Thursday, August 25, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge.**
Daniel Boorstin

LARGEST QUAKES recent quakes, 6.0 or larger -
8/24/16 -

8/23/16 -

8/21/16 -

8/20/16 -

Italy - Thousands of rescuers have searched through the night for survivors following Wednesday's 6.2 earthquake in a mountainous area of central Italy. More than 240 people have died and at least 368 were injured. Many people are still believed to be buried under rubble and more than 4,300 rescuers are using heavy lifting equipment and bare hands to find them.
Many of the victims were children and there were warnings the toll could rise further. The area has also been shaken by strong aftershocks, including a 4.7-magnitude tremor with its epicentre about 7km east of Norcia. Late on Wednesday there were cheers in the village of Pescara del Tronto when a young girl was pulled alive from the rubble after being trapped for 17 hours. Almost all the houses there had collapsed.
Hardest hit were the small towns and villages in the mountainous area where the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche meet. People there spent the night outside or in tents provided by the emergency services. The mayor of Amatrice said three-quarters of the town had been destroyed and no building was safe for habitation.
Quake damage - Before and after photos.

A powerful earthquake shook central Myanmar on Wednesday, killing at least three people including two children, and damaging scores of centuries-old Buddhist pagodas around the ancient capital of Bagan. The 6.8 magnitude quake shook buildings across the Southeast Asian country, with tremors felt as far away as Thailand — where witnesses reported high rise towers swaying in Bangkok — Bangladesh and eastern India. "We felt quite heavy shaking for about 10 seconds and started to evacuate the building when there was another strong tremor."

Global storm map

* In the Atlantic Ocean -
- Gaston becomes the third hurricane of the Atlantic season. Located about 1215 mi (1955 km) W of the Cabo Verde islands.

* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 12w (Lionrock) is located approximately 258 nm southeast of Kadena Air Base.

Huge 99L Generating 55 mph Winds, But Remains Disorganized - A huge and powerful tropical wave (Invest 99L) is generating winds of tropical storm force near the Virgin Islands, and could become a tropical storm at any time over the next two days as it heads west-northwest at 15 mph towards The Bahamas. If 99L develops a well-defined surface circulation, it will be called Tropical Storm Hermine. The storm has brought widespread rainfall amounts of 1” to Puerto Rico and the Virgin islands as estimated by San Juan radar, with a one area of northwest Puerto Rico receiving over 3”. A flash flood watch continued for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands until midnight Wednesday. This sprawling tropical wave was spreading heavy rains across a 1000-mile wide stretch of ocean, from the southeast Bahama Islands to Barbados in the southern Lesser Antilles Islands. It will be difficult for such a massive storm to develop a well-defined surface circulation, and multiple swirls separated by hundreds of miles have been evident in the system during the day. Since 99L has not yet formed a well-defined circulation center, it has been difficult for models to agree on its future track and intensity. This situation will likely continue until at least Thursday afternoon, when the SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will fall to the moderate range. This drop in shear will potentially allow 99L to organize into a tropical storm and give the models something more substantial to chew on.


At least two confirmed tornadoes ripped through Central Indiana on Wednesday, causing only minor injuries but damaging several homes and leaving more than 30,000 people without power, including 3,400 in Indianapolis. The most damage appeared to occur in Kokomo, where an EF-3 tornado leveled a Starbucks and tore roofs off of apartment buildings, causing city and Howard County officials to declare states of emergency. Wind speeds typically associated with an EF-3 can range anywhere from 136 to 165 mph, according to the National Weather Service. “Multiple lightning. The sky got black. Wind came through like a train, and everything went black.”

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Grief undermines the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small. Contrary to our fears, grief is suffused with life force. Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated. It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul.**
– Francis Weller

LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -

Recent 6.0 and larger quakes -
6/26/16 - 6.4 KYRGYZSTAN
6/21/16 - 6.3 NEW IRELAND REGION, P.N.G.

A strong 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand's Kermadec Islands in the South Pacific late Wednesday. The quake's epicenter was 201 kilometers (124 miles) north east of Raoul Island - the largest and northernmost of the main Kermadec Islands, striking 12 kilometers below the surface. There were no reports of casualties or damage and no tsunami warning was issued.

Indonesia - One dies in 5.4-magnitude quake. A farmer in Kamang Mudiak village, Kamang Magek district, Agam regency, West Sumatra, was killed when a 5.4-magnitude earthquake rocked the northern part of the province on Sunday afternoon. “The victim was mowing grass for his cattle on a hill of a former limestone quarry when a boulder fell on him during the quake. He was then rushed to the hospital and eventually died there.” The quake, measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale, occurred on Sunday at 4:31 p.m. The quake’s epicenter was on the Semangka fault at a depth of 10-kilometers and 14-km from Bonjol, and 48-km north of Bukittinggi. The quake was strong enough to be felt in Bukittinggi, but there were no reports of casualties or damage to buildings.


* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Storm Celia is located about 1555 mi (2500 km) W of the southern tip of Baja California. Weakening, there are no watches or warnings in effect.

- Hurricane Darby becomes the third hurricane of the east Pacific season, located about 570 mi (920 km) SSW of the southern tip of Baja California. No watches or warnings in effect, but there is still a chance that a weakened Celia or its remnants could pass just north of the Hawaiian Islands early next week, bringing some high surf and a chance of squalls, but it is too soon to assign any confidence to this possibility.


The U.S. Summer is Off to a Record-Hot Start - Last month was the warmest June in 122 years of U.S. recordkeeping, beating out June 1933. Each of the 48 contiguous states came in above its average temperature for June, with Arizona and Utah setting all-time June records for heat. Thirteen other states had a top-ten-warmest June, stretching across the nation from California to Florida.
Could this end up as the hottest summer in U.S. history? The contiguous United States has seen six of its ten warmest summers on record in just the last 15 years. On that basis alone, 2016 has a reasonable shot at becoming our hottest summer yet, especially with the head start provided by a record-warm June. On the other hand, there is plenty of inherent variability from week to week and month to month, even in weather that’s averaged across the country.
Models suggest that temperatures may challenge the 100°F mark as far north as the Dakotas by later next week, with 90s enveloping most of the nation east of the Rockies for what could be an extended period. The 8-14 day outlook from the NWS Weather Prediction Center shows high odds for above-average temperatures over the entire contiguous U.S. except for the Pacific Northwest, with odds favoring below-average precipitation for most of the Plains and mid-South.
If the heat manifests as expected, it may be enough to counterbalance the northern mildness so far in July and keep 2016 in the running for warmest U.S. summer on record, particularly if August stays on the hot side.


A gene related to Alzheimer's disease may start to show effects on brain structure and mental sharpness as early as preschool , a new study suggests. Researchers have long known that a gene called APOE is related to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. People who carry a variant of the gene known as e4 have a higher-than-average risk. The new study confirms what smaller studies have hinted: The gene's effects may be apparent even in early childhood. Brain scans revealed that young children with the e4 variant typically showed slower development in certain brain areas. These are the same brain regions that often atrophy in people with Alzheimer's disease.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.**
Shigenori Kameoka

LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -

California - Yes, the Next Big Quake Is “Locked, Loaded, And Ready To Roll”. How to get ready for it? This seismologist says your best move is to believe that it's going to happen — the rest is simple. “The earthquake is inevitable, but the disaster isn’t.”
Even the biggest California earthquakes of the past 40 years have done little to relieve pressure between tectonic plates. Though the magnitude 6.9 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake led to over $6 billion in damage, collapsing a portion of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and the 6.7 1994 Northridge earthquake generated $20 billion in damage to the San Fernando Valley, both were “little” quakes, geologically speaking.
“I’m a seismologist and it terrifies me that it’s been [so] long since we’ve had a major earthquake. Lots of little earthquakes do not relieve the stress [on the plates]. It’s likely to require a temblor on the scale of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (7.8) for the earth to get a gasp of serious relief. Seismologists now believe that magnitude 7s and even 8s are more probable.”
And though the San Andreas has been on the brink of a major quake for quite some time, a recent report that appeared last month distilled the threat in a terrifyingly concrete way: Several southern California basins, from Bakersfield to the Los Angeles area, are sinking 2 to 3 millimeters every year (while San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties are rising at similar rates). Basically, the fault line is actively on the move.
Greater awareness of the risks of a threat can be correlated with a higher rate of disaster preparedness. A few tips for those trying to get prepared at home: You have less to fear from buildings or bridges collapsing on or beneath you, and a lot more to worry about when it comes to items flying off shelves, or furniture falling over. Your best bet isn’t to stand in a doorway; rather, it’s to, “drop, cover, and hold on”. Get underneath a sturdy table, or butt right up against the edge of a bed on the floor.
Putting together an earthquake kit is also not as big a feat as it may seem. “If you have camping equipment, you already are ahead of the game.” Food, water, and emergency supplies can generally be compiled from items already in your home such as canned goods and a first aid kit. Prepare for as many as five days without support. “We have seen from other events around the world that after three days, there is not going to be some magical fairy that comes in and drops food and water and shelter. So be prepared to be self-sufficient.”
Your level of loss in and after an earthquake will be directly linked to your level of preparedness. Fortunately, in the near future, Californians should soon have access to an early warning earthquake detection system that could buy them precious seconds (and up to a minute and a half) to protect themselves.


* In the Eastern Pacific -
- Hurricane Blas holding its strength as a category 3 hurricane, about 1125 mi (1810 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Gradual weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours. No coastal watches or warnings are in effect.

- Tropical depression Four-E forecast to intensify as it moves away from Mexico. Located about 725 mi (1165 km) S of the southern tip of Baja California. The depression is forecast to become a tropical storm on Thursday. No coastal watches or warnings are in effect.

* In the Western Pacific -
Category 5 Super typhoon Nepartak is located approximately 275 nm southeast of Taipei, Taiwan.
Category 5 Super Typhoon Nepartak is steaming towards a Thursday landfall in Taiwan after putting on a phenomenal display of rapid intensification on Monday and Tuesday. Nepartak went from a tropical storm with 70 mph winds on Monday afternoon to a Category 4 super typhoon with 150 mph winds on Tuesday afternoon, in just 24 hours. Over the past two days, unusually warm waters have extended to great depth below the storm, creating some of the highest oceanic heat content readings one sees for a tropical cyclone. Satellite loops show a fearsome storm with huge area of heavy thunderstorms with cold cloud tops reaching high into the atmosphere, surrounding a prominent eye. The storm has taken on an annular appearance, with very little in the way of spiral banding. These type of storms are more resistant to weakening than typical tropical cyclones.
Models predict widespread rains of 8 - 16 inches over much of Taiwan and Eastern China, on regions where more than 8 inches of rain fell last week. The torrential rains of Super Typhoon Nepartak will likely cause tens of millions of dollars in damage to agriculture in Taiwan. The bigger concern for heavy rainfall from Nepartak is in mainland China, though. Exceptionally heavy monsoon rains affected large portions of central and eastern China over the past ten days, bringing rampaging floods that killed at least 170 people and caused over $5 billion in damage. The soils are still saturated from these rains, and Nepartak's rains will trigger additional damaging flooding.
Nepartak is the third Category 5 storm on Earth so far in 2016, and tied for the second strongest tropical cyclone of the year (by wind speed). The other two Category 5 storms earlier this year were in the Southern Hemisphere: the Southwest Indian Ocean's Tropical Cyclone Fantala, which topped out with 175 mph winds and a 910 mb central pressure on April 17, and the Southeast Pacific's Tropical Cyclone Winston, which devastated Fiji on February 20 with sustained winds of 180 mph. Winston's lowest central pressure was 915 mb.
Both storms were tied for the strongest tropical cyclones ever observed (by sustained winds) in their respective ocean basins. On average, Earth sees 4 - 5 Category 5 storms per year, with over 50% of these being typhoons in the Northwest Pacific.


Flood relief and rescue efforts have been stepped up in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has been hit by severe flooding. Transport links and water and power supplies in the city of 10 million are severely affected. Flooding across central and southern China has killed 186 people and 45 are missing. The Chinese premier has called upon local authorities across the country to be prepared for further downpours. 32 million people in 26 provinces across China have been affected by severe flooding. 1.4 million people have been relocated. 56,000 houses have collapsed.

Drone footage of the China flooding.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late that one is open.**
Alexander Graham Bell

LARGEST QUAKES, 6.0 or larger -

4/3/16 -

4/2/16 -

4/1/16 -

3/20/16 -

3/19/16 -

3/12/16 -

3/8/16 -

3/2/16 -

Low-intensity quakes a daily affair in Nepal - A large number of earthquakes happen in the country every day, but hardly anyone notices most of them because they are of low intensity. A month into the April 25 mega quake, the country had experienced 1,300 aftershocks of less than 4 magnitude. For quite sometime after the mega quake, there occurred 500 low-intensity quakes every day.
These days, aftershocks seem to have become a thing of the past. But experts warn that non- occurrence of aftershocks accentuates the risk of a major quake event. Daily, 40 quakes measuring less than 4 magnitude are hitting the country. After the Magnitude-7.6 earthquake, 445 aftershocks measuring above 4 on the Richter scale have so far occurred in the country.

Watch as the Popocatepetl volcano in central Mexico erupted on Sunday, spewing lava and clouds of ash into the sky.

Volcanic activity worldwide April 4 - Popocatépetl volcano, Bromo, Turrialba, Sangay...


NASA took the wraps off a new website on Monday dedicated to tracking global changes in the sea level. It’s packed full of free online resources that will likely be useful to teachers, the climate-change-curious, and anyone just looking to dig into publicly available data. The Sea Level Change site is NASA instead of NOAA because the site focuses on space-based observations.


Fiji - Days of torrential rain are adding to the hardships faced by thousands of Fijians still struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Winston in February. Flooding has caused people in northern and western Viti Levu to evacuate their homes after waters rose during heavy rain, and schools have been closed.
While Tropical Depression 15F was slowly moving away, another tropical disturbance, Tropical Depression 14F was expected to develop into a category 1 tropical cyclone as it moved closer to Fiji. It would bring in more rain and strong winds. The Met Service said it was also monitoring the development of a new tropical disturbance, Tropical Depression 16F. (photos at link)


Maryland - Wind gusts of up to 62 miles per hour late Saturday and early Sunday knocked down several buildings and trees, cut power to tens of thousands of customers and was believed to have caused at least one house fire.
Gusts of up to 62 miles per hour were recorded in Frederick County. Downed trees were reported across the state. The wind gusts led to the collapse of several vacant and abandoned buildings in Baltimore.
A freeze warning is in effect from midnight through 10 a.m. Tuesday, with lows expected in the upper 20s to the north and west of Baltimore and in the lower 30s around the city and suburbs. Meteorologists warned that unprotected house plants and crops that have sprouted amid early spring warmth could be damaged or killed. Another freeze is likely Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning.


Ten Civilizations or Nations That Collapsed From Drought - Drought is the great enemy of human civilization. Drought deprives us of the two things necessary to sustain life - food and water. When the rains stop and the soil dries up, cities die and civilizations collapse, as people abandon lands no longer able to supply them with the food and water they need to live. While the fall of a great empire is usually due to a complex set of causes, drought has often been identified as the primary culprit or a significant contributing factor in a surprising number of such collapses.
The most recent is modern Syria. Syria's devastating civil war that began in March 2011 has killed over 300,000 people, displaced at least 7.6 million, and created an additional 4.2 million refugees. While the causes of the war are complex, a key contributing factor was the nation's devastating drought that began in 1998. The drought brought Syria's most severe set of crop failures in recorded history, which forced millions of people to migrate from rural areas into cities, where conflict erupted. This drought was almost certainly Syria's worst in the past 500 years, and likely the worst for at least the past 900 years.

Drought-stricken Palau could dry up completely this month , officials warned Monday as the Pacific island appealed for urgent aid from Japan and Taiwan, including shipments of water. The tiny country of about 18,000 people declared a state of emergency last month, the latest Pacific island nation to do so as one of the worst ever El Nino-induced droughts in the region worsens. "We're still in the state of emergency, there's a sense of urgency to address the crisis."
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said last month the El Nino weather pattern - associated with a sustained period of warming in the central Pacific which can spark climate extremes - was unlikely to ease before the second half of the year. The Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia have also declared states of emergency, while Guam and the Northern Marianas are experiencing low rainfall.

A huge Saharan dust cloud is expected to bring 'blood rain' to the UK as the country basks in what could be the hottest day of the year. "Blood rain” is caused by Saharan dust mixing with rain leaving a reddish residue on buildings and cars. This phenomena is more common in southern European areas, such as Spain and the south of France, however due the dust can travel as far as Scandinavia. Weather experts say that temperatures could soar to up to 19 degrees Celsius in parts of the country on Thursday. This will make it hotter than Barcelona and Ibiza.

Millions of people in several eastern and southern African nations are facing malnutrition, disease, and other harm as a result of El Niño–related extreme weather patterns: drought in late 2015 and heavy rains in the past few months. “We have seen too much water in some places and too little in other places.”
“The severity of the situation is continuously increasing." Nations affected by drought and floods include Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The weather is exacerbating the vulnerability of people such as Somalis living in camps for displaced people and those living near outbreaks of cholera in Kenya. The effects of the weather patterns have extended longer than expected. “2016 looks like it will be a difficult year.”
Parts of Latin America and Asia are also being affected by drought and other extreme weather. The harm, especially in causing food insecurity, could extend into well into 2017, according to the United Nations.

Drought ravages Thai sugar cane crop - A global sugar shortage is looming and prices are soaring. The world's top sugar cane exporters, India and Thailand, are being ravaged by a severe drought brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon. Thailand - the world second-largest sugar cane exporter - is going to be shipping 20 to 30 percent less of the sweetener compared to last year. And the situation may even get worse next year.

Cloud-seeding season - Efforts to make snow and rain virtually out of thin air were once the realm of science fiction. Even today, they’re dismissed by some as fanciful and hardly worth the time. But after four historically dry years in California, the practice has been on the uptick. The stormy skies that came with this year’s El Niño provided ideal conditions for cloud seeding, which requires enough water vapor in the air so that the introduction of chemicals like silver iodide can coax the clouds to crystallize and send droplets to the ground.
From San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy watershed to the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Mokelumne River to the coastal mountains in Southern California, water managers say cloud seeding is boosting precipitation — sometimes by 10 percent or more. Many say that alongside this year’s slightly wetter winter it’s been essential to riding out the drought.
Critics of the practice say it’s tough to know exactly how effective it is in the field. Measuring how much more rain and snow a cloud produces when chemicals are introduced is virtually impossible. Another concern about the practice is the chemicals it uses. Silver iodide can be toxic to fish and even humans, though experts say not at the relatively small levels used for cloud seeding.
The water agency manager for Santa Barbara County said the criticism she hears most about her county’s cloud-seeding program is that it’s part of the purported “chemtrail” agenda. The conspiratorial fear is that the planes used to enhance precipitation are actually among a larger government fleet of aircraft that disperse subversive chemicals for dark purposes onto an unsuspecting population.

The month of March was short on moisture and now drought is creeping across much of Kansas. March is normally a wet month, so last month's dry conditions had a big impact. “Because it's the start of our wetter pattern, things go down very, very quickly when we don't get what we should be seeing. That became very worrisome and we've seen the expansion of the drought conditions in response to that."
The hardest hit areas so far have been the southwest and south central parts of the state. The coming months will be critical because they're normally some of the wettest. “If we are dry in April and May, then we are going to be increasingly in bad shape." If the drought persists the first agricultural impact will be damage to the state's winter wheat crop.

Two people were killed in the southern Philippines after clashes between police and thousands of drought-hit farmers protesting over a lack of food. A parched highway in impoverished Kidapawan city, capital of Cotabato province, had been barricaded by 6,000 farmers since Wednesday to demand 15,000 sacks of rice from the government. Gunshots were fired and rocks hurled into the air during a scuffle between police and demonstrators on Friday, as the authorities tried to disperse the crowds.
"We asked for rice. Instead, they gave us bullets. The farmers are starving because they have nothing to eat. We went there looking for a solution." 116 protesters were wounded while 89 others were missing. Police could not immediately confirm the fatalities, but said 40 of its men were also hurt in the ruckus, two of them in critical condition.
The Philippines has been gripped by a strong El Nino dry spell since December which has hit food production, particularly in the conflict-wracked south which is home to the country's poorest and where more than half of the population is reliant on agriculture. The state weather bureau had warned last year that rainfall could decrease by as much as 80 percent during the drought, which is expected to last until the middle of this year.


The White House published a report Monday warning that “extreme heat can be expected to cause an increase in the number of premature deaths” - the same day the National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for April snowstorms.


ANOTHER STREAM OF SOLAR WIND IS COMING - Geomagnetic activity is subsiding as Earth exits a solar wind stream that hit our planet's magnetic field on April 2nd. The quiet might not last long, however, because another stream of solar wind is coming. Estimated time of arrival: April 5th. NOAA forecasters say there is a a 55% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on Tuesday. Once again, Arctic sky watchers are favored for auroras.


Vitamin D supplements may help people with diseased hearts - A trial on 163 heart failure patients found supplements of the vitamin, which is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, improved their hearts' ability to pump blood around the body. The team described the results as "stunning". The study also showed the patients hearts became smaller - a suggestion they are becoming more powerful and efficient.
The British Heart Foundation called for longer trials to assess the pills. Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones and teeth and may have important health benefits throughout the body but many people are deficient. The average age of people in the study was 70 and like many people that age they had low levels of vitamin D even in summer. "They do spend less time outside, but the skin's ability to manufacture vitamin D also gets less effective [with age] and we don't really understand why that is."
It is also not clear exactly how vitamin D is improving heart function, but it is thought every cell in the body responds to the vitamin. Most vitamin D comes from sunlight, although it is also found in oily fish, eggs and is added to some foods such as breakfast cereals.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**If you want to be more creative, the best thing you can do is to talk to people who disagree with you.**
Dr. Muthukrishna

LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -

2/27/16 -

Fukushima disaster: Ex-Tepco executives charged with negligence - Three former executives at a Japanese power giant have been formally charged with negligence over the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. The trio, formerly of Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), will be the first to go to court over the incident.
A citizen's panel ruled last year they should face trial, forcing prosecutors to pursue the case. The Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered a series of meltdowns following a massive earthquake and tsunami. Prosecutors in Tokyo had twice decided against pressing charges, citing insufficient evidence.
But in a rare legal move, the panel's ruling forced a compulsory indictment of the three. The panel said the three men did not take sufficient measures despite being warned of a risk of a tsunami near the Fukushima plant. They plan to plead not guilty on the grounds they could not have anticipated the size of the tsunami.
One of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded struck off the coast of Japan in March 2011, triggering a huge tsunami. Almost 16,000 people died and more than 2,500 are still listed as missing. None of the deaths, however, have been linked to the nuclear disaster, although there were a number of deaths in the subsequent evacuation.

Nepal - Extensive groundwater extraction in the Indo-Gangetic Plain over the last five decades has "significantly" contributed to the killer April 25, 2015, Nepal temblor and "probably all earthquakes" in the region beneath the Himalayan arc, Indian scientists claim.

South Dakota - 2/27/16 - Police are investigating multiple reports of loud booms in Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas. The National Weather Service said they had not seen any indications of an explosion or other events that would show up on radar, and that there are no storms in the area. "There's nothing unusual on the radar that would suggest a meteor or a comet." However, NWS did offer a possible theory on what could be causing the booms: "After thinking a thing could be happening is this. There is a very sharp temperature change not too far off the surface (about 500 ft) tonight due to the warmer air aloft and fast cooling here at the ground. It's possible that as some aircraft are landing that this sound is bouncing off this temperature 'inversion.' It's a theory." Scanner traffic indicated that multiple people had called in to report the booms. Police were investigating reports in Hartford and at 85th Street and Marion Road. Police were unable to find the source of the noises. People have reported the booms in several areas around Sioux Falls and beyond.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued an eruption warning of Mount Io in southern Japan on Sunday. Experts observed an increase in volcanic earthquakes in the Kirishima mountain range on Kyushu island, urging tourists and hikers to avoid the 0.6-mile area around Mt. Io’s crater. The agency said at least 37 volcanic tremors have been recorded at the site by mid-Sunday. Intensified activity around the volcano dates back to July 2015.

Nicaragua: Strong Explosions in Momotombo Volcano - The Government of Nicaragua remains attentive to two strong explosions occurred today in the volcano Momotombo, located in the western Department of León. The explosions were perceived by residents of that territory and Managua. Since the beginning of the activity of the volcano on December 1st - after 110 years of relative calm - 68 explosions have been registered.


The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami killed many people who fled to evacuation places designated by local governments. About 30 per cent of the people in Kessenuma's Suginoshita district perished or went missing in the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011. Now residents of the district are planning to publish a book at their own expense about the tragedy that took so many lives.
"I want the next generation of people to understand that many lives were lost at a place the city had designated for evacuation in emergencies." The residents held evacuation drills, which included escaping to the hill, twice a year. "Designated evacuation places are not always safe. "Every possible safety measure should be taken, such as preparing life jackets and boats to escape in emergencies.

No current tropical storms.

French Polynesia remains on cyclone alert - A orange alert remains in force in the western parts of French Polynesia as strong winds and rain continue. Tropical Cyclone Yalo in the south has broken up but a broad front is sweeping the most populated islands. On Rangiora in the Tuamotu archipelago, the heaviest downpour in living memory caused flooding of dozens of homes, with the mayor quoted as saying more than half a meter of rain fell during the night.

Tropical cyclones in the Philippines are becoming more extreme causing greater amounts of devastation and loss of life, a new study finds. It found that in the last two decades, there has been a slight decrease in the number of smaller cyclones (above 118 kilometers per hour) that hit the country. That means more Filipinos are at risk since more hazardous tropical cyclones (above 150 kilometers per hour) were shown to be on the rise, with the northern island of Luzon frequently affected.


Brits braced for -18C spring blast sparked by 'polar plunge'. - Snow is set to hit Britain this Easter as temperatures plummet to -18C. Forecasters say a “polar plunge” – the same phenomenon that caused 2010’s big freeze – could trigger the extreme weather.
The Met Office predicts colder than average conditions, with snow from Iceland until mid-March and sub-zero chills most nights. Late March and early April will see the threat of a longer freeze, bringing the “greatest risk” of snow and ice.
With Good Friday falling on March 25, families planning Easter getaways could be hit by severe travel disruption. A polar plunge is also known as “sudden stratospheric warming” where air heats up high over the North Pole, shunting cold, low-level Arctic air south to Britain for up to 14 days.
The weather event has caused severe temperature drops in the past including -18C conditions in 2009 and 2010, and lows of -13.6C in 2013. The Met Office spring forecast said: “The greatest risk of cold weather impacts is in late March and early April, due to the likelihood of a sudden stratospheric warming event in early March."


India - Farmer suicides rising due to successive drought, crop failure in Marathwada region Maharashtra cabinet will camp in Marathwada region from 4 to 6 March to get first-hard experience of the calamity’s intensity.

South Africa - The deadly drought has left many KwaZulu-Natal farmers in dire straits. The province is operating under a formal declaration of disaster. It has become a daily struggle for many. Subsistence farmers are also feeling the heat. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has pledged to maximise its disaster relief and water provision. (video at link)

Minnesota - On Saturday, the temperature in Minneapolis rose to 58 degrees, breaking a 120-year-old record. Typically they mercury reaches 50 degrees around March 9, but Saturday felt more like April. "I've seen some people out here in shorts and tank tops. Pretty extreme."

Wisconsin - record-breaking warmth. People headed outside this weekend to enjoy the record-breaking temperatures. Milwaukee's temperature hit 59 degree on Sunday, breaking by 5 degrees a record high for the day that had been in place for more than 100 years.

Canada - From record-breaking warmth to 'significant snowfall' in Toronto. Torontonians may have been dreaming of spring after record-breaking temperatures Sunday, but Tuesday may bring plenty of snow. The mercury climbed to a balmy 13.8C on Sunday, making it the warmest Feb. 28 Environment Canada has on record. Monday is expected to be a pleasant 5C, but then things will get real (cold) with an expected daytime high on Tuesday of -5C.


Arctic warming - Why record-breaking melting is just the beginning. It has been an ‘absurdly warm’ winter in the Arctic this year, as temperatures within 200 miles of the North Pole peaked above freezing. Rapidly disappearing Arctic sea ice is about to set a new record after an “absurdly warm” winter at the top of the world. For the second year running, it will have grown to cover less of the Arctic Ocean than ever before.
The revelation comes as scientists are increasingly worried that the heating of the region could escalate out of control, as growing numbers of “feedback mechanisms” – which reinforce and accelerate the process – are being discovered.
Most attention on the melting sea ice so far has been focused on the increasingly low minimum levels it reaches each September. Its nine smallest-ever extents have all occurred in the last nine years, with the record being reached in 2012, when it covered only 3.41 million square kilometres - 44 per cent less than the average of the previous three decades, and a full 16 per cent lower than the previous record, in 2007.
But the amount by which the ice recovers each winter, peaking at the end of February and the beginning of March, though little publicised, is at least as important. Last year it reached only 14.54 million sq km on 25 February, its peak day – the lowest ever. Exactly a year later, at the end of last week, it was just 14.27 million sq km, a fall of 270,000 sq km.

New Zealand - "It has been a weird summer. All the talk of El Nino hasn't happened. It's almost like La Nina, the complete opposite." North Islanders worn out by sleepless, hot, humid nights can expect some cooler relief - briefly - from Monday night.
Showers, including occasional heavy bursts, today fell in the central North Island up to Auckland. The rainfall was welcomed by farmers whose pastures have dried out in some of the searing temperatures of our golden summer. And hefty rainfall is forecast overnight Saturday, with a severe weather watch in place. Two fronts are coming through in the first and second weeks of March.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

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**If people stand in a circle long enough they'll eventually begin to dance. **
George Carlin

LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -

California - Two quakes roil Fresno in one week - Coincidence, experts say. The state’s midsection was roiled by two temblors in the span of a week The quakes were totally unrelated, geologists say. They don't portend the Big One on the mighty San Andreas Fault. California isn't about to slide into the Pacific Ocean.

After a significant earthquake in Baja California, scientists use satellite imagery to locate the fault responsible. The new fault line they discover doesn't seem capabable of creating seismic energy released during the quake. What is the satellite imagery missing? (video)

Earthquake wake-up call - preparing for the worst-case scenario in California.

Montreal Ranked #2 City Most Likely To Get Hit By A Major Earthquake In Canada - Torrential downpours of freezing rain; massive snow storms; golf ball-sized hail; all are examples of natural phenomenon that Montrealers are used to seeing put the city in a state of mild-to- complete chaos.
Granted, major earthquakes are seldom seen in the city (the last notable one was in 1732), but the city is in a precarious place when it comes to seismic activity and it seems as if we’re due for one. Granted, major earthquakes are seldom seen in the city (the last notable one was in 1732), but the city is in a precarious place when it comes to seismic activity and it seems as if we’re due for one.
A recent study performed by a catastrophe risk modeling consultant firm stated “it is only a matter of time” before a major earthquake hits the Montreal area, stating that there’s a 5-15% chance an earthquake will strike the region in the next 50 years. Vancouver is number 1.

The Volcanoes of Nicaragua Sure Have Been Cranky This Year - Every year there seems to be a country that is having more than its fair share of volcanic eruptions. This is the sort of thing that happens when you have a random distribution of volcanic eruptions over time (and space to some degree, along the areas that have volcanoes). This year, it is Nicaragua that seems to be the focus of eruptions—at least more so than usual. The biggest newsmaker is Momotombo, where the volcano has produced numerous explosive eruptions over the last few weeks.

Indonesia - Volcanic smoking and ashes rise from Mount Sinabung during an eruption in Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, on Feb. 24, 2016. More than 10,000 villagers living near the volcano were forced to evacuate to safer places. Authorities have repeatedly called on local residents to remain patient in dealing with the impact of Sinabung's eruptions, which some experts have predicted will continue for five more years.

Japan - Mt. Kirishima ready to erupt. Scientists in Japan say another volcano is showing signs of being ready to erupt. Mt. Kirishima on Japan’s western Kyushu Island last erupted in 2011. Authorities say 158 tremors registered Tuesday at the Shinmoe Peak. Experts from Japan’s meteorological agency surveyed the peak’s surface temperature and other data Wednesday, but detected no abnormalities. Still, they said a small eruption is possible and kept the warning level at 2. That means hikers must act with caution when approaching within half-a-mile of the caldera.


Man killed when wave sweeps 4 into ocean in California - A large wave swept four people off a Los Angeles County jetty as high surf pounded much of the California coast, leaving one man dead and his three companions seriously injured. Redondo Beach firefighters responded late Wednesday after witnesses reported people in the water calling for help at King Harbor.
Rescuers pulled two men and two women from the waves at the base of the rock jetty. One man was dead at the scene. The three others were hospitalized in serious condition. It wasn't clear why the group was on the rocks late at night, but people routinely fish there. The surf this week was especially high and people were warned to stay away.
"You get one wave every three or four minutes. They feel they can get out and that's just not the case." A wave knocked a Harbor Patrol officer into the water during the rescue. He was not hurt. In San Diego, a large section of a cliff collapsed onto Ocean Beach below Wednesday afternoon. The parking lot by Sunset Cliffs had been fenced off as chunks of sandstone had been sloughing off the cliff face last week, part of a natural erosion process intensified by the winter storms.
The high surf subsided by Thursday night, but a similar pattern will return to the California coast Friday. Beachgoers were warned of dangerous waves, rip currents and possibly minor flooding. Waves just to the north and south of San Francisco could hit 11 feet, while sets topping 18 feet are expected along the Central Coast. Waves from 5 feet to 12 feet are predicted from Los Angeles to San Diego.
The cause is a large swell generated by a storm off Northern California. Authorities say swimmers should watch the waves before entering the water or ask lifeguards for advice. Meanwhile, Southern California's winter heat wave continues due to a high pressure ridge. Downtown Los Angeles hit 83 degrees on Thursday.

Monster Waves Slam Hawaii, Damaging Oceanfront Homes. And a second swell was barreling toward the islands. In Hawaii, a pair of gigantic, back-to-back swells generated waves large enough to overtake beach parks, wash across roadways and damage oceanfront properties.
"We're seeing very, very huge wave heights. We're seeing very dangerous situations." The initial swell brought wave faces of up to 70 feet in certain areas Monday. A stronger-than-usual El Niño was fueling one of the strongest surf events in Hawaii in 50 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In an unprecedented move, state officials shut down a 12-mile stretch of Kamehameha Highway, on the north shore of Oahu, in response to ocean surges that washed over the roadway. In addition to flooding, several areas experienced severe coastal erosion. A 30-foot stretch of beach on the north shore of Oahu reportedly disappeared overnight. Despite numerous beaches being closed, lifeguards were kept busy, rescuing dozens of people and issuing hundreds of warnings.
The historic event also wreaked havoc on oceanfront properties, including a home on Oahu that all but toppled into the ocean. If Monday's pounding swell wasn't enough, the National Weather Service warned Wednesday that another followed close behind. On north-facing shores, surf was forecast to rise rapidly from Wednesday and reach heights of 40 to 50 feet through Thursday. But the potentially perilous one-two punch had the Hawaii surf community abuzz. (videos at link)


* In the Southern Pacific -
Tropical cyclone Yalo is located approximately 327 nm southwest of Papeete, Tahiti.

5 percent of Fiji's population is currently staying in evacuation centres after Tropical Cyclone Winston. 45,245 people are currently sheltering at 275 evacuation centres around the country. The death toll after Cyclone Winston stands at 42 however this number is expected to increase further.
There are reports of 122 people getting injured during the cyclone while 45 people have been hospitalized.The estimated cost of damage sustained around the country by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston is about $1 billion.

Fewer Tropical Cyclones Form After Volcanic Eruptions - Volcanic eruptions aren't all bad—in some cases, they can lower the frequency of tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic by emitting sulfate aerosols.


At Least 5 Killed as Tornadoes, Howling Thunderstorm Winds Rake Eastern US - Whipping northward at interstate speeds, multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms raced from the Carolinas to New England on Wednesday and early Thursday. The springlike round of severe weather - which extended unusually far north for February - took one life in South Carolina and at least four in Virginia, making Wednesday the latter state’s deadliest tornado day since the notorious Super Outbreak of April 27, 2011. Three people, including a two-year-old boy, were killed in hard-hit Waverly, VA, and another man died in Appomattox County.
By 7 am EST Thursday morning, NOAA/SPC had racked up at least 17 tornado reports and more than 300 reports of high wind, extending from Florida to Maine. Hail up to baseball size was reported near Tungsten, NC, and Castle Heights, VA.
The surprise element Wednesday night was how far north the action extended. A wedge of cold air eroded more quickly than expected, allowing warm, moist air to surge north ahead of a slow-moving cold front. This warm front set the stage for late-night thunderstorms that would be impressive for the region in May, much less February. By late Wednesday night, severe thunderstorm watches had been placed as far poleward as southern Vermont and eastern Massachusetts “If not unprecedented, I'd characterize yesterday as ‘highly unusual’,” said a warning and coordination meteorologist for NOAA/SPC. The last time western Massachusetts experienced a severe thunderstorm warning in February was nearly 20 years ago - on Feb. 22, 1997.
Next week: rinse and repeat? After a more tranquil weekend and an uneventful start to next week, the eastern U.S. could see another powerhouse storm system. Long-range models are suggesting the potential for an inland nor’easter not unlike the one just departing, with severe weather again possible from the South to the mid-Atlantic and perhaps northward from there. El NIño commonly intensifies severe weather across the Gulf states during winter, but multiple rounds of severe storms north of the Carolinas would be a more unorthodox happening.

Powerful storm moves across Massachusetts - A second round of stormy weather brought hurricane-force wind gusts and heavy rains, leaving thousands of Massachusetts residents without power early Thursday.


Toronto under extreme cold weather alert early Thursday morning. Environment Canada says temperatures are expected to drop to -12 C by the evening.


Record-breaking warmth hits this Canadian city - Forget Florida for a winter getaway, Nova Scotia is the place to be. The village of Greenwood located in the western part of King's County was the country's hot spot Thursday morning with a staggering 17 degrees C. By comparison, it's only 13 degrees C in Orlando Florida.

Punishing Drought Leaves Haitians Desperate for Food - For the last three years, a punishing drought has driven Haitians who were barely getting by on marginal farmland even deeper into misery.

This El Nino won't end the drought after all - California's drought still remains, and the worst of it is still unchanged from last week. This follows a continuing trend of dry conditions returning to the West Coast. At the beginning of winter, there were high hopes this El Niño, one of the strongest in recorded history, would give California a much needed shot of rain water, something that's been in short supply for years.


Canada - Extreme weather will cost Ottawa almost $1- billion yearly. The federal government can expect to pay nearly a billion dollars a year in disaster relief for extreme weather events – far more than the $100-million it has been budgeting – as the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes, winter storms and especially floods take a greater toll, the Parliamentary Budget Officer says in a report.

Federal payments to the Canadian provinces for disaster relief have skyrocketed over the past five years because of the increasing number of extreme weather events. The liabilities have “increased substantially because of a number of weather events that have caused heavy damage."
Between 2016 and 2021-22, payments can be expected annually to reach $229 million because of hurricanes, and winter storms. It is expected flooding will cost the DFFA program another $673 million over the five year period.
Besides the increasing number of large storms with greater intensity, the PBO cited four events over the last four years that ratcheted up the cost of the payments. They were the heavy rains in June 2014 in Saskatchewan, which is expected to cost the program $160- million; the Toronto ice storm of December 2013, which is anticipated to cost $120 million; and the Southern Alberta and southeastern B.C. flood of June 2013, which an expected cost of $1.3 billion. The fourth event was the flooding of the Assiniboine River in Manitoba in 2011. The program is expected to pay out $524 million to Manitoba and another $245 million to Saskatchewan. The report only mentions climate change in passing, and the reference is buried down near the bottom of the document.


Some experts contend Brazil is exaggerating Zika crisis - Often drowned out by the dire warnings and fear surrounding Zika, some medical professionals are saying that Brazil and international health officials have prematurely declared a link between the virus and what appears to be a surge in birth defects.
A few even argue that the Brazilian government is being irresponsible, given that a connection hasn’t been scientifically proven between the mosquito-borne virus and the birth defect known as microcephaly, which causes infants to be born with abnormally small heads.
“It’s a global scandal. Brazil has created a worldwide panic. I’m not saying that Zika is not causing microcephaly, but I am saying that the ministry has yet to present any scientifically credible evidence to support that conclusion.”
Others argue there are still too many unanswered questions to blame Zika. Why are the vast majority of the cases of microcephaly being reported in Brazil? Why haven’t they also shown up in proportional numbers in other countries hit hard by Zika, such as Colombia? (The answer, some say, is that Brazil was hit by Zika first, and microcephaly cases might be expected to crest elsewhere in the months ahead.)
And how can conclusions be drawn from government statistics that are flawed and possibly vastly underreported in the past, before Brazilian officials required doctors to report microcephaly cases?

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

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**Our bravest and best lessons are not learned through success, but through misadventure.**
Amos Bronson Alcott

LARGEST QUAKES so far today, 6.0 or larger -

California - While Kern County had little to no damage as a result of Tuesday's 4.8 magnitude earthquake, a Caltech seismologist says that the earthquake stood out. "This event was particulary deep. It was down around 22 kilometers which, statistically for our area, is quite deep."
22 kilometers is a little over 13 and a half miles. Many of the California earthquakes peak at around 9 miles deep, depending on where the occur. Earlier this month, a study showed a correlation between oil fraching and a string of earthquakes that occurred in Kern County in 2005. Tuesday's quake probably had nothing to do with fracking.
"These earthquakes were way deeper than any operations that would be occurring." Instead, plate tectonics are most likely the reason for the earthquake. A strike slip fault occurred between the Pacific and North American plates. "One side of the fault moves sideways relative to the other. This was a right lateral motion, which means if you stood on one side of the fault and you looked at the other side, you would see it moving to the right."
This right lateral motion is similar to what happens along the San Andreas Fault. So is this Tuesday's earthquake a sign that bigger quakes are on the horizon? No. "At this point, there's no reason to believe that it is anything other than the normal earthquakes that we have here in Southern California because of our plate boundaries."

Shaking along the Washington coast Tuesday wasn't an earthquake, seismologists say - Social media started percolating Tuesday afternoon with a number of reports along the central Washington coast of mild shaking, and wondering if they just had experienced an earthquake. However, none of the sensors at the Pacific Northwest Seismology Network triggered an earthquake alert - usually those alerts happen within moments of a quake.
So, was it a quake? A letter from PNSN seismologists to the Grays Harbor Emergency Management said that two seismographs on either side of Ocean Shores about 10 miles apart did pick up some mild shaking, but it was not a classic quake signature. Instead, there was a 20-second delay between when the two seismographs started squiggling. The speed of sound is about 10 times slower than the speed of quake energy spreading through the ground, and the 20-second delay suggests it was a sound event.
An earthquake would have shown up nearly simultaneously on the graphs. Bottom line: The seismologists' hypothesis was that it was caused by airplanes - possibly sonic booms, maybe from offshore military exercises.

About 6 p.m. on Tuesday, a massive boom rattled residents of the north Oregon coast in a fairly wide stretch of nearly 20 miles – from Garibaldi all the way up to Manzanita. It shook homes and windows, sending some out into the street to look for explosions, and it lit up social media.
It turned out to be just what many thought: a sonic boom from military aircraft doing exercises in the region. The incident echoed another similar situation earlier in the day at Ocean Shores, Washington, where residents there got spooked by a sonic boom around 3:30 p.m.
Sonic booms occur when a jet breaks the sound barrier, creating shockwaves in the air. The answer to all of it lay in social media the whole time: Oregon Air National Guard’s (OANA) Facebook page had a post about operations going from February 16 to 25. The OANA's 142nd Fighter Wing have been conducting routine F-15 night training missions in the region, to help keep Citizen- Airmen pilots based in Portland and Vancouver to stay current with mandatory Air Force requirements.
Nothing about this was known by residents at the time, however, so the community Facebook page for Rockaway Beach went into high gear with a barrage of tales and worries. A few hours later, one member discovered the post from OANA and the big questions were resolved.
Some residents caught on quickly to the sonic boom idea, with one writing: “We did go outside right after the boom that rattled the house and windows, and we could hear jets in the sky. We guessed military drills. I really want to know what it was!” A few darted outside their front doors half expecting to see smoke from an explosion.
The boom was heard and felt near Garibaldi, throughout the seven miles of Rockaway Beach, in Nehalem and in Manzanita – almost 20 miles of Oregon coastline. It's interesting to note Nehalem is a few miles inland from the beach. There don't appear to be reports of it at Cannon Beach, so it's possible Neahkahnie Mountain shielded the areas northward from the sound.

A book written by a revered Italian geologist Mario Tozzi explains what could happen if Yellowstone super volcano erupted this year. It 'could erupt in 2016' and wipe out the Earth. Experts have long warned the Yellowstone super volcano will one day erupt and wipe out the planet – but it could be sooner than we feared.
His book 'Pianeta Terra Ultimo Atto' – which translates to 'Planet Earth, The Last Act' – suggests the volcanic caldera may awaken in 2016 and have disastrous consequences for the rest of the globe. The author's book – set in 2019 – covers a scenario after the super volcano erupts between now and the end of the year. He envisages the volcano exploding and covering the United States – and potentially leading to catastrophic disaster around the world.


* In the Southern Pacific -
- Tropical cyclone Fourteen is located approximately 273 nm northeast of Rarotonga.

- Final advisory has been issued on Tropical cyclone Winston which is located approximately 367 nm northeast of Kingston Island. Winston is already exhibiting signs of being subtropical, with the mid-level warm core weakening and the wind field expanding. The system is forecast to complete subtropical transition, but is expected to maintain gale-force winds. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.
Cyclone Winston - Fiji death toll reaches 42 with reports entire villages wiped out on remote islands.


Tornadoes Kill Three in Southern U.S. - Significant Tornado Outbreak in VA, NC. The deadliest severe weather outbreak thus far in 2016 hit the Deep South on Tuesday, when at least eighteen tornadoes tore across portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Hardest hit was Louisiana, where the town of Convent saw a tornado rip through an RV park, killing two and injuring 31, with seven of those people in critical condition.
An additional fatality was reported in a mobile home near Purvis, Mississippi. Major damage occurred late Tuesday morning in Prairieville, southeast of Baton Rouge, where a Gold's Gym and several other buildings nearby were heavily damaged around the time a tornado was reported in the area. Just 18 miles northeast, in Livingston, several homes had their roofs completely torn off.
For the second time this month, a tornado caused major damage in Escambia County, located in the far western portion of the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola. A rotating supercell thunderstorm that formed over the Gulf of Mexico moved ashore and spawned a tornado that crossed Interstate 10, flipping several cars and a tractor trailer on the Escambia Bay Bridge, leaving the highway closed from mile marker 17 to mile marker 43. Twenty-four units of The Moorings apartment complex in Pensacola were completely destroyed, and an additional six suffered minor damage.
Death toll rises to 7 - A powerful storm system swept across the East Coast on Wednesday, killing four people in Virginia and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the region. A day earlier, the system spawned about two dozen tornadoes along the Gulf Coast, damaging hundreds of homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Three people were killed and dozens were injured.
Forecasters had warned that more than 88 million people were at risk of seeing some sort of severe weather Wednesday. In the Midwest, heavy snow and biting winds led to mass flight cancellations at Chicago airports and school closings in several states.

Asia spring forecast - Flooding to threaten southeast China to Japan; Drought to persist in Southeast Asia. While much of Asia can expect dry and mild conditions, there will be areas of ongoing drought as well as the risk of flooding during the spring of 2016.
"The main players in Asia this spring will be the typical ones, including the monsoon and fluctuations in Indian Ocean water temperatures." In addition, El Niño may still have enough influence to factor into the western Pacific Typhoon season during the approach of summer.


An Australian icebreaker delivering supplies to Antarctica has broken free of its mooring in a blizzard and run aground. (video)


Drought - South Africa is expected to harvest 1.63 million metric tons of sugar in the 2015/2016 season, the lowest since 1995 and down 22 percent on the previous period as a severe drought hits production. The worst drought in a century has hurt sugar and maize producing regions, piling pressure on sugar producers who are also grappling with cheap imports, forcing some mills to remain closed and reducing jobs in the sector.

South Africa - Widespread rain forecast despite extreme fire dangers. Cape Town - The South African Weather Service has warned of extremely high fire danger conditions expected in places over the northern interior of the Northern Cape, the Cape Winelands, central and Little Karoo on Wednesday, 24 February.

Drought threatens return in New Mexico after dry stretch. Marking an end to a record-setting stretch of warm, dry weather, snow fell around New Mexico on Tuesday, but forecasters warned that meaningful moisture has been in short supply and drought is threatening to creep back into the state.


Is a rogue comet on a collision course with Earth? - Meteor shower was spotted in New Zealand during New Year celebrations. Never previously detected, the shower has been named the Volantids. Astronomers say they yet to trace the comet that produced the shower. They say the shower has provided an early warning of a potential hazard.


If you find yourself hitting the snooze button every morning, don’t blame yourself. Your work schedule could be to blame. A researcher believes that the ideal work day should start at 10am. It’s not rational to start the work day at 8am.
A growing field of research now shows that, for many of us, more than 70%, our work schedules are wildly out of sync with our natural body clocks — and experts are urging employers to take notice.When work schedules are aligned with people’s natural sleep patterns, they produce higher quality and more innovative work because they are more focused, less stressed and generally healthier. The opposite is also true – when employees are sleep deprived they are more likely to make major mistakes and suffer from workplace injuries. Research has even shown that night owls behave more unethically in the morning than at night and that early birds were more unethical at night.
By the time they reach high school or secondary school, teenagers are getting up, on average, three hours earlier than they should because of early school start times in some cases as early as 7:30am. The result: chronic sleep deprivation, that hurts their ability to focus and could lead to longer term health problems like obesity and diabetes.
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