Friday, July 24, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/23/15 -

7/22/15 -

7/21/15 -

Scientists warn the Bay Area can expect a much larger quake “any day now” from the fault that produced Tuesday's 4.0-magnitude earthquake in Fremont. The quake struck at 2:41 a.m. on the Hayward Fault at a depth of 5 miles. While the shaking rattled nerves, no major damage was reported.
But residents may want to take the Bay Area’s latest quake as a reminder to be prepared for a “big one.” Scientists warn a much larger quake is due on the Hayward Fault, which extends from San Pablo Bay in the north to Fremont in the south and passes through heavily populated areas including Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward and Fremont.
“We keep a close eye on the Hayward Fault because it does sit in the heart of the Bay Area and when we do get a big earthquake on it, it’s going to have a big impact on the entire Bay Area." The last big earthquake on the fault, estimated to have a 6.8-magnitude, occurred in 1868. It killed about 30 people and caused extensive damage in the Bay Area, particularly in the city of Hayward, from which the fault gets its name.
“The population is now 100 times bigger in the East Bay, so we have many more people that will be impacted. The past five major earthquakes [on the fault] have been about 140 years apart, and now we’re 147 years from that 1868 earthquake, so we definitely feel that could happen any time.”
Residents wwere urged to take steps to prepare for a major earthquake, even though Tuesday morning’s quake was not likely to have much of an impact one way or the other on the likelihood of a major event occurring on the same fault.

Tour operators criticise all-clear given to Nepal trek area - Nepal's most popular trekking region has been declared safe by a government-commissioned report following earthquakes in April and May that killed more than 9,000 people. However the study on quake damage to the Annapurna area has been criticised by some tour operators.
They say that the report is flawed because it was rushed and made on the basis of only a week's fieldwork. The quakes have had a devastating effect on Nepal's tourism industry. There were about 17,000 fewer tourists between May and July this year than in the same period in 2014.
A severe storm last October - peak trekking season - killed visitors hiking the Annapurna Circuit and has added to the tourism sector's woes. The British-funded aid study - carried out by structural engineering company Miyamoto - revealed that the Annapurna region was not as badly damaged by the earthquakes as initially feared, with only a tiny number of trails in the area requiring repair. The report's conclusions have been welcomed by the Nepalese government.
A second World Bank-funded Miyamoto report on quake-damage in the Everest region is due to be published imminently. Officials say that it too will conclude that that area is safe once again for people to visit. But trekking and mountaineering operators are not happy with the way that the studies have been conducted.
They say they were not consulted during the field studies despite their geographical and practical knowledge of the two regions. The Nepal Trekking Agents Association President said that the operators would not send clients to either region on the basis of the two reports. "Such assessments need to have the involvement of stakeholders like us to have any credibility."
He said the industry could not take risks in the absence of reliable geological reports. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25 April - and the aftershocks that followed it - caused thousands of landslides and left other hilly and mountainous areas unsafe. The quake caused an avalanche at the Everest base camp where at least 17 people died. A major aftershock on 12 May caused a massive landslide in the Annapurna region, dangerously blocking a river along the trekking trail.
Because the reports commissioned by the government were based on about one week of fieldwork, they were "totally insufficient. We were assured that our experts would be taken into the field, but those who carried out the studies failed to do so." But Miyamoto officials insisted that representatives from trekking and mountaineering companies were consulted.

Five Volcanoes Erupt In Indonesia, Blanketing Skies In Ash. Eruptions of ash at five volcanoes shrouded the skies over parts of the Indonesian archipelago Wednesday, forcing three airports to close.
Mount Raung on Java island blasted ash and debris up to 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) into the air after rumbling for several weeks. Ash erupted also from Gamalama and Dukono mountains on the Moluccas islands chain, Sinabung volcano on Sumatra island and Mount Karangetang on Siau island, darkening the skies.
A total of more than 13,000 people have been evacuated due to the volcanic eruptions since last month, mostly from around the slopes of Sinabung in Tanah Karo District. "Our evaluation showed there is no extraordinary natural phenomenon that triggered simultaneous eruptions of the five volcanoes." All the eruptions are natural and normal occurrences in a nation with about 130 active volcanoes.
An eruption of Raung early this month sparked chaos as the airport in the tourist hotspot of Bali and four other airports in the region were shutdown, stranding thousands of holiday- goers. Last week, the ministry closed Sultan Babullah airport in North Maluku's Ternate town after eruptions at Gamalama and Dukono sent volcanic ash up to 1,700 meters (5,570 feet) into the sky.
Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood-prone plains, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

Undersea volcano called Kick 'em Jenny rumbling off Grenada — An active underwater volcano off Grenada's northern coast called Kick 'em Jenny was rumbling Thursday and regional disaster authorities were put on alert, though they said it posed no threat of triggering a destructive tsunami.
Since its discovery in the 1930s, Kick 'em Jenny has erupted beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea at least 12 times, most recently in 2001. The volcano, which rises 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) above the seafloor on a steep slope of the Lesser Antilles ridge, hasn't caused any known deaths or injuries.
The Seismic Research Center at the University of the West Indies said seismic activity had increased in the volcano, which sits 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of Grenada. Recreational divers have reported seeing some "degassing" on the seafloor off Grenada's west coast as gas-rich magma bubbles.
Center researchers put the alert level at "orange," which means an eruption could take place within 24 hours. An eruption would stir up high waves and heat surrounding waters to boiling temperatures. Scientists say the volcano can also shoot hot rocks up through the water column.
Under the alert, all boats must stay at least 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the volcano. Kick 'em Jenny poses the greatest threat to mariners since the gases it releases can lower the density of water so significantly vessels can lose buoyancy and sink. "There is no need to move people away from coastlines." People were advised to go about their lives normally. But some were jittery as seismic activity ramped up, knocking out Internet service.
"People are just wondering what's next." In a 1939 eruption, Kick 'em Jenny shot a cloud of ash 270 meters (900 feet) above the sea surface. Its eruptions since then have been weaker.

A discovery of ‘mutant daisies’ has been made near the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.


In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Depression Felicia is weakening and is located about 465 mi (745 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja California.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Halola is located approximately 234 nm east-southeast of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

- Tropical storm Twelve is located approximately 255 nm northeast of Manila, Philippines.
RECORD 117-MONTH MAJOR HURRICANE DROUGHT continues - It has been 117 months since a major hurricane, defined as a Category 3 or above, has made landfall in the continental United States, according to 2015 data from the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
This is the longest span of time in which no major hurricane has struck the mainland U.S. in NOAA hurricane records going back to 1851. The second longest time between major hurricane strikes was the eight years between 1860 and 1869—146 years ago.
A recent study confirmed that the current "admittedly UNUSUAL" drought is “UNPRECEDENTED IN THE HISTORCAL RECORD."That study found that major hurricane droughts only occur every 177 years, and calculated that there is less than a 5 percent chance (0.39%) that the current drought will end this hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30.
Hurricane Wilma, the most recent major hurricane to strike the U.S., was a Category 3 when it made landfall in North Carolina on October 24, 2005—almost 118 months ago. Since the end of the 2005 hurricane season, the U.S. has experienced a nine-year major hurricane “drought,” which is approaching 10 years at the end of the 2015 season this November.


Rain, Wind, Severe Storms to Whip Central Europe Saturday - An UNUSUAL, midsummer, strengthening storm system will cause soaking rain, howling winds and severe thunderstorms to target central Europe to start the weekend.
The storm will initially push rain across southern England, including London, and northwestern France on Friday. A couple of thunderstorms will also rumble in northwestern France, and it is not out of the question for one to turn severe. While the soaking rain shifts to the Netherlands, Denmark and southern Scandinavia on Saturday, more severe impacts will unfold on Saturday from Belgium and the Netherlands to Poland and Slovakia as the storm strengthens.
"Given that this [type of strengthening storm system] NORMALLY OCCURS IN FALL OR WINTER as opposed to midsummer, some very anomalous and dangerous weather is possible in parts of Europe on Saturday." Winds on the backside of the intensifying storm will howl from Belgium and the Netherlands to northeastern Germany on Saturday before spreading to Denmark and northwestern Germany at night. This includes Brussels, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Berlin.
Wind gusts will average 65 to 95 kph (40 to 60 mph) with the strongest winds whipping toward and along the coast. "Some sporadic damage and power outages are possible." Damage also threatens to unfold farther east across Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and far northeastern Austria as severe thunderstorms erupt Saturday afternoon. "Some thunderstorms will produce damaging straight-line wind gusts up to 95 kph (60 mph), large hail up to the size of golf balls or hen eggs and even a few tornadoes."
Warsaw, Wroclaw, Brno, Vienna, Bratislava and Kosice are among the communities facing the severe weather danger. The rain falling northwest of the severe weather around the Netherlands, Denmark and southern Scandinavia on Saturday is not expected to produce widespread flooding, but any downpours will create hazards for motorists by reducing visibility and heightening the risk of vehicles hydroplaning when traveling at highway speeds.
Drier weather will briefly return to central Europe on Sunday as the threat for severe thunderstorms shifts to eastern Belarus and neighboring parts of Russia.

Britain to be lashed by torrential rain, gales and floods from tomorrow - Parts of the country are braced for heavy showers to dump more than two inches of rain - A MONTH'S WORTH OF RAIN - IN A MATTER OF HOURS. Forecasters are warning of chaos on the roads with the risk of flooding across the southern half of the country. It will also be cooler than average for the time of year with temperatures feeling more like autumn than the middle of summer. (photos and maps at link)

South Asia monsoon: Analysing fresh water could be key to forecast - The Indian Ocean contains a distinctive layer of fresh water from rain and rivers which may influence the South Asian monsoon, scientists have said. They are urging meteorologists to include the less saline water in their weather forecasting models.
Meteorology officials in South Asia admit they have been slow to consider the role of fresh waters. They are already struggling to forecast monsoon rains due to a range of factors including climate change. Monsoons account for 70% of the rainfall in India and neighbouring countries between June and September. But longer dry periods and heavy rainfall within a short space of time during monsoon season in recent years have caused concern in South Asia.
And this is already being seen this year, with higher rainfall than normal in June - whereas July and August are predicted to have lower than normal rainfall. Some meteorologists based in the region believe the freshwater element could be a vital missing link. Major rivers such as the Ganges, Bramhaputra and Irrawaddy flow into the Bay of Bengal. A team of international scientists are currently researching the issue.
Around 60% of the total rainfall in Pakistan comes from the Indian monsoon, while the remaining rains are from winter monsoons from the Arabian sea between December and February. "It's not just scientists from Pakistan but from the entire South Asia region who are not familiar with the fresh water concept and we need to take it into account."
Scientists are seeking to gather more data but not everything is freely available But scientists say even if countries around the Bay of Bengal really wanted to factor fresh water into their monsoon prediction models, detailed data was not available. "At present we only have long-term mean data on the river discharge and we have no data for year-to-year variability because of the sensitivities between countries in the region." Sharing of water resources data has been a contentious issue between India and its neighbours for years. "The countries will have to reach an understanding if they really want to understand what fresh water is doing to the salinity of the ocean and the monsoon systems." said Professor Goswami.


Raging Fire Forces Evacuation in Glacier National Park - Helicopters are patrolling the area for any missing hikers within the Montana park grounds. An elite team is taking command of efforts to beat back the wildfire in Montana's Glacier National Park that has sent tourists fleeing from hotels and campgrounds.
The Type 1 Incident Management Team, a group that responds only to the highest-priority fires, began arriving Thursday and was scheduled to take command that night. Firefighters braced for gusting winds and warm temperatures that could spark a fresh run by the flames that have charred more than 6 square miles. (video at link)

Wragg Fire near Lake Berryessa burns 6,900 acres in Napa County, California. More than 500 firefighters and multiple helicopters and planes are battling the Wragg Fire near Lake Berryessa. (video at link)
The Latest: Some people in California wine country who have evacuated because of the wildfire are being told they can return to their homes. Evacuations have been canceled late on Thursday for about 50 of the 200 or so homes whose residents were told to get out. The fire's threat has diminished substantially in some areas and the fire did not grow much Thursday. More than 10 1/2 square miles have burned since the fire broke out near Napa Valley on Wednesday.

Crews fighting a wildfire in southeast Washington are working to prevent flames from reaching a watershed that provides drinking water for the city of Walla Walla. Firefighters are removing fuels and securing lines to prevent it from reaching the boundary of the Mill Creek Watershed. The blaze has destroyed one home and threatens dozens others as an estimated 1,000 firefighters battled it in steep, challenging terrain. It has scorched nearly 9 square miles of grass, shrubs and timber about 10 miles east of Walla Walla, a city of 60,000 people.
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