I decided to choose the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami, which devastated the northeastern coast of Japan.  A prime reason for choosing this particular event was that I had heard about this event prior to this class, albeit I had never done any real research on the topic.  Additionally, I was interested in learning what types of mitigations are used in a country that experiences earthquakes at a high frequency.  I also have an interest in visiting Japan for travel and potentially for my career.  Lastly, I chose this event because it was a domino effect in which it was the perfect example of anything that could happen, did happen.  This does not mean that Japan’s mitigations we bad; it just means that they were not prepared for a disaster that would go down in history.


On March 11th, 2011, a 9.1 magnitude (Mw) earthquake occurred with its epicenter located 80 miles east of the city of Sendai and its hypocenter located 18.6 miles below the seafloor.  The years of stress that were built up in this subduction zone also factored into the magnitude of the earthquake.  Prior to the earthquake, there were multiple foreshocks, and following the earthquake, there were many aftershocks, several of which were above a 6.0 magnitude.  This earth was one of the strongest earthquakes in history, yet it was not the primary cause of the damage that the northeastern coast of Japan would experience.  It was mainly the tsunami that was generated from vertical movements from the Pacific plate subducting under the Okhotsk plate.  The tsunami’s maximum runup height was close to 130 feet and inundated as far as 6 miles inland.  The tsunami was quick, given it was local, and it arrived at the coast of Japan within 30 minutes.  Again, the tsunami caused extensive damage as it swept away houses, cars, vegetation, and other debris.  The earthquake and tsunami also caused many other hazards, such as landslides, liquefaction, wildfire, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was on the same level as Chernobyl. 


The death toll of this disaster was reported to be around 18,000 to 20,000 people but is not concrete due to missing persons.  The elderly were the main demographic that was affected as more than half of the deaths were people aged 60 or older.  It showed that beyond sea walls, there were not many other mitigations.  Additionally, there was a heavy reliance on sea walls not failing, so when they did, that’s what made the event more disastrous.  Some of the sea walls that had failed were as tall as 18 feet.  The humanitarian response was immense as several countries, including, but not limited to, Canada, China, Australia, and the United States.  Most countries sent resources to help with search & rescue, clearing debris, and reconstruction. This matter was resolved in months to a couple of years except for the area of Fukushima. The nuclear disaster that ensued at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was caused by the tsunami damaging the backup power supply, which caused the reactors to meltdown.  Mass evacuation of the area occurred due to the radiation, and it took years for residents to be able to return; there are still dangerous areas to this day. 

My conclusions revolved around how Japan did the best they did in light of how the severity of the event was on a historical level and could have been worse if they lacked the mitigations they had prior.  The problem was the mitigations usually stopped at the sea walls, so after this incident, new building regulations were imposed and began reconstructing areas and adding other mitigations with the assumption that the sea wall would fail.  Additionally, the sea walls were raised.  Japan also needs to educate its population on tsunamis in the sense of comparing a given wave height to a common object like a house.  This means their population needs to evacuate in the event of a tsunami as mitigations are more so geared at defending property, granted they do protect people.  Lastly, an event comparable to this one was the Indian Ocean tsunami, which led to over 200,000 deaths due to the lack of mitigations, so it shows how much worse this could have been for Japan had they not had the mitigations they did.

Strongest Tornado So Far This Year

Among the many Tornados that have hit the south as of late, one tornado in Bryan County, Georgia has been reclassified from an EF-3 to an EF-4 tornado by the National Weather Service.  New estimates from the National Weather Service report that the tornado had winds of 185mph, which makes it the strongest tornaod so far this year.  The previous strongest tornado of this year was one that hit Iowa with wind speeds of 170mph.




Georgia Tornado Strongest This Year With 185 Mph Winds | Georgia News | US News

Update on Tectonic Activity in the Sao Jorge

Last week, Sao Jorge, part of the Azores Archipelago, has experienced thousands of tremors in the past month since the beginning of the crisis (reported to be 27,626 as of 4/6).  On Wednesday of last week (4/6), it was reported that Sao Jorge had experienced volcanic-tectonic tremors, which refer to earthquakes caused by a movement of magma.  However, it was stated that the volcanic-tectonic tremors did not mean a volcano was inevitable. Currently, an emergency plan has been implemented, which includes an evacuation plan and allocating of necessary resources to the island.




Tornado in Wales

Last week, what were thought to be strong winds in Pennal, a village in Wales, are now confirmed to be an T-3 Tornado (equivalent to an EF-2) with wind speeds that were reported to have reached 114 mph.  This was confirmed by The Tornado and Storm Research Organisation.   The tornado caused damage to a farm and much of the vegetation in the area, which resulted in damages to the roof of the barn estimated to be around $130,000.  Additionally, branches were ripped off trees and some were even uprooted.  It was also reported by the owner of the farm that a few of the sheep were lifted by the tornado.


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Spring Heat Wave in California

On Wednesday (4/6), California experienced above-average temperatures that were forecasted to affect many regions through Friday.  The heat is expected to reach 100 degrees, which increases the probability of fires breaking out. Additionally, a brush fire did break out due to the arid conditions in Chatsworth off of State Route 118 and was reported to have spread around 1.2 hectares (roughly 3 acres), before finally being contained.  No injuries were reported.




Tornado Hits Illinois

An NF-1 tornado touched down in White County, Illinois on Wednesday (3/30) evening reaching wind speeds of 100mph and having a peak width of 400 yards.  The tornado caused damage to many trees, power lines, and multiple houses (mainly shingle damage) in the county.  As of now, no injuries were reported due to the tornado.



Increase In Seismic Activity in Sao Jorge

Sao Jorge, one of the Azores islands off the coast of Portugal, is having an increase in seismic activity, which has prompted an evacuation.  The area has experienced an abundance of smaller earthquakes recently, which has led many to be wary of a potential eruption from nearby volcanos.  It has been stated that an eruption could or could not happen, but the authorities are still taking precautions for the worst case.

Earthquake Hits Off the Coast of Fukushima, Japan

On Wednesday (3/16) evening in northern Japan, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima resulting in a tsunami advisory being issued for that area.  The earthquake was said to occur 36 miles under the sea by The Japan Meteorological Agency.  Not much more can be said as of now since the earthquake happened only a short while ago.

Cyclone Hits Mozambique

Recently, Cyclone Gombe moved through a majority of Mozambique and was reported to have killed 15 people so far.  The cyclone resulted in flooding in the northern and central areas of Mozambique, which was the cause of a portion of the 15 recorded deaths.  More than 100,00o people needed to be evacuated prior to the cyclone.  Additionally, many homes, along with historic trees, bridges, health units, and

Strong Storms in Alabama

Earlier this morning (3/9) in Alabama, intense storms related to the cold front moving through the southeast moved through the deep south causing damage to trees, cars, and houses. These storms prompted tornado warnings and tornado watches for areas around Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. However, there have been no injuries or deaths as of now.