Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late that one is open.**
Alexander Graham Bell

LARGEST QUAKES, 6.0 or larger -

4/3/16 -

4/2/16 -

4/1/16 -

3/20/16 -

3/19/16 -

3/12/16 -

3/8/16 -

3/2/16 -

Low-intensity quakes a daily affair in Nepal - A large number of earthquakes happen in the country every day, but hardly anyone notices most of them because they are of low intensity. A month into the April 25 mega quake, the country had experienced 1,300 aftershocks of less than 4 magnitude. For quite sometime after the mega quake, there occurred 500 low-intensity quakes every day.
These days, aftershocks seem to have become a thing of the past. But experts warn that non- occurrence of aftershocks accentuates the risk of a major quake event. Daily, 40 quakes measuring less than 4 magnitude are hitting the country. After the Magnitude-7.6 earthquake, 445 aftershocks measuring above 4 on the Richter scale have so far occurred in the country.

Watch as the Popocatepetl volcano in central Mexico erupted on Sunday, spewing lava and clouds of ash into the sky.

Volcanic activity worldwide April 4 - Popocatépetl volcano, Bromo, Turrialba, Sangay...


NASA took the wraps off a new website on Monday dedicated to tracking global changes in the sea level. It’s packed full of free online resources that will likely be useful to teachers, the climate-change-curious, and anyone just looking to dig into publicly available data. The Sea Level Change site is NASA instead of NOAA because the site focuses on space-based observations.


Fiji - Days of torrential rain are adding to the hardships faced by thousands of Fijians still struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Winston in February. Flooding has caused people in northern and western Viti Levu to evacuate their homes after waters rose during heavy rain, and schools have been closed.
While Tropical Depression 15F was slowly moving away, another tropical disturbance, Tropical Depression 14F was expected to develop into a category 1 tropical cyclone as it moved closer to Fiji. It would bring in more rain and strong winds. The Met Service said it was also monitoring the development of a new tropical disturbance, Tropical Depression 16F. (photos at link)


Maryland - Wind gusts of up to 62 miles per hour late Saturday and early Sunday knocked down several buildings and trees, cut power to tens of thousands of customers and was believed to have caused at least one house fire.
Gusts of up to 62 miles per hour were recorded in Frederick County. Downed trees were reported across the state. The wind gusts led to the collapse of several vacant and abandoned buildings in Baltimore.
A freeze warning is in effect from midnight through 10 a.m. Tuesday, with lows expected in the upper 20s to the north and west of Baltimore and in the lower 30s around the city and suburbs. Meteorologists warned that unprotected house plants and crops that have sprouted amid early spring warmth could be damaged or killed. Another freeze is likely Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning.


Ten Civilizations or Nations That Collapsed From Drought - Drought is the great enemy of human civilization. Drought deprives us of the two things necessary to sustain life - food and water. When the rains stop and the soil dries up, cities die and civilizations collapse, as people abandon lands no longer able to supply them with the food and water they need to live. While the fall of a great empire is usually due to a complex set of causes, drought has often been identified as the primary culprit or a significant contributing factor in a surprising number of such collapses.
The most recent is modern Syria. Syria's devastating civil war that began in March 2011 has killed over 300,000 people, displaced at least 7.6 million, and created an additional 4.2 million refugees. While the causes of the war are complex, a key contributing factor was the nation's devastating drought that began in 1998. The drought brought Syria's most severe set of crop failures in recorded history, which forced millions of people to migrate from rural areas into cities, where conflict erupted. This drought was almost certainly Syria's worst in the past 500 years, and likely the worst for at least the past 900 years.

Drought-stricken Palau could dry up completely this month , officials warned Monday as the Pacific island appealed for urgent aid from Japan and Taiwan, including shipments of water. The tiny country of about 18,000 people declared a state of emergency last month, the latest Pacific island nation to do so as one of the worst ever El Nino-induced droughts in the region worsens. "We're still in the state of emergency, there's a sense of urgency to address the crisis."
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said last month the El Nino weather pattern - associated with a sustained period of warming in the central Pacific which can spark climate extremes - was unlikely to ease before the second half of the year. The Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia have also declared states of emergency, while Guam and the Northern Marianas are experiencing low rainfall.

A huge Saharan dust cloud is expected to bring 'blood rain' to the UK as the country basks in what could be the hottest day of the year. "Blood rain” is caused by Saharan dust mixing with rain leaving a reddish residue on buildings and cars. This phenomena is more common in southern European areas, such as Spain and the south of France, however due the dust can travel as far as Scandinavia. Weather experts say that temperatures could soar to up to 19 degrees Celsius in parts of the country on Thursday. This will make it hotter than Barcelona and Ibiza.

Millions of people in several eastern and southern African nations are facing malnutrition, disease, and other harm as a result of El Niño–related extreme weather patterns: drought in late 2015 and heavy rains in the past few months. “We have seen too much water in some places and too little in other places.”
“The severity of the situation is continuously increasing." Nations affected by drought and floods include Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The weather is exacerbating the vulnerability of people such as Somalis living in camps for displaced people and those living near outbreaks of cholera in Kenya. The effects of the weather patterns have extended longer than expected. “2016 looks like it will be a difficult year.”
Parts of Latin America and Asia are also being affected by drought and other extreme weather. The harm, especially in causing food insecurity, could extend into well into 2017, according to the United Nations.

Drought ravages Thai sugar cane crop - A global sugar shortage is looming and prices are soaring. The world's top sugar cane exporters, India and Thailand, are being ravaged by a severe drought brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon. Thailand - the world second-largest sugar cane exporter - is going to be shipping 20 to 30 percent less of the sweetener compared to last year. And the situation may even get worse next year.

Cloud-seeding season - Efforts to make snow and rain virtually out of thin air were once the realm of science fiction. Even today, they’re dismissed by some as fanciful and hardly worth the time. But after four historically dry years in California, the practice has been on the uptick. The stormy skies that came with this year’s El Niño provided ideal conditions for cloud seeding, which requires enough water vapor in the air so that the introduction of chemicals like silver iodide can coax the clouds to crystallize and send droplets to the ground.
From San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy watershed to the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Mokelumne River to the coastal mountains in Southern California, water managers say cloud seeding is boosting precipitation — sometimes by 10 percent or more. Many say that alongside this year’s slightly wetter winter it’s been essential to riding out the drought.
Critics of the practice say it’s tough to know exactly how effective it is in the field. Measuring how much more rain and snow a cloud produces when chemicals are introduced is virtually impossible. Another concern about the practice is the chemicals it uses. Silver iodide can be toxic to fish and even humans, though experts say not at the relatively small levels used for cloud seeding.
The water agency manager for Santa Barbara County said the criticism she hears most about her county’s cloud-seeding program is that it’s part of the purported “chemtrail” agenda. The conspiratorial fear is that the planes used to enhance precipitation are actually among a larger government fleet of aircraft that disperse subversive chemicals for dark purposes onto an unsuspecting population.

The month of March was short on moisture and now drought is creeping across much of Kansas. March is normally a wet month, so last month's dry conditions had a big impact. “Because it's the start of our wetter pattern, things go down very, very quickly when we don't get what we should be seeing. That became very worrisome and we've seen the expansion of the drought conditions in response to that."
The hardest hit areas so far have been the southwest and south central parts of the state. The coming months will be critical because they're normally some of the wettest. “If we are dry in April and May, then we are going to be increasingly in bad shape." If the drought persists the first agricultural impact will be damage to the state's winter wheat crop.

Two people were killed in the southern Philippines after clashes between police and thousands of drought-hit farmers protesting over a lack of food. A parched highway in impoverished Kidapawan city, capital of Cotabato province, had been barricaded by 6,000 farmers since Wednesday to demand 15,000 sacks of rice from the government. Gunshots were fired and rocks hurled into the air during a scuffle between police and demonstrators on Friday, as the authorities tried to disperse the crowds.
"We asked for rice. Instead, they gave us bullets. The farmers are starving because they have nothing to eat. We went there looking for a solution." 116 protesters were wounded while 89 others were missing. Police could not immediately confirm the fatalities, but said 40 of its men were also hurt in the ruckus, two of them in critical condition.
The Philippines has been gripped by a strong El Nino dry spell since December which has hit food production, particularly in the conflict-wracked south which is home to the country's poorest and where more than half of the population is reliant on agriculture. The state weather bureau had warned last year that rainfall could decrease by as much as 80 percent during the drought, which is expected to last until the middle of this year.


The White House published a report Monday warning that “extreme heat can be expected to cause an increase in the number of premature deaths” - the same day the National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for April snowstorms.


ANOTHER STREAM OF SOLAR WIND IS COMING - Geomagnetic activity is subsiding as Earth exits a solar wind stream that hit our planet's magnetic field on April 2nd. The quiet might not last long, however, because another stream of solar wind is coming. Estimated time of arrival: April 5th. NOAA forecasters say there is a a 55% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on Tuesday. Once again, Arctic sky watchers are favored for auroras.


Vitamin D supplements may help people with diseased hearts - A trial on 163 heart failure patients found supplements of the vitamin, which is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, improved their hearts' ability to pump blood around the body. The team described the results as "stunning". The study also showed the patients hearts became smaller - a suggestion they are becoming more powerful and efficient.
The British Heart Foundation called for longer trials to assess the pills. Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones and teeth and may have important health benefits throughout the body but many people are deficient. The average age of people in the study was 70 and like many people that age they had low levels of vitamin D even in summer. "They do spend less time outside, but the skin's ability to manufacture vitamin D also gets less effective [with age] and we don't really understand why that is."
It is also not clear exactly how vitamin D is improving heart function, but it is thought every cell in the body responds to the vitamin. Most vitamin D comes from sunlight, although it is also found in oily fish, eggs and is added to some foods such as breakfast cereals.

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook