CASE STUDY SUMMARY _ LESTER

The limnic eruption of Lake Nyos, Cameroon, Africa, was a silent killer. It crept up from behind and left no physical damage, no life, and no trace that it ever occurred.

On the morning of August 21st, 1986, a new ghost town was formed. At first glance, Nyos Village in Cameroon, Africa seemed unusually quiet, but otherwise normal. There was no physical destruction to be seen, but damage was certainly done. Everything was still, not a dog barking or a friendly hello from a local. There were no children playing, no birds chirping, no morning buzz of activity around the village’s center. There was no motion, no sound. The village was no more, even though it still stood. Every living thing had died.

Lake Nyos is a volcanic lake, created by a maar volcano. Volcanic activity under the surface caused a buildup of carbon dioxide gas dissolved into lower layers of the water over 400 years, so the lake was a ticking time bomb. On the night of the limnic eruption, rain had cooled the lake’s usually crystal blue surface and weakened the surrounding slopes. When some form of mass wasting occurred, depositing sediment into the lake, water was overturned and over a  square kilometer of carbon dioxide was released. This filled the nearby villages and farms, killing 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock animals.

A degassing system has been put in place, which uses the pressurized nature of the carbon dioxide to pull the dissolved gas from the the bottom layers of the lake and release it safely into the atmosphere. Though this system is in place, scientists are still unsure if this is enough to keep the lake from erupting again. The area has just recently been repopulated, and Cameroonian agencies are working to rebuild the area with new schools, safe water drinking stations, and mills.

I will leave you with a recount of the disaster from one of only six survivors from the village of Nyos, Joseph Nkwain: “I could not speak. I became unconscious. I could not open my mouth because then I smelled something terrible … I heard my daughter snoring in a terrible way, very abnormal…. When crossing to my daughter’s bed … I collapsed and fell … I wanted to speak, my breath would not come out…. My daughter was already dead.”

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Volcanic Lightning (?!)

While this may not be a specific disaster, it is a less known hazard that comes (rarely) with volcanic eruptions, and it’s just really cool. It is not crazy dangerous to humans, as it happens straight up from the volcano where there is an ash cloud and other, more hazardous things (like lava) to worry about. Volcanic lightning can occur when the lava at the surface causes an electrical charge to build up in the ash column, which eventually becomes overwhelming. To balance it out, lightning literally comes out of the volcano and flashes up towards the sky. Scientists have not done extensive research on this phenomenon and do no now a lot about it, but this is because it is very rare (and it looks like an epic clash between Zeus and Hades).

https://www.forbes.com/sites/robinandrews/2017/04/16/watch-this-volcanic-eruption-fire-out-upside-down-lightning-bolts/#adc231a236e3

 

Eruption from Kambalny After 250 Years of Dormancy

The Kamchatka Peninsula in Eastern Russia is a highly active volcanic field, frequently having two or more eruptions occurring at the same time. The peninsula has over 300 volcanoes, 29 of them active. This did not include Kambalny, which last erupted in 1767.

On March 27th, Kambalny erupted for the first time in 250 years, sending a plume of ash 7,000 meters into the atmosphere, causing a code orange for aviation danger. At this point, researchers don’t know if this eruption released any new magma or if it is just an explosion that erupted old, cold material in the vent area of the volcano. If new magma was released, we can expect more explosions to come.

https://www.wired.com/2017/03/russian-volcano-just-erupted-first-time-centuries/

https://www.rt.com/viral/382331-volcano-eruption-russia-kamchatka/

Flooding from Severe Storms in Southeastern Spain

Southeastern Spain averagely totals about 12 inches of rain per year. This Monday, however, certain parts of the area accumulated almost 6 inches within one 24-hour period.

Torrential downpours, flooding, and tornadoes broke out across the area, killing 10 people. Two bridges collapsed and many properties were destroyed. One tornado tore down a Ferris Wheel, injuring 75 people.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/9579109/The-clean-up-begins-after-torrential-rain-and-flash-floods-in-south-eastern-Spain.html?frame=2356419

 

Dust Storm Discolors Sky Over North Africa

http://www.theportugalnews.com/news/north-africa-pressure-system-colours-sky/41143

The North African sky was changed to a brownish-yellow color on Thursday, and the discoloration is predicted to last for at least another few days. This was caused by a low pressure system that’s wind carried some of the dry, sandy ground from nearby deserts. The system is affecting a huge area from Tunisia to the Canaries as well as the Iberian Peninsula and Madeira.

Series of Avalanches in Afghanistan and Pakistan

“At least 156 people have died along the Afghan-Pakistani border after three days of heavy snowfall caused a series of deadly avalanches Sunday.”

The death toll is expected to rise, as the National Disaster Management Authority says that more people are still trapped under the snow. Over 300 civilian homes have been destroyed, and most of the victims so far are women and children.

Evacuation efforts, however, are just being implemented two days after the series of avalanches.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/06/asia/avalanche-afghanistan-pakistan/

‘Atmospheric Rivers’ in California

www.kpbs.org/news/2017/jan/18/3-strong-atmospheric-river-storms-take-aim-san-die/

Atmospheric Rivers are narrow corridors of moisture that flow through the air, usually along the jet stream, and can bring massive amounts of rain. When the moisture reaches dew point, as they usually do on their way up the mountains in California, they cause storms that can erode the vulnerable soil in places like San Diego. An oncoming storm threatens the city this week, and the director of the center for Western Weather and Water extremes said that  “the coming series of storms could be the largest San Diego has experienced in at least six years.”