Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

7.1 Earthquake off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.5 Earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.3 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.2 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Carlsberg ridge.

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

A small tsunami triggered by the 7.1 quake has hit Japan’s eastern coast – where the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is located

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The 30cm (1ft) waves reached the region after the 7.1 magnitude tremor struck at a depth of 10km (six miles), about 320km off the coast.

A tsunami alert issued for several areas was later lifted.

Workers at the Fukushima power station had been told to leave waterfront areas for higher ground. But a Fukushima spokesman later said there was no damage or change in readings at radiation monitoring posts around the plant.

Japan’s Nuclear Disaster Contamination Skyrockets

Radiation levels have soared in the groundwater beneath Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the wake of torrential typhoon downpours and the forced release of radioactive water being stored around the plant.

Officials estimate that 400 tons of radioactive groundwater are now flowing into the Pacific each day. That’s in addition to any runoff of water from rain on the surface.

The level of radiation in a drainage ditch at the facility has also risen exponentially, according to the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

Water contaminated with radioactive materials flowed into the ditch when Typhoon Wipha hit the area on Oct. 2.

TEPCO says much of the water evaporated, leading to the surge in the density of beta particle-emitting materials in the remaining water.

The nuclear complex suffered meltdowns and hydrogen explosions following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

TEPCO and Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency has been unable to keep the resulting nuclear disaster from cascading out of control in recent months.

Officials say they are now looking for help from abroad on how best to scrap the ruined reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.

“We will set up a website in both Japanese and English to notify interested parties at home and abroad of our calls for decommissioning ideas so that we can offer more useful and practical proposals to the government,” the official said.

The process of decommissioning the reactors is expected to take decades.

Reactor damage is clearly visible from the hydrogen explosions that occurred shortly after the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Atlantic:

The NHC downgraded Lorenzo to a remnant low.

The American GFS model in its latest run shows a strong hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico on November 9 heading toward the U.S. coast. The development and movement of the hurricane up from the southwest Caribbean coincides with the change in the resolution the model uses in its forecasts beyond 8 days.

Howling winds aloft across the Gulf of Mexico into the central Atlantic will prevent any development for at least the next few days.

In the Western Pacific

Heavy rain continues being produced by Francisco (now downgraded wind-wise from a typhoon to a tropical storm) and its circulation/moisture interacting with a stationary front to its northwest (details were different but there was a similar setup recently with Wipha). Ikegawa in southern Japan has measured 17″ of rain in the past 24 hours and nearby Torigatayama has measured 16.5″.

Moisture from Lekima is going to start getting involved too, as the triumvirate of it, Francisco, and the non-tropical system all interact with each other and the storms weaken and become non-tropical, but also that front is going to accelerate eastward as a cold front, and the whole conglomeration is going to exit, and the duration of heavy rain is not expected to be as long in northern Japan as it has been in the southern part.

Lekima is no longer a super typhoon and will continue to weaken.

In the Eastern Pacific:

Raymond is heading west, taking its rain with it, and much weaker than it had been. For a while there was even some question whether Raymond’s surface circulation still had a well-defined centre or had opened up to a tropical wave; it now appears to be reorganising and recent satellite-derived wind estimates suggest Raymond still has a “closed” (fully circular) circulation. Raymond has strengthened, but it’s no longer a direct threat to land.

Models differ as to whether a bit of its moisture might eventually get picked up by the flow aloft and reach the U.S.

Space Events

Sun Fires Off Another Monster Solar Flare

Things are really starting to heat up on the sun. Our star blasted out yet another strong flare late Friday morning, continuing a pattern of high and intensifying solar activity over the past few days.

The most recent flare, which erupted at 11:03 a.m. EDT (1503 GMT) Friday, registered as an X-class event, the most powerful type. It clocked in at X2.1 on the space weather scale, beating out the X1.7 flare that the sun fired off just seven hours earlier. (Astronomers classify solar flares into three categories — C, M and X — with C being the weakest and X the strongest.)

Friday’s two monster flares came closely on the heels of a moderate M-class eruption and another one that nearly reached X-class status, peaking at M9.4. The Wednesday night (Oct. 23) eruption that produced the M9.4 flare also generated a huge cloud of super-hot plasma known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), which can streak through space at millions of miles per hour.

Three other CMEs erupted between Sunday and Tuesday (Oct. 20 to Oct. 22), and they merged into a single cloud of material as they headed toward Earth. None of this activity is expected to cause major problems here on Earth, experts say, though both of Friday’s flares caused temporary radio blackouts in some regions.

It’s not surprising to see so much action on the sun. Our star is in the peak year of its current 11-year activity cycle, which is known as Solar Cycle 24. Increased numbers of flares and CMEs are common during solar maximum.

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Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Following a slow gradual build-up of increasing strombolian activity at Etna’s New SE crater since yesterday, a new paroxysm is now in the progress, with high lava fountains, lava flows, and a tall ash plume.