Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Samoa Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits southwest of Sumatra, Indonesia.\\

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

No current tropical storms.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has published the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook on March 22 which predicts three to six hurricanes developing between June 1 and the end of November.

The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

NewsBytes:

France – Violent storms in France have claimed the lives of at least two people and left tens of thousands without electricity. Fatalities are from Aveyron and the town of Bozouls.

Wales – Torrential rain and storms hit South Wales. Storms and severe downpours hit the region early on Thursday afternoon, with residents in Penarth, Leckwith and Thornhill reporting flooding.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 113.9 degrees Fahrenheit (45.5 degrees Celsius) at Hafr Al-Batin, Saudi Arabia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 96.7 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 71.5 degrees Celsius) at the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Environment

Antarctic Winds Strongest in at least 1,000 Years

Powerful winds blowing around Antarctica are the strongest in 1,000 years and are being made even speedier by climate change, scientists say.

They also point out that the Antarctic vortex is insulating the icy continent from the global warming that is affecting most other parts of the planet.

Earlier research indicated that the ozone hole above Antarctica was causing the circumpolar winds to get stronger.

However, Nerilie Abram and her colleagues from the Australian National University found that global warming has been a big factor in strengthening the winds since the 1940s.

She says the stronger winds are also dragging winter rains away from Western Australia, making the state drier.

Abrams says the surge in strength of the Antarctic vortex started in the 1940s, decades before manmade chemicals began eating away at the ozone hole.

The red bands indicate the path of the strongest winds of the Antarctic vortex, now the strongest in 1,000 years.

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Disease

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

On 2 May 2014, the National IHR Focal Point for the United States of America notified WHO about the first laboratory confirmed case of MERS-CoV infection in the United States.

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – update

On 19 May 2014, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 4 additional laboratory confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

Chikungunya Virus Spreads in Caribbean Islands

Thousands of people in the Caribbean are becoming sick with a virus called chikungunya, which causes debilitating fever and severe joint pain, according to news reports.

The chikungunya virus was once confined to Africa and Asia, but was brought into the Americas likely by an infected traveler in December. Since then, more than 51,000 suspected and nearly 5,000 confirmed cases of infection have occurred throughout the Caribbean Islands, according to The Pan American Health Organization.

Public health officials say they expect the virus reach the United States this summer given the large number of people traveling between the U.S. and the Caribbean.

The virus is transmitted to people by mosquito bites, and can be prevented by covering the skin and using mosquito repellents. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years, according to the World Health Organization.

Wildfires

Wildfires – USA

Wildfires continue to scorch Southcentral, Interior Alaska.

Two wildfires still rage in Southcentral Alaska, charring thousands of acres and concerning residents and fire officials. A third wildfire also sprung up in the state’s Interior Tuesday evening that is within two miles of the Dalton Highway.

The Funny River wildfire has increased in size to nearly 44,000 acres — still with zero percent containment, according to authorities. The fire is currently spreading in the direction of refuge land, away from homes. Additional crews from around the state and the Lower 48, along with two Canadair CL-215 firefighting aircraft, are en route to assist in the firefighting efforts.

Meanwhile, the wildfire near Tyonek, which burned three structures overnight, now stretches about 1,500 acres and has changed course. Some Tyonek residents have returned home after a Monday evacuation as the fire now heads north toward Beluga.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands): The eruption on the remote island continues. The most recent overflight pictures by the Japanese Coast Guard show two active vents, one with a small lava-filled vent likely producing strombolian explosions, the other emitting a steam and gas plume. At least some lava flows remain active and reach the coast, continuing to enlarge the island (visible by steam generated at the fronts).

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): Following a week with no recorded vulcanian explosions, two relatively strong ones occurred this morning, producing ash plumes that rose to 11-12,000 ft (3.3-3.6 km) altitude. Since then, the Showa crater has been constantly venting ash.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): VAAC Darwin raised the Aviation Color Code to “Red” after a possible major ash plume was spotted on satellite imagery. According to the original report, a possible ash plume rose to estimated 50,000 ft (15 km) altitude 12:32 UTC on 22 May and drifted SW. The height was later reduced to 35,000 ft (12 km). It is unclear if the plume was a volcanic ash plume, in which case it would suggest a major explosion occurred at the volcano. However, VSI and local media did not report any usual activity at the volcano, suggesting that most likely the observed plume was from a storm cloud.

Merapi (Central Java, Indonesia): The Indonesian Volcanological Survey (VSI) lowered the alert level of Merapi back to “Normal” (1 out of 4). This decision came after signs of unrest had recently decreased again: – Earthquake activity decreased both in number and type during the past weeks.

San Miguel (El Salvador): An eruption of the Chaparrastique volcano in the near future is becoming more and more likely. Tremor continues to rise and pulsating gas emissions have become stronger and sometimes contain small amounts of volcanic ash. The increased tremor and gas emissions suggest movements of hot fluids (gasses, water, magma) into the volcano’s shallow plumbing system. MARN expects an eruption either from the central crater or a flank vent on the northern side (where most microseismic activity has been focused).