Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.2 Earthquake hits Papua, Indonesia.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Bougainville region, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

Earthquake map highlights rising U.S. risks

A new federal earthquake map dials up the shaking hazard just a bit for about half of the United States and lowers it for nearly a quarter of the nation.

The U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) updated its national seismic hazard maps on Thursday for the first time since 2008, taking into account research from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast and the surprise 2011 Virginia temblor.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Western Pacific:

Typhoon Rammasun is located approximately 288 nm south of Hong Kong.

Super typhoon Rammasun left one person dead, forced thousands of evacuations and the closure of airports and railways as it hit the southern Chinese provinces of Hainan and Guangdong.

The island province of Hainan shut all its airports, ports, trains and bus stations, Xinhua News Agency reported, with more than 6,900 passengers affected from canceled flights. More than 70,000 residents near the area where the typhoon landed were evacuated, the agency reported, citing the provincial command centre for flood prevention, drought control and typhoon response.

China is bracing for the storm, which left at least 40 dead and millions without electricity in the Philippines earlier this week. Rammasun, which hit the island with wind speeds up to 216 kilometers an hour around 3.30 p.m. today, will be the strongest typhoon to hit southern China in four decades, according to Xinhua, citing the country’s National Meteorological Centre forecast.

In the Central Pacific:

The first tropical storm of the 2014 Central Pacific hurricane season formed on Thursday, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Centre.

At 5 p.m. Thursday, Tropical Storm Wali was about 970 miles east-southeast of Hilo. Maximum sustained winds were at 45 mph.

Its present movement is northwest near 12 mph. This motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours with a slight turn to the west on Saturday, according to forecasters.

NewsBytes:

Papua New Guinea – More than 45,000 people have been affected in the Gulf and Southern Highlands provinces as torrential rain continues.

China – At least 18 people have been killed and millions of others affected by floods triggered by the week-long torrential rains in China, state media reported Thursday. Seven people were killed in the southwestern province of Guizhou by building collapses and lightning strikes.

Global Warming

Australian Drying Linked to Greenhouse Gas Emissions

U.S. scientists have directly linked a decline in fall and winter rainfall across southwestern Australia to greenhouse gas emissions by using a new high-resolution climate model.

The finding came after NOAA researchers conducted several climate simulations that looked at long-term changes in rainfall for various regions of the world.

“This new high-resolution climate model is able to simulate regional-scale precipitation with considerably improved accuracy compared to previous generation models,” said Tom Delworth, a research scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey.

The model simulated both natural and man-made climate influences.

Since no natural variations could be linked to the Australian drying, the scientists concluded the trend is due to human activity.

Southern Australia’s rainfall began declining around 1970 and has since accelerated.

The model projects a continued decline in rainfall there for the rest of the 21st century.

This would have significant implications for regional water resources.

The agreement between observed and model simulated rainfall changes supports the idea that human activity contributed to the drying of southwestern Australia and that the drying will increase in the 21st century.

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Disease

Update on polio in Equatorial Guinea

As of 16 July 2014, Equatorial Guinea has reported a total of 5 wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases, with onset of paralysis between 28 January 2014 (first case) and 3 May 2014 (most recent case). Genetic sequencing indicated that the cases are linked to the ongoing outbreak in Cameroon.

A national emergency action plan to respond to the polio outbreak was developed by the Ministry of Health and polio partner agencies and is being implemented. Three nationwide campaigns with bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) have already been conducted in the country – two campaigns targeting children under 15 years old in April 2014 and early May 2014, and one in late May 2014 targeting children under 5 years old. Two nationwide bOPV campaigns are planned for mid-July 2014 and mid-August 2014; the July 2014 round will target the entire population, and the August 2014 round will target children under 15 years old.

Chikungunya Disease in Puerto Rico

Health officials declared chikungunya an epidemic in Puerto Rico on Thursday and warn the majority of these mosquito-borne virus cases have been reported in the capital of San Juan and its surrounding areas.

There have been more than 200 reported cases of the virus on the island as of June 25, according to Health Secretary Ana Rius. While Puerto Rico declared an official epidemic, health officials in Jamaica reported their island has just confirmed its first case. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Harvey said the infected person had recently traveled to a country where the disease has been transmitted locally.

Cholera outbreak in South Sudan – Update

The cholera outbreak in South Sudan has now claimed 60 lives and there are fears more people will die.

The disease is spreading beyond the nation’s capital of Juba and into remote areas where it is difficult to get health care.

The sickness is described as just another symptom of the civil war, as many people live in internal displacement camps where the illness spreads quickly.

With heavy rains expected in South Sudan, the outbreak is expected to get worse.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 126.0 degrees Fahrenheit (52.2 degrees Celsius) at Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 105.9 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 77.1 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok Antarctic research 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.

Wildfires

Wildfires – USA

Worsening wildfire activity prompted the governor’s offices in both Washington and Oregon to declare a state of emergency, a move that enables state officials to call up the National Guard.

Hot and dry weather has fueled a number of wildfires across Oregon, forcing evacuations and closing roadways.

Authorities in Central Washington State urged residents of nearly 900 homes to flee a wildfire fueled by strong winds that was tearing through timber in its path late Wednesday.

Firefighters could not contain the fire raging 10 miles (16 kilometres) north of the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth on Wednesday and hot and windy conditions were forecast for Thursday.

The fire’s smoke plume was visible for miles as it rose 25,000 feet (7.6 kilometres) into the air.

Residents of 860 homes were told they should leave immediately, fire spokesman Rick Acosta said late Wednesday. Authorities said that another 800 homes were less seriously threatened.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters were battling three separate wildfires in the state.

Wildfires were also burning in Utah, Idaho, and California.

The California blaze was started on Friday by marijuana growing activity, authorities said.