Archive | February 17, 2015



Earthquake Swarm



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Worst drought in 84 years and water rationing to 200 million in Brazil

National Emergency Alert

Brazil is struggling to supply enough water to its 200 million people, amid the worst drought in 84 years.
São Paulo’s 20 million citizens face having their tap water cut off five days a week, in a bid to conserve dwindling resources. Some 17% of Brazilian towns have declared a state of emergency.
In the centre and southeast of the country, electricity supplies are threatened as water levels drop to 18% in the reservoirs for hydropower generation.
“We have never seen such sensitive and worrying situation as this,” admitted the minister of environment, Izabella Teixeira.
Rain scarcity, deforestation of the watersheds around streams and rivers, high consumption in the big urban centers and waste in the water supply system are some of the reasons for the crisis.
It has brought into sharp focus the political response to extreme weather patterns, which are only expected to get more volatile with climate change.
“Public authorities need to be absolutely transparent in the information on the extent of the problem. We are living in a period of scarcity and there’s even a high probability of having a much more prolonged crisis”, said José Galizia Tundisi, president of the International Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IIEGA)
Low rainfall had played a big role, he argued, but was not primarily responsible for the collapse in water supplies.
In São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, governor Geraldo Alckmin is on the verge of announcing drastic measures to eke out the dwindling water reserves. The plan is to provide running water only two days a week.
This comes as a shock to the general public, who complain they were not informed about the risks during last October’s election.
Tundisi said: “There were few discussions. It is not only about drinking water, it is the whole set of elements regarding the water pollution, air pollution, soil deforestation, energy generation and sanitation. No one mentioned about those items.”
The scientific community is seeking to work with public authorities to develop emergency action plans and future solutions to adapt to changing rainfall patterns.
Last February, rectors of six universities in São Paulo announced the creation of a task force to help society to overcome the water crisis. This week in Rio de Janeiro, a group of renowned scientists from the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC) launched a public report with ten recommendations.
This document was provided to public authorities in November 2014, but scientists complain they have not been contacted yet to discuss further action.
The situation could escalate and trigger social unrest, Tundisi warned. “It has outlined a complex reality reaching different social sectors. Added to climatological problems, the water crisis may be connected to economic damages, health, food security and natural resources. I am very much convinced there is a high danger of an upheaval if the government does not act now.”
Energy blackout
Water shortage also raises the risk of power blackouts. Normally, some 80% of Brazil’s electricity comes from hydropower plants. With reservoirs drying up, it is turning to generation from fossil fuels – a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
“This whole year we shall depend fully on thermal electricity. The chance of a deep energy crisis this year is very high,” said Luiz Pinguelli Rosa, executive secretary of the Brazilian Forum of Climate Change and member of ABC. He recommended an energy-saving policy to avoid blackouts.
“The government trusted the rainfall intensity would come to regularise the system. But there is no way the reservoirs can get back to their normal levels before the end of the rainfall period in April,” Rosa added.
All the projections suggest 2015 is a year Brazilians will have to get more efficient at using water, said José Marengo, researcher at the National Center for Monitoring and Alerts Natural Disasters (Cemaden).
Marengo is a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which last year published a comprehensive review of the science of climate change impacts.
Climate scientists are not yet convinced this extreme drought in Brazil is directly linked to global warming. Marengo said it will take at least five years to understand the weather trend.
“IPCC works with scenarios in which drought as the one we are facing will be more frequent, with high levels of uncertainty,” said Marengo. “Only with good water management and public policies, the impacts could be dampened in the future.”
Courtesy of RTCC

Oil Train Blast ‘Like Atomic Bomb Went Off’ In Southern West Virginia, USA

A house has been destroyed and two towns evacuated after a train carrying 100 tankers of crude oil derailed, causing a massive explosion.
The train derailed during a snowstorm in southern West Virginia on Monday. One tanker ended up in the Kanawha River and at least 14 others exploded.
“It was a little scary. It was like an atomic bomb went off,” said David McClung, who said he felt the heat from the blast at his home about a half mile up the hill.
One of the explosions sent a fireball at least 300 feet into the air, he said.
Train blast
Officials evacuated hundreds of families and shut down two water treatment plants threatened by oil seeping into the river. One person was treated for potential inhalation issues, but no other injuries have been reported, according to CSX, the train company.
Hours after the accident, fires were still burning, as state emergency and environmental officials rushed to the scene about 30 miles (about 50km) southeast of Charleston.
The state has been hit by heavy snowfall but it is not clear if the weather had anything to do with the derailment, which happened along a flat stretch of track.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has issued a state of emergency.
The tanker cars were loaded with Bakken crude from North Dakota and headed to Yorktown.
Courtesy of Sky News

Tropical Cyclone Lam Approaches Northern Territory Of Australia

Tropical Cyclone Lam approaches NT
Cyclone Lam track map issued at 2pm today. Picture: BOM Source: Supplied
SCHOOLS expected to be in the path of Tropical Cyclone Lam will be closed on Wednesday as the Top End community of Nhulunbuy braces for a severe storm expected to reach category four.
Chief Minister Adam Giles on Tuesday announced the closure of five schools.
“The residents of Nhulunbuy could wake up to gale force winds tomorrow morning so now is the time to act,” said Todd Smith, regional director of the Northern Territory Bureau of Meteorology. As of 2pm CST, the category two storm was about 260km east northeast of Nhulunbuy and travelling steadily westwards, he said. The BOM expects it to continue to intensify over the next 24 to 48 hours.
A cyclone watch alert is still current for Maningrida to Groot Eyelandt, and Elcho Island to Cape Shield are still covered by a cyclone warning.
Gusts at the centre of Tropical Cyclone Lam are currently at about 140km/h but by the time it reaches Nhulunbuy late on Thursday could reach speeds of 220-270km/h once it intensifies into a category three or four.
Meteorologists currently expect it to take a southerly turn and track down along the east coast of the top end, Mr Smith said. There is already significant rainfall around the 20-50mm range, and there will be much heavier falls along the coast as the cyclone nears.
A flood watch is current for the Arnhem Land and Gulf country coast, but Mr Smith said that there could be major falls in the Roper and McArthur River catchments towards the weekend with significant stream rises.
With a severe tropical cyclone from category three and above, there is more significant damage to infrastructure, damage to roofs, trees, and much greater danger to life, Mr Smith said. “Having infrastructure exposed to those winds for a long period of time is a concern,” he said.
The extent of the damage will depend on how close the storm’s eye passes near communities, he said.
Residents have not yet been told to evacuate, but they should be preparing their emergency kits if they haven’t yet done so, and have decided where to shelter.
The BOM will update its advice every three hours, and then more frequently as the cyclone nears land.
Courtesy of The Australian

State Of Emergency Declared by Tennessee and Kentucky (USA)

State Of Emergency

Tennessee declared a state of emergency Monday night as more than 55,000 residents were without power across the state, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
A number of counties are also requesting state assistance with their responses. Roane County has requested five chainsaw crews from TWRA to help with clearing debris.
Meanwhile, 19 counties are being impacted by power outage spikes. Knox, Monroe, and Fentress are among the top six counties with the most people stuck in the dark as of Tuesday night, according to TEMA.
Just stay home.
That was Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s request of his fellow citizens for Tuesday.
An ice storm warning remained in effect until Tuesday morning for Middle Tennessee, creating the potential for ongoing traffic headaches for hundreds of thousands residents.
Middle Tennessee remained under an ice storm warning
Middle Tennessee remained under an ice storm warning until Tuesday morning. (Photo: The Tennessean)
Middle Tennessee, in fact, appeared to suffer the brunt of the huge storm system that moved across Tennessee.
According to Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: “Another blast of cold air is expected to move into Tennessee on Tuesday bringing some of the coldest temperatures so far this winter. On Wednesday, the Memphis area may see a low of 5 degrees, while Nashville may hit a low of minus 4 degrees. Wintry precipitation is again a possibility with this next incoming system.
“Travel will be treacherous Tuesday morning across Tennessee and motorists are urged to avoid unnecessary trips. A majority of schools systems across Tennessee will be closed Tuesday.”
In Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear declared a statewide emergency to expedite efforts to help the public and cope with snow. Some areas of the Bluegrass State may see as much as 16 inches of snow.
Numerous flights were cancled in and out of Memphis
Numerous flights were cancelled in and out of Memphis on Monday and slushy conditions made rode travel tricky. (Photo: WMC-TV)
At least a half-dozen shelters were opened in the state for anyone seeking storm relief, including at Caryville, Rockwood, Jellico and Monteagle. They were to remain open until further notice. Many more 18 shelters were on on standby to open if needed, according to TEMA.
In Nashville, Southwest Airlines cancelled all departures and arrivals Monday from the airport, and most other flights at the Nashville International Airport are either canceled or delayed, according to The Tennessean.
In addition Monday, American Airlines had cancelled all operations at the airport until midday.
The Tennessee General Assembly will be closed Tuesday, Feb. 17 because of the weather. All legislative offices will be closed and all committee meetings are cancelled, according to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office.
Mayor Dean said road safety and taking care of Nashville’s homeless population were two pressing issues in the metro area.
Fearful of continuing bad weather, including bitter cold, numerous Middle Tennessee school systems called off classes. Among them: Metro public schools, Williamson, Wilson, Cheatham, Sumner, Rutherford and Franklin Special school districts will be closed Tuesday. Robertson and Dickson schools will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Tennessean, WSMV, WMC and WRCB contributed to this report.
A crash on I-40 in Middle Tennessee near Lebanon shut
A crash on I-40 in Middle Tennessee near Lebanon shut down westbound traffic Monday. (Photo: WSMV)
Courtesy of WBIR



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Magnetogram 17.02.15  18.58 hrs UTC


Subject To Change

Depth: 10 km

Distances: 274 km NE of Sendai-shi, Japan / pop: 1,037,562 / local time: 01:33:21.2 2015-02-18
212 km E of Morioka-shi, Japan / pop: 295,172 / local time: 01:33:21.2 2015-02-18
143 km E of Yamada, Japan / pop: 20,144 / local time: 01:33:21.2 2015-02-18

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Subject To Change

Depth: 40 km

Distances: 127 km N of Santiago, Chile / pop: 4,837,295 / local time: 11:35:49.2 2015-02-17
33 km NE of La Ligua, Chile / pop: 24,857 / local time: 11:35:49.2 2015-02-17

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Subject To Change

Depth: 2 km

Distances: 496 km E of Shīrāz, Iran / pop: 1,249,942 / local time: 17:11:36.5 2015-02-17
66 km SE of Kermān, Iran / pop: 577,514 / local time: 17:11:36.5 2015-02-17

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Subject To Change

Depth: 80 km

Distances: 799 km S of Nuku‘alofa, Tonga / pop: 22,400 / local time: 22:11:27.5 2015-02-17
1148 km S of Suva, Fiji / pop: 77,366 / local time: 21:11:27.5 2015-02-17
1627 km NE of Wellington, New Zealand / pop: 381,900 / local time: 22:11:27.5 2015-02-17

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