2005 - Disasters from July - December

[A lot of the source articles are no longer available, due to news sites often keeping their articles available for only a limited time. I have all the URLs though and if you would like any of the links to check or to use as source references, email me(Crystal) at disasterwatch@att.net and I can send them to you.]

Friday, December 30, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/29 -

WASHINGTON - Volcano's current growth baffles experts - Mount St. Helens has squeezed out as much hot chunky lava in the past 15 months as the volcano erupted over six years in the 1980s. Even as the volcano pours about a dump truck load of red-hot lava onto its growing new dome every six seconds, scientists still don't know what's causing the eruption. As the solid chunky rocks of lava pour out of an opening inside the volcano, the dome has grown tall spines and then collapsed into a ashy gray mound a number of times since the current eruption began in October 2004. As it grows, collapses and grows, the dome is gradually getting taller. At its current growth rate, the new lava dome could be tall enough to see over the rim of the crater by spring or summer. Fog, rain and clouds have kept scientists from visiting the volcano's crater since Dec. 18.

GUATEMALA - Guatemalan authorities on Wednesday were deciding whether to evacuate people living close to the country's Volcano of Fire after it began spewing ash and fire on Tuesday. The authorities have raised the alarm level to 'Orange'. Volcano specialists said the activity was not unusual and that similar rumblings had been heard for years.

INDIANA - December storms spawned hail and lightning, instead of snow. Wednesday morning warmer-than-normal temperatures helped create a series of strong storms that rolled across the area. "We had reports of pea-sized hail in the southeast portion of the county around Clarks Hill." "It surprised us like it surprised everyone else." A "fairly strong upper level low pressure system" was largely to blame. Cold air in the upper atmosphere was working against warmer air closer to the ground, helping to churn up the storms. The temperature reached a balmy 52 degrees in Lafayette early Wednesday afternoon. The warmer than usual weather should continue for the next several days. Rain is expected to arrive around Friday evening or Saturday.

GEORGIA - Hail the size of golf balls and tornados touched down in middle and southern Georgia on Thursday.

CALIFORNIA - A drenching winter storm swelled rivers in northern California to their HIGHEST LEVELS IN SEVEN YEARS, causing power outages and forcing some residents to evacuate. "It's been several years since we've had this widespread flooding and we're not done."
Three significant storms will hit the area over the weekend.

PAKISTAN - the Meteorological Department Thursday predicted heavy snow for the earthquake affected areas during the next 3 days.
At least 24 people have been killed in north-west Pakistan in an avalanche while digging for gemstones. The deaths are said to have occurred on Thursday in a remote area of Kohistan, where snow has fallen in recent weeks. Kohistan is located some 350km (210 miles) north-east of Peshawar and is close to the region that was hit by the devastating earthquake in October.

FRANCE reported a second death overnight from freezing temperatures as blizzards swept through northern and central Europe, forcing flight cancellations at Prague airport. Across Scandinavia, snowstorms cut power lines and disrupted rail and road traffic, with the situation expected to worsen in some places. Much of the continent was battened down against the harsh weather, the COLDEST DECEMBER IN A DECADE in Britain, where temperatures plunged to -11C in Scotland and northeastern England.

CANADA - About 1,000 people in northern Alberta communities have been cut off from the world after UNUSUALLY WARM weather prompted officials to close the only road through the area. The winter road is usually open from mid-December to mid-March. Temperatures in late December have hovered at or above 0 C, which is 20 to 30 degrees warmer than normal. That is causing some previously frozen sections to melt. Officials couldn't remember a time when the winter road melted so early and so extensively, forcing officials to take the EXTREMELY UNUSUAL step of closing the road at this time of year. "We have had a couple winters where we would have a day or two of above zero, and then it would cool right down. But this stretch has been well over a week now."

YEMEN - At least 30 Yemenis were killed in an overnight landslide which hit a village of 270 on a rocky slope near the capital Sanaa, with officials reporting 100 people still missing. 25 out of the village's 31 houses were destroyed and were buried under huge piles of rocks. It was not immediately clear what caused the landslide. Yemen's seismology centre had no word of an earthquake and there were no reports of severe weather.

ALASKA - Poor air quality in the Fairbanks area this week led to an air quality health advisory Wednesday. The air problem likely is due to a common mid-winter weather pattern - a temperature inversion and lack of wind - but the level of particles in the air is NOT COMMON. "People can walk outside and see the poor air quality. We can smell it." "This is UNUSUAL for the winter. We do get elevated values, but this is QUITE UNUSUAL for Fairbanks." Fairbanks' mid-winter weather patterns remain the main culprit. The average daily wind speed during the week stayed below 1 mph. "We call this 'no-flow' - meaning there's just not any wind flowing. We're not getting any kind of wind to mix up the air. It's just staying cold in the valleys and warm in the hills." As a result, the tiny particles of matter from vehicle exhaust, wood-burning stoves and other sources is trapped in the Fairbanks area with nowhere to go. With forecasters calling for little change in the weather, air conditions could stay this way through the week.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/30 -
In 1983 - a 7.2 quake struck the Hindu Kush Region. Twelve people killed, 483 injured and extensive damage.
In 1984 - a 5.6 quake struck the India-Bangladesh Border Region. Twenty people killed, about 100 injured, 10,000 homeless and extensive damage.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/28 -

INDIA - Fishermen wonder about new phenomenon following tsunami: Decline in fish catch, appearance of the deadly 'puffers' and a weak 'chakara' phenomenon are developments in the aftermath of the tsunami that have left the fishermen in the coastal areas here puzzled and looking for answers. The fishermen wonder aloud if the tsunami has overturned the internal structure of the ocean. Among the most noticeable phenomenon in the months following the tsunami was the decline in the availability of fish, especially the much sought after varieties like prawns and pomfrets. Another disquieting development has been the sudden appearance of the puffer fish, which destroy fishnet and eat small fish. Fishermen say puffer fish are usually seen in the Indian Ocean and wonder if these have been evacuated to the Arabian Sea coast due to the tsunami. Another major development being attributed to the tsunami is the near disappearance of the annual 'chakara' formation along the Alappuzha coast during the monsoon this year. The 'chakara', which refers to the depositing of piscine-rich mud banks along the backwaters of Ashtamudi and Vembanadu during the monsoon, was absent this year. In another clearly visible change, the sea has withdrawn up to sixty meters from the land in these areas following the tsunami. While no change is seen in the sand banks, the fishermen fear whether the sea will ram onto the land with deadly force.

GUATEMALA - the Volcano of Fire belched more ash and lava yesterday and continued raining debris on nearby villages one day after it began erupting. Nearby residents were in no immediate danger, however, and the volcanic activity was slowing. "The activity began declining from about 4am, but the expulsion of ash and lava and explosions continue. It sounds like a plane engine or a locomotive."

ANGOLA - High winds and torrential rains lasting about an hour left three persons killed on Sunday. The FREAK STORM caused widespread damage, particularly to poorly built houses, and uprooted a large number of trees.

CONGO - Torrential rains have caused widespread flooding and mudslides in the northern suburbs of Brazzaville leaving scores of people homeless. The rains on Saturday and Sunday left at least one person dead in the suburb of Simba Pèle. The rainy season, which started in September in Brazzaville and its environs, is not expected to end until January.

JAPAN A FREAK GUST OF WIND appears to have caused a weekend train crash in northern Japan in the kind of incident that is hard to prevent, experts said as the hunt continued for two people still missing. The carriages left the track and ploughed into snow during a blizzard on Sunday. Five bodies have already been recovered, a further 32 were injured. Monitoring equipment at the scene showed wind speeds of no more than 72km per hour. It seemed likely that a sudden gust of wind from below the train while it was crossing a bridge caused the derailment. "You need a complicated system of monitoring localized gusts by, for instance, observing the atmosphere far up in the sky." Strong gusts have caused train derailments before in Japan. Experts believe the wind gust in Sunday's crash was so lethal because of its direction. "Even a train that can withstand side winds of about 108 kilometres per hour can be lifted up by weaker winds if they are blowing from below."

CALIFORNIA - Dam managers are releasing water from Northern California reservoirs to prevent flooding, causing the Sacramento River to rise by nearly 20 feet and the American River to surge by more than 10 feet in the past week. The Sacramento region has an array of reservoirs, levees and bypasses used for flood control, spreading water from the Sacramento River up to three miles wide and 40 miles long in a flow that can outstrip the river's volume five to one.

EUROPE shivered in the grip of an icy cold snap, with France hardest hit by blizzards that have cut rail and road links and left thousands of motorists stranded in sub-zero temperatures. Snowstorms caused hundreds of train cancellations in Britain and flight disruptions in Germany, Sweden and Portugal, as well as bringing road chaos to Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic. Below-freezing conditions have gripped northern Europe for several days, with night-time temperatures falling as low as -15C in places. More blizzards and strong winds were expected in Sweden, Denmark , Germany and England. In Turkey, where the cold has claimed four lives this week, temperatures plummeted overnight to minus 31 degrees Celsius (minus 24 Fahrenheit), in the eastern mountain area of Agri.

CANADA - Blizzards are expected to pound much of Newfoundland and Labrador, as a major storm that pummeled Quebec and the Maritimes slowly churns to the northeast.
CANADA - Snow safety experts say the unseasonably warm weather has elevated the risk of avalanche in many mountainous areas, both above and below the treeline. Conditions are ripe for a fresh avalanche cycle - a long period of cold weather without snow, followed by a warmer, rainy stretch of weather has created a precarious weak layer of snow, topped by a stronger one.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/29 -
In 1973 - a 7.2 quake struck New Hebrides Islands about 2,000 kilometers northeast of Brisbane, Australia.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/27 -

INDIA - At least 20 fishermen were washed away in the Bay of Bengal when a giant wave hit the coast yesterday morning, preliminary reports said. The fishermen were collecting prawn seed near Nali, a remote coastal village, when the tidal wave struck the coast.

BRUNEI - Unpredictable weather conditions and heavy downpours of late have resulted in several low-laying areas experiencing flooding.

THAILAND - The Meteorological Department Tuesday predicted more UNSEASONAL RAIN for Bangkok during the next two days, while the first 20 tons of emergency fodder has been shipped to feed cattle deprived of food for over a month due to floods in the southern provinces. The rains which swept Bangkok Monday night were reportedly caused by uncertain weather conditions combined with strong winds from the Andaman Sea. More than 500 cattle have died of drowning, food shortages and sickness since heavy floods submerged the southern provinces for almost two months.

UTAH - Diverse weather took many parts of Utah by surprise Monday. Fierce winds knocked down trees and worse in Southern Utah. And in Utah County, sudden snow caught drivers and the Utah Highway Patrol off guard. In St. George, it's surprising to have THUNDERSTORMS IN DECEMBER. But one came through just before 3:00 Monday afternoon, with a gust recorded at 97 miles per hour. The temperature dropped 19 degrees in 40 minutes. It seemed that everywhere, the weather was UNUSUAL.

NEVADA - A fast-moving storm swept over the Sierra and across Northern Nevada the day after Christmas, leaving up to 2 feet of snow. Parts of Northern Nevada received an inch or two of snow during the day with Ely reporting one-half mile visibility in an UNUSUAL THUNDER SNOWSTORM.

VIRGINIA - December brings a cold end to a year dominated by warmth. Through Christmas, the month of December is averaging 4.4 degrees below normal in temperature. Anything more than a couple of degrees either way is a significant departure. They had only one day of above-average temperature through the first 22 days of the month. January, which ended up 4.7 degrees above normal, began with 13 of its first 14 days being 11 degrees or more above normal, seven of which were 20 or more degrees above normal with one as much as 30 degrees above normal. That's extreme warmth, and were it not offset by a colder-than-normal second half of January that included seven days 10 or more degrees below normal, it would have easily been their warmest January on record. In 2005, nine of 12 months averaged above normal in temperature, including six months averaging at least 2 degrees above normal. Why the strange temperature pattern in 2005? The early part of the year was dominated by a roaring jet stream out of the Pacific that brought in some extremely unseasonable subtropical air. Summer and fall were controlled alternately by a large dome of high pressure and by a juicy tropical season, the former bringing hot, dry weather and the latter bringing warm, humid weather. That left only spring and now December for the colder stuff to work its way down to them as the jet stream buckled southward. "And that means little or nothing for how things will go in 2006."

JAPANESE whalers operating in the Antarctic are fog-bound and unable to hunt whales for the fourth day running.

INDIA - As dense fog plays havoc with flight schedules and pushes thousands of passengers to the brink, the government on Tuesday asked all airlines to train some of their pilots to operate in near-blind conditions. Faced with a crisis situation following severe disruptions due to fog, yesterday private airlines were warned that their flights in and out of Delhi next winter would be scrapped if their pilots were not trained to operate under the new landing system. Heavy fog from December 23 to 25 had left thousands of passengers stranded, with complaints of non-availability of food and basic amenities. In winters, fog disrupts movement of aircraft and terminal buildings get choked. Since December 21 all the conditions were favourable for fog to set in, including low temperatures, sufficient humidity and low wind speed.
NEW DELHI - The city may have barely started recovering from the nightmare of fog, and now it is likely to see some rainfall which may ultimately lead to even more severe fog. Tuesday saw an overcast sky with darkness setting in by 4 pm. The Met department has forecast thundery developments and rain in some areas in the city. Besides rain, today is likely to see some shallow fog too.

THAILAND - Thick fog on Chiang Mai's Doi Inthanon National Park has prompted the park chief to warn inexperienced drivers not to drive up Thailand's tallest mountain.

PAKISTAN - Fog continued to play havoc as it disrupted almost all the domestic and international flights besides delaying arrival and departure of all the upcountry trains in Lahore and other southern parts of the Punjab province. The bad weather also caused road accidents in various parts of the province as the vehicles moved at a low speed. The spell of fog started on December 20.

ITALY - There was fog in most of Northern Italy: Piedmont, Lombardy, the Venice region, Emilia Romagna and even in Liguria. It's also there in the central Apennines, with rain in places, some of it heavy.

UNITED KINGDOM - Hundreds of motorists were brought to a standstill in thick fog on Christmas Eve after a 26-car pile-up on the M62 brought traffic chaos.

IOWA - A combination of thick fog and ice made driving hazardous Tuesday, and caused a 12-car accident. Visibility was less than a quarter-mile in many locations. This morning is also expected to be foggy with the potential for slippery road surfaces, although slightly more wind was likely to make the fog less dense. The dense fog is caused by a temperature inversion in which cold moist air is trapped near the ground with warmer air above. ‘‘When that happens, the atmosphere doesn’t get mixed up very well. We do see it this time of year. November through December is kind of a time where we do get some fog particularly if we do have some snow that puts moisture back into the air when it melts a little." Two weather systems will bring precipitation into Iowa, the earliest on Friday and again on Sunday.

NEW JERSEY - Blinded by heavy rain and thick fog, a pair of Jersey City police officers drove off an open section of the Lincoln Highway Bridge on Christmas night.

CALIFORNIA - Fog, slick roads and a post-Christmas crush of holiday traffic slowed thousands of motorists to a crawl Monday through the most heavily traveled mountain passes in San Bernardino County. "The fog in Cajon Pass is dense, 100 feet to 200 feet visibility." There were numerous car accidents.

MINNESOTA - Christmas brought snow, fog, and mist to the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.

CANADA - there were a number of cancellations and diversions due to dense ground-level fog at Halifax Airport on Christmas. No one was injured when the wing of a WestJet Boeing 737 hit the runway on landing on Christmas evening, but air industry officials are investigating.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/28 -
In 1908 - a 7.2 quake struck Messina, Italy. Estimated 70,000 to 100,000 deaths from the earthquake and a tsunami.
In 1973 - a 7.8 quake struck the New Hebrides Islands about 2,000 kilometers northeast of Brisbane, Australia.
In 1974 - a 6.2 quake struck Pakistan. The most destructive earthquake of 1974. 5,300 reported killed, 17,000 injured.
In 1994 - a 7.7 quake struck off the east Coast of Honshu, Japan. Two people were killed, more than 200 injured.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/26 -
12/25 -
12/24 -
12/23 -

MEXICO - giant Popocatepetl volcano threw up an ash column almost 2 miles (3 km) high and spat glowing rocks down its snow-clad slopes on Sunday, but nearby towns were not affected. Sunday's activity was the latest in a recent series of disturbances which started Dec. 1. The volcano becomes more active during the cooler Mexican winter months as more ice expands and causes fissures in solidified lava in the crater, allowing smoke, ash or molten lava to spew out.

ALASKA - For the first time since the Augustine Volcano came rumbling back to life last month, scientists have flown a heat-sensitive camera over its summit. The pictures show a previously unknown feature on the summit - a smoldering fumarole, or steam vent. It is venting steam at tremendous pressure. “The hottest temperatures we got were in this new fumarole on the south side of the volcano, with the temperatures in excess of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.” Despite the ominous appearance of the pictures, Augustine is in no imminent danger of erupting. The mountain is still code yellow, which categorizes it as restless. While Augustine is more active now than at any time since its last eruption, in 1986, it is not yet close to an eruption. There would need to be a 10-fold increase in seismic activity for officials to raise the danger level to Code Orange.

AUSTRALIA - there will be more storms with hail across central and southern Queensland this afternoon and tonight. Yesterday storms stretching from the New South Wales border to central Queensland lasted more than 11 hours.

ISRAEL - A weekend storm resulted in flooding in many areas of the country. Delays were reported in many areas in the center of the country due to the heavy rains; with an alert declared for fears Nahal Ayalon would rise to flood levels.

PHILIPPINES - Torrential rains brought about by an active low-pressure area that affects Visayas and Mindanao could create flash floods and landslides in Cebu City and the province. The active low-pressure area would result in rain that could cause rivers to overflow and mountain lands to soften, creating a landslide. Cebu had experienced torrential rain the past several days including the whole day during Christmas. Rescue teams are on alert for the return of more rains after floods displaced about 1,000 residents in six barangays in Surigao City over the weekend. Areas in two provinces remain flooded after weeks of bad weather.

VIETNAM - Six people have died and seven others have been injured during six days of flooding in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) province of Dac Lac. The heavy rain in the upper reaches of the river has also caused serious flooding in the neighbouring provinces of Dac Nong and Khanh Hoa as well as Da Nang. More than 1,300 ha of newly-transplanted rice, 2,566 ha of corn and thousands of hectares of other subsidiary crops have been inundated. More than 800 houses have been flooded and at least nine swept away. Roads have been cut and landslides have contaminated many reservoirs.

ZAMBIA shut down its biggest hydro-electric power station on Sunday after a major landslide caused by heavy rains. Heavy rains swept through the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydroelectric Power Project and caused a landslide that could have destroyed the machinery at the project.

VIETNAM - National Highway 1A in Ca Pass, Phu Yen Province re-opened three days after a major landslide closed the route to traffic.

OREGON - A landslide on Highway 101 between Brookings and Gold Beach could mean traffic delays for weeks to come. A chunk of ground about 150 yards long started to break from a hillside just north of Hooskanaden Creek in the late afternoon Thursday. The break took large chunks of two traffic lanes and a smaller part of a third with it. 7.82 inches of rain fell on the South Coast between Sunday and Friday morning, an average of just over 1.5 inches per day.
A slow-moving landslide buried two cars and closed a West Hills street in Portland Friday. No one was in the cars when the slide took place at about 1:30 a.m. Friday morning. A home located above the landslide is also threatened.

HONG KONG - has had frost in its COLDEST WINTER FOR 20 YEARS. Temperatures fell to just 1.4 degrees Celsius at one hilltop early Friday morning because of wind chill. Hong Kong is sub-tropical, and it is rare for the mercury to fall below 10 degrees.

THAILAND - (this may be a spoof) FREAK SNOWFALL in Phang Nga baffles scientists. Following several weeks of unseasonable weather, Phang Nga locals were surprised to find themselves wading through several inches of fresh snow, bringing business and traffic in the province grinding to a halt. Several local schools were forced to close and dive operations cancelled trips to the Similans because of unconfirmed reports of icebergs. “We’ve been warning the government for years that this might happen soon,” said renowned a climatologist. "There has been a dramatic change in the monsoon patterns of the region, soon we will see them shift to Northwest and Southeast air currents and then it won’t be long before ski resorts take over from the rubber plantations of Phuket.”

UNITED KINGDOM - Motorists are being warned to expect treacherous conditions with heavy snow predicted for much of England. Forecasters say Kent could get the worst of the snow, with up to 10cm expected in some places. Up to two centimetres have already fallen in the south-east, East Anglia, West Yorkshire and the north-east. Snow is expected to continue falling over the next two days. "It's going to stay really cold for the next couple of days with temperatures of between two and four degrees Celsius. The snow will stick around until Friday afternoon when the weather will get a lot milder and a thaw will probably begin."

CANADA - A major storm is whipping Eastern Canada. In southwestern Quebec it hampered efforts to restore power to more than 70,000 homes and business. By late Monday night, the storm had already dumped more than 40 centimetres of snow on parts of Quebec and New Brunswick. Elsewhere in the Atlantic provinces, people were bracing themselves after forecasts predicted they could see as much as 60 cm of snow, 60 millimetres of rain, or wind gusts of more than 100 kilometres per hour.
Snowmobilers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts in Saskatchewan are being urged to take extra care, as officials warn that many lakes and rivers have thinner ice than they've seen in years. Many water bodies that are usually safe to cross may now be dangerous because of heavier than normal precipitation earlier in the year. Many lakes – especially around Prince Albert and La Ronge – are higher than normal. It is the first time IN MORE THAN 20 YEARS that sections of some rivers still have flowing water. The volume of water flowing downstream from Lac la Ronge and other waterways is four to five times greater than normal.

RUSSIA - Rescuers on Monday were searching for a border guard who disappeared in an avalanche in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan. The avalanche occurred Sunday in the republic`s Tsuntinsky District. A local resident and one border guard were killed, three guards survived and one guard is still missing. Fierce snowstorms were complicating the rescue operation.

TBILISI, GEORGIA - An avalanche on the treacherous Jvari Pass on the Georgian Military highway claimed the lives of three men over the weekend. The three had been traveling in two Kamaz trucks which were also buried in the snowfall. Due to continuing snowfall and the remaining danger of avalanches, transport has still been blocked over the pass though access to Gudauri remains open.

ARMENIA - Rescuers searched Monday for two hunters who were buried by an avalanche in the mountains of Armenia.

JAPAN - In Fukui, northwestern Japan, a 52-year-old construction worker suffered a broken hip and leg Saturday after being swallowed in an avalanche during a roadside snow removal operation. On Saturday warnings were issued for blizzards and avalanches in northern and central Japan as severe cold winds continue to bring record snowfalls to the region. The Meteorological Agency predicted up to 24 inches of fresh snow in the northern Hokuriku region, parts of which have already had up to nine feet - the HEAVIEST SNOWFALL IN DECADES. Blizzards have swept through the nation since earlier this week, triggering blackouts and injuring hundreds of people in snow-related accidents.

COLORADO - A Colorado Springs teenager was killed in an avalanche Thursday, while snowshoeing with a friend near Georgetown. Fierce winds had quickly whipped up dangerous snowdrifts that were primed to break free and trigger avalanches. The pair had made the prudent decision to leave the area when the weather turned foul, which made the death more tragic. "They had started back. They could tell that things weren't looking good."

CANADA - Recent warm weather, along with strong winds and rain has raised the potential for avalanches across most of the province of British Columbia. On average, avalanches kill 12 people every year in British Columbia.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/27 -
In 1989 - a 5.4 quake struck near the Southeast Coast of Australia. Twelve people were killed, more than 100 injured and an estimated 1.1 billion U.S. dollars damage occurred. Believed to be the first earthquake in Australian history that has caused deaths.

Drought, Heat, Water Shortages, Wildfires - updated Tuesdays.


Friday, December 23, 2005 -


NO updates December 24, 25 and 26 - UNLESS THERE IS A BIG DISASTER,
like another Christmas-time quake -
(12/26/2003 Bam, Iran & 12/26/2004 Indonesian quake and tsunami.)

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/22 -

FRANCE - A small earthquake registering 3.3 on the Richter scale caused a shudder in France’s Alps region overnight but caused no damage nor casualties. The epicentre was around 40km north of the French Riviera city of Nice. Minor quakes are relatively common in southeast France, with around two per year recorded at or above the 3.3 magnitude.

800 tsunami bodies remain unidentified , many never will be. Almost a year on, Australian experts are still on the ground in Thailand dealing with the appalling aftermath of the Indonesian tsunami.
Last December was the second year running that a natural disaster cast a gloom over the festive season. In 2003 an earthquake in the Iranian city of Bam claimed 31,000 lives. The final toll from the tsunami, one of history's biggest natural disasters, is more than 230,000 reported dead and missing. An estimated 1.5 million people are believed to still be displaced. Work is finally under way to install a tsunami early-warning system in the Indian Ocean.

ALASKA - Augustine Volcano had no dramatic increases in seismic activity last week. Compared to the weeks before the March 1986 eruption, the volcano has not shown a level of activity to suggest an imminent eruption.
With Augustine Volcano rumbling, scientists and government officials have finally agreed on what series of events will be necessary to evacuate the the Homer Spit and other low-lying coastal areas in lower Cook Inlet if needed. Because no one lives near Augustine, agencies had to decide how to interpret remote signals from the island before they press the alarm button. The new plan goes into effect once the Alaska Volcano Observatory declares an alert level of orange or red, meaning an eruption is expected or under way (the level is currently yellow, second on the four-level scale). After that, any surface seismic disturbance measuring magnitude 4.5 on the Richter scale will be presumed to indicate the kind of catastrophic landslide that occurred in the 1883 eruption. Chances of a tsunami set off by Augustine are small, but real. The collapse of the island's summit dome into the sea has the potential for generating a wave that should take 60 to 90 minutes to reach Homer, 75 miles distant. There is evidence of 14 major "debris avalanches" at Augustine over the past 2,000 years. The dome appears to have built back up to unstable size again.

CANADA - Vancouver, British Columbia - No equipment to detect seismic activity - a likely precursor to an eruption -is located within 15 kilometres of any Canadian volcano, making it very difficult to predict an impending event. Moreover, just to complete a rapid evaluation of hazards around nine volcanoes where seismic activity does occur would take current staff up to four years to complete. There are mountains aplenty in Western Canada’s winter playground, which falls smack in the middle of something called the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt. Nothing would throw a crimp into the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler quite like a volcanic eruption.

No current tropical cyclones.

VIETNAM - Floods this week have killed nearly two dozen people in central Vietnam, raising the overall death toll to 69. In the last four days, 22 people have died in six central provinces because of the flooding. Four others are missing. The coffee harvest has been postponed, and next year's crop will likely be affected.

JAPAN - Heavy snow and strong winds caused havoc in many parts of Japan and South Korea yesterday, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity, disrupting traffic and even forcing nuclear power plants to shut down. "The weather is not improving, so we cannot get to the sites and make repairs." Some of the HEAVIEST SNOWFALLS ON RECORD FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR have hit Japan since last week, even in some southern prefectures that rarely see snow, but Tokyo has been spared. In northern Niigata, snow had piled up as high as 184cm and more snow is expected in the coming days. In South Korea, snow in the southern and south-western areas claimed at least one life, stranded thousands of motorists and damaged hundreds of greenhouses

INDIA - India's financial capital has been experiencing an UNUSUAL CHILL this winter, with temperatures falling well below normal for the season. A day after the mercury dipped to 11.6 degrees Celsius - the COLDEST DECEMBER DAY IN MUBAI IN THE PAST 56 YEARS - weather conditions remained largely unchanged on Thursday. On Thursday morning, a light mist hung over the coastal city and the minimum temperature recorded was 14 degrees Celsius. Some people could be seen in the early morning wearing sweaters and jackets - a RARE sight in this usually humid city. This is the second consecutive year that Mumbai has seen such a sharp drop in temperatures, and weather department officials said this was a spill-over from the cold wave sweeping across north India. "These conditions will continue for some time, though the mercury may not dip to Wednesday's levels."

OHIO - What's been UNUSUAL so far this winter season is the severe cold. "Up to Dec. 17, it's been the SECOND COLDEST DECEMBER IN THE LAST 100 YEARS. This month, the average temperature is only 32 degrees...Normal temperature for December averages 44 degrees. We haven't hit 40 degrees the whole month." There has also been more snow in Marietta in December, so far, than last year. "We had a bone-dry snow year last year. Already we've had 2.1 inches of snow. We only had 9 inches the whole winter last year." The Old Farmer's Almanac has been correct in its predictions of a colder than normal December. It calls for cold through late January with moderating temperatures in February, followed by a near-normal March.

COLORADO - it’s really cold in Colorado with tons of snow. The city of Fraser, once called the “Icebox of the Nation,’ has seen 44 below. It’s just like the “good, old days” of 30 to 40 years ago. The Winter Park ski area reported 142 inches of snow midway through December, the MOST SNOWFALL SINCE 1983 when a phenomenal streak of 41 straight days of snow was recorded.

ALABAMA - It should be an unpredictable 89 days. The National Weather Service's long-term forecast for the Birmingham area can't get any broader: Cold, seasonable or warm. "There are no climate signals that point in one area for our region." The same unpredictable forecast holds for precipitation. The Old Farmer's Almanac states on its Web site that the Deep South should be "colder than normal from mid-December through January, but the remainder of the winter season will be relatively mild."

U.S. WINTER FORECAST - The folks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center don’t foresee any significant departure from normal precipitation or temperature in Virginia or North Carolina this winter. NOAA’s forecast for December through February – the three-month period meteorologists consider winter – calls for a warmer than normal season for much of the rest of the nation. As for precipitation, only Hawaii is expected to be wetter than normal, with Florida and southern parts of adjoining states drier. The Farmers’ Almanac predicts a “major storm along the Atlantic coast” for Jan. 20 to 23 and Feb. 8 to 11, bringing “a wintry mix … through the mid-Atlantic states.”

AUSTRALIA - Firefighters are preparing for extreme weather conditions and no fires can be lit in the open, except in Gippsland.

NORTH CAROLINA - Carolina Beach authorities were investigating reports of three loud booms in the area Tuesday. About 4:20 p.m., numerous residents heard a loud boom and some felt the building they were in shake. Officials were unaware of what may have caused the booms, but were looking at causes ranging from a plane flying too low to the ground to an earthquake. The U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Center said it had no record of an earthquake along the North Carolina coast and local police said that there were no scheduled activities in the area that would have caused the booms or the buildings to shake.
Thousands of people reported hearing a series of explosive "booms" all across New Hanover County and in some sections of Brunswick County late Tuesday afternoon. Thoughts of the nuclear power plant exploding, an earthquake or a terrorist strike are just some of the theories that were tossed around after hearing the sounds. Most of the information is pointing towards some type of military exercise. "It was a series of kabooms. It was just like an explosion." "I sort of jerked and almost lost my balance, and I noticed it was lasting longer that the ones we had heard in the past." The weather service reported seeing some military activity about 30 miles off shore at about 4:00 p.m. Tuesday and one viewer in Wrightsville Beach said she saw about nine military jets flying over head, but the Military is not confirming or denying any reports. The continental shelf shifting - an unstable piece of land off shore - is another theory, but geologists say it's very unusual for loud explosive noises to go along with that or an earthquake for that matter.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/23 -
In 1906 - a 7.3 quake struck Kodiak Island, Alaska.
In 1972 – a 6.2 earthquake struck Managua, Nicaragua, killing 10,000. $800,000,000 in damages. Hundreds of aftershocks were reported, but only two exceeded magnitude 5, and these occurred within an hour of the main shock.
In 1985 - a 6.9 quake struck the Northwest Territories, Canada.
In 2004 – an 8.1 earthquake shook the ocean floor between Australia and Antarctica, causing buildings to shake in Tasmania, but no injuries were reported.

Unusually High Tides / Freak Waves - updated Fridays.


Thursday, December 22, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/21 -

INDONESIA - An undersea earthquake of magnitude 6.3 rocked parts of eastern Indonesia on Wednesday.

PANAMA - A 6.0 magnitude earthquake occured south of Panama on Wednesday.

ARKANSAS - scientists are not really sure why earthquakes have occurred in the region. This area consists of several layers of soil over very old crystalline rocks — such rocks would have created a fault boundary, but they didn’t separate completely. This has left a weak spot below the surface. The New Madrid fault seems to press together from the west to the east to create earthquakes. There are approximately 200-230 earthquakes in this area each year; however, most are of such a low magnitude that residents do not notice them. The average time period between large quakes on the fault line is about 500 years. The probability of another series of quakes like those that hit in 1811 and 1812, which were estimated to be a magnitude 7.5 to 8.0, occurring in the next 50 years is seven to 10 percent. The probability of a magnitude 6.0 or greater quake in the same time period is about 25 to 40 percent.

WASHINGTON - Seattle is leading the way in tsunami research. Seattle now has what may be the world`s largest tsunami research center, with a goal of forecasting a major tsunami within 10 minutes of its development. So far the scientists have created real-time tsunami simulations that can be run in minutes for San Francisco, Port Los Angeles and Crescent City, California; Hilo, Hawaii; Kodiak, Alaska; Newport and Seaside in Oregon; Neah Bay and Willapa Bay in Washington.

INDIA -Tropical Depression 07B virtually stagnated over the seas 500 km east-southeast of Chennai. A new low-pressure area brewing over the southeast Bay of Bengal is a remnant of Tropical Depression 25W migrating from the tropical western Pacific. The deep depression over the southwest Bay of Bengal was concentrated on 350-km southeast of Chennai Tuesday night but changed its direction towards the northeast and moved towards Myanmar, away from the Indian Coast, Wednesday morning. The new system might tread the path of 07B in a pattern identified with cyclonic circulations developing during December. Research into cyclone behaviour has revealed that 23 per cent of the systems straying outside of the 15 degrees north latitude (passing through Tadipatri in Andhra Pradesh and Hubli-Dharwad in Karnataka) during this time of the year tended to head north-northeast and dissipate over the waters. 07B will become a storm of moderate strength from 5.30 p.m. on Wednesday and could even intensify slightly. It will retain the status until Friday when it will start weakening rapidly. It will reach below tropical storm strength by Saturday evening. The westerly troughs display the same atmosphere dynamics as conventional `lows' but are endowed with much larger amplitudes. What they lack is moisture, but even that is assured once they run into and devour relatively pint-sized tropical systems. A `rain-bearer' payload thus gets added in the bargain and the extra-tropical system will now be able to trigger rains upfront. In fact, every third cyclone in the tropics is invariably impacted by these extra-tropical systems as they traverse the globe from west to east.

WASHINGTON - The month began with up to a couple inches of snow Dec. 1-2. After that, they had numerous frosty nights and cold foggy days and nights. The below-freezing nights culminated with lows down into the teens on Sunday morning and howling, icy east winds. Compare that with last year when they reported no measurable snow and the mercury didn’t drop below 20 degrees all winter. Another pronounced and UNUSUAL feature of the weather the first half of December was the UNUSUAL lack of precipitation. Through Saturday, precipitation totaled just .64 of an inch, compared to the normal amount through Dec. 17 of 3.95 inches. The average total for December is more than 7 inches. The dry December so far follows slightly above normal rainfall in October and November. They were on track to having perhaps the driest December on record and, had the cold continued, one of the coldest. But a warmup has begun and the Weather Service’s most recent outlook is that it will continue through the end of this year. And with it, the forecast is for rain, rain and more rain.

IDAHO - early-season storms deposited almost 8 feet of snow on Baldy by the first week of December, laying the foundation for a stable backcountry ski season. But three weeks ago, a stubborn high-pressure system crashed the party with frigid, dry air, setting the stage for a dangerous backcountry avalanche scenario that could lurk for weeks, or months, before rearing its ugly head. Avalanche risk is heightened by dry, cold weather. The early-December storm dumped 12 to 16 inches of snow on the Wood River Valley and surrounding peaks. It was followed by strong wind events, which formed dangerous wind slabs in the mid-to-upper elevation areas of the backcountry. Although it is somewhat stable, the snow is "rotten," and the backcountry skiing less than desirable. "It's really weak, rotten snow with lots of rocks and (other hazards). These cold temperatures cause the snowpack to weaken and deteriorate. The snow becomes less cohesive, very granular and sugary - you can't make a snowball." That means that when (hopefully not if) the dry high pressure does break down, allowing storms to spin back into the area, the avalanche dangers could be extreme. "(The snowpack) has got a very weak base, so once we get new snow on top of it, it will be top heavy." The same conditions developed last winter. After a series of massive storms pummeled Sun Valley through the holiday season, a huge high-pressure zone developed over Idaho and the Northwest, where it stubbornly sat for eight weeks. When snows returned in March, the stage had been set for disaster, as the new snow did not bond well to the weak, underlying layer.

ILLINOIS - The solstice signals a warming trend. Wednesday was the lowest positioning of the sun all season. It was also the shortest day of the year, with only nine hours of daylight. Dec. 7 had the area's lowest recorded temperature to date, at 5 degrees below zero. "We were already into winter before the winter solstice came up. We generally use December, January and February as winter instead of Dec. 21 to March 21." This winter is "very cold and on par with December 1989 for most parts of the state." This year's chilly temperatures are attributed to the CHANGE IN THE CIRCULATION PATTERN OF THE WEATHER. "In previous years, the weather moved west to east, but this year, it's coming from the north to south." Central Illinoisans are getting a whiff of Canadian Arctic weather. This weather pattern is "UNUSUAL and unrelenting." The coldest winter weather typically follows in the month after the winter solstice. However, this winter overall was supposed to be warmer than normal, but hasn't been shaping up that way so far. Monday's temperatures were 19 degrees below normal, with a high of 14 degrees and a low of 1 degree. Friday's high is expected to be 42 degrees.

TEXAS - Considering the meteorological marvels of the past 12 months, winter arrived in Houston Wednesday with an uncharacteristic whimper. Winter arrived in normal fashion after months of strange patterns. They expected calm weather on the first official day of winter, as temperatures hit normal for this time of year: just above 60 degrees for the high, and about 40 degrees for the low. Normal holiday weather would be one of the first normal things to happen in the past year. In the past 12 months, Houston has experienced fire and ice, to say nothing of a record-setting hurricane season. "It has been one TRULY STRANGE WEATHER PATTERN." The oddities began Christmas Eve a year ago, when snow fell and gave much of Houston its first white Christmas. The rest of winter was warmer, with January and February ending about 4 degrees higher than usual. Springtime was slightly cooler than normal. Then Galveston recorded its WARMEST SUMMER EVER, with an average temperature of 85.5 degrees from June through August. June was the third-warmest ever for the island and August THE WARMEST EVER. Houston didn't quite reach record temperatures in the summer — the city recorded its 13th-warmest summer since year-round records began being kept in 1889. With just .08 inches of rain, the city experienced ITS DRIEST JUNE. September was worse. Not only did Hurricane Rita menace the Texas area, Mother Nature cranked up the heat. In Houston there were RECORD TEMPERATURES on the three days following Rita's landfall, Sept. 25 to 27. The mercury on those days reached 99, 99 and 100 degrees. The Sept. 27 high of 100 was the latest Houston has ever reached triple digits. Galveston, Houston and College Station all recorded their WARMEST SEPTEMBERS. College Station also had its DRIEST SEPTEMBER EVER. Forecast models predicted the cooler-than-normal December but call for slightly-warmer-than-normal temperatures in January and February. Houston has been colder than normal this winter because more Canadian fronts have reached the city. If the fronts continue, Houston could face a very cold winter.

OKLAHOMA - Fall weather hits record books as arid, warm. This autumn is the seventh driest and ninth warmest, since record-keeping began more than a century ago. Winter began yesterday, ending one of the warmest, driest Oklahoma autumns on record. "Any time...the same year is in the top 10 of both categories - precipitation and temperature - that's pretty RARE and significant." Forecasters predict winter could be just as arid.

AUSTRALIA - Christmas in south-east Queensland is shaping up to be as hot as the roast turkey. Brisbane could expect 38C on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with temperatures at 39 inland at Ipswich. "It will be quite sultry as well, so not pleasant at all." The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast were likely to record only slightly cooler temperatures of 35 or 36 degrees. There was the chance of a thunderstorm on the border ranges on Sunday night, but a cool southerly change is not due until Wednesday next week.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/22 -
In 856 - a huge quake struck Damghan, Iran. 200,000 deaths.
In 1983 - a 6.4 quake struck Northwest Africa. 443 deaths.

Unusual Animal Behavior - updated Thursdays. NO NEW INFO ADDED THIS WEEK.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/21 -

INDIA The increase in the number of killer earthquakes in the past decade or so catapulted the seismologists to look for more clues from the records/remnants of past earthquakes. Evidence forthcoming from the Himalayas show that some of the earthquake events that took place in the 10th and 16th centuries may have been much larger than recent events. The stress generated by them is still capable of playing havoc in the Himalayas, foot-hills and important cities of India.

MOZAMBIQUE - November marked the onset of the cyclone season, which lasts until April and peaks in January and February. During the season, cyclones are likely to cause at least localized flooding due to heavy rains. There is also a risk of severe flooding and cyclone damage if the season is very active, which given the current global climate patterns is possible. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network has issued a warning that a food crisis is developing. Normally the major cropping season starts in October in the southern and central provinces, and lasts until March; in the northern areas it begins in November-December and lasts until April. This year the cropping season has set in during November, with much of the planting activity taking place currently.

INDIA - As tropical storm 07B curved back into the high seas off Pondicherry to firmly put itself on a track away to the north-northeast, a fresh alert has been sounded of a new `low' converging over the south-central Bay of Bengal around the weekend. The new system would be a remnant of the tropical storm 25W migrating in from the tropical western Pacific near Vietnam, which has since downgraded into a tropical depression.

FLORIDA - December marks the beginning of Florida's dry season, when emergency officials are on alert for wild fires. But after Saturday's RECORD 4.62-inch RAINFALL - the HIGHEST ONE-DAY TOTAL EVER RECORDED IN GAINESVILLE IN THE MONTH OF DECEMBER - crews scrambled Monday to drain swollen water basins and fill new potholes. They were just beginning to see the "red flags" of dry conditions that fuel wildfires before the storm, but the wet weather will hold the wildfires off for a while.
Toward the end of last week , a front meandered over Florida and allowed moisture to pool across the state. That prompted a cluster of clouds and cool temperatures that have endured. The cloudiness that has loomed large since last week finally should start clearing on Thursday. How long the front has hovered is UNUSUAL. The mixture of warmer daytime temps with the nighttime cool, wet, air also may bring patchy fog this week. Another cold front could come in from the northwest late this weekend into early next week.

CALIFORNIA - A storm coming from Hawaii is expected to bring waves upwards of 10 feet to parts of coastal Orange County today and early Thursday. Flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Since the highest tides came last week, there is a decreased likelihood of erosion. The storm has intensified, with winds of up to 50 knots and wave heights up to 50 feet about 1,000 miles from the California coast. It's an El Niño-type storm that has picked up tropical moisture to fuel its strength. "The good news is the storm is going to turn north, and the swell from the storm will be very large. We get a few major storms every year, and this is not that out of the norm. It's RARE to get one with a storm getting so close without us getting bad weather." A weak ridge of high pressure over California will likely keep weather conditions favorable along the southern coast.

SPAIN - A landslide buried three lanes of a highway in northern Spain yesterday morning, temporarily trapping a dozen people in their cars and slightly injuring two. The landslide occurred some 31 miles east of the northern Basque city of Bilbao on the A-8 highway when a hillside collapsed and an avalanche of boulders hurtled onto and buried a section of the roadway.

THAILAND - 35 dead, 2,000 trapped by landslide. Rescue teams struggling through mountains of mud unleashed by flooding, caused by two weeks of heavy rain, have found 2,000 people trapped in a village in Yala province without food since a landslide cut them off from the outside world three days earlier. People are starving because their food ran out.

NEW ZEALAND - A massive clean-up is underway in the lower South island after a torrential downpour caused thousands of dollars of damage. The hour-and-a-half long downpour caused flooding of homes and businesses. The deluge was described as monsoon-like.

TEXAS - Temperatures hovered in the upper 30s Monday, significantly lower than the average high in Texas this time of year. The chilly weather was unexpected and a bit unwelcome Monday, and it was looking to be just as cold Tuesday. The forecast is calling for temperatures to climb significantly midweek and could be in the 60s by Friday.

AUSTRALIA - a bushfire on Sydney's northside is threatening nearby homes and blanketing the area in smoke.

Natural disasters have caused about $US 225 billion in damage in 2005 making this year the COSTLIEST EVER FOR INSURERS especially in the United States. More than half of those insured losses were caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/21 -
In 1812 - a 7.1 quake struck Santa Barbara Channel, California.
In 1932 - a 7.2 quake struck Cedar Mountain, Nevada.
In 1967 - a 7.0 quake struck near the Coast of Northern Chile, 1 killed.

Crop Failures, Food Shortages, Fish Die-Off - updated Wednesdays


Tuesday, December 20, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/19 -

BANDA ACEH - There's enough tsunami trash in this Indonesian city to make a three-storey-high pile covering 30 football fields. In Sri Lanka, the volume of waste dumped in lagoons and waterways is more than twice what was generated by the September 11 attacks. The environmental devastation in the worst-hit countries is immense, yet experts say it pales in comparison with what humans had already managed to inflict before the giant waves struck on December 26, 2004. In the Maldives, many of the 1,100 islands are uninhabitable because they are covered in trash, and wells that provided drinking water for more than a quarter of the population are contaminated. The tsunami destruction was mostly localised and overall it pales in comparison to years of rampant development and dynamite fishing, experts say. And experts fear rebuilding could contribute to illegal logging, overfishing and unchecked coastal construction.

NEW ZEALAND - Reports show gaps in tsunami response. A year after killer waves swept across the Indian Ocean, New Zealand could also be hit without warning by a tsunami. New Zealand could be hit by a tsunami from Fiji within four hours of a surge, with little or no warning. Such a wave could hit the top of the North Island and spill down the east and west coasts. New Zealand is also vulnerable to tsunamis caused by earthquakes closer to shore, but these hit so quickly that there is little warning.

CYCLONE 07B was 738 nmi SSW of Calcutta, India.
TROPICAL STORM 25W was 220 nmi ESE of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

THAILAND - Weather authorities delivered more bad news Monday for Thailand's flood-stricken South, forecasting more storms and rain that will impact the already water-logged Southern provinces later in the week. The Meteorological Department warns of more heavy rain and flooding in the South as a new tropical depression enters Gulf of Thailand today or Wednesday.

Flooding in southern Thailand , among the worst such disasters in 40 years, has left at least 27 people dead.

MALAYSIA - Flooding in northern Malaysia has left at least five people dead and more than 20,000 people homeless.

AUSTRALIA - A severe thunderstorm hit northern New South Wales on Saturday afternoon. Strong winds, hail and heavy rain caused widespread blackouts, uprooted trees and damaged homes in Casino and rural areas north of Lismore. "I've been around this area all my life, I'm about 60 and I've never seen horizontal rain and horizontal hail like it. We had hailstones banging against the top of the glass right up under the eaves and the amazing thing is that the wind and the rain and the hail all seemed to be coming from different directions so that it was hitting on windows on a number of sides of the house."

CALIFORNIA - An avalanche of power outages, car accidents and flooded highways resulting from the first heavy storm to slam through San Mateo County this season. Seven thousand Peninsula residents lost power to their homes during the biggest cloudburst between 10 am and noon. By Sunday afternoon, 2 1/2 inches of rain had fallen over a 24-hour period.
Thunder, lightning and wind gusts as strong as 71 mph accompanied the powerful storm, which sporadically dumped as much as a half-inch of rain per hour across the region Sunday. Skies will remain cloudy, though probably not rainy, over the Bay Area for the rest of the week. "As far as the wind and rain, this is a typical winter-time storm. The lightning and thunder is a little UNUSUAL." Santa Rosa BROKE A 65-YEAR RECORD FOR THE DAY, receiving 2.3 inches on Sunday alone. A tornado warning issued in Napa County at 9:30 a.m. was lifted without incident 30 minutes later.

MISSISSIPPI - Hurricane Katrina left parts of the Ross Barnett Reservoir vulnerable to massive flooding. Tons of rip rap - the large rocks that line the reservoir - were stripped away during the hurricane. Three months after Katrina, many of the rocks have been replaced but there’s still a lot of damage from the storm.

CALIFORNIA - A weekend of heavy snow, high winds and warming weather are creating some dangerous conditions in the Sierra. The U.S. Forest Service has issued an avalanche advisory. Widespread avalanche activity was seen on Sunday. They expect the pattern to continue with the new warmer storm hitting the Sierra, the new snow from the weekend storm and strong winds.

FRANCE - A 22 year-old English skier has been seriously injured while off-piste skiing by an avalanche at Tignes. The skier was found in a state of cardiac arrest by an avalanche dog after 30 minutes under the slide. Avalanche risk was 3 (considerable) on a scale of 5.

AUSTRIA - Heavy snowfall in Austria's Alpine regions raised the risk Sunday of avalanches and led the authorities to urge hikers and skiers to avoid the areas deemed most prone to snow slides. Strong winds and snowfall of up to 120 centimeters, or 47 inches, in sections of Styria, a mountainous province in southern Austria, put the avalanche risk there at four on a five-point scale, on which five is the most dangerous stage.

OREGON - Thursday morning mid-valley residents woke to a vista straight out of a New England Christmas card, courtesy of a RARE WEATHER PHENOMENON, fog snow, produced by heavy fog and cold air mingling at ground level. It was a combination of stale, stagnant air and the coldest night they’ve had in nearly two years —19 degrees — that produced the effect. December’s average low temperature of 28.5 degrees is five degrees below average. Rainfall totals this year are 6 inches below normal.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/20 -
In 1940 - a 5.5 quake struck near Ossipee Lake, New Hampshire.
In 1942 - a 7.3 quake struck Turkey, 3000 dead.
In 1946 - a 8.4 Tonankai, Japan. 10-foot sea wave along eastern shore of Shikoku and Honshu with very extensive property damage in the same regions. 1,330 deaths.

Drought, Heat, Water Shortages, Wildfires - updated Tuesdays.

Monday, December 19, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/18 -

SINGAPORE AND MALAYSIA - As the world takes time out to remember the 290,000 victims of the Dec 26 tsunami that hit the region last year, some experts are already issuing a serious warning: Look ahead at what could happen next. In recent interviews, a Thai scientist has warned that the epicentre of the next earthquake would be further north than last year's temblors, which brings the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and Malaysia into range. In 1998, this was the scientist who predicted that Thailand's Phuket island and the surrounding Andaman region was at risk. At that time he was called a "rumour-monger" and a "madman", out to ruin the country's tourism industry. "We can only say, by historical data, that every 50, 80 or 100 years a big earthquake and tsunami will occur. The latest data shows that the epicentre is moving north towards the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and if an earthquake takes place in this area, this would cause greater effects in the Straits of Malacca than what happened last year. If the epicentre continues to move north and a tsunami occurs, the wave will move towards the Straits of Malacca, which is narrow and shallow. This can cause great damage if early preparations are not taken." "There have been 12 tsunamis in the last two centuries and the last big one before Dec 26 last year occurred in the Indian Ocean, created by the explosion of the Krakatoa volcano 122 years ago." Recent studies and data have shown that there is stress building up in the Nicobar Islands area. "I've suggested to the Indonesian government that it should not allow any human habitation on the northern coast of Sumatra as these areas are prone to be hit."

TROPICAL STORM 25W was 318 nmi ESE of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

CYCLONE 07B was 746 nmi SE of Bombay, India.
INDIA - Cyclone Mala threatens to lash the coast. A deep depression in the Bay of Bengal, that threatened to turn into a cyclone, on Sunday headed towards the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh with widespread rains, and isolated heavy to very heavy rains in north Tamil Nadu. A cyclone alert has been sounded along the coastal regions of Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu following reports of the depression even as the district administration plans to evacuate over 50,000 people living by the sea. "The sea is very rough here and it has been continuously raining."
SRI LANKA - Rains and heavy winds are to affect Sri Lanka as the depression in the Bay of Bengal is likely to develop into tropical cyclonic weather conditions. The northern and eastern parts of the island are likely to experience strong winds and heavy rains.

MALAYSIA - the Malaysian Meteorological Service has issued a third-degree warning on a possibility of a tropical storm hitting the east coast within the next 24 hours. It also warned that the strong winds of 60-80 kph and rough seas were dangerous for shipping and coastal activities including oil platforms. Meanwhile, floods have displaced 4,313 villagers from 697 families and more are expected to be evacuated to relief centres as water levels were increasing fast.

INDIANA - Winter officially begins Wednesday but recent weather patterns have left many believing the season began weeks ago. "It does seem a bit UNUSUAL, the amount of snow we've had and how cold it's been. Especially when you take into consideration that winter hasn't even started yet. The area is experiencing its sixth-coldest and -EARLIEST START TO WINTER IN THE PAST 73 YEARS.

NEVADA - A strong winter strong front roared into Northern California overnight, bringing with it heavy rains, high winds, hazardous roadways and flooding in Novato and elsewhere in hard-hit Sonoma County. Rainfall totals from the storm were highest seen yet this winter. Sacramento had surpassed its ALL-TIME RECORD FOR RAIN on Dec. 18 with 1.41 inches - old mark 1.40 in 1955 - by noon. Meanwhile In the Sierra, motorists faced headaches as a potent storm dumped as much as 18 inches of snow in the Sierra and 8 inches in northern Nevada valleys.

SOUTH KOREA - Heavy snowstorms accompanied by strong winds and low temperatures paralyzed commuter train operations in the capital region, froze the Han River and caused damage in western coastal regions. There were power outages, water gauges broke and water supplies were cut off. As Seoul's temperature dropped yesterday morning to minus 14 degrees Celsius (6.8 F), the lowest this year, the Han River froze for the first time this winter, and the EARLIEST SINCE 1965. The cold spell will continue, although slightly milder temperatures are expected for three days starting today. Three pockets of extremely cold air formed above the North Pole in early December. "The pockets' shapes are similar to hats with shades, and one of those shades is covering East Asia. Cold air keeps coming from there, pulling down the temperature on the Korean Peninsula." The cold air, passing across waters west of the peninsula, formed snow clouds, causing heavy snowstorms in the western coastal areas. It has been a while since such cold air was felt in Korea, but the recent weeks' weather was not so unusual. "This is nothing abnormal. It has been like this in the past." The forecast is for January temperatures will be even lower than those of this month.

JAPAN - RECORD SNOWFALL blanketed parts of Japan over the weekend, killing at least nine people and disrupting transport, with the weather agency warning today that more snow was on the way.

AUSTRIA - A continued onslaught of heavy snow fall in Austria's Alpine regions caused at least one avalanche Sunday.

AUSTRALIA - HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR in Townsville. "It is RARE that we get temperatures over 35 degrees. This is EXTREME. It is quite UNUSUAL to have these temperatures here on the coast."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/19 -
In 1977 - a 5.8 quake struck Iran wiping out several villages. It was the 4th destructive quake to hit Iran that year.
In 1981 - a 7.6 quake struck the Aegean Sea.

Disease - updated Mondays


Sunday, December 18, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/17 -
12/16 -

JAPAN - There appear to be few injuries from a strong earthquake that shook northern Japan early Saturday. So far there are reports of only two people being hurt in the 6.2 magnitude quake. Scientists say the quake was centered deep below the ocean off the coast and was felt in dozens of towns and cities.

CALIFORNIA - A sharp 3.4 magnitude earthquake rattled East Bay residents Friday morning at 10:21 a.m, leaving many closest to its center wondering whether there had been an explosion. A 2.2 aftershock followed at 5:44 p.m. Residents reported hearing a loud booming sound in areas closest to the quake. All reported that they felt a strong shaking sensation; some said their homes shook violently.

PAKISTAN - The October 8 earthquake that flattened much of northern Pakistan has taught a lesson to mountain villagers that conservationists had long failed to instil: the importance of their forests. Despite the harsh lesson, conservationists and government officials are worried that necessity will drive survivors to hack down trees to save themselves from the winter. Landslides were particularly severe on slopes that had been stripped of their cover of pines and Himalayan hardwood trees, while many forested slopes remained intact. “The trees are nails which have griped the mountains and kept them stable.”

AMERICA’S TSUNAMI: ARE WE NEXT? premieres tonight, December 18 at 9 PM (ET/PT) on Discovery Channel. This is an original special revealing new geological evidence from a groundbreaking scientific expedition that confirms the cause of the December 26, 2004 Asian tsunami. Data collected from the expedition shows a striking similarity between the Indian Ocean fault zone and a fault zone lying just miles off the coast of northern California, Oregon and Washington. Some scientists predict a tsunami wave that is three times the height of what the northwest coast of the U.S. is prepared for.

ALASKA - There was another explosion Thursday on Augustine Volcano. That time, scientists believe their own seismic station was damaged.

VANUATU - People displaced by Ambae volcano are threatened by a shortage of fresh water. Thousands of litres of water have already been handed out to the 3-thousand people forced to move to relocation centres by continuing volcanic eruptions and ashfalls.

NEW ZEALAND - scientists say an eruption in Auckland is a matter of when, not if. The good news: that is not likely to be any time soon. Auckland has a big volcanic eruption every 5000 years on average and the last one was Rangitoto, about 600 years ago. Scientists say an eruption is likely to come from a new volcano, rather than a known one such as Rangitoto. It will be at a random location, as the molten rock finds the easiest route to the surface.

CYCLONE 07B was 829 nmi SE of Bombay, India.
INDIA - The deep depression over southwest Bay of Bengal now lay centered at about 450 kms south east of Nagapattinam this morning. It is likely to intensify further and move in a west north westernly direction. Strong winds with speed reaching 50-60kmph are likely off the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry coast during next 36 hours. A cold wave is sweeping north India.

AUSTRALIA - Catastrophic cyclone chaos feared. Queensland is overdue for a severe cyclone, and the destruction is likely to be catastrophic because of over-building near the coastline, a weather expert has warned. He says Queenslanders have become complacent and have built too close to the ocean because a major cyclone has not hit the state for more than 30 years. A highly destructive cyclone is "almost inevitable" within the next decade. Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organisation has announced that this is Australia's HOTTEST YEAR ON RECORD. Australia-wide temperatures during the first five months of 2005 were 1.75C above normal, surpassing the previous record by 0.57C.

THAILAND - Flooding continues to wreck havoc in the south. Phatthalung faces its MOST SEVERE FLOODING IN 20 YEARS. Three thousand families in the southern province of Phatthalung have been severely affected by the current flood. Ten districts are inundated due to incessant heavy rains together with flash floods flowing from the nearby Bantad mountain range. A rubber plantation was reportedly partially buried in the landslide and collapse of a stone mountainside falling in Sribanpot district, with several hundred rubber trees damaged. A landslide was also reported at the Bantad mountain wildlife centre in Banna sub-district. The weather department warns of continued heavy downpours in the lower south.
Two persons were drowned today while another woman went missing as heavy monsoon rains continued to ravage Thailand's deep South, leading authorities to declared Hat Yai district, a key entertainment area for tourists, as a disaster-zone. Heavy downpours resumed again in Hat Yai and other nearby districts in Songkhla province after midnight and worsened when flash floods from a mountain in Hat Yai overflowed into the district seat along with the water runoff from neighboring Sadao district and floodwaters from the swollen U-Tapao canal. In Yala province, the situation was not better as one woman drowned and another was still missing.
Sixteen districts in the southern province of Songkhla are now affected by severe flooding brought on by continuing monsoon rain, with several thousand households affected. Flooding here is the WORST IN FIVE YEARS, as the main road leading to the district was completely under floodwater and was impassable for vehicles. Heavy downpours of rain accompanied by high tides in Songkhla's coastal districts have worsened the situation, severely affecting some 20,000 persons in 22 villages.
Warnings of high waves, high tides in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman sea were issued by the Metereological Department today, while continued cold brought in by weather systems from China keeps Northern residents shivering. Waves 2 - 4 metres high on the Gulf and the Andaman Sea were predicted, as well as high tides between 1 - 2 metres were anticipated in six southern Coastal provinces facing the Gulf. Small trawlers are advised to stay in port due to the high seas. More flash flooding is expected in the vicinity of three Southern mountains where large-scale runoff is anticipated to affect seven provinces.

VIETNAM - Flash floods triggered by prolonged rains in central Vietnam have killed at least 32 people in recent weeks and damaged rice crops. At least eight people remained missing after being washed away by flash floods. Rains which began in late November have inundated more than 30,000 hectares (74,130 acres) of newly-planted rice crops. "The weather is quite abnormal this year, waters in rivers in the central region have started to recede but we expect new rains over the weekend so people should stay alert." Heavy rains also triggered landslides in the central region, damaging roads and disrupting traffic. Prolonged rains in Vietnam's Central Highlands coffee belt have delayed the coffee harvest there and made it difficult for farmers to dry newly-picked coffee cherries.

INDIA - Strange weather: both the southern peninsula and northwest India have been witnessing a strange turn in weather events this season. What were hitherto considered innocuous easterly systems have suddenly packed stormy weather in the peninsula while the incoming mid-latitude westerlies performed indifferently in the plains of northwest India. "We have a situation where a rain-battered Tamil Nadu scurries for cover as the next rain-bearing system approaches, while the unusually dry westerlies have left many a farmer in the northwest wishing if only it had rained a little more. But rains have largely been confined to the higher reaches of the Himalayas." While most of the Rabi lands in the plains in the north are irrigated, a fresh round of precipitation, that the westerlies are known to bring, would have had a beneficial effect on the standing crop. Not only would the rate of growth pick-up, the cost of irrigation could also be brought under control.
Forty-three homeless people were trampled to death today and 42 were injured in a stampede during the distribution of flood relief supplies at a shelter in southern India.

AUSTRALIA - Sydney's train commuters were experiencing major delays after lightning struck signalling equipment on the rail network's northern and central coast lines on Saturday.
A freak storm battered Brisbane around 3pm (AEST) Friday and brought gale force winds, before it moved just as quickly out to sea off Queensland's southeast coast. The severe thunderstorm passed rapidly over Brisbane, downing trees and tearing the roof from a block of units.

PHILIPPINES - A nine-year-old boy died and his stepfather was injured after a landslide hit their residence, due to four days of continuous rain.

UKRAINE - a cyclone with strong snowstorms and wind hit the whole of the western Ukraine. Some 250 populated localities of western Ukraine were left without electricity supply, because the area was hit by a cyclone with strong snowstorms and wind on Friday night. Strong wind and snowstorm continue to hamper the work of the repair teams. The wind speed in the Carpathian Mountains is about 35 metres per second. Rescue workers forecast snow avalanches in the Carpathians. They urged the people who are spending vacations in tourist centers to refrain from skiing these days.

U.S. - Widespread damage from a deadly ice storm left more than half a million customers still in the dark Friday night in North Carolina, and utility officials said the electricity might not be fully restored in parts of the Carolinas until Tuesday. The storm blew through Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia on Thursday and was blamed for hundreds of traffic accidents and at least four deaths. Ice built up on tree limbs, causing them to snap and pull down power lines.

CANADA - Montreal paralyzed by RECORD SNOWFALL Friday which forced the cancellation of 200 flights at Montreal airport, school closures and caused havoc on roads. More than 41 centimetres (16 inches) of snow fell on Friday. The storm will go down in history as ONE OF THE BIGGEST SNOWFALLS IN A SINGLE DAY in Montreal in December, beating a record of 37.8 centimeters on December 27, 1969. About 2.14 metres (seven feet) of snow usually falls on the city each winter.

INDIA - 30 die in cold wave sweeping north India. Unseasonably cold weather gripped northern India, as meteorologists warned of heavy fog in coming days which every year disrupts road, air and rail traffic. The temperature overnight in Lucknow slid to three degrees Celsius, the mercury was likely to dip further across Uttar Pradesh. Temperatures also fell below minus 3.6 degrees Celsius in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people were made homeless by the October 8 earthquake that ravaged the Himalayan region.

PERU - Last year winter in the Andes was brutal. The indigenous alpaca farmers in Peru's highlands had never seen anything like it. "When the blizzards came they were so strong. The snow fell for a full day and a full night without stopping. It stopped snowing, the skies opened and it was completely clear. Then ice fell from the sky in big shards like glass, and the cold front hit us." The people thought the end of the world had come last winter. The Quechua people, descendants of the Incas, living at altitudes of up to 4,500 metres, are used to harsh weather. But what they call the friaje is a new phenomenon, believed to be driven by climate change. Last year it sent temperatures plummeting to -35C, killed 50 children and left up to 13,000 people suffering from severe bronchitis, pneumonia and hypothermia. The snow killed all vegetation. And the animals on which the communities depend, the hardy Andean camel, the alpaca, died in their thousands. "The temperature shifts here are getting more extreme. Cold winters are followed by hot, dry summers and, recently, electric hail storms. "

EASTERN U.S. - Last Friday there was a full rainbow over Provincetown. The air was still. The sea calm. The air strangely warm considering just a few minutes before there was a chilly wind and freezing rain. And then, all hell broke lose. Winds reached hurricane force - at least 74 miles per hour - felling trees and power lines, and knocking out electricity from Provincetown to the Mid Cape. Just a few inches of snow fell, but enough to create whiteout road conditions, causing car accidents. The STRANGE WEATHER drove in whales and dolphins to strand on bayside beaches and caused a host of other calamities that left many scratching their heads in disbelief. "It was a rapidly intensifying coastal low. If you want another name for it, we call it a meteorological bomb." There were confirmed reports of water spouts, pink lightning, wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour and fish in back yards, even in locations some distance from the ocean. "The fish were most likely dropped there by the spouts or by the significant storm surge." As the storm approached the area, it came into contact with a low pressure system. Two low pressure systems, one from the Great Lakes region and the other from the Gulf of Mexico, combined to form one large block of low pressure that intensified just as it approached Buzzards Bay. The advancing front caused air pressure to drop 19 millibars over a three-hour period. "That is a massive drop in pressure." As the two systems met, they created a calm spot, almost like the center of a hurricane, thus the sunny weather and the rainbow. But then the "correction" started, sparking two hours of fury. "These intensifying lows are common over the North Atlantic" but not over land. Friday’s storm was unlike a classic nor’easter in that it did not originate off Cape Hatteras. Instead, the storm, or at least one part of it, began off the coast of Maryland and intensified very quickly. The thunder and lightning many areas experienced is indicative of "an intense development process". "The only storm that I can remember such thundersnow was the Blizzard of ’78. Both of these storms came very close to having a structure similar to a tropical storm and both deepened very rapidly."

SPAIN - The Atlantic Rowing Race has foul weather, again. ‘It is so INCREDIBLY UNUSUAL to have two low pressure systems over the traditional Atlantic trade wind route at this time of year and in one crossing, let alone in one week...Even MORE UNUSUAL is the boat placed in the northern most sector of the race is receiving the best weather of all the fleet. Traditionally the crews who are further south generally get the better weather as the race unfolds."

OKLAHOMA - Work continued into the night Thursday to plug the apparent source of natural gas that has bubbled to the surface along a Kingfisher County creek for the past week. Gas has been shooting to the surface along a five-mile section of Winter Camp Creek since Dec. 9 and some geysers are within about a mile of the town of Kingfisher. Although the source is unknown, a preliminary investigation revealed that a natural gas well being drilled by Chesapeake Energy Corp. miles away may be to blame for the strange geysers of explosive vapors. A Chesapeake natural gas drilling rig experienced an unusually large flow of gas last week. A company statement said pressure release was expected to begin sometime late Thursday or early Friday through a combination of production to a pipeline and periodic flaring of the gas. Even if the operation is successful, geysers may continue to appear in the area for some time. "It's going to be several days we think before we see any positive benefit. It depends on how charged the zone is with gas."

ILLINOIS - Numerous issues have emerged in the probe of the December 8 overrun of a Southwest Airlines plane which killed a young boy. Weather reports indicate that an enhanced snow band was in the area at the time of the landing. “This apparently is a SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL WEATHER PHENOMENON, as the band swath was only 20mi to 30mi (30km to 50km) wide with snow accumulations of 10in (25cm) right over Midway airport.”

Space Weather / Solar Storms / Meteors - updated Sundays.


Friday, December 16, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/15 -

Experts disagree about the New Madrid earthquake risk - Three independent analyses of the New Madrid seismic zone centered in Missouri show that the fault line indicates little or no movement. The results contradict a study by scientists at the University of Memphis that made headlines in June when it stated two GPS stations on opposite sides of the Reelfoot fault had moved closer to each other at a rate that rivaled faults in California. One critic of that study said the results were likely a statistical anomaly possibly stemming from an instrumental error.

ALASKA - A sulfurous steam plume, hundreds of miniature earthquakes and a new swath of ash on snowy Augustine Volcano have scientists looking for a possible eruption in the next few months. The volcano hasn't shown such signs since it last erupted in 1986. "It's steaming more vigorously right now than it has at any point since 1986." Seismometers have recorded more than 170 small temblors over the last week, and 74 on Sunday alone. The average for the past 15 years has been about one to two per week. The magnitudes - less than 1 - were still smaller than the bulk of the earthquakes preceding the 1986 eruption. The entire island, located 171 miles southwest of Anchorage, has inflated by as much as one inch as injections of molten rock rise into the mountain from beneath the earth's surface.

OREGON - The swelling bulge on the west flank of the South Sister volcano has slowed to about half its former rate of an inch or so a year and geologists say there are no signs that the uplifted region will erupt in the near future. Scientists have monitored the Central Oregon volcano since 2001, when a comparison of newly acquired satellite measurements showed that a 10-mile-wide chunk of the mountain had risen more than four inches over the preceding four years. A swarm of more than 300 tiny earthquakes struck the area in March 2004, but the bulge has since been quiet. Only five quakes were recorded this year, none with a magnitude greater than 1.5.

SICILY - Severe weather shut down a US military base on the Italian island of Sicily on Wednesday, and flooding threatened to force the evacuation of one housing complex. No injuries have been reported due to the bad weather, which was not predicted, that started about 1 a.m. Sunday and did not let up until Wednesday morning. Additional downpours were possible. During a 20-minute phone interview Wednesday at 4 p.m., for example, the “sky has gone from a blue sky to black as black can be.” More rain was forecast through the night. Roads throughout the region were flooded and closed by Italian officials. “Everything seems to be flooded, there is mud and high waters and it’s very dangerous.”
UPDATE - Floods from weeklong, heavy rainfall resulted in a mandatory evacuation of the Maranai government housing complex at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, Dec. 15, a day after the commanding officer declared a state of emergency at the U.S. base. Continuous heavy rainfall since Dec. 13 has resulted in massive flooding and power outages aboard NAS Sigonella and in surrounding areas, including government housing units in Maranai and Maneo. Six inches to three feet of standing water, mud and sewage has been reported. The base, including the airfield, is closed until further notice. About 500 families were relocated. Personnel have been advised to remain where they are, due to significant damage to many local roads.

THAILAND - Rain-soaked hills in the southern province of Songkhla have been declared high-risk areas after a hillside gave way in a landslide here Thursday leading to the deaths of a father and his son
Renewed flooding in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat claimed more two lives while transport by aircraft, rail, and highway was disrupted on Friday. The current third round of floods in the past two months has resulted in many areas being entirely water-logged, without capacity to absorb any further water. Continuing rain makes the current flood situation much worse than would otherwise be the case. Officials are on alert for possible mudslides in high risk areas in 11 districts. Meanwhile, the two deaths reported Friday raise the number of fatalities caused by floods over the past two months in Nakhon Si Thammarat to 12. The Nakhon Si Thammarat municipality area is inundated. Flat-bottomed boats have been sent to help people in flood-stricken areas. Almost all schools in the provinces are closed until next week.

TEXAS - Quick, heavy rains and strong winds hit Galveston County on Wednesday, causing power outages, street flooding in low-lying areas and damage to at least one historic building on the island. The wind was the major cause of downed lines that caused the loss of power. There were a couple of cases on Pelican Island and in Galveston’s Barton Square where the lightning and rain contributed to the power loss. “The rain itself is not bad, but it gets bad when it’s the wind and the lightning.” Lightning struck and damaged the Bishop’s Palace during Wednesday’s downpour. The loud claps of thunder set off car alarms in the parking garage at the county courthouse. Lightning struck a boiler at Valero’s Texas City refinery, forcing the cutback on a large amount of refining at the facility. No one was hurt when the bolt struck a boiler used to produce steam that is a key part of the oil refining process. Valero had to crank up its flare system to relieve a large amount of pressure following the lightning strike. As of Wednesday night, the refinery was still not back at full capacity.

MISSOURI - A mountaintop reservoir in southeast Missouri used to generate electricity broke open early Wednesday flooding the valley below, washing away cars and homes. A nearby town was evacuated. A 600 foot breach released more than a billion gallons of water, causing major flooding and significant damage to surrounding areas.
ARKANSAS - Officials say despite some simularities between the Missouri dam and ones in Arkansas, a break like this in Arkansas would most likely only be caused by extreme flooding. The biggest threat is too much rain too quickly. Dam officials would have to open the spill-way gates that could cause flooding downstream. Officials are more worried about flood waters than anything else, but are anxious for the report on what went wrong in Missouri.

MICHIGAN - High winds are causing sand to clog the mouth of the Au Train River in Alger County. Residents living along the river are being flooded.

NEW ZEALAND - A tornado-like "micro-burst" ripped trees out of the ground, flooded houses and destroyed a $20,000 crop in just minutes in the central Southland area of Heddon Bush, near Winton, yesterday afternoon. It was probably a micro-burst of wind and hail during a very active thunder storm. The storms were often localised to a few square kilometres and could whip up 160 km/h winds. "It was just so black and dark you couldn't see a thing." Several 100-year-old macrocarpa trees were uprooted, sheds were flung around and one lost its roof.

SOUTHERN ONTARIO AND QUEBEC, CANADA - on Thursday were struck by a massive snowstorm, cancelling and delaying air travel and gnarling road traffic.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND - The first major storm of the season in Prince Edward Island has closed schools and made driving difficult as a weather warning continues for the region.

IOWA - The first 15 days of December has brought Waterloo 18 inches of snow. That is more than the last three Decembers combined, and above the 13 inches seen in December of 2000 by this time - 2000 had a record 46 inches that year. "So far we're way ahead of pace, but it could be pretty hard for us to keep up. You never know, though." The heaviest snow amounts fall in surprisingly narrow bands.

NEW YORK - A RECORD-SMASHING COLD SPELL moved into Ithaca and Tompkins County this week, dropping temperatures to below zero. The mercury dipped to minus 11 on the 14th, lowering the record by 10 degrees. It was not the coldest December day ever recorded. That distinction belongs to Dec. 12-13, 1988, when the temperature dropped to minus 19 and minus 17, respectively. However, the cold temperatures being recorded this week are not normal. “This is certainly UNUSUAL for it to be this cold this early."

MINNESOTA - The worst of the biggest snowstorm this winter was mostly over Wednesday night when many parts of Minnesota were under at least 8 inches of wet and heavy snow. There were 16.5 inches in Two Harbors along the North Shore of Lake Superior, and more than 11 inches fell in Duluth. Nearly 8 inches fell in the Twin Cities, while the southwest part of the state got 5 inches. “This isn’t something unusual in any way, nor is it dramatic for what we have seen in the past in terms of early season snowfalls.” However two people died Wednesday morning on Highway 14 near Owatonna when a tractor-trailer lost control on the slippery road and hit a minivan, killing its two occupants.

MICHIGAN, EASTERN UPPER PENINSULA - An approaching winter storm from an UNUSUAL DIRECTION was expected to dump as much as one foot of new snow on portions of the Eastern Upper Peninsula, according to somewhat uncertain forecasts for early Thursday. A frontal boundary located south of a storm system in Minnesota may generate significant snow from Lake Huron, carried on strong southerly and easterly winds. The predicted snow comes on the heels of a RARE south shore lake-effect event Tuesday night that dumped about seven inches in the immediate Cedarville area and lesser amounts on DeTour and Drummond Island.

This year has been the WARMEST ON RECORD IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE. It is the SECOND WARMEST GLOBALLY SINCE THE 1860s, when reliable records began. The warmest was 1998, though the 1998 figure was inflated by strong El Nino conditions. Ocean temperatures recorded in the Northern Hemisphere Atlantic Ocean have also been the HOTTEST ON RECORD. The Northern Hemisphere is warming faster than the south, scientists believe, because a greater proportion of it is land, which responds faster to atmospheric conditions than the ocean. Eight of the 10 warmest years since 1860 have occurred within the last decade.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1811 - a 7.7 quake struck New Madrid, Missouri.
In 1857 - a 7.0 quake struck Southern Italy.
In 1902 - a 6.4 quake struck Turkestan. 4,500 deaths.
In 1920 - an 8.2 quake struck Gansu Province, China, one of the deadliest quakes in history, it killed 200,000.
In 1954 - a 7.3 quake struck Dixie Valley, Nevada.
In 1982 - a 6.9 quake struck the Hindu Kush Region. Four hundred fifty people killed.

Unusually High Tides / Freak Waves - updated Fridays.


Thursday, December 15, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/14 -

AFGHANISTAN - Police and government officials are struggling to assess the level of damage from the powerful 6.7 earthquake that rocked the northern fringe of Afghanistan, but said initial reports indicated it was relatively light. Police said five children died when the roofs of their homes collapsed. At least 19 others were reported injured. 100 - 200 homes have been reported to be damaged and 250 to 300 cattle died.

INDIA - Earthquake felt in New Delhi, the second in two days. A 5.2 magnitude earthquake shook northern India on Wednesday, a day after residents of New Delhi and other areas in the north were shaken by the 6.7 quake centered in the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan.

IRELAND - An earth tremor measuring 2.8 on the Richter Scale, which occurred in the Irish Sea off Bray Head, was felt in parts of Wickow and Wexford early yesterday morning. The tremor took place 30km off shore at a depth of 9km. The tremor happened in the exact same location where other tremors were recorded in 1951 and 1984. Significant structural damage was recorded in the 1984 tremor, which measured 5.4 on the Richter Scale, and the School of Cosmic Physics says there is now a need for a National Seismic Network to monitor tremors off the Irish coast. There now appears to be a seismic event of some significance here every 50 years, and the Government should be taking action and providing resources before something more serious happens.

THAILAND - Tsunami false alarm sparked panic - An engineer installing Thailand's disaster early warning system accidentally sounded alarms on the Andaman Sea coast, causing thousands to run for their lives. A television station showed panicked masses evacuating coastal villages, where 5,400 people died in last year's tsunami. A few accidents and injuries were reported. The early warning system is scheduled to be tested on December 16, ten days ahead of the memorial service for the one-year anniversary of the tsunami.

Nearly a year after the Indonesian tsunami, 1.5 million people are still living in tents, barracks and temporary homes.

VANUATU - Around three thousand people are now being cared for in 15 relocation centres on the coastal fringe of Vanuatu’s Ambae Island, as Mt Manaro continues to erupt. The volcano is continuously emitting steam with periodic explosions tossing out ash. Most of that ash is settling back on the cone which has grown significantly since the eruption began.

ALASKA - Augustine Volcano rumbled with earthquakes and belched sulfurous steam over the past few days, prompting reports of "rotten egg" smells from people in several Kachemak Bay communities. The volcano has been listed as "restless," on yellow alert for about 10 days. It last erupted in 1986. On Monday, scientists flew to the volcano and observed fumaroles, or little steam vents, on the south side of the summit and small amounts of ash on the snow. "It's a lot of steaming and from multiple vents, and no doubt it is putting out sulfur." Something appears to be heating up the volcano's summit, though it's not clear yet whether the cause is a rising slug of magma or hot liquids. "Basically what the volcano is doing right now is drying itself out. Augustine is doing all the things that Augustine does prior to an eruption. Now that doesn't mean that Augustine is going to erupt..."

MEXICO - Yesterday at 22:25 an explosion was detected at the Popocatépetl volcano which ejected incandescent fragments over its flanks southeast. The signal of the explosion, which lasted approximately 1 minute, was followed by 30 minutes of tremor. The explosion produced an ash column estimated at 2.5 km over the summit, carried by the wind to the Southeast. After the explosion, the volcano returned to its previous level of activity, in the last 24 hours there were 23 small exhalations accompanied by gas, steam and some times carrying small amounts of ash. The recent activity is within the expected scenarios and there is no evidence of a major risk in the following days. The volcano remains on yellow alert.

ISRAEL - Forecasters predict heavy rains will drench northern and central Israel Friday and Saturday following more than 30 days of dry weather. Private weather forecasters explained that a jet stream has been preventing winter weather from approaching Israel, but that it finally is breaking up. Scattered and light rainfall is expected to begin this evening and Friday, accompanied by sharply lower temperatures and high winds. The rain will intensify Friday night and Saturday, and snow is forecast for Mount Hermon. Another storm is headed for Israel on Monday and Tuesday.

MALTA - was hit by heavy rain. It is not unusual to have heavy rain in December – it is one of their wettest months. An average of 55.1mm of rain had fallen in 24 hours. The rainy weather is expected to continue right up to the weekend, with strong winds on Friday and Saturday.

THAILAND Residents in Thailand's six southern provinces are being warned to brace themselves for more flash flooding. As high pressure over China pushes a weather front through the Gulf of Thailand, heavy rainfall has been forecast for the affected area throughout the week until Friday. Many areas of southern Thailand are already grappling with flooding after being lashed by storms last week. The flooding led to a wave of conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye infections.

WISCONSIN - southeastern Wisconsin is getting its SNOWIEST DECEMBER SINCE 2000. Up to 6 inches of snow was expected to fall on Wednesday, with more possible today. Although the average monthly snowfall for December in Milwaukee is 11.7 inches, few flakes have fallen in December in recent years, aside from the whopper snowfall of 49.5 inches in December 2000. By Tuesday afternoon, a total of 8.7 inches of snow was recorded this month. Last year, only 1.3 inches of snow fell in December, with 3.1 inches in 2003 and 4.7 inches the year before that. The storm is courtesy of a low-pressure system that was sweeping across from Minnesota while pulling up moist, unstable air from the south. That's a bit UNUSUAL, because many winter storms are formed by low-pressure systems coming from the south of Wisconsin. It's more like a springtime event that would bring showers and thunderstorms.

PENNSYLVANIA - It was "going to be absurdly cold" on Tuesday night and temperatures Wednesday were expected to break decades-old records in many parts of the state. Temperatures are roughly 10 degrees below normal. "The frequency of the cold and also the significant snowfall experienced already is UNUSUAL."

MASSACHUSETTS - Last Friday unexpectedly severe snow, unfortunate timing and gridlocked traffic combined to bring street clearing efforts to a virtual standstill, trapping some commuters in their cars for hours. National Weather Service information suggested the worst of Friday's storm had played itself out by noon, but the storm re-intensified. "We were basically looking at a rain event and we scaled back sanding operations at 1 p.m. The (NWS) gave us an update that called for little if any additional snow, with some flurries perhaps at end of storm. We didn't have the crystal ball to tell us this FREAK was going to occur." "This was the worst-case scenario: wet roads to frozen roads to packed snow and then the traffic hit as we tried to clean it up. You probably couldn't get worse conditions."

UNITED KINGDOM - the weather bounced the sound of the petrol depot blast across Europe. The original explosion was heard more than 200 miles away in the Netherlands because atmospheric conditions allowed the sound wave from the blast to propagate over longer distances than is normally possible. While it is UNUSUAL for even very loud noises to remain audible at such distances, Sunday’s weather meant that a faint sound reached sharp-eared listeners in continental Europe. Acoustics experts and meteorologists attributed the effect to a strong “temperature inversion” at the time of the blast, in which warm air at altitude traps cooler air closer to the ground. “It is INCREDIBLY UNUSUAL for sounds generated on the ground to be heard too far away, but it is not unknown...it’s not impossible that even in Holland someone could hear it."

CANADA - Cloud 'streets' were created over Hudson Bay in late November. Heat, moisture, and wind collaborated over the bay to build “cloud streets,” parallel lines of clouds that align with the wind. These clouds are really cumulous clouds with flat bases and fluffy tops resembling giant heads of cauliflower. Cumulous clouds result from thermals, or rising columns of warmed air. Thermals themselves form when the ground surface is a little warmer than its surroundings. (photo)

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1872 - a 7.3 quake struck near Lake Chelan, Washington.

Unusual Animal Behavior - updated Thursdays.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/13 -

AFGHANISTAN - The strong earthquake measuring 6.7 on Richter scale that jolted Afghanistan Tuesday morning, left at least 11 injured.

ROMANIA - An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 on the Richter scale shook southeastern Romania Tuesday afternoon, around 2:15 p.m. The earthquake, whose epicenter was 145 kilometers deep in the earth's crust, lasted for about three minutes, experts said. The quake was forecasted on Monday when experts noticed stronger seismic activity in the Vrancea region. The quake was not related to the strong earthquake that shook Pakistan and Afghanistan yesterday.

FIJI - A powerful undersea earthquake struck near Fiji on Tuesday and officials issued a tsunami alert for the local area.

NEW ZEALAND - A magnitude five earthquake rocked Wellington early Tuesday. The quake, whose epicentre on North Island was about 140 kilometres north-east of Wellington, was felt in the capital as a slow, rocking motion just before 3am (1pm AEDT).

CALIFORNIA - the Southern California Earthquake Center estimates that there is an 80 to 90 percent chance that an earthquake registering 8.0 or greater on the Richter scale will occur before 2024. Arizona would be the most logical place for the first wave of evacuees to be sent. A big quake in California might cause electrical power problems there and elsewhere. The pipelines that supply gas could be damaged. Food delivery difficulties could lead to shortages. "We should not be at all surprised if something similar to Hurricane Katrina mirrors itself in California. There have been lots of articles written about the failure of levees in the (Sacramento-San Joaquin) Delta, the loss of drinking water in California. This is just the tip of the iceberg." The governor of Arizona has participated in 4 drills over the last 19 months for these types of scenarios.

A fissure has been discovered that could soon develop into a new ocean basin in the northeast of Ethiopia. The fissure is 37 miles long and 13 feet wide. It reportedly split open in September 2005, three weeks after an earthquake struck the barren region of Boina, 621 miles northeast of Addis Ababa. The scientists believe it could take up to a million years for the fissure to transform into an ocean. The Afar fissure will eventually tear eastern Ethiopia from the rest of the African continent, creating an ocean in the gap. Each year, the fissure would widen by 0.8 inches. The crust beneath the Afar region is similar to that under the Red Sea. Once formed, the ocean will attract water from the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. "This is UNPRECEDENTED in scientific history because we usually see the split after it has happened. But here we are watching the phenomenon.''

U.S WEST COAST - Seismologists are warning the US West Coast could be hit by a catastrophic tsunami, with waves as high as 100 feet or more. More than a million people in California live in areas that might be affected by a tsunami, and another million visit the state`s beaches on a typical summer day. There have been 80 tsunamis in California during the past 150 years, and geological records show previous waves reached heights of 60 feet or more.

A "dead zone" has been discovered at the epicentre of last year's tsunami, four kilometres down in the Indian Ocean. Five months after the disaster scientists were shocked to find no sign of life around the epicentre, which opened up a 1000-metre chasm on the ocean floor. There was nothing but eerie emptiness. "The sea is rich in life, and you'd expect a site like this to be quickly recolonised, but that hasn't happened. It's UNPRECEDENTED."

INDIA - The south Indian state of Tamil Nadu was on alert on Monday for a possible cyclone as a major storm in the Bay of Bengal gathered strength. The meteorological department said parts of the weather-battered coastal state had already received a new round of heavy rains, and that the latest weather reports showed the storm could become a cyclone in the coming days. "The low-pressure trough is currently static but weather conditions are favourable for it to turn into a severe cyclonic storm."
An `easterly wave' has anchored itself as part of a trough of low pressure over the Andaman Sea and is expected to keep moving along a fixed track to the west to impact Tamil Nadu and Kerala by Friday/Saturday. The wave has a wobbly motion about it that places it alternatively to the front or back relative to its centre even as the whole system registers a net forward movement to the west. An important feature about the system is that it creates some weather only in front, while the air will be absolutely clear in the rear. Unlike in the case of a conventional tropical cyclone, easterly waves are not unduly influenced by the prevailing atmospheric dynamics that have a major say on the route in which they will move forward. While tropical cyclones in the northern hemisphere are thus made to move in a predominantly northwest direction, easterly waves enjoy more freedom in keeping themselves to a straight line as they move west. Occasionally, they have even grown into cyclones. In the current case, the system is forecast to keep moving west even after impacting Tamil Nadu and Kerala and to slide into the Arabian Sea.

AUSTRALIA - Last week's hail storm in the Upper Manning has decimated the huge population of flying foxes in the Wingham Brush, killing about 500. Some had been killed when struck by the huge hail stones while others had died later as a result of injuries. National Parks officers had been monitoring the population since the storm and euthanasing badly injured flying foxes as necessary. The flying foxes were not the only animals affected by the storm, with one adult and one baby osprey also found dead.

ALASKA continues to lead the U.S. in avalanche deaths. There have been 55 deaths over the last ten years in Alaska. Second place is Colorado with 54.

FRANCE - the third avalanche in just over a week hit in the resort of Piau-Engaly. Early season skiing conditions are said to be the best in 15 years, but winds at altitude coupled with cold has led to unstable snow above 2200 meters.

OKLAHOMA - An outbreak of geysers spewing mud and gas into the air in rural Kingfisher County is puzzling state and local officials. Initial reports of the geysers came in on the morning of the 9th of December. The geysers have appeared throughout the countryside of rural Kingfisher, with stretches of up to 12 miles between spots, and some as short as a quarter of a mile. The threat of the gas igniting is unlikely, but there is a concern the gas could begin coming up through water-well lines.
The gas geysers, which shot water and mud into the air, continued Tuesday along a five-mile section of Winter Camp Creek and were within about a mile of the town of Kingfisher. For a time, the leaks appeared to be advancing toward Kingfisher, but that migration appears to have stopped. Experts still don't know what's making natural gas shoot to the surface of the rural central Oklahoma creek or what might be done to keep the explosive vapors from reaching the surface. The leak may be related to undetermined drilling or gas production.

The Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America so fast that it could end up in Siberia within 50 years, scientists have said. The shift could mean that Alaska will lose its northern lights, or auroras, which might then be more visible in areas of Siberia and Europe. The magnetic poles are different from geographic poles, the surface points marking the axis of Earth's rotation. Magnetic poles are known to migrate and, occasionally, swap places.

NEW ZEALAND - Weather conditions, while generally boater friendly for a fishing contest, especially on the first day, were VERY BIZARRE. The Saturday sky provided graphic illustrations of almost every variation in cloud type and pattern imaginable. And with several incursions of sea-fog accompanying the warm nor-westerly, more than a few fishermen found the challenge of navigating in such conditions an adventure. Sunday the wind shifted to the north-east and peaked in excess of thirty knots. There were early sightings of marlin and one barracuda in what looks like the start of an early season.

UNITED KINGDOM - Sunday's oil-depot explosion in central England - described as the biggest in peacetime Europe - may have less long-term impact than originally thought. The sooty discharge, sucked high into the atmosphere by UNUSUAL WEATHER CONDITIONS, has yet to impact the environment. Residents were ordered to stay indoors. The concern is that a change in weather could bring the smog closer to earth. "Should the weather conditions change or the smoke become less buoyant, then we would expect a greater chance of seeing some of the pollution at ground level." A meteorological expert who flew through the smoke cloud Monday said it contained "nothing more nasty than you'd get from a regular bonfire."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/13 -
In 1978 - a 6.3 quake struck Iran, 67 killed.

Crop Failures, Food Shortages, Fish Die-Off - updated Wednesdays


Tuesday, December 13, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/12 -

AFGHANISTAN - A major earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan was felt in India and Pakistan. Several roads which were cleared after extreme efforts the last two months since the Pakistani Kashmir quake were again blocked due to massive landsliding. Early reports said there were no casualties or damage in Afghanistan from the quake.
There have been more than 1,000 aftershocks here in the past two months but this was the strongest so far.

VANUATU - Thousands of tons of ash are continuing to spew from a volcano in Vanuatu, but officials said on Monday the activity on the South Pacific nation was not likely to result in a major deadly eruption. About 2,000 tons of ash are continuing to land on the island daily. The volcanic activity is likely to continue at the same moderate level for one to two weeks before gradually abating.

AUSTRALIA - Dangerous thunderstorms have battered parts of south-east Queensland with golf ball sized hailstones and destructive winds.
AUSTRALIA - Hail stones up to the size of cricket balls wreaked havoc on the Upper Manning late last week, just 24 hours after another freak storm event hit closer to the coast.

NEW ZEALAND - Thunderstorms have been popping like pop-corn over New Zealand over the weekend and will continue to do so for the rest of this week. "The Tasman Sea is a breeding ground for troughs of low pressure at present. The large high-pressure area east of New Zealand is blocking the normal flow of the weather, and this combination is keeping humid northerlies over the country until this weekend. Thunderstorms are popping up over the land daily in the intense summer sunlight." The most likely areas for these thunderstorms will be changing daily.

SOUTH AFRICA - a violent FREAK STORM tore through the area on Saturday destroying about a thousand homes. The storm had struck about 4.30pm and had lasted about 30 minutes, with heavy winds, hail and rain.

VIETNAM - Hundreds of homes in the township of Tan Chau in An Giang Province may collapse because of riverbank erosion caused by heavy rains. Several hundred houses have already fallen into the Tien River in the last four years, and in the last few days, several blocks of riverside houses collapsed.

GUYANA - Heavy showers have caused flooding in some areas. "Soon greens will be scarce because the rain and flood water damaged a lot of crops."

SPAIN - two Basque mountaineers were buried by an avalanche in the Spanish region of Huesca.

ECUADOR - An UNUSUAL FROST in the Andes and drought along the low-lying Pacific coast have caused losses of around US$50 million in their flower, potato, corn and cattle industries.

CANADA - Toronto Hostel Services has issued an extreme cold weather alert, effective immediately, to help get homeless people in from the cold.

INDIANA - It's nearly two weeks into what forecasters call winter - December, January and February - and the only place you can see the ground is where the snow has been shoveled. Readings above freezing have been rare, and there's a chance that more snow will arrive before the week is out. What happened with that prediction of a mild winter? Through Saturday, December's average temperature was 20.8 degrees, 14.1 degrees colder than normal. The jet stream got us again. If that upper-level wind pattern approaches from the northwest, it'll bring cold air from Canada, reflected in the freezing cold we've had this month. The temperature determines whether we get rain or snow. Through Saturday, Indianapolis had received 0.65 inch of precipitation this month, 0.43 inch less than normal. Cold temperatures made the precipitation fall as snow: 9.1 inches. An average December brings 5.8 inches of snow.

MICHIGAN - A smattering of early risers across a wide area of the Eastern Upper Peninsula were startled by the brilliant light from a falling meteor or some “space junk” in the northern sky about 6:05 a.m. Tuesday. The bright light traced a lightning-fast path over the northern horizon from west to east, briefly and silently illuminating the dark winter sky for a few seconds in the pre-dawn cold. The seemingly low trajectory of the object actually means it passed a significant distance away from observers. The silent passage of the object across the sky likely confirms the distance suspicion. A passage or landing within 50 miles would have brought a sharp sonic boom from the burning object, moving at speeds several times the speed of sound. “If they're really close, you hear a kind of whistling sound.”

GEMINID METEORS - The Geminids are one of the most spectacular meteor showers to make a regular showing - appearing each year in mid-December. Often bright yellow or green, they can be seen in almost any part of the sky, but appear to radiate from Gemini, near Orion. Under ideal conditions, up to 100 meteors an hour may be visible. This year only the brightest shooting stars will be seen because of the interfering light of an almost full moon.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1957 – An estimated 1,130 people were killed by a 7.3 earthquake in western Iran. Farsinaj, a village at the epicentre of the temblor, was completely destroyed.
In 1982 – An earthquake measuring 6.0 on Richter scale killed 3,000 people and injured 2,000 in Yemen. 700,000 homeless and about 300 villages destroyed or badly damaged.
In 1990 - a 5.5 quake struck Sicily, at least 19 people killed.

Drought, Heat, Water Shortages, Wildfires - updated Tuesdays.


Monday, December 12, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/11 -

PAPUA NEW GUINEA - An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 jolted an area off the north coast of Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific, prompting a warning of local tsunamis.

CALIFORNIA - a team of government scientists has completed the first computerized maps of the upper 20 miles of the Earth beneath the Bay Area, showing in a glance why earthquakes devastate some areas, while leaving others essentially unharmed. Beneath the surface, west of the San Andreas fault is a very big body of igneous rock — very hard rocks like granite — formed by volcanic action. In their 1989 quake, the formation bent the Loma Prieta's shock waves out to the ocean, away from populated areas. But on the other side of the Loma Prieta rock formations are quite different. They transmitted seismic shocks much more easily, so the seismic waves raced up the East Bay. Other quake research shows that shock waves radiated upward toward Oakland.

No current tropical cyclones.

INDIA - The topography of the point of landfall forced Tropical Cyclone Fanoos to smash its underbelly against the island mass of Sri Lanka, letting open a pressure valve on the left flank and sparing the adjoining south Tamil Nadu coast collateral damage. The system weakened into a deep depression on impacting land on Saturday. Earlier, the storm had cranked itself up to being a severe cyclone storm before the land feature intervened. But it will still be able to cause scattered to fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy falls over Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep during the next 24 hours. Subsequently, the rainfall activity is likely to decrease further. A seperate `easterly wave' is being propagated from the South China Sea and concentrated as a cluster of convective cloud formations over Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and impacting south Tamil Nadu coast and adjoining Sri Lanka by the weekend (December 15-16). Easterly waves are known for the speeds with which they propagate from east to the west, sticking to the same zone as they do so. They can trigger some rain on their own, but, more importantly, can help catalyse incipient circulations into weather systems over sea. There have been instances in which these waves have proceeded to set up `lows' in the Bay waters. Given this background, the progress of the impending wave will be watched closely.

RUSSIA - The authorities in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky are doing away with aftermaths of a powerful cyclone that swooped down on the city early in December. Power supplies were disrupted to 303 apartment houses, while 26 houses were left without central heating on December 1-4 as a result of gale winds whose velocity reached 38 meters per second. The cyclone damaged eight medical establishments, roofing of 28 houses, ten schools and 11 kindergartens. Winds tore down power transmission lines and toppled pylons. City administrationsays that it will take around six months to fully undo the damages wrought by the storm.

SPAIN - Entrants in an Atlantic rowing race are battling the elements. After the hurricane induced high seas, EXTREME AND UNUSUAL WEATHER continue to plague the race - the crew have now been chased by a waterspout! Waterspouts are basically a tornado over water, and are EXTREMELY RARE occurrences in mid-ocean. The track of the waterspout took it towards the quite surprised crew who had to paddle full speed eastwards and then northwards (i.e. the wrong direction!) to avoid being caught up in the spout. The crew are now back paddling towards the finish line.

THAILAND - The weather bureau warned residents in six southern provinces yesterday to brace themselves for another round of flash flooding as more heavy downpours were continuing.

SOUTH AFRICA - A FREAK STORM which hit central KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday destroyed several homes.

AUSTRALIA - Damaging winds are expected across much of Victoria this afternoon. A severe weather warning forecasts a strengthening northerly wind, particularly over elevated areas ahead of a squally westerly change, with winds of more than 65km/h, with stronger gusts. Winds would ease following the change.

MASSACHUSETTS - massive trees fell during the burst of snow and hurricane-force winds that swept over the Cape for about two hours Friday. The northeaster was UNLIKE ANY STORM IN RECENT MEMORY. Gusts in Nantucket Sound reached the mid-90s and Buzzards Bay saw bursts of 75 to 80 mph ''It seems a little too unusual the way the storm touched certain parts.'' Once the storm hit Buzzards Bay and came across the coastal waters of Cape Cod Bay, the introduction of warmer air intensified the weather pattern. ''It was a very compact, exceedingly fast storm.''

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1979 - a 7.9 quake struck near the coast of Ecuador, 600 dead.
In 1981 - a 4.6 quake struck Pakistan, 6 killed.
In 1992 - a 7.5 quake struck the Flores Region, Indonesia, 2200 killed.

Disease - updated Mondays


Sunday, December 11, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/10 -
12/9 -

NEW JERSEY - Seismologists confirmed Friday that a small 2.1 earthquake hit parts of Morris County Thursday night, triggering a rash of calls to local police. The area experiences around one or two small quakes a year.

GEORGIA - Geologist say a now closed road in Forsyth County is destined to become a major landslide. A week ago Ronald Reagan Blvd. began to crack. That crack is growing and homes and a million gallon water tank are in its path. Some parts of the growing crack are up to six feet wide. Some have blamed a nearby quarry for the damage. Geologists say the land is shifting and will cause a landslide sucking everything in its path to the massive hole in the quarry. The road opened in May at a cost of $6.8 million.

ALASKA - Following an increase in small earthquakes under Augustine Volcano last week, the Alaska Volcano Observatory in Anchorage raised the level of concern for Augustine Volcano from code green to code yellow. Scientists also have measured a 1-inch bulge in the volcano’s dome. In its four-level system, code yellow means the volcano is restless and the potential for an eruption has increased. Gas and steam plumes with minor amounts of ash also are possible. Since last May, the number of magnitude 1 or less earthquakes from about a mile under Augustine has increased from four to eight a day to 20 to 35 a day. The 1-inch bulge measured on the volcano is the first since instruments were put on the volcano before the last eruption in March 1986.

UNITED KINGDOM - The harrowing words of an orphaned boy were read out as the mass inquest into the deaths of Britons killed in the Asian tsunami ended in sombre silence, with the names of the UK's 151 victims remembered. It took more than five minutes for all the names to be shown on a screen at the hearing in London.

THAILAND - Officials in Thailand have been shocked by the discovery of the remains of a female believed to be a Western tourist who perished in last year's devastating Asian tsunami. Thailand suffered 5,400 deaths and about 3,000 missing. Half of the dead were European tourists, with the majority from Sweden. The skeletal remains were found on the holiday island of Phuket.

A small, grainy photograph on a Web site has fueled a German couple's hopes that their 5-year-old daughter may be alive nearly a year after the Asian tsunami carried her out to sea. Many families saw their hopes lifted and then dashed in the aftermath of the tsunami when what they thought was evidence of relatives' survival turned out to be unfounded. Nonetheless, the couple say they are certain that the image shows their missing girl. Several people reported seeing the child alive a week after the tsunami.

CYCLONE FANOOS - shed its ferocity and blew over the south Tamil Nadu coast of India like a "cool wind", sparing thousands who had braced for a hit.

HURRICANES - Signs that a three-decade long drought in Africa's arid Sahel belt may be ending could herald an increase in hurricanes battering the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Hurricanes which pummel the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico each year often start their lives thousands of kilometres to the east as black storm clouds which cross the Sahel from the mountains of Chad or Sudan. The Sahel, a semi-desert zone which separates the Sahara from Africa's more tropical regions around the Equator, has been gripped by the worst drought in modern history since the 1970s. But that appears to be changing. The HEAVIEST RAINFALL IN SOME THIRTY YEARS IN SENEGAL, mainland Africa's most westerly country, coincided with a record hurricane season this year. "Since 2000, there has been an upward tendency in rainfall. Statistically, when there is a very rainy year in the Sahel there are a lot of Atlantic hurricanes." The Sahel was relatively green during the 1940s through to the 1960s but since then rainfall has plunged. "Overall, rainfall still remains lower than in the 1950s. But if the trend continues for five years, people will say the drought is over." The prolonged drought in the Sahel - which includes Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Chad - has impoverished many farmers and forced people off the land.

PHILIPPINES - Two more people died in Quezon province yesterday, bringing to four the number of deaths caused by floods that devastated parts of Southern Luzon.

THAILAND - The flood level in the south is receding but residents are still anxious and massive food supply collection has begun. Instant noodles, canned food, rice, flashlights and batteries were quickly snapped up. Prices of these items doubled during the crisis. Massive stock-piling is happening as the locals still fear the heavy rain and flashfloods will come back. In Songkhla, local canals are still at a critical level and are likely to overflow.

CANADA - Nova Scotia is facing heavy rainfall and warm temperatures today after the first snowfall of the season left thousands of the province's residents without power. A storm Saturday dumped as much as 47 centimetres of snow on the province.

CANADA - A snow-clearing machine struck and killed a woman at a shopping mall in Toronto on Friday as the city faced its first significant snowfall of the season.

NEW JERSEY - The last time three different storms dumped measurable amounts of snow in a single week so early in the winter season in New Jersey was in 1898. In 1898 the three storms hit in the last week of November. Never before - at least not in the Middlesex County seat - had there been three notable snow storms in a single week in the first two weeks of December. To have three plowable snows in some part of the state (in one week) is UNUSUAL. The most snow during Tuesday's storm fell in the southern part of the state, while the northern end received the most yesterday. Sizable snows have occurred in December in 2002, 2003 and this year. "To have three of four winters with such early starts to the snow season is UNUSUAL." Given this early start and given what we've seen this past century, it is likely we will have above-average snowfall" this winter.
MASSACHUSETTS - A wild northeaster surprised Southern New England on the 9th with near-blizzard conditions and a BIZARRE thunderstorm, closing Logan International Airport, gridlocking thousands of homeward-bound commuters, and dumping more than a foot of snow in some communities. Near hurricane winds whipped through coastal communities and left about 80,000 homes without power in Southeastern Massachusetts. Accidents and abandoned cars, as well as downed trees, highway signs, and utility poles, crippled highways and thoroughfares. Forecasters had been predicting 5 to 10 inches of snowfall across the region, but said they did not foresee the sharp drop in air pressure that created what meteorologists call ''thundersnow." A low-pressure system sweeping northward from the mid-Atlantic coast in the morning got a boost of low pressure from a system moving east over New York State. Snowflakes provided conductivity, and the result was booming thunder, flashes of lightning, and more snow. Forecasters said the severity of the storm was greater than anticipated. In perhaps the most dramatic storm-related incident, lightning hit a Canada Air plane just before it touched down shortly after 2 p.m and the strike blew off the tip of the airplane's left wing, ''There was a large ball of orange something, very loud and very bright and very bumpy."
MASSACHUSETTS - "Everything happened too fast, creating whiteout conditions so bad that even the plows were going off the road because they just couldn't see where they were going." "In this storm's case, the conditions turned what would have been a moderate nor'easter into a REALLY FREAK STORM."
INDIANA - After several years of mild winters with rare snowflakes, perhaps we’re in for some real winters once again. A RECORD SNOWFALL of 8 inches hit on Thursday night/Friday morning. "If there's a pattern to our weather, it's reliable inconsistency."
ILLINOIS - On Thursday, East Central Illinois received another dose of UNUSUAL WEATHER for December with heavy snowfall with high drifting potential. Thursday’s storm is considered “early winter” - late November to Dec. 10 is the early winter period. So far, December has been as cold and produced snow as if it was mid-January. Temperatures this week have been more than 15 degrees below normal for this time of year.
IDAHO - Temperatures plummeted in southern Idaho on Tuesday as cold air from the east moved into the Snake River Plain. Warmer air at about 10,000 feet created an air inversion Thursday that will hold cold air over southern Idaho at least through the weekend. “When you have warm air on top of cold air, that’s what we call a stable configuration because it stays with us a while. " “The UNUSUAL thing is the original cold air came in from the east,” cold temperatures normally come from the west or northwest. On Thursday, temperatures in the Magic Valley were more than 20 degrees below normal. Thursday’s low in Twin Falls was minus 2 degrees rather than the average of 22.
TEXAS - RECORD-BREAKING COLD - The temperature sank to 15 degrees, shattering a record of 17 for Dec. 9 that had stood for 86 years.
ALASKA - Avalanche danger is high - backcountry travelers are urged to use caution due to wet, heavy snow, high winds and WARM temperatures. They expect continued warm temperatures in Cantwell and north to Fairbanks over the weekend and into next week with a possible brief dip in temperatures Monday or Tuesday. "There is no sign in the known future of 30-below weather again."

FRANCE - AVALANCHE - An officer attached to the specialist mountain units of the Gendarmerie has been killed by a large avalanche in the resort of Le Lioran in the Massif-Central, while skiing. The Massif-Central area has had a lot of snow over the last couple of weeks and Le Lioran reports 150cm at the top of the pistes. Avalanches are relatively rare in the region but not unheard of. Last weekend there were a number of avalanche incidents in the Pyrenees including a fatal accident involving a Spanish climber. The last week has seen over a meter of snow in places, this was accompanied by strong south to south-west winds last weekend which have created hard and soft snow slabs on north-sector slopes. The relatively snow free and cold autumn has left a weak layer of snow some 10-20cm deep at altitude.

AUSTRALIA - Perth is in the grip of its COOLEST START TO SUMMER IN MORE THAN 40 YEARS. The cool weather is expected to last for at least a week. The December average for Perth is 29.1 degrees but so far the average has been just 22.6. While other parts of Australia sweltered in summer heat, Perth was enjoying a second spring. The unseasonably cool weather was due to a series of cold fronts affecting the south-west of the state which had caused a ridge of high pressure to move further north. "Normally in summer we have a ridge of high pressure well to the south. Unfortunately we have moved back into a spring time pattern instead of a summer pattern."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1998 - a 5.7 quake struck the Afghanistan-Tajikistan Border Region, 5 killed.

Space Weather / Solar Storms / Meteors - updated Sundays.


Friday, December 9, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/8 -

HAWAII - Loihi seamount, the small underwater volcano off the southeastern coast of the Big Island, experienced a swarm of 45 small earthquakes in 12 hours Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The most likely explanation is "structural adjustment" of the earth's crust in response to the weight of the small mountain (rocks breaking under stress). The largest quake was a 4.7, similar in size to the 4.5 quake that originated near where lava is flowing into the sea and which gave the island a short, sharp jolt on Nov. 29. Loihi has not been erupting, and there is nothing to indicate that the swarm represents an eruption. The underwater volcano has had swarms almost every year since 1980. A huge swarm of quakes in 1996 lasted from mid-July to mid-August. Scientists counted 4,377 quakes during that time, of which more than 100 were larger than magnitude 4.

PREDICTING QUAKES - A geophysicist has identified possible seismic precursors to two recent California earthquakes, including the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that wreaked havoc throughout the Bay Area. After sifting through seismic data from the two quakes, Valeri Korneev found a spike in the number of micro-earthquakes followed by a period of relative calm in the crust surrounding the quakes' epicenters - months before the quakes occurred. Although more work needs to be conducted to determine whether other large quakes are foreshadowed by a similar rise and subsequent decline in small-magnitude tremors, Korneev's analysis suggests that these peaks may be indicative of the total set of geological stresses that affect the timing and location of large earthquakes.

VANUATU - Volcanic activity on the Vanuatu island of Ambae has eased slightly, raising hopes a catastrophic eruption will be averted.

CYCLONE FANOOS was 778 nmi SE of Bombay, India.
DEPRESSION EPSILON was 996 nmi SW of Lajes, Azores.
Tropical Storm Epsilon petered out over the Atlantic on Thursday, perhaps bringing an end to the record-breaking hurricane season.

AUSTRALIA - Three people are dead, four seriously injured and three recovering from lightning strikes after wild storms lashed southern Queensland and northern NSW. Heavy rain, gale-force winds and lightning caused widespread blackouts, property damage and weather-related road accidents. "It's the 17th significant storm event in south-east Queensland in the past seven weeks. The whole of last summer we only had 17. This was the most significant." More than 300 wires came down and 3,000 lightning strikes were recorded in two hours from 5pm (AEST).

PHILIPPINES - Two people were buried alive by a landslide in the Philippines and more than 100,000 have been affected after heavy rains caused flooding.

INDIA - With another cyclone approaching the Tamil Nadu coast, government officials are trying to find some quick-fix solutions to minimise further flooding.

AMAZON - The Amazon basin's worst drought in more than 40 years is ending as rainfall returns to normal, though officials fear diseases will spread as rising rivers stir up muck from stagnant pools of contaminated water. Many river dwellers in the world's largest rainforest are hungry, having lost crops in the drought. Stocks of fish, a dietary staple, may not recover for months in smaller tributaries that dried up, killing millions of fish. It will take weeks for the enormous hydrologic system stretching across six states to fill up after some three months of drought.

US - A cold wave, which descended from Canada a couple of days ago, crept all the way into the Texas panhandle. In Lubbock, Texas, a RECORD 6 above zero was recorded. RECORD LOWS have also been recorded in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. The temperatures are expected to rise - believe it or not, the forecast calls for 50-plus-degree temperatures this weekend in Denver, Colorado.

COLORADO - Temperatures plunged to at least 37 below zero in parts of the West and police found the body of a homeless man in Denver as a storm spread bitterly cold arctic air from Montana to New Mexico Wednesday. The temperature fell to a RECORD 45-below at West Yellowstone, Montana at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The old record for Dec. 7 was 39-below, set in 1927. Through Tuesday, Vail had received a RECORD 141 inches of snow for the season, breaking the record of 140 inches set at this time of year in 1985-86. Nearly 4 feet of Vail's snow has fallen in the past week.

TEXAS - Frigid temps and freezing rain left many Central Texas roads dangerous and impassable. Drivers were advised by city and state officials to keep off the roads unless necessary. The city of Austin and several area school districts shut down as a precaution Thursday morning. By Thursday morning it seemed like the entire area shut down to shut out the cold. "I think probably people up north would laugh at us, but we're a warm-weather city and we're not accustomed to this."

ILLINOIS - temperatures have fallen earlier than usual this month to roughly 20 degrees below normal. In Chicago, area temperatures Monday dipped down to a low of 4 degrees, beating the previous RECORD of 6 degrees first set in 1895. But it was even colder in the Quad Cities, where RECORD temperatures reached a frigid minus 4 degrees Monday. The previous record low temperature of minus 2 was set in 1886.

ILLINOIS - A passenger plane landing in a snowstorm in Chicago slid off a runway, crashed through a fence and onto a busy road, colliding with two cars. A boy in one of the cars was killed.

MICHIGAN - temperatures have been below normal every day this month. "To be so cold and this snowy this quick ... is a little bit UNUSUAL."

MISSOURI - Kansas City area residents awoke to find as much as 10 inches of snow on the ground from a RECORD-BREAKING STORM that moved through the area.

WASHINGTON, DC - A coastal storm, the type typically seen in January, has hit the Washington metropolitan area, bringing with it snow, sleet and freezing rain. Accumulations of 3 to 6 inches in the D.C. metro area are expected by this morning. The snow totals will depend on how much sleet and freezing rain mixes in. A heavy snow warning is in effect for the western counties of Maryland and Virginia and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Those areas could see more than 6 inches of snow. It's not the accumulation that will make this storm significant as people head to work in the morning. "With surface temperatures at or below freezing, and remaining below freezing all night and through the morning, whatever falls will freeze or stick and we're going to have difficult commuting problems."

CANADA - Early season snowfalls have blanketed across British Columbia and Alberta, pushing forward the opening dates for many ski resorts as they celebrate record breaking early conditions. Canada‘s ski areas in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta are claiming the best start to the season in over 10 years. The snow snuck up on many resorts who had staff planned to arrive within weeks, but they‘re now calling in all the troops as they try to get their mountains up and running to keep up with the continuous snowfalls.


Thursday, December 8, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/7 -

On December 10, 1999 thousands of jellyfish were accidentally sucked into the water intakes of major power plants north of Manila in the Philippines. They caused hours of power outages. Crews filled at least 50 dump trucks with jellyfish pulled from the seawater cooling pumps. Authorities were unsure of what might have caused the masses of jellyfish to swarm near the cooling plants. Rumors abounded that the migration of the jellyfish into the intake facilites was an omen of an impending deadly earthquake. But officials discounted those speculations saying that the gathering of jellyfish was probably just a natural phenomenon. Two days later, on December 12, at 2:03am, a powerful 6.8 quake struck the Philippine island of Luzon. The shaking lasted a full 30 seconds. The quake was centered off the coast of Pangasinan Province, about 112 miles north of Manila. Numerous buildings in Manila suffered cracks and shattered glass. At least 15 aftershocks were recorded that day, with the strongest measuring a magnitude 5.5. (Those news articles were published on Discovery Channel Online on December 13 & 14, 1999. )
GIANT JELLYFISH called Echizen kurage have invaded territorial waters off Japan, China and South Korea, prompting a top-level summit to deal with the menace. Nomura's jellyfish, as it is known in English, is the biggest creature of its kind off Japan and, for reasons that remain mysterious, its numbers have surged in the past few months. The problem first became obvious in the late northern summer. Nearly 2m wide and weighing 200kg, with countless poisonous tentacles, they have drifted across the void to terrorise the people of Japan. Previously found mainly in the Yellow Sea, the Echizen's sting can be fatal, causing a build-up of fluid in the lungs. Victims take up to a day to die. There have been eight reported deaths from an Echizen sting. In some places, jellyfish density is reported to be a hundred times higher than normal and no one yet understands why. One theory is that global warming is heating up the seawater and encouraging jellyfish breeding. Some observers blame heavy rains in China over the summer, which flowed out from China's rivers and propelled abnormal numbers of Echizen kurage towards Japan. Others have suggested overfishing has allowed the growth of the populations of plankton on which the jellyfish feed.
AUSTRALIA - Experts are predicting a particularly dangerous jellyfish season after a rash of earlier than expected irukandji stings in Australia's northern waters. It was a worrying trend because the stings were occurring much earlier than expected. "We've seen a dozen and a half irukandji syndrome cases so far this season and normally the season doesn't really ramp up until about the third or fourth week of December." There was no scientific evidence to back theories that hotter weather was causing an influx of irukandji jellyfish. But the jellyfish are uncommon.]

VANUATU - The possibility of a massive volcanic eruption has forced about 5,000 villagers living on Vanuatu's island of Ambae, in the South Pacific, to evacuate to safer ground. Mount Manaro began spewing ash and steam on Nov. 27 and has been spewing steam, gas and ash nearly a mile into the air for more than a week. One of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, the crater of Mount Manaro contains Lake Vui. If it blows, it could tear open the lake bottom launching a gigantic explosion as water meets the magma and rock inside the volcano. Already, there are signs of imminent danger. The volcanic lake is inching up toward the rim, leading to fears of a mudflow that could swamp the villages that surround the mountain. (photo)

CYCLONE 06B (Fanoos) was 641 nmi WSW of Burma & 697 nmi S of Calcutta, India.
Tropical cyclone `Fanoos' threatens south coastal Tamil Nadu, India. The depression over South-East Bay of Bengal catapulted itself to become a tropical cyclone on Wednesday. Sea surface temperatures have risen by at least half a degree centigrade in what have previously been cooler anomalies left behind by the passage of predecessor tropical cyclone Baaz. If this were to hold, south coastal Tamil Nadu could be brought bang in the line of fire as Fanoos, the third cyclonic storm in a row to march down the Bay waters this season, careened its way in. A cyclonic circulation also continued to persist over the Arabian Sea.

TROPICAL STORM EPSILON was 893 nmi SW of Lajes, Azores.
EPSILON has begun to weaken and should dissipate within a day or two.

Next year will be another active hurricane season, forecaster William Gray said, and the odds are high that at least one major hurricane will strike the United States. If the professor who pioneered the science of long-range hurricane forecasting is correct, 2006 will mark the 10th above-average season in 12 years, bolstering the theory that in 1995 the Atlantic basin entered another cycle of more and more vicious hurricanes. For now they foresee 17 tropical storms and nine hurricanes developing in the Atlantic basin during the six-month 2006 season, which begins June 1. They also projected that five hurricanes will balloon into intense storms with winds of at least 111 mph, and at least one of them has an 81 percent chance of hitting the United States. There is a 64 percent chance of a major one striking the East Coast, including the Florida Peninsula. Floridians endured bruisings by four hurricanes in 2004, and the same number again in 2005 - something forecasters doubted would happen two years in a row.

OKLAHOMA - Possible record cold. Such cold, blustery weather is UNUSUAL for early December. The state rarely drops into the teens in temperature, even in deep winter.

TEXAS - The first strong arctic cold front of the season could be the trigger to change their rain to ice. Less than a quarter inch of accumulated ice will be possible on roads, bridges and overpasses by this morning. Ice storms in Central Texas are as rare as snowstorms. This type of winter mix is usually seen in this area during January or February. "Here we are talking about ice storms, and there's still a hurricane turning around in the Atlantic Ocean. What a BIZARRE WEATHER YEAR it has been." AccuWeather.com meteorologists were forecasting a winter storm with the potential to cause major travel disruptions across much of the U.S. from Wednesday through Friday.

There were reports of a big meteorite crossing south-western New South Wales and central Victoria overnight 12/7. Two constables were patrolling about 11:20pm AEDT when they saw what they say was a huge light. They had a clear view of the meteorite dropping towards the ground in the eastern sky. "My offsider with me had a look as well and we were just dazzled. It was unbelievable, it was a huge light, much bigger than any star. It was sort of round and had a very long tail and seemed to be dropping fairly slowly, so we were able to see it for 15 to 20 seconds." Video

"After 4.6 billion years of planetary history, we may become the first species to monitor our own extinction. In impressive detail, humankind is amassing evidence of devastating changes in the atmosphere, oceans, ice cover, land and biodiversity. And yet mass media, politics, the education system and other realms of public inquiry demonstrate a stunning capacity to focus on what does not really matter. Meanwhile, the truly vital issues receive scant attention to the point of invisibility: the perilous prospects for humanity's survival and the root causes underlying the global environmental threat. Current patterns of 'development' and consumerism, fuelled annually by billions of advertising dollars, are unsustainable. Huge corporations and powerful investors have governments and societal institutions in a stranglehold, delivering policies that demand endless 'growth' on a finite planet." “...nature’s laws are not about supply and demand. Nature’s laws are about limits, thresholds, and surprises. The progress of the Dow does not seem to influence the increasing rate of melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet; the collapse of the ecosystems of the North Sea will not be arrested by an upswing in consumer confidence.”

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1812 - a quake struck Southern California, 40 killed.
In 1976 - a 5.2 quake struck the Republic of South Africa, 4 killed.

Unusual Animal Behavior - updated Thursdays.


Wednesday, December 7, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/6 -

EAST AFRICA - Residents of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo said they felt three small aftershocks from a powerful earthquake that rocked east and central Africa 24 hours earlier. People in the town of Kalemie said the minor tremors came at intervals of as long as six hours. At least one aftershock measured 4.9. The 5000km long Rift Valley, that runs from northern Syria to Mozambique, is an active seismic zone and geologists said the temblor highlighted the region's vulnerability despite the apparently minor damage.

PAKISTANI KASHMIR - The collapse of a mountainside triggered by the deadly October 8 earthquake in Pakistani Kashmir blocked two major streams, creating huge lakes that could endanger up to 12,000 people. A few hundred people might already have been buried in the collapse of the mountainside near the town of Hattian Bala. Huge crevices and cracks have appeared in the mountain that were widening by the day and further landslides could breach the sides of the lakes. "If God forbid, these lakes, because of the pressure ... get breached, they could probably affect the town of Hattian."

TSUNAMI - The first research expedition to directly observe the seafloor near the epicenter of the earthquake that caused the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami has revealed unexpected results that will dramatically improve forecasting of future tsunamis. The research team found far fewer underwater landslides and generally less widespread disturbance of the seafloor than would have been expected given the size of the earthquake. “That might mean that we’re safer than we realize, because the material in that environment might be dissipating the seismic energy more than we thought.” The updated model was applied to a fault off the Oregon coast called Cascadia, which has been moving 6 centimeters per year since the last large earthquake occurred in the area in 1700 and where seismologists have long predicted another large earthquake, possibly up to 9.2 in magnitude, could occur. The refined model now predicts that an earthquake of that size could generate tsunami wave run-ups of up to 30 meters in some locations along the Pacific Northwest coast – almost three times higher than previously predicted – and significant waves could reach as far away as Japan and Russia. “Communities in Oregon and Washington have been anticipating waves of only 10 to 12 meters or so, but now they need to be even better prepared.”

The Earth's greatest mass extinction was probably caused by poisonous volcanic gas , according to a study published in the journal Geology. This "great dying" 250 million years ago killed off more than two-thirds of reptile and amphibian families. The end-Permian extinction coincided with a major volcanic eruption. This caused the biggest ever outpouring of basalt lava, covering vast swathes of land in what is now Siberia. It created the Siberian Traps, a large province of igneous rocks centred around the city of Tura. Volcanic gases from the eruption would have depleted Earth's protective ozone layer and acidified the land and sea, and killed rooted vegetation. This would have hindered the retention of soil and allowed it to be washed into the surrounding oceans. Soil materials in the oceans would have blocked out light and soaked up oxygen. After the "soil crisis" on land, the marine ecosystem succumbed to the stresses of environmental change.

CYCLONE 06B was 641 nmi WSW of Rangoon, Burma and 697 nmi S of Calcutta, India.
HURRICANE EPSILON was 704 nmi SW of Lajes, Azores.

HAWAII - despite the major hurricane events in the Atlantic Ocean this year, Hawai'i had only three tropical storm systems, below the annual average of 4.5 systems recorded over the past 30 years. "When the Atlantic is very active, the Pacific is usually less active." "One of the biggest lessons learned from the Atlantic through the past two hurricane seasons is still a message of preparedness. It comes down to that individual taking the personal responsibility to create their own hurricane plan and knowing exactly what to do before the next hurricane comes."

FLORIDA - A tornado swiped through a section of Wakulla County on Monday afternoon, knocking down trees and damaging homes and businesses, but there were no reports of fatalities or injuries.

ARKANSAS - weather system that swept across Arkansas last week spawned an UNUSUAL 22 tornadoes in just over seven hours, and that number may rise. That number of tornadoes is RARE, but wind conditions were very favorable for tornado formation that day.

PHILIPPINES - More than 12,000 residents from at least 14 villages of Lucena City have been evacuated to safer grounds as floods continue to rise. 9,000 residents of eight barangays have been advised to prepare for evacuation if the rains continue. It has been raining heavily in Quezon province since Monday evening.

INDIA - Most of Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu, the region of mainland India hit hard by the tsunami, is now under the grip of severe floods. More than 250 people have been killed and as many as one million more have been displaced by THE HEAVIEST RAINS IN 50 YEARS. Compounding the problem, cyclone warnings led thousands of people to be evacuated from their homes at the end of November. The storm gained strength as it moved ashore, crossing over northern Tamil Nadu on December 1. For people affected by the tsunami, the incessant rains are unnerving. In addition to the heavy rainfall, flash flooding is appearing in areas where hundreds of irrigation tanks have burst. The flooding is also causing major damage to the state’s roadways and railways, leading some communities to be virtually cut off from their neighbors.

AUSTRALIA - A severe storm with strong winds and heavy rain caused damage in Broken Hill yesterday, exactly a month after parts of the western NSW town were devastated by a mini-cyclone. At least one home lost its roof, with many more homes damaged and power lines down. There were no reports of injury. "It came through like a train, unroofing houses and bringing down trees and powerlines. Then it disappeared as quickly as it came."

US - Several inches of snow fell in the U.S. northeast and Plains and temperatures plummeted in the Midwest with the winter solstice still two weeks away. Snowfall totals ranged from 7 inches in Essex County, Virginia, to 5 inches in Waldorf, Maryland, from the season's first major storm on the east coast. The mercury fell to 9 degrees in Chicago, where temperatures haven't gotten up to the freezing mark since Nov. 30. The National Weather Service predicts a warmer-than-normal winter in the Midwest even though temperatures the first five days of December have averaged more than 20 degrees below average. The big chill extended from southern Georgia to northern Florida as another winter-like storm took aim on the northern Rockies and central Plains. Single digit temperatures gripped Montana and the Dakotas, with below zero wind chills.

PAKISTAN - A cold wave, followed by light rain, will hit Pakistani Kashmir and other quake-affected areas as early as Thursday, with heavy rains and snow to follow a week later. The region got its first cold snap a week ago, causing hundreds of people to seek treatment for hypothermia and a variety of other cold-related ailments. A respite in the weather has provided a narrow window of opportunity to get help to remote areas and shore up the tents that will be little match for the heavy snow and strong winds to come.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1944 - an 8.3 quake struck Tonankai, Japan. 1,000 deaths.
In 1986 - a 5.6 quake struck Bulgaria. At least 3 people killed.
In 1988 - a 7.0 quake struck the Turkey-Georgia-Armenia border region. Two events about 3 seconds apart. At least 25,000 people killed, 19,000 injured and 500,000 homeless.

Crop Failures, Food Shortages, Fish Die-Off - updated Wednesdays


Tuesday, December 6, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/5 -

EASTERN AFRICA - A 6.8 quake struck on Monday at 2:20 pm (7:20 am EST) and was centered beneath Lake Tanganyika, on the Congo-Tanzania border. An unknown number of people were killed or injured. "Dozens of houses have collapsed. Several children were buried by the roofs of their houses." The quake was felt in Nairobi some 1 000km from Lake Tanganyika, in Mombasa on Kenya's coast, and as far as southern Tanzanian towns bordering Zambia and Malawi. There were also reports of tremors being felt on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake.

TAIWAN - An earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale hit the capital, Taipei, and surrounding areas Monday, causing buildings to sway. The quake struck at 6:15 pm (1015 GMT). The quake came amid a warning that the weight of the world's tallest skyscraper may cause an increase in temblors. A report last month said that the 1,679-foot (511-metre) Taipei 101 building sits on a fault line and its weight of 700,000 tons may be leading to increased seismic activity. But the Seismology Center has rejected the warning with its experts saying the theory lacked sufficient data. The skyscraper was unveiled on December 31 last year, just five days after the earthquake off Indonesia sent killer tsunamis across the Indian Ocean.

ENERGY PULSES - The magnitude 9.2 earthquake that triggered a devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December of 2004 originated just off the coast of northern Sumatra, but an "energy pulse" – an area where slip on the fault was much greater – created the largest waves, some 100 miles from the epicenter. Seismologists have mapped these energy pulses for Sumatra and are trying to learn more about them to predict better when and where tsunamis may occur. "It seems that the largest Cascadia earthquakes have three pulses. And core data show that more than half of the earthquakes in the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest Coast of the United States are of this large type that appear to generate three rupture sequences." Earthquake "pulses" are releases of energy from areas of high slip along the main fault. The energy pulses, which are part of the earthquake sequence and take place almost immediately, differ from aftershocks. It appears the Indian Ocean fault is rupturing in a southerly direction and that Padang, the capital of West Sumatra, may be next in line for a major earthquake. But whether that quake takes place in weeks or years remains to be seen.

VANUATU - authorities have been forced to evacuate half of Ambae Island's population due to the eruption of the Manaru volcano in Penama province. A total of 5,000 people have been moved to safer ground because of the smoke and ashes spewing from the volcano. The volcano could pose a serious threat to Ambae Island as it had been dormant and its eruption came as a surprise.

ALASKA - Two days after trembling at Augustine Volcano lifted its alert level to "restless," scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory began broadcasting a live view of the lower Cook Inlet cone from its Web site. Augustine's "volcano cam" went on line Thursday. Like Augustine, volcanoes Spurr and Veniaminof rumbled with more tiny earthquakes than usual all week and continue to be listed as restless or yellow by observatory scientists. Mount Spurr is 80 miles west of Anchorage, and Veniaminof Volcano is on the Alaska Peninsula near Perryville. View all 3 volcano webcams . On Friday, the observatory added two new volcanoes to the network after watching them carefully for more than a year. Ukinrek Maars Volcano is a low lying explosion crater on the Alaska Peninsula near Becharof Lake. Korovin Volcano is a steep 5,030-foot volcano on northern Atka Island about 1,080 miles southwest of Anchorage. More information about Alaska's volcanoes, plus an atlas of active cones and craters.

HURRICANE EPSILON was 483 nmi SW of Lajes, Azores.
Epsilon was only the 5th hurricane to form in December in the last 150 years. The last one to form in the Caribbean was in December 1954.

CYCLONE 06B was 533 nmi SW of Rangoon, Burma and 656 nmi S of Calcutta, India
INDIA - Sunday's `low' over the south Andaman Sea has crossed into the Bay of Bengal overnight and lay some 650 nautical miles (1,200 km) east-southeast of Chennai at 3 p.m. on Monday. The location was traced to almost the same latitude as Jaffna in eastern Sri Lanka but the circulation had well-developed features that bested even predecessor Tropical Cyclone Baaz at a comparable stage. It is expected to move west-northwest, the beaten track for most storms taking shape over the Bay waters during this time of the year. Coastal Tamil Nadu and south coastal Andhra Pradesh are likely to receive a fresh spell of fairly widespread to widespread rains with isolated heavy falls from Wednesday/Thursday. Importantly, the circulation will not encounter the westerlies that blew away `Baaz' as it approached land. This giant-killer westerly trough has lately been reduced to insignificance. The east-west shear zone continued to feature three cyclonic circulations, two of them over the Arabian Sea and the other one over the Bay of Bengal.

NEW ZEALAND - There is a 70% chance of a tropical cyclone passing over New Zealand this summer, with the risk greatest at the end of next month. Gisborne and Northland are at greatest risk of being hit. Cyclones have bypassed New Zealand for the last few seasons. Temperatures will also be warmer this summer.

INDIA - The north-west monsoon that has crippled Chennai is UNPRECEDENTED. Overflowing reservoirs have pushed up water levels in rivers, flooding the metropolis and its suburbs and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to be evacuated. As extreme water-logging conditions cripple rail, bus and air services, Chennai seems to be adrift on a sea of uncertainty — of the kind that we saw in Mumbai in July and Bangalore a couple of months later. The surging floodwaters raise crucial questions — one: what’s with such BIZARRE WEATHER that so relentlessly targets metropolises on the seaboard?

ALBANIA - was hit by THE WORST FLOODING SEEN IN THE LAST 35 YEARS, following heavy rain.

ITALY - Monday morning sirens sounded in Venice to warn the citizens of the arrival of the high tide. The maximum tide level reached at 11:40am was 104 cm above average sea level and the consistently high level of tide caused the council to deploy wooden walkways in the lower areas of the city. Venice is still currently flooded with the water receding slowly. The bad weather continues to affect the Veneto region with the very unstable weather likely to continue until at least Wednesday. The very cold temperatures of the last few days have risen but the rain on the plains turned to snow at higher altitudes.

HAWAII - Thunder, winds ‘like a tornado’ whip O'ahu. A wind funnel knocked down several trees about 4 p.m. Sunday. The funnel was part of a short but fierce thunderstorm that whipped O'ahu from about 2 to 4 p.m. , briefly knocking out electrical power to about 3,000. Daytime atmospheric heating combined with an upper-level trough and heavy moisture caused the storm. "The upper-level trough will keep the atmosphere unstable at least for a day or two." The storm dropped about 1 to 1 1/3 inches of rain in less than two hours on the island.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1945 - news reports from Karachi, Pakistan, said a tidal wave which struck a week prior, had left 4,000 villagers dead and more than 40,000 people homeless. The tidal wave swept a 100-mile stretch of coast just west of Karachi. Eyewitnesses said just before the wave hit, the sky suddenly changed to red in the west. Then a column of fire shot from the water into the sky. With a thunderous roar, the tidal wave struck the beach sending millions of pebbles into the air. Two villages were reported wiped out by the wave. In one village, only three of 300 residents managed to survive.
In 1988 - a 5.7 quake struck southern Iran.

Drought, Heat, Water Shortages, Wildfires - updated Tuesdays.


Monday, December 5, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/4 -

HURRICANE EPSILON was 531 nmi WSW of Lajes, Azores. Epsilon appears likely to continue as a hurricane for another two days.

INDIA - At least 13 people have died in house collapses, electrocution and drowning and about 100,000 others evacuated from their homes in three days of torrential rains in Andhra Pradesh. In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, 75,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. Most parts of the state capital, Madras (Chennai) are under water and many houses are partially submerged. The rains have also washed out the first three days of the cricket match between India and Sri Lanka in the city. Earlier Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh had faced the threat of a cyclone, which had weakened into a depression that was causing the present rains.
INDIA - There is a new low-pressure area in the South Andaman Sea now, that joins the two existing circulations - the remnant Cyclone `Baaz' over the south peninsula and a `low' over east-central Arabian Sea - that may bring back 'the shear zone of convective turbulence to peak activity from east to west'. The new circulation has all it takes to grow into a well-marked `low' and intensify further as it churns west, attracted as it will be by the warm waters off the eastern Sri Lanka coast. All major weather models tend to support a scenario in which coastal Tamil Nadu will have to contend with another turbulence, possibly by the weekend. The intensity with which it can strike will depend on a host of factors that fluctuate on a daily, if not hourly, basis and which combined to undermine `Baaz' as it neared coast. The convective clouds associated with the three `live' monsoon circulations are expected to sustain the fairly widespread rainfall activity over north Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, south interior Karnataka, Kerala, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep for at least the next two days.

MALAYSIA - Heavy rain over the past few days is believed to have triggered a landslide near the Sri Impian apartments in Farlim last night. An initial report showed that no one was hurt in the 10pm incident. A concrete beam installed about 30 metres from the apartments gave way as a result of the landslide.

CANADA - Reports of ice falling from the upper supports of the Alex Fraser Bridge onto cars below have sparked an investigation in British Columbia. They so far have found four motorists whose vehicles were hit by falling ice chunks while they were on the bridge last Tuesday, Nov. 29. Three of the four cars had cracked or broken windshields. "We've also received more than 20 calls from motorists who witnessed ice falling." The main girders and cables were clear of ice when the bridge was inspected Thursday afternoon. "It seems whatever was there on Tuesday came down and is gone." It may have been a FREAK WEATHER OCCURRENCE. "It's UNUSUAL because this bridge opened in 1986 and, to the ministry's knowledge we're not aware of ice falling and striking vehicles before."

AUSTRALIA - The Queensland government today issued a heatwave alert for the greater Brisbane area on advice from the weather bureau, which predicted temperatures would reach almost 37 degrees until mid-week.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1997 - a 7.8 quake struck near the East Coast of Kamchatka. Complex earthquake with at least one event occurring about 14 seconds after the onset.

Disease - updated Mondays


Sunday, December 4, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/3 -
12/2 -

CHINA - Chinese experts lashed out Friday at a report claiming that the Three Gorges Project triggered last weekend's 5.7 earthquake in east China's Jiangxi Province, calling it "sheer speculation without any scientific foundation." The two sites are located in two completely different quake belts.

VANUATU - geologists are monitoring the situation in Ambae where a volcano has been showing increasing signs of activity. Since the volcano’s explosion on Sunday, there have been reports of volcanic ash falling on western parts of Ambae. The seismic activity below Lake Vui has reportedly forced the lake to rise up towards the top of the crater, threatening to unleash a torrent of water down every creek that is linked to the lake. The Penama Provincial authorities are appealing to the central government to prepare for a potential major evacuation.

MEXICO - Popocatepetl, a volcano one hour southeast of Mexico's capital, kept up its pattern of erupting every December for ten years, when it spit a plume of ash into the sky on Thursday. The volcano has been increasingly active in the month of December over the last ten years.

COMOROS - There are concerns about the impact of pollution due to volcanic debris for some 250,000 people living in 76 villages in the areas covered by the ash and smoke from the volcanic eruption, which may have displaced more than a third of the total population. The United Nations is assisting national authorities in providing clean water, clearing away dust and debris and assessing damage to agriculture and livestock. Affected populations have also been inhaling toxic dust since Karthala volcano began erupting on November 24 and many, including the elderly and children, are now having trouble breathing freely.

HURRICANE EPSILON was 642 nmi WSW of Lajes, Azores.
Tropical Storm Epsilon on Friday strengthened into an UNPRECEDENTED RECORD 14th Atlantic hurricane of the year, extending a deadly and hyperactive six-month season. This year the Atlantic Basin produced the equivalent of more than two entire hurricane seasons over the course of one season. Epsilon weakened Saturday night but then restrengthened back into a hurricane this morning. Epsilon is moving east, eventually expected to be forced southward and then southwestward. This is another strange storm - here is what the National Hurricane Center said this morning, "THERE ARE NO CLEAR REASONS...AND I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE ONE UP...TO EXPLAIN THE RECENT STRENGTHENING OF EPSILON AND I AM JUST DESCRIBING THE FACTS. HOWEVER...I STILL HAVE TO MAKE AN INTENSITY FORECAST AND THE BEST BET AT THIS TIME IS TO PREDICT WEAKENING...EPSILON WILL ENCOUNTER WARMER WATERS ONCE IT MOVES TOWARD THE SOUTHWEST. HOWEVER, THE UPPER LEVEL WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO BE HIGHLY UNFAVORABLE AND EPSILON WILL LIKELY BECOME A REMNANT LOW. I HEARD THAT BEFORE ABOUT EPSILON...HAVEN'T YOU?"

INDIA - The depression over the Bay of Bengal weakened further, but not before Chennai was battered by heavy rain for three hours. The threat of a cyclone hitting the AP coast has receded, but under the influence of the low pressure, rain or thundershowers are likely at many places with isolated heavy rain fall over Chittoor, Nellore and Prakasam districts during the next 24 hours.

ITALY - A steep rise in sea levels swamped part of the historic lagooon city of Venice Saturday amid storms and heavy rains that have beaten down on Italy over the past 24 hours. On the other side of the peninsula, at La Spezia, a storm slammed a bulk carrier against a jetty, holing it and dumping thousands of litres of fuel into the harbor. Venice was hit by a common seasonal phenomenon, as winds and tides backed up the Adriatic waters, causing levels in the lagoon to rise. Forecasters said the water level was expected to decline today, but warned the weather would turn for the worse again on Tuesday. In Venice, water levels were so high as to cover raised walkways set up to overcome any eventual flooding. St Mark's Square was covered by about 20cm (7.8in) of water. The storm also hit Rome, drenching the Italian capital, flooding one of the main roads into the city.

ALBANIA - Thousands of hectares (acres) of land were flooded and hundreds of houses damaged in Albania on Friday after heavy rains hit the country. The floods blocked roads and bridges in various regions, brought down electricity pylons and inundated transformers, leaving large areas without power.

IRELAND - Torrential rains lashed parts of Northern Ireland again Friday, as forecasters warned of the risk of more flooding. Heavy rain drenched parts of counties Antrim and Down for the second day in a row, with fears more people could be forced to evacuate their homes.

AUSTRALIA - There has been some wild weather across the sunshine state this week. Noosa was flooded after more than 250 millimetres of rain fell in a few hours, and in the far north a FREAK STORM ripped through the Atherton Tableland. People who have lived in the far north most of their life said they had never seen such vicious winds and large jagged hail. They had never heard storms like them. "The thunder actually was probably worse than anything we've heard. It was big cracks one after the other and we couldn't get to sleep through it all, then down it came. "
Damage estimates are rising from a violent storm which hit north-eastern Victoria and the southern Riverina. Emergency services say up to 200 homes have been damaged from the rain and roads blocked after hundreds of trees were torn down by FREAK WINDS. "It looks like a mini tornado has just ripped a swathe through the top of Huon Creek Valley outside Wodonga. I've never seen anything like it in my life."
Residents in the tiny central Queensland town of Aramac have told of their terror as a FREAK STORM blew apart homes, snapped huge trees like twigs and threw trucks around like toys. "It was like we were hit by a couple of bombs." No street was left unscathed as the storm struck for 15 minutes with 200km/h gusts and hail. "I couldn't believe the winds. Buildings were moving and shaking and you could see tin flying all over the place."

WASHINGTON - Storms dumped snow across Washington state, causing at least one death and dozens of traffic accidents, and some schools were closed Friday as a lighter downfall continued.

OHIO - Although November brought some unusual highs and lows, for the month the average temperature fell slightly above normal. The highest temperature reached in November was at 75 degrees on Nov. 5, almost setting a record. The lowest temperature was 14 degrees on the 25th. “The last two weeks, other than a few warm days, has been 10 to 15 degrees below normal . This is the coldest November we’ve had since 2002.”

NEW YORK - An unprecedented array of unpredictable weather has been barraging Binghamton. At 9 degrees Fahrenheit, last Friday was Binghamton’s COLDEST Nov. 25 ON RECORD. Just four days later the temperature rebounded to a RECORD HIGH 63 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the hottest Nov. 29. “Within a span of four days we went from a record low to a record high, which is interesting to say the least."But the entire season has been “topsy-turvey,” with the mercury hitting 70 degrees Fahrenheit in early November - just days after the season’s first bout of snow. “It’s ridiculous. I’ve been drenched in so many downpours. It just comes out of nowhere.”

GEORGIA - After an unpredictable summer, officials expect an unpredictable winter as far as weather is concerned. The state is due for a blizzard because those seem to occur every 10 years, but there is no way to predict whether this winter will be worse than normal. For the past several years, the state has been affected by meridional flow — a period between El Nino and La Nina seasons when air flows from the north or south. During periods of meridional flow, weather patterns are harder to predict and can vary greatly from week to week. “We could see more frost, but we could also see more warm days.”

CALIFORNIA - Heavy rain and strong winds caused by the North Coast's first winter storm brought down trees and branches, washed out one road and caused minor power outages Thursday. Sonoma County was at the center of the weather system, which also brought RARE thunder and lightning to the region between 9 and 10 a.m. Thursday. Thursday's storm marked a late start for winter. Only four rainy seasons during the past two decades have recorded later starts. Thursday's storm, which brought in tropical moisture from Hawaii, dropped between 2½ and 3 inches of rain in Sonoma County's northern mountains. "The rainy season is kind of late getting started this year. A high pressure system over California kept all the storms to the north of us for most of November."

YEMEN - FREAK WEATHER CONDITIONS - Agricultural crops in some areas in Yemen will be damaged due to an expected wave of cold which will sweep some areas, officials at the Yemeni National Meteorological Center warned on Friday.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
12/4 -
In 1972 - a 7.4 quake struck Japan.

Space Weather / Solar Storms / Meteors - updated Sundays.


Friday, December 2, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
12/1 -

HAWAII - A 40-acre section of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park's coastline collapsed this week, producing a six-foot-thick geyser of molten rock. The Monday collapse exposed a 60-foot cliff face, with the lava spurting from a lava tube that was ripped open. But the lava geyser was quickly disappearing as the molten flow hardened and began forming a new coastal rock bench. The event continued for several hours, accompanied by explosions, flying gobs of molten rock, and boulder missiles. The collapse was the LARGEST SINCE 1983 when the Kilauea Volcano began erupting. Geologists suspected what had happened because of seismic rumblings, but were not able to go to the coastal site until Tuesday. Monday's collapse was followed about 35 hours later by a 4.5-magnitude earthquake about five miles from the collapse site. Geologists said the two events were not related. (photos)

MEXICO - POPOCATEPETL VOLCANO - sent a gritty cloud billowing into the sky outside Mexico City early Thursday. Officials warned nearby residents to protect themselves against the rain of ash the eruption will likely cause.
Popocatepetl Webcam

CANARY ISLANDS - CUMBRE VIEJA VOLCANO - "We may never know if we came close to Armageddon this Tuesday" when Tropical Storm Delta passed near La Palma, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. It's predicted that a future eruption there will drop a 500 billion ton chunk of rock into Atlantic waters. The initial splash will soar more than 3,000 feet high. Then the splash will form a "mega-tsunami" and ripple across the Atlantic faster than a jetliner. The east coast of Florida and the United States will be nine hours away. Mountains of debris would be pushed 12 to 20 miles inland. All east coast cities would be obliterated. Fifty million people would die. The fear Monday was that Delta's rains might trigger an eruption. If the volcano burped a hot bubble of lava, water trapped in crevices would heat to steam and the steam pressure would create cracking, the scientists say. But heavy rains never came. Cumbre Vieja didn't even hiss as Delta passed many miles to its north.
Computer-generated, animated simulations of what will follow the Cumbre Vieja collapses. One map shows waves 160 feet high striking the Florida east coast.
Although the Canary authorities are anxious to do all in their power to play the catastrophe scenario down, claiming such a slide is hypothetical and could take place a thousand or more years hence, in reality they are quietly beavering away behind the scenes, stepping up the vigilance on the mighty Cumbre Vieja. Perhaps the seriousness with which they regard the situation can be judged by two of the latest monitoring schemes to be implemented in the area which have been tellingly dubbed Alerta I and Alerta II. The vigilance initiative includes the permanent location of three geochemical instrument stations. In the coming weeks and months two further hi-tech gadgets will be installed, described as hydrochemical stations to keep checks on the temperature, pH content and flow of subterranean water. A separate programme includes periodic scientific fact-finding missions to measure levels of carbon dioxide emissions and temperatures.

CYCLONE BAAZ was 641 nmi SSW of Calcutta, India.

TROPICAL STORM EPSILON was 701 nmi E of Hamilton, Bermuda.
Epsilon veered away from Bermuda on Thursday toward colder waters in the central Atlantic that were expected to gradually weaken it. The storm had been pounding Bermuda with heavy surf for a couple of days.

AUSTRALIA - At least three people were killed and another is feared dead as violent storms swept across parts of New South Wales, the ACT and Queensland.
AUSTRALIA - Giant hailstones the size of cricket balls and flash floods have been reported in a severe thunderstorm that hit Sydney's south-west yesterday.

IRELAND - Parts of South Belfast were under several feet of water yesterday morning following torrential rain.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1991 - a 5.6 quake struck Romania.
In 1996 - a 6.7 quake struck Kyushu, Japan. Complex earthquake, with at least two events occurring about 2 seconds apart.

Unusually High Tides / Freak Waves - updated Fridays.


Thursday, December 1, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/30 -

NEW ZEALAND - scientists were monitoring seismic activity at the edge of the Auckland volcanic field after three small earthquakes shook an offshore island. Auckland, the country's biggest city with a population of 1.3 million, is built on six extinct volcanoes, but earthquakes are rarely felt. Three shakes were recorded on Waiheke Island, 30km east of the city, in just over 12 hours, the last and biggest at a magnitude of 3.3 on the Richter scale on Wednesday morning. A series of quakes that size would not normally be considered significant, but the location was UNUSUAL and seismic activity will be monitored although there was no cause for concern at this stage.

CHINA - AFTERSHOCKS - Encountering hundreds of aftershocks, the disaster relief work was proceeding tensely in the city of Jiujiang, east China's Jiangxi Province on Wednesday. Though five days have passed since the city was jolted by an earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, rescuers and local residents are still feeling frequent and strong aftershocks. As of 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, the eleven seismographs installed by the China Seismological Bureau recorded 586 aftershocks of the earthquake with the most powerful measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale.

JAPAN - The Japanese government has warned thousands of people that they have two weeks to get out of dozens of high-rises, saying it plans to demolish them as a construction scandal widens. Property developers, contractors and others had falsified quake-resistance certificates. Japanis struck by about one-fifth of the world's quakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

MOUNT ST HELENS - WASHINGTON - Just when Mount St. Helens' lengthy eruption verges on monotony, the volcano pops up with a surprise. This month a new feature was detected in the volcanic rock that has emerged in the 14-month-old eruption - tiny glassy blobs embedded in the more familiar lava. The new characteristic probably is from a batch of hotter, more gas-rich magma moving upward and reaching colder molten rock in a chamber about five miles below the surface. When the hotter magma chills, it forms fibrous crystals that intrude into the older magma. The new magma is a minor component - perhaps one-tenth of a percent - of the lava at the surface. Such a mingling of magmas triggered the massive 1991 Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, but "this isn't that dramatic."

TROPICAL STORM EPSILON - gained power in the central Atlantic on Wednesday but the 26th named cyclone of a record-beating Atlantic hurricane season posed no threat to land. It was expected to strengthen further, possibly to near hurricane strength with winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph), before turning to the northeast away from Bermuda and weakening over increasingly cool waters.

TROPICAL STORM DELTA - assailed Spain’s Canary Islands, killing seven and wreaking UNPRECEDENTED HAVOC on the archipelago, where many residents were still without electricity yesterday. Delta struck the archipelago with winds gusting at more than 100kph, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. “It’s JUST NOT NORMAL, first in that a storm forming off the Azores tends to brew up further south. That it should then come east towards Europe, and to the zone and latitudes of the Canaries, is a VERY UNUSUAL PHENOMENON. An UNUSUAL PATTERN APPEARED TO BE EMERGING following Tropical Storm Vince hitting Spain in October. “With Vince it was ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT PRECEDENT that it should come as far as the Spanish coast and now this year we have already had two phenomena of this type. It seems to us that since we have had satellite images, for 20-30 years, there has not been another tropical storm in the Canaries. There have been pertubations coming from the south, but far less virulent and not as a tropical storm.”

TROPICAL STORM BAAZ - is forecast to strike India at about 12:00 GMT tomorrow. High alert has been sounded in coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh in view of the threat of the cyclonic storm with Army and Navy asked to be ready for any emergency. Yesterday the cyclonic storm over the Bay of Bengal remained practically stationary. Isolated heavy to very heavy rain is likely to occur. Strong winds with a speed of 80 to 90 kmph are likely to lash the coast tonight.

AUSTRALIA - Two people were hit by lightning and part of a major road collapsed as wild storms battered Queensland's Sunshine Coast today. Powerlines were brought down by landslide. 5000 homes lost power when high winds, lightning strikes and more than 260mm of rain hit the Noosa Shire. A combination of humid conditions in the lower atmosphere and higher cooler temperatures had created widespread instability across the region. More rain and storms were forecast tomorrow.

UNITED KINGDOM - A Hempstead couple have spoken of their shock on discovering their roof went up in flames moments after it was hit by a FREAK bolt of lightning. Firefighters were called at around 3pm last Thursday after getting reports of a blaze engulfing the roof. The woman living there heard a 'huge bang' but did not realise her home had been hit and instead sat down to read a newspaper. The electrical surge ruined the couple's computer, television and phones. Two neighbouring houses were also affected by 'scorching'. Witnesses to the FREAK STORM said it 'arrived and disappeared' in a matter of minutes.

U.S. GULF COAST - wild weather patterns may continue into the colder months. “It is predicted for the Gulf coast to have above normal precipitation and normal temperatures this winter. However, we are due for a dusting of snow or even an ice storm.” Residents are still quick to remember the ice storm that blanketed the South Texas Gulf region in the late 1990s. Icy conditions could wreck even more havoc this year to those residing in homes that need roofing and insulation repair from hurricane damage. These unpredictable weather conditions move in cycles and the Gulf region could possibly see a major winter event occur this year. In addition turbulent hurricane conditions will remain likely in the next few years as well. “Hurricane season starts June 1. Usually by March we can begin to predict hurricane patterns. Right now we are still in a warm phase and we are expecting another three to four years of above normal hurricane activity in the Gulf region.” Lower surface air pressure, an amplified subtropical ridge at upper levels across the central and eastern North Atlantic Ocean, reduced vertical wind shear and an African easterly jet led to the creation of 26 named storms and seven major hurricanes in 2005. If these strong weather patterns continue the table could be set for another wild hurricane season in 2006.

UNITED KINGDOM - The wintery blast which hit the West Country last week is not necessarily an indication of a severe winter to come. It is still autumn and too early to tell what the winter will bring. "We must wait until after winter quarter day - Christmas Day - the true first day of winter. At this moment there are no signs to say that a severe winter is on the way. But we still have three weeks of autumn to go and we must wait until winter quarter day to get a clearer picture." The snowfall of last week did not indicate a pattern. It was simply a FREAK CONDITION, a narrow belt of wintery weather similar to one that was experienced in 1978, which also lasted only a day.

NORTHERN EUROPE - The ocean currents that keep northern Europe warm have weakened, scientists say. The Atlantic Conveyor could slow if warming causes ice caps to melt, making the water less salty, less dense and unable to sink and flow back south. Researchers in Britain found the conveyor has slowed about 30 per cent since 1957. No changes were found in the northward flow of warm water near the surface but its overall circulation system is slowing. Climate models suggest increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would further slow the current, but the data can't be directly linked to climate change. Researchers also can't tell if winds might compensate for the change. At the present rate of slowdown, average temperatures in western Europe could drop by one to two degrees in 10 to 20 years, the researchers said. In the past, such a drop in temperatures led to colder and more severe winters

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1928 - an 8.0 quake struck Talca, Chile. 225 people killed.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/29 -

PAKISTAN - Parts of at least 12 villages in Pakistan's quake zone could be wiped out by landslides and floods and must be evacuated. Parts of mountains are slipping away and whole sides of mountains have come down. As well as leaving mounds of ruins and debris after the October 8 earthquake, the land is also now riddled with deep, gaping cracks. Fault lines cutting through mountains have literally split them in half. With precipitation, caused by the onset of winter snow and rain, the results could be catastrophic. “The dam is now holding back the water of two valleys and the water table is rising. " Snowmelt happens in March but with unpredictable weather, it could happen as early as the end of December – all it takes is a few sunny days.

CHINA - A crack appeared in the levee of the Yangtze River after the earthquake which hit Jiujiang, East China's Jiangxi Province. The earthquake, measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, rocked Ruichang and Jiujiang on Saturday morning, killing at least 15 and injuring around 400. Thousands of houses collapsed or were badly damaged. More than 420,000 residents have left their homes because of sporadic aftershocks; and most of them are ensconced in tents pitched in open spaces or on wide streets.

GRAND COMORE - Seismic activity continues on Grand Comore as the island struggles to come to grips with the aftermath of Mount Karthala's eruption last week. The islands have largely escaped major destruction from the volcano, which has erupted every 11 years on average over the last 200 years. Although the smog of ash and smoke has thinned, a lava lake is forming in the crater - it is confined within the crater but the eruption is not finished. However, more than the threat of lava spilling down the mountain, a lack of clean water has become the island's biggest concern. Currently in its dry season, Comoros is desperate for rain, not only to replenish its contaminated water supply but also to wash away the toxic volcanic ash covering the island.


TROPICAL STORM EPSILON, the 26th Atlantic tropical storm of the year, formed on Tuesday, one day short of the official conclusion of a record-breaking hurricane season and could cause dangerous surf conditions in Bermuda over the next few days .

WINTER STORM DELTA - More than 200,000 people have been left without electricity in Spain's Canary Islands after the powerful tropical storm ripped through the area, killing at least seven. Workers struggled to repair downed power lines, restore phones and clear debris on Tuesday. Winter storm Delta, packing winds of more than 120 kph (75 mph), brought pylons down on the island of Tenerife on Monday, cutting power to the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and La Laguna. The storm began on Monday evening with a very strong dry wind that pelted houses with sand and pebbles.

MEXICO - While Mexico sweats to repair Hurricane Wilma storm damage to Cancun's luxury hotels and beaches, Maya Indians nearby have been left to fend for themselves as a lake of floodwater the color of black tea swallows their homes. The debris-filled lake - 300 feet (100 metres) wide and stretching for several miles - is growing as rainy weather continues and water seeps here from higher ground across the region. Their drinking wells are contaminated and the stagnant water is causing fever and rashes. Inhabitants are going hungry after Wilma flattened the maize and bean crops and killed off the honey and charcoal businesses that were the main source of cash.

CYCLONE BAAZ was 641 nmi SSW of Calcutta, India.
INDIA - The deep depression in Bay of Bengal intensified as a Cyclonic Storm and moved in the west and north western direction. It lay about 450 km south-east off Chennai on Tuesday night and is likely to intensify further and move in a west north-westerly direction. It was likely to cross the coast on Wednesday or Thursday between Chennai and Machilipatnam. Fishermen have been warned against venturing into the sea all along the 960-km coastline of the State. A forecast said five districts would have isolated heavy falls accompanied by strong gales. Places in the rest of the State too would experience moderate to rather heavy rain.

INDIA - In one of the most furious spells of monsoon in recent times, many tanks and lakes all over Tamilnadu state have breached and all the important rivers are in spate. In the face of the relentless rains, railway tracks have either been washed away or lie under several feet of water. Torrential rains due to a North East Monsoon along the east coast since October 21st submerged many areas of Tamilnadu state in South India. Since Nov 21 Tamilnadu has been inundated by a deluge. The rain has been very intense during the last few days. The heaviest downpour occurred for 4 days consecutively from November 23 to 26. This, coupled with the breaching and/or opening of dams to prevent breaching, has created floods that have caused severe damages to the affected communities. The flood situation in Cuddalore district is grim, with all the five rivers running through the district and other water sources overflowing. One hundred thousand people have been marooned and two hundred thousand stranded. More than 150,000 people have been shifted to safer places. Meanwhile, the weather bureau has sounded an alert for another depression that has formed over the Bayof Bengal and they warned of heavy rain and stormy weather again in the next 48 hours.

FLORIDA - November's weather roller coaster continued Monday with a deluge, record heat and cool air. A predawn deluge brought more than 2 inches in two hours. By 2 p.m., sunny skies and warm breezes brought the temperature up to 82 degrees, tying a record set in 1990. That all changed later Monday as a cold front arrived, with north winds whipping in cold Canadian air and an expected overnight low in the 50s. "This change of temperature has been crazy. You never know what it's going to be." More than five inches of rain fell in Pensacola on Sunday and Monday as thunderstorms swept in. The deluges, which fell mostly in concentrated morning showers on both days, topped the 4.4-inch monthly average for November. November brought the second straight month of above-average heat, with two records equaled or beaten and seven days in the 80s. November also had near-record cold, with the low reaching 33 degrees on Nov. 18.

NORTH CAROLINA - Heavy downpours pushed rivers and streams out of their banks in parts of Western North Carolina, but flooding was minor and there were no reports of injuries or significant property damage. The highest overnight rainfall total was 6 inches at Lake Toxaway in Transylvania County. The storm contributed to a rockslide that sent huge boulders crashing onto N.C. 215.

ARKANSAS - No injuries were reported from a powerful storm, possibly an F2 tornado, that swept through the township of Agnos in eastern Fulton County Sunday night. The storm destroyed at least three trailer houses, uprooted trees and damaged homes throughout the county. The weather system, which produced damaging winds and rains across the state, formed in an UNUSUAL way. The storms were fueled by upper atmospheric wind shear which approached speeds of 140 miles per hour - much higher than average wind shear for this time of year. "Add the wind shear in with the moisture that came in from the south, and extremely dry air that moved in from Oklahoma, and all the ingredients were in place for severe weather."

AUSTRALIA - Large hailstones, damaging winds and heavy rainfall loom threateningly over parts of southern and southeast Queensland this afternoon. A combination of humid conditions in the lower atmosphere and higher cooler temperatures have created widespread instability across the region. More than 20,000 houses and businesses lost power after severe storms struck southeast Queensland yesterday. Crews worked until the early hours of this morning after hail storms swept through Brisbane's south and west from 3pm, followed by another storm cell four hours later in the northern suburbs. The storm season so far this year has been more dramatic than previous years. "We've had an earlier start to the season and the activity has been more frequent than in past years."
Months of good rain have ended years of severe dust storms that have swept millions of tonnes of soil from the Australian continent. A wet winter and spring across much of Australia has covered the arid rangelands with vegetation. That has ended the so-called "dust age" which has blasted the topsoil off the earth's driest continent in ONE OF THE WORST EVENTS OF ITS KIND IN AUSTRALIA'S RECORDED HISTORY.

PAKISTAN - The freezing winter claimed the lives of another eight people, including five children, in the earthquake-hit suburbs of Abbottabad on Tuesday. Pneumonia was spreading amongst cold and hungry children who survived the earthquake. “We are receiving hundreds of pneumonia cases in different areas.” Some snow fell in mountain villages overnight and temperatures fell below freezing throughout the disaster zone, threatening to bring about a second wave of deaths that aid agencies have long warned of.

U.S. PLAINS - on Monday the region’s first big snowstorm of the season closed hundreds of kilometres of highways, cutting visibility to zero and piling up drifts two metres high. Snow driven by wind up to 110 kilometres an hour fell from North Dakota to the Texas Panhandle. Four deaths were blamed on slippery roads in South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, and a fifth person was killed when a tornado picked up and hurled a car in Arkansas. Eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 were closed for nearly 565 kilometres from Denver across the Plains to Russell, Kansas. Numerous other highways also were closed across the Plains, including a 280-kilometre stretch of I-90 across South Dakota, and a 100-kilometre stretch of I-80 in Nebraska. Hundreds of travellers in all were stranded. Grass fires driven by the storm system’s wind blackened hundreds of hectares in Texas and Oklahoma. Several homes were destroyed in the two states and hundreds of families had to evacuate in Oklahoma.

GERMANY - About 10,000 Germans were still without electricity as dusk fell Tuesday, four days after a FREAK SNOWSTORM brought 50 pylons and hundreds of power lines crashing down in Germany's WORST BLACKOUT FOR 60 YEARS. Some 250,000 people suffered outages. The weight of ice on the power-lines and swinging caused by fierce winds had created forces that made the pylons buckle last week.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1783 - a 5.3 quake struck New Jersey. The largest historical earthquake in New Jersey.
In 1967 - a 6.5 quake struck Albania, 18 killed.
In 1976 - a 7.3 quake struck Chile, one killed.
In 1983 - a 7.7 quake struck Chagos Archipelago Region.
In 1987 - a 7.9 quake struck Gulf of Alaska, Alaska.

Crop Failures, Food Shortages, Fish Die-Off - updated Wednesdays


Tuesday, November 29, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/28 -

CYCLONE 05B was 621 nmi WSW of Rangoon, Burma and 695 nmi S of Calcutta, India.
A 996 MB LOW is in the central Atlantic with gale force winds north of the center. There is potential for subtropical or tropical develpment with this system over the next couple of days as it moves slowly west or southwest.
TROPICAL STORM DELTA was 613 nmi SE of Lajes, Azores.
Tropical Storm Delta - Six African would-be immigrants drowned off the coast of Spain's Canary Islands on Monday as storm waves swept their makeshift boat. The accident was the most serious consequence of Tropical Storm Delta which became a winter storm as it neared Africa on Monday, but brought strong winds to the islands. Rescue services had difficulty reaching the wrecked boat, which carried around 50 people, because of fierce weather conditions. The storm had hit the popular holiday islands of La Palma and Tenerife, knocking down trees and lamp posts and causing power cuts.

GEORGIA - "It is statistically unlikely that the coming 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons, or the seasons which follow, will have the same number of major U.S. landfall events as we have seen in 2004-2005." But after seeing the wettest summer on record in parts of Georgia followed by the driest September in Macon's history, "It's hard to say. The weather is so strange anymore. I really don't know what to say." But Georgia could be overdue for a landfalling hurricane, some fear. Only one hurricane has made landfall along the Georgia coast since 1950.

NEW ZEALAND - needs to prepare for a big cyclone that is expected to hit during the summer. "Between now and the end of May, nine tropical cyclones are expected to form in the South Pacific. This cyclone season is shaping up to be one where the equatorial Pacific Ocean is neither having an El Nino nor a La Nina." The "neutral years" in the past have seen notable cyclones.

KANSAS - The weather was more suited for spring than the Thanksgiving-Christmas season on Sunday. Hail, high winds and heavy rain swept through Lawrence twice – once during the afternoon and then again during the evening. The city and much of northeastern Kansas were under a tornado watch from about 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Although Lawrence was spared visits by tornadoes, one did strike Fort Riley, damaging 32 homes in the Ellis Heights area. There were more than a dozen tornadoes sighted in the Manhattan area. “This is VERY RARE." Shortly before the afternoon storm moved into Lawrence, skies not only turned dark but also an eerie green. There were two main theories about the cause of green skies, Schack said. One maintains that the extent of the cloud deck blocks out the blue sky and causes it to look green. The second theory has to do with the amount of the water content.

LOUISIANA - A storm system that pummeled Caddo and Bossier parishes on Sunday delivered a punch that downed power lines, traffic lights and trees, and sent two Shreveport police officers to the hospital after a tree fell on the patrol car they were riding in. "The wind was blowing hard enough to knock you down. Dirt, trash, leaves, you name it, it was flying." Peak wind speed was 47 mph with .22 inches of rain. Golf ball-size hail was reported in Vivian and penny-size hail in Belcher.

NEW ZEALAND - Floodwaters from the Waipaoa River have cut off the East Coast town of Te Karaka, northwest of Gisborne, after heavy rain and winds hit the Gisborne-East Coast region. Up to 40mm more rain expected in the region. Farmers in the area say the area has not yet recovered from the Labour weekend floods, which were the worst since Cyclone Bola.

CONGO - Six people were killed when a bolt of lightning set off an arms depot during a thunderstorm in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The storm struck Friday in the town of Walikale.

MONTANA - a sudden storm Saturday spewed more than a foot of snow, bedeviled area roadways and shut down power. A foot of snowfall in Great Falls BROKE A CENTURY OLD RECORD by nearly 2 inches. One hundred years ago, over Nov. 26 and 27, 10.2 inches of snow fell. A couple of major meteorological forces combined to create the squall. A blast of chilly Canadian air collided with a large low-pressure system that had shimmied eastward from the northern Pacific. The volatile coalescence resulted in the widespread dumping of precipitation over much of Montana. The snow and colder temperatures followed a period of unseasonably warm weather across the Montana plains. In fact, temperatures hit 59 degrees on Wednesday in Glasgow, just one degree shy of the record set in 1917. The mercury could dip slightly below normal by midweek, with highs in the teens by Wednesday and Thursday. Overnight lows could be below zero in some areas. "It's not incredible or anything, but it's a little bit below normal."

EUROPE - Severe weather conditions are sweeping across Europe. In Italy, civil defense officials are monitoring swelling rivers and nearby homes are being evacuated. Sudden snowstorms caused several cold-related deaths and disruption in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. In Italy more rain is expected until Thursday. The level reached by the Tiber was historic and HAS NOT BEEN SEEN FOR MORE THAN A QUARTER OF A CENTURY. Heavy flooding hit many parts of the country, mainly central regions, with damage reported to property and crops. Ice and snow also blocked roads. And rough seas were reported around Italy.
GERMANY - Some 250,000 people in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia faced a power cut over the weekend due to a snowstorm, electricity giant RWE said Sunday. Twenty-five towns were deprived of power from late Friday after strong winds knocked down electrical poles. "The mains had a coating of ice as thick as your upper arm."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
11/29 -
In 1975 - a 7.5 quake struck Kalapana, Hawaii, tsunami.
In 1978 - a 7.9 quake struck Oaxaca, Mexico.
In 1998 - a 7.8 quake struck the Ceram Sea, at least 41 people killed.

Drought, Heat, Water Shortages, Wildfires - updated Tuesdays.


Monday, November 28, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/27 -

IRAN - A large 5.9 earthquake has struck southern Iran. Iranian authorities say it killed at least 10 people and wounded more than 50 in the sparsely-populated area. The quake devastated several mud-brick villages on the Persian Gulf island of Qeshm, off Iran's southern coast. The island's main hospital is overloaded with wounded patients. Officials say some of the injured are being transferred to the mainland by helicopter. The Red Crescent relief agency is trying to get supplies to the area, including tents to shelter people who cannot go back into their damaged homes. Sunday's earthquake also shook buildings in nearby Oman and the United Arab Emirates, which are less than 100 kilometers from the island across the Straits of Hormuz. Reports from Dubai say several high-rise office buildings were evacuated in the city center.
The quake epicenter was reported to be the village of Ziranag which was more than 80 percent destroyed. A second tremor, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, struck the vicinity of Qeshm at 20:41 hours, but there was no immediate report on probable damage or casualties. The quake shook windows on the coastal port city of Bandar Abbas where residents ran out of their homes in panic. A total of seven major villages had been destroyed between 40 percent and 70 percent. Other regions had received damage to a lesser extent. Several aftershocks, ranging between 3.6 and 4.3, have since rocked the affected regions.
The surrounding area has NOT BEEN HIT BY A QUAKE IN MORE THAN 25 YEARS.

CHINA - By Sunday morning, following the 5.7 tremor on Saturday, 200 aftershocks had been felt.

CYCLONE 05B was 579 nmi WSW of Bangkok, Thailand.
TROPICAL STORM DELTA was 569 nmi S of Lajes, Azores.
Tropical Storm Delta strengthened in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday and threatened to lash Spain's Canary Islands. It was expected to move over or just north of the Canary Islands on Monday, sending gale-force winds across the islands, and then dissipate over southern Morocco on Tuesday.

HURRICANE KATRINA - Davant, Louisiana is past New Orleans, through ruined St. Bernard Parish and down even deeper, down into the sinking marshes and bayous of Plaquemines Parish. New Orleans filled up with water slowly. Davant was swept away fast, destroying the false sense of security that ever-taller levees gave to the place. This is where Katrina acted like a tsunami, treating the big "ring levee" that comes to a looping end south of town - bent in the shape of a paper clip - as if it were a child's sand castle. The Mississippi River came roaring through here up over the levee on one side of town, and the salty marsh water broke through the levee on the other. It was the first line of defense thrown up by human beings against Katrina, and it buckled, unable to withstand a surge that cascaded through fraying marshes that in another era might have slowed the water.
The impact of spiralling pollution and global warming on the planet poses a threat to civilisation just as catastrophic as much-vaunted weapons of mass destruction. A scientist pointed to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in August, as an example of what could happen more often if politicians failed to tackle global warming. Studies undertaken before the storm suggested rising sea temperatures would mean more severe hurricanes. "The estimated damage inflicted by Katrina is equivalent to 1.7 per cent of US GDP this year, and it is conceivable that the Gulf Coast of the US could be effectively uninhabitable by the end of the century."

THAILAND - Heavy rain and floods have stranded hundreds of tourists in southern Thailand including the popular islands of Ko Tao and Ko Samui. Disaster relief operations have been operating for several days, but authorities here say that up to 3000 local people and foreign tourists remain cut off. The floods, which have killed seven local people, continued to plague the districts of Surat Thani, Phatthalung and Chumphon. About 200 tourists were shipped from the island to the mainland. They had been trapped on Ko Tao for almost a week after a ferry service was disrupted by heavy rains and strong waves.

AUSTRALIA - Brisbane, Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast hinterland were belted by strong winds, rain and hail yesterday as a storm cell moved across the Queensland's south-east. The heaviest downpours were on Brisbane's southside with Carindale recording 83 millimetres. Large hail stones battered Brisbane's south-west but it was winds of up to 40 knots which caused most of the damage. The conditions wreaked havoc across the south-east.
AUSTRALIA - A severe storm with torrential rain and winds of up to 100km/h is expected to hit the New South Wales south coast today. The storm is the result of a deepening low pressure system moving towards the coast. Residents have been warned to expect a big rain dump and winds averaging 65km/h, with gusts in excess of 100km/h. The storm could cause localised flash flooding on the south coast.

EUROPE - In central Italy, authorities were forced to close roads and evacuate dozens of families from homes near rivers. Worried officials monitored Italy's swelling rivers as severe winter weather sweeping across Europe brought more heavy rain and snow. Further north, the Tiber flooded in parts of the central Umbria region with estimated damage of tens of million of euros (dollars) to crops, farms and stables. Austria's national weather service raised the avalanche risk level for much of the country's Alps to three on a five-point scale.
BELGIUM - Two homeless men froze to death in central Brussels as the first winter snow took the country by surprise. Belgium sometimes goes through winter without any serious snowfall and the sudden cold followed an unusually warm autumn season. Authorities were struggling to respond to electricity blackouts and black ice on the roads which killed one person and injured two on Saturday.

KANSAS, MISSOURI - A series of storms that swept across Kansas into Missouri on Sunday blocked roads with snow in western Kansas and spawned a tornado that damaged 32 homes at Fort Riley, Kansas. Heavy rain, hail and high winds ripped through the Kansas City area Sunday night.

COLUMBIA - At least 83 peaople have died in Colombia after two months of torrential rains that have affected the northwestern provinces in the South American nation. A quarter of a million of people have been affected by the flooding, mudslides and over-flowing rivers caused by the intense rains, which began in September. The worst-hit provinces are those located in the northwestern region: Magdalena, Sucre, Cordoba and Cesar, where the monster floods have ruined rice and cotton fields seriously damaging country's economy. Many farmers have been forced to abandon their farms. Colombian authorities said that this year's rainy season was the WORST FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS. The annual tropical rains are expected to continue until mid-December.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1991 - a 5.6 quake struck western Iran, at least one person killed, 70 injured.
In 2000 – Rescuers in Jakarta struggled to find survivors after devastating floods and landslides on Indonesia's Sumatra island killed more than 100 people.

Disease - updated Mondays


Sunday, November 27, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/26 -

11/25 -

CHINA - A quake, which measured 5.7 on the Richter scale, struck at 8.49am and was followed by two aftershocks, and damaged 130,000 homes. At least 14 people died, hundreds more were injured. A relatively powerful aftershock was felt at about 12.55pm. The quake was THE BIGGEST IN THE REGION IN HALF A CENTURY (since 1949), and could be felt in cities hundreds of kilometres away. The quake occurred about 10 kilometres below the surface of the earth. That makes it a so-called "shallow" earthquake, similar to the devastating quake that struck in Kashmir in early October, a category of tremor generally known to cause greater damage than deeper ones. The affected area was not known as an active seismic area. "The biggest earthquake in recent years in Jiangxi struck in 1987, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale."

CANADA - A "pretty big" magnitude 5.4 earthquake on Saturday hit the ocean depths 240 km southwest of Tofino. It was the second quake in three days. A 2.9 shaker 10 km under the sea occurred in the same region Thursday. Neither quake was felt on shore. It's the same region earthquake swarms are measured every couple of years. A deep sea scientific observation project has targeted the region for instruments able to provide scientists real time information about undersea activity.Once the equipment is in place in a couple of years, scientists will have an extra 30 seconds warning of what to expect onshore when major damaging earthquakes take place. Such information allows authorities to shut bridges down to traffic, and shut down nuclear reactors, before the destructive seismic waves hit land installations.

COLUMBIA - Authorities lowered the threat level for Galeras volcano in southwestern Colombia on Friday, a day after an eruption covered a nearby city in ash and forced the evacuation of thousands of people. "It seems the activity is stabilizing."

GRAND COMORE - Ash blanketed the Comoros capital after the Indian Ocean archipelago's Mount Karthala erupted in a non-magma event for the second time this year, spewing smoke and cinders over the nation's main island of Grand Comore. Officials said there was no sign that the eruption overnight had resulted in potentially devastating lava flows, but authorities announced precautions to deal with health hazards caused by ash and possible gas emissions. "We saw black clouds of smoke spreading out from the mountain, heard noises like tidal waves make and there were flashes but no storm."


Tropical Storm Delta lost more strength on Saturday as it threatened only shipping interests in the central Atlantic. The six-month Atlantic hurricane season officially ends Wednesday, but forecasters warn that tropical storms and hurricanes can develop in December.

CANADA - Thick fog is not unusual in November - last year there were 11 days when visibility was less than half a mile. Having it stick around for nearly a week is, however, SOMEWHAT RARE in this region. "Until we break the weather pattern, the situation gets worse and worse." The fog was confined primarily to coastal areas of south Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. The fog was so dense in spots the past week that the smoke from wood burning stoves was being pushed down to near ground level by the heavy, moist air.

NEW ZEALAND - A storm which pelted parts of Northland with golfball-sized hail is now lashing Gisborne and northern Hawke's Bay. The MetService is forecasting heavy rain and severe gale force winds for the area and says a low pressure system has stalled over the region and is unlikely to move until late tomorrow. Forecasters say up to 200mm of rain is expected in the ranges north of Gisborne and about 150mm is due in northern Hawke's Bay. On Saturday, power was cut to 1,500 homes in Auckland, while large hail fell in lower Northland, causing flash-flooding in several areas. A severe hailstorm saw golf ball sized hail stones fall in Maungawai and Kaiwaka six inches thick.

INDIA - At least 80 people were killed when two packed passenger buses skidded off flooded bridges in India's southern Tamil Nadu state following heavy rains. The river was high due to unseasonal rains lashing parts of coastal Tamil Nadu. Heavy rains - caused by low-pressure in the Bay of Bengal - have been battering Tamil Nadu for the past several days, disrupting rail and road travel. The rains have caused widespread flooding in many parts of the state resulting in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in coastal districts. A coastguard helicopter was dropping food packets to marooned villagers.

THAILAND - At least six people have been killed in southern Thailand by flooding that has forced the evacuation of 1000 families. Heavy rains were expected to continue following downpours over the past two days that damaged roads and devastated fisheries and thousands of hectares of agricultural land.

EUROPE - Snowstorms lashed western Europe Saturday causing severe disruption to air, rail and road traffic in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands and cutting off power to thousands of households. Britain and France upped weather alerts after three people froze to death, and travellers were stranded in Germany on Saturday as a bitter cold snap gripped western Europe. British forecasters said the freezing temperatures were "PRETTY UNUSUAL" for November.

UNITED KINGDOM - Freezing temperatures and strong winds - caused by winds direct from the Arctic Circle - created some treacherous conditions, particularly in west Suffolk, the likes of which are not normally seen until January or February. Elsewhere in the country, the extreme weather created chaos, with blizzards stranding motorists and forcing schools to close.

SCOTLAND - The front carriage of a train carrying about 90 people derailed in Scotland on Saturday because of a landslide, blamed on heavy snow, and its driver and eight passengers were slightly injured.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
11/27 -
In 1945 - an 8.2 quake struck Iran, 4000 dead.
In 1942 - a 6.4 quake struck Turkey, 4000 dead.
In 1999 - a 7.5 quake struck Vanuatu Islands, 5 killed.

Space Weather / Solar Storms / Meteors - updated Sundays. NO NEW INFO ADDED THIS WEEK.


Friday, November 25, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/24 -

SOUTH AFRICA - What is a regular occurrence in South Africa’s deep underground mines almost turned into a disaster last week, as a 2.4 tremor shook AngloGold’s Tau Tona mine while some very influential people were inside it. Later the group heard that four miners had been seriously injured by the tremor. Tau Tona is located about 70km, southwest of Johannesburg and is one of the world’s deepest gold mines.

PAKISTAN - Pakistan’s earthquake-prone areas are unlikely to face another severe earthquake for the next 35 to 40 years, the Meteorology Office Director says. Most of the energy built up underground had been released during the October 8 earthquake and its aftershocks. The Met Office director claims that around 80 percent of the energy stored in Pakistan’s part of the fault line had been released. More energy was released in the 1,347 aftershocks after the earthquake. He said people claiming the country would face another severe earthquake within five to 10 years were wrong.

COLUMBIA - The Galeras volcano in southeastern Colombia shot fire early on Thursday in a small eruption, prompting the government to step up evacuations of about 9,000 people living nearby. "People saw a sudden blaze from the volcano that was stronger than recent activity we saw in August and September."
The volcano became active at dawn and dumped heaps of ash on the city of Pasto, 12 miles away. "It was a brief eruption of ash for 30 minutes that was not preceded by a temblor inside the volcano." "A lot of ash has fallen. We are scooping it up and putting it into plastic bags. There is a strong smell of sulfur in the air."


CYCLONE BERTIE was 1107 nmi ESE of Diego Garcia and 1770 nmi WNW of Perth, Australia.
TROPICAL STORM DELTA was 1088 nmi SW of Lajes, Azores.
The record-breaking hurricane season continued as tropical storm Delta neared hurricane strength Thursday in the central Atlantic.

PORTUGAL - Strong winds and intense rain caused damage across the region. Houses were flooded, trees fell and walls collapsed as a result of the violent storm that hit the Algarve during the early hours of last Sunday morning, with grey weather continuing into Tuesday. Those boroughs thought to have been worst affected by the FREAK CONDITIONS were Loulé, Faro, Lagoa, Portimão and Tavira. Due to the state of the sea, the harbour entrances at Faro/Olhão, Albufeira and Lagos were closed on Sunday. Homes and businesses across the Algarve were left without power on Sunday and Monday. Prior to the extreme weather conditions that affected the Algarve at the weekend, experts had been predicting that rainfall would return to a normal level, although, no doubt, they had expected it to be evenly distributed over several months. However, “the drought is not over yet, but its severity is clearly diminishing." Four to six days of considerable rainfall (more than 10 litres per square metre), reasonably distributed over the month of October, were decisive in reversing the trend that has been in existence since the end of 2004.

MASSACHUSETTS - After a mild, sunny, and drier than normal through three weeks, a weather pattern change means a stormy Thanksgiving week with some heavy rain and maybe snow. November has been 3 degrees on the warm side. An amazingly high number of mild days totaling 15 out of 21 days with maximum temperature readings between 57 and 65 degrees have been recorded with two of those days having highs of 68 and 71 degrees. That's pretty UNUSUAL. The average for high readings at this time of year is in the low to mid 50's. Significant rainfall of a half inch or more has fallen on just two days, with four other days accounting for a total of 1.86 inches or an inch a half less than normal. Sunshine, too, has been abnormally plentiful during what is expected to be a gloomy month. Things have been balancing out a quite a bit after the gloomy, record wet October.

INDIANA - While RARE for this time of year, this is the second consecutive year Hoosiers have had snowfall at Thanksgiving time. The previous Thanksgiving snow before 2004 came in 1992 when a trace fell that day. While no accumulation was expected locally, residents in Illinois awoke to 8 inches of snow, while 4 inches fell in southeastern Iowa and up to 9 inches were expected in southern Michigan. For Indiana the Old Farmer's Almanac is forecasting winter-season temperatures to be about a degree colder than normal, on average, due to a very cold December and January. The coldest temperatures, according to the publication, will occur in mid-December and mid- to late January. February will be quite mild, followed by a near-normal March. How accurate the almanac will be is anybody's guess, but it correctly called this snow and the cold weather expected to follow. The publication predicted it would be cold with snow showers the week of Nov. 22-26. The next round of snow, it reports, will come Dec. 5-7 and it will be a white Christmas with a snowstorm predicted for Dec. 19-27.

Ice probes from the Antarctic show greenhouse gas levels much higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. "CO2 is about 30% higher than at any time, and methane 130% higher than at any time; and the rates of increase are ABSOLUTELY EXCEPTIONAL: for CO2, 200 times faster than at any time in the last 650,000 years." Other research suggests that sea levels may be rising twice as fast now as in previous centuries.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1988 - a 5.9 quake struck Southern Quebec.


Thursday, November 24, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/23 -

UN tsunami early warning systems are being extended to the Mediterranean and Northeast Atlantic. Although less frequent than in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean and Northeast Atlantic region has a record of tsunamis associated with earthquakes, such as the 1908 calamity in the Sicilian port of Messina that killed 85,000 and the 1755 quake and tsunami that destroyed Lisbon, killing thousands. Planning is also underway for a warning system in the Caribbean.

SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS - A rare volcanic eruption is expanding the size of Montagu Island in the uninhabited South Sandwich Islands chain, a remote British territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean. New satellite images show that Montagu Island has grown by 20,23ha in the past month alone. A large and fast flow of lava is pouring into the sea like a large waterfall. "Red-hot lava has formed a molten river 90m wide that is moving fast, possibly several metres per second, and extending the shoreline on the north side of the island. This event is special because Montagu Island is mostly ice-covered and it's very rare that we get to make direct observations of eruptions under ice sheets." Researchers believed that volcanic activity on Montagu Island, which started in 2001, was winding down until they were alerted to the new satellite pictures showing the large, fast-moving lava flow. It is the first eruption observed on the island.

WASHINGTON - Rockfall at Mount St. Helens kicked up a dust plume Tuesday that rose above the rim of the volcano's crater, drawing attention in the region. Seismic activity has continued at low levels. Scientists say an explosive eruption, possibly dropping ash within a 10-mile radius of the crater, is possible at any time.

CYCLONE BERTIE was 1112 nmi ESE of Diego Garcia and 1791 nmi WNW of Perth, Australia.
TROPICAL STORM DELTA was 1048 nmi SW of Lajes, Azores. The official forecast calls for modest strengthening. Later Cyclone Delta is expected to move back over cooler waters and it should be losing tropical characteristics. Some of the global models show a new cyclone forming to the west of Delta and becoming the dominant system in 3-5 days.
Delta had sustained winds of about 60 mph and could briefly strengthen into the 14th hurricane of the season, but the only threat it posed was to ships at sea.

INDIA - The cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal crossed the coast yesterday much to the relief of people residing in the coastal areas. Two persons were killed due to the heavy rains in Nellore district. Train service in some areas was stopped on account of heavy rains.

FIJI - A trough of low pressure hangs over Fiji and will result in heavy rain until the weekend. People living in low lying areas are being advised to take precautions as localised flooding is possible.

CANADA - Crews across the province of New Brunswick were cleaning up after heavy rain and high winds over night caused flooding and scattered power outages. Fredericton and Saint John received the heaviest rainfall, a total of 70 mm, which flooded hundreds basements in the area and forced several road closures. The huge amount of rain over a short time, coupled with leaves in drains, caused the problems. High winds of up to 90 km/h also took a toll, leaving many people in the dark. The storm saved its full force for Nova Scotia, lashing the province with more intense winds of 100 km/h. About 125,000 customers were without power at the peak. About 25,000 homes are still in the dark

JAMAICA - Flooding associated with the heavy rainfall in the parish of Trelawny has displaced some 48 families, consisting of more than 140 persons. Flooding has been occurring in the Wakefield area of Falmouth since November 5. Waters are receding but at a very slow pace.

AUSTRALIA - More than 750 lightning strikes pierced the Sydney sky over two hours Tuesday night. A line of storms swept across the Sydney region between 8pm and midnight. While the number of lightning strikes was "not remarkable" for a Sydney storm, the majority came in the form of spectacular forked lighting. "The majority of these were ground strikes, by the look of it, and there were very few inter-cloud strikes [flashes of light between clouds]." The Bureau of Meteorology was predicting showers for the remainder of the week, with more possible storm activity on Friday and Saturday.
AUSTRALIA - An apple and cherry grower from the Orange region in central western New South Wales has lost more than 90 per cent of his crop in the severe overnight hail and rain storm. The storm affected many centers on the central tablelands with large hail stones falling in and around Orange and parts of Mudgee and Lithgow. Hail the size of large marbles fell for 15 minutes in the region, blanketing the area before it hit the Mudgee and Lithgow regions. Water flooded shops in the Orange Metro Plaza and damaged the roofs of several homes. "We've had hail storms in the past - I've been living on the property for 77 years and this would be the worst damage I've seen for a long time - we had bad storms in the mids-80s with bigger hail but not so long. It kept coming and it stripped leaves off the trees - there's a green blanket on the ground of leaves off the fruit trees here and ornamental trees are absolutely shattered."

FLORIDA - Power outages throughout Tallahassee Monday were caused by drenching rainfall followed by wind gusts as high as 44 mph - the STRONGEST IN MONTHS. Sustained winds were clocked at 36 mph Monday afternoon - STRONGER THAN DURING HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA, and just 3 mph shy of tropical-storm-force winds. That's almost gale-force power for windless Tallahassee, whose usual breezes of less than 10 mph can leave dead and dying branches accumulating until the rare strong gust sends them flying. Add to that the 2.71 inches of rain that fell Sunday and Monday in an otherwise dry November, and the suddenly soaked trees were particularly vulnerable.

U.S. - Snow falling across the Great Lakes region hampered the heaviest travel day of the year and may reach as far south as Virginia today. Cold air sweeping down from Canada picked up moisture over the relatively warm Great Lakes to produce "lake effect'' snow in the region. The storm may bring 2 inches to a foot of snow to parts of Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia, with heavier amounts in areas closest to the lakes. "The amount of snow may be UNUSUAL, in that we don't often get blizzard-type conditions. But it's really a prime time of year because the lake water is very warm.'' Blizzard conditions, with heavy snow and winds of as much as 45 miles per hour, were forecast in parts of northern Michigan near Lake Michigan last night, making travel "near impossible'' in some areas.
NEW YORK - An Alberta Clipper was projected to move into the area Wednesday night into today, bringing the coldest temperatures of the season and a light, general snowfall. Conditions will be ripe for heavy lake effect snows this afternoon into Friday in the traditional snow belt areas of southern Erie and Wyoming counties, and northern Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. "The winds are lined up perfectly so we're going to have an extreme weather event Thursday night in some places." Forecasters believe those areas could receive 1 to 2 feet before the lake effect machine stops. While the heavy snows will be limited to the usual snow belt areas, all of Western New York will feel the chill of the coldest temperatures of the season. Through the weekend, daytime highs will struggle to hit 30, while lows will stay near 20.

WALES - North Wales is bracing itself for white-out conditions with the threat of blizzards sweeping in from the Arctic circle. Snow and sleet is espected to be driven in by gales of 40-50mph, which could also disrupt Irish Sea ferry services. A strong northerly wind caused by low pressure over Norway will hit northern parts of the UK by today and move south over the following 24 hours.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1976 - a 7.3 quake struck the Northwest Iran - Russia border, 5000 killed.
In 1987 - a 6.2 quake struck Southern California, 2 killed.
In 1987 - a 6.6 quake struck Southern California.

Unusual Animal Behavior - updated Thursdays.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/22 -

The UN's emergency relief co-ordinator has called for changes in how the world responds to humanitarian disasters. The traditional method of bringing relief, where aid agencies appeal for money after disaster has struck, was simply not the best way. 2005 was the year of disaster - for relief agencies, the year began with the shocking devastation of the Asian tsunami and is ending in the cold and rubble of quake-hit north Pakistan. In between, famine in Niger and hurricanes in north and central America, and throughout it all, a constant uncertainty about which disaster would gain the sympathy of donor countries, and whether a relief operation would be properly funded. "We're over-stretched and under-funded like never before, around the globe really." The UN wants a central fund for emergency relief so it doesn't have to go round begging for money after a disaster has struck. Not all countries support giving the UN money up front. The US says it does not plan to contribute. Where there is consensus, however, is on the need to invest more in disaster prevention. Although natural disasters are evenly spread around the world, 95% of the deaths occur in developing countries. They will need support to protect themselves better.

CYCLONE BERTIE was 1097 nmi ESE of Diego Garcia and 1848 nmi NW of Perth, Australia.

In the east central Atlantic, convection has been wrapping around the center of a low pressure system and intensifying. A storm warning is in place for winds of at least 50KT with this system. The low has been gradually acquiring tropical characteristics and could become a tropical cyclone, DELTA, over the next day or so. Westerly surface winds cover a good portion of the tropical Atlantic between 30W-60W... A RARITY.

HONDURAS - still in the recovery process after hurricanes Stan, Katrina, Wilma and Beta over the past two months, since November 18 it has been lashed by tropical storm Gamma with torrential rains that have resulted in such destruction that the government has declared a national emergency.
HONDURAS - Tropical Storm Gamma killed at least 32 people in Honduras and many more are feared dead in mudslides in two remote villages. Dozens of homes may have been buried by mud after heavy rains at the villages in the eastern province of Olancho.

LOUISIANA - Cemeteries across Louisiana lost scores of occupants when hurricanes Katrina and Rita surged through graveyards, upending vaults and carrying caskets into the swamps. “These vaults are strewn about, on the sides of the road, in the swamps. One was 20 miles from the nearest cemetery." Federal workers have searched for them by land and air, driving by the swamps or flying over them in a helicopter, looking for the telltale rectangular shapes. Hauling the 4,500-pound vault back to the cemetery is no small feat. Identifying who is inside them is also often a problem.
LOUISIANA - Trapped in attics and collapsed buildings, many of the dead of New Orleans remain undiscovered nearly three months after Hurricane Katrina struck, and weeks after flood waters were pumped out of the lowest lying areas. The official door-to-door search ended October 3 with a death toll of 972. Since then, at least 107 more bodies have been found. Some by officials, some by horror-struck friends and family members, some even by insurance inspectors. Officials refuse to speculate on how many bodies could still be out there, though do expect that more will be discovered when another area of the hardest-hit Ninth Ward is reopened on December 1. More than 300 bodies remain unidentified.
LOUISIANA - Katrina Aftermath: Garbage, Horrific Smell, Rising Death Toll, Suicides, Closed Schools and Hospitals, FEMA Mismanagement. In much of New Orleans, the leafy coverage of live oaks is gone. Lingering in the sky instead is a fine grit that tastes metallic to the tongue.

VIETNAM - At least five people were killed and thousands made homeless in heavy flooding and rains in central Viet Nam on the weekend.

COLUMBIA - Severe flooding left thousands homeless in northern Colombia yesterday after the San Jorge river overflowed in San Marcos, 300km north of Bogota overflowed .

AUSTRALIA - Forecasters say UNUSUAL WEATHER PATTERNS were behind a strange sight on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of Auckland. A resident spotted a fountain of water just before midday which she says looked like a tornado - only with water. The water spout extended from the horizon up to the clouds like a big twister. A southwesterly change over the northern parts of the country is to blame. It is producing unstable clouds which is creating UNUSUAL PHENOMENA such as the water spout seen off Red Beach.

SRI LANKA - Floods caused by torrential rains in Sri Lanka have killed two and marooned thousands. All parts of the island experienced continued heavy showers since Monday night leaving several districts under several feet of water. Meteorological officials said that the UNUSUAL WEATHER CONDITION was due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal.

CANADA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - Fog has shrouded the Greater Victoria area, and is likely to continue until Thursday, grounding flights and causing police to urge slow speeds on the road. Such weather isn't unusual for a Victoria fall, but the persistence of the foggy weather is. About once every three years, intense fog comes and stays awhile.

RUSSIA - A strong gale overnight hurled three Japanese ships working for an international oil project onto the shores of Russia's Pacific island of Sakhalin. The ships, two cargo barges and a tugboat, were anchored but the gale ruptured their moorings.

HUNGRY - A 15-year-old boy and a 64-year-old man have frozen to death in harsh weather in eastern Hungary. The first winter snow fell in Hungary last week and tempartures plunged to minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions.

ALASKA - Several highways have been closed and motorists are being cautioned about driving on others because of the UNUSUAL WEATHER sweeping across the southern Yukon. Freezing rain is causing slippery conditions, even though the temperature is above normal. Even when rain is accompanied by above-average 6-degree temperatures, problems are still caused when the moisture hits the frozen ground and roadways, and then freezes. As unusual as it may be, the current warm trend across the south has not broken any records of consecutive days above zero in the Whitehorse area but has knocked off RECORDS FOR DAYTIME HIGHS. Last Wednesday’s beginning of the warm spell began with a Whitehorse daytime high of 3.8. That edged out the previous record for Nov. 16 of 3.5 set in 1979. Last Thursday’s high of 7.4 shattered the 1957 record of 3.3 and last Friday’s 6.1 tied the record set in 1971. November’s record daytime high for Whitehorse is 11.7, set in 1970. The warm weather is being brought into the Yukon on a system blowing in from the southwest and crossing over to the southeast. Temperatures in Ketza River have reached a high of 14.5 during the current warm front. The high for Thursday is forecast to hit 4. Friday will see a return to normal seasonal temperatures with the onset of a cold front.

ISRAEL - Just three weeks after dozens of residents from across Israel reported unusually loud “booms” and tremors throughout the night, residents again reported hearing loud boom-like sounds in different parts of the country Tuesday, mainly in coastal regions, claiming their homes shook as a result. Police officials confirmed people reported they heard “explosions,” but added that the source remains unknown. No unusual military activity that may have caused the “explosions” was detected, and the Seismology Institute said no earthquakes were recorded. Most of those who reported of the blasts reside in the Sharon region, in central Israel; they said the shockwaves came from the direction of the sea. Last time the Air Force said, “this is an unusual phenomenon in which cold and warm layers are alternately formed in the air, and the sound waves move like a ping pong ball between the ground and layers."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
11/23 -
In 1947 - a 6.25 quake struck Southwest Montana.
In 1977 - a 7.4 quake struck Argentina, 80 killed.
In 1980 – A 7.2 earthquake hit the Naples area in Italy, over 3000 killed and leaving 250,000 homeless.
In 1993 – Record cold was blamed for at least 34 deaths in parts of Europe and it prompted the French army to send out troops to feed the homeless in Paris.
In 1997 – Somali villagers isolated for weeks by flooding finally received aid from boats travelling down the Juba river.

Crop Failures, Food Shortages, Fish Die-Off - updated Wednesdays


Tuesday, November 22, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/21 -

Western U.S. -
3.2 Junction, UTAH
1.3, 1.4, 1.0, 1.4 Helper, UTAH
3.1 West Yellowstone, MONTANA
3.7 West Yellowstone, MONTANA
Activity in Alaska is increasing - oddly the 6.0 quake on Sunday has now been
listed as TWO 6.0 quakes right next to each other at the exact same time but at slightly different depths.
6.0 magnitude, 52.8 km deep, 93 km ( 58 mi) SSW of False Pass, ALASKA
6.0 magnitude, 40 km deep, 113 km ( 70 mi) SSW of False Pass, ALASKA

PAKISTAN - A 5.5-magnitude aftershock jolted the quake zone on Monday, the 1340th tremor to hit Pakistan since the big quake. Nearly 60 of those tremors have registered a magnitude above 5.

U.S. - If the New Madrid fault ruptures, geological and political officials have said the loss of key Midwest roads, railways, power grids and pipelines over the Mississippi likely would choke off vital supplies to distant cities for months. Such a quake also could threaten several densely populated cities, where buildings often predate modern building codes and are not reinforced. Scientists give a 7 percent to 10 percent probability on the likelihood of a New Madrid quake the size of the 1811-12 temblors (estimated at 8.0) over the next 50 years. There's a 25 percent to 40 percent probability for a smaller-but-still-damaging quake of 6.0 magnitude over the next five decades. "If an earthquake hits and you have to think for three seconds what to do, that's too long. You may have a second."

JAPAN - More than 470 families may lose their homes and six building-design firms are facing huge damages claims following a Japanese architect's admission he falsified earthquake data on at least 21 buildings. It could have been worse: a strong earthquake in the Tokyo region might have collapsed the buildings causing many deaths. Thirteen completed apartment blocks, a hotel and seven unfinished buildings in the Greater Tokyo area are known risks because architect Hidetsugu Aneha admits he was "too busy" to prepare genuine structural strength calculations. Government investigators are now looking at about 90 buildings he helped design since 2000.


CYCLONE BERTIE was 1002 nmi SSW of George Town, Malaysia.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION BOLAVEN was 131 nmi NNE of Baguio City, Philippines.
TROPICAL DEPRESSION GAMMA was 155 nmi NW of Puerto Lempira, Honduras.

SRI LANKA - Thousands of tsunami survivors in rebel-held areas of northern Sri Lanka were evacuated to higher ground Monday after lashing monsoon rains flooded their camps. Another 20,000 families, many of them living in mud shelters, had been affected by drenching rains which began pounding the north on Sunday. The monsoon rains flood this area annually and some families may have to be accommodated at schools or in makeshift shelters until January when they abate. Some of those being evacuated were being displaced for the third time - first by the war, then by the tsunami and now by the floods. Many villages have been cut off by the flooding.

SOUTH CAROLINA - A weather pattern that dragged across the Carolinas early Monday caused numerous traffic problems in Myrtle Beach and Georgetown from about three inches of rainfall in a two- to three-hour period around 7 a.m. throughout the area. This week's forecast calls for more rain and cooler temperatures as a nor'easter moves into the area.

UNITED KINGDOM - Severe wintry weather is forecast for the UK, with as much as 20cm (7.9in) of snow causing disruption in some parts by the weekend. Snow is most likely in Scotland and eastern England but south-east England, north Wales, the Midlands and Northern Ireland may also be hit from Thursday on. Snow, sleet and hail is expected with gale force icy winds and wind chill temperatures as low as -10C (14F). Snow in November is "UNUSUAL, but not unheard of". The forecast follows days of freezing conditions across the UK and warnings of hazardous driving conditions due to dense fog. The cold weather is being brought by an icy northern blast from the Arctic which will sweep south on Thursday from a low pressure system over Norway, bringing rain, sleet, hail and snow first to Scotland and then to the rest of the country. The Met Office is predicting a colder and drier than average winter for the UK with more frequent cold snaps. The big freeze follows a mild autumn with plenty of sunshine. Long-term forecasts predict that the winter months will be punctuated by a series of severe cold snaps each lasting up to a fortnight with temperatures barely rising above freezing. The sustained icy weather threatens to kill thousands and cause travel chaos. It is claimed that three million pensioners and poorer families already face a difficult choice between heating their homes and putting food on the table. Snow in November is relatively rare in most areas of the country, particularly in the South-East and coastal areas. It is most likely to fall in January and February. "We are looking at maximum temperatures of 3C and 4C and a windchill that will bring temperatures down to between minus 5C and minus 10C. That's pretty impressive windchill for November." "Last winter, deaths amongst older people as a result of cold-related illnesses increased by 35 per cent in just one year, the highest for five years. This is a shocking increase and, unless urgent action is taken by the Government, the scandal will persist and this winter could see another unacceptable death toll." Whatever happens over the next couple of months, experts say they can look forward to a sizzling summer - they are predicting temperatures above 40c in the Mediterranean next year.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
11/22 -
In 1995 - a 7.3 quake struck Egypt, 8 killed.

Drought, Heat, Water Shortages, Wildfires - updated Tuesdays.


Monday, November 21, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/20 -
23 moderate aftershocks so far.

PAKISTAN - Quake survivors are 'prepared' for winter. The commander of Australia's troops in earthquake-devastated Pakistan has played down concerns of a second wave of deaths during the country's bitterly cold winter. "The people here are being well looked after, they are getting shelter and food, I'm sure in anyone's views it is never enough, but they are surviving and getting support... At the moment shelters and blankets are literally stacked up waiting for people to come if the people need it, so I don't think that's a big concern. And over time, granted it is going to be exceptionally cold and we're getting a bit of experience of that now, but they seem to be well prepared to cover themselves over the winter period."
PAKISTAN - The UN has warned that waste and debris left in the wake of the October 8 South Asia earthquake could become toxic and seriously endanger survivors' health. Pakistan's environment minister also said reforestation was essential to prevent more deadly landslides. It is essential to manage properly the "unprecedented large quantities of debris and waste". "Otherwise a lot of the waste can turn toxic, can degenerate into toxic material, thereby posing serious challenges to health." The waste includes toxic medical waste, rubble and "aid waste" such as bottles and cardboard boxes. These, along with leakages from pesticide and petrol stores, could contaminate the water sources. "It was the landslides which wiped villages off the face of the Earth. Areas where there were forests, landslides did not occur. Where the forests were depleted, whole mountains have just vanished."


Tropical Storm Gamma weakened Sunday into a tropical depression after it deluged the Central American coast, killing 12 people - nine in Honduras and three in Belize. In Honduras 15 people were missing from floods and mudslides. The storm damaged or destroyed 300 homes and other buildings while forcing 11,307 people from their dwellings. "The damage is terrible along all the northern coast of the country.'' Rescuers were still searching for five Belizean fishermen. Their 20-foot vessel was capsized by a large wave. Earlier forecasts showed Gamma following a course similar to the one taken by Hurricane Wilma, which barreled across south Florida on Oct. 24, but it was now expected to skirt Florida.

FLORIDA - South Florida isn't altogether in the clear. The region still could see an inch or more rain Sunday night and Monday from the same cold front that initially was to shove Gamma in their direction. As the front clashes with the warm, moist air currently over Florida, thunderstorms and squally weather are forecast to develop. Emergency-management officials are concerned that roofs weakened by Hurricane Wilma will leak or collapse if the weather turns squally. Gamma remained a serious flooding threat to Cuba, as the rare late-November storm was predicted to cut across the nation's mid-section on Monday and produce up to 15 inches of rain. It also could swamp the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.

THAILAND - Although floodwaters receded in most areas of Prachuap Khiri Khan province yesterday, the Meteorological Department warned eight lower central and southern provinces to be prepared for new flash-flooding. The department also warned that waves in the Gulf of Thailand are expected to reach two to three metres high today. Owners of small boats are advised to remain on shore until tomorrow. At its height on Saturday the flash-flood affected about 6,000 households in the province. More than 3,200 hectares of farmland were inundated. Five people were reported dead and two are missing. Meanwhile, many areas in the Tha Sae and Pathiu districts of Chumphon province remain under floodwater up to one metre deep. 2,400 households in the two districts were affected. More than 200mm of rain on Friday brought the flash-flood sweeping down from the Ta Nao-sri mountains. The Klong Loy reservoir also overflowed to inundate several districts of Prachuap Khiri Khan.

ALASKA - A storm that struck Southcentral Alaska on Saturday showed "UNUSUAL" patterns. About 3:45 p.m., snow was lightly falling at the Eagle River Nature Center, the ranger station near Eklutna Lake and park headquarters at Potter Marsh. Along the Glenn Highway near Eagle River, however, the snow at that moment was dropping heavily and visibility was only 50 feet. The storm through the day laid its heavy, wet blanket unevenly. At the National Weather Service's Anchorage Forecast Office on Sand Lake Road, it dropped an inch and a half. But it deposited 6 inches on the Hillside and about the same in Eagle River. Up north, the storm put down a foot of fresh snow at Petersville near Trapper Creek. Saturday's storm was actually the other half of Friday's rainstorm. Both were caused by the same low-pressure system that was moving eastward nearby. "We were on the leading edge yesterday, so we got warm air from the Gulf (of Alaska) pushed ahead of the system. Now we're on the back side of the low, so we're getting a flow that's still southerly, but it's pulling cold air."

CALIFORNIA - This winter the west coast can expect neutral weather. "Be prepared for some storminess but also be prepared for some nice weather too during the course of your winter." People should not expect an El Nino or a La Nina but if the waters of the tropical Pacific continue to cool like they have been doing over the past several months a La Nina could develop in 2007. "It could happen. The basin temperatures are actually below average. This is still within the neutral range but we've got to keep our eyes open to a possible La Nina development." A La Nina pattern means unpredictable weather, while warmer temperatures in the water cause an El Nino impact which creates much more rain for California.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1977 – An estimated 3000 people perished in a cyclone that struck south-eastern India. Entire villages were submerged by tidal waves.
In 1997 - a 6.1 quake struck the India-Bangladesh Border Region, twenty-three people killed.

Disease - updated Mondays


Sunday, November 20, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/19 -

11/18 -

INDIA - A moderate intensity earthquake, measuring 5.1 on the Richter Scale, jolted the Indo-Mayanmar border late on Friday night. This is second quake within a week to hit the region which lies on the maximum seismic activity zone and has witnessed big temblors in the past.

MASSACHUSETTS - A minor but rare earthquake near Plymouth rattled residents, causing no damage or injuries but confounding many who said they had never felt a tremor before. The quake struck about 12:40 p.m. and measured 2.5 on the Richter scale. The tremor was at least the 15th earthquake to occur this year in New England, but the first in more than a decade near Plymouth. The brief temblor confused residents, several of whom feared an explosion had occurred. The precise cause of New England earthquakes is a developing subject of study for geologists. Unlike earthquakes in California, tremors across New England bear little relationship to established fault lines, making them difficult to anticipate.


CYCLONE BERTIE was 1319 nmi SSW of Bangkok, Thailand.

TROPICAL STORM BOLAVEN struck the Philippines as a tropical storm at about 00:00 GMT this morning. Bolaven brought 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 83 km/hr (51 mph). Wind gusts in the area may have been considerably higher.

TROPICAL STORM GAMMA - the 24th of the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic season, caused floods and landslides in Honduras and has left at least three people dead. Belize is also on alert. Gamma is drifting erratically northward. Forecasters think Gamma may swing north-east and away from Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. The storm was then expected to head for Florida, arriving early next week, but current forecasts show it staying more southward and not strengthening. Forecasters say 6-15 inches (15-38 cm) of rain is possible. A small plane disappeared in Belize and five fishermen were missing after their boat capsized. In Honduras, the situation was "very worrying" in the north. "More than 5,000 people have had to be evacuated and roads and bridges have been damaged or destroyed leaving several cities and towns isolated."
CUBA - TROPICAL STORM GAMMA will lash western Cuba, local experts warned. "Pay attention to the development of the coming weather system," because "the UNUSUAL STORM comes with a cold front. What we will have is a weather system alongside a cold front, which will be the first cold of the winter season." They predicted "heavy rains, intense at times, but not long-lasting, along with winds of up to 90 kilometres per hour in the western part of the country," overnight Sunday and lasting until mid-day Monday. The Atlantic tropical season, which ends on November 30, has been the MOST ACTIVE EVER RECORDED, with 13 hurricanes.

VIETNAM - A cold air mass in central Vietnam has brought heavy rains causing rivers to rise sharply in the last three days.

SPAIN - The past week has been UNUSUAL, to say the least, as far as the weather was concerned. A glance at the weather map showed cloudy skies all over Spain, with heavy rain just about everywhere and snow on high ground. The use of chains was obligatory in mountain passes in 14 regions, which were officially ‘on alert,’ and the traffic accident rate shot up as fatal accidents were reported throughout the peninsula. Most Spaniards cannot remember a week of such bad weather in mid-November. Temperatures are generally below ten degrees in the northern half of the peninsula. While there was heavy snowfall in the interior of the country, the Mediterranean regions suffered torrential rain. High wind gusts brought temperatures down even further all over the province.

WALES - Predictions as long ago as the summer, based on pressure systems, indicated there was a two in three chance of this winter being colder than usual. Temperatures this weekend in many inland parts of Wales are forecast to plummet to between -3C and -7C. During the day all temperatures across the nation, even on the traditionally warmer coast, will struggle to beat 9C. "We have predicted a colder than average winter, and what we are experiencing now could be the start of it. There is certainly no sign of things warming up at the moment." "There is a high pressure system over the country, which is currently blocking off weather fronts, and keeping them in the Atlantic. Our forecasts up to next Thursday indicate that is not going to change. Temperatures are going to remain low, and the top temperatures in Wales are not likely to get into double figures."

NORTH CAROLINA - A freeze watch was in effect for the area through Saturday morning, after a string of warm weather. It is UNUSUAL to have such a long period of warm weather in November but when the freeze is over, Beaufort can expect to see a pattern of cool weather for at least a week.

TEXAS - The cold front that roared through East Texas this week has sent the mercury dipping into the low 30s at nights and mild 50s during the day. "It was NOT NORMAL to see temperatures in the 80s for so long into November." The month of December should see average temperatures of about 49 degrees Fahrenheit — the maximum being in the high 50s, and the minimum being in the high 30s.

MICHIGAN - More than 5,000 Consumers Power customers lost power, and emergency crews have been busy since the wind started blowing late last Saturday from the west and southwest. Reports of downed trees and power line damage continued to fill the airwaves Wednesday morning, as the area was again hit with high winds. “This is UNUSUAL. We very rarely issue land-based high wind warnings such as have been issued this week.” November is favorable to high winds because the Great Lakes are still warm, but very cold air can come down from Canada. “That clash can lead to the development of some really strong storm systems.”

WEST VIRGINIA - Weather forecasters don't know what to expect this winter. According to folklore, there are dozens of ways to tell whether winter will be warm or cold, but so far this year, the results are inconclusive. The woolly worms say the season should be harsh, but the yellow jackets made plans for a mild winter. The cows may have offered a clue this week while they basked in the sun, exhibiting signs of a difficult winter season ahead. “They've been out there, just laying around, baking up the sun these last few days. That usually means it's going to be bad weather.” But the hornets couldn't make up their minds, building nests both high and low. Weatherlore says that if the breast bone of a Thanksgiving goose or turkey is red or purple, the winter will be cold and stormy. If only a few spots of color are visible, the winter should be mild. Other possible weatherlore indicators are the bushiness of a squirrel's tail, the thickness of corn husks or the toughness of apple skins, and many believe the number of fogs in August predicts the number of deep snows on the way in winter. The National Weather Service was no more definitive - forecasted weather patterns over the next 90 days gave the region a "50-50 chance” of being either warmer and dryer than normal, or colder and wetter than usual. The 2006 Farmers' Almanac warns residents to be prepared for almost anything.

NEW YORK - Meteorologists have said that the weather may be very unpredictable for the next few months, especially with the summer weather that was experienced in the northeast. Early last week, as many area residents were still cleaning up debris from the mid-October snowfall, summer-like weather returned to the area.

TENNESSEE - The long-range winter outlook was just released Thursday, and experts say it won’t be full of as many cold nights as there usually are. The official winter forecast predicts that from December to February temperatures in Tennessee will actually be above normal. “The only problem we see is if we get serious rain events in January. We start getting into a flooding problem and we could see schools close because of high water rather than because of snow.” Until then, forecasters say those who hate the cold should just bundle up and wait. “You'll have brief periods of cold, maybe even snow, but then it's gone and that's it.”

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1969 - a 4.6 quake struck southern West Virginia 4.6. The largest historical earthquake in West Virginia.
1989 - a 5.2 quake struck Sichuan Province, China, four people killed.
In 1989 - a 5.7 quake struck Southern Iran, 3 killed.

Space Weather / Solar Storms / Meteors - updated Sundays.
Unusually High Tides / Freak Waves - updated Sundays.


Friday, November 18, 2005 -
NO updates on Saturdays, unless something huge happens.
Largest quakes yesterday -
11/18 -

Small quakes in the eastern U.S. the last two days -
2.5 Plymouth, MASS.
2.0 Ridgely, TENN.
1.5 Madisonville, TENN
1.5 Chateaugay, NY
1.8 Marston, MISSOURI

CHILE - A strong 6.9 earthquake rocked northern Chile and parts of Bolivia on Thursday, sending residents fleeing out of buildings and temporarily knocking out telephones and electricity. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. The quake struck at 4:26 p.m. in the Andes mountains along the border between the two countries. Panic was widespread and phone and power lines were cut.

CALIFORNIA - A small 3.5 earthquake hit about 80 miles north of San Francisco early Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The temblor struck at 12:55 a.m. in Lake County. The quake struck near The Geysers, which is close to a volcanic field where subterranean steam builds up and helps make the area seismically active.

INDONESIA - Monitoring land movements is important to see whether the collapsed land masses will reverse or continue to sink further, which would alter the area's landscape. New land masses have appeared in the north-west of the Andaman Islands. "Between landfall and north Andaman island, one can see new land masses about 100 sq metres in size." But in the south-eastern Nicobar and Nancowry group of islands, land had sunk by 90cm to 1.5m resulting in the coral reefs and mangroves almost completely disappearing. "Some areas of the Port Blair land mass had caved in after the tsunami by about 90cm and now it has reversed back by another 10cm."

INDIA - Eleven months after last December's tsunami wreaked havoc, a detailed impact assessment report says that violation of guidelines regulating building construction along the sea coasts was responsible for the large number of deaths and damage to property in India. The report, which has a separate assessment on the havoc wrecked on the islands of Andaman and Nicobar, says mangrove and coral reefs have been severely affected impacting fishing activity on the islands. Touching on the post-tsunami impact on the tribal populations of the islands, some of which were entirely wiped out by the deadly waves, the "most imperative task now is that the displaced people be taken back to their own part of the island".

Typhoon BOLAVEN was 438 nmi E of Manila, Philippines.

The remnants of tropical depression 27 are over the NW Caribbean and they are combining with another system. Conditions appear favorable for tropical development from either sytem during the next day or so. Even if tropical development does not occur, heavy rains and strong thuderstorms could produce flash floods and mudslides over parts of Nicaragua and Honduras.

COLUMBIA - Hundreds of Colombians were affected by flooding on Tuesday after heavy rains caused two rivers in the north eastern part of the country to overflow.

U.S. - The tornadoes that roared across the Midwest and parts of the South late Tuesday and early Wednesday are part of an UNUSUAL WAVE OF TWISTERS striking late in the year. What sets the latest outbreak apart from others — including one in November 2002 that spun off 82 tornadoes from Texas to Ohio — is that it quickly followed two others. The rapid-fire outbreaks occurred because the first two cold fronts weren't vigorous enough to uproot warm weather entrenched in the Midwest and South. "The most UNUSUAL part of this three-tornado situation this November is that we've had not just one of these cold-front systems but three. The first two didn't have enough power to drive to the Gulf of Mexico." One November front is usually enough to kick the warm air out of the country, cool the waters of the Gulf and signal the onset of winter. The previous two fronts lacked that kind of punch, which allowed warm air to remain in the Gulf states and eventually to creep back north. The latest front buried northern Wisconsin in 8 inches of snow. It also sent temperatures plummeting along the East Coast: Washington had highs in the mid-70s on Wednesday. It reached 45° there Thursday. More severe weather is possible in the next several weeks. A cold front touched off severe weather on the Gulf Coast last December.

AUSTRALIA - Late afternoon on Monday November 14, at the remote Indigenous community of Warburton, an almighty storm hit. It brought 50 millimetres of rain in an hour and winds of up to 172 kilometres an hour, or 93 knots. "That's the SECOND HIGHEST GUST RECORDED in WA, outside of winds associated with a tropical cyclone." The highest (recorded gust) was 193 kilometres an hour at Forrest Aerodrome, and that was back in November 1959." So, it was a RARE WIND indeed. As well as the strong winds, the town saw 50 millimetres of rain too, which seems a little ODD for a desert setting. 49 of that (50 millimetres) fell in about half an hour.

CANADA - At least two families have been evacuated from the shores of Lake Winnipeg after several dikes built this fall by the Manitoba government failed to stop frigid water from spraying onto their houses, leaving them coated with thick ice. Several other lakefront properties are at risk of severe damage. UNUSUALLY HIGH WINDS whipped up the spray from the lake, whose levels were two metres higher than usual as a result of a wet summer, aggravated by this week's major snowstorm in southern Manitoba. Freezing temperatures turned the blowing spray into a force of destruction on the west side of the lake Wednesday. The result was eerie-looking ice statues along the shore as well as damage to nearby houses. "In many places, these dikes are not even connected. There are many gaps. The dikes apparently are dissolving like sugar after a rain."

MICHIGAN - Winter arrived with a bang Wednesday, surprising West Michigan with iced and snowy roads. The way-below-freezing temperatures and warm Lake Michigan combined to cause misery for area drivers and dump a RECORD 8.4 inches of snow on Grand Rapids. "It's UNUSUAL to get so much snow in the first snowfall of the year." A blast of cold air and prolonged strong winds off an UNUSUALLY WARM Lake Michigan cranked up the lake-effect snow machine to full power. Four days after Muskegon County basked in 65-degree temperatures, up to 3 inches of snow blanketed the area. Temperatures plunged to 24 degrees overnight. The winter forecast predicts above-average lake-effect snowfalls this winter. The National Weather Service is predicting a chance for snow every day through next Wednesday.


Thursday, November 17, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/16 -

The first stage in the installation of a tsunami early-warning system has gotten underway off the coast of Indonesia. After eight months of designing, testing and surveying, the first two early-warning buoys are ready. There is almost universal agreement that the Sumatran fault line is still unstable and therefore another big earthquake is likely. Nobody knows when, but with luck, the next time there should be a better warning system and that could save thousands of lives.

A Landslide Did Not Cause the December 26 Asian Tsunami - New geological evidence shows that seafloor uplift from the 9.2 magnitude Great Sumatra earthquake - not a giant underwater landslide as previously thought - caused the devastating December 26, 2004, Asian tsunami. This information is revealed in Discovery Channel's original special, AMERICA'S TSUNAMI: ARE WE NEXT?, which premieres in the U.S. on Sunday, December 18, at 9 PM (ET/PT). The next potential tsunami target is the northwest region of the United States (northern California and coastal areas of Oregon and Washington) because its fault lines are a mirror image of those in the Indian Ocean subduction zone, with potential waves as high as 90 feet.

OREGON - Waldport's three tsunami warning sirens went off Friday and were heard all over town for about three minutes, starting at approximately 12:08 p.m. There was no tsunami warning given by the federal Tsunami Warning Center, and no one knows just why or how the sirens were activated. Only a few people treated the siren as a signal to evacuate; many more either called city hall or the fire department to inquire what was happening, or ignored the sirens' loud warning sound entirely. The sirens went off at virtually the same time they do on Mondays during their regular testing, but they stayed on for about three minutes, while the normal test is for 30 seconds.

1 in the NW PACIFIC -
TYPHOON BOLAVEN was 346 nmi ENE of Cebu City, Philippines.

1 in the ATLANTIC -
Tropical depression 27 was 246 nmi SSW of Port Au Prince, Haiti, but has lost its closed circulation.

U.S. - 35 tornadoes ripped through the Midwest, part of a huge line of thunderstorms that destroyed homes and killed at least two people. A cold front moving rapidly east collided with warm, unstable air from the south on Tuesday to produce the thunderstorms that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, spawning funnel clouds and tornadoes in parts of Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Tennessee. It was the third outbreak of twisters this month. A tornado on Nov. 6 killed 23 people in southern Indiana, and nine tornadoes struck Iowa on Saturday.

OKLAHOMA - High winds Tuesday damaged buildings and knocked down power lines. “It’s usually windy in Oklahoma, but this is somewhat UNUSUAL.” Typically strong winds don’t cover such a wide area. Texas, Kansas and Arkansas all were all enduring unusually strong winds as well.

AUSTRALIA - Cobar in New South Wales had maximum temperatures which soared to very summer-like 40 degree celsius mid-week and were quickly followed by an UNSEASONAL cold change which dropped the mercury to just 25 degrees celsius on Friday.

CANADA - STRANGE WEATHER in Toronto is being caused by a warm front passing through the region. It boosted temperatures to an UNSEASONABLE high of 15 degrees Celsius early Wednesday. However, temperatures dropped later in the morning as an approaching cold front started to move the warm air out of the way. So far, November has been a month of strange and intense weather in Toronto and around The Golden Horseshoe.

NEW YORK - It was a day of extremes on the 16th. A record high of 70 degrees was set in the morning. Then temperatures were expected to slide dramatically, hitting the upper 40s by the afternoon and 33 degrees overnight. The thermometer hit 70 degrees at 6 a.m. at the Greater Rochester International Airport. It BROKE A RECORD of 69 degrees set in 1933. The normal high for this time of year is 47 degrees.

CANADA - Heavy snowfall and strong winds pummelled northwestern Ontario Wednesday, as part of a winter blast that sparked weather warnings in many areas of the country. The same weather system was behind the blizzard that hit Saskatchewan and Manitoba on Monday and Tuesday, causing at least four deaths and shutting down schools, businesses, roads and airports. More snow and freezing rain was predicted for northern Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and New Brunswick. Meanwhile, southern Ontario was being buffeted by wind gusts of more than 70 km/h in some areas while temperatures plummeted. Earlier Wednesday, temperatures dipped to nearly –30 in parts of southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. "It's quite an intense system and it's very wet, so most of the snow that's out there is very heavy."
In Toronto , heavy weather over the next few days could cause flooding in the city's river systems and it could be hit with freezing rain, high winds and severe thunderstorms. Head dams located on both the Don and Humber Rivers are prone to flooding. This can cause "quick moving water that circulates in a motion," which can be "very dangerous." Forecasts also included winds gusting from 60 to 90 kilometres an hour.

MONTANA - A STRANGE WEATHER SYSTEM was recorded at Glacier Park International Airport, where it was 34 degrees at 8 p.m. Sunday. It dropped to 30 degrees by 1 a.m., but then warmed during the next two nighttime hours to 34 degrees. Drivers encountered snow, freezing rain and rain for the first time this season, causing traffic accidents across the valley. There was “a mix of everything. ” A “warm push” heralded the arrival of a cold front Sunday night. The temperatures didn’t mix at first, making pockets of freezing rain that turned to snow and rain in some areas and left others dry.

CALIFORNIA - A strong high-pressure system parked over the state brought RECORD-BREAKING TEMPERATURES to the the Bay Area and gusts up to 80 mph in the hills. San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa and San Jose all saw records tumble Tuesday, with San Francisco's 79 degrees topping by one degree a record for that date that had stood since Prohibition. San Rafael's 75 tied a record that has been unbroken since Grover Cleveland was president — 1895. And with the heat came wind. Seventy-seven mph atop Mt. Diablo. And power outages after trees toppled into wires. "This is a REALLY STRANGE PATTERN. It's almost like we have our October-type weather here now in the middle of November." They don't expect winter back anytime soon. High pressure will keep even the most resolute rain cloud at bay for at least a week. "This high doesn't even budge."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1938 - a 7.3 quake struck the Alaska Peninsula.
In 1987 - a 7.2 quake struck the Gulf of Alaska.

Unusual Animal Behavior - updated Thursdays.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/15 -

COLUMBIA - The Colombian government on Tuesday asked 9,000 people living near the Galeras volcano in the southeast province of Narino to evacuate after scientists said it could erupt soon.


1 in the NW PACIFIC -
Tropical storm 24W was 459 nmi ENE of Cebu City, Philippines.
Philippines residents in Samar are bracing for more rainfall today as typhoon “Pepeng” slowly but surely continues on its path towards the province.

1 in the ATLANTIC -
Tropical depression 27 was 206 nmi SSE of Barahona, Dominican Republic. The depression has almost lost its closed circulation and could dissipate today. However, should the depression maintain its circulation, conditions are expected to become more favorable for development in another day or two.
The tropical depression would be named Tropical Storm Gama if it strengthens. The tropical depression formed Sunday and was expected to be south of Jamaica by the end of the week - over Caribbean waters still warm enough to feed a major hurricane. On Monday rivers overflowed in St. Vincent and two men were feared dead after disappearing in a mudslide. Dangerous rip currents and up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain were possible across the Windward Islands, the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Flooding and landslides are blocking several roads in Jamaica. If the system becomes a tropical storm - which will happen if its maximum sustained winds reach 39 mph (59 kph) - it would become the 24th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, extending this year's record. The previous record of 21 named storms had stood since 1933.

NORTHERN EUROPE - At least two people were killed and tens of thousands of homes were left in the dark as a powerful storm thrashed northern Europe on Tuesday for the second day running. The strong winds and heavy rains that ripped across Norway on Monday, causing flooding and numerous landslides, pushed into Sweden overnight. In central Sweden heavy snowfall and icy roads were expected. Further east, Finland was hit by the storm in the wee hours Tuesday with winds of up to 25 meters per second (82 feet per second) and heavy rainfall in the south. In Norway, in the south of the country, about 40 roads were still blocked by landslides and the train connection between the country's two largest cities, Oslo and Bergen, remained closed as workers removed trees and boulders blocking the tracks.

ENGLAND - FREAK WEATHER conditions hit the Honister Slate Mine in Borrowdale on Friday. The tourist attraction had to be shut down for safety reasons after being hit by what the owners described as a “mini tornado.” "I witnessed a mini tornado that picked up slabs of rocks and hurled them up to 100ft into the air.”

SOUTH AFRICA - Two people were injured during a hail storm that hit Motale in northern Limpopo. Hundreds of people were left homeless when the storm hit the poverty stricken area on Monday evening. Houses and infrastructure were damaged in about 10 villages near the border of Zimbabwe. The roofs of some houses were blown off while other buildings collapsed.

AUSTRALIA - A FREAK STORM in the central desert community of Warburton in Western Australia has caused widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure. Winds exceeding 170 kilometres an hour blew through the town Monday afternoon bringing with it more than 50 millimetres of rain and huge electrical storms. Eyewitnesses say electricity lines have been cut, trees uprooted and roofs ripped off buildings.

CANADA - Monday Manitoba was being walloped by its first major snowstorm of the season, as a blizzard moves east after whiting out the Trans-Canada Highway throughout Saskatchewan.

U.S. - The dramatic clash of seasons will continue this week over the nation. Cold air from Canada is continuing its invasion of the United States, which has been held tightly in the grips of a mild to warm subtropical air mass that has stubbornly held its ground. These Canadian air masses may be early sentries, scouting ahead of a more frigid Siberian-origin air mass lurking in the wings for later this month or into December.

ILLINOIS - Funnel clouds were reported Tuesday in southern Illinois, where heavy rains also caused high waters that swept across roads and lapped up against the sides of some homes. Up to 10 inches of rain fell from about midnight to the middle of the day, with more rain in the forecast.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
11/16 -
In 1982 - a 5.6 quake struck Albania, one killed.
In 1983 - a 6.7 quake struck Hawaii, total damage estimated at 6 to 6.5 million dollars.

Crop Failures, Food Shortages, Fish Die-Off - updated Wednesdays


Tuesday, November 15, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/14 -

JAPAN - a small tsunami struck coastal areas about 200 miles from the epicenter of the 6.9 quake in northern Japan. The quake struck at 6:39 a.m. (4:39 p.m. Monday EST), and was centered just below the ocean bottom off the east coast of Japan's main island of Honshu, 330 miles east of Tokyo. It shook buildings across a wide area across northern and eastern Honshu, including Tokyo, and Hokkaido. The quake hit at a depth of about 18 miles. Small tsunami waves measuring 12 and 20 inches hit the coastal city of Ofunato and smaller waves hit at least four other towns.

Scientists at the University of Utah estimate there is a one in four chance that a major earthquake will rock the Wasatch fault in the state in the next 40 years, with the Capitol among the buildings most in jeopardy. Similarly, seismologists in Washington state have said that the Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated highway, which suffered severe cracking in an earthquake several years ago, will not survive a major quake, and efforts are under way to replace it with a tunnel. Officials in California worry about the collapse of aging levees in the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, which might allow surging seawater to contaminate much of the state's drinking water supply. In Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, there is the recurring danger of a volcanic eruption at Yellowstone National Park, where the caldera is classified as a "high threat" by the United States Geological Survey. In Florida, attention has turned anew to cleaning up Lake Okeechobee, which sends polluted water into nearby rivers during heavy rains and floods.

Tropical storm 24W was 343 nmi E of Cebu City, Philippines.
Tropical depression 27 was 231 nmi S of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Could become a tropical storm today and a hurricane by the end of the week. (or it could dissipate.)

IOWA - in the past 54 years, 23 tornadoes have been reported in Iowa in November. Two dates accounted for more than half of those twisters: Nine were on Nov. 9, 1975, and eight on Nov. 15, 1988. Until this year, there were 11 injuries but no deaths from November twisters. When it comes to weather odds, Iowans are more likely to be shoveling their driveways in mid-November than running for basements and storm shelters. The same weather elements came together Saturday evening in Iowa and a week ago in Indiana and Kentucky to create an atmospheric stew that spawned tornadoes. In Iowa, some of the twisters' winds reached around 150 mph, at the high end of the F2 rating on the Fujita scale. UNSEASONABLY WARM WEATHER generally spawns the late-fall tornadoes. Saturday, the day the storm hit, the high was 68 degrees. The warm temperatures combined with wind shear, or a shift in wind speed and direction. Also a factor was warm, moist air coming from the south; November usually has cool and dry air. Wind shear forced the warmer air to rise, creating various small storms. As those storms continued to rise, they began to rotate and became the tornadoes that caused damage in several central Iowa towns. in its history, Iowa has experienced tornadoes in every month. A tornado outbreak Jan. 26, 1967, resulted in fatalities. Global warming, or any other climate change, is an unlikely cause for the storms. "When it comes to global warming, globally, temperatures are one degree Fahrenheit warmer than they were 100 years ago. That simply wouldn't make that much of a difference. And in Iowa, there's less change than that."

NORWAY - Heavy rainfall in western Norway triggered landslides on Monday, including one that swept away seven people working on a house. Rescuers were searching for one missing worker, while the other six were found with minor injuries in Bergen, the main city on Norway's west coast. The west coast of Norway has been hit by massive amounts of rain, and flooding and landslides have been plentiful throughout the region, with yet more rain predicted by meteorologists. The rains caused problems all over western Norway, stopping trains on the Bergen Line, closing roads and forcing the evacuation of at least 13 other houses threatened by landslides. "We are used to rain, but this was intense." As much as seven inches could fall in some areas during the storm, several times the normal amounts, through Monday.

AUSTRALIA - HAIL up to 3cm wide fell on parts of southeast Queensland today as a string of severe thunderstorms spread across the state.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1877 - a 5.1 quake struck eastern Nebraska.

Drought, Heat, Water Shortages, Wildfires - updated Tuesdays.


Monday, November 14, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/13 -

The odds against an ocean-wide tsunami in the next 70 years are only two to one, an expert has said. The devastating event would be caused by a submarine earthquake - like last year's in the Indian Ocean - and based on one of a number of fault lines. "The odds on another tsunami are probably even shorter than two to one, because we had one in Chile in 1960, Alaska in 1964 and Sumatra last year, so that's three in 44 years." The chances of an earthquake with worldwide economic effects, most likely based in Tokyo, are only three to one. The last major one in Tokyo was in 1923, which killed 200,000. The next one there is expected to kill 60,000 people, and cost somewhere up to US $3.3 trillion. Other odds include a climate-altering volcanic eruption at 14 to one, an ocean-wide megatsunami due to an ocean island or submarine landslide (most likely at La Palma in the Canary Islands) at 143 to one, and an asteroid impact (larger than one kilometre) at 8,570 to one.


Tropical depression 24W was 322 nmi ESE of Cebu City, Philippines.

Tropical depression 27 was 116 nmi SW of Fort de France, Martinique. THE DEPRESSION IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAIN ACCUMULATIONS OF 5 TO 8 INCHES OVER THE WINDWARD ISLANDS...AND 3 TO 5 INCHES OVER THE LEEWARD ISLANDS... PUERTO RICO... AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS. The system is still in the formative stage, but some models have it eventually strengthening into a hurricane.

MALAYSIA - Sunday a landslide occurred at Jalan Paya Terubong in Penang following several hours of downpour. Four boulders, one half the size of a Perodua Kancil (a car), were brought down the hillslope together with mud.

FIJI - The Nadi Weather office has warned that continuous heavy rain could cause flash flooding in low lying areas of Northern and Eastern parts of the main islands. Forecasters say a trough of low pressure remains slowly moving over the Fiji group where associated cloud and rain will affect the Lau and the Lomaiviti group. The weather pattern was expected to move East late on Sunday.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
11/14 -
In 1963 – A new island called Surtsey was created off the Icelandic coast by an undersea volcanic eruption.
In 1970 – A cyclone and giant waves devastated the southern coast of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and islands in Bay of Bengal, with a death toll estimated at 300,000.
In 1979 – An earthquake measuring 5.6 on Richter scale hit villages in Khorasan province in eastern Iran, killing at least 385.
In 1986 - a 7.8 quake struck Taiwan, 15 killed.
In 1994 – Tropical Storm Gordon killed at least 829 people in Haiti.
In 1994 - a 7.1 quake struck Mindoro, Philippine Islands, at least 78 killed, local tsunami generated.

Disease - updated Mondays


Sunday, November 13, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
11/12 -
11/11 -

PAKISTAN - Bed space had begun to open up in Lahore hospitals, as those with trauma injuries from the quake shifted out to camps or to the homes of relatives. Now, the situation is once more grim. At hospitals closest to the disaster-hit areas, in Abbotabad, Murree, Muzaffarabad and elsewhere – from where more and more patients are being sent to Lahore - doctors state "a new crisis has begun". This time, patients are coming in not with gaping open wounds, gangrene or broken limbs, but with acute diarrhoea, cholera, measles, skin diseases and other infectious illnesses. Rain, that began Thursday, has made conditions at emergency camps still worse. Forecasts of more wet weather ahead have added to the fears of an epidemic.

KASHMIR - Warning that Kashmir could soon turn into an "icy graveyard" for quake survivors, with more casualties than in the Indonesian tsunami, noted author Salman Rushdie appealed for urgent aid from the West, saying failure to prevent the "greatest natural calamity" would be matter of "shame" for the world community. "We may be looking at the greatest natural calamity in human history. But in this case we have the power to avert it."

CALIFORNIA - Traffic has gotten so bad along the eastern rim of Los Angeles' ever-expanding suburban ring that regional planners are seriously considering the once unthinkable - an 11-mile tunnel under a mountain range in earthquake country. The proposal calls for the second-longest road tunnel in the world, a new path between sprawling inland suburbs and Orange County, at a cost up to $9 billion and it could take 25 years to complete.

COLUMBIA - The Galeras volcano could have an eruption at any moment - there is a high probability of eruption in the next 72 hours. Galeras volcano has registered a level two activity in a scale of 1 to 4, which means that an eruption is likely to happen in days or weeks. "Scientific organizations in the US have confirmed the probability and that some measurements in the Galeras "have been guaranteed" to produce this phenomenon."

INDIA - The eruption of hot fumes near Ravana village in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh could be associated with the movement of weak planes or tectonic lines, a team of experts said. Panic had gripped the people of the village following the eruption of hot fumes from the cracks of the area of the soil, which the local media attributed to volcanic activity. Landslides have been taking place in 24 hectares of land to the south of Ravana village for the last two to three years, but it was only after the October eight Pakistan earthquake that the villagers noticed hot fumes. The emerging gas was sulphurous in odour and non-combustible and was coming out through the crevasses in the middle portion of the sliding mass. The team suggested that there was no immediate danger to any of the nearby habitations and the village.

No current tropical cyclones.
BARBADOS - The Barbados Met Office is predicting heavy flooding here and in the rest of the eastern Caribbean this weekend. The showers are due to a large amount of moisture in the area and will be followed by a tropical wave.

AUSTRALIA - A freak lightning strike has claimed the life of a 69-year-old Dunedoo woman and left her husband with serious burns to 30 per cent of his body. The couple is believed to have been on their back lawn together when the lightning struck about 3pm.

IOWA - At least three tornadoes tore through central Iowa late Saturday afternoon, destroying homes and damaging farms, tearing down trees and power lines and causing gas leaks. At least one death was reported. The twisters damaged homes in several towns and sent college football fans running from a stadium for shelter.

TAJIKISTAN - An avalanche killed two people and stranded about 600 cars Friday on a mountain road linking northern and southern Tajikistan. The sliding snow buried two victims inside their car.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
11/13 -
In 1985 – The Nevado de Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupted, sending an avalanche of mud and rock slamming into the town of Armero. About 25,000 people died.
In 1998 - a 5.4 quake struck southern Iran, 5 dead, 850 houses damaged.

Space Weather / Solar Storms / Meteors - updated Sundays.
Unusually High Tides / Freak Waves - updated Sundays.


Friday, November 11, 2005 -

NEW SCHEDULE - NO updates on Saturdays, unless something huge happens.
Largest quakes yesterday -

VIETNAM - The 5.5 earthquake that rocked Ho Chi Minh City Tuesday afternoon claimed the life of a 48-year-old man after a wooden plank dropped on his head.


MARIANAS The US President, George W Bush, has declared a major disaster for the Northern Marianas Islands due to damage from Typhoon Nabi two months ago.

NEW YORK - a BIZARRE mix of lightning, hail, and rain caused lots of accidents, some flooding. Heavy rains tore through the Rochester area Wednesday, mixing with fallen leaves to cause slick roads and clogged storm drains that led to numerous accidents and some flooding. Add lightning and three-quarter-inch hail to the mix, and it made for some pretty bizarre weather. The area got pummeled with just over an inch of rain. It rolled in quickly and rolled out almost as rapidly.

WASHINGTON - Saturday evening the National Weather Service blew it, so to speak, on forecasting for this area. A high wind warning was issued for Lewis and Thurston counties almost after the fact, giving most folks little or no warning. Sudden strong southerly winds gusted well in excess of 40 mph in some locations. Electricity was cut across the western half of Lewis County, mostly from trees and limbs knocking down power lines. Some had no power for two days or so. The extent of the damage was perhaps surprising since they’ve had more powerful winds in the past. In any event, the big wind was a reminder to be prepared for such storms and the power failures, disruption, inconvenience, damage and debris they can cause. They may have forgotten a bit because last fall and winter there wasn’t any big windstorm. In fact, there wasn’t much wind at all because of the UNUSUAL LACK OF STORMS in an inordinately dry winter.

CANADA - A Level 1 tornado, with wind speeds between 120 and 180 kilometres an hour, hit at about 4 p.m. Wednesday. The violent storm tore part of the roof off a school gym in Hamilton and caused other damage. It's HIGHLY UNUSUAL to have tornadoes in Canada in November.

MEXICO - Heavy rains in the north and a drought across the rest of the state have resulted in widespread crop loss in Queretaro. Forty-four thousand hectares of corn have been ruined by drought statewide, with losses of 100,000 pesos (US93,000) in tomato, tomatillo and chile crops due to severe rains. The UNUSUAL PRECIPITATION, which drenched land and caused rivers to overflow, was a side effect of Hurricane Wilma, which hit the Gulf coast the hardest, but had repercussions in the central region as well. 70 percent of crops in the Sierra Gorda region are unsalvageable. In the town of Colón the drought is "deeply worrying." The water reserves used for cattle are about 30 percent full, and will last no more than 100 days. The states of Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Durango, Chihuahua and Coahuila are also suffering a drought.

INDIA - The news of more rain, which the weathermen say could extend till this year-end, may bring in more floods. Even before life could get back to normal, a second spell of rain kept the residents of Chennai on their toes, literally, as they had to wade through the grimy and filthy flood water. Though the majority of the residents found relief in the three-day lull, the people in Velachery in the south and Pulianthope in the north had barely got back their breath then the water rose again. The city of Chennai is facing a possible diarrhoea epidemic. With water still stagnating on the city streets, the danger of more and more people acquiring this disease looms. Floods could potentially increase the transmission of both water-borne and vector-borne diseases.

AUSTRALIA - Farms on South Australia's Adelaide Plains have been devastated by the WORST FLOOD IN THE REGION'S HISTORY. The Gawler River burst its banks late on Tuesday night and swept away homes, crops and machinery with little or no warning for those affected. Early estimates have grower losses at $40 million. People are in shock. "People have lost all their livelihood. They've lost their properties, their houses, they've lost everything."

Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes: Is anywhere in the U.S. safe? “Every place has some sort of vulnerability.” But consider the risks every person faces every day getting into a car or walking down the street and catastrophic weather seems less of an issue. Federal statistics show that 369 people died last year from weather hazards, while 42,636 people were killed in traffic accidents and 1.37 million were victims of a violent crime. The average number of people killed by tornadoes in the past decade is more than twice the number of hurricane deaths: 57 a year versus 21, but both are small numbers. (That number does not include the more than 1,000 people who died as a result of Katrina.)

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1922- an 8.0 quake struck the Chile-Argentina border region.


Thursday, November 10, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

BARREN ISLAND VOLCANO - located east of Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, renewed its activity on November 4 with the emission of large volumes of gases, ash and lava that is flowing into the sea. The present activity appears to be much more intense than the previous eruption. Following the Sumatra Earthquakes of December 2004 and March 2005, the Barren island volcano renewed its activity in May 2005 after a gap of five years. "This activity continued for couple of months and then decreased in intensity. However, the seismic activity along the Andaman Nicobar trench is continuing with earthquakes of magnitude varying from 4.8 to 7.2." The present eruption was preceded by nearly 10 earthquakes in this region including two earthquakes which occurred on November 3 with magnitude 4.8 (Nicobar) and 4.5 (Andamans).


Tropical Storm TEMBIN was 234 nmi E of Manila, Philippines.

GUATEMALA - Flooding and mudslides fueled by Hurricane Stan in early October caused almost one billion dollars in damage in Guatemala.

AUSTRALIA -(11/9)AN INTENSE STORM that streaked across southern Victoria has been rated by a senior forecaster as the FASTEST HE'S SEEN IN MORE THAN 30 YEARS of weather watching. It dumped 13mm of rain in 90 minutes at Port Fairy, in Victoria's west, caused minor flooding at nearby Warrnambool and dashed across Bass Strait at 120km/h before crossing Wilsons Promontory. "This is very UNUSUAL. I can't say I've ever seen anything like this before." The storm, known as a super cell, was also unusual because it maintained its intensity as high, upper level winds swept it across Bass Strait.

SCOTLAND - A storm warning has been issued in the Capital as severe gales and torrential rain look set to batter the city on Friday. Weather experts say winds of more than 60mph, interspersed with bouts of heavy rain, will lash the streets of Edinburgh for up to 24 hours. They warned of "very tricky" driving conditions and a strong possibility of damage to buildings and trees. The expected storm is the result of a deepening depression making its way to Scotland from the mid-Atlantic, with winds from a westerly or south-westerly direction picking up speed as they head for the Lothians. "Those are the worst kind of winds for Edinburgh. They are particularly destructive. But this kind of windy, wet weather is not unusual for this time of year." The worst of the weather is predicted to begin mid-morning on Friday, lasting until the early hours of Saturday when the winds will have died down considerably. Rain will persist throughout the day, at its heaviest during the early morning. Earlier this week, gales of 100mph lashed the west coast of Scotland, with thousands of people left without electricity as power lines were brought down in the storm.

UNITED KINGDOM - On Wednesday, home and business owners in Shropshire and Mid Wales were preparing themselves for flooding misery as rivers began to burst their banks across the region. The swollen River Severn and River Vyrnwy were continuing to rise following another night of heavy rain, putting hundreds of residents onto flood alert.

"The fall season has brought unpredictable weather patterns that have many people across the state and nation scratching their heads in disbelief. Multiple damaging hurricanes slammed into the Gulf Coast, tornadoes spun the Midwest into a fury and 85-degree days in the middle of November are strange to some, but is the current weather really that unpredictable? “The weather that we are experiencing now is not unusual for this time of year,” said Charles Wax, state climatologist and professor of geosciences at Mississippi State University. “We anticipate that upcoming seasons will be a lot like this one.” According to Wax, the idea that we are having crazy weather is perception and not reality. “The media has put the perception out there that the weather has taken a sudden change recently, but it hasn’t,” said Wax. “Things are not that different than the past and the world is not coming to an end.” “These things usually go in cycles.”

"What if while Katrina was pounding New Orleans, California had been hit by an earthquake? Actually, there were three that day." "The above is an example of one of the messages that Allstate Insurance is delivering to consumers in a new national advertising campaign launched today and set to appear in major newspapers across the U.S. In the new campaign Allstate has taken a stand to raise awareness and spur a national dialogue about better preparing and protecting Americans from catastrophic events. The campaign offers ideas about how we can all help better manage our nation's response to these devastating events before they strike and offers some startling catastrophe facts for consumers to consider."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1938 - an 8.2 quake struck east of Shumagin Islands, Alaska. One of the 15 Largest Earthquakes in the United States.
In 1940 - a 7.3 quake struck Romania, 1,000 dead.
In 1946 - a 7.3 quake struck Ancash, Peru, 1400 killed.
In 1963 – A cholera epidemic in India and Pakistan is reported to have killed more than 1500 people in the previous few weeks.

Unusual Animal Behavior - updated Thursdays.


Wednesday, November 9, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

PAKISTAN - The South Asia quake toll estimate has been raised to 87,350 after more bodies were pulled from debris as recovery teams reached areas previously blocked by landslides.


Cyclone 02S was 851 nmi SE of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

Tropical depression 23W was 563 nmi ENE of Cebu City, Philippines in the NW Pacific.

VIETNAM - Residents in Vietnam's central region are at risk of serious landslides, particularly in areas hit-by Typhoon Kai-tak and that experienced flooding last week. Landslides have been reported along the coast, over roads and at river banks in Thua Thien-Hue, Kon Tum and Quang Ngai, and are predicted to grow in intensity.

ILLINOIS - A cold front will push into Illinois Tuesday night and this morning. Thunderstorms will be scattered along and ahead of the front, and some severe weather may be possible. The primary severe weather threats include large hail and strong winds during the late evening and overnight hours. The EXCEPTIONAL WARMTH they've experienced during early November is UNUSUAL but not unexpected this year. "The mid-Mississippi Valley up into the Great Lakes is what I call a zone of transition." Expect to see "roller-coaster" conditions throughout the month - warm weather one day and cooler weather the next.

KANSAS - After flirting with record warmth Tuesday, temperatures will plunge more than 20 degrees today. "It's almost like a springtime pattern - for the whole country." "It's been relatively mild," especially for the eastern half of the U.S. The jet stream normally dives through the heart of the country this time of year, allowing cold air from the Arctic to reach Kansas. But the jet stream isn't anywhere close to the Plains these days. "It's way up there toward the Canadian border." Another notable warm-up is anticipated later in the week. High temperatures are forecast to climb to the upper 60s by Friday and Saturday before another cool front comes through Sunday. The tornado that struck Indiana and Kentucky early Sunday morning, killing at least 22, is another reflection of the UNUSUAL WEATHER PATTERN for November.
The killer tornado's speed and intensity were UNUSUAL. The deadly tornado that obliterated homes across a swath of southwestern Indiana was UNUSUALLY INTENSE AND FAST, packing winds that topped 200 mph as it roared through the night at up to 75 mph. The storm's strength, its 41-mile path of destruction and the fact that it struck in the middle of the night in November are ALL UNUSUAL. Pushed by a rapid shift in the jet stream along a strong cold front, Sunday's tornado raced along at 70 to 75 mph and stayed on the ground for about 35 minutes. "It was just booking along during the greatest punch of the jet stream. You just don't see speeds like that very often." About 75% of twisters occur in the March to June period, but another 10 to 12% occur during late October and November as the jet stream shifts south, shoving warm, moist southern air against cold, dry northern air similar to what occurs in the spring. Sunday's deadly storm arose as a strong cold front collided with the ABNORMALLY WARM AIR that has held sway over the nation's midsection this fall. Until Sunday's 22 deaths, this year the U.S. had experienced some of the fewest tornado fatalities in several years, with only 10 deaths from seven killer tornadoes. And for the first time since recordkeeping began in 1950, no one was killed by a tornado in April, May or June.

KAI-TAK TYPHOON - Hydro-meteorological experts all agree that the Kai-tak, storm number 8, is the STRANGEST STORM THUS FAR. Weather experts on November 2 confirmed, “This storm has a very ODD PATH.” When it formed in the East Sea as a tropical depression in the early morning of October 28 at force 6, Kai-tak showed no unusual behavior. But one day later it shot to force 12 in two days rather than the typical 3-4 days, a first in the region. By 12pm on October 29, the wind had intensified to force 10 and by early afternoon on October 31 it was at force 12. Kai-tak and another strom, No 22 in the western Pacific, both reached wind speeds of 140km/h near their centres. “Normally, when storms go towards the west-northwest direction, strong storms move stably and quickly toward the shore, but No 8 made everything change. When the storm was around 230km from the coast of Quang Ngai, we thought that it would land in Quang Ngai, but for unknown reasons it changed direction to go to Da Nang. But when we thought that it was going to Da Nang, it suddenly changed the direction again to go along the coast.” Another point that surprised scientists was that, though strong storms often move fast, No 8 slowed as it intensified, lumbering at 5-10km/h and even halting at one point. “It’s VERY RARE that strong storms move slowly like this.” During October 28-29, a north-eastern monsoon hit the north of Vietnam, the northern area of the central region and the central area of the central region and drove temperatures down 4-5ºC. The intensity of the storm ought to have reduced when it encountered the colder winds. But again No 8 broke the rules. Once weakened by the cold, it resumed moving quickly and weakened back into a tropical depression within 24 hours. Meteorologists were ultimately taken aback by Ka-tak as it menaced Vietnam’s coast. “Storm No 8 was a particularly interesting phenomenon, the most special storm since the 1950s.”

BAHAMAS - When Hurricane Wilma ripped through Florida two weeks ago, the devastation didn't stop once the storm left the U.S. After cutting a swath from Marco Island to Miami, Wilma picked up new strength and made a change in course that local forecasts didn't predict. Few would realize this, however, until Wilma made landfall the next day, October 24, on Grand Bahama. The storm became what many here are saying was THE MOST DEVASTATING HURRICANE THE ISLAND HAS EVER SEEN. It has left at least a thousand Bahamians homeless. Storm surges 12 feet (3.7 meters) high swept away more than a hundred homes and killed at least one villager, a 15-month-old child who drowned in the sea swells. Local media are calling the surge "the Bahamian tsunami." "This was a massive wave that came in, one that was beyond any way to control it."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1968 - a 5.5 quake struck Southern Illinois, felt over 23 states.

Crop Failures, Food Shortages, Fish Die-Off - updated Wednesdays


Tuesday, November 8, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

INDONESIA - The impact of the December 2004 tsunami was "trivial" compared to the destruction caused by humans. "Chronic human misuse" had far greater repercussions for reefs closest to the epicentre of the Sumatra earthquake. Damage to reefs on the north-west coast of Aceh Indonesia, where the tsunami was most ferocious, was "surprisingly limited". In contrast, reefs exposed to destructive human practices such as dynamite and cyanide fishing, and to land runoff from fertilisers and sediment, had turned from once vibrant coral colonies into "graveyards". Humans were responsible for 80 per cent of the damage to 49 coral reefs in the study site, while the tsunami was thought to have caused as little as five to 10 per cent. Researchers also found there was no evidence to back claims that healthy, intact reefs could offer protection from tsunamis. "Whether you've got a healthy reef or no reef, it doesn't make any difference – when a big tsunami hits, you're in trouble."

Cyclone 02S was 967 nmi ESE of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

Tropical storm 23W was 511 nmi W of Agana, Guam in the NW Pacific.

AUSTRALIA - FLASH FLOODING struck towns across central west New South Wales. The towns of Orange, Bathurst, Parkes, Forbes, Wyalong and Trundle were hit by up to 100mm of rain overnight. Molong, north west of Orange, was worst hit with several families evacuated from their homes. The latest storms came one day after a mini cyclone struck Broken Hill, in the state's far west, ripping roofs off about 40 homes.
WEATHER INVESTIGATORS are travelling to Broken Hill to investigate the suspected tornado which devastated homes in the area on Sunday night. They will try and determine whether the FREAK STORM was a tornado or a "downburst" - a destructive explosion of wind from a thunderstorm. The storm was UNUSUAL. "It's probably one of the places we'd least expect to get severe thunderstorms in NSW." The storm front developed in South Australia in the afternoon before moving east towards Broken Hill. Forecasters did not issue a warning, expecting the front to ease as it crossed the largely unmonitored area. An hour-long lightning spectacular before the storm awed residents before turning into a destructive show of force.
ONE OF THE AREA'S WORST FLOODS ON RECORD IS EXPECTED - about 700 residents were today being evacuated from the New South Wales central western township of Eugowra. Mandagery Creek at Eugowra was currently at 5.5 metres and that height was expected to double by midnight. "That is a flood of record (size) and we are currently commencing to evacuate the town of Eugowra."
HEAVY RAIN has caused widespread flooding across metropolitan Adelaide and in the Adelaide Hills. Several hundred homes had been affected. Several minor landslides were also reported while the rising water had closed a number of roads. More than 43mm of rain had fallen in the city over the past 24 hours but gauges as high as 117mm had been recorded in areas of the Adelaide Hills. That compares with the November average rainfall of just 29.6mm.
WILD STORMS lashed homes and businesses in central Victoria. Heavy rain caused flash flooding in Shepparton, Rutherglen, Benalla and Wangaratta. Up to 50mm of rain had fallen on the area since yesterday afternoon. "It's a month's rainfall in a day. There would be flash flooding up there because the rainfall rate was over a very short period with thunderstorms." There were also winds of up to 70km/h in alpine areas.

SOLOMON ISLANDS - A HEAVY DOWNPOUR over the weekend has left many villagers in Malaita, Makira and possibly elsewhere, homeless. They also lost their food gardens. The weekend’s torrential rain could be a pre-cursor to what is expected in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It brought a timely reminder for everyone to be conscious of the unusual weather patterns that have been observed across the globe and of the kind of weather they can expect during the wet season now upon them.

WALES - A band of heavy rain was expected to reach Wales last night, causing downpours for 24 hours throughout today, that could trigger widespread flooding. There will be heavy showers, particularly in the north and west, as a succession of Atlantic weather fronts continue to affect all areas of Wales. They can't rule out the risk of flooding anywhere and the rest of the week will be unsettled.

HONDURAS & NICARAGUA - the north-east coastal areas are being affected by the remnants of a low-pressure system in the aftermath of Hurricane Beta. Heavy rains for five days, as of Friday, have caused extensive flooding. To date 5,215 persons have been evacuated and 1,192 have been relocated to shelters. 105 houses have been destroyed and there are extensive losses to subsistence crops and cattle. November is the end of the rainy season, therefore, the soil is saturated and very prone to flooding.

INDIA - Thousands of families in southern India affected by last December's tsunami have been forced to leave temporary shelters after heavy rains. 10,000 people had been moved to relief camps. More rain has been forecast for the next two days. The state authorities have advised fishermen to stay ashore and ordered all schools and colleges to shut in view of the weather warning. On Sunday, six women died in a stampede for flood relief aid in Tamil Nadu. Dozens of others were injured in the crush.

INDIANA - The tornado that struck Evansville and Newburgh WAS THE DEADLIEST STORM TO HIT INDIANA SINCE 1974. The destruction as described as "brutal" and "highly random." "There's incredible devastation next to apparently unscathed properties." The storm system swept east from Missouri, and residents had little notice that it was about to arrive. Warning sirens for Evansville and Vanderburgh County sounded only about 10 minutes before it hit.

PENNSYLVANIA - A storm, which dumped rain, moved through Bradford county "pretty quickly." "This was just a strong cold front coming through. It's been unusually warm the last few days." The cold front collided with a warm air mass. "It's kind of UNUSUAL to see this kind of severe weather. These kinds of thunderstorms are like a summer event in November." .38 of an inch was recorded in Towanda Township, but rainfall amounts varied. "It was pretty good amount of rain for such a short period of time." The high temperature of 72 degrees that was recorded Sunday was 1 degree shy of the all-time record of 73 degrees for that day in 1978; the average temperature for the day is 52 degrees.

Monday, November 6, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

PAKISTAN - A severe aftershock measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale and two mild aftershocks, measuring 4.5 and 4.7, rattled earthquake-battered northern Pakistan injuring seven people early overnight when their house collapsed. It was the strongest aftershock since the 7.3 October 8 quake. Since then, 1,201 aftershocks have hit the regions with more expected until the middle of November. "The frequency of the aftershocks has decreased now, but aftershocks are likely to continue with falling magnitude/frequency till mid of this month."

Cyclone 02S was 1058 nmi SSW of George Town, Malaysia in the Indian Ocean.

An area of convection located 320 nm ESE of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean has the potential to develop into a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours.

GUATEMALA - (Hurricane Stan) Doctors fear that overcrowding and septic water could lead to a rash of illness among survivors of a landslide that swept away their Maya Indian village this month. Thousands of people from Panabaj have crammed into churches and houses in the nearby village of Santiago and other towns while the government races to build temporary shelters. Doctors have seen dozens of cases of diarrhea among survivors as well as dysentery, hepatitis A and chicken pox. "They don't want us to fish for the next six months or so because the corpses of dogs or chickens washed away into the lake might have contaminated the water. We are suffering. We don't even have money to buy drinking water."


INDIANA & KENTUCKY - TORNADOES killed up to 20 people in the Midwestern US states of Indiana and Kentucky, leaving up to 100 people injured. "Local meteorologists here were forecasting severe storms early in the evening and no one really knew that they were going to intensify and become tornadoes." People were caught off-guard as tornado season is over. It's unusual, although not unheard of to have tornadoes in November, particularly with recent weather being so mild. The National Weather Service is reported to have issued warnings for the area about 30 minutes before the tornado struck in the early morning hours, but many people were asleep.

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - Heavy rain and thunderstorms Saturday pelted Waukesha County with up to three-quarter-inch hail and wreaked havoc on roads across southeastern Wisconsin. The largest hail was reported near Highways 83 and NN in Mukwonago about 2 p.m. Pea-sized hail was reported during the next hour in Watertown, Pewaukee and downtown Waukesha. Lightning is blamed for house fires late Saturday.

AUSTRALIA - FREAK WEATHER - Three people were killed on treacherous roads and 100 people were left homeless after a weekend of freak weather in the country's east. A mini-cyclone tore through far-western New South Wales last night and was moving towards the coast after pulling down power lines and ripping the roofs off around 40 houses. Some 100 residents were taking shelter in a local basketball stadium as the storm continued its track eastward, with winds gusting up to 100km/h. A severe weather warning was in place from the west of northern NSW as far south as the Victorian border. On the Gold Coast, surf conditions were said to be "as bad as it has been this year", with dangerous rips "every few hundred metres". A spate of traffic accidents were recorded throughout the state's southeast, prompting the closure of three major roads for part or most of the day.

NEW YORK - In a city full of foul aromas, a mysterious sweet smell is receiving a lot of attention after residents throughout Manhattan began reporting it Thursday night (11/2). Calls have been pouring in to the city's 311 hotline and to 911 from Manhattan residents wondering just what the smell is. Many describe it as smelling like maple syrup. Other say it smells like flavored coffee or roasted nuts. NY1 has been receiving calls from as far south as Lower Manhattan and as far north as Harlem. "I have no idea where it came from. I thought it was like a baker was making sugar or something and they left it burning." Officials from the Office of Emergency Management have been running tests to try to figure out just what the smell is. A spokesman says air samples aren't showing anything hazardous, but the source of the smell is still not clear.

PHILIPPINES - Another landslide struck an eastern town of the Bohol province, but this time affecting a barangay near the boundary between the towns of Duero and Guindulman. The landslide, estimated to have run to a kilometer, has eclipsed a portion of the four-kilometer Guinsularan River. There are fears that the landslide may duplicate the Mayana land movement which continues to displace soil and rocks with a muffled sound heard underground. Experts have predicted that the land movement in that mountainous part of Jagna town that began last July would be felt up to three years. “This landslide is different from the Mayana experience. We cannot hear any sound underground.” Duero residents discovered the landslide on Oct. 20 but ignored it since it did not cause damage to farmlands and residential houses. But on recent survey, town officials found that the soil and debris transported by the landslide have covered a portion of the Guinsularan River triggering a rise of the water level.

Stockpiling supplies and developing family response plans in case disaster strikes not only might save lives — it's also a civic duty, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said. Two months of hurricanes ravaging the Gulf Coast should prove that people need to make preparations so emergency officials can focus on those who are poor, elderly or otherwise can't help themselves. Even with a week's notice of Hurricane Wilma, many Floridians failed to evacuate areas the storm flooded or to stock up on food, water and other essentials. The cavalier attitude prompted Republican Gov. Jeb Bush to scold constituents, noting that people who sought relief from Wilma "had ample time to prepare."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1920 – Serious famine was reported in China.
In 1988 – A powerful earthquake just inside China's mountainous southern border killed 600 people.

Disease - updated Mondays


Sunday, November 6, 2005 -
NEW SCHEDULE - NO updates on Saturdays, unless something huge happens.
Largest quakes yesterday -

Largest quakes Friday 11/4 -

PAKISTAN - While Lahore almost completely escaped the havoc caused by the quake that hit northern parts of the country early in October, the aftermath of the calamity can be seen across the city, as displaced people head towards it to escape the cold. Local people say the cold has "come earlier than usual", adding greatly to the miseries of the tens of thousands of quake victims still living without shelter. Reports from Balakot area say that, within the last six days, at least five children have died from cold in and around the town alone. The toll could be still higher in the more remote areas north of Balakot, where the last days of October brought with them freezing winds from the surrounding hills. The unexpected spell of icy weather is likely to persist in most quake-affected areas of the North West Frontier Province and Pakistan-administered Kashmir for several more days. Then it is anticipated things will warm up slightly, raising temperatures above the freezing point at night – but only until mid-November at best, when the harsh winter in the north of Pakistan routinely arrives in the mountains.

Cyclone 02S was 1058 nmi SSW of George Town, Malaysia in the Indian Ocean.

LOUISIANA - The storm surges from hurricanes Katrina and Rita submerged 100 square miles of southeastern Louisiana marshes, according to satellite data compiled by US scientists. They could not yet determine how much of the marsh land would re-emerge from the flooding. "Indications are that much of the loss may be permanent. Some of the new areas of open water will likely become new lakes."

HURRICANE WILMA - The world of weather forecasters and weather junkies is abuzz this week. A phenomenon apparently occurred as Hurricane Wilma was making landfall in Southwest Florida - and no one knows exactly what to make of it. As the massive storm approached the Collier County coast, Doppler radar images picked up an unusual formation in the clouds — a near-perfect numeral "2." The image appeared in bright colors live on an NBC2 radar loop. (photo).

BERMUDA - A swirling cloud formation that tore roofs from homes and sent debris crashing through a supermarket in Bermuda Thursday was a freak wind gust, not a tornado as some witnesses had reported, an official said. The unusual weather phenomenon, known as a "gustnado," is formed by rotating gust fronts and is impossible to predict because its small size makes it invisible on radar.
WITNESS ACCOUNTS - Some of them describe a water-spout.

UNITED KINGDOM - Torrential rain is set to hit parts of the UK over the next 24 hours putting many areas at risk from flooding, weather forecasters have warned. South and mid Wales and south-west, central and southern England face up to 3 inches (7cm) of rain, after a wet week that has left the ground saturated. Higher ground would be worst-hit, while most areas would see around an inch of water. Monday would see a reprieve in the wet weather before it returned on Tuesday.

UNITED KINGDOM - A train carrying about 100 people was derailed after it hit a landslide caused by heavy rain in Lancashire. The driver is thought to have hit a pile of clay and mud caused by the landslip at Scotforth. Passengers reported feeling "a hell of a shake" before a loud bang as rocks and debris flew from underneath the train. The train then came to a halt and the power went off.

AUSTRALIA - A major landslide has blocked and damaged an arterial road west of Brisbane. Four tonnes of boulders broke through concrete barriers and fell onto the Cunningham Highway at Cunningham's Gap in Aratula.

An iceberg about the size of the Hawaiian island of Maui has split into three pieces in the frigid Antarctic waters. The new icebergs mark the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth times that a portion of B-15 has calved, since the first calving event observed on May 30, 2000.

Numerous sightings of massive fireballs in the skies over Germany this week have led to an upsurge in reports of UFOs, but scientists believe the cause could be a bizarre annual meteor blitz. Such fireballs have been reported elsewhere in the world and may also be due to the fact that the Earth is now orbiting through a swarm of space debris. NASA's science Web site (http://science.nasa.gov) mentions reports of recent fireball sightings in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, North Ireland and Japan. It includes images of the fireballs, which one man likened to a spotlight. They have been described as "super-large, colored fireballs that shoot with the speed of lightning through the sky". "Some people said it looks like something out of a science fiction horror film." Amateur and professional astronomers were considering the possibility that the blitz was the result of a "falling satellite or UFOs." "It is possible that they are UFOs, which are after all things which we cannot explain."
ALASKA - Fireballs and bright streaks of light seen in the sky to the north, south and west of Anchorage on Thursday evening were evidently part of the Taurid meteor shower. In each case, the streak moved east to west and lasted no more than five seconds. Reports included a streak to the north that appeared to be over Talkeetna, a "ball of fire" over Homer and "meteor showers west of the airport." Residents of Fairbanks also saw the meteors.

For more than a decade, geologists have believed that a gigantic object, an asteroid or a comet, struck the Earth north of Norfolk, Virginia on the East Coast of the U.S., about 35 million years ago in a cataclysmic occurrence that left behind a 53-mile-wide, long-buried crater. Picture a white fireball 2 miles across thundering from the sky at 30,000 mph and crashing into the ocean off the Virginia coast. The impact vaporizes billions of tons of water, rips a hole in the sea floor 6 miles deep and fractures the bedrock far into the Earth. Debris is lofted over the horizon and rains down on an area of 3 million square miles, as distant as the Antarctic. Nearby life is blasted and then swept into the abyss by the boiling ocean. A calamity of unimaginable scale, it is probably the most stupendous geological event ever on the East Coast. There are more than 170 impact "structures" identified around the globe, more than 50 in North America, and millions more on planets and moons across the solar system. The one near Norfolk is Earth's seventh-largest site and the biggest in the United States. The Earth's biggest, 186 miles across, is at Vredefort, South Africa.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1942 – A tidal wave killed 10,000 people in Bengal, India.
In 1977 – A dam collapse drowned at least 38 people as wall of water submerged a trailer camp outside Toccoa in the US state of Georgia.
In 1994 – Rescuers struggled to reach cut off villages, families trapped under the rubble of collapsed houses amid the devastation caused by heavy flooding across southern Europe.
In 1996 – More than 2000 people were killed or lost at sea when a cyclone struck India's major crop-growing state of Andhra Pradesh.

Space Weather / Solar Storms / Meteors - updated Sundays.
Unusually High Tides / Freak Waves - updated Sundays. NO NEW INFO ADDED.


Friday, November 4, 2005 -
Largest quakes yesterday -

KASHMIR - The monster quake in Pakistani Kashmir could be linked to the tectonic shifts below the Tehri dam 600 km away, a noted conservationist says. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage had warned almost two decades ago of seismic hazards of eight-plus on the Richter scale if the dam was built, impacting cities like New Delhi as far as 350 km away. Now it seems the impact has been felt in the other direction, as the quake could have been triggered by the Bhagirathi river on which the dam stands, being forced underground through a tectonic plate fault in the area to hot lava beds below.

NO current tropical cyclones.

TASMANIA - Storms and high winds have swept across Hobart, felling trees and damaging homes and other buildings. The winds of up to 100km/h hit the city at 3am (AEDT).

BERMUDA - a RARE tornado touched down in Bermuda, a swirling cloud formation that ripped roofs off houses and sent debris flying into a supermarket in the Somerset area of Bermuda at about 2pm on Wednesday. Six homes had their roofs blown off, and many more suffered damage. Despite eyewitness reports, the Bermuda Weather Service was saying initially, that it was unlikely that a tornado had touched down on the west end of the island. "It's rare, we do have them but it's rare." A combination of warm and cooler weather was blamed for the development.

WASHINGTON - Forecasters say flood season is shaping up to be big this year. If history is any indication, it's more than likely to happen in a big way this winter. That's because it's a "neutral year," which means the region isn't facing the warm, wet weather brought on by El Niño, or the dry, cold weather from La Niña. Neutral years usually bring a mixed bag of weather in more intense bouts to the Northwest U.S. Flood season peaks November through February.

AUSTRALIA - LIGHTNING storms have robbed several farmers of their livestock in a series of strikes that have rocked regional NSW. An UNUSUAL high pressure system over the Tasman Sea, pushing a strong northeasterly wind and blowing moisture over the state, has been blamed for the strikes. A farmer who lost 69 dairy cows to a lightning bolt failed to forecast the storm because thick fog descended just before it struck. "You couldn't see 50m in front of you and when the rain eased, we couldn't believe what we saw." 200km away, another farmer lost 38 cows to lightning. While thunderstorms were common at this time of year, humidity was not. "The UNUSUAL HUMIDITY is triggering the large number of storms we have been facing." More than 75,000 strikes hit southeast Australia between October 24 and November 1. A large part of inland NSW can expect thunderstorms today.

Before Halloween night was over, reports of meteors "brighter than a full moon" were streaming in from coast to coast. Astronomers have taken to calling these the "Halloween fireballs." But there's more to it than Halloween. The display has been going on for days. Every year in late October and early November Earth passes through a river of space dust associated with Comet Encke. Most years the shower is weak, producing no more than five rather dim meteors every hour. But occasionally, the Taurids put on quite a show. 2005 could be such a year. The Taurid shower peaks between Nov. 5th and Nov. 12th.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1927 - a 7.1 quake struck west of Lompoc, California.
In 1952 - a 9.0 quake struck Kamchatka, one of the 10 largest quakes ever.
In 1966 – The worst floods in Italy's history affected a third of the country. Florence was cut off and many of the city's art treasures were damaged.

Winter Forecasts / Cold Weather - updated Fridays.


Thursday, November 3, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

PAKISTAN - Since the October 8th quake, 41 villages still "had not yet been accessed by the relief and rescue teams due to roads destroyed by the quake", 31 of the villages are in North-West Frontier Province. The official death toll is now 73,276. More than three million are homeless. Pakistan has established 58 tent villages, sheltering about 36,000 people.

ONTARIO, NEW YORK - The mystery of the shaking many Ontario residents felt Halloween night has been solved: a micro-earthquake struck Wayne County just before 7:00 p.m. Monday night; it registered 2.6 on the Richter scale. Emergency 911 operators received dozens of calls from people in northwest Wayne County and Webster reporting rattling booms throughout the night that shook their homes. Some Ontario residents said it felt like something actually struck their homes. At first many discounted the rumblings as an earthquake because they seemed confined to a relatively small area. However, experts say the earthquake's shallow depth - about a mile and half beneath the ground - limited the area affected. There were also several light aftershocks. A major earthquake in the Rochester area is unlikely.

BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA - Some experts have continued to warn for years that a strong quake along the Hayward fault could unleash torrents of water up to 71 feet high in some areas, from a breached dam at Lake Chabot or the Upper San Leandro Reservoir. "We're talking about a tsunami from major reservoirs — a wall of water under hydrostatic power, plus gravity. It would push cars completely off the freeway." Experts cannot say for sure how strong the quake would have to be — there are too many variables, including water level and fault location. Lake Chabot, an earthen dam, is about 130 years old and holds more than 3 billion gallons of water. The Upper San Leandro Reservoir was built in 1977 and holds more than 13 billion gallons. "Everything we've been told about the Hayward fault is that we're all living on borrowed time." The last big quake on the Hayward fault was in 1868. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a quake of at least 6.8 is 40 years overdue.

NEW ZEALAND - A series of six small to moderate earthquakes rattled central New Zealand within a 24-hour period. The latest, which measured 3.3 on the Richter scale, hit at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, just 24 hours after the first measuring 4.6. The surge might continue for several days. All were centred near the South Island township of Seddon, about 60 kilometres southwest of the capital Wellington at the foot of the North Island on the other side of Cook Strait. The largest, with a magnitude of 4.8, struck Tuesday evening. There have been no reports of injury or damage.

INDIA - Researchers, who conducted post-tsunami studies on the coastline from Poompuhar to Nagoor in the central coast of TN, have ruled out the possibility of recurrence of tsunami, at least for another 40 to 50 years. ‘‘There is possibility of a tsunami only when there is an earthquake in Sumatra, measuring above 9 on the Richter Scale. However, this has happened only once in 50 years. The last time it measured over 9 on the Richter Scale was in 2004. Earlier, it had occurred in 1949, 1900 and 1833 at a regular interval of 50 years.’’ The present generation, who witnessed the havoc caused by the tsunami, need not worry about its recurrence during their life time.

Large volcanic eruptions can have such an extreme effect on world climate that sea levels dip right across the globe, taking years to recover. When Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines blew its top in 1991, it triggered a cascade of climate events that caused the global average sea level to fall by about 6 millimetres over a single year. The blast released huge amounts of microscopic particles, called aerosols, into the atmosphere, scattering the Sun's rays and leading to a drop in the amount of heat reaching the planet's surface. As a result, the seas cooled and contracted. The cooling effects lasted for around 18 months after the eruption, after which the seas began once again to warm. The Pinatubo event was part of a spate of large eruptions that began with the 1963 blast at Mount Agung in Indonesia. Global rises in sea level from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere during this period would have been even more severe were it not for these events pushing it back down.


VIETNAM - Eighteen people were confirmed dead and 10 others listed as missing after Typhoon Kai Tak battered central Vietnam for a second day yesterday. Heavy rains are persisting in the Red River region. Scores of fishing boats may have sunk. Thousands of hectares of farmland have been destroyed and traffic was disrupted in the region. A section of the north-south railway was submerged, prompting authorities to cancel all train services through central Vietnam. Sections of a national highway were also sealed off. Hundreds of houses were heavily damaged and several thousand people were displaced.

Hurricane Katrina - Failures in the flood defence system protecting the US city of New Orleans could have been prevented by relatively cheap modifications, a new report says. Rather than a few breaches in the levees caused by Hurricane Katrina, there were dozens of failings. Some of the failings were due to poor construction. If just "relatively inexpensive modifications" had been made "some of the failures would likely have been prevented". Congress was advised to give population centers more protection - and to seriously consider preparing for bigger floods that happen once every 500 years - rather than those that happen once every century.

SOUTH AFRICA - Near gale-force winds and driving rain hit Cape Town overnight, causing a widespread power blackout throughout large parts of the southern suburbs, uprooting trees and disrupting shipping in Table Bay harbour. The weather was UNUSUAL. "In November we are supposed to see the south-easter and the sunny skies associated with it, but then we get this typical winter system with some of the strongest winds we have seen so far this year. These things have happened as late as December before, but it certainly is not usual." Meanwhile large areas of the Eastern Cape are being evacuated in the path of runaway fires. The fires were sparing nothing in their path. Farmland is being destroyed and homes are threatened.

HONDURAS - Still reeling from hurricanes Stan, Wilma and Beta last month, Honduras evacuated hundreds of people from its Atlantic coast on Wednesday as intense rains caused more flooding in the area. The rain and wind were triggered by a band of low pressure off the Atlantic coast and threatened to keep pounding northern Honduras for at least another day.

WASHINGTON DC - It appears there were at least three reported fireballs visible between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The fireballs may actually have been a string of very bright meteors. "Usually it's just a grain of sand moving through space so fast that when it hits the earth's atmosphere, it rubs against it, and so you have friction." Officials said it's rare for so many people to see the same thing on the same night.
WASHINGTON DC - A fireball similar in brightness to Mars, if not brighter, was seen throughout the area at approximately 6:30 p.m. Halloween night. Some have stated that they observed this fireball to split in two at the end of its luminous flight path. A second and much brighter fireball occurred at approximately 9:15 p.m.
VIRGINIA - A fireball or a meteor that appeared to be burning as it changed colors and moved through the atmosphere was sighted on Halloween evening. The "extraordinary bright light" was seen in Richmond and as far away as Goochland and Dinwiddie counties. "It was really, really strange." About 9:25 p.m. "the whole backyard suddenly illuminated." The bright blue light moved south with an orange and white streak. It then exploded and disappeared. The meteor was going in a Northeast to Southwest direction and had a bright white and green color to it. The trail and sparks from this meteor lit the southwest portion of the South Jersey sky and lasted for about two seconds.

In 1955 - one of the few documented cases of a person being hit by a meteorite occurred.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1706 - a violent quake struck Italy, 15,000 killed.
In 1943 - a 7.4 quake struck Skwentna, Alaska.
In 1968 – Storms, landslides and floods took more than 100 lives and caused heavy damage in northern Italy.
In 2002 - a 7.9 quake struck Central Alaska. Felt in northern British Columbia, western Alberta and Northwest Territories. Also felt by people in high-rise buildings in Seattle, Washington. Seiches and muddied water wells observed in a number of states, including Washington, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Unusual Animal Behavior - updated Thursdays.


Wednesday, November 2, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -


Typhoon Kai-Tak - at least 15 people died and a Filipino was missing in central Vietnam as the typhoon nearing the coast dumped heavy rains and triggered floods. Bad weather in the region has killed nearly 30 people in the past two weeks. Heavy rains knocked down hundreds of trees, causing blackouts and blocking roads in Danang. High waves sank a ferry on a river.
Coastal areas in central Vietnam were bracing for Typhoon Kai Tak to finally make landfall by late today. "We are fortifying dykes in the coastal districts." Flash flooding caused by torrential rain has already killed 25 people in the last 10 days. As well as onshore preparations, fishing boats have been told to stay in port. The storm has tracked up the Vietnam coast for the past five days, gathering intensity over the South China Sea. Over the last two days, Kai Tak has caused heavy rain in Thua Thien Hue, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces, with rainfall as high as 407 millimeters reported in some places.

HURRICANE KATRINA - Two months after Hurricane Katrina displaced more than 1 million people, problems with federal housing aid threaten to spawn a new wave of homelessness. In Texas, thousands of evacuees who found shelter in apartments face eviction threats because rents are going unpaid. In Louisiana, some evacuees are beginning to show up in homeless shelters because they haven't received federal aid or don't know how to get it. Advocates for the poor say the situation will worsen this winter. “They are the poorest folks … and they are the ones who are going to be left with nothing.”

NEW ZEALAND - Masterton residents are still mopping up after a freak thunderstorm bombarded half of the town and left the other half completely unscathed. They recorded 32mm of rain and hail in less than an hour on Sunday afternoon between 4pm and 5pm – the MOST INTENSE HAIL STORM ON RECORD in the town. The storm was "off the scale" as far previous records were concerned. Signs were ripped off their mounts and houses and businesses were overrun with flash flooding. The pea-sized hailstones were smaller than the hailstorm of January 2001, but the larger volume caused them to pile up and block the flow and float down the street like small icebergs.

OREGON - The second in a series of wet and fast-moving storms pounded Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington with heavy rain Tuesday, and forecasters said to expect non-stop rain for 7 days. Forecasters expect a series of storms, with a 'doozy' arriving Sunday. "This is just the beginning. The forecast models have us getting 12 inches of rain in Northwest Oregon in the next two weeks, with storm after storm every two or three days. We're going to get hit pretty hard."

PENNSYLVANIA - Some Pennsylvanians, including tree experts, suggest the leaf-changing/falling pattern in 2005 is LATER THAN IN ANY AUTUMN IN DECADES, as late as some people can remember in their lifetimes, running up to 4 weeks behind schedule. People talk about how trick-or-treaters usually crunch through rustling leaves, a sound barely heard this year because so many leaves were still clinging to branches. City parks and country roads reveal as many green leaves as not. "It's been very strange. This is not normal weather." Fall foliage typically peaks by mid-October in much of Pennsylvania, but temperatures in the first half of the month averaged 5.8 degrees above normal, which is considered substantial. That came after a warmer-than-normal September and unusually dry summer which also slows autumn's color transformation. This year not only is the color change later, it's over a more extended period of weeks as different trees react in their distinct ways to the unusual rhythms. The late season here, while unusual historically, is not peculiar to Pennsylvania. The delay of color has been noted in newspapers from Lafayette, Ind., to Bangor, Maine. The Midwest and Northeast have been dryer and warmer than usual for months, so that even New England's trees haven't all turned.

An international science body is calling for a rethink on the way science and society deals with natural disaster. The call comes hot on the tail of possibly one of the worst 12 months on record for natural disasters around the world, from floods and hurricanes to earthquakes and plagues. The goal is to provide a strong scientific basis for reducing the risks and consequences of natural and human-induced environmental hazards. Recent disasters in the USA and Asia are not anomalies but are, in fact, part of a long-term and dramatic increase in natural disasters. Between 1900 and 2000, recorded natural disasters rose from 100 to 2,800 per decade, with most of the events being weather related.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1875 - a 4.3 quake struck Northern Georgia.

Crop Failures, Food Shortages, Fish Die-Off - updated Wednesdays


Tuesday, November 1, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

Exactly 250 years ago one of the world's most devastating quakes transformed regal Lisbon, Portugal into a ghost town. The earthquake that hit Lisbon on Nov. 1, 1755, rang Paris' church bells and triggered a tsunami from Norway to North America. The quake, which also devastated Morocco, claimed around 70,000 lives. Tremors were so violent that they stirred waters off Finland, toppled buildings and set off a devastating tsunami that swept through the city's center. Fires burned for six days. Aftershocks continued for nine months. It sent shockwaves through Enlightenment Europe, changing forever the way earthquakes were perceived and handled. "If something happens like the 1755 earthquake today ... all of Europe is going to pay because we are all united at the economic level ... Europe is nowadays like a city."

PERU - A magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook Peru's northern Amazon region, damaging about 20 homes but causing no injuries, late Sunday night near the town of Bagua, 730 kilometers (453 miles) north of the capital, Lima. The seismic movement cracked walls of adobe and mud brick homes and caused parts of thatched roofs to fall. People ran to open ground in panic. Two mild aftershocks followed. A powerful 7.5-magnitude quake rocked the same region on Sept. 25.

PAKISTAN - Since the October 8th quake struck, the mountains located between Batila and Ganthar villages have been tipped by a cloud of blue smoke, which local people say they have never seen before. They believe that the mysterious smoke and a series of unexplained, loud blasts heard frequently in the area, sometimes at intervals of only a few hours, are the result of volcanic activity deep within the mountains. The reports from Allai, a community of some 150,000 people in the Battagram district, are being taken seriously. The military ordered a seismic survey of the area a few days ago, and while the team has reported that volcanic activity is 'unlikely', plans have been put in place to evacuate 100,000 people from the area. Brigadier Khalid Mahmood Ahmed, in charge of the military base set up by the Pakistan army at Battagram, has confirmed to journalists - after flying over the area in a helicopter to check on reports - that he too has seen the blue smoke, saying: "I can say it is definitely coming from the mountains, as are the sounds of the blasts." According to reports, a similar fear of volcanic activity was also raised in villages around Muzaffarabad, the devastated capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a few days after the quake. However, military experts noted that the smoke seen over the mountains and the rumblings were, "just a part of the disturbances caused by the quake," and since then the sounds and smoke have gradually vanished there.


Evacuations are well underway in Vietnam's central provinces in the direct path of Typhoon Kai Tak, feared the most massive to slam into the region in the last ten years. Meanwhile, one pregnant woman died and two others were injured in Quang Ngai province as a tree fell in heavy winds. Gusts, huge waves and torrential rains also entirely brought down two houses, damaging five others. Quang Nam province issued high alerts for landslides and flashfloods in mountainous areas, with Mount Dau Voi in Tien Phuoc commune already showing signs of giving way, threatening 80 households below. Danang city on Monday handed out 500 life jackets and canvas to localities in the face of the typhoon. Several roads in Binh Dinh province have been inundated, causing road blocks, with 300 households in Tuy Phuoc commune isolated since Oct 22. The province’s Health Department dispatched one million antiseptic pills among other provisions. The typhoon, which developed from a tropical depression, has its eye some 340 km southeast of the Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Ngai at 4pm Monday. It is moving on a slow northwestward trek at 5-10 km/hr, bringing cyclones, choppy seas and torrential rains to the vicinity.

The remnants of Hurricane Beta dropped heavy rain over parts of Central America on Monday, prompting forecasters to warn of deadly landslides and flooding as the storm began to dissipate. No injuries or deaths were reported a day after the storm crashed ashore in Nicaragua, uprooting trees and ripping the roofs off houses. While powerful at times, Beta was a small storm, with its initial hurricane-force winds extending outward only about 15 miles.

Weather forecasters in the South Pacific are predicting a maximum number of cyclones as the tropical cyclone season begins in the Pacific this week. With no El Nino or La Nina weather pattern this year and the increasing severe weather patterns in the Atlantic Ocean, including Hurricane Katrina and Rita, scientists say the annual average of nine cyclones in the South Pacific could be reached or exceeded. Most of the cyclones this season are expected to form in the western part of the region, New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

AUSTRALIA - Heavy weekend rain in New South Wales has caused flooding in some towns, prompting a warning from emergency services about the dangers of flood waters. More heavy rain is forecast for coming days in the Sydney area, the central west and central coast.

FIJI - Heavy rain over the last two days has broken drought conditions on the main island of Viti Levu, but the downpours have caused some flooding and forced evacuations in eastern parts of the island. Some places received almost twice their normal rainfall for October, in just two days.

ICELAND - Southern and western Iceland experienced a weekend of extreme weather conditions. There were winds up to 50 meter per second on Kjalarnes; roof tiles flying off houses in the Westman Islands and twice as many automobile accidents as normally reported, as the roads throughout the country were extremely icy and many were closed. According to reports, it snowed so heavily in the Westman Islands that people clearing the streets could not keep up.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1755 - an 8.7 quake struck Lisbon, Portugal, 70,000 killed.
In 1935 - a 6.2 quake struck Timiskaming, Canada.
In 1946 - a 7.0 quake struck the Andreanof Islands, Alaska.
In 1947 - a 7.3 quake struck Central Peru, 233 killed.

Drought, Heat, Water Shortages, Wildfires - updated Tuesdays.


Monday, October 31, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -


Typhoon Kai-tak is forecast to strike Vietnam at about 12:00 GMT on November 2 with category 1 strength. Torrential rains have occurred in almost all central coastal provinces from Ha Tinh southward to Phu Yen over the past two days.

Hurricane Beta - By Sunday afternoon, it had weakened to a tropical storm with 65mph winds as it swept across Nicaragua, dumping up to 15 inches of rain. Forecasters had predicted the storm would touch down in the far northeastern region of Nicaragua, prompting officials to evacuate thousands of people from the far eastern coastal port of Cabo de Gracias a Dios, and from along the River Coco, both on the Honduras border. But early yesterday, Beta took an unexpected turn south, and headed for Nicaragua’s central coastline. In Honduras, authorities evacuated more than 7,800 people from 50 communities along the northeastern Atlantic coast after four rivers overflowed due to heavy rains dumped by Hurricane Beta. The weakened storm should dissipate over Nicaragua today without its eye ever passing into Honduras.
BETA - There is still a threat of additional heavy rains over Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador for the next day or so, with the potential to cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Should the system regenerate over the east Pacific, it would be assigned a new number and/or name.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??? FLORIDA - In parts of Miami-Dade and Broward that are in evacuation zones, because they could be flooded by even the weakest hurricanes, nearly a third of residents believe they would be safe at home in a Category 4 storm with sustained wind of 155 mph. "I would be surprised frankly if a majority of people were familiar with the details of the forecast. I think that they rely on their local emergency management to distill the forecast into operational terms for them," such as whether to evacuate or put up shutters. "People need to be told specifically what they need to do rather than how strong it will be." Surveys show that people pay much more attention to hurricanes when an evacuation order is issued, no matter the warnings that meteorologists give.

FLORIDA - Wilma raised some lakes beyond their banks in just a few hours, inundating roads and threatening homes. The northern edge of the large storm dropped as much as 8 inches of rain last week. Pumping could continue this week to dry out several areas flooded by the hurricane. Crews already had been pumping water away from lakes BEFORE the hurricane hit due to heavy summer downpours.

SCOTLAND - Last week's record-breaking heatwave fooled numerous species into believing winter had already passed. Bizarre and wildly fluctuating weather patterns have confused - and could yet kill - plants and animals across the area. Scientists now fear animals and plants will perish in their tens of thousands if, as predicted by some experts, the UK suffers its coldest winter for years with temperatures as low as minus 27°C. Wildlife experts fear hibernating animals may be caught out by the dramatic change in the weather after halting their preparations for the winter because of the late warm spell. Plants are already showing signs of bursting into bloom too early at a time when there are no insects around to pollinate their flowers. At the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, some trees have already started flowering as much as four months early. "For some of the plants spring has come in autumn, it seems." "We have a hazel bush here that normally flowers in February but is already starting to produce flowers in October... The previously mild winters in the past few years has meant the plant has been flowering progressively earlier, but this time it has advanced 32 days on the last year. It is possible weather has reset the plant's internal rhythms." A number of other species have also shown unusual activity this year. Wych hazel bushes, which normally flower in early winter, are already bursting with catkins several weeks early. Rhododendron bushes are also still blooming in the unseasonably warm autumn, nearly two months after they should have lost their flowers at the end of summer. Some plants will be hit hard in the coming winter freeze. Other species have been displaying baffling behaviour that even scientists are struggling to understand. Bird-watchers have spotted strange behaviour in migrating geese arriving in Scotland after flying south from Iceland for the winter. The pink-footed geese have been leaving their roosts beside estuaries in south-east Scotland much later in the day than usual, even going out to search for food at night. "This is the first season we have had reports of the pink-footed geese moving in such a strange way. They are leaving their roosts in the evening and going inland, which is completely the opposite to what they usually do as they return to their roosts in the evening. They normally only do this when there is a full moon but there hasn't been one, so it is difficult to understand what is causing this."

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1895- a 6.7 quake struck Charleston, Missouri.
In 1970 - a 7.0 quake struck New Guinea, 5 killed.
In 2002 – an earthquake struck the village of San Giuliano di Puglia in the Apennine mountains 225 km southeast of Rome, killing 26 children and one teacher in an elementary school that collapsed.

Disease - updated Mondays


Sunday, October 30, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

TRINIDAD, GRENADA, VENEZUELA - A 5.5 earthquake rattled the area late Friday, but there were no immediate reports of injury or damage. The temblor struck at about 6:30 p.m. The quake was centered about 45 miles off the coast of Trinidad, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The latest quake came just days after a magnitude 4.9 temblor jolted Trinidad and Grenada on Monday.

NEW ZEALAND - As of the 28th of October, there has been some seismic activity at Ruapehu. The lake temperature, which had been falling from a high of 38 degrees C several weeks ago, has started to rise again.
ALASKA - As of the 29th of October, elevated seismic activity below young volcanic vents on Tanaga Island continues. Since October 24 they have observed weak, nearly continuous volcanic tremor in the vicinity of Takawangha volcano, of the Tanaga volcano cluster. This is the first time that tremor of this sort has been observed in the volcanic cluster since the seismic network was installed in 2003. The daily number of small earthquakes has continued to diminish from its peak in early October, but is still above background.


1 in the NW Pacific -
Typhoon KAI-TAK was 259 nmi ESE of Da Nang, Vietnam. This system will make landfall in northern Vietnam and dissipate over northern Indochina. ( path forecast map )

1 in the Atlantic -
Hurricane Beta was about to make landfall in Nicaragua this morning. Although a powerful Category 2, Beta is a small hurricane. She will bring storm surges and torrential rain to Nicaragua and Honduras. It is possible that whatever is left of Beta in a few days could at some point lead to regeneration in the Pacific. Satellite image.
NICARAGUA has ordered the evacuation of a coastal city after Hurricane Beta changed course and threatened to become a Category Three storm. Authorities in north-eastern Puerto Cabezas fear there will not be enough time to evacuate all of the city's 60,000 inhabitants. Strong winds and heavy rain have already begun hitting Puerto Cabezas, about 400km (250 miles) north-east of the capital Managua.

CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE WILMA - The power company in Florida has never had so many of its customers out, not even when Category 5 Hurricane Andrew roared through Miami-Dade County in 1992. Bewildered executives are pondering places where severe and inconsistent damage by Wilma felled about 10,000 of the company's poles - more than any during Florida's recent spate of storms. Teams of forensics experts are studying damage to substations where flying debris wrapped itself around equipment, knocking out power to thousands at a time. "We haven't seen this before," about the substation damage. "This is an oddity. It's going to take us months to understand what happened and why." THE STORM IS CONFOUNDING ONE OF THE COUNTRY'S MOST EXPERIENCED HURRICANE TEAMS, leaving officials to toss out suggestions of tornadoes, headwinds and microbursts. "You're not going to get that kind of damage from a weakening storm." "We've had very weird situations here where concrete poles have been, completely unencumbered by anything, snapped in two." "We think we had SOME STRANGE WEATHER PHENOMENA BEYOND THE HURRICANE." (photo of metal transmission poles which Wilma bent like blades of grass)
Wilma inflicted heavy damage on South Florida, but it wasn't that powerful - blowing through Miami-Dade and Broward with Category 1 sustained winds generally below 85 mph. That's the preliminary assessment of hurricane scientists, who are just beginning to study a storm that darkened more than 80 percent of South Florida homes, closed schools and many businesses for at least a week, and caused brutal devastation in some areas, knocking down power poles, ripping sides off buildings and shattering countless storm-resistent windows. This contrast between minimal hurricane winds and severe pockets of extreme damage might mean brief, devastating winds called microbursts touched down in some places. Thousands of thick concrete and wooden poles, supposedly designed to withstand winds of 119 miles, collapsed during Wilma. The utility reported the major collapses of poles occurred in random, isolated areas and they believe an unusual force felled the poles. ''I'm very curious whether there were some tornadoes or microbursts moving through the area.'' But there is no proof of tornadoes spinning out of Wilma. "Did they have tornadoes all over Dade County and nobody saw them?'' Microbursts can cause random patterns of utter devastation. ''Damage is caused by peak winds. It doesn't matter how long they last.'' Another factor could have been Wilma coming in from the southwest. Most hurricanes move over the flat surface of the ocean and arrive on shore with a relatively steady wind, but Wilma, moving in over Florida's southwest coast and then the Everglades, was hitting structures and dips, creating uneven swirls of wind and perhaps picking up more debris along the way than an Atlantic storm. In fact, the 241 substations knocked out by the storm suffered primarily because of debris blown on them. By the time it reached South Florida, Wilma was also UNCOMMONLY DRY FOR A HURRICANE: It dumped only three-fourths of an inch at Miami International Airport.

INDIA - The cyclone that hit the Andhra coast on Friday afternoon wreaked havoc in at least five districts and claimed 12 lives as it unleashed torrential rains and strong gales. Hundreds of houses have been damaged and about 100 tanks have breached in the affected areas. About 40,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas. This is the third time in the last six weeks that rains have taken a heavy toll of life and caused widespread damage across the state. The rain threw normal life out of gear, disrupted road and rail traffic, and caused extensive crop damage.

INDIA - At least 50 people died and more were feared killed when a passenger train derailed and toppled into swirling floodwaters in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh early today. The floodwaters came from an overflowing reservoir nearby. The reservoir had been hit by flashfloods caused by rains which have swamped southern India for more than a week. Some people were still alive in the coaches, "but if they come out they will be swept away". Television pictures showed brown muddy waters swirling around the wreckage, with passengers waiting to be rescued standing on top of some of the carriages which had not been fully submerged.
INDIA - One after the other, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata have crumbled in the face of concentrated bursts of rain that destroyed civic infrastructure, left thousands marooned for days and reduced local weathermen to bumbling fools. Waist-high water, submerged runways, aircrafts skidding, deadly landslides, flooded homes, 150,000 displaced citizens and over 1,000 people killed: relentless assaults from the rains have caused havoc across India’s urban hubs in the last three months. The amounts of rain are 944 mm in Mumbai, 593 mm in Bangalore, 420 mm in Chennai. Until July 26th's cloudburst, Mumbai had never experienced 944 mm of rain in 24 hours for about 500 years. Until last week, Bangalore’s record for maximum rain in October was 522 mm in 1956. Weathermen are still searching for data on the last time it rained 270 mm in a span of six hours in Chennai. And in Vishakapatnam, it took a fortnight for a flight to take off or land after flooded runways transformed the airport into a lake. Excess rainfall is the result of a peculiar phenomenon. “There is high moisture level which bursts at particular areas because of compression created by excess heat on ground and from the atmosphere. We have been witnessing sudden bursts of rainfall in certain regions in the past few years.” India figures among the top 10 contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. And carbon emissions from congested cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are much higher than rural areas. “The increase in green house gas emissions like carbon dioxide and methane (caused by vehicular traffic, fossil fuel burning and deforestation) have a definite impact on monsoon rains." “Natural drainage systems have been built over or modified in all urban areas which is what caused the flooding in all the metros. The high density of population only adds to the problem. These are the problems that we can control.”

JAMAICA - There were more reports of flooding in St. James as heavy rains continued to lash sections of the parish Friday. While some persons saw only flood waters, huge boulders were washed into one yard trapping the family.

TEXAS - SAN JOSE, DUVAL COUNTY - A twister was accompanied by heavy rains and hail that left a trail of damage in its wake. Throughout Duval County you'll find trees inside homes, trees on cars, and trees split in half. Trailer homes leveled, trees uprooted, power lines down, buildings blown over.

On October 20th in the Himalayas furious blizzards set off a series of avalanches. Seven French mountaineers disappeared with 11 Nepalese climbers when a wall of snow thundered into their base camp on the Kanguru peak. Only four of the 22-strong expedition survived. "I have never seen anything like it," said one of the Nepalese porters who dug his way out of the snow."There was a sudden loud noise and within seconds we were blown to the side. We were lucky. The others disappeared." It was the worst ever single loss of life in the mountains. "The conditions had been perfect and there was absolutely no sign that the weather was changing. I was watching my barometer. But on the Wednesday heavy snow began falling, which didn't let up for around 36 hours." A distressed French trekker who had been near the area where the avalanches struck " was really shaken and ashen-faced and told us that he heard avalanches coming off Kanguru peak in REGULAR INTERVALS." The avalanche dragged the climbers more than 100 metres down the mountain in a steep gorge.

MARS - This weekend, Mars comes closer to Earth than it will again for another 13 years. Rising in the east after sunset, Mars looks like an intense pumpkin-colored star. A new dust storm has erupted on Mars, big and bright enough to see through backyard telescopes. Some longtime observers say it's the most intense they've ever seen. On Oct. 28th the billowing cloud assumed the shaped of a giant tentacled octopus.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1983 - a 6.9 quake struck Turkey, more than 1342 killed, 50 villages completely destroyed.
In 2003 – An army of 13,000 firefighters struggled to contain the worst wildfires in California in years. Twenty people die and thousands of homes were destroyed.

Space Weather / Solar Storms / Meteors - updated Sundays.


Saturday, October 29, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

CHINA - One man in his 60s was killed and another injured in a 4.4 earthquake in Pingguo County, Bose City of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Thursday. The man was having dinner together at home with other members of the family when the earthquake struck at 7:19 p.m. and he was killed by a boulder falling from the mountain near his home.

PAKISTAN - Pakistan's military estimates that about a third of the homeless from the October 8th quake live in remote mountain areas where winter weather will be severe. The United Nations has warned that thousands of people could die from exposure or cold-related illnesses unless they get at least temporary shelter sturdy enough to withstand the harsh Himalayan winter. Snow is already falling on mountain peaks, and at night temperatures drop far below freezing in villages. As survivors struggle to find warm shelter, prices for essential goods are rising fast. Many people are going into debt just trying to feed themselves. Outside Muzaffarabad, in the Jhelum Valley, villagers say the price of rice has more than tripled since the quake. Survivors are making tents themselves, some with dried cornstalks and old plastic sacks that can't stop the freezing wind. The children are coughing, and colder weather is just a few weeks away. So they tried to rig up some insulation: a thin layer of foil packaging taken from Mexican-style snacks from Germany.

PAKISTAN - Fear has gripped the inhabitants of Alai where landslides in the adjoining Chel Mountain have triggered speculations of an impending volcanic eruption. A team of geologists visited the site this week and said that there was no volcanic activity in the area but called for a second look at the site to carry out a thorough study before giving a final verdict. "We would like to see the fissures and cracks which people say have been caused by the supposed volcanic activity, the water which, they say, has changed its colour and the smoke, which they say, is coming out from the mountain.” Geologists said that one area that had developed fissures seemed dangerous. “That did not look good to me.” They added that the area was a high-risk zone and mountains that had soft composition could pose serious threat to people due to frequent jolts and landslides.

WASHINGTON, MT. ST. HELENS - Geologists say the grumbling mountain is going through a 25-year eruption cycle, but its explosive energy seems to be petering out. It did go through two relatively big explosions this year, Jan. 16 and March 8. Lately, the mountain has occasionally given off plumes from eruptive activity, mostly white steam and black dust. When they become substantial enough, the black dust can become hazardous to airplanes because it is hot enough to melt cockpit windshields. As the months and years go by since the 1980 big one, geologists see the seismic energy fading. Gas emissions have been remaining low, suggesting the energy of the underlying magma is fading away.

Vast sheets of prehistoric lava some 250 million years ago were probably caused by meteorites, according to U.S. scientists. The huge volume of magma in the lava sheets might have caused global changes in climate that made Earth inhospitable to all but the hardiest species. A meteorite with a diameter of less than a mile could dent the Earth's crust enough to weaken it. "There's no reason it couldn't happen again."


1 in the NW Pacific -
Tropical storm KAI-TAK was 331 nmi SE of Da Nang, Vietnam. ( Projected path )

1 in the Indian Ocean -
Cyclone 04B was 411 nmi ESE of Bombay, India. Has made landfall near Ongole, India.

1 in the Atlantic -
Hurricane BETA was 161 nmi SE of Puerto Lempira, Honduras. The slow-moving, category 1 Beta continues to batter Providencia Island with damaging winds, torrential rainfall and high surf. Extensive damage has occurred to homes but there are still no communications with residents. Rainfall may exceed 25 inches. Beta could become a strong category 2 or even 3 hurricane before it makes landfall along the east coast of Nicaragua. Some of the deep tropical moisture associated with Beta may get drawn into a developing winter-type low pressure system over the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in strong thunderstorms and heavy rainfall across Cuba, Florida and portions of the SE U.S by the middle of next week.

MAURITIUS - is forecasting about 10 cyclones or tropical storms in the southwestern Indian Ocean in 2005/6. The tiny island of 1.2 million people, located off the east coast of Africa, is prone to cyclones between November and mid-May, peaking in January and February. The impact of cyclonic rains on the sugar crop is a major concern in Mauritius. An economic mainstay, sugar is harvested from June to December. Storm formations would be mainly in the region of Diego Garcia and at least one was expected to develop in the Mozambique Channel. "There is a strong likelihood that at least a couple of formations could develop into severe tropical cyclones and reach very high intensity, with winds blowing at 250 kmph (155 mph)." Observations from the meteorological station also showed the possibility of torrential rains and high temperatures during the summer.

AUSTRALIA - Wild thunderstorms lashed south-east Queensland again overnight. More than 23,000 lightning strikes were recorded, with more than 400 hitting in 15 minutes.One brick home in Brisbane's north was struck by a massive bolt of lightning about 9.15pm (AEST). The owner thought terrorists had struck, as his ceiling crumbled on top of him, walls collapsed and doors were blown off their hinges. "I thought it was a bomb. I didn't think about lightning...All of a sudden there was an almighty explosion and it threw me across the bed. The place was full of dense black smoke and I got out of bed and thought the place was on fire. I tried to put the light on and put my arm straight through the wall because it blew the wall out." The State Emergency Services controller said he had never seen anything like it.

FRANCE - The tail–end of Hurricane Wilma is the cause of steady offshore 60 kph winds from the south, and temperatures for Friday, Saturday and Sunday of 21, 20 and 22 degrees are expected, a whole six degrees above normal. "This season's weather in Paris is not being normal. One of my elderly neighbors guessed that the last fall when it was similar was in 1985 – so, scientifically, it only happens once every 20 years."

UNITED KINGDOM - October 27 was the hottest day ever recorded there. The temperature at Aultbea, on the banks of Loch Ewe, peaked at 21.2C. It beat the British record of 20.3C for the previously hottest 27 October, which was recorded in London in 1888. Similar soaring temperatures were seen throughout Scotland, with Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, the Moray coast and the Scottish Borders all exceeding 20C - HIGHLY UNUSUAL for the second half of October. In central London, the mercury rose to 21.5C in the afternoon. There has been a wind but even the wind is very warm. The average temperature in Scotland for this time of year is normally as low as 12C, but throughout the country that figure has been significantly beaten. Edinburgh's temperature hit 21C - the HIGHEST IN THE LAST TEN DAYS OF OCTOBER SINCE RECORDS BEGAN. "For late October it is unusual to have had such a hot day. There has been an ideal wind trajectory, with the wind coming from north Africa, Spain, northern France and through England, so there's not been much of a sea tract to cool it down."

MYSTERIOUS BOOMS ARE BACK, THIS TIME IN ISRAEL - Dozens of residents from across Israel heard unusually loud “explosions” and tremors throughout the night, but attempts to shed light on the source of the blasts has been met with uncertainty. At least one possibility has been discounted, with the country’s seismological institute saying no earthquake occurred. Police officials estimated the loud sounds were a result of sonic booms created by IDF fighter jets on their way to attacking Gaza, but the army insisted there was no unusual Air Force activity across the country overnight. Many residents said the explosions came from the direction of the sea. “Police personnel who heard the blasts themselves said they sounded like sonic booms. We still don’t know what caused the explosions. We had similar reports during the week.” Police in Haifa also received calls regarding a possible earthquake, but no damages were reported. The nighttime explosions have apparently become a routine occurrence throughout the Sharon region, north of Tel Aviv. In recent nights there have been other reports about blasts heard in the town of Herzliya, but the source of them is unclear. “It was a scary blast. The windows shook and we felt the entire house shake. The first thing that came to mind was a terror attack…we weren’t able to figure out what caused the first blast, and minutes later a second blast followed.” The blast was so powerful it knocked one door out. The owner said he thought an earthquake was behind the unusual occurrence. “It wasn’t like an explosion, but rather, the entire building shook.”

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1976 - a 7.1 quake struck West Irian, 133 killed.
In 1989 - a 5.7 quake struck Algeria.

Unusually High Tides / Freak Waves - updated Saturdays.


Friday, October 28, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

PAKISTAN - Predictions of a second wave of death from the Oct. 8 South Asian earthquake are coming true with the confirmation that at least 22 injured people have died of tetanus.

PACIFIC SEA FLOOR - Noisy popping rocks hauled up from the deep Pacific seafloor off northern Mexico appear to be from a very young undersea volcano. Some of the weird and scientifically valuable gas-charged, remarkably loud, volcanic rocks were first discovered in the same area in 1960, but no one had been able to find them again until now. The area is 200 miles south of San Diego near Guadalupe Island. "People don't know how many volcanoes there are off the coast here." The rocks are pretty rare. They are the only popping rocks found outside the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. How much of each gas that's found in the rocks could support or challenge theories about how the interior of the Earth is heated.

GUATEMALA - The Santa Maria Volcano in Guatemala experienced a small eruption on October 26. Its October 26 eruption was quite mild compared to earlier activity. It experienced a catastrophic eruption in 1902. Another eruption in 1929 killed as many as 5,000 people.


1 in the Atlantic / Caribbean
- Tropical storm Beta is forecast to strike Nicaragua as a hurricane at about 06:00 GMT on 30 October at category 2 strength.
SAN ANDRES - Officials evacuated hundreds of tourists and residents from the Colombian island of San Andres as Tropical Storm Beta appeared on track to become the 13th hurricane of the already record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season of 23 named storms. "It may not be over with Beta, but let's hope so." Beta would be the first hurricane to hit the Colombian islands since Hurricane Cesar slammed into them in 1996, killing three people. Beta is expected to dump up to 15 inches (40 centimeters) across western Panama, Costa Rica, northeastern Honduras and Nicaragua.

In the Eastern North Pacific -
An area of low pressure located about 925 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California has remained nearly stationary. Although thunderstorm activity is currently limited, this system still has some potential to become a tropical depression during the next day or so.
An area of disturbed weather located about 840 miles south of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula has changed little. Environmental conditions are only marginally favorable for some slow development to occur during the next couple of days.
Elsewhere, Tropical storm formation is not expected through Saturday.

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical Cyclone 04B is located 120 nm northeast of Madras, India. The system is forecast to make landfall this morning and will continue tracking inland thereafter. Storm path

MEXICO - Hurricane Wilma ripped into coral reefs and damaged more than 1 million acres (500,000 hectares) of trees on the Yucatan peninsula, creating fuel for possible forest fires in the upcoming dry season. On Isla Mujeres, angry surf dragged the public beach's sand across much of the island, blocking streets and filling homes and businesses with the snowy white grains. People complained of limited access to drinking water and homes destroyed by high winds, waves and flooding. Many residents stayed on Isla Mujeres as the storm hit, ripping apart even cinderblock homes. Fishermen on Isla Mujeres said the storm scared away most of the fish. Peering into the water, a shallow reef just offshore was abandoned by sealife. "The people here fish... But now there aren't fish, so we don't do anything." On Cozumel, a larger island popular with cruise ships and divers, hundreds of tourists had been stranded for days, but most had been evacuated by Thursday. Even in Cancun, lines at makeshift airline ticket counters had nearly vanished.

FLORIDA - No official estimate has been made of Florida's agriculture losses from Wilma, but they likely will exceed $1 billion. The losses appeared to be worse than those from Hurricane Katrina earlier this year, and worse than the four hurricanes that ravaged Florida last year. (Last year's hurricanes caused $2 billion to $3 billion in damages to crops and infrastructure) Forty-percent of the citrus crop in the hurricane-affected areas in the southern part of the state appeared to be on the ground. Four sugar-processing facilities are inoperable, and many sugar cane fields have been flattened. In addition, U.S. Sugar's internal railroad suffered significant damage as locomotives and railcars were blown over, company officials said.

AUSTRALIA - Lightning struck more than 400 times across Queensland's south-east last night in 1 and a half hours, as a large storm blacked out around 15,000 homes. Only around 40mm to 50mm of rainfall was recorded. "We are going to need a few hundred millimetres to make a difference to the dam catchment areas." Storms will continue to build in western Queensland, but the weekend will be mostly storm-free in the south-east.

INDIA - Nearly 50,000 people have been evacuated as heavy rains lashed southern India for the third straight day today, triggering floods.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - A rain-swollen river flooded a city in the northern Dominican Republic, washing away 10 houses and killing six people, including two children, officials said Wednesday.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1746 – The Peruvian cities Lima and Callao were demolished by an earthquake, killing at least 18,000.
In 1891 – An 8.4 earthquake struck the Niphon Islands in Japan, killing 10,000 people and leaving at least 300,000 homeless.
In 1983 - a 7.0 quake struck Borah Peak, Idaho, 2 killed. Felt in Idaho, Washington, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, and parts of Canada.
In 1998 – Hurricane Mitch paused over Honduras with 200 km/h winds, sweeping away bridges, flooding neighbourhoods and killing hundreds of people.

Winter Forecasts / Cold Weather - updated Fridays.


Thursday, October 27, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

PAKISTAN - Fears of a volcano pushing through the earthquake-shattered mountains of northern Pakistan have proved unfounded, geologists said. People in the remote Alai valley of North West Frontier Province had mistaken dust arising from landslides triggered by a strong aftershock on Sunday for smoke. "The dust and fog hang in the air for a while because of the cold and it triggered panic in the area" following the aftershock of 6.0 magnitude which had its epicentre near the valley. "There is no crack in the mountains, there is no eruption."

EL SALVADOR - Llamatepec Volcano is expelling gases, which could signal a new eruption. They were registering vibrations and a significant increase in seismic activity of the volcano, which had been at rest since October 21. A red alert has again been declared for 3,106 miles around Llamatepec and authorities have asked evacuated citizens to remain calm. "The mountain continues very active, expelling toxic gases, but the increasing clouds in the area do not allow close observation of the phenomenon." On October 1, over 20,000 citizens left the area with the eruption that caused two deaths.


1 in the Atlantic -
Tropical storm Beta the RECORD 23RD TROPICAL STORM OF THE SEASON, was 111 nmi NE of Limon, Costa Rica. Torrential rains are expected in Central America - 10-15 inches across western Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches. The storm is forecast strengthen to a hurricane before 48 hours and to move inland over Nicaragua in a couple of days. The government of Colombia has issued a hurricane watch in additon to the tropical storm warning already in effect for the islands of San Andres and Providencia. Satellite Image.

Hurricane center forecasters are watching two other areas in the tropics for signs of development. Squally weather associated with a tropical wave will likely spread over the Lesser Antilles during later today and tonight. There are no signs of tropical cyclone formation at this time.
A weak low pressure area associated with a tropical wave is centered about 850 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. Upper-level level winds appear unfavorable for additional development at this time.

TROPICAL STORM ALPHA - Several more deaths were confirmed in Haiti and the Dominican Republic from flooding caused by Tropical Storm Alpha, bringing the death toll to 26. The storm drenched the two countries, which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with torrential rain on Monday [AFTER Alpha was already supposed to have been absorbed by Wilma] and caused flash floods that swept away people, houses and animals.

WILMA - FLORIDA - We expect storms to hit land and slow down from the sheer friction of their mass or the obstacles they encounter. And we expect them to do more damage on the side of the state they enter than on the side they exit. But, not Wacky Wilma. "I guess we could classify it as RARE because we don't get a lot of Category 3 hurricanes making landfall any time of year, much less in October." Wilma confused even die-hard storm chasers who were waiting in the Naples area for the Category 3 storm to make landfall. Wilma arrived at 6:30 a.m. at Cape Romano, about 20 miles south of Naples. It was just the beginning of a BIZARRE TRACK that flooded the playground of the rich, then shot the storm across the state before becoming the MOST DESTRUCTIVE HURRICANE TO HIT THE FORT LAUDERDALE AREA SINCE 1950. By coming into Cape Romano instead of Naples, Wilma was now far enough south to put Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in the worst spot you want to be in during a hurricane - the northeast quadrant. It is not unusual to have a hurricane in October. Wilma actually makes the ninth major storm to thrive during that month - and the seventh to hit Florida. But Wilma was also a sort of meteorological Rocky - refusing to let a land mass like the Yucatan knock her out. She behaved as if she was on steroids, intensifying from a Category 2 to a Category 5 storm overnight - ANOTHER RECORD.

1 active area in the Indian Ocean -
Formation of a significant tropical cyclone is possible within a 200 NM radius of 12.5N 80.9E (off the east coast of India, near Madras) within the next 12 to 24 hours. The system is moving WNW at 12 knots. Minimum sea level pressure is estimated to be near 1002 MB.
INDIA - The low pressure that formed about 1,000 km south of Calcutta on Tuesday, further intensified into a depression on Wednesday. The system now lies over a huge expanse of the south-west Bay of Bengal. “The depression continues to gather strength and is likely to intensify further. There is a possibility that the system would develop into a cyclone. Met officials have been poring over the radar screen and charts for the past week, with heavy rain battering Calcutta and the districts from the night of October 18 till October 23, leading to floods in many areas. A strict watch is also being kept on the Andaman Sea, the source of many a cyclone over the Bengal and Orissa coasts at this time of the year.
INDIA - Since earlier this month, the northeast monsoon has brought torrential rains to many parts of South India. In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, a grim flood situation shows no sign of easing off. In Tamil Nadu, over 50 people have lost their lives since October 1, including at least five in the last 24 hours. The rains have also seriously damaged infrastructure, flooding the Dharmapuri-Bangalore highway and causing breaches to develop in Srirangam dam in Trichy. Parts of Karnataka, too, are experiencing their WETTEST OCTOBER IN NEARLY 50 YEARS. For the last three days, two villages sandwiched between branches of the river Coleron in Perambalur district have been cut off by floods, leaving over 2,000 people marooned. The villages are completely inundated for over a kilometre. For 40 years, residents have come and gone from the villages by walking across the dry river bed.

VERMONT - An early season snowstorm dumped up to 20 inches of heavy snow in the mountains, and left 40,000 customers without power. "This is the worst fall snow storm damage we've seen since October of 1987. The storm damage is far worse than the ice storm of '98, and when the damage is tallied up, this will be ONE OF THE FOUR OR FIVE WORST STORMS IN RECENT MEMORY." Snowstorms in October are not unusual in Vermont "but to get this much snow this early is A BIT UNUSUAL."

EASTERN U.S. The early nor'easter fed by Hurricane Wilma dumped heavy rain and up to 20 inches of wet snow from New England to West Virginia, knocking out power to tens of thousands, closing schools and elevating rivers. Power was restored to many in affected areas but thousands remained without Wednesday morning. "We had a perfect storm, unfortunately. We had heavy, wet snow like wet cement on top of trees that still had their leaves on." Dozens of schools were closed in Vermont, western Maryland and West Virginia. The storm was reinforced by Wilma's travels up the Atlantic Coast. Wilma's spinning action pulled down cold air from Canada and mixed it with the hurricane's subtropical moisture. "It was a thin band of snow, and if you were under that band, you got pounded." The storm churned 20-foot seas that prompted commercial fishermen to stay on solid ground. It has been the WETTEST MONTH ON RECORD in Providence, R.I., with 15.07 inches of rain. Worcester, Mass., also TOPPED ITS OCTOBER RECORD with 15.52 inches so far this month.

CONNECTICUTT - High winds and intermittent rain sent trees falling and caused power outages yesterday, keeping public safety workers busy and BREAKING THE OCTOBER MONTHLY RECORD FOR RAINFALL in Fairfield County. The new October record is 11.35 inches of rain, breaking the 1952 monthly record for rainfall of 10.72 inches.

NEW YORK - The tail of Florida-bashing Hurricane Wilma has manifested itself in New York as howling wind and torrential rain. "It's autumn, it's New York and these things can happen," he said, "but the amount of rain they have had here has been FREAKISH." Fifteen hours of it, to be precise, to add to the 18 inches that had fallen in the past fortnight.
ALBANY, NEW YORK - More than 8 inches of precipitation, including a little snow, make this the area's fourth-wettest October on record. They even got some snow -"This has been VERY STRANGE, considering a couple of weeks ago it was almost 80 degrees." They recorded 8.23 inches of rain for the month, just over a half-inch behind the second wettest, October 1855, when 8.93 inches of rain fell. October 1955 had 8.83 inches of rain. The wettest by far was October 1869, when 13.48 inches of rain were recorded in Albany. The rain and snow were the result of a nor'easter that hugged the coast. In addition to the moisture it picked up, there was a stream of moisture being thrown toward the Northeast by Hurricane Wilma that was speeding by hundreds of miles out to sea.

FLORIDA - Residents in Lake County are bracing themselves for flooding from Wilma to reach them by the end of the week. Areas along the St. Johns River in Seminole County are flooded. As that water drains, it is expected to go north into flood-prone areas like Astor, in Lake County. Astor saw minor flooding during Wilma, but its highest water levels are expected by the end of the week.

Today is set to be the WARMEST OCTOBER October 27 IN BRITAIN ON RECORD, weather forecasters predicted Wednesday. Temperatures are set to soar to 21 degrees centigrade as a mini-heatwave hits the whole of the UK. The current record for October 27 is 20.3 degrees centigrade, which was measured in 1888 in London. With clear skies coming up from France, there will be plenty of sun and temperatures will soar." This month is set to be one of the five warmest Octobers on record.

Hurricane Wilma's rude visit Monday was followed by another EXTRAORDINARY WEATHER EVENT - a cold front. A RARE and powerful October cold front. The Hurricane Wilma cleanup began on PERHAPS THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY POST-HURRICANE WEATHER DAY IN RECORDED SOUTHWEST FLORIDA HISTORY. TEMPERATURES DROPPED TO RECORD LEVELS. Even meteorologists were buzzing about the hurricane/cold front double-whammy. The lowest high temperature ever recorded in Fort Myers on Oct. 25 was 72, in 1937 — that is, until Tuesday. Tuesday's high was a record 71, 14 degrees below the average high of 85 for the day. The low was 56, two degrees short of tying the record low of 54, set in 1982. The predicted low for Wednesday morning was 52, which would tie a record. Today's low temperature record was set in 1990.
FLORIDA - Temperatures in most of Central Florida will once again drop into the 40s as UNUSUALLY COOL TEMPERATURES CONTINUE in the area. "The one thing that is very unusual about the temperatures this morning is that they are all the way in the 40s. Average lows generally run in the 60s this time of year. Current temperatures are well below that." Temperatures dropped down to 39 degrees in parts of Ocala Wednesday morning and a 47 degree reading was recorded in Orlando. The record in Orlando for Oct. 26 is 47 degrees. "It is going to be chilly here for at least the next several days. Today, it feels like a January day." A general northern flow in Central Florida's air pattern will keep cooler weather in the area at least until the weekend.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1985 - a 5.9 quake struck Algeria, 6 killed.
In 1993 – Brush fires in southern California destroyed at least 800 homes.

Unusual Animal Behavior - updated Thursdays.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -


HURRICANE WILMA - About 6 million Floridians are without power today, two days after Hurricane Wilma plowed across the peninsula, and some could be in the dark for weeks. Longtime residents and veterans of past hurricanes appeared surprised by Wilma, which roared ashore early Monday with 125 mph winds, storm surge flooding and heavy rain. By Tuesday evening, Wilma was over the Atlantic, with top winds of 85 mph, was located 205 miles south-southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Forecasters don't expect Wilma to make a second landfall in the United States, although it could scrape across southern Newfoundland in Canada this afternoon. The storm was bringing more rain to the water-logged U.S. Northeast, still recovering from widespread flooding earlier this month.

CUBA - No fatalities occurred in Cuba, even though Wilma was in the vicinity of the island for 10 days. In Mariel, a port east of Havana, the residents were watching as the huge waves were breaking against the shoreline. ''I've never seen waves like this." ''The ocean is furious, as if it wants to take back the land." (photo)

HURRICANE KATRINA - there were 22 million tons of waste created by the hurricane. It will take at least 3.5 million truckloads to haul it away.

FIJI - There is a higher chance of Fiji being hit by a Tropical cyclone this year compared to last year and the Weather Office is bracing itself for the worst. Fiji will be entering the cyclone season with an El Nino and a La Nina condition. This means that there will be a neutral phase which increases the chances of a tropical cyclone hitting them. The dry spell that they are facing right now will be short lived with the beginning of the wet weather in November.

INDONESIA - The death toll from crushing landslides that smashed into two villages in Indonesia's Aceh province last week has reached 20, with around 250 people injured. The affected area is in the south of Aceh, a province on the northern tip of Sumatra island where the rainy season is in full swing. Many landslides in Indonesia are exacerbated by illegal logging that strips away natural barriers to such disasters.

BANGLADESH - Millions across Bangladesh Monday heaved a sigh of relief as rains stopped after intermittent downpour for sixth consecutive day, which the meteorologists termed "UNUSUAL". The rains snapped rail and road communication, damaged winter crops and 'aman' paddy, and washed away shrimps and fish from pisciculture farms across the country. Stagnant water at a number of places, both in urban and rural areas, paralysed daily life. The sudden spate of rain since Wednesday caused floods in many new areas, forcing thousands of people to leave their homesteads. Around 10 fishermen have been missing in the river Meghna from Sunday morning, probably because of the storm that hit the region in the morning. Generally, such unusual weather moves away within 24 to 41 hours, but in this case it will take more than that because it moves very slowly. "So much rain is unusual in late autumn, and it might have an adverse effect on the environment, such as the premature arrival of bitter cold."

SOUTH INDIA - Karnataka and Tamil Nadu continue to reel under floods, with Bangalore experiencing its WETTEST OCTOBER IN NEARLY 50 YEARS. The city had received 52.5 cm of rain by Tuesday afternoon, a new record for October. Authorities have closed the schools and colleges for two days. The power supply has been hit as 25 power transformers were damaged by the rain.

There is no respite for South and Eastern INDIA. More rain is forecast for Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, south interior Karnataka, Kerala and the Northeastern states. Light snow is expected in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. With an active Northeast monsoon covering the entire peninsular India with heavy rain, the Stanley reservoir at Mettur has been receiving an inflow of more than two lakh cusecs for the FIRST TIME IN 44 YEARS, leading to water discharge and Cauvery overflowing in some areas. The water level is 121.5 feet against the dam’s capacity of 120 feet and officials have issued flood warning in villages on the banks. Another low pressure area is developing over Bay of Bengal. If it develops into a full-fledged cyclone, rain over South and East India will be many times more than the last week. A trough extends from north coastal Andhra Pradesh to sub-Himalayan West Bengal. There is another trough in the middle troposphere which is interacting with the first one, bringing rains in the Northeast.

VIETNAM - 57 people have perished in floods ravaging the Mekong delta in southern Vietnam and in the central region over the last several weeks. Thousands of hectares of rice and some dykes have been damaged. Thousands of people have been displaced by the floods that regularly hit the Mekong region.

NEVADA - Dark clouds that began moving into the South Shore Monday afternoon unleashed a wrath of rain, lightning and at least an inch of hail. The storm was a product of warm temperatures in the lower atmosphere that clashed with cold temperatures in the upper atmosphere, following a trough that moved into the Sierra via the Southern California coast.

Previous Disasters - On this day -
In 1969 - a 5.6 quake struck Yugoslavia, 20 killed and 65,000 homeless.

Crop Failures, Food Shortages, Fish Die-Off - updated Wednesdays


Tuesday, October 25, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

HIMALAYAS - Landslides tumbled across the zone of the Oct. 8 earthquake, dramatizing not only the power of one of nature's great killers, but also how humans have brought tragedy upon themselves through massive deforestation and other ecological assaults on the mighty Himalayas. In Pakistan's quake-hit region, landslides swept away uncounted numbers of homes and severed roads, cutting off hundreds of communities. Mountain slopes were shorn away, exposing gray earth and rubble that still emit great clouds of dust two weeks after the quake. Aftershocks continue to trigger new landslides. "If there had been more trees we would not have lost as much. It is our mistake. "
BABIES DYING OF COLD, says doctor in quake zone - Chilling stories are emerging to back grim predictions of a second wave of earthquake deaths in Pakistan related to a lack of aid supplies and shelter.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR - A magnitude 5.5 earthquake occurred on Saturday, apparently around the time that the Sierra Negra volcano begun to erupt on Isabela, the largest of the Galapagos Islands.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005 -
On this day -
In 1886, Charleston, South Carolina was the site of the first recorded earthquake in the eastern United States. Even now, the quake is considered one of the worst to hit the nation. It was estimated at 7.5 on the Richter scale and felt 800 miles away. Two shocks, eight minutes apart in the early morning, killed about 100 people.

Quakes this morning - 5.1 HINDU KUSH, AFGHANISTAN, REGION

Largest quakes yesterday -

Salvadoran authorities activated emergency plans Tuesday as Ilamatepec volcano continued to spew gas and vapor in what experts said was a "significant increase" in activity. The renewed energy was first detected on Saturday, when experts witnessed 17 small earthquakes around the volcano. On Monday, scientists began to observe incandescent rocks in a 200-square-meter (2,150 square-foot) area near where columns of gas and vapor reached to 500 and 1,000 meters (1,640 feet to 3,280 feet). "The volcano is showing a significant increase in activity, both in the number of seismic events as well as in the amount of energy being liberated." All emergency agencies were on alert, both keeping people informed and preparing for the evacuation of 20,000 people who live nearby if the activity increases even more.

Helicopters plucked frantic survivors from rooftops of inundated homes and hundreds of people may have died in Hurricane Katrina's attack on the US Gulf Coast, which sent a wall of water into Mississippi and flooded New Orleans. The economic cost of the hurricane's rampage could be the highest in US history, currently estimated at $26 billion. "The devastation is greater than our worst fears. It's totally overwhelming." The storm inflicted catastrophic damage all along the coast as it slammed into Louisiana with 224km/h winds, then swept across Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

Flooding in New Orleans, most of which is already under water after Hurricane Katrina, was expected to worsen in some areas after an effort to plug a breach in a levee failed. 80% of the city is flooded and water levels began to rise around the city yesterday, a day after Hurricane Katrina struck, because of breaches in two levees. "We have canals that usually pull water out of the city and two of those canals have breaches. Water is pouring into those canals." Among the efforts being studied by US military engineers to plug the hole are dropping 1350kg sandbags from helicopters or shipping containers filled with sand.

The City of New Orleans is devastated. Those were the words of Mayor C. Ray Nagin. With the "major breach of a levee system, water is flowing into New Orleans, flooding it beyond recognition, and could very well destroy New Orleans, Jefferson and the surrounding areas." Tulane University said that they were about to move all of the patients from the hospital due to water rising at one inch every five minutes.

Oil companies scrambled planes and helicopters to inspect their assets and began ferrying some workers back to offshore facilities. Some found that a rig or platform had disappeared, drifted or listed; others reported minimal damage. Analysts said flooding could keep key refineries closed or operating below capacity for weeks. Former Mayor Marc Morial - "We've lost our city. ... I fear it's potentially like Pompeii." State officials have begun discussions of a "complete evacuation of New Orleans." It was unclear how much longer the Superdome stadium would hold up as a shelter. Bags of garbage and loose trash floated in water that had begun to lap at the sides of the Superdome yesterday afternoon. Sanitation facilities reportedly are no longer flushable due to the high water. "There's just a feeling in the air. People are in there, and they're stuck there, and they're just going insane."

Two months ago, Sen. Mary Landrieu told an audience of congressional staffers and scientific experts the federal government needs to spend billions of dollars over the next two decades to restore her state's wetlands. She warned that intentional rerouting of the Mississippi River over the past century, coupled with rising sea levels due to climate change, had eroded Louisiana's natural buffer against massive storms. "This is not Disneyland. This is the real deal," Landrieu said, referring to New Orleans's vulnerability to hurricanes. "The French Quarter could be under 18 feet of water. It would be lost forever."

The safest and the least safe places in the U.S. "Every location in the country is exposed to one disaster or another." Still, some places are less susceptible than others to natural hazards.

Residents in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are being warned to take precautions, with concerns that tropical storm Nabi could intensify and become a typhoon tonight ( number 14). . Saipan and most Northern Mariana islands are likely to bear the brunt of the storm. Guam is also expected to have heavy rains and severe weather conditions in the next few days.

Taiwan has warned of flash floods and landslides as Typhoon Talim heads for the island, with heavy rain and strong winds forcing some schools and offices to close. The full force of the storm was projected to hit Taiwan late today or early tomorrow morning.

Floods caused by weeks of heavy rain have killed 28 people and left four missing in central China. Rainstorms have lashed Shiyan city in Hubei province every day since August 14, sparking huge floods that cut off power, roads and communications and inundated crops. The weeks of rain in Shiyan have caused several mudslides, and potential mountain torrents threaten nearly 800 mountainside households. Floods across China this northern summer have killed at least 1024 people and left 293 missing. Nearly 900,000 houses and 10m hectares of farmland have been destroyed nationwide so far this year. China's flood season is nearing its end, but southeastern provinces have been told to brace for approaching Typhoon Talim. Tailm was generated Saturday in the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines. Some meteorologists say that Talim may bring destruction as serious as that caused by Typhoon Haitang, a weather disaster that ravaged east China's Fujian and Zhejiang provinces last July. (SITE NOTE - if you are superstitious - Talim is their 13th typhoon of the season. Katrina was our unlucky 13th tropical storm of the season.)

Wild winds uprooted trees and caused widespread blackouts in Adelaide overnight, with the damage bill for South Australia's electricity transmission system alone expected to top $1.5 million. The local power company described the storms as "ONE OF THE MOST EXTENSIVE AND EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS" IN ITS HISTORY.
A number of fires were caused by lightning. Parts of regional Victoria reported spectacular lightning displays.

One person is missing and a town is under water after storms dumped up to 240mm of rain on northern Tasmania. The riverside town of Deloraine, east of Launceston, was under water today following the WORST FLOOD TO HIT THE REGION IN EIGHT YEARS. The Bureau of Meteorology released floodwatch alerts yesterday afternoon but said the downpour was heavier than anyone could have imagined. "The totals just floored us." The highest rainfall overnight was in the Breona area, at the north end of the Great Lake – 240mm in 24 hours. The damage will delay harvests and further drive up farming costs. Tasmania's winter weather has been "terribly varied". Average temperatures had produced ONE OF THE WARMEST WINTERS ON RECORD. Even so, the lowest maximum temperature was recorded at Mount Wellington on August 11 – the mercury did not rise above -5C all day. "There's very little pattern to it."

In Wichita, Kansas, a deluge on Sunday evening pushed this summer's total rain to 23.61 inches, trumping a record from 1950. The rain officially made 2005 THE WETTEST SUMMER FOR THE CITY SINCE RECORDS WERE FIRST KEPT IN 1888. Up to four inches of rain fell in parts of western Sedgwick County on Sunday night, flooding roads and ditches. The storm "just sat there for a while because of the weak winds aloft." There was enough energy and moisture to build the storms, but not to move them very far. The storms knocked out the radar at the Wichita National Weather Service office. The long-range forecast calls for above-normal precipitation from October through December. If that proves true, Wichita could well break the record for wettest year ever: 50.48 inches in 1951. With even average rainfall the rest of the year, Wichita will crack the top 10. The 11.96 inches of rain recorded at the airport so far this month shattered the old August record of 8.86 inches in 1985. There have been 15 days this month on which at least a trace of rain fell, and eight days with at least an inch of rain. The city of El Dorado recorded almost 10 inches of rain from a single storm last week. "How often do you see it this green in late August?"

Continuing heavy rains and unusual weather conditions in Papua New Guinea have been blamed for the latest damage to roads, bridges, homes and food gardens. Key infrastructure and beach hotels in the Morobe and Madang provinces are the latest to be affected by the king tides and flooding. Gulf and Western provinces, as well as Bougainville, have also been subject to damaging weather.

The current year will be a RECORD-BREAKING YEAR FOR TORNADOS IN FINLAND. The Finnish Meteorological Institute has already recorded some 40 occurrences of twisters so far. In comparison, the year 1997 was the previous record year with 19 tornados. The weather in July and August was humid enough to create tornado conditions, and moreover, turbulent flows were typical in the lower layers of the atmosphere. Historically, this was the first time when a tornado hit the center of an urban residential area in Finland. Even though it is exceptional, it is likely that the same thunder-cloud or another cloud belonging to the same storm front was behind both a mini-tornado in Helsinki and a twister in Kirkkonummi. Such local tornados will not necessarily become common or permanent features of the climate.

Scientists are examining a mystery breed of moth converging on South Australia in huge numbers. The moths have been reported in large numbers in different areas of the state, including metropolitan Adelaide. Entomologists say the moths have distinctive marks distinguishing them from known pest species. "It is a rare event to see such large numbers." Entomologists were reviewing literature to support their suspicion that the moths were lesser budworms, which breed on desert daisies after inland rains.

People in a remote northern Zimbabwe village are living in fear after a meteorite plunged through the atmosphere last week and landed in a field. "The villagers heard some noise, which resembled that of a helicopter, coming from the eastern direction and the noise was followed by clouds of dust." The meteorite, measuring 21cm by 13cm and weighing around 4kg, left a 15cm crater when it plunged into a field not far from Chaworeka village. It was described as black in colour with white particles inside.
SITE NOTE - an increased number of meteorite strikes were reported in the months just before the Indonesian tsunami. The last one reported then was a large one that apparently landed in the ocean off the coast of Sumatra just days before the quake and tsunami.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 -

On this day -
In 1979 – Hurricane David devastated the Caribbean island of Dominica on a path through the Caribbean and the eastern US seaboard that claimed 1,100 lives.

Quakes this morning -
Two earthquakes measuring 5.2 and 4.6 on the Richter scale rocked Taiwan today, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

Largest quakes yesterday -

The Marum volcano on Ambrym has almost stopped for several days. A villager returned from the volcano with bizarre news. There were no longer explosions and the higher part of the crater had fallen in, leaving a wave motion on the surface, fumaroles and an acidic smell. "Marum seems to draw back on itself. Only the wave motion and the fumaroles suggest a volcano. " At the place he stopped they could hear subterranean explosions, resulting in jolts. "We were certain something strange was going on there. One thinks that Marum could explode elsewhere, not far from the actual crater. " He refuted information published in the Daily Post that a new volcano had opened up between Marum and Benbow.

Barren Island Volcano erupted on August 24, sending a plume of ash eastward over the Andaman Sea.

Tropical activity - today at 00:00 UT
Tropical depression 13 was 617 nmi ENE of Bridgetown, Barbados. The system has become disorganized and remnants of the depression are being monitored for signs of regeneration.
Tropical storm KATRINA was 171 nmi N of Mobile, AL and 187 nmi N of Biloxi, Mississippi.
Tropical storm NABI was 268 nmi E of Saipan, N. Mariana Islands.
Tphoon TALIM was 499 nmi ESE of Taipei, Taiwan.

Hurricane Katrina has unleashed howling winds and heavy rain upon southern coastal areas of the United States. The storm has wrought extensive damage in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, where it swept ashore after moving across the Gulf of Mexico. Katrina submerged areas of New Orleans and tore off part of the roof of a stadium where many had sought refuge. But it weakened after making landfall and spared the low-lying city a direct hit, despite frightening predictions. Walls of water have been running down the skyscrapers like waterfalls. Power lines have been cut, palm trees have been felled, shops wrecked and cars hurled across streets strewn with shattered glass. There are reports that some water had breached the defences. "This city is under siege." The city of Mobile in Alabama showed water surging through the streets. The storm spurred a 22-ft (7m) surge on Mississippi's coast. "This is a devastating hit - we've got boats that have gone into buildings" in Gulfport.

Katrina killed at least 54 people in the southern US state of Mississippi, a Mississippi newspaper reported today.

Katrina Blog - Officials say it could be a month before power is restored to the New Orleans area. The storm hit Mississippi "like a ton of bricks." It brought a 22-foot storm surge, blew out the windows of a hospital, and left sailboats on a four-lane highway.

Hurricane stories - In New Orleans, a large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north. As night fell on a devastated region, the water was still rising in the city, and nobody was willing to predict when it would stop. Dozens of residents evacuated to the dry land of a bridge over the Marconi Canal were stranded between the flooded neighborhood on their right, and the flooded City Park on their left.

High winds swept across Victoria, Australia yesterday resulting in fallen trees and damaged roofing. Emergency cews were gearing up for another busy day with further windy weather forecast. "The weather bureau has forecast more strong winds today as well as the likelihood of consistent rainfall and that is a combination that has the potential for significant storm damage." The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for the central, north-central and alpine districts and elevated areas of the north-eastern district, with wind gusts up to 100km/h.

In the Philippines, South Cotabato officials raised the alert for possible flashfloods and landslides in several parts of the province due to the continuing heavy rains over the last few days. Residents, especially those located near the province's major river systems and areas previously hit by landslides, were advised to take the necessary precautionary measures or evacuate to safer grounds. "The water level in our rivers is continuously rising."

A mini-tornado swept across the Tali golf course in Helsinki, Finland bringing an event on the Women's European Tour circuit to a catastrophic end on Sunday morning. The violent gust flattened and blew away a hospitality tent that was packed with people, including some of the players, after play had just been suspended owing to heavy rain. The mini-tornado had struck suddenly and quite without warning. The organisers had paid close attention to the weather forecast in the early morning, and that there had been no indication of storm-force winds. The police are looking at the incident as an accident and a freak of nature. A number of eye-witnesses reported having seen the mini-tornado, and they described a black whirlwind effect that looked like a comic-strip. Some spoke of hearing a whistling, rattling noise as the tornado passed by. In addition to the damage in Tali, numerous trees were felled in other districts of Helsinki as the twister swept past. Not long before the incident at the golf course, hundreds of trees were toppled to the west of the area, apparently by a similar tornado. Electricity lines were brought down by the falling trees and roads were also blocked off.
An exceptionally powerful storm had swept across southern and western Finland on Friday evening disrupting train transport and cutting off electricity supplies to customers. The storm front came from the southwest and swept across Finland causing major disruption to electricity supplies.

Madang town was hit by unusual king tides, destroying property and some landmarks along the coastline yesterday evening. Madang Regional MP was visibly distraught about the damage being done and what may have happened to the villages along the coastline. The sea began to get rough at 4pm. The seawater and waves began rising early in the afternoon. Between 7.30 pm and 9.30pm the abnormally high waves were still pounding on the beachfront. The Melanesian Discover cruise ship was in the waters between Madang and Lae, en route to Milne Bay and no one is sure of its fate. No one had ever seen waves as high in Madang. The seawater was rising over two metres above the normal level as indicated by the National Weather Service.

The Farmers' Almanac warns that the coming winter will bring unusually sharp fluctuations in temperature, and says readers "may be reminded of riding a roller, or in this case, 'polar' coaster." "Mother Nature seems to be in the mood for some amusement this winter season," the almanac said in its 2006 edition, just off the presses. The coldest weather will be in the Northeast, which also will get plenty of snow. It predicts cold weather for the South and Mid-Atlantic regions and snowy but mild weather in the Great Lakes and Midwest. Parts of the Rockies and the Great Plains may have drier-than-normal weather, adding to the area's continuing drought, but wetter-than-normal weather is predicted for the Pacific Northwest and lower Texas. The forecasts are prepared two years in advance using a secret formula based on sunspots, the position of the planets and the tidal action of the moon. The almanac, not to be confused with the New Hampshire-based Old Farmer's Almanac 24 years its senior, claims a circulation of nearly 5 million.

Hundreds of firefighters battled to contain Sunday at least three major blazes across California that had burned through thousands of acres and destroyed more than two dozen buildings. The lack of lightning this summer is likely a big reason why they have had so few wildfires before this.

A lingering drought that stymied Illinois' grain crop has helped wetlands thrive along the Illinois River and that could mean bigger flocks of waterfowl during hunting season. Wetland plants that drown in standing water during typical summers have flourished during the state's sixth-driest March through July on record, providing food for migrating ducks, geese and other waterfowl. Wetlands need to dry out periodically to give root to native plants. The state's worst drought since 1988 has kept the river in its banks, creating THE BEST WETLAND GROWING CONDITIONS IN NEARLY A DECADE. "It looks like a prairie, not a mud hole."

Researchers surveying migrating humpback whales have found a number of different species of the great mammals usually rarely seen in Australia's east coast waters. The survey, which had so far tracked the northern humpback migration, had found more sightings of other whales not normally sighted off the east coast. "There's been quite a lot of different species seen in the last 10 to 12 weeks. All of the species seen have been seen in this area before but [previously] they have been pretty few and far between and certainly not every year." As well as humpbacks, researchers have also observed a pod of 60 to 70 false killer whales, along with dwarf minke whales, Bryde's whales and an unconfirmed sighting of a southern right whale. Researchers could not confirm whether the diversity of whales was a continuing trend "but we seem to be getting a lot for some reason". General trends had shown that humpback numbers were generally increasing with an estimation of 6500 migrating up and down the east coast. The survey also found the timing of the northern migration was later than what was considered normal for eastern Australia. This also was consistent with reports from New Zealand, Western Australian and South Africa. The most likely reason for the delay were the conditions in the Antarctic. "It could be the movement of prey."


Monday, August 29, 2005 -

This morning - 4.8 NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN

Largest quakes yesterday -

(Reprinting an article posted before) Watch out New Madrid quake zone? - Hurricanes can trigger swarms of weak earthquakes and even set the Earth vibrating. When Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida in August 2004, a seismometer recorded a series of "micro-tremors" from the Earth's crust. This happened again as the storm moved back out to sea. Then, as Charley grazed the continental shelf on its way out, it caused a sharp seismic spike. "I suspect the storm triggered a subterranean landslide." More surprisingly, the storm also caused the Earth to vibrate. The planet's surface in the vicinity of the hurricane started moving up and down at several frequencies ranging from 0.9 to 3 millihertz.

Tropical activity -
Tropical depression Thirteen has formed in the Atlantic and is forecast to slowly strengthen into a tropical storm within the next 48 hours.
Tropical depression 14W in the Pacific was 448 nmi E of Saipan, N. Mariana Is. and 508 nmi ENE of Guam.
At 6am CST Katrina had just made landfall. Currently the center is passing about 70 miles south-east of New Orleans. This is good news as the east side of the system is traditionally the strongest and the west side of Katrina is weakening due to the influx of dry air from over Texas. Mississippi may get the strongest of the winds. The storm surge will likely be less of a problem in New Orleans than expected, but the winds and rain will cause much damage. Power is reported out in some areas of the city. The Superdome is reported to be leaking heavily, like a waterfall from the roof.


The US National Hurricane Centre has described Katrina as a "perfect" hurricane. Katrina had a central pressure – a measure of a storm's intensity – of 904 millibars, which would make it ONE OF THE FOUR STRONGEST STORMS ON RECORD. US President George W. Bush declared an emergency in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and a major disaster in Florida. New Orleans has not been hit directly by a hurricane since 1965 when Hurricane Betsy blew in, flooding the city and killing about 75 people. The last category five to strike the area was Hurricane Camille in 1969, which just missed New Orleans but devastated parts of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, and killed more than 250 people.

When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans on Monday, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city's legendary cemeteries. Experts have warned for years that the levees and pumps that usually keep New Orleans dry have no chance against a direct hit by a Category 5 storm. The hurricane has the power to lift sea level by as much as 28 feet above normal,and threatens an environmental disaster of biblical proportions, one that could leave more than 1 million people homeless. "All indications are that this [will be the] absolutely worst-case scenario." By Tuesday, vast swaths of New Orleans could be under water up to 30 feet. Estimates predict that 60 percent to 80 percent of the city's houses will be destroyed by wind. "We're talking about in essence having in the continental United States a refugee camp of a million people." Wind engineers have little idea what their equipment would record. "We haven't seen something this big since we started the program" seven years ago. Experts have warned about New Orleans' vulnerability for years, chiefly because Louisiana has lost more than a million acres of coastal wetlands in the past seven decades. The ring of high levees around New Orleans, designed to protect the city from floodwaters coming down the Mississippi, will only make things worse in a powerful hurricane. Katrina is expected to push a 28-foot storm surge against the levees. Even if they hold, water will pour over their tops and begin filling the city as if it were a sinking canoe. After the storm passes, the water will have nowhere to go. In a few days emergency management officials are going to be wondering how to handle a giant stagnant pond contaminated with building debris, coffins, sewage and other hazardous materials.

Sobering NOAA government description of likely damage in the New Orleans area.

New Orleans - "The scene here looks like something from the apocalypse. People are running around the city, terrified about what to do. Those who are leaving have clogged the roadways so extensively that little hope remains for those who have not yet decided to leave. Gas stations are breeding grounds for fighting and riots, as people are resorting to a state of martial law in order to get the precious gasoline they need to move their vehicles. This truly is the worst part of the storm and it only looks to get worse. God be with everyone who is trying to escape the madness."
"This happened so fast. Most people were doing their normal Friday routines, with an eye on the hurricane as it left Florida. But the weather patterns were already lining up to steer the hurricane right up the lane for a ten-pin strike in New Orleans. Saturday morning, everything had changed...."

Clever article about conditions in Florida since Katrina hit there earlier. "What unspeakable moron ever declared South Florida habitable by human beings? Because, as hundreds of thousands of us can tell you this morning, it's not - not without electricity... South Florida drops the mask and shows its true self: a slithering, primordial hellhole of predatory insects, crippling humidity and demonic heat."

Typhoon Talim has picked up strength and will peripherally affect Taiwan's weather conditions beginning Wednesday. Talim, located northwest of Guam and 1,500 kilometers off the shores of Taiwan at 8 p.m. yesterday, was moving west-northwest at a speed of 22 km per hour. The radius of the medium-scale typhoon has expanded to about 200 km with strong wind speeds as high as 75 km per hour. Officials said it is still too early to say if the 13th typhoon of this year in the region will directly hit Taiwan. If Talim maintains its current course, residents in Taiwan should prepare for the attack of another typhoon from Wednesday and the later half of the week.

The March earthquake in Indonesia heaved much of the island of Simuelue 5 feet higher above the ocean, dramatically altering the contours of the land and exposing vast coral reefs and broad swaths of seafloor. It looked to the islanders as though the ocean had receded again, so they raced back to the lush jungle hills. Five months later, many are still waiting for a tsunami that has not come. They have refused to return home and instead have settled on higher ground in tents and clapboard shanties fashioned from salvaged bits of their old lives.

The global area affected by drought has doubled. Earth was 10% to 15% in drought in the 1970s; by 2002, the figure had risen to about 30%. Widespread drying has occurred across much of Europe and Asia, Canada, western and southern Africa and eastern Australia. The European Commission is forecasting this year's cereal crop to be down 10%, because of dry conditions and high temperatures. Irrigation restrictions will reduce sugar beet and potato crops. A general drying trend began in the '70s. "What has happened is there is a bit more precipitation going on over ocean than over land, so there is a redistribution." Global warming cannot be blamed for causing droughts. "But what it is doing is making them a bit more intense, longer lasting, the heatwaves a bit greater, so it is exacerbating the conditions that might have occurred anyway." Drought is the most damaging of all natural disasters. Each year it causes millions of deaths and costs billions of dollars in damages.

Unseasonal warm weather in New Zealand this month has caused extra grass growth. Typical Waikato farms are producing up to 60 kilos of dry matter per day per hectare - three times the rate of this time last year. Milk production in the South Island is up by a quarter on last year's rate. Usually this time of the year cows are eating the grass faster than it can grow.

Firefighters ordered the evacuation of a small Northern California community as a 2,300 acre wildfire approached the outskirts of Manton. The fire started Friday afternoon about 220 miles Northeast of the Bay Area and was spread by high winds. The flames have already destroyed at least 30 buildings.
High winds continue to cause problems for firefighters in the Tahoe National Forest. That fire has been burning since Wednesday north of Lake Tahoe. The fire has already blackened about 2,200 acres.

Dust from asteroids entering the atmosphere may influence Earth's weather more than previously believed, researchers have reported.


Sunday, August 28, 2005 -

Past and current storm damage senarios for New Orleans.

On this day in 1973 – Earthquake hits area southwest of Mexico City, killing 500 people and injuring 1,000 others.

Quakes this morning - 4.9 NORTHERN SUMATERA, INDONESIA

Largest quakes yesterday -

The current eruption at Kilauea volcano in Hawaii is THE LARGEST ON THE EAST RIFT ZONE OF THE VOLCANO IN 500 YEARS.
An unconfirmed report has been received about an eruption of Kelut volcano in Indonesia. A pilot reported an eruption plume, but no ash is visible on satellite images.
A 5.5 earthquake hit near Gaua volcano in Vanuatu.Gaua has been hit by a number of earthquakes this year and is considered a potential eruption risk.


Forecasters are predicting Katrina will hit southeastern New Orleans by midday Monday. About 1.3 million people live in the greater New Orleans area. Authorities were preparing to order an evacuation of all 485,000 residents of the low-lying city by early today, and were planning to open the massive Superdome sports stadium as an emergency shelter for those who cannot get out. The hurricane could be a disaster for New Orleans because the bowl-like city sits below sea-level and is dependent on levees and pumps to keep the water out.

Katrina is still a puzzle - the storm grew out of the remnants of a tropical depression that never got its act together. Now it is speeding along when it was supposed to slow down and jogging south when it was supposed to head west. "The unique features of this storm are that first of all it went from nothing, a disturbance, not even a depression to a hurricane in two-and-a-half days. Then it moved southwest, which is unusual in that part of the world. And even though it was a Category 1, it did a lot of damage and the reason for that was that storm started to intensify pretty quickly as it approached shore." Hurricanes rarely move south. They are drawn to the north like metal to a magnet. But in an unusual event, a system of high pressure known as the Bermuda High pushed Katrina to the south. Katrina started out nearly two weeks ago as Tropical Depression 10, located hundreds of miles east of Antigua. Then it fizzled. Near the Bahamas, the system joined with another disturbance and gained strength. Hurricane forecasters debated whether it was still Tropical Depression 10 or a new storm. On Aug. 23, it became Tropical Depression 12. Forecasters thought Katrina would slow down considerably once it reached the Gulf Stream. It didn't. It kept moving at 6 to 8 mph. Usually the northern edge of hurricanes get the severe thunderstorms. Again, Katrina had a surprise. It was the southern edge that suffered most.

The track of Hurricane Katrina could prove disastrous for Middle Georgia. In a summer soaked by consistent rains and heavy downpours, the risk of flooding is extremely high from Katrina. "We're in for another heavy rain event and we just don't have any cushion." "It appears that Georgia will be on the eastern side of this hurricane, and that is the side that historically is the wettest and most prone to tornadoes and wind damage." To the north and west of Macon, soil moisture levels are running in the 99th percentile. That means in 99 out of 100 years, climatologists would expect soil levels to be drier than they are now. Even if Katrina bypasses the midstate, the risk of serious flooding lingers as the Atlantic hurricane season enters its peak. The 2005 hurricane season got off to a bang with a record five named storms in July, but most of this season's hurricanes are expected to occur in the coming weeks. The strongest storms on record traditionally formed between the end of August through the month of September, when conditions are prime for tropical storm formation.

The reason behind the mayhem in Europe is the jet stream. A few miles high in the sky, this wind races around the Earth like a river, reaching speeds of more than 200mph and travelling eastwards. Because the jet stream wobbles its track can make huge differences to the weather. For much of this summer the jet stream has steered close to the north of Britain, then dived down in a big loop into the southeast of Europe. This has sent a barrage of depressions into northwest Britain, and then Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, with deluges of rain that have benighted the region almost all summer, since June. The unusual thing this year is how persistent the track of the jet stream has been in its sweep around Europe, locking high pressure over southwest Europe where it has created such an intense drought in Spain and Portugal since November. Unless the jet stream changes track, the outlook for Europe will be for similar conditions, for a few days or even several months.

Unusual rainfall in California on May 18, June 8 and June 16 has reduced the projected pear yield in Lake County to 55 percent of normal and much is of poor quality. "These rains were not only heavier than normal, but were unseasonable for that time of year." Hay and walnut crops were also affected. The walnut and hay yields are expected to be 59 percent and 66 percent of normal, respectively. Plus only 10 percent of the hay is the best quality. There is a shortage of pears nationwide. "This is about the sixth or seventh year that has not been good for the pear growers. This year is weather-related; the past years have been related to market conditions." There were several major frost events this year plus cold, scab and hail. "It's not good. The primary reason for crop reduction this year is the fact that pears need certain temperatures to set fruit. When they don't get that minimum temperature they don't set. They didn't get enough warm days to set." Odd weather has impacted other crops as well. "The weather affected anything that's going to grow. This year was very unusual for weather." Grapes have had no problems, but most crops have been affected by the odd weather. "Vegetables as a whole are delayed this year."

Unusual weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean may be causing two migratory fish to skip their annual summer visit to the Central Coast of California. Albacore, a popular summertime offering in fish markets, are all but absent. Coastal authorities are also reporting fewer shark sightings. "This is an oddball year, all around". Great white sharks and albacore tuna make huge annual migrations through the Pacific Ocean. Summer is when they pass the Central Coast. Most striking is the absence of albacore, which usually start arriving in June. Their numbers fluctuate from year to year, but this year albacore are almost entirely avoiding California waters. In Southern California, entire fishing fleets are tied up to the docks because they can't find albacore. Only Mexico and Oregon report good albacore fishing. Less easy to explain are the drop in shark sightings. While there are fewer anchovies and other bait fish in the water, there are still plenty of seals, the main food for large white sharks. Weather conditions appear to be returning to their normal patterns as the summer draws to a close. "The ocean is a mysterious place. It changes from year to year."

Saturday, August 27, 2005 -
On this day -
In 1883 – The most powerful volcanic eruption ever recorded continues to blow apart Mount Krakatau in the Sunda Straits, Indonesia. Shock waves travel around the earth and tidal waves kill an estimated 36,000 people.
In 1900 – A devastating hurricane hits Galveston in Texas, killing more than 6,000 people.
In 1993 – A dam at the Gouhou reservoir in the western Chinese province of Qinghai bursts, releasing torrents of water that kill hundreds of people and destroy several villages.
In 2003 – Mars passes just 55.76 million km from Earth, making it the closest such encounter since the Stone Age.


Quakes this morning - 5.8 MINDANAO, PHILIPPINE ISLANDS

Largest quakes yesterday -

Tropical activity -
Tropical storm TALIM was 225 nmi WNW of Agana, Guam.
Tropical storm MAWAR was 448 nmi ENE of Tokyo, Japan.
Tropical storm IRWIN was 341 nmi S of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Hurricane KATRINA was 142 nmi NW of Havana, Cuba and 156 nmi W of Key West, Florida. Katrina is showing the typical pattern observed in INTENSE hurricanes and is forecast to move directly over the warm loop current of the Gulf of Mexico which is 'like adding high octane fuel to the fire.' She is now a Category 3 hurricane and has grown in size. Landfall is predicted bewteen the eastern coast of Louisiana and the coast of Mississippi.

Typhoon No. 11(Mawar) was losing power and heading northeast in the Pacific Ocean on Friday after injuring several people and bringing RECORD WIND GUSTS AND RAINFALL to parts of southern Kanto. The typhoon whipped up winds of 205 kph on Oshima island, south of Tokyo, at midnight, the strongest gusts recorded there since observations started in 1940. In Hakone in western Kanagawa Prefecture, 528 millimeters of rain was recorded Thursday, the largest amount on record since observations started there in 1976. The typhoon passed through the Miura Peninsula in Kanagawa Prefecture, and landed near Chiba city around 4:30 a.m. Friday. After crossing Chiba Prefecture, the storm re-entered the Pacific Ocean through Cape Inubosaki on the eastern tip of the prefecture.

Hurricane Katrina is on course to hit the US Gulf Coast, the Florida Panhandle and Louisiana, early on Monday, after pummelling southern Florida, leaving at least six dead and 1.4 million without power. Katrina's winds reached 100mph (160 km/h), and the hurricane is gathering strength as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico towards north-west Florida. The authorities said it would take days to restore power to those affected by the lashing winds and rain. Katrina was only a category 1 hurricane when it landed, but people were stunned by her ferocity and amount of rain in some areas. "Miami looks like a film set for a huge disaster movie." Forecasters have warned it could reach a dangerous category four, the second highest level. Katrina is the sixth deadly hurricane to hit Florida in a year. Thirteen years ago this week, the maximum-strength Category Five Hurricane Andrew, the most costly hurricane to hit the US, hit the same area of Florida.

Hurricane Katrina fooled everybody. It swung far south of where forecasters predicted; it didn’t weaken when it hit the east coast as much as expected; and it burst into the Gulf of Mexico almost 24 hours before it was supposed to. “It did a typical move, diving to the southwest as soon as it started hitting landfall. We’re not certain why that was, probably in response to a trough over the Caribbean. Our forecasters are saying that if we’d forecast that dive to the south, we would have been wrong 100 times and right once." The storm is now expected to move west, then swing to the northeast toward the Panhandle, well away from Southwest Florida. “It would take quite a bit to steer it toward you. I don’t see anything in the atmosphere that would make it do a U-turn. That would be a rare event.”

Several Grand Bahama businesses could not open their doors Thursday because heavy thunderstorms from Tropical Storm Katrina triggered a power outage lasting nearly half a day. Katrina also brought a lot of rain to Grand Bahama. On Wednesday, the total rainfall at Grand Bahama International Airport was 2.83 inches, and 3.73 inches on Thursday. The Meteorological Department said there were two other tropical systems in the Atlantic that the Department was watching. One is a large tropical wave north of Hispaniola that was seemingly breaking up but was still being monitored closely. Another system (low pressure area) is about 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. That system is in an environment favourable for development into a tropical depression. If it becomes a tropical storm, it would be named Lee.

Cities and towns across central Europe remain on alert as they deal with the impact of devastating floods which have killed at least 42 people. Evacuations from Alpine towns in Switzerland have been continuing, with hundreds taken to safety in Brienz. The Swiss capital Bern has also been hard hit by the flood water - with fears of further problems later. The authorities fear water from blockages upstream could be unleashed on areas where water is starting to recede. Forecasters warn there is still rain ahead, but it has eased in many places.

Heavy rain and flooding from a series of storms have killed up to 30 people in Mexico and left thousands homeless in coastal areas, with more rain forecast for the weekend. Rain from Tropical Storm Jose - the 10th of the season - has drenched Mexico's Gulf coast, forcing some 25,000 people from their homes in Veracruz state. Among the fatalities, seven people were killed in a landslide in a mountainous region of Veracruz.

Gale-force winds and driving rain have left several Eerste River, South Africa families homeless and caused minor flooding in many parts of the Peninsula as the predicted overnight storm raged through Cape Town. It had been "like a mini tornado sweeping through". Roads looked like rivers and people's houses had been flooded.

More than 400 villagers in Baokang County of central China's Hubei Province on Friday were evacuated, as their homes were under the threat of landslides. A week of heavy rainfall has soaked loose mantlerock-covered hills in many places in the county. Landslides in Huangtuling village on Thursday battered 102 houses and caused blackouts,and traffic and telecommunication interruption in four neighboring villages. There are still potential landslide dangers threatening the homes of over 300 people and a primary school in the village. Meanwhile, other areas threatened by landslides were found in Dongpo village, putting 155 local residents' homes at risk.

South Cotabato officials in the Philippines raised the alert for possible flashfloods and landslides in several parts of the province due to the continuing heavy rains over the last few days. "The water level in our rivers is continuously rising." Several towns have been swamped by floodwaters over the last three days.

A British climber has had her leg amputated after being buried by an avalanche in the Swiss Alps. Good weather had been predicted, but she was caught in a sudden snowstorm and took cover in a makeshift shelter for 2½ days, eating snow to survive. Then she was caught in the avalanche and swept 4,000ft down a mountain in a torrent of rocks and ice.. “The forecast was perfect weather so they went up. Then there was this freak snowstorm — snow in August is always going to be a freak occurence.”

Miles and miles of dead fish are turning up in Texas waters and lining the coasts. From the sky, a sea of white is covering the mouth of the Colorado River. Upon closer look, you'll see dead fish – millions of them. The stunning images of devastation run for miles. It's one of the largest fish kills people in the town of Matagorda have seen in years. Surprisingly, this is a natural event caused by stagnant water and little wind, rain, or flow. "Millions of these menhaden come in from the Gulf into the Colorado River and because of low tidal action and low wind action, there's nothing to replenish the oxygen in the water." Back in 1995, there was a similar situation. Then 60 million fish turned up dead.


Friday, August 26, 2005 -
On this day -
in 1883 – A massive eruption of a volcano on Krakatoa island in the Sundra Strait between Java and Sumatra continues. The two-day eruption and associated tidal waves kill some 36,000 people and destroy two-thirds of the island.
in 1952 – Floods caused by monsoon rains inundate 90 per cent of Manila, causing at least eight deaths. It is Manila's third flood in a month.

Quakes this morning - 5.1 AFGHANISTAN-TAJIKISTAN BDR REG

Largest quakes yesterday -

A minor 3.8 quake centered near the North Carolina-Tennessee border hit on Wednesday night, shaking up area residents. The quake was the strongest in the Southeast region since February of this year, when a 4.1 magnitude quake struck in Arkansas.

The tsunami that ricocheted around the world following the Indian Ocean earthquake on December 26, 2004 left a puzzling pattern of waves in its wake. Beaches in Peru and Mexico, nearly 20,000 kilometres from the earthquake, received waves that were three times larger than those hitting the shores of the Cocos Islands, just 1700 km away. Now it turns out that the waves were funnelled along underwater structures, such as mid-ocean ridges and continental shelves. Some nearby islands, like Nias, did not suffer much initially, but were hit by a large wave many hours later. “Although Nias was close to the source, it lay to the side of the main energy beam. It received its largest wave around 4 to 6 hours later, reflected back from the shores of Sri Lanka.” Significant quake-generated tsunami waves travelled from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific through the Drake Passage between Antarctica and South America one day later. These waves were as strong as those which moved from the Indian Ocean into the Pacific.

Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore in Florida, killing at least two people, leaving more than a million homes without power and collapsing a Miami highway overpass. After slamming ashore, the storm slowly headed inland on a track expected to take it to the Gulf of Mexico, where it could regain the strength it was expected to lose as it crosses south Florida. But forecasts late yesterday showed the hurricane should remain to the east of the main offshore oil fields, and would probably make a second landfall in northwestern Florida on Sunday or Monday. "Due to its slow forward speed, Katrina is expected to produce a significant heavy rainfall event over Florida." Officials also warned the hurricane could spawn tornadoes. ALL INDICATIONS ARE THAT KATRINA WILL BE A DANGEROUS HURRICANE IN THE NORTHEASTERN GULF OF MEXICO IN ABOUT 3 DAYS.

Typhoon Mawar slammed into central Japan early today, bringing heavy rain and fierce winds that left at least one person dead and two injured.

Tropical activity -
Tropical depression Irwin was 238 nmi SSW of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. By 48 hours it will be passing over the cold wake of Hurricane Hilary and dissipating within 120 hours.
Tropical depression Hilary was 628 nmi W of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and should dissipate in 3 to 4 days.

Three people are still unaccounted for after a TANS Boeing 737-200 crashed in a freak hailstorm in Peru's northern jungle on Wednesday, killing 40. Torrential rain and lightning has halted the official search. The plane was reduced to chunks of charred rubble, yet more than half the 98 passengers and crew miraculously survived. The flight was routine until the plane hit turbulence about 10 minutes before landing and fell sharply. "The plane was shaking and it was hailing hard, with the ice like marbles, and we asked ourselves if we should really be trying to land in such harsh weather."

At least five persons were killed in landslide at three different places in Guwahati, India on Wednesday and the road to the famed Kamakhya temple was blocked by rock. Heavy rain in the city since Wednesday evening caused the landslide at the Fatashil Ambari, Maligaon and Santipur areas. More bodies were feared to be buried under mudslides at the affected areas, and police were conducting rescue operation there amid continuing rain.

El Dorado, Kansas was hit by flooding caused by 9 inches of rain that fell on the city overnight. The Walnut River crested shortly after 10 a.m., and the lake is approaching record-high levels. A flood watch for south-central Kansas, including El Dorado and Wichita, continues through this afternoon.

This is the worst flooding in living memory in Engelberg, Switzerland. Air is now the only possible way to reach - or leave – the little village tucked away at the very end of the valley at the foot of the Titlis glacier. The central Swiss resort was severely damaged by flooding and cut in two by the raging waters of the River Aa. Geologists at the scene predict that if more rain should fall, there will be a risk of mud and landslides.

A rain-swollen river overflowed its banks and flooded a town in southern Mexico, leaving rescuers on Thursday to search for dozens of missing people. The town of Aguililla is roughly 410 kilometers (245 miles) southwest of Mexico City.

A vicious storm is blowing up at sea to the south of South Africa and the maritime industry has been warned to take precautions. Huge swells with a long period between them, dangerous especially to large ships, gale-force south-westerlies and possible wave anomalies in the Agulhas Current may combine to make life tough for sailors today and Saturday. The storm's intensity will probably not be felt strongly on land because the storm will pass by to the south, but heavy rains could be expected overnight to Saturday, and temperatures could again plummet. "We have got a hell of a deep low-pressure system to the south-west of the country and it should intensify with a strong high-pressure system behind it." The combination of weather moving up the south and east coast and the current moving down could bring about the anomalous wave conditions often described as "freak" waves that had severely damaged or sunk vessels along that coast over many years. "By what it looks like now, I'd say we can expect swells of 10 metres off Cape Point. The conditions have created wave periods of up to 16 seconds, which means the distance from wave to wave is about 350 metres.

Do early lake effect clouds in New York mean they're due for a pummeling of snow this winter? Not necessarily. The low puffy clouds they've seen this week are rather unusual for August. "Typically you see that towards mid-September or the end of September. Usually when there are drastic changes like this, people take notice." A hefty storm could force Lake Ontario's waters to turn over, bringing colder water to the surface and reducing the chances for lake effect. Rochester, New York has seen 13 days of 90-degree temperatures so far this summer, compared with none in 2004 and three in 2003.

Dove season opens in most of Texas a week from today, and hunters have their fingers crossed that unusual August weather has not triggered an early dove migration. That's what happened last year, creating a slower-than-normal opener for many dove hunters. "I'm a little concerned that we may have an early migration. We are seeing unusually early movements of teal ducks and even monarch butterflies. Our area got as much as 20 inches of rain last week, and there's water everywhere." Dove season in the North and Central Zones traditionally begins on Sept. 1.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5232989,00.html ----

Thursday, August 25, 2005 -
On this day in -
1883 – Krakatoa volcano erupted in Dutch East Indies, creating a tidal wave that kills 36,000
1965 – Massive avalanche roars down from glacier in Swiss Alps, burying 108 people at hydroelectric construction project.
1986 – Reported death toll from toxic gas out of a volcanic lake in Cameroon tops 1,700.
2002 – Dangerously high water levels on Dongting Lake in the Hunan province of China peaks and begins to recede after threatening to overwhelm dikes that protect millions of people in the surrounding area.

Largest quakes yesterday -

Tropical Storm Katrina is expected to become a huuricane today before reaching the southeast Florida east coast. Katrina is moving slowly so is expected to produce a significant heavy rainfall with total accumulations of 6-12 inches, some isolated areas with 15-20 inches possible.
The forecast calls for Katrina to make landfall between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, slice across the peninsula through the Everglades and then enter the Gulf of Mexico late Friday or early Saturday. As of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, Katrina's center was about 30 miles south-southwest of Grand Bahama Island and about 70 miles east of Fort Lauderdale.

Powerful Typhoon No. 11 will probably hit central Japan sometime between late tonight and early Friday, then the Kanto region around Tokyo on Friday morning. Agency officials have issued a heavy rain warning, saying that the downpour will continue for some time, as the typhoon is moving slowly.

Rescue operations are continuing across Europe to help thousands of civilians affected by devastating floods which have killed 36 people. In the Swiss capital, Bern, helicopters were used to pluck people from rooftops as rising water and strong currents hampered evacuations. Worst affected is Romania, where seven elderly people were killed on Wednesday bringing deaths there to 25. Flooding is occurring in Switzerland, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Bavaria, Moldova, Romania, Austria, and Germany. The rain has eased in some parts, but forecasters warn there is more ahead.

Dozens of people had to be evacuated from their homes in the northeast of the Czech Republic Wednesday after unexpectedly heavy rainfall led to flooding in some areas. Meteorologists said that some 100 millimetres (four inches) of rain had fallen per square metre - seven times more than had been forecast the day before. The flooding is threatening to spread towards neighbouring Poland, according to meteorologists.

Rescue workers in the Algerian town of Naama were looking for a woman who was swept away by floodwaters after a sudden rainstorm on Wednesday. The floods occurred after a sudden storm in the region, some 550 kilometers (330 miles) southwest of the capital Algiers. Earlier in the week a total of four people died in floods in other Algerian regions.

Sierra Leone, in the west African region, was hit by heavy rainfall and flooding on Wednesday. 10 days of heavy rain caused the floods, which were the worst to hit Sierra Leone in 45 years. Last week rain had caused at least one death and forced 15,000 people to flee their homes.

Strong thunderstorms rolled through Uruguay and Argentina, slowing air traffic, felling trees and leaving at least eight people dead. Montevideo's international airport shut down operations late Tuesday as winds peaked near 100 mph at the height of the storm. The storm downed hundreds of trees, some that damaged cars, while storefront windows were shattered by flying debris. The storm also disrupted cell phone services because of damage to communications towers. It was ONE OF THE STRONGEST SOUTHEASTERLY STORMS IN YEARS. The next day, on Wednesday,high winds toppled trees and whipped up the river that separates Argentina and neighboring Uruguay.

Floods triggered by a tidal surge swamped southern coastal areas of Bangladesh, a 10-year-old boy was killed and some 35 000 people forced to flee. Torrential monsoons rains worsened the flooding which has also damaged crops. "Most of their homes remain under water and the situation has worsened with the continuation of torrential rainfall."

Flooding, caused by heavy rains over the last few weeks, on the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands has caused the evacuation of families from their homes.

In Southeast Polk County, Florida, unusually heavy rains have severely flooded at least 170 houses, forcing residents from their homes and rendering many roads virtually impassable. Lake Belle has risen more than 10 feet this year. "Right now, we're just watching the water rise and praying it doesn't rain."

Some Anchorage, Alaska homes were left without power Tuesday after a windstorm with up to 80mph winds blew through the city. "I’ve never seen wind like this here before.” Coastal flooding took place near Dillingham. The National Weather Service says several structures were lost after water levels rose.

Many of Australia's sugar cane-growing areas have had unseasonal winter rain during the cane crushing season. This could be beneficial by potentially boosting output of cane and sugar, but the rain also has delayed harvest. "We're anywhere from two weeks to four weeks behind schedule at the moment in most districts." In delaying harvest, the rain has put crops scheduled to be cut late in the season at some risk of not being harvested due to possible inclement weather from early monsoon activity in December, before which the harvest usually ends.

Blueberry production throughout North America has fallen due to unusual weather with a cold, wet spring, resulting in higher prices.

Spain's worst drought in 60 years has forced the Environment Ministry to open one of its 16 emergency wells in the Murcia and Alicante regions. It is expected that six more wells will soon be opened in the area to combat the severe scarcity of water. At present the reservoirs in the region hold only 20.7 percent of their capacity. "This is the least rain we've had since reliable records were kept. It's a serious drought, and it's very probable that next year will be dry as well." Underground aquifers are due to reach record-low levels by the fall in Málaga. A 10-kilometer stretch of the Jarama River, in Maddrid's northern hills, has dried up completely.

Some climate models predict complete summer sea-ice melting in the Arctic by 2070, but that the recent trend toward extreme melting could push the date up to 2040, making for an ice-free North Pole for the first time in more than a million years. With no apparent natural mechanisms to maintain the summer sea ice, the question is no longer whether such melting could happen, but when and with what impacts. Polar bears and seals are losing weight from shorter feeding seasons due to receding sea ice. Arctic sea-ice cover reaches its annual minimum in September. "So far, the numbers are pretty disturbing. The rate of change has taken us by surprise a little bit. I think it's changing a lot quicker than we expected."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

Tropical Activity -
Tropical depression 12 was 127 nmi SE of Nassau, Bahamas and 215 nmi NNW of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A tropical storm watch has been issued for portions of the Florida Keys and the eastern Florida coast with landfall expected there, possibly as a hurricane, by late Thursday or early Friday. If so, the storm would become Katrina.
Hurricane HILARY was 400 nmi WSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Tropical depression JOSE was 157 nmi S of Tampico, Mexico.
Tropical storm GUCHOL was 552 nmi E of Tokyo, Japan and appears to be changing direction and heading northeast. It had been expected to hit on Friday.
Typhoon MAWAR was 438 nmi SSW of Tokyo, Japan. Weather officials have warned it is on course to strike Japan by Thursday with high waves and heavy rain in large areas of the country. Mawar is slowly approaching the main island of Honshu.

A rare August windstorm was battering much of Alaska, especially the southwest. It has blown down trees and knocked out power to thousands of dwellings in Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley. The storm, with winds as high at 70 mph along the Anchorage Hillside and Turnagain Arm, was expected to continue through late afternoon Tuesday. In the Bristol Bay village of Clarks Point, winds pushed waves into the shore, causing extensive damage to several buildings and a dock. The storm surge was two to three feet above high SPRING-tide levels. "We don't usually see this sort of strong storm in August. We're definitely in the fall (weather) pattern now."

At least six people have been killed and hundreds evacuated from their homes as Switzerland and its neighbours struggle with widespread flooding after days of torrential rainfall in the northern Alps. Rivers deluged by alpine waters burst their banks in Austria and Germany yesterday, while mudslides blocked roads and railway tracks. Swiss television showed pictures of bridges that had collapsed, huge chunks of caved-in motorway, farms swept away by mudslides and people being evacuated by boat through normally busy city streets. Electricity was cut off and drinking water contaminated in several parts of Switzerland. Villages were isolated as roads were swept away. "The water levels are still rising." THE COUNTRY HASN'T SEEN THIS SORT OF RAINFALL FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS. Weather forecasts predicted only light showers for today in Switzerland and gradual improvement through the rest of the week. In parts of central Switzerland, MORE RAIN HAD FALLEN IN THREE DAYS THAN NORMALLY IN THE WHOLE OF AUGUST. But rains were forecast to continue in Germany, where parts of southern Bavaria including most of the Alpine region as well as the city of Augsburg, where two rivers meet, have been declared catastrophe zones.

Flooding that hit Bulgaria in the past months, following THE WORST TORRENTIAL RAINS IN AT LEAST 50 YEARS, has affected more than a quarter of Bulgaria's population of 7.5 million people. The disaster has caused at least 20 deaths and an estimated 515m euros in damage. The cost of the damage to the infrastructure alone totals about 175m euros. Some 14,000 houses across the country have been severely damaged and 238 have been destroyed. "With 20,000 people in Bulgaria in need of food, bedding, hepatitis vaccine, antibiotics and insect repellent due to heavy flooding, UN agencies are continuing to provide emergency aid." UNICEF has provided blankets, kitchen utensils, water purification tablets and oral rehydration salts.

Heavy flooding in the Papua New Guinean province of Bouganville has left more than 1,300 people in urgent need of clean water, food and medical supplies. The floods have affected more than 13,000 people across the island. Roads to the region are either closed or have been washed away, leaving thousands in need of supplies. Reports have emerged of homes, schools and animals being washed away.

Cars were careening off Interstate 10 Tuesday morning as rain continued to fall across metro Tucson, Arizona.

Unusually high tides partially submerged two offshore islands Monday in southeastern Bangladesh, forcing nearly 20,000 residents to flee their flooded homes. A gradual tidal surge submerged almost two-thirds of Sandwip island under 5 feet of water. A depression brewing in the Bay of Bengal and the pull of a full moon were likely causing the high tides, which also breached protective mud embankments and inundated low-lying areas of Chittagong, 135 miles southeast of the capital, Dhaka.

Sydney, Australia's biggest city, may get a A$2 billion ($1.5 billion) desalination plant as the nation's WORST DROUGHT IN 100 YEARS empties reservoirs. Warragamba Dam, which supplies 80 percent of Sydney's water, fell to 37.2 percent of capacity on Aug. 18. Sydney has less than two years of ``poor quality'' water left, says John Archer, who has written six books on Australia's water supply. ``If the desalination doesn't work, Sydney doesn't have any options other than evacuation.'' The desalination plan faces opposition. ``To be too dependent on desalination doesn't make for a sustainable system in the long term because we're using so much energy to make that water.'' Rainfall last month was between 40 percent and 70 percent of the monthly average for southeastern Australia.

Big sunspot 798 exploded twice on August 22nd, and hurled a pair of coronal mass ejections apparently toward Earth. Geomagnetic storms are possible when the clouds arrive. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005 -

This morning - 5.6 VANUATU ISLANDS
Largest quakes yesterday -

A 4.4 earthquake shook Rome, Italy and nearby coastal towns for 5 seconds, rattling buildings and sparking panic throughout the region. The epicentre appeared to be under the sea bed south-west of Rome.

An inland earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale shook Indonesia's Sulawesi island on Monday, driving residents out of their homes in panic but there were no reports of casualties or damage. Palu has now been rocked by three earthquakes in the past eight months. In January, a 6.2-magnitude quake killed one person, injured dozens and damaged hundreds of houses. Another quake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale in July also damaged houses but caused no fatalities.

In Arizona, a giant fissure has opened up in the ground near Sossaman Road and San Tan Boulevard in Queen Creek. The huge crack, which looks something like a fault line, is about 1.5 miles long and up to 25 feet deep in some area. While the fissure has been there for some time, recent storms have exposed it and caused it to grow. "It keeps getting wider and wider and deeper and deeper" with each storm. The fissure is close to some homes. Fissures are caused by tension in the ground, as well as the removal of groundwater. According to one expert, there are 20 documented fissures in the area north of the San Tan Mountains. (photo)

In a monumental move Congress has approved more than 250-million dollars for phase one of a massive earthquake and volcanic hazard project, called Earthscope. For the first time, the western United States is going to become a living laboratory where every blink and hiccup from earthquake faults and volcanoes will be watched and studied around the clock. Two to three thousand seismographs and more global positioning satellite units will cover everything. "We can see almost in real time how they interact with one another. And that will give us a whole new view of the earth and how the earth is deforming." Earthscope begins in the United States, but from here the concept could go worldwide.

Current Volcano Alert Status
Restless Volcano Status Report - with probabilities for eruption in 2005.
Volcanoes that have already erupted in 2005 - some still active (good photos).

Tropical storm Jose formed late Monday, dumping heavy rain in the Gulf of Mexico. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the gulf coast of Mexico from Veracruz northward to Cabo Rojo. This warning should be discontinued later today as the storm loses strength while moving inland. Jose is the 10th tropical storm of the Atlantic season.

Mexican officials canceled tropical storm warnings for the country's Pacific coast as Hurricane Hilary moved further out to sea Monday.

Two Swiss firemen have been killed in a landslide as heavy rain caused flooding and cut roads, railway and electricity lines across much of central Switzerland. Authorities were keeping an anxious eye on three of Switzerland's major lakes - Thun, Brienz and Biel - which rose to danger levels as the driving rain continued. Shipping on part of the river Rhine, which flows into Germany and France, was halted because of the swollen waters. A low-lying neighbourhood of the Swiss capital Bern was under 50 cm of water after the river Aare overflowed. Inhabitants were evacuated because the strong currents were threatening to sweep away buildings. Landslides were also reported further west by Lake Geneva, while emergency services were overwhelmed by calls about flooded cellars and other damage.
(Oddly, Switzerland has also been hit by a series of small quakes - 3.0, 2.0, 2.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.6, 2.0, 2.4, so far.)
In neighbouring Austria, heavy rains in the Alps caused land slides that damaged dozens of houses and killed one woman on Sunday in the southern province of Styria.

Four people, all from one family, have died in a landslide in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Rize. The landslides in the region had been the result of heavy rains, which had also affected power and communications services in the district.

Nearly 200,000 drought-affected Ugandans are at risk of further food shortages after heavy rains washed away a bridge on the main road used to carry aid to the north-east of the country.

In Nogales, Arizona a river has disappeared. On Sunday the water in the Santa Cruz River at the crossing just off Palo Parado Road and Interstate 19 was so high, many vehicles could not pass. Three days later, the river at the crossing had all but disappeared leaving a number of dead fish whose life source literally was taken right from under them. "The river is going underground. My best guess is that the flow on Sunday from the Sonoita Creek, approximately 3,710 cubic feet of water per second ... scoured the channel so the water is able to drain into the aquifer. This was not the first event of this magnitude this year, so it may have been a series of flow events that broke through the bottom layer" and allowed the river flow to sink into the ground. The flow may have scoured through an algal mat that has been cited as possibly being partially responsible for the death of several trees along the river valley.

Portugal is suffering ONE OF THE BIGGEST WAVES OF WILDFIRES IN MEMORY as a result of a heatwave and drought not experienced since the 1940s. 32 fires were out of control and a national state of emergency was declared in the central Coimbra region, where the fire was advancing on several fronts , not far from Coimbra, the third-largest city. More than 3000 firefighters backed by hundreds of vehicles and 38 aircraft and helicopters, including several rushed in from other European countries, have struggled to contain dozens of fires across Portugal. Forecasters predicted temperatures would soar above a scorching 35C in some areas, raising the risk of new fires, and remain high until at least tomorrow.

A NASA research team has developed techniques for launching a fleet of unmanned aircraft like a flock of birds to monitor fast-moving wildfires using the sort of small robotic aircraft flown by the military in Iraq. But the idea of flying small unmanned planes close to backcountry infernos has raised several concerns, including potential conflicts with other aircraft – such as air tankers dropping fire retardant.

Upwellings of nutrient-rich cold water have finally arrived off the Pacific Northwest coast, purging the ocean of warmer surface temperatures that earlier in the year disrupted the food chain for seabirds, salmon and other maritime life. Surface temperatures on the Pacific recently have dropped as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit, which is expected to help produce a rich buffet of zooplankton, tiny creatures that are a staple diet to a host of sea animals. But scientists say it may have come too late for many species, such as murres and coho salmon, that depend on heavy feeding in spring and early summer. Researchers are still trying to better understand what happened this spring, when a lack of northerly winds apparently prevented the upsurges of cold water that usually bring nutrients up from decaying sea life on the ocean bottom. Scientists say it could have been an aberration, but they worry it may have signaled a new ocean pattern that might be connected with global warming. "This one caught us completely by surprise." Scientists are hopeful that the recent surge of cold water will continue through the winter, setting the stage for a fertile spring next year. That would boost the confidence of marine scientists who have predicted that ocean conditions will be favorable for at least a decade. But some scientists remain uneasy that global warming could short-circuit weather patterns that create the cold-water upwellings. The concern is heightened by other recent unusual ocean events. "As scientists, we don't want to be Chicken Little and say the sky is falling. But this is weird stuff."

'Moderately severe' hypoxia," on the threshold of being severe, has killed the fish off Long Island Sound in New York. "It stresses the animal. The fin fish simply won't stay in a place with no oxygen, some die, and others are unable to reproduce. It can disturb the entire ecosystem by disturbing the food chain."

Preventing global warming would cost the world economy a devastating $18 trillion (£9.9 trillion) even under the most conservative assumptions, a report out this week will warn. The cost, equivalent to 45 per cent of world gross domestic product for a year, is much greater than any conceivable benefit, according to the report. The costing is based on the assumption that cutting global warming would require reducing the world's consumption of oil and energy. "The proposed Kyoto treaty limits would in no way prevent global warming. In reality, nobody seriously proposes a cure for global warming, because adequate measures would cause economic catastrophe and probably world war."

Germany's government is to announce emergency restrictions on keeping poultry in the open to prevent bird flu entering the country. Poultry farmers could face an order to keep their flocks in pens to prevent contact with wild birds migrating from central Asia where bird flu has been discovered. The experts recommended September 15 as the starting point for any order to keep birds in pens.


Monday, August 22, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -
The earthquake in Japan jolted a wide area yesterday. Two people were injured by broken glass. The quake was centered in Niigata prefecture, about 190 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Tokyo, where a temblor on Oct. 23 last year and aftershocks killed 40 people.
The government will try to ensure it can maintain key functions for three days following a powerful quake striking the Tokyo metropolitan area and ask each household to store enough food and beverages to last at least that long. The outline requests that the 6.5 million people expected to be unable to return home because of disruption of the transportation system to stay at their workplaces for several days. Experts predict that quakes up to upper 6 on Japan's seismic scale of 7 occur several times between more violent temblors measuring 8 on the Richter scale, which hit the area every 200 to 300 years. Such a quake is expected to claim up to 11,000 lives and damage some 850,000 homes and buildings.

Dozens of small earthquakes near a volcano in southwest Colombia were raising concerns Sunday of a possible eruption. More than 30 temblors have occurred within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of the Galeras volcano beginning Saturday. Several had a magnitude near 5.

The ongoing Mayana landslide in the Philippines, which has already affected no less than 70 hectares, is considered as so far THE BIGGEST EVER RECORDED IN THE COUNTRY and the second (in area) compared to a landslide in California in 1956. If this movement continues, there is a big possibility that the debris will cover the main tributary of Aliwahan River within the next 15 days. If this occurs, it will cause artificial damming of the river. Since July 11 the land movement has been actively causing erosion at a rapid rate of 23.08 meters daily. With the onset of the rainy season, the accumulated water will trigger a flash flood. The latest count of landslide victims has reached to l50 families, about 68 of whom have had their houses totally destroyed. The national road remains blocked. Residents in sitios Ilaud and Balikbayan continue to notice land movement that appears faster during nighttime.

Tropical Activity -
Tropical storm Guchol was 632 nmi SE of Tokyo, Japan and 714 nmi N of Saipan, N. Mariana Is. in the northwestern Pacific.
Typhoon Mawar was 611 nmi NW of Saipan, N. Mariana Is. in the northwestern Pacific.
Category 2 Hurricane Hilary was 298 nmi S of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in the eastern Pacific.

Flash floods have killed a dozen people in Yemen and have injured at least six others in the last two days due to heavy rains. Farmland animals have also died in the floods. The country's meteorological office has warned the heavy rains will continue for the next two days.

At least 16 people have died in severe storms and flooding which have hit Romania in the past week. Two people are still reported missing. More than 1,400 people from across the country have been evacuated and thousands of homes have been damaged. This year Romania has suffered some of its worst floods in decades.

Heavy overnight rain has triggered flash flooding in parts of Slovenia, wreaking havoc in transport and causing extensive damage, but there were no reports of casualties. A number of roads have been closed around Celje due to the flooding and subsequent mudslides. Two road bridges have been washed away near Zalec. Dozens of houses have also been flooded. According to initial assessments, the total damage would go into tens of millions of US dollars. Forecasters have warned that more heavy rain could fall in the next 36 hours and more flooding is expected.

Last Thursday, the area near Stoughton, Madison was one of the hardest hit areas as a SINGLE-DAY STATE RECORD 28 TORNADOES chewed up a 120-mile stretch of the state. Wisconsin sees an average of 21 tornadoes a year. In May 1988, 24 tornadoes hit Wisconsin in a single day. While Thursday's storms resulted in only one death, hundreds of others are now displaced.

Hong Kong shoppers will pay more for fresh vegetables as torrential rain hampers supplies from local and mainland farms. Prices will probably remain high for the next 10-15 days. Supplies, and therefore prices, were unlikely to stabilize until the weather improved. A lingering trough of low pressure has brought deluges to Hong Kong and neighboring cities in southern China in the last few days. Heavy rain for most of the week, topped by more than 300 millimeters of continuous downpour on Saturday, created ideal conditions for landslides, with 16 reported on Sunday alone before 1pm. This year so far has been wetter than average, with much of the rain falling in the past few months. By Saturday - when 303mm fell in 24 hours - the total for the year so far was 2,773.5mm compared with an average of 1,578 mm and well above the yearly average of 2,214 mm. According to Hong Kong Observatory records, August is typically the wettest month, with an average of 391mm - although it has been known to exceed 1,000mm.

Scenic, wooded Lake Tahoe in Nevada could easily go up in smoke, speakers at an annual lakeside summit warned Sunday. Much of the attention – and millions of dollars – have gone in recent years to protecting the high alpine lake's fabled clear blue waters. But it is the forested Sierra Nevada mountains reflected in the lake that could destroy the basin that is home to multimillion dollar homes, casinos, ski resorts, lodges, restaurants and parks that draw thousands of tourists. Scientists say a large wildfire could set back lake restoration efforts by one hundred years. Moreover, a fast-moving wildfire on a crowded summer weekend could pose deadly danger to panicked people fleeing over the Tahoe basin's few winding roads.

Portugal has asked the European Union for help in fighting their massive wildfires after more than 50 blazes burned through forests and farmland across the country. Conditions had deteriorated to a point where Portuguese authorities could not cope without external help. High temperatures and strong winds, which rekindled several fires on Saturday, were also forecast for the coming days. Weather conditions meant 16 of Portugal's 18 districts are at the highest possible risk for fires.

Sections of the U.S. Midwest are suffering the WORST DRY SPELL SINCE THE LATE 1980s. Water flow in some rivers has hit near 60-YEAR LOWS, weeks before usual low-water months. According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Web site, forecasters see "some additional improvement" to come but with "considerable uncertainty" about the degree and timing. Around Missouri some corn crops are "zeroed," while most growers expect yields off by a third or half. The story is about the same and in some areas worse in Illinois. Rain has been particularly scarce in a swath from central Missouri north to the western Great Lakes and a slice of eastern Iowa. Conditions there are "extreme drought:" 60 percent of average rainfall for six months.

All but two of Oklahoma's counties have been declared agricultural disaster areas after months of heat, high winds and little rain caused significant crop losses. Rainfall since March 1 statewide is between 2.3 inches and MORE THAN A FOOT BELOW NORMAL. Oklahoma is typically hot and dry in summer months. However, this year's March-through-May period in the state ranked as THE DRIEST SINCE 1921. "If it doesn't rain pretty soon - and there's nothing I can see in the long-range forecast that we're going to get a whole lot of rain - then I think a lot of our people are going to be in dire straits." Counties in California and Texas have also been designated as agricultural disaster areas.

The people living in the Iril river basin in India will experience an UNPRECEDENTED FAMINE unless the Government of Manipur takes up appropriate measure for providing irrigation facilities to feed their paddy fields. In a joint statement, the chiefs of 11 villages said that the people of the area are in great misery as they could not plant rice paddies due to the scarcity of rainfall.

In Thailand, the Northeast is experiencing a weird weather phenomenon as some provinces are facing the SEVEREST DROUGHT IN FOUR DECADES while others situated along the Mekong river have been battling floods as the water level rises. Rainstorms usually come in September and the Ubonrat dam is likely to get 800 million cu/m of water during that period. If the weather does not oblige, there will only be enough water left for two months of consumption. The reserve in the Huai Jorakaymark reservoir measures only 2.6 million cu/m, THE SMALLEST AMOUNT IN 48 YEARS. The amount usually stands at 18 million cu/m. In Surin province the amount of rain was THE SMALLEST IN A DECADE. In the meantime, the Mekong river, which received excessive water in its upstream section from heavy rain early this month, has overflowed into more than 400 villages.

Armadillos have begun moving north into the Kansas area in recent years, and one wildlife expert said the area along the Kansas River is ideal for the shelled mammals. In the past 10 years, the animals have become more common in southern Kansas. Their migration north could be due to milder winters. "I think the mild winters we've had have something to do with it. But I think some of them are getting a little tougher." The animals have moved even farther north into the Missouri River Valley - although sightings of live armadillos are rare there.

Sunday, August 21, 2005 -

This morning -
Largest quakes yesterday -
Apprehensions of a potential earthquake are doing the rounds in India in the wake of a fissure that appeared on the surface of the earth at Pappakkai Naththam under Ammaiappan panchayat on Friday. The fissure, measuring about a hundred metres on the south-north, has appeared on the ground along the roadside, with a width of a maximum of four inches. The crack was first noticed by the boys of the village who were playing on Friday evening when they initially felt the earth shake. Around 10.30 pm, utensils rolled down from the lofts of households. This sent further shockwaves through the whole community, forcing residents to flee their houses and spend the rest of the night on the road.

Larger cracks are appearing along a 30-acre lava delta formed by Kilauea Volcano at the edge of the ocean at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, and scientists continue to monitor the outcropping, waiting to see if it will finally collapse. "We haven't had a monster collapse yet, but there's really a significant hazard there because there's cracks that run all the way across the bench, parallel to shore. If the thing finally slumped along those fractures, we would have a pretty catastrophic event." There have been "small collapses" of perhaps two acres each that sheered off at the apex of the bench over the last few weeks, but lava flowing from the tube system leading from the volcano quickly replaces the lost land. The collapses happen because the lava benches build up over unstable, underwater piles of rubble. Shifting or landslides in the rubble below erode the support for the surface outcropping, and finally the lava deltas collapse. The collapse abruptly exposes hot lava in the tube system to the surf, which triggers steam explosions that fling rocks and hot lava into the ocean and back on the shore. The delta cracks are a few feet wide in places, which is "a good warning sign."

Typhoon Mawar is not expected to hit Taiwan but will bring heavy rains to the island for the next few days. Heavy rains are expected to fall mostly in the afternoons. Mawar was located at sea about 950 kilometers northwest of Guam and was moving toward Japan.

Wild weather caused some major flooding across the city of Toronto, Canada, after two major weather systems blasted their way through. The storms also caused havoc at Toronto's Pearson Airport, delaying departing flights. Severe periods of localized flash flooding paralyzed much of the city's main roadways and transit routes, drowning vehicles and leaving motorists knee-deep in water. In one extreme case, flood waters managed to wash away an entire section of road.

Residents of an Ontario community just northwest of Guelph were picking up the pieces Saturday after a confirmed tornado touched down during the fierce series of storms that passed through southern Ontario. Officials continued studying the aftermath of the storm in other areas of southern Ontario Saturday afternoon, trying to determine if other regions were hit by tornadoes.

The tornado that dropped down to splinter homes and lives in Stoughton, Wisconsin early Thursday evening was born in a three-mile high mass of swirling air and rumbling thunderstorms that started moving down the length of Wisconsin just as the day was dawning. Deep and rolling thunder moved in the hour before sunrise Thursday. The growling echoed for as long as 15 seconds after some of the retorts and something powerful was developing high overhead. A few hours later, three miles in the sky, the atmosphere was roiling, turning in the trademark vortex that is the breeding ground for tornadoes. The disturbance spanned the Minnesota-Wisconsin border and covered an enormous area. "This was one giant block of atmosphere." Eventually, the system would deliver ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS SERIES OF STORMS AND TORNADOES THE STATE HAS SEEN. Statewide, 18 funnels would touch down, ravaging homes, farms and communities in a path from La Crosse to Stoughton. The jet stream, a band of fast- moving air that affects our weather, moves north as summer progresses. It adds to the instability and turbulence that created Thursday's storms.

Flooding in the north of Romania has killed at least nine people and displaced 1,000 more. More than 300 villages remain without electricity following heavy rain this week. Flooding earlier this year in Romania killed more than two dozen people and caused severe material damage.

An active trough of low air pressure has brought Hong Kong unsettled weather, with heavy rainfall recorded in most parts of the city. The heavy rain on Saturday morning brought more than 100 mm of rain to most parts of the city. As of noon, there were 13 reports on landslide and 21 flooding cases. The trough of low pressure affected South China coastal areas and the northern part of South China. Hong Kong Observatory issued strong Monsoon and Amber Rainstorm Warning Signals Saturday followed by a Northern New Territories Flooding Warning. A Landslide Warning, issued on Friday, is still in force. The weather will remain cloudy with rain and squally thunderstorms over the next few days.
At least 59 landslide incidents were reported on Saturday and the landslide in a village in the New Territories in Hong Kong killed one man.

Some long-range forecasts predict an early start for cold and nasty weather this year. Accuweather just announced we are headed for an especially cold winter in the northeastern United States and the chilly temperatures will begin earlier than usual. Specifically, Accuweather proclaims that temperatures will be 2 to 3 degrees below normal. And those colder temperatures will bring more snow than normal, too. “It looks like things in the atmosphere are changing. These troughs — think of them as ditches in the atmosphere — that are forming in Canada, will allow much cooler air to be drawn southward.” The recent unusual weather patterns in the Midwest, including the tornadoes in Wisconsin, are indications that these troughs are forming.

The entire country of Portugal is on a state of high alert, and the situation worsened late Saturday, with about 40 fires blazing out of control. Ten Portuguese firemen have died this year, along with three civilians killed defending their homes. Conditions have been equally dramatic across the border in Spain, where 13 fire fighters have been killed since the start of the summer. An aircraft fighting a fire in south eastern France crashed into a rocky hillside overnight killing both crew members and adding to the rising toll among fire-fighters in southern Europe.

Findings suggest that humans evolved in response to a variable climate. Complex variation of the East African climate may have played a key role in the development of our human ancestors. Scientists have identified extensive lake systems which formed and disappeared in East Africa between 1 and 3 million years ago. The lakes could be evidence that global climate changes occured throughout this pivotal period in human evolution.


Saturday, August 20, 2005 -

This morning -
Largest quakes yesterday -

The powerful earthquake that struck Japan this week only caused minor damage, but jittery Tokyoites aren't taking any chances: a booklet showing the best escape routes out of the city is suddenly a hot seller.
An electric power company estimated the quake was the largest yet to shake a nuclear plant. A seismograph set up inside the facility indicated the intensity of the temblor was greater than the maximum level that had been estimated for the construction housing the reactors. Investigators determined overhead power supply wiring had been severed and pantographs disconnected from the wires and that shut off power to the trains. Severed wiring during an earthquake is rare, but it also occurred during the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.

The seismic swarm on Sarigan Island has been tapering off since Wednesday. Since Tuesday last week Sarigan's seismic station recorded more than 705 earthquakes. On late Monday to early Tuesday this week, seismicity on Anatahan triggered at least 10 alarms that indicated high eruptive activity. An earthquake triggered an equipment alarm, possibly indicating a strong volcanic eruption about 3:21pm this Thursday and lasted one minute. Yesterday morning an ash plume from Anatahan's volcano rose to 15,000 feet and moved northeasterly.

Tropical activity
Tropical Depression 12W was 544 nmi NNE of Saipan, N. Mariana Is. and 656 nmi NNE of Agana, Guam in the western Pacific.
Tropical Storm Mawar was 394 nmi NNW of Saipan, N. Mariana Is. and 465 nmi NNW of Agana, Guam in the western Pacific.
Tropical Storm Hilary was 197 nmi SSE of Acapulco, Mexico in the eastern Pacific.

Debris from the Madison, Wisconsin area floated about 70 miles through the air Thursday to areas like Brookfield, Waukesha and New Berlin. Most of the debris probably came from a twister that struck Stoughton on Thursday evening. "As we looked up, I thought it was birds flying around at first." The objects floated in odd patterns, though. "When a storm is so tall, 50,000 to 60,000 feet into the sky, and has such a strong rotation, it picks up debris and then blows it down the jet stream, where it gets carried aloft."

From 8:00 a.m. last Friday through to 8 a.m. on Sunday, Liaoning, China was doused by concentrated rainstorms. Fushun City was the worst-hit. Altogether 53 highways and railway lines inside Liaoning were destroyed, including the freeway. Other damage included the destruction of 240,000 hectares of crops, 8,376 rural homes. "There was panic buying in the county seat of Qingyuan, and commodities such as food, bottled water, candles and electric torches were all sold out."

Lightning that accompanied Sunday night's storm caused the deaths of three horses and two mules as they grazed in Williamstown and Savoy pastures in Massachusetts . Unlike more common cloud-to-cloud lightning, Sunday's storm produced cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. A meteorologist believes the animals' deaths to be a freak occurrence. Though they were in a wooded area, no trees were hit, but "people said they saw a burn mark in the ground." In addition , the storm might have been responsible for the death of other livestock (cows) in the region.

Urgent avalanche warnings have been issued in South Island, New Zealand back-country areas after heavy snowfalls and several close calls involving skiers and snowboarders. The avalanches have been caused by the heavy load from wet storm cycles in the last ten days, and the deterioration of shallow, early-season snowpack resulting in weak layers.

"People in Alaska are starting to freak out. The retreat of the sea ice allows the oceans to pound the coast more and villages there are suffering from the effects of that erosion. Permafrost is melting, roads are buckling, forests have been infested with beetles and decimated because of a rise in temperatures." People who have been fishing there all their lives say lately the fish have strange bumps on them.

Tobacco can take the dry weather and the heat in short spurts, but it cannot take what 2005 has decided to dish out in Kentucky. Statewide, the dry weather, coupled with the end of the tobacco support program, the 2005 production levels are the lowest since 1927. Lack of rain and high temperatures have plagued this growing season.

In South Carolina the unseasonably cool and overcast weather - temperatures in recent weeks have hovered in the low 60s for much of the day - is likely to continue through the next week. Local high temperatures have been 5 to 7 degrees lower than the average 75-76 degrees for August. "It's usually a sunnier month than this. Just one of the strange enigmas about this year's weather."

The rest of the country may be sweltering in the grip of summer, but the Northern California coast is deep in the fog days of August, lost in a blanket of gray gloom. San Francisco is ground zero for the summer fog, which some people think is worse this year than ever. On Wednesday, San Francisco was colder than Anchorage, Alaska. San Francisco had a low of 52 at sunrise, three degrees colder than the Alaskan city. There are nine different summer fog formations. The San Francisco Bay Area has three seasons: winter, summer and fog. And summer is just around the corner. On the coast, summer comes in the fall. Dawn has been visible only two of the first 18 days of August in San Francisco. The sun hasn't come out at all for days in San Francisco's western neighborhoods; no one has seen a sunset in the Sunset District for nearly a week. Even normally sunny Contra Costa was gray. "What's the fog doing here?'' It is usually bright sunshine from April to November. "This has been one of the foggiest Julys and Augusts I've ever seen.'' The National Weather Service is calling for fog and low clouds through next Thursday.

Two climate change sceptics, who believe the dangers of global warming are overstated, have put their money where their mouth is and bet $10,000 that the planet will cool over the next decade. The pair believe that global temperatures are driven more by changes in the sun's activity than by the emission of greenhouse gases. They say the Earth warms and cools in response to changes in the number and size of sunspots.

Climate change is affecting both numbers of birds in the UK and where they live according to a new report. There is a rapid decline in numbers of farm birds, like the corn bunting, whereas a number of "generalist" species, such as the wood pigeon, are increasing. The population of wintering ducks, geese, swans and wading birds has dropped to its lowest level for 10 years, while the distribution of seven of the nine common species of wading birds has shifted from the warm west of Britain to the colder east since the mid-1980s. There is also a general trend for birds to nest earlier and for migrating species to arrive earlier. 2004 was the worst seabird breeding season on record.


Friday, August 19, 2005 -

Largest quake yesterday -
There have been very few moderate quakes worldwide yesterday so today may be active.

Tuesday's magnitude 7.2 quake in Japan caused radioactive water to leak within three nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture but the radioactivity level was low and the incident did not affect the environment outside the facilities, Tokyo Electric Power Co said Wednesday. The number of people injured due to Tuesday's earthquake totaled 84 as of Thursday.
Bullet train services on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line linking Tokyo and northeastern Japan remained disrupted Wednesday due to cancellations caused by Tuesday's earthquake.

The Nyiragongo volcano that looms over Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo could soon wipe out the city, said a leaked risk analysis report by volcano experts. The report recommends the city be moved to avoid the fallout of another volcanic eruption, possibly within two years. "The risk of a new eruption of Nyiragongo is clear, with a 13 percent chance that the city would survive." Nyiragongo's lava flows are extremely fluid, travelling at speeds up to 100 kilometres (60 miles) an hour.

Tropical Storm Irene began falling apart yesterday in the colder north Atlantic and it posed no threat to land. Irene accelerated as it moved northeast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The NOAA expects a continuation of above-normal tropical storm seasons for another decade or perhaps longer, because the current confluence of optimal ocean and atmosphere conditions has been known to produce increased tropical storm activity in multi-decadal (approximately 20-30 year) cycles. NOAA's research shows that this reoccurring cycle is the dominant climate factor that controls Atlantic hurricane activity. The multi-decadal signal that has contributed to increased Atlantic activity since 1995 has also produced a marked decrease in hurricanes in the eastern Pacific hurricane region. Historical records indicate that an average of two to three additional hurricanes could strike the U.S. between August and November. "This may well be one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, and will be the ninth above-normal Atlantic hurricane season in the last eleven years."

Dry air, which is a hurricane killer, is about a mile above the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. "What is going on over the Atlantic is there is an unusual amount of dry air coming from Africa." Dry waves have been rolling out of Africa and when they encounter developing storms, they suck the energy out of them. Meteorologists have been watching a developing storm for days, and it has been coming and going. "You can see, for example ... earlier in the day, it looks thicker, and then it thins out, so every day it tries to grow, then it brings in dry air that cuts it off, and it tries to grow again." The lull caused by the dry air could last a week to 10 days. Then the Atlantic might get busy again, or maybe not.

Last Friday a tornado ripped through Glen Cove, New York with "15 minutes of intense destruction." Tornadoes are a rare occurrence in this area. "The destruction was massive - trees uprooted by winds, or split in half by lightning. Five home were severely damaged - two completely - and several vehicles were destroyed." There was brief heavy rain, thunder and what everyone agreed was some of the most amazing lightning they've ever seen. Lightning streaked down a street, splitting tree after tree. "A driver told me he felt like he was outrunning a train, hearing a constant boom, boom, boom behind him as he drove." One home was hit by at least three trees from at least two sides. Coming up, hurricane season on Long Island is at its worst in September and October.

Residents of seven northernmost provinces in Thailand, still recovering from the weekend's record flooding, are being warned to brace for another battering by storms and floodwaters. A low pressure ridge is moving across the North and Northeast. Heavy downpours were predicted for Thursday and the next two days.

About 13,000 refugees have been made homeless by floods in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, in the WORST RAINS FOR HALF A CENTURY. The rains damaged a dam built to prevent flooding in a refugee camp next to the state's main town, el-Fasher. "In one night we had 132 millimetres of rain...in the whole of last year we had 106 millimetres. It is impossible for a town like el-Fasher to absorb this water."

Seventeen people were killed when storms pounded northern and central Vietnam at the weekend, causing heavy floods.

A second cold front to hit Cape Town, South Africa in a week brought with it heavy rainfall throughout Wednesday, with some areas flooded. The South African Weather Service (Saws) warned of very cold, snowy, wet and windy weather, with rough seas and swells reaching five metres. "Snowfalls are likely overnight in the Western and Northern Cape provinces, where temperatures have dropped." Later, gale force winds of up to 75 km/h were likely to develop between Cape Agulhas and Plettenberg Bay. A cold front was approaching the east of the country too, and showers could be expected.

A huge chunk of ice that crashed through the roof of a home in Fontana, California is at the center of a Federal Aviation Administration investigation. The ice does not appear to be of the "blue ice" variety that usually falls from airplane toilets. "There was a loud explosion and a concussion of the house, and it like scared me to death. It made a loud explosion. It was like nothing I'd heard in my life." The ice hunk may be a weather anomaly called "megacryometeors," with mega standing for "big" and "cryo' for ice. Megacryometeors are unexplained ice balls that fall from the sky and usually weigh between 25 to 30 pounds. "Every time I lay down in the bed, and I look up at the ceiling, I'm afraid something's going to hit me."

In Pahrump, Nevada, chaotic weather on Sunday coated Mt. Charleston with a thick layer of marble-sized hail. It looked like snow had fallen in August. Over the weekend residents in Pahrump reported hail in parts of the valley. Heavy rain and strong winds uprooted and split trees and caused property damage. Hail pelted communities on the mountain all day long, causing dents in some vehicles.

North Central Florida is cooking in some of the hottest temperatures of the summer. A strong high-pressure system has settled over Florida and is keeping the usual "welcome-relief showers" from forming as widely as they typically do this time of year. "The reason we're having the weather we are right now is that there's a sinking motion in the atmosphere that tends to suppress afternoon thunderstorms from developing. That's the complete opposite of what we need for thunderstorms." This type of high-pressure system is more common in June or early July, but is not that unusual in August. "Normally in August we feel the effects of the tropics and winds are a little stronger from the south and east versus the southwesterly flow we're getting now." The high-pressure system appears to be showing signs of moving off the peninsula.

Certain areas of the Andaman Sea have been tested and found to have an abnormally high ocean temperature of between 31-32 Celsius degrees, said marine scientists. Scientists have yet to find the reason for the higher ocean temperature. Coral reefs at these sites are threatened by coral bleaching phenomenon. Last year's tsunami had limited impact on coral reefs in the Andaman Sea, which is now more threatened by the bleaching phenomenon. The coral bleaching phenomenon have become an annual event for the Andaman Sea in recent years. Many coral reefs in the Andaman Sea have now turned a pale yellow, pink or white color and have gradually died off. In 1998, an El Nino global coral bleaching event caused the deaths of many coral reefs, a disaster occurring only once in 1,000 years. Environmental scientist Tim Flannery is forecasting that a calamity driven by climate change will hit Australia before the end of the century. Dr Flannery says he has new research, which shows that temperatures are now rising 50 times faster than they were in the lead-up to the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. "Of all the developed countries, Australia I think faces the bleakest future and that's because a lot of our agriculture is already marginal, as is our rainfall."

In Belize, "for the past three years when we expect rain there is no rain, when we expect that it's going to be dry, there is rain." Severe weather conditions like hurricanes, floods and drought have greatly impacted Belize, but it could have been worse says Minister of Natural Resources had they not been fortunate enough to protect their natural resources and the environment. To date, almost forty percent of the country is under some kind of protective status.

Men, women and children in Niger and its neighbouring Least Developed Countries have resorted to eating leaves and grass as a result of a double-disaster: a severe drought and the invasion of locusts destroying nearly 80 percent of their crop.

Copperhead snakes are gathering early in Arkansas. Every year large numbers of copperheads gather and move in unison to dens for hibernation. But it happens in October, not July or August as it is occurring now. Now the common event has become an UNCOMMON AND INEXPLICABLE one. Nearly 100 of the snakes are using a cedar tree as a sort of meeting place, and scientists who have traveled to the rural north central Arkansas site to study the phenomenon, don't know why. "With this hot weather we didn't anticipate such a grand movement of so many snakes. In the fall they aggregate in fairly large numbers, so it's quite an unusual event." A gathering of copperheads like the one in this yard has not been documented before. All the snakes that have been gathering at the base of the tree are adult males. "I know for a fact that all these snakes didn't just wake up one day and do this. Something's making them do it. They know something we don't know. There's got to be something more to this."

The hot, dry summer has drawn an unusual number of rattlesnakes out of their mountain lairs and into the valleys in Pennsylvania. Rattlesnake sightings seem to be higher than normal this year. The combination of heat and little rainfall is probably the cause. "If people are seeing snakes and other reptiles that (lack of water) is very likely the reason."

A group of up to 2,000 common dolphins has been spotted off the coast of west Wales. Marine experts said it was "MASSIVELY UNUSUAL" to see so many off the Pembrokeshire coast, and the reason remained a mystery. "It's fairly normal to see a hundred or so, but not thousands." The sight of the dolphins approaching "was like a volcanic eruption. There were dolphins of all ages - adults and mothers with their babies - and they were leaping out of the water."

Just days after the sighting of around 2,000 dolphins off the west Wales coast, a school of giant fin whales has been spotted fishing in the Irish sea. The sighting by an Oxford University team was described as "UNIQUE" as they are normally on their own or in pairs. The sea "teeming with food" has put west Wales on the whale watching map. It is large schools of mackerel and herring which are attracting the unusual numbers of larger visitors. "Everywhere you look there are fish." "The increased wildlife may be because of changes in the currents off our coast - the reverse is taking place in Scotland where spawning grounds for sand eels and sprats are failing." The fin whales have been the third unusual marine sighting reported in West Wales in two weeks. Last week two humpback whales were seen, 100 metres off the beach at Llangranog. "We have seen unusual numbers of minke whale too."

The World Health Organization's internal pandemic flu plan, a leaked pandemic contingency plan, urges its offices around the world to stockpile enough of the antiviral drug oseltamivir to treat nearly a third of staff and their dependants. Its goal is to both ensure the safety of WHO workers and the agency's ability to maintain operations at a point when its guidance may be more desperately needed than ever in its history. The agency has been struggling to figure out how it could continue to function at a time when a tidal wave of illness and death would be washing over the globe. It is estimated that when a pandemic next occurs, about a third of the world's population could become ill. The plan warns global stocks of oseltamivir - sold as Tamiflu - would be rapidly exhausted when a pandemic is declared. "Because antivirals will become valuable commodities during a pandemic they should be stored in a secure place."

An outbreak of a mild form of avian influenza was reported in Japan, as the World Health Organization (WHO) voiced concern about the recent spread of H5N1 avian flu to Russia and Kazakhstan.

Thursday, August 18, 2005 -

This morning -

Largest quakes yesterday -

Sections of two more Bay Area counties in California have been identified as danger zones if there's an earthquake. For the first time, the California Geological Survey has pinpointed a trouble spot in San Mateo County that is south of Portola Valley. Geologists also found a weak spot in Santa Clara county, south of Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills. The maps point to areas at-risk for landslides and liquefaction, which is when soil gets soaked and unstable.

The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry is deploying additional units and equipment as a preventive measure against a powerful earthquake expected on Kamchatka, a peninsula in the northeast of Russia. 30 rescue workers have been temporarily transferred here until December during the heightened earthquake alert, in the wake of seismologists' warning that a magnitude 7.2 quake has a 70% chance of rocking the region between now and December. Additional equipment, instruments and medical supplies will be delivered at the end of August and a mobile hospital from the Rescue Center will be airlifted in early September.

Another summer storm in Nevada slammed the Sierra Tuesday night, bringing floods and fires. The storm struck quick and hard, dumping more than an inch of rain in five minutes around Carson City. "It was amazing, I've never seen anything like it. Like a wall of water. It was like six or eight feet high. It was amazing and the stuff that it was pushing down the canyons, I mean I came back and all of the roads, all of the washes, are just, they've taken out everything." Out of nowhere a wall of mud shut down two miles of road in east Carson City.

For three weeks a monster of a monsoon was messing with many sections of Southern California's mountains and deserts. From July 20 through Aug. 9, the National Weather Service issued 80 flash flood warnings for southwest California, 35 severe-storm warnings, plus a tornado warning. Some inland areas got heavy rain. Some got dime-, nickel-, even pingpong-ball-sized hail. Some got damaging, 60 mph winds. "We had three weeks with nonstop thunderstorm activity. There have been some impressive storms out there. " "The timing of it isn't unusual. Mid-July is when we usually get going. But we usually get a week of activity, then it tapers off, then it picks up again. I honestly don't remember one that long." The prolonged monsoon in their local mountains and deserts began to shut down around Aug. 10. The action shifted to the Colorado River Valley when the high-pressure system that had been directing a moist flow their way moved east. But they're not likely to have seen the last of the monsoon.

Dozens of barges are at a standstill, stranded as the Midwestern U.S. drought has closed the lowest portion of the Ohio River to all vessel traffic.

The Great Lakes of the US are thawing earlier each spring, according to an analysis of ice break-ups dating back to 1846. According to a researcher, who studied the break-up of ice on 61 lakes between 1975 and 2004, the rate of change is three times as fast as it was before 1975.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005 -

This morning -

Largest quakes yesterday -

The magnitude 7.2 earthquake that jolted northern Japan Tuesday, injured at least 59 people. About 200 houses were damaged, mostly in northern Japan. Several landslides were reported following the quake, including one a tourist managed to capture on video. The tape shows debris falling from a cliff and into a stream in Miyagi Prefecture.

In Australia, earthquakes 10 times bigger than the one that devastated Newcastle in 1989 could destroy Broken Hill and Port Augusta within the next 80 years, says a geologist. He found evidence that much bigger earthquakes had rocked both regions a lot more recently than had been thought. Some of the fault lines he found could only have been generated by earthquakes exceeding 6.6 on the Richter scale. Similar fault lines to the ones he found in the Flinders and Barrier ranges are likely to exist throughout South Australia, NSW and Victoria.

THE WORST FLOODING IN OVER A DECADE has hit northern Thailand. Five people have been killed and 11 are still missing in weekend flooding. Floodwaters have swirled across seven northern provinces affecting nearly 60,000 people. They damaged almost 50 bridges, 18 roads, three reservoirs, and more than 1,200 hectares of farmland. Lower northern provinces located on the banks of rivers have been warned as there is more water this year than the big flood of 1994.

Lightning and thunderstorms dropped rain and hail across the High Desert in California from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning, triggering power outages, flooding and flood-related collisions from Lucerne Valley to Barstow. "The bottom line is, we had ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ELECTRICAL STORMS THAT I CAN REMEMBER." Though flash floods and thunder storms are common this time of year in the High Desert, upper-level low pressure off the coast combined with a moist monsoonal air base created an unusual weather pattern over the weekend that spurred the persistent lightning and thunder. The first storms that hit Sunday afternoon gradually tapered off in the evening, and another group of storms rolled in from Ontario, moving over the San Bernardino Mountains and into the High Desert. "Normally if we get anything overnight it's from (storm) systems that move across the desert, affecting desert areas and the mountains. Sometimes those will drift out over the Inland Empire, but this storm happened in the reverse order."

In Hingham, near Boston, a so-called microburst hit the town - a rare pulse of 60- to 70-mile-per-hour winds common on the Great Plains but EXCEEDINGLY RARE in New England. The Hingham microburst occurred during a three-hour storm Sunday afternoon that dumped more than 5 inches of rain on much of the South Shore, a deluge that weather analysts said OCCURS LESS THAN ONCE A DECADE. ''It was the worst storm I've seen in 20 years." ''A big gust of wind came down suddenly at once. It's just one gust, less than a minute long." Three of the eight octagonal frame pieces that support the Hingham Congregational Church's steeple had been burned through by two lightning strikes on the church's lightning rod.

In the Spanish community of Valencia, hail again caused substantial damage in various production zones of citrus cultivation. Especially the region of l’Horta has been hit hard.

Dozens of people are feared dead after a river ferry capsized in the eastern Nigerian state of Taraba. Some 25 people were rescued alive on Monday. Heavy rain caused the Lamurde river to break its banks last week. A bridge collapsed, killing more than 30 people who were marvelling at the floodwaters. The locally-made, wooden ferry was reportedly put into service after the collapse of the bridge to allow people cross the river.

Torrential downpours and severe flooding have killed at least 14 people in northern and central China and left scores missing. Most heavily hit was the northeastern province of Liaoning. By yesterday more than 19,080 houses were destroyed and 188,000 people made homeless had been relocated. "This flood was the most serious since 1995."

A state of emergency has been declared in parts of Bougainville after flooding claimed at least one life and washed away village houses, food gardens and livestock. Continuous heavy rains over recent weeks caused rivers to rise in central and southern Three villages in the Siwai district in the south suffered severe flood damage, food crops were destroyed and pigs, dogs and chickens washed away. Bougainville is a large island to the east of Papua New Guinea - which in turn lies due North of Australia.

Brush fires ravaged mountains and valleys in Nanakuli, Hawaii, closing Farrington Highway twice and threatening the Kahe Power Plant, homes, utility towers and forest reserves. Fire officials gave an early estimate of about 2,000 acres destroyed in Monday's fires.

For the second summer in a row, Alaska has been baking under sweltering heat, stirring anxieties about global warming and its impact on the polar region. The weather has been clear and hot over almost all of Alaska for the past week, due to an intense high pressure dome that is reluctant to move on. Scientists say this is more than just a string of freak summers. Between 1949 and 2003, the average annual air temperature in Alaska increased by 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit, with some areas in the state registering increases of almost twice that much, especially in the spring and the autumn. "The moment it [the permafrost ] starts to thaw, we will be able to say we are the warmest we have been the past 100,000 years."

RECORD-BREAKING HIGH TEMPERATURES were expected to continue Tuesday and throughout the week in Central Florida.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 -

This morning -
5.3 & 4.8 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA (relatively close to Japan)
About 80 people have been injured after the powerful earthquake struck off the coast of northern Japan, causing a roof of a gymnasium to collapse and triggering a tsunami warning.
The quake triggered two 4-inch tsunamis along the country's Pacific coast, collapsing buildings, knocking out power and shaking skyscrapers in Tokyo, some 186 miles away. There were landslides in the quake zone. Officials expect little damage from the waves. The quake was centered 12 miles below the ocean floor, nearly 50 miles off the coast of Miyagi prefecture in northeastern Japan. The quake was followed by at least four aftershocks and additional quakes of up to magnitude 6 could follow. Earlier today, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake shook Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

Largest quakes yesterday -

A mild earthquake with a magnitude of 3.0 rattled a portion of northeastern Arkansas in a region that has seen a number of temblors this year. The area is in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Between May and late July, there were six earthquakes of magnitude two or greater in the southern part of the zone, which includes Arkansas. Four earthquakes near magnitude four have occurred since February.

Spanish scientists monitoring volcanic activity in the Canary Islands have registered a definite increase in the number of seismic tremors registered in Tenerife over the past year. The location of the tremors, in the north-east of the Island, reveal that the volcanic behaviour has changed, although the scientists say it is too soon to say exactly how. The last time a volcano erupted in the Canary Islands was in 1971 when Teneguía erupted on the island La Palma. It was a very calm eruption which spread over two months with no major explosions involved. As far as Tenerife is concerned, statistics show that the Island registers an eruption in one of its volcanoes once every hundred years. The biggest volcano in Tenerife, El Teide, has not erupted for 1,250 years.

Hundreds of earthquakes up to 5.8 on the Richter scale have rocked uninhabited islands in the Northern Marianas in recent days, which scientists have linked to the ongoing eruption of the Anatahan volcano. The main concentration appeared to be at Sarigan Island. The volcano on Anatahan, south of Sarigan, has been in a constant state of eruption since January. Its largest eruption in recorded history occurred on April 6.

The government has appealed to Nigerians bordering Lake Nyos in Cameroon to remain calm, as it "articulates ways of handling any anticipated eruption of the lake." The government had last week raised an alarm on the possibility of an eruption at the lake. In 1986 there was a fatal gas explosion at the lake resulting in the loss of about 1,800 lives and property worth millions of naria. The present alarm according to investigation, arose from noticed caves in the lower unit both on the downstream and upstream faces of the natural dam. The investigation showed that a collapse of the dam would result in the release of about 55 million cubic meters of water and dislodging of about two million metric tons of rock down the Nyos valley system capable of causing serious flood.

The demise of the dinosaurs was triggered by a spectacular and almost unprecedented double whammy for life on Earth. New evidence shows that a violent volcanic eruption combined with an asteroid collision for disastrous results. Previously the giant asteroid was thought to have caused the mass extinction 65 million years ago, with its impact leading to a dramatic change in the global climate that dinosaurs were unable to survive. A new study suggests a more complex catastrophe, instigated by a huge series of eruptions. The Deccan Traps in Maharashtra, India, are one of the Earth's largest flows of volcanic lava - more than a kilometre deep and covering about 322,000sq km. Scientists say the Traps were erupting when the asteroid crashed into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

A 3-year-old boy is the third Arizona child, and second from Pima County, to drown in a running wash in the past two weeks. He was swept away from a van that was trying to cross a flooded wash in Three Points, which had received 2.68 inches of rain in two hours. On Thursday, searchers found the body of a 16-month-old who had been missing for nine days after being swept away from her family's car in a similar situation near Sells. The day before, search and rescue found the body of a 7-year-old Camp Creek girl who had been washed away while her family was escaping floodwaters.

A flash flood watch remained in effect until 10 p.m. Monday night in the Las Vegas area after rushing water damaged some roads and filled flood-control washes yesterday. Two teenage girls were rescued from a flooded wash on Sunday in Henderson. Some locals say the flooding was something they've never seen here before. The rain came down fast and furious causing some streets to flood while others were totally washed out. The rushing water so strong at times it even swept away large debris including shopping carts and pieces of wood.

Sheets of rain - more than 5 inches in about three hours - fell on much of the Boston area yesterday as streets turned to rivers and parking lots became lakes, floating cars and filling basements. A torrential downpour hit Brockton in the late afternoon, bringing as much as 3.25 inches of rain in less than 90 minutes. ''Half of the city is under water. We have reports of water going into basements all over the city. We've had people stuck in cars all over the city." ''The South Shore was hit extremely hard by some very, very serious storms that wreaked havoc down there." ''It was so spectacular and frightening at the same time. It felt like two storms hit at once. It was really the most ferocious storm I've ever witnessed."

The seasons are skewed in Florida, with just about every plant and tree a good month behind where it ought to be.

The native California Oaks are losing their leaves early. In spite of abundant rainfall this past winter and spring, the leaves of many oak trees in the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges have been turning brown, and some trees have even begun losing their leaves. People have reported seeing oak leaves covered with brown spots and curling at the edges before turning completely brown and falling off. In some cases, entire hillsides now have oak forests with few, if any, leaves. This past May and June were unusually wet in much of California. In Yuba County, for instance, rainfall totals in both May and June were more than three times their long-term averages. This weather pattern most likely contributed to the infection of oak leaves. Because unusual weather patterns are needed for these spikes in leaf diseases, such outbreaks are typically limited to one growing season.

Scientists have noted warming at higher latitudes that already appears to be causing some flowers to bloom earlier than usual and seems to be altering some wildlife migration and hibernation patterns. The impact of global warming has become obvious in high latitude regions, including Alaska, Siberia and the Arctic, where melting ice and softening tundra are causing profound changes. But, contrary to popular belief, the most serious impact in the next century likely will be in the tropics. That is because organisms in the tropics normally do not experience much temperature variation because there is very little seasonality, so even small temperature shifts can have a much larger impact than similar shifts in regions with more seasonal climates.

In Mali,"the rain has stopped and the grass isn't growing. If there is no rain, the rest of my animals will die... and so will we." Mali has not reached Niger's crisis levels, but every indicator suggests they could be heading in that direction. The price of grain has more than quadrupled in the last two years. Of greatest concern is that the rainy season has not arrived as it should have done - unlike Niger - further decimating the little pasture that survived last year's drought and locust plague. Vast areas that should be green are not. If there is grass at all, it is yellowed and cracked. Aside from the immediate lack of fodder this year, grass that does not grow properly will not reseed itself and pastures and the animal fodder they provide will simply disappear next year. Another two to three weeks of no rain, villagers say, and the damage will be irreparable. "When I think about how life used to be here and what it's like now, I can't even talk about it."

The worst drought since 1988 has deepened across parts of the U.S. Midwest, and low water levels are turning parts of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers into sandbars, causing towboats and barges to run aground and delaying shipments of petroleum products, coal, chemicals, agricultural goods and road-paving materials. "There is high anxiety that we are close to shutting down the river. This is looking as bad or worse than 1988." The drought, which has mostly affected parts of Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin, has also dried up wells, caused severe insect infestations and wreaked havoc on corn and soybean fields.

It seems too much rain has caused a drought. The crops that managed to live through all that moisture in the spring in Canada sacrificed their root system. The plants had to basically float on top of saturated soil and they’ve paid a high price. In a crop such as soybeans,the taproot — the main root stem — will typically reach nearly a metre below surface to reach moisture. But yank a soybean plant out of the ground this year and you’ll find there is virtually no taproot left on the plant, only secondary roots, which typically spread horizontally a few centimetres below the surface. Farmers summed up the ironic situation: “Once you drive around the water-filled potholes, you quickly realize that it is dry, dry, dry. It is rare that the bottoms of the fields are drowned out while the tops are dried out.” In the past, just about every weather-related risk — short of drought — had a positive offset within the same farm because they were diversified. Federal farm policy continues to push farmers away from operating that way, with programs that discourage diversification within the same farm.

Wildfires which have raged in parched woodland in Portugal over the past three days, killing two firefighters, worsened yesterday. Firefighters are battling dozens of wildfires, including 14 which have raced out of control. Temperatures are expected to soar to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) as the worst drought for 60 years continues. Eight firefighters have died battling wildfires this year. Wildfires have destroyed up to 118,000 hectares (292,000 acres) of land so far this year compared to 130,000 hectares during all of 2004.

A forecast for more warm weather Monday had Washington firefighters strengthening their lines around a 49,000-acre wildfire, the largest in the lower 48 states. In Idaho, fire officials were still investigating the origins of a human-caused blaze that had burned more than 4,000 acres. That fire and three others are burning. 30 large fires totaling 266,652 acres were burning Sunday, mostly in Western states. So far this year, wildfires have charred 5.85 million acres nationwide, compared with 5.88 million acres at the same time last year.

Between July 26 and August 10, the number of acres burned in the 2005 Alaska fire season increased by 1 million. In mid-August, fires were still burning, and air quality reached "very unhealthy" to "dangerous" levels as smoke pooled in the Interior.


Monday, August 15, 2005 -

This morning -

Largest quakes yesterday -

A 5.8 magnitude temblor shook Maug Island in the Mariana Islands late Saturday afternoon, while government monitoring agencies tallied more than 570 quakes in the ongoing seismic swarm being recorded on Sarigan Island's seismometer. Tremor levels on Anatahan Island reached 90 percent of peak levels, but seismicity on the island continues to fluctuate. Scientists have also detected volcanic activity on Pagan Island during a 10-day mission to the island several weeks ago. The problem, though, is that no seismic equipment is currently stationed on Pagan.

Severe flooding caused by torrential rains left at least two people dead in eastern Afghanistan, washed away hundreds of homes and farms and killed livestock. Afghanistan this year suffered its worst winter for a decade after seven years of drought, and has little infrastructure to cope with flood waters resulting from storms and melting snow.

As of 9:30 p.m. Sunday, the search for nine people, who were missing after heavy rains and ensuing flooding hit northeast China's Liaoning Province from Friday night to Saturday, was still continuing. Heavy rains and ensuing flooding affected 116 townships in the province, destructing more than 2,500 houses and damaging 60,000 hectares of crops. Flooding cut off traffic on 47 county-level highways, 17 more than Saturday, damaged 25 bridges and 119 tunnels. Heavy rains also caused landslides and collapse of roadbeds in some places.

The revised forecast for the rest of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season looks "ominous" for Canada, a weather predictor warns. "The forecasts that we're seeing are calling for numbers that are about double the average of the past 50 years. Normally we'd get about 10. This year, the forecast is averaging 20 or even higher."

In the Philippines, the continuing erosion-caused landslide in Mayana, Jagna town over the past 32 days has alarmed authorities from the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau. "The landslide could last for months." The "crown area" from where the erosion emanates is the biggest seen during a 21-year stint with the geo-sciences division. The area, measuring 400 meters in width and 1,500 meters in length, gradually pushes plants and soil. The presence of water beneath the area, aside from the rains, are causing the continuous fall of limestone and silky mud stones. Authorities fear that if the landslide continues it could cause flash floods. Eroded soil and limestone will clog up the arteries of the Alihawan River. A cave with a depth considered as the second deepest in the country is located not far from where the landslide is taking place. Landslides in Sirao, Cebu in 1996 and in Dumanhog, Cebu, both lasted for more than a year.

Because of storm systems expected to move into Utah during the next week, the National Weather Service has posted a hazardous weather outlook for Southern Utah for the next seven days. The outlook calls for scattered thunderstorms, some which will be capable of producing heavy rain and frequent cloud-to-ground lightning. On Friday, spectacular lightning storms accompanied by heavy downpours brought a few problems to Washington County. The storms started several brush fires, caused flooding in Gunlock and closed outdoor events.

A tornado touched down along state Route 36 in Canisteo, New York at about 2:30 p.m. Friday. The tornado sheared an electric pole, snapped 60-foot-tall pine trees, embedded two pine tree branches in a camper, moved a silage wagon, and ripped electric lines from a barn and house. "It appears as if it was a tightly wound, brief tornado that was about 100-150 yards in width and ran about a mile." The damage to a cornfield looked like crop circles, which looked very unusual. "That was very unique. There was definitive damage in the storm track, then they had these other strange circular damages to the cornfield. You'd see one, then walk through several good rows of corn and you'd see another one. I've seen a lot of cornfield damage from tornadoes in Nebraska, but this was unique. It looked like there had been multiple spin-ups in the tornado." There have been only three confirmed tornadoes in Steuben County since 1950.

Scientists have discovered dramatic evidence of climate change in the South Pacific with "worrying" implications for Australia's rainfall and fisheries. Using new data from a network of floating robots, scientists have detected a 20 per cent increase in the speed of a key South Pacific current over the past 10 years. As well as moving faster, the South Pacific sub-tropical gyre, a circular current that influences the East Australian current, has warmed by up to 0.25C and risen in height by 12cm at its centre. The warming of the current has major implications. It will take nutrient-poor warmer water further south along Australia's east coast, leading to an expected decline in fisheries and aiding the spread of exotic marine pests. There are also fears of a permanent decline in rainfall for southwest Western Australian, parts of South Australia and Tasmania. This wind shift means winter rain storms will by-pass southern Australia. "If the southern shift of this wind system really does become permanent, then that winter rainfall will be gone."

Scientists were trying to measure the size of a red tide outbreak after about 40 reports of dead ocean life at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico off the Southwest Florida coast. Since the beginning of August, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg has received reports of mass destruction of sea life in areas ranging from southern Hernando County to northern Sarasota County. The dead ocean life, ranging from goliath grouper and sea turtles to corals, crabs and starfish, were found at 50 feet deep or less.


Sunday, August 14, 2005 -

This morning -

The largest quakes yesterday -

The 5.3 earthquake that hit southwest China on Saturday, brought down several houses and caused injuries in seven townships.

Since the tsunami, an earthquake and high tides have changed Indonesia's coastal topography. The massive tsunami that crashed into Sumatra island in December ripped Ibu Yusniar's home from its concrete foundation. But while the woman survived, wrapping her arms around a column in a nearby mosque to ride out the surging waters, nature was not through. Three months later, the sea gobbled up part of her land when another huge earthquake struck. Then, the full-moon tides in July completed the job, reducing the balance of her property in Lhok Bubon village to salty swamp. "The tide came in and it didn't go out." Dramatic shifts in topography are continuing to reshape Sumatra, hampering efforts to conduct the gargantuan task of reconstruction. Rain, high tides, westerly winds and erosion have further recast the shoreline and rerouted rivers. "Things that usually happen over hundreds of years are happening here over three to six months. This is really a unique situation." "The land keeps changing. The coast keeps coming. Every tide makes it worse." Fishermen complain that they are no longer sure where to dock their few remaining boats because the shoreline seems to change daily. The shifting shoreline has affected reconstruction all along the west coast, including a U.S.-funded initiative to rebuild the 150-mile highway between Meulaboh and Banda Aceh. U.N. officials warn that the province's only major infrastructure project already underway - the reconstruction of Meulaboh's port - could also be jeopardized by the changes.

In the Atlantic -
Tropical Depression 10 is 828 nmi E of Bridgetown, Barbados.
Tropical Storm Irene is 300 nmi W of Hamilton, Bermuda and 419 nmi ESE of Wilmington, North Carolina. If Irene remains on the forecast track it will not directly affect any land areas.
In the Pacific -
Hurricane Fernanda is 1076 nmi W of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Tropical Storm Greg is 557 nmi SW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico .
Tropical Storm Sanvu is 124 nmi ENE of Hong Kong and 308 nmi WSW of Taipei, Taiwan.

Varying kinds of extreme weather were forecast across China over the weekend. The current unusually humid spell will continue in the North, heat waves are predicted in the South and an approaching typhoon is likely to tear through southeastern provinces. Sanvu will be the 10th severe tropical storm to hit China this year. "Beijing has been subject to a band of subtropical high pressure. It has brought massive amount of water vapour from the sea to Beijing." Heavy rains continued to cause disasters in Southwest China this week. More than 1,200 tourists were trapped in the Hailuo Valley in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, on Thursday night.

A deluge in Thailand killed two people, three others are missing. Downpours forced thousands to abandon homes; Pai is under one metre of water. Torrential rains over the last two days caused flooding in the northern provinces of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Mae Hong Son and Phayao. Water levels in the region are still gradually increasing because of water flowing from higher elevations.

Heavy rain in Japan on Saturday. Weather officials warned people in Yamagata, Niigata and Fukui prefectures against landslides because of the heavy downpours occurring in short time periods.

There was an "interesting sequence of events" that led to reports of tornadoes in Montana. "The best indication now is that thunderstorm that was going on west of Molt probably interacted with a fire out there." It was definitely a scary cell. You know something was different about that one. We don't get tornadoes too often." The storm was different from most that go over this area, in that it rotated clockwise, or "anti-cyclonically," rather than counter-clockwise. That meant that tornado activity would have been on the north end, rather than the south side, of the storm. The storm started over Stillwater County and split into two storms. The storm that rotated counter-clockwise died off, and the one that rotated clockwise produced the hail and tornadoes.
The forecast for most of south-central and Eastern Montana and parts of northern Wyoming is for "almost winterlike" weather. It also calls for daytime highs that are about 25 degrees lower than normal, which will feel more like mid-October than mid-August. Overnight lows are expected to approach records. Last week, Missoula roasted amid the hottest three-day stretch of weather in a generation. This week, forecasters are hinting at frost. "It's been pretty extreme. We had a three-day run in early August that was the hottest since the late '60s." This summer's August heat wave is only the latest in a string of wacky weather months. The year started strangely with the driest February ever recorded in the Flathead Valley, followed quickly by one of the warmest springs, cooled finally by the wettest June. By midweek, another anomalous "upper-level trough," as forecasters like to call rainy days, may well settle over the area, bringing more cool and wet during what is usually the region's hottest and driest days. "There's a lot of extreme weather we're dealing with right now. We're really busy just keeping up with it."

A tornado struck a mobile home park in Wright, Wyoming with little warning, killing two people and injuring about a dozen others. "The warning was going off just as it hit from what I understand. They didn't have a lot of time to seek shelter." "It was one of those freak deals." Some 30 to 40 homes in the mobile home park were either damaged or destroyed. A nearby elementary school also was damaged.

For decades, heavy rains in Arizona in southern Maricopa County and central Pinal County would expose gaping fissures large enough to swallow cars and livestock. But now a housing boom has put residents and homes dangerously close to the damaging geological hazards. New homeowners left staring at a massive newly opened fissure after monsoon rains this week have no idea whom to turn to for help. And with more storms expected through the weekend, they're afraid the problem will only get worse.

International Weather and Crop Summary for July 31 to August 6.

U.S. farmers will harvest far less corn and soybeans this year because of persistent - and growing - drought in the Midwest that has caused crop damage rivaling the drought of 1988. That drought destroyed crops in a larger area of the Midwest and Great Plains and cut U.S. corn production by about one-third. The 2005 drought is more concentrated, and in some places, more devastating. Withered plants, cracked soil and, everywhere, dust: Eastern Iowa farmers say they haven't seen this severe a drought for 17 years. It's too soon to tell what impact reduced harvests will have on food prices. Many analysts expect the USDA to reduce estimates even further in its next crop production report because of excessive heat and a lack of precipitation in the first half of August.

The current dry spell coating southwestern Connecticut in a blanket of slowly browning lawns is "on the doorstep" of becoming a drought. Only 23.05 inches of rain fell this year so far — 4.46 inches below normal. "Typically, you should see a thunderstorm every five days. Some areas haven't seen any in the last month."

Three of the four regions of Kentucky, all but the eastern portion of the state, are in a moderate to severe drought and soon may be forced to enforce water restrictions. It is the first time in more than four years that conditions have warranted severe drought status for any section of the state. Drought conditions have been developing across most of Kentucky since the beginning of May. August and September normally are the hottest and driest months of the year.

The number of spiders in Oregon has at least doubled this summer. "It's so bad sometimes that you'll walk down through the back of the yard, and you are down there only 20 to 30 minutes, and by the time you walk back up, they've already got another web built." The numbers this summer are staggering because of the weather. "The colder the winters we have, the more it's going to kill off. We've had some pretty mild weather over the last four to five years." Most are harmless garden spiders, but there are some dangerous ones.


Saturday, August 13, 2005 -

The largest quakes yesterday -

Wednesday's 5.0 earthquake on the New Mexico-Colorado line is again raising questions about whether coal-bed methane drilling might be responsible for earthquakes in the area. Researchers looked into that possibility in 2001, after 12 earthquakes hit in an area near 10 gas wells. Companies had pumped water into the ground in order extract methane from coal bed seams. However researchers found no proof of a connection and the U.S. Geological Survey found that seismic activity actually subsidized as drilling continued.

In the Mariana Islands, two monitoring agencies have detected volcanic activity on Pagan, even as the earthquake swarm being recorded on Sarigan has topped 460 since Tuesday. Quakes have been occurring at a rate of 30 events per hour. Sarigan is uninhabited, but plans for aviation are in place if Sarigan's volcano erupts. Only the islands of Sarigan and Anatahan have seismic stations. No seismic equipment is currently stationed on Pagan to monitor seismic activities on the inhabited island. "Since there's no monitoring such as a seismograph, it's hard to tell if there's a need to evacuate the people." Anatahan's volcano continues to erupt.

The public warning system in Manila, Philippines was sounded off as the center of tropical storm "Huaning" (Sanvu) moved towards Ilocos Norte and nearby provinces of Apayao, Abra, Calayan Group of Islands and Batanes Groups of Islands. There are no incidents of flooding so far, even with the continuous heavy downpour. People were advised to stay at home where they will be safer and fisherfolks and farmers were reminded to refrain from going to the sea or fields to prevent drowning and being struck by lightning.
Even as Storm No 3 is weakening off Vietnam’s northern coast, Storm No 4 (Huaning / Sanvu) is preparing to batter the country. The storm is bringing with it strong winds and rough seas, especially in the northern region. Vietnam’s southern provinces are also experiencing stormy weather, cloudy skies, heavy rains over large parts and strong southwesterly winds.
Tropical storm Sanvu is moving toward the Chinese mainland and is forecast to slam into the coastal areas of southern Fujian and Guangdong provinces late tonight to Sunday. Beginning Friday, rains and strong winds hit the whole province of Fujian, and some areas in the province will see heavy to torrential rains. Typhoon Matsa has just left China's mainland.
Hong Kong issued its first typhoon signal of the year as tropical cyclone Sanvu nears the South China coast. They broke the record for the LATEST START OF THE MONSOON SEASON SINCE WORLD WAR II. The previous record was on August 9, 1998. Thunderstorms hit Hong Kong Friday night, and the seas turned rough and choppy. Tropical cyclone activity in the South China Sea has been decreasing in recent years. There were an average of four typhoons over the South China Sea from January to July between 1961 and 1990. But in the first half of 2005, only two typhoons were recorded in the area. Fewer typhoons are expected to strike the region in coming years.

A renewed Tropical Storm Irene was gradually intensifying as it moved closer to the East Coast of the U.S. Irene was expected to continue over the next five days toward the coast somewhere from South Carolina to New Jersey. "A possible U.S. landfall by (Tuesday) cannot be ruled out at this time."

A whirlwind struck Lunigiana, Italy in the provinces of Lucca and Massara Carrara resulting in floods, roofs blown off, broken branches and small trees uprooted, though luckily no people were injured. But the bad weather involved almost all of Tuscany, where fire-fighters had 150 calls. In Montemignaio (Arezzo) the roofs of two churches were partly blown off. A cloudburst took place between Prato and Florence.

Two Roma settlements in Macedonia are under water following a season of heavy rains.

In Richmond and other parts of central Virginia, residents are seeing hundreds of older trees starting to die, nearly two years after Hurricane Isabel brought swamping rains and damaging winds. Parts of the root systems basically drowned during the flooding. During the drought and extreme heat that have followed, the trees haven’t been able to get enough water from the ground to survive. “You start to see symptoms several years after these extreme weather changes.”

The risk of wildfires remains high in Poland. Almost 80 percent of forest, that is more than 7 million hectares, are at risk. Brussels Warned that the number of wildfires has increased in Poland over the past few years.

A more than a 20% increase in Michigan wildfires this summer is burning up the fire division's budget. DNR officials believe the hot and dry summer in the state is the reason for the increase. Last year, DNR firefighters battled 278 wildfires from April to September. This summer, the department has already nearly doubled that number, fighting more than 450. From April to August, the department has battled a record number of fires.

"We're facing a siege of wildfires across our state," said Washington's governor. "We're not into the worst of the (fire) season yet, and we're seeing all this come to a crescendo." A 48,000-acre wildfire continued to burn Friday in an eight-county emergency zone. At least 109 homes have been consumed by fires raging in the southeastern parts of the state.

A strong weather system brought RECORD TEMPERATURES to the Alaskan Interior on Wednesday and will keep things hot for several days. The heat wave is due to a "FABULOUSLY STRONG high-pressure dome" aided by a cloudless sky. The high-pressure ridge responsible for the warm weather is OF RECORD PROPORTIONS, according to the weather service, and it is expected to remain in place into the middle of next week. The temperatures are UNUSUAL FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR.

“Average temperatures in Tokyo have outpaced global warming by a factor of four”. Japan longs to return to the cooler summers that were the norm decades ago. Average temperatures in Tokyo alone have risen 3 °C in the past 100 years.

Animals are behaving strangely - is climate change the culprit? In the United States, some warblers are flying north to Canada. In Costa Rica, toucans are moving higher up into the mountains, apparently because of rising temperatures. In July, a Norwegian man fishing in a fjord had a shock when he landed a John Dory, a fish more usually found in temperate waters off southern Europe or Africa. "There's a long list of migratory species ending up further north. It's certainly a sign of warmer temperatures." Salmon have been swimming through the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia into the Chukchi Sea, apparently because the frigid water had warmed up. Inuit peoples have noted southerly species of wildlife reaching the Arctic in summertime in recent years, including robins, hornets and barn owls. Rising temperatures may drive thousands of species to extinction and cause more storms, floods and deserts while raising sea levels, perhaps by 3 feet by 2100.

More unusual fish have been seen in the Santa Monica Bay, California this week. Black jellyfish, which are rarely seen north of Baja California, began to appear on South Bay beaches. Now, more and more squid are flushing into the bay. "It's a bit unusual to see this much squid in the bay during this time of the year." Sea arrow squid normally prefer cooler water, and while it is not out of the question to have them around, the squid seem to have a bigger summertime presence than usual. "There is no question that if this squid hangs around, we should see some (white) sea bass and yellowtail soon."

Bendigo in central Victoria, Australia has experienced its COLDEST AUGUST DAY IN 10 YEARS. "We've had a really strong cold front come through and directly from the south and that has had no time to warm up, it's come in quite quickly and that's why [we've had] these really low temperatures and cold air mass and widespread snow falls."

At least 94 people have now died in Mumbai, India as water-borne diseases spread following record rains two weeks ago that triggered flooding and landslides. Thousands of people have crammed the city's hospitals seeking treatment, including nearly 1,000 in the past 36 hours alone. Hospital corridors are filled with people suffering from stomach cramps, fevers and breathing problems. Of the patients treated in the 36 hours, 597 were suffering from fever, 154 from gastroenteritis, 62 from malaria, 56 from leptospirosis, 27 from hepatitis, five from dengue fever and five from typhoid.

A fisherman has died from a rare bacteria growing in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Health officials said THIS IS INDEED A RARE CASE FOR MARYLAND. The last person infected with vibrio vulnificus died 25 years ago. Nationwide, about 100 people become sick from the infection each year, mostly in Gulf Coast states. This year, the weather is much warmer than usual and the bay temperature is warmer than it was last year.

Friday, August 12, 2005 -

The largest quakes yesterday -

New research shows that major volcanic eruptions far north of the equator affect the world's climate much differently than volcanoes in the tropics. Eruptions in the tropics create aerosols that block heat from the sun in the lower atmosphere, cooling temperatures in the subtropics. A northern eruption worked to weaken India's monsoons, bringing reduced cloudiness, warmer temperatures and less precipitation across northern India west into the Persian Gulf.

Taiwan's weather bureau has warned residents to prepare for the second typhoon in a week. At last report, Typhoon Sanvu was about 500 kilometres southeast of Taiwan's southernmost tip. Residents in southern Taiwan have been told to expect downpours while those in mountainous regions have been warned to watch out for mud slides. The Typhoon is also expected to hit Hong Kong, where authorities have warned of choppy seas and blustery weather.

In the Pacific Ocean -
Hurricane Fernanda is 795 nmi WSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and 985 nmi WSW of Mazatlan, Mexico.
Tropical Storm Greg is 571 nmi SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and 593 nmi SW of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
In the Atlantic Ocean -
Tropical Storm Irene is 274 nmi SSW of Hamilton, Bermuda and 548 nmi N of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

At least three people died in southern Brazil on Wednesday when a cyclone caused the collapse of a three-story building. Eight people were injured in the collapse and one person was missing. Heavy rains and strong winds of nearly 87 mph (140 kph) from the extratropical cyclone blew the roofs off some buildings, felled trees and left 19 towns without electricity. Meteorologists still argue about whether a storm in the same area last year, which some call Hurricane Catarina, was indeed a hurricane or a very strong extra-tropical cyclone. A hurricane has never been officially recorded in Brazil or in the South Atlantic.

The death toll from flash floods in northeast Iran rose to 32 on Thursday with 13 missing and officials said they expected more bodies to be found. Rivers burst their banks, cut off major roads and encircled towns and villages after heavy rain began to pelt Golestan province on Wednesday. "Cow carcases, refrigerators, combine harvesters and tractors are being swept past." Torrents of floodwater washed away many farms, roads and buildings.

The Central African Republic has appealed for local and international aid to thousands of people made homeless by heavy rains in the capital, Bangui. There were "enormous risks" of an epidemic because latrines and boreholes were overflowing. The situation could worsen with more rainfall expected in September and October. Floods caused by several days of heavy rain have caused the collapse of about 3,000 houses and left up to 20,000 people homeless.

Two children drowned in the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum on Wednesday, swept away by floods caused by heavy rains. Floods and landslides claimed seven lives in the northern Black Sea provinces of Trabzon and Rize last week.

Heavy rain has damaged Latvia's roads and forced some of them to be closed. Unusually heavy rainfall has also raised water level in rivers in the northeast and southern parts of Latvia, but no one had to be evacuated from their homes. Meteorologists have forecast that the heavy rains will continue until Sunday.

One man was killed and nearly 3,000 villages suffered a power blackout as a storm whipped through northeast Belarus, Russia overnight. Thirteen hospitals and 52 schools were left without electricity. Electric trains in the area were also halted.

A top National Weather Service expert in Phoenix will investigate a powerful lightning strike that "sounded like dynamite exploding," damaging 13 homes in central Mesa on Tuesday afternoon. "This is beyond the norm. It's bizarre." Mesa firefighters, who have seen the aftermath of other lightning strikes over the years, said they have never witnessed anything like the effects of the strike. They believe the strike first hit a home, and spread its powerful charge underground. The force's intense heat exploded underground wires, including television cable, near the home, erupted through the soil and spewed dirt and debris like volcanic ash against homes, trees and parked vehicles. Areas around brass doorknobs and locks were scorched. It could have been a positive strike, which is extremely rare and powerful. Scientists say positive strikes deliver much more voltage than the negative bolts that occur 90 to 95 percent of the time in storms across the country. Positive strikes also tend to spread their potent charge over a larger area. "They tend to be much more powerful. We don't know much about them because they are so rare." Arizona's recent monsoon storms have produced far more lightning strikes than normal.

Rescue workers scrambled Thursday to find several trekkers possibly buried alive by a large-scale landslide at Large Snow Valley, near the Shirokumadake mountain, a popular mountain trekking site in central Japan.

The Greenland glacier Kangerdlugssuaq has unexpectedly picked up speed and become one the world's fastest-moving glaciers because of global warming. The glacier has receded five kilometres since 2001 after remaining stable for four decades. "This is a dramatic discovery." As the warming trend migrates north, other glaciers could respond in the same way and "this could have serious implications for the rate of sea level rise."


Thursday, August 11, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

The swarm of earthquakes in the Northern Mariana Islands has become more frequent and has totaled more than 140 since Tuesday morning. Anatahan's rumbling volcano remains in a state of continuous eruption. Long-period earthquakes have been occurring on Anatahan, a possible indication of stronger eruptions. The exact location of most of the temblors could not be ascertained due to lack of equipment in the Northern Islands. Four earthquakes had magnitudes of 4 and over.

Scientists watching Mount St. Helens have some new images that show just how much the new dome is growing inside the mountain's crater. The images are a loop of time-lapse pictures taken over the course of eight days by a camera inside the crater.

A strong explosion followed by huge columns of ash has shaken the Concepcion Volcano in Nicaragua. The volcano on the Ometepe Island, northeast of the capital, erupted on Monday evening and small earthquakes continued on Tuesday.

A volcanic cloud might have affected the engines of the plane that crashed off the coast of Sicily at the weekend. Clouds of ash and gas from the active Sicilian volcanoes Etna and Stromboli could have extinguished both engines of the Tuninter plane before it plunged tail -first into the Mediterranean. A pilot flying in the same area at the time of the crash said that planes had warned of the risk of volcanic clouds between 2100m and 3900m. A plane flying through a volcanic cloud would lose power in both its engines simultaneously.

Rehabilitation work in India's remote Andaman islands, close to the epicenter of the undersea quake which triggered the devastating Dec.26, 2004 tsunami is both unsustainable and ecologically harmful, say experts. So far, the administration has shown no understanding of the islands’ unique and fragile ecology in rebuilding homes, schools and livelihoods. The main main argument is that the islands' ancient aboriginal tribes, said to be Asia’s original stone-age people, are familiar with the Andamans' frequent earthquakes and have built their hamlets with light local materials like bamboo which can withstand temblors and tsunamis. One old Nicobari tribal told of a ‘wall of water’ hitting the islands in 1942 and of lands becoming fallow for seven years thereafter, while another Jarawa tribesman spoke of 'knowing' that 'big water' was coming in the recent tsunami and moved to higher ground. ''Even the British, who used these islands as a penal colony, knew better and built non-concrete structures.'' ''To make matters worse, the administration has used the tsunami as an excuse to unleash the most extraordinarily ill-conceived projects on the Andaman Islands, such as construction of mud walls to keep off tsunamis,''since some parts of the islands have sunk nearly a metre and a half underwater.

Fishing communities in Yemen were much more seriously affected by last December’s Indian Ocean tsunami than originally thought, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today appealed to donors for $2.2 million for a rehabilitation project to help some 2,000 households. “Many fishermen have not been fishing for six months now. They will only be able to start again in September when the present monsoon stops, and if they receive proper assistance.” High waves damaged boats, engines and fishing gear as well as infrastructure vital to Yemen’s fishing sector, such as ice plants, storage sheds and jetties, with 653 boats, 569 engines 1,625 nets and 16,980 fishing traps either damaged or completely destroyed. Many landing beaches and natural harbours were also destroyed.

Much of Central Texas was under a flash flood warning Wednesday morning as heavy rain continued to fall on the region. A powerful complex of storms rumbled into the area well before dawn, jolting may residents awake with the crack of thunder and sharp flashes of lightning. The heaviest rainfall was more than 5 inches of rain on top of the 2 to 4 inches the area received on Tuesday. The rain and thunderstorms caused widespread power outages. The heavy rain forced authorities to close roads and highways throughout the area.

An emergency situation has been declared in Russia’s enclave Kaliningrad region where a powerful cyclone with unremitting rains is raging. 14 major industrial enterprises, including a port and two shipyards, have been partially flooded. Many settlements have also been flooded. Rainfalls have damaged crops. The rising water in the main river of Kaliningrad, Pregola, raises serious concerns. The western part of the region as well as the Baltic Sea coast were the most hit by the storm. A monthly norm of precipitation has been exceeded over the past two days.

Tropical Storm Irene is moving westward, and may be a Hurricane by Sunday. Currently located in the Atlantic about 890 Miles...1430 Km... Southeast Of Bermuda.

Freezing weather blanketed Victoria, Australia in THE MOST WIDESPREAD SNOW FOR 50 YEARS. Freak snowfalls forced the closure of at least three schools, as well as major highways and other roads in Southern Victoria that remained closed for much of the day. The bitter Antarctic-born cold air that caused yesterday's extreme conditions has moved into Bass Strait and the Tasman Sea. The Southern Hemisphere continent is in the grip of winter at this time of year, but snow is nonetheless rare in communities near sea level, such as parts of the city of Melbourne.

Helsinki, Finland is facing EXTREME weather conditions. "The city seems ready to float away into the Baltic, like one of the huge ferries which ply the waters daily between here and Tallinn or Stockholm." Storms are causing such high waves – between 4 to 7 metres in height – that the ferry schedules are currently postponed or cancelled altogether. It is unusual that these conditions are in Helsinki for the beginning of August.

There's another sinkhole problem in Hickory, North Carolina.. US 70 was closed Tuesday when rain filled a sinkhole in a parking lot, causing the road to flood. Officials met Tuesday to decide what to do about the growing sinkhole, which appeared July 7 after Tropical Storm Cindy brought heavy rains to the area. In 2002, a sinkhole on the same property swallowed a new Chevrolet Corvette and forced US 70 to close several times.

A landslide alert has been issued in Uttaranchal, India. Concerned about the frequency of landslides in remote areas of Uttranchal, the Remote Sensing Application Centre (RSAC) has issued a red alert in at least 19 villages of the state. People living in these villages have expressed fears about landslides and claim that the government has done nothing to assuage these concerns. “A dreaded atmosphere prevails all over the area. We are scared and worried as anything can happen any time. We are alert round the clock as landslide can happen any moment.” Locals say that if the same conditions continue to prevail across Uttranchal, they will have to shift their homes which will cost them a lot.

This summer Maryland has been peppered with strong storms, whipping up quick, potentially dangerous, weather. Intense thunderstorms and tropical systems have made this summer wetter than usual. Last month's precipitation was nearly 5 inches above normal. Over 14 inches of rain have fallen since June 1, far above the 8.2-inch norm.

July went down as the fourth wettest month on record in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area, with more than 14.63 inches falling in the 31-day period. The highest July rainfall came in 1994 when 17.71 inches fell. Normal July rainfall is 5.21 inches.

U.S. wildfires burned more than 6.7 million acres of land in 2004 and the figure this year is already nearing that mark according to National Interagency Fire Centre statistics. More than two dozen blazes in the area where the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana meet. The largest bushfire has devoured more than 41,000 acres of forest and ranch land and destroyed 35 homes in the state of Washington.

Canadian firefighters battled wildfires Wednesday that scorched more than 11,000 acres in British Columbia and threatened homes in the city of Oliver. High winds and lightning strikes hampered fire-fighting efforts as the wildfire, which began at midday Tuesday, grew to more than 600 acres overnight. "It's going to get harder to fight this fire with this wind. It's terrible."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 -

Largest quakes yesterday -

A volcano is erupting on Australia's most remote territory, McDonald Island, in the sub- Antarctic. The volcanic activity is changing the shape of the island and ultimately changing the environmental make-up of its cold and windswept surface. The island is 4100km southwest of Western Australia and was last visited in 2002. The volcano had been dormant for 75,000 years before erupting for the first time in 1992. There have been several eruptions since – most recently in 2001 – and the island's size has doubled in that time from 1.13sq km to 2.45sq km. "The McDonald Island volcano is also unusual because, unlike most oceanic volcanoes, it sits on a shallow submarine plateau. (This) means its eruptions are not as wild and fiery as some, instead producing a slow-moving mass of lava that seeps and spreads." The volcano is just 44km from Australia's only other active volcano on Heard Island, where there has not been any activity for some time.

More than 40 tremors shook the Northern Islands yesterday, as Anatahan experienced long- period earthquakes, which might indicate that volcanic eruptions are about to escalate. Three of those quakes had magnitudes of around 4. The seismic swarm began at around 1:52am and occurred over the next eight hours. At around 5:39am, a 4.2-intensity earthquake occurred, and the National Earthquake Information Center traced the event to about 40 miles northwest of Anatahan.

At least two deaths and more than 2,000 cases of people with breathing difficulties were reported in Baghdad on Monday after an unseasonal freak sandstorm, believed to be the worst in the country's history, hit the Iraqi capital. Meteorologists in the capital were surprised by the intensity of the storm, which reduced visibility to near zero, and warned of more to come over the next few days. "I cannot image what will happen if the storms continue in the coming days. We have a lack of oxygen and are in urgent need of supplies." "It's the first time in our records that a sandstorm has been so strong and the most surprising thing is that it has occurred outside the usual season." Smaller storms are common in Iraq in April and May.

At least 10 people have drowned and dozens are missing in north-east Iran after heavy rain caused flash floods. Floods overnight on Tuesday were even worse than those which had swept through the area a few days before.

Tropical storm Fernanda is 610 nmi SW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and 749 nmi WSW of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, heading away from land.
Tropical depression Irene is 471 nmi ENE of Beef Island, BVI and 495 nmi ENE of St. Thomas, becoming disorganized.

Beijing weather officials on Sunday forecast that the thunderstorms created by Tropical storm Matsa would be the worst in a decade. It is extremely rare for Beijing to be hit by major tropical storms. Only four typhoons have swept through the city since 1949. At least 12 people had been killed by yesterday in China because of heavy rainfall and flooding caused by Typhoon Matsa, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. The heavy rainfall ahead of the typhoon was blamed for a freak wave in a spillway of a water reservoir that killed five workers doing repair work. Those deaths occurred on Aug. 2, but they were first reported yesterday.

Dozens of parents and children were left fighting for their lives after a freak tide surged through a beach in England. A team of lifeguards dragged more than 30 people to safety after the waves tore sand from under the paddlers' feet at Perranporth, Cornwall. Calm water turned into a torrent at the north Cornwall beach on Monday when the flash rip struck. If the lifeguards not been at the beach there 's no doubt there would have been multiple drownings. Lifeguards used rescue boats and boards and a Jet Ski. No lifeguard could recall a previous flash rip at Perranporth.

Baseball-sized hail pounded parts of Otter Tail County in western Minnesota early Tuesday, damaging buildings and vehicles. Downed trees lined streets in Underwood. It appeared the largest hail hit in the Underwood area before turning into a wind storm.

South Florida is experiencing an unusual amount of lightning strikes. People have been hit, but not killed, and houses have been destroyed. Storms have been more intense, more brilliant and slower moving than a typical summer thunderstorm. Stroms have shot hundreds more lightning bolts to the ground than the summertime average in South Florida. National Weather Service experts say it mostly has to do with unsettled upper atmospheric conditions and an atypical wind pattern. On Thursday, Palm Beach County recorded 3,219 lightning strikes, when the average is between 300 and 500 strikes in a summer day. By Saturday, both Broward and Miami-Dade counties recorded more than 1,000 strikes, double their averages. "When you get over 1,000, that's quite a bit." On Saturday, a series of lightning strikes hit Miami International Airport's longest runway, leaving three holes. The largest was a foot deep and about 18 inches across.

A fire that raced through the Boise, Idaho, foothills two weeks ago blackened more than 1,100 acres, raising concerns about erosion and flooding. So far officials say there is no clear prediction of the risk of erosion or flooding, or if nearby homes are at any real risk.

Authorities in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, Vietnam, are urging farmers to be ready for flooding as water levels in Tien and Hau rivers are rising rapidly. Flooding has occurred following prolonged rains in the Mekong River area.

With heavy rains worsening already critical flooding in Bulgaria and prompting the evacuation of 12,000 more people, United Nations agencies are mobilizing help for the second time in three weeks. Hundreds of houses have been flooded, some villages cannot be reached by land due to blocked or destroyed roads and bridges, and segments of the main highways and railway system are partially blocked.

Bitter Antarctic weather has hit the Tasmanian capital with its first snow in almost 20 years.

An experiment in a dry Antarctic stream channel has shown that a carpet of freeze-dried microbes that lay dormant for two decades sprang to life one day after water was diverted into it, "These mats not only persisted for years when there was no water in the streambed, but blossomed into an entire ecosystem in about a week. All we did was add water."

Tuesday, August 9, 2005 -

The largest quakes yesterday -

This morning -

From 10 pm on Friday to 8 am on Saturday, 27 aftershocks of differing magnitudes were felt in China after a 5.3 quake jolted the boundary areas of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces on Friday night. Two counties in each province were seriously affected with collapsed houses and injuries. "The earthquake came all of a sudden. We had no indication before that."

Tremor levels at Anatahan volcano intensified rapidly early yesterday morning, indicating another possibly strong eruption. Satellite imagery, however, could not detect the level of ash plume, but the Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center issued an ash alert based on the high seismic activity. A gradual increase in tremor levels began around 2:30am. Shortly after 5am, tremor levels rapidly intensified. The high seismic activity persisted for about half an hour, "indicating a possibly eruptive pulse from the volcano." Although dense cloud cover obscured satellite monitoring, the tremor levels surpassed peak levels recorded from June 17-26. Tremors of those magnitudes usually result in ash emissions to more than 25,000 feet.

Five farmers were killed Sunday and two others remained missing in a rain-triggered landslide in southwest China's Yunnan Province. The unexpected landslide rushed down a mountain in Xinping County of Yuxi City, engulfing three households and affecting 17 others. The landslide was triggered by a rainstorm that kept battering the county for five hours. Some 1,365 cubic meters of earth were washed away from the hill. Traffic and water supply in some villages has been cut off.

Beijing is gearing up for a massive evacuation of some 40,000 people from its suburban mountainous areas ahead of the onslaught of a rare typhoon (Matsa) that is fast approaching the Chinese capital.

Tropical Storm Irene weakened into a tropical depression Monday, and Tropical Storm Harvey was falling apart in the cooler waters of the north Atlantic, forecasters said. Neither threatened land. Irene became a tropical storm Sunday and was the earliest ninth named storm on record for the Atlantic hurricane season. Normally, there are only two named storms by this time in the season.

One of the fiercest storms of this year's monsoon season tore through Tucson, Arizona on Sunday with explosive winds, flooding streets, downing trees and utility poles and knocking out power to about 30,000 customers.

In the ongoing weather regime, the mid-Atlantic region is the graveyard of cold fronts. "Fronts moving out of Canada just don’t make it much farther south than Virginia or, at best, the Carolinas. They simply stall and wash out. Each front might bring a little additional instability for a few more thunderstorms, but really does little or nothing with the mugginess that has pretty much camped itself over the area. It’s really not an unusual weather pattern, it’s just a bit more pronounced this year than it has been in some recent summers. Cold fronts need strong upper atmospheric dynamics - i.e. winds - to push them through this muck. The strong jet dynamics have stayed in Canada pretty much since the middle of June. It’s not unusual for the jet stream to vacation in Canada during August, but it’s been really far north this year. Until these strong upper air winds begin migrating southward, not much is going to happen to pry this stagnant weather pattern loose. But fall gets closer with every passing day. By the end of the month, the area of cool air around the North Pole will begin expanding southward as the daylight shorts and the sun angle lessens, and the fast jet stream dynamics will be pushed ever farther south. Gradually, more and more vigorous cold fronts will be pressed farther and farther south, until cool air from Canada and the pole begins invading the United States... This is the march of autumn against summer. Though its speed, duration and strength vary year to year, this southward march of cooler air in the Northern Hemisphere is inevitable so long as the Earth’s axis is on a 23.5-degree tilt and the Earth keeps revolving around the sun."

In Nepal, the monsoon rains this year are lagging three months behind their normal arrival time. Pre-monsoon rains generally occur around mid-May with monsoon rains starting from mid-June. Nearly 21 of the 75 districts in the kingdom are in the throes of a drought-like situation, forcing the government this week to announce that temporary dams would be built in such areas to help irrigation. Already rice cultivation has slumped by 50 percent. Only a thorough and continuous downpour can save the struggling paddy but even then, farmers would lose 15-20 percent of the yield.

After seven years of drought in Afghanistan, the country's farms are alive again since they have received good snows and rains. ''Since the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan has started to recover from the drought and people's lives have been getting better. In previous years, no one even bothered to plant crops because our lands were dry like a desert, but that has all changed and everyone is sowing their land.'' But ''even after such a good harvest, the country will not be able to meet the consumption requirements of its population.''

Though summer can be murder on trout, smallmouth bass and walleye also are getting whacked by this year's hot, dry weather. Cooperative trout nurseries across Pennsylvania have lost 50,000 rainbows, brookies and browns destined for stocking. On the Susquehanna River and its tributaries, including Penns Creek and the Juniata River, smallmouth bass have gone belly-up in big numbers. And at Pymatuning, scores of dead walleye have been seen floating on the water. Fish commission biologists blame warm water and low flow - a combination that can be lethal to trout, a cold-water species, in the wild. But this is not usually a problem for walleye and bass, which can tolerate higher temperatures. Water temperatures are stressing walleye and the shallowness of the reservoir is offering them almost nowhere to go for relief. "It seems a little strange to me, to tell you the truth," said the commission's fisheries management division chief of the die-off. "We seem to see mortality of one species around spawning time. That's not uncommon. This is a little more uncommon."

A violent wildfire has covered nearly 32,000 acres in and around Pomeroy, Washington. Thus far, at least 35 buildings have been destroyed by the fire which continues to feed on arid land and shifting winds. More than 175 homes in the area were evacuated in advance of the flames. The thick smoke prevented helicopters from working to contain the blaze.

A total of 57 new forest fires came to life in northwestern Ontario over the weekend, and provincial officials expected to be fighting 20 more by the end of Monday. The culprit is the weather, which is aggravating the threat in forests parched by hot, dry weather over the past few weeks. "Lightning is the main cause of fires in this part of Ontario at this time of year." They have recorded 150,000 lightning strikes in Ontario over the past week.

Twelve wildfires burned across northern Minnesota on Saturday, as officials warned of dry conditions and asked the public for caution with outdoor fires, ATVs and smoking. Although no fire restrictions are in place, much of northern Minnesota remains tinder-dry after near-record low rainfall in July. Combined with unseasonably high temperatures and gusty winds Saturday, fire conditions have worsened faster than expected. Minnesota gets most of its wildfires in April and May, before trees and grass turn green. But there is a second fire season in August and September that can be just as critical, especially in years when spring rains stop abruptly and conditions turn dry, as they have this summer.

For several years in Illinois a Kane County Board member has been warning about low drinking water supplies. The reaction she often got were smiles, chuckles or just no reaction at all. But as the area continues in the grip of a devastating drought, people are listening. The dry conditions, failing private wells, low Fox River levels and water usage restrictions have made it clearer that water is not infinite, and is a regional community issue.

This summer's surge in natural gas prices is likely to continue, possibly reaching new highs by winter. "Coast-to-coast hot weather, predictions of a tougher hurricane season and a report showing lower-than-expected supplies of gas in storage led natural gas futures to a nine-month high of $8.70 per million British thermal units on Friday. But fundamental supply and demand factors, including declining U.S. production and the traditional winter price spike, have many expecting records to be shattered later this year and early into the next. "We've seen spikes, but we've never sustained $8 and $9 natural gas throughout the summer...we could see $10 to $11 natural gas this winter." Coal shipments to power plants have been slowed down by heavy rains that damaged rail lines and caused derailments in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. With coal shipments down, power generators are leaning more heavily on natural gas-fired plants. Customers in Houston may be left with monthly bills as much as 18 percent higher than last year's.

The Pacific Ocean off of Oregon has experienced a die-off of birds, declining fisheries and wildly fluctuating conditions in the past few months, and has set the stage for another hypoxic "dead zone" like those of 2002 and 2004, according to experts at Oregon State University. This is the third year in the past four that has demonstrated significantly unusual ocean events, the researchers say, a period unlike any on record. The events have not all been the same. THIS YEAR'S OCEAN BEHAVIOR IS PARTICULARLY BIZARRE, and there is no proof what is causing it. But extreme variability such as this is consistent with what scientists believe will occur as a result of global warming. "And there is no doubt that what is going on right now off Oregon is not normal." In May and June when seasonal "upwelling" events should have begun that bring cold, nutrient rich water to the surface, the ocean was 8-11 degrees warmer than usual. "The nearshore ocean right now looks like a brown pea soup." "The wide variability and oscillation of ocean patterns in recent years is very unusual. "We may be beginning another fundamental phase change right now in how these ocean systems and circulation patterns will operate for decades to come."

As of Monday, Toronto, Canada had sweated through 39 days with temperatures above 30C, roughly THREE TIMES THE 30-YEAR AVERAGE FOR A WHOLE SUMMER. "In many ways it is a preview, a dress rehearsal, of what we may see more often." according to projections of the greenhouse effect. Although the heat has been most intense in southern Ontario, temperatures have been above average across much of Canada. Montreal had 22 days above 30 C, compared with an average of seven or eight. Winnipeg had 16 hot days, compared with an average of 13 for an entire summer. As for smog, which is in large part a function of the heat, so far this summer they have recorded a record-setting 45 days with smog above health limits. This year's heat wave is just a shadow of life in a greenhouse world. "The thing to say is, you ain't seen nothing yet. To say this is a glimpse is probably one of the greatest understatements of all time. The projections of what is likely to happen in this century would put events like this as minor." The weather across the Canada - not only the heat wave in Ontario but the droughts, downpours and floods in other regions - is consistent with what computer models predict. "We may in fact be seeing real changes linked to climate change now but even if this is just some freak weather this is what we have to look forward to in the future." Experts have also been warning for years that Canada's sovereignty over the NW passage is likely to be challenged as the ice melts. The Northwest Passage route from Tokyo to London would be 40 per cent shorter than that using the Panama Canal.

Do you remember last year's weather? (from September 2004) - For the first time in history, four hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan (the Terrible), and Jeanne - smacked into Florida's long coastline one after another in a single hurricane season (not yet over then). In March Brazil experienced the South Atlantic's first hurricane ever - Brazilian meteorologists didn't even know what to name it; the Atlantic coast of Canada got whacked by Hurricane Juan, "the storm of the century," late last year (and the Canadian government suspects a link to global warming); the United States had already experienced a record number of tornados in 2004; Japan had the worst season of typhoons in memory; extreme weather events increased across the planet, including massive flooding in Europe, Bangladesh, and China. At a hearing the Inuit Circumpolar Conference Chair said, "We find ourselves at the very cusp of a defining event in the history of this planet… The Earth is literally melting." And she pleaded with the assembled senators: "Use us as your early warning system. Use the Inuit story as a vehicle to reconnect us all so that we can understand the people and the planet are one." You might say that, "as the Inuit canary expires in the mine, our response is to dig harder and faster, while those whose job it is to signal danger point the rest of us the other way." Our failure to act on the global warming threat - "someday this will, of course, look like the most errant of follies (if anyone's left to look)."


Monday, August 8, 2005 -

This morning there was a 6.0 in PAPUA / IRIAN JAYA, INDONESIA.

The largest quakes yesterday -

An aftershock of Friday night’s earthquake rocked Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Saturday morning and, though some residents thought it was stronger than the earlier one, no damage or casualties were reported. On Friday, Vietnam’s southern hub had been hit by a quake of 4.5 magnitude on the Richter Scale, causing panic and some minor damage. Panic broke out again when the aftershock – magnitude still unknown – struck at 1.10am. Hundreds of people living in apartment blocks fled their homes just like the previous day, fearing a building collapse. A volcano in Binh Thuan, Hon Tro, could have been the trigger. The volcano, which is active every few decades or so, reportedly erupted in 1923 and 1987. However, it is not a powerful volcano. Due to the seismic conditions in the area, possible future earthquakes in southern Vietnam would not be bigger than Friday night’s or capable of causing heavy damage. There was also no risk of such quakes triggering tsunamis.

Tsunami stories from the December disaster.

A weather system far out in the Atlantic strengthened Sunday into Tropical Storm Irene, the ninth named storm of the busy Atlantic hurricane season and the EARLIEST NINTH STORM ON RECORD FOR THE ATLANTIC SEASON. It posed no immediate threat to land, forecasters said. Farther north in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Harvey weakened with top sustained winds of 50 mph, down from 60 mph on Saturday. Harvey was about 670 miles south of Cape Race, Newfoundland, and moving northeast near 12 mph. At 5 p.m. EDT, Irene was about 1,100 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands and was moving to the west-northwest near 10 mph. The five-day projection indicates the storm will make a turn to the north, bringing it east of Bermuda.

Bulgaria's second city Plovdiv is threatened by infections because of the lack of drinkable water, health experts warned. The Maritsa river overflowed in Bulgaria's second city Plovdiv causing several neighbourhoods located near its banks to be evacuated. The water level is slowly decreasing but the situation remains critical. The deluge and heavy rains affected some 2 million people in 131 communities across Bulgaria over the last two months.

Sikkim and Kalimpong town in West Bengal's Darjeeling district of India remained cut off from the plains for the third day, following a landslide at Swetijhora on Sunday, affecting vehicular movement on the arterial National Highway 31-A. Huge chunks of rocks, which spread over 100 feet area of the highway could not be cleared till this morning with incessant rains causing fresh mud slips.

A landslide triggered by incessant rains killed eight members of a single family and injured 30 others in a hillside village in northern India. Big boulders fell on Pithoragarh smashing almost a dozen houses. Many parts of Uttaranchal have been cut off from Dehradun - which links the state to the rest of India - after seasonal monsoon rains triggered a series of landslides this week across the region. The rains continued Sunday.

Baghdad, Iraq was paralysed by a sandstorm this morning with shops closed and very little traffic as a cloak of orange dust reduced visibility to a few metres.

Fire-fighters in Portugal, Spain and France were struggling to contain forest and brush fires as scorching temperatures punished the region hit by its worst drought in six decades. Spain was expected to record the highest temperatures of the year, with the civil protection agency issuing Saturday heat warnings for 10 out of the country’s 17 regions. A fire at Pradet in the Var region, which had forced the evacuation of some 3,200 residents and tourists, was made more dangerous by the presence of unexploded munitions that had been embedded in the rugged terrain ever since 1947.

In the Valley near Bakersfield, California, the temperature will be 106-107 through Monday, then will start tapering off to the 102-101 range. "Folks shouldn't look for weird weather theories or start talking about global warming: "We just have a high-pressure system sitting over the western U.S. right now, but it's not all that rare. It's only running four to five degrees above normal." This summer's weather in California is considered normal. If people are looking for truly unusual weather, try Canada this summer with oppressive heat in southern Ontario, fog in Nova Scotia and heavy rains across the plains. The senior climatologist for Environment Canada told newspapers there this week: "We're out of superlatives to talk about this summer."

The oral history of native Alaskans tells of climate change. The oldest inhabitant is 92. "When I was a child", she says, "it was so much colder and the winds in winter used to be fierce." She remembers her elders telling in their stories that the weather was going to change. Many elders make reference to the 1970s as the time that they began to notice changes in the climate. Elders have spoken of what they describe as crazy changes in the climate. "The last couple of years has been really crazy. It is kind of scary when the wind comes up at the wrong time and we have rain in the winter, the change is really there and I am not very comfortable with it." "Up here in the Arctic we are definitely warming up, the polar pack ice has all but gone." One area is referred to as a "drunken forest". The spruce trees are falling over because of thawing permafrost. Western nations need to have scientific proof that the climate is warming rather than believing the word of the native people but: "The white man, the climatologists are just learning what we knew was going on."
Images of how the earth has changed.

Pension fund trustees in the UK have a duty to address the financial risk posed by climate change when making investment decisions, according to a report just issued. The report marks the first time that investors have been explicitly warned to consider the effects of climate change on companies as an investment risk. It comes at a time of increasing awareness among corporations about the costs of climate change. Allianz, the German insurance giant, warned earlier this year that an increase in natural disasters linked to climate patterns could seriously damage the sector's future prospects. The group said extreme weather associated with rising temperatures had already led to €36bn (£25bn) worth of damage since 1999 in Europe alone.


Sunday, August 7, 2005 -

This morning there have been a 6.1 & a 5.5 quake near PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, SOUTH AFRICA.

The largest quakes yesterday -
5.3, 5.0, 5.1 , & 5.0 PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION

The 5.3 earthquake which jolted the county of Huize in southwest China's Yunnan Province Friday left nine injured. The quake toppled down 3,700 houses and affected more than 25,000 households. "We have never experienced a disastrous earthquake like this. We were terrified when it happened," said 50-year-old villager. The government put up tents to form a 30,000-square-meter temporary living area. There are about 80,000 people living near the epicentre in the mountainous area where traffic and communications are very poor.

Though no severe damage has been reported, a 3-4 plus Richter magnitude quake in Vietnam opened up cracks in some buildings in the city of HCMC. In the outlying Cu Chi district, people called the police to report that the tremor lasted some five seconds, causing furniture to move. “According to our initial estimate, this was caused by minor seismic activity off [the southern] Vung Tau city caused by the Thuan Hai-Minh Hai fault. " Dr. Tran Luan Ngo, who was part of a research project to build subways in the city, said it was unusual for HCMC to be hit by earthquakes. “Foreign companies involved in the research project said there won’t be many earthquakes in the area.”

An earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale jolted Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures this morning. The quake occurred at around 1:15 a.m. (1605 GMT). It was strongly felt in Tokyo's urban area and some other cities in east Japan.

A bizarre freeway of fish swimming by the thousands along the shore of Englewood Beach in Florida Thursday morning left crowds of beach-goers agog and marine biologists bewildered. Beach-goers reported that a wide variety of sea creatures came swimming south in a narrow band close to the beach in about 18 inches of water at mid-morning. Included in the swarm were clouds of shrimp, crab, grouper, snapper, red fish and flounder. They were joined by more usual species, including sea robins, needlefish and eels. They were headed south, and the moving mass of sea life stretched a good mile long. All the species "were swimming amongst each other. They weren't attacking each other." "I have never seen anything like that in my life. " The event lasted until late morning, although the parade had thinned out by 11 a.m. A few scientists contacted were surprised to hear of the unusual fish behavior. It was not typical schooling, they said, because many varied species were involved. They agreed was A HIGHLY UNUSUAL EVENT, ONE THEY HAD NEVER ENCOUNTERED BEFORE.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands have tilted northeast-southwest following the December 2004 tsunami. The northernmost inhabited region in North Andaman, Diglipur has risen between 0.5 and 0.8 meters, whereas India's southern most point - Indira Point - on Greater Nicobar Island has sunk by between 1.4 and 1.5 meters. The high tide seawater now innundates agriculture lands and coconut forest in several parts of South Andaman and Nicobar Islands. However, the Government has not decided to construct mud sea walls all around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Three people were killed overnight in Bulgaria and more than 5,000 people fled their homes as severe floods devastated the Balkan country, destroying roads and cutting off remote villages. Water levels have reached more than 1.5 metres above normal. Torrential rains have swept across the Balkan region for most of the summer, killing dozens of people in Bulgaria and neighboring Romania and causing hundreds of millions of euros in damage to roads, bridges, railways and crops.

More than a million people have been forced from their homes in China's Zhejiang province as Typhoon Matsa hit the country's eastern coast. One person was killed in Shanghai and there has been widespread disruption to shipping and aircraft. The typhoon has now been downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves north, but the authorities warn the risk of more flooding and landslides remains.

Concerned residents in northern Taiwan flocked to hypermarkets and emptied their shelves of vegetables Friday, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said that veggie supplies were stable after the typhoon, and urged the public not to fret about a potential hike in prices. The COA Friday distributed 300 tonnes of the strategic frozen vegetable reserve - designed to prevent emergency vegetable shortages - to help neutralize and stabilize prices. Officials at the COA were unable to confirm how many tonnes of frozen vegetables remained in the strategic vegetable reserve, saying only that they "did not have that information." However, the COA chairman remained confident that Taiwan could avoid a vegetable apocalypse. "Typhoon Matsa only swiped through northern part of the country. Since the major vegetable farms are located in the south, these farms remain in good shape."

In Chandigarh, India, several areas of the state were lashed by heavy rains, causing damage to crops and triggering landslides. The rains accompanied by high velocity winds damaged the maize crop. A cloudburst in the Khokhan area of Kulu district has damaged property estimated to be in thousands after the water entered shops and houses. The sudden rise in the water level after the cloudburst created panic in the area. The Bhuntar-Khokhan road was extensively damaged and would take months before it is restored. The flood situation in Sangli and Kolhapur district of western Maharashtra, India continues to be critical on Saturday with rising waters of the Krishna River inundating several villages. The death toll has risen to 1,056.
Sikkim and Kalimpong town in West Bengal's Darjeeling district in India are cut off following a large-scale landslide. Huge chunks of rocks rolled down to NH 31-a, the arterial link between Siliguri and Gangtok on Friday evening badly damaging the road. But there were no casualties. Work is on to remove the debris but work has been impeded by heavy rains in the area since Saturday morning.

Hurricane experts are predicting a "hyperactive" year - "hyperactive" reflects a season at least 50 percent more active than average. "Since 1995, every hyperactive year has had at least one East Coast hurricane landfall." The experts didn't expect June and July to see an unprecedented number of tropical systems and based their original outlooks primarily on August, September and October, normally the busiest months. Further, forecasters initially thought El Nino, an atmospheric condition that inhibits hurricane formation, might come into play. But it didn't. Also, vertical wind shear decreased, particularly in the Caribbean; Atlantic temperatures warmed about 4 degrees above normal; and West African rainfall was above average in June and July. One expert predicts three hurricanes in August, four in September and two in October. He projects a 77 percent chance that an intense hurricane, with winds greater than 110 mph, will hit the U.S. coastline in the remainder of the season. If global warming played a role, storm activity would have increased in all ocean basins, and it hasn't. Rather, scientists point to a natural cycle of warm water shifting to the Atlantic region where hurricanes form, a cycle that could last another 10 to 30 years.

Serious problems have been created in many regions of northern Greece due to heavy rainstorms and hail which followed a week-long heatwave throughout the country. The storms began on Friday evening and continued through Saturday, while the rain is expect to move down to central Greece, the Cycladic islands, the Aegean and parts of the Attica region. Meanwhile, extensive damage was caused to many vineyards in Myrtofytou, due to heavy hail which struck the region. The hail also damaged many agricultural vehicles, while minor damage was caused to the provincial road network of Eleftheron Municipality from the fall of trees.

Severe thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rain, high winds and hail struck, cut at least one swath across Livingston County, Illinois, while other areas had little or no rain Thursday. "Suddenly it was hailing very hard then following that was a heavy, heavy rain that seemed to come down horizontally. I thought to myself 'what is this a hurricane?' When it finally stopped raining there was water standing everywhere and then a while later the ground was so dry it had absorbed the water and you could hardly tell it rained." In Broughton Township hail of varying sizes fell for more than 20 minutes. The hail was followed by heavy rains and high winds. Soybeans and corn in the same area of Broughton Township also sustained visible hail damage. "We are at a weird turning point in this agricultural season. There have been significant stresses to the crops all season and now their maturing timetable, in some areas, may be lengthened by rain. Or, on the other hand, the crops just may give up and do nothing."

A series of wildfires burned out of control late Friday along a major highway in western Montana, prompting authorities to establish roadblocks to keep motorists from getting caught in the billowing smoke. Flames along Interstate 90 burned right to the edge of the town of Alberton and sometimes into yards. Large fires also were active Friday in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. So far this year, wildfires have charred 4.9 million acres, compared with 5.5 million at the same time last year.

Since June 1, rainfall in Ohio has been about four inches below normal. Because of this summer's unusual heat, 13 Cincinnati City pools have extended their seasons, some of them past mid-August. As of Friday, the tri-state had experienced 20 days in which the thermometer reached 90 or higher. That's two more than the average for the entire summer. Buffalo, N.Y., had its warmest June and July ever. Las Vegas had its hottest July ever.


Saturday, August 6, 2005 -

This morning there was a 5.4 NORTH OF SEVERNAYA ZEMLYA, a 5.6 in the PERU-BOLIVIA BORDER REGION and a 6.0 in TONGA.

The largest quakes Friday -

The Soufriére Hills Volcano in Montserrat may not be fizzling out after all, but about to return to days gone by like 1997. A newly discovered deeper source of magma indicates the volcano is, more likely than not, ready to restart explosive eruptive activity. The first week-long volcano scientific conference in the history of the Lesser Antilles came to a close on the 30th of July in Montserrat and crushed hopes of a dying volcano. The Soufriére Hills Volcano has been exhibiting some very familiar behaviour from the eruptive past throughout the entire week of scientific deliberations.

Anatahan's volcanic eruption escalated anew yesterday morning with increased tremor levels. Volcanic smog from Anatahan has reached parts of Japan. There were two periods of increased seismicity yesterday morning. The first one occurred at about 6:47am and lasted about five minutes, while the second one began at about 9:19am and lasted about 10 minutes. After the heightened activity, the volcano mellowed down. Despite this, ash emissions appeared to continue.

At least 75 Bangladeshi fishermen were missing and feared drowned because of storms in the Bay of Bengal over the past two days. The storms sweeping the coast line also damaged hundreds of houses.

Heavy rains lashed huge swathes of China yesterday, causing widespread chaos and at least one death in Beijing. It was the worst rainstorm the city has encountered this summer. About 20 provinces and municipalities were struck by gale-force winds, thunderstorms and lightning. "The heavens opened over most of China, particularly the northern provinces, and we have entered a new flood season." In East China's Anhui Province, some 300,000 people were affected on Tuesday when the downpour brought a record 260 millimetres of precipitation in just six hours to Suzhou.

Officials moved nearly 600,000 people from coastal areas near Shanghai Friday as typhoon Matsa crept closer to eastern China. Torrential rains are already soaking the eastern cities of Ningbo, Wenzhou and Taizhou, leading to fears of flooding. Chinese television reported ports from Shanghai south have been closed because of predictions of 40-foot waves. The storm is also bring lightning, thunder, hail and up to a foot of rain. Forecasters are also warning of landslides and mud and rock flows. As the storm hit Taiwan, mudslides clogged roads and trapped hundreds of people in mountain villages. More than 10,000 homes had no power in the storm's wake, and the same number of people had no tap water.

Cheju Island and other parts of Korea are braced for the likelihood of rain today under the influence of typhoon Matsa, moving northward from Taiwan. The typhoon is veering away from the Korean Peninsula but its accompanying clouds will drench Cheju Island and other areas with heavy rainfall and strong winds through Monday.

Heavy storms and floods this summer have killed 17 people and caused 393 million levs ($248 million) of damage in Bulgaria. From May to July, most of the victims were killed by lightning or drowned in swollen rivers and lakes as fierce storms swept the Balkan region. Around 2 million of the country's 8 million people were directly affected by floods that damaged thousands of buildings and made many homeless. The rains destroyed roads, bridges, and large stretches of rail tracks, and also damaged crops, forcing authorities to cut the country's 2005 wheat harvest forecast by around a fifth. In neighbouring Romania floods also destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens.

Hurricane Ivan generated a wave more than 90 feet (27 metres) high - thought to be the tallest and most intense ever measured. It would have dwarfed a 10-story building and had the power to snap a ship in half - but never reached land. The wave was recorded by sensors on the ocean floor as Hurricane Ivan passed over the Gulf of Mexico last September. The observations suggest prior estimates for extreme waves are too low. "Our results suggest that waves in excess of 90 ft are not rogue waves but actually are fairly common during hurricanes." Since hurricane activity is predicted to increase over the next few decades, more research needs to be carried out.

A rock slide in Portugal claimed two victims, which local authorities said they believe were a Spanish couple on vacation.

Fires worsened in Portugal in the last two days as hot winds from Spain sent temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in the interior. Firefighters fought at least 31 fires raging out of control across the nation, forcing the evacuation of three central villages and the closure of several roads. "The situation is out of control, it is dramatic, it is worrying." The high temperatures are expected to last until at least Saturday. In the town of Torres Vedras, 60 km north (37 miles) of Lisbon, the thermal hot springs baths of Vimeiro were shut. "There isn't enough water to feed the baths. It is the first time in our 60 years that we have had to shut." Other thermal baths across Portugal have also complained about low water levels in recent weeks. All of Portugal is in severe or extreme drought this year in the worst dry spell since at least 1945. There have been 4,353 forest fires this year, almost two-thirds more than the average for the previous five years. Neighbouring Spain is also suffering its worst drought since records began in the 1940s. In western France, water levels are at their lowest since a drought in 1976. Spain's drought-hit wheat and barley harvest is down 61% of last year's.

Most of the areas around Uganda are experiencing prolonged dry spells. With the weather increasingly becoming unpredictable, farmers can no longer be sure of the best time to plant crops. "These things have happened in the past but it is the intensity and frequency with which they have occurred recently that gives us reason to get worried."

Scotland had its driest July in 50 years. It experienced only 39% of the long-term average rainfall for July. Scotland East had 53% of the average, and Scotland North slightly more at 54%. "The average temperature across the country, even up to Shetland and down to Glasgow, has been above normal. The average hours of sunshine were just above the norm too." "The weather is strange and when we have these really extreme spells then, of course, it puts wildlife under pressure."

Experts now believe another ice shelf the size of Tasmania may collapse in Antarctica in the next two years because of global warming. A geological study released today claims the collapse of a huge ice shelf in Antarctica in 2002 has no precedent in the past 11,000 years. "A further two-degree increase over the next 30 years would be devastating for Australia, with more heatwaves and bushfires, extended droughts, reduced rainfall in southern Australia and extensive damage to the Great Barrier Reef."

Spring in Stockholm, Sweden was cold, the weather patterns were unfamiliar according to an 'average' citizen.

Humid, hot weather this summer has contributed to a near record number of anthrax cases in South Dakota. At least 200 head of cattle and buffalo have died in South Dakota this summer because of anthrax.

Canadian officials fear the scorching, dry summer in many parts of the country could mean more cases of West Nile disease, with the number of suspected or confirmed cases sitting at eight so far this year. Last month, Manitoba declared a West Nile health emergency and ordered extensive fogging with the chemical malathion to try to kill the hordes of mosquitoes. In Toronto the city's first case of human infection with the West Nile virus in 2005 was diagnosed three weeks earlier than last year's first case.


Friday, August 5, 2005 -

This morning there was a 5.6 quake in the ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA.

The largest quakes Thursday -
5.1 WINDWARD ISLANDS (Caribbean)

A powerful 6.0 earthquake rocked Indonesia's Papua province yesterday but there were no reports of injuries or damage. The quake was centered about 60 kilometers beneath remote forests and 170 kilometers northwest of the capital city, Jayapura, on Papua island, about 3,300 kilometers east of Jakarta.

Anatahan's volcano in the Mariana Islands spewed ash to 42,000 feet in the air on Wednesday night, after days of fluctuating seismicity. Escalating volcanic activity prompted the Governor to place Saipan and Tinian under volcanic ash advisory. Rota remained under a volcanic haze declaration. Unlike Monday and Tuesday's hazy condition over Saipan and Tinian, yesterday's situation worsened in that the ash plume - besides volcanic gases - reached the skies over the two islands. On Wednesday night, an aircraft suffered engine trouble in mid-air shortly after taking off from the Saipan International Airport, prompting it to return to the tarmac for emergency landing.

Nicaragua's disaster prevention agency on Wednesday warned of an impending eruption of the country's Concepcion Volcano. A recent series of 10 earthquakes measuring above 4.0 on the Richter scale and 20 minor ones in Ometepe Island in Nicaragua Lake could be a sign that Concepcion Volcano "has awakened" pending an eruption. The strongest jolt measured 5.6 on the Richter scale. The condition of Concepcion warrants "special attention" because the quakes are "a symptom of the start of an eruption process." The Concepcion Volcano unleashed several explosions last week and expelled ashes spreading over 24 km to its west.

Yet another tropical depression has formed in the Atlantic Ocean. Tropical depression Nine is located about 1426 nmi E of Bridgetown, Barbados, moving west.

Tropical Storm Harvey gained strength as it moved away from Bermuda yesterday after it soaked the mid-Atlantic British colony but caused little disruption. Harvey, the eighth tropical storm, posed a threat only to ships as it moved toward the east-northeast over the open Atlantic Ocean. Never in more than 150 years of record-keeping had the Atlantic hurricane season produced eight storms this early. Half of the hurricane seasons since 1851 did not produce eight storms in their entire season. An average hurricane season has 10 tropical storms, with six becoming hurricanes and two strengthening into major hurricanes.

It is the heavy rainfall associated with tropical storms that concerns Florida forecasters this year. Storms striking after periods of higher-than-normal rainfall are especially likely to cause flooding. The combination of warmer waters, low wind shear and low pressure, as well as the jet stream, favor storm formation. The sea surface is 2 to 3 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year. Wind shear, a change in wind direction with altitude, can suppress these storms, while lack of shear allows them to form. The jet stream is in place to guide disturbances moving off the coast of Africa. Hurricanes form in the Gulf of Mexico in the early part of the hurricane season around June and the late part of the season in November and October. Mid-season storms form further out in the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans. All storms have an equal chance of hitting the Gulf Coast, but the mid-season storms give much more warning of their approach. Southeast Texas and Southwestern Louisiana have been extraordinarily lucky when it comes to tropical storms. There could be as many as 32 tropical storms of varying intensity formed in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf the remainder of the season and between one and four of them are likely to threaten the upper Gulf Coast. "We will run out of letters in the alphabet if the trend continues. We are already up to the H's, and the halfway point isn't until September."

Tropical depression 01C is moving in the Pacific Ocean, as is Typhoon Matsa. 01C is 815 nmi ESE of Honolulu, Hawaii. The system marks the first cyclone of the season in the Central Pacific, but it is not very big and at this point is not expected to threaten Hawaii. Right now the waters are still a little on the cool side for any further development and some upper level winds are expected to weaken the storm. Two to three cyclones are forecast for the Central Pacific region this season.
Matsa is approximately 245 kn W of Okinawa and 98 nmi E of Taiwan. Taiwan warned of torrential rain and landslides on Thursday as Matsa heads towards the island's north-eastern coast. If the typhoon stays on its present course, it is unlikely to make landfall. But the Central Weather Bureau issued a land alert, saying the storm is likely to bring heavy rains to Taiwan's north-east region. China is making all-out preparation efforts to fight against Matsa. The typhoon is expected to land at the coastal province of Zhejiang on August 5-6, and will bring high winds and torrential rains. A storm warning has been issued in Japan's south. The hurricane is in the form of a gigantic funnel slowly shifting in a northerly direction, gaining in strength. Waves may be more than 10 metres high near the coast of the typhoon-affected islands. Torrential rains, accompanied with gale-force gusts of wind of up to 90 km an hour are expected on almost all southern Japanese islands. Up to 300 mm of rainfall within 24 hours is expected in the area of Okinawa island.

Monsoon rains that drenched western India for a week, killing more than 1,020 people, have changed course and are now claiming lives in the southern state of Karnataka. At least 90 people have died in Karnataka and vast tracts of land are under water. Some of the flooding is being caused by the release of waters from dams in adjoining Maharashtra state. The worst of the rain is over now in Mumbai, but drizzle continues to plague the city.

In Arizona, weather experts said that a wicked thunderstorm on Tuesday — two storms, actually — that turned streets into streams and sprung leaks in roofs WAS REMARKABLE BECAUSE OF ITS SIZE AND VIGOR. "Good rain is 7 inches over two weeks; bad rain is 2 inches in an hour." Tuesday’s downpour was by far the wettest monsoon storm of the season, although no official rainfall record for the date was set. Wind gusts exceeding 60 mph also were recorded. The activity began in the afternoon, when storms built to the northeast and southeast of the Valley. They grew while sliding toward the city, and when they collided around 9 p.m. the real fireworks started. The monsoon got off to a late start July 18 — 11 days off the average — giving the impression it’s been slow. "We’ve found that, oftentimes, when the monsoon starts late it kinds of makes up for it, if you will, it terms of it being fairly active once it does get going."

Continuous brilliant flashes of lightning at 12:30 a.m. Aug. 2 was the beginning of about THE MOST INTENSE LIGHTNING STORM IN SEVERAL YEARS in Hingham, Massachusetts. Flashes of lightning and booms of thunder were coming every one to three seconds. The storm knocked out power to parts of town and also set house fires. Three houses were struck and damaged by lightning and fire all in less than one hour. An official there said he COULD NOT REMEMBER THIS HAPPENING IN 31 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. Other homes were struck in nearby communities. Well over half of the continuous lightning flashes occurred within the clouds and did not hit the ground. The downburst of rainfall brought almost 0.75 inch in 15-20 minutes. There were no wind gusts of note and no large hail within this thunderstorm so it could not be termed a "severe" thunderstorm which requires gusts of at least 58 mph and hail to 0.75 inch in diameter. The rainfall was brief and intense, though, and similar to an event on June 22. The weather has been odd - in July it was only slightly warmer than normal but they had six days of 90-degree heat and two consecutive days of 94-degree heat. July 7-8 were likely record cold for the dates, while the warm minimum of 74 degrees July 27 equaled a record high minimum set in 1995. They had a three-week dry spell yet over 4 inches of rain, as more than 3 inches or almost 80 percent of the monthly rain total fell in just three days early in the month. They set a new record for most rainfall in just five days for July.

Fire crews are fighting a sudden onslaught of wildfires that have started around the Boise National Forest in Idaho. 30 fires are burning, most sparked by overnight ightning storms. About 25 different wildfires have started since last Friday in the northern part of the forest. Seven different fires started Monday night alone. Until yesterday, those fires have been in open range, not forested mountains. "Right now is when the timber starts burning. We've had the lightning storms come through, so we'll be busy for the next couple months with this."

It is being claimed that global warming will increase disease outbreaks due to the extreme weather. An analysis of four decades of disease records from Bangladesh shows that periods of extreme rainfall, drought or high temperatures can sharply increase cholera rates. The effect of weather on disease can be dramatic. In one period of turbulent weather from 1992 to 1994, the study found a six- to eight-fold increase in the number of cholera cases. "It's the extremes that are bad for our health." Scientists have long suspected that climate variability fosters the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera, malaria and dengue fever.

Top U.S. retailers ranging from Gap Inc. to Nordstrom Inc. posted disappointing July sales on Thursday as a heat wave curbed demand for fall back-to-school fashions, sending stocks lower. Wal-Mart Stores was among the few retailers whose sales beat expectations, helped by the hot weather that drove sales of air conditioners, and a busy hurricane season that prompted people in stricken regions to stock up on food and other supplies. This July is expected to rank in the top 10 hottest in 111 years.


Thursday, August 4, 2005 -

The largest quakes Wednesday -
5.2 & 5.9 NICARAGUA

A strong 6.3 earthquake shook Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica before dawn Wednesday, but no injuries or damages were reported. The quake was centered 75 miles southeast of Managua. It hit at 5:03 a.m. at a depth of 6.2 miles. Nicaraguan authorities also reported a second earthquake of magnitude 4.5 about an hour and a half later in nearly the same location. The earthquake jarred awake residents on the island of Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua. Islanders were still jittery after eruptions last week at the 5,282-foot tall volcano that rained ash 10 miles away.

Residents of Sand Point, Alaska, about 600 miles west of Anchorage, witnessed a weather phenomenon that elders say is a first-time occurrence. They looked across Popof Strait to nearby Unga Island last week and watched a tornado touch two uninhabited mountains. "You could see the clouds twisting and debris spinning off of it." "It's very rare for the Alaska Peninsula." One reason for the small number of reports of tornados in Alaska is the size of the state and the small population."If it has happened, it probably wasn't observed." The temperature was about 60 degrees and winds were calm. Even more unusual for the island's maritime climate, it was humid and muggy. "It probably won't happen [again] for another 100 years."

"Toronto's Pearson International Airport was on Red Alert at the time of the Air France crash. That indicates that special measures were being taken because of severe weather conditions, including lightning and wind shear. Some eyewitnesses said they saw lightning strike the plane, and some passengers said, after the crash, that the cabin lights briefly went out just seconds before the crash. Washington Post said the jetliner apparently landed 'during a red microburst alert'. Could the aircraft have crashed because of the same violent weather phenomenon that downed another plane exactly 20 years ago to the day (at Dallas-Fort Worth airport)?

A freak storm wreaked havoc in Seberang Prai, Malaysia uprooting trees and blowing off rooftops.

Torrential downpours that struck the southern part of Korea on Tuesday and Wednesday left 13 missing or dead, with the west coasts of North Jeolla Province experiencing more than 300 mm of rainfall. On top of that, Typhoon No. 9 Matsa, now in the sea south of Taiwan, is making its way northward and expected to make an impact on the entire Korean Peninsula by the end of this week. They expect two or three typhoons to hit Korea this year.

La Quinta, Indian Wells, Palm Desert, California hit hard by a wind storm and dealing with storm debris. No one believe how strong the winds were, up to 60 miles an hour at some points. "I mean, this has been the most unusual weather year I have ever seen in the Coachella Valley.""I've never seen anything like this."

Thunderstorms caused flash floods in southwestern Utah Tuesday, taking out a bridge, closing a highway and flooding several homes.

Nearly 5,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes in Hawaii and the only road connecting Waikoloa to the rest of the Big Island was closed as a brush fire blazed out of control. By late Tuesday, the fire had charred more than 25,000 acres.

As this summer's European drought continues, two climate research groups have warned that it will unleash large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, giving further impetus to global warming. And drought is also sweeping much of the US. Corn crops are failing and cattle are dying of heat stress in the Midwest, where many areas have seen less than half their typical rainfall. Summer CO2 releases may be rising across the world.

The scorching drought in Spain has sent olive oil prices soaring up 20% as farmers in the world's top producer estimate this year's harvest could fall almost 30 percent. Even before the drought started, olive oil producers were trimming their estimates after frosts destroyed some of their trees. About 4 percent of all Spain's olive trees lost this year's harvest because of the frosts. Some of those trees will have to be replanted, and so will not produce for about five years. Italy is the world's No. 2 producer, followed by Greece.

Dairy processors in Australia say they are fighting for milk because the drought and high grain prices have reduced supplies. A cheese factory has been mothballed due to the lack of milk supply.

Heavy rains in Burma flooded paddy fields and destroyed crops in the outlining regions of the country but an extraordinary harsh spell of droughts are also destroying seasonal beans and sesame plants. Burmese merchants believe that the rising price of cooking oil could rise even higher in the coming year due to the reduction in the yields. According to environmental experts, the destruction of rainforests in Burma is going at the fastest rate in Asia causing unpredictable weather patterns.

The worst drought in 13 years has struck in Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries where 80% of the population of 11 million rely on subsistence farming to eke out a living. Up to 4.2 million Malawians are facing hunger after the drought sent maize production, the main staple food, plummeting by 24%. "The drought happened at the most critical point for the growth of maize.""From today no maize should be exported to other countries because we have to feed ourselves first."

Dry conditions persist across the Midwest, and will likely be getting worse in the coming weeks, according to forecasts issued from the Climate Prediction Center. Experts with the National Drought Mitigation Center conclude that the weather models paint a bleak outlook for farmers who were hoping for an end to the lack of precipitation. In the latest forecast, the next 14 days are expected to see mostly dry and exceedingly warm weather across most of the country. Data shows that all of America’s corn and soybean regions are now in trouble.

While the great drought of 2005 is proving less ruinous to most Washington farmers than expected, Washington State officials say it has raised the risk of future crises by dangerously draining the region's already drying water tables and reservoirs. Though some farmers have plowed under entire sections of their orchards due to lack of water, the industry has saved large swaths of plantings by drawing heavily from state reservoirs. As a result, state officials are now more concerned about 2006 and beyond than they are about 2005. "If this lasts into the next year, the consequences could be quite serious. We've not had a multiyear drought since the '30s."

For the pear crop in California untraditional weather patterns have caused one of the shortest crops in the past three decades and the quality of the crop varies when comparing different orchards. "It turned out to be a very early season because we had almost the coolest June on record, which accelerated the harvest. So far we have had the hottest July on record, which in turn has slowed down the process. It is quite a short crop. It is one of the shortest in probably the past 30 years. Mendocino County is down and the whole Pacific Coast is down, as are all other crops. It was just an odd growing season."

In Illinois, some wells are going dry and towns are struggling to persuade residents to cut back on water use, and officials believe it is time to create water-usage restrictions that cross municipal boundaries and design codes to encourage water conservation. "A lot of the water wars out west are sort of a preamble to what we're going to be facing here." Restrictions are being imposed in Waukegan, Highland Park and Lake Forest, where there are record-setting draws on pumping stations that supply water from Lake Michigan.

Due to drought in Illinois, farmers have lost 25 to 30 percent of their expected yield of corn and if it doesn't rain soon they're looking at half the crop. In much of northern and western Illinois drought levels are now reaching record-breaking levels. Officials warn the situation may get worse before it improves. To varying degrees, the drought covers the northern three-quarters of Illinois. Statewide, 55 percent of the corn crop and 36 percent of the soybean crop is rated very poor or poor. Estimates of crop failures continue to rise. Northern and western Illinois were 7 to 10 inches short of average annual rainfall since the drought began March 1. The soybean plants are green, but blooms are falling before sprouting pods, and it will take 7 inches of rain or more by mid-August at the latest to get them to sprout new blossoms and grow pods.

Summer of 2005 is looking pretty dismal in the heartland of America’s Midwest. The last real rainfall, on July 4, was only about eight-tenths of an inch and that was still more than we received during the entire month of April - normally out wettest month. Since January our cumulative shortfall for the year is over ten inches - and this is on top of a cumulative shortfall of four plus inches for 2004. Both the sweet corn and field corn are tasseling out at a height of 18+ inches less than normal and cob/ear formation is "pickle sized," if at all. The drought factor is being accentuated by the record breaking temperatures of the summer of 2005 which are being set from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Canada to Mexico.

The corn harvest in Missouri is also suffering due to drought, if the rain doesn't come soon, yields this fall could suffer. One hundred and six of Missouri's 114 counties are affected by the drought. The extreme heat has also taken its toll on pastures. The grass has stopped growing. Some farmers are reporting that the conditions are so bad they're being forced to use hay they would normally use in winter to feed livestock now.

Farmers and crop scouts have found fusiarium head blight, or scab, in wheat and barley fields in the Red River Valley and other parts of North Dakota. Area farmers are weary from excessive rains that damaged crops and now are starting to find diseases in their fields. "I think it's going to be even a bigger problem than we ever want to think about." Some sugar beets also are infected with root rot diseases. The amount of damage caused by root rot and other diseases is unknown because many crops are still developing, but Minnesota-Dakota's growers will lose about 40 percent of this year's crop to flooding. Harvested beets could yield half the co-op's average, making this year's crop the smallest in more than 10 years. Crystal Sugar could lose 30,000 acres of the 500,000 planted to beets this spring.

A pessimistic assessment is being made of this year's crop yield in the Midwest, often described as the nation's breadbasket. A line stretching from central Texas up the Mississippi Valley all the way to Wisconsin and reaching into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has experienced the worst drought since the disaster of 1988 that resulted in a national economic loss of about $40 billion. Contributing to this looming crisis is an unmerciful heat wave that has seen the mercury jump over 100 degrees on several occasions. Northern Illinois appears to be suffering the most damage with the fifth driest growing season in 110 years, although parts of eastern Iowa, southern Wisconsin and a good chunk of Missouri are facing similar strains. It is estimated the drought will destroy 30 percent or more of their crops. Ultimately, the biggest problem could be the alfalfa crop. Normally, cattle and sheep farmers plant and cut several fields of alfalfa and other grasses during the growing season and store it as hay to be used as feed during the long winter. But conditions already have dried up pastures, forcing growers to dig into their reserves. That means less hay will be available when snow covers the ground. Consumers will almost surely find themselves paying more at the supermarket checkout counter, particularly if farmers are forced to pay inflated hay prices.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 -

A 6.3 quake has struck in NICARAGUA and a 5.8 in HALMAHERA, INDONESIA.
The largest quakes yesterday -

Last Monday's 5.6 earthquake in Dillon, Montana so far has followed a normal pattern of one large quake followed by a decreasing number of smaller aftershocks, meaning it probably isn't a precursor to anything bigger. It was the largest earthquake to rattle southwest Montana in years. Quakes of 3.5, 3.2, and 2.8 occurred near Dillion yesterday. Western Montana is lined with a spiderweb of faults. They're not like the famous San Andreas Fault of California, which has formed where two tectonic plates are slowly grinding against each other. Instead, the Montana faults are the result of the land being stretched and pulled, resulting in uplifting. It is same process that created Montana's mountains and wide valleys. Bozeman is literally boxed in by faults in all directions.

This year's hurricane season will be worse than expected with as many as 21 tropical storms and 11 hurricanes that could menace the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts, government weather forecasters predicted Tuesday. "Although we have already seen a record-setting seven tropical storms during June and July, much of the season's activity is still to come. We're in a different hurricane era." The new forecast, based on atmospheric conditions and warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures, would mean a tie for the record number of tropical storms. The most active season was 21 storms in 1933. NOAA blamed the increase on cyclical conditions, not global warming. Hurricane activity was low from about 1970 to 1994 before a more active cycle began in 1995. Although NOAA declined to forecast where 2005 storms would hit, some private forecasters said the Carolinas may be a target.

The risk of a major hurricane hitting New York City is significantly greater than it has been in a long time. Meteorologists have observed that Atlantic Ocean hurricanes tend to wax and wane over roughly 20-year cycles. Nineteen ninety-five marked the beginning of a period of above-normal hurricane activity. We are now in the middle of that cycle. The 1938 borderline category-4 hurricane that plowed into West Hampton, causing widespread death and devastation across New York, New Jersey and New England, was the last major hurricane to hit the region. New York City is behind only Miami and New Orleans on the list of U.S. cities most likely to suffer a major hurricane disaster. Though it is rare for big hurricanes to hit the New York metropolitan region, there are a variety of "oceanographic, demographic and geologic characteristics that greatly amplify any hurricane" that comes their way. In many ways "the New York City area is the worst possible place for a hurricane to make a landfall." Much of Lower Manhattan is built on landfill. Places like Rockaway, Coney Island and Manhattan Beach "are stretches of land that nature has created to protect the mainland from hurricanes. In our civilization this is also the most desirable land to develop and build on." New York City's hurricane season runs from August to October, peaking around September 10.

A tropical depression over the western Atlantic was expected early today to strengthen into a tropical storm named Harvey as it slowly approached Bermuda.

Tropical Storm Matsa is the ninth storm of the 2005 northwestern Pacific’s typhoon season, and the first one to pose a significant threat to Okinawa. Matsa is expected to strengthen into a typhoon early this morning. Its closest projected point of approach is 138 miles west of the island of Okinawa at 4 p.m. Friday. Rains and high winds are expected.

Just a week after Birmingham, England was battered by a tornado, another British city has witnessed a US-style twister sweeping across its suburbs. Residents in Bristol were stunned to see a spiralling cloud funnel forming over the south of the city on Monday night. It was several hundred feet high and lasted for up to 20 minutes. Despite the spectacular size of the twister, there were no reports of any damage to property.

In India, rescue workers are still trying to recover bodies from flooded areas of Raigad district, 150 km south of Mumbai. More than 20 villages have been evacuated due to fears of fresh landslides. "For the past seven days there has been no electricity nor drinking water. Taps are churning out muddy and filthy water." Meteorologists are still forecasting heavy rain and strong winds in the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital.

With the monsoon intensifying over the Aizawl region of India and triggering torrential downpours, as many as 20 landslides were reported across the state in the past few days and claiming a life here. Heavy rain on Saturday night again caused a major landslide blocking the Aizawl-Silchar National Highway stranding more route than 200 vehicles. Landslides occurred again yesterday in almost nine places on the same. Reports from the other districts said frequent minor landslides occurred during the past week. More rains are expected during the next 48 hours across the state. More landslides are expected once the rain intensifies, the officials warned.

In northeast Turkey heavy rainfall unleashed landslides and flooding, killing five people and leaving four missing. Several homes and businesses were destroyed, bridges washed away and major roads closed.

Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur was blanketed in a choking haze overnight after smoke from more than 500 fires in Indonesia made its way over to the country. The brown smog rapidly moved over the city, covering the Petronas Towers, once the world's tallest buildings, and permeating office buildings with the smell of smoke. More than 500 fires are burning in Indonesia's Riau and South Sumatra provinces, as well as fires in Kalimantan and Malaysia's Sarawak state. Although the smoke had appeared abruptly, the haze, carried by monsoon winds from the south-west, reportedly had just "taken some time to cross over." Haze caused by fires in Indonesia and Malaysia is a common occurrence during hot, dry seasons. In 1997 and 1998 choking haze caused by Indonesian forest fires enveloped parts of Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, for months.

Dozens of families have been evacuated in central Washington state after flames burned to within a hundred yards of their homes near Wenatchee. In Idaho, wildfires are burning over thousands of acres of grass, sage and pine. The biggest covers 34 square miles near the Oregon border. Two of Oregon's largest wildfires have been contained, but officials say lightning strikes have started about 40 more. Lightning has also complicated efforts to fight a 300-acre blaze in western Montana. One fire official says it has the potential to grow because it's popping up "all over the place."

Forest fires in the Yukon and Alaska last year changed air quality worldwide.

Low temperatures in the winter months are very common in some Brazilian regions, but each year the cold has arrived later. Temperatures were predicted to stay in the 30s last week, when suddenly, in only one day, the mercury plunged. This week, the southern region is getting the first days of extreme cold, under a frozen air mass entering through Argentina.

In Australia the mercury topped 21.7C at 2pm, which was a new August 2 record, eclipsing the previous high of 20.9C set in 1991. The above-average temperature was unseasonal for August which is wintertime in Australia.

The deadly bird flu virus has been found in a third Siberian province, as Russian officials began a mass cull to contain its spread and three ex-Soviet countries imposed poultry import restrictions. The virus appears to have been carried to Russia by birds migrating from South-East Asia. "All the afflicted villages have been put under quarantine and all measures needed to contain the infection are being taken. Checks are continuing concerning information from other areas of the Russian Federation where bird deaths have been noted." Health experts have said the westward spread of bird flu to Russia was predictable, following outbreaks in neighbouring areas of western China. Scientists have been racing to find ways to prevent a major epidemic in the event that the virus mutates to a form easily transmitted between humans.

A strain of bird flu dangerous to humans could spread to parts of the European Union from Siberia, a senior Russian veterinary official warned on Monday. "(Infected) wild birds from China may have been in contact in Russia with birds that will fly on to the Netherlands, France and elsewhere," the official said. "North America is not safe either, as some birds from Russia fly there, too."

Tuesday, August 2, 2005 -

The larger quakes on Monday -
5.6, 4.8 & 5.0 KURIL ISLANDS, RUSSIA
Turkey appears to be quieting down.

A 3.3-magnitude earthquake trembled beneath Mount St. Helens early Sunday, the latest in a SERIES OF STRONGER-THAN-USUAL QUAKES AT THE VOLCANO. The quake at 2:34 a.m. likely triggered the overnight collapse of a large section of rock at the north end of the growing lava dome. Much of the smooth surface of the ridge, which is created as rock extrudes from the vent, has been removed by rockfalls over the past few weeks. Scientists say a explosive eruption, possibly dropping ash within a 10-mile radius of the crater, is possible at any time.

A tropical storm rocked four northern Vietnam provinces yesterday . Three people are dead and two missing, with total damages estimated to be at least VND300 billion. Meanwhile, emergency teams successfully rescued 22 people whose vessels were swept away off Hai Phong city during the storm. Over 1,000 people in the Cat Hai Island offshore of Hai Phong city had to evacuate to higher ground during the storm. Over 26,500 hectares of shrimp farms and more than 28,170 hectares of crops were swept away and completely destroyed. Most worrying, however, the storm collapsed hundreds of meters of sea dyke in Hai Phong, Nam Dinh and Quang Ninh.

The freak tornado that hammered Lingbi County in East China's Anhui Province on Saturday, killing 15 people and leaving 46 injured, was unusual. "Traditionally tornadoes are a rare occurrence in Lingbi County." The tornado lasted for about half an hour, with winds of over 120 kilometres per hour overturning vehicles and uprooting trees. Meanwhile, a tropical storm slammed into South China's Guangdong Province Sunday morning, causing widespread economic damage, and wrecking traffic operations around Leizhou Peninsula in west Guangdong. The storm, the eighth to hit the Chinese coast this year, also caused big economic losses. One person was killed and four are still missing in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province after a storm caused a mudslide in Ziyang County. Unexpected rainstorms also caused troubles elsewhere in the country. However, drought is plaguing Southwest China's Guizhou and Central China's Hunan provinces, leaving nearly 2 million people facing drinking water shortages.

At least a 1,000 people are still living on the edge of death at Narayan Nagar in Ghatkopar, in India where the landslide last Tuesday claimed 74 lives. Though, it has been six days since the incident, residents say that no one has helped them relocate. As a result, 200 families continue to live 60 feet above the ground, on the same cliff. Residents say they live in constant fear and the threat of another tragedy. Yesterday, after heavy rains in the city, a small cliff on the same hill-face, collapsed, though there were no casualties. “This is a limestone cliff. Once the rains stop, the cliff-face dries out, and the moment it rains again, the soil becomes weak and crumbles and can easily collapse.”

The devastating rainfall that hit Mumbai on July 26 has been call "a cloudburst," a phenomenon in which there is very heavy rainfall for a brief period. On the 26th though, it was "an UNUSUAL CLOUDBURST LASTING CLOSE TO 24 HOURS" WHICH HAS BEWILDERED WEATHERMEN. This exceptionally heavy rainfall was confined to about 20-25 km of radius. "It was a very unusual kind of cloudburst. Cloudbursts generally do not have that prolonged longevity. They are very short-lived. Whereas in this case, the phenomenon was noticed for 12-18 hours… the intense rainfall. Therefore it was a unique type of cloudburst." Meteorologists in India do not think there is some change in the weather trend, since "it was a highly localized system and very sluggish and slow. It cannot be linked to any climate change."

As relentless torrential rains continued to batter India's financial capital for the second day Monday creating an unprecedented human crisis, the army was called out to assist in a major rescue and relief operation. With the authorities unable to cope with the magnitude of the disaster, human and animal carcasses were seen floating around in middle-class western suburb of Kurla along with household goods and automobiles. Area after area all over Mumbai turned into virtual lakes, with young men using boats and rafts to distribute drinking water and food to people trapped in their homes. Tens of thousands of slum dwellers were the worst victims after gushing rainwater, at times rising up to 15 feet, washed away their homes and almost all their belongings. THE WORST RAINS IN 100 YEARS LAST WEEK claimed an incredible 350 lives in just two days. The meteorological department forecast more rain for the next couple of days. Tens of thousands are homeless.

Flash floods that hit several parts of the island of Netherlands Antilles late Saturday afternoon took the life of at least one woman, left one man missing and caused extensive damage to cars and buildings. Drainage and infrastructure proved insufficient to handle the immense amount of water in many residential areas. 68mm of rain fell in St. Peters, South Reward and surrounding areas in 24 hours. A meager 22mm fell on the other side of the hill. The downpour was described as “a cloudburst from a tropical wave system.” THE CLOUDBURST WAS NOT EXPECTED.

The town of North Canaan, Connecticut. was cleaning up Monday morning after a damaging storm Sunday night that dumped five inches of flooding rain on the town. This is A STORM THAT HAPPENED SO QUICKLY AND SEEMED TO ONLY HIT NORTH CANAAN.

Three waves in the Atlantic are moving westward with one of the systems entering an area where conditions favor develoment over the next couple of days. That tropical wave, accompanied by a weak surface low pressure area, is moving westward at 20 mph across the southeastern Caribbean Sea. One wave is in an area of widespread cloudiness, where thunderstorms have become a little more concentrated, about 400 miles east-northeast of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Upper-level winds are currently unfavorable for tropical cyclone development to occur in this area but they may become a little more favorable during the next day or so. A large non-tropical low pressure system is located over the central Atlantic about 1,150 miles southwest of the Azores Islands. This system could become a subtropical cyclone over the next day or so as it moves slowly northward.

Typhoon Matso is located approximately 565 NM south of Okinawa tracking northwestward at 10 knots.

There is controversy among meteorologists and cyclone experts over a study stating that hurricanes are becoming larger and producing stronger winds. An MIT hurricane specialist said the destructive power of North Atlantic and North Pacific hurricanes has nearly doubled during the past 30 years - partly due to human-caused global warming. He says hurricanes striking the Eastern United States and typhoons in Southeast Asia are, on average, releasing far more energy than their predecessors did during the mid-1970s. There seems to be a clear correlation between increasing strength and length of storms and a temperature increase of 0.5 degrees Celsius on the surface of the sea during the same period.

Strange weather continues in California. Thunderstorms were in the forecast for yet another day in mountain and desert areas of San Diego County, with a flash flood watch for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday. Heavy rains could bring thunderstorms and high winds as well as mudslides and flooding. Monsoonal downpours struck East County Sunday, causing flooding, thunderstorms and lightning fires.

Two of Oregon's larger wildfires were contained overnight yesterday but more than 4,000 LIGHTNING HITS IN 24 HOURS started about 40 other blazes.

A 15-foot sinkhole in central Florida stranded or delayed 10 trains, including more than 1,200 Amtrak passengers. Officials first said they would have the hole repaired by Sunday evening, but later realized it would take much longer. Repairs were expected to be completed by Monday night.

In Georgia, two weeks of hot temperatures were unusual for the area. “It was definitely a long stretch of unusually high temperatures." Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricane Dennis struck the county recently, bringing massive flooding. More storms and hurricanes were headed this way but changed course. The hot temperatures put a sort of protective shield over the area. “The temperatures helped to block any other tropical storms from coming into this area. It kept Tropical Storm Franklin and Gert out the area." The hot spell has passed and normal summer weather patterns are on the horizon for Fayette County.

300,000 square kilometers of Europe's Mediterranean coast — an area larger than Britain — with a population of 16.5 million, is threatened by "desertification." The Spanish minister of the Environment warned in June about a long-term decrease in rain and an increase in temperatures: "the beginning of a long cycle" of extreme drought. The word "desertification," in Europe, essentially means that the land itself dies and becomes agriculturally unproductive, even if people still build apartments on it or, indeed, greenhouses. Optimism among scientists is increasingly hard to find. Rainfall is expected to decline by 15 percent on average and 40 percent in the scalding summers before the end of the century. "Historically, the Mediterranean has always fought over water. We are now seeing a modern version of those historical water wars between regions in Spain."

The main weather pattern so far this winter in New Zealand has been low pressure systems coming from the Tasman Sea. "We've had five lows in June and six in July and there's another moving in today. Although this is one of the standard weather patterns for winter, IT IS UNUSUAL FOR THE PATTERN TO LAST SO LONG." A series of four lows in quick succession between 14 and 20 July was responsible for the most persistent and intense rainfall so far this winter.

Monday, August 1, 2005 -

An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the open-ended Richter scale shook central Turkey on Sunday, but officials said there was only minor damage in some villages. The quake was centered on a rural area in the Bala district of Ankara province. Small and moderate earthquakes are a near daily occurrence in Turkey, which is crisscrossed by seismic faultlines.
Since Sunday's 5.3 quake, there have been over 50 small quakes so far -
3.6, 3.4, 3.2, 3.2, 3.2, 4.2, 3.3, 3.2, 3.0, 3.4,
3.2, 3.1, 3.1, 3.0, 3.4, 3.2, 3.3, 4.3, 3.4, 3.2,
4.0, 3.3, 3.0, 3.9, 3.2, 3.2, 3.2, 3.2, 3.2, 3.1,
2.9, 3.3, 4.5, 3.8, 3.3, 3.5, 4.3, 3.2, 3.4, 3.4,
3.2, 3.2, 3.3, 3.1, 4.0, 3.5, 3.3, 2.8, 3.1, 3.0
2.7, 3.0, 3.1

Quakes in Indonesia Sunday -
Sumatra 5.0, 5.3, 5.2
Andaman Islands 5.0
Sulawesi 5.6

The larger quakes elsewhere on Sunday -
Loyalty Islands 5.2
Egypt 4.6
Honshu, Japan 4.8

A 4.2 aftershock that jolted Montana Wednesday morning damaged a chimney on the oldest building at the University of Montana-Western. The chimney on Main Hall, built in 1896, suffered a large crack after Monday's 5.6-magnitude earthquake that shook Montana and other states, but was still structurally sound. The aftershock worsened the crack and sent bricks tumbling down the hall's roof.

Mexico's Popocatepetl Volcano on Saturday sent a cloud of ash two kilometres into the sky south of Mexico City. The moderate eruption came a day after two eruptions that sent a column of hot ash almost three kilometres into the air and spat red-hot rocks up to a kilometres from the volcano's base.

Torrential rain lashed Mumbai, India again yesterday, disrupting flights, hampering rescue efforts and bringing more misery as the death toll from the heaviest downpours in the Indian city's history neared 1000. Low-lying suburban areas of the city were again flooded knee-deep. Flooding again occurred in the district of Raigad, 170 km south of Mumbai, where seven major landslides last week buried scores of people. "Heavy to very heavy rainfall accompanied by strong gusty winds is expected in the city and suburbs. The forecast is valid until Monday morning."
On Sunday, many local trains, considered the lifeline of this megapolis of 15 million people, were cancelled or diverted due to flooding of tracks. All long distance trains connecting the city with eastern India have been cancelled until Aug 6. With the metrological department predicting more rains over the next 48 hours, people were urged to stay indoors.

One person was buried alive and five were injured, one of them seriously, when a massive landslide triggered by heavy rains struck their houses at village Kanda nala of Sirmaur district, India last night. Heavy rains flooded Kanda Nallah river which changed course and three houses belonging to the deceased were buried under tonnes of debris.

A tornado lashed east China killing 15 people, including 11 schoolchildren who died when the roof of their classroom collapsed. The injury toll from the tornado has risen to 206. State television footage showed collapsed houses and overturned vehicles in the aftermath of the tornado that lasted some 20 minutes.

Continuous rainstorms have resulted in flooding in some medium and small rivers of northeast China's Heilongjiang province, inflicting severe damages to the cities of Hegang and Yichun. The flood peak level in the Wutong River of Hegang city reached 99.02 meters on July 29, THE HIGHEST SINCE 1972. The flooding in the Wutong River also threatened the safety of the Yuanbaoshan Reservoir in the city, which burst some spillways and spillway gates of the reservoir.

Powerful storms lashed much of Germany Saturday night, killing at least two people, injuring dozens more and disrupting road and rail traffic. High winds, which reached 191 kilometers (118 miles) per hour in the northern Saxony region, downed trees and damaged houses. Heavy rain also forced authorities to close some major roads, while rail services were also affected. In the southwestern town of Muenstertal, a mini-tornado damaged about 50 houses. Twelve of Germany's 16 states were affected by the bad weather. The storms also battered neighbouring Switzerland, in particular the cities of Geneva and Basel.

A slow-moving thunderstorm deluged north Macon, Georgia with about 2 inches of rain. Basements, apartments, streets and parking lots flooded. "You would just not believe it. It was like a tidal wave. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a river."

Landholders in east Gippsland, Victoria, Australia are cleaning up after the wettest weekend of the year. A band of cloud dropped more than 100 millimetres, bringing down trees, blocking roads and causing minor flooding. SNOW FELL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DECADES IN SOME AREAS, blocking roads. 40 centimetres of fresh snow fell in the weekend storm. Snow weighed down a power line, and shorted it to a farm fence causing a blackout. People said they had never seen conditions like it. "No, never... and the fact that a kangaroo got marooned in the back garden because there's a slope down to the back and he couldn't move and he couldn't move up and he couldn't move down and he had no skis to get out."

The National Drought Information Center launched a Drought Impact Monitor this week, where people from around the U.S. can log on to the Web site and report the impacts of drought. The Web site, http://droughtreporter.unl.edu/, allows people to view impacts of drought by every county in the country. People can also trace drought history, by entering in a certain time period they are interested in seeing.

Against a backdrop of declining world wheat stocks, bad weather has hit world production this year and will raise trading volumes as countries increase their imports. From the plains in the United States midwest to the wheat prairies of Australia, water shortages have hit. Argentina is dry and India is mulling over a wheat import-duty cut to combat domestic shortages. This will help exporters in France, where farmers have large stocks from last season and still expect a good-sized harvest. Much-needed rain in Australia looks to have now saved the wheat crop there. China is forecast to consume 15 million tonnes more than forecast production this year.

The drought in the South East in England is the result of a major reduction in rainfall since November 2004. Levels are at only 68 per cent of the national average. 'THE LAST SIX MONTHS HAVE BEEN THE DRIEST SINCE 1976.' As a result, reservoir levels are dangerously low. Britain's water crisis is mirrored by heatwaves and droughts afflicting much of Europe. Italy is currently in the grip of a searing heatwave, with Level 3 alerts in operation - the highest warning, indicating a danger to the general population - in many cities. Spain is suffering its worst drought since national figures were first produced in 1947. In some areas reservoirs are down to just 14 per cent of their capacity. And in western France, water levels are at their lowest since the drought of 1976. Some 52 Portuguese municipalities are now receiving water from tankers, as are some villages in northern Spain. A brutal heatwave has hit the US, killing dozens of people and frying areas already suffering severe drought. Across the US, new temperature records were set in 200 cities last week.

Eight, mainly elderly, people have died over the past 24 hours in a heatwave which has sweltered in Romania for the past three days.

Scores of wildfires fanned by violent winds destroyed about 500 hectares (1,200 acres) of forests and crops in Greece over the weekend.

Slovakia has banned public access to forests in the northern High Tatras mountains near the border with Poland after THE WORST FIRE THERE IN 60 YEARS consumed more than 250 hectares (620 acres) of woodland. In November 2004, a violent storm struck the mountain range, flattening thousands of trees and causing losses of more than 200 million dollars.

THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF REAL CHANGES IN WEATHER PATTERNS ON A WORLDWIDE SCALE due to global warming. Once it begins, the common wisdom in our field is that the frequency of irregular phenomena will increase and their scale will become increasingly greater." Typhoons being generated more frequently, they are also becoming more powerful. It's possible that Japan will be hit be not one, but several big ones this summer. If a typhoon in the monster class were to strike the capital, it would be capable of flooding 41 percent of Tokyo's 23 central wards, inundating a total area of 265 square kilometers. Aberrant weather patterns have made for a strange rainy season so far this year in Japan. It remains to be seen if the record-breaking number of typhoons that made direct landings on the Japanese archipelago in 2004 - 10 of them - will be exceeded. But just about everyone agrees that the seasonal weather patterns aren't what they used to be.

As July wraps up, it's shaping up as THE HOTTEST JUNE-JULY EVER RECORDED IN SSEVERAL EASTERN U.S. CITIES. The National Weather Service said the average in June was 72.3 degrees, 3.6 degrees higher than normal. Syracuse (73.8), Buffalo (73.6), Albany (73.5), Utica (71.7), Ithaca (71.4) and Binghamton (70.6) all set two-month records, as did Scranton (74.1) and Erie (73.4) in Pennsylvania. Meteorologists say a flow of high pressure centered around Bermuda captured hot and very moist air from the southeastern part of the country and planted it over the Northeast, causing the heat to recycle itself in a clockwise flow day after day. It's not an unusual phenomenon for a week or so. "What's been unusual this year is that that weather pattern has been the dominant weather pattern for most of the past two months." The oppressive weather means uncomfortable cows who produce less milk. On the plus side, the growth of corn in the state of New York is "almost freakish. Farmers will tell you it's the highest they've seen." The National Weather Service said there is some chance for higher than normal temperatures over the next two weeks, but there's no clear signal about what the rest of August will feel like.

Flounder fishing's a flop so far this summer in the central coastal area of North Carolina. Flounder landings from the inshore waters of the central coast were down about 36 percent from the previous five-year average for the same months. "It's one of the worst summers I've seen all my life." The unusual weather is being blamed for what started out as a sluggish season. A cooler spring was followed by abrupt hot weather. "Everything's been messed up around here. The shrimp and everything's been running a little late."

In Queensland, Australia THE WEATHER HAS BEEN UNSEASONAL, with very high rainfalls, extremely high winds for this time of year, and unusually low temperatures. "The rain is actually coming over from the west, which is fairly unusual for this time of year." "It seems like June and July are our wet weason this year, rather than the traditional Feburary, March and April months." The July average amount of rain (912mm) has already been doubled.

Sunday, July 31, 2005 -

Lots of moderate quakes occurring in Turkey

Quakes in Sumatera, Indonesia Saturday -
5.1, 5.0, 5.9< br> Nicobar Islands 4.9

Quakes in Honshu, Japan Saturday -
4.8, 4.8

Kermadec Islands - 5.4
Macquarie Islands - 5.2

The Birmingham, England tornado began on Thursday with a mighty bang of thunder before creating havoc on a Biblical scale. The area looked as if a bomb had hit it, which is what many of the residents, with thoughts of the recent London blasts fresh in their minds, believed had happened. "I saw it pick up a boy of about 10. He flew through the air, landed on his feet and kept on running."Some homes still had walls but not much in the way of roofs. The mighty wind tearing through tight grids of terrace streets at 130mph ripped up trees, whipped tiles from rooftops, sent chimneys flying and blew in windows. And it made a lot of people think the end of the world had come.

‘‘Due to the formation of a deep depression over the Bay of Bengal, India close to Balasore in Orissa, isolated heavy rainfall across the Gangetic plain is predicted. If the depression continues, there may be cyclonic conditions in Gangetic West Bengal and Orissa in the next 48 hours.’’ Due to the depression, strong winds will blow over these areas at speeds of 50 to 60 kmph, accompanied by incessant rainfall. However, according to the Metereological Department, there is no likelihood of a deluge similar to the one that brought Mumbai to a standstill.

Large hail from strong thunderstorms ruined crops and damaged homes near Davis and Centerville, South Dakota early Friday. Hail stones the size of golf balls and even baseballs pelted some area farms. Many stands of corn and soybeans in the area were damaged or ruined. The hail storms lasted 20 to 30 minutes. An agronomist said he has never seen such crop devastation. "It's been a rough year. With the excess water from the rain in June, and now this. It's bad." The hail broke 10 windows and did roof damage. "It punched holes all the way through. Hail came into the house." It was the worst storm one man has seen in the 29 years he's lived on his place. Another said, "I've been here 57 years, and the only time we've had this kind of damage was in 1957."

Saturday, July 30, 2005 -

Yesterday in Honshu, Japan -
5.2, 5.0, 5.5, 5.4

Yesterday in Indonesia -
Sumatra 5.0 & 5.9
Nicobar Islands 5.1
Andaman Islands 4.7
Seram 5.1
Jawa 4.6
So far today in Sumatra -
5.1, 5.0
S. Indian Sea 5.4

Also yesterday -
Nikolski, Alaska 5.6
Mount St Helens 3.2, 2.9, 2.5, 2.7 (Latest dome crumbling activity)

Web sites posting quake warnings days before they are expected to arrive - often with surprising accuracy - are proving extremely popular in Japan. The prediction methods in use at these sites are as exotic as they are diverse, and they are universally irksome to officials who maintain that reliable nationwide quake prediction is impossible. There are groups who monitor erratic catfish behavior, long held by Japanese folk wisdom to be an earthquake omen, and others who scrutinize the inner workings of the nemunoki ("sleeping tree"). Whatever their forecasting method, they almost all share the view that quakes can be predicted by monitoring electromagnetic disturbances around the Earth.

Concepcion Volcano erupted at least four times on Thursday on the island of Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua, sending ash raining down on the island's 10 000 residents up to 20 kilometres away. The 1,610-metre tall volcano is located 100 kilometres southeast of Managua, the capital, on an island popular with adventure tourists. No one was injured by the eruptions. Concepcion Volcano has registered 17 eruptions since 1883. The last was in 1999.

Mexico's Popocatepetl Volcano staged two early morning eruptions Friday, sending ashes raining down on parts of southern Mexico City. The moderate eruptions sent a column of hot ash 2.5 kilometers into the air and spat red-hot rocks up to a kilometer from the volcano.

Tropical storms have become significantly more intense in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the past 30 years, according to an analysis. Tropical storms' overall intensity has increased by about 50 percent since the mid-1970s.Although many of the fiercest storms of the past three decades haven't made landfall when they were at peak intensity, "the near-doubling of hurricanes' power during this period should be a matter of some concern, as it's a measure of the (future) destructive potential of these storms."

The south province of Guangdong, China is on high alert for the approaching Typhoon Tianying that is expected to land before noon. The route of the powerful Tianying will be complicated and it will land rapidly with rainstorms.

Two tourists were engulfed by a rain-triggered landslide Friday and remained missing in central China's Henan Province. The accident happened at about 4 p.m. when an unexpected downpour trapped ten tourists on a mountain in the Xinmi City. Eight of them were rescued but two others washed away by the torrential landslide were still missing as of 10 p.m.

Five people have died from cholera in Niger, the UN health agency said, warning that disease could spread rapidly among hundreds of thousands of people weakened by the country's food emergency.

Scientists are perplexed by the unusually high, and rising, number of deaths in southwestern China from a mysterious pig-borne disease and they are beginning to question if it is indeed swine flu. Twenty-seven people in Sichuan province have died in recent days from the disease, which has caused 104 others to fall ill. Medical experts outside mainland China said the unusually high mortality rate of 20 percent and reports that many of the 27 victims died within a day of showing symptoms were inconsistent with what is known so far about swine flu. Human infections of swine flu are rare. And where they have occurred, mortality rates have been below 10 percent. "The deaths in China are very unusual." Many patients in Sichuan were bleeding under the skin, a symptom that has been cited in only two or three cases in medical literature on the bacteria.

Friday, July 29, 2005 -

Quakes off Honshu, Japan Thursday -
5.1, 4.5, 5.0, 4.8, 5.2, 4.8
So far today -
5.2, 5.0

Other quakes yesterday -
N. Molucca Sea - 5.0 & 5.5
Fiji - 5.4
Philippines - 5.3
Sumatra, Indonesia - 5.0 & 4.5 (so far today a 5.0)

This morning there was a 5.5 in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.

Dozens of newly discovered volcanoes in a stretch of the Pacific Ocean pose a major tsunami risk due to the area's seismic instability, an Australian geologist warned on Thursday. Research teams have discovered 75 previously unknown volcanoes in a 2,000km strip from New Zealand north to Tonga. 40 percent of them are releasing hot water and gas through vents which indicated magma below. "To a volcanologist, realistically that means all of them are potentially active." Previously, only 10 volcanoes were known to exist in that area. Researchers had targeted the area for investigation because the tectonic plates that comprise the earth's crust are known to be converging north of New Zealand faster than anywhere else on the planet. They are moving at a rate of about 25 millimeters a year. A tsunami could occur at any time and threaten communities across the Pacific.

India's financial capital was paralyzed Wednesday by the strongest rains ever recorded in the nation, with floods, landslides, building collapses and torrential downpours marooning drivers, snapping communication lines and leaving at least 800 people dead statewide. At its worst, the RAINFALL DESCENDED IN WHAT LOOKED LIKE A SOLID WALL OF WATER, overwhelming Bombay, a crowded city long accustomed to monsoon rains. "NEVER BEFORE IN BOMBAY'S HISTORY HAS THIS HAPPENED." At least 83 people have died in Bombay, crushed by falling walls, trapped in cars or electrocuted since the most intense rains swept through the city Tuesday evening. Phone networks collapsed, highways were blocked and the city's airports, among the nation's busiest, were closed. While Wednesday's precipitation was still being totaled, officials said parts of the city had been hit by up to 37.1 inches of rain Tuesday, much of it falling over just a few hours. Across Bombay, traffic was backed up all night and into Wednesday, with drivers abandoning their vehicles on roads turned into waist-high rivers. At one point, about 150,000 people were stranded in railway stations. Others stayed for hours on buses and trains surrounded by swirling water. Television footage showed crowds of people scrambling for food parcels dropped from helicopters by navy rescue teams as the bodies of two men lay sprawled in the streets of a Bombay neighborhood. SUCH SCENES HAVE NEVER BEFORE BEEN SEEN IN BOMBAY, a cosmopolitan city that is home to India's financial and movie industries. Every year, Bombay is brought to a halt for a day or two by heavy monsoon rains that drench the country between June and September and often leave hundreds dead nationwide. But this week's downpours left the city reeling. "The city always gets heavy rains in the monsoon but it has never been like this. The waters have not receded." "Most places in India don't receive this kind of rainfall in a year." Weather officials predicted more heavy rains on the way for the city of 15 million. The death toll passed the 800 mark when residents of a Mumbai shantytown stampeded after false rumours that a dam had burst. 16 people died in the crush of the stampede, including seven children. Eighteen people were injured. In another incident blamed on the freak weather, hundreds of rescued oil workers were taken by helicopter to Bombay from an oil platform that was destroyed by fire when a ship crashed into it in rough seas. A number of workers are dead or missing.

Nineteen people have been injured - three seriously - as a tornado ripped through the streets of Birmingham, England. The sudden storm damaged buildings, uprooted trees and trapped people in their homes with wind speeds estimated to have reached 130mph. One sq km of damage was caused in Kings Heath, with "hundreds" of properties affected. "It all happened in just a couple of minutes. There is a tree through a car and trees on houses - it looks like something from a film set." "We have an average of 33 reports of tornadoes in the UK each year but THESE ARE ESPECIALLY RARE IN BUILT-UP AREAS AND THERE HAS NOT BEEN ONE OF THIS STRENGTH IN MANY YEARS. City centres are not the natural habitat of a tornado; the tall buildings would normally stop their formation." Birmingham also experienced flash floods on Thursday afternoon. Freak weather conditions have hit many parts of England, including London, in the last few days with heavy rain and high winds. (11 photos)

Hurricane force winds flipped planes at a lakefront airport as a series of storms pounded northern Ohio yesterday.

With seven named storms emerging in less than eight weeks, the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is flirting with becoming the most active ever. At this pace, 22 systems would form by Nov. 30, which would surpass the record of 21 set in 1933. Four months remain in the hurricane season, including the meanest stretch from mid-August through September, when the most powerful storms spawn. On Monday, three more tropical waves were rolling off the coast of Africa, and "they look quite vigorous." If even 15 storms form this year, as they did last season, it still would be a rare event. In the past 75 years, only seven seasons have seen 15 or more significant tropical systems - 1933, 1936, 1969, 1995, 2000, 2003 and 2004. This season has seen the most named storms in July. It is also the earliest that the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh systems have formed, according to hurricane records dating back to 1851. In addition, hurricanes Dennis and Emily exhibited unprecedented intensity for so early in the season.

Temperatures soared in Tokyo and its vicinity Wednesday after Typhoon Banyan moved away from Japan.

A tropical cyclone brought heavy rains and stormy wind to the Kurile Islands, Russia Wednesday night. The precipitation on the islands was estimated at 25-40 millimeters and the wind force reached 25-27 meters per second. The storm has spread to all the islands and is currently moving northeastward to the Kamchatka peninsula.

The heat has been blamed for deaths across the U.S., including 28 in the Phoenix area alone. At least four deaths have been blamed on the heat in Missouri. Two young children left in hot cars died in Oklahoma. A 29-year-old hiker died Monday in Kentucky. And a 48-year-old woman was found dead Tuesday in her non-air-conditioned apartment in Cincinnati. Oppressive heat also posed health risks for animals. Heat is being blamed for at least 1,200 cattle deaths in Nebraska.

Over the next two decades, the Earth will see an acceleration of ecosystem changes already under way. Such alterations will include different migration and breeding seasons for some animals and new flowering seasons for plants. "We're also seeing changes in species distribution. Things like trees can't react too quickly" to climate change. "But mobile organisms, like birds, can simply move. We're already seeing major range extensions of species. If the birds move north, forests may be more susceptible to insect attacks, which means more dead wood, which means more fire. The whole nature of the forest can change fairly quickly."

On July 17 temperatures in the Arctic, 600 miles from the North Pole, soared to the HIGHEST EVER RECORDED HERE, an extraordinary 19.6C, a full degree-and-a-half above the previous record. These are unusual times for Ny-Alesund, the world's most northerly community. Perched high above the Arctic Circle, on Svalbard, normally a place gripped by shrieking winds and blizzards, it was caught in a heatwave. That they could bask in the sun merely confirms what these scientists have long suspected: that Earth's high latitudes are warming dangerously thanks to man-made climate change, with temperatures rising at twice the global average. 'We have found that not only are glaciers retreating dramatically, but the extent of the pack ice that used to stretch across the sea from here to the pole is receding. It is now at an absolute minimum since records began.'

The World Health Organisation says there is a 10 per cent chance a flu pandemic will break out in the next 12 months.

Thursday, July 28, 2005 -

Quakes off Honshu, Japan Wednesday -
5.1, 5.5, 5.6, 4.8, 4.8, 4.9, 5.3, 5.5, 5.2, 4.8, 5.1, 5.1, 4.9
So far today -
5.2, 5.0, 5.0, 5.0, 5.1

In Indonesia Wednesday -
So far today -

Seismologists have ruled out further serious earthquakes around oil rich Daqing in Northeast China, after THE PROVINCE OF HEILONGJIANG'S LARGEST AND MOST DESTRUCTIVE QUAKE FOR 20 YEARS (5.1) struck the city on Monday, killing one man and injuring 12 others. Nearly 1,100 homes were damaged in the earthquake, forcing the evacuation of more than 2,500 people. However, sounding a note of caution, a leading forecaster said it was still not known how the earthquake may have affected the geological structure underground, which could represent a danger for the oilfields in the long term. "Earthquakes usually originate 5 kilometres underground and this one came from about 10 kilometres down. As most oil in Daqing is taken from less than 1 kilometre below the surface, this quake should not have caused any great problems for oil production."

At least 8 aftershocks rattled southwestern Montana early Tuesday following a 5.6 magnitude earthquake, but the rumbling did little damage and probably isn't an indication of a bigger event on the horizon. The earthquake was felt throughout Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming and Colorado and in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. More aftershocks can be expected, although they probably won't be felt. "It was a very shallow event, only three to five miles below the surface." THE LAST EARTHQUAKE IN THE DILLON AREA WAS RECORDED IN 1897. That magnitude 6.4 quake damaged chimneys and other structures. Earthquakes are frequent in Montana.

Mount Saint Helens was rattled Wednesday by a 2.1 magnitude earthquake, part of an ongoing eruption that began last fall. The quake at 12:06 p.m. Wednesday came after a rockfall that occured Tuesday night at the top of the mountain's latest new dome. Wednesday's quake was less forceful than other recent quakes. The quakes and rockfalls usually cause a small plume of ash to drift out above the crater's rim. Such was the case both Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon.

A mild 4.0 earthquake was felt in Anchorage late Tuesday night but apparently did no significant damage. The shaking rattled dishes and other objects. It was centered about 30 miles southeast of Anchorage and about 10 miles below the surface IN AN AREA WITHOUT ANY KNOWN QUAKE FAULTS.

The chairman of Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority objected yesterday to a project to link the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, saying it would increase the risk of earthquakes in the Middle East. “The two seas canal would lead to strong seismic activity in the region because of the rush of water.” The canal, designed to generate electricity for a desalination plant and to prevent the Dead Sea from drying up, would carry 850mn tonnes of water a year.

Mexico's Volcano of Fire staged a spectacular, predawn explosion on Wednesday, shooting incandescent rock, ash and steam up to 2,700m into the air over western Mexico. The eruption sent ash raining down on nearby communities, but officials had no reports of major damage. The volcano has had several strong explosions in recent months, but officials have said the activity is normal.

A tidal surge triggered by a storm in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday flooded islands off the coast of Bangladesh and left about 3,000 people homeless. Most people took refuge in cyclone shelters as a two-metre-high surge swept through the islands of Kutubdia, Moheskhali and Saint Martin. The coastal district of Cox's Bazar was also hit. "The sea water rose up and flooded our coastal village." The tidal surge also washed away more than 100 shrimp farms. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department had warned of high waves during full tide unless a monsoon depression over the Bay of Bengal subsided.

At least 99 people were reported killed and more than 100 trapped as the HEAVIEST DAY OF RAIN EVER RECORDED IN INDIA triggered landslides and building collapses in the western state of Maharashtra. Mumbai received 944.2 millimeters (37.1 inches) of rainfall in a 24- hour period ending mid-morning Wednesday, beating a record which has stood since July 1910.
In India, the torrential rains triggered a fresh landslide at Dasgaon, 150 km from Mumbai, raising the death toll in the worst-hit Raigad district of Maharashtra to 56. The Army yesterday reached Jui village where nearly 100 people are feared trapped in a landslip. Authorities said chances of survival of the trapped from 20 families at Jui was "bleak". Thirty-two persons were killed in landslides in Raigad district in the past three days while 24 others were drowned. Eight persons were killed and 40 others feared trapped in a landslide in Dasgaon, ten kms from Mahad. Several parts of Raigad are still marooned as the district continued to be hit by torrential rains since Sunday night. Five bodies have been recovered from the Kundawati village, even as nearly three dozen people are feared trapped beneath the debris of the landslide on Monday. The Dasgaon village also had witnessed a landslide on Monday evening, but as the entire village was inundated no rescue operation could begin.

A powerful thunderstorm Sunday evening in Aspen, Colorado swelled local creeks and caused a 4-mile-long mudslide in the midvalley. The road was impassable as nearly the entire length of the creek slope washed away. The storm brought "an amazing amount of water in a short amount of time." The Aspen airport received more than a half-inch of rain in about 90 minutes. "That's quite a bit for this area. If it falls pretty quickly, that's very significant." A high pressure system that baked the West for several days has lifted. In its wake is a southerly flow laden with moisture. Some of it is probably due to Hurricane Emily hitting the Gulf of Mexico. But this also monsoon season.

Temperatures reached a 100 degrees and beyond in several South Carolina cities, and forecasters were again calling for a third-straight day of dangerously hot and humid weather. THE HIGH TEMPERATURE IN FLORENCE REACHED A RECORD 101 DEGREES on Wednesday, breaking the old high mark of 99 set in 1949.

RECORD HIGHS HIT NORTH CAROLINA ON TUESDAY and sent people scrambling for shade, air conditioning and water. The temperature topped 100 degrees Tuesday. There is some slight relief on the way by the end of the week as a cold front will be moving in. It will still be hot, but there will be increased chances of showers and temperatures could drop into the mid- to high 80s. That could bring more thunderstorms. Moore County has had its fair share of those recently, including several severe thunderstorms Friday night that produced intense lightning and sparked several house fires, heavy rain that caused flooding and high winds that blew down trees and knocked out power. More than four inches of rain caused a wastewater spill of 480,000 gallons of untreated waste.

Throughout the last week of July 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency has been issuing air quality warnings for the Midwest, the Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic, United States. This image shows haze over the Eastern seaboard.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 -

Japan and Indonesia continue to shake - Japan Tuesday - 5.4, 5.5, 5.0, 4.8, 5.2
So far today - 5.2, 5.6, 5.6, 5.1

Nicobar and Sumatra Tuesday - 5.3, 5.1, 4.8

Also on Tuesday -
Kamchatka, Russia - 5.8
Peru - 6.0
Banda Sea - 5.1

Two people died in West Virginia attributed to the heavy winds that accompanied Monday evening's storm. A 73-year-old man who was sitting outside on his second-floor apartment landing reading his Bible was killed when a window frame blew out of a building and struck him, and a large tree limb snapped and fell on an elderly man who used a wheelchair, who was trying to get into his car. "I never saw the wind blow that hard. It was so fierce outside. After it was all over, we ended up finding bricks in our yard and had no idea where they came from."

Australians can expect higher temperatures, more droughts, severe cyclones and storm surges over the next 30 to 50 years. A Federal Government-commissioned report said climate change is inevitable and Australia should prepare for climate change. The report said climate change would affect Australia's native flora and fauna, damage urban areas and pose a threat to agriculture even without further greenhouse emissions.

Except for a small area in the East Greenland Sea, Arctic sea ice has retreated almost everywhere in June 2005. The month set a new record low: 6 percent below the long-term mean for June sea ice extent. June marks the beginning of the melt season for Arctic sea ice, which reaches its minimum extent at the end of the season in September. In the past few Septembers, Arctic sea ice concentration (the amount of ice in a given area) has been markedly reduced. So far, 2005 is shaping up to be another record-low sea ice year in the Arctic. Even after warm summers, Arctic sea ice has typically recovered in wintertime, but this has changed in recent years. Besides showing dramatic retreat in the summer, Arctic sea ice has begun to decline in the wintertime as well. Some scientists have begun to wonder whether Arctic sea ice has crossed a critical threshold from which it can’t recover.

Flu viruses can swap many genes rapidly to make new resistant strains, US researchers have found. Scientists previously believed that gene swapping progressed gradually from season to season. Instead, influenza A exchanged several genes at once, causing sudden and major changes to the virus. The findings suggest strains could vary widely each season, making it potentially harder to treat.

Saskatchewan reported its first possible case of West Nile Virus - which could make it the first human case in Canada this year.

West Nile found in 41% of mosquitoes in Louisiana tests.

China's Ministry of Health has confirmed an illness that has killed 24 people involves bacteria that had spread among pigs.

In recent days the farside of the sun has been very active. One or more sunspots have been exploding, hurling coronal mass ejections over the sun's limb. Because the sun spins, sunspots on the farside now will be rotating around to face Earth later this week and next, raising the possibility of geomagnetic storms and auroras.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 -

Moderate quake so far this morning -

Lots of moderate quakes Monday -

Many clusters of small quakes (35) near Pinnacles, California on Monday .

The powerful 7.2 earthquake that shook India's Andaman and Nicobar islands on Sunday has shaken the confidence of people in the remote island chain, although it caused no damage or casualties. Close to 350 aftershocks have rattled the region since the 9.3 Dec. 26 quake. "The aftershocks were less in the past two months but it seems to be starting again. We are really worried about the fate of these islands." Sunday's earthquake was felt in the southern Indian city of Madras on the mainland as well as other parts of south India. The Naval meteorological office in Port Blair said it was the second biggest aftershock after the Dec. 26 earthquake.

Anatahan's volcano continues to be in a state of constant eruption , based on monitoring records in the last 24 hours. In a joint report by, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Emergency Management Office, said the seismic amplitude levels of the eruptions show that the rates of eruption are between 30 to 60 percent of the peak levels compared to what was observed from June 17 to 26, 2005. The eruptions occasionally increase due to strong and high winds.

Severe tropical storm Banyan was nearing the coast of Japan's main island today, threatening the densely populated Tokyo region with strong winds and torrential rain and disrupting transport. Coastal roads were being closed and some flights and ferries cancelled. It is the first tropical storm of the season to hit Japan, although the 7th typhoon of the season. Last year, Japan was battered by a record 10 typhoons, compared with an annual average of about three. Experts blamed the unusual number of typhoons hitting land on warmer-than-normal sea water and weaker-than-normal Pacific high pressure areas, which some people blame on global warming. Conditions this year are similar in some ways. "The sea water temperatures are high this year, but the Pacific high pressure areas are not quite as weak. So it's still impossible to predict what kind of typhoon season we're likely to see this year." As the typhoon moves in a northerly direction, it is expected to activate a front dormant in eastern Japan, causing large rain clouds to build up around its perimeter. These rain clouds are expected to dump large amounts of rainfall over a wide area covering western to northern Japan.

Heavy rain is wrecking havoc in India. Several parts of Panjim, remained under water for the fourth day even as heavy rains continued to lash the state. Hundreds of trees were uprooted in coastal areas in south Goa due to fierce winds. Eleven laborers were killed at Dicarpale, five kilometres from Margao in south Goa, in a landslide triggered by heavy rainfall.


Monday, July 25, 2005 -

A 5.4 quake (aftershock) hit Nicobar Islands, India this morning.

An earthquake measuring more than five on the Richter Scale has hit Andaman and Nicobar Islands every eight months for the past hundred years. These islands, categorised in seismologicaly active Zone V, have experienced 25 earthquakes measuring more than 6 on the Richter scale over the past 100 years. ''Fifty seven per cent of the landmass of India is prone to earthquakes, 40 million hectare of land is prone to flood damages and the 8000-km-long coastal area is prone to cyclone damage. We all know these islands are prone to earthquakes, tsunami and cyclones so Andaman is in a multi-hazard situation, which is not seen in any other place of this country." The islands are actually much closer to Indonesia than India and in fact lie right on the fault line of the Dec. 26 earthquake. The U.S.G.S. estimates that about 18 earthquakes at magnitude 7 or greater strike around the world each year. Those with a magnitude of 8 or greater shake the planet only once in a typical year.

Three earthquakes hit the cities of Qidar, Genaveh and Kerman in Iran on Sunday. The quakes were respectively measuring 4.1, 3.7 and 3.9 on the Richter scale.

Earthmoving equipment has been used to protect homes in far north Queensland, Australia from big waves that have buffeted coastal areas. The wild weather has lashed the region for two days, flooding houses, bringing down trees and causing substantial erosion to beaches.

This is one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons in history. Never before, in more than 150 years of record keeping, had six tropical storms formed by the end of July. Tropical Storm Gert is No.7 and she threatened eastern Mexico with heavy rain overnight while Tropical Storm Franklin churned through the Atlantic Ocean toward Bermuda. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.

A heat wave that has been breaking records across the U.S. west is about to hit Washington. It's been 43 C in Phoenix, where there was a dust – not rain – storm, and more than 20 deaths have been blamed on the heat. Parts of 23 states issued heat advisories this weekend, and hundreds of cities shattered temperature records. "We're absolutely having a hotter summer than normal. This is something that we actually saw coming for a while." You "feel like you have three suns shining on you."

The death toll from an unidentified disease has risen to 17 with 41 other people affected in southwest China's Sichuan province. The victims, all farmers, came from dozens of different villages around the neighbouring cities of Ziyang and Neijiang, who apparently did not have any contact with each other. All of them showed similar symptoms such as fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting and later became comatose. According to a preliminary investigation, the affected farmers had butchered sick pigs or sheep before coming down with the mystery illness.

The Chinese government has failed to provide global health agencies with vital information on recent bird flu outbreaks - caused by a lethal mutating virus that experts say could rapidly spread around the world and potentially kill tens of millions of people. Three outbreaks of avian flu have affected western China in recent months but the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international agencies have received neither the information nor virus samples from infected birds that they requested from Beijing. "We stress that this virus is highly unpredictable and versatile and can change any time. It is highly dangerous."


Sunday, July 24, 2005 -

A major earthquake of 7.2 magnitude hit India's southern Nicobar Islands today, triggering panic in the islands and prompting Thailand to issue a tsunami warning for the region. By late today, no tsunami was seen and there had been no significant rise in the sea level two hours after the quake. Thailand withdrew its warning about 90 minutes after the quake hit. Today's quake also was felt in Indonesia's Aceh province, the area hit hardest in the December tragedy. Aceh residents, jolted from their sleep, said the quake rattled their homes for about 10 seconds. In the Nicobar islands, residents there say the earth shook violently and there was some damage to buildings, even the newly constructed tin shelters for December's tsunami victims. Aftershocks of 5.3, 4.7, 5.2, 5.1 and 4.8 have followed. A 7.2 strike-slip earthquake like this one typically ruptures a 15 km by 80 km patch along a fault, whereas the December, 2004 thrust-faulting earthquake ruptured a patch of fault about 1200 km long and 200 km wide.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 shook eastern Japan, injuring at least 27 people, rattling buildings and disrupting train and plane services. The quake was the strongest to rock Tokyo in more than a decade and left a number of people trapped in elevators. The earthquake struck at 4.35pm (5.35pm AEST) with its epicentre in the Boso peninsula of Chiba prefecture just outside of the capital at a depth of 90 kilometres underground. The tremor caused at least two minor fires in Tokyo. The quake came hours after thousands of volunteers and rescue workers took part in one of Japan's largest-ever tsunami drills.

Another large quake Saturday - A 6.1 in Kermadec Islands, New Zealand.

Quakes Saturday in Northern Sumatra - 5.2, 5.0, 5.8. (This morning a 5.1)

Dozens of houses were destroyed by tidal waves that struck the Indonesian tsunami-hit province of Aceh Saturday morning, forcing thousands of residents to flee to higher ground. The waves as high as three meters swept through the southern part of the province at around 06:00 a.m (23:00 GMT Friday), running until 15 meters from the coastlines. At least 23 homes in three sub-districts in South Aceh regency were destroyed by the waves but there is no immediate report of casualty. The full moon on Friday night created the ‘routine’ flood and tides. ( Brunei also reported unusually high tides yesterday in several parts of the country. Tutong Town which is situated on the river also felt the effects of the high tide.)

Heavy rain accompanying a cyclone, from Friday afternoon till early Saturday, in Lhoksemauwe, North Aceh, Indonesia, caused 100 families (387 people) to lose their homes. The cyclone blew off house roofs and collapsed several wooden houses. At least 94 houses were badly destroyed but there is no report on casualties. A lot of trees also collapsed and disconnected electric lines. The trees also fell into and closed the highway.

Indonesia reported its first three human deaths from bird flu this week - a government official and his two young daughters living in a suburb of the capital, Jakarta.

Less than three months after severe flooding in western Romania – which caused damage exceeding $600 million - the country has been hit again by devastating floods. 31 counties out of 42 are affected by the current flooding with Moldavia being the worst hit. The death toll currently stands at 28. The floods, the worst in more than half a century, were triggered by heavy rain causing rivers to overflow. Soldiers and fire fighters evacuated 12,166 people from 13,800 flooded homes. 368 homes collapsed instantly. More than 550 bridges and power lines were brought down and 106 towns had no electricity for 3 days.

The 7th storm to develop in the Atlantic is Tropical Storm Gert, 95 miles N of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico and heading inland. It brought heavy rains Saturday to parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Honduras, Belize and Guatemala. Rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudlides, especially in areas previously affected by Hurrican Emily.

Tropical Storm Franklin is in the Atlanitc, moving ENE, 341 nautical miles SE of Wilmington, NC and 380 miles NE of Freeport, Bahamas, but appears headed out to sea, away from the U.S. mainland, towards Bermuda. The system is no major threat to any land mass, and may lose its tropical characteristics by early next week. Its rotation carried extremely hot weather to the Florida peninsula. Franklin is the earliest sixth-named storm on record for the Atlantic hurricane season.

Tropical Strom Banyan is 587 nmi ESE of Kadena AB, Okinawa and 621 nmi NW of Saipan, N. Mariana Islands in the Pacific.

Tropical depression Nalgae has been downgraded from a tropical storm, currently 1033 miles E of Tokyo, Japan and 1332 mi NE of Saipan, N. Mariana Islands in the Pacific and weakening.

Mexican authorities yesterday reported their first death blamed on what had been Hurricane Emily. The storm destroyed thousands of buildings in Mexico and drove about 90,000 people from their homes. No deaths or injuries were reported in South Texas, where Emily earlier this week unleashed heavy rain and some tornadoes. Mexican officials say a woman was swept away by floodwaters in the northern city of San Pedro Garza Garcia.(photos)

More than 600,000 people in several counties in China are still without running water 5 days after Typhoon Haitang wreaked havoc with rivers and pipes. The arrival of Typhoon Haitang early this week has increased the turbidity of water in rivers nationwide. In southern Taiwan, floods washed away Fengkang Bridge and ruined pipes carrying tap water to several coastal townships. The absence of the bridge has left Hengchuen Peninsula isolated.

A freak thunderstorm wetted parts of San Diego, California yesterday morning as moisture from former Hurricane Emily fed into a persistent high-pressure dome over the region. Showers and lightning were reported in the valleys after midnight, and localized storms moved across coastal areas around 4 a.m., creating an unusual spectacle for July. "Typically, once per summer we'll get some sort of thunderstorms near the coast. Sometimes twice a summer if we're really lucky." The storms prompted a flash flood watch in some mountain areas. Thunderstorm are forecast to sporadically soak San Diego through Monday.

A heavy storm crossed Central Indiana Thursday night, leaving flooded streets, felled trees and downed power lines in its wake. From 10 to 11 p.m., the area endured 60 mph winds, a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado warning. No tornadoes were confirmed, but the storm "had a large amount of lightning, especially along the leading edge." That lightning led to a number of house fires.

Four people were rushed to the hospital Saturday afternoon, after lightning struck Clearwater Beach, Florida. The people were all on the beach. It had been raining for about 20 minutes, and people reported hearing thunder in the distance before it happened. Firefighters say the victims came close to losing their lives, but luckily, rescuers were nearby. Clearwater firefighters say they've never seen so many people hit before. More lightning in the area worried rescuers.“I was walking off the beach, I didn't think I was going to make it. I didn't think anybody was, all my guys. I was scared to death for them because the lightning was popping around so much.”

Residents in Gunlock, Utah were asked to evacuate Friday afternoon as a wildfire burned to the edge of the Santa Clara River, sending a thick blanket of acrid smoke over the tiny town. The fire threatening the residential community was one of several that sprang to life after a lightning storm passed over Washington County in southwestern Utah Thursday night before, bringing 2,000 firefighters to the area. Between the flooding river that isolated the town in January when it washed out bridges and wildland fires that have initiated the second evacuation warning in the past two months, the year is destined to be a notable one in town history. "We just can't win in 2005. It's like hell year."

Firefighters in Portugal gained control Saturday of wildfires which have raged across the parched country, some of them for days, due to the arrival of slightly cooler weather.

Forest fires in drought-hit Spain's central-western region near the border with Portugal, that broke out two days ago, have been brought under control.

Freak swarms of locusts devouring vineyards in and around the northern Italian province of Alessandria, sometimes moving at speeds of up to 30mph, are threatening this year's production of a venerable wine. In addition to the vineyards, the insects are landing on fields of green beans, courgettes, lettuces and animal forage as well as lawns. "I've never seen anything like this. The locusts are even eating peaches." Small numbers of the locusts are normal in Italy during the summer months but the size of the swarms, evidently due to the lengthy drought, is unprecedented. Citizens were at their wits' end with locusts flying into cars and bags, entangling hair and finding their way into clothes. "There are thousands of them massed on the walls of our houses from morning to night. It seems as though here we are living through a scourge from the Bible."

A cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert could move over large sections of Florida by early next week. But forecasters do not expect the system to cause widespread problems or pose any serious health risks. The massive cloud is nearly the size of the continental United States. It should arrive between Monday and Wednesday. Dust clouds, especially at this time of year, are not uncommon. The dust is expected to spark colorful sunrises and sunsets.


Saturday, July 23, 2005 -

Quakes in Indonesia area yesterday:

Listen to the researchers’ audio clip of the 9.3 Indonesian quake. The audio recording of the quake starts out silent. A low hiss begins and the intensity builds gradually to a rumbling crescendo. Then it tails off but, frighteningly, builds again in waves as Earth continues to tremble. The audio file is sped up 10 times to make it easier to hear.

A series of unusually strong earthquakes – exceeding magnitude 3 – has been reported in recent days near Mt. St. Helens in Vancouver, Washington, about 50 miles south of the mountain. The latest was a magnitude 3.1 quake early Thursday that was accompanied by a rockfall. Mount St. Helens is doing what it has done for thousands of years: build new lava domes that totter and fall and become the foundations for still more new ones. Scientists don't know if shallow quakes are causing the rockfall or whether collapsing rock is thundering to the crater floor and setting off seismic monitors. There have been periodic bursts of seismic activity since fall, peaking in the 3.0 range and then subsiding to smaller quakes – barely perceptible temblors of magnitude 1 or 2 or less – that occur every four to seven minutes.

A new survey suggests the fault line beneath Tokyo is miles closer to the surface than seismologists realized. The new findings might mean an earthquake occurring at the fault line might cause more extensive damage than previously thought. The fault line is between two miles and 16 miles below the city, previously, seismologists estimated the fault line depth at 12-to-25 miles.

Fifteen people were killed and 23 injured when a reservoir collapsed in heavy rain in southwestern China's Yunnan province. One person was missing after the disaster Thursday. The small reservoir crumbled after days of torrential downpours, with its waters swamping three villages in the early hours of the morning when most people were asleep. Heavy rain and floods have always been part of life in China but this year they have been more devastating than usual. China's northern summer floods have affected 90 million people so far, with at least 764 dead and 191 missing.

Eighty MPH winds and baseball size hail pelted the Valentine, South Dakota area Wednesday night. In Lakeview, SD the hail grew to the size of grapefruits. Two storms merged along the South Dakota - Nebraska border. When that happened, the storms intensified and produced the intense straight-line wind and hail. It wasn't a tornado, but a downburst that's to blame for much of the damage. The largest hail stones ever recorded in the United States fell two years ago in Aurora, Nebraska. The hail was reported to be the size of volleyballs, the result of explosive thunderstorm development the day before the infamous Tornado Tuesday. It left craters inches across in diameter.

Residents of central and southwestern North Dakota Friday morning were cleaning up broken windows and tree limbs after their homes and vehicles were hammered by rain, hail and winds of up to 60 mph. "It looks like a war zone. There's windows shattered, a lot of holes in siding." In southwestern North Dakota baseball-size hail and high winds swept through. The National Weather Service in Bismarck said the fast-striking storm was a surprise. "It caught us by surprise because it didn't look that bad. Mother Nature threw us a curveball."

In Modesto, California a storm that was timed at one-minute long, starting about 7 a.m., ripped five ash trees out of the soil. They landed in a symmetrical line — their deep green canopies pointed away from a driveway. Then the wind just stopped. "I have no idea what this could be. We never see tornadoes out here." At 6 a.m. the sky was dark. The atmosphere, usually breezy that time of day, instead was totally still. Then, about 7 a.m., they felt a "thunderous shake." They watched from a sliding glass door as their flag pole waved back and forth and branches on their willow trees, usually droopy, went horizontal. A forecaster with the National Weather Service was looking into the possibility that a mixture of dry air on the ground and above-ground thunderstorms formed a "microburst" — a violent reaction that sometimes results from those differing conditions.

The low-lying areas of Swaziland have been seriously hit by drought. An estimated 227,000 people are at risk of facing severe food shortage for four to seven months during the 2005/2006 marketing year. Due to several years of drought, the groundwater level of most boreholes has now fallen below the ‘adequate’ level of most boreholes. Streams and smaller dams have since dried up. Access to sanitation and safe water in the affected areas is scarce. Swaziland currently has a food deficit of 7,000 metric tonnes. The food insecure situation is especially worsened by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country which has a 42.6% prevalence, the highest in the world. Up to 40 percent of the population aged 15-49 years are infected, and life expectancy for the general population has reduced from 65 years in 1991 to 37.5 years presently.

Friday, July 22, 2005 -

An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter Scale rocked the western coast of tsunami-hit Aceh province in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia on Thursday, but there were no reports of damage or casualties. The under-sea quake occurred at 08:42 a.m. and its epicenter was 33 kilometers under the floor of the sea, some 17 kilometers southeast of Meulaboh.

Since the April 10 quake off the Mentawai islands which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale, Malaysian students in Padang, West Sumatra, have made detailed emergency and evacuation plans should the area be hit by a tsunami. No more sexy nighties for the girls - the Malaysian students in Padang now wear only long pants or track bottoms to bed in case they need to dash out and make a run for it if there’s a tsunami. Their mobile phones are never switched off, their keys are always ready at the door and their passports and cash are within reach to grab and go. In anticipation that telephone and mobile lines would be knocked out for the first few hours after such a catastrophe, the students have bought five walkie talkies. There were over 1,000 aftershocks and tremors within a week after the April 10 quake. “It is as if we were sleeping in a rocking boat because Padang was shaking every two minutes and after a while every five minutes. People were crying by the roadside, shops were closed.” After a period of relative quiet, there was another moderately strong earthquake in the area on July 3.
On April 10 when the huge earthquake hit, it was followed by a bigger one an hour later. “Everything was shaking. The streetlights were moving back and forth as if they were coconut trees. There was a rumbling coming from inside the earth. The sound started from afar and travelled towards you." To recover from the trauma of the earthquake in Padang on April 10, one fellow hurried off the next day to higher ground at Bukit Tinggi, a popular hill resort. After checking into the hotel, he felt and heard some “drilling”. The Talang volcano had just erupted and the Merapi volcano nearby was smoking! The April 10 quake had shaken the ground so hard that it “woke up” the sleeping volcanoes. “Now where was I supposed to go? I stayed away from the sea to be safe. I went to higher ground and then the volcano blows up.”

A leading Australian geologist is warning that the world's next tsunami could be triggered by a landslide caused by methane gas. Relatively little is known about the deep-sea floors around Australia but an alarming picture is emerging. Many parts of the ocean floor are made up of steep slopes piled with sediments which are home to methane-producing bacteria. "The gas bubbles sort of have an upward pressure on the mud and sort of expand the mud, and they make it unstable and this leads to submarine landslides." Such a landslide is unlikely to set off early warning systems designed to detect underwater earthquakes.

Another earthquake shook Mount St. Helens on Thursday, triggering a rockfall in the crater. The 3:00 a.m. earthquake had a magnitude of 3.1. The earthquake was the fifth one around magnitude 3.0 since Friday. Scientists expect more events in coming days as the lava dome cracks. The lava dome has been expanding since last October when magma again started pushing into the crater of the volcano.

Mt. Paektu, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, rose 18 millimeters in a six-year time span in the 1990s, raising current speculation that the dormant volcano may have an active core. The mountain’s height increased an average three millimeters per year between 1992- 1998. The rise in height points to a possibility that Mt. Paektu may not be completely dormant. Magma may be causing the change in height. The mountain, which lies on the North Korean-Chinese border, erupted around 1000 A.D., with the latest major volcanic activity recorded in 1702. Minor seismic activity may have occurred in 1903.

Tropical Storm Franklin, the fifth Atlantic storm of the season, has formed east of the central Bahamas, and is expected to churn around the Atlantic for at least a few days. The northwestern Bahamas can expect 3-5 inches of rain, but much of the system's worst weather could remain over the ocean. The storm could approach hurricane strength over the weekend. There is a possibliity that Franklin could meander offshore until next week, then loop back toward the Florida coast. Meanwhile yet another tropical wave is producing a large area of cloudiness and thunderstorms over the western Caribbean Sea. That storm could work its way into the Gulf of Mexico.

More than 1,000 lightning strokes were recorded over Hong Kong between 4pm and 5pm yesterday, while hail was reported at Tsing Yi. Scattered squally thunderstorms were expected to continue over Hong Kong. Gusts exceeding 100kph were recorded at Black Point around 4.30pm, and are expected to continue affecting parts of Hong Kong. Thunder showers are affecting the coastal areas of Guangdong and the northeastern part of the South China Sea.

In Chicago, Illinois, freak winds blew down tree after tree like dominoes, damaging homes and knocking down power lines in a far north suburb. After 3 months of drought, the Chicago area is mopping up from storms full of sound and fury. Bursts of wind mowed down trees like matchsticks in the northern suburb of Wildwood. The National Weather Service calls this the work of a "gustnado." That's the powerful leading edge of a front. Northern Illinois is one of three regions in the country experiencing severe drought conditions. 8 to 9 1/2 inches of rain is what's needed to make a difference in ending the drought. This is the driest summer so far in 135 years in Chicago.

Swarms of locusts, wasps, beetles and other bugs searching for water or food are making life miserable for farmers and holiday-makers in the driest parts of France as the worst drought since 1976 grips the country. The drought was caused by underground reservoirs failing to be replenished during the October-through-March rainy season.

A galcier in Greenland is melting very rapidly and has accelerated its slide sliding into the sea, Greenpeace said. "Preliminary findings indicate Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier on Greenland's east coast could be one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world with a speed of almost 14 kilometres per year." In 1988, the glacier was advancing at just five kilometres per year. "These new results suggest that the loss of ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet, unless balanced by an equivalent increase in snowfall, could be larger and faster than previously estimated." The melting of the glacier could have a knock-on effect on glaciers further north in the Arctic, which "could have serious implications for the rate of sea level rise". The Arctic is warming at double the rate as the rest of the planet, and within the next 100 years the ice cover there will completely disappear in summer and species living in the ice field, such as polar bears, will be threatened.

Whale researchers say there is an unusually high number of the mammals at the Head of the Bight on South Australia's west coast. Last week's whale count revealed 113 whales near the popular viewing spot and 35 new calves, including one white calf. That is an unusually high number for this time of the year. The season usually peaks in mid-August.


Thursday, July 21, 2005 -

The dramatic soundtrack of the rupture of the 9.3 Sumatra-Andaman Fault was captured by microphones that are part of a global network of instruments that monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. "It's really quite an eerie sound to hear the earth ripping apart like that. We hear it on smaller earthquakes quite frequently but something of this scale that goes on for eight minutes is very much unprecedented. It really gave me the chills when I first heard it." The sounds suggest two distinct stages of the underwater temblor. "The first third is much faster, the second two thirds slower. The length of the rupture was about 750 miles."

Heavy rain has caused a series of earth tremors at the foot of the German Alps. Scientists had long suspected a connection between heavy rainfall and clusters of small quakes in this part of the Alps. "The proof is a small sensation among experts." More than 30 tremors have been recorded beneath the Hochstaufen mountain in Bavaria since Friday. The tremors were probably caused by the rain dissolving salty stone inside the mountain.

A minor 3.6 earthquake rattled a remote area of south central Utah early yesterday. Damage is unlikely. Seven shocks in the magnitude 3 range have occurred in this area since February 2001.

Researchers believe the New Madrid earthquakes that occurred nearly 200 years ago have increased the likelihood of major quakes in other regions of the Midwest and the Southern United States. Stress was shifted by the earlier quakes to regions of southern Illinois and eastern Arkansas. That means major quakes are more likely to occur now in those places.

There have been four notable quakes in the past five days at Mount St Helens. Quakes around magnitude 3 shook the volcano on Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday night. Like the others, the 3.3 quake at 10:20 p.m. Tuesday caused a rockfall that sent a small ash plume over the rim. Lava continues to slowly push into the crater where a lava dome has been growing since last October, when Mount St. Helens became more active. "These earthquakes are lurches of the whole dome that is coming out of the ground." However, scientists added that overall rates of seismicity at Mount St. Helens remain low.

Hong Kong was hit by more than 4,500 lightning strikes in the space of two hours as Typhoon Haitang caused freak weather conditions in the city on Wednesday. The passage of the typhoon caused lightning bolts to rain down on densely populated Hong Kong at a rate of 38 a minute. At the peak of the storm, one weather monitoring group said it recorded 800 strikes in the space of one minute at 2am on Tuesday, as the typhoon set off a chain of ferocious thunder storms. Typhoon Haitang, which passed hundreds of kilometres northeast of Hong Kong, has also caused unusually high temperatures in Hong Kong and neighbouring Macau. Macau recorded a high of 39°C on Tuesday, while the temperature in Hong Kong was above 37°C, the highest temperature of the year.

Hurricane Emily battered the US-Mexico border area on Wednesday, knocking down trees, kicking up huge waves and forcing entire villages to run for cover. The eye of the hurricane hit the Mexican coast about 120km south of the US-Mexico border as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 200kph. Powerful winds and rains spread out along the coast, knocking out power. Emily could cause chaos in the mountains of north-eastern Mexico as it moves slowly inland, dumping torrential rain. "It is going to be a very dangerous situation. We could easily see 15 inches of rain in some mountains areas and that will cause flash floods and mudslides."

Unusual weather hit Los Alamos, New Mexico late last Friday afternoon, dumping as much as an inch-and-a-half of rain and hail in some spots of the county in a 30-minute time frame. Too early to be dubbed as monsoon weather, the moisture was sporadic. "The hail and rain came from the northeast and monsoon moisture comes from the south. I have been working here for four years and haven't seen hail this large and as much of it in such as short time period. Moisture like this comes about once every five years." A collection bucket caught one inch of hail in 30 minutes. "Considering the factors of large hail and the amount that fell to the ground within a short period of time, this was an unusual event."

On Wednesday, Denver reached 104 degrees - making it the hottest July day in Denver history. Other records that were broken on Wednesday: Pueblo 105°, Colorado Springs 97°, Yuma 104°, Burlington 104°. July 2005 is on track to be the second warmest July on record for Denver, with three days (including Wednesday) in which Denver hit the three-digit mark. Since recordkeeping began in 1871, Denver has reached 100 degrees or higher only 54 times. Denver has seen temperatures of 90 degrees or higher on 16 of the past 19 days. Denver also broke record highs on Saturday and on Tuesday. Temperatures in the mountains and deserts of California are among some of the hottest ever recorded, with Big Bear Lake reaching 94 degrees. Death Valley has reached between 125 degrees and 128 degrees several days this month. And visitors to Las Vegas have seen their eighth consecutive day of temperatures above 110 degrees. On Tuesday, the all-time heat record was tied at 117 degrees.

In Canada, Ontario's electricity supply may be in jeopardy because a weeks-long heat wave has warmed waters in the Great Lakes and lowered the levels of northern rivers, a provincial power utility is warning. The water at Toronto's Cherry Beach, which is on Lake Ontario, is about four degrees warmer than it was last summer, for example. The warmer the water gets, the less efficiently it cools the generators. That in turn reduces the plants' generating capacity, resulting in less electricity for consumers. Low water levels have already reduced the amount of power northeastern Ontario can churn out. Power generation from hydro facilities in the region is down by about a third. Water levels on rivers like the Abitibi and the Mattagami are too low to keep production at normal levels.

The average maximum temperature for the first 15 days of July in Pretoria, South Africa has been the hottest in the past 30 years. This winter, there has been a marked absence of strong ridging anti-cyclones and so the cold air is not being forced into the interior and the warm air has remained. "Whether the inactivity of the ridging anti-cyclone is a function of global warming is difficult to say."

36 large fires were active Wednesday in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. Nearly 3.9 million acres of land has been burned so far this year, compared with 4.4 million at this time last year. Fire crews battled two blazes near Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado on Wednesday and braced for the possibility that thunderstorms could start new blazes. Trees were so dry that the probability of lightning starting a fire was near 100 percent, and any new fires were likely to spread quickly.

A hundred and ten forest fires are raging in Russia now. Firefighters extinguished 86 fires Tuesday, including 24 spotted earlier that day. More than 80% of the fires were contained.

Tuesday PEOPLE saw a flaming object fall from the summer sky in Portland, Oregon. "It definitely had some body to it and it had blue-ish and red flames coming off it."It was the second time in a dozen years that one man witnessed what a Portland scientist speculated was a bright meteor that shot southward across the state. "It was a big meteor, a fireball." The blue tinge was significant. "You’re getting the bigger end of it."


Wednesday, July 20, 2005 -

Residents of the northeastern part of Arkansas along the New Madrid fault should be prepared for a high-magnitude earthquake which will eventually hit, the University of Memphis Center for Earthquake Research and Information says. There have been six earthquakes measuring 2 or above along the southern part of the New Madrid fault zone since May 1, and four earthquakes near a 4 magnitude since February. "It is unusual to have that many fours, but we're only basing that on 30 years worth of data we have to compare it to." On average, there are 150-200 earthquakes in the state each year. The most recent 2.3 magnitude earthquake near Manila on Sunday put the number at 99, which is at the high end of normal occurrences. There have only been two other times in state history where magnitude 4 earthquakes have happened in such rapid succession.

More than one million people were evacuated as Typhoon Haitang pounded China's coast yesterday after tearing through Taiwan, where up four people were killed and one was missing. Officials were unable to ascertain if anyone had been injured but the typhoon was almost certain to cause extensive damage. It was expected to weaken around midnight as it moved northwest.

Latest strike probablilities for Hurricane Emily.

Tropical Storm Eugene is moving in the Pacific Ocean towards the WNW off the coast of Mexico. On this track storm conditions will remain south of the Baja Peninsula. However, should Eugene move more to the north than currently forecast, tropical storm force winds could reach the area.

Torrential rain in China's southwestern province of Sichuan during the past few days has killed 13 people and left seven missing. The seasonal downpours have hit more than 60 counties and cities in the province, with some registering rainfall of up to 200 millimeters. Many houses were badly damaged or collapsed and crops were severely damaged. In southeast China more than one million people in the coastal provinces have been evacuated as Typhoon Haitang hit the region.

More than 30 people have been killed, while over 460,000 people in low-lying areas of Pakistan have been affected by three weeks of flooding. Flood-hit villages are a storehouse for stagnant water, which will not recede soon, since heavy monsoon rains are forecast towards the end of July. Above-average summer temperatures for the past four weeks across northern Pakistan and Afghanistan have led to massive snowmelt - the largest seen in over 100 years.

Nearly a hundred thousand people were trapped by flood waters in over 200 submerged villages on Friday as heavy monsoon rains across northern and central Bangladesh drove thousands from their homes to seek refuge. The death toll in the current flooding rose to four in two days. It was the second wave of flooding in less than two months in Bangladesh. About 40,000 fragile dwellings made of mud and straw were washed away from riverbank villages as upstream water cascaded down the hills from across the border in India.

A sudden rainstorm accompanied by huge hailstones injured 30 people and cut off electricity in Zhalantun City of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at around 5:00 p.m. on Friday. The 15-minute disaster pulled up trees by roots, caused blackout in the city proper, and destroyed out-door advertisement boards and houses.

An apple farm in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, Canada was hit by a hailstorm Monday that devastated 90% of the crop. He's never seen anything like this since he bought the farm in 1962. "I heard the thunder coming and called the employees in out of the orchards. Then it looked like a giant bag of frozen peas was opened up right over us. It only lasted about seven minutes, but when it was over, we'd sustained at least 90 per cent damage."

In Montana a freak ferocious storm with winds gusting to 100 mph flattened mobile homes, peeled shingles from roofs and scattered steel grain bins across fields. Fourteen parked rail cars were derailed.

Last week a severe storm struck southeast Saskatchewan and west central Saskatchewan, Canada. There was golf-ball-size hail and 90-kilometre-per-hour winds. A fierce twister scooped up 30 lambs that have yet to be found.

A "mini twister" tore through gardens in Wordsley, England, destroying pot plants, furniture and a 30ft tree during a freak weather change caused by the scorching sun. Residents were stunned as the whirlwind, described as a "dust devil", struck at 3pm on Sunday. Many families were enjoying an afternoon in the sun when they heard a "roar" and the pots were thrown up into the air, some smashing against the walls. But just yards away, residents said they did not notice the strong winds and were shocked when told the news. A tree was ripped up at the roots during the drama which lasted a matter of minutes. "The weather was really nice with just a breeze then all of a sudden there is a roar and the tree has come up. It was like something out of a film, a mini twister, but it came as a real shock." "The dust devils are caused in little localised hot spots where if concrete or another material gets very hot it stirs up the air."

Lightning struck a family reunion in northwestern Pennsylvania, injuring several dozen people, knocking them over like dominoes, and sending a 12-year-old to a Pittsburgh hospital, where he remained in critical condition Monday. "There was a large ball of light, a huge, huge explosion." "There was no storm. It was just raining, and all of a sudden there was tragedy." More than two dozen people at the function were treated for various injuries caused by the strike.

In Europe:
GERMANY - Floods have struck after days of heavy rainfall.
AUSTRIA - Hit by major floods.
CROATIA - Gale-force winds and heavy rain brought floods to Dubrovnik's old town.
BULGARIA - Authorities declared "critical" situations for 11 communities hit by heavy rain. At least five killed.
ROMANIA - A girl, 10, killed after being struck by lightning. Floods in 11 counties across the west, centre and east.
FRANCE - In the west, water levels are at their lowest since the drought of 1976, and in the south, swarms of locusts have attacked crops.
SPAIN - Suffering worst drought since records began in the 1940s. Much of the country is a tinderbox and fires raged in several regions at the weekend. The driest winter and spring in 60 years have reduced some reservoirs by 80 per cent. Rivers at a third of normal volume. Center and south believed to have lost half the cereal crop.
PORTUGAL - Taps could soon run dry in Algarve. Two-thirds of the country is in the grip of a record drought. After a week of forest fires, there are fears of a repeat of a similar dry spell two years ago, when wildfires killed 20 people. Farmland is turning arid, damaging crops and cattle.
ITALY - Drought
GREECE - Drought
UNITED KINGDOM - Drought conditons increasing.

In parts of Minnesota, the progression from too cold, to too wet, to too dry has made farming even more of a roller-coaster ride than it usually is. First it was winter kill devastating alfalfa roots. Then spring rains flooded fields. And then July drought withering crops on lighter soils. In the past two months, as much as 27 inches of rain has fallen on parts of Kittson County in the far northwest. The sour smell of rotting crops fills the air around Hallock.

Fruit growers in County Armagh, Ireland say a heat wave has left many apples cooked on the trees. Damage is clear to see with the fragile apple skins burned brown. In many places the fruit melted under the intense heat. The cooking process penetrated right to the core of the apple. Orchard owners have been left wondering whether the stewed fruit was the result of a freak weather pattern or if it points to climate change. It was a "dead heat", say growers who haven't seen anything like it in 25 years of producing the famous bramley apple. "This is a totally new phenomenon in Armagh, this was a totally freak weekend of weather."

An unrelenting heat wave is being blamed for 11 deaths in Phoenix since Saturday, nearly one-third of the total counted statewide all last year. The high has been at least 110 degrees for nine straight days. On Sunday, Phoenix set a record at 116 degrees.

At least six people were killed when a landslide swept away the houses of three families in Humla district in Far-western Nepal on Sunday. Five others are reported to be missing. The mudslide occurred after week-long torrential rain.

A Spanish firefighter who saw 11 colleagues die battling a forest fire told how they were overtaken by a "giant wave" of flame heading straight towards them at furious speed. "The hurricane of fire was very big. I think it saw us and said 'You're mine'. Because it came from a very long way off. The next time we turned our heads, the flames were leaping out at us and we got in the vehicles to get away ... but it didn't give us time and it caught us. As if it were a giant wave, but of fire."

Arizona had at least 110 wildfires burning around the state Monday although some were extremely small. Many were caused by lightning.

Crews gained the upper hand on two fires in southwestern Colorado Monday, but a nearby fire was threatening American Indian archaeological sites in the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park.
Fire managers in Colorado were keeping tabs on nearly a dozen wildfires.

In northern Nevada and southern Idaho, several large fires were scorching sagebrush and grassland.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 -

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in the Molucca Sea has occurred, 190 km (120 miles) SSE of Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Already reeling under the impact of the first wave of floods this monsoon, panicky residents of central Assam, India thought they were in for worse when a 4.9 earthquake of moderate intensity hit parts of the region. Many regions experienced tremors for more than a minute. An Assam government official said a bigger earthquake would have been catastrophic, considering the fact that the state was already in the grip of floods.

Typhoon Haitang swirled towards China's southeast coast after killing up to four people in Taiwan, injuring 29 others and wreaking damage estimated at $14 million. Weather forecasters said torrential rain would continue to pummel Taiwan through to tomorrow, and warned residents to watch out for flash floods and landslides. Haitang has already dumped more than 1m of rain on mountainous areas.

Hurricane Emily ripped roofs off luxury hotels along Mexico's Mayan Riviera, stranded thousands of tourists and left hundreds of local residents homeless Monday, forcing many to remain in crowded, leaky shelters. Emily was expected to regain strength and threaten Mexican oil rigs before slamming into northeast Mexico or southern Texas as early as tonight.

Tropical Storm Eugene is currently in the Pacific off the coast of Mexico, not projected to hit land.

This year, North America has been hit by some unusually wild, record-setting storms. "This is the most active tropical storm season and hurricane season we've seen in the history of North America." Severe weather has also hit Europe hard this summer. Fires from hot, dry weather in some regions, and heavy floods in others have killed dozens.

As of July 5th, no one had died from a tornado since March in the United States - a first since official records began in 1950. Normally, during the most active tornado months of April, May and June, 61 percent of all tornado fatalities or an average of 52 deaths occur. Despite this record, the U. S. has experienced a normal number of tornadoes with 665 reports in the first six months of the year.

Lightning hit nine homes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Sunday and knocked out the communications center.

Powerful winds and hail the size of walnuts battered parts of the Alps on Monday, causing damage to towns in France and Switzerland and ripping up vineyards around the resort towns of Lake Geneva. The storms ripped apart rooftops, toppled trees and flooded homes. The hail was exceptionally large and hundreds of windows were broken. The storms - with winds of up to 100 mph - hit after several days of very hot weather.

Residents in southern Tajikistan are still reeling after heavy flooding over the past two months continued on Monday. Warmer temperatures and heavy rains over the past two months have resulted in an increase in water levels in many of the mountainous state's primary rivers. This has resulted in numerous floods and mudflows affecting the infrastructure and livelihoods.

Storms dumped about 2.8 inches of water on Lorain, Ohio, in 30 minutes on Saturday.

At least four inches of rain falling in a two hour period produced heavy flooding in some Northern New York areas on Sunday.

At least 19 more families were evacuated in Barangay Mayana in the Philippines as deep soil cracks reached the houses beside the national highway. Town officials were alarmed by the continued soil movement. The movement of the soil still continued and they even heard the movements when they went to the area. Geologists visited the barangay on Thursday to investigate why the big portion of the village caved in on Monday noon. The evacuation of the 19 families brought to 29 the number of families affected by the soil movement. Those in the first batch had to be moved on July 11 after their houses were destroyed when the land gave way. The national highway was not yet affected by the deep cracks, but the houses beside the road were in grave danger of falling into the widening cracks. Because of a recent heavy downpour, the soil became unstable again, resulting in the massive soil slide.

Water has grown so uncharacteristically deep in the Everglades in Florida from heavy rains that deer are piling onto higher ground, such as levees and tree islands, to avoid it. To protect the of the deer, state wildlife officials closed a large swath of the central Everglades to boating, recreation and other activities at midnight on Sunday. The high-water order affects roughly 730,000 acres. The rainy season is still young, and the restrictions could extend possibly into archery and gun-hunting season, which starts in late August.

Scientists are puzzled by a mysterious Los Padres National Forest hot spot in California where 400-degree ground ignited a wildfire. The hot spot was discovered by fire crews putting out a three-acre fire last summer in the forest. "They saw fissures in the ground where they could feel a lot of heat coming out. It was not characteristic of a normal fire." A dozen scientists have been looking for answers since last August. With the help of an air reconnaissance flight and thermal infrared imaging, scientists found that the hot spot covers about three acres. The hottest spot was 11 feet underground, at 584 degrees. There was no evidence of explosions or volcanic activity.

Oceanic plankton have largely disappeared from the waters off Northern California, Oregon and Washington, mystifying scientists, stressing fisheries and causing widespread seabird mortality. The phenomenon could have long-term implications if it continues: a general decline in near-shore oceanic life, with far fewer fish, birds and marine mammals. No one is certain how long the condition will last. In perhaps the most ominous development, seabird nesting has dropped significantly on the Farallon Islands off San Francisco. The collapse of the nesting season is unprecedented in the last three decades. 2004's spring and summer ocean surface temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska and off British Columbia were the warmest in 50 years.

A spokesman for Environment Canada says there's no point anymore comparing weather to what is considered normal. After a couple of decades of worsening freak weather, “there's no more normal.” The climate is going wonky and human activity may have something to do with it.

In the south of France, the record dry hot weather has spawned a new threat, more common to northern Africa than to France - swarms of locally-hatched locusts have invaded. Hundreds of farms are at risk.

The National Weather Service says this is the worst drought statewide in Wisconsin in several years. They are already short 5 - 10 inches of rainfall. The extremely hot and dry weather is slowly damaging the crops.

Crews were battling two wildfires that had blackened more than 3,000 acres in Colorado on Monday.

Three wildfires are burning in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona with homes threatened.

While others across the nation complain of heat waves, Arizonans usually just shrug their shoulders as the mercury climbs past 100, 105 or even 110 degrees. But after days of record-setting heat and no immediate relief in sight, even the most seasoned veterans of Arizona summers are feeling the heat. Across the Arizona deserts, weather records were broken over the weekend as new highs were set and even the low temperatures failed to fall below 90 degrees.

Monday, July 18, 2005 -

SITE NOTE - My intention of making occasional updates last week turned into no updates, sorry about that. A 'catch-up' update will be available tonight.

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in the Timor region has occurred, 90 km (55 miles) NE of Kupang, Timor, Indonesia (population 403,000).

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck in Hawaii at 9:15 am Sunday, 22 miles south-southeast of Honoapu, Big Island. Tremors were felt as far away as Oahu. It was the second strong earthquake in just three days off the Big Island. It's rare to have two quakes above 5.0 on the Richter scale within three days. Until Friday, a magnitude 5.0 or greater hadn't hit Hawaii since 1999. But both Friday's and Sunday's quakes measured 5.2. Scientists say that's a coincidence, not a sign of a bigger quake to come.

Typhoon Haitang pounded Taiwan with heavy winds and rain today, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people and the closure of airports, schools, government offices and financial markets. The Government warned of possible landslides and flash floods around the island. Anxious residents in Taipei piled sandbags around their houses as they prepared for one of the most powerful storms to hit Taiwan in five years.

Hurricane Emily has pounded Mexico's Caribbean coast as thousands of panicked tourists fled its destructive winds and torrential rains. Authorities say they expect storm surge flooding to submerge beaches as Emily closes in on the region. The Caribbean's Cayman Islands felt the lash of the powerful storm early Sunday after it roared past densely populated Jamaica. Emily killed four people in Jamaica yesterday and two pilots were killed in Mexico on Saturday night when their helicopter was blown by a gust of wind into the Gulf of Mexico during oil rig evacuations. In Haiti, two days of torrential rains generated by Emily produced floods that killed six people. Emily is projected to cross the Gulf of Mexico to make landfall near the Mexican city of Matamoros and neighbouring Brownsville in the US state of Texas.

People in Winnipeg, Canada faced power outages and impassable streets after two thunderstorms lashed the city Saturday night with high winds, heavy rain and hail. The back-to-back storms had windspeeds of up to 110 km/h and dumped as much as 90 millimetres of rain on some parts of the city.

Indonesian experts upgraded the alert status for Mount Merapi on densely populated Java island, warning residents living in dangerous areas to be more cautious following increased signs of activity from the volcano, officials said Wednesday. The nearly 3,000-metre-high volcano looms above plains north of the city of Yogyakarta, about 450-kilometres southeast of Jakarta. It emitted at least 95 tremors since the previous Friday, forcing authorities to raise Merapi's status to the "beware" alert level.

A magnitude 3 earthquake rattled Mount St. Helens on Friday, triggering rockfall and sending an ash plume above the crater rim. It was the largest quake recorded at the volcano in several months.

At least 11 firefighters have been killed in a forest fire raging out of control in central Spain. As many as 14 people may have died, apparently trapped by the blaze that has scorched thousands of hectares in the Guadalajara area, east of Madrid. Parched by a heatwave and the worst drought since the 1940s, much of Spain is like a tinder box and fierce fires are burning in several regions.

Quebec, Canada, is fighting 138 forest fires in the northwest, including 17 which are out of control. More than 100 square kilometres are on fire, and the situation could worsen because of intense heat and winds which may spread the flames.

The heat wave baking southern Ontario is expected to last for another week, according to Environment Canada. It's also predicting hotter-than-average weather across the country through August.

Tuesday, July 11, 2005 -

SITE NOTE - This week the updates will be spotty, as I have to take a short trip. Updates will be made as often as possible during the week.

Large quakes Monday -
A magnitude 5.5 in the Nias region, Indonesia.
A magnitude 5.8 in the Easter Island region.
A magnitude 6.1 south of the Fiji Islands, 1380 km (850 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand.

Lots of seismic activity beneath several New Zealand volcanoes lately - especially Ngauruhoe.

Small quake clusters are occurring in California again. There was a cluster of 3 small quakes in a row at Indio on 7/10 and a cluster of 3 successive quakes at Olancha on 7/11, followed by a 3.3 shortly after the cluster.

A number of small quakes hit Washington state yesterday, in a north-south line.

The season's fifth storm appeared ready to form late Monday from a tropical depression heading toward the Caribbean Sea. The depression was heading west at about 12 mph and is expected to reach the Caribbean on Thursday. If the depression's winds top 39 mph as expected, it will be named Tropical Storm Emily. By Friday, forecasters believe the storm will reach hurricane strength and head toward the Dominican Republic. It is too early to say whether the storm will threaten Florida. Some of the computer models forecasters use have the storm continuing to develop into a significant hurricane. Every tropical depression so far this season has grown into either a tropical storm or hurricane.

Meteorologists say Hurricane Dennis has weakened to a tropical storm, but still poses problems for much of the southeastern United States.

Hurricane Dennis could be an ominous sign of tempestuous times ahead, with more storms than usual set to pummel the Atlantic, British scientists warn. A new model predicts a 97% probability of a very active season - between July and October nine hurricanes will probably hit the Atlantic basin as a whole. The main driving factor is likely to be unusually warm sea temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic. "Sea temperatures where hurricanes form have been the warmest on record over the last year or two." "This year is quite unusual in that there is so much early activity. Dennis is only the second major hurricane to strike America in July. The other one happened in 1916. Often seasons which have high activity in July tend to be active for the whole season." If the predictions come true, this will be the Atlantic's second bumpy year in a row.

The rainy season continues to kill and cause mayhem in southern China. Last week, flood waters swept through Dazhou, in the south-western province of Sichuan, causing the death of 29 people and at least seven people are reported missing. Some 26,000 homes have collapsed as flood waters rose and 250,000 people were forced to flee. The rainy season this year has been the worst for a century. At least 600 people in the south have died from floods already. Countless others have been left homeless.

At least 17 people have been killed and an estimated 400,000 affected following a week of flooding along the Indus and Chenab rivers in Pakistan. Since 1992, there has not been much water in the river Indus. Unusual weather conditions, including heavy snowfall across the northern hills earlier this year, combined with above- normal summer temperatures in June, led to a massive snowmelt. This caused heavy flooding of rivers across the country, particularly the Indus. The situation was made worse by a heavy and widespread monsoon across the country which coincided with the already high water levels to create an emergency situation. A total of nearly 800 Punjabi villages and small settlements have been affected and more than 19,000 houses have been damaged.

A wildfire sparked by lightning in Colorado last week has scorched more than 3000 hectares of a national forest and forced the evacuation of 5000 people. The Mason Gulch fire is burning through tinder-dry ponderosa pine trees and scrub oak about 160km south of Denver. Smoke from the blaze could be seen from the southern edge of the Denver metropolitan area. Fanned by high winds, the blaze was threatening about 400 structures, including 300 homes. Erratic winds over the weekend whipped up the flames and caused the fire to quadruple in size. "The fire is located in very steep, rugged terrain (and) was creating its own weather, making it highly unpredictable and extremely dangerous."

The deadly bird flu virus has been found in chickens and fighting cocks in central Thailand, only a day before the kingdom was due to declare the disease had been wiped out.

Sunday, July 10, 2005 -

Large quake this morning -
A magnitude 6.1 in the West Chile Rise, 2430 km (1510 miles) WSW of Santiago, Chile

Largest quakes Saturday -
A magnitude 5.7 in Sulawesi, Indonesia
A magnitude 5.8 in the Izu Islands, Japan region
A magnitude 5.8 in the Molucca Sea, 1455 km (900 miles) SSE of Manila, Philippines

New research shows that the time interval between successive earthquakes depends on the time that elapsed between previous earthquakes.

Dennis has killed at least 20 people in the Caribbean, including 10 in Cuba, and is closing in on the northwest coast of the US state of Florida. The eye of Hurricane Dennis is expected to strike land somewhere between Florida and Louisiana on Sunday. More than 1.2 million have fled to safety. Rains and wind have already lashed southern Florida, after pounding Cuba. At least 100 people are also reported missing in Haiti, after the storm triggered floods and landslides.
Latest advisory. Dennis is back up to Category 4 in strength.

Recent rain in South Dakota could bring more than crop growth Wet conditions may indirectly create ideal environments for anthrax to thrive in certain fields.

Rainstorms and ensuing flooding since June 28 have left 65 people dead and 30 others missing in southwest China's Sichuan Province. Rainstorms and flooding swept over 84 counties and cities in the province, with 18 cities and counties reporting rainfall of more than 200 mm. The disasters affected 8.988 million people, flattened 30,000 houses, damaged 106,000 houses and totally destroyed more than 33,000 hectares of crops. The disasters also seriously damaged telecommunications, power supply, water conservancy and traffic facilities in the affected areas.

In southern Colorado, dozens of homeowners have been warned to be prepared to move as hot, dry winds spread a wildfire across two-thousand acres. 14 large wildfires are burning across more than 700-thousand acres in eight U.S. states.

Due to an abundant presence of tall grasses, officials predict that southern California will experience an extremely active fire season. Heavy rains early in the year are responsible for overactive grass growth, a phenomenon that simply provides more fuel for wildfires. “We haven’t seen this much [grass] growth in years. No matter how green that grass is in the wintertime, after 120 days it just turns brown and is just fuel that could start multiple wildfires. That is the issue.”

Saturday, July 9, 2005 -

Hurricane Dennis bore down on the U.S. Gulf Coast Saturday after slamming Cuba, sweeping away coastal homes and sending waves crashing over Havana's seawall. At least 10 people were killed, pushing the Caribbean toll to 20. Forecasters predict the storm will hit the United States anywhere from Florida to Louisiana by Sunday or Monday. Dennis is the earliest Category 4 hurricane on record in the Caribbean.

Residents in Louisiana are preparing for the "nightmare" situation. Last week's Tropical Storm Cindy caused a disturbing amount of damage, drawing attention to the continued loss of Louisiana's Wetlands, which serve as a natural hurricane barrier for the state. To make matters worse, Hurricane Dennis, a category 4 hurricane, is barreling toward the Gulf Coast, threatening devastation in the region. In the past, tropical storms like Cindy would have caused only minor damage. However, due to significant wetland loss in recent years, the full force of the storm reached inland areas, flooding streets, ripping off roofs, and leaving 287,000 residents without power, the worst power outage in New Orleans in 40 years.

In Australia, severe weather is being forecast for New South Wales this weekend. A low-pressure system is expected to develop off the state's south coast this afternoon and is likely to bring severe weather to southeast NSW and parts of eastern Victoria With potential heavy rainfall, gale force winds and very rough seas. Between 100mm and 200mm of rain was possible in the next two days. Flooding is expected in number of areas. Residents in NSW's northern rivers region also are being urged to take care, with flood warnings issued .

A freak rainstorm that began about noon Thursday in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and lasted for more than an hour, stranded motorists, flooded basements, closed roads and forced some families to abandon their homes. Lebanon County Emergency Management received a call from the National Weather Service that there was an unusual cloud heading toward Lebanon 10 minutes before the first raindrops fell. “We received about 4 inches of rain in a very short amount of time. The storm was very, very intense and continued that way for a long period of time. I can’t remember a time when rain fell like this before.” The hour-long deluge seemed to target Lebanon very specifically. “It was basically a regular thunderstorm that remained stationary for one to two hours. Most thunderstorms move at 15-20 mph, so that’s what accounted for the high rainfall and isolated area.”

A dozen houses in Malaysia were damaged in a freak 45 minute storm. There are claims that the storm was the worst to have ever hit the area.

Rising temperatures in Alaska have sparked an unusual number of storms along the state's south-central coast this summer, officials say, and the multitude of lightning strikes and resulting fires have burned more than 1 million acres (405,000 hectares). In recent weeks, there have been thunderstorms nearly every day along the normally temperate south-central coastline. So far this summer, there have been 13 lightning-sparked fires on the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage. That compares with 12 lightning-sparked fires in the region between 1993 and 2004.

Hundreds of firefighters are trying to douse brush fires that have spread through northern and central Portugal. Three important highways were closed. The fires took hold in the parched countryside on Friday as Portugal endured its worst drought in decades. Brush fires there have already destroyed more than three times the average annual loss in the first six months of this year.

NASA has taken detailed measurements of global sea levels, and confirmed that they're rising. Not only that, the rate is increasing. During the last 50 years sea levels have risen .18 cm (.07 inches) a year, but during the last 12 years, that rate is .3 cm (.12 inches) a year. Part of this rise is due to the expansion of water as it warms up, and part of it is from increased ice cap and glacier melt.


Friday, July 8, 2005 -

A sharp increase in the activity of Mount Shiveluch, the northernmost volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula (the Russian Far East), has been registered. After a three-month-long eruption that produced gas and ash plumes and debris avalanches, Shiveluch has started erupting two-five kilometer ash columns. Shiveluch is producing pyroclastic flows (avalanches of gas, ash and magma debris) with temperatures reaching about 800 degrees Celsius, and 100km ash plumes. Seismic monitoring of the volcano is currently impossible because a 20km lava flow destroyed the seismological station in February.

A bridge collapsed into a river swollen by Hurricane Dennis' fierce winds and rain, killing at least four people in southwestern Haiti on Thursday as the strengthening storm lashed Caribbean coastlines. The hurricane's winds neared 135 mph, and it grew to a Category 4 as it sideswiped Jamaica and headed straight for Cuba. Forecasters at the U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami predicted the storm could hit the United States anywhere from Florida to Louisiana by Sunday or Monday. Dennis is likely to intensify as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico.
Latest advisory

At least two people died in storms from the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy, which caused high winds and heavy rain across much of west and northern Georgia. Cindy caused a fatal automobile crash in Washington County and two tornadoes in Escambia County Wednesday as it passed through southwest Alabama.

Tropical storms and hurricanes could kill more people in the Caribbean this year because the region is still not prepared, a top UN official has warned. "I'm afraid that 2005 could be even worse than 2004, when we lost more than 5,000 lives in Haiti alone." A hurricane hit the coast of El Salvador this month, in an unusually early start to the annual storm season. Up to 20,000 people were forced from their homes, before the storm weakened and moved inland. The number of annual hurricanes has doubled amid climate changes over the last 15 years.

More than 10 million people need food aid after crop failure in six southern African countries after erratic weather, made worse by problems with fertiliser and seeds in some countries. Zimbabwe and Malawi are the worst hit countries. Malawi has experienced its lower maize harvest since 1992.

Ball lightning injured three men in Russia’s far eastern Yakutia Sakha region on Wednesday. A ball of lightning flew into a cottage where the group were sheltering from a thunderstorm and then exploded.

Experts in Arizona fear that the desert may never fully recover from the wildfires. Desert plants have grown far apart for at least 10,000 years and there hasn't been an opportunity for fires to spread. But since the 1970s, areas below 3,000 feet in elevation have been invaded by nonnative grasses that are filling bare spaces in the desert and allowing blazes to spread. Nonnative weeds not only grow more quickly than native plants, they also suck the moisture out of the soil, making them a problem even after the fire season is over.

Chicago's driest June on record has drawn down rivers, strained underground aquifers and sucked moisture out of the soil, leaving everybody from farmers to city gardeners begging for rain. Chicago, Illinois, saw less than an inch of rain in June.

The Philippines has discovered its first cases of bird flu, after infected ducks were found in a town north of the capital, Manila. It is not yet clear if it is the H5N1 strain which has killed more than 50 people across Asia since 2003. The Philippines are the only Asian country with large-scale poultry farming which has not yet been affected by the bird flu virus.


Thursday, July 7, 2005 -

Quake this morning -
A magnitude 5.7 earthquake in the Komandorskiye Ostrova region of Russia.
Quakes yesterday -
A magnitude 5.5 earthquake off Northern Sumatra, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake southeast of Easter Island.

A miner was killed and another injured after a 2.7 tremor at Carletonville's Driefontein gold mine in South Africa on Tuesday. "A pattern is emerging of accidents at the Driefontein mine." The death brings to seven the number of workers killed in seismic incidents at the Driefontein mine over the past two months. "The trade union is concerned that mining methods and strategy may have caused the accidents and that they cannot be blamed on natural factors only."

An explosion inside the ever-smoldering summit of western Mexico's Volcano of Fire sent ash and gases nearly three miles (five kilometers) into the air late Tuesday, but did not cause any immediate evacuations. The eruption was not as large as several spectacular explosions the volcano unleashed last month, but was still stronger than a well-known July 1999 blast that sent glowing rock down its slopes and a plume of ash five miles (eight kilometers) skyward. Seismologists say the increasing frequency of eruptions and their intensity are signs that the volcano is returning to an explosive stage like one that started in 1903.

There was a 'fire eruption' that seemed like a volcanic eruption from beneath the earth in Kharada Sahi and Kothia Sahi villages in India. This spread panic among the local residents. Villagers rushed to the spot and saw a crack in the earth surface. Locals felt the heat emanating from the place. Eye-witnesses said they had seen fire and smoke emitting through the crack. A few burning stones also erupted through the cracks. There was a pungent smell in the air. Hundreds of people thronged the spot. Locals started worshipping the spot, believing that some god or goddess had appeared. An official reported that smoke was coming from beneath the earth surface due to chemical reaction.

Heavy rain and powerful winds from Tropical Storm Cindy flooded streets and knocked out power Wednesday in Mobile County, Alabama forcing some schools to close.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy are forecast to move close enough to South Carolina on Thursday to bring the possibility of heavy rain, up to 5 inches, and even a few tornadoes. Parts of the Upstate have received nearly 11 inches of rain in the past five weeks. Cindy would be the first tropical system to affect the state in 2005. Last year, South Carolina was hit or brushed by seven tropical systems causing at least $146 million in damage and cleanup costs and sparking a record 84 tornadoes. Last year, for the first time in more than a century, the centers of four tropical systems moved across South Carolina. It was also the first time in almost a half- century two hurricanes - Charley and Gaston - made landfall on the South Carolina coast in the same season.

Tropical Storm Dennis was upgraded to the season's first hurricane as it continued to plow through the central Caribbean. A projected track still shows the storm moving into the eastern Gulf of Mexico early Saturday, then aiming for some key oil and gas fields off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama before making landfall on the Florida Panhandle early Monday.

A typhoon was expected to arrive in northern Philippines Wednesday some 250 kilometers north Manila. Tropical depression Emong has triggered an alert for possible flash floods and landslides. A series of typhoons killed more than 1,000 people in Luzon late last year by causing widespared flooding and landslides.

A large area of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been affected by heavy rainfall, followed by strong winds, floods and landslides over the last two weeks (26 June to 3 July 2005).

With Romania still recovering from a previous major wave of flooding, heavy rains have caused further flooding and destruction in 8 counties (Arges, Constanta, Giurgiu, Dolj, Gorj, Hundeoar a, Olt and Teleorman), affecting 99 localities. Water levels are still rising by 16 cm per hour. The heavy rains are expected to continue in most of the affected areas for at least 24 hours.

Two people were killed in a landslide caused by downpours in northwest China's Shaanxi Province on Wednesday. Two houses were collapsed and five people buried in the landslide. Rescuers saved three of the trapped and found the bodies of the other two victims. Heavy rains have hit a large area of the Shannxi Province since June 29 and the downpours in the past two days have seriously affected 37 counties in the Province. Twenty-one torrential streams developed in the province's 21 rivers, flooding 100 hectares of farmland and destroying roads of 9.5 km in total length. The local meteorologic department predicts overcast and rainy days will continue until July 10.

Last Thursday afternoon, despite the fact there was no rain or even heavy cloud cover in Marshfield, Mass.,lightning struck the Trinity Episcopal Church, knocking over a copper cross and blowing a hole in the side in the side of the bell tower. The lightning appears to have struck near the top of the steeple cone on the side facing the street, before bursting out the side of the bell tower. Pieces of debris from the white, clapboard building were scattered all over the ground.

At least five people have been killed and nearly 10,000 people have been displaced after two weeks of heavy flooding in Pakistan's NorthWest Frontier Province. According to meteorologists, unusual weather conditions including the heaviest snowfall in the region for over a century, have combined to cause the problems and created severe flooding along the Kabul and Swat rivers. "This year, summer temperatures in the north have been relatively high. These temperatures have led to massive snowmelt, the largest in 100 years, hence the flooding." Floodwater has demolished some 250 mud houses with another 1,500 homes partially damaged while thousands of hectares of standing crops have also been destroyed.

An early-evening thunderstorm Monday hurled hail at about a two-mile area of land east of Palisade, Nebraska. "It was as deep as snow, and it leveled everything. It wasn't so much the size of the hail. Its just how much of it there was." The hail ranged in size from peas to shooter-marbles. Snow plows cleared layers and drifts of hail from the highways. The hail was small, "but it just kept coming. It took a little breather, and then it started in again." A center pivot irrigation system on a farm was left twisted in opposite directions, as if by a tornado.

A freak of nature blew through Saginaw County, Michigan on Tuesday, leaving a swath of downed trees and power lines and speculation about what happened. "It was crazy," said the chief meteorologist for Channel 5. "It was something to behold. It just goes to show how unpredictable Mother Nature can be." Thunderstorms that slid through Michigan's midsection all day gave no indication of producing severe weather. "They were run-of-the-mill storms. They just blew up near Saginaw, Michigan. To have it turn tornadic or potentially tornadic like that is pretty amazing." It was a rare weather anomaly that meteorologists could not explain.

Montreal, Canada, traffic came to a standstill during evening rush hour Tuesday when 50 millimetres of rain fell in less than two hours, causing flooding that closed several major highways. Dozens of drivers had to abandon their cars in waist-deep water that accumulated in busy underpasses.

Successive droughts have put Australia in the grip of a severe "dust age" with millions of tonnes of soil being swept off the face of the continent, scientists say. THE EVENT IS THE THIRD WORST IN THE NATION'S RECORDED HISTORY. The present dust age is not as bad as those which came with the droughts of the 1890s and 1940s. The severity of the drought in terms of the dust storms they can expect in the coming summer will depend heavily on the amount of spring rainfall. "If we don't get the growth in one season to carry us through to the next dry period, that's when all hell breaks loose, which is what happened in 2002."

An outbreak of avian flu among migrating geese in China raises fears the virus could spread out of Asia and into India, Australia, New Zealand and eventually Europe. For the first time, the virus has spread between wild birds, researchers reported in the journals Science and Nature on Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005 -

Tropical Storm Cindy began moving ashore Tuesday night, pelting the Louisiana coast with sideways rain and intermittent squalls. Forecasters said the storm could bring up to 10 inches of rain. The low-lying coastal area has seen much worse from previous storms, but residents were still keeping a watchful eye on Cindy, as well as Tropical Storm Dennis, which is brewing in the Caribbean and would likely arrive in the Gulf of Mexico by the weekend. It was on track to reach Haiti on Wednesday and south Florida on Friday. Tropical Storms Cindy and Dennis are the third and fourth named storms of the Atlantic hurricane season. YESTERDAY, JULY 5, IS THE EARLIEST DATE ON RECORD FOR FOUR NAMED STORMS IN THE ATLANTIC.

A rider and two horses died Friday when struck by a bolt of lightning during a freak thunderstorm just outside of Jamestown, Tennessee.

A swath of large hail flattened promising crops, dented vehicles and broke windows as yet another storm tore through the Souris area of North Dakota Saturday night. The small community located northwest of Bottineau has been a storm magnet for more than a month. Previously the culprit was drenching rain, but Saturday's storm brought high winds and tennis ball-size hail. The one bright spot: Only about .30 of rain fell, hardly worth noting after the 7 inches received in that area the previous week. "One hailstone came through our skylight and screen on the top of the camper. Another came all the way through the side window and screen." Vehicle damage included broken windshields, mirrors and considerable denting. Hundreds of divots created by the hail could still be seen dotting the ground Sunday afternoon. This summer's rains have been called a "freak deal". "No creek can handle this much water."

Weather experts have launched an investigation into the freak storms which battered Ipswich, England with lightening and hailstones. The Tornado and Storm Research Organisation, is urging people who can provide details or pictures of the size of the hailstones to contact them.

Rare snowfalls have been reported in Western Australia's Goldfields region, with plunging overnight temperatures also leaving Perth residents shivering. Such events are rare in the dry Goldfields, located more than 700km east of Perth. "In a general sense it happens about once every decade." The main Goldfields centre of Kalgoorlie last had snow in 1986, while Norseman's most recent snowfall was in 1966. Meanwhile, the southeastern suburb of Jandakot recorded Perth's lowest overnight minimum of -1.5C, just short of the all-time metropolitan area record of -2.8C in 1998.

Officials in Manitoba, Canada say they're already dealing with ONE OF THE WORST SUMMER FLOODS ON RECORD. It's been raining heavily across the province for much of the last two weeks, causing creeks and rivers to rise and flood. THE DAMAGE TO MANITOBA'S FARMLAND IS UNPRECEDENTED. About a quarter of all crop land is under water. A further 16 per cent hasn't been seeded and what has been seeded may not survive. Hundreds of roads have been washed out and dozens of highways have water lapping across them, including the major highway between Winnipeg and the U.S.

Several thousand people were evacuated from six camping grounds on the French Riviera overnight as an intense forest fire driven by high winds advanced on their tents and caravans. It appeared the fire had started in three different locations around the village of Puget sur Argens, near the chic coastal town of Saint Raphael, and was raging through dry woodland. There are many homes built in the forested area. Emergency services say a strong wind is making the situation more difficult. Forest fires, an annual problem, are expected to be worse this year because of an unusually dry spring and summer.


Tuesday, July 5, 2005 -

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake in the Nias region, Sumatra, Indonesia has occurred this morning, shaking buildings and triggering some panic. The Japanese Meteorological Agency said there was only a very small possibility the quake would cause major destruction. But as a precaution, the agency did issue a tsunami watch for the Indian Ocean.
Monday a 4.7 occurred in Sumatra, and a 5.0 in the Andaman Islands.

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in the Prince Edward Islands region, 1665 km (1030 miles) SSE of Durban, South Africa, occurred Monday.

A swarm of about two dozen earthquakes which have been rocking parts of the Western Bay and Eastern Waikato, New Zealand, continued today with another shake at 1.43am. The latest tremor was within 5km of Te Aroha, measured 2.9 on the Richter scale and was 6km deep. It shook the town. The shake is the latest in a series of up to 20 earthquakes centred near Te Aroha which have also rattled homes in the Katikati and Waihi area since Friday. In an unrelated tremor, an earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale also shook Wanganui at 12.37am this morning. Vulcanologists believe the Bay/Waikato quakes are not the forerunners of a larger one. Frequent earthquakes, like those felt over the past few days, are not uncommon in volcanic areas such as Te Aroha and are unlikely to mean the now extinct volcano is about to erupt or that there will be bigger earthquakes. "Most swarms last only hours or a few days. From historical trends we would expect the swarm to gradually settle down and not trigger a larger event but we cannot rule out that possibility." (seismic drums)

Anatahan's volcano reawakened anew displaying a series of strong explosions that sent ash to 40,000 feet in the air. The eruptions sent a stream of volcanic smog over Saipan and Tinian. Early Sunday afternoon, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Emergency Management Office reported that seismicity on Anatahan in the Mariana Islands had significantly dropped, a possible indication that the continuing eruption might be waning. Later in the afternoon, small explosions and long-period earthquakes began to occur. At about 4:46pm Sunday, the volcano experienced a six-minute eruptive pulse that sent ash to 40,000 feet. Upper level ash clouds moved south-southeast and eventually dissipated. Anatahan continued to experience small explosions and long-period earthquakes with magnitudes of 1.5 to 2, which occurred at brief intervals of one to a few minutes apart. The USGS advised aircraft to take extra precaution within 10 nautical miles of the island.

At least 15 people have died in Pakistan's first monsoon rains of the year, following a scorching heat wave which claimed scores of lives last month. Torrential rains and storms lashed central Pakistan, killing seven people and dumping 71.5 mm of rain in three hours on the city of Multan.

In Vladivostok, Russia a storm warning was announced on Monday over an approaching tropical cyclone. According to weather forecasts, torrential rains and squall are expected in the city in the next few days. Heavy rains have fallen in Vladivostok already for three days. They were caused by various fronts that are moving one after another. Half a month's normal precipitation has already fallen in the city.


Monday, July 4, 2005 -

The Japanese coast guard sent helicopters to monitor the 1,000m (3,280ft) cloud in the Pacific Ocean near Iwo Jima, 1,120km (700 miles) south-east of Tokyo, and warned ships to stay away. The team said the area around the site appeared to be red. "It's highly likely that it's caused by an eruption of an underwater volcano," a coast guard spokesman said, adding it had happened before. Television footage showed white smoke billowing into the sky from the brick-red water. "We suspect the undersea volcanic moves are becoming active," said another coast guard official. Further investigations will continue on Monday. An undersea volcano last erupted in 1986 for three days in the area. (photo) (additional photo 1)( photo 2 )

A number of Gold Coast, Australia residents have left their homes amid warnings they are unsafe after a landslide that occurred during last week's heavy rains. The foundations of at least four expensive properties had been left exposed and undermined after the landslide on Thursday at the height of the severe storm. The storm brought more than half a metre of rain to parts of the Gold Coast over a 36- hour period, causing widespread flooding.

At least 10 people were killed and a baby was missing after violent storms brought flooding and lightning strikes to Romania and Bulgaria over the weekend. Three people were drowned when a dam above their village gave way, flooding dozens of houses. Two coal miners were killed by lightning strikes in the southwest and two others injured. Torrential weekend downpours damaged more than 2,500 houses and cut roads and damaged bridges in many places. On Sunday heavy rainfall cut the railway to the Black Sea port of Varna and a dam in the north overflowed, drowning animals. About 650 people had to be evacuated when a dam broke and dozens of houses were damaged.

Two hundred homes were evacuated in Fort Ann - in northern New York state, about 55 miles northeast of Albany - after the Hadlock Pond Dam crumbled during storms that brought heavy rain. Local flooding and road closures resulted but residential damage was light. The dam had been recently replaced after it failed to meet revised state safety standards. It had reopened in May.

Hundreds of people have been hospitalised in the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai as a record-shattering heatwave showed no signs of letting up Monday, straining already stretched power resources. The thermometer hit 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday, making it a record ninth straight day above 35 degrees and the hottest July 3 in the city since 1873. Residents of the city of 17 million will have to endure the hot, humid temperatures at least until Wednesday when meterologists have forecast partial relief from expected rainstorms.

The average surface temperatures of the Great Lakes are at their highest in five years. Readings in the 60s and 70s from all but Lake Superior already are warmer than they were during last summer's most comfortable mid-August swimming days. Sunshine and warm water can have a downside - they can steam up a biological soup that spells trouble for living creatures in and out of the water. They expect to see accelerated weed growth in inland lakes and the possibility of more frequent toxic blue-green algae slicks. Towns also expect an earlier and more dramatic onset of the annual midsummer fish die-off because of low oxygen levels in some lakes. Researchers might not make sense of current temperature data for months or even years, but there is evidence this is an unusual season. The warm water is having an effect on fish. Walleye headed out to deeper, colder water in Lake Erie two weeks ago, more than a month ahead of normal. Officals are at a loss to explain why monitors have registered high E. coli bacteria levels so often this season at Lake St. Clair beaches. "It's usually rain that causes fertilizer runoff and introduction of fecal material along with combined sewage and storm water overflows. But for some reason we've been getting high readings, without rain events, that cannot be explained."

Sunday, July 3, 2005 -

People interested in seeing what happens tonight when NASA's Deep Impact probe slams into Comet Tempel 1 will probably be better off sitting at their computers than gazing at the sky. The best images of the impact will be available from NASA on the Deep Impact web site: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/deepimpact/main. This site will also feature a live webcast of the event's coverage on NASA TV.

Only a few days ago the sun was completely blank, but now it is peppered with fast-growing sunspots. So far these active regions have produced no strong solar flares, but this could change if their dynamic growth continues.

A giant column of water vapour shot up from the Pacific Ocean off the tiny Japanese Pacific island of Iwo Jima and may have been caused by an undersea volcanic eruption. But Japan's meteorological agency said there were no signs of seismic activity at the time. "We suspect the undersea volcanic moves are becoming active. But since Saturday, we have not seen any big columns." The 1000m (3,300 feet) high column was spotted by a maritime defence force member yesterday near the volcanic island, about 1250km south of Tokyo. The water resembled the steam emitted by a boiling kettle. The centre of the big column was "reddish".

A large chunk was knocked off the growing lava dome on Mount St. Helens Saturday, sending an ash plume above the crater rim. A rockfall at 6 a.m. caused what scientists called a "substantial seismic signal" and knocked the piece off the lava dome. Despite persistent smaller rockfalls, the volcano was relatively quiet for the rest of the day.

Mount Ebeko, a volcano on the island of Paramushir, which belongs to the Northern Kuril chain in Russia's Far East, has started emitting vapor and gas for the first time since spring. Vapor and gas emissions had been registered early last Monday morning. Scientists said Mt. Ebeko was the most dangerous volcano on the Kuril Islands at the moment. Today, its activity resembles levels last seen in 1998 and 1999. In addition, Mt. Chikurachki, another volcano, has also become more active. Monitoring the latter is difficult as it is located 70km away from the town of Severo-Kurilsk. There are 36 active volcanoes on the islands. The Mendeleyev, Golovnin, Tyatya, Grozny, Baransky, Chirip, Chikurachki, and Ebeko volcanoes are the most dangerous on the Kuril chain.

Another of the famous Twelve Apostles limestone structures off Victoria, Australia's coast has collapsed, leaving only eight still standing. One of the giant structures off the Great Ocean Road coastline was claimed by the ocean about 9am. "If you're standing on the boardwalk on the clifftop (looking out) at The Apostles, it's the second apostle (on the left). It was one of the major components of the scene." The remaining rubble was sticking out of the water, which was filthy with dirt and debris from the collapse.

Torrential rain has brought such destruction in thousands of villages in India that it is being described as an ‘aerial tsunami’. "No living person can recollect such incessant rainfall. It has been raining continously for 100 hours." The rain has affected people in more than 8,000 villages and 250,000 people have been evacuated from cities alone. More than 50 dams are overflowing, eight of these are damaged. The continuous torrential rain across Gujarat has swamped communications. Rail services have been paralysed and thousands of passengers have been stranded at various places. Roads have been damaged, including state and national highways at as many as 3,700 different places. The army has air-lifted some 40 boats and many more are likely to be brought in to rescue people marooned. Chlorine tablets, bleaching powder to make water safe for drinking are also being airlifted in large quantities. Sources put the death toll due to the floods this week at 123. The weather appears to be improving slowly, even as rain is expected to continue for another two days.

Rescuers in the Indian state of Gujarat saved 354 passengers who were trapped on a train filled with flood water up to neck height. The passengers had been trapped on the train since Thursday morning. Desperate passengers communicated with officials through a single cell phone that still had its batteries charged. The rescue was carried out late on Friday and there were no casualties. Large parts of Gujarat are still flooded.

In Arizona so far during this wildfire season, 2.17 million acres have been scorched, compared to 1.98 million acres on average to July 1. However, much of the total is from grass fires across the Great Basin and the Southwest, rather than forest fires. A wet winter and spring allowed desert grasses to grow high, and the grass became tinder-dry fuel when the rains ended. The National Interagency Fire Center said Friday that 23 active large fires were burning on nearly 1.28 million acres in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.


Saturday, July 2, 2005 -

A magnitude 6.7 and a 5.9 earthquake near the coast of Nicaragua have occurred. The 6.7 quake, whose epicenter was near the southern Pacific coast of Nicaragua, shook buildings and lasted up to 30 seconds. It was also felt in Costa Rica, which was hit by a 6.0 quake on Thursday. No casualties or damage were reported.

The ocean entry lava flow site at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been temporarily closed. That's after officials were warned that a 25-acre area near the East Laeapuki ocean entry could collapse. The area is a lava bench, formed when lava flows into the sea and creates new, unstable land. The area is extensively cracked and a large collapse is imminent. A small portion of the area collapsed on Monday - which increases the likelihood of a larger collapse.

Peninsular Malaysia is moving in the wrong direction, it should be shifting eastward, but since the Dec 26 earthquake, it has been moving westward. Survey and Mapping Department data show that tidal waves from Sumatra have dragged the Sunda Plate (on which the peninsula sits) westward. This is unusual, as the plate had been shifting eastward by 3cm every year. The southern tip of Johor has moved 2cm westward. In the north, Langkawi has shifted 18cm westward toward the epicentre of the earthquake. "At present, the change is not significant enough to require a new map to be drafted. We do not know exactly when the movement of the peninsula will stop, but estimate it could be another 18 months before the earth’s crust settles." The base point that marked the national maritime boundary, which had shifted due to the Dec 26 tsunami and March 28 earthquake in Sumatra, has been re-established. At 12.30pm on Dec 26, the needles on the charting machine hit a frantic pace, recording a sudden dip of 1.02m in the sea level before rising 1.81m at 12.42pm. A typical complete tide cycle would take 12 hours.

U.S. and British television networks have teamed up to make the first movie about the tsunami that devastated Asia last year. It will be a drama focusing on a coastal orphanage in one of the countries battered by the December 26 catastrophe, Daily Variety said. Producers of the film, which has not yet been given a title, are searching for a writer to pen the script ahead of the movie's expected 2006 premiere.

People interested in seeing what happens Sunday night when NASA's Deep Impact probe slams into Comet Tempel 1 will probably be better off sitting at their computers than gazing at the sky. The best images of the impact will be available from NASA on the Deep Impact web site: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/deepimpact/main. This site will also feature a live webcast of the event's coverage on NASA TV.

Heavy torrential monsoon rains and strong winds have hit central and western parts of North Korea, causing severe damage.

Torrential rain caused chaos in Glasgow, Scotland, flooding roads and forcing the rush-hour closure of the entire Subway system. Thousands of commuters had to find alternative ways home in the middle of the deluge. The sudden downpour struck around 4.30pm, leaving drenched pedestrians running for cover as roads were swamped by an inch of rain. "The downfall came completely out of the blue." The Fire Brigade was inundated with calls from people worried about the freak weather conditions. "People were alarmed when they saw the amount of rainfall."

Exmouth, England was mopping up after a freak storm with fierce rain brought flood chaos to the town centre on Friday. Roads and streets were left under water as a five-hour deluge wreaked havoc for motorists, homes and businesses. The morning mayhem, including intense thunder and lightning, brought a stunning halt to a week of blazing summer sunshine. Among the worst hit areas in Exmouth were streets left almost impassable near the seafront. Emergency crews dashed around town as the freak weather triggered a series of fire and intruder alarms at town businesses. Staff at the control center in Exeter struggled to maintain power to monitor reports of flooding and fallen trees around the county. The control room lost power five times during Friday morning until the rain died down around 10am.

The freak hailstorm in Suffolk and Essex in England was the worst to hit the area in 18 years, and left a trail of damage. The extreme weather struck parts of north Essex and Suffolk between 4pm and 6pm on Wednesday, with ice cube-sized hailstones, flooding and lightning. The hailstones smashed holes in glass conservatories and destroyed plants. Lightning sparked house fires and the pouring rain resulted in overflowing drains and flooding in homes and schools.

A slow-moving cluster of storms that moved through northwest Ohio last evening produced lightning that possibly struck two houses and at least four inches of rain in Hancock County and three-quarter-inch hail in parts of Ottawa County. The storm was part of a cluster of storms that kept appearing and disappearing as a result of a hot, humid air mass spread across the region.

The Red River is running high in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, about three times above its normal level for early summer. Without the use of river diversions, the Red River would be close to the 1997 level, which Winnipeg calls "the flood of the century." In 1997, the river peaked at what is known as 24.5 feet James, referring to the James Ave. reference level. The normal summer James level is 6.5 feet, and Friday morning, it was a shade under 20 feet. The city is encouraging homeowners near the water to move or secure anything that might be swept away. The flooding in the southern part of the province is very unusual for the time of year. More than 400,000 hectares of land could be under water. Heavy rain has soaked the ground, and rivers and streams all over southern Manitoba are overflowing.

On the NSW, Australia far south coast, there was damage to the town of Tathra, after it was struck yesterday morning by what has been described as a "mini cyclone". There are reports of houses being damaged, trees uprooted and powerlines brought down. Half the town was reported to be without power.

In the Philippines, a mother and her four-year-old daughter landed in the hospital after sustaining injuries during a landslide in barangay Capitol Site yesterday morning. They had just finished taking a bath about 5 a.m. inside their house in Ponce Compound when the perimeter fence fell on them after its foundation gave in due to massive rains.

In the Tibet/India border area, eleven people were buried alive and five were reported missing in a landslide triggered by incessant rains and flash floods in Govindghat area of Chamoli district, Uttaranchal, on Friday. The victims were sleeping in their shops when the landslide occurred. The situation was "still precarious" in the area. Six hotels and shops and more than 160 vehicles, which were parked in the area were buried under landslides.

Geologists at Queen's University have discovered that the time it takes for mountain ranges to form is millions of years shorter than previously thought. The study also suggests that the buildup of heat previously thought to be widespread during mountain building may instead be related to short-term events caused by either pulsed injection of hot fluids and/or friction on faults, with the overall crust remaining relatively cool. The study focused on the Caledonian Orogeny in Norway, where injections of hot fluids caused rapid fracturing of this cool crust, producing deep-seated continental earthquakes.

El Paso, Texas has now had 18 days of 100-plus temperatures this year; the city averages about 14 days of 100-plus temperatures each year. And the extreme heat that has claimed three lives this summer will linger throughout the holiday weekend. In 1994 the city had a record 62 days of 100-plus temperatures.

Scientists say that if the Greenland, West Antarctic and East Antarctic Ice Sheets all melted in future years, an 84-metre rise in sea levels could also see major centers in England, such as Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth, swamped. About two million people nationwide could find themselves homeless, and even London could be under water in just 200 years time. Britain would be reduced to a small series of islands, with only the hills of Scotland, Wales and southwest England staying above water. "We are going to have sea level rises and a high degree of climate change in the future – there is no doubt about that. There will be higher temperatures, more heatwaves and lower rainfall in the summer, meaning a severe risk of droughts and melting ice sheets."

In the past five years, almost $6.2 billion has been spent to fight wildfires in the western portion of the United States alone.


Friday, July 1, 2005 -

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in the Solomon Islands occurred yesterday.
A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in the Panama-Costa Rica border region occurred yesterday.

Hurricanes can trigger swarms of weak earthquakes and even set the Earth vibrating, according to the first study of such effects. Tests were made when Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida in August 2004. As the hurricane reached land, a seismometer recorded a series of "micro-tremors" from the Earth's crust. This happened again as the storm moved back out to sea. Then, as Charley grazed the continental shelf on its way out, it caused a sharp seismic spike. "I suspect the storm triggered a subterranean landslide." More surprisingly, the storm also caused the Earth to vibrate. The planet's surface in the vicinity of the hurricane started moving up and down at several frequencies ranging from 0.9 to 3 millihertz.

At least 35 fishermen are missing feared drowned after their boats sank during a storm in the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. The strong winds and heavy rain also damaged several hundred houses on islands off Cox's Bazar sea resort. The stormy weather may last a few more days.

In south-eastern Afghanistan, five people have died and scores of homes have been washed away in severe flooding caused by torrential rains.

Rainfall on the Gold Coast of Australia in the past 24 hours has exceeded the amount dumped on Brisbane in the downpour which led to the devastating 1974 floods. The southern end had recorded falls of about 400mm in the past 24 hours. Brisbane had 300mm in 24 hours on January 25, 1974, due to tropical cyclone Wanda. In three days, ending on January 27, 1974, the Queensland capital received 580mm.

Incessant monsoon rains in western India have caused widespread flooding, killing at least 30 people and leaving 25,000 homeless. Most of the victims either drowned or were killed when their homes collapsed. Others had been struck by lightning over the past week in Gujarat state, where heavy rains are still falling.

After an epic California season of mudslides, floods and sinkholes, the rainfall total there for the last year fell just short of a record. It was the second-wettest year on record in downtown Los Angeles. The city received 37 1/4 inches of rain, just 0.93 inches off the record set in 1883-84, and more than double the normal 15 inches during the traditional rainy season. In several cities near Los Angeles, the record did fall. The wet weather caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and killed dozens of people from the coast to the high desert. Southern California was pounded because the jet stream shifted south, carrying Pacific moisture and causing an unusually dry winter in the Northwest.

In India, two people were killed and four others injured in a landslide at Anji in Reasi on the Katra-Reasi stretch of the railway track last night. Employees were repairing a compressor on the railway track when a big boulder along with a huge mass of earth rolled down the nearby hill.