**Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.**
LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.0 HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN
5.0 CENTRAL PERU
5.6 COQUIMBO, CHILE
Yesterday, 1/7/16 -
5.2 KURIL ISLANDS
5.0 OFFSHORE LOS LAGOS, CHILE
5.0 NORTH OF ASCENSION ISLAND
5.2 OFFSHORE OAXACA, MEXICO
5.0 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.2 PACIFIC-ANTARCTIC RIDGE
5.1 NORTH KOREA
5.7 VOLCANO ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.1 PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION
5.9 PACIFIC-ANTARCTIC RIDGE
5.2 BANDA SEA
5.9 SOUTHEAST OF SHIKOKU, JAPAN
5.1 OFFSHORE OAXACA, MEXICO
5.0 BABUYAN ISL REGION, PHILIPPINES
6.7 MANIPUR, INDIA REGION
5.2 HINDU KUSH REGION, AFGHANISTAN
5.8 HEILONGJIANG, CHINA
5.0 FIJI REGION
5.8 KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
6.3 WESTERN INDIAN-ANTARCTIC RIDGE
Strong Quake Kills 8 In Eastern India - A powerful temblor killed at least eight people before dawn on Monday as it rocked northeastern India’s Manipur state and neighboring parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar for nearly a minute. Falling debris from the 6.8 magnitude shaking injured more than 100 people as the quake left huge cracks in walls, damaged bridges and caused a new six-story building to collapse. The disaster left nearly 2,000 people homeless across the region.
Oklahoma hit with 70 quakes in a week - A swarm of more than 70 small earthquakes has rattled Oklahoma in the past week, raising concerns that the state’s quake problem is getting worse. The largest quake measured magnitude 4.8 and struck around midnight Wednesday near the town of Fairview. No significant damage has been reported, although it shook pictures and crockery. “It was felt all over the county, pretty much all over the state." Smaller quakes continued Thursday.
California quake danger grows: Two Bay Area faults linked in new research - Two East Bay earthquake faults long thought to be dangerous, but separate, may be linked in a 99-mile- long fault that could set off a much stronger quake than the 1989 Loma Prieta temblor, a federal scientist says.
As a linked fault, the two are more likely to cause a magnitude-7.2 quake, about three times stronger than the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta quake, which in 1989 violently shook the Bay Area, killed 63 people and caused an estimated $6 billion in damage. The Rodgers Creek Fault runs from above Santa Rosa into San Pablo Bay near Sears Point in Sonoma County. The Hayward Fault runs from below San Jose through the Oakland and Berkeley hills to West Contra Costa County and into San Pablo Bay.
The two faults were long thought to be about 2 miles apart under the bay, but "now it does look like there is a good chance that the faults are connected." A team in 2014 seismically mapped the earth under San Pablo Bay. Their search produced an image of a strand linking the two faults. Until then the Rodgers Creek and Hayward faults had been thought to be independent but capable of influencing each other. "It's been a bit of a mystery because no one has been able to locate the faults in the bay before."
The USGS calls the Hayward-Rodgers Creek lines a "fault system" with a 31 percent likelihood of a magnitude 6.7 quake or greater in the next 30 years, the highest probability among Bay Area faults. But the Bay Area might now have one 99-mile fault that could deliver quite a jolt - up to 7.2 in magnitude - because they are more likely to shift at the same time. Such a quake would affect millions of people and billions of dollars worth of property with widespread destruction of houses and apartments, studies show.
TSUNAMI / FREAK WAVES / ABNORMAL TIDES -
Video - High waves in Hawaii are tempting surfers - despite warnings from officials to stay out of the water. Life guards in Oahu rescued more than two dozen people from waves up to 35 feet (10.6m) high on Monday.
TROPICAL STORMS -
* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Ula is located approximately 225 nm west of Suva, Fiji,
* In the Central Pacific -
Tropical Storm Pali, is located far southwest of Hawaii, about 1430 mi (2300 km) SW of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Rare January Depression in Central Pacific; Atlantic Subtropical Storm Next Week? - After a record-smashing hurricane season in 2015, the Central Pacific is off to a record-early start with Tropical Depression One-C, which formed on Thursday morning in the waters about 1,500 miles southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. TD 1-C's genesis date of January 7 breaks by six days the record for earliest formation of a tropical cyclone in the Central Pacific set by Tropical Storm Winona on January 13, 1989.
TD 1-C was able to form because of an unusual wind pattern near the equator associated with El Niño - a burst of westerly winds near the equator, when combined with a more typical east-to-west flow of trade winds farther to the north helped create an area of counter-clockwise spin. A sprawling region of showers and thunderstorms associated with TD 1-C is located squarely atop some of the warmest waters associated with the powerful El Niño event now under way - 29.5°C (85°F).
Weak steering currents make it difficult to judge TD-1C's future path, although a slow motion northwestwards appears likely over the next couple of days. The models support the idea of TD 1-C attaining tropical storm strength between now and Saturday, January 9. If so, it will be named Tropical Storm Pali.
Only two tropical storms have been recorded in January across the Central and Northeast Pacific (the region north of the equator and east of the International Date Line) since reliable records began in 1949. The first one was 1989’s Winona, which attained tropical storm strength on January 13 and peaked with sustained winds of 55 knots. In 1992, Ekeka was christened as a tropical storm on January 28 well west of Hawaii before becoming a rare February hurricane, with Category 3 winds reaching 115 mph.
Remarkably, TD 1-C appears to have roots on the other side of the equator! Last week, a short-lived tropical depression (TD 9-C) originated as the northern member of a pair of twin cyclones. Such sets of twins usually straddle the equatorial Pacific, with the northern member rotating counterclockwise and the southern member clockwise.
In between, these circulations produce a zone of low-level westerly winds that can act to reinforce or intensify El Niño conditions across the equatorial Pacific. Last week’s twin cyclones were displaced so far south that the northern member (eventually to become TD 9-C) was located just south of the equator, close to the International Date Line, with a powerful westerly wind burst in between the cyclones.
On the south side of this wind burst, Severe Tropical Cyclone Ula has been threading its way around several Southwest Pacific islands since becoming a depression on December 29 and strengthening to a Category 3 cyclone by January 1. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects that Ula will continue its winding path well south of Fiji over the next few days, remaining at weak to middling tropical-storm strength.
Tropical cyclones developing near the equator are very rare, since the Coriolis force (a function of Earth’s spin) does not force areas of low pressure to rotate in either direction at 0° latitude. But tropical cyclones near the equator are not unprecedented. In 2004, the center of low pressure that eventually became Severe Cyclonic Storm Agni in the Northwest Pacific briefly moved south of the equator.
Agni became a depression at 1.5°N, tying with Tropical Storm Vamei (2001) as having the most equatorward development of any tropical cyclone on record. The recent strong westerly wind burst between the Pacific’s twin cyclones no doubt helped give TD 9-C some of the spin that it would have otherwise been unable to gain due to its equatorial location.
Elsewhere in the tropics - Unusual activity has been percolating in the Atlantic as well. On Tuesday, Brazil’s Navy Hydrographic Center identified a subtropical depression east of Rio de Janeiro. It was briefly classified as a tropical depression on Wednesday, although both designations had been removed in the center's analysis on Thursday morning.
It was once thought that tropical cyclones never formed in the South Atlantic, but Category 1 Hurricane Catarina shocked Brazil - and the world of tropical meteorology - when it crashed into the coast of Brazil’s Santa Catarina province on March 27, 2004, causing more than $300 million in damage. Forecasters are now tracking down subtropical systems in the South Atlantic about once per year, on average, though tropical storms (those with fairly symmetric warm cores) are much less common.
There is also potential for a large and powerful January cyclone to evolve over the North Atlantic subtropics between Bermuda and the Azores Islands early next week, as consistently predicted by the models. This cyclone is now several hundred miles northeast of the Bahamas, strengthening as an non- tropical system ahead of a subtropical jet stream typical of El Niño winters.
A strong upper-level ridge will develop to the north of the cyclone as it races east and then southeast. Phase-space diagrams show this system taking on subtropical characteristics (asymmetric warm core) this weekend and early next week. Upper-level winds will remain strong in the vicinity of this system, and ocean temperatures will be a marginal 24-25°C (75-77°F), suggesting that any potential development would be subtropical rather than tropical.
If this storm were to get a name, it would be "Alex." The Atlantic’s most recent tropical cyclone during January was Tropical Storm Zeta, which served as the closing act of the blockbuster 2005 hurricane season. Zeta formed on December 30 and survived until January 7, 2006, west of the Cape Verde Islands.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
Migrating auks blown off course to inland Scotland - Hundreds of birds have been blown off course to inland Scotland by recent stormy weather. The Scottish SPCA said it has been caring for many little auks at its rescue centre in Alloa with reports of sightings in the Cairngorms, Perth and Stirling. Each winter, the seabirds migrate from the Arctic to northern Europe.
Albania – 100s Evacuated After Floods in 5 Counties - Two days of heavy rain in Albania has caused flash floods, river overflow and landslides in several parts of the country, including the counties of Tirana, Durrës, Lezhë, Shkodër and Dibër.
Flooding from the overflowing Uruguay and Cuareim Rivers in Uruguay has been affecting tens of thousands of people since late December in the departments of Salto, Paysandú, Artigas, Río Negro and Florida. By 31 December over 23,000 people had been displaced.
Kenya – 3 Months of Flooding Leaves 112 Dead and Over 100,000 Displaced.
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -
Huge bushfire destroys Australia town - About 95 homes are destroyed and three people are missing in a massive bushfire that engulfed a small town in Western Australia.
Video - In Britain, December 2015 was a double record-breaking month. Last month was the warmest December on record since 1910 - and the wettest of any calendar month in that time. Temperatures have been around 4C above the long-term average. Some garden plants are still in bloom.
'GLOBAL WEIRDNESS' -
One small atomic war could trigger cruel nuclear winters and global famine - North Korea's fourth test of a nuclear weapon — whether it was a hydrogen bomb or not — calls attention to a well-known but sobering fact: There are a terrifying number of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of major powers around the world.
But worse, unprecedented and widespread devastation doesn't require the unlikely scenario of all those powers unleashing all the firepower at once, according to a recent study. In fact, that study found that a "limited, regional nuclear war" using 100 "small nuclear weapons" — the size of the bomb dropped at Hiroshima — could cause a nuclear winter that would last decades.
In the researchers' scenario, the after-effects of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan alone would eliminate between 20% and 50% of the ozone layer that protects us from the sun's radiation over populated areas; at the same time, surface temperatures would become colder than they've been for at least 1,000 years. Those combined effects "could trigger a global nuclear famine."
Scientists say humans have now brought on an entirely new geologic epoch - A group of 24 geoscientists on Thursday released a bracing assessment, suggesting that humans have altered the Earth so extensively that the consequences will be detectable in current and future geological records. They therefore suggest that we should consider the Earth to have moved into a new geologic epoch, the “Anthropocene,” sometime circa 1945-1964.
The current era (at least under present definitions), known as the Holocene, began about 11,700 years ago, and was marked by warming and large sea level rise coming out of a major cool period, the Younger Dryas. However, the researchers suggest, changes ranging from growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to infusions of plastics into marine sediments suggest that we’ve now left the Holocene decisively behind — and that the proof is already being laid down in polar ice cores, deep ocean sediments, and future rocks themselves.
HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS
The mystery of Chipotle's E. coli outbreak is stumping scientists and fueling conspiracy talk The first reports of E. coli sickening Chipotle customers were revealed in October. Three months and thousands of tests later, health investigators still can't find the source of the outbreak, which has since sickened 53 people in nine states.
That's unusual, according to several food-contamination experts. In five similar high-profile cases of major foodborne-illness outbreaks over the last couple decades, the source of the outbreaks was determined relatively quickly.
So will we ever identify the source of the outbreak? Probably not, according to an infectious-diseases specialist. The tests that various agencies are conducting to determine the source of Chipotle's outbreak are so rigorous that they would have already discovered the source, if it was going to be found, he said.
The mystery surrounding Chipotle's outbreak has sparked some conspiracy theories, including one that claims Chipotle's competitors planted E. coli on the company's food. More questions were raised about the Chipotle outbreak when a second, more recent wave of illnesses was reported. Five people fell ill in late November after eating at Chipotle in the previous week, and the strain of E. coli in those cases was different than the strain discovered in the larger, original outbreak.
The strain in the second wave of illnesses is rare in cases of foodborne outbreaks, according to the spokesman for the CDC.
Conspiracy theorists have used this oddity to support their case that the E. coli was planted on Chipotle's food. But the E. coli, while rare, has been seen before. "It's just not a common E. coli that we see behind many of the foodborne outbreaks that we investigate."
On top of the E. coli outbreaks, Chipotle restaurants have also been the source of norovirus and salmonella outbreaks in the last five months. The company revealed on Wednesday that it has been subpoenaed as part of a federal criminal investigation into one of the norovirus outbreaks linked to a restaurant in Simi Valley, California. Criminal investigations into foodborne-illness outbreaks are uncommon, and they typically indicate some suspicion of intent behind the food contamination.
But the sheer number of outbreaks has led to some questions. "The fact that Chipotle has an outbreak is not in and of itself unusual, but there are some unusual features. Even the E. colis are different and then they had this norovirus outbreak. One of the questions that comes up immediately is: Is this a coincidence or is this a systematic problem of food-handling distribution at Chipotle?"
Chipotle has committed to making major changes to its food preparation and testing to improve safety going forward. For example, the company will be moving some food preparation and testing to a central kitchen. Tomatoes, cilantro, and lettuce are among the ingredients that will now be prepared in the central kitchen and shipped to restaurants in plastic bags. Cooks will also take extra measures to kill germs, such as dipping onions in boiling water before they are chopped and adding cilantro to hot rice to get rid of microbes.
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