Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 Earthquake hits western Sichuan, China.

5.6 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.1 Earthquake hits central Peru.

5.0 Earthquake hits off the coast of Tarapaca, Chile.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Alabama, USA – The National Weather Service say a total of four tornadoes touched down in Alabama as part of the severe weather that happened overnight from Sunday to Monday. The tornadoes, all rated as EF-1 twisters, affected Pike, Crenshaw, Bullock, Butler, Perry, and Russell counties.

New York, USA – A snowfall that brought huge drifts and closed roads in the Buffalo area finally ended Friday, yet residents still couldn’t breathe easy, as the looming threat of rain and higher temperatures through the weekend and beyond raised the possibility of floods and more roofs collapsing under the heavy loads.

Disease

Plague – Madagascar

On 4 November 2014, WHO was notified by the Ministry of Health of Madagascar of an outbreak of plague. The first case, a male from Soamahatamana village in the district of Tsiroanomandidy, was identified on 31 August. The patient died on 3 September.

As of 16 November, a total of 119 cases of plague have been confirmed, including 40 deaths. Only 2% of reported cases are of the pneumonic form.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Between 12 and 16 October 2014, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) notified WHO of 5 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 2 deaths.

First European outbreak of avian influenza H5N8 confirmed in poultry

Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have recently identified outbreaks of avian influenza. The first was reported on 5 November 2014 on a turkey farm in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. The virus was identified as highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8. This is the first detection of this strain of avian influenza, also called bird flu, in Europe, although outbreaks continue in wild birds and poultry in Asia (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea). How the virus reached Europe is unknown, but testing in Germany revealed that the virus is similar to the one currently circulating in Asia.

The Netherlands outbreak was on a chicken farm in Hekendorp, north-east of Rotterdam; the virus was confirmed as H5N8 on 15 November 2014. A subsequent outbreak on a duck-breeding farm in East Yorkshire, United Kingdom was confirmed as H5N8 on 18 November. Since then two more outbreaks have been detected in the Netherlands. These are also caused by H5 viruses, but exact virological details will not be known until testing has been concluded.

Environment

Solar Activity Triggers Lightning on Earth

While recent findings point to the likelihood of more lightning around the world as the planet warms, other research suggests lightning strikes in some areas are already affected by solar activity.

In a report published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, scientists say the orientation of the sun’s magnetic field plays a significant role in the number of lightning strikes, at least in the United Kingdom.

“What we found was there is significantly more lightning in the U.K. when the field is pointing towards the sun than when it’s pointing away, which was surprising,” said lead author Matt Owens from the University of Reading.

He believes that the sun’s pushing or pulling on Earth’s magnetic field lets energetically charged particles filter down into the atmosphere, triggering the lightning.

Owens and colleagues found that between 2001 and 2006, there was a 50 percent increase in thunder and lightning in Britain when the solar magnetic field pointed away from Earth.

They conclude that while the configuration did have a clear increase in lightning for the U.K., such electrical storms might have decreased over Canada or Siberia during the period.

Ew141121a

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): Lava effusion seems to have stopped completely since about a week ago. Small strombolian explosions continue to occur sporadically from vents in the northern and central crater terrace at the summit. The apparent low activity may be the “calm before the storm”: a surge in CO2 gas emissions since the beginning of November indicates that fresh magma might be on the rise within the conduit (CO2 being the least soluble magmatic gas and the first to leave the new magma). One possibility is that the arrival of new magma leads to a strong initial (and very dangerous) explosion. This scenario occurred in 2003 and 2007 during similar stages of activity (after the end of a sustained lava flow).

Dukono (Halmahera): A series of stronger explosions and/or elevated ash emissions produced a plume at 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude extending almost 150 km to the west of the volcano.

Colima (Western Mexico): A strong explosion occurred yesterday afternoon, producing a 5 km tall ash plume. Ash fall occurred in up to 25 km distance in the municipalities of Zapotiltic and Tamazula de Gordiano. The vulcanian-type eruption was likely the result of accumulated gas/magma pressure that ejected a solid plug blocking the vent.

Cerro Negro de Mayasquer (Colombia): The seismic crisis that began last year continues at high intensity. During the ongoing swarm more than 206,000 earthquakes have been detected in an area 4 km south of the Chiles-Cerro Negro complex since 29 Sep alone. Daily numbers of quakes have ranged between 3700-5400 earthquakes. While most quakes have been very small, a few were strong enough to be felt by local inhabitants.

Reventador (Ecuador): A new lava flow is active on the upper NW flank of the volcano, originating from the base of its lava dome. Likely, the flow started in mid to late October; on 19 Nov, it had a length of less than 1 km.