**No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.**
LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.
Yesterday, 12/15/15 -
5.0 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.2 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION
5.1 VOLCANO ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
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.
TROPICAL STORMS -
* 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)
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
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.
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
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.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -
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.
SPACE WEATHER -
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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