Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

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

5.1 Earthquake hits Ascension Island.

5.0 Earthquake hits northeast of the Loyalty islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Bohol in the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Atlantic:

Tropical storm Lorenzo has formed and is located about 650 miles (1020 km) east-southeast of Bermuda.

In the Western Pacific:

Typhoon Francisco is located approximately 152 nm west of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Category 2 Typhoon Francisco has steadily weakened on Sunday and Monday, after spending just over a day as Earth’s third Category 5 storm of 2013 on Saturday. Satellite loops show a large, cloud-filled eye and a decaying eyewall. Since wind shear remains low, the weakening is likely in response to cooler ocean temperatures, since Francisco is now traversing a large cool patch of ocean up to 2°C colder than the surrounding waters, left behind by the churning action of Typhoon Wipha last week.

By the time Francisco makes its closest approach to Japan on Thursday and Friday, it will be undergoing transition to an extratropical storm. Francisco’s interaction with a cold front over Japan during this process will bring very heavy rains to Japan, and these rains (4 – 8 inches) will pose a serious flooding threat, as the soils have not had a chance to dry out much from the record rains that Typhoon Wipha brought last week.

Typhoon Lekima is located approximately 827 nm east of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

In the Eastern Pacific:

Hurricane Raymond is located about 160 mi (255 km) WSW of Acapulco, Mexico.

Hurricane Raymond roared into life on Sunday just offshore from Acapulco, Mexico, rapidly intensifying from a minimal-strength tropical storm with 40 mph winds to a major Category 3 hurricane in just 24 hours. Raymond is the first major hurricane in the Eastern Pacific in 2013, making it the first year since 1968 that both the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic had made it into October without a major hurricane.

Raymond has brought more than 3″ of rain so far to Acapulco, where a Hurricane Watch is posted. Raymond is expected to bring heavy rains of up to 8″ to the coast, and this is an area where heavy rains are definitely most unwelcome. Hurricane Manuel hit this region of Mexico with extreme torrential rains when it made landfall on September 15, triggering deadly mudslides and flooding that left 169 people dead or missing

NewsBytes

Tornado in France today has claimed the life of one person and injured two others, local media reported. The tornado caused heavy damage in Steent’je, near the French northern city of Bailleul.

Photo of damage caused by tornado in france today

A severe storm in Wales left parts of the capital city under several inches of water over the weekend. Police in Cardiff were forced to close roads on Saturday afternoon while shops were forced shut by unexpected flash-floods. Pentrebane, Llandaff, Roath and Cathays were hit by the heavy rainfall while witnesses described how Whitchurch village was “turned into a well” in just half an hour.

Global Warming

Global Warming Forecast for Amazon Rain Forest: Dry and Dying

The Amazon rain forest’s dry season lasts three weeks longer than it did 30 years ago, and the likely culprit is global warming, a new study finds.

Rain falls year-round in the Amazon, but most of the annual deluge drops during the wet season. (The rainy season’s timing varies with latitude.) Scientists think that a longer dry season will stress trees, raising the risk of wildfires and forest dieback. The forest’s annual fire season became longer as the dry season lengthened.

“The length of the dry season in the southern Amazon is the most important climate condition controlling the rain forest,” Rong Fu, a climate scientist at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, said in a statement. “If the dry season is too long, the rain forest will not survive.”

With the dry season already spanning an extra week each decade since 1979, the future effects will be more severe.

During the 2005 and 2010 droughts, satellites detected decreased vegetation greenness over the southern Amazon rain forest (orange and red regions).

Amazon drying

“The dry season over the southern Amazon is already marginal for maintaining rain forest,” Fu said. “At some point, if it becomes too long, the rain forest will reach a tipping point.”

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Major fires ravaging the Blue Mountains west of Sydney are threatening to merge to form a massive blaze, the state’s fire commissioner said Monday.

“I don’t think I’ve ever used the word megafire,” said New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

“But the reality is that the modelling indicates that there’s every likelihood that in the forecast weather conditions that these two fires, particularly up in the back end of the mountains, will merge at some point.”

Firefighters spent the night building containment lines to prevent this from happening, with heat and winds set to intensify in the coming days. It is feared the worsening conditions could push the blaze to the populated tourist centres of Leura and Katoomba. Worst wildfires in decades.

The fires took hold on Thursday claiming the life of a 63-year-old man who died of a suspected heart attack while attempting to defend his home from the flames.

An estimated 58 fires – 14 of which remain out of control – have since destroyed more than 200 homes and burned through more than 100,000 hectares of land in the most serious fire disaster in the state in almost 50 years.

Among the worst hit has been the town of Lithgow where a blaze has already ravaged almost 40,000 hectares.

On Sunday New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell declared a state of emergency, announcing that authorities were “planning for the worst but hoping for the best.” “This is not an action taken lightly … but it’s important the Rural Fire Service and other emergency services have the powers and the resources they need to combat this threat,” O’Farrell said.

The order gives emergency personnel the authority to force evacuations and close electricity networks.

Wildlife

“The Pacific Ocean is Broken”

The following is a report received from a sailor, Ivan MacFayden sailing the Pacific.

“After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Australian yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen said.

“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.

I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen.”

In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes

And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.”

There have been several similar reports about wildlife [or lack thereof] around the Pacific.

Environment

Pollution

China’s 10th-largest city shuts down because of extreme air pollution – Harbin, China, the nation’s 10th most populous city with a population of 11 million, has virtually shut down today because of extreme levels of air pollution reaching up to 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter. The safe level recommended by the World Heath Organisation is just 25 micrograms per cubic meter. The dense pollution was created by stagnant air on a day when the city’s heating systems kicked in for the first time this fall. With visibility less than 50 yards, the airport was forced to close, as well as most schools and some roads.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Klyuchevskoy (Kamchatka): The violent explosive phase of the eruption ended at 13:00 UTC on October 20. KVERT reported a decrease of the tremor from 150.4 mcm/s to 3.3 mcm/s and the cessation of ash emission that last reached 26,000 ft (8 km) altitude. Lava flows continue to effuse on the south-west, south-east and west volcanic flanks.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): The growth of the lava dome continues along with strong degassing/steaming and occasional explosions that produce ash plumes rising to up to 4-6 km altitude.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): No significant changes in (the currently weak) activity occurred. CENAPRED only recorded 5 weak emissions during 19-20 Oct.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): An increase in effusive activity was reported. The observatory mentioned “abundant activity” from two lava flows on the western and southern flank of the Caliente dome, which generate block avalanches. Explosive activity has remained at normal, rather weak levels with infrequent ash explosions ejecting plumes of up to about 700 m height.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Near continuous, relatively strong strombolian activity is visible from Guatemala City. A plume of fine ash from this activity rises to about 2700 m a.s.l. and drifts to the S and SE.

Fuego (Guatemala): A trend of increasing explosive activity is visible over the past days. INSIVUMEH reports weak to moderate explosions with ash plumes rising up to 800 m above the crater and producing a plume drifting 10 km to the west and northwest. Shock waves

Disease

California On Alert For Yellow Fever Carrying Mosquitoes

Californians have been warned to be on lookout for yellow fever-carrying mosquitoes, which are most commonly found in hot tropics of the world, as well as southeastern states of the US.

Aedes aegypti, a type of mosquito that carries the disease, was first found in June in the city of Madera, California. The mosquito bites during the day and are capable of reproducing simply by laying eggs in less than a teaspoon of water.

Despite eradication efforts to warn people of standing water that can allow these insects to lay its eggs, more mosquitoes were soon discovered in Clovis, Fowler, as well as San Mateo County in August. This week, the pest was found in Fresno.

Yellow fever-carrying mosquitoes are also capable of harboring dengue fever; both diseases are viral that can be fatal if not treated appropriately. Yellow fever causes severe flu-like symptoms, at times jaundice as well. Dengue fever causes headaches, body pains, and a rash similar to what patients get when diagnosed with measles.