Monday, August 10, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Work, Art, Begin.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/9/15 -

New Zealand - A third of Christchurch quake claims still outstanding. Despite a ramp-up in settlements, a third of Christchurch earthquake insurance claims have yet to be settled nearly five years after the first huge quake.


* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Category 4 Hurricane Hilda weakens slightly but continues to move toward the Hawaiian islands, located about 815 mi (1310 km) ESE of Honolulu, Hawaii. Swells associated with Hurricane Hilda will produce large surf along east and southeast facing shores of the main Hawaiian islands over the next couple of days.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical depression Molave is located approximately 405 nm south of Yokosuka, Japan. Based on deteriorated covective structure and current assessment, this system is classified as subtropical. Therefore, the final warning on this system has been issued by the joint typhoon center. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.

Typhoon Soudelor Winds Down; Hurricane Hilda Hits Category 4; - Hong Kong Sets All-Time Heat Record. Former Typhoon Soudelor, now a 50-mph tropical storm, is inland over eastern China after giving storm-savvy Taiwan ONE OF ITS MOST POWERFUL TYPHOON STRIKES ON RECORD. The damage in Taiwan appears to be widespread but not catastrophic, although at least 10 people are dead or missing.
Power was knocked out to a reported 3.22 million residents, the LARGEST STORM-RELATED OUTAGE IN TAIWAN HISTORY, and high winds toppled more than 2,000 trees in Taipei. Soudelor made landfall around 5:00 am Saturday local time as a Category 3 typhoon, with its strong right- hand flank passing over the island’s northern third, including the city of Taipei.
As classified using the extended Beaufort scale, winds speeds at the Taipei airport topped out in the Level 13 range of 83-93 mph. These are the second-highest speeds on record for Taipei, behind only the Level 14 winds (93-103 mph) observed during 1996’s Typhoon Herb.
While rainfall during Soudelor appears to have fallen short of at least two other typhoons (Herb and 2009’s Typhoon Morakot), the amounts were still impressive over wide areas, with a total of 52.52” reported at Datong Township in far northeast Taiwan.

Hilda vaults to Category 4 status - A burst of rapid intensification brought Hurricane Hilda from Category 1 to Category 4 status in just 24 hours, with sustained winds estimated at 140 mph by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center at 11:00 am Hawaii time on Saturday (5:00 pm EDT). Hilda showed little in the way of spiral banding late Saturday, taking on more of an annular configuration.
Already ONE OF THE STRONGEST HURRICANES IN RECENT YEARS over the Central Pacific, Hilda could intensify further over the next 24 hours. If Hilda manages to reach Category 5 strength, it will join the elite group of hurricanes of that intensity in the Central Pacific.
The year to beat is 1994, when three Category 5 systems plowed across the basin in just five weeks: Emilia, Gilma, and John. El Niño tends to enhance hurricane activity in the Central Pacific; interestingly, an El Niño was not underway during July-August 1994, though one did develop later in the year.
As Hilda gradually gains latitude on its west-northwest course, wind shear will take an increasing toll. Models continue to diverge on Hilda’s strength and track toward the end of the five-day forecast period, though most models recurve the hurricane well east of Hawaii. A weaker Hilda would be steered more by low-level easterly flow, perhaps nearing the islands as a tropical storm, while a stronger system would be influenced more by the upper-level westerlies and would be more likely to angle north.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, Tropical Storm Molave continues to spin harmlessly well southeast of Japan, and Invest 93 should remain weak as it traverses the open waters of the Northeast Pacific.

Scary Tornado caught on dashboard cam - Tainan, Taiwan on 8/9 as Typhoon Soudelor conditions continued in Tainan City.

Typhoon Soudelor slideshow - (32 photos).


Lightning-Struck Teens Saved by Holding Hands - There was electricity in the air — literally — on a high-school couple's date Thursday in Claremont, California. It's just a good thing they were holding hands. The couple were struck by lightning while walking to get burgers and were likely saved from serious injury because they were holding hands. "It helped to diffuse the electrical current that ran through their bodies."
Despite being thrown 3 feet and feeling like they had been hit by a piece of metal, the teens finished their date, only later going to a doctor when their parents made them. The doctor told the teens the lightning probably entered one's head and exited through the other's left foot.


BROKEN RECORDS PILING UP IN EUROPE, ASIA - As 2015 continues marching toward a new global record high temperature, the heat is making itself felt this weekend at a variety of locations across the globe. Excessive heat warnings are out for several south-central U.S. states, but records aren’t tumbling at the pace that they are in several other countries.
On Saturday, the Hong Kong Observatory reached 36.3°C (97.3°F), the hottest temperature in its 132-year history. The heat in Hong Kong was likely enhanced by sinking air around the southern periphery of Typhoon Soudelor.
Likewise, subsidence on the north side of Soudelor helped keep Tokyo toasty, as the city notched its eight consecutive day of at least 95°F temperatures on Friday. The streak was twice the previous record length of four days, recorded on five different occasions between 1978 and 2013. Records in Tokyo began in 1875. The streak was broken on Saturday, as temperatures topped out at 91°F, and the heat should stay just short of the 95°F threshold over the coming week.
Meanwhile, central and eastern Europe continues to broil in a sustained heat wave. In Poland, the Wroclaw Observatory hit an all-time record high on Saturday of 38.9°C (102.0°F), and highs soared above 95°F over a broad swath from Lithuania to the Mediterranean. Some areas will see relief over the next several days, but others are facing at least a solid week of torrid readings.

3,000 evacuated as wildfires burn for 3rd day in Spain in midst of an extended heat wave - Strong winds have fanned wildfires that have raged out of control for three days in southwestern Spain and made firefighting difficult, forcing the evacuation of 3,000 inhabitants, officials said Saturday.
Some 1,000 residents were evacuated from the town Hoyos in the early hours of the morning after overnight winds "reversed all yesterday's firefighting achievements." More than 6,500 hectares (25 square miles) had burned since flames were detected Thursday in the Sierra de Gata — a region of outstanding natural beauty.
Those evacuated joined another 2,000 inhabitants from the villages of Acebo and Perales del Puerto — as well as tourists who had been staying at a campsite nearby — who had been given shelter in the city of Caceres and the town of Moraleja.
Evidence pointed to numerous separate ignition points, indicating that "man's hand must be behind these fires." Regional government spokeswoman Cristina Herrera said 16 water-carrying aircraft and 300 firefighters — including a contingent from neighboring Portugal — were combatting the flames as Spain endured an extended heat wave. Firefighters succeeded in controlling a wildfire in the southeastern Murcia region, where 700 hectares had burned.

French pair who died in US desert likely saved their son - A French couple who died during an afternoon hike across the searing New Mexico desert likely saved their 9-year-old son by giving him two sips of water for each one they took before the supply ran out. The boy was dehydrated but in remarkably good shape when he was found alongside his dead father on a trail in the White Sands National Monument, Otero County.
The father and son were found Tuesday about an hour after park rangers found the mother dead. "That may be why he fared so well, is he was a lot smaller and probably had twice as much water. He was well hydrated, compared to the other two." They were tourists from the small town of Bourgogne, near the city of Reims, France. The couple appears to have died of heat- related causes. An autopsy to determine the official cause of death was pending.
The family had two 20-ounce (566-gram) water bottles when they set out on the hike along the national monument's Alkali Flat trail at about 1 p.m.. The trail is known for crystalline- white sand dunes and ends at the edge of the Alkali Flat, an ancient dry lake bed. There is no vegetation or shade, and the National Park Service warns summertime visitors to hike only in the cool hours and carry at least 1 gallon (3.8 liters)of water per person.
The high temperature at the monument Tuesday was 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius). Warning signs were posted in several languages, including French, at the trailhead. The boy told deputies that his mother began feeling ill and complained of an injured knee about a mile and a half (1,200 meters) into the hike. "So she made the decision that you guys go ahead and go on, I'm going to go back to the vehicle. She made it about a hundred yards before she went down."
The father and son were unaware that she was in trouble and continued on the trail, making it about 2,000 feet (600 meters) before the father collapsed. Park rangers on a routine patrol found the family. The boy's grandmother flew to Albuquerque and was reunited with him Thursday.

Missing hiker found dead in Yellowstone park, cause being probed - A missing hiker was found dead in Yellowstone National Park on Friday, prompting authorities to close the area around a popular trail while they investigate the cause.
The man, who worked in the park, had been reported missing by co-workers Thursday morning. He was found by rangers at around noon in the vicinity of the Elephant Back Loop Trail in the Lake Village area where he had been hiking. A conclusive cause of death has yet to be determined, but rangers investigating the incident had found signs of grizzly bear activity in the area, fur and patches of depressed grass, known as day beds, where one or more bears might have rested during the day.
Park officials have not released the hiker's name or provided additional details about the incident pending notification of family members, although they did say he was from Montana. The area around Elephant Back Loop Trail has been closed to hikers while the investigation continues. Fatal bear attacks are uncommon among the 3.5 million annual visitors who roam across Yellowstone's 2.2 million acres (8,900 square km).
But park officials say they are continually working to educate the public about the dangers posed by grizzlies and other wildlife. Two people were killed in separate bear attacks in Yellowstone in 2012, and four people have been injured by bison so far this year. Park visitation for 2015 is on a record pace, up 20 percent over last year.
Officials remind hikers to stay on designated trails, leave an itinerary with others, hike in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray.

Officials lift evacuations in Northern California wildfire - Video.

Nevada - Falling tree kills Forest Service firefighter battling Tahoe-area blaze. Lighting sparked a small wildfire over the weekend in the South Lake Tahoe area, which went on to kill one firefighter and injure another.

About 150 homes evacuated in fast-moving Arizona wildfire - A raging fire broke out on Saturday in a wildlife refuge in northwestern Arizona near the California border, forcing the evacuation of about 150 homes.
Authorities ordered the mandatory evacuations from homes in the rural area after the wildfire sparked on Saturday afternoon grew to 2,000 acres in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. As of late Saturday, an undermined number of structures had been burned. The American Red Cross had set up a shelter for displaced residents.
"This is a major one and we're aggressively trying to fight it." About 300 firefighters were called in to battle the so-called Willow Fire on the ground and in the air as the blaze roared through trees, grass and brush in Mohave Valley, south of Bullhead City, Arizona. Billowing smoke from the fire was appearing on radar. There was no estimate for how long it would take to contain the fire, and no injuries have been reported. The cause remains under investigation.


Gigantic 4 mile high “pyramid” spotted on asteroid Ceres - The latest mystifying discovery by Dawn shows shows a large pyramid shaped formation with bright bands down the side.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft keeps revealing new mysteries as it approaches the dwarf planet Ceres, the latest discovery posted in a video on Thursday shows a 4 mile high pyramid shaped formation with bright bands down the side. The pyramid measures more than 20,000 Foot (6100 meters) and is sure to spawn a lot of new fringe theories, and fuel the old ones.
The NASA Science team said that “This mountain is among the tallest features we’ve seen on Ceres to date,” The team is yet to come up with an explanation as to why the pyramid is sitting in the middle of nowhere instead of being located in a crater as expected. Earlier Ceres also made a puzzling discovery in the now famous Occator crater which sports some of Ceres’ brightest spots, another phenomenon yet to be explained by NASA. There is currently no evidence pointing to the spots being ice and the science team is now investigating whether it could be salt deposits.
There are other fascinating discoveries that need to be studied further. Amongst these are a pair of large impact basins, Urvara and Yalode which have large cracks extending away from them. Ceres, refereed to as a “Dwarf planet”, is currently the largest known object in the asteroid belt with a diameter of approximately 587 miles (945 kilometres) making it the thirty-third largest know object in the solar system.
Ceres was the first asteroid ever to be discovered, on January 1, 1801. Originally it was classified as a planet but was later demoted to asteroid status as many other similar bodies were found. Dawn will continue its observations of Ceres around mid-August entering an orbit with an altitude of 900 miles (1500 kilometres) which is three times closer than it’s current orbit.


Mysterious fungus killing snakes in at least 9 states - Hidden on hillsides in a remote part of western Vermont, a small number of venomous timber rattlesnakes slither among the rocks, but their isolation can't protect them from a mysterious fungus spreading across the eastern half of the country that threatens to wipe them out.
In less than a decade, the fungus has been identified in at least nine Eastern states, and although it affects a number of species, it's especially threatening to rattlesnakes that live in small, isolated populations with little genetic diversity, such as those found in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York.
In Illinois the malady threatens the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, which was a candidate for the federal endangered species list even before the fungus appeared. Biologists have compared its appearance to the fungus that causes white nose syndrome in bats, which since 2006 has killed millions of the creatures and continues to spread across North America.
It's unclear, though, if snake fungal disease, "ophidiomyces ophiodiicola" was brought to the United States from elsewhere, as was white nose fungus, or if it has always been present in the environment and for some unknown reason is now infecting snakes. "I think potentially this could overwhelm any conservation effort we could employ to try to protect this last remaining population. We don't have any control over it. It's just completely out there in the wild."
In New Hampshire, the disease helped halve the population of rattlesnakes — now estimated at several dozen — after it was first spotted in 2006, although it was only afterward that scientists linked the fungus to the decline. Vermont's population of timber rattlesnakes is down to two locations near Lake Champlain in the western part of the state with an estimated total population of several hundred.
The disease can cause crusty scabs and lesions, sometimes on the head. A microbiologist said he's been getting reports of snake fungal disease from all over the eastern United States. Not every location is reporting that the disease is threatening snake populations. "It does seem to be a disease that has different effects in different areas."
The fungus poses a greater risk to snakes that reproduce slowly, such as rattlesnakes, which can live up to 30 years, experts say. In Illinois every year the disease infects about 15 percent of the population of about 300 of massasauga rattlesnakes, most of which are in Clinton County, with a mortality rate of 80 to 90 percent.
"I think that in populations that have been shrunk due to other mechanisms, such as habitat loss, other environmental changes, those types of things, are more at risk of going extinct from snake fungal disease mainly because it's a smaller population. They have less of a buffer to withstand these diseases."
Part of the challenge in studying the disease is that snakes, especially venomous varieties, don't get much sympathy from the public, which makes funding studies harder. Snakes are also harder to find than, say, white-nose-infected bats where scientists can go into a cave and see tens of thousands of carcasses.

Shorter course of radiation better for early stage breast cancer - Women had a significantly higher quality of life and no difference in tumor control with shorter treatments.
Women treated for early breast cancer with shorter courses of radiation than standardly prescribed had a higher quality of life than those with longer treatment plans and no difference in controlling the growth of tumors, according to two new studies. "Patients who received the shorter course reported less difficulty in caring for their families' needs. This is a major priority for women undergoing breast cancer radiation. Most are busy working mothers, working inside or outside the home, and are juggling a number of priorities. It's paramount that we address this need."
The patients were reported to have 30 percent fewer incidences of dermatitis, 19 percent less breast pain, 8 percent less fatigue, 6 percent less difficulty caring for their families and 31 percent less acute toxic effects.
A large cohort study found similar significant improvements in comfort and quality of life "No longer do I regard the shorter course of treatment as just an option for patients, but rather the preferred starting point for discussion with patients if they need whole breast radiation."

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook