US government says drilling causes earthquakes – what took them so long?

 

US Geological Survey backpedals on previous research on wastewater fracking-induced earthquakes that have shaken eight states in last seven years.

As the US Geological Survey confirmed on Thursday, in the last seven years, geologically staid parts of the US have seen earthquakes like they haven’t seen for millions of years. And they were triggered by drilling for oil and gas.

Professor Heather DeShon explains the process by which earthquakes occur in the Azle, Texas, area, during a news conference at the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas this week.

Oil and gas drilling triggers man-made earthquakes in eight states.

 The USGS finds that wastewater injection activate long-dormant faults and means Oklahoma has more magnitude-3 quakes than California. The drilling – or rather, the process of injecting water deep underground – has been triggering earthquakes in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.

The most obvious question is: what took you so long, USGS? Over those seven years, other scientists have speculated about whether this rise in earthquakes has anything to do with the injection wells used by the fracking industry to dispose of the water used in the process.

For the most part, the report does not pin the blame on fracking itself – pumping large volumes of water, sand and chemicals into rock formations in order to free oil or gas – but rather on the associated process of injecting wastewater deep underground using injection wells. The rise of fracking after 2005’s Energy Policy Act slightly preceded and coincided with the rise in earthquakes. Oklahoma averaged a handful of earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater from 1975 to 2008. Then, in 2009, it had 20.

In 2011, the number of earthquakes in the state rose to over 60, and Oklahoma was hit by its largest earthquake in recorded history – magnitude 5.7. Immediately after the quake Katie Keranan, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Oklahoma, partnered with scientists from the USGS and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to install two dozen seismometers in Prague.

Within a year, Keranan had data that indicated that the pressure from injecting water deep beneath the earth had snapped three fault planes, one after the other.

Not long after, in 2012, an injection well was linked to quakes in Youngstown, Ohio. The state’s governor issued an executive order requiring operators to conduct seismic studies before the state would issue well permits. In that same year, David J Hayes, deputy secretary of the US Department of the Interior, wrote a public letter stating that USGS research showed that there were no conclusive examples that wastewater injection triggered major earthquakes, even when it happened near a known fault.

The USGS report published on Thursday does provide such examples.

Not every well triggers an earthquake. In fact, a relatively small number of wells seem to have caused the majority of earthquakes, according to a report led by Keranan, which found that out of the thousands of disposal wells in the central US, just four them induced 20% of the seismicity from 2008 to 2013 in the central US.

In September of 2013, the Society of Petroleum Engineers held an unprecedented meeting on “injection-induced seismicity”, though they did not invite the press or the public. The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma reached 103 in 2013.

In November of last year, the USGS and the Oklahoma Geological Survey co-hosted a workshop that included about 150 participants from academia, industry and government – the result of that meeting is the report that was released this week. That year, 2014, the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma reached 585 in one year.

Compared to earlier statements, the USGS report is a sharp turnaround from its previous stance. But it’s still a relatively mild document – one that advises more research, rather than specific actions. The work of clarifying connections between injection wells and earthquakes has been left to people such as Keranan, who left Oklahoma shortly after the Oklahoma Geological Survey published a rejection of a study she had placed in geology, which linked the quakes to nearby disposal wells.

 

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/24/earthquakes-fracking-drilling-us-geological-survey

CASE STUDY SUMMARY_TODD

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It was just another winter nor’easter! Most locals were not really listening anyway. The Blizzard was forecast remarkably well several days in advance. Winter Storm Watch issued early Sunday morning (30 hrs. in advance). Heavy Snow Watch issued Sunday afternoon. Warnings issued early Monday morning. “Near blizzard conditions” forecast 15 hours in advance. Many people stranded on roads because the onset of heavy snow occurred slightly later than predicted. People were skeptical of the warnings issued, following a series of inaccurate forecasts the preceding month.

The February 1978 blizzard was a life – threatening nor’easter that crippled most of the Commonwealth with blizzard conditions, extreme snowfall, high winds, and devastating coastal flooding. The storm claimed 73 lives in Massachusetts and 26 in Rhode Island. Over 10,000 people had to be sheltered. An unprecedented ban on non-emergency vehicle traffic lasted for a week in much of eastern Massachusetts. This blizzard peaked during the Monday evening rush hour and caused over 3,500 vehicles to be stranded on Route 128 in eastern Massachusetts, with snowfall rates of at least 3 inches per hour and visibility near zero. Boston recorded a wind gust of 79 mph, and wind peaked at 93 mph in Chatham. Snowfall generally ranged from 1 to 3 feet with a large swath of the southwest suburbs of Boston receiving over 30 inches. Snowfall reports included 32.5 inches in Rockport, 27.1 inches in Boston and 20.2 inches in Worcester. Major coastal flooding occurred over multiple high tide cycles and destroyed or severely damaged over 2,000 homes. This storm set a record high water mark of 15.25 feet above mean lower low water at the Boston Harbor National Ocean Service tide gage. Waves in excess of 30 feet were reported just offshore. The storm triggered evacuations and rescues along both the North and South Shores. This event did result in a federal disaster declaration (FEMA DR -546).

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stalledThere was little warning for what was to come, its Mother Nature after all! It’s hard to imagine New England ever again facing a storm with the unique fury of the Blizzard of ’78, a northeaster accompanied by exceptionally high tides and hurricane-strength gusts. One of the worst storms of the last two centuries, it smothered the region in up to 54 inches of snow, destroyed 2,000 homes, stranded thousands of motorists, killed 54 people, and inflicted $3.2 billion in damage.

Secondary hazards and damages included structural damage (snow load); wind damage; impact to life safety; disruption of traffic; loss of  productivity; economic impact; loss of ability to evacuate; taxing first responder capabilities; service disruption (power, water, etc.); communication disruption. Since severe winter storms often produce high winds and a storm surge, the coastline is more vulnerable to winter storms than most people realize. During the Blizzard of ’78 many homes along the New England and Long Island coastlines were destroyed or washed into the ocean. The coastline is highly developed in the Northeast, and is at significant risk from severe winter storms.

Rural areas are most at risk of losing power and becoming isolated during a winter storm. Snow clearing and power restoration efforts take much more time in rural areas than along highways and in urban areas. When preparing for a severe winter storm, rural residents in the Northeast should keep in mind that it could be hours, or even days, before emergency personnel are able to reach them. Residents should plan to stay inside and make it on their own, at least for a period of time.

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New Englanders also began to take stock of what had occurred. The statistics were staggering: 27.1 inches of snow in Boston (40 inches in parts of Rhode Island), 99 deaths, 4,500 injuries, 350 federal troops, $520 million dollars in damages, and 3,000 cars and 500 trucks abandoned on just an 8 mile stretch of Route 128. A massive effort was made to clear Logan Airport runways for some 200 National Guard troops arriving on 27 C-130 and C-141 military transport flights from Fort Bragg and Fort Devens, after being called out by the governor. The MBTA was down briefly, but was one of few the services operating. Two storms in early 1978 created havoc on the transportation system. A 21-inch snowstorm on January 20 and a 27 inch storm over two days Feb. 6-7 combined to create a two-storm punch. In between the storms there was some melting and freezing. The first major snowstorm of the year traditionally catches public works crews a bit unprepared and untrained. This pattern is also true of transit, where the MBTA fared better in the second, larger storm.

The Blizzard of ’78 was many things to many people: tragedy to some, a coming-together and winter fun for others. In the aftermath of the storm, Rhode Island, for all intents and purposes, was closed for a week. President Carter declared Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts federal disaster areas. Driving was banned, so everyone walked, or skied, to the closest grocery or convenience store.  For everyone it was a whole heck of a lot of snow. Today the storm looms just as large in the collective psyche as it did in the days following the blizzard. As the years go by there will be fewer and fewer New Englanders who will be able to recall the Blizzard of ’78 firsthand. Up until the winter storm of 2015came along and took the crown, there were youngsters all across New England each winter listening to grandparents tell them, “You think this is a storm, you ain’t seen nothing.”

 …… AND this is proof of my attendance!

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1978 Boston Blizzard Bits

* The only Blizzard in Boston (since 1961) to verify on a “sustained” wind of     35 mph for 3 hours or more: 2/6/78 2 PM – 6 PM EST.

*Storm lasted nearly 36 hours and paralyzed the entire region for a week

*Snow drifts as high as 27 feet

*Strongest wind gusts – Boston –79 mph and Chatham –93 mph

*Cars abandoned on Routes 95, 195

*Blizzard 78-6465431

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Cars stranded along Route 128: 3,500

*Homes destroyed in New England: 2,000

*People in storm shelters (N.E.): 10,000 +

*Total lives claimed by the storm (MA): 73 (from American Red Cross)

*Tides about 4 feet above normal, then waves driven onshore up to 12 feet on top of that!

*Total cost of damage (N.E.) $1 billion

 

(copy and paste the below URL to view video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBOYvOjrkA0

 

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BOSTON BLIZZZRD

 

 

 

NSW wild weather: Residents warned of flood threat in Hunter, parts of Sydney after storms kill three people in Dungog

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New South Wales authorities say they are dealing with the largest storm operation in a decade after three people were killed in “cyclonic” conditions that have battered parts of the state for hours.

Residents in the Hunter region were told to brace for more flash flooding overnight, while authorities door-knocked some Sydney residents to warn they may need to evacuate. Conditions described as “cyclonic” have wrought havoc on the Hunter, Sydney, Central Coast and Illawarra regions, with rescue crews called to more than 1,000 storm-related incidents and more than 200,000 properties losing power.

In the Sydney suburbs of Manly and North Manly, the State Emergency Service (SES) visited homes and sent text messages to warn homes could be flooded if the Manly Dam continued to rise. “The worst-case scenario, if the houses in our flood planning get affected, would be 660 residences,” Samantha Colwell from the SES said. “In saying that, a lot of them are apartments so obviously the people on the higher levels are not going to get inundated. “At the moment, people can stay in their homes, but we do actually encourage them to prepare because the last thing people want to do is find out about it in the middle of the night.” An evacuation centre has been set up at the Hardbord Diggers club.

Further north, authorities warned some low-lying parts of Narrabeen and North Narrabeen, near Narrabeen Lagoon, could also be at risk, with an evacuation centre opened at Pittwater RSL and Mona Vale. On Tuesday morning, three elderly residents were found dead in the town of Dungog, north of Newcastle, where more than 300 millimetres of rain fell in less than 24 hours. Authorities said the circumstances around the deaths were still still being investigated. Locals said several homes were washed away, and a woman and two children were rescued from a house as it was washed down a street in nearby Greta. SES deputy commissioner Steve Pearce said the storm was like nothing he had seen before. “I haven’t seen a storm of this magnitude in my time here at the SES and, indeed, this would be the largest storm operation in the last 10 years,” he said. “We’ve never seen these cyclonic winds last for 24 hours straight. That’s what’s caused the majority of the damage. “We’ve had over 6,500 requests for assistance and on top of that, with the enormous amount of rainfall – up to 320 millimetres in over 24 hours – we’ve seen about 80 flood rescues. We’ve seen homes washed away, whole streets decimated.” He said thousands of emergency services were on the ground and more were coming in from around the state to help on Wednesday.

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The SES sent emergency alerts to more than 100,000 mobile phones in the Hunter as it was battered by relentless wind and rain on Tuesday afternoon. The text messages warned of “rapid rises and high velocity flash flood water in local creeks, watercourses and urban areas” in Newcastle and surrounding areas. Newcastle Mayor Nuatali Nelmes told 7.30 the city looked like it had been in a disaster movie. She said roads were under water, trees had been blown down and roofs had been ripped from buildings. “We’re actually bracing for worse to come,” she said. “Overnight, we are bracing for potentially more flooding in Newcastle and the Hunter … so people are being urged to stay at home and to stay on high ground where it’s safe.”

In the eight hours to 5:00pm Tuesday, Maitland received 274 millimetres of rain, Seaham received 152 millimetres and Tocal received 137 millimetres. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds and surf and heavy rain along the coast from the Illawarra region to the Hunter. It said an intense low pressure system was centred just off the Hunter coast, near Newcastle. “This low is expected to remain slow-moving overnight, maintaining vigorous winds, large seas, and periods of heavy rain and thunderstorms,” BoM said in a warning issued just after 11:00pm. “Conditions are expected to slowly ease during Wednesday as the low weakens.” An evacuation centre was set up at Dungog High School following reports at least 20 homes had been inundated, but it has since been closed. However, evacuation centres have been opened at the Senior Citizens Centre in East Maitland and the Shamrock Multipurpose Centre at Ashton Field.

NSW Police said residents who evacuated their homes should take important documents and photos, spare clothing and medication. Those using the evacuation centres were asked to bring blankets or sleeping bags, pillows and sleeping mats. Local police commander Jeff Loy said the three deaths occurred in different locations in Dungog. “Two males and one female all perished in different circumstances,” he said. “The police are investigating the cause of those deaths.

One talkback caller, David, told 1233 ABC Newcastle he was in the town visiting family but got out before it was cut off on Tuesday afternoon. “I expect there is 50 to 60 people whose houses have flooded,” he said. “There were people sitting on their roofs. “[Some people] have nothing left – they don’t have a wallet, they don’t have anything. They got out within minutes, these people. “Water’s up to their ceilings, people were swimming to try and get up on their roof. “There are animals floating around all over the place.” He said the local timber mill had been “smashed”, which would have lasting repercussions for the local economy.

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The weather caused major transport disruptions, including cancellations and delays to train, bus and ferry services. Transport authorities urged people to avoid all non-essential travel, both by car and public transport, and check timetables for updated information. More than 100 sets of traffic lights were blacked out and some major road networks were affected by flooding. Sydney Airport advised passengers to check with airlines for information about delayed and cancelled flights. Electricity distributor Ausgrid said there were more than 4,500 reports of hazards, such as fallen wires, across its network. Crews were responding to thousands of urgent incidents and restoring power to more than 200,000 properties would take several days, he said.

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-21/nsw-faces-largest-storm-operation-in-10-years/6409968

Can volcanoes tackle climate change?

A volcanic eruption

Two hundred years ago a volcanic eruption cooled the Earth. Could it help us tackle global warming today?

The island of Sumbawa in what is now Indonesia began to crack apart 200 years ago this week. On 10 April 1815, an explosion that could be heard a thousand miles away announced the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. Mount Tambora, once among the highest peaks in the East Indies, was blown in half. Thousands in the immediate vicinity were killed by lava, wind, ash, fire and tsunamis, but the volcano’s effects echoed far further and longer. The force of the explosion catapulted millions of tonnes of sulphur miles upwards into the stratosphere where it was held aloft. A haze encircled the planet, providing it with a temporary sunshade. Over the next three years, Tambora cooled the surface of the planet by a degree celsius.

In Europe and America, crops failed, diseases flourished and riots and famine broke out. The year 1816 became known as the “year without a summer”. Farmers, philosophers, artists and writers struggled to make sense of their new weather.

More recently, massive volcanic eruptions have given some scientists cause for hope as well as fear. The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo was only a fifth of the size of Tambora, but the machinery of climate science was in place to watch its impact on the planet. Over two years, Pinatubo cooled the Earth by about half a degree. It wrought its own meteorological havoc, but it also provided data in support of a Promethean idea: if a dumb volcano can clumsily cool the planet with a relatively small chemical injection into the stratosphere, then surely the combined might of 21st‑century innovation should be able to provide a bespoke climatic thermostat.

The possibility of geoengineering or, as a report earlier this year from the US National Academy of Sciences rebadged it, “climate intervention”, began as a cold war techno-fancy. In the 1960s, as global warming first came to political attention in the US, the presumption was that technology would be our salvation. The first option, removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, would mean brute-force reverse-engineering of the industrial revolution. The alternative, reflecting sunlight, was presented as comparatively easy. The only challenge was in getting chemicals up to the stratosphere. Various options were suggested: aeroplanes, missiles and giant helium balloons with hoses. However, the more environmental scientists learned about the precarious balance of the Earth system, the further geoengineering fell out of fashion. Mitigation of climate change seemed the only sensible option, with scientists warning of the dangers of fossil fuel burning and joining calls to, as the Guardian puts it, “keep it in the ground”.

The taboo on geoengineering didn’t last long. Climate scientists were burdened with knowing the effects of our continued pollution. Humanity’s responsibility for the climate was becoming ever clearer, as was the extent of our neglect. Repeated failures of international climate talks contributed to a profound sense of despair among scientists and environmentalists. In 2006, Paul Crutzen, who had won a Nobel prize for explaining the hole in the ozone layer, gave geoengineering a veneer of respectability, arguing that it could be a sword with which to cut the Gordian knot of climate change.

Geoengineering, as with other technological fixes, it demands a form of magical thinking. There would be nothing cheap, quick and easy about geoengineering. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for generations. Even if we were able to shade the planet, the technology would only mask the problem. Withdrawal would require unimaginable societal willpower, not least because the accumulated greenhouse gases would cause the climate to switch to a new state within months once the geoengineering machines were turned off.

The number of scientists interested in geoengineering is growing. Most still find the idea distasteful, but there is a palpable sense of excitement about running experiments on computer models as well as on the environment itself. As we approach the 200th birthday of Frankenstein, its message seems more relevant than ever. Experiments with potentially monstrous ramifications should be handled with care.

By Jack Stilgoe. The author of Experiment Earth: Responsible innovation in geoengineering (Routledge).

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/10/can-volcanoes-tackle-climate-change-frankenstein-mount-tambora

Wildfires sweep through Siberia

Blazes blamed on human carelessness, warm temperatures and high winds.

Twenty-six people have died and almost a thousand have sought medical treatment after wildfires swept through Siberia. More than 5,000 rescue workers battled through the night to contain the blazes in the region of Khakassia in south-eastern Siberia, where 23 people died. Fires also raged in eastern Siberia, claiming three lives, authorities said.

The authorities blamed the fire on human carelessness, with people setting dry grass ablaze amid warm temperatures and high winds. “This fire would not have happened if no one played with matches,” said the deputy emergencies minister, Alexander Chupriyan, referring to the fires that raged through Kakhassia on Sunday. He added: “It was adults and not children who did this.”

State TV said the fires were so intense they could be seen from space, while broadcasting satellite imagery of hotspots and reporting that the flames reached about 3m high. The temperature on Sunday was 25C (77F) and there were also storm winds. This combination caused the fires. We have never had this before.” She said more than 30 villages had been affected. The authorities said the region sustained “huge damage” as a result of the blazes. At least 700 cattle and about 3,000 sheep perished, officials said. They expressed concern that surviving cattle had been left without grazing land, adding: “Tens of square kilometres of land have been burned.”

Investigators in Moscow have opened five criminal inquiries into the Khakassia fires over negligence. Rescue workers also raced to put out wildfires in the region of Chita in eastern Siberia on Monday.

Konstantin Ilkovsky, the regional governor, said in televised remarks that two people had died. He called on locals not to burn grass and urged the residents of several settlements to evacuate. He was quoted as saying: “The situation is very serious.” The authorities said they were trying to contain fires near local ammunition depots, but insisted there was no danger of any explosions.

Russian farmers routinely set fire to dry grass to clean fields after the winter, sometimes accidentally sparking blazes that result in loss of life and damage to homes. In 2010, during Russia’s worst heatwave in decades, smoke from wildfires and burning peat bogs in central Russia choked Moscow for several days. Officials said the death rate in Moscow soared by 50% at the time.

Five people died and scores were injured when a wildfire caused by the burning of dry grass swept through southern Siberia.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/13/siberian-wildfires-people-killed-and-hundreds-injured

Big oil is pressuring scientists not to link fracking to earthquakes in Oklahoma

Many Oklahomans can still vividly recall the day they experienced their first earthquake. Ever since 2009/2010, earthquakes in the state have increased exponentially – leading to what are called “seismic swarms”. In 2000 there was not a single earthquake, but in 2014 we experienced 585 quakes of magnitude three or larger.

Oklahomans want to get to the bottom of this mystery increase of quakes and are turning to state officials for answers. As a state legislator, I  (Jason W Murphey ) am concerned that a conflict of interest in universities could get in the way of finding answers – and implementing solutions.

For some time now, scientists have wondered whether fracking-related activities, such as wastewater injection, might be the source of increased seismic activity in Oklahoma. In May of last year, the Oklahoma Geological Survey, an affiliate entity of the University of Oklahoma, released a statement in conjunction with the United States Geological Survey, saying that wastewater injection was a “likely contributing factor the increase in earthquakes”.

It has become exceedingly clear that Oklahoma’s particular geology is conducive to induced seismicity from injecting wastewater from the fracking process into the ground near faultlines.

State officials have responded to these findings by attempting to parse the responsible well site operators from the irresponsible ones. In particular, the state is focused on discouraging injections near faultlines, prohibiting injections which are too deep, and collecting real time pressure data from injection sites located near the quakes.

This data and the best practices now being deployed will help energy sector companies to continue their activities while avoiding the creation of seismic swarms – provided they follow them. But if some in the industry continue to undermine scientific findings about injections near faultlines, and well site operators fail to abide by best practices, I fear this could result in a major seismic event. That would be a big cloud over the energy sector and would greatly harm this vital economic sector, which provides jobs to so many Oklahomans.

Conflicts of interest cannot go unchallenged in academia. It is in the interest of the public that the Oklahoma Geological Survey be removed from the university’s governance structure or – more importantly – that high level university officials forgo taking positions outside the university.

For Oklahomans, this drastic increase in earthquakes is disturbing. They have gone from being a novelty to a sometimes daily ordeal which levies a heavy psychological toll on individuals. Those researching the possible causes of this phenomenon must be allowed to work without interference.

Oklahoma State Representative Jason W Murphey has served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives since 2006 where he chairs the State Government Operations Committee.

 

 

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/03/big-oil-is-pressuring-scientists-not-to-link-fracking-to-earthquakes-in-Oklahoma

 

 

Update: Philippines, Federated States of Micronesia – Tropical Cyclone MAYSAK

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FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA

• TC MAYSAK’s centre passed north of Fais, Ulithi and Yap Island (Micronesia) on 31 March. Strong winds and heavy rainfall affected the Yap Islands with 91mm measured in 24h. Media report nearly total destruction of the infrastructure on Fais and Ulithi atolls, including contamination of drinking water on Fais, and damage also on Yap, as of 1 April.

• The location of MAYSAK’s centre was approximately 250 km north-west of Yap Island on 1 April, at 06.00 UTC. It was a Super Typhoon, with 241 km/h maximum sustained winds, and it was moving northwest. Over the next few hours, it was forecast to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility and continue on its north-western track, intensifying further. MAYSAK may approach central/northern Philippines on 4 April.

• As of 1 April, there are no Warnings or Watches in effect for the islands of Micronesia. NDRRMC has issued a weather advisory.

PHILIPPINES

• TC MAYSAK (its local name is Chedeng) is forecast to continue moving further west, north-west towards the northern Philippines, slightly weakening, but still remaining a Typhoon. According to the data of 1 April 06.00 UTC, it may reach Luzon over 4 – 5 April with max. sust. winds of between 150 – 170 km/h. However, the uncertainty on the forecast track and intensity is still high.

• NDRRMC has issued a weather advisory

http://reliefweb.int/map/micronesia-federated-states/philippines-federated-states-micronesia-tropical-cyclone-maysak-echo

Update: Vanuatu Cyclone Response

Reports from the northern islands indicate they are okay, apart from the eastern coast of Pentecost. The southern island group, especially Tanna, were hit badly.

The roads have been cleared in and around the capital Port Vila and water is on to about 80 percent of the city, however, no one seems confident it is potable. Power is still out in much of the city.

The real challenge in the outer islands now is food and water as a large percentage of crops, private gardens and fresh water sources have been damaged or completely destroyed. I have seen before-and-after images of a number of small islands and they have been completely defoliated.

There is also a very real potential for disease outbreaks and some malnutrition as community food stocks have been destroyed and the provision of food and water has been slow. This may create an unanticipated need for certain medicines and supplies –  the contacts are in place to react to these needs rapidly and to future needs in the event of another disaster.

Information is still coming in from the islands and this will speed up as cell coverage is re-established. This means the overall situation and priorities of the response may evolve in the next 72 hours and we are now in a position to react, if required.

Good lines of communications are established with the Ministry of Health (MOH), World Health Organization, and MOH medical storage facility. The chief storage and supply manager said there may be a medical supply gap in the next months between the current stock and the arrival of the next order.

* Direct Relief’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Gordon Willcock is in Vanuatu conducting assessments after Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam tore across the South Pacific last weekend.

“Thundersnow” …. the other hazard.

Sometimes it doesn’t take long for mother nature to remind us who’s in charge. As the blizzard bears down on the northeast, meteorologists from a cross the state are calling for periods of intense snow which may include thunder and lightning.

“Thundersnow”, also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm, is an unusual kind of thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain. It typically falls in regions of strong upward motion within the cold sector of an extratropical cyclone. Thermodynamically, it is not different from any other type of thunderstorms but the top of the cumulonimbus is usually quite low. In addition to snow, graupel or hail falls.

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What causes “Thundersnow”? That happens when enough rising air causes a reaction. In other words extreme vertical motion (as in a summer thunderstorm in a cumulonimbus cloud) that will cause thunder and lighting. Usually when that occurs you will have very heavy snow upwards of 2-3in per hour. However this does not occur every time it snows only in very strong snow storms and blizzards with a deepening low pressure system. Lighting can, though rarely, in the winter strike the ground so it is possible to get struck in the winter.

 

 

 

Erosion putting Sandwich (MA) on edge

A surge of seawater during last month’s nor’easter demolished the town’s recently rebuilt dunes, dumped heaps of sand in a tidal marsh, and blocked the flow of a creek into the sea. The onslaught forced the closure of a portion of Route 6A, damaged septic systems, wrecked staircases, and led Sandwich authorities to condemn more than a dozen seaside homes.

Last week, local officials declared a state of emergency as a result of the erosion of its beaches, which residents say has put hundreds of millions of dollars of local real estate at risk of being flooded, including the historic downtown of Cape Cod’s oldest town.

Rising seas and more powerful storms have taken a toll on the town’s coast for decades, but residents aren’t blaming climate change. Their homes are at risk of being swallowed by Cape Cod Bay, they say, because of a major federal project that has impeded the natural flow of sand and starved their beaches.

They blame the US Army Corps of Engineers, as well as town officials, for failing to fix what they say is an obvious consequence of the construction of the Cape Cod Canal, a vital passage to Buzzards Bay that opened in 1914. Two jetties at the mouth of the canal, which have been extended several times, were designed to block much of the southeastern flow of sand so the 7-mile channel wouldn’t have to be dredged as often.

They propose a straightforward solution: They say the sand that has built up Scusset Beach north of the jetties should be transported regularly to Sandwich’s beaches.

The town’s short-term solution is to bolster the beaches with tons of sand from the bottom of the canal, which the Corps plans to dredge this fall. The more expensive long-term plan would involve bringing in much more sand, lengthening the beach by more than 200 feet, and creating a 100-foot berm. (Boston Globe 2/2015)

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