Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.6 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.5 Earthquake hits southern Iran.

One person has been reported dead with another 30 injured. Several houses were badly damaged.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Philippine Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Jujuy, Argentina.

5.0 Earthquake hits the eastern Sea of Japan.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

Indian Ocean:

Tropical Cyclone Bejisa – As of 05:00 UTC, Tropical Cyclone Bejisa was located 385 km to the west north west of Mauritius. A cyclone warning Class II is in force in Mauritius.

The clean-up after ex-Tropical Cyclone Christine has started in parts of Western Australia, but the worst may be yet to come in other parts.

Fresh flood warnings have been issued by the Bureau of Meteorology for two rivers in Pilbara and a flood watch alert for the Goldfields area. The forecaster also issued a severe weather warning for a large part of the state’s southeast on Wednesday.

Flash floods and winds of up to 100km/h are expected as the storm moves southeast across the state.

NewsBytes:

Flooding in the Andean Cusco region in Southern Peru has made 16,000 people homeless. The Quillabamba River burst its banks following torrential downpours and caused flooding in the area. A state of emergency has been declared and rescue teams have been send to help the people in disaster area.

Heavy rainfall in Metro Cebu in the Philippines caused massive flooding in some areas of the city, with flood waters in some streets reaching knee level.

Global Warming

Global Warming Is Rapidly Accelerating

The many scientific links in this comprehensive article about global warming, by Dahr Jamail, on December 22nd, make clear that climate change is accelerating, and that our planet will probably be unliveable by 2100, if not by 2050.

The best explanation of the process that’s occurring is in this link within one of those scientific links: “The collapse of Arctic sea ice will change the reflective properties of the Arctic from 90% reflection of the sun’s rays to a 90% absorber of the sun’s energy. A vicious cycle of Arctic warming started between twenty and thirty years ago, when currents from the Atlantic and Pacific, warmed by greenhouse gases, carried their extra heat into the Arctic to initiate an accelerating decline in sea ice and increase in Arctic temperatures.”

The global warming that was previously predicted to occur within 2,000 years, is now predicted to occur within the lifetimes of some people who are alive even today.

Disease

Sydney measles outbreak spreads in NZ

AN outbreak of measles linked to a Sydney hip-hop dance festival has spread from Auckland to the New Zealand cities of Turangi and Taupo, with 10 cases confirmed.

West Nile Virus Killing Bald Eagles

An unprecedented wintertime outbreak of West Nile virus has killed more than two dozen bald eagles in Utah and thousands of water birds around the Great Salt Lake.

At least 27 bald eagles have died this month in the northern and central parts of Utah from the blood-borne virus, and state biologists reported that five more ailing eagles were responding to treatment at rehabilitation centres.

The eagles, whose symptoms included leg paralysis and tremors, are believed to have contracted the disease by preying on sick or dead water birds called eared grebes that were infected by the West Nile virus, said Leslie McFarlane, Utah wildlife disease coordinator.

Some 20,000 of the water birds have died in and around the Great Salt Lake since November in an outbreak that may be a record in North America, McFarlane said. Initial testing suggested an infectious bacterial disease such as avian cholera caused the deaths, but findings released on Tuesday showed West Nile virus was the culprit, McFarlane said.

The dead birds do not pose a risk to people, Utah Health Department epidemiologist JoDee Baker said in a statement. Yet Baker urged those who find sick or dead birds to avoid handling them.

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Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): The volcano’s eruption continues with increasing and more and more frequent (every 15 minutes) explosions and pyroclastic flows from the growing lava dome. Ash plumes have been reaching 20,000 ft (6 km) altitude, run-out lengths of the pyroclastic flows approx. 2-3 km. The lava dome has now reached an estimated volume of more than 2.5 cubic million meters and a larger collapse could generate pyroclastic flows that reach considerable greater distance and destroy several villages, the Jakarta Post mentions. According to Ahmad Nabawi from the Sinabung monitoring post, 22 eruptions had occurred on Wednesday from midnight to noon. “Fortunately, the nearest villages are not situated in the path of the lava [pyroclastic flows, ann.], so the villages are safe for now,” he continued, the Jakarta post cites. The nearest villages and most at risk include Bekerah, Simacem, Sigarang-garang and Suka Meriah.

San Miguel (El Salvador): No new explosions have occurred at the volcano of Chaparrastique (San Miguel), but elevated degassing (SO2 flux estimated at about 2800 tons / day) suggests that new magma is still arriving inside the volcano and could lead to new eruptions. Authorities decided to order evacuation of additional 3,000 people from the cities of San Miguel, San Jorge, San Rafael Oriente, and Chinameca. However, it appears that a significant number of people decided to return to their homes inside the danger zones, because of the apparent (and possibly very dangerous) lack of new activity in the past few days. Analyses of ash from the 30 Dec eruption indicate that they consist of 80% juvenile material (i.e. from new magma), which supports the idea that a new magma batch has risen inside the volcano and could lead to new activity in the near future. MARN also mentions that the absence of crystals in the juvenile glass matrix of the ash indicates that the magma rose quickly, i.e. without having time to form crystals. That further adds to the need to stay on alert, because a sudden eruption might just happen again.

Suwanose-jima volcano (Ryukyu Islands, Japan): Bright glow from intense strombolian activity, or perhaps even the presence of a small lava lake or lava fountains, are visible on the JMA webcam on Nakanoshima island to the NE. VAAC Tokyo reports continuous low-level ash emissions.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 Earthquake hits the Babuyan Islands region in the Philippines.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Babuyan Islands region in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Babuyan Islands region in the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Babuyan Islands region in the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

Indian Ocean:

Tropical Cyclone Christine has been downgraded to a category one system as it continues to sweep inland through Western Australia leaving behind largely superficial damage to trees, fences and roofs.

Tropical storm Bejisa is forecast to hit Mauritius on January 3, 2013, the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Centre said. A cyclone warning Class 1 has been issued in Mauritius for Bejisa.

Winter Weather – USA

Winter Storm Hercules is expected to dump six to ten inches of snow in New York City beginning Wednesday night. Heaviest snowstorm is likely across southern New England on Thursday and early Friday. The entire New York City area will be kept under a winter storm watch for Thursday and Friday by the weather service.

NewsBytes:

Floods in Zimbabwe have claimed lives of three children aged 9, 10 and 14 years.

An avalanche east of Steamboat Springs caught three snowmobilers and has claimed the life of one.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): It seems more and more likely that the crisis is appraching an end (with the likelihood of a new eruption soon becoming less and less). Seismic activity has decreased to normal levels with no unusual signs over the past 24 hours. Deformation has been stagnating or mostly reverted to deflation at most stations.

Suwanose-jima (Tokara Islands, Japan): The volcano continues to produce frequent and intense strombolian explosions and produces a low level ash plume.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): More and increasingly larger (and hence more dangerous) pyroclastic flows are being formed by the growing lava dome of the volcano. These “flows” are hot turbulent avalanches of hot blocks and ash in suspension with hot gas and air, that can travel down at great speed the slopes of the mountain, typically following the paths of valleys. Today, one of the pyroclastic flows reached a distance of 3000 m, ie. the lower slopes. It needs to be pointed out that anything living in the path of these flows is killed, and even larger structures usually destroyed or completely burned. The exclusion zone of 5 km currently in place seems clearly to be too small.

Dukono (Halmahera): Elevated explosive activity continues at the remote volcano. Ash plumes up to 12,000 ft (3.6 km) altitude were spotted on satellite data by VAAC Darwin.