Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**I do not like that man. Then I must get to know him better.**
Abraham Lincoln

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/28/15 -

7/27/15 -

7/26/15 -

7/25/15 -

7/24/15 -

Indonesia earthquake: Magnitude 7.0 quake - Teenager killed, buildings damaged. A powerful earthquake rocked remote eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, damaging several buildings and killing a teenage boy who drowned after he fell into a river as he fished. A 50m crack also appeared in a road.
The 7.0-magnitude quake struck inland in a mountainous area of Papua in the early hours, almost 250km west of the province's capital Jayapura. "The quake was felt very strongly for four seconds. Residents panicked and rushed out of their homes." Rescuers were still trying to reach the area closest to the epicentre in Memberamo district.
One house collapsed and another was partially damaged in Kasonaweja city, not far from the epicentre, while patients were evacuated from a hospital after its walls cracked. The quake was 32.8 miles deep and was centred 154 miles west of Jayapura. There was no threat of any tsunami.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. A huge undersea quake in 2004 triggered the tsunami that engulfed Aceh province on western Sumatra island, killing more than 170,000 people in Indonesia and tens of thousands more in other countries with coasts on the Indian Ocean.

Alaska's Aleutian Islands hit by 6.9 magnitude quake - The quake struck 60 miles south-west of the village of Nikolski in islands Tuesday at around 9pm local time, at a depth of 14 miles.

Children miss school, fear abuse after Nepal quake - Inadequate shelter, school closures and a lack of safe water and sanitation are the three biggest concerns of Nepali children affected by two huge earthquakes, said a major survey published on Saturday, the three month anniversary of the first quake.
Children interviewed by aid agencies in the aftermath of the disaster also expressed worry about the lack of privacy and space, with younger children fearing attacks by wild animals, and girls feeling vulnerable to sexual harassment. At least 2.8 million people, around 10 percent of Nepal's population, need urgent help according to a U.N. report published earlier this month. Almost 9,000 people were killed by the quakes on April 25 and May 12.
Nearly 2,000 children were interviewed by four charities, in what they described as one of the largest ever child consultations ever undertaken following a disaster. "Tens of thousands of children are living in inadequate shelters." "It is still a race against time to provide basic needs of shelter, sanitation and protection."
Separate research carried out by Oxfam in Dhading district to the west of capital Kathmandhu found that women and adolescent girls feel at risk of physical and sexual abuse in temporary shelters which are often overcrowded. The situation is particularly bad for single women, often widows and divorcees, who tend to be isolated and receive little in the way of community support. "After living through two massive earthquakes, this situation is only compounding their trauma."

Mega-quake: The 'big one' could happen soon, but probably not where you think - instead the Pacific Northwest might be where the next huge tremors happen, say seismologists. Alarmingly, seismologists now predict that the odds of a mega-quake hitting the Cascadia subduction zone in the next 50 years are roughly one in three. The big one is coming, inevitably.
If you believe what you see in the movies, you probably think that "the big one" — a mega- earthquake in a major North American city — will inevitably hit Los Angeles or San Francisco along the San Andreas Fault. But while these cities are certainly prone to devastating earthquakes, many experts now suspect that the site of the next really, really big one will be somewhere else entirely.
It may happen in the Pacific Northwest, and possibly be the most ruinous, destructive earthquake to hit North America in modern times. The characterization might seem unlikely to current residents — the Pacific Northwest rarely experiences large tremors — but the region sits at the crux of a major fault line called the Cascadia subduction zone, a tectonic plate boundary that stretches from northern Vancouver Island to northern California.
Earthquakes along subduction zones, or plate boundaries where one plate is sinking dramatically underneath the other, are the most powerful earthquakes known to occur, capable of exceeding 9.0 on the Richter Scale. It was movement along this same kind of tectonic boundary that caused the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The scale of earthquakes along these types of zones can often be proportional to the length of the fault, and as faults go, the Cascadia subduction zone is a particularly lengthy one. In other words, the entire region essentially sits upon (and, in fact, has been fundamentally shaped by) a perfect storm for mega-quakes.
So then, why are large earthquakes so uncommon in the Pacific Northwest? They're actually not, at least not if you think in terms of geological timescales. Scientists now know that mega-quakes have occurred along this plate boundary once every 243 years on average.
The last big one occurred 315 years ago, in the year 1700. That is more than 100 years before explorers Lewis and Clark had even first traversed the region. When a quake in excess of 9.0 in magnitude does occur along the entire length of the Cascadia zone, the resultant tremor will likely level much of the architecture in cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Salem and Eugene, which is not designed to withstand such a violent shake. Structures that do survive the trembling could be inundated by a 20- to 100-foot tsunami wave that could be triggered up and down the coast.
The entire map of the Pacific Northwest west of the I-5 corridor may need to be redrawn by the end of the disaster. It's a terrifying scenario, especially considering how woefully unprepared the region is for handling such a disaster. The best that can be hoped for is that such a mega-quake occurs late along its typical interval, and that developers in the region wise up to the possibility of such a catastrophe and have plenty of time to up their preparedness.

Grenada reports decreased activity at underwater volcano — An underwater volcano north of Grenada is showing a decline in seismic activity, authorities on the eastern Caribbean island said Saturday.
Grenada's National Disaster Management Agency said it expects to lower the alert level from orange to yellow if that pattern continues. Seismic activity recently increased at the Kick 'em Jenny volcano, with authorities warning on Thursday that an eruption could occur within 24 hours. But there had been fewer than 20 earthquakes associated with the volcano between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
"This represents a significant decline in the level of earthquakes associated with the activity so far." The volcano's recent heightened activity prompted authorities in the Caribbean region to issue alerts, but officials at the center said there was no risk of a destructive tsunami. "There is no need for panic. People should go about their daily lives as normal."
At Grenada's disaster management agency, officials were upgrading equipment to better monitor the volcano and provide more precise data. The volcano has erupted beneath the Caribbean Sea at least 12 times without causing any deaths or injuries. The last eruption occurred in 2001. Kick 'em Jenny was discovered in the 1930s and rises 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) above the seafloor on a steep slope of the Lesser Antilles ridge.


*In the North Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone 02b is located approximately 64 nm south-southwest of Chittagong, Bangladesh.

*In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical depression Eight-E is located bout 1325 mi (2135 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours, but the depression could still become a tropical storm today.

Quiet in the Atlantic - Two Disturbances for Hawaii to Watch. On Monday, the tropics had fallen silent the past two days, with no named storms anywhere on the planet. It's not unusual to see a quiet period for tropical cyclones in July, which lies before the climatological peak months of August, September, and October in the Northern Hemisphere (a tropical cyclone is the generic term for all tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes/typhoons).
The tropical cyclone-free period will likely be short lived, though, as Invest 90E, located in the Eastern Pacific about 1,050 miles southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula on Monday morning, may develop into a tropical depression by Wednesday. This system is something residents of Hawaii should keep an eye on. Satellite loops show the disturbance has good degree of spin, but heavy thunderstorm activity is limited due to dry air and moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots.
The system is on a trajectory that will likely take it within 300 miles of Hawaii this weekend, but the latest SHIPS model forecast shows that late this week 90E will encounter higher wind shear, cooler ocean temperatures, and drier, more stable air. These conditions should cause significant weakening as 90E approaches Hawaii.
In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 90E 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 40% and 70%, respectively. Hawaii should also watch a tropical wave located several hundred miles south of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. This wave was moving westwards, and should arrive in the vicinity of Hawaii by Tuesday next week. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave this disturbance 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 0% and 40%, respectively.

In the Indian Ocean's Bay of Bengal, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is issuing advisories on Tropical Depression 2, which is bringing heavy rains to portions of India and Bangladesh along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Tropical depressions embedded within India's monsoon rarely grow into strong tropical storms, but can be prodigious rain makers.
India's monsoon has been 12% below normal in rainfall as of July 22, so the country could use more rainfall - though perhaps not in the concentrated manner a monsoon tropical depression typically delivers, causing dangerous flooding rains. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center is not classifying this system as a tropical depression yet.

In the Western Pacific, all looks to be quiet until at least this Saturday, when both the European and GFS models predict a new tropical depression could form about 500 miles east of the Philippines.

African tropical wave-watching season has begun - In the Atlantic, it's the time of year when we need to start watching the regular procession of tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa. About 85% of all major hurricanes in the Atlantic get their start as an African tropical wave, so these potential trouble-makers are important to track and monitor.
We do have several solid tropical waves with decent spin and moisture that have pushed off the coast of Africa over the past few days, but these tropical waves face a rugged path ahead of them if they want to develop into tropical depressions. Wind shear off the coast of Africa is not prohibitive - a moderate 10 - 20 knots - but a massive area of dry, dusty air - a Saharan Air Layer (SAL) outbreak common for this time of year - is dominating most of the tropical Atlantic, from the coast of Africa into the Central Caribbean.
This dry air will make it difficult for any tropical waves to spin up into tropical depressions over the Eastern Atlantic. If something does manage to form, it will likely be short-lived, if it attempts to move very far west. High wind shear of 20 - 40 knots dominates the Caribbean, and is expected to stay strong for at least the next five days. The ensemble runs of the GFS and European models - done by running the models at lower resolution and varying the initial atmospheric conditions slightly to generate an "ensemble" of twenty potential weather situations (fifty for the European model) - do have a few of their 20 - 50 runs that develop a tropical depression from one of these African tropical waves later this week.
However, none of these solutions have the storm that develops making it as far west as the Lesser Antilles Islands, and the operational high-resolution versions of our three top models for predicting genesis of tropical cyclones - the GFS, European, and UKMET models - do not show anything developing this week. NHC did not highlight any suspected areas of development over the next five days in their 8 am Monday Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook.

Heavy rains in Florida from Gulf of Mexico low. A low pressure system has formed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida, and will drift toward the Florida coast, bringing 1 - 3" of rain with a few high spots of 3 - 5" over Central Florida over the next few days. The Tampa radar is estimating that this low has already brought 6+ inches of rain to the coast near Tampa, Fort Myers, and Naples.
High wind shear of 20 - 30 knots is keeping this system from developing. While a number of members of the GFS and European ensemble model forecast do show this system developing, none of the operational versions of our reliable models for predicting genesis of tropical cyclones show development over the next five days.

Super typhoon Haiyan: what happened to the survivors? - In the Philippines,candles lit up the streets of the central Philippine city of Tacloban worst-hit by the strongest storm to make landfall as thousands remembered more than 6,300 people who died a year ago when typhoon Haiyan smashed into the country.
Before dawn on Saturday, more than 5,000 people holding white balloons and candles mournfully walked around the regional capital Tacloban City, passing through areas flattened by Haiyan's 250 kph (155 mph) winds and seven-metre high storm surge. Typhoon Haiyan wiped out or damaged practically everything in its path as it swept ashore on Nov. 8, 2013, destroying around 90 percent of the city of Tacloban in Leyte province.
More than 14.5 million people were affected by the storm in six regions and 44 provinces. More than four million people still remain homeless. Hundreds of people, most of them fishermen, staged protests in the city on Saturday, demanding the government provide new homes and jobs, and accusing officials of diverting aid and reconstruction funds.
"We have felt a year's worth of the government's vicious abandonment, corruption, deceit, and repression, and have seen a year's worth of news and studies that confirm this situation (multiple additional Haiyan typhoon stories at the link)


Pakistan - Flash flooding caused by torrential monsoon rains has killed at least 28 in Pakistan and affected hundreds of thousands of people, with further downpours expected in the coming days.
In Chitral in the northwest, roads, bridges and crops were badly damaged, with more than a quarter of a million affected. Pakistan's poorest province, Baluchistan in the southwest, was also badly hit. "Some villages have been cut off from the rest of the district." People in flood-prone areas have been shifted to safer ground.
Heavy rains are expected over the weekend, which may cause more flash flooding and could trigger landslides in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which includes Chitral. The heavy rains started falling on July 15, and continued over the next week throughout the country, causing some urban flooding in Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Deadly flooding is common in Pakistan's monsoon season, which runs from June to September. Last September dozens of people in Punjab and Kashmir were killed when flash floods caused their homes to collapse. In 2010, the worst floods in memory affected killed more than 2,000 people in Pakistan, with damage to infrastructure running into billions of dollars, and huge swathes of crops destroyed as a fifth of the country was inundated.


RECORD OCEAN TEMPERATURES Threaten Hawaii's Coral Reefs - Record warm sea surface temperatures in Hawaii's waters threaten to bring a second consecutive year of RECORD CORAL BLEACHING to their precious coral reefs this summer.
Ocean temperatures in the waters near and to the south of the Hawaiian Islands were 1 - 2°C (1.8 - 3.6°F) above average in June, which was the WARMEST THESE WATERS HAVE BEEN SINCE RECORD KEEPING BEGAN OVER A CENTURY AGO. With the waters surrounding Hawaii expected to warm to their highest values of the summer by September, and likely remain 1 - 2°C above average, NOAA's Coral Reef Watch has placed the islands under a Coral Bleach Watch, and their experimental coral bleaching forecast gives a 50 - 90% chance that Hawaii will experience "Level 2" thermal stress this summer - the highest category of danger, likely to result in widespread coral bleaching and mortality.
The record warm ocean temperatures are due to a strong El Niño event that is pushing large amounts of record-warm water into the Central Pacific, in combination with the steady rise in ocean temperatures due to global warming. Mass coral die-offs commonly occur during strong El Niño events; 16% of the worlds coral reefs were effectively lost during a nine-month coral bleaching episode associated with the 1997 - 1998 record-strength El Niño event. With this year's El Niño event likely to be almost as strong as the 1997 - 1998 one, coral reefs are going to take a beating again.
El Niño conditions have produced an extremely warm band of water from the central equatorial Pacific to the South American coast, and Level 2 thermal stress has already been reached in the Gilbert, Phoenix, and Northern Line Islands in Kiribati, as well as in Micronesia, the Howland and Baker Islands, and to the east in the Galápagos. UNUSUALLY WARM WATERS are also in place along the northern coast of Cuba and in the Bahamas, and NOAA's experimental coral bleaching forecast gives about a 70% chance coral reefs in these waters will experience Satellite Bleaching Alert Level 2 thermal stress this summer - the highest category of danger, likely to result in widespread coral bleaching and mortality.
Second consecutive year of severe coral bleaching in Hawaii - Hawaii's reefs are already reeling from their worst coral bleaching event in recorded history in 2014, when record warm ocean temperatures caused 50 - 70% of the corals sampled in Northeast Oahu's Kaneohe Bay to bleach. When the sea surface temperature is 1°C warmer than the highest monthly mean temperature corals usually experience, coral polyps will expel the symbiotic algae that live in their tissues, exposing the white skeleton underneath, resulting in a white "bleached" appearance.
Death can result if the stress is high and long-lived. In Hawaii's waters, corals cannot tolerate water temperatures above 83°F (28.3°C) for multi-week periods without suffering bleaching. Corals typically recover from mild bleaching, gradually recovering their color by repopulating their algae. However, if the bleaching is severe or prolonged, individual polyps or whole colonies will die. With Hawaii likely to undergo a second consecutive year of record warm waters and coral bleaching in 2015, widespread mortality in many of Hawaii's coral reefs is possible, particularly around the Big Island.
Could a hurricane help? When hurricanes and tropical storms churn the waters, they upwell large amounts of cooler waters from the depths that can cool the surface waters, potentially reducing the thermal stress on coral reefs. The heavy rains from the storm can also potentially cause cooling. This occurred in the Virgin Islands in 2010, when Hurricane Earl and Hurricane Otto helped relieve a potentially dangerous coral bleaching episode.
So, should Hawaii hope for a hurricane this September to help save its coral reefs? Well, be careful what you wish for. Hurricanes cause damage to reefs. Following Tropical Storm Iselle, which hit the Big Island of Hawaii on August 7, 2014, with 60 mph winds, researchers at the University of Hawaii, Hilo documented that one coral reef on the Big Island (the Wai`opae tide pools) suffered physical damage from pounding waves that broke up to 18% of the coral colonies of one species of coral with long slender branches - cauliflower coral. Other corals suffered lesser damage, 0 - 10% breakage. In addition, these corals were subjected to sewage contamination due to damage of cesspools and septic tanks.
The large amount of carbon dioxide humans have put into the air in recent decades has done more than just raise Earth's global temperature - it has also increased the acidity of the oceans, since carbon dioxide dissolves in sea water to form carbonic acid. The oceans are acidifying faster than at any time in the past 300 million years. Corals have trouble growing in acidic sea water, and the combined effects of increasing ocean temperatures, increasing acidity, pollution, and overfishing have reduced coral reefs globally by 19 percent between 1950 - 2008.
Another 35 percent could disappear in the next 40 years, even without the impact of climate change, according to a report released in October 2010 by the World Meteorological Organization and the Convention on Biological Diversity. (excellent maps at link)

Spain wildfires: Firefighters battle huge blaze in Catalonia - video. The Catalonia region of Spain has seen its biggest forest fire this year, with more than 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) burned in less than 24 hours. Helicopters have been used to contain the fire, which broke out on Sunday. Some 400 people were forced to leave their homes, but authorities said there had been no reports of injuries.

Last week, July 17 - Video - Greece forest fires threaten homes in Athens and in the south. Firefighters tackling forest fires in the Kareas district of north-east Athens and the southern Peloponnese peninsula. Helicopters and planes dropping water onto the flames in both regions, and soldiers drafted in to help. Three villages and two summer camps evacuated in the Peloponnese area.

Fires in U.S. West threaten thousands of structures - Fires burning in drought-parched California on Tuesday menaced thousands of structures as firefighters struggled to corral the blazes there and elsewhere in the U.S. West.
The so-called Lowell Fire north of the state capital Sacramento has injured four of the 2,277 firefighters battling it. One firefighter was hospitalized with serious burns. Roughly a third of the 2,233-acre blaze was contained as of Tuesday morning, with low humidity and high heat expected throughout the day. Roads were closed and evacuation warnings were in place around the fire, which was threatening about 1,800 structures.
To the south, a 1,739-acre fire forced the evacuation of campgrounds in the Sierra National Forest and threatened some 450 structures, including homes and vacation cabins. The so-called Willow Fire, north of the central California city of Fresno, was only 5 percent contained as of Tuesday morning. Experts have PREDICTED AN UNUSUALLY ACTIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE WILDFIRE SEASON IN CALIFORNIA as the state grapples with a fourth year of crippling drought.

In northwestern Montana's Glacier National Park, firefighters managed to draw containment lines around roughly half of the 3,170-acre Reynolds Creek fire. Firefighters were aided overnight by cooler temperatures and rain in the area. The blaze broke out last Tuesday, forcing the closure of campgrounds, a motor inn and several trails, as well as the picturesque Going-to-the-Sun Road that bisects the park. Most of the park, which straddles the Canadian border, was unaffected by the fire and remained open to the public.

Last week - Video of cars on fire as California brush fires spread - 18 July. A fast-moving brush fire in the Los Angeles area shut down a major freeway and set cars on fire. The flames, swept by desert winds, burned on both sides of Interstate 15, the main connecting road between southern California and Las Vegas. Dozens of vehicles were abandoned as drivers ran to safety.

California seeing more wildfires, but sustaining less damage - The number of California wildfires so far this year is up, but the acreage burned is smaller, the result of favorable weather and more firefighters who can quickly be dispatched to corral flames, fire officials say.

Half of Columbia River sockeye salmon dying due to hot water - More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries due to warming water temperatures.
Federal and state fisheries biologists say the warm water is lethal for the cold-water species and is wiping out at least half of this year's return of 500,000 fish. "We had a really big migration of sockeye. The thing that really hurts is we're going to lose a majority of those fish." Up to 80 percent of the population could ultimately perish.
Elsewhere in the region, more than 100 spring chinook died earlier this month in the Middle Fork of the John Day River when water temperatures hit the mid-70s. Oregon and Washington state have both enacted sport fishing closures due to warm water, and sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River upstream of Bonneville Dam has been halted after some of the large, bottom dwelling fish started turning up dead.
Efforts by management teams to cool flows below 70 degrees by releasing cold water from selected reservoirs are continuing in an attempt to prevent similar fish kills among chinook salmon and steelhead, which migrate later in the summer from the Pacific Ocean. The fish become stressed at temperatures above 68 degrees and stop migrating at 74 degrees. Much of the basin is at or over 70 degrees due to a combination that experts attribute to drought and RECORD HEAT IN JUNE. "The tributaries are running hot. A lot of those are in the 76-degree range."
In Idaho, an emergency declaration earlier this month allowed state fisheries managers to capture endangered Snake River sockeye destined for central Idaho and take them to a hatchery to recover in cooler water. Of the 4,000 fish that passed Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, less than a fourth made it to Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River. An average year is 70 percent.
"Right now it's grim for adult sockeye." Sockeye will often pull into tributary rivers in search of cooler water, but aren't finding much relief. "They're running out of energy reserves, and we're getting a lot of reports of fish dead and dying." Thirteen species of salmon and steelhead are listed as endangered or threatened in the Columbia River basin.
Fish congregating in confined areas trying to find cool water makes them a target for pathogens. "When temperatures get warm, it does stress the fish out and they become susceptible to disease." This year's flow in the Columbia River is among the lowest in the last 60 years. But the system has experienced similar low flows without the lethal water temperatures. The difference this year has been prolonged hot temperatures, sometimes more than 100 degrees, in the interior part of the basin. "The flow is abnormally low, but on top of that we've had superhot temperatures for a really long time."


Extinction events linked to prehuman global warming - Rapid warming killed many mammoths and other large beasts before humans arrived on the scene, new research shows.
The lead author found extinction events “staggered through time” across the northern hemisphere coincided with short, rapid warming events. Temperatures increased 4C to 16C over just a few decades and “lasted for hundreds to thousands of years”, causing “dramatic shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns”. Animals struggled to cope and dispersed or died out, disappearing from regions such as Europe and North America, or Alaska and the Yukon, northwest Canada.
These warming events occurred throughout the late Pleistocene, 60,000 to 12,000 years ago, before the climate settled down. Then humans arrived and made the “final hit”. “But it was climate change that had done all the damage, reduced the populations down to small sizes and in many cases wiped out the species from most of the planet, even before humans turned up.”
The Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA said rather than being totally responsible for megafauna extinctions, humans had a “synergistic role”, exacerbating the impacts of climate change. “Humans are certainly having an impact when they turn up. What we suggest is they are disrupting the ways in which populations are connected, so that when a population in an area becomes extinct, due to the climate shifts, it’s not possible for that population to be refounded by neighbouring populations, by individuals moving back into the vacant space."
“Humans are having their impacts by interrupting that process and stopping areas that have become vacant for climatic reasons from being filled back up. That way these vacant areas can start getting bigger and bigger and start causing whole ecosystem changes.” He warned current human-induced global warming would be even worse for animals because in most cases “moving is no longer an option”. “When you add the modern addition of human pressures and fragmenting of the environment to the rapid changes brought by global warming, it raises serious concerns about the future of our environment."

This lake in Canada's North is literally about to fall off a cliff - In the coming months, a lake in the Northwest Territories is expected to breach the earthen embankment containing it and flow over a cliff, sending tens of thousands of cubic meters of water crashing into a neighboring valley.
An advisory updated this week by the Northwest Territories Geological Survey warns that the small lake near the Gwich'in community of Fort McPherson is expected "to drain catastrophically during 2015, resulting in a flash flood and possibly a debris flow." Although the hamlet is not threatened by the anticipated flood, scientists say the destruction of the nameless lake is one example of the climate change that is expected to continue to alter the environment of Alaska, Siberia, and Canada's Far North.
"It's just another piece in the puzzle showing how the climate is changing in regions that are especially sensitive to even small changes. As we change the atmosphere and alter the way systems operate, these events are going to become more and more frequent."
The destruction of the lake, which is expected in late summer or early fall, will be the result of increased heavy rainfall and temperatures, which have risen several degrees since recording began in the 1940s. These forces are gradually melting arctic permafrost, which in much of the NWT is contained in ice headwalls, sometimes as much as 30 meters thick. Heat and rain are melting headwall ice, exposing soil and sediment, which is in turn washed away, revealing more ice, in a process that creates large slumps in the landscape. One of these slumps is eroding backwards into the land around the doomed lake, eating away at what now may be fewer than five meters of soil and sediment holding back the water.
"Sometime, probably this summer, it's just going to erode so far back that it's just going to catastrophically drain." The ensuing floodwaters are expected to flow into another larger lake in the Mackenzie Valley, leaving the nearby community unscathed.
But the slumping permafrost is causing other problems. The runoff and sediment from the melting headwalls creates pools of sucking mud that moose sometimes get stuck in and residents take care to avoid. The displaced sediment also runs into previously clear mountain streams and lakes, choking the gills of fish. There is also concern that a slump bordering the Dempster Highway — the only land route in and out of Fort McPherson — may eventually damage or destroy a section of the road. These worries are part of how life at the northern edges of the Northwest Territories is increasingly colored by the changing environment. "We're seeing more of it, because of the temperatures."

Worldwide strengthening El Nino giveth and taketh away - In California, they're counting on it to end an historic drought; in Peru, they've already declared a pre-emptive emergency to prepare for devastating flooding. It's both an economic stimulus and a recession-maker. And it's likely to increase the price of coffee, chocolate and sugar.
This El Nino is most likely to be the largest in well over a decade, forecasters say. A lot more than mere weather, it affects lives and pocketbooks in different ways in different places. Every few years, the winds shift and the water in the Pacific Ocean gets warmer than usual. That water sloshes back and forth around the equator in the Pacific, interacts with the winds above and then changes weather worldwide. This is El Nino. Droughts are triggered in places like Australia and India, but elsewhere, droughts are quenched and floods replace them. The Pacific gets more hurricanes; the Atlantic fewer. Winter gets milder and wetter in much of the United States. The world warms.
An El Nino means the Pacific Ocean off Peru's coast is warm, especially a huge patch 330 feet (100 meters) below the surface, and as it gets warmer and close to the surface, the weather "is just going to be a river falling from the sky." Around the world, crops fail in some places, thrive elsewhere. Commercial fishing shifts. More people die of flooding, fewer from freezing. Americans spend less on winter heating. The global economy shifts.
"El Nino is not the end of the world so you don't have to hide under the bed. The reality is that in the U.S. an El Nino can be a good thing." This El Nino officially started in March and keeps getting stronger. If current trends continue, it should officially be termed a strong El Nino early in August, peak sometime near the end of year and peter out sometime next spring. Meteorologists say it looks like the biggest such event since the fierce El Nino of 1997-1998.
California mudslides notwithstanding, the U.S. economy benefited by nearly $22 billion from that El Nino, according to a 1999 study. That study found that 189 people were killed in the U.S, mainly from tornadoes linked to El Nino, but an estimated 850 lives were saved due to a milder winter. A United Nations-backed study said that El Nino cost Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela nearly $11 billion. Flooding in Peru destroyed bridges, homes, hospitals and crops and left 354 dead and 112 missing. The mining industry in Peru and Chile was hammered as flooding hindered exports.
Though this year's El Nino is likely to be weaker than the 1997-1998 version, the economic impact may be greater because the world's interconnected economy has changed with more vulnerable supply chains. Economic winners include the U.S., China, Mexico and Europe while India, Australia and Peru are among El Nino's biggest losers.
On average, a healthy El Nino can boost the U.S. economy by about 0.55 percent of Gross Domestic Product, which would translate more than $90 billion this year, an International Monetary Fund study calculated this spring. But it could also slice an entire percentage point off Indonesia's GDP. Indonesia gets hit particularly hard because an expected El Nino drought affects the country's mining, power, cocoa, and coffee industries. The expected El Nino drought in parts of Australia has started and may trim as much as 1 percent off of the country's GDP.
But the lead El Nino forecaster at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University cautioned that while El Nino has predictable effects and this one is strong, what happens next is not exactly certain. But Peruvians are worried. Important export crops such as mangos and asparagus that grow in coastal valleys are already being adversely affected by the UNSEASONABLY HIGH TEMPERATURES. "The export mango crop has not yet flowered. And if we don't have flowers we don't have fruit."
And then there's the flooding. Peru declared a pre-emptive state of emergency this month for 14 of its 25 states, appropriating some $70 million to prepare. Authorities are clearing river beds of debris, reinforcing river banks with rock and fortifying reservoir walls. Sandbags and rocks are also being piled on some river banks. "If the sea stays this hot at the end of August I'm afraid we're doomed."

What to Expect from El Niño: North America - We’re now well into the ramp-up phase of what promises to be one of the top three El Niño events of the last 60-plus years. Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Niño3.4 region - an area straddling the eastern tropical Pacific - are the most widely accepted index for the oceanic evolution of El Niño.
NOAA announced in its weekly ENSO update on Monday that Niño 3.4 SSTs were running 1.6°C degrees above the seasonal average for the week ending Monday. While this is down slightly from a peak of 1.7°C the week before, minor weekly variations aren’t worth getting too worked up about. The latest value still keeps the current El Niño in the “strong” category (Niño 3.4 SSTs at least 1.5°C above average). Unusually warm waters now extend from the South America coast westward to the International Date Line in a classic El Niño signature With widespread above-average SSTs at least partially related to El Niño extending northward across much of the northeast Pacific.
For much of 2014, the atmosphere failed to respond to several brief warmings of the eastern tropical Pacific, but now both ocean and air are locked into the synchrony that builds and sustains the strongest El Niño events. Westerly winds bursts continue to kick up across the tropical Pacific, pushing warm water downward and eastward in the form of lumbering, downwelling Kelvin waves that push toward the shores of South America, where they act to suppress the normal upwelling of cooler water.
The only El Niño events in NOAA's 1950-2015 database comparable in strength to the one now developing occurred in 1982-83 and 1997-98. A single pair of cases is a thin framework on which to build any projections of what El Niño may bring across North America this winter. However, three other episodes since 1950 are rated as “strong” (Niño3.4 readings topping the SST threshold of +1.5°C for at least three overlapping three-month periods). Many of the far-flung atmospheric responses to El Niño become more reliable the stronger the event, so it’s wise to look especially closely at these cases, rather than simply averaging across all El Niño events.
North America has some of the world’s clearest tie-ins to El Niño - not surprisingly, since we’re located just north of the oceanic heart of the phenomenon. Drought-easing rains for California likely, but not certain. Some of the keenest interest in El Niño lies with Californians, who are suffering through Year 4 of an extreme drought that’s left Sierra snowpack in tatters and pushed statewide average temperatures far above anything on record over the last few months.
The state needs a very wet winter just to get soil moisture back to near-normal levels, and a good deal more than that to bring California’s reservoirs and groundwater close to their long-term average. "It takes years to get into a drought of this severity, and it will likely take many more big storms, and years, to crawl out of it."
Like other strong El Niño events, this one will almost certainly last just one winter. But at least for the coming wet season, it holds encouraging odds of well-above average precipitation for California. During a strong El Niño, the subtropical jet stream is energized across the southern U.S., while the polar jet stream tends to stay north of its usual winter position or else consolidate with the subtropical jet.
This gives warm, wet Pacific systems a better chance to push northeast into California. During 1997-98, downtown San Francisco scored its largest number of days with measurable rain (119) and its second wettest rainfall season (47.22”) since records began in 1849, coming in behind only 1861-62 (49.27”). The 1982-83 event was the fifth wettest in San Francisco annals, with a wet-season total of 38.17”. In downtown Los Angeles, the 1982-83 and 1997-98 seasons came in as fifth and sixth wettest, respectively, with 31.25” and 31.01”. Records began in L.A. in 1877.
Californians will need to be patient, as the biggest drenchings from a strong El Niño can take until the midwinter peak of the wet season to arrive (December can actually be drier than average). The 1997-98 season didn’t produce much more than sporadic storms until January in northern California and February over the state as a whole. The story was similar in 1982 -83, which brought California its biggest storms after New Year's.
This was before regular monitoring of El Niño, so scientists and the public didn't even know that a wet winter was in the cards. Things were different in 1997-98, when ocean monitoring systems caught the development of El Niño months ahead of its U.S. impact and word spread widely through traditional media and the burgeoning World Wide Web (and via Chris Farley in a brief but unforgettable “Saturday Night Live” skit).
With hopes for drought relief running so high in California, it can’t be stressed enough that El Niño shifts the odds but doesn’t guarantee the roll of the meteorological dice in any particular winter. On the plus side, the heavy rains that often accompany a strong El Niño don’t necessarily translate into major flooding damage. That threat hinges largely on the timing, intensity, and location of individual storm systems, which can cause problems during La Niña or El Niño alike.
Milder and drier a good bet for Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains, western Canada The altering of the polar and subtropical jet stream tracks fostered by El Niño can leave a big chunk of North America in the lurch, with relatively tranquil weather that tends to be warmer and drier than average. Unusually mild weather can overspread most of Canada - 1998 was the nation’s warmest year on record, though 2014 didn’t pan out that way) - and the mildness often extends across the northern tier of US states from Washington to the Great Lakes. (The winter of 1997-98 was the second warmest in U.S. history.)
It won’t necessarily be bone-dry in normally damp places like Washington or British Columbia, but anything less than average precipitation wouldn’t be good news for that region, which has seen wildfires taking advantage of a warm winter with little snowpack followed by a very dry spring. One potential benefit to the Pacific Northwest this winter: “Big windstorms avoid strong El Niño years.”
Rockies snowfall: The south usually wins out. Thanks to the jet-shifting effects noted above, snowfall tends to be below average in the Northern Rockies and above average in the Southern Rockies during strong El Niños. The north-south split extends to Colorado, where northern resorts such as Steamboat Springs typically lose out to areas like the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo ranges across the southern part of the state. Along the populous Front Range from Denver to Fort Collins, El Niño hikes the odds of a big snowstorm, especially in the spring and autumn. About half of Boulder’s 12” – 14” storms occur during El Niño, and the odds of a 20” or greater storm are quadrupled during El Niño as opposed to La Niña. .
Rainy and cool across the Gulf Coast - According to NOAA, the single most reliable El Niño outcome in the United States, occurring in more than 80% of El Niño events over the last century, is the tendency for wet wintertime conditions along and near the Gulf Coast, thanks to the juiced-up subtropical jet stream. (The same upper-level jet also tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity by fostering subsidence and stable air and boosting the upper- level wind shear that inhibits tropical cyclone formation).
Severe weather is often associated with El Niño during the winter months across the southeast fringes of the nation, a finding reinforced in a 2015 study. The study found that the risk of tornadoes across south Texas and Florida is roughly doubled during El Niño. Florida's worst outbreak on record occurred on February 22-23, 1998, during the intense 1997-98 El Niño. A total of 12 tornadoes killed 42 people, mainly in a swath running along Interstate 4 through central Florida.
A dry pocket in the Midwest - One fairly localized but distinct product of El Niño is a tendency for drier-than-usual winters across the lower Midwest, especially in the Ohio Valley. A typical winter brings a stream of low-pressure centers approaching the lower Midwest from either the southwest or northwest. The split stream favored by El Niño tends to push these lows either well north or well south of the Ohio Valley, leaving the area with better-than-usual odds of relatively mild temperatures and light precipitation during the core of winter.
What about the Northeast US? Some of the bigger snowstorms on record for the mid-Atlantic and Northeast have accompanied El Niño events, but the influence of El Niño is highly conditional on other factors. The blockbuster El Niño events of 1982-83 and 1997-98 pushed temperatures across the entire Midwest and Northeast well above average, yet the ”Megapolitan” snowstorm of February 10-12, 1983, pummeled big cities along the East Coast with widespread 1-to-2-foot amounts.
The most destructive winter weather event of 1997-98 was actually a multiday ice storm that paralyzed Montreal and parts of far northern New York and New England for days. And the infamous Snowmageddon of 2009-10 occurred during a moderate El Niño. One crucial element is the state of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a semi-cyclic atmospheric pattern that describes whether the flow from eastern North America to Europe is a strong, west-to-east channel (a positive NAO) or a more wavy, variable path (a negative NAO).
Heavy snow during El Niño becomes much more likely along the eastern seaboard when a negative NAO predominates. Winter hasn’t been especially kind to the northeast U.S. and eastern Canada over the last few years, with frequent negative NAO periods leading to major winter storms and intense cold buffeting the region more than one might expect in a warming climate.
Villain or welcome guest? When all is said and done, a strong El Niño can actually be a net benefit to the US economy. A detailed analysis estimated that U.S. weather associated with the big 1997-98 El Niño event led to direct losses of about $4 billion but direct gains of around $19 billion. Moreover, hundreds more lives were saved by the lack of intense winter cold than were taken by El Niño-related storminess. The United States is one of the largest beneficaries of El Niño relative to other parts of the globe.

Scientists Identify 'Triple Threat' Endangering US Coastal Cities - The 'meteorological double whammy' of heavy rainfall and storm surges is only further exacerbated by rising sea levels, scientists say. The trio of phenomena attributed at least in part to climate change—sea-level rise, storm surges, and heavy rainfall — poses an increasing risk to residents of major U.S. cities including Boston, New York, Houston, San Diego, and San Francisco, according to new research. "Call it a triple threat."
Using historical data on rainfall, tide gauge readings, and extreme weather occurrences, the scientists explored the combined risks that endanger broad stretches of the U.S. coasts. Specifically, they looked at scenarios in which heavy rainfall combines with so-called "storm surges"—the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm—to create "compound flooding."
"The wall of ocean water that the winds of a storm system, such as a hurricane, can push in front of it can combine with heavy rains to exacerbate flooding in two ways: Either the rainfall inland can ramp up the severity of the surge-driven flooding, or the surge can elevate water levels to the point that gravity-driven flow of rainwater is impeded, causing that water to collect in streets and seep into homes."
That "meteorological double whammy," is only further exacerbated by rising sea levels. Experts have linked climate change to both extreme weather and rising oceans. Nor surprisingly, the risks of compound flooding are getting worse over time, the study shows.
They found that "along large coastline stretches around the U.S. a systematic linkage exists between the two important drivers for coastal flooding, making it more likely that the two occur in tandem. Our analysis showed that over the past century, the number of compound flood events for many U.S. coastal cities has increased." In New York City, for example, the weather conditions that typically cause the combined conditions are twice as likely to occur today than in the mid-20th century.
With nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population residing in coastal counties, the paper warns, "impacts of flooding in these usually low-lying, densely populated, and highly developed regions, can be devastating with wide-ranging social, economic, and environmental consequences."
"Between 2010 and 2014, the average flood claim was almost $42,000. And that doesn't even take into account the number of people that are displaced following a severe flooding event. That's why researchers are trying to figure out which factors contribute to flooding; it's the kind of information that can really come in handy when rebuilding a city, for instance."
Indeed, that is precisely the researchers' goal. "Gaining more insight into the frequency and likelihood of compound floods can help planners better assess risk from flooding to critical infrastructure."


ALPHA CAPRICORNID METEOR SHOWER - Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Comet 169P/NEAT, source of the annual alpha Capricornid meteor shower. Over the weekend, NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras recorded more than a dozen alpha Capricornid fireballs over the USA.
This is an annual shower, which peaks every year between the 25th and 30th of July. Peak rates are typically no higher than 5 to 10 meteors per hour. Every year, however, the alpha Capricornids are improving. The debris stream is slowly drifting across Earth's orbit, so that each year our planet passes a little closer to its heart. The bulk of the dust will not be in Earth's path until the 24th century. If their predictions are correct, the Alpha Capricornids will become a major annual storm in 2200 - 2400 A.D., one that will be "stronger than ANY current annual shower."


Nasty brain-eating amoeba found in Louisiana drinking water - Last week, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals issued a warning to St. Bernard Parish residents about the presence of Naegleria fowleri in the drinking water. According to a report from The Examiner, the amoeba was discovered in two locations and has been known to feast on the brains of any host that contracts it.
The local water authority has received orders from the state to conduct a chlorine “burn,” increasing the level of chlorine in the drinking water to remove the amoeba. Naegleria fowleri lives in warm, fresh water and is responsible for meningoencephalitis (PAM), a rare yet deadly infection. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that the disease is usually contracted when a patient has water up their nose from swimming or other water activities. While PAM cannot be caught by drinking water, it is nearly always fatal.
A study from 2003 shows that two children died from PAM in Arizona after the amoeba was found in areas where the plumbing was warm enough for them to survive. A recent 2015 study showed that a four-year-old boy in Louisiana died from PAM that he contracted not through swimming, but from playing on a water slide at his home.
The brain-eating amoeba is still relatively rare – the CDC reports that only 133 cases of PAM were reported between 1962 and 2014. While children make up 84 percent of these cases, anyone can contract the disease if infected water makes its way into the nose.
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Friday, July 24, 2015

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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/23/15 -

7/22/15 -

7/21/15 -

Scientists warn the Bay Area can expect a much larger quake “any day now” from the fault that produced Tuesday's 4.0-magnitude earthquake in Fremont. The quake struck at 2:41 a.m. on the Hayward Fault at a depth of 5 miles. While the shaking rattled nerves, no major damage was reported.
But residents may want to take the Bay Area’s latest quake as a reminder to be prepared for a “big one.” Scientists warn a much larger quake is due on the Hayward Fault, which extends from San Pablo Bay in the north to Fremont in the south and passes through heavily populated areas including Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward and Fremont.
“We keep a close eye on the Hayward Fault because it does sit in the heart of the Bay Area and when we do get a big earthquake on it, it’s going to have a big impact on the entire Bay Area." The last big earthquake on the fault, estimated to have a 6.8-magnitude, occurred in 1868. It killed about 30 people and caused extensive damage in the Bay Area, particularly in the city of Hayward, from which the fault gets its name.
“The population is now 100 times bigger in the East Bay, so we have many more people that will be impacted. The past five major earthquakes [on the fault] have been about 140 years apart, and now we’re 147 years from that 1868 earthquake, so we definitely feel that could happen any time.”
Residents wwere urged to take steps to prepare for a major earthquake, even though Tuesday morning’s quake was not likely to have much of an impact one way or the other on the likelihood of a major event occurring on the same fault.

Tour operators criticise all-clear given to Nepal trek area - Nepal's most popular trekking region has been declared safe by a government-commissioned report following earthquakes in April and May that killed more than 9,000 people. However the study on quake damage to the Annapurna area has been criticised by some tour operators.
They say that the report is flawed because it was rushed and made on the basis of only a week's fieldwork. The quakes have had a devastating effect on Nepal's tourism industry. There were about 17,000 fewer tourists between May and July this year than in the same period in 2014.
A severe storm last October - peak trekking season - killed visitors hiking the Annapurna Circuit and has added to the tourism sector's woes. The British-funded aid study - carried out by structural engineering company Miyamoto - revealed that the Annapurna region was not as badly damaged by the earthquakes as initially feared, with only a tiny number of trails in the area requiring repair. The report's conclusions have been welcomed by the Nepalese government.
A second World Bank-funded Miyamoto report on quake-damage in the Everest region is due to be published imminently. Officials say that it too will conclude that that area is safe once again for people to visit. But trekking and mountaineering operators are not happy with the way that the studies have been conducted.
They say they were not consulted during the field studies despite their geographical and practical knowledge of the two regions. The Nepal Trekking Agents Association President said that the operators would not send clients to either region on the basis of the two reports. "Such assessments need to have the involvement of stakeholders like us to have any credibility."
He said the industry could not take risks in the absence of reliable geological reports. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25 April - and the aftershocks that followed it - caused thousands of landslides and left other hilly and mountainous areas unsafe. The quake caused an avalanche at the Everest base camp where at least 17 people died. A major aftershock on 12 May caused a massive landslide in the Annapurna region, dangerously blocking a river along the trekking trail.
Because the reports commissioned by the government were based on about one week of fieldwork, they were "totally insufficient. We were assured that our experts would be taken into the field, but those who carried out the studies failed to do so." But Miyamoto officials insisted that representatives from trekking and mountaineering companies were consulted.

Five Volcanoes Erupt In Indonesia, Blanketing Skies In Ash. Eruptions of ash at five volcanoes shrouded the skies over parts of the Indonesian archipelago Wednesday, forcing three airports to close.
Mount Raung on Java island blasted ash and debris up to 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) into the air after rumbling for several weeks. Ash erupted also from Gamalama and Dukono mountains on the Moluccas islands chain, Sinabung volcano on Sumatra island and Mount Karangetang on Siau island, darkening the skies.
A total of more than 13,000 people have been evacuated due to the volcanic eruptions since last month, mostly from around the slopes of Sinabung in Tanah Karo District. "Our evaluation showed there is no extraordinary natural phenomenon that triggered simultaneous eruptions of the five volcanoes." All the eruptions are natural and normal occurrences in a nation with about 130 active volcanoes.
An eruption of Raung early this month sparked chaos as the airport in the tourist hotspot of Bali and four other airports in the region were shutdown, stranding thousands of holiday- goers. Last week, the ministry closed Sultan Babullah airport in North Maluku's Ternate town after eruptions at Gamalama and Dukono sent volcanic ash up to 1,700 meters (5,570 feet) into the sky.
Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood-prone plains, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

Undersea volcano called Kick 'em Jenny rumbling off Grenada — An active underwater volcano off Grenada's northern coast called Kick 'em Jenny was rumbling Thursday and regional disaster authorities were put on alert, though they said it posed no threat of triggering a destructive tsunami.
Since its discovery in the 1930s, Kick 'em Jenny has erupted beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea at least 12 times, most recently in 2001. The volcano, which rises 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) above the seafloor on a steep slope of the Lesser Antilles ridge, hasn't caused any known deaths or injuries.
The Seismic Research Center at the University of the West Indies said seismic activity had increased in the volcano, which sits 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of Grenada. Recreational divers have reported seeing some "degassing" on the seafloor off Grenada's west coast as gas-rich magma bubbles.
Center researchers put the alert level at "orange," which means an eruption could take place within 24 hours. An eruption would stir up high waves and heat surrounding waters to boiling temperatures. Scientists say the volcano can also shoot hot rocks up through the water column.
Under the alert, all boats must stay at least 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the volcano. Kick 'em Jenny poses the greatest threat to mariners since the gases it releases can lower the density of water so significantly vessels can lose buoyancy and sink. "There is no need to move people away from coastlines." People were advised to go about their lives normally. But some were jittery as seismic activity ramped up, knocking out Internet service.
"People are just wondering what's next." In a 1939 eruption, Kick 'em Jenny shot a cloud of ash 270 meters (900 feet) above the sea surface. Its eruptions since then have been weaker.

A discovery of ‘mutant daisies’ has been made near the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.


In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Depression Felicia is weakening and is located about 465 mi (745 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja California.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon Halola is located approximately 234 nm east-southeast of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

- Tropical storm Twelve is located approximately 255 nm northeast of Manila, Philippines.
RECORD 117-MONTH MAJOR HURRICANE DROUGHT continues - It has been 117 months since a major hurricane, defined as a Category 3 or above, has made landfall in the continental United States, according to 2015 data from the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
This is the longest span of time in which no major hurricane has struck the mainland U.S. in NOAA hurricane records going back to 1851. The second longest time between major hurricane strikes was the eight years between 1860 and 1869—146 years ago.
A recent study confirmed that the current "admittedly UNUSUAL" drought is “UNPRECEDENTED IN THE HISTORCAL RECORD."That study found that major hurricane droughts only occur every 177 years, and calculated that there is less than a 5 percent chance (0.39%) that the current drought will end this hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30.
Hurricane Wilma, the most recent major hurricane to strike the U.S., was a Category 3 when it made landfall in North Carolina on October 24, 2005—almost 118 months ago. Since the end of the 2005 hurricane season, the U.S. has experienced a nine-year major hurricane “drought,” which is approaching 10 years at the end of the 2015 season this November.


Rain, Wind, Severe Storms to Whip Central Europe Saturday - An UNUSUAL, midsummer, strengthening storm system will cause soaking rain, howling winds and severe thunderstorms to target central Europe to start the weekend.
The storm will initially push rain across southern England, including London, and northwestern France on Friday. A couple of thunderstorms will also rumble in northwestern France, and it is not out of the question for one to turn severe. While the soaking rain shifts to the Netherlands, Denmark and southern Scandinavia on Saturday, more severe impacts will unfold on Saturday from Belgium and the Netherlands to Poland and Slovakia as the storm strengthens.
"Given that this [type of strengthening storm system] NORMALLY OCCURS IN FALL OR WINTER as opposed to midsummer, some very anomalous and dangerous weather is possible in parts of Europe on Saturday." Winds on the backside of the intensifying storm will howl from Belgium and the Netherlands to northeastern Germany on Saturday before spreading to Denmark and northwestern Germany at night. This includes Brussels, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Berlin.
Wind gusts will average 65 to 95 kph (40 to 60 mph) with the strongest winds whipping toward and along the coast. "Some sporadic damage and power outages are possible." Damage also threatens to unfold farther east across Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and far northeastern Austria as severe thunderstorms erupt Saturday afternoon. "Some thunderstorms will produce damaging straight-line wind gusts up to 95 kph (60 mph), large hail up to the size of golf balls or hen eggs and even a few tornadoes."
Warsaw, Wroclaw, Brno, Vienna, Bratislava and Kosice are among the communities facing the severe weather danger. The rain falling northwest of the severe weather around the Netherlands, Denmark and southern Scandinavia on Saturday is not expected to produce widespread flooding, but any downpours will create hazards for motorists by reducing visibility and heightening the risk of vehicles hydroplaning when traveling at highway speeds.
Drier weather will briefly return to central Europe on Sunday as the threat for severe thunderstorms shifts to eastern Belarus and neighboring parts of Russia.

Britain to be lashed by torrential rain, gales and floods from tomorrow - Parts of the country are braced for heavy showers to dump more than two inches of rain - A MONTH'S WORTH OF RAIN - IN A MATTER OF HOURS. Forecasters are warning of chaos on the roads with the risk of flooding across the southern half of the country. It will also be cooler than average for the time of year with temperatures feeling more like autumn than the middle of summer. (photos and maps at link)

South Asia monsoon: Analysing fresh water could be key to forecast - The Indian Ocean contains a distinctive layer of fresh water from rain and rivers which may influence the South Asian monsoon, scientists have said. They are urging meteorologists to include the less saline water in their weather forecasting models.
Meteorology officials in South Asia admit they have been slow to consider the role of fresh waters. They are already struggling to forecast monsoon rains due to a range of factors including climate change. Monsoons account for 70% of the rainfall in India and neighbouring countries between June and September. But longer dry periods and heavy rainfall within a short space of time during monsoon season in recent years have caused concern in South Asia.
And this is already being seen this year, with higher rainfall than normal in June - whereas July and August are predicted to have lower than normal rainfall. Some meteorologists based in the region believe the freshwater element could be a vital missing link. Major rivers such as the Ganges, Bramhaputra and Irrawaddy flow into the Bay of Bengal. A team of international scientists are currently researching the issue.
Around 60% of the total rainfall in Pakistan comes from the Indian monsoon, while the remaining rains are from winter monsoons from the Arabian sea between December and February. "It's not just scientists from Pakistan but from the entire South Asia region who are not familiar with the fresh water concept and we need to take it into account."
Scientists are seeking to gather more data but not everything is freely available But scientists say even if countries around the Bay of Bengal really wanted to factor fresh water into their monsoon prediction models, detailed data was not available. "At present we only have long-term mean data on the river discharge and we have no data for year-to-year variability because of the sensitivities between countries in the region." Sharing of water resources data has been a contentious issue between India and its neighbours for years. "The countries will have to reach an understanding if they really want to understand what fresh water is doing to the salinity of the ocean and the monsoon systems." said Professor Goswami.


Raging Fire Forces Evacuation in Glacier National Park - Helicopters are patrolling the area for any missing hikers within the Montana park grounds. An elite team is taking command of efforts to beat back the wildfire in Montana's Glacier National Park that has sent tourists fleeing from hotels and campgrounds.
The Type 1 Incident Management Team, a group that responds only to the highest-priority fires, began arriving Thursday and was scheduled to take command that night. Firefighters braced for gusting winds and warm temperatures that could spark a fresh run by the flames that have charred more than 6 square miles. (video at link)

Wragg Fire near Lake Berryessa burns 6,900 acres in Napa County, California. More than 500 firefighters and multiple helicopters and planes are battling the Wragg Fire near Lake Berryessa. (video at link)
The Latest: Some people in California wine country who have evacuated because of the wildfire are being told they can return to their homes. Evacuations have been canceled late on Thursday for about 50 of the 200 or so homes whose residents were told to get out. The fire's threat has diminished substantially in some areas and the fire did not grow much Thursday. More than 10 1/2 square miles have burned since the fire broke out near Napa Valley on Wednesday.

Crews fighting a wildfire in southeast Washington are working to prevent flames from reaching a watershed that provides drinking water for the city of Walla Walla. Firefighters are removing fuels and securing lines to prevent it from reaching the boundary of the Mill Creek Watershed. The blaze has destroyed one home and threatens dozens others as an estimated 1,000 firefighters battled it in steep, challenging terrain. It has scorched nearly 9 square miles of grass, shrubs and timber about 10 miles east of Walla Walla, a city of 60,000 people.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Don't fear failure. It is not failure but low aim, that's the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.**
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LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/20/2015 -

7/19/15 -

7/18/15 -

7/17/15 -


* In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Halola is located approximately 211 nm southeast of Iwo To, Japan.


Unusually heavy rains in Southern California strand drivers, flood streets. Bone-dry California got more rain on Sunday than it could handle - enough to wash out a bridge on the highway to Arizona.
Hundreds of drivers found themselves stranded in the middle of the desert after an overpass along California's busy I-10 freeway suddenly became a bridge to nowhere. The bridge collapsed when a swollen creek eroded the hillside, leaving a truck hanging over the edge. It took nearly two hours to rescue the injured driver. "This collapsed bridge is gonna cause a huge problem for thousands and thousands of people every single day. This is the major corridor from the L.A. area to out east."
This UNUSUAL July rain is the remnant of Tropical Storm Dolores. In Southern California it caused flash floods, turning streets into fast-moving rivers, forcing road closures and leaving drivers stuck. "This parking lot has now become a river," said one driver. In Riverside County, firefighters rushed to protect homes with sandbags and patrolled flooded neighborhoods. "There are a couple of people here that they're trying to rescue." In Irvine, ticket holders waded through knee-high water to see an outdoor rock concert.
And the wet weather also took out the ballgame. The Angels were rained out at home Sunday night for the first time in 20 years. A helicopter helped dry the field before Monday's double-header. July is normally the driest month of the year in Southern California. More than a quarter-inch of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles Saturday, BREAKING A NEARLY 220- YEAR-OLD RECORD.
All of that rain, of course, is welcome in bone-dry California but despite this kind of damage, not enough rain to even put a dent in their nearly four year long drought. California transportation officials say Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Los Angeles will remain closed indefinitely. Their plan is to eventually divert traffic onto the westbound lanes while they tear down and rebuild this bridge.
California bridge collapse strands drivers en route to Arizona - An elevated section of Interstate 10 collapsed Sunday amid heavy rains in the California desert, injuring one driver, stranding many others, and halting travel for thousands by cutting off both directions of a main corridor between Southern California and Arizona. “Interstate 10 is closed completely and indefinitely."
A bridge for eastbound traffic about 15 feet above a normally dry wash about 50 miles west of the Arizona state line gave way and ended up in the flooding water below, the California Highway Patrol said, blocking all traffic headed toward Arizona. "Oh my God, we are so stuck out here. There’s no end to the cars that are stuck out here."
The rains came amid a second day of showers and thunderstorms in Southern and Central California that were setting rainfall records in what is usually a dry month. Rain fell Sunday afternoon in parts of Los Angeles County’s mountains, the valley north and inland urban areas to the east.
The city also was expected to get a late repeat of Saturday’s scattered showers and occasional downpours as remnants of Tropical Storm Dolores brought warm, muggy conditions northward. Saturday’s rainfall BROKE RECORDS IN AT LEAST 11 LOCATIONS, including five places that had THE MOST RAIN EVERY RECORDED IN JULY on any day.


June 2015: Earth's WARMEST JUNE ON RECORD. June 2015 was Earth's warmest June since global record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Monday. NASA also rated June 2015 as the warmest June on record.
A potent El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific that crossed the threshold into the "strong" category in early July continues to intensify, and strong El Niño events release a large amount of heat to the atmosphere, typically boosting global temperatures by at least 0.1°C. This extra bump in temperature, when combined with the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, makes it likely that 2015 will be Earth's second consecutive warmest year on record.. Four of the six warmest months in recorded history (for departure from average) have occurred this year, according to NOAA.
For the oceans, the June global sea surface temperature was 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average, the HIGHEST FOR JUNE ON RECORD, and tied with September 2014 as the highest monthly departure from average for any month. Nine of the ten highest monthly departures from average have occurred since May 2014.
Global land temperatures during June 2015 were also the warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in June 2015 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 3rd warmest in the 37-year record. The lowest 8 km of the atmosphere heats up dramatically in response to moderate to strong El Niño events, with a time lag of several months - as occurred during the El Niño events of 1998 and 2010. Thus, we should see Earth's lower atmosphere temperature hit record levels late this year and/or early next year.

Deadliest weather disaster of June 2015: Pakistan's brutal heat wave. The deadliest weather-related disaster of June 2015 was an intense heat wave in Pakistan that killed approximately 1,242 people. If these numbers are correct, this year's heat wave would beat the 1991 heat wave (523 deaths) as Pakistan's deadliest in recorded history, and would rank as Earth's eighth deadliest heat wave. The terrible heat wave that hit India in May 2015 ranks as Earth's fifth deadliest heat wave.
By the time summer is over, it is possible that a third heat wave may be added to this list: the on-going European heat wave. Excess mortality in France, the U.K., and Italy during the late June to early July portion of Europe's 2015's heat wave was over 1,200 people: 700 in France, at least 447 in the U.K., and 140 in Italy. Hundreds more probably died in surrounding countries, during some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Western Europe.
Direct deaths, not excess mortality, are tabulated in the database for heat waves, though, and direct deaths can be a factor of eight less than deaths tabulated by considering excess mortality. For example, the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and EM-DAT list the total direct deaths from the U.S. heat wave of 1980 at 1,260, but NCDC estimated that the combined direct and indirect deaths (i.e., excess mortality) due to heat stress was 10,000. Extreme heat capable of causing high excess mortality will affect portions of Southeast Europe late this week, when some of the highest temperatures on record will likely occur.

Arctic sea ice falls to 3rd lowest June extent on record - Arctic sea ice extent during June 2015 was the 3rd lowest in the 36-year satellite record, and June snow cover was the 2nd lowest. A large area of high pressure that has set up shop north of Alaska is expected to persist for the remainder of July, and is likely to bring sunny skies and a warm flow of air into the Arctic that will lead to rapid ice loss in the coming weeks.
Later this month, low pressure is expected to develop over Northeastern Eurasia, which could lead to the establishment of the Arctic Dipole pattern. This pattern of airflow develops in response to high pressure north of Alaska and low pressure over Northeastern Eurasia, and brings large amounts of warm air into the Arctic.
The Arctic Dipole pattern occurred in all the summer months of 2007, and helped support the record 2007 summer reduction in sea ice extent (that record was beaten in 2012, a year that did not feature an Arctic Dipole pattern.)

One billion-dollar weather disaster in June 2015: flooding in China. Thankfully, only one billion-dollar weather-related disaster hit the Earth last month, flooding in China that caused $2 billion in damage and killed sixteen people. With eight billion-dollar weather disasters occurring during the first half of 2015, Earth is on pace for its lowest number of such disasters since 2004, when sixteen occurred.


Arctic ice 'grew by a third' after the unusually cool summer in 2013. Researchers say the growth continued in 2014 and more than compensated for losses recorded in the three previous years.
The scientists involved believe changes in summer temperatures have greater impacts on ice than thought. But they say 2013 was a one-off and that climate change will continue to shrink the ice in the decades ahead.
The Arctic region has warmed more than most other parts of the planet over the past 30 years. Satellite observations have documented a decrease of around 40% in the extent of sea ice cover in the Arctic since 1980. But while the extent of the retreating ice has been well recorded, the key indicator that scientists want to understand is the loss of sea ice volume.
Researchers have been able to use data gathered by Europe's Cryosat satellite over the past five years to answer this question. This polar monitoring spacecraft has a sophisticated radar system that allows scientists to accurately estimate the volume. The researchers used 88 million measurements of sea ice thickness from Cyrosat and found that between 2010 and 2012, the volume of sea ice went down by 14%.
They published their initial findings at the end of 2013 - but have now refined and updated them to include data from 2014 as well. Relative to the average of the period between 2010 and 2012, the scientists found that there was a 33% increase in sea ice volume in 2013, while in 2014 there was still a quarter more sea ice than there was between 2010-2012.
"We looked at various climate forcing factors, we looked at the snow loading, we looked at wind convergence and the melt season length of the previous summer. We found that the the highest correlation by far was with the melt season length - and over the summer of 2013, it was the coolest of the five years we have seen, and we believe that's why there was more multi-year ice left at the end of summer."
The researchers found the colder temperatures allowed more multi-year ice to persist northwest of Greenland because there were simply fewer days when it could melt. Temperature records indicate that the summer was about 5% cooler than 2012. The scientists believe that the more accurate measurements that they have now published show that sea ice is more sensitive to changes than previously thought.
They argue that while some could see this as a positive, when temperatures are cooler it leads to an increase in sea ice, it could also be a negative when the mercury goes up.
"It would suggest that sea ice is more resilient perhaps - if you get one year of cooler temperatures, we've almost wound the clock back a few years on this gradual decline that's been happening over decades. The long-term trend of the ice volume is downwards and the long-term trend of the temperatures in the Arctic is upwards and this finding doesn't give us any reason to disbelieve that - as far as we can tell it's just one anomalous year."

El Nino intensifying, could rival strongest in recorded history - The present El Nino event, on the cusp of attaining “strong” intensity, has a chance to become the most powerful on record. The event — defined by the expanding, deepening pool of warmer-than-normal ocean water in the tropical Pacific — has steadily grown stronger since the spring.
The presence of a strong El Nino almost ensures that 2015 will become the warmest on record for Earth and will have ripple effects on weather patterns all over the world. A strong El Nino event would likely lead to enhanced rainfall in California this fall and winter, a quieter than normal Atlantic hurricane season, a warmer than normal winter over large parts of the U.S., and a very active hurricane and typhoon season in the Pacific.
Some of these El Nino-related effects have already manifested themselves and, over the U.S., will become particularly apparent by the fall and winter. Frequent and persistent bursts of wind from the west, counter to the prevailing easterly direction, have helped this year’s El Nino sustain itself and grow. Warm water from the western Pacific has sloshed eastward, piling up in the central and eastern part of the basin.
The sprawling area of warm waters has proven to be a boon for Pacific tropical cyclone activity, near record levels through mid-summer. Through a positive feedback mechanism, these cyclones have likely helped to reinforce the westerly push of warm waters. The 2015 El Nino event is now neck-and-neck with record-setting event of 1997-1998 in terms of its mid-summer intensity.
That 1997-1998 event was notorious for its winter flash floods and mudslides in California. The atmospheric footprint of this year’s event — given the time of year — is statistically EXTREMELY RARE and has a less than one in 1,000 chance of occurrence.
Although the El Nino is still officially classified as a “moderate” strength event, one of the world’s leading El Nino experts explained it could well become a “strong” event by the end of the month. “The strength of the departure from normal sea surface temperatures was enough to call it a strong event for just last week. But to call it an officially strong event, we need for it to stay at that level or higher for a full month. And the average for July could make it.”
The large group of El Nino models, both dynamic (based on physical processes) and statistical (based historical data), mostly forecast at least a strong event — likely to peak in the fall. Collectively, the IRI described the model simulations as “off-the-charts”. “[El Nino] is growing and the prediction models say it’s going to get stronger. And that’s our prediction, that it will become a strong event, most likely.”
A few models, notably the European model and the National Weather Service CFS model, point to the possibility of a near-record event in which a very strong or “super” El Nino develops. The only two super (or very strong) El Ninos in the historic record occurred in 1982-83 and 1997-98. Perhaps hinting at an El Nino rivaling history, models have been trending stronger with their forecast month after month after month — as they absorb more data reflecting the true state of the current event and how it’s evolving.
While some models show El Nino possibly maxing out in record territory, NOAA climate analysts expressed some skepticism about such projections. NOAA says the “forecaster consensus” is for a strong event but doesn’t specify how strong. Its forecast calls for El Nino to persist through the winter (90 percent chance) and early spring (80 percent chance). (graphics and map at link)
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Friday, July 17, 2015

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**Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/16/15 -

7/15/15 -

7/14/15 -

7/13/15 -

7/12/15 -

7/11/15 -

7/10/15 -

6.4 Magnitude Quake Rocks Barbados - A strong earthquake struck Thursday in the ocean northeast of Barbados and was widely felt throughout the Caribbean, but officials said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Supermarkets and other businesses were evacuated and people moved away from the shore right after the quake hit. Earthquakes are common in the Caribbean but this was particularly strong and shallow. Residents were urged to be cautious, given the size of the quake. The US Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.4 quake was centered 81 miles (132 kilometers) northeast of Bridgetown at a shallow depth of about 3 miles (5 kilometers). It hit at 11:16 a.m. local time. (15:16 GMT).
The earthquake was felt across much of the Caribbean, from nearby St Vincent and the Grenadines and to Venezuela, Guyana and Trinidad in the south.

4.6 quake rattles southern Oregon after series of quakes - A series of earthquakes rattled southern Oregon overnight on Wednesday. The largest quake measured at 4.6 magnitude and was about forty miles away from Lakeview, Oregon, near the Nevada border. A second quake registered at 4.0 and three others measured at 3.4, 3.4 and 3.2. The quakes were all relatively shallow, measuring no larger than 6 miles deep.

‘The Really Big One’? Get ready now, quake experts advise. Predictions of a massive earthquake off the Northwest coast are scary, but experts say preparation will help you survive such a quake. There’s an 80 percent chance that an earthquake like the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually shaker in 2001 could happen in the next 50 years.
This week’s New Yorker magazine article, “The Really Big One”, didn’t sugarcoat it: Seattle and several other Northwest cities are destined to be pummeled by a massive earthquake, on a date to be determined. The destruction is inevitable — though maybe not as bad as the article’s prediction that everything west of Interstate 5 will be “toast.” “Communications may black out, transportation may grind to a halt, stores conceivably could run out of goods for a while, but that doesn’t constitute ‘toast’ in one’s mind.”
The abridged survival version: Make sure homes are stocked with supplies for seven to 10 days. After a quake, it’s safer to stay where you are — hitting the streets will only lead to more congestion on the roads, which may be impassable anyway. Create a communications plan with loved ones, just in case. Get under a table or desk if you feel the earth move. [Webpage note - Other research says don't hide under the furniture, instead lay on the floor next to a table or desk. Then you won't be trapped under the table if it collapses under failing beams and debris, but it will leave you with a potentially survivable space.]
Should such a large quake occur, “parts of Seattle will definitely be isolated, which is why the recommendation is to be able to survive on your own for at least three days and perhaps a week." Many homes and structures will “fare relatively well,” especially wood-frame ones. And yes, Seattle will recover. “My philosophy is be prepared, not paranoid — and enjoy the spectacular landscape provided to us by tectonic forces.”


Still looking for victims of the 2011 Japanese tsunami - Diving into the world of the dead. Twice a month two Japanese men put on scuba gear and go diving. One is looking for his wife, the other for his daughter, both of whom were swept away by the devastating tsunami that struck Japan four years ago. They know they are no longer alive, but the hope of finding something - anything - gives them a much- needed sense of purpose.
Underneath the glittering waters of Onagawa Bay, in Japan's north-eastern Miyagi Prefecture, fridges, TVs, cars, trucks and fishing gear lie scattered on the sea floor, under a layer of mud. "Imagine a big city, put it in a grinder and throw it all into the ocean," is how one oceanographer described the effect of the Japanese tsunami. Under water, things are still mostly where they were left by the violence of the waves.
In the sunlight up above, on the other hand, everything has changed. The wreckage of a thriving port has been cleaned away. In its place there is now a vast expanse of concrete - empty except for, in one corner, a modest shrine. This is where the Onagawa branch of the Shichijushichi Bank used to stand and the shrine is there to commemorate it. When the tsunami warning sounded at 14:50 on the afternoon of 11 March 2011, the bank's employees were busy tidying up the damage caused by the earthquake that had shaken the building a few minutes earlier.
Their manager was out seeing clients. Driving back along the coast he could see the sea sharply withdrawing - a sure sign of an imminent tsunami. As soon as he walked in he told everyone to stop and to climb on to the roof of the two-storey building as quickly as possible. Sure enough, as soon as they got there, they heard the siren and the municipal broadcast warning people to evacuate to high ground - just a few hundred metres away were the steep slopes of Mount Horikiri, where some people were already seeking shelter. One employee asked if she could go home because she was worried about her children. The manager said he couldn't stop her, so she ran to her car, which was parked 300m away, and drove home.
The manager told those remaining to watch the sea, just 100m away in normal conditions, and to listen out for further news. The radio warned that a 6m-high tsunami would hit at 15:10. As the workers stood nervously on the roof they debated whether there was time to flee to the nearby hospital - a much taller and stronger building, but they decided to stay. After all, a 6m-high tsunami would only reach the first floor. Some went down to get their coats - it was cold, there was still snow on the ground.
The tsunami swept into Onagawa moments later. Footage filmed by a survivor shows how the dark water moved swiftly and relentlessly into town, pushing over everything in its path. Buildings gave way and cars and trucks were picked up like toys, and acted like floating battering rams adding to the wave's destructive power. Within minutes the sea had engulfed areas that were once considered safe. The bank flooded quickly - it took just five minutes for the water to fill half the building.
The workers decided to climb up even higher on top of an electrical room standing on the roof of the two-storey building. As they climbed the 3m vertical ladder the strong wind almost blew them off. The bank employees became trapped on the roof by the rising water. Many people witnessed their desperate bid to escape to safety.
The tsunami turned out to be far, far bigger than anyone expected. The town's defences had largely been based on the worst tsunami in living memory - a 6m-high tsunami in Chile in 1960. But this one reached more than three times higher. As a consequence many designated shelters were inundated - even the hospital was flooded, killing four people in the building itself and an estimated 16 in the car park.
"Onagawa was one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami." The coastline of the region is a series of submerged river valleys shaped "like the teeth of a saw", and tsunamis reach great heights as the water funnels into the crevices. A town has little chance in this battle between ocean and mountain. Satellite pictures show how the sea reached in and clawed the town away. More than 5,000 buildings were washed away or damaged beyond repair. A satellite image of Onagawa shows an empty space where once there were homes and businesses.
Local authorities were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, the staff reeling from their own personal losses, on top of massive practical and logistical problems. Getting around was almost impossible, bridges and roads were blocked. Almost one in 10 of the town's residents was dead or missing. The majority of survivors were staying in special accommodation for evacuees. They spent their days searching for loved ones, picking through the chaos and walking for miles along the breakwaters on the shoreline.
Of the 13 people on the roof, one, amazingly, survived - he held on to floating debris and was swept out to sea, almost losing consciousness in the icy water before he was rescued by a fishing boat hours later. The bodies of four bank staff were found, but eight are still missing. The worker who left the building by car survived. "I couldn't understand why they escaped to the rooftop. There's no more escape there. If they had escaped to the mountain, they could have climbed to a higher place. I thought evacuation to the mountain was a matter of course."
Although the town began to rebuild, for the bereaved families it was hard to move on. "We are still stuck in 2011." An estimated five million tonnes of debris was dragged into the sea by the tsunami. Two- thirds sank just off the coast, covering the sea floor and damaging the marine environment. About a third floated away, in giant patches that could be tracked on satellite images. Boats, buoys, propane tanks and refrigerator doors are still washing up on the shores of North America and Hawaii.
But much of the tsunami debris has joined the "plastic smog" that collects in oceanic gyres. The bodies of more than 2,000 people, of the 16,000 estimated to have died, have never been recovered. Four years on, this is less likely to happen - organic matter will have mostly "returned to nature." "I want to search for my daughter as long as my body allows me to. If I just give up, there's zero chance. If I keep searching, I might have a chance at least." (photos at link)

OSU quake expert warns his own school not to build in Newport, Oregon's tsunami zone - The Hatfield Marine Science Center sits near the mouth of Yaquina Bay, a tsunami inundation area with soils prone to liquefaction. A large earthquake near the coast could generate a wave 43 feet high, according to researchers. An Oregon State University earthquake expert is redoubling opposition to his school's plan of building a science center in Newport's tsunami zone.
Bucking OSU and the Oregon Legislature, which recently approved bonding for the building, he painted a worst-case scene of hundreds trying to evacuate the structure after it's been rocked by a magnitude-9 earthquake. Picture survivors, including injured, disabled and elderly people in a driving rain, attempting to negotiate a mile of rough, liquefied sandbar strewn with live power lines. Imagine their plight as 43-foot tsunami waves rip apart the Yaquina Bay Bridge, large ships and a liquefied-natural-gas tank - turning them into projectiles.
"Really nobody can calculate if or how many people would die in that building during the next tsunami. It's not possible to mitigate it to ensure that everybody would survive." The tsunami scenario pits some of the best minds at OSU against one another in a battle of wills that has so far remained collegial. Oregon State engineers believe designs for the expanded Hatfield Marine Science Center can pass peer review and produce a world-class demonstration of how to build in a tsunami zone.
Other opponents say no amount of advance planning will prevent catastrophic damage when the big one strikes. He said the clash represents a cultural divide between engineers and earthquake geologists. "Engineers are trained to try to make things work for the clients wishes, and so mitigation is often the first choice. We geologists, though, would call that putting lipstick on a pig."
He not only repeated statements that the planned building should be sited elsewhere, but also recommended relocating existing OSU and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buildings already in Newport's South Beach. The area also includes other government-agency offices, the Oregon Coast Aquarium and establishments including a brewpub.
In his vision, South Beach would become a park now - instead of a memorial later. He notes a memorial park in Hilo, Hawaii, where a "clock of doom," frozen at 1:04 a.m., commemorates 96 residents killed by a 1946 tsunami.
He said OSU should build its new science center on high ground, pumping in any seawater needed for research – and probably saving money in the process. But an OSU spokesman said OSU labs need large quantities of seawater procured at high tide. The building's maximum occupancy will be 350, well below building-code restrictions of 500, which was the upper number originally proposed. Faculty and students in the building will research marine science and critical issues facing coastal communities – including tsunamis. They will live on high ground.
In their latest findings, scientists say that a tsunami generated by a quake of magnitude-8 or higher has a 24 percent chance of hitting northern Oregon, including Newport, during the next 50 years. The Oregon Resilience Plan recommends locating "critical facilities" outside of tsunami inundation zones. Those include police stations, fire stations, hospitals, elementary schools and high schools.
The report and OSU's approach parallel Japan's strategy. Japan has passed tsunami-zone construction laws since 2011, when an offshore magnitude-9 earthquake triggered towering waves that killed more than 19,000 and caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Actually, the planned OSU building would violate Japanese law. But OSU can get away with siting it in the subduction zone because here, secondary schools aren't designated as essential facilities.
"We're going to go against what would essentially be illegal in Japan. Putting a school building in a tsunami zone intentionally is moving in the wrong direction."


* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Catgory 3 Hurricane Dolores is located about 2400 mi (385 km) SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Swells generated by Dolores are affecting portions of the coast of southwestern Mexico and Baja California Sur, but the storm track is away from the coast. Gradual weakening is expected to begin later today, and Dolores could be a tropical storm by early Saturday.

- Tropical storm Enrique is located about 1655 mi (2665 km) W of the southern tip of Baja California, and is weakening. Enrique is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression today, and become a remnant low by Friday.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 11w (Nangka) is located approximately 142 nm southeast of Iwakuni, Japan.
A strong ridge to the northeast of Nangka should keep the hurricane on a north-northwest bearing until landfall on Saturday local time near the islands of Shikoku and western Honshu. This track would put some of Japan’s biggest cities on the more dangerous eastern side of Nangka, so it's weakening trend is good news indeed. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects Nangka to be a Category 1 storm at landfall.
Heavy rains, high winds, and some power outages can be expected in the cities of Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka, as Nangka comes ashore and encounters Japan’s mountainous islands. Further to the north, Tokyo may experience tropical-storm-level impacts. The north-northwestward path of the storm is nearly perpendicular to the coastline, which would maximize any coastal flooding from Nangka (a major storm surge is not expected, though).

- Typhoon 01c (Halola) is located approximately 148 nm west-southwest of Wake Island.
It now appears Halola will remain weak enough and far enough south of Wake Island to avoid major impacts there. Wind shear has kept Halola from strengthening as much as expected, but the shear should relax in a couple of days, which will give Halola a chance to intensify. Halola could approach Japan next week, although the long-range models suggest the typhoon will recurve before that point.

* In the Atlantic -
There are no systems of interest in the Atlantic basin, and prospects are minimal for any tropical development there for at least the next several days.
Hurricane Dolores Hit Category 4 Strength - EARLIEST TRIO OF CATEGORY 4 HURRICANES ON RECORD for Northeast Pacific. A pulse of rapid intensification late Tuesday and early Wednesday pushed Hurricane Dolores to borderline Category 4 intensity in the Northeast Pacific. Dolores’s peak winds surged from 85 mph at 3:00 pm EDT Tuesday to 130 mph at 3:00 am Wednesday, which translates to a leap from Category 1 to Category 4 status in just 12 hours.
Of the season’s first four named storms in the Northeast Pacific, only Carlos has fallen short of Category 4 strength. Dolores is the EARLIEST OCCCURRENCE OF THE SEASON'S THIRD CATGORY 4 SYSTEM in this basin, beating out Hurricane Frank, which became a Cat 4 on July 17, 1992.
Northeast Pacific records go back to 1949. It’s also the first time that three of the first four named systems in the Northeast Pacific have all reached Category 4 intensity. Dolores’s record comes no major surprise, given the persistently favorable wind shear and very high sea-surface temperatures induced by a strong and still-intensifying El Niño event. A very strong pulse of the Madden-Julian Oscillation has influenced the eastern tropical Pacific for the last few weeks, enhancing the upward motion that fuels hurricane development. This MJO event is now subsiding, but the presence of a strong El Niño continues to favor above-average activity in the Northeast Pacific.
Especially noteworthy with this El Niño is the northward extent of the UNUSUALLY WARM WATER off Baja California and the U.S. Pacific states, meeting up with the “blob” of warm water off the Canadian west coast that’s persisted for months. Even with these impressive anomalies, SSTs are still far too cool to support tropical development immediately off the California coast.
However, the zone of SSTs greater than 26°C, which is considered the threshold for maintaining a tropical cyclone, now EXTENDS SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES FURTHER NORTH THAN USUAL. This lays the groundwork for any hurricane recurving toward the southwest U.S. to maintain its strength longer than usual, all else being equal.
Of course, the particulars of any given storm (its strength, structure, upper-level support, etc.) will determine how much of an impact might result. Over the next few weeks, residents of southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico will need to keep tabs on any hurricanes whose track would take remnants in their direction, as the risk for heavy rain, flash flooding, and even tropical-storm force winds could be elevated by the presence of such warm SSTs upstream.


Moisture- Packed Atmosphere Fueling a Week of Severe Weather - While the North Atlantic has yet to produce a hurricane this year, extremely muggy air across a broad swath of the Midwest has millions of people keeping an eye out for severe storms. The upper-level flow is often too weak by midsummer to support supercells, but a band of stronger jet-stream winds now extends from the Midwest toward the Northeast, lending support to evening thunderstorms congealing overnight into mesoscale convective systems (MCSs).
One such MCS maintained itself across a JAW-DROPPING DISTANCE: it developed over Minnesota on Sunday night and was still recognizable as a weak line of storms pushing offshore from the Carolinas early Tuesday morning. Four tornadoes were reported late Sunday as the system organized over western Minnesota, and NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) logged several hundred reports of high wind over the MCS track on Sunday night and Monday.
Was this event a derecho (a long-lived, thuderstorm-related wind storm)? Although its winds were widespread, most reports were in the 60 – 70 mph range, which resulted in mainly minor damage. Derechoes typically have at least a few reports of winds gusting to at least 75 mph. However, the Sunday-Monday event as a whole is consistent with the characteristics of derechoes put forth in a widely cited 2005 BAMS paper.
Severe storms regenerated behind the initial MCS on Monday evening, bringing more heavy rain and high wind to parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia that were struck the night before. Tennis-ball sized hail (2.5” diameter) was reported by a CoCoRaHS observer at Burnham-Wegewisch, IL (in Cook County, just southeast of Chicago), and hail close to 4” in diameter was observed near Marseilles, IL.
Far west of the main action on Monday evening, a lone supercell in central Kansas produced a photogenic tornado northwest of Hutchinson. By Monday evening, close to 200,000 customers had lost power as a result of the day’s storms, and flash flooding led to at least one fatality and some 150 homes damaged or destroyed in Johnson County, KY. All told, Monday produced a total of at least 477 “filtered” severe reports in the SPC database. That's the largest number on a single date since November 17, 2013.
Yet another large MCS was making its way across southeastern Ohio on Tuesday afternoon. SPC has placed a region from eastern Kentucky and Tennessee through the Carolinas in an enhanced risk of severe weather for Tuesday afternoon and evening, with a large slight risk area covering much of the east-central U.S. and a smaller slight-risk area in western Kansas.
What’s making this summer so humid? From the Midwest to the Southeast, the summer thus far has been marked by frequently sultry conditions. Dew point readings in the vicinity of 75°F have been commonplace; for a temperature of 95°F, this would correspond to a relative humidity of 53% and a heat index of 108°F. Nashville recorded a dew point of 81°F on Tuesday afternoon, its highest reading since August 1995.
The moist conditions have been fostered by consistent southerly flow of near-surface air from the Gulf of Mexico, and at times by upper-level moisture streaming into the U.S. from the tropical Pacific, where El Niño continues to intensify. Some of the moisture has arrived from below, as summer heat allows water vapor to escape from wet soils left behind by record-setting rains.
Both Texas and Oklahoma saw THEIR WETTEST MONTH ON RECORD in May, and Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio all saw THEIR WETTEST JUNES ON RECORD. The extremely unstable air across the Midwest this week is also a partial byproduct of agriculture. The highest U.S. dewpoints in July are often found not along the Gulf Coast but in the heart of the Corn Belt, as the enormous leaves of fast-growing corn plants send vast amounts of moisture into the air through evapotranspiration.
The highest reliably measured dew point in the United States — an excruciating 90°F — was reported at Appleton, Wisconsin, on July 13, 1999 (with an air temperature of 101°F!). As farmers learn how to pack plants ever more tightly into limited space, there’s more leaf area per acre, which means more moisture pulled into the plant from deep roots can be sent back into the atmosphere.”


Photos - The 9 most amazing clouds. They can take the form of jellyfish or UFOs.

Extreme weather hits Papua, Indonesia - 11 dead. At least 11 people from three districts in Lanny Jaya regency, Papua, have died after extreme cold weather hit the area earlier this month. Extremely cold temperatures along with hail had occurred in Ku- yawage, Goa Baliem and West Wano districts from July 3 to 5.
“During the three days, HAIL CONTINUOUSLY FELL FROM MORNING UNTIL EVENING. At the same time, local residents experienced extreme cold weather as the air temperature dropped to minus 2 degrees Celsius." Similar hailstorms had not occurred since 1989, when Lanny Jaya was still a part of the Jayawijaya regency. Most local residents were not prepared for such extreme weather.
“It was the first time many locals had experienced such low temperatures in their whole lives. In West Wano district, 11 residents died because they could not stand the extreme temperatures. Meanwhile, many other residents have been suffering from diarrhea after the hail.”
At least 1,200 families live in the three isolated districts, which can only be reached by small aircraft or by walking for two days from the regency’s capital city of Tiom. The local administration is planning to send medical assistance and food supplies to the three districts in a chartered aircraft on Wednesday, as the hail had also severely damaged residents’ farmland and killed a large number of livestock.
“The local residents are not only facing a food crisis but are also vulnerable to diseases.” Meanwhile, in the neighboring Puncak regency, thousands of people in the Agandugume district have also been struggling with a food crisis with a number of hailstorms having hit the area beginning earlier this month.
“We are currently facing the dry season, the rain has not come for quite a long time. At nights, however, hail falls. Frost has covered residents’ plants, like potatoes, tubers and vegetables, leaving them damaged." The food scarcity has forced residents to eat wild ferns in order to survive.
Puncak regional administration is planning to send rice stocks to the district but has so far faced difficulties in transporting them due to bad weather and technical constraints. “We have recently managed to drop only eight sacks of rice to Agandugume as the flight can be only taken once a day due to bad weather." Like the three isolated districts in Lanny Jaya, the Agandugume district is located between 2,300 and 2,500 meters above sea level and can only be accessed with small aircraft. The district is situated just below the 4,884-meter Puncak Jaya mountain, one of the world’s seven tallest summits.
At noon, the air temperature in the area has been ranging from 10 to 12 degrees Celsius, while at night the temperature can drop to 3 degrees. “The latest report confirmed that there are 6,150 people living in three villages that have been recently hit by hail. We have prepared rice and clothes to be sent to the affected areas. However, we are still unable to send them due to bad weather."

Scientists have discovered a winged dragon - "This is the most exciting time maybe in the history of palaeontology." Scientists have discovered a winged dragon - a winged dinosaur - an ancestor of the velociraptor - that they say was on the cusp of becoming a bird. The find is part of an "increasingly complex picture" of emerging evidence "that certainly a lot of [dinosaurs] and possibly even all of them had feathers or at least downy hair. It will blow some people's minds to realise that those dinosaurs in the movies would have been even weirder, and I think even scarier - like big fluffy birds from hell."
The 6ft 6in (2m) creature was almost perfectly preserved in limestone, thanks to a volcanic eruption that had buried it in north-east China. And the 125-million year-old fossil suggests many other dinosaurs, including velociraptors, would have looked like "big, fluffy killer birds". But its large body makes it unlikely that it could fly.
"It has short arms, and it is covered in feathers [with] proper wings with layers of quill- pen feathers. So even though this is a dinosaur, even though it is a close relative of velociraptor, it looks exactly like a turkey or a vulture...So maybe [wings] did not evolve for flight - perhaps they evolved as a display structure, or to protect eggs in the nest. Or maybe this animal was starting to move around in the trees and was able to glide."
China is the epicentre of palaeontology right now. "There are [museum] storerooms full of new dinosaur fossils that have never been studied before.


Study show high-risk areas for Lyme disease growing - The geographic areas where Lyme disease is a bigger danger have grown dramatically, according to a new upper Midwest. But now more areas in those regions are considered high risk. "The risk is expanding, in all directions."
There are now 260 counties where the number of Lyme disease cases is at least twice what's expected, given the size of each county's population. That's up from 130 a decade earlier. Overall, 17 states have high-risk counties. The entire state of Connecticut, where the illness was first identified in 1975, has been high-risk for decades. Now, high-risk zones encompass nearly all of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and more than half of Maine and Vermont.
Other states that saw expansion of high-risk areas include Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York along the Eastern seaboard, and Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota in the Midwest. Some counties have dropped off the high-risk list, including those in Virginia, Georgia, Missouri and North Carolina where significant clusters were reported in the 1990s. Scientists now think those were a different condition caused by a different tick's bite.
Lyme disease is most common in wooded suburban and far suburban counties. Scientists aren't sure why high-risk areas are expanding, but it likely has something to do with development and other changes that cause the deer and ticks that carry the bacteria to move. The disease is transmitted through the bites of infected deer ticks, which can be about the size of a poppy seed.

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