Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**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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