Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**The wisest person may be the one who can admit he knows nothing.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 12/28/15 -

Famed architect builds quake-proof homes from rubble in Nepal - After twin earthquakes in April and May claimed 9,000 lives and left vast swathes of Nepal in ruins, survivors worried if they reused the brick rubble, they would end up with the same vulnerable, seismically unsound structures.
Renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban - who helped bring global attention to humanitarian architecture and continues to influence fellow architects and disaster-relief workers - devised a solution. The prototype for his latest humanitarian housing project in Nepal consists of standard timber door frames joined together and reinforced with plywood. The frames are filled in with brick rubble, and the roof is covered with a plastic sheet and thatched for insulation.
The resulting structure is strong enough to meet Japan's stringent earthquake standards. "I'm hoping people will copy my design. If we make 20, some other NGO might make more. I'm encouraging people to copy my ideas. No copyrights." He has also built shelters for Rwandan refugees in 1994, Sri Lankan survivors of the 2004 tsunami, and victims of major disasters in Japan.

No current tropical storms.


Ireland - Storm Frank rolls in to wreak havoc with even worse flooding. The Atlantic storm, Frank, will bring downpours, strong winds and high-risk conditions. Storm Frank is set to hit the country today, with fears that the resultant flooding could be even worse than that caused by pre-Christmas torrential rain.
There is a status yellow wind warning in place for Dublin and the rest of Leinster, with gusts of up to 110kph expected this afternoon. Meanwhile, Met Eireann announced a status orange alert for the whole west coast where winds are expected to be even stronger. "It's a very vigorous Atlantic storm, which will bring very heavy rain and strong winds, up to storm force off the west coast."
The public have been told to stay away from at-risk coastal areas. Locations close to the seafront, such as piers and coastal walks, should be avoided over the next 48 hours. High waters are breaking over pier walls, and high-risk areas should be especially avoided by parents with younger children. As conditions worsen, entire communities along the River Shannon have been told to stay indoors if possible.
An expected 100mm of rain will fall in villages and towns already devastated by Storm Desmond. Water levels may exceed those experienced during that storm. All low-lying areas along the Shannon catchment are at risk of potential flooding. Flood warnings were issued again last night for large parts of counties Westmeath, Clare, Limerick. Galway, Mayo, Kerry and Cork.

In Paraguay, more flee worst floods in decades as levee creaks - Floods force mass evacuations in 4 South American countries. With further rain looming, more families abandoned their homes on Sunday in Paraguay, the country hardest hit by the worst flooding in decades in the area bordering Uruguay and Argentina, which has already forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate.
The El Niño weather phenomenon has exacerbated summer rains, swelling rivers in the region. The River Paraguay, which flows by the country's capital, Asuncion, has already reached 7.82 meters (25.66 feet), its highest level since 1992. Around 90,000 people have already left their homes in Asuncion, and are camping in makeshift wood and tin shelters around the city in parks and public spaces or finding refuge in schools and military buildings. In Alberdi, authorities have called for 7,000 more people to evacuate because of cracks detected in the town's levee.
In Uruguay, the number of evacuees was 11,300 on Sunday. River levels were stabilizing now. This has allowed about 1,000 people to return to their homes, while an additional 5,600 were also returning. In southern Brazil, flooding has forced 1,801 families to leave their homes, in the latest update late on Saturday.


U.S. Reeling From Violent Tornadoes, Epic Flooding, Winter Weather, and Weird Heat - Wild weather continued to plaster the nation’s midsection on Monday as a multi-barreled storm system shifted eastward. Thankfully, the severe weather threat has ramped down somewhat, with the highest risks now shifting to river and flash floods - from eastern Oklahoma to the Appalachians - and snow and ice, from Nebraska to New England. More than 40 weather-related deaths have been reported since Wednesday.
North Texas cleans up from Saturday’s deadly tornadoes - Ahead of a strong cold front in west Texas, supercell thunderstorms that ripped across the sprawling eastern part of the Dallas area spawned several tornadoes that killed at least 11 people. One violent tornado that killed eight people in Garland was rated EF4, while “at least EF3” damage was found in Rowlett, just east of Garland, due to the same tornado or one that closely followed. Two people died in Copeland, about 15 miles to the northeast, where EF2 damage was documented. Several other weaker tornadoes struck North Texas.
As many as 1000 structures were damaged across north Texas, many of them severely. The storms were fed by a very strong upper-level jet as well as unusually high instability for December (around 3000 joules per kilogram, which would be concerning in springtime, much less wintertime). Temperatures reached 80°F in Dallas just hours before the tornadic supercell arrived, with a summerlike dew point of 67°F.
The widespread persistence of warm, humid conditions over the last few days has led to an unusual U.S. stretch of severe weather for December, including tornadoes from Mississippi to Michigan on Wednesday. The EF1 tornado that touched down in Canton, Michigan on December 23 was Michigan's first December tornado on record.
Winter weather shifting from High Plains to Midwest, Northeast - While severe weather rumbled across east Texas on Sunday, the western part of the state was dealing with a crippling blizzard that extended into eastern New Mexico, while freezing rain knocked out power to tens of thousands of western Oklahomans. Exceptionally strong winds - gusting above 70 mph in some areas - have led to near-zero visibilities and drifts of 6 feet or more, paralyzing travel across the region. Roswell, NM, had racked up 12.3” for the day by 8 pm CST Sunday, topping its one-day record of 11.5”; the two-day total of 15.5" was approaching Roswell's two-day record of 16.9”.
Lubbock, TX, picked up 2.7” between 6 and 7 pm CST Sunday, pushing its storm total to 9.2”. The city’s heaviest-on- record storm total of 16.9” was picked up on January 20-21 during (you guessed it) the super El Niño of 1982-83. As the upper-level storm and associated low head northeastward on Monday, more snow and ice is plastering a swath extending from Kansas and Nebraska to Wisconsin and Michigan. A mix of sleet, snow, and freezing rain is bedeviling parts of the Great Lakes, including the Chicago and Detroit areas. A band of heavier snow (6” to 12” in spots), coupled with freezing rain in some areas, is expected from northern Wisconsin into much of Maine.
Massive flooding hits Missouri and Illinois, killing 13 - The weekend storm brought incredibly heavy rains to eastern Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas, and Southwest Missouri, with 10.0" falling in a 30-hour period ending Sunday evening on the south side of Springfield, Missouri. The heavy rains drove rivers in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas above major flood stage, with the Illinois River reaching its highest crest on record at two locations. Eight people died Saturday night in Missouri in floods; six of the deaths occurred in two separate incidents where cars drove into flooded roadways in Pulaski County and were swept away by water. In southern Illinois, three adults and two children drowned Saturday evening when their car was swept away and sank in a rain-swollen creek. Mercifully, the rains have ended in Missouri and dry weather is expected the rest of the week.
A historic flood is building on the Mississippi River - The updated flood forecasts for the Mississippi River issued Monday afternoon by NWS River Forecast Center are about two feet higher than the forecasts issued on Sunday. Nearly all of the Lower Mississippi is expected to enter major flood stage over the next few weeks, as are the lower portions of two main tributaries, the Ohio and Arkansas Rivers. The Mississippi River near St. Louis was already near flood stage late last week due to excessive rains of 2 - 4" (400 - 600% of average) that fell during the past two weeks farther upstream in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
A massive pulse of flood waters from the epic December 26 - 28 rains will pile into the Mississippi River over the next few days, bringing the river to flood levels that will be the highest on record outside of the usual spring to early summer flood season. The Mississippi River at St. Louis was at moderate flood stage on Monday afternoon, and is forecast to crest on Wednesday at the second highest level ever observed, just five feet below the all-time record set during the disastrous flood of 1993. Flood records at this location extend back to 1785.
Downstream from St. Louis, the Mississippi River is forecast to crest late this week in Chester, Cape Girardeau, and Thebes at the highest levels ever recorded. NOAA warns that at the flood levels expected, the Degognia, Fountain Bluff, Stringtown, and Prairie DuRocher levees will be overtopped near Chester. NOAA projects that the massive flood crest will propagate downstream to the Gulf of Mexico during the first three weeks of January, bringing flood heights that are expected to be between the 2nd highest and 4th highest on record all the way to Louisiana.
The capital of Christmas commerce, New York City, basked in record warmth of 72°F on Thursday and 66°F on Friday. As of Sunday, Central Park had yet to get below 32°F this fall or winter; its monthly average (12/1 – 12/26) of 52.0°F was running at an astonishing 13.8°F above normal and 7.9°F above the previous December record, going back to 1871. A cooldown this week will reduce that value, but a warmest-on-record December is all but certain for much of the eastern U.S. It’s no wonder that flowers and shrubs are blossoming from Washington to New York.
Floods, holiday warmth extend to Britain and beyond - Northern England continues to deal with relentless bursts of rain and resulting floods. The accounting firm KPMG estimates the cost of the disruption to Britain’s economy at up to 5.8 billion pounds (roughly $8.6 billion US). More heavy rain is expected on Wednesday. The venerable Central England Temperature index - the world’s oldest continuous instrumented record of temperature - remains on track to set its warmest December reading in more than 350 years. The estimated average from 12/1 to 12/27 is at 9.8°C (49.6°F), which is 5.0°C (9.0°C) above the norm. Other European nations are also likely to set records for December warmth, including the Netherlands. (maps, charts and photos at link)


Warm Weather Extends Maine's Lobster Season - The unusually warm weather in New England has made for an unusually long lobstering season in Maine. The mild weather means there is an abundance of lobsters in the Gulf of Maine and many lobstermen are continuing to fish.


AURORAS LIKELY THIS WEEK - 2015 could end with an outburst of auroras. NOAA forecasters say there is a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Dec. 30th when a CME is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. There is an equal 60% chance that the storms will spill over into Dec. 31st, New Year's Eve.
After several days of pent-up quiet, big sunspot AR2473 erupted on Dec. 28th (12:49 UT), producing a slow but powerful M1.9-class solar flare. For more than an hour, UV radiation from the flare bathed the top of Earth's atmosphere, ionizing atoms and molecules. This, in turn, disrupted the normal propagation of shortwave radio signals on the dayside of our planet. Ham radio operators, mariners and aviators in South America, Africa and the south Atlantic Ocean may have noticed fades and blackouts of transmissions below 20 MHz.
The slow explosion also produced a coronal mass ejection (CME). Images from the Solar and Heliospheric Obseratory (SOHO) show a ragged, full-halo CME heading almost directly toward Earth. NOAA analysts have modeled this CME, and they say it could reach Earth as early as Dec. 30th, with a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the CME arrives. Maximum storm levels are expected to be in the range G1 to G2.
Sunspot AR2374 has an unstable 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that could explode again in the hours ahead. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of additional M-class flares and a 10% chance of X-flares on Dec. 29th.


After 2 Years And 2,500 Deaths, Guinea Is Ebola-Free - For a country to be declared free of the virus, it must go 42 days without seeing a new infection.

Asthma epidemic in children levels off for most - The "asthma epidemic" became a serious public health concern as more children were diagnosed with asthma in the last few decades, but those numbers may finally have plateaued for children overall, according to a new study.

Teas with added citric acid had elevated aluminum, cadmium, and lead, and lemon tea bags produced levels 10 to 70 times higher. Fluoride levels in economy teas exceeded daily recommended levels and had three times the amount of more expensive varieties.
86% of herbal teas intended for babies and pregnant and breastfeeding women tested positive for pyrrolizidine alkaloids, toxins produced by some flowering plants that can cause liver damage. This finding has particular importance for pregnant and lactating women because they can pass the compounds along to the fetus or baby, who is more vulnerable to the toxic effects of pyrrolizidine alkaloids because of their low body weights.
Keep brew time under three minutes, and "avoid tea from regions that are more contaminated," like China, India, and Sri Lanka. Go for tea leaves over bag tea or lemon teas. Powder-based "lemon tea in bags is usually of worse quality than tea leaves" and has "higher amounts of noxious metal than tea infusions made from whole leaves."
Brew bag tea for less time to get less noxious metals, and hold off on adding lemon to your tea until it's done brewing and you've removed the leaves or bag. Otherwise, "when you add lemon to the tea, its pH becomes lower and more noxious metals are extracted to the tea."
To reduce fluoride exposure, again, limit brewing time, and stick to the pricier blends if you drink more than four cups of tea daily. "If anyone wishes to reduce their fluoride intake, consuming pure blends such as Assam, Ceylon, Oolong, or Darjeeling would be a way to achieve this." Mix it up – don't stick to one brand or product. "Instead, mix different suppliers and products."
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Monday, December 28, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**When natural disasters or other globally traumatic events occur, there’s a collective experience of shock and grief. Often there’s widespread media coverage of the event, which reinforces a sense of national tragedy. People feel the need to share their sorrow and acknowledge loss even if the event hasn’t directly impacted them...Grief and the love of life are twins, natural human skills that can be learned first by being on the receiving end and feeling worthy of them, later by practicing them when you run short of understanding.**
Stephen Jenkinson

U. S. - An incredible variety of weather hazards made their presence felt over Christmas weekend across the central U.S., from blizzard to tornado to freezing rain to flash flooding and river floods. More than 40 weather-related deaths have been reported since Wednesday. The multi-day storminess is related to a gradual realignment of the large-scale pattern over North America. A stunningly warm, moist air mass across the eastern and southern U.S. - by some measures the most tropical on record for early winter - is in the process of being displaced by a strong upper-level storm across the West, bringing much more seasonable cold.
Deadly tornadoes struck near Dallas on Saturday - Ahead of a strong cold front in west Texas, supercell thunderstorms that ripped across the sprawling eastern part of the Dallas area spawned several tornadoes that killed 11 people.
The widespread persistence of warm, humid conditions over the last few days has led to a unprecedented U.S. stretch of severe weather for December, including tornadoes from Mississippi to Michigan on Wednesday. Sunday was the seventh day in a row with at least one U.S. tornado reported - the first such week-long stretch for any December in NOAA Storm Prediction Center records dating back to 1950. The previous record string of six days, December 22-27, 1982, occurred during the “super El Niño” of 1982- 83.
2015 is the first year in records going back to 1875 that has seen more confirmed tornado-related deaths in December than in the rest of the year combined. The only other year with December having more deaths than any other single month was 1931.
Blizzard pummels southern High Plains As severe storms continued to rumble across east Texas on Sunday, the western part of the state was dealing with a crippling blizzard that extended into eastern New Mexico, while freezing rain knocked out power to tens of thousands of western Oklahomans. Exceptionally strong winds - gusting above 70 mph in some areas - have led to near-zero visibilities and drifts of 6 feet or more, paralyzing travel across the region.
Massive flooding hits Missouri and Illinois, killing 13 - Only days after major flooding across central and northern Alabama late last week, the weekend storm brought incredibly heavy rains to eastern Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas, and southwest Missouri, with 10.0" falling in a 30-hour period ending Sunday evening on the south side of Springfield, Missouri. An additional 1 - 2" of rain is expected over most of Missouri and Arkansas by Monday evening, but dry weather is mercifully expected the rest of the week.
Historic flood imminent on the Mississippi River - The Mississippi River near St. Louis was near flood stage late last week due to excessive rains of 2 - 4" (400 - 600% of average) that fell during the past two weeks farther upstream in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. A massive pulse of flood waters from this weekend's epic December rains will pile into the Mississippi River over the next few days, bringing the river to flood levels never recorded this time of year. The Mississippi River at St. Louis was approaching moderate flood state on Sunday evening, and is forecast to crest on Wednesday at the second highest level ever observed, just five feet below the all-time record set during the disastrous flood of 1993.
On January 20, the Mississippi flood crest is expected to arrive in New Orleans, bringing the river to its 17-foot flood stage in the city, just 3 feet below the tops of the levees. The damage from the December 2015 - January 2016 Mississippi River flood is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Big Christmas Warm - Hundreds of records were buried by sunshine, warmth, and humidity instead of white-Christmas snowfall all across the eastern U.S. during the holidays, especially on Thursday and Friday. Christmas Day was the apex for the north-south breadth of warmth, with record highs set from Florida (82°F in Jacksonville) to Maine (62°F in Portland). Many records on Thursday and Friday were smashed by margins of 10°F or more. Philadelphia has seen eight days this month (through Sunday) with record daily highs.
For the period 12/1 – 12/24, December saw a phenomenal 3164 daily record highs and 4511 record warm lows, compared to 147 record cold highs and 147 record lows. Despite the intense cold in the eastern U.S. early in 2015, this year will end up with more than twice as many U.S. daily record highs as lows.

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 12/27/15 -

12/26/15 -

12/25/15 -

12/24/15 -

Scores injured as powerful quake jolts Afghanistan, Pakistan - A 6.3-magnitude earthquake centred in the Hindu Kush jolted Afghanistan and Pakistan, damaging homes and leaving dozens of people injured just two months after a killer quake rattled the same mountainous region. The earthquake late Friday hit at a depth of 203.5 kilometres (126 miles), sending people fleeing shaking buildings into a bitterly cold night and prompting fears of aftershocks.
The epicentre of the quake, which was felt as far away as New Delhi, was in the remote Afghan province of Badakhshan, close to the Pakistani and Tajik borders. A pregnant woman was killed when a boulder fell on her house in Peshawar and up to 50 others were left injured in the northwestern Pakistani city. Initial information suggested at least 45 houses were damaged in Badakhshan where communication with remote, mountainous villages is typically slow, and 12 people were injured in the Afghan province of Nangarhar.
In October, a 7.5-magnitude quake in the same region ripped across Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing nearly 400 people and flattening buildings in rugged terrain. For many in Pakistan, October's quake brought back traumatic memories of a 7.6-magnitude quake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million. Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. In Nepal a quake in April and a strong aftershock in May killed more than 8,900 people.

No current tropical storms.


There needs to be a "complete rethink" of the UK's flood defences following unprecedented flooding across northern England, the Environment Agency says. Christmas downpours left parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester inundated after rivers at record levels burst their banks. The Environment Agency has nearly 30 severe flood warnings, meaning danger to life, in place for north-east and north-west England, with more than 180 other flood warnings and alerts in England and Wales.
On Sunday, the government said 200 soldiers were being deployed to affected areas in addition to 300 already on the ground. A further 1,000 personnel are being held in reserve in case the situation gets worse. Although Monday will be drier than the weekend, more heavy rain is forecast for the middle of the week. Many places have seen record river levels over the past 24 hours, including the River Aire in Leeds, and the rivers Calder and Ribble, affecting places such as Whalley, Hebden Bridge and Ribchester.

More than 6 billion gallons of water have poured into Lake Tahoe in less than two days, helping the lake begin to recover from four years of crushing drought. Since midnight Monday, the lake has gone up 1.92 inches, the equivalent of 6.39 billion gallons of water. The water comes as a winter storm slams the Sierra, bringing several feet of snow to higher elevations and rain at lake level.

Severe flooding hits South America - More than 100,000 people have had to evacuate from their homes in the bordering areas of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina due to severe flooding in the wake of heavy summer rains brought on by El Niño, authorities said on Saturday. In the worse affected country, Paraguay, around 90,000 people in the area around the capital city of Asuncion have been evacuated. Many are poor families living in precarious housing along the banks of the River Paraguay.

Argentina floods force thousands to evacuate - At least 7,000 people have been evacuated in north-eastern Argentina as heavy rains cause rivers to swell. Those living close to the Uruguay River in Entre Rios province are reported to be among the worst affected. The mayor of the town of Concordia, on the border with Uruguay, was quoted as saying a quarter of the town was underwater.
Thousands of people have also been affected by the rains in neighbouring Paraguay and Uruguay. "There's never been flooding like this...Today the river is going to rise another 40cm [16in]. We are going to... keep evacuating more families all day."


Blizzard conditions were the latest subset of extreme weather to hit the U.S. heartland Sunday after a string of severe storms left at least 43 people dead across seven states over the previous four days. Heavy snow fell across New Mexico, west Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle.


A canal that delivers vital water supplies from Northern California to Southern California is sinking in places. So are stretches of a riverbed undergoing historic restoration. On farms, well casings pop up like mushrooms as the ground around them drops.
Four years of drought and heavy reliance on pumping of groundwater have made the land sink faster than ever up and down the Central Valley, requiring repairs to infrastructure that experts say are costing billions of dollars. This slow-motion land subsidence — more than one foot a year in some places — is not expected to stop anytime soon, experts say, nor will the expensive repairs. "It's shocking how a huge area is affected, but how little you can tell with your eye."

Australia braces for new heatwave as residents return to charred homes - Residents returned on Sunday to charred homes after a Christmas Day bushfire in southern Australia destroyed more than 100 properties, with firefighters bracing for a new heatwave forecast in the lead- up to the new year.
Some 116 homes southwest of Melbourne in the wooded coastal area along the Great Ocean Road tourist drive were razed as about 500 firefighters battled to put out the inferno. Scenes of burnt-out homes, blackened cars, fallen trees and downed power lines greeted residents allowed back into the zone to inspect their properties. Temperatures were also set to soar again in the lead-up to the new year, rising to as high as 38 degree Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) in some parts of the state,

California wildfire 75 percent contained - Hundreds of firefighters on Sunday mopped up the remnants of a wind-whipped wildfire that threatened dozens of Southern California coastal homes. Authorities said their new worry is a landslide if rain pounds the charred hills.
The fire that scorched about 1,230 acres north of Ventura was 75 percent contained, with full containment expected Tuesday. The blaze erupted Friday night when high winds caused power lines on an oil field to arc. At its peak, the fire closed a 15-mile stretch of an adjacent, six-lane freeway, U.S. 101, and another major north-south route, the Pacific Coast Highway.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.**
C.S Lewis

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 12/15/15 -

Indonesia's volcano in East Java continues eruption - Mount Bromo volcano in East Java, Indonesia erupted Tuesday spewing column of ash by up to 1.5 km. to the sky. Mount Bromo last erupted in January 2011, forcing airlines to ground their planes. Mount Bromo is one of Indonesia’s 129 active volcanoes.

Mexico: Colima volcano triple eruption spews ash and smoke into sky - Located in the southwestern Mexican state of Colima, the Fire Volcano has been exhibiting continuous activity since 9 July. It was previously active in January and February of 2015 and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Mexico contains over 3,000 volcanos, but only 14 are considered active.


* In the Western Pacific -
Typhoon Melor is located approximately 65 nm west-southwest of Manila, Philippines.
Nine killed as storm causes chaos in central Philippines - Nine people were killed and hundreds spent the night huddled on their roofs in the central Philippines as floods generated by a powerful typhoon inundated villages, disaster officials said on Wednesday. Typhoon Melor had paralyzed the capital, Manila, by late Tuesday, with floodwaters chest-deep in some areas disrupting train services and causing traffic gridlock on major roads. Five people were listed as missing.
The typhoon, known locally as Nona, was about 150 km (95 miles) northwest of Mindoro island, just to the south of Manila, with winds at its center of 130 kph (80 mph). It was described as one of the strongest typhoons to hit the province in years. In Northern Samar, where Melor first made landfall further south, about 90 percent of the province was affected. "Many people will spend Christmas in evacuation centers without power and potable water."
Thousands of lightly constructed houses had been reduced to "matchsticks". "It may take three to four months to restore power in the province after power lines and electricity posts were toppled by strong winds." Five fishermen were missing in Albay gulf on the heavily populated main island of Luzon. About 120 domestic flights were grounded and nearly 200 ferry services were stopped.
The storm forced the evacuation of about 800,000 people to shelters. Another storm is expected to hit the southern Philippines later this week, forecaster Accuweather said. An average of 20 typhoons pass through the Philippines each year. In 2013, typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people and left 1.4 million homeless in the central Philippines.
"It will be a very sad Christmas and a dark one because we have no power. But the important thing is everyone around me is still moving." The typhoon tore in off the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon and hit farming and fishing communities in the eastern Philippines with winds of up to 185 kilometres (115 miles) an hour. Civil defence officials said they were checking reports of additional deaths in isolated areas but were struggling to confirm new casualties due to "communication issues" caused by the storm.
The road out of Bulan was littered with fallen trees and toppled power lines, making travel difficult, while nearby wooden and thatched houses lay in ruin. Melor weakened slightly as it cut across the central islands of the archipelago, but its wind gusts were still reaching 170 kilometres an hour as it passed over the island of Mindoro Tuesday afternoon. By evening the typhoon had begun to move out into the South China Sea and based on current forecasts was unlikely to directly hit any further land masses, although a level three storm warning - the second highest signal - remained in place for northern Mindoro island.
In Bicol, a vast region in the east often hit by typhoons, authorities credited the early evacuation of 720,000 people for what they believed would be a low death toll. "We have zero floods, zero deaths, zero casualties." But the entire province of 1.2 million people was without power. Residents of neighbouring Sorsogon, which takes in Bulan town, were also without power on Tuesday, and authorities could give no guarantees if electricity would be restored by Christmas.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons a year, many of them deadly, with the strongest often happening towards the end of the year. Last year, 53 people died in floods and landslides after Typhoon Jangmi hit another part of the eastern Philippines five days after Christmas. The last deadly storm to hit the country this year, Koppu, killed 54 people and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes after it pummelled rice-growing northern provinces in October. In November 2013, one of the strongest typhoons on record, Haiyan, flattened entire communities in the central region with tsunami-like waves, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.

Powerful Typhoon Melor to Batter Philippines Into Wednesday - Melor will continue to bring heavy rain and damaging winds to the Philippines into the middle of the week. Since Melor first moved into the Philippines on Monday as the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane, the storm has fluctuated in strength multiple times. After weakening, the storm grew back to a Category 4 strength early Tuesday morning local time as it approached Mindoro Island and made its fourth landfall in the Philippines.
Melor weakened back to the strength of a Category 1 hurricane early Wednesday local time. Melor brought more than 200 mm (8 inches) to Calapan City on Mindoro Island in only 12 hours on Tuesday. Powerful winds in excess of 160 km/h (100 mph) threaten to cause widespread damage in northern Mindoro and southern Batangas provinces through Tuesday night. Storm surge of 1-2 meters (3-6 feet) is possible in areas near the path of Melor into Wednesday.
"Melor is a very compact typhoon, so that will prevent its most devastating impacts from extending too far from its center." Winds in excess of 115 km/h (73 mph) extend only 45 km (30 miles) away from Melor's center. Melor will weaken as it crosses the western Philippines into Wednesday. However, damaging wind gusts and flooding rain will remain likely. Rainfall amounts could top 300 mm (12 inches) in the western Philippines, especially across the higher terrain of western Luzon. This heavy rainfall combined with the rugged terrain of the region will result in an elevated threat for life-threatening mudslides.
Rainfall totaled over 175 mm (7 inches) in Masbate City and 150 mm (6 inches) in Legazpi City as the cyclone tracked through the central Philippines on Monday. Manila will experience impacts from the typhoon as well. While strong winds will bypass the city to the south and west, heavy rainfall is likely. After blasting the Philippines, Melor is expected to weaken further as it eventually turns southwestward into the South China Sea later this week.
Another potential tropical system will follow in the footsteps of Melor later this week. This tropical threat will bring another round of heavy rain to the Philippines as early as Thursday or Friday. This time the heaviest rain is expected to be farther south impacting the southern half of the Philippines regardless of whether development occurs.(maps and video at link)


On December 1–2, the Indian city of Chennai received more rainfall in 24 hours than it had seen on any day since 1901. The deluge followed a month of persistent monsoon rains that were already well above normal for the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. At least 250 people have died, several hundred have been critically injured, and thousands have been affected or displaced by the flooding that has ensued.
Meteorologists in India and abroad attributed the rains to a super-charged northeast monsoon. In the winter, prevailing winds blow from northeast to southwest across the country, which tends to have a drying effect in most places, particularly inland. But those northeasterly winds also blow over the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal, where they evaporate a great deal of moisture from the sea and dump it over southern and eastern India. Coastal eastern India receives 50 to 60 percent of its yearly rainfall during this winter monsoon.
In 2015, this pattern was amplified by record-warm seas and by the long-distance effects of El Niño. The city of Chennai recorded 1218.6 millimeters (47.98 inches) of rain in November 2015. India’s meteorological department noted that rainfall was 50 to 90 percent above normal in the eastern states. Then 345 millimeters (13.58 inches) more fell on Chennai in the December 1–2 storm, which was fueled by a low-pressure system offshore.


Storm Drops up to 2 Feet on Colorado; 425 Flights Canceled - A powerful late-autumn storm dumped up to 24 inches of snow in the Colorado mountains on Tuesday before barreling onto the plains, prompting airlines to cancel 425 flights at the Denver airport and leaving hundreds of miles of highways slippery with snow and ice.
The snow tapered off Tuesday afternoon as the storm moved northeast, leaving behind drifts up to four feet high. "It's going to be western Nebraska's turn next. It's going to end up eventually in Minnesota." It was the first big storm of the season for most of Colorado and Utah. Schools closed in some towns in at least four states.
Some flights at Denver International Airport were more than four hours late after at least seven inches of snow fell there. More than 600 miles of Colorado Interstate highways were snowpacked or icy, and gusts as strong as 58 mph left near-whiteout conditions in isolated areas of Colorado's eastern plains. Few highways were closed, however.
A snowplow slipped off a highway in the foothills west of Boulder early Tuesday and landed up-side-down in a creek, but the driver wasn't injured. The wind piled up drifts three to four feet deep in the small northeastern Colorado town of Merino. Schools and the town offices were closed but some businesses opened as usual. About 24 inches of snow fell in the west-central mountains near McClure Pass.
The town of Larkspur, in the foothills north of Colorado Springs, reported 17 inches of snow, and cities along the north-south Interstate 25 corridor reported up to a foot. Farther east, the Colorado plains received four to eight inches of snow. The storm struck Utah before moving into Colorado, leaving about a foot of snow in the Salt Lake City area and more than two feet in other places. The Utah Highway Patrol worked more than 400 accidents over the last two days as people struggled to get to work and school on icy, snow-packed roads.
The storm left a foot of snow in parts of Wyoming and Montana, leaving icy highways. School kids in Billings, Montana, the state's largest city, got their first snow day in more than 25 years. Parts of Interstates 25 and 80 were closed in Wyoming, but travel was a lot more fun in Yellowstone National Park, where recent snow allowed the park to start welcoming snowmobile and tank-like snowcoach traffic.
Elsewhere, rain and snow pushed into New England after an unseasonably warm and dry weekend. Sherman, Maine, reported six inches of snow at midday Tuesday. Much of the West Coast was dry with below-average temperatures. The Tuesday morning low was -13 degrees in Bridgeport, California, and 6 degrees in Big Bear City, California.

Storm Train to Return to Northwestern US by Late Week - Though much of the northwestern United States will receive relief from the continuous storm train through midweek, storms will return to the region late this week and into next week.

Snow, Rain and Fog to Disrupt Christmas Travelers Across US - The weather during the week of Christmas will closely mirror the weather during much of December thus far in the eastern and western United States. People traveling in the East will not have to pack much cold weather gear, while a snow shovel and tire chains may come in handy for parts of the West. Many people across the nation will need a good set of windshield wipers, working headlights and an umbrella for their travel ventures. Others in the Central states may need to keep an eye out for severe weather.
Cold and Snow in the West, Record Warmth in the East - of the approximate 100 million people who will take a year-end trip, about 90 percent will travel by automobile. Approximately 6 percent will travel by airline and the remaining 3-4 percent will travel by train, or water. The weather could have major impact on the airport hubs of San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and New York City next week.
During the fourth week of December, storms from the Pacific will continue to bombard the West with outbreaks of cold air reaching southward toward Mexico and eastward through the Rockies. Meanwhile, the week leading up to Christmas will bring another surge of warmth with areas of dense fog with patchy rain from near the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Seaboard.
Rounds of heavy rain will drench the West Coast and the Interstate 5 corridor from northern California to western Washington. Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, are among the cities likely to be impacted by adverse travel conditions at times next week. Waves of cold air will continue to settle southward over the West. Enough rain can fall at times to not only slow travel, but also continue the risk of flooding and mudslides from the western slopes of the Cascades to the shoreline of the Pacific.
There is the likelihood of one or two storms dipping well to the south along the Pacific coast with significant rain coastal and low snow levels in Southern California as well. Los Angeles and San Diego could experience travel issues on one or more days next week. During the middle of next week, heavy snow could take aim at on the Colorado Rockies, including the Denver area.
Weather Battle Zone to Set Up Over Plains - From the Mississippi Valley to the Atlantic coast, the vast majority of travelers will not have to contend with snow or ice. However, severe weather could be a threat. In portions of the Plains to the Mississippi Valley the storm track will allow episodes of rain and snow in the north and the potential for locally gusty thunderstorms in the South. Areas most likely to get a dose or two of accumulating snow next week will stretch from western Nebraska to northern Minnesota.
Building chill in the West and returning warmth in the East will add extra volatility to the atmosphere over the middle of the nation next week. According to AccuWeather, "There is the potential for an outbreak of severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, from parts of Texas to perhaps as far north as Illinois on Christmas Eve."
East to Bask in Warmth, Crawl Through Fog - At least two storm systems will sweep from the South Central states to the Great Lakes region bringing rain and warmth for much of the eastern half of the nation during next week. The rainy rounds can be enough to slow down travel on the many major highway corridors of I-10, I-20, I-40, I-80, I-81, I-90 and I-95.
However, the prevailing and recurring warmth will also present some significant problems. "The major concern for travelers will be episodes of fog that could be dense enough to impact airlines and drivers from the Midwest to the East Coast during part of the week of Christmas." Major airport hubs that could be impact by foggy episodes include Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. "There is a chance the fog will retreat northward and out of the picture after Wednesday from the lower Mississippi and Ohio valleys to the southern and middle-Atlantic coasts." Locally dense fog could still be a problem around parts of the Great Lakes and New England through the week.


Arctic air temperature highest since 1900 — The Arctic is heating up, with air temperatures the hottest in 115 years, and the melting ice destroying walrus habitat and forcing some fish northward, a global scientific report said Tuesday. Air temperature anomalies over land were 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.3 degrees Celsius) above average, “the highest since records began in 1900."
Meanwhile, the annual sea ice maximum occurred February 25, about two weeks earlier than average, and was “the lowest extent recorded since records began in 1979.” “Warming is happening more than twice as fast in the Arctic than anywhere else in the world. We know this is due to climate change, and its impacts are creating major challenges for Arctic communities. We also know what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic."

Weekend Warmth Breaks 142-Year-Old Record Across Eastern US - Warmth built across much of the eastern United States this past weekend, breaking record highs dating back to the 1800s.


All Sky Fireball Network - On Dec. 15, the network reported 244 fireballs. (143 Geminids, 90 sporadics, 4 December Leonis Minorids, 2 sigma Hydrids, 1 December Monocerotid, 1 Comae Berenicid). Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics.

Asteroid to pass by Earth on Christmas Eve - If the asteroid whizzes by without being seen, there will be another chance at a glimpse in just a few years. NASA scientists calculate that asteroid 163899, also known as 2003 SD220, will make its closest approach to Earth on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2015.
The asteroid is rather large, thought to measure between 0.5 and 1.5 miles wide. Contrary to reports that it will graze Earth or trigger earthquakes, the asteroid won't actually come all that close. The space rock will remain at a safe distance of 6,787,600 miles, more than 28 times the distance between Earth and the moon. By comparison, the asteroid on Halloween flashed by at just 1.3 times the Earth-moon distance, and even that flyby wasn't a cause for concern.
"Again, there is no existing evidence that an asteroid or any other celestial object is on a trajectory that will impact Earth. In fact, not a single one of the known objects has any credible chance of hitting our planet over the next century." If the asteroid whizzes by without being seen, there will be another chance at a glimpse in just a few years. "The 2015 apparition is the first of five encounters by this object in the next 12 years when it will be close enough for a radar detection."
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 12/14/15 -

12/13/15 -


* In the Western Pacific -
Typhoon Melor is located approximately 177 nm southeast of Manila, Philippines. The system has significantly degraded as it dragged across the Philippine archipelago. Melor will continue to track generally westward to west-northwestward under the steering influence of a deep layered subtropical ridge over the next 36 hours. Afterwards, the cyclone will track southwestward with the low level wind flow in the South China Sea. Land interaction, increasing vws and the intrusion of cold dry air associated with a strong Continental cold surge in the South China Sea will accelerate its decay, leading to dissipation.

Video - Typhoon Melor: 'The strong winds are terrifying'. Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes in the Philippines after Typhoon Melor made landfall on Monday.


States in the Pacific Northwest were hit this week with El Niño weather that brought record rainfall, flooding, mudslides, and power cuts, causing two deaths and leading state officials to declare a state of emergency in multiple counties.
Weather experts and federal agencies have warned that California could be hit with severe seasonal weather patterns whose effects could be worsened by the state's ongoing drought. According to a recently released Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)preparedness guide, this El Niño season — which some expect to be the strongest on record — could combine with existing conditions in California to create a slew of borderline disaster-scenarios in the state. The guide warns of increased flooding risks because of too-dry soil, a higher likelihood of landslides from wildfire destruction, and abnormally high tides along coastal regions.
While the seasonal warming of the Pacific Ocean affects localities spanning the entire West Coast, California's environment is particularly suited to magnify the effects of those weather patterns. While the state's drought-induced low reservoirs will likely take in some of the heavy rainfall, tributaries in flat areas could be prone to flooding, and several levees in the Sacramento Valley "have a significant chance of failure during the next high water mark." Along coastal areas, especially high tides could result from what's known as the "Blob,"a patch of warm water in the Pacific that could contribute to a rise in water levels by between eight and 11 inches.
Strong El Niño seasons have wreaked havoc on the state before. In the 1997-1998 season, the strongest on record, the state evacuated 100,000 people from affected regions. It resulted in landslides, mudslides, floods, and home destruction. Some have speculated that changes in the weather linked to climate change could be a contributing factor in making this year's season one of the strongest.

As Florida Keys flood, property worries seep in - Adams Drive in Key Largo, Florida has been flooded for nearly a month, after high tides were exacerbated by a super moon. Extreme high tides have turned streets into canal-like swamps in the Florida Keys, with armies of mosquitoes and the stench of stagnating water filling the air, and residents worried rising sea levels will put a damper on property values in the island chain.
On Key Largo, a tropical isle famous for snorkeling and fishing, the floods began in late September. While people expected high tides due to the season and the influence of a super moon, they were taken by surprise when a handful of streets in the lowest-lying neighborhoods stayed inundated for nearly a month with 16-inches (40-centimeters) of saltwater. By early November, the roads finally dried up. But unusually heavy rains in December brought it all back again. "Like a sewer."
Residents have signed petitions, voiced anger at community meetings and demanded that local officials do something, whether by raising roads or improving drainage. Sometimes, they clash over whether the floods are, or are not, a result of man-made climate change. "We get vocal residents who show up and argue," said the president of the Island of Key Largo Federation of Homeowners Association, who has never seen such high waters - or high tempers - in her 30 years of living here." Residents tend to agree on one thing, which is for many their life's biggest investment. "We are all concerned about our property values."
"It is like taking a peek at the future," said a geologist of the Key Largo floods, which he says were driven by abnormal tides and made worse by rising seas. Scientists cannot predict exactly how fast sea levels will mount in the years ahead as the oceans warm and glaciers melt. But they can broadly predict how much more water to expect - up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) above the 1992 average in the next 15 years and 26 inches (0.6 meters) by 2060.
Absent measures to adapt the properties, that amount of sea level rise by 2060 would wipe out 12 percent of property value in the Keys, a string of 1,700 small islands built on porous, prehistoric coral reefs, said a 2011 reports. Forecasts for 2100 are more dire. Since most of the islands are less than six feet (two meters) above the current sea level, a five-foot (1.5 meter) water rise in the Keys would erase 68 percent of property value in the area.
For now, south Florida real estate is booming. Even in the Keys, sales are up 17 percent and the average home sale price is $512,000, up three percent from last year. "So far we have not been seeing buyers being concerned with sea level rise, which I'm a little surprised given all the media attention it has garnered lately." But experts warn that plenty of cash and land stand to disappear in the next 15 years. As much as $15 billion could be lost in Florida property by 2030.
In the Keys, local officials are still studying ways to address the floods, and are planning a pair of demonstration projects to showcase the possibilities. But sea walls are impractical for the 113 miles (182 km) of islands. Pumps can't keep up with water that comes in from all sides and also up through the porous ground. Simply raising roads could send excess water into people's yards.

Landslide leaves Oregon residents on brink of disaster - The storm system may be on its way out of the Northwest, but it's not done doing damage. The road leading to houses used to be a road, but now it's a cliff. They've watched the landslide on their property for the last six days. What started as a crack, caved into a crater.
A week's worth of nearly non-stop rain in the picturesque part of Tillamook, Oregon, has left residents literally living near the edge. Now seven homes are in danger of being destroyed after nearly 11 inches of rain fell in seven days, opening a hole big enough to fit 11 SUVs. "Not a sound warning. It just, the land went away."
People are pitching into help - more than 200 sandbags are holding down a tarp intended to stop the ground from sliding any more. "If it starts to move, I'm not going to be stubborn and stay. I will get the hell out. But until it starts to move, I'm staying." The hole in front of one house is 100 feet long, and 50 feet wide. On Monday, he will find out if his home is condemned. He has found out the insurance company will not pay for the damage.


Here's Where NOAA Thinks We'll Have A White Christmas in the U.S. - NOAA released a graphic that charts out the probability that you’ll have some snow on December 25th, based on historical norms. NOAA’s graphic shows the “climatological probability of at least 1 inch of snow being on the ground”: This map is based on the 1981–2010 Climate Normals, which are the latest three-decade averages of several climatological measurements. This dataset contains daily and monthly Normals of temperature, precipitation, snowfall, heating and cooling degree days, frost/freeze dates, and growing degree days calculated from observations at approximately 9,800 stations operated by NOAA’s National Weather Service.


Earth May Spin Faster as Glaciers Melt - Scientists say a section of the West Antarctic ice sheet has reached a point of inevitable collapse, an event that would eventually raise sea levels more than 3 feet (1 meter). Melting ice triggered by global warming may make Earth whirl faster than before and could shift the axis on which the planet spins. This could also affect sunset times, as the length of Earth's day depends on the speed at which the planet rotates on its axis. Prior research found the rate at which Earth spins has changed over time.
For instance, ancient Babylonian, Chinese, Arab and Greek astronomers often recorded when eclipses occurred and where these phenomena were seen. This knowledge, in combination with astronomical models that calculate what the positions of the Earth, sun and moon were on any given date and time, can help reveal how fast Earth must have been spinning. To do so, researchers calculate the speed necessary for the planet to face the sun and moon in ways that allowed those astronomers to observe the eclipses.
In general, the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on Earth is relentlessly slowing the planet's rate of spin. However, in the short term, a variety of different factors can also speed up and slow down how fast Earth whirls. Previous research has found that melting glaciers triggered by global warming helped cause a significant amount of global sea-level rise in the 20th century. In theory, rising sea levels — once estimated to be climbing at a rate of about 0.06 to 0.08 inches (1.5 to 2 millimeters) per year — should also have slightly shifted Earth's axis and increased the rate at which the planet spins.
When polar ice caps melt, they remove weight off underlying rock, which then rebounds upward. This makes the poles less flat and the planet more round overall. This should in turn cause Earth to tilt a bit and spin more quickly. However, previous research mysteriously could not find evidence that melting glaciers were triggering a shift in either Earth's rotation or axis that was as great as predicted. This problem is known as "Munk's enigma," after oceanographer Walter Munk who first noted the mystery, in 2002.
Now, in a new study, researchers may have solved this enigma and shown that rising sea levels are indeed affecting Earth's spin and axis. "The rise of sea level and the melting of glaciers during the 20th century is confirmed not only by some of the most dramatic changes in the Earth system — for example, catastrophic flooding events, droughts [and] heat waves — but also in some of the most subtle — incredibly small changes in Earth's rotation rate." First, the scientists noted that recent studies suggested 20th-century glacial melting was about 30 percent less severe than Munk assumed. This should significantly reduce the predicted amount of shift in Earth's spin and axis.
Moreover, the research team's mathematical calculations and computer simulations found that prior research relied on erroneous models of Earth's internal structure. This meant previous studies did not correctly account for how much glaciers would deform underlying rock and influence Earth's spin. Furthermore, interactions between Earth's rocky mantle and the planet's molten metal outer core should have helped slow the planet's spin more than was previously thought.
Altogether, these adjustments helped the scientists find that ongoing glacial melting and the resulting sea-level rise are affecting the Earth in ways that match theoretical predictions, astronomical observations, and geodetic or land-survey data. "What we believe in regard to melting of glaciers in the 20th century is completely consistent with changes in Earth's rotation [as] measured by satellites and astronomical methods. This consistency was elusive for a few years, but now the enigma is resolved. Human-induced climate change is of such pressing importance to society that the responsibility on scientists to get things right is enormous. By resolving Munk's enigma, we further strengthen the already-strong argument that we are impacting climate."

California's stranded sea lions suffering from brain damage caused by algal blooms - Scientists have gleaned fresh insight into the havoc wreaked by a microscopic culprit that has disrupted marine life this year along the Pacific Coast, not only tainting Northern California's delicious supply of Dungeness crab but also sickening or killing hundreds of sea lions.


THE GEMINID METEOR SHOWER IS UNDERWAY - Canada's Meteor Orbit Radar is picking up strong echoes from the constellation Gemini. It's a sign that the annual Geminid meteor shower is underway. Geminid meteoroids are gravelly debris from "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon. They hit Earth's atmosphere traveling ~35 km/s (78,000 mph) and typically disintegrate about 80 km (50 miles) above Earth's surface.
Earth is moving through the densest part of the stream today. Under ideal conditions this would produce as many as 120 meteors per hour. Winter weather around the northern hemisphere is, in most places, reducing actual sightings far below that number. On Dec. 14, the network reported 148 fireballs. (107 Geminids, 33 sporadics, 4 sigma Hydrids, 1 December Monocerotid, 1 , 1 Comae Berenicid, 1 December Leonis Minorid)


Taking antidepressants during pregnancy linked to increased risk of autism - Children are more likely to be diagnosed with autism if their mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy, a new study shows. In the new study, women who took antidepressants in the last six months of pregnancy were 87% more likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism. Doctors saw no increase in autism rates in women who took medication for depression in the first three months of pregnancy.
It's part of a growing body of research that suggests that the events that cause autism largely occur before birth. Studies have found that children are at higher risk for autism, for example, if they are born early or very small. Children are also at higher risk if they are in medical distress during delivery; if they have older mothers or fathers; or if they are born less than a year after an older sibling.
Autism risk also goes up for women who are obese; if they have diabetes or high blood pressure; if they are hospitalized for an infection; if they're exposed to significant air pollution during pregnancy; if they had low levels of folic acid in early pregnancy; or if they take an anti-seizure drug called valproic acid. "It's really during pregnancy that the hard-wiring of the brain takes place."
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Friday, December 4, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**One does not fall in love; one grows into love, and love grows in us.**
Karl A. Menninger

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 12/3/15 -

Earthquakes in the U.S. breadbasket? Understand the risk. (Hazard map at link, article by insurance company)

No current tropical storms.


India - Floodwaters recede as Chennai rain eases. More than 7,000 people have been rescued so far, but many are still stranded, reports say. More than 260 people have died in the floods in the state after the heaviest rainfall in a century.
A depression in the Bay of Bengal has triggered rains in coastal areas. Last month, non-stop rain for nearly a week brought the city to a standstill. Three days of fresh rains have again led to massive flooding, inundating homes, hospitals, roads, railway tracks and the city's airport. Forecasts of more showers remain in place. Reports say there has been no rain in Chennai on Friday morning and water levels are receding in some parts of the city.
Schools, colleges and factories are shut, exams postponed and power supply suspended in most parts of the city. An oil refinery has stopped operations. A naval air base at Arakkonam, 70km (43 miles) from the Tamil Nadu state capital, is now being used as a makeshift airport with seven commercial flights expected to operate on Friday and Saturday. Train services will remain suspended until Saturday, officials say.
Flood affected people queued up for food. Some areas are still badly affected and remain cut off. Rescue teams are now focusing on these neighbourhoods while trying to get food and medicines to thousands of people who have been affected. Shops and markets have opened as well and people are queuing up to buy food and fuel, although there are shortages of essentials supplies such as milk. But the airport and the main railway station are still closed - a naval air base outside the city has been cleared for a limited number of civilian flights.
Although the rain is part of the normal monsoon, Chennai received AS MUCH RAIN IN TWO DAYS AS IT DOES IN A COUPLE OF MONTHS. A massive rescue operation is continuing to reach stranded people. Some 5,000 houses are still under water with many people trapped inside them, reports say. Troops have set up 25 shelters and community kitchens for the flood victims. Officials said they were investigating the deaths of 14 patients on life support after a power failure at a private hospital in the city.
"The hospital was flooded and it was adjacent to the river. The patients have died over a period of three days. 57 other patients who were also on ventilator support have been shifted to other hospitals in the city. The deaths have definitely not occurred due to power cuts. They were all critical patients. This will in any case be a matter of investigation."
Many people were queuing at bus stops to leave the city. "There are people who haven't eaten for days. They have seen their possessions float away from the house. Food, clothes - all gone." The federal weather office has predicted two more days of torrential rain in the southern state, where nearly 70 million people live. A total of 269 people are now known to have died in floods in Tamil Nadu state since last month.

'Unnatural disaster' - How human folly has contributed to the Chennai deluge. Many parts of India suffer flooding every year during the annual monsoon rains from June to September. The northeast monsoon has been particularly vigorous over southern India and more so in Tamil Nadu state, of which Chennai is the capital.
Last month was the WETTEST NOVEMBER IN A CENTURY in the city of 4.3 million people. And, at 490 mm, rainfall on 1 December was the highest in 100 years. The floods are a wake up call for India's teeming cities that were built with the expectation that the environment would adjust itself to accommodate the need for the city to grow. (PHOTOS AT LINK)

Twisters Give Nation a Pass in 2015: LOWEST DEATH TOLL ON RECORD? Amid all the genuinely awful news making the rounds in recent days, here is one bright spot: the year 2015 may end up with the lowest number of U.S. tornado fatalities in at least 141 years. As of December 2, preliminary numbers from the NOAA Storm Prediction Center show only 10 tornado-related deaths nationwide. If this number holds through the end of the year, it will beat the 12 deaths reported in 1910 to become the lowest annual total on record.
The U.S. nation has indeed seen a remarkably safe year tornado-wise in 2015. The year is not done, though: 5 of the last 10 Decembers produced at least one tornado fatality, with the highest total of that period being 9 in December 2010. Part of the story this year is sheer good luck. The strongest tornado of 2015 so far occurred on April 9: a violent EF4 twister that tracked over 30 miles of northern Illinois just west of Chicago.
Just a small shift in that tornado’s track could have produced far more havoc. And the unseasonably late tornadic swarm of November 16 over the southern Great Plains produced three large EF3 tornadoes but comparatively little damage. Apart from these two outbreaks, the year’s crop of tornadoes was generally on the weak and short-lived side. A single outbreak can make an otherwise quiet year devastating, but in general, “a low number of tornadoes correlates to a low number of tornado deaths."
After the horrific tornado season of 2011 (with 553 fatalities, the nation’s deadliest since 1925), the U.S. has seen four consecutive years with below-average activity, if we count 2015 in advance. For this quietude, we can thank the same predominant upper-level pattern that’s stoked four years of intense drought in California and shunted a large fraction of hurricanes away from the East Coast.
“The stagnant large-scale pattern of generally northwest flow that has dominated central North America for the past few years has certainly played some role in suppressing conditions more supportive of tornado outbreaks. whether this shift to more tranquil conditions is part of some longer-term oscillation, a result of climate change dynamics, or both, or just a random occurrence, is hard to say.”
An uptick in tornado deaths over the last decade - There is the possibility that a quiet stretch could soften people’s resolve to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from tornadoes. The decade from 2005 to 2014 produced a total of 1092 tornado-related deaths. That’s roughly double the death rate that prevailed over the three prior decades (1975-84, 1985-94, and 1995-2004). Clearly, the numbers for the past decade are skewed by the huge death toll in 2011, but a total of six of the ten years in 2005-2014 produced at least 50 deaths. That wasn’t the case in any of the three previous decades.
“The annual death toll in the modern era is likely influenced more by the number of tornadoes than by our improved ability to predict them. The conditions to support a widespread killer tornado outbreak can come together in a matter of 2-3 days. We need to maintain vigilance!” (photos and charts at link)


Migratory birds are losing ground. Study cites key areas needing protections. Migratory birds are at risk from increasing habitat destruction of stopover points, especially in North Africa, Central Asia, and the coast of East Asia.

Radiation from Japan nuclear disaster spreads off U.S. shores - Radiation from Japan's 2011 nuclear disaster has spread off North American shores and contamination is increasing at previously identified sites, although levels are still too low to threaten human or ocean life, scientists said on Thursday.
Tests of hundreds of samples of Pacific Ocean water confirmed that Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant CONTINUES TO LEAK RADIOACTIVE ISOTOPES more than four years after its meltdown. Trace amounts of cesium-134 have been detected within several hundred miles (km) of the Oregon, Washington and California coasts in recent months, as well as offshore from Canada's Vancouver Island. Another isotope, cesium-137, a radioactive legacy of nuclear weapons tests conducted from the 1950s through the 1970s, was found at low levels in nearly every seawater sample tested.
"Despite the fact that the levels of contamination off our shores remain well below government- established safety limits for human health or to marine life, the changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific." In March 2011, a massive earthquake triggered a tsunami that struck the Fukushima nuclear plant, 130 miles (209 km) northeast of Tokyo, causing triple nuclear meltdowns and forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee from nearby towns. It was the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
Last year, there wa reported detectable radiation from about 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of northern California, and in April radiation was found off Canada's shores. The latest readings measured the highest radiation levels outside Japanese waters to date some 1,600 miles (2,574 km) west of San Francisco. The figures also confirm that the spread of radiation to North American waters is not isolated to a handful of locations, but can be detected along a stretch of more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) offshore.

Arctic Sea Ice Is ‘Well Below Average’ for November - Sea ice on both sides of the Arctic Ocean was well below average in November, according to an update released Wednesday by the United States National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
According to the center, sea ice covered 3.9 million square miles of the Arctic Ocean at the end of November — an area 351,000 square miles smaller than the 1981 to 2010 average extent, although 230,000 square miles greater than 2006’s record low. “At the end of the month, extent was well below average in both the Barents Sea and the Bering Strait regions,” the center reported. “Extent was above average in eastern Hudson Bay, but below average in the western part of the bay.”
The low growth of winter sea ice is a continued signal that climate change is rapidly transforming conditions in the Arctic, which are important drivers of climate and weather conditions around the Northern Hemisphere. Sea ice is also crucial to the survival of polar bears, narwhals,ice seals, and other species. U.S. federal wildlife officials declared polar bears a “threatened” species in 2008 because of diminishing Arctic sea ice, and gave similar protections to populations of Arctic bearded and ringed seals in 2012.
The Pacific walrus is also being considered for endangered species protections. For the past several years, the walruses have been turning up in unprecedented numbers during early autumn on shorelines around the Chukchi Sea, in Alaska and Russia, as the loss of Arctic sea ice forces them to come to land.
Above-average air temperatures above the region contributed to the slow growth of winter sea ice, reported the snow and ice data center. “The area north of the Barents Sea, between Svalbard and the Taymyr Peninsula, was unusually warm, at 11 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit above average,” and 2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit above average in other parts of the Arctic. The absence of sea ice around Svalbard this fall could affect the region’s pregnant polar bears, which need the ice to reach traditional denning sites in the archipelago’s eastern islands.


SIGMA HYDRID METEORS - Last night, Dec. 3-4, NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras recorded 8 fireballs from the sigma Hydrid meteoroid stream. These meteoroids come from an unknown comet or asteroid. Earth passes through the sigma Hydrid stream every year in early- to mid- December. Typically, the shower produces no more than 1 or 2 faint meteors per hour. The detection of 8 bright fireballs in a single night suggests that sigma Hydrid activity could be higher than usual.
On Dec. 4, the network reported 32 fireballs. (22 sporadics, 8 sigma Hydrids, 1 Geminid, 1 Puppids-Velid)

GEMINID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is entering a stream of gravelly debris from "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. On the night of Dec. 2-3, NASA's network of all-sky cameras detected three Geminid fireballs over the USA.
The Geminid hit Earth's atmosphere traveling 36 km/s (81 thousand mph) and disintegrated completely 47 km (29 miles) above Earth's surface. These values are typical of Geminids. Meteor sightings will increase in the nights ahead as Earth plunges deeper into the debris stream. Forecasters expect peak rates to occur on Dec. 13-14, when dark-sky observers in both hemispheres could see as many as 120 meteors per hour. Observing conditions will be nearly ideal because the shower peaks just a few days after the New Moon.

VAST HOLE OPENS IN SUN'S ATMOSPHERE: A vast hole in the sun's atmosphere - a "coronal hole" - has opened up in the sun's northern hemisphere, and it is spewing a broad stream of solar wind into space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the coronal hole during the early hours of Dec. 3rd. Coronal holes are places where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape.
Hot plasma flows outward at speeds exceeding a million mph. Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole will reach Earth beginning ~Dec. 6th, and our solar wind environment will be dominated the stream for days after first contact. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.


Chipotle-Linked E. Coli Outbreak Widens to Three More States - Restaurant chain announces new food-safety measures in wake of reported illnesses. The illnesses in Illinois, Maryland, and Pennsylvania bring to nine the number of states affected by the outbreak. The CDC said a total of seven more people over the past two weeks have reported becoming sick in the outbreak, for a total of 52 — though all fell ill in October and November.
The outbreak was first detected just over a month ago in Washington and Oregon, which still account for most of the cases. Officials last month determined the outbreak extended outside the Pacific Northwest to Minnesota and New York, among other states. The cause of the outbreak hasn’t been determined, though authorities in Oregon and Washington pointed to produce as the likely culprit.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Organic Nut Butter has sickened 11 people. Health officials are investigating the link to the JEM Raw Chocolate, LLC brand of nut butters. All reported feeling ill between July 18 and Oct. 15. There have been no hospitalizations or deaths reported in connection with the outbreak. "This contaminated item has been widely distributed over a fairly wide period of time, it looks like a low level of contamination."

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

I'm back! Fresh off a trip to Guatemala. A little natural disaster adventure on the trip, no earthquakes or further big eruptions from Fuego volcano, just a landslide overnight that blocked the mountain road.

**One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.**
Golda Meir

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 12/2/15 -

12/1/15 -

Nicaraguan Volcano Erupts For The First Time In 110 Years - on Tuesday, spewing lava and plumes of ash into the sky. Residents in nearby communities reported hearing a loud explosion before seeing gas and ash spout from the volcano. The eruption closed over a dozen schools in the surrounding regions. There are currently no reports of any injuries or deaths. The volcano is located 30 miles from Nicaragua's capital Managua, and is near Leon, which is the country's second largest city. Around 3,500 people live in areas around the volcano.
Earlier this month, Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted some 320 miles away, covering at least six villages with ash and forcing guests at a nearby hotel to evacuate. (photos and video at link)


No current tropical storms.

The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season is officially over, and it will go into the books as the most memorable hurricane season to occur during a strong El Niño event. Strong El Niño events typically reduce Atlantic hurricane activity by increasing wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, and this year's El Niño conditions did indeed create unusually high levels of wind shear over the Caribbean, making it difficult for tropical systems to organize and strengthen in those waters. Wind shear in 2015 was the strongest on record.
The 200-850-mb vertical wind shear in the Caribbean (10-20°N, 90-60°W) averaged from June through October was the highest since at least 1979 (28.5 knots.) However, this high wind shear did not extend as far east as usual, allowing several tropical storms to form near the coast of Africa over waters that were near-record warm. Near record-warm to record-warm ocean temperatures were also over more northern reaches of the Atlantic, and helped spur the formation of Hurricane Joaquin and Hurricane Kate.
As a result, the 2015 season was able to tally numbers that were not that far below average - 11 named storms, 4 hurricanes, and 2 intense Category 3 or stronger hurricanes. The 1981-2010 average numbers were 11.5 named storms, 6.1 hurricanes, and 2.6 major hurricanes.
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) is a measure of the total destructive power of a hurricane season, based on the number of days strong winds are observed. ACE for an individual storm is computed by squaring the maximum sustained winds of the storm at each 6-hourly advisory, and summing up over the entire lifetime of the storm. The ACE for the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season was about 60% of average, reflecting the relative lack of hurricanes. Hurricane Joaquin accounted for 46% of the season's ACE.
Top ten notable events of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season at link. (also charts, photos and video at link)


India - Deadly Chennai flooding leaves residents in fear. Weeks of heavy rain and flooding have knocked out power, suspended public transportation and left people stranded in Chennai, one of India's largest cities.
The Indian army and navy are carrying out rescue operations. The Indian Coast Guard is also working to rescue people. At least nine people have died so far in severe flooding that has hit Chennai in recent days, according to a Tamil Nadu state official tally released Wednesday.
Emotional images of dramatic rescues in inflatable boats and civilians hoisting people over muddy flood waters have inundated social media under the hashtag #Chennaifloods. More than a foot of rain fell in the last 24 hours in Chennai - that's about the amount of rain London would receive in six months. It has rained 34 of the past 40 days and the heavy-rain-warning continues. The rain warning for the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and neighboring Puducherry are forecast through December 5, according to India's main weather office. (photos and video at link)

Fresh rains in the southern Indian city of Chennai (Madras) have caused serious flooding, with flights and trains suspended and hundreds of people without power. The army has been deployed to rescue thousands of stranded people after two days of heavy rain. At least 188 people are now known to have died in floods in Tamil Nadu state since last month.
A depression in the Bay of Bengal has triggered rains in coastal areas. Last month, non-stop rain for nearly a week brought the city to a standstill. Two days of fresh rains have again led to massive flooding, so much so that flights from the city's airport have been indefinitely suspended after flood waters entered the runway and tarmac areas on Tuesday evening.
Reports say some 400 passengers are stranded at the airport, and all flights have been cancelled. More than a dozen trains have also been cancelled after flood waters inundated the tracks. The army and the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in the city's worst-affected southern suburbs to rescue people stranded in their flooded properties. At least 10,000 policemen and swimmers have also been employed in the rescue effort.
"The police want to help but there are no boats. We are trying not to panic." Reports say that power supply has been suspended in nearly 60% of the city's neighbourhoods. Most of the main streets are waterlogged and schools were closed for the 17th day since November. Schools and colleges have been shut in six districts due to the rains. Patients have been evacuated from a government hospital in the Tambaram area after flood waters entered the building.
Residents have taken to social media to offer accommodation, food and mobile phone recharges to citizens who are being forced to evacuate their properties. "We only saw rains like this some 25-30 years ago when there was no electricity for almost a week. It has been raining since Monday night and there has been no respite. Everywhere you look, there is two to three feet of water."
All the reservoirs around Chennai are full and the rivers are flooded with the excess waters released from the reservoirs. Thousands of people who were living on the banks of these rivers have been moved to temporary shelters. The meteorological office says "scattered to heavy" rains are expected to continue for the next three days. India suffers severe flooding every year during the annual monsoon rains from June to September. The retreating monsoon has been particularly vigorous over south India and more so in Tamil Nadu. (photos and video at link)


Massive El Niño sweeping globe is now the biggest ever recorded - The current extreme El Niño is now the strongest ever recorded, smashing the previous record from 1997 -8. Already wreaking havoc on weather around the world, the new figures mean those effects will probably get worse.
The 1997-8 El Niño killed 20,000 people and caused almost $97 billion of damage as floods, droughts, fires, cyclones and mudslides ravaged the world. Now the current El Niño has surpassed the 1997-8 El Niño on a key measure, according to the latest figures released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency.
El Niño occurs when warm water that has piled up around Australia and Indonesia spills out east across the Pacific Ocean towards the Americas, taking the rain with it. A key measure of its intensity is the warmth of water in the central Pacific. In 1997, at its peak on 26 November, it was 2.8 °C above average. According to the latest measurements, it reached 2.8 °C on 4 November this year, and went on to hit 3.1 °C on 18 November – the highest temperatures ever seen in this region.
“The El Niño community is closely watching the evolution [of this El Niño] and whether the current event will surpass the 1997-8 event. Monthly and weekly central Pacific temperature anomalies clearly show that this current event has surpassed it.” The temperatures in the central Pacific have the biggest impact on the global atmospheric circulation, and therefore the biggest impacts on global weather.
The event hasn’t broken temperature records across the entire eastern Pacific, but in the central eastern Pacific. “It’s shifted into an area where most likely the atmosphere will respond even more.” El Niños have been stronger in the last few decades than in any period over the past four centuries. It is unknown whether that’s because of climate change.
El Niño has been implicated in a host of extreme weather events across the globe. Combined with global warming, it’s partly responsible for 2015 being the hottest year on record. In India, more than 2000 people died in a heatwave caused by a delayed monsoon – an effect of El Niño.
Now the region is experiencing unusually heavy rains as the monsoon has finally arrived – also an expected impact of El Niño. “Southern India is having a lot of rain as it goes into winter, having come out of the dry monsoon. This is only so during extreme El Niño, so it is a confirmation that the El Niño is huge."
El Niño is also probably making record-breaking illegal fires in Indonesia worse, by reducing rainfall there. And in some Pacific Islands, water levels have dropped so much that coral reefs are exposed, in a phenomenon known as Taimasa, Samoan for “smelly reef”. New Scientist has received photographs from Guam showing this dramatic effect, only seen during extreme El Niño events. Across the globe, the El Niño has also begun a mass coral bleaching.
Australia has dodged some of the worst effects of El Niño, as the Indian Ocean Dipole – an oscillation of sea temperatures in the Indian Ocean – which was amplifying El Niño, has eased off. And because of the location of the warmest water, some regions like Peru and Ecuador are also likely to experience fewer impacts.
Many of the effects are yet to come. For example, whether it will bring rains to California and relieve the drought – or even whether it will go too far and cause floods – isn’t yet known. The models are predicting a higher chance of rain for California. And once the El Niño is over, it might not be time for celebration, since it’s likely to be followed by a strong La Niña, which will bring roughly opposite effects to the world’s weather. La Nina’s are also expected to be about twice as common as a result of climate change this century.

China Cloning Facility to Bolster Meat Production, Cloning Humans Next? Sinica, a subsidiary of Boyalife Group, has signed a deal to establish a $31 million commercial animal cloning facility in Tianjin, China, with the intent to produce beef cattle, racehorses and other animals.
The plant will initially produce 100,000 cattle embryos per year, eventually increasing its output to 1,000,000 per year. Chinese farmers are struggling to produce enough beef cattle to meet market demand. China’s meet demand has quadrupled in the last 40 years. Chinese scientists have been cloning sheep, cattle and pigs since 2000. In September 2014, Boyalife and Sooam Biotech opened the first commercial cloning company in China’s Shandong Province. The first animals produced were three pure-blooded Tibetan mastiff puppies.
Cloning animals for human consumption has been a contentious issue. Recently, the European Union (EU) made strides to ban imports of cloned animals and products made from cloned animals. European farmers are facing increasing pressure from Asia due to practices such as cloning.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008 determined meat and milk from clones and their offspring pose no substantial threat when compared with food eaten every day. Boyalife Group hopes to hit the 1,000,000 production goal by 2020. Additionally, the company is working with partners to improve primate cloning for disease research purposes. From there, it’s on to humans, if allowed.
“The technology is already there. If this is allowed, I don’t think there are other companies better than Boyalife that make better technology.” In the future, the technology may be applied to reproduction, allowing parents more choice their child’s genetic makeup.


The source of a an E. coli outbreak spanning seven states has been traced back to a single ingredient in Costco’s rotisserie chicken salad: diced celery. The tainted ingredient came from Taylor Farms Pacific of Tracy, California, according to the FDA.
The supplier has since issued a recall for items that may contain its celery. The recall affects a nearly a dozen retailers including 7-Eleven, Safeway, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target, and Starbucks. The strain of E. coli found in the celery is more dangerous than the outbreak tied to Chipotle, because it can lead to kidney failure.
So far, 19 people have been infected with E. coli in California, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Five people have been hospitalized, and two have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. The CDC said most of those infected had eaten Costco’s rotisserie chicken salad in the week before they became ill.
Consumers who purchased rotisserie chicken salad from any Costco store in the US on or before November 20, 2015, should not eat it and should throw it away. Costco has removed all remaining rotisserie chicken salad from all stores in the US and stopped further production of the product until further notice. Starbucks has also removed all potentially tainted items from its stores. The recall affected only its “holiday turkey with stuffing panini” with “enjoy-by” dates of November 27 to November 28 in select stores in California, Oregon, and Nevada.

Eat all the bananas you can now because soon, there won’t be any left. And it won’t be because you ate them all. It’ll be because they’ve gone extinct. A new study in PLOS Pathogens claims that a virus named Tropical Race 4 is about to kickstart the bananapocalypse.
In what must be the worst case of deja vu in food history, this projected banana extinction is actually the second to happen in this century. In the 1960s, the Gros Michel variety of bananas were all the rage, until disaster struck. Panama disease, caused by Tropical Race, essentially wiped out the entire crop of the Gros Michel. To give you a sense of the fungus’ virulence, once-leading banana producer Taiwan now exports just 2 percent of what it did 50 years ago.
The death of the Gros Michel led to the rise in popularity of today’s Cavendish banana, which was resistant to the old version of the Panama disease virus. But now, all bets are off, as attempts to quarantine the fungus have proven completely insufficient.
While the Cavendish may have been able to survive the previous round of wipeouts, it is susceptible to the new Tropical Race 4 strain currently making its way around the world. And while it hasn’t reached Latin America yet, it seems inevitable that the producer of 82 percent of the world’s Cavendish bananas will soon fall victim to the ruthless onslaught.
So why haven’t we been able to do anything to stop the spread? Mostly because today’s bananas have been cultivated as a monoculture — all bananas are genetically identical because they’ve been grown as a seedless variety, which means that when one gets sick, they all get sick. Worse yet, the virus, which kills essentially by dehydrating the plant’s root system, can stay in the soil for 30 years.
The biggest problem at hand is the alarming rate with which humans today consume bananas. “Most bananas are grown by small-time farmers in the many poor countries where they’re a staple crop.” This means that this impending banana shortage could have a huge effect on the diets of some of the world’s poorest communities. And experts note that Tropical Race 4 puts more than 80 percent of these staple bananas at risk around the world.

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