Friday, April 22, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?**
E. M. Forster

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 4/23/15 -

4/22/15 -

4/21/15 -

4/20/15 -

New Zealand - 'Buildings sway' as 'severe' 6.2 quake strikes top of South Island. Dozens of people have reported feeling a magnitude 6.2 earthquake which hit near Kaikoura in the South Island this afternoon. The quake struck at a depth of 50km, 35km south- east of St Arnaud, at 3.36pm. It was classified as "severe" by GeoNet, the highest intensity available.
More than 4500 "felt reports" have been recorded on GeoNet, however more than 90% of them listed the quake as "light". There could be aftershocks up to a magnitude 5 over the coming days or weeks. GNS received one report describing the intensity as "damaging" and more than 20 saying the intensity was "strong". Spark said its mobile phone network is congested following the quake, and that congestion is now affecting other parts of the country.
It felt like two quakes back to back, the first not so bad and the second felt like a "big jolt". The council building was evacuated but did not appear to be damaged. There were no reports of damage elsewhere, but people would be sent out to check. Southern Ambulance Communications said it received no call outs. Near the epicentre, a Department of Conservation worker said it was a "big ol' wobble and shudder", saying it was the worst he's felt since he moved to the region.
A Saint Arnaud resident described it as the most severe earthquake they had felt in 11 years living in the area. The woman described it as a "violent jolt" that lasted for around 40 seconds. A spokesperson for the Rainbow Ski Field, in the Saint Arnaud Range, said it was a "very scary earthquake! Mountain was roaring with rock falls." The ski field is assessing access roads for rock fall. Hanmer Springs Animal Park said the quake "freaked the animals out" and a few customers were preparing to run too. The park cares for ponies, donkeys, llamas, alpacas and more.
At the Alpine Lodge in St Arnaud the quake felt "very heavy". The lodge had a few glasses and bottles fall from a chiller but otherwise everything was ok and all guests are safe. A worker at the Kaikoura New World supermarket said produce had fallen off the store's shelves. The supermarket was evacuated as a precautionary measure but New World staff are now back in their building. (video at link)

More than 143 million people in the U. S. Lower 48 states, nearly half the population, now live on shaky ground, earthquake scientists say. That's because more people have moved into the quake-prone West Coast and some quake zones were recently expanded, according to researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The research didn't include Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, but scientists using older data estimated that nearly half of Americans — or 150 million people — live in earthquake regions. About 28 million people face the highest threat, mostly along the West Coast where the San Andrea Fault cuts through California and a huge undersea fault lurks off the Pacific Northwest.
The latest calculations by the USGS, Federal Emergency Management Agency and California Geological Survey were reported Wednesday. There have been a few previous attempts to figure out how many people live in quake-prone areas. A federal estimate two decades ago found that 75 million people in 39 states were at risk of shaking.
The USGS last year updated its national earthquake maps that increased the quake danger for one-third of the country. While the Pacific coast remains a seismic hotspot, other regions as the Rockies, Midwest, New England and parts of the Southeast also face an elevated risk. "The distribution of earthquake risk is much broader and wider beyond the West Coast."
The new work focused on the Lower 48 states because scientists don't yet have updated maps for the whole country. Researchers didn't take into account regions where small earthquakes have been caused by oil and gas drilling. If those were included, the number of people exposed to shaking would be higher.
The team also calculated potential economic losses from damaged buildings such as homes, hospitals, schools and fire stations. The average loss amounted to $4.5 billion with the greatest financial hit to California, Oregon and Washington. "We've always been told that we should be prepared. But this study puts some teeth into the recommendation."
Government scientists have been testing a West Coast seismic alert system designed to detect the initial shock waves from a large jolt, calculate the strength and give a few seconds of warning before the arrival of slower, damaging waves. Supporters say an early warning system would allow trains to stop, companies to shut off gas lines and people to duck under a table until the shaking stops. Only select scientists and companies currently receive the alerts.

Thousands evacuated after volcano eruption in Chile - The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile has erupted for the first time in more than four decades, sending a plume of smoke and ash several kilometres high. Emergency services declared a red alert and about 1,500 people were evacuated from the nearby town of Ensenada as a precaution. Calbuco is near the tourist town of Puerto Varas, about 1,000km (625 miles) south of the capital Santiago.
Among Chile's most active volcanoes in the past, it last erupted in 1972. Authorities said no hot rocks or lava had been seen so far, only ash. The eruption came as a surprise. Chile's National Emergency Office ordered an evacuation in a 20km radius and flights over the volcano were suspended.
"There are a lot of people out in the streets, many heading to the gas stations to fill up." Chile has the second largest chain of volcanoes in the world after Indonesia, with around 500 that are potentially active. It is southern Chile's second volcano eruption in as many months. In March, the Villarrica volcano erupted in the early hours of the morning, spewing ash and lava into the sky.
Fears of a third eruption - Southern Chile covered in ash after volcano erupts twice. Southern Chile dug itself out from under a thick layer of gray ash Friday while keeping a wary eye on the Calbuco volcano after it spectacularly erupted for the first time in half a century.
The volcano, which unexpectedly burst into life with two eruptions Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, forcing 4,500 people to evacuate, caused alarm again early Friday when it emitted a large puff of smoke. The head of the National Geology and Mines Service said the volcano was still in "crisis phase," though initial warnings of a possible third eruption have not materialized so far.
The ash cloud meanwhile continued to drift, disrupting flights across a large swath of South America, including one plane from Sydney to Santiago that was forced to turn back after five hours. In Buenos Aires, on the other side of the continent, American Airlines, United, Delta and Air France all cancelled flights to and from Europe and the United States. Chilean authorities have declared a state of emergency, sent in the army and evacuated a 20-kilometer radius around Calbuco, which is located in Los Lagos, a region popular with tourists for its beautiful mountain landscapes dotted with volcanoes and lakes with black-sand beaches.
Scores of evacuated residents gathered at the police barricade outside the town of La Ensenada, anxious to check on their homes and feed their pets. On the other side of the security perimeter, the evacuation area was turned into a scattering of ghost towns blanketed with ash up to one meter (three feet) thick. In La Ensenada, a town of 1,500 people that was the first to be evacuated, workers used heavy trucks to plow the roads clear as a handful of residents ignored the evacuation order to shovel the ash and debris off their rooftops. The weight of the ash caused some roofs to collapse.
Authorities said that if the current conditions held, residents would be allowed to return home for a few hours in the afternoon to retrieve some belongings, after fleeing with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Ash particles spread over southern Uruguay and a broad belt across central Argentina, though the national weather services said they were at high altitude and did not impair visibility.
Experts cautioned that a third eruption could still follow. "We're still in what is considered the crisis phase," said the head of the National Geology and Mines Service. "We cannot rule out a new eruption."The situation remained "unpredictable." There have been no reports of injuries so far, but officials warned the ash could be harmful for people, animals, crops and infrastructure. Authorities handed out protective masks in affected towns in both Chile and Argentina. Officials have also warned of the risk of flooding from hot lava melting snow and ice high in the mountains.
The first eruption, which lasted about 90 minutes, spewed a giant mushroom cloud of ash into the sky, which turned hues of pink and yellow as the sun set over the area. Seven hours later, the volcano shot red and orange plumes of lava into the sky, as bluish-white bolts of lightning sliced through the billowing ash cloud. Until minutes before the first blast, volcano monitoring systems had picked up nothing.
"It was so silent, it didn't give any warning. The smoke just shot straight up into the sky and formed a giant mushroom. It was really impressive. It was a spectacular landscape." The volcano had last erupted in 1961 and showed light activity in 1972. The latest eruptions had opened up four new craters, giving Calbuco six in all.
It is the second eruption in Chile since March 3, when the Villarrica volcano emitted a brief but fiery burst of ash and lava. Chile has about 90 active volcanoes. The long, thin country has been hit by a series of natural disasters in recent months, from flooding in its usually arid north, home to the world's driest desert, to wildfires in its drought-hit southern forests.
Timelapse video of the eruption .

Magma intrusion is likely source of Columbia-Ecuador border quake swarms - The "seismic crisis" around the region of the Chiles and Cerro Negro de Mayasquer volcanoes near the Columbia-Ecuador border is likely caused by intruding magma, according to a report by the Servicio Geológico Colombiano. The intruding magma appears to be interacting with the regional tectonics to spawn micro-earthquakes, which at their peak of activity numbered thousands of micro-earthquakes each day.
Most of the earthquakes were less than magnitude 3, although the largest quake to date was magnitude 5.6 that took place in October 2014. When the earthquake swarms began in 2013, the Colombian Servicio Geológico Colombiano and the Ecuadoran Instituto Geofísico of the Escuela Politécnica Nacional collaborated to set up a monitoring system to observe the swarms and judge the risk of volcanic eruption for the surrounding population.
The largest perceived threat of eruption came in the fall of 2014, when the activity level was changed from yellow to orange, meaning a probable occurrence of eruption in days to weeks. Due to the occurrence of a magnitude 5.6 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, some houses in the area were damaged and local residents decided to sleep in tents to feel safe.
Data collected by the new monitoring stations suggest that most of the earthquakes in the area are of a type of volcano-tectonic quakes, which occur when the movement of magma - and the fluids and gases it releases - creates pressure changes in the rocks above. Based on the seismic activity in the area, the researchers infer that millions of cubic meters of magma have moved into the area deep under the Chile and Cerro Negro volcanoes. However, both volcanoes appear to have been dormant for at least 10,000 years, and the tectonic stress in the region is compressive — both of which may be holding the magma back from erupting to the surface.
So far, there have been no signs of ground swelling or outgassing at the surface, and the rate of earthquakes has slowed considerably this year from its peak of 7000 - 8000 micro-quakes per day in the fall of 2014.

Titanic Blob of Magma Found Beneath Yellowstone Supervolcano - A giant blob-shaped reservoir of searing-hot rock has been discovered far below the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park — one that could fill the Grand Canyon more than 11 times over, researchers say.
The discovery doesn't raise the risk of future eruptions at Yellowstone. However, a better understanding of the Yellowstone supervolcano's plumbing could shed light on any hazards it might pose. The newfound blob-shaped magma reservoir lies in the lower crust. The molten rock extends from about 12 to 28 miles (19 to 45 kilometers) deep, and measures about 30 miles (48 km) long northwest to southeast and 44 miles (70 km) long southwest to northeast. This magma reservoir is about 11,200 cubic miles (46,700 cubic km) in size.
Previous studies had identified an oddly shaped magma chamber closer to the surface of the Yellowstone supervolcano, one 2,500 cubic miles (10,420 cubic km) in size, enough to fill the Grand Canyon about 2.5 times. This chamber looks like a gigantic frying pan, with a "handle" rising to the northeast, measuring about 19 miles (30 km) long from northwest to southeast and 55 miles (90 km) long southwest to northeast. This chamber lies about 3 to 9 miles (5 to 14 km) beneath the surface of Yellowstone National Park.
Scientists think the "frying pan" magma chamber is filled with both melted rock, or magma, and hot crystals — a mixture similar to a syrupy, shaved-ice dessert. However, the shallow magma chamber discovered previously was too small to account for the amount of material ejected by past Yellowstone eruptions. Scientists also could not explain the very high levels of carbon dioxide escaping from the area.
Earlier studies also detected a mushroom-shaped plume of hot rock rising from the Earth's mantle underneath the magma chamber. This mantle plume surges upward from a depth of at least 440 miles (710 km) in the Earth's mantle, and some researchers suspect it originates 1,800 miles (2,900 km) deep near the Earth's core. The plume is roughly 50 miles (80 km) wide as it rises through the Earth's mantle, spreading out like a pancake after it hits the uppermost mantle, at a depth of about 40 miles (65 km).
Scientists said the newly found magma chamber connects the smaller reservoir above it to the mantle plume below it. "For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone."
Supervolcanoes are capable of eruptions surpassing anything ever recorded by humanity. There are roughly a dozen supervolcanoes on Earth today, and one of the largest encompasses Yellowstone National Park. The park is a caldera, or giant crater, that is about 40 by 25 miles (65 by 40 kilometers) in size. Each of three cataclysmic supervolcano eruptions at Yellowstone pelted much of North America with volcanic ash.
The Yellowstone supervolcano's last cataclysmic eruption took place about 640,000 years ago, although lava seeped onto the surface in the area as recently as 70,000 years ago. A supervolcano eruption today would be cataclysmic, but the chance for one at Yellowstone is maybe one in 700,000 every year.
The researchers emphasized that the Yellowstone supervolcano is no closer to erupting than before. "This finding does not change the volcano hazard evaluation of Yellowstone that has already been assessed. These findings do not tell us if a future eruption of Yellowstone is more or less likely."
By understanding how supervolcano plumbing works, scientists can now develop new models to better estimate the hazards they pose. "Our study opens up many new directions and future opportunities in volcano research. For example, it will be interesting to see if the existence of the lower crustal magma reservoir is a common feature for all the volcanic systems around the globe."

No current tropical storms.


House washed away in Australia storm - Video. Mobile phone footage shows a house being washed away by floodwater in Dungog in New South Wales during a fierce storm. The weather was expected to worsen before easing on Wednesday.
Australia storms - Heavy rain and strong winds have continued to batter New South Wales in Australia. The storm has caused millions of dollars worth of damage. Three people have died trapped in their home by floodwaters and three others are missing after their cars were washed away. A cruise ship that was stuck at sea during the storm, with thousands of people on board, has now docked in Sydney. The authorities there have urged people to avoid all unnecessary travel.
Some of the most powerful storms for years have pummelled New South Wales destroying homes, cutting power and downing trees. Described by the premier of New South Wales as "wreaking havoc", the storms brought the HIGHEST RAINFALL TOTAL SINCE RECORDS BEGAN in 1897, to Dungog, a town north of Sydney. Wind speeds topped 135 km/h during the storms.
Clean-up begins after storms lash New South Wales - Cyclonic winds and flooding have caused devastation in some areas of the state. A clean-up operation has begun in New South Wales in the wake of violent storms that battered the Australian state. Police have confirmed the deaths of four people. Three were killed in Dungog, where homes have been washed away by flooding.
An 86-year-old woman died in the Central Hunter region when her car was swept into floodwaters. Emergency services have declared 12 communities natural disaster areas. The fierce weather WAs expected to ease later on Thursday. All severe weather warnings have been cancelled across NSW. The storm has left some areas devastated, with roads flooded, homes swept away and power poles snapped.
Emergency Services said that it would be some time before the full cost of the disaster is known. "There are cells still active off the coast of New South Wales, and indeed the fact that the flood waters may well still increase, means that we won't know the entire cost of this particular disaster for many days to come." Som 190,000 homes in the state are still without power but state-owned supplier Ausgrid said that electricity had been restored to 30,000 properties.
During the days of stormy weather, parts of NSW experienced more than 30cm (one foot) of rainfall, wind gusts of more than 100km/h (60mph) and WAVES REACHING RECORD HEIGHTS of 15m (50ft). The debris of houses destroyed by cyclonic winds are seen on April 22, 2015 in Dungog, Australia. Earlier, rising river levels also threatened more than 200 homes in south-western districts of Sydney and forced residents to evacuate. The Insurance Council of Australia has said that it has received 19,500 claims, with losses estimated at US $100 million.


Giant Waves Quickly Destroy Arctic Ocean Ice and Ecosystems - The biggest waves seen in northern sea ice show how this vital cover can be crushed much faster than expected. The chance encounter of a Norwegian research vessel with the LARGEST WAVES EVER RECORDED AMID FLOATING PACKS OF ARCTIC ICE shows how such rollers could reroute shipping, damage oil platforms and threaten coastal communities with erosion. Large waves can penetrate more deeply into ice cover and break it up faster and more completely than anyone had suspected.
It turned out that although the ice damped incoming waves, it also contributed to its own destruction. Ice near the outer edge of the pack absorbed some energy from arriving waves but also focused the remaining energy into pulses that could strike deeper into the pack, lifting it as the waves rolled beneath. The rise and fall strained ice to the breaking point. Once broken, the smaller ice chunks allowed the largest waves to pass almost unhindered and attack solid ice farther in. The ice went from blocking almost all the wave energy to none at all within just one hour. The process happened so fast, in fact, that they calculated waves were destroying the pack at a rate of over 16 kilometers of ice an hour.
Scientists had never imagined that Arctic waves could break up pack ice so quickly. Historically, the region’s extensive ice cover left no large expanses of open water needed by storms to whip up really big rollers. But climate change has brought milder winters, warmer sea temperatures and bigger storms, which create a vicious cycle that promises less sea ice and more wind and open water to generate ice-crushing waves.
The waves’ unexpected speed and ferocity makes them impossible to predict with current low- resolution computer models, based on ice observations that are typically updated only daily. That could spell disaster for mariners, oil companies and native communities who are unprepared for large waves or rely on sea ice to protect them. And that is to say nothing of wildlife like polar bears and walruses that rely on abundant sea ice to survive.
They do not expect the record waves of 2010 to stand for long. As the ice-breaking feedback loop accelerates in years to come, more and more towering waves are likely to batter the shrinking ice cap. For the Arctic Ocean, there are stormy times ahead.

Bees may get hooked on nicotine-linked pesticides - Bees may be getting hooked on nectar laced with widely used nicotine-related chemicals in pesticides they cannot even taste, in the same way humans are addicted to cigarettes, new research has found. Adding to evidence of potential harm from the chemicals, another field-scale study published on Wednesday also found that exposure to so-called neonicotinoids affects reproduction and colony growth in some bee species.
Europe has placed restrictions on three such pesticides, citing concerns for bees, but debate continues about the impact of low doses on these and other non-target insects. Supporters of neonicotinoids - made by companies including Bayer and Syngenta - say they have a major benefit because they destroy pests and boost crop yields. Critics, however, fear they contribute to a decline in bees, which are crucial for crop pollination.
Honeybees and bumblebees drank more from pesticide-containing solutions, implying that naturally foraging bees would do likewise. "There's a conundrum that they are attracted to the stuff that actually is having a negative impact on their motor function and their ability to collect food and forage." The most likely reason lies in the similarity of the chemicals to nicotine, which itself is produced by tobacco plants to prevent against attacks by insects. In large amounts it is toxic, but a little bit acts as a drug.
"As soon as it gets into their blood they are getting a little buzz, as it were, and they are responding to that." Separately, a team of Swedish researchers found that oilseed rape sown from seeds coated in neonicotinoids reduced wild bee density, solitary bee nesting and bumblebee colony growth. Neonicotinoid exposure did not significantly impact honeybee colonies, possibly because they have larger colonies with more workers and are better equipped to deal with damage, but scientists said the evidence against the chemicals was growing.
"At this point in time it is no longer credible to argue that agricultural use of neonicotinoids does not harm wild bees."


Risk low for human infection from US strains of bird flu - The strain of avian flu that has been identified in 12 U.S. states and led to the extermination of more than 7 million birds is different from the H5N1 bird flu virus that has spread from birds to humans in the past. There have been nearly 650 cases of H5N1 human infections, reported from 15 different countries, since 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Two different strains have been discovered in the United States this year. The H5N2 strain is in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. It has also been identified on farms in Ontario, Canada. The H5N8 strain has been identified in California and also in Idaho, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows.
There have been no cases of the highly infectious disease in humans since the outbreak started in the United States at the beginning of the year. This is the most widespread bird flu outbreak in North America in more than three decades. In the cases involving human infection outside the United States, illness from the H5N1 virus occurred only among people who had direct contact with infected birds.
Warmer weather should help lower the number of infections in birds and curtail the virus' spread. "As we get into spring and summer, sunshine comes and ultraviolet light will kill influenza virus."

The olive oil you're buying is probably a rip off - Good olives are supposed to be green, but many used for olive oil have rotted.The olive oil you're buying probably isn't as healthy as you think. About 70% of the olive oil Americans buy isn't extra virgin.
"Since olive oil became so popular there isn't enough of the good stuff to go around. Even if there were, many consumers aren't willing to pay for it. As a result, the majority of olive oil Americans buy isn't from Italy or extra virgin as advertised. "Americans are addicted to cheap products. But people should know the risks of consuming subpar olive oil."
Extra virgin olive oil is made by crushing olives and extracting the juice and has no additives or other ingredients. Nutrition experts rave that extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants, such as the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal and asoleuropein, which is linked to healthy cholesterol. But many cheaper oils don't have these benefits, and can even be harmful.
Costco recently started buying Greek olive oil to ensure better quality. Make sure only one country is listed as the source. If the label says "product of Italy" or "imported from Greece," it means that the olives used were probably fresh. If multiple countries are listed, chances are the olives were imported and might have rotted.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a 17 oz. bottle of olive oil is cheaper than $10, it's probably not good quality. Trust your instincts. Tasting olive oil is important. If the olive oils tastes grassy, bitter, or peppery, go with another brand the next time you buy.
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Monday, April 20, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.**
Vincent Van Gogh

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 4/19/15 -

4/18/15 -

4/17/15 -

Powerful quake hits Taiwan and Japan, tsunami warning lifted - One man died and another was hospitalised on Monday in a fire caused by a powerful quake off Taiwan that also set buildings shaking in the capital Taipei and sparked a short-lived tsunami warning in far southwestern Japan. Japanese forecasters had warned the 6.6 magnitude earthquake could cause a tsunami as high as one metre (three feet) affecting several islands in the Okinawa chain, but lifted the alert around an hour later, with no abnormal waves recorded.
No damage was reported in Japan, but a four-storey apartment building in part of New Taipei City caught ablaze after an electrical box outside the block exploded in the quake. One elderly man who lived in the building "showed no signs of life" at the scene, the fire service said. Another resident was hospitalised after choking in the blaze. Residents and office workers were evacuated from a building in central Taipei because of a feared gas leak and reports said several vehicles were trapped in the basement. It was not immediately clear if there were any people stuck with their cars.
In Japan, local authorities urged people to move away from the coast and seek higher ground, in a drill that has become fairly regular in a country prone to powerful earthquakes and occasional devastating tsunamis. "We are issuing warnings via the radio. We want residents to get as far as possible from the sea." Boats were seen sailing out to sea - common practice when a tsunami warning is issued because away from the coast, a tsunami is little different from a swell. However, an hour after the quake, the Japan Meteorological Agency cancelled the warning.
The US Geological Survey said the 6.6 magnitude quake, which Japanese authorities had originally put at 6.8, struck 71 kilometres (44 miles) east of Hualien, Taiwan at 0143 GMT. In Tokyo, officials were still collecting information, but that the quake did not appear to have done serious damage. Japan sits at the confluence of four of the earth's tectonic plates and records more than 20 percent of the planet's most powerful earthquakes every year. Strict building codes and a long familiarity with the dangers mean quakes that might cause devastation in other parts of the world are frequently uneventful in Japan. However, occasional disasters prove exceptionally deadly, and more than 18,000 people were killed by a huge tsunami that smashed into the northeast coast in 2011 after a huge 9.0 magnitude earthquake.
The chief of Taiwan's Seismology Center, warned there could be more quakes. "This was the third quake measuring more than 6.0 magnitude in Taiwan so far this year - we would not rule out the likelihood that there might be more strong quakes of this scale."

Rare oarfish creates a buzz in New Zealand - A nearly 10-foot-long oarfish washed ashore along a New Zealand salt marsh. Oarfish rarely wash ashore, but when one does the bizarre-looking sea creature usually creates a bit of a stir, as one did the other day on the southeastern coast of the south island of New Zealand.
A man was walking along the salt marsh in Aramoana when he encountered on the beach an unusual sea creature that some have previously mistaken for some sort of sea serpent. He phoned the Department of Conservation service manager and asked him to come take a look. “It was very unusual looking."
In his 20 years at DOC, the manager had never seen anything like it, so on Thursday morning he contacted the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and asked if theycould identify the sea creature. “From his description I guessed it would be an oarfish and when his photos came through it was confirmed. There are thought to be only two species and this is the southern one, Regalecus glesne.”
This oarfish was nearly 10 feet long, but they can grow up to 36 feet; an 18-footer was discovered off California in 2013. Oarfish are typically found in deep water in tropical oceans. Not surprisingly, the find created quite a buzz. “Little is known about the oarfish. When this was dissected, its stomach was full of krill. Other specimens have also been found stuffed full of krill. They have been some caught on video in recent years and they have been observed swimming vertically with their pectoral fins out to the side, which is how they get their name `oarfish.’”
It is rare to find an oarfish washed up in this area — only five reports of them over the past 150 years, the last being in nearby Dunedin in 1998. “The oarfish was in great shape. Its stomach was full, so it did not starve to death. It seems the strandings often occur after earthquakes or storms, and we have just had a storm here, so I think it just got washed in and stranded on the salt marsh.”[Site note - Oarfish washing ashore have sometimes been viewed as a sign of impending earthquakes.]

No current tropical storms.


Cars Battle High Waters After Flash Floods in Houston, Texas - Intense rains came down hard and fast in Houston, Texas on Friday night, leading to flash flooding in the area. Houston was hit with rainfall rates of 2-3 inches an hour. The heaviest rain hit the south side of Houston, near the suburbs of Pasadena. The rain was expected to continue throughout the night.


March 2015: Another WARMEST MONTH ON RECORD FOR THE PLANET - March 2015 was Earth's warmest March since global record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center on Friday. NASA rated March 2015 as the 3rd warmest March on record.

Wildfire threatens 300 homes in drought-stricken Southern California - A wildfire near Corona, California, is threatening at least 300 homes as 335 firefighters work to quell it. The "Highway Fire" was incinerating 300 acres in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, early Sunday, and emergency officials have evacuated many residents. Others were in a dilemma about how to react to the potential danger to their homes.
The fire's rapid spread has caught some by surprise. Officials first became aware of it through reports of trees on fire early Saturday. It jumped quickly from 30 acres of coverage to 175 acres over the course of the day. By early Sunday, it had nearly doubled to 300 acres. "This is an example of what the drought has done, these fuel conditions, normally this wouldn't burn in this kind of area."
The spread of the fire was described as "aggressive." Around 1 a.m. Pacific time, firefighters had the blaze 15% contained. So far, no one has been reported injured, and no homes reported burned. But residents' homes are in imminent danger. The probability of some catching fire on a scale of one to 10 is "at a six". (video at link)

Despite Seattle’s reputation for rainy weather, Washington's governor declared a drought emergency in nearly half the state on Friday, warning that the classification could encompass the entire state by early May. Last month, a drought emergency had been declared in three regions of Washington state.
“This is an ongoing emergency, and we’re going to have some long, hard months ahead of us. We’re moving quickly so that we’re prepared to provide relief to farms and fish this summer.” Experts said rainfall in the state is normal, but snowpack is just 24 percent of the norm, meaning river flow will be much lower than usual. Washington state last declared a drought in 2005.


Scientists in Norway think it may be raining worms in parts of the country. - A biologist came across thousands of earthworms scattered across the mountains while out skiing. They were unlikely to have tunnelled through the snow because it was too deep, so it appears they rained down from the sky.
I saw thousands of earthworms on the surface of the snow. When I put them in my hand I found that they were alive." Worms start to emerge from the ground towards the end of winter, and it's possible that some were swept up by strong wind. It's not unusual for the mountainous areas of Norway to experience high winds, so the worms could have been carried quite a distance, before falling back to Earth as earthworm rain.
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.**
Ernest Hemingway

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 4/16/15 -

4/15/15 -

Earthquakes strike parts of northern China - An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 has struck in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. An earlier earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 hit the north-western Gansu Province, killing at least one person. The China Earthquake Networks Centre believes the two tremors could be connected. (Video footage from China's CCTV shows people fleeing buildings during one of the earthquakes.)
The two earthquakes have toppled scores of houses. A 4.5-magnitude quake hit Lintao County of the northwestern province of Gansu around 3 pm, killing one person in Yaogou Village, about 20 km from the epicenter. About 30 houses were flattened, and 200 were damaged.
Half an hour later, a 5.8-magnitude quake hit Alashan Left Banner, in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at half past 3 pm. The quake was followed by a 4.0-magnitude aftershock five minutes later. No casualties or property damage have been reported, as the area is remote and sparsely populated. Local authorities are still checking for possible damage. The quake was felt in the nearby cities in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Wuwei in Gansu Province.

6.1 magnitude quake strikes off Greek island of Crete - The earthquake struck under the Mediterranean seabed east of the Greek island of Crete on Thursday, but local authorities said there were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage. The quakes epicentre was 20 kilometers below sea level, 50 km east of Crete on the Cretan-Rhodes ridge where the African tectonic plate meets the Eurasian plate.
In Greece, the Athens Observatory said the tremor, which happened at 1821 GMT, struck some 14 km off the small island of Kassos and was strongly felt on nearby Crete. "I jumped up from my chair, the ground shook for at least five minutes. I did not see any material damage but it is nighttime and it's difficult to see what has happened." Greece is one of Europe's most earthquake-prone countries. In January 2014, several thousand people found themselves homeless on the holiday island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Islands after a 5.8 magnitude quake.

Peru - Ubinas volcano erupts again this morning. Today marks the third eruption of Ubinas in two days. It erupted this morning around 8:00 a.m. and lasted for about 6 minutes, with the extent of damages resulting from the spread of ash. The IGP recommends that local communities wear masks and goggles for the time being to protect from the ash layer.
The South Volcano Observatory of the Geophysical Institute of Peru recorded two loud explosions from the volcano yesterday, causing a yellow alert to be raised for the communities near-by. The first explosion occurred in the morning with ashes reaching 3,800 meters and the second one in the afternoon which resulted in a column of ashes reaching 1,500 meters high.
Today ashes reached 1,800 meters high above the crater and spreading at least 15 kilometers outwards from the volcano. The ashes were primarily directed southeast toward the communities of Ubinas, Escacha and Anascapa. After today’s explosion, Ubinas has erupted four times in the last 8 days. Three days ago snowmelt and another eruption causes a massive mudslide. A video was captured by the IGP monitoring team who happened to be recording data at the time.
Video footage of the mudslide.

Mexico's Colima volcano has spewed a giant 3.5-kilometre-high column of ash that rained down on a nearby city. The Jalisco state civil protection agency said a "moderate" quantity of ash fell on Ciudad Guzman, a town near the western state of Colima, where the volcano is located.
A civil protection official said there were no reports of damage or injuries in the city of 100,000 people. Officials urged the population to use masks if they venture out of their homes, remove excess ash from rooftops so they do not collapse and cover water drains. The 3,860-metre mountain, also known as the Volcano of Fire, is among the most active in the country. (video at link)

New volcano discoverd in Columbia - In the Andes Mountains, in Colombia, hides Escondido, a potentially active volcano. The discovery was made by the researchers of the Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes of the Italian National Research Council (IDPA-CNR) and of the Servicio Geológico Colombiano.
Escondido was identified by the research team during an exploration campaign in the Andes Mountains. It lies in an area in which volcanic activity had been previously considered as practically absent. “Although it is believed that the planet has been fully explored, the discovery of pyroclastic deposits perfectly preserved with a thickness of eight metres suggests the presence of intensive explosive activity originated from a volcanic structure that had not been identified before. This find shows that discoveries of this type are still possible and bring about implications regarding the proper assessment of natural risks and the possible use of geothermal energy associated with magma ascent through the Earth’s crust”.
“Our study shows that Escondido had its last activity about 30,000 years ago, and that its identification substantially changes the perception of the distribution of recent volcanism in the central Cordillera of the Northern Andes. It also reveals that magmas ascent through the crust and the activity of the tectonic processes are more pervasive than previously thought”.

No current tropical storms.


A rare suspected tornado in Oregon swept across a parking lot at a community college in the city of Eugene, lifting up a Jeep with two people inside and damaging three other vehicles, officials said on Wednesday.
Oregon gets only a handful of tornadoes each year, and they are usually weak, said a National Weather Service meteorologist. Meteorologists believe this was a small tornado and are working to confirm that determination. No one was injured from the suspected tornado on Tuesday afternoon at Lane Community College in Eugene, about 100 miles (161 km) south of Portland.
The Jeep with the two people sitting inside was lifted about 5 feet (1.5 meters) off the ground before dropping back down. A car was flipped around in the air and landed on another vehicle, and a fourth vehicle was flipped over and landed on its roof. The Oregonian newspaper on its website posted photos submitted by a student at the college showing a sedan lying on its roof on a grassy space in the parking lot and another vehicle with part of its roof and windshield caved in.

India - Record rain in Chennai. The city that was bracing for the hottest part of the year had a sudden swing in weather on Wednesday, a RARITY for April. For the FIRST TIME IN 70 YEARS, Meenambakkam received 103.2 mm rainfall on Wednesday.
Residents woke up to a pleasant monsoon-like day as an upper air cyclonic circulation over Lakshadweep area had brought good rains over many parts of the State since Tuesday night. However, the weather observatory in Nungambakkam recorded only 2.6 mm of rainfall between 8.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. The prevailing weather system had brought down the Wednesday temperature to 29.3 degree Celsius, which is five degrees less than the average temperature experienced in April.
Several areas, particularly in south Chennai, had a heavy downpour during morning hours, something more like a cloud burst. Rains lashed several places like Taramani, Velachery, Guindy, and Adyar and in just an hour, some places recorded nearly 100 mm of rainfall, which is RARE for the season.
Moisture was being drawn from the Bay of Bengal across the State and this brought rains over many parts of the State. While northern districts, including Chennai, would have rains till Thursday, wet spell would continue in southern region of Tamil Nadu for a few more days. Summer rains are usually preceded by an intense period of heat. But this was not one of the typical weather systems that occur during noon.
“This type of organised weather activity is rare and May is more likely to get rains than in April. In summer, areas away from the coast get more rains." Weather bloggers point out that the interaction of the cyclonic circulation with another system over Bay of Bengal and constant moisture incursion had brought heavy downpour over the city in April. In the last 15 years, rainfall over the city crossed 20 mm only twice in April. In, 2001 and 2005, Nungambakkam recorded 83 mm and 60 mm in April.


Ice jams, possible rain raises flooding concerns for parts of Maine - State and local officials are keeping a close eye on a massive ice jam on the St. John River in Allagash that could affect towns downriver if it lets go over the next 24 hours.
The St. John River rose about 15 feet in 90 minutes behind the jam in Allagash at about 4 a.m. Thursday. This was considered a historically rapid rise and ranked among the top five fastest river level increases since records have been kept over the last 70 years. “We expect it to let go sometime today. People along the St. John River really want to pay attention.”
Downriver, municipal officials were heeding that advice. Ice jams can cause water to rise rapidly upriver from their location, creating flooding conditions. When the ice jam breaks up, all that backed up water is released and can cause more flooding problems in low-lying areas as it rushes downriver. “We estimate it takes about two hours and 45 minutes for the ice to get from [Allagash] to Fort Kent, assuming it does not jam up somewhere in between.” If the ice jam in Allagash does let go and the water dammed up behind it flows down the river to Fort Kent, the town is ready.
“We have our game plan in place. It is a concern with everything all jammed up.” Officials with the county’s emergency management services also were on the ground in the St. John Valley Thursday. “I am not pushing the panic button at this point. I think we have a good handle on things, and we are not in ‘emergency’ mode by any means yet.”
Officials also are keeping an eye on an ice jam on the Aroostook River near the Fort Fairfield and Caribou town line that caused flooding Wednesday night and prompted the Maine Department of Transportation to close a section of Grimes Road, also known as North Caribou Road. A flood warning was issued for all of northern Maine as ice jams and melting snow will cause some river levels to rise in Aroostook County through Friday evening.
The weather service also is tracking a series of storms expected to bring up to 3 inches of rain to parts of the state on Monday and create flooding conditions in areas Down East that were hit with record snowfall this past winter. “Those rains will be taking the snowpack with it, and that could produce [the equivalent to] a 3- to 5-inch rainstorm. It sounds like Down East will be in the bullseye of that rain event.”
In central Maine, both the Penobscot and Piscatiquis rivers have peaked and their levels are falling. “How much rain we do get remains a big question. But it won’t be super warm over the next couple of days, so the remainder of the snowpack will be a slow, controlled runoff from now into next week.” In the Augusta area, the Kennebec peaked Wednesday and levels were falling. Heavy rains do have the potential to bring river levels up around the state and the potential for flooding is above normal next week.


An oil slick, a band of rainbow sheen that stretches for miles off the coast of Louisiana, marks the spot where an oil platform toppled during a 2004 hurricane, triggering what might be the longest-running commercial oil spill ever to pollute the Gulf of Mexico. Yet more than a decade after crude started leaking at the site formerly operated by Taylor Energy Company, few people even know of its existence. The company has downplayed the leak's extent and environmental impact, likening it to scores of minor spills and natural seeps the Gulf routinely absorbs.
An Associated Press investigation has revealed evidence that the spill is far worse than what Taylor — or the government — have publicly reported during their secretive, and costly, effort to halt the leak. Presented with AP's findings, that the sheen recently averaged about 91 gallons of oil per day across eight square miles, the Coast Guard provided a new leak estimate that is about 20 times greater than one recently touted by the company. Outside experts say the spill could be even worse — possibly one of the largest ever in the Gulf.
Taylor's oil was befouling the Gulf for years in obscurity before BP's massive spill in mile-deep water outraged the nation in 2010. Even industry experts haven't heard of Taylor's slow-motion spill, which has been leaking like a steady trickle from a faucet, compared to the fire hose that was BP's gusher. Taylor has kept documents secret that would shed light on what it has done to stop the leak and eliminate the persistent sheen.
The Coast Guard said in 2008 the leak posed a "significant threat" to the environment, though there is no evidence oil from the site has reached shore. The sheen "presents a substantial threat to the environment" and is capable of harming birds, fish and other marine life.
Using satellite images and pollution reports, the watchdog group SkyTruth estimates between 300,000 and 1.4 million gallons of oil has spilled from the site since 2004, with an annual average daily leak rate between 37 and 900 gallons. If SkyTruth's high-end estimate of 1.4 million gallons is accurate, Taylor's spill would be about 1 percent the size of BP's, which a judge ruled amounted to 134 million gallons. That would still make the Taylor spill the 8th largest in the Gulf since 1970.
"The Taylor leak is just a great example of what I call a dirty little secret in plain sight." Taylor has spent tens of millions of dollars to contain and stop its leak, but it says nothing can be done to completely halt the chronic slicks. The New Orleans based company presented federal regulators last year with a proposed "final resolution" at the site, but the details remain under wraps. For years, the government has allowed the company to shield other spill-related information from public scrutiny — all in the name of protecting trade secrets.
Industry experts and environmental advocates are baffled by Taylor's inability to stop the leak and its demands for confidentiality. "It's not normal to have a spill like this," said an industry consultant and former engineering manager for Shell Oil Company. "The whole thing surprises me. Normally, we fix things much more quickly than this."
Five years ago, it took 87 days for BP to cap its blown-out Gulf well and halt the worst offshore oil spill in the nation's history. The disaster, which killed 11 rig workers, exposed weaknesses in the industry's safety culture and gaps in its spill response capabilities. Taylor's leak provided earlier evidence of how difficult it can be for the industry to prevent or stop a spill in an unforgiving environment. But the company has balked at sharing information that could help other offshore operators prepare for a similar incident, saying it's a valuable asset.
Whether it can profit from any industry innovations is debatable. The company sold all its offshore leases and oil and gas interests in 2008, four years after founder Patrick Taylor died. Down to just one full-time employee, Taylor Energy exists only to continue fighting a spill that has no end in sight.
Hurricane Ivan whipped into the Gulf of Mexico in 2004, churning up waves that triggered an underwater mudslide and toppled Taylor's platform. The platform stood roughly 10 miles off Louisiana's coast in approximately 475 feet of water. The mudslide buried the cluster of 28 wells under mounds of sediment. Taylor tried to remove the unstable sediment covering the damaged wells, but determined it was too dangerous for divers.
Without access to the buried wells, traditional "plug and abandon" efforts wouldn't work. In 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Rita disrupted the company's response efforts for several months. In 2007, slick sightings became more frequent near the wreckage. In 2008, the Coast Guard, concerned about the environmental threat of the leak, ordered additional work, including daily monitoring flights over the site.
A year ago, federal officials convened a workshop on the leak. Months later, the company presented regulators its proposal for a final resolution at the site. That plan remains confidential, but Taylor Energy President has said experts and government officials agree that the "best course of action ... is to not take any affirmative action" due to the possible risks of additional drilling.
Long before Taylor's leak, the industry learned of the risks of drilling in the Gulf's mudslide-prone areas. In 1969, Hurricane Camille caused a mudslide that destroyed a platform and damaged another. The company's last remaining full-time employee said Taylor didn't do anything to assess the risk of mudslides at its platform besides verifying that the previous leaseholder's permits and designs met regulatory requirements.
Even people whose job it is to know about such leaks didn't know about this one. Plaquemines Parish's coastal restoration director only found out about it in December 2012 when he spotted one of Taylor's slicks during a flight to BP's Deepwater Horizon site. He was stunned when a Coast Guard official informed him oil had been leaking there for years. "That's right off of our coast. It's really close. I would have thought somebody would have shared it with us."
In a recent court filing, Taylor said experts concluded in March 2014 that the sheens contained an average volume of less than 4 gallons per day. But AP's review of more than 2,300 pollution reports since 2008 found they didn't match official accounts of a diminishing leak. In fact, the reports show a dramatic SPIKE in sheen sizes and oil volumes since Sept. 1, 2014. That came just after federal regulators held a workshop to improve the accuracy of Taylor's slick estimates and started sending government observers on the contractor's daily flights over the site.
From April 2008 through August 2014, the average sheen size reported to the Coast Guard was 2 square miles with an average volume of 11 gallons of oil, according to AP's analysis. Since then, the daily average sheen size ballooned to 8 square miles with an average volume of 91 gallons. When confronted by AP with evidence of the spike, the Coast Guard attributed it to an improved method for estimating the slicks from the air — with the clear implication that far more oil had been spilling for years than had been reported.
After initially providing AP with an outdated, lower estimate, the Coast Guard then disclosed a new estimate — that approximately 16,000 gallons of oil have been spotted in slicks over the past seven months. That is roughly six times higher than its 2013 estimate, of about 4,500 gallons a year, and 20 times higher than the figure cited by Taylor in a Feb. 19 court filing. The company hasn't disclosed the much larger leak estimate in any publicly accessible court filings.
In many reports over the years, there are glaring inconsistencies between the estimated size of the sheen and the corresponding volume calculation. While Taylor insists it has acted "responsibly" throughout its spill response, the pattern of dubious pollution reports makes it difficult to assess the company's reports of progress in controlling the leak. The response to Taylor's leak also reinforces how the government, lacking the industry's expertise and resources, often must rely on companies and their contractors to assess and contain offshore spills. A presidential commission that investigated BP's spill identified that as a weakness.
A Taylor spokesman declined to comment on AP's findings, but the company's lawyers have dismissed the Waterkeeper Alliance's lawsuit as a "sham" that shouldn't tarnish Patrick Taylor's legacy. Taylor, who died less than two months after Hurricane Ivan, is renowned in Louisiana for championing a program that has provided free state-paid college tuition to thousands of students. The company says oil released from the site now comes from the sediment around the wells, not the wells themselves; the Coast Guard statement says the source of the slicks is unknown.
Taking into account the reported change in estimation methods, AP's analysis doesn't show any statistically valid drop in sheen sizes or oil amounts over time. Sky Truth said the slick sizes should be steadily shrinking if the wells really are sealed and the recent sheens are residual oil oozing from the sediment. "The persistent size of the oil slicks we're seeing just don't jibe with those low leak-rate estimates we've seen from those officials." Gaps and complex variables in the data make it impossible to pinpoint how much oil has actually spilled. The operations coordinator for NOAA's Emergency Response Division, said estimating the volume of slicks is hindered by the difficulty of determining the thickness of the oil. Oil slicks from both natural and man-made sources are common in the Gulf of Mexico. Every year, millions of gallons of crude seep naturally from cracks in the seabed. Massive spills like BP's are rare, but offshore accidents often pollute the Gulf with smaller quantities of oil.
The Interior Department also says small leaks have been detected from abandoned wells that may have been unsuccessfully sealed by the companies that drilled them. A 2010 AP investigation revealed federal regulators weren't routinely inspecting more than 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf. Fumes sickened researchers during a boat trip to the site, even though they were wearing respirators. The slick stretches for several miles. "It's just amazing how much oil is there."


Middle Age Now Lasts Until ... 74 - Researchers from Vienna's International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis contend that being considered elderly shouldn't rely on one's actual age, but on how long people are expected to live after retirement. The UK's Office for National Statistics estimates the average retiree may enjoy her golden years for up to 24 years after the standard UK retirement age of 65 (compared to just 15 years after retirement in the 1950s. Using a definition of old age that means someone has 15 or fewer years left to live, IIASA scientists then pegged that magic transitional age at 74.
And this trend is only expected to continue. "Older people in the future will have many characteristics exhibited by younger people today...There is a massive nine-year difference in average life expectancy between the poor and the affluent and a shocking 19-year difference in healthy life expectancy." These findings of extended longevity are relevant because they'll affect certain societal needs, such as collecting pensions and other senior perks, and help people design financial plans that work. Meanwhile, a Cardiff University professor advocates not focusing on age, but on living well. "It is important not just to live longer, but to live healthier."
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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**The pain of striving for your goal will only last a short while, but the pain of not trying will last a lifetime.**
Steven Aitchison

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 4/14/15 -

The Japan Meteorological Agency warns of possible eruption of Mount Zaosan - On April 13 they issued an alert for a possible eruption of Mount Zaosan in northeastern Japan, citing a large amount of volcanic activity observed there this month. Following the warning, five local governments in the vicinity of the volcano urged climbers not to enter a 1.2-kilometer area from the crater area due to the possibility of large rocks being ejected in an eruption.
Local officials are concerned about the effect of the alert on the local tourism industry ahead of the Golden Week national holidays, which start from late April, as the mountain is a popular sightseeing spot. The volcano straddles Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures. According to the agency’s Sendai Regional Headquarters, the number of volcanic tremors, whose epicenter is believed to be located near Okama, a crater lake, has surged since April 7. On April 13, 30 such earthquakes were recorded by 8 p.m.
Since the start of this month, 184 tremors were recorded, the highest monthly total since the agency's Sendai Regional Headquarters began monitoring the mountain in September 2010. If phreatic eruptions were to occur, the volcano will likely spew rocks measuring 50 centimeters or more. The agency designated an area 2 km from Okama as a precautionary range and up to 3.5 km on the east side.
Mount Zaosan has had greater activity since last August. The Sendai center has observed 18 tremors associated with movements of magma and hot liquids since. One such tremor was observed on April 9. But meteorological officials say no irregularities, such as release of gases, were spotted around the lake.

Hekla (Iceland) - Small earthquake swarms occurred at shallow depths during the past days near the volcano. The quakes were located approx. 6-10 km south of Hekla volcano and at shallow depths around 5 km.
The largest quakes were two magnitude 2.6 events at 4 km depth on Thursday (9 April). It is impossible to say whether the earthquakes are linked to volcanic activity and thus might be precursors of a new eruption, but Hekla is probably the most likely candidate volcano for the next eruption to occur on Iceland.
One of the country's most active, and the most frequently erupting volcano, Hekla has been believed to be "due" and have its magma chamber filled for several years now. Known for not giving much precursory signals (and only few earthquakes), an eruption would not be a surprise at all.


Thousands could survive West Coast tsunami by walking to safety - Thousands of people living along the U.S. Pacific coastline from Northern California to Washington state could survive a powerful tsunami, as long as they are prepared to walk briskly to higher ground, a researcher said on Tuesday.
About 95,000 people live on a 620-mile stretch of the Pacific Northwest coast which is considered vulnerable to a tsunami triggered by an earthquake offshore. A research team assessing the risk to that population found that in many areas, people can be ready to move out of danger in the minutes between the earthquake and the tsunami by simply walking.
"We've identified several towns where moving faster can mean the difference between life and death." The study said 49 cities, seven tribal reservations and 17 counties in Northern California, Oregon and Washington are "directly threatened by tsunami waves" associated with a quake in the Cascadia subduction zone, an offshore undersea fault. The study said the regional impact could be on par with Japan's 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that devastated a wide swath of Honshu's Pacific coastline and killed nearly 20,000 people.
Because a quake would make car travel mostly impossible, the study focuses on walking people to safety, or higher ground. In the coastal Washington cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam, about 90 percent of the 20,000 residents could have enough time to evacuate if they walked to safety at a minimum of 2.2 mph. That percentage rises to 99 percent if they move faster, and know where to go.
The study found the most people in coastal communities should have sufficient time to evacuate, and that high ground is reachable if people are aware of the threat and practice their routes. A small percentage of people who live too far from high ground would need tall, specially constructed structures to withstand the quake and tsunami.

No current tropical storms.

100 year hurricane could cause more than $250 billion in losses in Florida - If a major hurricane with a 1-in-100 chance of occurring in a given year were to hit downtown Miami, it would cause more than $250 billion in insured losses, according to a new report that blames soaring property values in disaster-prone areas.
Since Hurricane Andrew struck south of Miami in 1992, coastal property values in Florida have risen from $870 billion to over $3.7 trillion — more than a fourfold increase. Overall, US property values have increased more than nine percent since 2012. The report notes that in most cases, the potential insured losses from major urban disasters are much larger than what most insurers have assumed their maximum losses could be.
A similar event on the Texas coastline would cause insurance industry losses above $100 billion, compared to the estimated Probable Maximum Loss (PML) of $40-50 billion, the report said. The report concluded that estimates of potential maximum loss can give a false sense of security, since these are significantly below the expected losses for a 100-year hurricane event.
Although no major hurricane has struck a densely populated urban area in decades, if such a natural disaster makes a hit, the property damage and economic loss will far exceed the losses from Hurricane Katrina and the recent Superstorm Sandy.


High Wind Warning From California to Wyoming - Two big systems move into the West Coast and over the Gulf of Mexico. (video 1:15)

Why Is The US West Drying Out? - The Answer May Lie In The Pacific Ocean. Changing wind patterns over the Pacific Ocean are bringing drought to the Western U.S., a study suggests. Storms that would bring desperately needed rainfall will never make it to the region. The droughts afflicting states in the Western U.S., as well as a general drying out that began with the turn of this century, has its roots even further west — in the winds of the Pacific Ocean.
Those ocean winds have natural cycles of waxing and waning, and the last 15 to 20 years have seen strong trade winds forcing heat down into the ocean depths. This has, in turn been, forcing surface heat deep beneath the ocean, resulting in a slowdown — albeit a temporary one — in warming over surrounding land surfaces.
While many scientists and laymen argue of this warming hiatus and what it means — or doesn't — for climate change, other researchers have turned their attention to the impact the ocean wind patterns might be having on the ongoing severe droughts in the Western states. Their conclusion is that the rainfall deficit driving drought conditions in the region beginning in the early 2000s is down to changes in ocean wind patterns in the Pacific region. "We know there's a lot of natural variability in the (climate) system."

Drought in California is TRULY UNPRECEDENTED and the National Academy of Sciences found the present drought as THE WORST IN 1,200 years from research examining tree rings across the state.

Amid Drought, California Water Virtually Draining Away - The state is exporting water-intensive alfalfa hay to fuel China's growing demand for dairy. Last week when Governor Jerry Brown imposed the first mandatory statewide water restrictions in the California’s history — municipalities were ordered to slash their water use by 25 percent — the state’s agricultural sector was notably exempt from the cutbacks.
According to a water management expert, the issue of agriculture’s water — all the water used to produce a commodity and get it to a consumer — is contentious, since many farmers use scarce water to produce low-value export crops.

Take a look at the other parts of the world where the drought wreaks havoc. (36 slides)


Wary of natural disaster, NY Fed bulks up in Chicago - The New York branch of the U.S. Federal Reserve, wary that a natural disaster or other eventuality could shut down its market operations as it approaches an interest rate hike, has added staff and bulked up its satellite office in Chicago.
Some market technicians have transferred from New York and others were hired at the office housed in the Chicago Fed, according to several people familiar with the build-out that began about two years ago, after Hurricane Sandy struck Manhattan. Officials believe the Chicago staffers can now handle all of the market operations that are done daily out of the New York Fed, which is the U.S. central bank's main conduit to Wall Street.
The satellite office in the Midwest readies the New York Fed for perhaps the most delicate U.S. interest-rate hike ever. With rates having been near zero for more than six years, and markets flooded with reserves, the Fed will rely on an array of new tools to help it tighten policy, likely later this year.
Two of the sources, which included market participants and Fed officials and who spoke under condition of anonymity, said the Chicago office was partly protection against a possible cyber attack against the New York Fed. In February, Fed Chair told a congressional panel the central bank is addressing "ever-escalating (cyber) threats to our operations."
But the main reason for the build-out 700 miles (1,127 kilometers) to the west appeared to be the need to have staff ready at all times in case of disaster. Lower Manhattan lost power and flood waters came within blocks of the New York Fed when Sandy hit in 2012. Early-stage backup plans were also put in place after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York.
A spokeswoman for the New York Fed declined to comment. The Chicago Fed bank deferred to its New York counterpart. The New York Fed's Chicago-based staffers already handle some daily market operations including purchases and sales of Treasury and mortgage bonds, and controlling the central bank's key federal funds rate.
They would also be expected to take the reins as necessary on new and lightly tested tools meant to help the Fed raise borrowing costs, such as an overnight reverse repurchase facility, known as ON RRP, and term repos. One source estimated there were between 20-30 New York employees at the Chicago Fed, saying more were being recruited.


Acetaminophen Blunts Both Positive And Negative Emotions - An over-the-counter med for everyday aches and pains may be taking away more than just your physical discomfort. “Rather than just being a pain reliever, acetaminophen can be seen as an all-purpose emotion reliever.”
Researchers studied the possible side effects from acetaminophen — the most common active ingredient in pain relievers and the main ingredient in Tylenol — and discovered that it can blunt emotions and even reduce the degree of positive and negative feelings. Approximately 52 million Americans — nearly one-quarter of adults — use a med that contains acetaminophen each week. While this drug has been an approved form of medication for over 70 years in the United States and is found in over 600 medicines, this is the first news of this mind-based side effect.
Study experts gathered 82 college students and split the group down the middle — half were given a dose of acetaminophen while the others were handed a placebo. One hour later — once the drugs took effect — all of the participants were asked to look at 40 images that ranged from extremely unpleasant (crying, malnourished children) to the neutral (a cow in a field) to the very pleasant (young children playing with cats). These “special” photos are used by researchers around the globe in order to evoke emotional responses from their subjects.
The students were first asked to rate how positive or negative the images were using a scale of -5 (extremely negative) to +5 (extremely positive). They were then asked to look at the same pictures again and rate the level of emotion each photo induced, from 0 (little or no emotion) to 10 (extreme amount of emotion).
The participants who were given acetaminophen had a less extreme reaction to all of the photos, compared to those who took the placebo. The positive images were not viewed as positively and the negative photos weren’t seen as negative. Their emotional reactions resulted in the same fashion — they didn’t feel strongly about any of photos, reporting an average level of emotion of 5.85 when they looked at the extreme images.
The same results were found again after researchers conducted a second similar study using another group of 85 adults. This discovery supports a more recent theory, which states that certain biochemical factors may be responsible for the levels of highs and lows we may experience during both positive and negative occurrences (i.e. getting married or getting a divorce). “There is accumulating evidence that some people are more sensitive to big life events of all kinds, rather than just vulnerable to bad events.”

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.**
Immanuel Kant

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 4/13/15 -

4/12/15 -

4/11/15 -

4/10/15 -

Mass beaching fuels fears of impending quake - The mass beaching of over 150 melon-headed whales on Japan’s shores has fueled fears of a repeat of a seemingly unrelated event in the country — the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed over 18,000 people.
Despite a lack of scientific evidence linking the two events, a flurry of online commentators have pointed to the appearance of around 50 melon-headed whales — a species that is a member of the dolphin family — on Japan’s beaches six days before the monster quake, which unleashed towering tsunami and triggered a nuclear disaster.
Scientists were on Saturday dissecting the bodies of the whales, 156 of which were found on two beaches on Japan’s Pacific coast a day earlier, but could not say what caused the beachings. “We don’t see any immediate signs of diseases on their bodies, such as cancer. We want to figure out what killed these animals." Despite the lack of any clear link between the beachings and earthquakes — and comments from local officials downplaying such a connection — many took to social media to point to the link.
The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake is not the only instance of beached whales closely preceding a massive tremor. More than 100 pilot whales died in a mass stranding on a remote New Zealand beach on Feb. 20, 2011, two days before a large quake struck its second-largest city, Christchurch. Japanese officials have nevertheless tried to quell the fears and insist there is no scientific data to prove the link.
Scientists are meanwhile unclear as to why marine animals strand themselves in large groups, with some speculating healthy whales beach themselves while trying to help sick or disorientated family members that are stranded. Others believe the topography of certain places somehow scrambles the whales’ sonar navigation, causing them to beach. Once stranded, the whales are vulnerable to dehydration and sunburn until rescuers can use the high tide to move their massive bodies back into deeper water.
Late Saturday night, April 11, Twitter suddenly lit up with countless Tweets coming out of Mie Prefecture of people claiming they felt tremors and even heard the earth itself briefly rumbling. On Sunday, April 12, many in Japan reported seeing a so-called “earthquake cloud” looming in the sky. While this is probably the most tenuous evidence for an impending earthquake, such clouds have been reported prior to major earthquake events since antiquity but largely, not endorsed by the scientific community.

Mt. Baekdu, the symbolically charged volcano straddling North Korea and China, could erupt again soon, a study warns. There are indications that the volcano, though quiet for decades, could erupt any time and a scientist urged closer monitoring of the situation. He says the concentration of helium in the volcano has been rising over the last decade or so, and magma levels are creeping up. He has been warning of another eruption since 2010, the first Korean to add his voice to a growing chorus of regional seismologists.

Growing volcano threat in Kamchatka jeopardizes air traffic - A Kamchatka volcano has posed a threat to air traffic because its volcanic activity has been gaining force, and the ashes discharged have spread to a distance of 319 kilometers east of the volcano, rising high into the air above a large area of the Pacific Ocean.
The information was received by virtue of photographs taken from space. The Shiveluch volcano has been assessed as posing an "orange" level of threat to aircraft. Any time the volcano might discharge ashes which might reach an altitude of 10,000 meters above the sea, experts said. It was not immediately known how far the volcanic tail might spread yet.
Two episodes of volcanic activity, which followed in succession within approximately 30 minutes, were registered early on April 13 when the volcano discharged ashes to the altitude of five and seven kilometers, respectively, The ashes went up into the air above the Pacific Ocean and remain there since.

The Places Most at Risk of a Volcanic Explosion - New research will help countries prepare. Toxic gas clouds. Lethal mudflows. Tsunamis. Those are just a few of the hazards of life in the shadow of a volcano — and now a new report shows which populations are most at risk of a volcanic explosion.
A soon-to-be-released United Nations report on global volcanic hazards shows that Indonesia is at the top of the list of countries most threatened by volcanic activity. The report, which was prepared by the Global Volcano Model Network, ranks countries’ vulnerability based on the hazards of volcanoes, how often they’ve erupted over the past 10,000 years and how many people live within its blast zone. After Indonesia, the most at-risk countries include the Philippines, Japan, Mexico, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Italy, El Salvador and Kenya.
Lava and ash deserve the awe they inspire; they can be incredibly destructive. About 278,000 people have perished due to volcanoes since 1600. Of these casualties, 24 percent were due to indirect causes like disease and famines, brought on by the climate change and physical destruction from incidents like Indonesia’s Tambora Explosion. That eruption was so massive it directly killed 70,000 people. But it also led to a “year without a summer” across the entire Northern Hemisphereand is thought to have caused thousands more deaths due to famine and disease.
In addition to pyroclastic flows (solids and gases rushing down the sides of volcanoes) and lahars (fatal mudslides), experts warn that there could be even more risks in the future — air traffic disruptions, evacuation challenges and unknown dangers due to unmonitored volcanoes. In fact, volcanoes present such a threat to island nations, that the report has a special ranking just for islands. Among the most-threatened are Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the West Indies, Dominica, the Azores, St. Lucia, the Atlantic-United Kingdom Islands, El Salvador and Costa Rica [not islands], whose active Turrialba volcano is being compared to a pressure cooker as lava levels rise.

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Alabama - Mobile's official overnight rainfall total was 7.28 inches of rain on Sunday night into Monday morning. "It just so happened that we had a heavier complex of storms that developed over Mobile County that just didn't move last night." The rainfall total shattered the previous record of 3.61 inches set back in 1980.
Some areas received even more rain; the NWS-Mobile office received 8.79 inches and the airport received in excess of 8 inches of rain. Mobile received more rain than any city or town in the region, living up to its title as the rainiest city in the country. The rain isn't letting up, either. Many roadways flooded overnight, causing the Mobile County Sheriff's Office to request barricades to block impassable areas.
The heavy rain brought back memories of a year ago, when much of the coast flooded at the end of April. A water main ruptured at Airport Blvd. and Snow Road, resulting in several businesses losing their water supply Monday morning. Lightning likely hit the water line, causing the damage. There was a flash flood watch in effect until 3 p.m. Monday from Mobile to Destin, Florida.
Even though the watch was tentatively set to expire, NWS met says it will likely continue. There is rain in the forecast every day this week. "The ground is saturated, so even if we don't see another 8-10 inches, it won't take as much to create flooding areas." The risk is especially heightened for low-lying areas and places that neighbor creeks and streams.

India - Unseasonal rain over the past couple of days has left fields full of flattened crops in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and caused large-scale damage to farms in UP and MP, too. Andhra Pradesh appeared to have borne the brunt of the damage, with officials reporting crop losses in nearly one lakh hectares. In Telangana, various crops planed in 11,628 hectares were destroyed in strong thunderstorms and incessant rain.
In many places in both the states, farmers who transported their early harvest to market yards also suffered in the absence of any protection from the rain. Left with soaked produce, farmers protested at various market yards. According to initial estimates, the mango crop in Andhra Pradesh was badly hit with strong gales causing severe fruit dropping.
In Telangana, paddy was the worst-hit crop. Other crops to suffer significant damage were bajra, jowar and green gram. Mango orchards also suffered damages. Poultry farmers, too, were also affected. In Jagityal area of Karimnagar, 50,000 chickens were reported dead following heavy rain. Met department officials said from March 1 to April 13, excess rainfall was recorded in all districts except Khammam, Rayalaseema and Nellore in the two Telugu-speaking states.
The AP government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of those killed on account of rain-related episodes, while the Telangana government announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for such families. In UP, rain and thundershowers lashed various districts for the second consecutive day on Monday, pushing many farmers to the brink of penury. While the rain in March had already damaged about 50% of pulses and wheat, the return of wet weather has exposed farmers to a food crisis. They are now losing whatever standing crops were left in the fields. "We've already lost what we had earmarked for sale. Now, we're losing the crop we had saved for our consumption."
Bundelkhand, central and eastern parts of UP recorded more rain than the western part on Monday. Rae Bareli was the wettest district (21.8 mm rain), followed by Lucknow (18.6 mm), Varanasi (17 mm) and Sultanpur (12.7 mm). In Madhya Pradesh, unseasonal rain on Sunday damaged thousands of quintals of wheat kept in open for government purchase across the state. The administration stopped purchase till April 15 in the wheat-producing Hoshnagabad and Harda districts.
In Narsinghpur, officials said 9,000 quintals of wheat was damaged. "Actual loss will be less since wheat is being dried. We've started a probe and action would be taken against those who haven't acted in responsible manner." In Harda, around 2.5 metric tonne of wheat got damaged because of rain. In Hoshangabad, officials were busy assessing the damage. "Here, wheat was kept in covers, but the water exit was blocked. So, when it rained, the water seeped in. Wheat sacks kept on the lower rakes became wet."


Siberian deadly wildfires destroy towns and villages - Video. Thousands of Russians have been displaced and several killed as severe wildfires rage in Siberia. Fires have killed at least 16 people and injured about 400 in the Khakassia region of southern Siberia. Hundreds of people have sought medical help. Fires have spread further east, causing widespread damage. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed.

The Drought Has Almost Completely Dried Up The Rio Grande - California may be snagging all the headlines, with Governor Jerry Brown's strict statewide water restrictions, but other states are suffering from a major drought, too. The entire West — including Texas, Arizona, and Colorado — is facing the consequences of raised temperatures, little to no rainfall this month, shrunken snowpacks (by half!), hastened evaporation, and reduced reservoirs.
The Rio Grande technically runs for 1,900 miles, stretching from southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. But as of late, farms and cities have been using up almost all of it before it even reaches El Paso — hundreds of miles from the gulf. So, federal officials are being forced to managing the waterway for drought for a fifth consecutive year.
For a second year, cities that rely on San Juan-Chama water, like Albuquerque and Santa Fe, will see their allocations cut. Like the Colorado River in the Rockies and the Sacramento River in California, the Rio Grande gets much of its water supply from melting mountain snow — and those snowpacks just keep getting smaller, faster. Rising temperatures are the reason. The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which manages much water in the West, reported in 2013 that average temperatures in the upper Rio Grande, in Colorado and New Mexico, rose almost 2.8 degrees during the 40 years ending in 2011.
Despite Historically Bad Drought, Nestle Won't Stop Bottling Water In California.


'Warm Blob' of Water Causing Extreme Weather, Climate Scientists Say - Scientists say a mass of warm water off the U.S. West Coast is to blame for the bizarre weather affecting the country. From the unusually dry weather gripping the West to the miserably cold and wet systems pinging the East, the one common trait has been extremity, and climate scientists are linking the extreme weather to above average sea surface temperatures off the West Coast.
The study links a warm water mass that's around 2-7 degrees Fahrenheit above average with the coast-to-coast anomalous weather. "In the fall of 2013 and early 2014 we started to notice a big, almost circular mass of water that just didn't cool off as much as it usually did, so by spring of 2014 it was warmer than we had ever seen for that time of year." The patch of water spans 1,000 miles in each direction and runs 300 feet deep. Since 2013, the blob has continued to push against the coast, and is expected to persist throughout 2015.
"Right now it's super warm all the way across the Pacific to Japan. For a scientist it's a very interesting time because when you see something like this that's totally new you have opportunities to learn things you were never expecting."
The blob developed after a high-pressure ridge caused a calmer ocean over the past two winters. With less winter cooling, warmer temperatures have thrived. The warm water patch has led to drier conditions and diminished snowfall in California because air that passes over the blob carries more heat into the West Coast. The warm water blob is not only affecting the country's weather, it also has the potential to impact the marine food web off the West Coast.
Simply put, marine animals that rely on colder temperatures to thrive will diminish and vice-versa for marine animals that rely on warmer temperatures. The Pacific Coast salmon and steelhead, for instance, will decline in numbers if this trend continues, as both species harness cold-water nutrients to survive. NOAA surveys, however, found that sea nettle jellyfish, ocean sunfish and handful of different shark species have popped up off the West Coast, drawn by the increasing sea surface temps.
Over the past three months, hundreds of emaciated sea lion pups have washed up on the southern California Coast, and the new study could explain why the marine mammals are starving.
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