Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.6 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Kamchatka, Russia.

5.5 Earthquake hits the Santa Cruz Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

No current tropical storms.

In the North Arabian Sea

The tropical cyclone that hit the north-eastern Somali region of Puntland over the weekend killed up to 150 people. Thousands of livestock also died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed. The semi-autonomous region was hit by strong winds, heavy rains and flash floods on Saturday and Sunday. Some fishermen have also been reported missing.

NewsBytes:

Flooding caused by heavy rainfall during the past four days in Baghdad, Iraq, has forced the Iraqi government to declare an emergency public holiday on Monday.

How Typhoon Haiyan Compares to the 2004 Tsunami

Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the central Philippines on Friday (Nov. 8), affecting millions and displacing hundreds of thousands.

Haiyan trees houses

The tropical cyclone (the blanket term for hurricanes and typhoons) packed sustained winds of up 190 mph (305 km/h) in the hours before it made landfall, according to some accounts. It will likely go down as one of the five strongest storms in the last 50 years, even though estimates of the storm’s strength vary, said Brian McNoldy, a tropical storm expert at the University of Miami. Estimates vary because there were no airplanes in the area to drop recording instruments into the storm (the typical way of making such measurements). Jeff Weber, a researcher at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., put Haiyan in the top three strongest storms, as measured by wind speed at landfall.

Some compared the storm’s devastation to the mayhem caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which resulted from a magnitude-9.1 earthquake that struck west of the island of Sumatra on Dec. 26 of that year.

“The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami,” said Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, the head of a United Nations disaster assessment team that visited the area on Saturday, according to The New York Times. “This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed.”

In particular, scenes of walls of water moving across coastal villages seemed to connect the two events in people’s minds.

“In a way, they’re similar in that water quickly rose to amazing heights… and inundated low-lying, poverty-stricken areas,” McNoldy told LiveScience. “Of course, they’re caused by very different things, and a typhoon also comes with destructive winds, while a tsunami is only the water component.”

Here’s a look at some other measures of the two disasters.

People displaced and killed

· Indian Ocean tsunami: In total, the earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed about 230,000 people and displaced 1.7 million people in 14 countries in South Asia and East Africa, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

· Typhoon Haiyan: Local estimates put the death toll at 10,000 in just one city in the Philippines, with more casualties in Vietnam after Haiyan hit there today. “The overall number is expected to increase as aid workers reach more affected communities,” the United Nations reported. The storm has displaced another 660,000 people, according to the United Nations.

Height of waves

· The tsunami produced only small waves in the open ocean, but these traveled hundreds of miles per hour and pushed large masses of water inland, swamping low-lying areas. In some regions, these masses of water reached heights of up to 100 feet (30 meters) above sea level, according to the USGS. As shock waves from the tsunami rattled around the Indian Ocean, some areas — particularly in Indonesia — were hit with multiple waves.

· Haiyan’s storm surge, the name for the wall of water pushed ashore by the strong winds of typhoons and hurricanes, did not cause the same level of inundation as the 2004 tsunami. But Haiyan’s surge was still impressive (and deadly), reaching up to 20 feet (6 m) in parts of the central Philippines, according to news reports.

Warning time

· Most people affected by the 2004 tsunami had virtually no warning, thanks to the speed of the tsunami’s waves. Experts at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu didn’t even know immediately that the earthquake had set off a giant wave, until they heard reports of a tsunami hitting Sri Lanka, according to news stories at the time.

· Philippine authorities gave residents several days warning about Haiyan, McNoldy said. Indeed, about 800,000 people were moved to storm shelters. But Philippine officials didn’t expect or prepare for the 20-foot storm surge, said Weather.com meteorologist Nick Wiltgen. The surge took many by surprise, in some instances swamping shelters, according to news reports.

Economic impact

· The tsunami caused more than U.S. $10 billion in damages, according to various estimates.

· It’s quite early to put a dollar figure on Haiyan, but Jonathan Adams, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Industries, said the storm’s impact may reach U.S. $14 billion.

Area impacted

· The 2004 tsunami hit low-lying areas in 14 countries, as far apart as Australia and Kenya.

· Haiyan primarily affected the central Philippines, but inflicted damage even at higher elevations away from the coast, due to the storm’s strong winds.

Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

WHO has been informed of two additional laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia.

Polio in the Syrian Arab Republic – update

Thirteen cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) have been confirmed in the Syrian Arab Republic. Genetic sequencing indicates that the isolated viruses are most closely linked to virus detected in environmental samples in Egypt in December 2012 (which in turn had been linked to wild poliovirus circulating in Pakistan). Closely related wild poliovirus strains have also been detected in environmental samples in Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip since February 2013.

Wildlife

US to Destroy 6 Tons of Ivory This Week

In a first, U.S. officials are going to destroy their massive stockpile of illegal ivory this week, hoping to send a zero-tolerance message to elephant poachers.

On Thursday (Nov. 14), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will pulverize nearly 6 tons (5.4 tonnes) of illegal ivory items, from whole tusks to tiny trinkets, which have been seized over the past 25 years as a result of smuggling busts and criminal investigations.

This news comes as reports emerge that 96 elephants are killed by poachers every day.