Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.1 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical depression 28w (Melor), located approximately 97 nm west-northwest of Manila, Philippines, is tracking northward at 09 knots.


Florida Keys, USA – Adams Drive in Key Largo, Florida has been flooded for nearly a month, after high tides were exacerbated by a super moon. Extreme high tides have turned streets into canal-like swamps in the Florida Keys, with armies of mosquitoes and the stench of stagnating water filling the air, and residents worried rising sea levels will put a damper on property values in the island chain.

Philippines – Nine people were killed and hundreds spent the night huddled on their roofs in the central Philippines as floods generated by a powerful typhoon inundated villages, disaster officials said on Wednesday. Typhoon Melor had paralyzed the capital, Manila, by late Tuesday, with floodwaters chest-deep in some areas disrupting train services and causing traffic gridlock on major roads. Five people were listed as missing.

Colorado, USA – A powerful late-autumn storm dumped up to 24 inches of snow in the Colorado mountains on Tuesday before barreling onto the plains, prompting airlines to cancel 425 flights at the Denver airport and leaving hundreds of miles of highways slippery with snow and ice.

Sydney, Australia – A tornado with destructive winds measuring up to 213 km/hr hit Sydney at about 10:30am (AEDT) bringing down trees and power lines and causing flash flooding. Numerous homes and buildings received significant damage.


Giant salamander discovered in China

A Chinese giant salamander measuring 1.4m and 52kg has recently been found in the wild in south-western China, reported Chinese media, which cited experts as saying the endangered amphibian could be more than 200 years old.

The animal was discovered in a cave in Chongqing municipality and has been transferred to an official facility for “protection” and further study. It added that experts estimated that the creature was more than 200 years old.

Chinese giant salamander, which is said to have been in existence for more than 170 million years, is known for moving slowly and easy to hunt. It is also marked by the high-pitched voice it makes, giving it the nickname wa wa yu, or baby fish, in Chinese.

It is critically endangered in China, having been hunted relentlessly for decades for its meat and perceived medicinal properties.

20151216 sina salamander


Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus – Lao People’s Democratic Republic

On 8 December 2015, the National IHR Focal Point of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) notified WHO of 2 additional VDPV1 cases. These cases are from Xaisomboun, a previously unaffected province. To date, the total number of confirmed cVDPV1 cases in this outbreak is 5.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): The volcano continues to slowly extrude viscous lava that builds up the active dome with several overspilling lava lobes. As parts of these break off now and then, small to moderately large pyroclastic flows are being generated from time to time.

Rinjani (Lombok): It seems that the eruption at the Barujari cone is over. After a period of intermittent, sometimes quite strong vulcanian-type explosions at the end of Nov and early Dec, no explosive activity has occurred since 3 December and no thermal signal is being recorded on satellite data.

Bromo (East Java, Indonesia): Ash emissions of varying intensity continue from the volcano, producing a plume that rises approx. 500-1500 m above the crater:

Colima (Western Mexico): Activity at the volcano remains elevated. Moderate to strong vulcanian explosions occur every few hours. Attached is a fantastic image showing volcanic lightning during such an explosion on 14 Dec, taken by Sergio Tapiro.


Fuego (Guatemala): Another phase of strong increased activity (paroxysm) has started at the volcano yesterday. The volcano observatory reports that explosions have become more intense and frequent, 4-6 per hour, on the evening of 14 Dec. Ash plumes rose up to 1 km and loud shock waves accompanied many of them. Two new lava flows, 800 m long, have started to head towards the Santa Teresa (west flank) and Trinidad (south flank) drainages. This would be the 13th paroxysmal episode during 2015, and if activity increases further, dangerous pyroclastic flows are likely to occur in the coming hours / days. In particular, river beds and valleys at the feet of the mountain should be avoided at all times, as these are high-risk areas.