Wednesday, April 1, 2015

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Widespread Flooding – The Latest Reports Of High Tides, Heavy Rainfall, Flash Floods, Sea Level Rise, And Catastrophic Storms!

April 1, 2015 - EARTH - The following list constitutes the latest reports of high tides, heavy rainfall, flash floods, widespread flooding, sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

Peru Floods and Landslides – 5 Regions Call State of Emergency

Flood and landslide damage in Chosica, Peru. Photo: Practical Action

The heavy rain and resulting floods and landslides have prompted the government in Peru to declare a state of emergency in Tumbes, Cajamarca, Lima, Tacna and Moquegua regions over the last week.

Further rainfall has been forecast until 05 April 2015. Some river levels remain high, particularly in the north of the country, and alerts have been issued.

At least 22 people have been killed in floods and landslides since the heavy rainfall began around 22 March 2015. There are many people still missing. These figures are likely to change as more thorough assessments are carried out. Floods and numerous landslides have blocked roads, and authorities are yet to reach some of the affected areas.

Tumbes Region

As of 30 March 2015, the government of Peru officially declared state of emergency in the Tumbes region.
Heavy rainfall since 26 March 2015 has caused landslides, mudslides and increased flow of rivers and tributaries in the region in the country’s far north. The Tumbes and Zarumilla rivers have overflowed, damaging houses, roads and infrastructure in the three provinces of the region (Contralmirante Villar, Tumbes and Zarumilla).

At least 500 homes and hundreds of hectares of crops have been affected in several districts of the region, reported the regional president, Ricardo Flores Dioses,as quoted in local media. The technical secretary of the Regional Emergency Operations (COER), Eduardo Arbulú said that in this region there nearly 1,900 families affected by the rains.

Flood and landslide damage in Chosica, Lima, Peru, March 2015. Photo: Practical Action

Flooding has also caused widespread damage to crops in the region, affecting over 6,000 producers, according to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MINAGRI), who said that over 7,500 hectares of rice, organic bananas, cocoa and lemons have all suffered damage.

On 29 March 2015, Peru’s meteorological agency, SENAMHI, recorded flow of the Zarumilla river to be 1362.07 m3 per second, which is the highest recorded since last year and more than twice the normal flow.
INDECI, Peru’s civil protection agency, has recommended that residents living in areas along the Zarumilla river to relocate to safe areas on higher ground.

Cajamarca Region

La Republica are reporting that at least 14 people have died in landslides in Cajamarca region since the recent heavy rains began.

Five people died in a landslide in Nuevo Horizonte, Sócota, and three in a landslide in Santa Cruz de Cutervo. Landslides and floods have destroyed roads and have made areas of the region inaccessible. On the road linking Cutervo to Jaén there have been as many as 30 landslides. La Republica say that other victims died as they were unable to reach a hospital and receive medical care in time. Districts including Choros, Sacilia, Cujillo, Toribio Casanova, La Ramada and La Capilla are either completely or partially cut off.

Lvele 3 (Orange) and Level 2 (yellow) Alerts. Moderate rain forecast from 01 to 05 April 2015 in some areas of Peru. Image: SENAMHI

Image: La Republica

On 28 March 2015, the central government declared a state of emergency lasting 60 days for 21 districts affected by heavy rains, floods and landslides in Cajamarca region.

The affected districts include Jaén, Colasay, San Luis de Lucma, Choros, Socota, Callayuc, Cutervo, La Ramada, Santa Cruz, Toribio Casanova, Santo Domingo de La Capilla and Querocotillo.

Local media
say that around 15,000 people near Jaén have been cut off after a river overflowed, blocking an important road. INDECI say that 232 families in Jaén have been made homeless by the floods and landslides.

Almost 4,000 hectares of crops have been damaged in Chota and Cutervo provinces in the region.

Lima Region

In Lima region, landslides occurred in the district of Lurigancho-Chosica on 23 March, killing eight people and injuring 25, while another six people were still missing and over 150 houses were destroyed, as of 24 March 2015.

Media say that as many as 13 landslides have been recorded in Chosica since 23 March 2015. The floods and landslides were caused by torrential rainfall on 23 March 2015 which, according to some reports, lasted or over 6 hours.

WATCH: Flooding in Peru.

Another landslide occurred in Huarochiri province of Lima on the same day, injuring 30 people and destroying 110 houses.

The landslides blocked major roads linking Lima to the central Andes. Chosica also suffered severe flooding after the Rimac river overflowed. Levels of the river have since started to fall, according to a report of 31 March 2015 from SENAMHI.

The road has since re-opened and a state of national emergency was declared in Chosica surrounding areas on 25 March 2015 in order to allow quicker access to relief and repair funds. The President of Peru and local authorities have visited the zone and are assisting the affected population in coordination with INDECI and other state authorities.

Practical Action Flood Resilience Project

Practical Action, the development charity, currently has a team of people working in the Chosica district of Lima.

Colin McQuistan, policy and practice advisor on disaster risk reduction and climate change said: “The fatalities have been from informal communities located high up in the river basin. They have been hit by both mud avalanches and erosion of the land on which they live.

“This is a poor area of Lima. Along the river temporary and unofficial housing is growing and coming ever closer to the river bank. We have been working with the municipal government and local community leaders to put in place reliable effective methods of evacuation, to ensure housing is better able to withstand this type of event and to improve the ability of people to recover their livelihoods after flooding or landslides”.

Practical Action has been working in the affected area for the last few months, initiating a project designed to make those living on the banks of the Rio Rimac more resilient to flooding and better prepared to cope when a disaster strikes.

About the project, Colin McQuistan said:

“Unfortunately, the project is still in its early stages and our work has mainly been with communities lower down the river basin and not those affected by the landslides. So while we have not been able to prevent the loss of life this time, we believe that in future people near to the Rio Rimac will be far better equipped to survive such floods.

“It is ironic that this has happened just days after the World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan where we argued strongly that urban development must take into account climate change and the threat of disasters such as flooding.

“Poverty, vulnerability and disasters are linked”

“Poverty, vulnerability and disasters are linked – it is most often the poorest that are worst affected and suffer most. Their poverty makes them more vulnerable. Their capacity to cope with disasters and recover from the effects are constrained by their lack of resources. But if their risk is managed then dramatic flood events need not turn into tragic disasters.”

The project is one of a number Practical Action has been implementing in communities vulnerable to climate change throughout the world as part of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance programme.

Tacna Region

Heavy rain resulted in floods and landslides in district of Ilabaya, province of Jorge Basadre in Tacna region on 26 March 2015. Houses, roads, infrastructure and crops have all been damaged. Peru’s central government has since declared a state of emergency for the district.

Moquegua Region

The government has also declared a state of emergency in the province of General Sánchez Cerro ; and the province of Mariscal Nieto, in the Moquegua region.

Forecast and Alerts

Further rainfall is expected until 05 April 2015 at least, although the rain is unlikely to be as intense as previous weeks.

SENAMHI have issued alerts of Level 2 or 3 for the regions of Ancash, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Huancavelica, Huanuco, Junin, La Libertad, and Pasco.

SENAMHI say that levels of the Tumbes, Chira, Piura and Jequetepeque rivers are all high and, as of 31 March 2015, are still increasing. A red alert remains in place for these rivers.

Areas of Peru Affected by Floods, Heavy Rain and Landslides

The infographic below shows the areas of Peru affected by the recent severe weather.

Jhelum River Threatens More Floods in Kashmir after 48 Hours of Rain

Landslides and flooding caused by heavy rains have raised fears in Kashmir of a repeat of major flooding that hit the region only six months ago.

At least 16 people are believed to be dead after they were trapped under a landslide in Ledan area of central Indian-held Kashmir’s Bidgam district. Police sources said that they have so far recovered the dead bodies of 10 victims who had been buried under the landslide Monday morning.

“Rescue operations are still on but with every passing hour, the chances of rescuing anyone alive are diminished,” a senior police official told The Anadolu Agency.

The Jhelum river and several of its streams swelled after incessant rains poured into the valley for more than 48 hours.

“We have made announcements for people living in low-lying areas and near the embankments of the rivers and streams to vacate their houses and move to safer places,” chief engineer of the Irrigation and Flood Control department Javed Jaffer told The Anadolu Agency. “The flood alert has been sounded in Srinagar and Pulwama districts.”

Even before the government announced the flood alert, thousands of people shifted their belongings to the upper floors of their homes and dispatched older family members and children to safer areas.

Kashmiri muslims cross a waterlogged street in city center Lal chowk in Srinagar the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir on March 29,2015 .The
valley has been witnessing heavy rainfall since Saturday, leading to a fresh floods panic and sudden surge in
water level in rivers, streams and rivulet across Kashmir. Photo: AA

A Kashmiri muslim carries his belongings in waterlogged city center Lal chowk in Srinagar the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir on March 29,2015.
The valley has been witnessing heavy rainfall since Saturday, leading to a fresh floods panic and sudden surge
in water level in rivers, streams and rivulet across Kashmir. Photo: AA

“There is panic all over here and people cannot believe that they are in the middle of another flood when they have not yet recovered from the last floods,” said Adil Ahmad Khan, a resident of the Nowgam area.

The downpour, meanwhile, stopped early Monday morning, giving hope to people that the water levels could recede.

The floods in September, which were the worst the region had experienced in a century, killed more than 300 people and caused unprecedented damage to property, business and infrastructure, still visible in the regional capital Srinagar.

Experts say the floods deposited a large volume of silt in the flood channels, which were not properly dredged after the local government began to focus on state elections in November.

“They did not clear the flood channels, and there have been rains and snow and the melting of glaciers has contributed to this situation. But what is most important is that we are staring at a catastrophe once again,” a senior government official in the meteorological department told The Anadolu Agency.

Flooding in India leads to massive mudslides, dozens buried

A Kashmiri muslim carries his belongings in waterlogged city center Lal chowk in Srinagar the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir on March 29,2015.
The valley has been witnessing heavy rainfall since Saturday, leading to a fresh floods panic and sudden surge
in water level in rivers, streams and rivulet across Kashmir.

A mudslide triggered by heavy rain bore down on two houses early today, burying a newborn and at least a dozen others under a mountain of debris
hours before officials formally declared what many Kashmiris had been dreading.

Another deluge - months after last year's September floods that had left hundreds dead and a trail of devastation.

The formal announcement of the flood came around 7am, after the water level in the Jhelum crossed the 18ft danger mark at Srinagar's Ram Munshi Bagh and touched 19.5ft on the gauge.

A let-up in the rain gave people a breather but the forecast from the weather office, which predicted intermittent showers over the next three days followed by a heavy downpour on April 3, meant the respite would be brief.

Earlier, around 3.30 in the morning, hell broke loose in Laden, a village in central Kashmir's Budgam district, when two houses on the edge of a hillock collapsed under tonnes of mud, burying all 16 residents.

Budgam sub-divisional magistrate Aijaz Ahmad said rescuers had recovered six bodies, including that of a newborn. Four of the dead were women. "There are no chances of survival of the remaining 10," he said.

Among the dead and missing, 11 were from one family.

Officials said hundreds of local people and police and other security force personnel were trying to retrieve the bodies. "It is not possible to deploy heavy machinery to the spot because of its inaccessibility. A makeshift road has been built to help people reach the spot," an official said, adding the land under the two houses had caved in and sunk them around 70ft below.

Wailing relatives have rushed to the village but the silence of one man mirrored the despair. "The head of one of the two families was not at home when the tragedy struck. He is back in the village but is speechless," said an official.

Some good news trickled in from Poonch district in Jammu, where a bold operation by forces helped rescue 32 people trapped on a raised land in the middle of a river.

A locality in Srinagar's Bemina, which had faced the brunt of last year's floods, was under water today after a breach in an embankment. The ground floor of Sher-e-Kashmir hospital at Bemina was also submerged, prompting the administration to shift patients elsewhere.

People across Kashmir had been resigned to fresh floods after heavy snowfall and rain through much of March had left water levels high in streams and lakes.

Memories of the September deluge - that left 300 people dead - still fresh, hundreds of shopkeepers had shifted their wares to safer areas, although many are still hoping the situation won't be as bad this time.

Official sources said the National Disaster Response Force had dispatched eight fully equipped teams to the Valley while the air force has placed its resources on standby. "Two Mi-17 helicopters each at Jammu, Udhampur and Srinagar. One each Cheetah helicopter of the IAF is on standby at Srinagar and Jammu to be part of rescue and relief operations. The IAF has assured the civil administration of all possible assistance in this time of crisis," said Col S.D. Goswami, the defence spokesperson at the Northern Command headquarters.

Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed urged people not to panic. "Shelters have been made functional.... Adequate number of sandbags are available and are being used in critical embankments so that there is no breach," he said.

The central government has granted Rs 200 crore as immediate relief while Prime Minister Narendra Modi rushed minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to Kashmir for an on-the-spot assessment.

Severe Floods Hit Eastern Provinces of Democratic Republic of the Congo

A family flooded by rainwater. © Radio Okapi /John Bompengo

Local Democratic Republic of the Congo radio station Radio Okapi is reporting that at least 14 people have died in flooding in the territory of Fizi, South Kivu province in the east of the country after several days of heavy rain.

Rivers have overflowed, flooding farmland, blocking roads and damaging 100s of homes. According to the source, the worst affected areas are Mutambala, Ubwari, Makobola, Swima, Kabunde and Baraka, where around 50 homes have been completely destroyed.

Radio Okapi
also report that parts of the neighbouring provinces of North Kivu and Katanga, in particular the town of Kalemie, have also been affected by flooding and heavy rain in the last few days.

Four people were killed in flood-related incidents in the region in October 2014. Later that month at least 30 people were killed by floods in Kalehe Territory in South Kivu province after 3 days of heavy rain.

Fizi is around 130 km south of Bujumbura, Burundi, where 15 died in a landslide after heavy rain on Sunday 29 March 2015.

- Floodlist | Telegraph.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: "Volcano Of Fire" - Stunning Photo Of Volcanic Lightning At Mexico's Colima Volcano!

The Colima Volcano (Volcán de Colima) pictured on March 29, 2015 with lightning arcing through the ash plume. Credit and copyright: César Cantú.

April 1, 2015 - MEXICO
- The Colima volcano in Mexico is active again, and has been spewing out large plumes of ash nearly 3 kilometers into the air.

Astrophotographer César Cantú captured this spectacular picture of lightning slicing through the cloud of ash.

How can lightning strike in an ash cloud? Through friction, particles of the ash can charge each other by rubbing against each other during the eruption. When the energy is discharged, it can create lightning bolts.

The volcano continues to produce strong vulcanian-type explosions, with ash plumes rising 2-3 km above the volcano.  Credit: Hernando Rivera

The Colima volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico, and is also called ‘Volcán de Fuego’ or ‘Fire volcano.’ It has erupted more than 40 times since the first documented eruption in 1576.

The latest news on this current eruption is that local authorities have put the volcano on a yellow alert, meaning the volcano is showing increased activity, and residents who live nearby should prepare for a possible evacuation.

Stay safe César, and thanks for sharing your image with Universe Today! See a larger version on his website here. - Universe Today.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Russian Trawler With Over 130 Aboard Sinks In The Sea Of Okhotsk - At Least 54 Have Been Confirmed Dead; 63 Survivors Of The Catastrophe; Others Missing!

April 1, 2015 - SEA OF OKHOTSK
- A rescue operation is underway to save the multinational crew of the Russian freezer trawler “Dalniy Vostok” which has sunk in the Sea of Okhotsk off the Kamchatka Peninsula. At least 54 have been confirmed dead while 63 have survived the catastrophe.

A total of 117 people were lifted from the water, 63 of them are alive, a representative of the Kamchatka division of the Russian Emergencies Ministry told RIA. The survivors who were seriously injured in the shipwreck or who suffered from hypothermia in the freezing waters will be delivered to the clinics of Magadan by helicopter, TASS reports.

Fifty-four people have been confirmed dead after their bodies were pulled out of the water, according to the latest data, while 15 are still considered to be missing.

Twenty-six vessels are working at the site to rescue the remaining crew members. An MI-8 rescue helicopter with four rescuers and medics on board was also deployed, according to local authorities, to search for survivors. However, the chances of survival in near-freezing waters after more than 20 minutes is nearly impossible, even wearing a wetsuit, rescuers say.

All four rescue rafts seen at the site of the accident have been accounted for and all surviving crew have been brought up. Rescuers suspect that around 20 people on board Dalniy Vostok did not manage to make it to the rafts and sunk with the ship within minutes.

WATCH: Dozens dead as trawler sinks in Okhotsk Sea.

A total of 132 people are believed to have been aboard the ship. According to preliminary data, 78 of the ship’s crew members are Russians while 54 are foreigners. “According to preliminary data, besides Russians the crew included nationals of Burma, Vanuatu, Latvia and Ukraine,” a source from the rescue services told Sputnik

“The rescue mission in the area of the sunken trawler is being led [by] nearby vessels in the area. Their crew is bringing up sailors from Dalniy Vostok from the rafts aboard their ships,” Chief of Maritime Rescue of the seaport of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Arthur Retz told Interfax.

The local branch of the ministry reported that the trawler sunk in about 15 minutes after its engine compartment had been flooded. According to a TASS emergency source, the ship did not even send a distress signal. According to information from the rescuers, many sailors on board Dalniy Vostok managed to put on rescue vests as the ship sank.

The ‘Granit’ vessel, the captain of which is charged with overseeing the rescue operation, brought on board eight bodies alongside 25 sailors from the sunken ship, Retz said.

Another ship, ‘Ivan Kalinin’ brought up two sailors, one of whom is injured. The ‘Victoria 1’ ship secured 15 sailors in the region while ‘Aleksey Chirikov’ brought up from the waves one body and three sailors.

“The state of emergency became known on Thursday morning,” Retz said.

Shortly after the incident, the head of maritime rescue noted that visibility around the accident site was 24 kilometers, with winds of up to 10 meters per second. The water temperature is around zero degrees Celsius, while the waves were reaching some 1.5 meters in height.

The 103-meter-long and 16-meter-wide autonomous refrigerator trawler ‘Dalniy Vostok’ is designed to process, refrigerate and deliver its catch to the nearest port. Some 110 vessels of this type were built by the ‘Ocean’ factory in the Ukrainian city of Nikolaev between 1974 and 2011.

‘Dalniy Vostok’ was built in 1989 and up until 2014 was been deployed in the Baltic Sea off Riga, Latvia, under the name Stende. Last year, the trawler was acquired by ‘Magellan’ company and moved to Russia's Far East where the vessel was renamed and assigned to the port of Nevelsk.

An ice collision has been considered as one of the possible causes of the accident, in addition to potential violations of safety procedures on board, a source in the rescue command center told Interfax.

“The main version of what happened considered so far is an extreme impact of ice on the vessel’s hull, that led to deformation, followed by partial destruction of the body,” a source said, noting that the investigation cannot exclude the “possibility” of an excess amount of cargo on board the ship.

A criminal investigation has been opened into the tragedy, primarily examining the possible violation of safety procedures that has led to multiple deaths. Authorities are in the process of interviewing the surviving crew members as well as the owners of the trawler.  - RT.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM & PLANETARY TREMORS: Chile's Villarrica Volcano Explodes To Life Again - As 4.6 Magnitude Earthquake Produces More Than 70 AFTERSHOCKS In The Heredia Region!

The 2860-metre-high snow-capped stratovolcano, located 750 kilometres south of the capital Santiago, is one of the most active in Chile.

April 1, 2015 - CHILE - A dense cloud of smoke rose above Chile's Villarrica Volcano on 31 March 2015 as scientists reported moderate activity within its crater.

In the last few hours, strombolian eruptions, which are relatively low-level volcanic eruptions, were reported by Chilean Mining Ministry's Sernageomin geology unit. The largest one rose 300m above the crater, with debris falling over its slopes.

Tourists took in the sights, as smoke columns rose above the impressive volcano.

Although volcanic activity remains unstable, Pucon Education Director Alejandro Duran said children had been allowed to return to classes, following emergency protocols.

This image of Villarrica's latest eruption was taken from an altitude of about 700 kilometres by the Advanced Land Imager onboard
NASA's EO-1 satellite on 18 March, 2015.

"The idea is to run it by the parents, so that they feel schools are now safe with regards to the volcano and obviously for them (school authorities) to know that we respect action protocols in each one of our establishments," Duran said.

The director at the Carlos Holzapfer school in Pucon, Patricia Arratia, said she wanted to reassure parents a proper emergency plan was in place.

WATCH: Villarrico volcano rumbles to life.

"We are meeting to discuss what a volcanic emergency means, so that our superiors know children at our school are going to be safe and we have a concrete evacuation plan in place," Arratia said.

The volcano, located near the popular tourist resort of Pucon around 750km south of the capital Santiago, is among the most active in South America.

On 3 March, a short-lived eruption of ash and rock led to the evacuation of thousands from the nearby area.

Authorities have restricted access to the area within 5km of the crater and have put the area under an orange alert due to the volcano's heightened unrest and increased likelihood of eruption. - IBT.

4.6 magnitude Costa Rican earthquake produces more than 70 aftershocks

USGS shakemap intensity

 An early morning earthquake that struck two kilometers north of Vara Blanca, Heredia, produced more than 70 aftershocks, according to the National Seismological and Volcanological Observatory (OVSICORI).

The initial quake, measuring 4.6-magnitude on the Richter scale, struck at 3:09 a.m. Aftershocks continued until 5:17 a.m., according to OVSICORI.

Significant shaking was reported in various sectors of Heredia, as well as in Naranjo, La Garita, El Coyal and Poas in Alajuela, and the western San Jose suburbs of Escazu and Santa Ana.

There were no reports of injury or damage. - Inside Costa Rica.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Caribbean Region and Vicinity

Extensive diversity and complexity of tectonic regimes characterizes the perimeter of the Caribbean plate, involving no fewer than four major plates (North America, South America, Nazca, and Cocos). Inclined zones of deep earthquakes (Wadati-Benioff zones), ocean trenches, and arcs of volcanoes clearly indicate subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Central American and Atlantic Ocean margins of the Caribbean plate, while crustal seismicity in Guatemala, northern Venezuela, and the Cayman Ridge and Cayman Trench indicate transform fault and pull-apart basin tectonics.

Along the northern margin of the Caribbean plate, the North America plate moves westwards with respect to the Caribbean plate at a velocity of approximately 20 mm/yr. Motion is accommodated along several major transform faults that extend eastward from Isla de Roatan to Haiti, including the Swan Island Fault and the Oriente Fault. These faults represent the southern and northern boundaries of the Cayman Trench. Further east, from the Dominican Republic to the Island of Barbuda, relative motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate becomes increasingly complex and is partially accommodated by nearly arc-parallel subduction of the North America plate beneath the Caribbean plate. This results in the formation of the deep Puerto Rico Trench and a zone of intermediate focus earthquakes (70-300 km depth) within the subducted slab. Although the Puerto Rico subduction zone is thought to be capable of generating a megathrust earthquake, there have been no such events in the past century. The last probable interplate (thrust fault) event here occurred on May 2, 1787 and was widely felt throughout the island with documented destruction across the entire northern coast, including Arecibo and San Juan. Since 1900, the two largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the August 4, 1946 M8.0 Samana earthquake in northeastern Hispaniola and the July 29, 1943 M7.6 Mona Passage earthquake, both of which were shallow thrust fault earthquakes. A significant portion of the motion between the North America plate and the Caribbean plate in this region is accommodated by a series of left-lateral strike-slip faults that bisect the island of Hispaniola, notably the Septentrional Fault in the north and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault in the south. Activity adjacent to the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault system is best documented by the devastating January 12, 2010 M7.0 Haiti strike-slip earthquake, its associated aftershocks and a comparable earthquake in 1770.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Moving east and south, the plate boundary curves around Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles where the plate motion vector of the Caribbean plate relative to the North and South America plates is less oblique, resulting in active island-arc tectonics. Here, the North and South America plates subduct towards the west beneath the Caribbean plate along the Lesser Antilles Trench at rates of approximately 20 mm/yr. As a result of this subduction, there exists both intermediate focus earthquakes within the subducted plates and a chain of active volcanoes along the island arc. Although the Lesser Antilles is considered one of the most seismically active regions in the Caribbean, few of these events have been greater than M7.0 over the past century. The island of Guadeloupe was the site of one of the largest megathrust earthquakes to occur in this region on February 8, 1843, with a suggested magnitude greater than 8.0. The largest recent intermediate-depth earthquake to occur along the Lesser Antilles arc was the November 29, 2007 M7.4 Martinique earthquake northwest of Fort-De-France.

The southern Caribbean plate boundary with the South America plate strikes east-west across Trinidad and western Venezuela at a relative rate of approximately 20 mm/yr. This boundary is characterized by major transform faults, including the Central Range Fault and the Boconó-San Sebastian-El Pilar Faults, and shallow seismicity. Since 1900, the largest earthquakes to occur in this region were the October 29, 1900 M7.7 Caracas earthquake, and the July 29, 1967 M6.5 earthquake near this same region. Further to the west, a broad zone of compressive deformation trends southwestward across western Venezuela and central Colombia. The plate boundary is not well defined across northwestern South America, but deformation transitions from being dominated by Caribbean/South America convergence in the east to Nazca/South America convergence in the west. The transition zone between subduction on the eastern and western margins of the Caribbean plate is characterized by diffuse seismicity involving low- to intermediate-magnitude (Magnitude less than 6.0) earthquakes of shallow to intermediate depth.

The plate boundary offshore of Colombia is also characterized by convergence, where the Nazca plate subducts beneath South America towards the east at a rate of approximately 65 mm/yr. The January 31, 1906 M8.5 earthquake occurred on the shallowly dipping megathrust interface of this plate boundary segment. Along the western coast of Central America, the Cocos plate subducts towards the east beneath the Caribbean plate at the Middle America Trench. Convergence rates vary between 72-81 mm/yr, decreasing towards the north. This subduction results in relatively high rates of seismicity and a chain of numerous active volcanoes; intermediate-focus earthquakes occur within the subducted Cocos plate to depths of nearly 300 km. Since 1900, there have been many moderately sized intermediate-depth earthquakes in this region, including the September 7, 1915 M7.4 El Salvador and the October 5, 1950 M7.8 Costa Rica events.

The boundary between the Cocos and Nazca plates is characterized by a series of north-south trending transform faults and east-west trending spreading centers. The largest and most seismically active of these transform boundaries is the Panama Fracture Zone. The Panama Fracture Zone terminates in the south at the Galapagos rift zone and in the north at the Middle America trench, where it forms part of the Cocos-Nazca-Caribbean triple junction. Earthquakes along the Panama Fracture Zone are generally shallow, low- to intermediate in magnitude (Magnitude less than 7.2) and are characteristically right-lateral strike-slip faulting earthquakes. Since 1900, the largest earthquake to occur along the Panama Fracture Zone was the July 26, 1962 M7.2 earthquake.

References for the Panama Fracture Zone:

Molnar, P., and Sykes, L. R., 1969, Tectonics of the Caribbean and Middle America Regions from Focal Mechanisms and Seismicity: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 80, p. 1639-1684.

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics


MONUMENTAL MASS FISH DIE-OFFS: "What's Going On,... WHERE ARE THE FISH,... Where Did They Go,... It's Insane,... Its Like A War Zone,... Food Shortage ALL UP AND DOWN THE WEST COAST?" - Experts Declare That The PACIFIC FOOD WEB IS CRASHING And Fishermen Believe That Pollution Is Harming The Food Chain!

April 1, 2015 - PACIFIC OCEAN
- Volunteers who track the animals now say they think the colony of harbor seals is being affected by this year’s food shortage in the Monterey Bay, and that affect is significantThe food shortage is happening up and down the West Coast it isn’t just affecting sea lions, it is also affecting harbor seals. Monitors say the pupping season got off to an early and difficult start this year, with more seal pups being abandoned the normal… They attribute the problems to a food shortage in the Pacific… it is happening all up and down the coast. - Mar 30, 2015 (emphasis added) - KSBW.

Keith Matassa, Pacific Marine Mammal Center
: You could equate it to a war zone hundreds of rescue calls a day”… Michele Hunter, PMMC: To be honest, it’s insane. We’ve never had to deal with [something like this]“… Scientists are puzzled by whats happening. Matassa: “That’s what we’re trying to figure out is why? What’s going on? Where are the fish? Where did they go? Was there a little mini El Nino? Did something happen with the currents that the fish decided to go deeper or further out? They’re not closing the book on any theory.” - Mar 16, 2015 - New York Times.

[S]cientists are taking a closer look at rapidly declining oxygen levels in oceans… In California, this has meant a huge free-fall in populations of important bottom feeder fish Francisco Chavez [with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute said,] I think there are a slew of surprises ahead.” - Mar 17, 2015 - NBC San Francisco.

In 2013, the sardine biomass was estimated to be about 725,000 tons… In 2014 [it was] down to 406,000 tons… there is no doubt that the population is severely depressed… sardines have declined to their lowest level in six decades it’s unclear whether fishing is a significant cause for the collapse… - Mar 18, 2015 - East Bay Express.

Dr. George Hemingway, retired Oceanographer, Marine Educator, and chair of the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council will present a lecture entitled Warming and the 2014 Anchovy Bloom… Dr. Hemingway will go on to discuss subsequent developments in the Pacific, including the current crash in the food web, which has led to significant mortality of birds, sea lions and other marine life. - Mar 13, 2015 - Tillamook Herald.

NOAA points to water temperature as an answer for underweight sea lions, but fisherman aren’t so sure
– Fisherman tell News Channel 3 that past El Nino years have been warmer… They believe the sea lion food chain may be affected by pollution as well… Their habitat is being messed with“… “I just think they have  behavioral changes that have been affecting them much more than it has in the past.” - Mar 18, 2015 - KEYT.

Watch videos here: KSBW | NY Times | KEYT

Compiled by: ENE News.

FIRE IN THE SKY: "This Was The Brightest Meteor I Ever Seen" - Fireball Streaks Across California's Bay Area!

Example of a typical fireball.  © Howard Edin, Oklahoma City Astronomy Club

- From Concord to Davis, and as far south as Palo Alto, seven sky watchers spotted a fireball streaking across the sky Monday night after 8 p.m., burning in oranges, yellows, and even purples before fragmenting and disintegrating overhead.

Spring is "fireball" season when a 30 percent increase in meteors is observed around earth, and Monday night's reports of a fireball over the Bay Area are exactly what NASA and astronomers hope to track.

"Forrest L" in Concord reported to the American Meteor Society, "This was the brightest meteor I can recall having seen. It passed about a hand span or two from the moon and seemed brighter. I could not tell if it 'burned out' or disappeared behind the clouds. My first sight of it was directly overhead, and fully bright, not faded-in as most meteors do, so I believe it started behind me. It moved much faster than an airplane."

"Greg M" in Martinez wrote in, "I ran into the house to tell everyone to get away from the windows."

Some reported hearing a sound, while most others heard nothing, but many saw a burning trail of cosmic debris.

NASA's Alex Kasprak writing for Science@NASA and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center explains the March-April "Fireball Season" saying, "The reason why is still unknown, but one hypothesis is that more space debris litters this section of Earth's orbit. In search of the answer, NASA scientists set up a network of ground cameras that track and record video of meteors flaming overhead. The footage can be used to pinpoint a meteor's orbit and origin. Watch the video to learn more."

The fireball season continues until the end of April, when the Lyrid Meteor Showers begin. - CBS News.

RATTLE & HUM: Mysterious Booms Continue Across The Earth - Mysterious Loud Bangs Heard In Cornwall, United Kingdom; Mystery EARTH-SHAKING Booms Rattle Central New Jersey Residents; Mysterious Booms Keep Some Berkeley Residents Up At Night In San Francisco?!

April 1, 2015 - EARTH - A mysterious weather phenomenon is shaking up people across the planet - unusual, unexplained loud booms, metallic and trumpet sounds. Here are three of the latest incidents.

Mysterious loud bangs heard in Cornwall, UK

Mystery surrounds the cause of a series of loud bangs heard across South Devon and parts of Cornwall this afternoon.

Several startled people reported the loud booms, heard around 3pm, on social media.

The bizarre occurrence has sparked a frenzy of speculation, with conspiracy theories doing the rounds over what might have caused the strange sounds.

Many believe the bang could have been caused by a sonic boom due to jet planes speeding through the sky and breaking the sound barrier.

But whatever the cause, people described it as loud enough to shake their homes and rattle windows.

Lisa Evenden wrote on Twitter: "In Tavistock our house shook like mad & long loud boom."

Trendspot added: "There was the most enormous bang over #Tintagel at 3pm. Sonic boom at sea level?"

Another going by the name of Frankie, wrote: "Very loud over North Petherwin near Launceston too!" - The Cornish Guardian.

Mystery earth-shaking booms rattle central N.J. residents

Mysterious, earth-shaking booms have been reported in recent weeks by dozens of Bordentown and Hamilton residents, and authorities are at a loss to explain them.

The most likely culprit, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, says it wasn't them. While the military base routinely hosts artillery training on weekends and warns residents in advance, the mystery booms have come at odd hours and on weekdays when the range is inactive.

The latest boom jolted residents at 10 p.m. Monday. A closed Facebook group for Bordentown Township residents lit up with people asking each other, "Did anyone just feel that loud rumble?"

"Was in the garage and the garage doors both rattled hard and I could feel the rumble under my feet," was one of a dozen replies.

A similar online conversation unfolded on March 19 after the noise was heard around 9 p.m. Another series of reports occurred on March 17, a Tuesday. Some have reported hearing several booms in succession during the span of an hour.

Residents in adjacent Hamilton Township in Mercer County also reported hearing the noise.

Bordentown City police they had heard about online chatter about the explosions, but no one there had fielded any calls about them. Bordentown Township police Capt. Norman Hand was unaware of the sounds Tuesday, and nobody in the police department was talking about it, he said.

As a lifelong resident of northern Burlington County, he is familiar with rumblings from the nearby base, he said.
The speculation has run rampant from earthquakes to environmental cleanup at an old steel mill site across the Delaware River to sonic booms from jets breaking the sound barrier.

The sounds are similar to those described in 2012 by residents in Manchester, Ocean County, where window-rattling booms plagued that area during the summer months and into the fall, according to news reports. Those explosions ceased soon after, without explanation.

Another possible source could be fighter jets from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, which run training exercises for F-35 and F-16 fighter jets in an off-shore area that spans Ocean City, Maryland, to Atlantic City.

But a spokeswoman for the air station said their fighters do not normally fly at night and the Bordentown area is outside of their normal range.

"It was nothing from Pax River,'' spokeswoman Connie Himple said. "That's pretty far out of our airspace.''
Hand, of the Bordentown Township police, offered this possible explanation: the thawing of the ground due to the intense cold weather this winter. He said a few weeks ago, his wife heard a loud bang in their home, and he heard the same sound while watching television at about 10 p.m.

"It sounded like a car hit the back of our house," Hand said. He checked the basement, and all his pipes were intact. He then learned from a television news program that the ground can make booming and loud cracking sounds when thawing from a prolonged cold period. "That's just my two cents," he said.
- NJ.

Mysterious Booms Keep Some Berkeley Residents Up At Night

Residents living in some Berkeley neighborhoods have been kept up at night over mysterious booms heard in the area over the past few weeks. It’s an unsolved mystery that even has police scratching their heads.

Rachael Marzoline told KPIX 5 about the boom she heard two nights ago. “I’d say it was around one in the morning, scared the hell out of me. I jumped out of bed,” Marzoline recalled.

WATCH: Mysterious Berkeley Boom.

Joel Bryant said he heard the booms at least eight different times in the last month. “We’re puzzled by it,” he said. “It’s not as crisp as a gunshot. It sounds like an aerial bomb explosion.”

Berkeley Police tell KPIX they can’t solve the mystery either, which has led some residents to Twitter, using the hashtag #BerkeleyBoom to report the sounds.

Additional booms were reported Tuesday night.

According to Berkeleyside, the booms were first reported on February 26th. Most of the booms reportedly took place between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Despite numerous calls to police, authorities have not been able to determine what is causing the booms.

“I hope you guys can figure it out because it’s scaring the heck out of us,” said Marzoline. - CBS San Francisco.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Plane Crash In St. Lucie County, North Of West Palm Beach, Florida - Pilot Killed!

A small plane crashed north of West Palm Beach in St. Lucie County on Wednesday morning, reportedly killing the pilot.

- The pilot of a small plane died Wednesday morning in a crash in the River Woods subdivision in St. Lucie County, according to a St. Lucie County Fire District spokeswoman.

Fire District crews were called at 11:01 a.m. to an address in the 2800 block of North Indian River Drive in St. Lucie Village to a report that a plane had landed on the shoreline, said Fire District spokeswoman Catherine Chaney.

Chaney said only one person, the pilot, was on the plane that crashed just west of the beach. The name of the pilot has not yet been released.

The plane was a Bedecorp BD-22, single-engine aircraft, according to Kathleen Bergen, spokewoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

She said it crashed less than a mile from St. Lucie County International Airport at 10:55 a.m. It was on an approach to Runway 28 Left at the airport, where it had departed earlier Wednesday.

The FAA is investigating the crash.

Firefighters in St. Lucie County are investigating. Units have been dispatched to the crash site in Fort Pierce,
which is north of West Palm Beach, the sheriff's office said.

St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office

"It's only by the grace of God that this plane did not hit a house," said St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara.

The pilot's body was found about 200 yards from where the plane crashed, the Sheriff's Office said.

Leison Lopez said he could hear the plane engine sputtering before it descended and nose-dived into the shoreline.

The wreckage caused a small fire in the backyard of a home on North Milton Road.

Jimmie Haisley, who lives near the crash site, said a neighbor was fishing with his two children in the river only 100 yards from where the plane crashed. That man declined to give his name or to comment for this story.

Two others out fishing were a former law enforcement officer and a current off-duty officer, who saw the crash and went to try to help, according to neighbors.

At 1:20 p.m., St. Lucie County sheriff's officials roped off the remnants of the plane and a large area surrounding it, and were guarding it.
According to the aircraft manufacturer's web site, Bedecorp is based in Medina, Ohio, and has a Fort Pierce facility at 3131 S.W. Jet Center Terrace.  - TC Palm.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Fire Blazes On Oil Platform In The Gulf Of Mexico - Four People Dead, Multiple Injuries!

April 1, 2015 - GULF OF MEXICO
- A fire broke out on an oil platform belonging to Mexico’s state Pemex petroleum giant in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the evacuation of about 300 workers. According to the company at least four people have died and 16 have been injured.

Pemex said on Twitter that the fire on the Abkatun Permanente platform in the oil-rich Campeche Bay broke out overnight and eight firefighting boats were tackling the blaze.

At least four people have been killed and 16 have been injured in the blaze, the oil giant said. Two of them are in a serious condition.

However earlier,a spokesman for emergency services in Ciudad del Carmen said that least 45 people were injured.

The fire started in the dehydration and pumping area of the platform, Pemex said, though it was not clear what caused it.

The Abkatun Permanente platform forms part of the Abkatun-Pol-Chuc offshore complex. Production at the complex has fallen steadily since the 1990s to below 300,000 barrels per day in 2013, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.

WATCH: Fire rages on PEMEX oil rig after explosion in Gulf of Mexico.

In recent years Pemex – Latin America’s second largest company - has suffered a number of accidents. At least 37 people were killed by a blast at the company's Mexico City headquarters in 2013.

Another fire in a Pemex natural gas facility in September 2012 claimed 26 lives.

The incident comes nearly five years after the devastating 2010 BP incident in the Gulf of Mexico – the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.  - RT.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Plane Crash In Rajshahi, Bangladesh - Kills Female Pilot!

The wreckage of a crashed training aircraft lies on the runway of Rajshahi Shah Makhdum Airport Wednesday afternoon. Photo: STAR

April 1, 2015 - BANGLADESH
- A female trainee pilot died as a training aircraft of a flying institute crashed at Shah Makhdum Airport in Rajshahi this afternoon.

Tamanna Rahman, 22, died when her plane suddenly caught fire and crashed on the runway while taking off around 2:00pm.

“Sensing the technical fault, the pilot tried to land and it’s then that the plane caught fire,” said Setafur Rahman, manager of Shah Makhdum Airport.

Her trainer Lt Col (retd) Sayeed Kamal was admitted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Rajshahi with 80 percent burns. He was later shifted to Dhaka.

Tamanna, who hailed from Tangail, was learning flying on a Bangladesh Flying Academy aircraft, Cessna D152.

Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) formed a four-member committee to investigate the incident, an official of CAAB told The Daily Star.

The committee members have already set for Rajshahi, he added.

The body of Tamanna was taken to Rajshahi Medical College of autopsy.

Tamanna met with the tragic end just a day after she achieved the skills for single-pilot operations. “From today, she started training of 150 flying hours to get licence for commercial flight,” said Enamul Kabir, a senior engineer at the civil aviation.

He said the accident took place just after the plane crossed 5,000-feet of the 6,000-feet runway.

“The plane crashed as Tamanna abruptly turned the aircraft after crossing 5000-feet. Then it skidded off the runway and caught fire,” he added.

Earlier on September 27, 1998, a training plane of Parabat Airlines crashed at Postogola in Dhaka due to technical fault, leaving its pilot Faria Lara and co-pilot Rafiqul dead. - Daily Star.

CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS & NEW WORLD DISORDER: Religious Warfare, Societal Collapse, And Civilizations Unraveling - ISIS Infiltrates Palestinian Camp In Damascus; Jordan Closes Border Crossing With Syria!

The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.  The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.  The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.
- Isaiah 17:1-3, The Bible.

April 1, 2015 - DAMASCUS, SYRIA
- Islamic State militants infiltrated a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus on Wednesday and were clashing with a Palestinian group, the deepest foray yet by the extremist group into the Syrian capital, seat of President Bashar Assad's power, according to opposition activists and Palestinian officials.

Jordan, meanwhile, closed its only functioning border crossing with Syria, following heavy clashes on the Syrian side between rebels and government forces.

Islamic State fighters, who control large swaths of territory in northern Syria, entered the Yarmouk camp from the nearby Hajar Aswad neighbourhood. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the IS group took control of large parts of the camp. If they gain full control, they can potentially threaten the heart of the capital.

The Observatory reported heavy clashes in the camp between IS fighters and members of an anti-Assad Palestinian faction called Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis.

Anwar Raja, the spokesman for the pro-Assad Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command, said that IS fighters had been based in the Hajar Aswad neighbourhood for months. He said Wednesday's push into the camp showed co-ordination between IS and a rival group, the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's branch in Syria.

"The Nusra Front opened the road for them in order to infiltrate the camp and several hours ago they entered Yarmouk," Raja said by telephone. It was not immediately clear why Nusra would facilitate the entry of IS into the camp.

In this Sunday, March 8, 2015 file photo, Syrian refugee Rifaa Ahmad, 50, cuddles her granddaughter at an informal tented
settlement near the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus, has been under government siege for nearly two years. UN aid workers have been sending food parcels into the camp, where thousands of civilians remain trapped and in desperate need of food and medicine. The camp had witnessed fighting in the past between government forces and militants who control much of the camp.

The UN agency that supports Palestinians, known as UNRWA, said it was extremely concerned about the safety and protection of the Syrian and Palestinian civilians in Yarmouk, particularly the children.

"Credible information from public sources indicate that a variety of armed groups are engaged in fierce fighting in areas where Yarmouk's 18,000 civilians, including a large number of children reside, placing them at extreme risk of death, serious injury, trauma and displacement," the agency said in a statement. It demanded "an end to the fighting and a return to conditions that will enable its staff to support and assist Yarmouk's civilians."

Meanwhile, Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told The Associated Press that the Nasib crossing was temporarily closed late Tuesday because of clashes nearby.

"It is important for us to keep the safety for the passengers and those who are trying to cross between the two countries," he said. "So we decided to close the border temporarily, until things calm down. Then we will open it again."

A spokesman for rebels in southern Syria, Issam al-Rayess, confirmed that rebel fighters were trying to take control of the border crossing from Syrian authorities.

The Nasib crossing is the only functioning crossing between Jordan and Syria and is considered a crucial gateway for Syria's government and for Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian traders and merchants.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry statement on Wednesday said it holds Jordanian authorities responsible for "obstructing the movement of trucks and passengers and any ensuing economic or social repercussions."

Also Wednesday, a Nusra Front leader said that a Syrian city captured from government forces last week would be ruled according to Islamic law, or Sharia.

In an audio recording released by the group online, Abu Muhammed al-Golani also indicated the group does not seek to monopolize power in the northwestern city of Idlib, and called for the protection of state institutions and property.

A group of rebels led by the Nusra Front and the ultra-conservative Ahrar al-Sham group seized Idlib from government officials Saturday, after a four-day assault. - CTV News.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Extreme Water & Food Crisis - Governor Jerry Brown Orders MANDATORY WATER RESTRICTIONS In California For The FIRST TIME IN HISTORY; Snowpack Is The LOWEST Since Recordkeeping Began; Department Of Water Resources Says "We Are In UNCHARTERED TERRITORY,... JUST TERRIFYING"!

- Gov. Jerry Brown, standing on a patch of brown grass in the Sierra Nevada that is usually covered with several feet of snow, on Wednesday announced the first mandatory water restrictions in California history.

"It's a different world," he said. "We have to act differently."

Brown was on hand Wednesday as state officials took stock of historically abysmal levels of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada amid the state's grinding drought.

DOCUMENT: Gov. Jerry Brown's executive order on drought

Brown ordered the California Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory restrictions to reduce water usage by 25%. The water savings are expected to amount to 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months.

An inch of patchy snow is all that remains on the ground at Glacier Point as trials in the area are mostly snow-free
on Jan. 23 in Yosemite National Park. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Other elements of Brown's order would:
--Require golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscaped spaces to reduce water consumption.

--Replace 50 million square feet of lawn statewide with drought-tolerant landscaping as part of a partnership with local governments.

--Create a statewide rebate program to replace old appliances with more water- and energy-efficient ones.

--Require new homes to have water-efficient drip irrigation if developers want to use potable water for landscaping.

--Ban the watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

--Call on water agencies to implement new pricing models that discourage excessive water use.

--Require agricultural to report more water usage information to the state so that regulators can better find waste and improper activities.

--Create enforcement action against water districts that don't report usage numbers to the state.

"It is such an unprecedented lack of snow," said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Survey Program. He's been attending the snowpack measurements since 1987 and said he had never before seen the ground barren of snow on April 1. "It's way below the records."

It's another foreboding sign for a state languishing in drought as the wet season winds to a close.

Electronic readings on Wednesday at about 100 stations across the Sierra showed that the water content of the snow was only about 5% of the state average for April 1, the date on which snowpack is normally considered at its peak. Official manual readings will be announced Wednesday afternoon.

Early data show the snowpack is lower than any year since 1950, when recordkeeping began. Never before has the amount of water in the snow on April 1 dipped lower than 25% of the historical average for that day.

Snowpack accounts for about 30% of the state's water supply. Other sources, including reservoirs and rainfall totals, have recently improved. Still, officials from the Department of Water Resources say the state of the snowpack, which melts and replenishes California's reservoirs, means there will be virtually no runoff this spring or summer when the rain stops and temperatures rise.

“This is sort of uncharted territory,” said department spokesman Doug Carlson, calling the situation "dismal."

State water officials on Wednesday made their fourth manual snow survey this year at Phillips Station, about 90 miles east of Sacramento. Carlson said he visited the area a few days ago.

“I can tell you what the reading will be tomorrow: Zero, as in Sierra Nada,” he said.

The station traditionally averages more than 60 inches of snow on April 1, he said.

The snow levels in the Sierra have declined each month since manual surveying began on Dec. 30. That initial electronic reading showed that the snow’s water content was 50% of normal for the date. A month later, the water content was down to 25% of average, and in March, it was only 19%.

“It does leave questions about where the water will come from,” Carlson said. “Will there be enough of it? It will probably have to come from groundwater again … and that brings in a whole other set of problems and complications since the groundwater seems to be over-tapped.”

Relatively meager rainfall combined with unusually warm weather has limited snowfall, officials said.

At the eight stations in the northern Sierra where the Department of Water Resources measures precipitation, about 32 inches of rain -- 76% of average -- has fallen since the water year began in October.

Sacramento has seen temperatures as much as 6 degrees above normal each month for the past 15 months, a National Weather Service spokesman said.

The rest of the state’s water picture, though, doesn’t look as dreary.

A snowboarder threads his way between patches of dirt at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, Calif., on March 21. Max Whittaker / Getty Images

Major storms that hit California in December and February were warm, and fell as rain rather than snow. Though precipitation is below the state’s historical average, the northern Sierra stations have already gotten more rain since October than during all of the 2013-14 water year, which lasts from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

That rain has helped refill the state’s reservoirs. As of Monday, Lake Oroville — the keystone reservoir of the California State Water Project, which delivers water from Northern California to the south — was at 51% of its capacity, compared with 49% a year ago. Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir, had about 150 billion gallons more water in it Monday than it did a year ago.

In early March, state officials also announced that customers of the State Water Project will get 20% of their contract requests, compared with only 5% in 2014.

But Central Valley farmers without senior water rights are likely to get no supplies from the valley's big federal irrigation project for the second year in a row. And in April, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which imports supplies from Northern California and the Colorado River, is expected to consider rationing regional water deliveries, as it did during the 2007-09 drought. That decision will have a ripple effect throughout the Southland as local agencies react, probably by increasing water rates and adopting stricter conservation measures.

In a first step toward bolstering such measures, the State Water Resources Control Board beefed up its emergency drought regulations this month, directing urban agencies to limit the number of days residents can water their yards.

The board also warned that it would impose tougher restrictions in coming months if local agencies don't ramp up conservation efforts.

At the time, Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus called the state's minuscule snowpack “just terrifying.”

“We are not seeing the level of stepping up and ringing the alarm bells that the situation warrants,” Marcus said.

Brown and lawmakers have responded to the drought with new legislation, including a $1-billion plan the governor signed last week.

It includes $127.8 million for food and water supplies and immediate measures to protect the environment from the effects of the drought. Most of the funding is for long-term projects such as recycling sewage water, improving water treatment facilities and supporting desalination plants. - LA Times.