Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Don't fear failure. It is not failure but low aim, that's the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.**
Bruce Lee

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/20/2015 -

7/19/15 -

7/18/15 -

7/17/15 -


* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Halola is located approximately 211 nm southeast of Iwo To, Japan.


Unusually heavy rains in Southern California strand drivers, flood streets. Bone-dry California got more rain on Sunday than it could handle - enough to wash out a bridge on the highway to Arizona.
Hundreds of drivers found themselves stranded in the middle of the desert after an overpass along California's busy I-10 freeway suddenly became a bridge to nowhere. The bridge collapsed when a swollen creek eroded the hillside, leaving a truck hanging over the edge. It took nearly two hours to rescue the injured driver. "This collapsed bridge is gonna cause a huge problem for thousands and thousands of people every single day. This is the major corridor from the L.A. area to out east."
This UNUSUAL July rain is the remnant of Tropical Storm Dolores. In Southern California it caused flash floods, turning streets into fast-moving rivers, forcing road closures and leaving drivers stuck. "This parking lot has now become a river," said one driver. In Riverside County, firefighters rushed to protect homes with sandbags and patrolled flooded neighborhoods. "There are a couple of people here that they're trying to rescue." In Irvine, ticket holders waded through knee-high water to see an outdoor rock concert.
And the wet weather also took out the ballgame. The Angels were rained out at home Sunday night for the first time in 20 years. A helicopter helped dry the field before Monday's double-header. July is normally the driest month of the year in Southern California. More than a quarter-inch of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles Saturday, BREAKING A NEARLY 220- YEAR-OLD RECORD.
All of that rain, of course, is welcome in bone-dry California but despite this kind of damage, not enough rain to even put a dent in their nearly four year long drought. California transportation officials say Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Los Angeles will remain closed indefinitely. Their plan is to eventually divert traffic onto the westbound lanes while they tear down and rebuild this bridge.
California bridge collapse strands drivers en route to Arizona - An elevated section of Interstate 10 collapsed Sunday amid heavy rains in the California desert, injuring one driver, stranding many others, and halting travel for thousands by cutting off both directions of a main corridor between Southern California and Arizona. “Interstate 10 is closed completely and indefinitely."
A bridge for eastbound traffic about 15 feet above a normally dry wash about 50 miles west of the Arizona state line gave way and ended up in the flooding water below, the California Highway Patrol said, blocking all traffic headed toward Arizona. "Oh my God, we are so stuck out here. There’s no end to the cars that are stuck out here."
The rains came amid a second day of showers and thunderstorms in Southern and Central California that were setting rainfall records in what is usually a dry month. Rain fell Sunday afternoon in parts of Los Angeles County’s mountains, the valley north and inland urban areas to the east.
The city also was expected to get a late repeat of Saturday’s scattered showers and occasional downpours as remnants of Tropical Storm Dolores brought warm, muggy conditions northward. Saturday’s rainfall BROKE RECORDS IN AT LEAST 11 LOCATIONS, including five places that had THE MOST RAIN EVERY RECORDED IN JULY on any day.


June 2015: Earth's WARMEST JUNE ON RECORD. June 2015 was Earth's warmest June since global record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Monday. NASA also rated June 2015 as the warmest June on record.
A potent El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific that crossed the threshold into the "strong" category in early July continues to intensify, and strong El Niño events release a large amount of heat to the atmosphere, typically boosting global temperatures by at least 0.1°C. This extra bump in temperature, when combined with the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, makes it likely that 2015 will be Earth's second consecutive warmest year on record.. Four of the six warmest months in recorded history (for departure from average) have occurred this year, according to NOAA.
For the oceans, the June global sea surface temperature was 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average, the HIGHEST FOR JUNE ON RECORD, and tied with September 2014 as the highest monthly departure from average for any month. Nine of the ten highest monthly departures from average have occurred since May 2014.
Global land temperatures during June 2015 were also the warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in June 2015 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 3rd warmest in the 37-year record. The lowest 8 km of the atmosphere heats up dramatically in response to moderate to strong El Niño events, with a time lag of several months - as occurred during the El Niño events of 1998 and 2010. Thus, we should see Earth's lower atmosphere temperature hit record levels late this year and/or early next year.

Deadliest weather disaster of June 2015: Pakistan's brutal heat wave. The deadliest weather-related disaster of June 2015 was an intense heat wave in Pakistan that killed approximately 1,242 people. If these numbers are correct, this year's heat wave would beat the 1991 heat wave (523 deaths) as Pakistan's deadliest in recorded history, and would rank as Earth's eighth deadliest heat wave. The terrible heat wave that hit India in May 2015 ranks as Earth's fifth deadliest heat wave.
By the time summer is over, it is possible that a third heat wave may be added to this list: the on-going European heat wave. Excess mortality in France, the U.K., and Italy during the late June to early July portion of Europe's 2015's heat wave was over 1,200 people: 700 in France, at least 447 in the U.K., and 140 in Italy. Hundreds more probably died in surrounding countries, during some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Western Europe.
Direct deaths, not excess mortality, are tabulated in the database for heat waves, though, and direct deaths can be a factor of eight less than deaths tabulated by considering excess mortality. For example, the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and EM-DAT list the total direct deaths from the U.S. heat wave of 1980 at 1,260, but NCDC estimated that the combined direct and indirect deaths (i.e., excess mortality) due to heat stress was 10,000. Extreme heat capable of causing high excess mortality will affect portions of Southeast Europe late this week, when some of the highest temperatures on record will likely occur.

Arctic sea ice falls to 3rd lowest June extent on record - Arctic sea ice extent during June 2015 was the 3rd lowest in the 36-year satellite record, and June snow cover was the 2nd lowest. A large area of high pressure that has set up shop north of Alaska is expected to persist for the remainder of July, and is likely to bring sunny skies and a warm flow of air into the Arctic that will lead to rapid ice loss in the coming weeks.
Later this month, low pressure is expected to develop over Northeastern Eurasia, which could lead to the establishment of the Arctic Dipole pattern. This pattern of airflow develops in response to high pressure north of Alaska and low pressure over Northeastern Eurasia, and brings large amounts of warm air into the Arctic.
The Arctic Dipole pattern occurred in all the summer months of 2007, and helped support the record 2007 summer reduction in sea ice extent (that record was beaten in 2012, a year that did not feature an Arctic Dipole pattern.)

One billion-dollar weather disaster in June 2015: flooding in China. Thankfully, only one billion-dollar weather-related disaster hit the Earth last month, flooding in China that caused $2 billion in damage and killed sixteen people. With eight billion-dollar weather disasters occurring during the first half of 2015, Earth is on pace for its lowest number of such disasters since 2004, when sixteen occurred.


Arctic ice 'grew by a third' after the unusually cool summer in 2013. Researchers say the growth continued in 2014 and more than compensated for losses recorded in the three previous years.
The scientists involved believe changes in summer temperatures have greater impacts on ice than thought. But they say 2013 was a one-off and that climate change will continue to shrink the ice in the decades ahead.
The Arctic region has warmed more than most other parts of the planet over the past 30 years. Satellite observations have documented a decrease of around 40% in the extent of sea ice cover in the Arctic since 1980. But while the extent of the retreating ice has been well recorded, the key indicator that scientists want to understand is the loss of sea ice volume.
Researchers have been able to use data gathered by Europe's Cryosat satellite over the past five years to answer this question. This polar monitoring spacecraft has a sophisticated radar system that allows scientists to accurately estimate the volume. The researchers used 88 million measurements of sea ice thickness from Cyrosat and found that between 2010 and 2012, the volume of sea ice went down by 14%.
They published their initial findings at the end of 2013 - but have now refined and updated them to include data from 2014 as well. Relative to the average of the period between 2010 and 2012, the scientists found that there was a 33% increase in sea ice volume in 2013, while in 2014 there was still a quarter more sea ice than there was between 2010-2012.
"We looked at various climate forcing factors, we looked at the snow loading, we looked at wind convergence and the melt season length of the previous summer. We found that the the highest correlation by far was with the melt season length - and over the summer of 2013, it was the coolest of the five years we have seen, and we believe that's why there was more multi-year ice left at the end of summer."
The researchers found the colder temperatures allowed more multi-year ice to persist northwest of Greenland because there were simply fewer days when it could melt. Temperature records indicate that the summer was about 5% cooler than 2012. The scientists believe that the more accurate measurements that they have now published show that sea ice is more sensitive to changes than previously thought.
They argue that while some could see this as a positive, when temperatures are cooler it leads to an increase in sea ice, it could also be a negative when the mercury goes up.
"It would suggest that sea ice is more resilient perhaps - if you get one year of cooler temperatures, we've almost wound the clock back a few years on this gradual decline that's been happening over decades. The long-term trend of the ice volume is downwards and the long-term trend of the temperatures in the Arctic is upwards and this finding doesn't give us any reason to disbelieve that - as far as we can tell it's just one anomalous year."

El Nino intensifying, could rival strongest in recorded history - The present El Nino event, on the cusp of attaining “strong” intensity, has a chance to become the most powerful on record. The event — defined by the expanding, deepening pool of warmer-than-normal ocean water in the tropical Pacific — has steadily grown stronger since the spring.
The presence of a strong El Nino almost ensures that 2015 will become the warmest on record for Earth and will have ripple effects on weather patterns all over the world. A strong El Nino event would likely lead to enhanced rainfall in California this fall and winter, a quieter than normal Atlantic hurricane season, a warmer than normal winter over large parts of the U.S., and a very active hurricane and typhoon season in the Pacific.
Some of these El Nino-related effects have already manifested themselves and, over the U.S., will become particularly apparent by the fall and winter. Frequent and persistent bursts of wind from the west, counter to the prevailing easterly direction, have helped this year’s El Nino sustain itself and grow. Warm water from the western Pacific has sloshed eastward, piling up in the central and eastern part of the basin.
The sprawling area of warm waters has proven to be a boon for Pacific tropical cyclone activity, near record levels through mid-summer. Through a positive feedback mechanism, these cyclones have likely helped to reinforce the westerly push of warm waters. The 2015 El Nino event is now neck-and-neck with record-setting event of 1997-1998 in terms of its mid-summer intensity.
That 1997-1998 event was notorious for its winter flash floods and mudslides in California. The atmospheric footprint of this year’s event — given the time of year — is statistically EXTREMELY RARE and has a less than one in 1,000 chance of occurrence.
Although the El Nino is still officially classified as a “moderate” strength event, one of the world’s leading El Nino experts explained it could well become a “strong” event by the end of the month. “The strength of the departure from normal sea surface temperatures was enough to call it a strong event for just last week. But to call it an officially strong event, we need for it to stay at that level or higher for a full month. And the average for July could make it.”
The large group of El Nino models, both dynamic (based on physical processes) and statistical (based historical data), mostly forecast at least a strong event — likely to peak in the fall. Collectively, the IRI described the model simulations as “off-the-charts”. “[El Nino] is growing and the prediction models say it’s going to get stronger. And that’s our prediction, that it will become a strong event, most likely.”
A few models, notably the European model and the National Weather Service CFS model, point to the possibility of a near-record event in which a very strong or “super” El Nino develops. The only two super (or very strong) El Ninos in the historic record occurred in 1982-83 and 1997-98. Perhaps hinting at an El Nino rivaling history, models have been trending stronger with their forecast month after month after month — as they absorb more data reflecting the true state of the current event and how it’s evolving.
While some models show El Nino possibly maxing out in record territory, NOAA climate analysts expressed some skepticism about such projections. NOAA says the “forecaster consensus” is for a strong event but doesn’t specify how strong. Its forecast calls for El Nino to persist through the winter (90 percent chance) and early spring (80 percent chance). (graphics and map at link)
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