Thursday, January 31, 2013

6.8 quake shakes northern Chile, swaying buildings - The earthquake shook offices, toppled supermarket shelves and broke windows on Wednesday in north-central Chile, where people fled some buildings in panic. However, no serious damage was reported.

**If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed,
if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.**
Mark Twain

I didn't manage to get the webpage updated yesterday - my apologies.

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/30/13 -

1/29/13 -

Spurred by Japan, California mulls quake alert system - A proposed quake early-warning system would use technology already in place in Japan to issue warnings from underground sensors. The system that could give California residents up to 60 seconds advance notice when a temblor strikes. With such a system in place, people living closer to the epicenter of the quake in the state's large metropolitan areas might receive a few seconds warning, those 160 miles away nearly 70 seconds. The initial cost estimate is $80 million. Seismologists estimate there's a 90 percent chance of a major earthquake sometime in the next 25 years.

Possibly active fault under Mount Fuji to trigger big quake, landslide? - Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak, may be sitting on a large, active fault that could trigger quakes and landslides that would change the mountain's shape and devastate nearby communities, the education ministry said on Thursday. A survey commissioned by the ministry found an 18-mile fault beneath Japan's highest mountain, believed by many to be sacred, and research results indicate it is likely to be active.
"We're not certain if it's an active fault. But there is a possibility... A structural investigation near [the volcano] found a fault. Because there's a fault there, there's a chance that it's moving." If the fault sets off an earthquake, it could lead to a major landslide and hit communities at the foot of the 2,400-foot-high mountain. Further research is required."
Little is known about the seismic structure under Mount Fuji because faults were buried by mudflows triggered by a huge landslide that occurred about 2,600 to 2,900 years ago, as well as by layers of volcanic ash. However, scientists say there is evidence the mountain has collapsed in the past. "In this region, there is a stratum right above the fault that indicates that Mount Fuji has collapsed before." An earthquake in 1707 caused Fuji to erupt and an estimated 20,000 people were killed.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of January 29

Volcano activity of January 28

Japan - Mt Fuji eruption could force 567,000 people to be evacuated. The Shizuoka prefectural government is estimating that at least 567,000 people might need to be evacuated from their homes in the eventuality of a Mt. Fuji eruption. An additional 130,000 might also have to relocate if lava were to reach residential districts in the city of Fuji.

New Zealand - Tourists on White Island got a rare chance to see the volcano in action Tuesday, as rocks and mud were thrown into the air. GNS scientists say the current level of tremor activity means there is a greater than usual hazard to visitors.
The hot crater lake on White Island has now completely dried up as explosive rocks, mud and gas continue to be thrown into the air from the active volcano. White Island has been spewing a steady stream of gas since activity heated up in December. It’s the most active the volcano has been since 2000.
A “small tuff cone” was forming on the bottom of the crater lake, and the active vent was producing “vigorous bursts” of mud, rock, steam and gas up to 100 meters into the air. “GNS Science’s past monitoring of the island shows that new eruptive episodes often develop out of this type of activity. Small muddy lakes sometimes form in craters. As the unrest develops, geysering and explosions occur through these lakes, becoming more vigorous with time.”
The activity does not necessarily mean an explosion or full-scale eruption will happen, although one could at any time. Even though there was an elevated risk to tourists on the island, conditions weren’t so dangerous that people could not travel there. Tourism has, in fact, been booming at White Island as the volcano heats up, with visitors eager to see some explosive action. At this stage, it is still possible to get reasonably close to the crater. One of the pilots was able to get about 180 meters away to film some spectacular footage of the explosions on Monday.

Russian volcano erupting - Footage filmed on Friday shows rivers of molten lava flowing in the area of the Plosky Tolbachik volcano, in Kamchatka peninsula. "The hot materials have erupted to the height of up to one hundred metres." The Plosky Tolbachik volcano started erupting in November after lying dormant for almost 40 years.

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical Cyclone Felleng was located approximately 310 nm northwest of La Reunion.

Australia - Queensland damage bill to top that of the 2011 floods. Early estimates put the damage bill from the latest flood and storm disasters at nearly $2.5 billion.
Cyclone devastation set to continue for days - The devastation caused by Cyclone Oswald on Queensland and northern NSW will continue for days with thousands of homes inundated, entire communities isolated and the real possibility that Brisbane could run out of drinking water.
Four people have died the disaster, all in Queensland, with a three-year-old boy who was hit by a falling gum tree while watching floodwaters in Brisbane the latest victim. His 34-year-old pregnant mother remained in a critical condition in hospital on Tuesday night with several broken bones and severe head injuries. Meanwhile, 130 patients at Bundaberg Hospital, in Queensland's north, had to be airlifted to Brisbane by the Australian Defence Force, as the city is suffered its WORST EVER FLOOD.
Four helicopters and several civilian choppers also performed over 1000 air rescues, lifting stranded residents off roofs in North Bundaberg. And while the rain has eased, the immediate danger has not subsided. Residents of Maclean were on Tuesday night ordered to evacuate before floodwaters of the Clarence River peak in the northern NSW town. "Remaining in flooded areas is dangerous and may place your life at risk," the State Emergency Service warning said.
The latest threat came only hours after the neighbouring town of Grafton narrowly escaped widespread disaster when flood waters peaked just two centimetres below the town's levee wall. More than 2,000 residents had already been evacuated and another 7,000 were put on notice before the raging Clarence River peaked at 8.08 metres - its HIGHEST MARK IN RECORDED HISTORY.
"This is a sight that has never been seen by white man. The Clarence has never been recorded above 7.9 metres. It's an awesome spectacle. On Thursday and Friday we were nearly in drought conditions. Here we are on Tuesday morning talking about the biggest flood on the history books." It was a combination of "good planning" and a "fair bit of luck" that ensures most of Grafton was spared. "Now the rain will start to evaporate and we will get stuck with all the lovely smelling flood mud that Grafton gets. It will smell like a sewer for the next couple of days."
Ten local government areas hit by flooding in northern NSW have been declared natural disaster areas. Floodwaters had isolated more than 41,000 people across the state, including 18,000 in the Tweed Valley. In Queensland, Ipswich and Brisbane escaped widespread destruction when flood waters peaked at lower than forecast levels. It saved Brisbane up to $100 million on its cleaning bill but in a cruel twist of fate, the city was last night at risk of running out of drinking water. Residents were being urged to adopt drought-style water saving measures after a treatment plant was forced to close because of turbidity caused by the flood.

Tropical Cyclone Felleng, the strongest Indian Ocean cyclone since early December, is gathering strength east of northern Madagascar. The powerful storm was forecast to be of significant indirect impact to both Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands this week.
Cyclone Felleng - Heavy rains and gale force winds pelted northeastern Madagascar on Wednesday as strengthening tropical cyclone Felleng barrelled toward the island's east coast. Winds were around 175 kilometres an hour (109 miles an hour).


Storms leave two dead in Georgia and Tennessee - A sprawling storm system has brought havoc to a swathe of the US, leaving two people dead and thousands of households without electricity. One person died when an apparent twister hit the state of Georgia, overturning cars on a motorway. At least 10 cars had been flipped over on Interstate 75.
A man died in Nashville, Tennessee, when high winds toppled a tree on to a shed he had been taking shelter in. The storm system also brought mayhem to parts of Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana. More than 60,000 customers have lost electricity from the Gulf Coast to Ohio as a result, it is estimated.
Footage showed a funnel cloud tearing through the Georgian town of Adairsville, 60 miles (97km) north-west of Atlanta. Interstate 75 was closed in both directions after vehicles were flipped and tossed on to the grassy shoulder. There have been numerous emergency calls of trauma and injuries. The National Weather Service warned of "major structure damage" in Adairsville. Reports said people were trapped in homes and businesses and aerial news footage showed widespread damage at a factory.
In Kentucky, two people were injured when their mobile home was blown off its foundations. In Mississippi, power cuts and damaged homes were reported in at least 10 counties. In Indiana, piles of debris and downed power lines blocked roadways. The NWS is reporting golf-ball sized hail stones in some areas. Meteorologists say warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico collided with a cold front from the west, creating volatile conditions.

Africa - In January, severe flooding struck Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa.


A second Michigan company has recalled ground beef in connection with a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak, which has expanded to 16 illnesses in five states.


- Sprouters Northwest of Kent, Washington is recalling 1953 pounds of alfalfa, clover, brocco sandwich sprouts, and spicy sprouts due to the potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.
- Whole Foods Market Expands Its Recall Of Whole Catch Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Because Of Possible Health Risk From Listeria.
- The Hartz Mountain Corporation is withdrawing its Hartz ® Chicken Chews ™ and Hartz ® Oinkies® Pig Skin Twists wrapped with Chicken for dogs in the United States because they contain trace amounts of unapproved antibiotic residue.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Australia - Extreme weather across parts of Queensland and NSW leaves four dead, while fires burn in other parts of the nation. Queensland could face another cyclone in 30 to 60 days as part of the monsoon cycle.
The Calrence River at Grafton appears to have peaked just two centimetres below the top of the levee wall as torrential rains from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald continue to batter the east coast. The river is believed to have peaked at midday (AEDT), at a RECORD LEVEL of 8.08 metres. "It's looking reasonably safe at this stage. Even if did overtop in some places, there's a tiny bit of extra room on the freeboard, so it's just a little trickle, not catastrophic."
The levee was breached along some parts of the wall but council workers contained it with sandbags and were now concentrating on towns downstream, including Iluka, Yamba, Ulmarra and Maclean. "It's looking more positive but the situation is still very dire. It's improving for Grafton and our attention is now on Ulmarra and the levee system around Maclean."
In Bundaberg, as many as 7500 people are displaced and the Burnett River is still rising. More than 2000 homes are underwater, making it the worst-affected city. The Burnett River is expected to hit its peak tonight. A three-year-old boy has died of head injuries after a tree fell on him in Brisbane, bringing the number of flood-related deaths to four. As the threat recedes in Grafton, crews are working across the state to restore power to thousands of properties after trees and debris became tangled in powerlines. More than 19,000 homes are blacked out in the area stretching from Kempsey on the mid-north coast, right up to the Queensland border.
Earlier, more than 1500 people were told to evacuate their homes in Lismore, Ulmarra, Cowper and Brushgrove in northern NSW with warnings of flooding as rivers peak throughout today. A severe weather warning was issued for the Hunter and Central Coast, Illawarra and the south coast and parts of the Central Tablelands. A severe weather warning for Sydney was downgraded, after the city did not get the 100km/h winds that were forecast.
In Queensland, cane crops have been ravaged by torrential rain, leading canegrowers to seek financial support from the government. It's too early to determine the full extent of the damage but it appears the Bundaberg, Maryborough and Childers areas were worst hit. Floodwaters have also reached the rooftops of more than a hundred businesses in the town of Gympie. About 25 homes have been also been affected by flooding, but it's not yet known if water has entered living areas.
The Mary River peaked at the major flood level of 20.3 metres on Monday afternoon, with floodwaters higher and flowing faster than in the disaster which hit Gympie two years ago. The river is taking its time to recede and remains at a major flood level of 17.4 metres. Water is still swamping businesses in the heart of town.
Shark nets have been torn from their moorings along hundreds of kilometres of coastline in southern Queensland. Bundaberg is at the centre of the state's flood crisis, with so many in need of help now and in the future. ''I've seen perhaps even more extraordinary sights than we saw two years ago in southeast Queensland....This is the number one priority for myself, for my government - to do everything we can for the people of this city.'' So far there are no reports that homes have been swept from their foundations, as feared. (photos)

**Our actions are the ground we walk on.**
Mandy Patinkin

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday -
1/28/13 -

New Zealand - Poverty 'rampant' in quake hit Christchurch. Horror stories of Christchurch families living in garages and tents continue to surface almost two years on from the February 2011 earthquake. Some families are still stranded in sheds or illegally overcrowding friends' and relatives' houses.
Christchurch children are still suffering from anxiety two years after the earthquakes, a new study concludes.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of January 27 - Small explosions with rockfalls have continued during the past 24 hours at Colima volcano (Mexico), and exhalations of gas and ash returned to an average rate of once per hour at Popocatepetl volcano in the same period.

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical Cyclone Felleng (13s) was located approximately 460 nm north of La Reunion.

Australia - The city of Ipswich, west of Brisbane, has been spared major flooding after the Bremer River peaked below predicted levels.
No flooding inside Brisbane homes - There are no reports of homes with water above the floorboards as the Brisbane River flood peak hits.
A permanent disaster relief fund, not a one-off levy, is needed to help communities recover and rebuild after extreme weather, the Australian Greens say.
Flooding Photos


150,000 displaced by Mozambique floods - At least 150,000 people have been forced from their homes by intense flooding in Mozambique, with that figure expected to rise as fresh rains spread flooding northward.
Heavy rains and overflowing rivers have already killed at least 40 people in the southeastern African country, which is experiencing its WORST FLOODS IN MORE THAN A DECADE. The south of Mozambique has been most badly hit, with the province of Gaza bearing the brunt of the flood surge. There 150,000 residents have been forced to flee to higher ground.
Emergency teams are still reaching isolated areas, adding to the number of victims. "People in high-risk areas are still being rescued." Boats, helicopters and trucks have been deployed to scoop up survivors and taken them to safe camps.
In the town of Chokwe, the scene was one of total devastation. Palm fronds poking through grimy mud-brown water, offer a clue of what this terrain once looked like. Nearby, children and families take refuge on rooftops scattered amid the few belongings they could salvage. At least two women gave birth on rooftops after being marooned by the floodwaters.
Many of those stranded have little more than thin cotton sheets to shelter from the elements, which have once again destroyed their town. Chokwe was virtually rebuilt after devastating floods 13 years ago. With water levels on the Limpopo river touching higher levels than those seen in 2000, when 800 people were killed, no one yet knows what the final human toll will be. Aid agencies and government emergency services have set up scores of temporary camps in the area where flood victims are being fed and housed in tents.


Spain - Olive failure. Spain is by far the biggest producer of olive oil in the world, accounting last year for around 50% of the total production worldwide. However farmers in southern Spain believe their crop of olives this year is down by as much as 80%, and some think it is inevitable that the price of this increasingly sought-after commodity will rise.
Jaen province, part of Spain's southern region of Andalucia, accounts of around half of Spain's total production. As the olive harvest draws to a close, farmers in Jaen say their crop could be only 20% of what it was last year. "The rain was noticeable for its absence"... the harvest this year was "really bad".
The fall in production could be felt around the world. "This year, Spain will have only enough production to cover its internal consumption." Because Spain normally produces between 40 and 60% of the world's olive oil, there might not be enough this year to meet demand worldwide. "If this year we don't have enough oil to cover the total consumption worldwide, then the price will increase to a dangerous level." By "dangerous" he means that there is the risk that consumers might be tempted to opt for cheaper alternatives.
However an expert at Deoleo, one of the biggest olive oil companies in the world, believes the fall in production in Spain this year will not be so marked. The company's managing director estimates that the Spanish olive harvest will be around 50% of what it was last year - and last year was a bumper crop. "We have had record crops for the three previous years." He argues that the surplus from recent years will reduce the impact of this year's poor harvest. "Like in any other market, if you have a shortage of supply the price goes up. However a price increase came in, in late August of 2012, and we don't expect any other price increase for the remainder of this crop."
The demand for olive oil worldwide is growing, especially in fast-growing economies such as Brazil, India and China. There is strong evidence that people who have a healthy amount of olive oil in their diet are less likely to have heart attacks, or to suffer from some forms of cancer. However, to get the best health benefits, olive oil connoisseurs will tell you that the oil has to be "extra virgin", which comes from the best quality olives, and accounts for roughly 20% of the oil produced in Spain each year. "It cures illnesses and helps your skin, and gives you a great complexion."


High-flying bacteria spark interest in possible climate effects - Microbes found at extreme altitudes could influence precipitation and cloud density. Seemingly squeaky-clean clouds are made by filthy bacteria-laden air.
Ravaged by arid winds and ultraviolet rays, some bacteria not only survive in the upper atmosphere but might affect weather and climate. A total of 314 different types of bacteria were collected in air masses around 10 kilometres above the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the continental United States. Although the scientists trapped only a small amount of material, bacteria accounted for around 20% of all particles - biological and non-biological - a higher proportion than in the near-Earth atmosphere.
“I’m really, really surprised at the high bacterial density at these high altitudes. This is clearly a harsh environment. One of the next challenges is to figure out the role of these organisms." Genetic analysis revealed that some microbes in the upper atmosphere are related to bacteria thought to catalyse ice-crystal formation and cloud condensation. The fundamental process, called nucleation, occurs when water molecules in the air coalesce around a seed particle, often dust or soot. Depending on temperature, these complexes can grow into large water droplets or frozen balls of ice, leading to cloud formation and rain or snow.
The latest findings support emerging theories that bacterial communities, especially in the upper atmosphere where dust is relatively rare, could influence weather and climate. “There’s increasing recognition that they’re not just spores that are floating around." But more research is needed to understand the relative importance of airborne bacteria, compared to other atmospheric elements.
Samples collected by the NASA mission before, during, and after two hurricanes also allowed researchers to study the effects of extreme weather on the atmospheric microbiome. The storms injected large numbers of new cells — including faecal bacteria — high into the sky. Bacterial composition varied by location and time, but 17 types of bacteria formed a core microbiome across all samples. Uunderstanding more about the bacterial ecology of the sky represents an exciting new frontier for natural history. “What’s up there, and how does what’s up there change across time? These are things we don’t know.”


CDC sees mixed flu picture, remaining threat for seniors - Deaths from pneumonia and flu in the United States rose sharply last week, with a rise in hospitalizations that continues to hit older people the hardest, though other disease indicators showed declines.

Swine flu infected 'fifth of people' in 2009 - At least 20% of people, including half of schoolchildren, were infected with swine flu during the first year of the pandemic in 2009, according to data from 19 countries. It is thought the virus killed 200,000 people around the world.
Large numbers of people were infected, although not all would have developed full-blown flu. The H1N1 virus first appeared in Mexico in 2009 and rapidly spread around the world. Approximately 24% of people had been infected overall, but half of school-age children showed signs of infection. Fewer than two in every 10,000 people infected died during the pandemic. "However, those that did die are much younger than in seasonal flu so the years of life lost will be much more. The figures drive home how incredibly infectious the virus is."
Many older people, who typically die during outbreaks of flu, were protected as they had been exposed to the virus decades before. "It was the busiest virus on the block and it displaced other influenza viruses - it was the only virus in town." A similar pattern would be expected in countries which were not analysed in the study.

Norovirus, Salmonella top list of outbreak-causing pathogens - Norovirus and Salmonella continued to top the list of pathogens responsible for US outbreaks of foodborne disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week.

For the third year in a row, ground beef tainted with Salmonella has caused a multi-state food poisoning outbreak. At least 16 people in five states have developed Salmonella infections after eating tainted ground beef as of Friday. Seven of these people became so sick they needed to be hospitalized.
Last year, 46 people in nine states were part of a ground beef Salmonella outbreak, 12 of those people required hospitalization. And in 2011, eight of the 20 people sickened in a seven-state outbreak were hospitalized. By these accounts, and many other reports of single-state outbreaks, it’s clear that Salmonella in ground beef is a serious public health threat. So why is it legal to sell raw beef that’s contaminated with Salmonella?
Under federal law, it is illegal to sell meat that is “adulterated.” But there are only a handful of food/pathogen combinations that meet this criteria. For ground beef, the only adulterant defined by law is E.coli. That means it’s legal to sell raw ground beef that is tainted with Salmonella - until someone gets sick. To food safety advocates, this doesn’t make much sense.
“It is long overdue for Salmonella in ground beef to be considered an adulterant under the law. Time and again, we have seen Salmonella outbreaks related to beef contamination. That shouldn’t happen. Clearly we need to be doing more to prevent these in the first place. This should be a wakeup call for the policy makers at the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.”


-Whole Foods Market is recalling one lot code of Whole Catch Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon (4 oz), cold smoked and sliced, sold in stores in 12 states, because it may contain Listeria Monocytogenes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Australia - Bundaberg faces a MONSTER FLOOD POWERFUL ENOUGH TO KNOCK OVER HOUSES as Brisbane endures its second major flood in two years. Government expecting major flood damage in Bundaberg with the Burnett River running at 40 knots - so fast that rescue by boat will be very difficult and the force of the water is such that houses could be completely washed away. The Burnett River is expected to peak above 9.15m during late Tuesday or early Wednesday. "These are RECORD FLOODS. We are in uncharted territories."
Queensland's telecommunications blackout is now STATE-WIDE with loss of phone, mobiles, internet and Triple Zero access from Coolangatta to the Cape. Telstra's fibre optic cables have been cut by floods causing IT systems to crash and wreaking havoc on airports, banks and shops in a meltdown likely to take days to fix. The number of lives lost in the deluge from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald has continued to rise, with the death toll standing at three people and hundreds of homes are under water. (photos, map & timeline)

**We must prepare for future Sandys.**
Canada Free Press

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday -
1/27/13 -

4.8 Earthquake rattled northern Italy - A moderately-strong earthquake rattled much of north-central Italy on Friday afternoon, including Milan skyscrapers, but reports indicate there are no injuries or major damage. The epicenter of the tremor was near the Tuscan town of Lucca, or 30 kilometers (13 miles) north of Viareggio, a Tuscan sea resort. The temblor was most strongly felt in the regions of Tuscany and Emiilia Romagna.

Nevada - Quake Swarm Hit Topaz Area. Sixteen small quakes hit an area near Topaz Lake early Thursday, but there have been no reports of damage or injury. The quakes hit an area southwest of the lake between midnight and 5AM. They ranged from 1.1 to 3.7 in magnitude.

Why remains mystery as East Texas town shaken again by quake - The ground moved again Friday morning near an East Texas town plagued and puzzled by earthquakes in the past couple of years. No injuries and only minor structural damage were reported from the preliminary magnitude 4.1 quake that struck about 1 a.m. about two miles Northwest of Timpson,Texas.
“It shook, probably, longer than any of the ones we’ve had, but it wasn’t as intense as the 4.9 we had (in May 2012). The quake was the latest in a string of earthquakes to shake Timpson since summer 2011. Before Friday, the last was a 2.8-magnitude quake Dec. 7.
“I believe this was around No. 10. They’ve ranged from 1.1 or 1.2 (magnitude) to the 4.9 we had.... Everybody’s OK. As far as I know, we’ve had no emergency calls. ... It shook pretty good, but as far as I know we didn’t have any chimneys fall off like we did with the 4.9. In the fire hall, they had a desk that moved around.”
A geologist has been studying the UNUSUAL PHENOMENON this past year and says one or a combination of factors could be to blame. It’s not difficult to find someone who will link the quakes with the hydraulic fracture drilling occurring there in the past few years. “We’ve had natural earthquakes in this area in the past. The Mount Enterprise Faults are close by, and they could be moving. If we are putting fluids into the ground, that could lubricate the faults. We are working on it. Several of us are working on it, and we’re hoping to publish something soon.”
What is known is that the frequency and intensity of the quakes are increasing. “It has increased with human activities. As it’s increased, it’s centered around a particular area where they have activities.” The geologist is trying to obtain a third ground monitor to allow officials to locate the quakes more precisely. A third monitor would make it possible to triangulate locations and pinpoint them using their distance and direction from three known sites.
Reports of Minor Damage - The earthquake struck at around 1:00 AM, shaking doors open, knocking pictures off walls, and causing at least one chimney to reportedly collapse.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of January 26

New Zealand - Rock fracturing causing volcano quakes. Hybrid earthquakes recorded at White Island in recent days are thought to be the result of some kind of rock fracturing, and are often attributed to magma movement within a volcanic system.
"The really high levels of tremor that we've seen over the last couple of weeks, and then coupled with these new hybrid earthquakes means that our concern right now is quite high." Yesterday afternoon the aviation colour code at White Island was raised to orange, the third-highest of four codes. It indicates heightened unrest at the volcano with increased likelihood of an eruption.
Visitors to the island are now at the highest level of risk since the start of eruptions last August. Hazards could include the health effects of volcanic gas exposure, including respiratory issues, and skin and eye sensitivity to acidic gases. "Explosive eruptions can occur at any time with little or no warning. We advise a high level of caution should be taken, if visiting the island."
Hybrid earthquakes are so-called because they have a mixture of different frequencies, with very high frequency at the start – a kind of impulsive start – and a kind of wobble afterwards. "It's a bit like striking a bell. The initial impulse is high frequency and then you have the resonance of the bell."
It is hard to tell what might happen in the next few weeks, but it is possible White Island could become more active if a significant batch of new magma came up through the volcano. Geysers at a crater lake could get more vigorous, and there could be more volcanic explosive activity such as the venting which happened in August, or it could perhaps be even more vigorous.
Between 1976 and 2000 some of the larger explosions ejected blocks of magma on to the crater floor, with some even reaching the sea. "But with all volcanoes there is a lot of uncertainty, a bit like trying to forecast the weather with your eyes closed because you can't actually specifically see what's happening under the surface. They often look like they're building up to something and then nothing happens at all."
If the amount of gas measured over the volcano went up it could indicate more magma was coming up into the system. If there were a lot more earthquakes it would suggest something was pushing from below, probably magma being forced into the near subsurface in the volcano. More heat in the system could also indicate a new batch of magma coming close to the surface.
White Island had been active between 1976 and 2000, with regular ash venting, small explosions, and larger explosions throwing blocks out about every three to four months on average. Since 2000 it has been relatively quiet, with no surface activity. The most-recent episode started last July, when scientists were alerted by a rapid change in the lake at the crater, with the level moving by five to seven metres over one night.
Then in early August there were some weak eruptions of ash, which was found to be new magma. It was the first ash erupted on White Island since 2001. A mass of material was extruded producing a lava dome, probably in late November. No huge changes had been found in regular gas measurements at the volcano, suggesting that even if there was new magma the volume was not large.
Then in late December and early January White Island appeared to be quiet. "We actually sat down and met in here on January 14 and were reasonably comfortable that the hazard had decreased. Within 24 hours of meeting the volcano decided to do something different and it started to ramp up."
Volcanic tremor, a vibration in the volcanic system, increased and small explosions were seen in the remains of the lake at the crater. "Now, we know there's magma very close to the surface because we have the fresh magma erupted in August and then the dome extruded in November. What we think is actually happening is that the dome extruded and that's almost like a plug on that part of the hydrothermal system. So there may well be heat still coming up through with the magma. That's effectively expanding the steam zone around the dome, and that might be what's increasing the tremor and producing this geysering at the lakelet which is some distance away from the dome."
Nearly all eruptions on White Island only affected the island itself. Rocks had been ejected up to a few hundred metres offshore in the past. Depending on the wind direction, a light ashfall was possible on the mainland in a larger scale eruption, but it was unlikely to have a big impact.
Where GNS staff used to spend an entire day on the volcano doing their routine monitoring, they are now there for about an hour. “And when we are going out there we are wearing our full protective gear, helmets, gas masks and protective clothing. We would also do a fly around the volcano before we land, just to check that nothing significant is happening, and we would check the seismic records before we go to check there is no escalation in activity.” (photos)

Ecuadoran Volcano Update - El Reventador Producing Lava Flows and Ash. There have been some small earthquakes centered under the volcano, but right now there is only a wispy steam plume coming from Tungurahua. However, even when Tungurahua isn't erupting, it can be hazardous.

Australia - The wild weather on Queensland's southeast coast has whipped up more than the swell, with layers of ocean foam blanketing some roads and parks on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.
The white froth has come up the foreshore at Burleigh Heads and is covering pedestrian paths and picnic areas. In some places the suds are up to one metre high. "It's like a snowstorm. The kids are up to their shoulders basically ... I've never seen anything like it."
The suds have been whipped up by "huge" surf overnight. Extraordinary video footage shows a car emerging from beneath a thick blanket of foam, startling traffic police who are forced to leap from its path. The footage was posted on YouTube and police have confirmed it was filmed on the Sunshine Coast.
The coastal froth is formed during storms when powerful waves force air into the water and produce foam. The Sunshine and Gold coasts have been pummelled by the low pressure system that was tropical cyclone Oswald in recent days, with six-metre swells reported in some areas. (photo)

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical Cyclone Garry was located approximately 550 nm southwest of Bora Bora, Society Islands. The final warning has been issued on this system. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.

- Tropical Cyclone Thirteen was located approximately 550 nm north-northeast of La Reunion, heading towards Madagascar.

Australia flooding situation - continually updated throughout the day. (photo gallery)

Australia - New South Wales floods worsen, residents evacuated from towns in northern NSW as floodwaters isolate communities, while severe weather drenches Sydney with more on the way. Sydneysiders have been warned to prepare for torrential rain and destructive winds expected to hit the city on Monday night as ex-tropical cyclone Oswald slowly moves down the NSW coast after battering Queensland and northern NSW.
Ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald batters Australia's east coast - Much of Australia's east coast has taken a battering from an ex-tropical cyclone over the past days. It's not over yet, with rivers throughout the region still rising. Homes have been inundated in the cities of Bundaberg and Gladstone.


Britain - Canoeist dies as thaw brings flooding. More than 80 flood warnings and nearly 300 alerts are in place across Britain as thawing snow and heavy rain push river levels higher. Forecasters are warning of more rain this week, with south-west England particularly at risk from flooding.
In North Yorkshire, a canoeist, believed to be in his 30s, has died after he was pulled from the swollen Arkle Beck, near Reeth. A rescue operation was launched after he became trapped in debris. A baby boy was rescued by fishermen and a marina dock master in Somerset after his pushchair was blown into the water by a gust of wind. Firefighters used boats to try to rescue 12 sheep in the River Severn near a travellers' site at Welshpool, but only two could be saved. Eleven people were injured after a four-car crash on the M4 in south Wales shortly after a hailstorm.
The Environment Agency said rain falling on already saturated ground was likely to lead to more disruption on the roads this week. It also warned that properties could flood, particularly in the south-west of England on Tuesday. It said some river levels were yet to peak.
"Emergency teams from the Environment Agency have been out in force this weekend shoring up flood defences, monitoring river levels and clearing blockages from watercourses, and they will continue their work on the ground to reduce the risk of flooding throughout the week." In England and Wales, there are 81 flood warnings - meaning flooding is expected with "immediate action required" - and 288 flood alerts, which mean flooding "is possible - be prepared". There are no flood warnings in Scotland, although there are 13 flood alerts.
The thaw of snow had continued on Sunday with a mixture of sunshine and showers and river levels had risen throughout the day. Some heavy showers, as well as hail and gusty wind, would continue overnight, particularly in the southern counties of England and north-west Scotland. The Met Office has a issued yellow "be aware" warning - for Monday afternoon and evening - for heavy rain in south-west England. A further yellow warning for heavy rain has been issued for the whole of Tuesday for south-west England and parts of Wales.

Indonesia landslides - Landslides triggered by heavy rains killed at least 11 people and left 19 others missing on Indonesia's Sumatra island.
In Agam district, in West Sumatra province, 15 houses were buried beneath mud and rocks, killing seven. Hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes on the mountainside. In the neighbouring province of Jambi, heavy rain triggered a landslide in a drilling field owned by a state-run energy company. Four of its workers died, one remained missing and five had been injured. Sixty workers survived the landslide.
Flash-floods and landslides are common in Indonesia, triggered by seasonal downpours. Many in the chain of 17,000 islands live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains. Heavy rain in the capital Jakarta this month caused 32 deaths and, at its peak, forced nearly 46,000 people to flee their inundated homes.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Australia flooding - Warnings of heavy rain and destructive winds for Brisbane until Monday. The weather bureau has warned of heavy rain and destructive winds of up to 125km/h, possible flash and riverine flooding, for Brisbane from Saturday tonight as central Queensland is slammed by severe weather.
In the next few days about 300mm of rain is expected in Wivenhoe Dam catchment, upstream of Brisbane, and coastal areas could get as much as 500mm. Controlled releases from the dam are continuing and there is no doubt it will be able to cope with the influx of rainwater in the coming days. "We can absorb that flood."
The biggest risk will come from suburban creeks in the Gold and Sunshine Coast and greater Brisbane area. Almost 10,000 homes are without power in Bundaberg and more than 2000 out on the Sunshine Coast. Low and high voltage powerlines have been brought down by the chaotic weather, with an Ergon Energy spokesman warning that some in Bundaberg, the Bargara coast area and other parts of North Burnett could be without power for more than 48 hours. [UPDATE - Evacuation order for north Bundaberg after the Burnett River broke its banks.]
Gladstone is facing a dramatic new flood threat as two other towns in the region face an UNPRECEDENTED deluge as ex-cyclone Oswald lingers over the region. Torrential rain topped a metre in 48 hours and has swollen the Boyne River to two metres HIGHER THAN THE PREVIOUS RECORD.
An EXTRAORDINARILY HIGH TIDE will hit on Sunday morning. "We're now getting ready for the next time when we think we'll have the biggest problem and that's at the high tide on Sunday morning." About 2000 people have been asked to evacuate. A saddle dam off the Awoonga Dam is close to overflowing, which would put 500 homes in peril. The government is considering mandatory evacuations.
Further south, a mini-tornado slammed into Bargara near Bundaberg, leaving at least two people badly hurt after their car was hit by a pine tree blown over during the storm. A number of local buildings, including a supermarket, were reported to be badly damaged. Gladstone and Bargara had been declared disaster areas. In Gladstone, the region has had about 700mm in the last four days - and is bracing for another 200mm to 400mm in the next 24 hours.
Coupled with an extraordinarily high tide, authorities fear flooding around Tannum Sands and Boyne Island - areas which narrowly escaped inundation yesterday - and they have ordered residents to leave the towns of Jambin and Goovigen as a water volume almost SIX TIMES GREATER THAN THEIR LAST FLOOD approaches. The rain depression is centred over Gladstone and was not moving. ``It will be over 24 hours before it moves south and lessens. That will be around mid-morning tomorrow. We're looking at rainfall of 200mm to 400mm in the next 24 hours, on top of 700 mm we've already received in the last three days. The Awoonga Dam water level was at 46 metres six metres over the spillway this morning. Our time for concern is tomorrow's 10am high tide. It looks like being 7.5 metres over the spillway. It is predicted to be 47.5 metres at 10am. We thought it was history-breaking when it was 4.6 metres over the dam. We've NEVER SEEN THIS AMOUNT OF WATER OVER THE WALL EVER."
About 50 roads in the Gladstone area, including roads to the dam, were closed and lookouts near the dam also were closed. Despite this some drivers were going around road closure signs. There have been two rescues in Gladstone area, with two people lifted off the roof of a car at Lomead, south of Gladstone on Friday night and another two people rescued from a flooded stream at Yarwun. Residents of 400 homes in the Boyne Tannum and Benaraby areas have been door-knocked and warned there could be flooding over the next 24 hours and they might need to evacuate.
Two small inland communities, Goovigen and Jambin, face the prospect of extensive flooding from water spilling over the Callide and Kroombit dams. Both dams burst their banks last night and are experiencing monstrous outflows, with the towns damstream bracing for an "unprecedented" flood threat with conditions far worse than during the 2010 floods. All residents have been evacuated from Jambin and are being advised to leave Goovigen. "Why we are worried is when you're comparing now to the 2010 floods (in 2010) we had 33,000 megalitres coming out of Kroombit dam to cause the issues we had than. As of midday today we are now looking at 54,000 megalitres coming out of Kroombit dam and 120,000 out of Callide Dam in 24 hours." "We've never seen this amount of water over the wall ever." Rain continues to be dumped on the catchments areas, compounding the problem for Sun Water. "They're in UNCHARTED WATERS; it's UNPRECEDENTED what's happened. They can't help us with any modelling, because they don't know. None of us could have predicted this to happen. Three or four days ago we were in dire straits in a drought, so we're a land of contrast that's for sure."
The low pressure system is almost stationary and hasn't tracked to the southeast as predicted on Friday. It expected to slowly move south to the southeast and bring heavier rain, dangerous surf, abnormally high tides and strong winds on Sunday and Monday. In the southeast, people in the coastal towns of Toorbul and Meldale, between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, were issued with a watch and act notice, with the Department of Community Safety warning the communities were likely to be affected by a dangerous storm surge caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald at 9am.
Former cyclone Oswald has been causing flooding across the state since Tuesday, when it crossed Cape York Peninsula's west coast and was downgraded to a low-pressure system. Many Australia Day celebrations have been cancelled across the state due to the extreme weather. On the Gold Coast, all beaches have been closed until Sunday afternoon as wild seas hammer the Glitter Strip. Gold Coast City Council officials are keeping a close eye on already badly eroded Nobby Beach, where beachfront homes were left teetering on the edge of steep sand cliffs after recent big swells.
With ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald drenching north Queensland, it is the southeast's turn to receive a bucketing as the low creates flash flooding from the Sunshine Coast to the New South Wales border. In central Queensland, swiftwater rescue teams made 20 rescues including plucking eight people to safety after their car was swept off the Capricorn Highway and a teenager was saved from a ranging torrent by swift water rescue teams. Lives were feared lost in Central Queensland after Oswald dumped 349mm of rain on Rockhampton, smashing a 40-YEAR-OLD RECORD.
While most people would "sadly fixate on issue of the river" the real risk in Brisbane was suburban creek and stormwater drain flooding. With the Gold Coast predicted to be hardest hit by the WEATHER "BOMB", the city council activated its disaster management centre. Hinterland creeks and causeways were the main concern and the situation was called "highly unpredictable". (maps, Gold Coast surf cam and photos)

Australia flooding situation - continually updated throughout the day. (photo gallery)

**A problem, clearly identified, is half the solution.**
Ancient Japanese proverb

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/26/13 -

1/25/13 -

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of January 25 - In Oregon, Mount Hood volcano fired-off a volly of small earthquakes. A few tiny events continue at the volcano.
Volcano activity of January 24 - New Zealand, White Island volcano alert level raised. Hybrid earthquakes (evidence for fluid movement) continued to increase beneath White Island volcano overnight, prompting GNS to upgrade the status of unrest at the volcano to “orange” level.

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical Cyclone Garry was located approximately 495 nm southwest of Bora Bora, Society Islands.

- Tropical Cyclone Thirteen was located approximately 750nm northeast of La Reunion.

Tropical Cyclone Garry's strength peaks in South Pacific - Garry continued to intensify over warm waters of the South Pacific Ocean and was upgraded to category three as it made its way towards the southern Cook Islands bringing damaging gale force winds to the northern Cook Islands.
Garry is headed towards the uninhabited Suwarrow Islands. The cyclone is weakening as it moves over Cook Islands. Now a category one cyclone, it is expected to get smaller is it moves across Raratonga, towards Mangaia, in the next 24 hours. Gale force wind warnings remain in place, but the Cook Islands National Meteorological Service says the rain is clearing. 68.4 millimetres of rain has been recorded in Raratonga in the last 24 hours, but only one or two showers are forecast for Sunday. The cyclone is expected to be downgraded by late Sunday.

Troublesome remnants of Cyclone Oswald still causing problems - Ex-tropical cyclone Oswald doesn't know when to stop causing problems for Queensland, Australia, and now teamed up with a low pressure area, it continues to bring heavy rainfall. Oswald has dropped a lot of rainfall throughout Queensland. An earlier rainfall analysis u showed Oswald and its remnants had dropped over 600 mm (~23.6 inches) of rain in areas of the Cape York Peninsula near the Gulf of Carpentaria. Higher rainfall totals have been recorded over the southern Capricornia district.
On Saturday, the trough, an elongated area of low pressure, stretched from the southern Gulf of Carpentaria to ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald and over to the southern Capricornia coast. Ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald and the trough are expected to continue moving southwards over the next few days.
As Oswald's remnants continue to hug the eastern Queensland coast, residents can expect gusty winds, rough seas, heavy rainfall, and possible flash flooding. There are gale warnings in effect over many areas. On Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. EST, the heaviest rainfall was occurring over the southern Capricornia district. Rainfall was in excess of 27.5 inches (700 mm) in less than 2 days, leading to rapid river and stream rises in the area.
Insurers declare catastrophe for all of Queensland because of widespread flooding and storm damage.
Man sails through cyclone on twig raft - A Polish man was lucky to be alive on Friday after sailing from Papua New Guinea to a north Australian island on a raft made of twigs and sticks, through crocodile and shark-infested waters, during a cyclone.
The man was found washed up in mangroves on Saibai Island in the Torres Strait, a treacherous stretch of water that lies between the two countries. What made his survival even more miraculous was that he attempted the trip in the aftermath of Cyclone Oswald, with 1.5 metre (five foot) swells and 40 knot winds.
"It's the first time I've heard of someone trying to cross the Torres Strait in a raft in the middle of a cyclone. It's not something we'd recommend. Navigation in the area is challenging for normal vessels, it's quite treacherous with reefs and rocks, and he did it in high winds and high seas. He's very lucky to have made it."
The flimsy raft was held together with string. Australian immigration authorities said they were waiting to interview the man and it was not clear whether he was carrying a passport. "He has been transferred to Thursday Island where he has been detained." The man was being medically assessed before being interviewed to find out why he made the trip.
AMSA was alerted when residents of Saibai, which is part of Australia but only four kilometres (2.5 miles) from Papua New Guinea, spotted the man offshore on Thursday. They sent a helicopter and a customs ship but failed to find him, so they called in local police who discovered the exhausted man in the mangroves.
The man, who has not been named, set off from Sigabadura village in Papua New Guinea on Wednesday and that locals tried talking him out of the voyage. One report said he had been dropped in Papua New Guinea by a yacht.
Queensland floods as cyclone sweeps past - Dramatic scenes have unfolded in central Queensland where a teenager has been rescued from raging floodwaters, as the remnants of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald lash the region.
The 14-year-old boy was found clinging to a tree in floodwaters in Rockhampton. Six swift water rescue crews rushed to the scene and managed to reach the teen. As the boy grabbed hold of a tree, and climbed towards other rescuers waiting on a bank, the man who'd saved him was swept away. He went under a nearby bridge but was able to pull himself up onto a bank. He was taken away in an ambulance but is believed to be fine.
Dozens of stranded people have been rescued from homes and cars overnight and in the morning as the state struggled to cope with the deluge. More than 70 roads, including major highways, have been cut by floodwaters since Oswald was downgraded to a storm after crossing the Cape York Peninsula's west coast on Tuesday.
Rockhampton was suffering its wettest day in 60 years and many parts of the city were under water, and the city was also experiencing ''very destructive winds''. A search was underway for two fisherman whose boat started taking on water off Rockhampton. Air and sea searches began, but heavy rain and high winds are hampering the operation. Planes were unable to land at Rockhampton because of the 90kmh winds, heavy rain and poor visibility, while many roads are inaccessible.
At Yeppoon, northeast of Rockhampton, more than 10 homes have flooded and people were sandbagging other properties in a bid to save them. "We've had some flash flooding in low lying areas, and those low lying areas are all still cut." (video)
Central Queensland, Australia town of Bundaberg - At least six cyclones have already ripped through the Bundaberg region today, causing dozens of injuries. Nearby Bargarawas hit by a tornado on Saturday. "What I think is quite shocking for everyone concerned is just how quickly this came in, it just came out of nowhere. I'm just so relieved that so far we've had no reports of loss of life down here, but clearly we've had some serious injuries."
A flood peak is projected of about seven metres and at least 150 to 200 homes and about 100 businesses could be inundated. Rural towns around the Bundaberg area, including Gayndah, are also experiencing flooding. "The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting the Burnett River levels to rise significantly today and this evening."
The Burnett River was now expected to peak at eight metres. "If that's the case, certainly it's going to be worse than we experienced in 2010 and 2011. It always comes as a shock (but) we've been through it before." People were urged to remain indoors. "We can repair houses, we can repair roads, but we can't repair people."
Gladstone has experienced UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS OF FLOODING as 900 homes in the area are evacuated. Torrential rain from ex-cyclone Oswald has sparked a major flood crisis in the central Queensland city. It was a "madhouse" on Sunday morning as residents flocked to stock up on bread, milk and petrol.
Floodwaters were starting to subside on Sunday morning, and Awoonga Dam was holding steady. "They've got about 20 metres in Baffle Creek and it's up to the ceiling in some homes. Baffle's an area that floods badly, floods often and floods for a long time." There have been several rescue efforts at Baffle Creek and at Yarwun, north of Gladstone.
The Mary River is forecast to cut Gympie in two with rooftop rescues already being carried out in the city, and one person missing in floodwaters.
New South Wales - More than 500 people are expected to be isolated by floodwaters in northern NSW as ex-tropical cyclone Oswald brings damaging winds and heavy rain to the state. A severe weather warning was issued on Sunday as Oswald slowly moved south from Queensland.
Two motorists had already been rescued from floodwaters on Sunday. More than 400 SES volunteers were stationed in the north of the state with warnings that Oswald was likely to bring damaging winds of up to 110km/h. Once the rain sets in, the SES will be monitoring the state's main rivers with moderate to major flooding expected.
On the Bellinger River at Thora in the state's north, a minor flood warning is in place and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) is warning that a further 150mm of rain could fall over the next day or two. This was expected to cut off more than 500 people in rural properties slightly upstream at Darkwood. "They will be isolated for a couple of days so we have asked them to stock up."
The wild weather is expected to move further south on Monday, with strong winds and downpours forecast for Sydney. Motorists travelling on the state's mid north or far north coast are being urged to take extreme care, with reports of heavy rainfall, debris and reduced visibility at some local roads.


Australia - Rain has slowed the progress of two major bushfires burning in eastern Victoria.
Internet hoaxers - Fire authorities are being forced to waste time and resources investigating bushfire hoaxes and false rumours on social media.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Antibiotic 'apocalypse' warning - The rise in drug resistant infections is comparable to the threat of global warming, according to the chief medical officer for England. Bacteria are becoming resistant to current drugs and there are few antibiotics to replace them.
Experts say it is a global problem and needs much more attention. Antibiotics have been one of the greatest success stories in medicine. However, bacteria are a rapidly adapting foe which find new ways to evade drugs. MRSA rapidly became one of the most feared words in hospitals wards and there are growing reports of resistance in strains of E. coli, tuberculosis and gonorrhoea.
"It is clear that while we might not ever see global warming, the apocalyptic scenario is that when I need a new hip in 20 years I'll die from a routine infection because we've run out of antibiotics. It is very serious, and it's very serious because we are not using our antibiotics effectively in countries."
The World Health Organization has warned the world is heading for a "post-antibiotic era" unless action is taken. It paints a future in which "many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated".
Research is not happening quickly enough. "We need resources for surveillance, resources to cope with the problem and to get public information across." The drugs companies have run out of options as all the easy drugs have been made. "We have to be aware that we aren't going to have new wonder drugs coming along because there just aren't any."

**In the End, we will remember
not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday -
1/24/13 -
5.1 FIJI

Kentucky - 1/23/13 - Confusion in Corbin over fake "quake". It's been described as an explosion, an earthquake, a thunder roll, or even as small as a car crash. Some say there was one tremor, others say two, one resident said they felt three violent shakes. While the reports vary, the reality is something rattled Corbin around midday on Wednesday.
"Just a couple of seconds, it didn't last long. I thought it was thunder and I looked up in the sky and, of course, it was sunny and cold out. It couldn't be thunder." One person said dishes began falling into her sink. "I actually had my coffee pot break from my refrigerator. I was thinking oh my god, is my trailer going to fall apart? Or is the ground going to split open or something? I mean it was horrible!"
The tremors were widespread. "We've yet to determine what this was. It sounded like a minor earthquake, but we can't get it verified." The University of Kentucky Geological Survey said, "I took a look through our records and so far I haven't seen anything that does not look uncharacteristic."
Several mining companies were called to see if they were blasting in the area that could explain the shaking. They all denied it, saying their blasts are typically smaller and kept to a mile-wide radius. The Whitley County Emergency Management Director said he began trying to solve the mystery as soon as it happened. He checked every possible blasting site, and said he still had not found the answer. He has not found any major damage to the area. Still, those who felt the tremors want answers, but for now they'll have to wait.
No earthquake near Corbin - After the ground started shaking in parts of southern and eastern Kentucky, officials with the University of Kentucky Geological Survey said they didn’t see anything unusual. They say they have recorded seismic activity at stations across the state, but the readings are nothing out of the ordinary. "There is a lot of activity but it's normal." Most of the recorded data is mine blasting that is common in the region.

Montana - 1/21 - 1/23/13 - Mysterious Loud "Booms". Dozens reported loud “booms” heard throughout the community all week. Officials confirmed that the Security Forces Tactical Response Force conducted "Explosive Detonation Training" on Wednesday until 4PM at Malmstrom Air Force Base. However, Wednesday’s training is not responsible for the other loud booms heard earlier this week.

Volcano Webcams

Volcano activity of January 23

Reventador volcano (Ecuador) enters new eruption with lava flows and explosions. The volcano has now entered a full-scale eruption. Lava flows descending on the flanks and glow at the summit were observed. A tall steam and ash plume rises 1.5 km above the volcano and drifts west. Additionally explosions have been reported.

New Zealand - White Island eruption increasingly likely, with increased signs of volcanic activity and nearly continuous tremors. The aviation warning for the island, that lies 50km of the coast of the Bay of Plenty, has been upgraded to orange. "Explosive eruptions can occur at any time with little or no warning. We advise a high level of caution should be taken, if visiting the island.” Scientists are hoping a monthly flight over White Island to sample volcanic gases will give them a clearer idea of what to expect next.

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical Cyclone Garry was located approximately 445 nm east of Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Australia - Dramatic rescues as central Queensland floods - Rescues have been carried out in central Queensland, with parts of Rockhampton underwater after ITS WETTEST DAY IN MORE THAN 60 YEARS.
In Rockhampton many streets in the city are now under water, and "very destructive winds" are also being felt from the low pressure system that was cyclone Oswald. The system is currently sitting about 120km west of Mackay and is expected to cause flooding in communities further south in coming days. The situation in Rockhampton is serious, and residents told to stay off the streets.
"They're saying this is not a cyclone but it's not far off it...I haven't seen water like this on our roads. I've come in from a rural location and it was pretty hairy to say the least." There have been about 20 swift water rescues in central Queensland overnight and on Friday morning.
The most dramatic happened in the Rockhampton suburb of Frenchville, where a rescuer was swept away after dragging a 14-year-old boy to safety. The rescuer was able to make his own way to safety, but not before he was swept under a nearby bridge. Meanwhile, a house in Frenchville has been hit by a large landslide. The house is still standing but debris is piled up against the first floor of the two storey house in Archer View Terrace. No one was injured.
There were numerous other rescues in the past 12 hours, including one by a bystander who dragged a motorist to safety from his flooded car after he tried to drive through floodwaters at Kabra, west of Rockhampton. The driver was taken to hospital in a stable condition. More than 70 roads, including major highways, have been cut by floodwaters across the state, since Oswald was downgraded to a low after crossing the Cape York Peninsula's west coast on Tuesday.
At Yeppoon, northeast or Rockhampton, more than 10 homes have flooded and people are sandbagging other properties in a bid to save them. The Bureau of Meteorology said Rockhampton had recorded its wettest day since 1939, with 349mm falling in the 24 hours to 9am (AEST) on Friday, and it's not over yet. The city is expected to get at least another 100mm over the next 12 hours. But by Saturday, the heaviest falls are expected to be further south.
At this stage, authorities are not expecting the Fitzroy River to break its banks at Rockhampton but it is expected to reach minor flood levels. At Gladstone, south of Rockhampton, the city's sewage system is overflowing, sending excrement into people's homes. The local council is using sandbags to try to weigh down manholes to prevent the problem from becoming worse. "It comes up through man holes and bubbles into properties. It's not pleasant."
Supermarket giant Coles said supplies to 26 of its 32 stores in far north Queensland had been affected by the torrential rain and flooding. Stores in Rockhampton and at Yeppoon had also been forced to close. With rail lines cut, supplies are being trucked from Townsville to Cairns via Charters Towers.
Australian Government plans dam releases amid Queensland floods - Water levels in southeast Queensland dams will be reduced to protect urban areas from any flooding associated with ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.
Water levels in Wivenhoe/Somerset and North Pine dams will begin on Friday afternoon, as a precaution. Wivenhoe dam is nowhere near the levels seen before the January 2011 flood. The dam's entire 1.42 megalitres of flood storage capacity was still available, in addition to some capacity for drinking water supplies. But they want to give the southeast the biggest buffer they can to ensure the safety of residents, and the protection of their property. "I am concerned, but I'm not worried," the premier said.
He said that even without the dam drawdowns, he'd been assured that "we have enough in that 1.4 megalitre flood storage compartment to take what's coming". But he said Oswald and the low it has become had proven to be an unpredictable weather system, and the drawdowns were about providing additional security and peace of mind. "Let's make sure we look at what could happen, in the worst case."
The greatest risk at this time was considered to be urban flooding in the usual low-lying areas close to creeks and stormwater drains. Asked if he could categorically rule out a repeat of the 2010-11 floods he replied: "Of course, nobody can do that." But he said with the capacity available in the dams that was extremely unlikely.
41,000 megalitres will be released from Wivenhoe dam over 24 hours from Friday afternoon. And 8000 megalitres will be released from North Pine Dam over 11 hours from Friday afternoon. "We are giving the biggest buffer we possibly can."
The Bureau of Meteorology says the southeast will be lashed by severe weather over the next two days, with rainfalls of 200 to 300mm expected. There are warnings of potential flash flooding for the southeast, damaging winds and ABNORMALLY HIGH TIDES. The low is currently swamping communities in central Queensland, causing significant flooding and sparking rescues including in the city of Rockhampton.The system was expected to remain over land and weaken as it tracks south.
It had been previously feared it might head back out to sea and strengthen into a cyclone again. "We do expect Saturday and Sunday's morning high tides, from the Fraser Coast south to the border, to approach, if not exceed the highest tide of the year." Already up to 800mm has fallen in a couple of days in areas from Tully in north Queensland south to Rockhampton.
The premier expressed concern for some 3000 people booked to go to Fraser Island for the Australia Day long weekend. While stopping short of telling people not to go, he said people should be prepared for difficult circumstances. "The island is not closed but this is certainly going to be a wet weekend," he said, noting that abnormally high tides would affect the beaches people used to get around the island.
Ipswich's Mayor said he was not expecting any widespread flooding in the city, which was hit hard in the 2011 floods. But he said people in the Bundamba and Woogaroo Creek catchment areas need to remain vigilant and aware of the risk of localised flash flooding. While some roads may be closed the latest computer modelling indicates there should be only minimal stream rises in the Bremer River between One Mile and the junction of the Brisbane River. "It is important to note that while significant rainfall is forecast, the dryness of the catchment means we are not expecting any major flooding."


South African crocodiles 'in mass escape' during floods - About 15,000 crocodiles have reportedly escaped from a farm in South Africa's far north amid heavy rains and flooding. The owner was forced to open the crocodile farm's gates on Sunday to prevent a storm surge. Many of the crocodiles have been recaptured, but more than half are still on the loose.
The floods have killed at least 10 people in Limpopo province. The crocodiles escaped from the Rakwena Crocodile Farm, about 15km (nine miles) from the small town of Pontdrif, which borders Botswana. Many of the crocodiles escaped into dense bush and the Limpopo River, the second biggest in South Africa. "There used to be only a few crocodiles in the Limpopo River. Now there are a lot. We go to catch them as soon as farmers call us to inform us about crocodiles. I heard there were crocodiles in Musina [about 120km away] on the school's rugby field."
The owner went to rescue friends in a flooded house in the area by boat on Sunday. "When we reached them, the crocodiles were swimming around them. Praise the Lord, they were all alive." The South African Air Force is being used to rescue people affected by the flooding in remote settlements, some of which are cut off from the outside world.
The floods have also affected neighbouring Mozambique, where tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes.

Indonesia - Extreme weather to haunt Bali until February. While the nation’s capital city, Jakarta, is still recovering from last week’s massive flooding, Bali’s capital city, Denpasar, has been told to remain alert for ongoing inclement weather, which is predicted to last until mid-February.
“The peak of the rainy season in Bali will continue from January to mid-February. Thus, we have to remain alert for possible medium to heavy downpours, strong winds and high waves until February." Areas still face heavy downpours, strong winds and high waves. The volume of rain, the wind speed and the height of waves during the first month of 2013 had been recorded as being much higher than in the same period of the previous year.
Within the last two weeks, Bali has been hit by tropical cyclone Narelle that strongly affected the island’s weather and its water, causing huge waves and strong winds. Extreme weather conditions battering Bali’s shores over the past several weeks have also forced local fishermen to stay ashore, thus affecting the supply of fresh fish. Many fishermen were being kept on land by the huge waves and heavy rains, including in the island’s center of fish production in Kedonganan, south Badung.
Over the years, strong winds, heavy downpours and landslides during the island’s rainy season have resulted in a number of accidents with human fatalities in Bali.
In 2002 and 2007 there were rainy season incidents when Denpasar’s Tukad Badung River overflowed into the nearby business. Since establishing several new channels along the Tukad Badung River, the river had not burst its banks again.
However, over the past few years, floods in scattered locations around Denpasar have taken place, as reported by various local media, including a 1-meter high flood experienced by hundreds of homes in the Monang-Maning housing complex in January last year and another one occurring over a wider area of the West Denpasar district just recently in December.


Australia - Victoria bushfire fight easing despite winds. Firefighters are more confident of holding back the Gippsland blaze in eastern Victoria that has been threatening towns all week.


INCOMING COMET - In a little more than a month, Comet PanSTARRS will cross the orbit of Mercury and probably brighten to naked-eye visibility as it absorbs the heat of the nearby sun. Sky watchers around the world will be looking for it in the sunset skies of early March, when it passes closest to the sun and to Earth.
Currently, the comet ranks about 8th magnitude, dimmer than the human eye can see, but it could brighten 100-fold on March 10th when it makes its closest approach to the sun (0.3 AU). The latest curves suggest that PanSTARRS will emerge glowing about as brightly as a 3rd magnitude star, similar to the stars in the Big Dipper.
There might, however, be surprises in store. Comet PanSTARRS has never been to inner solar system before. It is falling in from the Oort cloud, a great swarm of comets beyond Neptune and Pluto unaltered by the warmth of the sun. When Comet PanSTARRS dips it toe inside the orbit of Mercury for the first time, almost anything could happen ranging from an anticlimatic "bake-out" to a spectacular disruption.


New norovirus strain fueling US outbreaks - A new norovirus variant that emerged in Australia last year has been the leading cause of norovirus outbreaks in United States over the past few months, and federal health officials today warned that illnesses could increase in the months ahead.

Study puts global 2009 pandemic H1N1 infection rate at 24% - In a new analysis of serologic studies from 19 countries, researchers estimate that about 24% of the population were infected with the 2009 H1N1 influenza (pH1N1) virus during the first year of the pandemic, a finding modestly higher than what US health officials estimated in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.


- Specific Lots Of Hunt's Tomato Sauce Recalled For Can Defect - ConAgra Foods, Omaha, Neb., is recalling specific lots of its 8 ounce Hunt's Tomato Sauce (regular variety) and Hunt's Tomato Sauce No Salt Added that were packaged in cans containing a defect in the inner lining. The product was shipped to U.S. retail food stores and distributors in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
- Regional Recall Of Thomas', Sara Lee, Publix, And Weight Watchers Bagels - BBU, Inc., the parent of the Bimbo Bakeries companies, has initiated a recall due to possible presence of fragments of metal caused by a faulty manufacturing part.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012/13 Tropical Cyclone Season Underway - The 2012/2013 tropical cyclone season has been a busy one and has not yet reached the peak of the season.
Two strong depressions and two severe tropical cyclones have brought destruction and, sadly, some deaths to the South Pacific. A third cyclone has narrowly missed the Samoas. With average or slightly below average rainfall through the spring months of September and October, some countries and territories in the region were looking for rain to boost drinking supplies and help farmers with their crops.
Their prayers were answered in November, especially during the latter weeks, when rainfall picked up over Melanesia and the first tropical system developed west of Rotuma near northern Vanuatu around the 20th. This event coincided with a burst of weather across the western South Pacific that brought some welcome rains to Papua New Guinea, Solomons and Tuvalu, and parts of Fiji.
This system ultimately became Tropical Depression 02F and, while not quite making it to tropical cyclone status, it did move along the Vanuatu archipelago bringing locally heavy rain with only minor impacts, mostly flash flooding. After TD02F things went quiet again for a few weeks, however, by the end of the first week of December, it was evident there was going to be a flurry of activity as the first Madden Julian Oscillation wave passed into the Pacific and spawned Tropical Cyclones Evan and Freda.
Both of these systems reached Category 4 intensity, i.e. a Severe Tropical Cyclone, and both affected land areas. Of the two, Evan was the most destructive, as it moved across Samoa, Wallis and Futuna islands, and finally Fiji, causing millions of dollars damage and, sadly, in Samoa, the loss of several lives.
The impacts of Severe TC Evan will be felt for many years in Fiji and Samoa, with damage to houses, infrastructure, crops and businesses totaling many millions of dollars and several thousand people left homeless and without income or jobs. The economic impacts of cyclones can be long lasting and severe, and mitigating these losses is a major focus of attention right now in Pacific Island Countries.
With the season less than half over, there is still the prospect of much more activity. February is the month with the highest incidence of tropical cyclone formation in the Pacific region and signs of increased activity are evident for the second half of January. There are still three and a half months left of the season and they are likely to experience the 9 named cyclones predicted for this region in that time. It is also expected that, with two cyclones already reaching Category 4 intensity, the forecast of three severe cyclones is likely to be exceeded.
All Pacific islanders need to remain alert to the threat of heavy rain and destructive winds during tropical cyclones. Those most vulnerable to the impacts of cyclones, especially those in small craft such as fishermen or ferry operators between small islands, MUST take heed of warnings such as small boat advisories well before a cyclone is due to hit land. Regrettably many who lost their lives during TC Evan were operating small craft when warnings for hazardous weather had been issued.

**Every man must decide
whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism
or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.**
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

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Volcano activity of January 22

Philippines - 10 volcanic quakes rock Taal Volcano. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Tuesday the seismic activity of Taal Volcano in Batangas province had increased in the past 24 hours.

Papua New Guinea - Rabaul's volcano rumbles back into life. Mount Tavurvur is sending plumes of ash into the sky and forcing flights to be suspended. People living near Mount Tavurvur, in East New Britain province, heard the volcano on Saturday night. Daybreak revealed large plumes of white ash. Mt Tavurvur is the most well known volcano in Rabaul caldera. In 1937, Tavurvur and another nearby volcano, Vulcan, erupted, killing 507 people.
Papua New Guinea's Madang province ill-prepared for volcano threat - In Papua New Guinea there are concerns that the disaster office in Madang Province is ill-equipped to respond to emergency situations. The issue was raised after the Manam volcano began to spew ash, blanketing the island's south-eastern villages. Islanders remain on alert as fears are raised that a funding shortfall means the regional disaster office won't be able to respond quickly to an emergency if one occurs.

Copahue volcano (Chile / Argentina) - Seismic swarm increases likelihood of new eruptions. Seismic activity increased significantly on January 22. No eruptive activity at the surface has occurred so far, and the official alert level of the volcano remains at "Yellow", but with "Special Attention" (corresponding to "orange" in our classification).
Until 09:56 local time (12:56 GMT) on 22 Jan, seismic activity had remained at low levels, both in occurrence of earthquakes, the energy released and the signal intensity of tremor associated with fluid movements inside the volcano. Then, at that time, there was a significant long-period (LP) earthquake and 3 hours later, shallow lower amplitude events started to occur.
At 13:20 local time, another LP earthquake of relatively strong intensity occurred and was followed by a seismic swarm with mostly long period events that continued for 20 minutes. No surface changes, no glow, and no thermal hot spot on MODIS data accompany this process for the time being, but there is an elevated possibility of new eruptions, expected to be of small phreatic size and similar to the ones in the past months. Monitoring of the volcano will be increased.

New type of underwater volcano discovered - New Zealand and British scientists have discovered a new type of underwater volcano that emits lava that resembles a mass of foam and rises slowly to the surface of the sea. Geologists are now calling this entirely new kind of volcanic eruption wiith globs of floating molten foam a 'tangaroan' eruption.

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical Cyclone Garry was located approximately 210 nm east-northeast of Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Tropical Cyclone Peta was located approximately 180 nm east of Learmonth, Australia. Peta is forecast to track southwest and stay over land, weakening below warning threshold due to the land interaction. The remnants will continue to move west-southwestward tracking close to Learmonth, Australia but winds will be weak (15-20 knots) due to the continued land interaction and an increase in vertical wind shear. This is the final warning on this system. It will be closely watched for signs of regeneration.

Peta brings heavy rain to the Pilbara - ASTONISHING rainfall in the Pilbara region of Western Australia has doubled the water in one of the state's dams in just 24 hours. Ex-Tropical Cyclone Peta and associated weather have dumped more than 28 gigalitres of water into the Harding Dam since Wednesday morning, elevating the dam's storage level from under 40 per cent to 80 per cent in just one day.
The category one cyclone weakened rapidly after crossing the Pilbara coast to the east of Point Samson at around 4pm (WST) on Wednesday. But the weakening front still brought huge rains, with Coolawanyah received 178mm, Wittenoom 122mm, Mount Florance 200mm and Hooley an INCREDIBLE 262mm in 24 hours.
Ex-Tropical Cyclone Peta is now lying in the inland central parts of the Pilbara and will move slowly westwards as it weakens. Thunderstorms and heavy rain, which may lead to flash flooding, are still forecast for parts of the Pilbara. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned people in the Fortescue River catchment to prepare for possible minor flooding expected on Thursday and Friday. Sections of the Nanutarra-Munjina Road and the North West Coastal Highway are closed.
Very brief life of Tropical Cyclone Peta - Infrared data from NASA's Aqua satellite has shown that soon after a low pressure system in northwestern West Australia became Tropical Storm Peta, it made landfall and started to fall apart. Peta struck Australia at about 06:00 GMT on 23 January.

Quick Birth & Death of Tropical Cyclone Oswald - Oswald formed on Monday (Jan. 21) in the Gulf of Carpentaria off the west coast of Australia's Cape York Peninsula. By the following day, it had already made landfall over the southwestern portion of the peninsula.
Ex-cyclone Oswald heads south with heavy rain tipped for long weekend - Ex-Cyclone Oswald is sweeping down Australia's Queensland coast, bringing rain to parched cane fields but closing dozens of roads and national parks.
Torrential rain has lashed north Queensland, with Ingham, Halifax and Tully and parts of Townsville suffering some flooding. The Mackay to Gladstone region was copping the brunt of rain today, with Samuel Hill north of Yeppoon recording 148mm in six hours. Rockhampton had 79mm, Carmila to the north 73mm and Gladstone to the south, 58mm in the same period.
The monsoon low will start impacting on Brisbane tomorrow, with scattered showers and rain. The southeast could rack up about 300mm in the period running up to Monday, potentially causing flash flooding and wiping out Australia Day weekend events. "That's a cumulative total over four days and you'd have to get the full whammy to get that much."
There has been more than 600mm of rain in Tully in the last 48 hours, and the north is preparing for even more rain over the coming days from ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald. Showers will increase to rain on Saturday, with falls to 100mm in some parts. This will increase further on Sunday, with falls ranging from 100mm to 150mm.
The weather system was expected to swing offshore about Bundaberg and there was a low chance that it might re-form into a cyclone. "It's definitely given almost the entire east coast a good progressive soaking." Police have spotted at least two crocodiles walking on roads in flood-cut Ingham as ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald moves south producing torrential rain and a FREAK TORNADO (water spout) with up to 140km/hr winds whipped up off Hay Point, near Mackay. Police warn the croc sightings are a reminder the flood dangers are not just from flash flooding and fast-flowing waters on closed roads.
Homes across Cairns were left without power as the north was buffeted by MONSTER 4m seas and wild winds up to 90km/hr overnight. Some foolhardy surfers braved stingers and a pounding on-shore swell to try to catch some waves in the FREAK CONDITIONS.
Ingham is completely cut-off north and south while the Bruce Highway is also cut near Proserpine as Mackay and the Whitsundays recorded heavy rainfall under the tropical monsoon system. Up to 5pm yesterday, the township of Scherger on Cape York received nearly 370mm in 24 hours and the RECORD-BREAKING LOW has seen Weipa Airport collect its HIGHEST DAILY RAINFALL TOTAL IN 41 YEARS, with 327.8mm. Coastal towns and cities between Cooktown, on Cape York Peninsula, south to Mackay are on flood alert. The Bruce Highway has been cut in several places. The SES has fielded 75 calls for assistance with fallen trees and leaky roofs across central and north Queensland under the wild weather.
In a crazy week for Queensland weather, the bureau has issued warnings ranging from cyclones, to fire danger, extreme heat, floods and dangerous winds. Forecasters expect a severe to extreme fire danger in a huge slab of country running from the northwest of the state to the far southwest. The region is struggling with temperatures to 45C, humidity down to 10 per cent and winds to 50km/hr.
"Despite the heavy rain currently impacting parts of northern Queensland at this time, it is anticipated western areas of the state will experience high temperatures and strong winds in coming days, conditions that make it difficult to contain fires that flare up. Extreme to severe fire conditions are forecast." The news comes as the National Climate Centre's outlook for February to April is for as little as a 40 per cent chance of receiving above average rain for the southern and southeast-NSW border region but better odds for the north.
Meanwhile, north Queensland's big wet is being blamed for the death of a motorist, killed as wild weather lashed Proserpine. Queensland Rail has closed the rail link between Cairns and Townsville as authorities warn of flash flooding. Residents in flood-prone Ingham have been warned to stock up on supplies with the Herbert River rising rapidly and expected to peak at 11m, with nearly 200mm of rain dumped on the town in three hours.
Almost all of the state's reef-going tourist operators have cancelled trips, for the first time since category-five Cyclone Yasi two years ago, because of thunderstorms and gale-force winds up to 90km/hr with 4m-high seas. Cairns, Townsville and Whitsundays ports were a hive of activity as crews tied off cruise ships, dive boats and yachts yesterday.
The Bruce Highway remains cut north of Ingham and south of Tully with the road underwater in spots after huge combined fall totals of nearly 1000mm in three days with a 300m long convoy of trucks, cars and scores of stranded travellers at Cardwell. (map & photos)
Heavy rain set to hit New South Wales north coast. - Residents along NSW's north coast have been warned to prepare for heavy rain and potential flooding over the weekend, while big seas are forecast for the state's south. The Bureau of Meteorology on Thursday issued a flood watch as the tropical low moves south from Queensland, bringing with it severe wet weather.
The heavy rain is expected to hit areas between the Queensland border and Port Macquarie, including the northern rivers, mid north coast and eastern parts of the northern tablelands, on Sunday and Monday. Gale force winds and damaging surf are forecast. "Rivers, creeks and streams can rise quickly during storms so it's important, particularly for campers, to be aware of the conditions and move to higher ground if bad weather sets in."
The Bureau also issued a strong wind warning for the parts of the state's far south coast thanks to a strengthening high pressure system over the Tasman Sea. Winds of up to 55km/h are expected overnight, with combined sea and swell of up to three metres on waters between Green Cape and Gabo Island.

[TODAY'S UPDATE CONTINUES BELOW. Some kind of publishing glitch divided it into two sections.]