September 2016 – NEW ZEALAND– A swarm of 100 aftershocks has continued to plague the North Island’s East Cape since a severe earthquake struck early on Friday morning. The quake – 7.1 in magnitude, 130km north-east of Te Araroa at a depth of 55km at 4.37am – was felt from Northland to Wellington in the North Island, and in the top of the South Island. Severe reports were felt in Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty.
The earthquake prompted a tsunami warning, which was rescinded after waves of 30 cm were measured off Gisborne’s coast. The ground continues to shake the East Cape region, and it’s likely to continue for some time, according to GNS. The Transport Agency says that is bringing with it a risk of rock-falls and slips on the roads, and it’s urging drivers to be wary.
The aftershocks were bringing increased risk at SH2 Waioeka Gorge, SH2 Maraenui, SH35 Motu Bluffs and SH35 Hawai to Te Kaha. The region to the northeast of New Zealand where the Australia plate meets the Pacific plate has a history of generating large magnitude quakes and tsunami. GeoNet received more than 5,000 felt reports in the 20 minutes after the 7.1 earthquake. GNS Science duty seismologist Caroline Holden said there was a flurry of aftershocks, including one M6.2 aftershock at 5.14 am and a 6.0 at 8.06 am. There have been more than 100 aftershocks since the initial 7.1 tremor.
GeoNet says the aftershocks can continue for some time, but there was no way to tell whether Thursday’s M5.7 shake was a ‘foreshock.’ Holden said seismologists were working to confirm all the signals, which were ‘messy,’ and map the shocks. “There’s been a flurry of aftershocks. We have a team and we’re monitoring the tsunami as well. We’re in constant communication with civil defense.” –Stuff
August 2016 – HAWAII – In what’s being hailed a meteorological first, two back-to-back hurricanes are marching toward Hawaii, both of them threatening torrential rains and rip-roaring winds this week. The closer of the two, hurricane Madeline, could break a second meteorological record as the first hurricane to strike the Big Island since bookkeeping began in 1949.
Rumbling west at approximately 9 mph, Madeline is currently packing Category 3 windspeeds of 120 mph. Its latest track has the storm passing south of the Big Island on Thursday, although as meteorologists Bob Henson and Jeff Masters point out over at Weather Underground, it’s too early to rule out the possibility of landfall on the island of Hawai’i. In any case, the storm is expected to bring heavy rains and 40 to 50 mph wind gusts to the island later this week. A hurricane watch is in effect for Hawaii County.
“What’s concerning is that even if Madeline stays offshore, that’ll put the Big Island on the righthand side of the storm,” Henson told Gizmodo. “That’s more dangerous because of how winds rotate in a hurricane, and because those winds will be pushing up very high mountain slopes, which will squeeze out a torrential amount of rain.” Following closely on Madeline’s heels is Hurricane Lester, which also wields Category 3 windspeeds and is slowly gaining ground on its sister storm, moving west at 14 mph. Roughly 1,000 miles east of Madeline at the present, Lester is tracking in a more northwesterly direction, and is expected to pass several hundred miles north of Hawaii on Saturday. Nevertheless, this storm could also bring torrential rainfall and powerful surf to towns and cities that haven’t had a moment to catch their breath.
Hurricanes are rare in Hawaii—the conditions that favor their development tend to form more to the south—and to watch two barreling toward the island archipelago at the same time is a first for meteorologists. According to Henson, a combination of ocean temperatures two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual and favorable atmospheric conditions are to blame. “Usually the waters [along this storm track] are on the edge of what’s needed to support hurricanes,” Henson said. “Now, they’re just warm enough, and it’s making a big difference.”
Henson added that long-term ocean warming is part of the story, meaning Hawaii could be in for more hurricanes as the planet continues to heat up. But the atmosphere also needs to be conducive, with very uniform wind speeds so that the storm doesn’t tip over. Right now, the atmosphere is just about perfect, with warm air rising, spreading out, and being hauled away by strong upper-level winds that act
For Hawaii, there is one silver lining to this ominous situation: Nearby cyclones tend to spin around each other, in a phenomenon known as the Fujiwhara effect. “What this means is the one ahead in line gets angled a little to the left, while the one behind is angled slightly to the right,” Henson said. In other words, the Fujiwhara effect could turn Madeline a bit further to the south while nudging Lester slightly further north, steering both storms clear of the Big Island. “The irony is, if only one of these storms were there, there’d be a bigger chance of a direct hit,” Henson said. –Gizmodo
August 2016 –TONILA– Mexico’s Colima or “Fire” Volcano spewed a large column of gas and ash some 2,400m high into a blue sky on Monday (Aug 29). According to officials, the latest eruption took place on Monday at 12.19pm Singapore time. The Fire Volcano, officially known as the Colima Volcano, is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Mexico contains over 3,000 volcanoes, but only 14 are considered active. Major eruptions in Mexican history have included the 1953 eruption of the Paricutin Volcano in Michoacan, the 1982 eruption of Tacana Volcano in Chiapas and the 1986 eruption of the Colima Volcano. –Strait Times
August 2016– ICELAND – Two unusually large earthquakes hit one of Iceland’s biggest volcanoes early on Monday, raising concerns of a possible eruption, the Icelandic Met Office said. The Katla volcano has not erupted properly since 1918 and scientists say it is overdue to do so, although an eruption could still be decades away. “It is quite a dynamic situation now, in the next hours and days following this, but as we speak at the moment we do not see any signs that there is an imminent hazardous unrest about to happen,” Matthew Roberts, a natural hazards scientist at the Icelandic Met Office, said.
Ash from an eruption of the nearby Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe’s airspace for six days. Katla, in southern Iceland, was rocked by quakes of magnitude 4.5 and 4.6 overnight. The volcano sustained similar movements in 2011. The volcano is covered by an ice cap, which should, in the event of an eruption, typically contain the lava for around 60 to 90 minutes, giving time to alert the population and international air traffic, Roberts said. –Reuters
Volcano could soon erupt:The Icelandic Meteorological Office is on alert for a possible eruption from the country’s largest volcano, Katla, after two earthquakes rattled the region. The volcano, which stands at 1,500 meters (nearly 5,000 feet) tall, hasn’t had a major eruption since 1918. Scientists say Katla usually erupts once every 50 years. Two magnitude 4.5 earthquakes shook the area early Monday morning. The meteorological office confirmed an increase in seismic activity in recent weeks and said it was monitoring the situation.
An eruption is not imminent, scientists said, but they can’t rule it out. “Such summertime increases in seismicity are common at Katla and the ongoing activity within the caldera is similar to summertime unrest observed in 2012 and 2014,” the office said. Measurements around Katla are not detecting signs of increased ground deformation or seismic tremor, both of which could be indicators of magma movement.” In 2010, Katla’s neighboring volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, caused chaos across Europe and shut down most of the continent’s airspace. Thousands of flights were grounded because of the volcanic ash following its eruption. –CNN
August 2016– NORWAY– More than 320 wild reindeer have been found dead after a single lightning strike struck a mountain plateau in southern Norway, local officials say, making it deadliest lightning strike ever recorded. The incident is believed to have happened on Friday afternoon when thunderstorms hit Hardangervidda National Park, which is located in southern Norway and is a popular destination for tourists, featuring one of the country’s largest glaciers. The incident was first reported on Friday evening after a hunting supervisor found the group of dead reindeer on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, but it took until Sunday before officials could visit the site to assess the situation.
“Our people in the field have found 323 dead reindeer, of which 5 had to be put down due to injuries,” said Elin Fosshaug Olsø, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Environment Agency. All of the dead reindeer were found in a radius of just 50 meters (165 feet). “We believe all reindeer were killed as a result of one single powerful lightning strike, because of the way they were positioned,” Olsø explained. “We have never experienced such a large number of reindeer killed by lightning at the same time before. This is as far as we know a unique incident.” Lightning strikes are at times capable of killing groups of animals if they are gathered tightly together, but Friday’s incident in Norway involved a remarkably high number of dead animals, believed to be the highest number ever recorded.
A total of 68 cows were killed in 2005 when a single bolt of lightning struck a tree at a dairy farm in Australia, according to Guinness World Records. The deadliest incident involving humans happened in Peru in 1971 when lightning struck LANSA Flight 508, causing the plane to crash and killing 91 people. –BNO News
August 2016– AMATRICE, Italy — A strong earthquake struck a mountainous stretch of central Italy early Wednesday, killing at least 290 people, trapping scores under debris and setting off tremors that awakened residents in Rome, nearly 100 miles to the southwest. The earthquake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, struck at 3:36 a.m., about 6.5 miles southeast of the town of Norcia in the Umbria region, followed by about 200 aftershocks over the next several hours, including a 5.5-magnitude tremor at 4:33 a.m. The authorities said the quake was comparable in intensity to one in 2009 in the Abruzzo region of central Italy that killed more than 300 people.
Towns in three regions — Umbria, Lazio and Marche — were devastated by the quake, which could be felt as far away as Bologna in the north and Naples in the south. The deaths appeared to be concentrated in four communities: at least 86 in the towns of Amatrice and Accumoli, in Lazio, and at least 32 deaths in Marche, in the village of Arquata del Tronto and the hamlet of Pescara del Tronto. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, speaking from Rieti, a city in Lazio near the epicenter, likened the affected communities to “a family that has been hit but won’t stop.” He vowed that the government would quickly start to rebuild, noting widespread anger over the long delays in rebuilding after the 2009 quake. “Reconstruction is what will allow this community to live and to restart,” he said.
At least 100 people were injured, according to Immacolata Postiglione, the head of the emergency unit for the Civil Protection Agency. “The number of missing people is undefined at the moment,” she said at a news conference in Rome. More than 1,000 people were expected to spend the night in four camps being set up in the area, Ms. Postiglione said, adding that an unknown number of tourists had not been fully accounted for. The mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, said that “half the town no longer exists,” adding that rescue teams were digging through the rubble, “hoping that most people were alive.” The historic center of the town, with buildings dating from the Middle Ages, was destroyed.
“The problem is removing people from under the rubble,” he said. Asked how many people he thought were still trapped or dead underneath debris, he said, “Many, many.” Mr. Pirozzi added that Amatrice had been cut off because of damage to roads and a bridge, and in a live television broadcast, he appealed for assistance. The town’s missing reportedly included two refugees from Afghanistan and three nuns and four older guests at a local boardinghouse. The town’s hospital had to be evacuated, but its patients were not injured, the news agency ANSA reported. The hamlet of Pescara del Tronto was all but destroyed.
“When I arrived at the break of day, I saw a destroyed village, screams, death,” Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole of Ascoli Piceno, who visited the hamlet, told Vatican Radio. He said he had blessed “the bodies of two children buried under the rubble.” Mr. Renzi, in brief remarks before he left Rome, thanked rescue workers and volunteers who had dug through debris, some with their bare hands, to reach trapped people, and said the nation had rallied to help. “No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone,” he said. Expressions of solidarity and offers of help poured in from France, Germany, Israel and other countries, as well as from the European Commission.
Ambulances raced back and forth on one of the main roads to Amatrice, where a courtyard in a still-standing palazzo had been turned into an impromptu morgue. CNN showed footage of construction equipment’s being used to try to comb through giant pieces of debris in Amatrice and of rescuers standing on huge piles of rubble where homes once stood, evidence of the enormous scale of the rescue effort. “We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars and jacks to remove beams,” a civil protection worker, Andrea Gentili, told The Associated Press. “Everything, we need everything.”
A video posted to YouTube by the State Forestry Corps showed a woman trapped under debris in the rural town of Capodacqua, as a man encouraged her to remain calm. Nonprofit agencies put out calls for blood donations. Massimo Cialente, the mayor of L’Aquila, the town near the epicenter of the 2009 Abruzzo earthquake, said that 250 temporary homes built after that disaster would be available for newly displaced people. –NY Times
August 2016 – MYANMAR – At least four people are dead after a powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 shook central Myanmar on Wednesday, knocking glasses off tables and sending people running out of buildings in the country’s largest city. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Chauk, an area west of the ancient capital of Bagan. It was located fairly far below the Earth’s surface at a depth of about 84 kilometers (52 miles), it said. Deep earthquakes generally cause less surface damage.
At least 185 brick pagodas in Bagan were damaged, the Ministry of Religious and Cultural Affairs said in a statement. Bagan, also known as Pagan, has more than 2,200 structures including pagodas and temples constructed from the 10th to the 14th centuries. Many are in disrepair while others have been restored in recent years, aided by the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO.
The vast site is the country’s premier attraction for tourists, who can view a panorama of temples stretching to the horizon flanked by the mighty Irrawaddy River, an especially impressive experience at sunset. Dr. Myo Thant, general secretary of the Myanmar Earthquake Committee, said other areas apparently were not badly affected and there were no reports of deaths. However, police officer Htay Win in Pakokku, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the epicenter, said one person there had been killed and one injured. “The person was killed by falling bricks from a building,” he said.
Vincent Panzani, a staff member in Pakokku for the aid agency Save the Children, said several of his colleagues from the area said it was the strongest earthquake they have experienced. “We felt quite heavy shaking for about 10 seconds and started to evacuate the building when there was another strong tremor,” he said in comments sent by email. “Most of the reports of damage have been to the pagodas in the area with dozens impacted. There have also been reports of damage to smaller, more basic buildings including a collapsed wall and a destroyed roof.”
Worried residents of Yangon, the country’s main city, rushed out of tall buildings, and objects toppled from tables and from Buddhist shrines in homes. However, there were no immediate reports of serious damage in the city. The quake was also felt in a half dozen states in neighboring India, where people rushed out of offices and homes at several places. It caused buildings to sway in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, several hundred kilometers (miles) to the east. There were no immediate reports of damage in either country. The last major quake in the area — which is often affected by smaller tremors — occurred in April about 300 kilometers (180 miles) further north, and measured magnitude 6.9. It caused no reported casualties and only minor damage. –Weather
August 2016– VANUATU– Local authorities have upgraded warnings around Ambae Volcano in northern Vanuatu, Radio New Zealand has just reported. According to Radio NZ, the country’s Geohazards Observatory has raised the alert to Level two on a scale of one to five which signifies the volcano is in a stage of major unrest.
“The observatory says volcanic activity could increase at any time over the next few days. It’s warned the local community, tourists and travel agencies to stay well away from the Manaro crater lakes to avoid the effects of volcanic gas, ash and other volcanic activity,” Radio NZ reported. The Department of Meteorology and Geohazards is closely monitoring the volcano which last erupted in 2009. –Fiji Times