Typhoon Haima leaves at least 8 dead in northern Philippines

October 2016NARVACAN, Philippines – “At least eight people were killed after Super Typhoon Haima smashed into the northern Philippines with ferocious wind and rains, flooding towns and forcing thousands to flee although it slightly weakened Thursday after slamming into a mountain range on its way to the South China Sea, officials said. Haima’s blinding winds and rain had rekindled fears and memories from the catastrophe wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, but there were no immediate reports of any major damage amid spotty communications and power outages in several provinces. Thousands of villagers were moved to emergency shelters as the typhoon approached.
Two construction workers died when a landslide buried their shanty in La Trinidad town in the mountain province of Benguet, officials said, while two villagers drowned in floodwaters in Ifugao province, near Benguet. The typhoon slammed into shore in Cagayan province late Wednesday, and lashed the mountainous province of Apayao at dawn with slightly weaker sustained winds of 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour and gusts of 285 kph (176 mph). It was blowing northwestward at 25 kph (15 mph) toward the tobacco-growing Ilocos Norte, the last province before it exits toward the South China Sea, according to forecasters.
In Narvacan town in northern Ilocos Sur province, rice fields resembled a brown lake under waist-high floodwaters. Despite the still-strong wind and rain, government workers have started clearing roads blocked with toppled trees and all kinds of debris. “We can’t go out because the wind is so intense, trees are being forced down,” Councilor Elisa Arugay told DZMM radio late Wednesday from Camasi village in Cagayan province. Officials were concerned because the powerful typhoon struck at night and was expected to hit towns and cities amid power outages. The government’s weather agency lowered it storm warning to level five, down from the highest level of six.


Many of the provinces hit by the storm were still recovering from a powerful typhoon that killed two people and displaced tens of thousands of villagers last weekend. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, on an official visit to China, urged people in the typhoon’s path to heed orders by disaster agencies, including abandoning coastal communities prone to storm surges. Duterte is on a state visit to China and is to fly home Friday. “We only pray that we be spared destruction such as in the previous past which brought agony and suffering to our people, but we are ready,” Duterte told a news conference. About 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, adding to the many burdens in a country that is also threatened by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and considered one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines with ferocious power, leaving more than 7,300 people dead and displacing more than 5 million others after leveling entire villages.  –Duquoin

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Earth facing growing risks of powerful solar storms that could ‘reset’ civilization

October 2016SPACE Solar storms threaten Earth about every 100 years and experts warn we are overdue. Now, researchers have released the first ever map that shows which areas of the US are at high risk of being hit by the next intense storm. The map was built using geomagnetic storm measurements and data from magnetic materials beneath the Earth – revealing Minnesota is particularly at risk of being blasted by solar material.
Solar storms have the ability to disrupt Earth’s magnetic field and wreak havoc on our electric power grids. Officials warn that the massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from solar flares could cause $2.6 trillion in damages across the globe and bring an end to modern civilization as we know it. Solar Storms are eruptions of magnetic energy from the sun’s surface. Hot gases are accelerated when this magnetic energy is suddenly released and travels quickly towards the Earth. A solar flare’s killer electrons’ can travel at up to several million miles per hour towards Earth.
The latest researcher comes from Jeffrey Love, a geologists with the United States Geological Survey, and his colleagues, who have been working on this project called Space Weather Operations, Research and Mitigation (SWORM) for the past year. This project was first initiated by the White House’s National Science and Technology Council in 2015. Love and his colleagues believe knowing which power grids could be hit the hardest is key for survival, reports Science Alert. To create an accurate map, the team plotted the geomagnetic activity above certain areas and then gathered ground magnetometer data, or magnetotelluric survey.


The geomagnetic data was collected by the International Real-time Magnetic Observatory Network (INTERMAGNET), an organization that monitors Earth’s magnetic field. And the magnetotelluric survey data was taken from the US National Science Foundation’s EarthScope, which monitors electrical conductivity in the ground using hundreds of sensors located across the US. Solar storms could wreak havoc on Earth (pictured) and surges could be up to 100 times more powerful in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin than in other parts of the United States. However, experts say more than half of the US has yet to be plotted due to lack of funding
The US government revealed just last year that they are preparing for a catastrophic solar flare which could wipe out power across the world for months. The last powerful geomagnetic solar storm to hit the earth was in 1859, which caused telegraph lines to explode, setting fire to some telegraph offices, and power to fail across Europe and North America. In today’s far more advanced and technological world, experts the effects would be devastating. The massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from solar flares could wipe out power grids, bringing an end to modern civilization as we know it as cell phones, credit cards and the internet were rendered useless.  –Daily Mail

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Are ‘dark comets’ the most dangerous threat to Earth in the universe?

October 2016SPACE There are many cosmic catastrophes that could do us in, completely irrespective of anything that happens here on Earth. A star could pass into our Solar System and swallow up our planet whole, or eject us from our orbit and cause us to permanently freeze over. A supernova or gamma ray burst could go off too close to us, disintegrating all life on the Earth’s surface. Or, as we know it did at least once before some 65 million years ago, a large, fast-moving object like a comet or asteroid could have a catastrophic collision with Earth. At least if we’re prepared, we ought to see one coming and be able to take preparations. But what if there’s no chance; what if an incoming comet is somehow unseeable? David Bertone heard about that possibility, and wants to know!
I recently came across a few articles regarding dark comets, and to say the least it freaked me out! […] Is Napier right about the dark comets? Are they truly a threat to us [on] earth? We have lots of threats to life on Earth, and getting struck by a large, fast-moving, unexpected object is certainly among them! Bill Napier is a scientist who studies potentially hazardous objects from outer space. He rightly points out that, while most efforts to catalogue the potential dangers to Earth focus on near-Earth objects like the asteroids that leave the main belt and cross Earth’s orbit, that might not be a good reflection of what’s actually likely to get us. Nor is it necessarily an asteroid orbiting interior to Jupiter or a comet orbiting exterior to the orbit of Neptune, just waiting to get perturbed and flung into the inner Solar System. There are plenty of objects orbiting in between the orbits of the four gas giants, known as centaurs, that could be hurtled inwards without any warning, and most of them have not been catalogued. Napier postulates that many of these centaurs may be invisible to us, even after being flung inwards, until it’s far too late.


But this brings up an important question: what could render a comet dark, or otherwise unseeable? It isn’t simply going to be a comet that comes towards us from the outer Solar System that’s terrible at reflecting light. Sure, a centaur could have had all its volatile ices boiled off over billions of years, reducing its reflectivity tremendously. As obvious as that seems, the amount of light the Sun emits is so extreme that even a medium-sized comet (or centaur) that absorbed 99.9% of the Sun’s light would still be easily visible at the distance of Saturn. Moreover, comets tend to be made up of mostly ices, which are highly reflective and which get brought to the surface as a comet heats up. The only thoroughly ”dark” bodies in our Solar System are more like our Moon, which still reflects light very brightly, as any casual watcher of the night sky will tell you. An object that was as dark as any naturally occurring, abundant element or compound would still be visible from its reflected sunlight, particularly if you looked in the infrared portion of the spectrum.
But there are other possibilities to consider. What if an incoming, highly reflective comet were oriented bizarrely? What if it was quite icy, but reflected all the sunlight that struck it away from Earth, like some kind of strange crystal? It’s less obvious, but that wouldn’t work, either. When an object like that entered the planet-containing portion of the Solar System, it would heat up. Heat acting on the ices causes the development of a long tail that points away from the Sun, and this will be easily observable from one of many professional or even amateur all-sky surveys before too much time has passed.


But perhaps nature will conspire to make that tail unseeable from our point of view? In order for the tail to be hidden, the incoming comet would need to be directed straight at us, aligned so that the Sun, the Earth and the comet made a straight line. If the tail points directly away from us and is hidden behind the comet, that would render everything invisible, and we wouldn’t be able to see it, right? Unfortunately, that’s wrong, too. Comet tails don’t simply point away from the Sun, they spread outwards away from a comet. Even a “head-on” comet like this would have a visible coma around it. Again, amateur or professional astronomers would catch this quickly. But there is a real danger of an invisible comet, and it’s very different from the form that Napier envisions in any of his scenario. Imagine, if you will, that a bright, reflective, tail-and-coma-containing comet were headed right for us. Is there any direction it could approach us that you can think of that would render it completely unable to be seen? There is: from the direction of the Sun.
Telescopes don’t dare point too close to the Sun, even from space, since even a glimmer of direct sunlight will ruin and fry your optical system. If any object — comet, asteroid, centaur, even a kicked-up fragment from a collision with Mercury — either approached the Sun from behind it (from our perspective) or were sling-shotted around it, the right trajectory could send it hurtling towards Earth. This is part of the reason why having NASA’s STEREO satellites online is so important.


At this point, the technology to deflect an incoming asteroid or comet a significant amount in a short amount of time hasn’t been developed, but at least by having a set of observatories at different locations in the Solar System, we could see everything that was headed for us. In the future, more sensitive infrared all-sky surveys will make a far more complete census of the centaurs in our Solar System, and the launch of WFIRST in the 2020s will help us map potentially hazardous objects to much greater distances than we’ve presently done. But the odds of a distant object being hurled into us after being perturbed for the first time are exceedingly small; the much scarier prospect is of a long-period comet being kicked ever-so-slightly into Earth’s orbital path.
Comet Swift-Tuttle, which gave rise to the Perseids, is the single most dangerous object known to humanity, and has a chance to impact us with more than 20 times the energy of the legendary dinosaur-killer in the 4400s. But we’ve got plenty of time until that might happen. In the meanwhile, take heart in the fact that except for Sun-directed asteroids and comets, we can see everything large that could come headed our way. And if we’re lucky enough to make it as a civilization for another thousand years or so, our technology will likely have advanced to the point where perhaps asteroid/comet deflection isn’t such a daunting task after all!  –Forbes

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Floods kill 24 in Vietnam as Typhoon Sarika looms

October 2016VIETNAM Floods triggered by heavy rains have killed 24 people and left four others missing in central Vietnam, disaster officials said Monday, as Typhoon Sarika approaches after leaving at least two people dead and displacing more than 150,000 in the Philippines. In the worst-hit province of Quang Binh, 18 people died and authorities are searching for three others who are missing, disaster official Tran Le Dang Hung said. Six people died and one was reported missing in three other central provinces.
“We are worried. We have instructed district governments to outline plans for evacuating people from high-risk areas to cope with the Typhoon,” Hung said by telephone from Quang Binh. Heavy rains of up to 90 centimeters (3 feet) on Friday and Saturday submerged 125,000 homes in the region, temporarily disrupted the North-South Highway and damaged infrastructure, crops and fish farms. Hung said the floods have receded in most areas in Quang Binh.
In the Philippines, fast-moving Sarika Typhoon blew out of the northern Philippines on Sunday after leaving at least two people dead and displacing more than 150,000, though the region was spared a major disaster due in part to the storm’s speed. The Typhoon is over in the South China Sea and was moving at the speed of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) to 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) per hour heading toward northern Vietnam, according to Vietnam’s national weather forecast center. –ABC News

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Typhoon Sarika slams into Philippines: 2 dead, thousands displaced and without power

October 2016PHILIPPINES A powerful typhoon slammed into the northeastern coast of the Philippine’s main island, Luzon, on Sunday. The storm killed two people, knocked out electricity and caused nearly ten thousand people to flee their homes. Typhoon Sarika is packing sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kmph), with gusts up to 135 mph (220 kmph)
“The roofs of some house[s] were blown away and power was cut in some areas,” said Mina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. “Minor landslides were also reported as well as floods. We’re waiting for the typhoon to blow over to conduct a fuller assessment.” The cyclone began weakening after making landfall before dawn Sunday (1830 GMT/UTC Saturday), eventually raking across mountainous terrain and sparsely populated areas in the morning, and was expected to blow out into the South China Sea by afternoon.
Villagers along the coast were given advanced notice to seek higher ground. Still, one man drowned when strong river currents swept him away, and a farmer died when a powerful wind slammed him to the ground head first, according to provincial safety officer Gerry Beo. He added that three fishermen were also missing.
On Friday the area was drenched in a month’s worth of rain, in a single day sending rivers and creeks over their banks and flooding low-lying farming villages, according to Beo. He added that about 260,000 people were without electricity across the island province of Catanduanes. The storm forced 50 mountaineers in Bataan province to descend from Mount Tarak. But 36 others remained stranded in the highlands, according to police and firefighters who were trying to rescue them.
Nearly 200 domestic and international flights were canceled and thousands of passengers were stranded in seaports after local ferries were ordered to be docked because of the high seas. The Philippines is no stranger to typhoons: about 20 such storms rake the island nation every year, adding to the many hardships in a country that is also threatened by earthquakes and volcanoes.  –DW
 Ten cyclones predicted for the Pacific: Weather agencies around the Pacific say the region can expect about 10 named tropical cyclones over the November to April cyclone period. That is the typical annual number over the past 30 years and the agencies say conditions are likely to be near average over most islands through this time. They warn that all countries should remain vigilant in case conditions in the equatorial Pacific change during the cyclone season.
They warn that intensification, especially late in the season, is common. In the past two years the Pacific has been battered by two severe cyclones – Pam, which caused a lot of damage in Vanuatu last year and Winston which hit Fiji with record ferocity in February of this year.  –Radio New Zealand

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Japan’s largest volcano erupts and covers cities in ash

October 2016JAPAN Japan’s largest active volcano, Mount Aso, erupted recently sending a massive cloud of smoke and ash almost 7 miles into the air. The volcanic debris and ash column was large enough to cover surrounding cities and coat them in grey soot.
The 5,200 feet tall Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture is on the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu. Luckily, no injuries have been reported from the eruption, but damages mainly due to ash fallout are still being assessed. The Japan Meteorological Agency raised the threat to level three near Mount Aso, warning local residents to not approach the volcano. The agency predicted heavy ash fall within 16 miles northeast of the volcano due to dominant wind direction.
“It is extremely rare for an eruption column to exceed 10,000 meters,” said Makoto Saito, the director of the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Volcanology Division. There remains the potential for another eruption to occur due to the high activity of Mount Aso. Japan has witnessed several other Level 3 alerts this year alone coming from activity at Sakurajima and Kuchinoerabujima Volcanoes. You can witness the eruption in the Associated Press video below containing raw footage during the eruption. The footage was originally played on Japan’s NHK public TV station and shows the eruption from a vantage point.  –Forbes

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Event Emergency declared – October 13, 2016

Utopiathecollapse: Commence with any and all emergency preparations for disaster crisis scenarios
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