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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Disasters Around the World




LARGEST QUAKES - 
10/5/11 -
None 5.0 or higher.
CANARY ISLANDS - 2.7

Yesterday -
10/4/11 -
5.7 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
CANARY ISLANDS - 11 total, largest 3.6

Earthquake Swarm Continues On El Hierro, Canary Islands - The number of earthquakes recorded since July 17 on El Hierro in the Canary Islands exceeded 9250 on Tuesday morning. 1172 earthquakes were recorded last week, the majority of which were located in the sea to the southwest.

VOLCANOES -

Tourists, fishermen told to stay clear of Indonesia's 'Child of Krakatoa' - Authorities are warning tourists and fishermen to stay more than a mile (two kilometers) from a smoking Indonesian volcano known as “Child of Krakatoa.” The volcano in the Sunda Strait, 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of the capital, Jakarta, was created by the same tectonic forces that led to the 1883 Krakatoa eruption that killed tens of thousands of people. Its “child,” growing five yards (meters) a year, is now 1,320 feet (400 meters) tall and popular among hikers. The mountain’s alert level was raised to the second-highest level last week after the number of volcanic tremors soared from 200 a day to 7,200. A powerful burst could shoot incandescent rocks down its slopes and far into the ocean.

Volcano ash still clouds life for some in Argentina - In Villa La Angostura, in Patagonia in southern Argentina, on an almost daily basis, volcanic ash has been falling on the town since the Puyehue volcano in neighbouring Chile erupted in June.

Busy September for Costa Rican volcanoes - We tend to talk about three volcanoes in Costa Rica: the ever-active Arenal, the renewed Turrialba and Poás. Now we can add another volcano to the watch list, that being Rincón de la Vieja. Like the other Costa Rican volcanoes, it is a composite volcano with overlapping craters at its summit. It is a hulk of a volcano with a total volume of over 130 km3 – the Global Volcanism Program summary refers to it as the “Colossus of Guanacaste”. The volcano has seen somewhat-persistent fumarolic activity since its last eruptive period in 1995-98 with tremors reported in 2008. However, last month Rincón de la Vieja produced phreatic eruptions through the small lake at the summit crater. During the middle of September, small explosions, ash falls and fish kills were reported at the summit area of Rincón de la Vieja and a visit to the area by scientists revealed 10-15 cm layers of ash – mostly accidental sediment spit back out of the crater lake in the surrounding area. This new activity has prompted the government to limit access to Rincón de la Vieja and set up a new seismometer north of the volcano.
Meanwhile, at Poás, the crater lake at the summit of that volcano has dried up due to the elevated temperatures at the summit fumaroles. When the wind is low, steam plumes from the vigorous fumaroles can be seen in the nearby valleys. There was also an incandescent dome spotted in the last month at the volcano. Turrialba has also seen increase in activity as well. It has been producing light ash falls near the volcano, but the constant release of volcanic gases such as sulfur dioxide have produced corrosion up to a few kilometers from the vent. Surprisingly, the poster child for Costa Rican volcanoes, Arenal, has been very quite of late. (photos)

TROPICAL STORMS -
In the Atlantic -
-Tropical storm Philippe was located about 595 mi (960 km) ESE of Bermuda. Philippe could become a hurricane by tonight or Thursday.

In the Pacific -
-Tropical Storm 22w (Nalgae) was located 180 nm southeast of Hanoi, Vietnam.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES / CLIMATE CHANGE - 

ARIZONA - A dust storm has caused three major pileups on Interstate 10, killing one man. Monday afternoon there were a total of 25 vehicles involved in I-10 crashes. The first crash happened just after noon near Picacho, about midway between Phoenix and Tucson. Those collisions involved 16 vehicles, including tractor trailers. There was one confirmed death - a man in his 70s - and two people with life threatening injuries from those collisions. The victim was a passenger in vehicle driven by his wife, who was critically injured. Heavy dust prevented emergency crews from using helicopters to get people injured to the hospital.
The second accident happened at 1:44 p.m. It was an eight-vehicle chain reaction crash that occurred in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10. There were multiple injuries, but non life-threatening. At 3:49 p.m. in the westbound lanes of I-10 at milepost 175 near Chandler a collision occurred involving two semi tractor trailer rigs and a small passenger car. Two people in the passenger vehicle were seriously injured. The lingering dust storm in the area also played a factor in this crash. It was called a "major storm" and officers responding to the crashes reported zero visibility. "The weather system that brought this dust storm literally parked itself over I-10 for hours."

HEALTH THREATS - 

Federal health officials have raised the death toll to 18 in the outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it has confirmed 100 illnesses in 20 states, including the 18 deaths.
37 Food Items that will be SOLD OUT after Crisis: Prepare!




Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The weather gods are in a foul mood. So feel the people of villages in north Sikkim, India. What else can explain the weather change three years back that hit their flourishing cardamom plantation, and then last month's earthquake which snatched away the vestiges of their livelihood. "We don't know what to do. We are getting food packets which have given us immediate relief...but what about the future? Who will take care of us in the days and months ahead?"
Cardamom farmers in north Sikkim led a comfortable life until five years back. "But three years back, things changed. Because of a change in the weather pattern, the crop failed us... and it continued." Left with little choice, a number of people started looking for alternate options of livelihood and decided to set up small businesses. "In north Sikkim, a number of dams, at least five of them, are being constructed on the Teesta river. Most of the workers on the dams are migrants. Less than 10 percent workers are locals. So the locals decided that petty businesses like eateries and shops are a viable option since a lot of outsiders live there. It had picked up and people had started to earn a decent living when this earthquake happened and the workers fled." The September 18, 6.8 magnitude quake caused utter devastation in Sikkim - especially in the north - killing at least 80 people and injuring many others. It also shook parts of neighbouring states like Assam, West Bengal, Bihar as well as Nepal, Tibet and Bangladesh. A number of those killed were labourers working on the dams. As fear and panic spread, a number of migrant workers fled the state, leaving locals in the lurch.
"Our businesses were heavily dependent on the outsiders. Now we are left facing an uncertain future once again. We don't know when they will return, if they return at all." Even three weeks after the quake, a number of places especially in north Sikkim are still cut off. "For example, Toong which is beyond Chungthang, is still cut off. Then again, many roads are still blocked and relief material to these places is stuck. As per our estimation, for the connectivity to be completely restored it will take at least four - five months." Nearly 90 percent houses were destroyed in the quake and some locals have started re-building their homes. "But we have advised them to wait for the government to intervene and construct the houses with technical support, so that they are more resistant to quakes and the rough weather."



**There is far more opportunity than there is ability.**
Thomas A. Edison


LARGEST QUAKES - 
This morning -
5.2 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
CANARY ISLANDS - 2.9, 1.8

Yesterday -
5.1 SUMBA REGION, INDONESIA
5.0 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
5.0 WEST CHILE RISE
5.2 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
5.2 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
CANARY ISLANDS - (34 total) 2.5, 2.7, 2.5, 2.7, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9, 2.5, 2.9, 2.6, 2.8, 2.5, 3.1, 3.7, 2.8, 2.7, 3.4, 2.5, 2.5, 3.1, 2.8, 3.0, 2.9, 2.7, 2.5, 2.5, 2.6, 2.5, 3.1, 3.1, 2.6, 2.7, 3.4, 3.1, 2.5

VOLCANOES -

NEW ZEALAND - Volcano alert level not raised despite sulphur smell. The volcanic alert level at Ruapehu remains at one, despite the temperature of the crater lake rising towards conditions typical for an eruption. Skiers on the Whakapapa ski field have reported smelling hydrogen sulphide gas in recent weeks. Volcanologists say this is because the temperature of the crater lake is cooler, which tends to produce more gas. The latest Volcanic Alert Bulletin says the lake's temperature on 29 September was 17.6 degrees Celsius. In March, the temperature peaked at 41 degrees Celsius. The lake is heading towards a temperature where volcanic activity typically occurs, but doesn't always. Ruapehu is an active volcano and future eruptions may occur with little or no warning. The eruption detection system on the mountain functioned well during a test last week.

TROPICAL STORMS -
In the Atlantic -
-Tropical storm Philippe was located about 755 mi (1220 km) SE of Bermuda.

In the Pacific -
-Tropical Storm 22w (Nalgae) was located 340 nm east-southeast of Hanoi, Vietnam.

Tropical Storm Philippe expected to take a sharp turn to northwest - Philippe is moving west-southwestward, and is expected to turn toward the west by late today. There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect. Philippe could become a hurricane by Wednesday. Philippe is then forecast to slow down significantly and turn sharply northwestward by late Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph, with higher gusts. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the center.

China braces for another powerful tropical storm - Thousands of fishing boats have been called back to port in southern China as authorities brace for the arrival of tropical storm Nalgae, which has already wreaked havoc in the Philippines. Some parts of southern China are still reeling from the damage caused by tropical storm Nesat, which forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents, triggered floods and toppled houses. Authorities in the island resort of Hainan said on Monday they had ordered more than 27,000 boats back to harbour. Nalgae, which has weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm, was currently at sea and moving towards the island, packing winds of up to 108 kilometres (67 miles) an hour. The storm could make landfall in Hainantoday, just days after Nesat hit the island as a typhoon before weakening to a tropical storm. Nesat caused damage in Hainan, but wreaked more havoc in the southern region of Guangxi where it triggered widespread flooding, killing four people and causing direct economic losses of at least 1.6 billion yuan ($251 million). Both Nesat and Nalgae have devastated the Philippines, which deployed helicopters, inflatable boats and amphibious vehicles in attempts to evacuate tens of thousands stuck in rising flood waters. The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council in Manila has recorded three fatalities from Nalgae, and said Nesat left at least 55 people dead after it unleashed strong winds and devastating floods. Another 28 remain missing while 360,000 people are either in evacuation centres or stranded in the flooded areas and in need of relief.

PHILIPPINES - A low-pressure area that was expected to intensify into a cyclone this week dissipated on Tuesday but state weather forecasters said another weather disturbance looms.

FEMA payouts to weather-ravaged areas of the U. S. have surged in the last decade. - In the aftermath of Irene and Lee, a tide of federal generosity has washed across the Pennsylvania region. For the first time since 1965, residents of Philadelphia and the seven surrounding counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are eligible for disaster aid from Washington.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has worked diligently to encourage people to apply for the assistance, and more than 35,000 in the region have. FEMA is operating recovery centers seven days a week from West Chester to Philadelphia to Pennsauken. As of Friday, the agency had committed $350 million for the two storms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Delaware was added to the eligible list late Friday.
But in a year that already has SET A NATIONAL RECORD FOR PRESIDENTIAL DISASTER DECLARATIONS, whatever is spent around here will be just so many drops in a rapidly filling bucket.
Even though the national heart is in the right place, some economists and risk experts wonder whether the nation is spending its way toward a disaster of another type - financial. They wonder whether the nation is developing a FEMA dependency. The $80 billion in FEMA aid over the last decade is more than quadruple the amount doled out in the 1960s, adjusted for inflation. By the end of the century, the cumulative federal disaster price tag could spiral into the trillions.
Certainly all of this has something to do with the weather. Hurricanes remain the No. 1 driver of disaster costs, and the nation is still paying bills for the horrific 2004 and 2005 seasons. Recent extreme weather has hammered the country, including this year's record floods and devastating tornado season. Climate change could be a factor, at least in the flooding; various studies point to an increase in extreme precipitation on a warming planet. Long before FEMA, though, hurricanes were affecting the United States, and the weather was extreme somewhere almost every day. That's not surprising, as the nation is in the center of a battleground between polar and tropical air masses, which is why it has more tornadoes than anywhere else in the world.
It is whacked by storms from the Pacific, nor'easters that blow up near the Gulf Stream, and juice-laden storms from the Gulf of Mexico.
Yet before the disaster program began in the 1950s, communities were reluctant to turn to the federal government for help. Now disaster has evolved into a "stealth entitlement" and is viewed as a "protector of risk." Given the level of building nationwide in the last six decades - not all of it wise - that's particularly problematic. The anticipation of federal largesse has contributed to widespread under-insurance. That's bad for the Treasury and some of the disaster victims. "Today people may be expecting more disaster relief than they're going to receive." In the 1950s, FEMA averaged just 13 presidential disaster declarations a year. So far in 2011, a record 83 declarations have been issued. That beats the old record of 81, set last year.
"Our tendency to want to help people quickly recover and communities quickly rebuild does not often include the harder choices needed to reduce long-term risk. It's a conundrum that society is facing." Continued development in risky areas will mean continued risk of disasters. "We're digging ourselves a hole. Nobody should be surprised when disaster losses increase", along with the nation's disaster bills.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

SOUTH AFRICA - Hundreds of Free State families have been left homeless, 42 people injured and a nine-year-old boy is dead after a tornado ripped through the north-eastern sections of the country on Sunday.
The storm – attributed to an extreme thunderstorm system – tore through the Free State town of Ficksburg on Sunday afternoon. In Springs, Gauteng, a similar wind system struck, terrifying residents, who inundated the South African Weather Service with alerts about the storm. By late on Sunday night the South African Weather Service website was still carrying storm warning “flashes” of severe thunderstorms in the North West Province, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the north-eastern sections of the Free State.
Within hours of the storm flattening Ficksburg’s Meqheleng informal settlement, the town’s disaster relief plan had been activated, with emergency personnel responding from across the province. The area looked like a disaster zone with “houses flattened as far as one could see. From reports we are receiving from our personnel on the ground it is a total disaster. Everywhere one looks there is debris...A massive overnight search and rescue operation was launched to find people who have been reported missing. Also, to look for residents who have been injured and may be trapped under the wreckage of their homes. The situation on the ground is really bad and is not being helped by the fact that the storm hit late in the day, which makes searching for people difficult. Reports we have received estimate that at least 1,000 homes have been destroyed.”
“Reports indicate that winds, which were part of a larger storm system, were in excess of 70km/h, which are very, very strong and associated with extremely severe thunderstorm systems...While these types of windy conditions are not unusual for this time of year, tornadoes are." Meanwhile 113 people were injured when a tornado hit Duduza outside Nigel, in Gauteng, on Sunday. "One hundred and eight people sustained minor injuries ranging from multiple scratches to bruises to even some fractures, and then five people, which is a total of 113, sustained more serious injuries."

THAILAND - Government should have tackled flood crisis earlier. Water and weather experts have expressed disappointment with the government's action in dealing with the flood situation - saying setting up sandbag walls and distributing flood relief bags to victims are not the way to overcome a flood crisis.
"We cannot handle this crisis situation with normal measures."
Signs of impending flood crisis had been seen since March when heavy rain began falling in the southern part of Thailand, while other regions faced cold weather even though March is the summer season. "This was a 60-YEAR EXTREME WEATHER EVENT which brought a large amount of rainfall over the country. Our agency told the Royal Irrigation Department in July, before tropical storm Nok-Ten hit the country, there would be abnormal weather this year, and the RID should treat this year's flood with crisis measures not just normal measures."
Since early this year, Thailand has been hit by two tropical storms - Hai Ma and Nok-Ten. As a result, a lot of dams - especially big dams such as Bhumibol and Sirikit - were almost full from rainwater and had insufficient capacity to collect water when further heavy rain fell. At the same time, heavy rain was falling outside the dam area and causing floods in many areas. "There was no place for the water to go." Thailand has three main rivers to drain water to the sea - the Ta Chin, Chao Phraya and Bang Prakong - but all were swollen to capacity by rainwater. "We have to rethink the way we handle flood crisis events - and we have many opportunities every year." Agencies should encourage members of the public, especially farmers, to change their behaviour on agricultural activities and respond to the changes in weather patterns. Urban areas, especially residential and those with infrastructure, should not be established in natural reservoirs and block waterways. "We have to accept that much damage from floods was not caused by heavy rainfall but by human activity."
TMD can now forecast weather only for 24 hours and with an accuracy of only 79 per cent. It relies on a super computer that was installed 10 years ago for these predictions. "If the government wants to achieve weather forecast accuracy, it must allocate more funds to our agency to get the latest weather forecasting with new technology. How can we fight this enemy in the war [against flooding] without a weapon?"
The government failed to gain the cooperation of all involved parties while dealing with the flood crisis. "Thailand's flood problem was not caused by natural disaster but by the failure of government management. If the government still blames just heavy rain, bad weather or even global warming, it will never know what are the real causes of flood crises." The Asian Institute of Technology conducted research 10 years ago which found that road structures were the major cause of the flood crisis in many areas across the country, as many roads blocked the natural flow of water. Additionally, residential areas, government buildings and educational institutes were built on natural channels, which originally drained water in flood seasons. "We spent over Bt1 billion to study and discover how to handle a flood crisis. We already have all the knowledge [we need] about the situation, but we have no-one to make a determination strong enough to solve the problem. All the government and local governments are doing now is to set up sandbags along rivers and distribute flood relief bags to victims. This is not the right way to deal with floods. It is just another way to create more problems in other areas."

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES / CLIMATE CHANGE - 

Second Pacific isle in drought emergency- Drought is set to create food shortages in the South Pacific, officials in Wellington have warned after a second community declared a state of emergency due to lack of water. Tokelau, a New Zealand-administered territory of about 1400 people, had less than a week's drinking water after a long drought blamed on a La Nina weather pattern. Tokelau declared a state of emergency late yesteray, following a similar move in neighbouring Tuvalu, where a New Zealand air force plane landed on Monday carrying containers of water and desalination units.
"There's been a state of emergency declared in Tokelau as well, where there are three islands, (they are) New Zealand citizens and they're down to less than a week's drinking water there too." Other islands in the South Pacific are also reporting water shortages and New Zealand is carrying out a regional assessment amid fears the drought could lead to crop failures and food shortages. "We're now doing an assessment, not just in Tuvalu but also in other areas of the Pacific that are affected by the shortage of rainfall, making sure we deal with the drinking water issue most urgently. There are going to be some flow-on effects here, clearly this is having a severe impact on crops, so there's likely to be a food shortage as well." The situation was urgent in parts of Tuvalu. "There's less than a week's supply of drinking water on Funafuti, that's the main island in Tuvalu. I understand one of the other outlying islands, Nukulaelae, has a more urgent shortage and there is a desalination plant on the way there." New Zealand, a major aid donor in the Pacific "may yet be called upon to help in some other places".
Tuvalu, one of the world's smallest independent nations with less than 11,000 residents, lies about halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Tokelau is is about 500km to the east. A Red Cross situation report on Tuvalu released last week said the former British colony relied mostly on rainwater, which had been scarce this year because of the La Nina weather pattern. La Nina causes extreme weather, including both drought and floods, and was blamed for deluges in Australia, South-East Asia and South America over late 2010 and early 2011.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Arctic ozone loss at RECORD LEVEL - Ozone loss over the Arctic this year was so severe that for the first time it could be called an "ozone hole" like the Antarctic one, scientists report. About 20km (13 miles) above the ground, 80% of the ozone was lost. The cause was an UNUSUALLY long spell of cold weather at altitude. In cold conditions, the chlorine chemicals that destroy ozone are at their most active. It is currently impossible to predict if such losses will occur again. "Winter in the Arctic stratosphere is highly variable - some are warm, some are cold. But over the last few decades, the winters that are cold have been getting colder. "So given that trend and the high variability, we'd anticipate that we'll have other cold ones, and if that happens while chlorine levels are high, we'd anticipate that we'd have severe ozone loss."
The ozone layer blocks ultraviolet-B rays from the Sun, which can cause skin cancer and other medical conditions. Winter temperatures in the Arctic stratosphere do not generally fall as low as at the southern end of the world.No records for low temperature were set this year, but the air remained at its coldest for an UNUSUALLY long period of time, and covered an UNUSUALLY large area. In addition, the polar vortex was stronger than usual. Here, winds circulate around the edge of the Arctic region, somewhat isolating it from the main world weather systems. "Why [all this] occurred will take years of detailed study. It was continuously cold from December through April, and that HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE IN THE ARCTIC IN THE INSTRUMENTAL RECORD." The size and position of the ozone hole changed over time, as the vortex moved northwards or southwards over different regions. Some monitoring stations in northern Europe and Russia recorded enhanced levels of ultraviolet-B penetration, though it is not clear that this posed any risk to human health. While the Arctic was setting records, the Antarctic ozone hole is relatively stable from year to year. This year has seen ozone-depleting conditions extending a little later into the southern hemisphere spring than usual - again, as a result of UNUSUAL weather conditions.
Ozone-destroying chemicals originate in substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that came into use late last century in appliances including refrigerators and fire extinguishers. Their destructive effects were first documented in the Antarctic, which now sees severe ozone depletion in each of its winters. Their use was progressively restricted and then eliminated by the 1987 Montreal Protocol and its successors. Chlorine compounds persist for decades in the upper atmosphere, meaning that it will probably be mid-century before the ozone layer is restored to its pre-industrial health. (map)



**It does not matter how slowly you go
as long as you do not stop.**
Confucius


LARGEST QUAKES - 
This morning -
5.0 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
5.2 NEW BRITAIN REGION, P.N.G.
CANARY ISLANDS - (17 so far) 2.5, 3.1, 2.8, 3.0, 2.9, 2.7, 2.5, 2.5, 2.6, 2.5, 3.1, 3.1, 2.6, 2.7, 3.5, 3.1, 2.5

Yesterday -
10/2/11-
5.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.1 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 MOLUCCA SEA
5.0 MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES
CANARY ISLANDS - (26 total) 2.8, 2.7. 2.9, 3.0, 2.8, 2.7, 2.8, 2.5, 2.9, 2.9, 2.6, 3.7, 3.3, 2.7, 2.6, 2.5, 2.5, 2.9, 2.9, 2.6, 3.1, 2.6, 2.8, 2.9, 2.9, 3.1

El Hierro (The Canary Islands) Earthquake Count Reaches 8850 - The number of earthquakes recorded since July 17 on El Hierro, the smallest of The Canary Islands (Spain), exceeded 8,850 on Saturday. The number of earthquakes felt by the local population has reached 55. The strongest of the tremors, which have been recorded at depths between 10km and 15km, measured 3.8 magnitude on the Richter Scale.
The surge in the number and intensity of earthquakes in the past week has prompted officials from the Instituto Geografico Nacional and The Canary Islands Government to raise the alert level for the Hierro volcano to ‘Yellow’, the highest alert status since the unprecedented earthquake swarm commenced in mid-July.
Hierro, a shield volcano, has had a single historic eruption from the Volcan de Lomo Negro vent in 1793. The eruption lasted approximately one month and produced lava flows.
Spain’s national seismological agency warned the local population to be prepared for any possible future increase in volcanic activity. The agency noted, however, that the majority of earthquakes recorded during recent days have been centred to the south of the island in Las Calmas Sea. Previous to this, the vast majority of the tremors were recorded in the northwest of the 278.5-square-kilometre island at El Golfo. Over 150 earthquakes were recorded on the smallest of the Canary Islands during Tuesday prompting officials to evacuate some local residents, shut El Hierro’s main tunnel, and close local schools. An imminent eruption is said to be unlikely.

VOLCANOES -

A giant underground reservoir of molten rock has been discovered under the deserts of Ethiopia by British geologists. They targeted the Afar region in the Horn of Africa after a recent surge in volcanic activity and earthquakes plus the appearance of giant cracks in the rocky surface. Tectonic plates in the area are pulling apart and gradually creating a new ocean.
Now, the scientists have mapped the colossal underground lake of magma that lies up to 32km below the earth's surface. "We estimate that there is 3000 cubic kilometres of molten rock under Afar - enough to cover all of London ... with around a kilometre of rock." The reservoir is under such pressure that it has forced tongues of molten rock up towards the surface, producing eruptions and earthquakes. In 2005, a 7.6m wide tongue of lava spread 64km under Afar in 10 days and solidified, and many more followed.
Afar lies in east Africa's Great Rift Valley at a point where three tectonic plates are pulling apart from each other. Such movement creates gaps, or rifts, in the Earth's crust, which allows molten rock to well up from deep below. There are thousands of kilometres of these rifts around the world but almost all lie deep below the ocean. East Africa and Iceland are the only places where they emerge on to land. Much of Afar is already below sea level but is protected from flooding by a barrier of low hills in Eritrea. Geologists believe the protective barrier will be overcome in about one million years, allowing the Red Sea to inundate the whole area. "Over geological time parts of southern Ethiopia and Somalia will split off and form a new island that moves out into the Indian Ocean."

TROPICAL STORMS -
In the Atlantic -
-Category 1 Hurricane Ophelia was located about 330 mi. (530 km) SW of Cape Race, Newfoundland. Ophelia is expected to pass near the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland early today.

-Tropical storm Philippe was located about 785 mi (1260 km) ESE of Bermuda.

In the Pacific -
-Tropical Storm 22w (Nalgae) was located 495 nm east-southeast of Hanoi, Vietnam.

BRITAIN - North braces for Hurricane Ophelia as south basks in record-breaking heat. The north of England is no stranger to grim weather. As the south enjoyed the HOTTEST OCTOBER 2ND FOR MORE THAN 100 YEARS, northerners were forced to wrap up warm and put up their umbrellas. as millions of southerners basked in the brilliant sunshine, rain fell across the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with temperatures hovering around 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15C).
The Met Office said that temperatures will have fallen below average for the time of year by the end of the week, and the rain currently lashing the north will move southwards. "There will be a much more autumnal feel, even quite wintery, especially across Scotland. From Wednesday it could get quite windy with outbreaks of rain." The news will come as a relief to shop-owners, as retailers had been left in “disarray” as soaring temperatures disrupted seasonal sales and left stores scrambling to fill their shelves with summer stock.
Supermarkets were more able to react to the unseasonable weather, ordering in millions of pounds’ worth of burgers, salad and ice cream to cope with soaring demand for summery foods. Wintery foods such as soups and steak-and-kidney pies were left on the shelf, with sales plummeting.

Vermont gold rush - Tropical Storm Irene caused what may add up to billions of dollars in damage to Vermont. But some residents are making the best of a difficult situation thanks to a modern day gold rush in the Green Mountains. Some people may be surprised to hear there’s gold in Vermont but othershave been panning for gold for years. “There is one family ...It’s a mom, dad and the children and they pack lunch every weekend and go to a local river and last year from April to October, they found enough gold to pay their property taxes,” While the devastation from Tropical Storm Irene is still being tabulated and communities struggle with repairs, all the erosion has opened up new places to pan. “The devastation of the flood goes without saying, that is an awful awful thing. On the good side as far as looking for gold it moved the gold, it moved a lot of dirt, it cleaned a lot of places where you would have to dig before. So there is a lot more out there than there used to be as far as finding it is concerned." Gold is about 19 times heavier than water so those searching for gold let the water wash over the rocks and the gold will stay behind.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Heavy rain triggers deadly Algeria floods - Flooding in Algeria has killed at least 10 people and destroyed hundreds of homes. Eight people were killed in the town of el-Bayadh, 700km (435 miles) south of the capital Algiers. The dead include three children swept away by an overflowing river. A mother and her infant child are missing. Bridges and roads have been badly damaged. Several days of heavy rain triggered the floods and officials say another storm is due. Algeria is often hit by heavy rains and flooding in October.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES / CLIMATE CHANGE - 

The heatwave is set to continue well into next week in parts of Britain, following a weekend of RECORD-BREAKING TEMPERATURES. The mercury peaked at 30C (86F) in parts of the country yesterday, making it not only the hottest day recorded in October, but the third hottest of 2011. And the unseasonably warm weather will carry on until Tuesday in the South East, forecasters said, when the highest temperature will be a cooler 20C (68F). Yesterday's scorching weather saw the UK top temperatures in the holiday hotspot islands of Ibiza and Majorca and the Spanish capital Madrid. Madrid was at 26C (78.8F) and s Ibiza and Majorca were both reading 27C (80.6F) at 3pm. Yorkshire recorded a sweltering 30C (86F) at 3pm. The previous October record of 29.4C (85F) was set in March, Cambridgeshire in 1985.
Wales also broke its October record, which had stood since 1985, when Hawarden reached 28.2C (80.6F) shortly after 2pm. The UK's hottest day of 2011 was June 27 when a temperature of 33.3C (91.9F) was recorded at the Olympic Park in London. The previous day, St Helier on the island of Jersey reached 30.8C (87.4F) - leaving Sunday's high of 30C in third place.
Meanwhile, CONFUSED PLANTS ARE FLOWERING AGAIN due to the unseasonably warm weather, according to experts. The Royal Horticultural Society said strawberries and rhododendrons were among the plants seen blooming at its flagship garden in Surrey when they WERE NOT EXPECTED TO FLOWER AGAIN UNTIL NEXT SPRING.

SPACE WEATHER - 

Solar storm throws up plasma bursts bigger than our entire planet - A plasma eruption from sunspot group AR 1302 is the most recent solar storm to wreak havoc on Earth's magnetic field. The havoc has pretty much been limited to some especially spectacular auroras. But there's some seriously insane turbulence going down on the Sun's surface. "One of the most active sunspot groups in years is currently crossing the Sun. AR 1302 first came around the Sun's edge last week and is so large it can be seen without a telescope. Coronal Mass Ejections from AR 1302 have already caused strong geomagnetic storms including notable aurora activity around both of Earth's poles. Plasma was left magnetically hanging above the Sun's surface after AR 1302 emitted an X-class solar flare last Thursday...Although another X-class flare was emitted on Saturday, no flares from AR 1302 have been aimed directly at the Earth, as yet. The AR 1302 sunspot group will continue to evolve but likely remain visible on the Sun for the next week." (photo)


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mini-Ark - Japan's answer to the next tsunami. A small Japanese company has developed a modern, miniature version of Noah's Ark in case Japan is hit by another massive earthquake and tsunami. It is a floating capsule that looks like a huge tennis ball. Japan's Cosmo Power says its "Noah" shelter is made of enhanced fibreglass that can save users from disasters like the one on March 11 that devasted Japan's northern coast, leaving nearly 20,000 people dead or missing. The 300,000 yen ($4000) capsule can hold four adults, and has survived many crash tests. It has a small lookout window and breathing holes on top. It can also be used as a toy house for children. The company has already delivered two capsules and has orders for 600 more.



**When I do good, I feel good.
When I do bad, I feel bad.
That’s my religion.**
Abraham Lincoln


LARGEST QUAKES - 
This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
10/1//11 -
5.1 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
5.4 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
5.0 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.6 OFF W. COAST OF S. ISLAND, N.Z.
5.8 NEAR ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS
5.2 MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES
CANARY ISLANDS - (27 total) 1.8, 2.5, 2.5, 2.5, 3.3, 2.5, 2.7, 2.8, 2.6, 2.8, 3.0, 3.0, 3.4, 2.6, 2.8, 3.0, 2.5, 2.8, 3.2, 3.3, 3.6, 2.8, 2.8, 3.3, 3.5, 2.7, 2.5

9/30/11 -
5.1 MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES
5.2 SOUTHEAST OF LOYALTY ISLANDS
CANARY ISLANDS - (17 total) 2.5, 2.5, 3.3, 2.6, 2.6, 2.5, 3.2, 2.6, 3.0, 2.5, 2.5, 3.1, 2.5, 3.1, 2.6, 2.9, 2.9

Japan on Friday lifted evacuation advisories for five areas near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant as it looks to convince tens of thousands of residents that it is safe to return home. Japan continues to maintain a 20-kilometre (12-mile) no-go zone around the facility.

Reactors could fail during an earthquake, maker says - GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy said 35 reactors it built for utilities from New York to Washington may not shut down properly during an earthquake. The likelihood of failure is "low," the company said in an advisory to customers on customers on additional actions to take.
GE Hitachi is recommending testing to determine what level of friction would prevent control rods from fully inserting into the reactor core during an earthquake. "There is no discussion of a recall of any control rods at this point. The focus is on testing as evaluations continue on whether any modifications are necessary." The issue is contained in a series of reports to the federal agency dating to December 2010. The affected plants don't include Dominion Resources Inc.'s North Anna in Virginia, which remains shut because of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered 11 miles away on Aug. 23.
The issue is a "low probability event" that became known to the company several months before the March earthquake and radiation leaks at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. "We are only aware of a small percentage of plants that have exhibited signs of measureable control-blade-to-channel friction and on a relatively few number of control blades." GE Hitachi's testing program is adequate because it forces owners to replace defective control rods when reactors are shut down for refueling instead of continuing the tests. "Lots of things have to line up to produce the bad outcome. Not all GE control rods have this problem, so owners are replacing them sooner." The shutdown "capability is expected to be affected due to the added seismic loads at low reactor pressures" in the boiling-water-reactor plants. More testing is needed to determine how much friction is produced by "seismic loads." The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is evaluating whether GE Hitachi's emphasis on testing is appropriate and if additional steps are required to ensure plant safety.
"There are still other changes to come in response to the issue. I don't know off-hand what level of seismic activity could pose a problem." On a wider level, the NRC plans to issue a letter to all 104 U.S. plants by year's end requesting a response to the agency's new seismic risk modeling and data.
Plants that may be affected by the control rod issue include First Energy Corp.'s Perry, Ohio, plant on Lake Erie, about 120 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, and Exelon Corp.'s Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey, Exelon's Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle, and Quad Cities plants in Illinois as well as Limerick and Peach Bottom in Eastern Pennsylvania. Also on the list are New Orleans-based Entergy Corp.'s FitzPatrick in New York, Vermont Yankee in Vermont, Pilgrim in Massachusetts, Grand Gulf in Mississippi, and the Tennessee Valley Authority's Browns Ferry in Alabama and River Bend in Louisiana. Elsewhere are Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.'s Hope Creek in New Jersey, Constellation Nuclear Energy Group LLC's Nine Mile Point in New York, and DTE Energy's Fermi 2 in Michigan. The South includes Progress Energy Inc.'s Brunswick in North Carolina and Southern Co.'s Hatch in Georgia. Further west are NextEra Energy Inc.'s Duane Arnold in Iowa, Nebraska Public Power District's Cooper in Nebraska, Xcel Energy Inc.'s Monticello in Minnesota and Energy Northwest's Columbia in Washington. Some plants have more than one reactor.

Haiti still needs world's help - The United Nations aid chief called for continued humanitarian assistance to Haiti on Thursday, stressing the crisis in a country still reeling from last year's monster earthquake. 600,000 people still living in camps have urgent needs for basic food, water, sanitation and housing services.

VOLCANOES -

Etna - The volcano experienced its 15th paroxysm on September 28 and there are some great images and video for the eruption. This eruption was different in a number of ways: (1) the time since the last paroxysm was shorter than expected; (2) it was shorter and more explosive than previous paroxysms and (3) it produced lava from multiple vents in the Southeast Cone. All in all, the 15th paroxysm seemed to break the rules. The eruption produced some impressive fire fountains and lava flows. (photos, video and links to webcams)

Costa Rica's Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Awakens - Dormant for more than a decade, the Rincon de la Vieja volcano surprised area residents and tourists with its a phreatic eruption August 19 and then again on September 16 and 22. The volcano is located in the northern sector of the country Buenos Aires de Aguas Clara de Upala, in the province of Alajuela. On Saturday, September 17, a day after the eruption of water and sediment, some fish were found dead in the river Penjamo. Investigators this week found more evidence of material spewed by the colossus in the streams and ditches in the area. Some sediment has made it 18 kilometres upstream in the local rivers. Also being investigated is whether the walls of the volcano have some movement.
Most phreatic eruptions are concentrated in the centre of the lagoon that borders the walls that are 75 metres high. The eruption of November 1995 was one of the most intense. And although the current eruptions are nothing compared, area residents are taking precautions. After a meeting with experts they took the decision to revive the local emergency committee. For now, tourist visits to the crater have been suspended and guides are required to visit other parts of the national park. Authorities recommend people living in the foothills of the Rincon de la Vieja be aware of the water level in the rivers.

TROPICAL STORMS -
In the Atlantic -
-Category 4 Hurricane Ophelia was located about 140 mi.(220 km) E of Bermuda. Gradual weakening should begin today, with rapid weakening likely by late today. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland.

-Tropical storm Philippe was located about 1070 mi (1720 km) ESE of Bermuda.

In the Pacific -
-Typhoon 22w (Nalgae) was located approximately 700 nm east-southeast of Hanoi, Vietnam.

Typhoon Nalgae batters flood-hit Philippines packing gusts up to 195km/h and threatening victims still trapped by floods. Typhoons Nesat and Nalgae have brought a double dose of rain and floods. The second typhoon to hit the Philippines in less than a week has been battering northern areas, with ferocious winds and heavy rain. At least one person died as Typhoon Nalgae hit regions still waterlogged by the earlier storm Nesat, and officials warned of flash floods and landslides. Nalgae crossed the main island Luzon, but weakened as it headed west toward the South China Sea. Nalgae,was forecast to be a weakened category-1 typhoon as it moves toward China's Hainan Island on Monday.
The Philippines suffers frequent typhoons, about 20 a year. Nalgae made landfall in the eastern province of Isabela on Saturday. At it strongest it was packing winds of up to 195km/h (121mph). It is now expected to gather strength again over the sea as it moves towards China's Hainan island and Vietnam. Heavy wind and rain is expected in the Philippines for another 48 hours. In Isabela, power supplies were switched off as winds toppled trees and blew off roofs. In Luna township, a bus carrying 30 people turned over in a rice field but no-one was hurt.
The storm is taking much the same route as Typhoon Nesat which hit the country on Tuesday leaving at least 52 people dead and thousands homeless. Tens of thousands of residents have moved into evacuation centres or the homes of relatives or friends, but many areas are still heavily flooded from the earlier storm. With more heavy rains expected, officials fear that floods resulting from the second hurricane will compound the misery of more than a million people still trapped after the first. Several towns remain submerged, and many residents are still on rooftops awaiting rescue from the first storm. "I hope the [Nesat] floods will wash out to Manila Bay before the [Nalgae] runoff hits the area. If the latter catches up to the former, there won't be any rooftops left to see above the floodwaters." Marooned flood victims were often reluctant to leave for fear their homes would be looted. "When we send out rescue teams to help them, they ask for food instead."

Nesat was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday as it moved west into northern Vietnam, where flood warnings were issued and 20,000 people evacuated. Nesat previously battered southern China with gale force winds and torrential rain.

SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -

Asia: Extreme Weather - In the last four months, prolonged monsoon flooding, typhoon and storms across Southeast Asia, China, Japan and South Asia has left more than 600 people dead or missing. In India alone, the damage is estimated to be worth $1 billion, with the worst-hit state of Orissa accounting for $726 million. Several studies suggest an intensification of the Asian summer monsoon rainfall with increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, the state-run Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said. Still, it is not clear that this is entirely because of climate change, especially in India.

THAILAND deployed about 10,000 soldiers on Friday to help victims of floods that have killed 188 people and left vast swathes of the country under water. Backed by 500 military vehicles and more than 100 boats equipped with loud speakers and flashlights, the troops will patrol flood-stricken areas to ensure people's safety.

Cambodian flood toll tops 100 - More than 100 Cambodians, nearly half of them children, have died in THE COUNTRY'S WORST FLOODING IN A DECADE. Heavy rainfall, which has also caused the Mekong river to overflow, has killed at least 105 people, including 47 children, since mid-August.

EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES / CLIMATE CHANGE - 

RECORD-BREAKING Britain Hotter Than Mexico. Sun worshippers have been basking in more record-breaking weather - as Britain felt its HOTTEST END OF SEPTEMBER IN MORE THAN 100 YEARS.

HEALTH THREATS - 

RECALLS & ALERTS:
-True Leaf Farms is expanding its voluntary recall of romaine to include chopped or shredded romaine because of the potential of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The initial recalled product was shipped between September 12 and 13 to a retail food service distributor in Oregon who further distributed it to at least two additional states, Washington and Idaho. 



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