 was by the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the basin, Cyclone Zoe of 2002. Zoe made a direct hit as a Category 5 storm on several small islands in the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands with a total population of 1700. There was one other close call: the eye of Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Percy passed 15 miles east of Ta'u, American Samoa, on February 16, 2005, but caused minimal damage.
Pam's weaker southwest quadrant eyewall hit Efate on Friday the 13th, bringing terrible damage there. Continuing to the south, Pam hit the southern islands of Erromango (population 2,000) and Tanna (population 29,000), Even though Pam had weakened slightly to 155 mph winds by this time, these islands took a catastrophic pounding, since they were hit by the stronger southeastern portion of the eyewall, where the clockwise spin of the storm aligned with its southerly forward motion to create the strongest winds.

Cyclone Olwyn: a costly event for Western Australia - Though much weaker than Pam, Severe Tropical Cyclone Olwyn made its presence known on Friday as it raked a lengthy portion of Australia’s western coast, with peak winds of 100 mph near landfall. Olwyn’s path - paralleling the coast and gradually inland, with the strongest winds on the landward side - is roughly analogous to a hurricane moving slowly north-northeast up the west coast of Florida.
Olwyn produced winds of 70 mph, gusting to 87 mph, in the town of Carnarvon. The region’s banana crop, part of an agricultural system that produces roughly $70 million US in value each year, was reportedly wiped out, and more than 1,000 residents were still without power on Monday. Olwyn accomplished the rare feat of passing almost directly over a profiler (an upward-pointing, wind-measuring radar) located at Carnarvon’s airport. The profiler detected 115-mph winds at about 3000 feet above ground.

Cyclone Nathan takes a breath at sea before returning to north Queensland, Australia. Residents of Townsville and northern communities warned to prepare for Nathan doubling back on Thursday or Friday.
The category two storm is expected to intensify to at least a category three and turn towards the north Queensland coast on Thursday or Friday. Nathan came very close to Cooktown, north of Cairns, last week before making a U-turn and heading back out to sea. But modelling indicated the cyclone was not yet done with Queensland.
“There’s still quite considerable uncertainty exactly where it will cross the coast if it does that.” Forecasters hope to have a better idea of where Nathan might make landfall in the next 24 to 48 hours. “Anywhere further south of [Townsville] doesn’t look too likely at this stage." Residents and anyone heading to north Queensland should keep a close eye on weather forecasts.
Nathan remains a category two storm about 520km east-north-east of Cooktown.


Boston has broken the record for the snowiest winter in the city's recorded history. The National Weather Service said the city received 108.6in (275.8cm) of snow this winter, beating the 1995-1996 record of 107.6 inches.
The record was broken around 19:00 local time (23:00 GMT) on Sunday, when 2.9in fell on the city. This season, the Massachusetts city saw more snowfall than any winter since 1872, when records were first kept. This winter, Boston has been forced to close schools, public transit, and businesses as it has dealt with the record snow.
There is the potential that this season's record could grow. In years past, the city has recorded several inches of snow during the month of March. Other US cities have recorded far more snow. The small village of Copenhagen, New York has recorded more than 240in of snow. The snowfall season is recorded from 1 July to 30 June each year.

More snow possible for Atlantic Canada after record-breaking storm - A late winter storm dumped as much as 59 centimetres of snow on Atlantic Canada overnight, and Environment Canada warns more could be on the way.
A special weather statement issued Monday evening for much of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick says snow is possible on late Tuesday and Wednesday in areas including Halifax, Saint John and Fredericton. The same storm could bring snow and blustery conditions to St. John’s and much of Newfoundland on late Wednesday and into Thursday.
Heavy snowfall and gusting winds forced road closures, vehicle pile-ups and dozens of flight cancellations Monday at airports including Halifax, Moncton, Charlottetown and St. John’s. Residents of Sydney, N.S., got the most snowfall: 59 centimetres. It was the most received in a single day since 1964. Other cities that were hard hit include Edmunston and Charlottetown, which each got 48 centimetres, Moncton, which got 44 centimetre, and Saint John, which got 36 centimetres.
"This just keeps on coming for us." Despite the seemingly never-ending onslaught of nasty weather, residents are trying to stay positive. "People are certainly fed up, but the Maritime way is to kind of roll with these snowstorms. They've certainly had enough of winter. People want it to be over there is no question, but some people are just trying to make the best of it at this point."


In Lake Tahoe, drought threatens winter, way of life - There’s something disconcerting about life at Lake Tahoe these days. It’s still winter, but visitors are renting bikes instead of snowshoes and kayaks instead of skis. Come summer — without last-ditch torrential rains — the lake level is expected to be at such a historic low that some marinas will have to dredge for boats to launch.
California’s epic drought, entering its perilous fourth year, has combined with a pattern of warming temperatures to cast a “Twilight Zone” quality on one of the state’s most popular winter destinations and iconic landmarks. “It’s bizarre what people are doing now. It’s so out of season." Long-term predictions by Lake Tahoe scientists warn that by the end of the century, summers could be two months longer and temperatures 8 degrees hotter than when Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.
The Central Sierra snowpack on Friday was 17 percent of the historic average. The record-low Sierra snowpack levels also raised grave concerns about wildfires throughout the Tahoe region.

Record-melting heat across western U.S. - From California to North Dakota, a large part of the nation’s northwest half experienced summer-like heat over the weekend. Some of the more ominous reports came from fast-drying California, where the rainy season is limping to a halfhearted end.
Many stations around Los Angeles and San Diego set record highs near or above 90°F on each day Friday through Sunday. In the San Francisco Bay area, all-time monthly heat records were notched on Saturday at Salinas Airport (92°F), San José (89°F), Monterey (87°F), and on Sunday in Fresno (91°F). The heat pushed into the northern Rockies and northern Great Plains on Sunday, with the all-time March record falling at Rapid City, SD (84°F).
Many other locations saw their warmest day for so early in the season. In North Dakota, both Fargo (75°F; normal high 35°F) and Grand Forks (70°F; normal high 33°F) had their earliest 70°F readings on record - though by just one day, as the Great Warm Wave of March 2012 headed toward its amazing apex starting on March 16. More records appeared certain to fall over the central Great Plains on Monday, with even the impressive numbers from 2012 in jeopardy at some locations.

Baked Alaska - Alaska's Kenai Peninsula has been practically tropical this winter. A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Alaska, has been dumbfounded. "Homer, Alaska, keeps setting record after record, and I keep looking at the data like, Has the temperature sensor gone out or something?"
Something does seem to be going on in Alaska. Last fall, a skipjack tuna, which is more likely to be found in the Galápagos than near a glacier, was caught about 150 miles southeast of Anchorage, not far from the Kenai. This past weekend, race organizers had to truck in snow to the ceremonial Iditarod start line in Anchorage.
Alaska is heating up at twice the rate of the rest of the country. A new report shows that warming in Alaska, along with the rest of the Arctic, is accelerating as the loss of snow and ice cover begins to set off a feedback loop of further warming. Warming in wintertime has been the most dramatic — more than 6 degrees in the past 50 years. And this is just a fraction of the warming that's expected to come over just the next few decades.
Of course, it's not just Alaska. Last month was the most extreme February on record in the Lower 48, and it marked the first time that two large sections of territory (more than 30 percent of the country each) experienced both exceptional cold and exceptional warmth in the same month.
All-time records were set for the coldest month in dozens of Eastern cities, with Boston racking up more snow than the peaks of California's Sierra Nevada. A single January snowstorm in Boston produced more snow than Anchorage has seen all winter. This year's Iditarod has been rerouted—twice—due to the warm weather. The race traditionally starts in Anchorage, which has had near-record low snowfall so far this winter. The city was without a single significant snowstorm between October and late January, so race organizers decided to move the start from the Anchorage area 360 miles north to Fairbanks.
But when the Chena River, which was supposed to be part of the new route's first few miles, failed to sufficiently freeze, the starting point had to move again, to another location in Fairbanks. A recent study said that Alaska's rivers and melting glaciers are now outputting more water than the Mississippi River.
Last year was Alaska's warmest on record and the warm weather has continued right on into 2015. This winter, Anchorage has essentially transformed into a less sunny version of Seattle. As of March 9, the city has received less than one-third of its normal amount of snow. In its place? Rain. Lots of rain. In fact, schools in the Anchorage area are now more likely to cancel school due to rain and street flooding than cold and snow.
Of course, it wasn't always this way. Alaska's recent surge of back-to-back warm winters comes after a record-snowy 2012, in which the National Guard was employed to help dig out buried towns. The Pacific Ocean near Alaska has been record-warm for months now. This year is off to a record-wet start in Juneau. Kodiak has recorded its warmest winter on record.
A sudden burst of ocean warmth has affected statewide weather before, but this time feels different, residents say. In late February, National Weather Service employees spotted thundersnow in Nome - a city just 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle. "As far as I know, that's unprecedented." To get that outside of the summer is incredibly rare everywhere, let alone in Alaska.
Climate scientists are starting to link the combination of melting sea ice and warm ocean temperatures to shifts in the jet stream. For the past few winters, those shifts have brought surges of tropical moisture toward southern Alaska via potent atmospheric rivers. This weather pattern has endured so long it's even earned its own name: the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.
The persistent area of high pressure stretching from Alaska to California has shunted wintertime warmth and moisture northward into the Arctic while the eastern half of the continent is plunged into the deep freeze, polar-vortex style. The warm water is making its way north into the Arctic Ocean, too, where as of early March, sea ice levels are at their record lowest for the date.
The resurgent heating of the Pacific (we're officially in an El Niño year now) is also expected to give a boost to global warming over the next few years by releasing years of pent-up oceanic energy into the atmosphere, pushing even more warm water toward the north, melting Alaska from all sides.
In early November, Super Typhoon Nuri morphed into a huge post-tropical cyclone, passing through the Aleutians very near Shemya Island on its way to becoming Alaska's strongest storm on record. Despite winds near 100 mph, Shemya emerged relatively unscathed. A few days later, the remnants of that storm actually altered the jet stream over much of the continent, ushering in a highly amplified "omega block" pattern that dramatically boosted temperatures across the state and sent wave after wave of Arctic cold toward the East Coast. Barrow was briefly warmer than Dallas or Atlanta.
For southern Alaska, fire season has been coming earlier in recent years, and 2015 looks to be no exception.


Weather weirdness? Not a single tornado has been reported to the National Weather Service so far in March, which typically marks the first month of severe weather season in the Plains and Southeast. The only other year since 1950 that there have been zero tornado reports in the first half of March was 1969.
Just seven severe weather reports — two for large hail and five for strong winds — have been reported so far this month. From 1991 to 2010, an average of 80 tornadoes were reported in the month of March across the United States, with the largest number being reported in the South.
January and February were also extremely quiet. February was eerily quiet, with only two tornadoes reported during the month; one in California, the other in Florida. Only three other Februaries since 1950 saw two or fewer tornadoes in the U.S.: 2010 (1), 2002 (2) and 1964 (2).
At the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), only four tornado watches were issued in January and February combined, the fewest in the year’s first two months since 1985 required only two tornado watches. While the strongest tornadoes typically occur in the month of April, March has been known for extreme severe outbreaks in the past.
The most recent notable early-March outbreak was on March 2-3, 2012, when 70 tornadoes — two of them as strong as F4 — caused over $3 billion in damage in the Southeast and Ohio Valley. The outbreak was the second most deadly in early March.

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