Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada.

5.3 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic ridge.

5.2 Earthquake hits New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

5.1 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.1 Earthquake hits Sulawesi, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits Mozambique.

5.0 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

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Wildlife

More Whales Stand in New Zealand

The mass stranding of whales on a remote beach in New Zealand has taken a turn for the worse as 240 more arrived. Earlier on Saturday, volunteers had refloated some 100 of the more than 400 pilot whales which beached on Thursday. But a human chain, with volunteers wading neck-deep into the water, failed to prevent a fresh pod making landfall.

The whale stranding, at Farewell Spit at the top of South Island, is one of the worst ever in New Zealand. Dozens of volunteers turned out to help. More than 300 of the 400 original arrivals died while medics and members of the public tried to keep survivors alive by cooling them with water.

It is not clear why the whales continue to arrive on the 5km-long (three mile-long) beach next to Golden Bay. One theory is that they may have been driven on to land by sharks, after bite marks were found on one of the dead whales. Sometimes the whales are old and sick, injured, or make navigational errors particularly along gentle sloping beaches. Whales that become beached will send out distress signals attracting other members of their pod, who then also get stranded by a receding tide.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the South Indian Ocean: Tropical Cyclone “Carlos” (04S) Tropical Storm Carlos’ maximum sustained winds were near 51.7 mph (45 knots/83.3 kph). Carlos’ winds peaked on February 9. The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) expects Carlos to continue weakening. Carlos was centred near 28.5 degrees south latitude and 60.8 degrees east longitude, about 502 nautical miles southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius. Carlos was moving to the southeast at 17 mph (15 knots/28 kph).

Newsbytes:

USA – Winter storm Niko has blanketed the Northeast with between 8 and 12 inches of snow, with some areas of New England expecting up to 18 inches (46 centimetres) over the past two days. The storm canceled thousands of flights and closed numerous schools and businesses in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and smaller communities. And the snow continues to fall.

Colorado, USA -Winds on the Front Range, foothills and mountains created problems throughout the state on Friday, from delayed flights to blown over tractor-trailers on State highways. The National Weather Service in Boulder said gusts could be north of 95 mph. On Berthoud Pass, one gust was clocked at 101 mph.

Space Events

A Strange Green Comet Is Heading Our Way

An unusual green comet reaches maximum brightness on Saturday, providing a treat for early-morning risers.

Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova (named after three astronomers who discovered it in 1948) travels into the inner solar system every 5.25 years. On Saturday, 45P will pass just 7.4 million miles from Earth, a stone’s throw by celestial yardsticks.

With binoculars or a small telescope, comet-watchers should be able to spot 45P in the pre-dawn skies between Thursday and Sunday. The comet will be racing through the constellation Hercules high in the eastern sky.

Comet 45P will look like fuzzy bluish-green ball with a fan-shaped tail. Its distinctive colour comes from vaporizing diatomic carbon, a gas which glows green in the near-vacuum of space.

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Drought

Drought in Kenya

Kenya declared a national disaster on Friday, calling for aid to counter drought that is posing a major risk to people, livestock and wildlife.

The Kenya Red Cross has estimated around 2.7 million people are in need of food aid after low rainfall in October and November and the next rainy season not due before April.

The UN World Food Programme said it was short of $22 million for the next six to nine months to provide support such as school meals for 428,000 children who often depend on them as their only substantial meal of the day.

Early this month, residents in drought-struck northern Kenya said at least 11 people were killed and a tourist lodge torched due to conflicts when armed cattle herders flooded onto farms and wildlife reserves.

Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Between 10 January and 3 February 2017 the National International Health Regulations Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported seventeen (17) additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) including four (4) fatal cases. Three (3) deaths among previously reported MERS cases (case no. 1 and 2 in DON published on 26 January 2017 and case no. 6 in DON published on 17 January 2017) were also reported.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 1 February-7 February 2017 – cont.

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA) : During 1-7 February HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise and fall, circulate, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook vent. Webcams recorded incandescence from long-active sources within Pu’u ‘O’o Crater and from a vent high on the NE flank of the cone. The 61G lava flow, originating from a vent on Pu’u ‘O’o Crater’s E flank, continued to enter the ocean at Kamokuna. All surface flows were active within 2.4 km of Pu’u ‘O’o.

HVO geologists noted an extensive crack running parallel to the sea cliff about 5-10 m behind the stream of lava entering the ocean at Kamokuna. The crack was 30 cm wide on 28 January and 70 cm wide four days later, on 1 February. In addition, the seaward block bounded by this crack was visibly moving up to 1 cm, and ground shaking could be felt up to several hundred meters away. On 2 February the crack was wider and steaming, and the stream of lava that had been pouring into the ocean from an opening in a lava tube about 20 m above the water was no longer visible (though lava continued to enter the ocean). At about 1255 almost the entire section of the sea cliff that was seaward of the hot crack collapsed. The collapsed block generated a wave that propagated outward from the coast. After the collapse, no lava was visible entering the ocean though a steam plume and spatter from explosions indicated that the entry remained active.

Sabancaya | Peru : Based on webcam and satellite views, the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that sporadic gas-and-ash puffs rose from Sabancaya during 2-6 February. Weather clouds sometimes prevented visual observations.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that during 27 January-3 February lava-dome extrusion onto Sheveluch’s N flank was accompanied by strong fumarolic activity, dome incandescence, ash explosions, and hot avalanches. Satellite images showed a daily thermal anomaly over the dome. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange.

Sinabung | Indonesia : Based on PVMBG observations, satellite and webcam images, and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 2-7 February ash plumes from Sinabung rose to altitudes as high as 7.3 km (24,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE, E, SE, and SW.

BNPB reported that each day during 2-7 February there were 8-12 ash-producing events with plumes rising as high as 2 km above the crater and drifting E. Pyroclastic flows traveled as far as 2 km S, SE, and E. BNPB noted that more areas had been designated disaster prone, therefore the number of people needed to be relocated also increased. The Alert Level remained at 4 (on a scale of 1-4), with an exclusion zone of 7 km from the volcano on the SSE sector, and 6 km in the ESE sector, and 4 km in the NNE sector.

Turrialba | Costa Rica : On 1 February OVSICORI-UNA reported that since 27 January the seismic network at Turrialba recorded variable-amplitude, discontinuous tremor indicative of moving pressurized volcanic fluid. Passive emissions of ash were observed during 1-2 February, rising as high as 500 m above the crater. Ashfall was reported in Desamparados, Calle Blancos, and Tres Ríos, and a sulphur odour was noted in San Pablo Heredia. An eruption at 0900 on 4 February generated an ash plume that rose 300 m and drifted W. Almost continuous ash emissions rose at most 500 above the crater during 4-5 February and drifted WSW. Variable-amplitude tremor continued to be recorded.