Monday, August 31, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.**
Sean O'Casey

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 8/30/15 -

8/29/15 -

8/28/15 -

8/27/15 -

8/26/15 -

Is New Jersey overdue for major earthquake? - In the past year, there have been more than 6,000 earthquakes in California, including two that have measured at least 4.0 on the Richter scale. Contrast that to New Jersey, where there have been seven earthquakes in the past year, which all measured 2.7 or less.
But don’t cross earthquakes off your list of natural disasters just yet. In fact, researchers say New Jersey is overdue for a moderate earthquake of 5.0 or greater. “Long overdue, (but) for how long, that’s the question." The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said 10 years ago that they’re due for at least a moderate earthquake.
In a more recent study, in 2008, the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America reiterated the same threat. “The region is not really well prepared for any level of shaking. The population density is so extremely high. ... Look at earthquake-related disasters. They don’t link to the large size of earthquakes, but the confluence of how close they are to people.”
Not to mention how close they are to suspension bridges, skyscrapers, utility lines and modern infrastructure. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting. We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.” One of the strongest earthquakes in New Jersey measured a 4.9 on the Richter scale — a moderate quake — that struck in 1783 and was felt throughout Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
Almost 90 years ago, Asbury Park experienced a 3.9 magnitude quake in 1927, and it toppled chimneys and knocked items off shelves. Earlier this month, a light earthquake was very noticeable to residents in and around Morristown. It measured 2.7, and was felt as far south as Jackson, and as far north as Suffern, New York. It measured “weak” to “light” on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.
Intense quakes are likely to happen in New Jersey every 100 years or less — which makes New Jersey earthquakes that much harder to predict — and means New Jersey is overdue for an earthquake. “Once in 10 generations is very difficult to study. That’s the biggest challenge (because) we live inside a stable plate.” A “stable plate” describes New Jersey’s tectonics. Here, the Earth’s crust “fits together and doesn’t deform very much."
Researchers don’t really understand why earthquakes happen on the East Coast, especially because in New Jersey, small earthquakes happen over a diffuse area and do not form an easily identifiable zone of action. “What makes us slightly more nervous these days is the recent Virginia earthquake. That event was rather large, there was serious damage, and of course, no prior history of such events recorded.”
In 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia was felt from Georgia to Maine, in Michigan and Illinois, and in Canada. “That (2011 earthquake) damaged a nuclear power plant — not severely, only to the extent that it had to shut down operations. It points out the issue of fragility on our infrastructure. The resiliency or vulnerability of our bridges, tunnels, power lines, pipelines, is a very important feature of the overall vulnerability of the metropolitan region.”
What makes East Coast quakes all the more unpredictable is that quakes here differ from those on the West Coast, where they are more frequent. Because the earth on the East Coast has different properties than the west, shakes from quakes are transmitted farther here than they are in California. Standard homeowner, renter, and business insurance policies typically do not cover earthquake damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Only 7 percent of homeowners who responded to an Institute survey in 2014 said they had earthquake insurance.
Only about 2 percent of homeowners in the Northeast have earthquake coverage, the survey revealed. Hurricanes and flooding are a much greater risk in New Jersey. “If an event is extremely unlikely, how much money is worth investing in safeguarding from it?” Although there is no reliable way to predict a major earthquake, let’s just say experts don’t think whole cities will crumble or be consumed by the ocean, as depicted by Hollywood.

Indonesia - Mt Lokon’s low alert status maintained despite eruption. The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) has maintained Mount Lokon’s status at siaga (Alert Level 3) despite an eruption on Saturday. “We hope residents won’t enter the 2.5-kilometer radius from the volcano’s Tompaluan Crater that we designated as a danger zone,” said an official on Sunday.
After Saturday’s eruption, volcanic tremors were still being recorded and there was a possibility of another eruption. “We hope everyone adheres to our recommendation on the volcano’s danger zone because more eruptions could be forthcoming and threaten the safety of residents if they continue with their activities within the radius deemed dangerous."
Lokon, an active volcano in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, erupted 11:48 p.m. local time Saturday, spewing volcanic ash around 1,500 meters high, which spread in a northern and eastern direction away from the volcano. Increases in Mt Lokon’s volcanic activity had been recorded since Friday before it erupted the following day. The volcano, which is one of the most active in North Sulawesi, last erupted on May.20.

Video - Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Erupts, Spewing Lava On The Big Island. A fast-moving river of molten lava from erupting volcano Kilauea crept over Hawaii's Big Island and flowed into the surrounding forest on Thursday. However, Geological Survey officials said the lava did not pose a threat to the surrounding communities.
The Kilauea volcano is one of the most active in the world, and has been erupting non-stop for 32 years. Witnesses said that the lava had moved about 0.8 km in less than 24 hours, and was now headed toward the subdivision of Eden Roc, on the eastern side of the island, and home to about 450 people. A magnitude 3.8 earthquake rumbled beneath the volcano on Thursday, and "low levels of seismic activities continue across the volcano."
While Kilauea's latest eruption isn't threatening surrounding communities now, the situation is being monitored closely as some of the lava flows "are marked by smoke plumes where lava is creeping into the forest." Kilauea's famous lava lake is a popular tourist attraction and overflowed its banks this past spring, sending lava and rocks into the air.


* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical storm Fred is located about 80 mi (125 km) ENE of Praia in the Cape Verde Islands. Hurricane conditions likely to spread over portions of the Cape Verde Islands soon.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Category Three Hurricane Ignacio still a major hurricane 350 miles east of The Big Island and tracking northwest. Located about 545 mi (880 km) E of Honolulu, Hawaii, the center of Ignacio is expected to pass approximately 200 miles northeast of The Big Island and Maui Monday and Tuesday. Rapid weakening is expected and Ignacio may be a tropical storm by Tuesday.

- Intense Hurricane Jimena moving west-northwestward toward the central Pacific, located about 1525 mi (2450 km) E of Hilo, Hawaii.

* In the Central Pacific -
- Category Three Hurricane Kilo is moving northwest near the international dateline, located about 570 mi (915 km) South of Midway Island. Slow weakening is forecast over the next couple of days.
Tropical Storm Fred forms in eastern Atlantic off Africa - Erika no longer a tropical storm, loses steam over Cuba. Tropical Storm Fred formed in the eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa on Sunday. Fred could reach hurricane status before or while it moves through the Cape Verde islands in 36 hours or so. Fred is the sixth named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season.
Meanwhile, the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika, which dissipated over Cuba on Saturday, was producing gusty conditions and heavy rain over parts of south Florida. It could regain tropical storm force over the next day or so, forecasters said, as it heads for the northwest Florida Panhandle.

Video - Dominica clears up after deadly tropical storm Erika. The prime minister of the Caribbean island of Dominica says that his country has been set back 20 years by tropical storm Erika. At least 20 people are known to have died in flooding and mudslides caused by the storm, and that number is expected to rise in the coming days.

As Florida Preps for Storm That Was Erika, Caribbean Tallies Damage - Hurricane Ignacio Strengthens as It Sets Path for Hawaii. Only remnants of the tropical storm that used to be Erika barreled toward Florida on Sunday night, but the state was still preparing for what the National Weather Service described as strong winds and heavy rain, and the governor was still urging vigilance.
Erika began weakening Saturday after it killed at least 20 people in the Caribbean last week and caused Florida's Governor to issue a state of emergency Friday. Flood watches were in effect from southern Georgia to Miami, and rip currents were expected all the way to the Carolinas.
In the Caribbean, hard-hit countries were still tallying the damage. In Dominica, where nearly 13 inches of rain fell in as many hours, the Prime Minister recounted Erika's "monumental" destruction in an emotional televised address: Bridges had been washed away. Highways and roads were destroyed. At least 20 people were dead, and more were missing.
"This is a period of national tragedy," he said, adding that the storm had damaged "nearly every community" on the island. "We have, in essence, to rebuild Dominica."
In Puerto Rico, 200,000 people lost power and million of dollars in crops were destroyed.
In Haiti, mudslides blocked roads, a prison was evacuated and rain appeared to have caused firey truck crash killed four people and injured 11 others.
In the Pacific, meanwhile, Hurricane Ignacio was churning toward Hawaii. The storm — once a Category 4 system — had begun weakening by late Sunday morning, a trend that was expected to continue in the coming days. Tropical storm watches were in effect for the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe, according to the National Weather Service, and the storm's center is expected to pass by the state to the north on Monday and Tuesday.

Fred Heading for Cape Verde Islands - Residents of the Cape Verde islands were going through a RARE experience Saaturday - a hurricane warning - as Tropical Storm Fred intensifies in the far eastern North Atlantic. As of 2:00 pm EDT, Fred was located about 195 miles east of the Cape Verde capital city of Praia. Outer rainbands are already beginning to reach the islands.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm from Invest 99L to Tropical Storm Fred in its 5:00 am EDT advisory. This made Fred one of just a handful of systems in the last 60 years of satellite monitoring to become tropical storms east of 20°W. Fred is moving into a well-defined pocket of UNUSUALLY WARM sea-surface temperatures (1-2°C above average, or about 27-28°C) that surrounds the Cape Verdes. Since SSTs are often just marginally warm enough to support tropical cyclones near the islands, this warm pocket is a important piece of Fred’s future. Computer models differ enormously in where Fred will be by Thursday; the 120-hour positions from the early-cycle guidance produced at 1200 GMT Sunday vary by more than 500 miles.
However, the models agree much more closely on track for the upcoming 48 hours, as Fred is projected to move steadily northwest through the heart of the northern Cape Verde islands. Neither of the high- resolution models bring Fred to hurricane strength, but statistical models push Fred just beyond that threshold, and NHC is predicting Fred to become a minimal hurricane by midday Monday local time. A hurricane warning is in effect for the Republic of Cabo Verde (the official name for the nation since 2013). To our knowledge, these are THE FIRST HURRICANE WARNINGS ON RECORD for the islands; tropical storm warnings were posted for Humberto in 2013 and Julia in 2010.
A historic hurricane for the Cape Verdes? The Atlantic's most terrifying and destructive hurricanes typically start as tropical waves that move off the coast of Africa and pass near the Cape Verde islands. This class of storms is referred to as "Cape Verde hurricanes", in reference to their origin. Despite the fact that the Atlantic's most feared type of hurricanes are named after the Cape Verde islands, the islands themselves rarely receive significant impacts from one of their namesake storms.
This is because tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa have very little time to organize into tropical storms before arriving at the Cape Verde islands, which lie just 350 miles west of the African coast. There is no reliable record of any bona fide hurricane having made landfall on the Cape Verde islands. The closest analogue for Fred is an 1892 storm that bisected the islands, moving between the northern cluster (Ilhas do Barlavento, or windward islands) and the southern cluster (Ilhas do Sotavento, or leeward islands).
This 1892 storm reportedly intensified to hurricane strength while passing south of the northwestern Cape Verde islands. Another close approach came from 1998’s Hurricane Jeanne, which reached hurricane strength while passing about 100 miles south of the southern islands. Decaying tropical cyclones in the open Atlantic have occasionally circled southeastward to take a swipe at the Cape Verdes as extratropical storms, but none have reached the island at hurricane strength.
There have been only two deadly tropical cyclones in Cape Verde history. Like Jeanne, they both passed south of the Ilhas do Sotavento. The deadliest was Tropical Storm Fran of 1984, which brushed the southermost islands on September 16 as a tropical storm with 50-mph winds. Fran brought sustained winds of 35 mph and torrential rains to the islands. The rains triggered flash flooding that killed more than two dozen people and caused damages of almost $3 million (1984 dollars.)
The other deadly named storm was Tropical Storm Beryl of 1982, which passed about 30 miles south of the southwestern islands on August 29, with 45-mph winds. The storm's heavy rains killed three people on Brava Island, injured 122, and caused $3 million in damage. The most recent named storm to affect the islands was Hurricane Humberto of 2013, which passed the islands to the south as a tropical storm. Humberto brought wind gusts of up to 35 mph and heavy rain squalls to the islands, triggering flooding that washed out roads and damaged homes.
Hurricane Julia of 2010, the easternmost Category 4 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, passed about 50 miles south of Sao Filipe, on the island of Fogo in the southern Cape Verde islands, as a tropical storm with 45 mph winds, bringing wind gusts of 30 mph and some minor flooding.
Although all of the Cape Verde islands should prepare for a potential hurricane, Fred’s predicted track would bring the worst impacts across the northern islands (Ilhas do Barlavento), which are even less experienced than the southern islands at dealing with the high winds and heavy rain of tropical cyclones. Fred could make a direct landfall on more than one of the northern islands, as its track will be roughly parallel to this chain.
Among the islands in line to feel Fred’s impacts first are the heavily touristed islands of Boa Vista and Sal, which lie on the stronger (right-hand) side of the projected path. Despite their name (which translates to “green cape” in English), the Cape Verde islands have a semi-desert climate, with an average annual rainfall of only around 10 inches, so the torrential rains of a tropical cyclone could have a big impact. Rains of 3-5” are predicted from Fred, with isolated totals of up to 8”. A direct landfall on the northwestern islands could produce not only heavy rain but high winds that would be EXTREMELY UNUSUAL, IF NOT UNPRECEDENTED.

Erika’s remnants are pouring on Florida, Cuba. The remnants of Tropical Storm Erika remain disorganized in the far southeast Gulf of Mexico. NHC gives the remnants only a 10 percent chance of regenerating into a tropical cyclone (which would again be named Erika) over the next five days as they slide northward along the west coast of Florida.
The heavy rain is not appreciated along the western half of the peninsula, where the last month has already brought 10-20” of rain and widespread flooding. Tampa needs less than an inch of rain through midnight Monday night to score its wettest July-August since records began in 1890 (old record 28.31” in 1960; total through noon EDT Sunday, 27.48”).
Flash flood watches now cover all of central and southern Florida. “Our aquifers are full. There's no more areas for the water to percolate to." Even as a leftover tropical cyclone, Erika may still cause significant damage in Florida over the next day or two. Erika has left forecast models, and forecasters, perplexed.

Three Category 4 storms lace the Pacific - where Hurricane Jimena, Hurricane Ignacio, and Hurricane Kilo have made a most impressive trio. All three reached Category 4 strength on Saturday and remained there on Sunday morning, a rare feat.
A Tropical Storm Watch remains in effect for the eastern Hawaiian islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Hawaii (the Big Island), with Ignacio located about 420 miles east of Hilo as of 8:00 am HST (2:00 pm EDT) Sunday. Ignacio is packing winds of 130 mph, but its steady northwest track will take it well north of the islands. Tropical storm force winds extend out to 125 miles (mainly on the north side), so gusty conditions may occur, especially at higher elevations.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center is warning that rainfall amounts of 2-4”, with isolated totals up to 6” at higher terrain, are still possible. There’s much higher confidence that huge waves will be impacting the islands: the CPHC warns of potential life-threatening surf, especially on the Big Island. There’s NO RECORD IN THE MODERN DATABASE OF A HURRICANE THIS STRONG TRACKING NORTH OF THE ISLANDS, so even well-experienced surfers could find themselves in unexpectedly treacherous conditions.
Meanwhile, Jimena and Kilo are raging far away from any populated land areas; Jimena is expected to slowly weaken, while the Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects that long-lived Kilo will maintain at least Category 3 strength for the next five days as it undergoes a gradual westward turn through the subtropical North Pacific. Kilo may cross the International Date Line around Tuesday, at which point it would be dubbed Typhoon Kilo. This was the case for Genevieve in 2014 and Ioke in 2006.


Two dead, massive outages after windstorm slams Washington state - A powerful windstorm toppled trees, killing two people in Washington state as work crews scrambled on Sunday to restore power to 450,000 customers. A father driving with his three-year-old daughter in Gig Harbor, just west of Tacoma, was killed on Saturday when a tree fell on his car.
Within two hours, a falling branch struck and killed a 10-year-old girl in Federal Way, just east of Tacoma. Gusting winds were blamed for massive power outages affecting as many as 450,000 customers. On utility websites, Puget Sound Energy said crews working through the night had been able to restore nearly 75 percent of affected customers by early Sunday morning, with 97,000 remaining without power, Snohomish PUD reported 88,000 remained without power, Seattle City Light had about 21,000 still affected and Tacoma Public Utilities had 500 customers still in the dark.

Landslides kill five in Nepal quake zone - Landslides triggered by heavy rainfall killed at least five people in central Nepal, four of them in a shelter for survivors of a devastating earthquake, police said Friday. Rescuers in Nepal’s Nuwakot district are still searching for a nine-year-old boy missing since an overnight landslide crushed two bamboo and tin shelters built for families displaced by the April 25 quake.
“The landslide occurred around 2:00 am, burying the shelters while the victims were sleeping inside. We have recovered four bodies and have been searching for the missing boy since early morning." Six quake victims injured in the accident have been taken to hospitals in Nuwakot and neighbouring Kathmandu for treatment.
In a separate incident, an 80-year-old woman died when a landslide slammed into her house in Nuwakot. Scores of people die from flooding and mudslides during the annual monsoon season in Nepal.


The sun swallows a comet - On Friday, Aug.28th, the sun swallowed a comet. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spotted the icy vistor from the outer solar system making a headlong plunge into our star. One comet went in; none came out.
Heated by the sun at point blank range, the comet's fragile ices vaporized, leaving at most a "rubble pile" of rock and gravel scattered along its sungrazing orbit. Any remains are invisible from Earth. The comet, R.I.P., was probably a member of the Kreutz family. Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a single giant comet many centuries ago. They get their name from 19th century German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who studied them in detail.
Several Kreutz fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most, measuring less than a few meters across, are too small to see, but occasionally a bigger fragment like this one (~10 m to 50 m) attracts attention. Because of their common parentage, sungrazers often come in clusters. For this reason, it wouldn't be surprising to find yet another one in the offing.
Monitor the Sungrazing Comet twitter feed for more sightings.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Never fight an inanimate object.**
P. J. O'Rourke

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/25/15 -

8/24/15 -

8/23/15 -

8/22/15 -

8/21/15 -

8/20/15 -

Japanese climber first to attempt Everest ascent since Nepal quake - A Japanese climber will be the first to attempt to scale Mount Everest from the Nepal side this autumn following the devastating quake that killed 9000 people in the country in April this year. The earthquake claimed 19 lives at the base camp of the tallest mountain in the world where hundreds of climbers, guides and porters were getting ready for the spring climbing season.
"We decided to make an attempt on Everest in autumn to show the world that Everest and other peaks in Nepal are safe for climbing even after the quake." Spring (April-May) is the most popular season to climb Everest and other major peaks in the Nepalese Himalayas and most climbers avoid autumn (September-October) because of extreme cold and shorter days.
This is his fifth attempt to climb Everest. He had tried twice from the Tibet side and twice from the Nepalese side. In 2012, he lost nine fingers to frostbite while attempting to climb Everest. Climbing on Everest has remained affected for two consecutive spring seasons - last year it was due to an avalanche which claimed 16 lives and this year because of the quake.

New Zealand - Minor eruptions possible on Mt Ruapehu as crater lake cool. Adventurous tourists enjoy visiting the Mt Ruapehu crater lake, but are warned to be wary in the vicinity, as DOC and GNS have recorded a disruption to the normal temperature trends.
Minor eruptions on Mt Ruapehu could be on the horizon as the crater lake's temperature stalls at 15 degrees. The Department of Conservation and GNS Science are keeping a closer eye on the volcano following the temperature drop. There is a chance a minor eruption could occur. If one occurs it could affect the summit craters area.
However, the likelihood of any eruption is not high and the Volcanic Alert level set by GNS Science is still 1, its normal level. The lake usually fluctuates between 10 and 40 degrees, and does not stay one temperature for too long. However, it is currently 15 degrees and has been so for two weeks.
There are two reasons for it to remain relatively cold. "Firstly, it could just be normal fluctuation - sometimes the magma is putting out a lot of heat, and sometimes it's not, and that's the most common reason. [Secondly,] about 10 per cent of the time, the lake is cool because a blockage has developed in the vent between the magma and the lake."
A blockage could potentially cause an eruption, after pressure builds. Gas outlets at the crater lake were measured on Friday, and they appear to behaving normally. However, current scientific equipment could not determine whether a blockage had occurred for certain. "Because we can't be sure, we're taking the precautionary approach."
The lake last cooled below 10 degrees in 1998, and an eruption followed. Similar drops in temperature were recorded in 1995 and 1996. "At 17.5 degrees we'll start talking about it, at 15 degrees we'll start [advising the public to be cautious], and so on." Advisory signs were being erected.

Cotopaxi Volcano is spewing ash in Ecuador - The Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador has come to life after being dormant for over 70 years. After making it’s first big eruption, the capital of Quito saw its effects as ash rained down on the city. The capital is over 31 miles away, which gives perspective to how massive this volcano eruption can be.
Locals are afraid that gas and rock flows will effect the glacier capped peak. The melting ice could cause the surrounding areas to be flooded with volcanic mud. This is not the first time the locals have been worried about this. In 1877, a similar tragedy took place, claiming lives in the destruction.
Cotopaxi is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. Officials are keeping a close watch as the volcano is continuously having small eruptions. “Cotopaxi is considered one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes due to its proximity to population centers and very explosive activity, coupled with a tremendous potential for devastating volcanic mudflows, called lahars, which are formed by rapid melting of the icecap.”
In the 1877 lahar, the mudflow traveled over 202 miles to the coast of the Pacific. The Valle de Los Chillos is along the dangerous path of this volcano, and presently houses over 200,000 people along the lahar channels. “The last big eruption lasted three years, but if it is like Tungurahua volcano (south of Cotopaxi), it could last 16 years.” The government declared a state of emergency this week, and said that 325,000 people are at risk. Officials have restricted the press from reporting about the volcano to keep people back and out of harm’s way.
Some locals are feeling hopeless at the lack of news they are receiving. “We watch the news for information and there isn’t a single story about the volcano, yet I watched as it erupted again today.” The community feels “abandoned by the government.” Close to Cotopaxi and up river from Latacunga, the area has been destroyed by Cotopaxi on 3 separate occasions.
After the eruption on Saturday, “People were evacuating, but there was no information so the people panicked.” According to the locals there isn’t help from the government, police, or any civil service. There are no plans for evacuation, so the community has pulled together to work on exercises in case there would be a situation. However, the locals are not aware of where they are supposed to evacuate to.
Other residents are suffering the wrath of Cotopaxi from a distance. Romerillo, another town, is having ash rain down. The locals are concerned that the ash will contaminate the food for the animals, and some have reported that their cattle have started to get ill and die. The government stepped in and is trying to provide fresh food, not tainted in volcanic ash, for the livestock and animals to feed on.
Cotopaxi National Park is suffering due to the sudden events of the volcano. Over 200,000 tourists come each year,including mountain climbers seeking the challenge of one of the highest volcano peaks in the world. However, it has been shut down due to the eruptions, causing some locals to fear for their jobs and livelihood.


* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Tropical storm Erika, located about 605 mi (975 km) E of Antigua, is expected to be near the northern Leeward Islands tomorrow night. Erika is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches over many of the Leeward Islands through Thursday.

- As a weakening Tropical Depression, Danny has crossed into the Caribbean. Tropical Storm Danny brought rain and strong winds Monday to the islands of the eastern edge of the Caribbean and then quickly dissipated as it headed west. Just a few days ago, Danny was a powerful, though compact, category 3 hurricane.
The storm and its remnants were expected to produce 2 inches to 4 inches of rain in the Leeward Islands and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as in drought-stricken Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Dominica received just over 2 inches of rain and fallen rocks blocked roads but there were no reports of injuries or flooding.

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Storm Ignacio is located about 1530 mi (2460 km) ESE of Hilo, Hawaii.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical Storm 17w (Atsani) is located approximately 1065 nm south of petropavlovsk, Russia. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

- Tropical Storm 16w (Goni) is located approximately 128 nm north of Iwakuni, Japan. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

* In the Central Pacific -
- Tropical depression Kilo nearly stationary northeast of Johnston Island, about 540 mi (870 km) WSW of Barking Sands, Hawaii. Slow intensification is expected to begin tonight or Wednesday. Additional rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches are possible.

- Tropical storm Loke beginning to weaken as it accelerates northward, about 305 mi (490 km) NE of Midway Island. Large swells produced by Loke will cause rough surf across reefs and shorelines over the western portions of the Papahanaumokuakea marine National Monument, Hawaii, through this evening. As the surf from Loke diminishes, swells from former typhoon Atsani will start to affect the area.
' Typhoon Goni has lashed the Japanese mainland, leaving at least one person missing, more than 70 others injured as authorities urged more than 600,000 people to leave homes. Packing gusts up to 122 mph (180 km/h) Goni passed over Kyushu, one of Japan's four main islands, and continued its path over the Sea of Japan.
Typhoon Goni Cuts Path Through Japan’s Kyushu - Typhoon Goni made landfall on Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu, causing injuries and prompting evacuation orders. Cancellations of airline and train service affected thousands of people.
Goni, which had been the strength of a category 3 hurricane, came ashore in Kumamoto prefecture about 6 a.m. The storm cut a path through Kyushu and re-entered the sea near Shimonoseki, where 280,000 people in surrounding Yamaguchi prefecture were advised to evacuate due to concern over landslides. At least 33 injuries in Kyushu and Yamaguchi were attributed to the typhoon.
Japan Meteorological Agency issued warnings for high waves, landslides and flooding for prefectures in most of southern and western Japan. The storm was about 100 kilometers northeast of Fukuoka, Kyushu’s largest city, as of 11:45 a.m., and still packed wind gusts up to 180 kilometers per hour. The typhoon, which caused flights to be canceled in southern Japan over the weekend, continues to disrupt travel. Train lines, including Shinkansen bullet trains, were suspended in Kyushu.
Goni brought destruction after it turned northward in the Pacific last week, killing at least 14 people in the Philippines and prompting weather warnings in Taiwan. The storm is predicted to skirt the Korean Peninsula later in the week. Goni is Japan’s 15th typhoon of this season.
Atsani, the 16th typhoon, has since weakened to a strong tropical storm and is heading east out to sea. Japan is most likely to see typhoons make landfall on its main islands between July and October, with two or three coming ashore in a typical year. Typhoon Nangka made landfall in western Japan in July, leaving at least two dead and disrupting travel throughout the region. The number of typhoons formed in a season in Japan is usually in the 20's.

Flooding Rains Continue Across Philippines - Despite pulling away from the Philippines, Typhoon Goni will continue to impact the weather bringing additional flooding rainfall across Luzon. Flooding will remain a threat across western Luzon through at least Tuesday as a moist southwesterly flow coming from the South China Sea will continue to bring rounds of heavy rainfall.
Last week and over the weekend, Goni battered the northern Philippines and left 15 people dead, mainly due to landslides.In Baguio City, more than 760 mm (30 inches) of rain has fallen since Thursday. Many other parts of northwestern Luzon have received 250-500 mm (10-20 inches) of rain during the same time.
Manila dodged the heaviest rainfall thus far; however, residents should not let their guard down as heavy rainfall has flooded areas just to the north of the city and the threat for heavy rainfall in the city continued into Tuesday.
Downpours could bring a quick 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) of rain to areas around Manila on Tuesday. Similar to the past several days, the heaviest and most widespread rain is expected to fall to the north of Manila. The continuation of heavy will rain could cause additional life-threatening flooding and potentially more mudslides.

Hawaii is getting ready for a rare hurricane to hit - Tropical storm Kilo is expected to strengthen throughout the coming week and could make landfall as a category two hurricane by Thursday. "The water temperature? Record warm. Not just warm. Record warm." Kilo could be the first significant hurricane to hit the island directly in more than 20 years.

Danny Vaulted to Category 3 Status - Going against the grain of a hurricane-snuffing El Niño event, the tiny tropical cyclone became THE STRONGEST HURRICANE IN YEARS OVER THE DEEP ATLANTIC TROPICS. Hurricane Danny intensified dramatically on Thursday night and Friday morning, strengthening to Category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Danny was one of the smaller hurricanes on record in the Atlantic.
Due to Danny’s unusually compact size, hurricane-force winds extended only 15 miles from the storm’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended out up to 70 miles. It can be difficult for satellite- based instruments to estimate the intensity of very small hurricanes like Danny due to limited sensor resolution, but it’s clear that Danny was a surprisingly well-organized hurricane.

Hurricane Katrina - Through deadly winds, rain and floods, a New Orleans radio station fought to keep listeners alive during Hurricane Katrina.


Final Body Found After Deadly Landslide in Sitka, Alaska - Searchers in Alaska on Tuesday recovered the third and last body of three people who went missing after a landslide last week on Aug. 18.
The landslide that carried mud and trees sweeping down a road occurred after 24 hours of heavy rain in the mountainous community in Alaska's southeastern tip. The bodies of 2 brothers were found on Aug. 19 and Aug. 20, near the debris of a home that was destroyed. The National Weather Service recorded 2.57 inches of rain falling on Sitka over 6 hours by around 10 a.m., when the landslides occurred. There were six landslides in all, and a sinkhole also opened up.

Australia - A public school on the NSW south coast has been closed as a nearby dam wall threatens to break, in the midst of severe weather pummelling the region. The SES issued an urgent evacuation notice to residents living downstream from Jerrara Dam, west of Kiama, just before 10am on Tuesday. The dam's wall has shown signs of failing due to heavy rainfall in the area.
As the nearby village of Minnamurra would be the hardest hit if the dam wall collapsed, the SES is advising parents with children at Minnamurra Public School to collect them. If the dam busts, it will cause extremely dangerous flooding to areas. "We do not know what is going to happen. The dam is currently being decommissioned and we are noticing the water is spilling over the top and is too risky, we are asking residents to evacuate immediately." The evacuation order is expected to remain in place for 24 hours.
Kiama Council downgraded the evacuation warning for homes not in the dam's immediate downstream area at 12.15pm Tuesday but a red alert remained in place. "Roads may be congested or closed. You could become trapped and need to be rescued. Remaining in flooded areas is dangerous and may place your life at risk. Wherever possible, people should go and stay with family or friends, or make other accommodation arrangements." Several people are trapped in the area.
Other parts of New South Wales have been battered by wild weather, with giant hail stones, flash flooding and even a tornado. A tornado has swept through Dubbo on Monday and damaged several homes, while hailstones the size of 20 cent coins have pummelled parts of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Rain in the city jumped from 17 millimetres to almost 55 in just 41 minutes.
The extreme weather caused flash flooding, road closures, traffic delays and some serious damage. At least four people were rescued from floods, including a woman pulled from a vehicle. Sydney and the Illawarra region have been worst hit, but more than 100 calls to the SES have been scattered across the state. The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a flood watch warning for the region, along with the South Coast, Lachlan and Nepean River Valleys.
Rainfall totals in the range of 100-200mm were expected on Monday night and Tuesday, with higher localised falls of over 300mm possible. "Heavy rain and the potential for flash flooding (are) the main threats."

United Kingdom - A so-called "Spanish Plume" has brought heat, flash floods and heavy thunderstorms to parts of the UK. The plume carried hot, unstable air from France, pushing the mercury up. Temperatures across the South East were widely in the upper 20s - the mercury hit 30.7C in London, 30.3 at Heathrow Airport and 30.4 at Gravesend in Kent.
But with the heat also came torrential rain in parts of the country - 21.6mm of rain fell in an hour in the village of Bramham, West Yorkshire. The Met Office has issued a yellow "be aware" warning for downpours in the Midlands, parts of eastern England and into northern England and southern Scotland. "We've seen some very potent thunderstorms and they will continue to rumble on through the coming hours. We'll see further pulses of very heavy rain in southwest England and into Wales, northern parts of England, south and southeast parts of Scotland."
A Spanish Plume is colloquial term for a weather situation in which a large southwards dip in the high altitude jet stream develops to the west of Europe encouraging a deep southerly wind flow. This drives hot and humid air from Iberia north and northeast into northern Europe, including the British Isles. Forecasters also say the Spanish Plume can create a risk of tornadoes - but there is a low chance of that this weekend. The unsettled weather will continue for the rest of the weekend, then the cooler weather is set to return next week.


US west coast wildfires in 60 seconds - Wildfires are still burning across the west coast of the United States, and authorities are struggling to deal with them.

Resources Falling Short as Washington Wildfire Grows Into Historic Monster - Commanders blamed a "lack of resources" for the continued spread of the 260,000-acre Okanogan Complex of fires in Washington state. Scores more firefighters raced Tuesday to the Okanogan Complex of fires, the biggest wildfire in the history of Washington state and the nation's No. 1 summer wildfire priority. But it still might not be enough.
The complex of five fires near the north-central town of Omak grew by almost 14,000 more acres by Tuesday afternoon, to 258,339 acres, or more than 403 square miles. If it were a city, it would be the 10th-largest in the continental U.S. by area.
Nearly 100 new firefighters arrived at the fire, which has been only 15 percent contained since it started Aug. 15. In just 10 days, it has already cost nearly $10 million to battle. But the fire's northeastward is continuing unabated because, the incident team reported bluntly, of a "lack of resources to implement suppression actions." Crews were even being diverted from California, even though they're needed there for numerous fires burning hundreds of thousands of acres.

Man's Concrete Home Survives Raging Wildfire in Washington - A Washington man’s cement home is still standing after surviving a raging wildfire that passed his home and scorched acres of surrounding land. He was prepared for the inevitability of a wildfire when he built his thin-shelled, concrete dome in 1999 surrounded by dry fields in Okanogan County.
Earlier this week, he just happened to be working 30 miles out of town when he received a voicemail from a friend warning him about a fire approaching his home. After shuttling three vehicles off his property, he realized he had to hurry as the fire was only a couple hundred yards away. “The fire was getting close, in fact, there was a firefighter there at the time who got trapped inside when I shut the gate inadvertently.”
“I grabbed the hose, soaked my clothing down and doused the north side of the building as much as I could. [The fire] got close enough that it was super heated and getting uncomfortable out there in the smoke. I went inside, shut the door behind me and watched it move by.” He waited out the flames for about a minute as the fire passed by his home.
“The fire just roared across my property. I could see the flames dancing up over the windows." The only damage sustained was a service pole, which resulted in a loss of power. “The building survived as it’s supposed to. I was surprised the outside of the building didn’t have any damage at all. The whole 20 acres is just scorched.” His three-layered cement home is made up of polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane and cement.

As Polish river levels fall to RECORD LOWS amid a prolonged drought, the material remains of Poland's tortured 20th-century history are coming to light on newly exposed riverbeds, with Jewish tombstones and the human remains of Soviet fighter pilots and their plane being found in recent days.

Canada - Alberta declares that agricultural losses from extreme weather is a 'disaster'. The disaster declaration on Friday allows the province’s Agriculture Financial Services Corporation to access more funds for insurance compensation.
The dry weather and hail in 2015 has resulted in a “significant increase” in the number of claims across the province. Many Alberta counties and municipal districts have already declared local states of agricultural emergency due to heat and drought and are seeking government assistance. A spring and summer with insufficient rain has withered crops in many regions of Western Canada, including hay used by livestock producers to feed their animals.
Producers worry they may have to reduce their herds due to the price and lack of availability of hay, and the federal government has agreed to grant tax deferrals to western livestock producers in regions hit by drought. The Alberta government has responded by cutting rental fees for a program that helps farmers pump water to fill their dams and dugouts, and is also helping municipalities identify additional public lands for grazing.
Saskatchewan announced a similar measure last month to help its producers.

Japan to see average to warmer weather during September-November - Japan will see mostly average to warmer weather from September to November, the official forecaster said on Tuesday. Eastern Japan, including the most densely populated Tokyo area, will have a 50 percent chance of higher-than-average temperatures for the period, the Japan Meteorological Agency said in its monthly three-month forecast.


A Chunk of Greenland Ice the Size of an Asteroid Fell Into the Ocean - Imagine Manhattan buried under a thousand feet of ice. That’s how much of Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier fell into the Arctic Ocean last week, becoming a 7.8-square-mile iceberg.
“As a single event, this is a fairly rare size." But the phenomenon isn’t unusual, because glaciers on Greenland “pulse” seasonally. That means they break off at their edges and retreat inland in summer, and move back toward the ocean in winter.
Still, the ongoing retreat of the Jakobshavn Glacier is another sign that climate change is further destabilizing the ice sheet covering Greenland, one of the world’s biggest repositories of freshwater. Even with temperatures in the Arctic rising at nearly twice the global average, scientists have been surprised in recent years by the fast melt rate of Greenland’s land-bound ice, which contributes to sea-level rise.
Since the 1990s, the Jakobshavn has failed to regain the ground it loses in summer, and the glacier’s leading edge is now further inland than it has been in 135 years of record-keeping. NASA and European Space Agency satellites photographed the ice mass calving off the glacier between Aug. 14 and Aug. 16. The ESA estimated that the iceberg was 4,590 feet thick.
The United Nations climate agency has forecast that unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut sharply in the next 35 to 50 years, the ice sheets on both Greenland and West Antarctica will begin to completely collapse, speeding up rates of sea-level rise. Scientists estimate that together, they are losing 300 billion tons of ice annually owing to rising temperatures.
“I do think it’s important for people to understand that this not a surprise event. This is a signal that is consistent with what we expect from climate change. It’s a reminder that we should act, not that we should give up.”

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

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**Land is the secure ground of home, the sea is like life, the outside, the unknown.**
Stephen Gardiner

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/19/15 -

8/18/15 -

Earthquake in Colorado - A magnitude 4.2 quake hit about 25 miles west of Trinidad in Las Animas County at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday.

California - Oakland Water Main Bursts Near Piedmont Where Quake Struck On Monday Repairs to the 82-year-old water main that broke in Oakland near the Piedmont border early Thursday morning were expected to last the rest of the day.


* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Hurricane Danny strengthens a little more, about 1030 mi (1655 km) E of the Windward Islands. Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours, but a weakening trend is expected to begin after that. Danny is a very small tropical cyclone. Hurricane-force winds only extend outward up to 10 miles (20 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km).

* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical depression Three-C formed far southeast of the Hawaiian islands about 875 mi (1410 km) SE of Honolulu, Hawaii.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 16w (Goni) is located approximately 504 nm south-southwest of Kadena AB.

- Typhoon 17w (Atsani)is located approximately 325 nm east-southeast of Iwo To.


Footage captures moment lightning hits plane on runway - An airline passenger in the US was shooting mobile phone video of the runway at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport while his plane was delayed due to severe weather. He wanted to send some images of the storm to his wife, while letting her know he was running late. However, he didn't even realise the plane was hit by lightning until he watched the video later on.


Three firefighters were killed battling a wildfire in Washington state - Three firefighters died while battling the Twisp fire and four were injured near the eastern Washington town. (video at link)

July was the hottest month on Earth since records began, averaging 16.6 C (61.9 F), according to US scientists. That is 0.08 degrees higher than the previous record, set in July 1998 - a significant margin in weather records. Scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a report that they expect 2015 to be the hottest year on record.
Nine of the 10 hottest months since records began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. Scientists say global climate change and the impacts of the El Nino weather phenomenon are behind the record temperatures. The first seven months of 2015 have already set an all-time temperature record for the period. "A strong El Nino is under way in the tropical Pacific and this, combined with the long-term global warming trend, means there is the potential to see some very warm months throughout this year - as the new figures for July appear to show. "This is consistent with the Met Office's global temperature forecast which predicted that a record or near record year is very much on the cards for 2015."


Long Hours at Work Increase Stroke Risk 33%, Says Study - Workers who toil for long hours faced a high risk of both stroke and heart attack.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

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**It may be true that the government that governs best, governs least. Unfortunately, the same is also true of the government that governs worst.**
Jane Elizabeth Auer

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or larger.

Yesterday, 8/17/15 -

California Probably Isn't in the Midst of a Quake Swarm - Early Monday morning, a significant chunk of the Bay Area's population was shaken out of bed by some seismic action, a window-rattling 4.0 magnitude quake. The short, sharp earthquake rattled the San Francisco Bay Area, breaking picture frames and cracking plaster without prompting reports of injuries or major damage. This is barely a week after another earthquake struck a few miles away, just offshore on the San Andreas fault. That quake probably had nothing to do with Monday's Hayward shaker. But that doesn't mean the quake risk is over.
Video - Dogs reactions to the quake.
Video - Weatherman's on-air reaction.

Nearly half of Americans live in areas prone to earthquakes - U.S. Geological Survey research indicates 143 million Americans live in earthquake-prone areas. California still tops the list of states most at risk of an earthquake.
"The new exposure estimate is nearly double the previous 2006 estimate, based on population growth and advances in science." Researchers looked at how populations have grown in earthquake-prone areas, and they say improvements in data collection provide a more accurate estimate than in years past.
The study looked at ground shaking, which is caused by the passage of seismic waves. This shaking causes most property damage during an earthquake and can range from weak and barely noticeable to violent or extreme, with catastrophic damage. As you might expect, California tops the list of states most at risk, but others may surprise you. Based on this new assessment, states in the eastern United States have a greater chance of having a damaging quake than was previously thought. A lot was learned from the magnitude-5.8 earthquake that hit Virginia in 2011; the quake caused considerable damage and forced the Washington Monument to close for repairs, which were just completed in May 2014.
The New Madrid earthquake zone in the central United States has more potential for a larger quake than previous estimates suggested. The zone could have a devastating earthquake that would be felt in nearly a dozen states, researchers say, threatening large cities such as St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta.
The magnitude-9.0 earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, triggering a Pacific-wide tsunami and causing a series of meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, along with the 8.2 earthquake that hit Chile in April 2014, have given scientists valuable data and insight into the U.S. Pacific Northwest earthquake zone. Scientists say they think that a quake with a magnitude as high as 9.3 is possible, a number previously thought to be impossible for the region.
The USGS' new assessment of California's earthquake risk was mixed. More faults were discovered, raising the earthquake threat for cities like San Jose and San Diego, while the estimated threat decreased for Santa Barbara and Oakland. Hazard probabilities increased for parts of San Francisco and Los Angeles, but they decreased in other parts of the cities, based on the new data.
The new USGS earthquake hazard map continues to show the highest threat levels in the western U.S. But other areas of the country, such as the central states surrounding the New Madrid fault, and Charleston, South Carolina, also show a high risk.

Video - New Eruption of Turrialba Volcano in Costa Rica.

The Japan Meteorological Agency on Monday remained on high alert for a major eruption at Mount Sakurajima. One of Japan's most active volcanoes could be headed for a much bigger eruption than the locals are used to seeing.
Mount Sakurajima erupts hundreds of times a year in small blasts, but scientists have studied the trends and history of the mountain and believe a big eruption could come soon. There are fears that it could be as large as the 1914 eruption that killed 35 people and was the most powerful in Japan in the 20th century.
Over the past few days, seismic activity began to ramp up at the mountain. A level 4 warning was issued Saturday by the JMA, and all residents within a 3-kilometer radius of the mountain were told they should prepare to evacuate. The alerts remained in place Monday despite a large decline in earthquakes at Sakurajima.
This is the first level 4 warning issued for Sakurajima since the 5-level scale was developed 8 years ago. "Right now that [evacuation possibility] is limited to 4,000 people on the same island as Sakurajima, but ash from any eruption (depending on the winds) could impact Kagoshima (population 600,000), located only 10 kilometers from Sakurajima."
The reason for the concern is that this activity is very similar to what happened in the days leading up to past major eruptions at Sakurajima. Scientists have installed sensors all over the mountain, which have relayed information in the past few days that suggests magma could be rising up the volcano, and that may lead to a large eruption soon. There is also a nuclear plant in Sendai, just 31 miles from the volcano.


* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Depression Eleven-E is located about 930 mi...1495 km W of the southern tip of Baja California

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 16w (Goni) is located approximately 678 nm southeast of Kadena Air Base.

- Typhoon 17w (Atsani) is located approximately 670 nm east-northeast of Andersen AFB.
Chance of cyclone developing near Cape Verde - A low pressure area near the West Africa's Cape Verde islands has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. That gives a moderate chance that the Atlantic could see its 4th tropical cyclone of the season this week. A tropical depression will likely form by the middle of the week while the system moves westward or west-northwestward across the Atlantic.

Hawaii - Viral Wind Models Showing Cyclone Hitting State. The latest Central Pacific Hurricane Center update puts chances of formation slightly higher at 50% as of the 2:00 p.m. update.
Recently, the wind model to the right has been going viral on social media, with several inquiries about whether it’s a hoax or reality. Readers are asking what exactly this model is showing and if they should be concerned.
A forecaster at the National Weather Service Honolulu office addressed the issue in his latest forecast discussion. "The computer models remain fairly bullish about developing a tropical cyclone in the monsoon trough far to the southeast of the islands. As far as local effects go, this is climatologically an area of some concern for the Aloha State. However, by the weekend, there is a spread of over 600 miles among the various models in where this future system would be IF it develops. Also, the models have an especially difficult time with the tracks of tropical cyclones that have not yet developed, as well as with the various factors that steer them in the long range. We will keep a close eye on this area in the coming days and should get a better idea of what will actually happen as time goes on."
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center released this update at 8:00 a.m. for an area of potential development. "Showers and thunderstorms associated with a broad area of low pressure located about 1200 miles southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii remain disorganized. Environmental conditions support development over the next couple of days as the low remains nearly stationary. Formation chance through 48 hours is medium at 40 percent. Elsewhere, no tropical cyclones are expected through Wednesday morning."
"If a tropical cyclone even develops we don’t know where it may end up. There is a lot of uncertainty that far out. But at the same time there’s that convective activity down around 140°W, down in the area where we typically look for possible development, so we are closely monitoring it right now. There’s no indication that anything has developed yet but we are raising the awareness of that and that’s why we went 40%. There are models that show tropical cyclone activity near the state and there are others that don’t. There’s a spread of 600 miles on the various models. We just want to make sure that people aren’t latching onto one particular solution and rather just being generally prepared."
For the public it’s good to be prepared for a hurricane, especially in this active season that they’re having. Be prepared for potential future hurricane threats, not specifically for one particular day, but prepare early and remain prepared throughout the season.


Hikers terrified as massive debris flow rumbles down Mount Rainier - A glacial debris flow rushed down Tahoma Creek on Mount Rainier Thursday, August 13. The distant rumbling sounded like a train at first, but then hikers saw a river of trees and boulders advancing toward them. The hikers at Mount Rainier, Washington, captured the accompanying footage last Thursday while walking on a trail that’s now closed for obvious reasons.
“This is crazy. I’m scared. Get back, I’m scared … The ground is shaking!” The hot and dry conditions this summer created a series of “glacial outbursts” Thursday on the western flank of the volcano. These glacial flash floods, of sorts, swept up fallen trees and rocks and rumbled with such ground-shaking force that they registered on seismographs.
The Mount Rainier National Park conducted aerial patrols after event and accounted for all hikers in the affected areas, and said nobody was hurt. “The rumble was getting louder and trees were falling down and it looked like a big pile of rubble was raging down the dry creek bed. We saw huge boulders, half the size of a Volkswagen bug, just raging down and falling over each other.” As he videotaped, a park employee came running down the trail, urging all the hikers on the trail to evacuate.
The debris flows, caused by the melting and dispersal of glacial ice, originated at 6,800 feet on the South Tahoma Glacier. They were the first such outbursts in more than 10 years. A ranger said, “Based on the summer we’ve had, and based on the recession of the glaciers, I was telling [colleagues] that this is the year when we’re going to have a debris flow.” (video at link)


U.S. Army troops mobilized to help fight Western U. S. wildfires - First time since 2006. (Video)

'Godzilla El Niño' looms as a possible drought buster for California - The developing warm-water event is already stronger than the 1997-98 El Niño, which caused severe rain and flooding.

Central Asian glaciers shrinking fast - Central Asian glaciers have melted at four times the global average since the early 1960s, shedding 27 per cent of their mass, according to a new study.


RECORD-BREAKING TOXIC ALGAE BLOOM worse than feared - The razor clam closure in Washington as a result of historic toxic algae bloom has impacted the local economy by millions of dollars. A record-breaking toxic algae bloom that began in May along the West Coast is denser, more widespread and deeper than scientists originally feared, and it has expanded into the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.
Algae blooms are not uncommon in the Pacific Ocean but the size and duration of this one, stretching from Southern California to Alaska, is historic, according to NOAA, and it continues to impact marine life and local economies to the tune of millions of dollars. The toxic algae bloom is up to 40 miles wide and 650 feet deep in places. “It’s UNPRECEDENTED.”
Toxic algae blooms are usually limited to one area of the ocean or another and disappear after a few weeks. This one has grown for months and it isn’t going away. “It’s been incredibly thick, almost all the same organism. Looks like a layer of hay. It’s really working its way into the food web and we’re definitely seeing the impacts of that.”
In the past month, 21 humback and fin whales have been found dead in southeast Alaska, and in July the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association received reports of dead and dying whales, gulls and forage fish in the Aleutian Islands. Samples are being tested for algal toxins. Extremely high levels of the algal toxin called domoic acid has led to the closures of recreational razor clam digging in Oregon and Washington, along with large portions of the Dungeness crab fishery in Washington, and the sardine and anchovy fisheries in California.
Coastal communities in Washington lost an estimated $9 million in revenue in May alone as a result to the razor clam closure. “Algal blooms in the ocean are made up of microscopic marine plants known as phytoplankton. Not all phytoplankton are dangerous, but certain species produce dangerous neurotoxins. Shellfish and some fish eat the toxic algae as part of their normal diet, which can then expose their predators — including marine mammals and humans — to the neurotoxins in amounts that can cause illness and, in extreme cases, death.”
The algae bloom coincides with sea surface temperatures that are well above average across the North Pacific and West Coast. “The primary reason they are above normal is a strongly positive Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which is a horseshoe pattern of warmer-than-normal waters along the coast of western North America. Though SSTs will drop some through the fall and winter, as it typically the case, the positive PDO and El Niño will remain, or even intensify, and as such, so too will the above- normal water temperatures. El Niño does not play a direct role, but generally speaking, El Niños are more likely to occur during a positive PDO.”
If this El Niño is the Godzilla of El Niños, then this toxic algae bloom is the king of all toxic algae blooms. (photo and map at link)


Scientists say the grime which clings to urban surfaces "breathes out" nitrogen gases when hit by sunlight. The dark muck is known to absorb such gases from the air, but it appears the nitrogen does not stay locked away.
In rooftop experiments in Germany, the researchers tracked the content of grime in both sunshine and shade. They say sunlit grime releases nitrogen in two forms: the toxic pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2), plus nitrous acid - a key driver of smog formation. The findings may explain a "missing" source of smog-producing gas in the skies of London.
"Rather than being a permanent sink for nitrogen oxide gases... grime exposed to sunlight can re-release some of these gases back into the urban atmosphere." In a laboratory, artificial sunlight can strip the nitrogen component from grime - which is essentially a cocktail of chemicals belched into city air by exhaust pipes and chimneys. In the latest experiments he worked with colleagues in Leipzig, Germany, to shift the work outside.
Two large trays of grimy glass beads - one shaded and one sunny - were exposed to the city air for six weeks "The ones which were exposed to sunlight showed 10% less nitrate than the ones which were shaded, suggesting that there is a photochemical loss [of nitrogen] consistent with what we saw in the lab." That 10% drop may seem like a small effect, but it reflects a "steady state" difference: as the sunshine eats away at the grime's nitrogen content, fresh nitrogen-rich grime is constantly being deposited.
"The amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) given off by exhausts in the centre of a city will probably be much higher than what grime can take up and then give back off again. But if some of it is transformed into HONO, then that really is important." Why? In part, because it might explain a puzzling gap in observations of polluted London air.
"If you put into a model all the known sources of HONO, from my work in London there's about 30% missing compared to the quantity of HONO that you can measure directly." This missing source is "very significant" for predicting ozone quantities - which the Met Office does as part of air quality forecasts. Some parts of London have levels of NO2 that are well above safety limits. The sheer quantity of grime in London could make it "a big potential source of pollution". "If grime is contributing, then we need scientists to tell us how much [gas] is coming off and what health effects it has."
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Monday, August 17, 2015

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**The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.**
Ralph Waldo Emerson

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/16/15 -

8/15/15 -

8/14/15 -

8/13/15 -

8/12/15 -

Japan raises warning level on volcano not far from nuclear plant - Japan warned on Saturday that a volcano 50 km (31 miles) from a just-restarted nuclear reactor is showing signs of increased activity, and said nearby residents should prepare to evacuate.
Sakurajima, a mountain on the southern island of Kyushu, is one of Japan's most active volcanoes and erupts almost constantly. But a larger than usual eruption could be in the offing, an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency said. "There is the danger that stones could rain down on areas near the mountain's base, so we are warning residents of those areas to be ready to evacuate if needed."
The agency also said it had raised the warning level on the peak, 990 km southwest of Tokyo, to an UNPRECEDENTED 4, for prepare to evacuate, from 3. Roughly 100 people could be affected. Japan on Tuesday restarted a reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant, some 50 km from Sakurajima. It is the first reactor to be restarted under new safety standards put in place after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Critics have long pointed out that the plant is also located near five giant calderas, crater-like depressions formed by past eruptions, with the closest one some 40 km away. Still, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has said the chance of major volcanic activity during the lifespan of the Sendai plant is negligible.
Two years ago, Sakurajima shot ash some 5,000 meters into the air. Japan lies on the "Ring of Fire" - a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean - and is home to more than 100 active volcanoes. Last year, Mount Ontake in central Japan erupted unexpectedly, killing 63, the worst volcanic disaster for nearly 90 years. In May, a remote island south of Kyushu was evacuated due to another eruption.

Ecuador declares a state of emergency over massive Cotopaxi volcano - Cotopaxi is one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes. The president of Ecuador declared a state of emergency Saturday in response to volcano activity 30 miles away from the country’s capital.
A few hundred people were evacuated from two residential areas as the volcano began to spew ash. Officials will continue to monitor the situation and urged the public to remain calm. The Cotopaxi volcano has been under active watch since June when increased activity was detected by the Ecuadorian Geophysics Institute. The institute says that the volcano’s frequency and style of eruptions make it one of the world’s most dangerous.
The volcano’s last major eruptive period occurred in the late 19th century. That incident led to intense economic losses in the region. The President declared a state of emergency following increased activity in the Cotopaxi volcano near the capital, Quito, the day before. The decision, which comes in the wake of two minor explosions at Cotopaxi on Friday and led to a precautionary evacuation of small towns in the central part of the country, gives authorities greater flexibility to move government funds in the event of an eruption.
Video .

Mexico's Colima volcano - Colima volcano has been firing out plumes of smoke and hot ash in a series of small eruptions. The most recnt eruption is the latest in a summer of volcanic activity, with the last eruption just four days ago.

What's with all the volcanoes these days? - Volcanic activity in Cotopaxi, near the capital of Ecuador, is the latest incident in recent months, during which a number of volcanoes have come to life. Cotopaxi is the latest to reflect a recent series of volcanic activity around the world, including ash emissions from Raung volcano in East Java, Indonesia which led to the closing of airports in Bali and shallow explosions at Sakurajima volcano in Kyushu, Japan. In 2014, volcanoes in Hawaii, Alaska, Italy, and Iceland, among other places, showed signs of activity.
What’s causing these volcanoes to come to life? One cause could be shifts in the Earth’s rate of rotation. Since the late 19th century, relatively large changes in the velocity of the Earth’s spin tended to be followed by an increase in volcanic activity, a 2014 study found.
Altering the spin of a planet, even by a small amount, requires a huge amount of energy. It has been estimated that changes in the Earth’s rotation rate dissipate around 120,000 petajoules of energy each year – enough to power the United States for the same length of time. This energy is transferred into the Earth’s atmosphere and subsurface. And it is this second consequence that could affect volcanoes.
Another cause, scientists say, is climate change. Over the last few years, “new evidence suggests that the volcano-climate relationship can go the other way, too: Periods of warming after ice ages can lead to volcanic eruptions.' When glaciers melt as a result of rising temperatures, pressure on continents start to drop, while the rise in sea level increases pressures on portions of the Earth’s crust beneath the ocean. The changing pressures could cause increases in volcanic activity, although it was unclear whether human-caused climate change could lead to the same impact.
A more recent study, conducted in geologically active Iceland, found that less pressure on the Earth’s surface could result in a “softer, more molten subsurface,” which makes it easier for magma chambers to reach the surface and lead to volcanic eruptions. “As the glaciers melt, the pressure on the underlying rocks decreases. Rocks at very high temperatures may stay in their solid phase if the pressure is high enough. As you reduce the pressure, you effectively lower the melting temperature.”
As yet, there’s no solid evidence connecting these findings and the volcanic activity occurring in the world today. “The link between climate change and volcanism is still poorly understood.” Still, “this strange effect is a reminder that our planet can respond to change in unforeseen ways. Contrary to their brutish reputation, volcanoes are helping scientists understand just how sensitive our planet can be.”


*In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Depression Eleven-E was moving quickly northwestward away from land. Located about 490 mi (790 km) SW of the southern tip of Baja California.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 16w (Goni) is located approximately 140 nm northwest of Andersen AFB,

- Typhoon 17w (Atsani) is located approximately 239 nm northwest of Enewetak in the Marshall Islands.
Tropical disturbance in Atlantic shows signs of development - A disturbance in the eastern Atlantic could grow into a tropical depression by midweek. The tropical disturbance is being given a 60% chance of developing over the next 5 days.
Although it popped up on the National Hurricane Center's radar Sunday morning, the tropical disturbance in the far eastern Atlantic already is showing signs of development. "Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for further development, and a tropical depression could form by midweek." For now the system is aiming generally west. It's far too early to say where it might go. The next storm will be named Danny.
The system currently is in a moist environment, which should allow it to organize and strengthen. But as it moves farther west across the Atlantic, it likely will encounter dry air and wind shear. Normally, four tropical systems develop in August. The last time August went without seeing any storms was in 1997 - and before that in 1961.

Experts say there are signs that the Atlantic hurricane season, traditionally the biggest driver of global insured losses, may have entered a relatively quiet period that could last for ten to 15 years. Insured losses fall as hurricane cycle cools - Global insured losses for the first half of this year have plunged to $16.5 billion, which is close to half the ten-year average of $29 billion. That is the finding of Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest reinsurer, in its preliminary estimates for the first six months of 2015.
This is the third consecutive year that insured losses from natural catastrophes during the first six months of the year have been below the average for the 2005-2014 period. A lack of disasters and catastrophes in regions with strong insurance market penetration has resulted in declining levels of insured losses since 2011, the year that saw the double disaster of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
It has been a record-equalling ten years since a major hurricane (Category 3 or above) made landfall in the US. The last was Wilma in 2005. “Should current trends from the first half of the year continue, there are currently no regions of the world on pace to surpass their ten-year average in 2015.”
Florida is the US state that has historically been most affected by hurricanes and tropical storms. Since 1871 there have been only five occasions, including the current one, when a ten-year period has elapsed between Category 3 hurricane landfalls. Mid-August traditionally marks the start of the peak hurricane season in the Atlantic, but this year has yet to see its first Atlantic hurricane.
The big insured losses tend to come from hurricanes striking the southeast US. “The hurricane cycle tends to be a good indicator for the industry. There has been nothing significant in Florida since 2005. In terms of hurricanes it has been a fallow time. The hurricane forecasters are starting to think we are moving into a period of lower hurricane activity that could last for the next ten to 15 years. That’s what they are thinking at the moment, although the science is not exact.
“There is a cyclical pattern and we were in the peak period during the past ten years.” The hurricane cycle is known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO, and is influenced by the sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic. When the sea temperatures are cooler there tends to be less hurricane activity. Since 2012 the AMO has been negative, with cooler sea temperatures.
Insured losses attributed to hurricanes have waned for most of the past decade, with the exception of Hurricane Sandy, which caused $65 billion of damage when it hit the northeastern US in 2012. That said, natural disasters have not gone away. They have shown up in places with much lower levels of insurance penetration. The earthquakes in Nepal, in April and May, claimed more than 9,000 lives and caused economic losses of at least $5 billion, of which only $160 million were insured losses. “The tragic events in Nepal are a reminder of the utility of insurance,” said Kurt Karl, chief economist at Swiss Re, in a note on the company’s preliminary sigma estimates for the first-half of this year.
“Insurance cover does not lessen the emotional trauma that natural catastrophes inflict, but it can help people better manage the financial fallout from disasters so they can start to rebuild their lives.” Insurance penetration rates were low in the Nepal earthquake region, and in the Philippines where some large typhoons have struck this year. The insurance industry was looking at how to increase coverage in those markets.
There is a wave of mergers and acquisitions among insurers and reinsurers. “What is driving that, more than a lack of catastrophes, is the emergence of new capital. You have collateralised reinsurance and cat bonds. And when the companies are booking profits they have to find ways to deploy that capital."

Philippines - Extreme northern Luzon will be directly hit by an incoming typhoon by the weekend, according to the state weather bureau.

GIGANTIC JETS ABOVE HURRICANE HILDA - Gigantic jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the tops of thunderstorms, reaching all the way from the thunderhead to the ionosphere more than 50 miles overhead. They're enormous and powerful.
"Gigantic jets are much more rare than was not until 2001-2002 that gigantic jets were first recorded from Puerto Rico and Taiwan." Only a few dozen gigantic jets have ever been seen, mostly over open ocean.
Because gigantic jets are so rare, researchers are paying special attention to Hurricane Hilda. "Observations in recent years suggest that large thunderstorm clusters embedded in tropical cyclones harbor favorable conditions for gigantic jets. Hilda seems to confirm this. Extreme turbulent mixing in the storm top may assist in triggering these events."
Gigantic jets, and their cousins the sprites, reach all the way up to the edge of space alongside meteors, noctilucent clouds, and some auroras. This means they are a true space weather phenomenon. Indeed, some researchers believe cosmic rays help trigger these exotic forms of lightning, but the link is controversial.


Britain - Mancunian Way hole: Warning not to approach road collapse. Members of the public are being told not to cross a safety cordon around a large hole that appeared in a busy Manchester road on Friday. The warning came as United Utilities said a section of the Mancunian Way could be shut for at least two weeks. About two weeks' worth of rain fell in about six hours in Manchester on Friday.
Engineers reported work to stabilise the site was "hindered" by people crossing the cordon. The hole, which appeared after heavy rain, was "unsafe". "It's too dangerous at the moment to approach and assess properly." The hole was being monitored for any further collapse. "A full assessment won't be carried out until we are satisfied it is safe for inspection."
The Mancunian Way is one of the city's busiest roads, especially during rush hour A United Utilities spokesman said the collapse was "not caused by any aspect" of the water company's operations. Its engineers were part of an emergency operation to fix the damaged sewer under the hole, but it would take "the best part of two weeks" before they could hand over to the Highways Agency and Manchester City Council to oversee repairs to the hole itself.
A decision could be made on Monday with regard to how long the road section between the MacDonald Hotel and Fairfield Street would be closed. A council spokesman said the size of the hole could not be confirmed, adding: "We haven't measured the hole - we aren't keen on letting anyone get that close until we're confident the area around it is stable."
Witnesses on Friday said the hole was increasing and part of the pavement had eroded. Motorists continue to be diverted. The hole was potentially caused because soft sediment under the road had become weaker due to the wet weather. "[The water] can wash away sand and you end up with a small cavity opening up, particularly if there is a broken sewer."


Brace yourselves: Old Farmer's Almanac predicts super cold, slew of snow for much of U.S. - Just when you thought you had gotten over last winter, be warned: The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts it will be super cold with a slew of snow for much of the country, even in places that don't see too much of it, like the Pacific Northwest.
Look for above-normal snow and below-normal temperatures for much of New England; icy conditions in parts of the South; and frigid weather in the Midwest. The snowiest periods in the Pacific Northwest will be in mid-December, early to mid-January and mid- to late February. The 224-year-old almanac is 26 years older than its closest competitor, "The Farmers' Almanac."


Montana declares state of emergency as U.S. Northwest battles blazes - Montana declared a state of emergency on Sunday to battle more than a dozen wildfires as blazes, fueled by drought and winds, also raged in Oregon, Idaho and the California wine region north of San Francisco. Wildfires have destroyed 50 homes in north central Idaho while a fire in north-central Washington nearly doubled in size, almost encircling the town of Chelan and forcing the evacuation of some 1,500.
The Reach fire, sparked on Friday by lightning strikes and high winds, had doubled to 55,000 acres (22,250 hectares) by Sunday. The fire also had started other smaller blazes further north. Better weather was helping to fight the blaze - the temperature was down 10 degrees Fahrenheit from the upper 90s (mid 30s Celsius) on Friday and winds were low. Power in Chelan has been restored.
There were about 727 firefighters tackling the blaze and the National Guard would be adding more troops on Sunday night or Monday. A Blackhawk helicopter was dropping water on the fire. More than a dozen wildfires have threatened homes and prompted authorities to advise residents to be prepared to flee should conditions worsen.
In Idaho, the fast-moving Clearwater Complex fire was 15-percent contained early on Sunday after burning 50 houses and 75 outbuildings on the outskirts of the community of Kamiah. Dozens of people in neighborhoods outlying the tiny logging town were told last week to flee in the face of the blazes, among more than 100 burning across the northern, southwestern and east-central parts of the state and in neighboring Oregon and Washington.
More than 770 fire personnel have been assigned to fight the blazes that make up the Clearwater Complex, which has scorched almost 53,000 acres (21,500 hectares) of dense spruce forests criss-crossed by river valleys containing rural communities. One of the fires in the complex was blamed last week for destroying a house and triggering the evacuation of several homes near Wieppe, the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office. On Sunday, residents of Greer, Idaho, were told they might have to evacuate. It was not clear how many people would be affected.

Temperatures soar as Israel hit with ‘extreme’ heat wave - Forecasters say high humidity levels to intensify heat; Jordan Valley gears up for temperatures up to 48º. A punishing heat wave wracking Israel was set to peak on Sunday, with temperatures projected to rise above 40°C (104°F) in some areas.
The heat wave, THE THIRD OF ITS KIND IN UNDER A MONTH, was expected to bring temperatures up to 37°C (99°F) in Jerusalem and 35°C (95ºF) in Tel Aviv. Forecasters at Israel’s Meteorological Service said most regions nationwide would experience “very high to extreme heat stress,” coupled with high levels of humidity, making temperatures feel even hotter than reported.
In the southern resort city of Eilat, vacationers were expected to brave a sweltering 46ºC (115ºF), while cities and towns in the Jordan Valley will endure a combination of high humidity and blazing heat, with temperatures up to 48ºC (118ºF). In Tiberias, temperatures are expected to climb to 45°C (113ºF). But with 35 percent humidity in the afternoon hours, it will feel more like 58° (136ºF). Meanwhile, at the Dead Sea, the 44ºC weather (111º F) will feel more like 48°C (119ºF) when factoring in humidity.
Tel Aviv’s relatively benign 35°C (95ºF) will feel more like 45°C (113ºF), given a whopping 60% humidity rate. Elsewhere in Israel, temperatures were predicted to climb to 42ºC (108º F) in Beersheba, 39ºC (102º F) on the Golan Heights and 35ºC (95º F) in Haifa.
The Health Ministry has urged the public, in particular the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases, to avoid exposure to the sun and heat as much as possible, avoid physical exercise, and drink plenty of water. Monday is expected to see a “slight drop in temperatures,” the weather service said, but warned that “there will still be very high heat stress and unseasonably high temperatures.” The weather will begin to drop on Tuesday, although it will also remain “unseasonably warm.”
The Meteorological Service also warned of the possibility of brush fires breaking out due to the high temperatures. The heat wave comes after searing temperatures earlier this month led to two deaths. A one-year-old baby died after she was hospitalized for heatstroke. Her father was also hospitalized with heatstroke and dehydration after the family hiked in the northern Hula Valley two weeks ago. Also two weeks ago, 18-year-old an IDF soldier died of heatstroke after collapsing in Jerusalem’s Old City.


Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics.
On Aug. 15, the network reported 55 fireballs. (33 Perseids, 21 sporadics, 1 kappa Cygnid)
On Aug. 16, the network reported 54 fireballs. (40 sporadics, 12 Perseids, 1 Southern iota Aquariid, 1 Southern delta Aquariid)


Few minutes of Tetris can block cravings - Playing popular block-stacking game Tetris for a few minutes can help people control their cravings. The research experiment showcased that the impact on cravings was long lasting.

Can fish oil prevent schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders? - In what is to be believed the first study of its kind, new research has revealed the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be effective for reducing the risk of psychosis.
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