May. 14th, 2008


Another Cyclone Heading for Myanmar

Another "significant" tropical cyclone is brewing in the Andaman Sea, and it has Myanmar's major city, Yangon, in its cross-hairs.

While the storm is only forming now, it still is dropping rain on the ravaged region, and packs sustained winds of up to 35 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

This cyclone is approaching Yangon from the opposite direction that Tropical Cyclone Nargis did. That storm formed in the Bay of Bengal, headed east, and struck with Category 4 hurricane strength in the Irrawaddy River Delta region. This second storm is forming in the Andaman Sea, headed West and may gain strength after it passes Myanmar and heads out into the Bay of Bengal.

With the official death toll climbing by the day, and Myanmar's military junta still restricting the access of relief workers, some 2 million people may be at risk of starvation or disease because of atrocious living conditions in the wake of Nargis.


Dean, Felix, Noel retired from hurricane name list

Three names -- Dean, Felix and Noel -- were permanently retired from the list of Atlantic hurricane names after storms bearing those monikers in 2007 caused damage in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and elsewhere, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.

Members of the organization voted to remove the names during its regional hurricane committee meeting, NOAA said in a written statement. "These names will not be used again because of the widespread destruction caused by these storms."

The list of tropical storm names recycles every six years. In 2013, the three names will be replaced with Dorian, Fernand and Nestor.

Although no storm in 2007 compared to historic hurricanes such as Andrew or Katrina, a storm doesn't have to be major to have its name retired. In 2001, for instance, Tropical Storm Allison, which never reached hurricane status, had its name retired after it dumped more than 3 feet of rain on Houston, Texas.

Since tropical storms were first named in 1953, 70 names have been retired, officials said.

A look at 2007's retirees:

• Hurricane Dean passed between St. Lucia and Martinique in the Caribbean Sea on August 17, passing just south of Jamaica as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 mph. The storm reached Category 5 strength -- the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, with 165-mph winds -- before making landfall August 21 near Costa Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula. It weakened over land and then emerged into the Bay of Campeche, strengthening to Category 2 status before making a second landfall south of Tuxpan, Mexico. Dean killed 32 people across the Caribbean, the NOAA said, with the largest death tolls in Mexico and Haiti.

• Felix was the second hurricane of the 2007 season to make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, something never seen since record-keeping began in 1851. Felix became a hurricane September 1 over the southwestern Caribbean Sea and intensified quickly, reaching Category 5 status about 400 miles southeast of Jamaica. It weakened to a Category 3 but re-strengthened and made landfall as a Category 5 on September 4 at Punta Gorda, Nicaragua. Felix was responsible for 130 deaths in Nicaragua and Honduras, officials said, and caused major damage in northeastern Nicaragua and inland flooding elsewhere in Central America.

• Noel lumbered across the Dominican Republic, Haiti, eastern Cuba and the lower Bahamas before reaching Category 1 hurricane status in the northwestern Bahamas. It lost its tropical classification as it moved over the western Atlantic to near Nantucket, Massachusetts, but had 75-mph winds when it came ashore near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. One hundred sixty people died across the Caribbean and Bahamas as a result of Noel, and the storm's winds produced widespread power outages in the United States and Canada, along with significant coastal flooding and damaging waves.

The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1.



Nine of the Deadliest Earthquakes

(These are not the nine deadliest earthquakes, though the first three are in fact the ones that caused the largest loss of life.)

Thousands of earthquakes happen every day around the world. Most are hardly felt, if at all. But sometimes pieces of Earth's crust suddenly slip past each other in a massive release of pent-up stress. The jolted Earth rumbles, buildings collapse, streets buckle, and thousands of people die. These movements are nature's most violent act and take a grim toll on human life and infrastructure.

1556: Shaanxi Earthquake
The deadliest earthquake in recorded history rattled the Shensi province of China on Jan. 23, 1556, and killed an estimated 830,000 people. The death toll was particularly high among peasants who lived in artificial caves that were dug into soft rock and collapsed during the quake.

2004: Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami
On Dec. 26, 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake ruptured the ocean floor off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, and triggered a series of destructive tsunamis that killed at least 225,000 people in 11 countries. Millions more were stripped of their homes. Scientists estimate the energy released in the event was more than 1,500 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

1976: The Tangshan Earthquake
The deadliest earthquake in modern times flattened the industrial city of Tangshan, China, in the early morning of July 28, 1976. The Chinese government put the death toll at 255,000, though many geologists believe it was much higher – up to 655,000. Nearly 800,000 more were injured. Tremors and damage from the magnitude-7.5 quake extended as far as Beijing, about 90 miles from the epicenter.

2005: The Kashmir Earthquake
At least 86,000 people were killed when a magnitude-7.6 earthquake hit the Kashmir region of northern Pakistan on Oct. 8, 2005. Millions more were left homeless at the outset of the harsh Himalayan winter. Landslides swept away villages and blocked roads for relief and rescue workers, worsening the human toll. At least 1,350 people were killed in neighboring India, and the shaking was also felt in Afghanistan.

1970: Ancash Earthquake
The magnitude-7.9 earthquake that struck just off the west coast of Peru on May 31, 1970, reduced the coastal towns of Casma and Chimbote to rubble and killed at least 3,000 people. Even greater disaster struck the towns of Yungay and Ranranhirca. The shaking sent an avalanche of mud, rock and ice down the slopes of the Cordillera Blanca and buried the cities under tens of feet of debris. An estimated 70,000 lives were lost.

2003: Bam Earthquake
On Dec. 26, 2003, a magnitude-6.6 earthquake crumpled the adobe city of Bam, Iran, killing an estimated 30,000 people. About 60 percent of the city's buildings were destroyed and nearly all the rest were damaged. The event ranks as the deadliest in Iran's history.

1985: Michoacán earthquake
On Sept. 19, 1985, a magnitude-8.2 earthquake off Mexico’s Pacific coast wreaked the greatest havoc in Mexico City, about 220 miles from the epicenter. There, hundreds of buildings were toppled, and thousands of people died. Government officials put the death toll at about 9,000, though other sources say it may have been as high as 35,000. A triggered tsunami sent waves rising almost 10 feet crashing into the coastal towns of Lazaro Cardenas, Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo.

1906: The San Francisco Earthquake
The California earthquake of April 18, 1906, ranks as the most deadly in U.S. history: About 3,000 people perished. The Great Quake, as the event is known, was estimated at magnitude 7.9 and ruptured along 296 miles of the northernmost section of the San Andreas fault. Broken gas lines, fractured chimneys and toppled chemical trucks sparked a series of fires that torched large sections of San Francisco.

1964: The Good Friday Earthquake
The most powerful earthquake in North American history shook the state of Alaska on March 27, 1964, the Friday before Easter. The magnitude-9.2 temblor triggered a tsunami that was responsible for 113 of the 128 deaths associated with the earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The giant waves struck along the West Coast down to California, and rolled across the Pacific to Hawaii.


May. 13th, 2008


Major earthquakes in China

Details of some of the biggest temblors (Source):

May 12, 2008: At least 12,000 people die in Sichuan province alone after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hits the region. Death toll is feared to rise as 18,000 people are belived buried under rubble in a city near the epicenter. [More info]

February 2003: At least 94 people are killed and more than 200 injured when a quake measuring 6.8 hits sparsely populated Jiashi county in the remote northwestern region of Xinjiang.

January 1998: At least 47 people die and more than 2,000 are injured when an earthquake measuring 6.2 rocks northern Hebei province, devastating mud and brick homes in two rural counties.

April 1997: A strong earthquake measuring 6.6 hits Xinjiang, killing nine people and injuring 60.

January 1997: Earthquake measuring 6.4 kills up to 50 people and injures more than 40 in Xinjiang.

May 1996: Earthquake measuring 6.4 rocks Inner Mongolia, killing 15 people and injuring more than 200. Nearly 400 aftershocks follow.

March 1996: Earthquake measuring 6.9 jolts Xinjiang, killing 26 people, injuring 128.

February 1996: Earthquake measuring 7.0 wrecks scenic mountain town of Lijiang in Yunnan, killing at least 304 people and injuring more than 16,000. [More info]

October 1995: Earthquake in Yunnan kills 50 and injures more than 6,000. The 6.5 tremor leaves 170,000 people homeless.

April 1990: Earthquake measuring 6.9 kills 126 people in northwestern Qinghai province.

October 1989: Series of tremors in northern Shanxi and Hebei provinces kills 29 people and leave 60,000 homeless.

November 1988: Earthquake measuring 7.6 devastates remote areas in Yunnan, killing at least 730 people and destroying about 400,000 homes.

August 1985: Xinjiang is hit by an earthquake that kills 67 people and injures more than 100. The tremor measures 7.4.

July 1976: At least 240,000 people die when an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale flattens the northern city of Tangshan. [More info]

There's also an interesting animation here that shows the epicenters of the 2008 Sichuan quake and aftershocks.

Apr. 21st, 2008


Two tornadoes strike metro D.C.

A pair of tornadoes struck suburban Washington on Sunday, mangling trees and stripping siding off several homes, the National Weather Service confirmed.

No injuries were immediately reported.

The first tornado hit St. Charles, Maryland -- about 30 miles south of Washington -- just after 2 p.m. It uprooted several trees, many of which fell onto cars and homes. The strongest wind from that touchdown was 80 mph -- enough force to blow out windows.

A second tornado followed about 30 minutes later outside Hyattsville, Maryland -- about 10 miles northeast of the capital. The high-speed winds, peaking at 100 mph, hit the George E. Peters Adventist School especially hard, tearing off a portion of the roof and flinging it and mounds of debris into the parking lot. A nearby construction trailer was also knocked over.


Apr. 18th, 2008


Earthquake rattles Illinois

A magnitude-5.2 earthquake, centered 131 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri, shook southern Illinois early Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were few reports of damage immediately after the predawn quake, which struck at 4:36 a.m. (5:36 a.m. ET), but CNN affiliate WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky, showed footage of rubble left in a street after a cornice fell off a brick building there. The epicenter of the earthquake was about three miles below ground, six miles northwest of Mount Carmel, Illinois, and 38 miles north-northwest of Evansville, Indiana, according to the USGS. People as far north as southern Michigan and as far west as Des Moines, Iowa, reported feeling the quake, according to The Associated Press.

Air traffic was halted for an hour at Indianapolis International Airport while the control tower was evacuated, CNN affiliate WRTV-TV in the Indiana city reported. At least 30 people reported feeling the quake in Clarksville, Tennessee -- 227 miles south of the epicenter -- according to the USGS Web site. Buildings swayed in Chicago's Loop and people were shaken awake in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the AP reported. People as far away as southwest Michigan and northeast Georgia e-mailed CNN to say they felt the tremor.

"It shook our house where it woke me up," David Behm of Philo, Illinois, told the AP. "Windows were rattling, and you could hear it. The house was shaking inches. For people in central Illinois, this is a big deal. It's not like California."

Radio talk-show host George Noory said he felt the quake in his St. Louis home. "Everything shook," Noory said. "I thought the building was going to collapse."

Bonnie Lucas, who hosts a morning show at WHO-AM in Des Moines, told the AP she felt her chair move for five seconds.

The USGS said the largest historical earthquake in the region -- magnitude 5.4 -- shook southern Illinois in 1968.


Mar. 3rd, 2008


Plane scrapes wing during landing in Germany

Battling blustery weather, a Lufthansa Airlines flight scraped its wing on the ground during a landing attempt in Hamburg, Germany, over the weekend. The plane recovered and landed safely the second time around, the spokesman said.

Dramatic amateur video of the incident that appeared on the Internet showed the Airbus A320 teetering as it tried to land during the brutal winter storm on Saturday. As it nears the tarmac, one wing visibly scrapes the ground.

"As we were about to touch down, a gust of wind pressed the left wing towards the ground," a Lufthansa pilot identified only as Oliver A. said in a statement. "We pulled up immediately. A maneuver we practice in training very often."

The airline said the pilot has been flying for Lufthansa for 17 years.

Airline spokesman Wolfgang Weber said the left winglet, a fin at the end of the wing scraped the ground after a gust of wind tipped the plane. Damage to the plane was minimal and not structural. He said the plane is already back in service.


(Check out the video at the link -- it's pretty amazing.)

Jan. 26th, 2008


This Day in History

January 26 is apparently a popular day for earthquakes. . . .

1531 Lisbon, Portugal Earthquake
The intensity was not recorded, but it caused massive damage to the city and caused an estimated 30,000 deaths.

1700 Cascadia earthquake
The 1700 Cascadia Earthquake was a magnitude 8.7 – 9.2 megathrust earthquake that occurred in the Cascadia subduction zone in 1700. The earthquake involved the Juan de Fuca Plate underlying the Pacific ocean, from mid-Vancouver Island in southwest Canada off British Columbia to northern California, along the Pacific Northwest coast. The length of the fault rupture was about 1000 kilometers (600 miles) with an average slip of 20 meters. The Cascadia Earthquake caused a tsunami that struck the coast of Japan, and may also be linked to the Bonneville slide. The evidence suggests that it took place at about 9:00 PM on January 26, 1700. Although there were no written records in the region at the time, the earthquake's precise date is nevertheless known from Japanese records of a tsunami that has not been tied to any other Pacific Rim earthquake. The most important clue linking the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in the Pacific Northwest comes from studies of tree rings (dendrochronology) which show that red cedar trees killed by lowering of coastal forests into the tidal zone by the earthquake have outermost growth rings that formed in 1699, the last growing season before the tsunami. Oral traditions also exist among the region's original inhabitants, although these do not specify the date.

2001 Gujarat earthquake
The 2001 Gujarat earthquake was reportedly the most devastating earthquake in India in recent history. It occurred on January 26, 2001, which coincided with the 51st celebration of Republic Day (India) at 0317 hrs GMT. The location of the epicentre was Bhuj, Gujarat, India. Measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, the quake killed more than 20,000 people and injured another 167,000 and destroyed near a million homes throughout Gujarat and parts of Eastern Pakistan. The earthquake is considered an intraplate earthquake because it occurred a great distance from any plate boundary, where the theory of plate tectonics says most earthquakes of this size happen. Because of this, this area was not prepared for an earthquake of such size, causing much of the devastation.


Jan. 8th, 2008


Volcano erupts in Chile

Several communities in Chile remained on edge Wednesday after a volcano sent a column of gray ash into the sky and lava cascading down a snow-covered mountain.

More than 1,000 people have fled their homes even though the government has not ordered an evacuation.

"There are no signs yet of an increased risk," Chile's Emergency Bureau director, Carmen Fernandez, told The Associated Press.

"There is some flow of lava, but not in a continued manner yet."

But almost 200 people were ordered to leave a nearby national park after pillars of orange flame rocketed into the night sky from Llaima volcano, which towers above central Chile at 3,125 meters (10,252 feet).

If the volcano keeps erupting, authorities may have to evacuate 6,000 people from the nearby town of Melipeuco, Fernandez said.

The lava flow has melted snow and swollen nearby rivers. That has raised fears of flooding, with the water already blocking one road.

The volcano sent a plume of smoke nearly 12,500 meters (41,000 feet) into the air after erupting around 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Global Volcanism Program of the Smithsonian Institution.

Lava poured down the east side of the mountain, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Buenos Aires reported on its web site. The government is urging people to remain calm and stay inside.

Scientists have told authorities that a continual flow of lava is unlikely but possible.

The volcano is one of the most active in Chile. It's roughly 680 km (422 miles) south of the Chilean capital of Santiago.

Source: CNN -- there is some neat video there as well.

Aug. 20th, 2007


Hurricane Dean reaches category 5

CNN: Texas-sized Hurricane Dean spins toward Yucatan

Hurricane Dean burgeoned into a Category 5 storm -- capable of inflicting catastrophic damage when it makes landfall early Tuesday.

The storm -- with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph -- was not expected to weaken before its landfall on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, the National Hurricane Center said.

A Category 5 storm is the most extreme level on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the standard measurement for hurricanes. Such hurricanes can have a storm surge of more than 18 feet and are powerful enough to take off roofs, uproot trees and wipe out buildings.

You should be able to see the storm track and projected path here.

Aug. 17th, 2007


Something for Volcano-lovers?

I got this wonderful links on current volcanic activity. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Sometimes you can get to see some really wonderful and mindblowing pictures as well.
Perhaps the link is already well known...?