Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 Earthquake hits the southern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits off the east coast of Kamchatka, Russia.

5.1 Earthquake hits western Xizang, China.

5.1 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.1 Earthquake hits New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits south of Africa.

5.0 Earthquake hits western Xizang, China.

5.0 Earthquake hits southwest of Africa.

A second 5.0 Earthquake hits south of Africa.

Storms and Floods

Hail and Tornadoes in Texas, USA

Six people are confirmed dead and as many as 100 injured as grape-fruit sized hail and tornadoes hit. One tornado ripped through a picturesque lakeside North Texas town, resulting in multiple fatalities and destroying or damaging homes. The death toll could climb higher as at least fourteen people are unaccounted for. Three tornadoes have been reported to have struck. The twisters damaged areas 5km east of Granbury that have about 110 homes. Another tornado hit the small town of Millsap, about 80km west of Fort Worth. Roof damage was reported to several houses and a barn was destroyed, but no injuries were reported. Hail as large as grapefruit also pelted the area around Mineral Wells.

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Tropical cyclone Mahasen

Mahasen hit Bangladesh’s southern coast, killing at least five. Hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh and Myanmar [Burma] were ordered Wednesday to move to safety as the cyclone barrelled towards low-lying coastal areas. A U.N. agency is warning that more than 4 million people could be in danger. Cyclone Mahasen buffeted Bangladesh’s low-lying coast on Thursday, bearing down on the ports of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, as tens of thousands of people huddled in shelters. Winds of up to 100 kph (60 mph) lashed the coast and whipped up waves, with an expected 2.1 metres (seven foot) storm surge and heavy rain likely to cause widespread flooding.

Tropical storm Alvin forms about 700 mi (1125 km) S of Manzanillo, Mexico. Alvin is the first tropical storm of the Eastern Pacific season and is expected to become a hurricane by Friday.

Severe Storms in England

Up to 3 inches of snow fell in Princetown in Dartmoor, Devon, Rhayader in Powys, and Newcastle-on-Clun in Shropshire – while Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, had 3 inches of rain in the 24 hours. The southern coast was hit hardest last night with police in Devon and Cornwall reporting slates coming off roofs and trees blocking roads, as rain lashed across much of the country. In Devon and Cornwall hundreds of homes were left without electricity. Residents were also bracing themselves for floods – with 14 separate alerts in place across the two counties.

Mudslide in Wrexham, Wales

Heavy rain has caused flooding and a mudslide in Wrexham. About 3ft (90cm) of mud was swept down a hillside road at Minera. There were 13 flood alerts in place across Wales today.

Deadly Landslide in Fujian, China

A landslide in Xiamen in southeast China’s Fujian Province has claimed the lives of three people, including two children. Torrential rainfall caused the landslide at the Qianpu Flea Market in Xiamen early today.

Environment

North Pole Moves as Ice Sheets Melt

The North Pole’s surprise trip toward Greenland is due to Earth’s rapidly melting ice sheets, according to a new study.

The distribution of mass across the planet determines the position of Earth’s poles. Because Earth is a bit egg-shaped, the North Pole is always slightly off-centre. It’s also been slowly drifting south, responding to long-term changes since the last Ice Age, as the enormous ice sheets that once covered large swaths of the planet melted and parts of the Earth rebounded from the lost weight.

But in 2005, the pole suddenly started making a beeline east for Greenland, moving a few centimetres eastward each year. The cause? Rapid melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

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Wildlife

World’s Fish Migrating To Escape Global Warming

For several years now, some fishers have been noticing changes in their nets. In places, new species are being caught. Sea bass and red mullet have moved north into British waters. Pacific salmon have swum to the Beaufort Sea, where – according to Dan Pauly of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada – the Inuit have no name for them.

Elsewhere, staple catches are vanishing fast.

But whether this is a global effect and what is behind the change have been unclear. Are fish being ousted from their original habitats as climate change warms the waters? Are disappearances due to overfishing?

Now, Pauly and colleagues have found that the mix of fish in all the world’s major fisheries has changed since 1970, as fish that prefer warmer waters move in. The average temperature preference of fisheries has risen by nearly 1 ºC in temperate regions. The effect correlated closely with local increases in sea surface temperatures, but not with fishing pressure or other oceanic features such as currents.

Ominously, the temperature preference of tropical fisheries also rose initially, until the 1980s, then levelled off. Cooler-water species moved out, but there are no heat-loving species to replace them. The species that are abandoning tropical fisheries may also be the most important food species for coastal communities that subsist on fishing.

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Wildfires

Wildfires Break Out Near Park Rapids and NW Wisconsin, USA

High temperatures and desert-like humidity readings are helping drive an outbreak of wildfires in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Firefighters have spent the past two days battling at least 25 wildfires, including an uncontrolled fire that has consumed more than 4,000 acres near Red Lake.

The Green Valley Fire near Menahga has prompted evacuations and has damaged some structures in the area. They nearly doubled the estimated size of the fire to 7,100 acres this afternoon.

Canada – Alberta Wildfires – Update

The central Alberta wildfires remain out of control. Cooler temperatures and scattered showers overnight Monday helped firefighters keep two out-of-control wildfires threatening the hamlets of Lodgepole and Nordegg from growing.

Neither the Nordegg nor the Lodgepole fire is growing any farther, but they are both still considered out of control. There was some scattered rain in the centre of the province last night which helped, but it was far too little to make any significant headway in stopping the fire.

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Disease

Novel coronavirus infection – update

The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has informed WHO of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases with infection of the novel coronavirus (nCoV).

Foot and Mouth Outbreak in Kazakhstan

Quarantine measures have been imposed in the east of the country following the confirmation of a foot and mouth disease outbreak in the village of Akshoka.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Pavlov (Alaska Peninsula, USA): The eruption continues. The volcano produces a lava flow on the northwest flank. Interaction of the lava flow and ice, producing debris flows, as well as possible explosions at the vent produce a steam-ash plume rising up to about 20,000 ft. above sea level. Residents of Cold Bay, located 37 miles southwest of the volcano, observed incandescent glow at the summit during the night. (AVO)

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Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity remains elevated and ash plumes from frequent explosions of moderate size reach 26,000 ft (8 km) altitude, drifting NE. Ash fall occurred in Paso de Cortés, north of the volcano. This morning, many explosions were observed ejecting incandescent material to maximum distances of 400 m mainly on the north and north-east flanks. Relatively strong explosions occurred last night (at 20:21 h local time 14 May) and this morning at 01:46 h (local time). Both eruptions generated columns of steam and ash rising 3 km and the latter explosion ejected incandescent fragments over all the volcano flanks to maximum distances of 1,500 m. Some episodes of harmonic tremor preceded the explosion at 01:46 h, which was followed by an episode of spasmodic tremor of medium and high amplitudes until 04:40 h.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Only relatively few and weak explosions occurred recently, some of which caused light ash fall in nearby areas. The lava dome is producing a degassing plume most of the time. No reports of activity at the stagnant lava flows.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Strombolian activity has returned or increased and is now ejecting incandescent material to heights of 100 m. Seismic data seem currently not available from INSIVUMEH’s website.

Fuego (Guatemala): Explosive activity remains very weak. During the past 24 hour observation interval, INSIVUMEH only counted 3 small explosions.

Nevado del Huila (Colombia): The large volcano has remained calm with little variations in activity (degassing, 100-150 small earthquakes / week).

Machin (Colombia): No changes have occurred – the only signs of activity are small earthquakes, mostly related to rock fracturing inside the volcano SE of the main dome. The alert status remains at yellow.

Galeras (Colombia): Internal / external activity has been low with weak earthquake activity (although at somewhat increasing tendency) and steaming observed. Pasto reports low values of SO2 emissions.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): Seismic (tremor, volcanic-tectonic quakes) and external activity (steaming, occasional weak ash venting) have calmed down a bit over the past days.

Cumbal (Colombia): Pasto volcano observatory reports no significant changes and maintains yellow (unrest) alert level. The only sign of activity is continuing slightly elevated seismicity (up to magnitudes 1) at shallow depths (less than 3 km) under La Plazuela crater on the northern flank of the volcanic complex.

Sotará (Colombia): Weak seismic unrest continued over the past weeks. The alert level remains at yellow.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): The volcano has calmed down a bit compared to the previous week, which is also apparent on recent seismograms. No recent explosions or ash falls were reported.

Sabancaya (Peru): Seismic activity has calmed down a bit compared to the previous weeks.