Monday, August 31, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.**
Sean O'Casey

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 8/30/15 -

8/29/15 -

8/28/15 -

8/27/15 -

8/26/15 -

Is New Jersey overdue for major earthquake? - In the past year, there have been more than 6,000 earthquakes in California, including two that have measured at least 4.0 on the Richter scale. Contrast that to New Jersey, where there have been seven earthquakes in the past year, which all measured 2.7 or less.
But don’t cross earthquakes off your list of natural disasters just yet. In fact, researchers say New Jersey is overdue for a moderate earthquake of 5.0 or greater. “Long overdue, (but) for how long, that’s the question." The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said 10 years ago that they’re due for at least a moderate earthquake.
In a more recent study, in 2008, the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America reiterated the same threat. “The region is not really well prepared for any level of shaking. The population density is so extremely high. ... Look at earthquake-related disasters. They don’t link to the large size of earthquakes, but the confluence of how close they are to people.”
Not to mention how close they are to suspension bridges, skyscrapers, utility lines and modern infrastructure. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting. We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.” One of the strongest earthquakes in New Jersey measured a 4.9 on the Richter scale — a moderate quake — that struck in 1783 and was felt throughout Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
Almost 90 years ago, Asbury Park experienced a 3.9 magnitude quake in 1927, and it toppled chimneys and knocked items off shelves. Earlier this month, a light earthquake was very noticeable to residents in and around Morristown. It measured 2.7, and was felt as far south as Jackson, and as far north as Suffern, New York. It measured “weak” to “light” on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.
Intense quakes are likely to happen in New Jersey every 100 years or less — which makes New Jersey earthquakes that much harder to predict — and means New Jersey is overdue for an earthquake. “Once in 10 generations is very difficult to study. That’s the biggest challenge (because) we live inside a stable plate.” A “stable plate” describes New Jersey’s tectonics. Here, the Earth’s crust “fits together and doesn’t deform very much."
Researchers don’t really understand why earthquakes happen on the East Coast, especially because in New Jersey, small earthquakes happen over a diffuse area and do not form an easily identifiable zone of action. “What makes us slightly more nervous these days is the recent Virginia earthquake. That event was rather large, there was serious damage, and of course, no prior history of such events recorded.”
In 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia was felt from Georgia to Maine, in Michigan and Illinois, and in Canada. “That (2011 earthquake) damaged a nuclear power plant — not severely, only to the extent that it had to shut down operations. It points out the issue of fragility on our infrastructure. The resiliency or vulnerability of our bridges, tunnels, power lines, pipelines, is a very important feature of the overall vulnerability of the metropolitan region.”
What makes East Coast quakes all the more unpredictable is that quakes here differ from those on the West Coast, where they are more frequent. Because the earth on the East Coast has different properties than the west, shakes from quakes are transmitted farther here than they are in California. Standard homeowner, renter, and business insurance policies typically do not cover earthquake damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Only 7 percent of homeowners who responded to an Institute survey in 2014 said they had earthquake insurance.
Only about 2 percent of homeowners in the Northeast have earthquake coverage, the survey revealed. Hurricanes and flooding are a much greater risk in New Jersey. “If an event is extremely unlikely, how much money is worth investing in safeguarding from it?” Although there is no reliable way to predict a major earthquake, let’s just say experts don’t think whole cities will crumble or be consumed by the ocean, as depicted by Hollywood.

Indonesia - Mt Lokon’s low alert status maintained despite eruption. The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) has maintained Mount Lokon’s status at siaga (Alert Level 3) despite an eruption on Saturday. “We hope residents won’t enter the 2.5-kilometer radius from the volcano’s Tompaluan Crater that we designated as a danger zone,” said an official on Sunday.
After Saturday’s eruption, volcanic tremors were still being recorded and there was a possibility of another eruption. “We hope everyone adheres to our recommendation on the volcano’s danger zone because more eruptions could be forthcoming and threaten the safety of residents if they continue with their activities within the radius deemed dangerous."
Lokon, an active volcano in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, erupted 11:48 p.m. local time Saturday, spewing volcanic ash around 1,500 meters high, which spread in a northern and eastern direction away from the volcano. Increases in Mt Lokon’s volcanic activity had been recorded since Friday before it erupted the following day. The volcano, which is one of the most active in North Sulawesi, last erupted on May.20.

Video - Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Erupts, Spewing Lava On The Big Island. A fast-moving river of molten lava from erupting volcano Kilauea crept over Hawaii's Big Island and flowed into the surrounding forest on Thursday. However, Geological Survey officials said the lava did not pose a threat to the surrounding communities.
The Kilauea volcano is one of the most active in the world, and has been erupting non-stop for 32 years. Witnesses said that the lava had moved about 0.8 km in less than 24 hours, and was now headed toward the subdivision of Eden Roc, on the eastern side of the island, and home to about 450 people. A magnitude 3.8 earthquake rumbled beneath the volcano on Thursday, and "low levels of seismic activities continue across the volcano."
While Kilauea's latest eruption isn't threatening surrounding communities now, the situation is being monitored closely as some of the lava flows "are marked by smoke plumes where lava is creeping into the forest." Kilauea's famous lava lake is a popular tourist attraction and overflowed its banks this past spring, sending lava and rocks into the air.


* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical storm Fred is located about 80 mi (125 km) ENE of Praia in the Cape Verde Islands. Hurricane conditions likely to spread over portions of the Cape Verde Islands soon.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Category Three Hurricane Ignacio still a major hurricane 350 miles east of The Big Island and tracking northwest. Located about 545 mi (880 km) E of Honolulu, Hawaii, the center of Ignacio is expected to pass approximately 200 miles northeast of The Big Island and Maui Monday and Tuesday. Rapid weakening is expected and Ignacio may be a tropical storm by Tuesday.

- Intense Hurricane Jimena moving west-northwestward toward the central Pacific, located about 1525 mi (2450 km) E of Hilo, Hawaii.

* In the Central Pacific -
- Category Three Hurricane Kilo is moving northwest near the international dateline, located about 570 mi (915 km) South of Midway Island. Slow weakening is forecast over the next couple of days.
Tropical Storm Fred forms in eastern Atlantic off Africa - Erika no longer a tropical storm, loses steam over Cuba. Tropical Storm Fred formed in the eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa on Sunday. Fred could reach hurricane status before or while it moves through the Cape Verde islands in 36 hours or so. Fred is the sixth named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season.
Meanwhile, the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika, which dissipated over Cuba on Saturday, was producing gusty conditions and heavy rain over parts of south Florida. It could regain tropical storm force over the next day or so, forecasters said, as it heads for the northwest Florida Panhandle.

Video - Dominica clears up after deadly tropical storm Erika. The prime minister of the Caribbean island of Dominica says that his country has been set back 20 years by tropical storm Erika. At least 20 people are known to have died in flooding and mudslides caused by the storm, and that number is expected to rise in the coming days.

As Florida Preps for Storm That Was Erika, Caribbean Tallies Damage - Hurricane Ignacio Strengthens as It Sets Path for Hawaii. Only remnants of the tropical storm that used to be Erika barreled toward Florida on Sunday night, but the state was still preparing for what the National Weather Service described as strong winds and heavy rain, and the governor was still urging vigilance.
Erika began weakening Saturday after it killed at least 20 people in the Caribbean last week and caused Florida's Governor to issue a state of emergency Friday. Flood watches were in effect from southern Georgia to Miami, and rip currents were expected all the way to the Carolinas.
In the Caribbean, hard-hit countries were still tallying the damage. In Dominica, where nearly 13 inches of rain fell in as many hours, the Prime Minister recounted Erika's "monumental" destruction in an emotional televised address: Bridges had been washed away. Highways and roads were destroyed. At least 20 people were dead, and more were missing.
"This is a period of national tragedy," he said, adding that the storm had damaged "nearly every community" on the island. "We have, in essence, to rebuild Dominica."
In Puerto Rico, 200,000 people lost power and million of dollars in crops were destroyed.
In Haiti, mudslides blocked roads, a prison was evacuated and rain appeared to have caused firey truck crash killed four people and injured 11 others.
In the Pacific, meanwhile, Hurricane Ignacio was churning toward Hawaii. The storm — once a Category 4 system — had begun weakening by late Sunday morning, a trend that was expected to continue in the coming days. Tropical storm watches were in effect for the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe, according to the National Weather Service, and the storm's center is expected to pass by the state to the north on Monday and Tuesday.

Fred Heading for Cape Verde Islands - Residents of the Cape Verde islands were going through a RARE experience Saaturday - a hurricane warning - as Tropical Storm Fred intensifies in the far eastern North Atlantic. As of 2:00 pm EDT, Fred was located about 195 miles east of the Cape Verde capital city of Praia. Outer rainbands are already beginning to reach the islands.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm from Invest 99L to Tropical Storm Fred in its 5:00 am EDT advisory. This made Fred one of just a handful of systems in the last 60 years of satellite monitoring to become tropical storms east of 20°W. Fred is moving into a well-defined pocket of UNUSUALLY WARM sea-surface temperatures (1-2°C above average, or about 27-28°C) that surrounds the Cape Verdes. Since SSTs are often just marginally warm enough to support tropical cyclones near the islands, this warm pocket is a important piece of Fred’s future. Computer models differ enormously in where Fred will be by Thursday; the 120-hour positions from the early-cycle guidance produced at 1200 GMT Sunday vary by more than 500 miles.
However, the models agree much more closely on track for the upcoming 48 hours, as Fred is projected to move steadily northwest through the heart of the northern Cape Verde islands. Neither of the high- resolution models bring Fred to hurricane strength, but statistical models push Fred just beyond that threshold, and NHC is predicting Fred to become a minimal hurricane by midday Monday local time. A hurricane warning is in effect for the Republic of Cabo Verde (the official name for the nation since 2013). To our knowledge, these are THE FIRST HURRICANE WARNINGS ON RECORD for the islands; tropical storm warnings were posted for Humberto in 2013 and Julia in 2010.
A historic hurricane for the Cape Verdes? The Atlantic's most terrifying and destructive hurricanes typically start as tropical waves that move off the coast of Africa and pass near the Cape Verde islands. This class of storms is referred to as "Cape Verde hurricanes", in reference to their origin. Despite the fact that the Atlantic's most feared type of hurricanes are named after the Cape Verde islands, the islands themselves rarely receive significant impacts from one of their namesake storms.
This is because tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa have very little time to organize into tropical storms before arriving at the Cape Verde islands, which lie just 350 miles west of the African coast. There is no reliable record of any bona fide hurricane having made landfall on the Cape Verde islands. The closest analogue for Fred is an 1892 storm that bisected the islands, moving between the northern cluster (Ilhas do Barlavento, or windward islands) and the southern cluster (Ilhas do Sotavento, or leeward islands).
This 1892 storm reportedly intensified to hurricane strength while passing south of the northwestern Cape Verde islands. Another close approach came from 1998’s Hurricane Jeanne, which reached hurricane strength while passing about 100 miles south of the southern islands. Decaying tropical cyclones in the open Atlantic have occasionally circled southeastward to take a swipe at the Cape Verdes as extratropical storms, but none have reached the island at hurricane strength.
There have been only two deadly tropical cyclones in Cape Verde history. Like Jeanne, they both passed south of the Ilhas do Sotavento. The deadliest was Tropical Storm Fran of 1984, which brushed the southermost islands on September 16 as a tropical storm with 50-mph winds. Fran brought sustained winds of 35 mph and torrential rains to the islands. The rains triggered flash flooding that killed more than two dozen people and caused damages of almost $3 million (1984 dollars.)
The other deadly named storm was Tropical Storm Beryl of 1982, which passed about 30 miles south of the southwestern islands on August 29, with 45-mph winds. The storm's heavy rains killed three people on Brava Island, injured 122, and caused $3 million in damage. The most recent named storm to affect the islands was Hurricane Humberto of 2013, which passed the islands to the south as a tropical storm. Humberto brought wind gusts of up to 35 mph and heavy rain squalls to the islands, triggering flooding that washed out roads and damaged homes.
Hurricane Julia of 2010, the easternmost Category 4 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, passed about 50 miles south of Sao Filipe, on the island of Fogo in the southern Cape Verde islands, as a tropical storm with 45 mph winds, bringing wind gusts of 30 mph and some minor flooding.
Although all of the Cape Verde islands should prepare for a potential hurricane, Fred’s predicted track would bring the worst impacts across the northern islands (Ilhas do Barlavento), which are even less experienced than the southern islands at dealing with the high winds and heavy rain of tropical cyclones. Fred could make a direct landfall on more than one of the northern islands, as its track will be roughly parallel to this chain.
Among the islands in line to feel Fred’s impacts first are the heavily touristed islands of Boa Vista and Sal, which lie on the stronger (right-hand) side of the projected path. Despite their name (which translates to “green cape” in English), the Cape Verde islands have a semi-desert climate, with an average annual rainfall of only around 10 inches, so the torrential rains of a tropical cyclone could have a big impact. Rains of 3-5” are predicted from Fred, with isolated totals of up to 8”. A direct landfall on the northwestern islands could produce not only heavy rain but high winds that would be EXTREMELY UNUSUAL, IF NOT UNPRECEDENTED.

Erika’s remnants are pouring on Florida, Cuba. The remnants of Tropical Storm Erika remain disorganized in the far southeast Gulf of Mexico. NHC gives the remnants only a 10 percent chance of regenerating into a tropical cyclone (which would again be named Erika) over the next five days as they slide northward along the west coast of Florida.
The heavy rain is not appreciated along the western half of the peninsula, where the last month has already brought 10-20” of rain and widespread flooding. Tampa needs less than an inch of rain through midnight Monday night to score its wettest July-August since records began in 1890 (old record 28.31” in 1960; total through noon EDT Sunday, 27.48”).
Flash flood watches now cover all of central and southern Florida. “Our aquifers are full. There's no more areas for the water to percolate to." Even as a leftover tropical cyclone, Erika may still cause significant damage in Florida over the next day or two. Erika has left forecast models, and forecasters, perplexed.

Three Category 4 storms lace the Pacific - where Hurricane Jimena, Hurricane Ignacio, and Hurricane Kilo have made a most impressive trio. All three reached Category 4 strength on Saturday and remained there on Sunday morning, a rare feat.
A Tropical Storm Watch remains in effect for the eastern Hawaiian islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Hawaii (the Big Island), with Ignacio located about 420 miles east of Hilo as of 8:00 am HST (2:00 pm EDT) Sunday. Ignacio is packing winds of 130 mph, but its steady northwest track will take it well north of the islands. Tropical storm force winds extend out to 125 miles (mainly on the north side), so gusty conditions may occur, especially at higher elevations.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center is warning that rainfall amounts of 2-4”, with isolated totals up to 6” at higher terrain, are still possible. There’s much higher confidence that huge waves will be impacting the islands: the CPHC warns of potential life-threatening surf, especially on the Big Island. There’s NO RECORD IN THE MODERN DATABASE OF A HURRICANE THIS STRONG TRACKING NORTH OF THE ISLANDS, so even well-experienced surfers could find themselves in unexpectedly treacherous conditions.
Meanwhile, Jimena and Kilo are raging far away from any populated land areas; Jimena is expected to slowly weaken, while the Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects that long-lived Kilo will maintain at least Category 3 strength for the next five days as it undergoes a gradual westward turn through the subtropical North Pacific. Kilo may cross the International Date Line around Tuesday, at which point it would be dubbed Typhoon Kilo. This was the case for Genevieve in 2014 and Ioke in 2006.


Two dead, massive outages after windstorm slams Washington state - A powerful windstorm toppled trees, killing two people in Washington state as work crews scrambled on Sunday to restore power to 450,000 customers. A father driving with his three-year-old daughter in Gig Harbor, just west of Tacoma, was killed on Saturday when a tree fell on his car.
Within two hours, a falling branch struck and killed a 10-year-old girl in Federal Way, just east of Tacoma. Gusting winds were blamed for massive power outages affecting as many as 450,000 customers. On utility websites, Puget Sound Energy said crews working through the night had been able to restore nearly 75 percent of affected customers by early Sunday morning, with 97,000 remaining without power, Snohomish PUD reported 88,000 remained without power, Seattle City Light had about 21,000 still affected and Tacoma Public Utilities had 500 customers still in the dark.

Landslides kill five in Nepal quake zone - Landslides triggered by heavy rainfall killed at least five people in central Nepal, four of them in a shelter for survivors of a devastating earthquake, police said Friday. Rescuers in Nepal’s Nuwakot district are still searching for a nine-year-old boy missing since an overnight landslide crushed two bamboo and tin shelters built for families displaced by the April 25 quake.
“The landslide occurred around 2:00 am, burying the shelters while the victims were sleeping inside. We have recovered four bodies and have been searching for the missing boy since early morning." Six quake victims injured in the accident have been taken to hospitals in Nuwakot and neighbouring Kathmandu for treatment.
In a separate incident, an 80-year-old woman died when a landslide slammed into her house in Nuwakot. Scores of people die from flooding and mudslides during the annual monsoon season in Nepal.


The sun swallows a comet - On Friday, Aug.28th, the sun swallowed a comet. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spotted the icy vistor from the outer solar system making a headlong plunge into our star. One comet went in; none came out.
Heated by the sun at point blank range, the comet's fragile ices vaporized, leaving at most a "rubble pile" of rock and gravel scattered along its sungrazing orbit. Any remains are invisible from Earth. The comet, R.I.P., was probably a member of the Kreutz family. Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a single giant comet many centuries ago. They get their name from 19th century German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who studied them in detail.
Several Kreutz fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most, measuring less than a few meters across, are too small to see, but occasionally a bigger fragment like this one (~10 m to 50 m) attracts attention. Because of their common parentage, sungrazers often come in clusters. For this reason, it wouldn't be surprising to find yet another one in the offing.
Monitor the Sungrazing Comet twitter feed for more sightings.
Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook