Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.1 Earthquake hits off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands off New Zealand.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tajikistan.

5.0 Earthquake hits Seram, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits east of the Izu Islands off Japan.

More Troubling Developments at Fukushima, Japan

Contaminated water from earthquake-damaged Japanese nuclear plant could could taint Pacific Ocean. Deep beneath Fukushima’s crippled nuclear power station a massive underground reservoir of contaminated water that began spilling from the plant’s reactors after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has been creeping slowly toward the sea. Now, two-and-a-half years later, experts fear it is about to reach the Pacific and greatly worsen what is fast becoming a new crisis at Fukushima: the inability to contain vast quantities of radioactive water.

The looming crisis is potentially far greater than the discovery earlier this week of a leak from a tank used to store contaminated water used to cool the reactor cores. That 300-ton (80,000 gallon) leak is the fifth and most serious since the disaster of 2011. But experts believe the underground seepage from the reactor and turbine building area is much bigger and possibly more radioactive, confronting the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., with an invisible, chronic problem and few viable solutions. Many also believe it is another example of how TEPCO has repeatedly failed to acknowledge problems that it could almost certainly have foreseen – and could have taken action to mitigate before they got out of control.

It remains unclear what the impact of the contamination on the environment will be because the radioactivity will be diluted as it spreads further into the sea. Most fishing in the area is already banned.

To keep the melted nuclear fuel from overheating, TEPCO has rigged a makeshift system of pipes and hoses to funnel water into the broken reactors. The radioactive water is then treated and stored in the aboveground tanks that have developed leaks. But far more leaks into the reactor basements during the cooling process — then through cracks into the surrounding earth and ground water.

The turbine buildings at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant are about 150 meters (500 feet) from the ocean. The contaminated underground water is spreading toward the sea at a rate of about 4 meters (13 feet) a month.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Eastern Pacific:

Tropical storm Ivo is located about 290 mi (465 km) W of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Swells generated by Ivo still are affecting the southern portion of the Baja California peninsula. These swells are expected to subside on Sunday. Ivo is expected to become a remnant low on Sunday.

Winds and rain from Ivo are spreading across portions of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Saturday that Ivo was located about 185 miles (300 kilometers) west of Cabo San Lucas. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph) and was moving north-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Pacific coast of the peninsula from Punta Abreojos to Cabo San Lucas, and for the Gulf of California coast of the peninsula from Loreto to Cabo San Lucas. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Pacific coast of Baja California north of Punta Abreojos to Punta Eugenia. The Hurricane Center called Ivo a large storm and said it would likely bring more rain as well as surf swells.

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical storm Pewa is located approximately 552 nm northward of Wake Island.

Floods in North-East China

A river flood has killed 76 people and another 88 remain missing in Fushun.

At least 21 construction workers in north-west China have been killed by flash flooding that swept through a remote part of the province of Qinghai. They were “washed away” after a sudden torrential rain storm.

The area lies in high mountains 2,500km (1,500 miles) west of Beijing. Flash floods are a frequent threat both to residents there and to travellers drawn by its mountain scenery. On Monday at least 105 people were killed and 115 were missing after floods and a typhoon hit various parts of north-eastern and southern China. The Chinese government has called for “persistent efforts” to save people in the north-east from what was described as “The worst floods in decades”.

NewsBytes:

At least one person has been missing in floods in Gotsu in Shimane Prefecture in Japan. Exceptional 201 mm of rain in three hours also caused mudslides in the area and collapsed one house each in Gotsu and Hamada city. An evacuation order has been issued for around 36,000 residents as of 9:30 a.m.

Wildfires

Wildfires in California. USA

The wildfire in Stanislaus National Forest in the US continued to expand, growing to 164 sq miles (424 sq km) by Friday morning. The Governor of California declared a state of emergency and the fire has forced thousands of residents and tourists to flee.

More than 2,000 firefighters have been tackling the blaze, known as the Rim Fire, which has encroached into Yosemite National Park, one of the most popular tourist attractions in California.

After burning for nearly a week on the edges of Yosemite, the massive wildfire has now crossed into it, and firefighters have barely begun to contain it.

The governor issued a declaration of emergency late Friday for San Francisco 150 miles away because of the threat the fire posed to utility transmission to the city, and the fire caused smoke warnings and event cancellations in Nevada as smoke blew over the Sierra Nevada and across state lines. Health district officials raised an air quality alert to the “red” unhealthy level, Friday afternoon in Reno, Nevada.

Yosemite stopped issuing backcountry permits to backpackers and had warned those who already had them to stay out of the area.

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Drought

Drought in Yemen

Yemen is facing a severe water crisis with some estimates suggesting the capital, Sanaa, could run dry in 10 years.