Friday, April 20, 2012

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Disturbance Continues Along the "Pacific Ring of Fire" - Strong 6.6 Rocks Indonesia and 6.1 Strikes Off Northern Sumatra!

The seismic disturbance that we have been witnessing since the magnitude 8.7 earthquake struck along the strike-slip fault off Indonesia, continues unabated.

Tonight, several strong tremors rocked one of the world's most seismically active places. Located on the "Pacific Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake rocked Manokwari, Indonesia. This occurred on Saturday (local time), April 21, 2012 at 01:16:54 UTC, but no tsunami warning was issued. This quake was located at 1.609°S, 134.232°E with a depth of 29.8 km (18.5 miles).

Magnitude 6.6 near Papua, Indonesia.
The epicentre was 83km (51mi) southeast from Manokwari, Indonesia; 239km (148mi) northwest from Nabire, Indonesia; 341km (211mi) southeast from Sorong, Indonesia; 477km (296mi) northeast from Tual, Indonesia; and 990km (615mi) south from Koror Town, Palau.

A few hours earlier, a strong 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia's Sumatra island on Friday (local time), April 20, 2012 at 23:14:31 UTC at a depth of about 25 km (15.5 miles), 427 km southwest of Banda Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra.

Magnitude 6.1 off Sumatra.
There were no immediate reports of damage with either earthquakes.

Series of earthquakes off Indonesia and Sumatra.
Aceh province was shaken earlier this month by two huge earthquakes, triggering an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert. At a magnitude of 8.7, the first of the two quakes was the strongest to hit since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 170,000 in Aceh.

EARTHQUAKE MANIA: Powerful "Odd Duck" Indonesia Mega-Quake Surprises Scientists - Sparking 321 Tremors Across the Globe in One Week! UPDATE: Solar, Volcano and Quake Watch For April 21-25, 2012!

The massive earthquake off Indonesia surprised scientists: Usually this type of jolt isn't this powerful.  The biggest earthquakes tend to occur in subduction zones where one plate of the Earth's crust dives under another.

This grind produced the 2004 magnitude-9.1 Indian Ocean disaster and the magnitude-9 Japan quake last year.  Wednesday's magnitude-8.6 occurred along a strike-slip fault line similar to California's San Andreas Fault. Scientists say it's rare for strike-slip quakes, in which blocks of rocks slide horizontally past each other, to be this large.  "It's clearly a bit of an odd duck," said seismologist Susan Hough of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif.  As one of the world's most seismically active places, Indonesia is located on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Pressure builds up in the rocks over time and is eventually released in an earthquake.  Wednesday's quake was followed by a magnitude-8.2 aftershock. Both were strike-slip quakes. 

"A week ago, we wouldn't have thought we could have a strike-slip earthquake of this size. This is very, very large," said Kevin Furlong, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University.  So large, in fact, that the main shock went into the history books. Record-keeping by the USGS National Earthquake Information Center ranks Wednesday's shaker as the 11th largest since 1900. It's probably the largest strike-slip event though there's debate about whether a similar-sized Tibet quake in 1950 was the same kind.  A preliminary analysis indicates one side of the fault lurched 70 feet past the other — a major reason for the quake's size. By contrast, during the 1906 magnitude-7.8 San Francisco earthquake along the San Andreas — perhaps the best known strike-slip event — the ground shifted 15 feet.  The Sumatra coast has been rattled by three strong strike-slip quakes since 2004, but Wednesday's was the largest. - FOX News.
WATCH: Earthquake Mania - Why are there so many quakes?

UPDATE: Solar, Volcano and Earthquake Watch For April 21-25, 2012!
Targeting Coronal Hole (CH514) which is situated (8-13°N Latitude) on the solar corona. Strong characteristics of this feature indicate a possible 7 Magnitude earthquake in one of these locations: Nicobar Islands, Andaman Islands, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guam or Mariana Islands. Time frame April 22-24th. Coronal feature situated (36-41°N Latitude) could produce a possible 6.2 Magnitude earthquake during April 21-22. Best mapped regions are Off The East Coast Of Honshu Japan or Hokkaido Japan. Strong Ionospheric anomalies as well as a rapid coronal formation on the solar corona stretching over the equator indicate that Northern Sumatra could have a strong aftershock during this watch. Ionospheric anomalies continuing to show high readings (16Mhz) are concentrated at Northern/Southern Sumatra, Panama and Ryukyu Islands Japan. - Solar Watcher.
WATCH: Solar, Volcano and Earthquake Alert.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Forecasters Predict - Britain Could Face "the Coldest May in 100 Years"; Met Office Issues Severe Weather Warnings!

The winter weather follows a wet start to April, with the threat of floods and storms to come over the next few days.  The Met Office has issued weather warnings for the South West, London, South East, Wales and the West of England due to flooding on roads and 60mph winds.

A family walk in the snow in the Brecon Beacons, south Wales.
Hail storms are expected across the country and it is feared windows could be broken by giant hail, up to 1cm thick. In the north and Scotland temperatures could fall to -2C.  Despite the ongoing drought, heavy downpours could cause localised flooding, even in areas where there is hosepipe ban in place.  Independent forecaster WeatherAction has also predicted the next month will be the “coldest or near coldest for 100 years” in the East of England, with cold northwesterly winds.  Cairngorm ski resort in Scotland is open, although most of the other centres remain closed, as snow falls on the high ground.  An unsettled front coming in from the Atlantic is causing the combination of storms and sunshine across most the county.  The heaviest rain will be in the west at the beginning of the week before the Atlantic weather system moves over the east of the country bringing downpours to the drought-stricken areas of the UK.  Most of the east of England is in drought, from the Humber down to the Kent coast, and across the Midlands and the South West. Seven water companies in the south and east have brought in hosepipe bans.  Another wet weather front is expected next week, bringing yet more rain and the chance of one of the wettest Aprils on record, after the driest March for 59 years. 

At the halfway point for the month 41.7mm, had fallen, 60 per cent of what would normally be expected. The average UK rainfall for April is 69.6mm.  The wettest April on record was in 2000 when 120.3mm fell and the tenth rainiest year on record was 96.7mm in 1961, meaning this year has a chance of being in the top ten.  Over the next few days up to 30mm could fall in the worst-hit areas in Dorset, Hampshire, the Midlands, and Wales.  It is certainly wetter than last year, the driest April on record, when just 13mm fell.  It is also cooler than usual. The normal maximum average temperature for April is 13C in the South East and 11C in Scotland. But over the next week it will be around 10C in the South East and 8C in Scotland.  Dave Britton, of the Met Office, said there could be localised flooding caused by the thundery downpours.  The Environment Agency has already warned that flash floods could be worse than usual because the ground is so dry because of the drought.  He said it was too early to say if the month as a whole will break records, although it will be cooler and wetter than normal.  “It will take more than one month of above average rainfall to alleviate some of the very dry conditions we have experienced over the last 24 months in some parts of the country,” he said.  At this time of year most of the rain is sucked up by growing plants or evaporates because it is warm. The Environment Agency say that months of rain is needed to refill aquifers and reservoirs. Groundwater supplies, that feed rivers and mains supplies, usually rely on prolonged winter rainfall to fill up. - Telegraph.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Popocatepetl Volcano Spews Glowing Rock, Tower of Ash Near Mexico City - Alert Level Raised, Authorities Preparing for Mass Evacuations!

The Popocatepetl volcano shot a heavy plume of ash into the sky southeast of Mexico’s capital and spewed glowing rock from its crater at dawn on Friday.  Webcam images on the site of the National Disaster Prevention Center showed the plume rising from the top of the 17,886-foot (5,450-meter) peak at dawn, though clouds obscured the volcano for people further away.

Birds fly in the foreground as a plume of ash and steam rises from Popocatepetl volcano,
as seen from San Andres Cholula, Mexico.
The Televisa television network broadcast images of red, glowing material rising from the crater and falling on its slopes. Authorities this week raised the alert level due to increasing activity at the volcano, whose most violent eruption in 1,200 years occurred on Dec. 18, 2000.  The coordinator general for civil protection, Laura Gurza, told Televisa that officials were not yet ready to order any evacuations, but urged people living near the mountain to be “very, very attentive” to action at the volcano, which is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Mexico City. She also urged them to gather important papers and to have their escape routes planned in case they have to leave. The ash was blowing to the northeast, in the general direction of the city of Puebla.  Residents of Huejotzingo, 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the peak, went about the day as normal despite a magnificent plume of ash and water vapor. Luz Maria de Olate, 35, put her 5-year-old in a surgical mask because the teachers said the ash could damage children’s lungs.

But like hundreds of other residents on the flank of the volcano, she doesn’t fear an eruption. Neither did her son as they headed for school.  “I’m not afraid. He’s my uncle,” said Oscar Olate, expressing the personal relationship many in the Mexico Valley feel toward Popocatepetl, whose name means “smoking mountain” in the indigenous Nahuatl language of the Aztecs.  People view it with fondness, said street vender David Gorzo Navarro, 45.  “When the ash falls, it’s like fertilizer,” he said.  More than 30 million people live within view of the volcano, which sits at a point where the states of Mexico, Puebla, and Morelos come together. It has been erupting intermittently since December 1994.  President Felipe Calderon said Mexicans are living in complicated times, given the 2009 swine flu outbreak and floods and drought this year.  “All we’re missing is an eruption of Popocatepetl and we’ll complete the picture,” he said in a speech late Thursday. “Hopefully not,” he added, knocking on wood. - Washington Post.
WATCH: Explosive eruptions at Mexico's volcano.

WEATHER DANGER ZONE: Abnormally Dry Conditions Across America - Parts of 48 States, Drought Forecast is "Not Optimistic"!

Most of the Southwest as well as parts of California and the Southeast can expect drought conditions to worsen through July, federal forecasters said Thursday.  "Overall, the current Drought Outlook is not optimistic," the National Weather Service said in summarizing its forecast.

Besides affecting farmers and ranchers, drought means a greater risk of wildfires, especially in those areas expecting a warmer than average spring. A rash of brush fires earlier this month up and down the East Coast could be a preview of a long, hot spring and summer. "May – July is expected to be warmer than normal" in the Southwest and West, the service added in a more detailed report. "For most of the southwestern and western part of the country, drought is expected to persist in most locations and expand into the central Rockies," it added. "In addition, mountain snowpack, the source of a lot of the region’s moisture, is starting off below normal, and as a result summer streamflows are expected to be abnormally low," forecasters noted.
Arizona and New Mexico, both states in drought, last year saw their worst wildfire seasons on record.  Parts of both states should see some improvement along their southern borders, the forecast stated, but most of their areas will see continued or even worsening drought. Most of California and Nevada, as well as parts of Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington state, are also forecast to see drought persisting or intensifying. On the East Coast, most of Georgia and South Carolina, as well as parts of Alabama, Delaware and Maryland, are expected to see continued or worse drought conditions. Florida, on the other hand, was forecast to see improvement across the entire state. - MSNBC.
WATCH: Drought alert across America.

EXTREME WEATHER ALERT: Lone Star State Severe Threat Late Today - Hail, Damaging Winds and Dangerous Thunderstorms!

A clash of cooler, drier air with warmth and high humidity over the Lone Star State will spark some dangerous thunderstorms later today and tonight.

For many eastern Texas residents from the Rio Grande Valley to Houston, it will be a wild, stormy start to the weekend. Fortunately, after the storms push through tonight, the rest of the weekend will be gorgeous. In the meantime, a few showers and storms will continue to accompany a cold front as it slices across Texas today. With daytime heating, storms will begin to ramp up by this afternoon along and east of the I-35 corridor from Waco to San Antonio. It will take until the late afternoon or early evening hours for storms to reach as far east Corpus Christi, Victoria, Houston and Beaumont-Port Arthur. Areas farther south and east in the lower Rio Grande Valley, along the coast and even into parts of Louisiana will take their turn with gusty storms overnight. Brownsville and Galveston, as well as Alexandria and Lake Charles, La., will be at risk for severe weather overnight.
Since most of the storms will accompany the passage of a cold front along a "squall line," damaging wind gusts greater than 50 mph will be the greatest threat. Winds of this magnitude can bring down tree limbs, cause power outages and even some minor structural damage. With colder air streaming in well above ground level, some storms could also generate some hail large enough to cause damage. If a dangerous storm is approaching, take precautions immediately. If you can, move your car to a garage or carport to prevent pelting damage. While conditions will not be very favorable, severe storms sometimes produce tornadoes with no warning. Sunshine and a cooler breeze will replace overnight thunderstorms come Saturday. Later in the day and into Saturday night, portions of Florida will be next in line for potentially damaging storms. - AccuWeather.
WATCH: Texas Weather Forecast.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: High "Orange" Alert in Colombia - Authorities Preparing For Imminent Eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano!

Colombia's government has called for high risk areas to be prepared for the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano.

The small steam plume from Nevado del Ruiz, seen on March 27, 2012. Image from INGEOMINAS, Colombia.
The Interior Ministry has ordered the fire departments of 19 municipalities in the central Caldas and Tolima departments to be on high alert after the Colombian Geological Survey (SGC) announced that an eruption is "probable" in the coming days or weeks. The alert level was raised from yellow to orange in March as the volcano became increasingly active. Last week a column of gas and steam approximately 1,200 meters tall extended from its crater.
The national director of the firefighting system warned that there is urgent need for a special contingency plan that outlines tactics to be used in emergency volcanic situations, especially for search and rescue groups. He called for a focus on high risk areas in or near the paths of rivers that originate in the Ruiz, whose levels may be elevated by pyroclastic fragments and the melting of ice. The director of the Colombian Fire Department Federation in the town of Riosucio explained that local firemen are preparing a plan and educating communities. In 1985 The Nevado del Ruiz erupted, wiping out the town of Armero and killing 25,000 people. - Colombia Reports.

SEASON OF THE WINDS: Powerful Winds and Storms Wreck Havoc in Turkey - 6 Killed and 100 Injured!

Powerful winds at speeds reaching up to 150 kilometers per hour wreaked havoc across Turkey yesterday, killing six, injuring 100 and sparking forest fires. 

Raging storms damaged cars and streets, toppled roofs and bus stops all across Turkey.
Six people died and more than 100 were injured in the storm.
High winds in the Central Anatolian province of Konya led to a sandstorm that caused a pileup on the Konya-Ankara and Konya-Ereğli highways, killing four and injuring 73.  Nazife Gümüş, a 51-year-old woman in the Central Anatolian province of Kırıkkale, was killed when strong winds blew a tile off of a roof, hitting her in the head.  Meanwhile, a passenger bus carrying Spanish tourists to the Central Anatolian province of Aksaray hit a cargo truck from the rear due to low visibility caused by the sandstorms.

All but one of the 35 tourists on the bus were injured.  Some 600 hectares of forest land were burned in a fire caused by raging storms in the district of Safranbolu in the Black Sea province of Karabük. The province’s deputy governor, Ertuğ Şevket Aksoy, said the fire had been brought under control and that efforts to cool the blaze were underway.  “[Reports indicate] the fire was caused by a short circuit in electricity transmission lines during rampaging storms. ... We can say the fire has been extinguished,” Aksoy said. - Hurriyet Daily News.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Mysterious Disease Turns British Cats Into "Living Robots" - Experts Say There's No Cure?!

Cats are being struck down by a mystery disease that turns them into 'living robots'.  Their legs become rigid, giving them an odd, stiff gait, their personality changes and their tail stiffens and sticks out.  There is no known treatment or cure.

Victims become over affectionate, their movement becomes stiffer and they are increasingly
disorientated with difficulty grooming.
The symptoms become progressively worse and the animals are put down when their suffering becomes too much.  The condition has baffled vets, as tests for numerous viruses have come back negative. Their best guess is that the pets caught the disease while out hunting.  Around 50 cases have been spotted in Scotland in the past decade, along with one in Liverpool, but researchers believe more may have gone unreported elsewhere.  The outbreak appears to be centred in a rural area between Inverness and Aberdeen.  Vets there have treated around 20 'robotic' cats, including two that have only recently become ill.  Jeannette Andrew, of the Strathbogie Veterinary Centre in Aberdeenshire, said: 'They look like robots.  'They get a bit lost and get stuck in corners and don't know how to reverse and turn round.'  Danielle Gunn-Moore, a professor of feline medicine at Edinburgh University, said: 'Their head is forward, their chin is slightly down, their ears are forward and they have a very stiff walk and a stiff tail … They walk like robots.' 

The condition also affects personality, with most of the sick animals becoming more affectionate. Some, however, become aggressive.  As it doesn't seem to spread between cats and all the sick animals are avid hunters, experts believe the most likely source to be a mutant virus carried by mice or voles.  Professor Gunn-Moore said: 'We have looked in the blood, in the brain fluid and in brain sections.  'We have looked for the presence of viruses in the brain and so far we've been able to rule out vast numbers but can't find the one that's causing it.'  Vets have tried treatments including painkillers, vitamins, antibiotics and drugs normally given to multiple sclerosis sufferers, but none has held the disease at bay.  The animals, which are usually elderly, gradually become more disabled and when they start to find it hard to swallow, they are usually put down – normally within a year of falling ill.  So far the 'robotic cat' in Liverpool is the only one treated outside Scotland, and it is believed it may have caught the disease while living in the Highlands.  A similar condition, known as 'staggering disease' has been seen in Sweden and Austria. However the cats there do not develop stiff tails. - Daily Mail.
WATCH: "Robot cat" illness mystifies.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Chile's 6.7 Magnitude Quake on Tuesday Kills Two People - Shock Waves Felt 1,000 Kilometers Away; Felt in 68 Cities and Towns!

A magnitude-6.7 earthquake shook eight regions of Chile early Tuesday, causing two people to die of heart attacks, the authorities said.  The victims were Hugo Muñoz Sepúlveda, 72, and Luis Ordenes Tápia, 59, who died in the towns of Quillota and Papudo, both in the Valparaiso region where the temblor hit hardest.

After the quake, whose shock waves extended to the regions of Atacama, 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Santiago, and La Araucania, 700 kilometers (435 miles) south of the capital, the government called on the populace to keep calm.  Deputy Interior Secretary Rodrigo Ubilla said that following the guidelines of the National Emergency Office, or Onemi, the preventive evacuation of the Chilean coast was ordered.  Onemi kept the evacuation order in force for coastal towns in the regions of Coquimbo and Maule until 3:10 a.m. Tuesday, even though the Naval Hydrographic and Oceanography Service, or Shoa, lifted the tsunami alert just 15 minutes after the temblor. 

The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 12:50 a.m. Tuesday and lasted approximately one minute, was located at 44 kilometers (27 miles) northwest of the city of Valparaiso and some 170 kilometers (105 miles) northwest of Santiago, with its focus at 31.9 kilometers (20 miles) beneath the earth's surface, according to the Seismological Institute at the University of Chile.  The U.S. Geological Survey, which at first graded the quake as a magnitude-6.4, later raised it to a magnitude-6.7.  Up to 5:00 a.m., the University of Chile registered a number of aftershocks.  According to Onemi, the earthquake affected 68 cities and towns.  Los Libertadores Pass in the Andes, which connects the Chilean city of Los Andes with the city of Mendoza in Argentina remains partially closed due to the poor state of the highway.  - FOX News Latino.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: A Most Bizarre Skin Disease Continues to Spread in Vietnam - Poisoning, Eye Disease and Respiratory Problems!

According to statistics of the Son Ha District Medical Centre on April 11, the numbers of people in Vietnam, suffering from the bizarre skin disease have increased to 50, most of them being residents of Son Ba and Son Ky Communes. 

More people are reported suffering from stiffness of the limbs, respiratory problems and miscarriages,
caused by a peculiar and unidentified skin ulceration that has plagued the central province of
Quang Ngai since April, said medical authorities from the province.
Since March 8 to date, three inhabitants of Son Ky Commune have succumbed to the disease and 13 others are suffering from eye disease and respiratory problems.  Medical experts suspect the victims are suffering from poisoning from chemical herbicides, as they were affected soon after spraying the chemical in cassava fields.  The provincial health authorities have yet to determine the cause of deaths, but believe use of high contents of chemical herbicides have polluted the water sources in the commune. 

Residents in these communes use an American brand herbicide named Kanup 480 SL, imported by the Viet Thang Company in the northern province of Bac Giang. The chemical was offered for sale on the company’s catalog on November 5, 2011.  Samples of water, soil from cassava fields and herbicide packages   have been collected for testing. Preventive medicine centres in the province have warned people not to use the present water source but find an alternative source. Farmers must eat meals before spraying on fields and drink sugar water when experiencing symptoms and visit a medical centre immediately. - Vietnam Net.

EXTREME WEATHER: 59 Wildfires Blazes Across Southern Siberia!

Wildfires have swept across southern Siberia, destroying houses in several villages, but no deaths have been reported.

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry said today that 59 fires were raging in the region east of Lake Baikal, thousands of kilometres east of Moscow. More than 9200 hectares were affected.  Four people were taken to hospital with burns after one of the fires swept through the village of Vasilyevsky Khutor. 

The ministry said the fire had been triggered by local residents burning rubbish.  On Wednesday, fires destroyed houses in other villages and cut power supplies to more than 4000 residents.  Large areas in Russia are regularly affected by wildfires, often triggered by disregard for safety rules. - Herald Sun.