Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.0 Earthquake hits southeastern Alaska.

5.4 Earthquake hits eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

5.3 Earthquake hits Leyte in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits south of Tonga.

5.1 Earthquake hits Hokkaido, Japan.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Eastern Pacific:

Tropical Storm Genevieve forms near latitude 12.2 north…longitude 134.4 west. Genevieve is moving toward the west near 10 mph…17 km/h. A westward motion at a slower forward speed is expected through tonight. Genevieve is then forecast to accelerate and turn west-northwestward by Saturday night.

There is no threat to land.

NewsBytes:

USA – A tornado in Cherrystone near Cape Charles, Virginia on Thursday morning has claimed the lives of two persons and injured 20 others.

India – Over 25,000 people have been affected in 42 villages across Assam in the second round of floods this year. Over 60 villages in the world’s largest river island Majuli were submerged on Thursday following heavy rain, and nearly 20,000 people were shifted to higher lands, the release said.

Drought

Colorado River Groundwater Disappearing at ‘Shocking’ Rate

As the Southwest’s drought has worsened in the last decade, making surface water scarce, millions of people are drawing more heavily on underground water supplies. The water is coming out faster than it’s being replenished, a new study finds.

Between December 2004 and November 2013, more than 75 percent of the water lost in the Colorado River Basin was from groundwater, according to the study. The region has been in a drought since 2000, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The results show that groundwater is already being used to fill the gap between the demands of the region’s millions of residents and farmers, and the available surface water supply, the researchers said.

The Colorado River Basin stretches across seven states: from Wyoming across Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and California. Its groundwater is stored in underground aquifers and is sucked from the ground by wells. If water is removed from an aquifer faster than it can be replaced, eventually the wells will go dry.

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Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 121.0 degrees Fahrenheit (49.4 degrees Celsius) at Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 92.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 68.9 degrees Celsius) at the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Disease

Chikungunya Disease Reaches USA

An extremely painful but rarely fatal viral disease native to Africa has infected two people through local mosquito bites in South Florida.

Chikungunya was probably brought to the United States by travelers who became infected abroad and were subsequently bitten by Florida mosquitoes, which transmitted it to the other victims.

The virus has spread rapidly across the Caribbean and Central America since it was first detected in the Western Hemisphere last December.

The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique have been especially hard-hit.

But the disease is also spreading across central America and northern parts of South America.

Since two species of mosquito that can carry the virus are common across a wide area of the United States, some doctors warn chikungunya could spread along the Gulf Coast later this summer or next year.

The virus causes rash, fever and severe joint pain that can linger for years in some cases.

There is no cure, but the pain can be treated. Health officials caution that the only way to combat the virus is to control the mosquito population.

More than 440,000 cases of chikungunya have been reported in the Caribbean, Latin America and now South Florida so far this year.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Eastern Pacific:

Two tropical depressions form off the coast of California/Mexico. The areas of disturbed weather have the potential for tropical development.

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NewsBytes:

Thailand – Persistent rains have caused floods in 13 districts of five provinces, mostly in the Northeast, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation reported on Thursday.

Wildlife

Blue Whales Roam Dangerously Close to Shipping Lanes

The feeding grounds of blue whales along the U.S. West Coast overlap dangerously with shipping lanes, placing the behemoths in danger of collisions with ships, researchers say. This finding could help prevent human threats to these endangered titans, scientists added.

Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived on Earth, weighing in at 330,000 lbs. (150,000 kilograms) and reaching up to 108 feet (33 meters) long. They are gentle giants, grazing the oceans for tiny bits of food in seawater, with mouths large enough to hold 100 people.

Blue whales, along with many other whales, became endangered due to commercial whaling. Their numbers have been slow to grow, despite rules protecting them established by the International Whaling Commission in 1966, and scientists have suggested that one reason for this slow recovery may be collisions with ships that injure, or even kill, the whales.

A blue whale killed by a ship strike near Santa Barbara, California, next to Oregon State University’s 85-foot research vessel called Pacific Storm:

Blue whale ship strike 2

Disease

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

WHO continues to monitor the evolution of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Between 18 – 20 July 2014, 45 new cases and 28 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. These include suspect, probable, and laboratory-confirmed cases. The respective Ministries of Health continue to work with WHO and its partners to implement outbreak containment measures.

The doctor leading the response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone has been infected with the highly lethal virus, according to news reports.

Wildfires

Wildfires – USA

Washington Wildfires

Mother Nature resisted firefighters battling the worst wildfires in Washington state history Wednesday as crews fought through thunderstorms that authorities said could make matters even worse.

The massive fire — called the Carlton Complex Fire because it’s the spawn of several fires that merged into one enormous blaze — spread over a quarter-million acres of north-central Washington on Wednesday. It was 52 percent contained Wednesday night as crews made significant progress along the fire’s east and south sides.

But firefighters had to be pulled off the line on the north side because of the danger posed by strong thunderstorms causing 50-mph winds and flash floods. While the rain was slowing the progress of the fire, “it takes a lot more than that,” said Andrew Sandri, a spokesman for the combined state and federal incident response team.

One person has been killed and almost 500 homes have been evacuated by the massive fire, which has drawn more than 2,500 firefighters from across the country.

Colorado Wildfires

A blaze in northwest Colorado exploded Wednesday to an estimated 8,000 acres.

On Thursday, two 20-person Colorado State Wildfire crews will join local firefighters in battling the Alkali fire, which has burned down a home and barn, jumped county roads and started spot fires.

A firefighter suffered from minor smoke inhalation and three people were evacuated because of the fire, which was first reported at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on private land 13 miles north of Maybell in Moffat County.

Northern Utah Wildfires

Fire crews in northern Utah worked Wednesday to control a handful of fast-growing blazes as the state’s central and western regions braced for strong winds, thunderstorms and low humidity likely to start new fires, according to the U.S. Weather Service.

The Anaconda Fire five miles northeast of Tooele had burned about 2 square miles of brush. Fire investigators said they believe lightning ignited the blaze, which was 25 percent contained.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.1 Earthquake hits southern Iran.

5.0 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Carlsberg ridge.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Guerrero, Mexico.

Tsunami rumour in the Philippines

A Tsunami rumour in Quezon province in the Philippines has claimed life of an elderly woman who died after she had a heart attack on hearing the rumour.

Some 5,000 people also fled their homes after receiving text messages indicating a tsunami was coming from Batangas.

According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), it is impossible to have a tsunami alert at this time in any part of the country as there was no significant earthquake in the past 24 hours.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Western Pacific:

Typhoon Matmo is located approximately 106 nm south-southwest of Taipei, Taiwan.

In the Atlantic:

Tropical depression Two is located about 800 mi (1290 km) E of the Lesser Antilles. The Depression is expected to weaken as it approaches the Lesser Antilles.

NewsBytes:

India – Monsoon rains over the past week have caused floods in eastern India, killing three people and forcing thousands of families from their homes. Around 10,000 people have been evacuated to cyclone shelters in Odisha state’s worst-hit district of Jajpur after a major river burst its banks, flooding 30 villages. The deluge has also washed away roads, disrupted public transport, and inundated low-lying crop fields.

Wildlife

Largest-Ever U.S. ‘Critical Habitat’ Set for Loggerheads

Earlier this month, sea turtles gained a huge victory when the U.S. federal government announced the largest designation of critical habitat in the nation’s history for the loggerhead sea turtles on the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. The National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made a joint announcement last week to designate 685 miles of beaches and more than 300,000 square miles of ocean as protected habitat for the creatures and their ecosystem.

Loggerheads spend most of their lives in the water, where they migrate tens of thousands of miles over their lifetimes to feed, grow, mate and nest. Unfortunately, fulfilling those basic needs puts them in harm’s way.

From birth, hatchling loggerheads are already at risk from being trampled by beach traffic or disoriented by artificial lighting, as they are hardwired to navigate by the moon’s light. If they safely reach the water, they find cover and food in mats of Sargassum algae, but must be careful not to ingest the millions of small pieces of plastic that also accumulate in the floating plants. As the young sea turtles grow into adults over the next twenty years, they can be captured in fishing gear, hooked on longlines, hit by speeding boats or coated in oil. Threatened by human activities throughout their entire lives, it is no surprise that this and other sea turtle populations have precipitously declined over the last decades.

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Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

On 12 July 2014, the National IHR Focal Point of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported to WHO an additional laboratory-confirmed case of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Brain disease kills scores in India’s east

An outbreak of encephalitis has killed 60 people in two weeks in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, a top health official has said, calling the situation “alarming”.

Hundreds of mainly children die across India each year from the mosquito-borne virus, but West Bengal is not normally one of the worst-hit states.

Only five people died last year in West Bengal from Japanese encephalitis, one form of the virus which normally hits during the monsoon season when mosquitos breed.

West Bengal health services director Biswaranjan Satpathy said late on Monday there had been a sudden rise in cases and deaths between July 7 and 20.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Askja (Central Iceland): A large landslide occurred from the southern wall of the Askja caldera yesterday night. The slide caused a large flood wave in the Öskjuvatn lake that also swept into the famous Viti crater. There are no reports of victims. Although there have been speculations that the slide could have been triggered by magmatic processes, it is most likely a result of summer warming, melting frozen soil in the caldera walls, destabilizing it.

Zhupanovsky (Kamchatka, Russia): Several small ash emissions occurred at the volcano during 16-21 July. The resulting plumes dissipated quickly. Aviation color code is at orange.

Aso (Kyushu): Activity remains elevated at Asosan volcano. Although no new ash emissions were reported recently, the Nakadake crater shows intense degassing and bright glow from hot fumaroles is visible at night. It seems that the crater lake which usually occupied the bottom of the crater has evaporated.

Semeru (East Java, Indonesia): Activity, weak during the past months, seems to have picked up. A new lava flow has started to slowly descend the southeastern slope. Since the intense explosive phase of activity in February 2012, accompanied by pyroclastic flows down the southern slope, a lava dome has been growing slowly inside the breached summit crater. This dome now started to form a more or less coherent lava lobe that began descending through the notch onto the upper southern slope. Weak glow is visible at night.

Shishaldin (United States, Aleutian Islands): According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, weak activity continues. MODIS data show elevated surface temperatures in the summit crater, but there are no visual or other indicators of eruptive activity available.

Semisopochnoi (United States, Aleutian Islands): Earthquakes have decreased but are still above background levels. No eruptive activity has been recorded. Alert level remains yellow.

Santiaguito (Guatemala): No explosions were observed since yesterday, but the lava flow at the eastern rim of the Caliente dome remains active, producing rockfalls into the Nima 1 river canyon. Strong degassing is occurring from the dome.

Fuego (Guatemala): No significant changes in activity have occurred at the volcano. The observatory reported 8 weak and one moderate strombolian-type explosion since yesterday. Ash plumes rose up to 800 m above the crater, and produced avalanches of glowing material on the upper slope. No lava flow was active.

San Miguel (El Salvador): The volcano continues to produce important gas emissions as well as occasional small ash explosions. Tremor remains at very high levels (20 times above normal), caused by internal fluid movements. The likelihood of new eruptive activity in the near to medium future remains elevated.

Cerro Negro de Mayasquer (Colombia): Seismic unrest continues at the volcanic massif of Chiles and Cerro Negro. However, it decreased during the past week with less than 700 events recorded, compared to 1500-1800 per week during the month before. Most earthquakes were associated with internal rock fracturing and located at shallow 1-7 km depth in an area 4 km SW of the Chiles dome. Magnitudes reached 2.7 and some quakes were felt. Slight deformation has been detected at the Chiles dome as well.

Reventador (Ecuador): Intermittent small explosions continue as well as slow lava extrusion at the summit, evidenced by thermal hot spots visible on satellite data.

Ubinas (Peru): The volcano has been relatively calm over the past days, producing mostly a very weak gas plume with dilute ash, as well as sporadic small explosions.