Friday, July 17, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/16/15 -

7/15/15 -

7/14/15 -

7/13/15 -

7/12/15 -

7/11/15 -

7/10/15 -

6.4 Magnitude Quake Rocks Barbados - A strong earthquake struck Thursday in the ocean northeast of Barbados and was widely felt throughout the Caribbean, but officials said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Supermarkets and other businesses were evacuated and people moved away from the shore right after the quake hit. Earthquakes are common in the Caribbean but this was particularly strong and shallow. Residents were urged to be cautious, given the size of the quake. The US Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.4 quake was centered 81 miles (132 kilometers) northeast of Bridgetown at a shallow depth of about 3 miles (5 kilometers). It hit at 11:16 a.m. local time. (15:16 GMT).
The earthquake was felt across much of the Caribbean, from nearby St Vincent and the Grenadines and to Venezuela, Guyana and Trinidad in the south.

4.6 quake rattles southern Oregon after series of quakes - A series of earthquakes rattled southern Oregon overnight on Wednesday. The largest quake measured at 4.6 magnitude and was about forty miles away from Lakeview, Oregon, near the Nevada border. A second quake registered at 4.0 and three others measured at 3.4, 3.4 and 3.2. The quakes were all relatively shallow, measuring no larger than 6 miles deep.

‘The Really Big One’? Get ready now, quake experts advise. Predictions of a massive earthquake off the Northwest coast are scary, but experts say preparation will help you survive such a quake. There’s an 80 percent chance that an earthquake like the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually shaker in 2001 could happen in the next 50 years.
This week’s New Yorker magazine article, “The Really Big One”, didn’t sugarcoat it: Seattle and several other Northwest cities are destined to be pummeled by a massive earthquake, on a date to be determined. The destruction is inevitable — though maybe not as bad as the article’s prediction that everything west of Interstate 5 will be “toast.” “Communications may black out, transportation may grind to a halt, stores conceivably could run out of goods for a while, but that doesn’t constitute ‘toast’ in one’s mind.”
The abridged survival version: Make sure homes are stocked with supplies for seven to 10 days. After a quake, it’s safer to stay where you are — hitting the streets will only lead to more congestion on the roads, which may be impassable anyway. Create a communications plan with loved ones, just in case. Get under a table or desk if you feel the earth move. [Webpage note - Other research says don't hide under the furniture, instead lay on the floor next to a table or desk. Then you won't be trapped under the table if it collapses under failing beams and debris, but it will leave you with a potentially survivable space.]
Should such a large quake occur, “parts of Seattle will definitely be isolated, which is why the recommendation is to be able to survive on your own for at least three days and perhaps a week." Many homes and structures will “fare relatively well,” especially wood-frame ones. And yes, Seattle will recover. “My philosophy is be prepared, not paranoid — and enjoy the spectacular landscape provided to us by tectonic forces.”


Still looking for victims of the 2011 Japanese tsunami - Diving into the world of the dead. Twice a month two Japanese men put on scuba gear and go diving. One is looking for his wife, the other for his daughter, both of whom were swept away by the devastating tsunami that struck Japan four years ago. They know they are no longer alive, but the hope of finding something - anything - gives them a much- needed sense of purpose.
Underneath the glittering waters of Onagawa Bay, in Japan's north-eastern Miyagi Prefecture, fridges, TVs, cars, trucks and fishing gear lie scattered on the sea floor, under a layer of mud. "Imagine a big city, put it in a grinder and throw it all into the ocean," is how one oceanographer described the effect of the Japanese tsunami. Under water, things are still mostly where they were left by the violence of the waves.
In the sunlight up above, on the other hand, everything has changed. The wreckage of a thriving port has been cleaned away. In its place there is now a vast expanse of concrete - empty except for, in one corner, a modest shrine. This is where the Onagawa branch of the Shichijushichi Bank used to stand and the shrine is there to commemorate it. When the tsunami warning sounded at 14:50 on the afternoon of 11 March 2011, the bank's employees were busy tidying up the damage caused by the earthquake that had shaken the building a few minutes earlier.
Their manager was out seeing clients. Driving back along the coast he could see the sea sharply withdrawing - a sure sign of an imminent tsunami. As soon as he walked in he told everyone to stop and to climb on to the roof of the two-storey building as quickly as possible. Sure enough, as soon as they got there, they heard the siren and the municipal broadcast warning people to evacuate to high ground - just a few hundred metres away were the steep slopes of Mount Horikiri, where some people were already seeking shelter. One employee asked if she could go home because she was worried about her children. The manager said he couldn't stop her, so she ran to her car, which was parked 300m away, and drove home.
The manager told those remaining to watch the sea, just 100m away in normal conditions, and to listen out for further news. The radio warned that a 6m-high tsunami would hit at 15:10. As the workers stood nervously on the roof they debated whether there was time to flee to the nearby hospital - a much taller and stronger building, but they decided to stay. After all, a 6m-high tsunami would only reach the first floor. Some went down to get their coats - it was cold, there was still snow on the ground.
The tsunami swept into Onagawa moments later. Footage filmed by a survivor shows how the dark water moved swiftly and relentlessly into town, pushing over everything in its path. Buildings gave way and cars and trucks were picked up like toys, and acted like floating battering rams adding to the wave's destructive power. Within minutes the sea had engulfed areas that were once considered safe. The bank flooded quickly - it took just five minutes for the water to fill half the building.
The workers decided to climb up even higher on top of an electrical room standing on the roof of the two-storey building. As they climbed the 3m vertical ladder the strong wind almost blew them off. The bank employees became trapped on the roof by the rising water. Many people witnessed their desperate bid to escape to safety.
The tsunami turned out to be far, far bigger than anyone expected. The town's defences had largely been based on the worst tsunami in living memory - a 6m-high tsunami in Chile in 1960. But this one reached more than three times higher. As a consequence many designated shelters were inundated - even the hospital was flooded, killing four people in the building itself and an estimated 16 in the car park.
"Onagawa was one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami." The coastline of the region is a series of submerged river valleys shaped "like the teeth of a saw", and tsunamis reach great heights as the water funnels into the crevices. A town has little chance in this battle between ocean and mountain. Satellite pictures show how the sea reached in and clawed the town away. More than 5,000 buildings were washed away or damaged beyond repair. A satellite image of Onagawa shows an empty space where once there were homes and businesses.
Local authorities were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, the staff reeling from their own personal losses, on top of massive practical and logistical problems. Getting around was almost impossible, bridges and roads were blocked. Almost one in 10 of the town's residents was dead or missing. The majority of survivors were staying in special accommodation for evacuees. They spent their days searching for loved ones, picking through the chaos and walking for miles along the breakwaters on the shoreline.
Of the 13 people on the roof, one, amazingly, survived - he held on to floating debris and was swept out to sea, almost losing consciousness in the icy water before he was rescued by a fishing boat hours later. The bodies of four bank staff were found, but eight are still missing. The worker who left the building by car survived. "I couldn't understand why they escaped to the rooftop. There's no more escape there. If they had escaped to the mountain, they could have climbed to a higher place. I thought evacuation to the mountain was a matter of course."
Although the town began to rebuild, for the bereaved families it was hard to move on. "We are still stuck in 2011." An estimated five million tonnes of debris was dragged into the sea by the tsunami. Two- thirds sank just off the coast, covering the sea floor and damaging the marine environment. About a third floated away, in giant patches that could be tracked on satellite images. Boats, buoys, propane tanks and refrigerator doors are still washing up on the shores of North America and Hawaii.
But much of the tsunami debris has joined the "plastic smog" that collects in oceanic gyres. The bodies of more than 2,000 people, of the 16,000 estimated to have died, have never been recovered. Four years on, this is less likely to happen - organic matter will have mostly "returned to nature." "I want to search for my daughter as long as my body allows me to. If I just give up, there's zero chance. If I keep searching, I might have a chance at least." (photos at link)

OSU quake expert warns his own school not to build in Newport, Oregon's tsunami zone - The Hatfield Marine Science Center sits near the mouth of Yaquina Bay, a tsunami inundation area with soils prone to liquefaction. A large earthquake near the coast could generate a wave 43 feet high, according to researchers. An Oregon State University earthquake expert is redoubling opposition to his school's plan of building a science center in Newport's tsunami zone.
Bucking OSU and the Oregon Legislature, which recently approved bonding for the building, he painted a worst-case scene of hundreds trying to evacuate the structure after it's been rocked by a magnitude-9 earthquake. Picture survivors, including injured, disabled and elderly people in a driving rain, attempting to negotiate a mile of rough, liquefied sandbar strewn with live power lines. Imagine their plight as 43-foot tsunami waves rip apart the Yaquina Bay Bridge, large ships and a liquefied-natural-gas tank - turning them into projectiles.
"Really nobody can calculate if or how many people would die in that building during the next tsunami. It's not possible to mitigate it to ensure that everybody would survive." The tsunami scenario pits some of the best minds at OSU against one another in a battle of wills that has so far remained collegial. Oregon State engineers believe designs for the expanded Hatfield Marine Science Center can pass peer review and produce a world-class demonstration of how to build in a tsunami zone.
Other opponents say no amount of advance planning will prevent catastrophic damage when the big one strikes. He said the clash represents a cultural divide between engineers and earthquake geologists. "Engineers are trained to try to make things work for the clients wishes, and so mitigation is often the first choice. We geologists, though, would call that putting lipstick on a pig."
He not only repeated statements that the planned building should be sited elsewhere, but also recommended relocating existing OSU and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buildings already in Newport's South Beach. The area also includes other government-agency offices, the Oregon Coast Aquarium and establishments including a brewpub.
In his vision, South Beach would become a park now - instead of a memorial later. He notes a memorial park in Hilo, Hawaii, where a "clock of doom," frozen at 1:04 a.m., commemorates 96 residents killed by a 1946 tsunami.
He said OSU should build its new science center on high ground, pumping in any seawater needed for research – and probably saving money in the process. But an OSU spokesman said OSU labs need large quantities of seawater procured at high tide. The building's maximum occupancy will be 350, well below building-code restrictions of 500, which was the upper number originally proposed. Faculty and students in the building will research marine science and critical issues facing coastal communities – including tsunamis. They will live on high ground.
In their latest findings, scientists say that a tsunami generated by a quake of magnitude-8 or higher has a 24 percent chance of hitting northern Oregon, including Newport, during the next 50 years. The Oregon Resilience Plan recommends locating "critical facilities" outside of tsunami inundation zones. Those include police stations, fire stations, hospitals, elementary schools and high schools.
The report and OSU's approach parallel Japan's strategy. Japan has passed tsunami-zone construction laws since 2011, when an offshore magnitude-9 earthquake triggered towering waves that killed more than 19,000 and caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Actually, the planned OSU building would violate Japanese law. But OSU can get away with siting it in the subduction zone because here, secondary schools aren't designated as essential facilities.
"We're going to go against what would essentially be illegal in Japan. Putting a school building in a tsunami zone intentionally is moving in the wrong direction."


* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Catgory 3 Hurricane Dolores is located about 2400 mi (385 km) SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Swells generated by Dolores are affecting portions of the coast of southwestern Mexico and Baja California Sur, but the storm track is away from the coast. Gradual weakening is expected to begin later today, and Dolores could be a tropical storm by early Saturday.

- Tropical storm Enrique is located about 1655 mi (2665 km) W of the southern tip of Baja California, and is weakening. Enrique is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression today, and become a remnant low by Friday.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 11w (Nangka) is located approximately 142 nm southeast of Iwakuni, Japan.
A strong ridge to the northeast of Nangka should keep the hurricane on a north-northwest bearing until landfall on Saturday local time near the islands of Shikoku and western Honshu. This track would put some of Japan’s biggest cities on the more dangerous eastern side of Nangka, so it's weakening trend is good news indeed. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects Nangka to be a Category 1 storm at landfall.
Heavy rains, high winds, and some power outages can be expected in the cities of Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka, as Nangka comes ashore and encounters Japan’s mountainous islands. Further to the north, Tokyo may experience tropical-storm-level impacts. The north-northwestward path of the storm is nearly perpendicular to the coastline, which would maximize any coastal flooding from Nangka (a major storm surge is not expected, though).

- Typhoon 01c (Halola) is located approximately 148 nm west-southwest of Wake Island.
It now appears Halola will remain weak enough and far enough south of Wake Island to avoid major impacts there. Wind shear has kept Halola from strengthening as much as expected, but the shear should relax in a couple of days, which will give Halola a chance to intensify. Halola could approach Japan next week, although the long-range models suggest the typhoon will recurve before that point.

* In the Atlantic -
There are no systems of interest in the Atlantic basin, and prospects are minimal for any tropical development there for at least the next several days.
Hurricane Dolores Hit Category 4 Strength - EARLIEST TRIO OF CATEGORY 4 HURRICANES ON RECORD for Northeast Pacific. A pulse of rapid intensification late Tuesday and early Wednesday pushed Hurricane Dolores to borderline Category 4 intensity in the Northeast Pacific. Dolores’s peak winds surged from 85 mph at 3:00 pm EDT Tuesday to 130 mph at 3:00 am Wednesday, which translates to a leap from Category 1 to Category 4 status in just 12 hours.
Of the season’s first four named storms in the Northeast Pacific, only Carlos has fallen short of Category 4 strength. Dolores is the EARLIEST OCCCURRENCE OF THE SEASON'S THIRD CATGORY 4 SYSTEM in this basin, beating out Hurricane Frank, which became a Cat 4 on July 17, 1992.
Northeast Pacific records go back to 1949. It’s also the first time that three of the first four named systems in the Northeast Pacific have all reached Category 4 intensity. Dolores’s record comes no major surprise, given the persistently favorable wind shear and very high sea-surface temperatures induced by a strong and still-intensifying El Niño event. A very strong pulse of the Madden-Julian Oscillation has influenced the eastern tropical Pacific for the last few weeks, enhancing the upward motion that fuels hurricane development. This MJO event is now subsiding, but the presence of a strong El Niño continues to favor above-average activity in the Northeast Pacific.
Especially noteworthy with this El Niño is the northward extent of the UNUSUALLY WARM WATER off Baja California and the U.S. Pacific states, meeting up with the “blob” of warm water off the Canadian west coast that’s persisted for months. Even with these impressive anomalies, SSTs are still far too cool to support tropical development immediately off the California coast.
However, the zone of SSTs greater than 26°C, which is considered the threshold for maintaining a tropical cyclone, now EXTENDS SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES FURTHER NORTH THAN USUAL. This lays the groundwork for any hurricane recurving toward the southwest U.S. to maintain its strength longer than usual, all else being equal.
Of course, the particulars of any given storm (its strength, structure, upper-level support, etc.) will determine how much of an impact might result. Over the next few weeks, residents of southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico will need to keep tabs on any hurricanes whose track would take remnants in their direction, as the risk for heavy rain, flash flooding, and even tropical-storm force winds could be elevated by the presence of such warm SSTs upstream.


Moisture- Packed Atmosphere Fueling a Week of Severe Weather - While the North Atlantic has yet to produce a hurricane this year, extremely muggy air across a broad swath of the Midwest has millions of people keeping an eye out for severe storms. The upper-level flow is often too weak by midsummer to support supercells, but a band of stronger jet-stream winds now extends from the Midwest toward the Northeast, lending support to evening thunderstorms congealing overnight into mesoscale convective systems (MCSs).
One such MCS maintained itself across a JAW-DROPPING DISTANCE: it developed over Minnesota on Sunday night and was still recognizable as a weak line of storms pushing offshore from the Carolinas early Tuesday morning. Four tornadoes were reported late Sunday as the system organized over western Minnesota, and NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) logged several hundred reports of high wind over the MCS track on Sunday night and Monday.
Was this event a derecho (a long-lived, thuderstorm-related wind storm)? Although its winds were widespread, most reports were in the 60 – 70 mph range, which resulted in mainly minor damage. Derechoes typically have at least a few reports of winds gusting to at least 75 mph. However, the Sunday-Monday event as a whole is consistent with the characteristics of derechoes put forth in a widely cited 2005 BAMS paper.
Severe storms regenerated behind the initial MCS on Monday evening, bringing more heavy rain and high wind to parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia that were struck the night before. Tennis-ball sized hail (2.5” diameter) was reported by a CoCoRaHS observer at Burnham-Wegewisch, IL (in Cook County, just southeast of Chicago), and hail close to 4” in diameter was observed near Marseilles, IL.
Far west of the main action on Monday evening, a lone supercell in central Kansas produced a photogenic tornado northwest of Hutchinson. By Monday evening, close to 200,000 customers had lost power as a result of the day’s storms, and flash flooding led to at least one fatality and some 150 homes damaged or destroyed in Johnson County, KY. All told, Monday produced a total of at least 477 “filtered” severe reports in the SPC database. That's the largest number on a single date since November 17, 2013.
Yet another large MCS was making its way across southeastern Ohio on Tuesday afternoon. SPC has placed a region from eastern Kentucky and Tennessee through the Carolinas in an enhanced risk of severe weather for Tuesday afternoon and evening, with a large slight risk area covering much of the east-central U.S. and a smaller slight-risk area in western Kansas.
What’s making this summer so humid? From the Midwest to the Southeast, the summer thus far has been marked by frequently sultry conditions. Dew point readings in the vicinity of 75°F have been commonplace; for a temperature of 95°F, this would correspond to a relative humidity of 53% and a heat index of 108°F. Nashville recorded a dew point of 81°F on Tuesday afternoon, its highest reading since August 1995.
The moist conditions have been fostered by consistent southerly flow of near-surface air from the Gulf of Mexico, and at times by upper-level moisture streaming into the U.S. from the tropical Pacific, where El Niño continues to intensify. Some of the moisture has arrived from below, as summer heat allows water vapor to escape from wet soils left behind by record-setting rains.
Both Texas and Oklahoma saw THEIR WETTEST MONTH ON RECORD in May, and Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio all saw THEIR WETTEST JUNES ON RECORD. The extremely unstable air across the Midwest this week is also a partial byproduct of agriculture. The highest U.S. dewpoints in July are often found not along the Gulf Coast but in the heart of the Corn Belt, as the enormous leaves of fast-growing corn plants send vast amounts of moisture into the air through evapotranspiration.
The highest reliably measured dew point in the United States — an excruciating 90°F — was reported at Appleton, Wisconsin, on July 13, 1999 (with an air temperature of 101°F!). As farmers learn how to pack plants ever more tightly into limited space, there’s more leaf area per acre, which means more moisture pulled into the plant from deep roots can be sent back into the atmosphere.”


Photos - The 9 most amazing clouds. They can take the form of jellyfish or UFOs.

Extreme weather hits Papua, Indonesia - 11 dead. At least 11 people from three districts in Lanny Jaya regency, Papua, have died after extreme cold weather hit the area earlier this month. Extremely cold temperatures along with hail had occurred in Ku- yawage, Goa Baliem and West Wano districts from July 3 to 5.
“During the three days, HAIL CONTINUOUSLY FELL FROM MORNING UNTIL EVENING. At the same time, local residents experienced extreme cold weather as the air temperature dropped to minus 2 degrees Celsius." Similar hailstorms had not occurred since 1989, when Lanny Jaya was still a part of the Jayawijaya regency. Most local residents were not prepared for such extreme weather.
“It was the first time many locals had experienced such low temperatures in their whole lives. In West Wano district, 11 residents died because they could not stand the extreme temperatures. Meanwhile, many other residents have been suffering from diarrhea after the hail.”
At least 1,200 families live in the three isolated districts, which can only be reached by small aircraft or by walking for two days from the regency’s capital city of Tiom. The local administration is planning to send medical assistance and food supplies to the three districts in a chartered aircraft on Wednesday, as the hail had also severely damaged residents’ farmland and killed a large number of livestock.
“The local residents are not only facing a food crisis but are also vulnerable to diseases.” Meanwhile, in the neighboring Puncak regency, thousands of people in the Agandugume district have also been struggling with a food crisis with a number of hailstorms having hit the area beginning earlier this month.
“We are currently facing the dry season, the rain has not come for quite a long time. At nights, however, hail falls. Frost has covered residents’ plants, like potatoes, tubers and vegetables, leaving them damaged." The food scarcity has forced residents to eat wild ferns in order to survive.
Puncak regional administration is planning to send rice stocks to the district but has so far faced difficulties in transporting them due to bad weather and technical constraints. “We have recently managed to drop only eight sacks of rice to Agandugume as the flight can be only taken once a day due to bad weather." Like the three isolated districts in Lanny Jaya, the Agandugume district is located between 2,300 and 2,500 meters above sea level and can only be accessed with small aircraft. The district is situated just below the 4,884-meter Puncak Jaya mountain, one of the world’s seven tallest summits.
At noon, the air temperature in the area has been ranging from 10 to 12 degrees Celsius, while at night the temperature can drop to 3 degrees. “The latest report confirmed that there are 6,150 people living in three villages that have been recently hit by hail. We have prepared rice and clothes to be sent to the affected areas. However, we are still unable to send them due to bad weather."

Scientists have discovered a winged dragon - "This is the most exciting time maybe in the history of palaeontology." Scientists have discovered a winged dragon - a winged dinosaur - an ancestor of the velociraptor - that they say was on the cusp of becoming a bird. The find is part of an "increasingly complex picture" of emerging evidence "that certainly a lot of [dinosaurs] and possibly even all of them had feathers or at least downy hair. It will blow some people's minds to realise that those dinosaurs in the movies would have been even weirder, and I think even scarier - like big fluffy birds from hell."
The 6ft 6in (2m) creature was almost perfectly preserved in limestone, thanks to a volcanic eruption that had buried it in north-east China. And the 125-million year-old fossil suggests many other dinosaurs, including velociraptors, would have looked like "big, fluffy killer birds". But its large body makes it unlikely that it could fly.
"It has short arms, and it is covered in feathers [with] proper wings with layers of quill- pen feathers. So even though this is a dinosaur, even though it is a close relative of velociraptor, it looks exactly like a turkey or a vulture...So maybe [wings] did not evolve for flight - perhaps they evolved as a display structure, or to protect eggs in the nest. Or maybe this animal was starting to move around in the trees and was able to glide."
China is the epicentre of palaeontology right now. "There are [museum] storerooms full of new dinosaur fossils that have never been studied before.


Study show high-risk areas for Lyme disease growing - The geographic areas where Lyme disease is a bigger danger have grown dramatically, according to a new upper Midwest. But now more areas in those regions are considered high risk. "The risk is expanding, in all directions."
There are now 260 counties where the number of Lyme disease cases is at least twice what's expected, given the size of each county's population. That's up from 130 a decade earlier. Overall, 17 states have high-risk counties. The entire state of Connecticut, where the illness was first identified in 1975, has been high-risk for decades. Now, high-risk zones encompass nearly all of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and more than half of Maine and Vermont.
Other states that saw expansion of high-risk areas include Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York along the Eastern seaboard, and Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota in the Midwest. Some counties have dropped off the high-risk list, including those in Virginia, Georgia, Missouri and North Carolina where significant clusters were reported in the 1990s. Scientists now think those were a different condition caused by a different tick's bite.
Lyme disease is most common in wooded suburban and far suburban counties. Scientists aren't sure why high-risk areas are expanding, but it likely has something to do with development and other changes that cause the deer and ticks that carry the bacteria to move. The disease is transmitted through the bites of infected deer ticks, which can be about the size of a poppy seed.

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