Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 17s (Haleh), located approximately 999 nm south-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, is tracking southward at 17 knots.

Tropical cyclone (tc) 18s (Eighteen), located approximately 312 nm north of Europa Island, is tracking eastward at 12 knots.

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Indonesia – At least two people were killed and six more were missing after torrential rains and severe flooding in parts of Indonesia, the disaster agency said Friday (Mar 8), forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people. Heavy rain has pounded Indonesia for days, forcing the Citarum river – dubbed “the world’s dirtiest” – on Java island to burst its banks, and causing deadly flash floods in the eastern part of the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago. Residents in a dozen communities on the outskirts of Bandung city, east of the capital Jakarta, were forced to wade through streets filled with chest-high water in places.

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Global Warming

Rain melting Greenland ice sheet ‘even in winter’

Rain is becoming more frequent in Greenland and accelerating the melting of its ice, a new study has found. Scientists say they’re “surprised” to discover rain falling even during the long Arctic winter. The massive Greenland ice-sheet is being watched closely because it holds a huge store of frozen water.

Precipitation usually falls as snow in winter – rather than as rain – which can balance out any melting of the ice in the summer. Even if it falls during winter, and then quickly refreezes, the rain changes the characteristics of the surface, leaving it smoother and darker, and “pre-conditioned” to melt more rapidly when summer arrives.

The darker the ice is, the more heat it absorbs from the Sun – causing it to melt more quickly.

Whereas in 1979 there were on average 2 spells of winter rain, by 2012 the analysis found there were 12 spells of winter rain.

In stable times, snowfall in winter will balance any ice melted or breaking off into the ocean in summer. But research has shown how in recent decades the ice-sheet has been losing vast amounts of mass.

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Secret Group of Killer Whales Discovered in Southern Ocean

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Killer whales are beautiful and majestic, but there’s very little variation in what they look like — their shape, size and coloring are pretty standard from whale to whale. So, when people started spotting killer whales with a noticeably different physique — thinner, with much smaller white eye patches and narrower, sharp dorsal fins — scientists paid attention.

In January, an international team of researchers tracked down these potential killer whale imposters and collected samples for genetic testing that will reveal whether or not the animals are a newfound, distinct species of killer whale.

Until now, the existence of this potentially newfound species was based only on stories from fishers and a handful of photographs.

The first record of these mysterious whales dates back to 1955 when 17 of the animals stranded on the coast of New Zealand. While their markings resembled known killer whales, these animals were smaller, with a blunt snout and bulbous head. The stranded whales also had narrower, pointy dorsal fins and much smaller white patches above their eyes compared with typical killer whales.

The discovery of the Type D killer whale serves as a reminder of how much we have left to learn about life in our oceans.

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Wildfires – Australia

The Bunyip State Park fire, which has burnt about 15,000 hectares in the past week, has now claimed 29 residential properties, damaged two others and burnt 67 other buildings, Emergency Management Victoria has confirmed.

The number of houses lost was confirmed on Friday after specialist crews assessed fire grounds and inspected 447 properties, but the toll could rise. About 2000 firefighters and 61 aircraft are tackling 17 active fires across the state.

Emergency Management said the bushfires had scorched more than 100,000 hectares of land across Victoria since last Thursday.


Chaos as machines fail, patients die, in Venezuela blackout

Venezuela’s nationwide blackout left large areas of the country in chaos on Friday, crippling day-to-day functioning of hospitals and other public services. Witnesses described scenes of chaos at several hospitals as relatives tried to move patients in the dark to clinics with better emergency power facilities. A number of patients died during the blackout.

Maningitis – Nigeria

No fewer than 13 people lost their lives in an outbreak of communicable disease suspected to be meningitis at Karfi Village in Malumfashi local government area of Katsina State. 12 of the victims died in their homes while one out of the three persons rushed to the Primary Health Care (PHC) Centre in the village reportedly lost his life while receiving treatment at the health facility.


Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 27 February – 5 March 2019

Aira | Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported that incandescence from Minamidake crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was occasionally visible during 25 February-4 March. There were four events and seven explosive events. Plumes rose as high as 2.3 km, and material as ejected as far as 1.1 km from the crater. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on satellite and wind model data, ground observations, and notices from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 27 February-5 March ash plumes from Dukono rose to altitudes of 2.1-2.4 km (7,000-8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. On 28 February two plumes rising from the crater were visible; a northern plume was identified in satellite images and a southern plume rising to less than 1.5 km (5,000 ft) a.s.l. was reported by a ground observer. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and visitors were warned to remain outside of the 2-km exclusion zone.

Ibu | Halmahera (Indonesia) : The Darwin VAAC reported that on 28 February an ash plume from Ibu was identified in satellite images drifting N at an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay at least 2 km away from the active crater, and 3.5 km away on the N side.

Karangetang | Siau Island (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that during 25 February-5 March a low rate of lava effusion continued at Karangetang’s Kawah Dua (North Crater). White plumes rose as high as 500 m above the summit crater rims. The Darwin VAAC reported that on 27 February a pilot observed an ash plume rising to an altitude of 1.8 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifting SE. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), and residents were warned to remain outside of the 2.5-km exclusion zone around the N and S craters, and additionally within 3 km WNW and 4 km NW.

Manam | Papua New Guinea : The Darwin VAAC reported that on 1 and 5 March ash plumes from Manam were identified in satellite images rising to an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifting SE, ESE, and E.

Merapi | Central Java (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that during 22 February-5 March the volume of the lava dome in Merapi’s summit crater had not changed since the last measurement of 466,000 cubic meters estimated on 21 February. There were no apparent morphological changes; most of the extruded lava fell into the upper parts of the Gendol River drainage on the SE flank. Block-and-ash flows traveled 600-1,100 m down the Gendol drainage on 25 and 27 February, and on 2 March as many as 10 traveled as far as 2 km. Incandescent avalanches were visible at night. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and residents were warned to remain outside of the 3-km exclusion zone.

Nevados de Chillan | Chile : ONEMI and SERNAGEOMIN reported that an explosive event at Nevados de Chillán’s Nicanor Crater was recorded at 2323 on 1 March and was associated with a long-period earthquake signal. The explosion ejected high-temperature incandescent material deposited in areas around the crater, and likely destroyed part of the lava dome. The Alert Level remained at Orange, the second highest level on a four-colour scale, and residents were reminded not to approach the crater within 3 km. ONEMI maintained an Alert Level Yellow (the middle level on a three-colour scale) for the communities of Pinto, Coihueco, and San Fabián.

Santa Maria | Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that during 1-5 March as many as four explosions per hour at Santa María’s Santiaguito lava-dome complex generated white plumes with ash that rose 500-700 m above the domes and drifted SE and SW. Avalanches of material descended the E and SE flanks of the lava dome. An explosion at 2155 on 4 March was heard in areas as far away as 10 km W, SW, S, and SE. The event ejected incandescent material 100 m high, produced ashfall around the volcano, and generated avalanches that traveled down the E and SE dome flanks reaching the base.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch’s lava dome was identified daily in satellite images during 22 February-1 March. Strong gas-and-steam emissions contained variable amounts of ash on 21, 25, and 27 February, and rose 4-5 km (13,100-16,400 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 100 km SW and E. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Suwanosejima | Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : JMA reported that crater incandescence at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater was visible at night during 22 February-1 March. Small events were occasionally recorded, generating plumes that rose as high as 900 m above the crater rim. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale).

Turrialba | Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA reported that an event at Turrialba at 1050 on 28 February generated a plume that rose 500 m above the crater rim and drifted SW. Some additional ash pulses were recorded that day. An event at 0444 on 1 March produced a plume that rose 200 m and drifted NE. A period of continuous emissions rising 200-300 m was recorded during 2-4 March; the plumes contained minor amounts of ash at least during 2-3 March.