Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits northern Alaska.

5.6 Earthquake hits the Caspian Sea, offshore Turkmenistan.

5.3 Earthquake hits Halmahera, Indonesia.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Samoa Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

No current tropical storms.

Tropical Storm Boris has caused floods in Latin America affecting 100,000 people, and leaving at Least 5 Dead. Residents in Latin America, especially Chile, Mexico and Guatemala, have been advised to brace for more rains even as weather bureau said tropical storm Boris has weakened. The Weather Network forecast the storm will still continue to dump as much as 500 mm of rain through Saturday on the affected areas. The system could dump as much as 20 inches (51 centimetres) of rain in the region for a day alone. “These rains are likely to result in life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.”

The national disaster relief agency in Guatemala reported at least 100,000 people have been affected by the bad weather as rains, floods and mudslides damaged homes and roads. Tropical Storm Boris has killed five people near the Mexican border on Saturday due to a landslide.

In southern Chile, according to World Bulletin, the floods have left some communities without potable drinking water and electricity. The southern regions of Los Rios, Biobio, Araucania, Los Lagos and Aysen have been reported to be cut off from the mainland due to damaged roads. Several people stranded were placed at 4,000 people while people possibly without electricity were estimated to be over 50,000.

A low pressure area currently over the southern Bay of Campeche has a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Centre said on Thursday. “Despite strong upper-level winds, some further development of this system is possible over the next day or two if the low remains offshore of eastern Mexico.” This disturbance has potential to produce more extremely heavy rains and life-threatening flash floods and mud slides over parts of southeastern Mexico during the next few days.

NewsBytes:

Sri Lanka – Floods in Sri Lanka have claimed the lives of at least 23 people and displaced more than 100,000 people. Most of the fatalities and flood damage have been reported from the Kalutara District where disaster relief efforts are ongoing. 235 houses have been destroyed while 1 566 homes have been partially damaged.

Paraguay – Paraguay floods continue as torrential rains force the evacuation of more than 75,000 people across Paraguay.

South Dakota, USA – The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls has confirmed a tornado has touched down outside the city.

West Virginia, USA – A National Weather Service survey team from Charleston has confirmed that a tornado has touched down near Ona in Cabell County.

Global Warming

Global Warming Playing a Role in Australia’s Record Heat

On the heels of the warmest 12-month period in Australia’s recorded history, parts of the country experienced an unusually strong stretch of warm autumn weather in May. Global warming has aided the string of record-breaking temperatures, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and other scientists, and will continue to increase the odds that new records will be set in the future.

“If you want to look for effects of climate change, Australia is the poster child in many respects,” said Kevin Trenberth, a climate researcher at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Australia has certainly been much in the news for extreme weather events in recent years, especially for relentless heat waves during the past two summers. And 2013 was the hottest year on record for the country, handily beating 2005, the previous record holder, by 0.3°F. So far, 2014 ranks as the fifth warmest on record.

More notably, with each month this year, the running 12-month temperature average has set a new record for warmest ever. Official records are only in through April, but “it is virtually certain that the 12 months ending May 2014 will also set a new high record,” the BOM said in a Special Climate Statement following an unusually warm spell in May, which mainly affected southeastern Australia and Tasmania.

May typically sees temperatures fall by several degrees in Australia as the Southern Hemisphere transitions from fall to winter. But from May 12 onwards, a high-pressure system parked itself over the Tasman Sea, refusing to budge until May 27, the BOM statement said. This atmospheric arrangement brought winds down from the north and northwest, sweeping in warm air from over northern Australia and the Indian Ocean and bathing the southeastern part of the country in temperatures up to 11°F above normal. While warm spells aren’t unusual for this time of year, and this particular one only set a few absolute temperature records, it lasted far longer than past events. For example, Sydney had 19 days above 71°F from May 10-28, far more than the previous record of 9 days, which was set in 1978 and tied in 2007.

And while it is tricky to link this particular warm spell, like any single weather event, to climate change, the warming of the planet is playing an important background role in Australia’s temperature records, both scientists with the BOM and other organizations said.

“With the continuing plague of abnormally high temperatures across the continent, the influence of climate change can be felt now,” Australian non-profit Climate Council said in a report on the recent warm spell.

Australia’s average temperature has warmed by 1.6°F since 1910, in line with estimates of the rise in global average temperature, according to the BOM. So any heat wave rolling through is getting a boost from higher baseline temperatures.

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Drought

Drought in Brazil

A drought has built across parts of Brazil over the past year, including the highly populated Sao Paulo area, and the onset of El Niño threatens to aggravate drought conditions. Short-term impacts may include water rationing or even water cuts for some across the region, with long-term impacts potentially exacerbating political unrest across the country.

Rainfall over the past year is more than 17 inches below normal in Sao Paulo, leading to the widespread drought across the region. The dry season, which lasts through September, will offer little relief from the ongoing drought. Residents of some poorer communities surrounding Sao Paulo have complained about water cuts since March. Many people across the region are fearful that with millions of people expected to arrive in the coming weeks for the World Cup, water restrictions could become more severe. In an attempt to limit the impacts of the drought, water has been pumped from Sao Paulo’s main reservoir to supply over 9 million people living in the region. As a result, reservoir levels are now at historically low levels.

With millions of people already being impacted by the drought, increased attention is being directed at the weather as people look for relief. Normal monthly rainfall during the month of June in Sao Paulo is only 53 mm (2.09 inches). Accuweather long-range meteorologists predict near- to below-normal rainfall for the month, bringing little or no aid to the dangerously low water reserves of the region. An El Niño, or a weather phenomenon noted by above-normal water temperatures over the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is expected to develop in the coming months, and this could have a drastic impact on the weather across the region. “The subtropical high pressure area off eastern Brazil tends to be stronger in El Niño years, which tends to deflect systems south of Sao Paulo.

Typically, this results in fronts stalling out over far southeastern Brazil.” Below-normal precipitation is expected drought-stricken northern Brazil, while above-normal precipitation is predicted across areas farther south in Brazil.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Etna (Sicily, Italy): No particular changes have occurred recently. Very sporadic and weak strombolian explosions continue at the summit vent of the New SE crater. Bocca Nuova also continues to produce sporadic ash emissions.

Zhupanovsky (Kamchatka, Russia): A possible new eruption could have occurred yesterday at the volcano, but it could not be confirmed so far. Based on a pilot report KVERT and VAAC Tokyo alerted about a possible ash plume rising from the volcano at estimated 6 km altitude. The alert status of the volcano was raised from green to yellow. If the report is true, it would be the second eruption of the volcano within a relatively short time, the last being from 24 Nov past year. However, no volcanic ash plume could be detected on satellite imagery so far and it could well be a false eruption report.

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): A volcanic ash plume at 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude was observed this morning extending 20 nautical miles to the NW. (VAAC Darwin)

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): The tropical storm Boris that has been hitting the country over the past days continues to produce heavy rainfalls that in turn cause large mud flows. The large collapse of parts of the lava dome on 9 May has left significant amounts of hot debris at the foot of the volcano, in particular in the upper river bed of the Nima 1. These deposits are now being remobilized and descend the river beds as boiling hot mud flows that contain boulders, tree parts and other debris of up to several meters in size and are extremely destructive.