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Natural Disasters
Joplin tornado anniversary: town rebuilds but destruction is ever present
May 21, 2012
Joplin tornado anniversary
Tammy Niederhelman thought that nothing could be worse than the nightmares. What could be more wrenching than a dream in which your 12-year-old son is screaming for help and you cannot reach him?

A nightmare based on reality. On 22 May 2011 Niederhelman was at work in the intensive care unit of Freeman hospital in Joplin, Missouri, toward the end of her nursing shift, when it was announced that a storm was coming. She didn't think much of it – these warnings were two a penny – but she called her son Zach and told him to follow the drill: get into the bathtub and cover himself with pillows and wait it out.

Aftershocks rock Italy earthquake zone
May 20, 2012
Italy earthquake damage
Aftershocks continued to be felt in northern Italy on Sunday after a strong earthquake in the early hours killed at least four, injured more than 50 and reduced historic churches and castle towers to rubble.

The epicentre of the quake, which the US Geological Survey recorded at magnitude 6.0, was 3.2 miles below ground, north of Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region, and was felt across Italy, from Liguria to the Veneto.

Hundreds of terrified residents fled their homes and hospitals were evacuated after the 20-second earthquake struck at 4.04am. While major towns including Bologna emerged unscathed, helicopters were flying over remote villages as day broke, looking for collapsed buildings in which survivors could be trapped. [guardian]

Flash floods are on the rise, while the budget to tackle them sinks
May 18, 2012
flooding disasters
A moving new exhibition of photographs at Somerset House shows the human impact of flooding around the world over the past five years and provides an insight into how climate change may already be disrupting lives and livelihoods.

The images from major flooding events in the UK, Pakistan, Australia and Thailand feature victims and survivors as they cope with the inundation of their homes and the aftermath. The photographer, Gideon Mendel, says his intention is "to depict them as individuals, not as nameless statistics". He adds: "Coming from disparate parts of the world, their faces show us their linked vulnerability despite the vast differences in their lives and circumstances." [guardian]

Tiny earthquakes may cause some surprisingly big tsunamis
May 18, 2012
small earthquake large tsunami
Mysterious small tremors in the most earthquake-prone areas on Earth may be the cause of surprisingly large tsunamis, researchers say. These findings might also shed light on the huge tsunami generated by the disastrous magnitude 9.0 quake that hit Japan in 2011.

Nearly all of the 10 largest recorded earthquakes on Earth happened along subduction zones, where one of the tectonic plates making up the planet's surface is diving beneath another. The shallow regions of these zones are often not seismically active by themselves, but occasionally strange tremors are recorded from these locales that are rich in very-low-frequency seismic waves.

Greater Insight Into Earthquake Cycles
May 13, 2012
earthquake cycles
For those who study earthquakes, one major challenge has been trying to understand all the physics of a fault -- both during an earthquake and at times of "rest" -- in order to know more about how a particular region may behave in the future. Now, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed the first computer model of an earthquake-producing fault segment that reproduces, in a single physical framework, the available observations of both the fault's seismic (fast) and aseismic (slow) behavior.

"Our study describes a methodology to assimilate geologic, seismologic, and geodetic data surrounding a seismic fault to form a physical model of the cycle of earthquakes that has predictive power," says Sylvain Barbot, a postdoctoral scholar in geology at Caltech and lead author of the study. [SCIDAY]

Mexico volcano spews huge ash cloud, frightens villagers
May 12, 2012
Mexico Volcano
Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano spewed out huge clouds of ash and fiery rock overnight, closing a local airport on Saturday and frightening nearby villagers, already on edge after weeks of increased activity.

Popocatepetl, 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Mexico City, shook with tremors that belched out four large plumes of ash on Friday night and Saturday morning, the National Center for Disaster Prevention said in a statement on Saturday.

The biggest expulsion shot an ash cloud 2.5 miles (4 km) into the air and launched glowing rocks more than half a mile (1 km) from the crater, the statement said. [reuters]

Waterspouts: 5 Things You May Not Know
May 10, 2012


Tornadoes....Over Water!

Waterspouts are one of my favorite meteorological phenomena.  They combine the swirling power of a tornado with a large body of body of water to create an entrancing sight. We gathered some of the best waterspout photos uploaded to our iWitness weather page and we asked Tornado Expert Dr. Greg Forbes to weigh in on them.  We came up with 5 surprising facts you may not have known about waterspouts.  Read and enjoy! [weather]

Chile quake, tsunami altered ecosystems dramatically
May 07, 2012
Chile earthquake ecosystem
The earthquake and tsunami that rocked Chile in 2010 unleashed substantial and surprising changes on ecosystems there, yielding insights on how these natural disasters can affect life and how sea level rise might affect the world, researchers say.

The magnitude 8.8 earthquake that hit Chile struck off an area of the coast where 80 percent of the population lives. The massive quake triggered a tsunami reaching about 30 feet (10 meters) high that wreaked havoc on coastal communities : It killed more than 500 people, injured about 12,000 and damaged or destroyed at least 370,000 houses.

It makes sense that such earthshaking catastrophes would have drastic consequences on ecosystems in the affected areas. However, if researchers lack enough data about the environment before a disaster strikes, as is usually the case, it can be difficult to decipher these effects. With the 2010 Chile quake, scientists were able to conduct an unprecedented report of its ecological implications based on data collected on coastal ecosystems shortly before and up to 10 months after the event. [msnbc]

The surprising threat from Mexico's awakened volcano
May 03, 2012
Mexico Volcano Threat
North America's second-tallest volcano recently rumbled to life, putting authorities on edge. Big eruptions of Mexico's massive Popocatepetl volcano are "few and far between," as one geologist says. Yet even without any dramatic fireworks, 17,800-foot (5,425-meter) "Popo" has the power to wreak havoc.

Geologist Mike Sheridan, a professor emeritus at the University at Buffalo, said that Popo and, in fact, many other volcanoes around the world harbor a means of destruction that many people may not associate with volcanoes: mudflows. 

"And they don't even require an eruption, so they are less predictable," Sheridan told OurAmazingPlanet. [msnbc]

Some dinosaurs doomed before asteroid strike, study says
May 01, 2012
T-Rex Extinction
Some dinosaurs may have been headed toward extinction long before a natural disaster suddenly ended their reign.

A new study out Tuesday claims some large-bodied herbivores, like the triceratops, were in slow decline before being totally wiped out 65 million years ago.

"Did sudden volcanic eruptions or an asteroid impact strike down dinosaurs during their prime? We found that it was probably much more complex than that, and maybe not the sudden catastrophe that is often portrayed," said lead author Steve Brusatte, a Columbia University graduate student affiliated with the Museum of Natural History. [FOX]

UK faces floods and 60mph winds as wet weather continues
April 29, 2012
UK Flooding
South-west England and Wales face gusts of up to 60mph on Sunday while the rest of the UK is also expected to experience strong winds and further downpours.

Forecasters said trees could be brought down and already waterlogged areas could be flooded as up to 40mm of rain was predicted to fall in places. The wet weather is set to continue into next week.

England and Wales have experienced the wettest week since December with forecasters seeing no sign of the rain letting up and supermarkets reporting soaring sales of wellies and umbrellas amid the deluge. [guardian]

Study Indicates a Greater Threat of Extreme Weather
April 27, 2012
extreme weather events
New research suggests that global warming is causing the cycle of evaporation and rainfall over the oceans to intensify more than scientists had expected, an ominous finding that may indicate a higher potential for extreme weather in coming decades.

By measuring changes in salinity on the ocean’s surface, the researchers inferred that the water cycle had accelerated by about 4 percent over the last half century. That does not sound particularly large, but it is twice the figure generated from computerized analyses of the climate.

If the estimate holds up, it implies that the water cycle could quicken by as much as 20 percent later in this century as the planet warms, potentially leading to more droughts and floods. [nytimes]

Earthquake causes panic in Indonesia
April 21, 2012
Indonesia panic
Quake measuring 6.6 strikes 50 miles off Indonesian coast, causing residents to flee their homes in Papua province.

A powerful earthquake hit has waters off eastern Indonesia, sending panicked residents running from their homes, offices and schools.

Authorities said the quake did not have the potential to trigger a tsunami. The US Geological Survey said it had a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 and hit 50 miles (83km) off Papua province. It was centred just 18 miles beneath the ocean floor. There was some damage, but no immediate reports of injuries.

'Wave of Poseidon' Was Real Tsunami
April 20, 2012
greek coast
When the ocean rose up and saved a Greek town from a marauding Persian army nearly 2,500 years ago, renowned Greek historian Herodotus chalked it up to an act of the gods.

Yet new evidence suggests his account of divine intervention is firmly rooted in the earthly realm, and was actually a tsunami, according to a researcher who spoke here today (April 19) at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America.

"This is historical stuff, but you have to interpret it in a scientific way," said Klaus Reicherter of Germany's Aachen University, who studied geological evidence of the event. [LS]

Can whales predict earthquakes and tsunamis?
April 15, 2012
A British photographer witnessed a school of whales vanishing during an underwater earthquake. Could they serve as 'canaries' for humans?

Do whales hear earthquakes long before humans? As tsunami warnings hit the Indonesian and Sri Lankan coasts last week, observers at sea watched as every species of cetacean – from massive blue whales to diminutive spinner dolphins – disappeared within five minutes. British photographer and film-maker Andrew Sutton, who took this remarkable shot last Wednesday off the southern tip of Sri Lanka, reports that he and his crew were mystified as the whales they were watching vanished in the space of a few minutes. The humans on the boat were unaware that the quake had happened, but the animals had evidently sensed the subsea seismic shocks, and fled. [guardian]
Midwest tornadoes: 5 dead, 29 injured in Okla.
April 15, 2012
tornadoes forming in the midwest - april, 2012
Tornadoes raking communities across the Midwest and Plains left five people dead and at least 29 injured in Oklahoma, damaging a hospital, homes and other buildings as a vast severe weather front plunged eastward Sunday across the nation's midsection.

Oklahoma emergency officials said five people died after a tornado touched down at 12:18 a.m. Sunday in and around the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward, the high winds damaging homes, toppling trees and downing power lines about 140 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. The brunt of the damage was reported on the west side of the town of about 12,000 and its outskirts, where search teams scoured the rubble for hours for any still trapped or injured. [myway]

Tornadoes to Thrive through the Weekend
April 13, 2012
tornado outbreak 2012 april
It began earlier this week and strong-to-severe thunderstorms will continue to rumble on Friday and through the weekend across the central United States.

A trough has been anchored over the West. Multiple upper-level disturbances are ejecting out of the base of trough and spitting out into the Plains.

These disturbances are meeting up with an unstable (high low-level moisture, warm air mass) atmosphere and aiding in the development of rain and thunderstorms.
Are 4 Big Earthquakes in 2 Days Connected?
April 12, 2012
indonesia earthquakes

The 8.6-magnitude earthquake that hit off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, yesterday (April 11) was followed by several decent-size shakes along the west coast of North America, but researchers can't say for certain whether all the temblors were related.

It's possible, geophysicists say, that quakes off the coast of Oregon, Michoacan, Mexico, and in the Gulf of California ranging from magnitudes 5.9 to 6.9 on the Richter Scale had something to do with the large earthquake that struck near Indonesia. But the west coast quakes were fairly standard for their location.

"The Earth is in constant motion," said Aaron Velasco, a geophysicist at the University of Texas, El Paso. "I wouldn't necessarily say it's unusual, but we will definitely be looking at these earthquakes to see if there's any link between them."

More Earthquakes : 5.9 Off Oregon Coast, 7.0 Mexico!
April 11, 2012
A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Oregon on Wednesday and was followed a minute later by a smaller quake off the coast of central California, the U.S. Geological Survey said. UPDATES STILL INCOMING.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quakes were unlikely to trigger a tsunami. The Oregon quake was initially reported as a magnitude 6.2 and the California one as a 5.3. Both were later downgraded. It was not immediately known whether the quakes caused any damage or casualties. (mexico earthquake info)

Why earthquake off Sumatra did not trigger a devastating tsunami
April 11, 2012
high ground tsunami
The earthquake off the coast of northern Sumatra in Indonesia began with a sudden shift in a strike-slip fault, a line of weakness in the sea floor where two huge bodies of rock can slide past one another.

Unlike the earthquake that triggered the devastating 2004 tsunami in the region, the sea floor moved sideways instead of vertically, meaning it displaced less water and did not send giant waves around the Indian Ocean.

Warning buoys, installed after the 2004 disaster, picked up a tsunami soon after the earthquake, but the highest waves that reached the nearby shoreline of Sumatra were only 80cm. The warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre was later lifted, at 12.36GMT on Wednesday. [guardian]

Tsunami watch lifted after two big earthquakes
April 11, 2012
Indian Ocean Tsunami Watch
A massive earthquake struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra Wednesday afternoon, triggering a tsunami watch for the Indian Ocean, which was later canceled.

The quake struck about 434 kilometers (270 miles) southwest of Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia's Aceh province, and had a magnitude of 8.6, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It took place at a depth of 23 kilometers (14 miles).

A second large quake, with a magnitude of 8.2, occurred off the west coast of Sumatra about two hours later, the USGS said.

Pakistani soldiers buried by avalanche
April 07, 2012
pakistan avalance

An avalanche has smashed into a Pakistani army base on a Himalayan glacier close to India, burying about 130 soldiers.

Rescue efforts were under way on the Siachen Glacier, where thousands of Pakistani and Indian troops are based, a security official said. The military is yet to release a formal statement.

The official said the snow had hit a battalion headquarters in Gayari on the glacier at 5.45am.

2012 : Another Bad Tornado Season?
April 05, 2012
Storm Chaser Catches Terrifying Dallas Tornadoes
April 05, 2012
scary dallas tornado

An estimated 10 to 18 tornadoes plowed through the Dallas metropolitan area yesterday afternoon (April 3), tossing semi-trailers high in the air, destroying homes and pelting the region with hail the size of golf balls.

The storms sent thousands of people scurrying for cover. But Brandon Sullivan was hurrying in the opposite direction — straight toward the Dallas twisters. He'd been watching radar and weather reports all morning, and drove all the way from his home in Oklahoma City in search of the telltale rotating clouds.

His chase was rewarded. Just outside Forney, Texas, a town about 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Dallas, Sullivan stopped his car along a tiny dirt road as a furious tornado churned in a field just about 200 yards (180 meters) away.

Texas Tornado Outbreak : Wild Videos & Updates
April 03, 2012
texas tornado throws truck
Severe detached thunderstorms in the Metroplex spawned at least two tornadoes that injured several people, damaged homes and tossed cars and big-rigs into the air Tuesday afternoon. The storm activity started with storms firing up to the west of the Metroplex late Tuesday morning.  By 11 a.m., the first cells began developing in the western counties.

At about 12:30 p.m., a Tornado Watch was issued for all of the Metroplex until 8 p.m.  Just a few minutes later the first rotation was spotted on radar in Johnson County. For the next two hours funnel clouds were spotted dropping out of the clouds in various parts of the Metroplex. In two locations tornadoes touched down and stayed on the ground for extended periods of time as one plowed through Johnson and Tarrant counties and a second through Ellis and Dallas counties. At 2:45 p.m., a second Tornado Warning was issued for east and north Arlington, Euless, DFW Airport, Irving and parts of Dallas including the west side and Park Cities.  This warning was to stay in effect until 3:30 p.m. but was canceled shortly after 3 p.m.
Texas Tornado Seen on Live TV - Also UPDATES & WARNINGS!
April 03, 2012
severe storms april 3rd 2012

A slow-moving storm system centered over northern New Mexico is the culprit behind the severe storms. This system will be slow to inch its way towards the southern Plains by Wednesday morning.

In a setup more typical of late spring or early summer, unusually warm and moist air will continue to surge northward across the southern Plains, the Tennessee and Ohio valleys, acting as the fuel for storms.

With the peak of the severe weather season across the southern Plains occurring during the month of April, it comes as no surprise that the region is under the risk for severe storms.


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Nostradamus - 2012 - Armageddon Events - End of the World Scenarios - Natural Disasters