Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.2 Earthquake hits the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan.

At least 12 people have been injured and hospitalized in eastern Nangarhar province. So far there were no reports casualties or serious property damage in Kabul.

5.4 Earthquake hits the west Chile rise.

5.0 Earthquake hits San Juan, Argentina.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Myanmar – Dozens of people are missing and feared dead after a landslide struck a remote jade mining region in northern Myanmar, the second such incident in a month. According to rescuers, one body was pulled from the rubble and at least 30 people were missing. A Nov. 21 landslide in the same region killed more than 100 people. The area is home to some of the world’s highest-quality jade.

Britain – Almost 150 flood warnings have been issued as up to 120mm of rain is set to fall in the north of England – worsening situation in areas already saturated by winter storms. Troops were called in to assist in Cumbria as rain from Storm Eva started to drench northern Britain.

Alabama, USA – Several people were trapped underneath rubble late Friday as another tornado touched down in north-central Alabama in the latest wave of severe weather that’s hammered the South during Christmas week.

Global Warming

Russia warming ‘2.5 times quicker’ than global average

Russia is warming more than twice as fast as the average for the rest of the world, the environment ministry said Friday, sounding an alarm on the rise in floods and wildfires nationwide.

A government report on environmental protection said temperatures in Russia had warmed by 0.42 degrees Celsius per decade since 1976, or 2.5 times quicker than the global warming trend of 0.17 degrees.

“Climate change leads to growth of dangerous meteorological phenomena,” the ministry said in a comment to the report published Friday.

There were 569 such phenomena in Russia in 2014, “the most since monitoring began,” the ministry said, specifically mentioning last year’s ravaging floods and this year’s “water deficit” east of Lake Baikal, which led to a “catastrophic rise in fires.”

Fires around Lake Baikal, including the nearby Irkutsk and Buryatia regions, tore through hundreds of square miles in the pristine area, with locals and campers forced to dig ditches as state media at one point offered the theory that fires were fuelled by “self-igniting air” caused by ozone anomalies.

Climate change has contributed to unprecedented loss of water in the Baikal itself, dropping to minimal water levels allowed by the government several times this year, including this week.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia – Christmas Day bushfires

More than 100 homes burned down in a leading Australia tourist area as Christmas Day bushfires remained out of control and dangerous on Saturday, with officials predicting more blazes to come in the hot southern summer.

While around 150 firefighters battled the flames along parts of Victoria state’s picturesque Great Ocean Road, teams moved in to assess damage from fires that had lit up the night sky along the coast on Christmas evening.

A spokeswoman for the state’s emergency services said 85 homes had been confirmed burned in the community of Wye River and another 18 in nearby Separation Creek, for a total of 103 in the two townships located about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of Melbourne.

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s biggest tourist draws with its spectacular scenery and bizarre rock formations just offshore in the Southern Ocean. It remained mostly closed to traffic on Saturday during what is typically one of its busiest times of the year.

Although an evacuation alert was lifted for the popular tourist town of Lorne and rain overnight had helped the firefighting operation, officials said the fires were far from out.

The fires started with a lightning strike on Dec. 19 and, fanned by winds, have already burned more than 2,000 hectares.