QUAKES - Largest quakes yesterday - 1/11 - 5.1 NORTHERN SUMATERA, INDONESIA 5.2 NORTHERN SUMATERA, INDONESIA 5.0 SOUTHEAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN 5.6 FIJI ISLANDS REGION 5.1 WESTERN CAROLINE IS. 5.6 OFF COAST OREGON 5.1 PAKISTAN
TSUNAMI - INDONESIA - Long after tsunami killer waves receded from the Andaman coastlines, authorities are baffled by the discovery of vast tracts of land which have emerged from the sea to the north of the archipelago. The administration of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is consulting experts about the new topographical features. As a result of the powerful seismic turmoil, about 140 hectares of land have been added to the area of the Union Territory. In the north of the islands, the land came to the surface of the sea because of a significant rise in land level.
VOLCANO - ALASKA - Augustine volcano on an uninhabited Alaskan island erupted early yesterday, spewing an ash plume about five miles into the sky. The ash was expected to steer clear of Anchorage, the state’s most populous city nearly 200 miles to the north-east. Two explosions indicated an eruption at the volcano. Satellite images and radar later confirmed the eruption.
JAPAN - Mount Fuji, one of Japan's most endearing symbols, looks like it's about to blow its top, according to Shukan Post. Perhaps the biggest indication that Fuji-san's lid is loose comes because it's currently bereft of snow on its distinctive cap despite it being mid-winter and unprecedented snowfalls being dumped on the Sea of Japan coastline. "You can't say that it always has a coating of snow at this time of the year, but considering all the snow that's fallen right throughout the country, everybody thinks it's a bit weird that there's no snow on Mount Fuji." The Meteorological Agency says that shortage of snow is a simple situation. "It won't snow on the Pacific Ocean side of Japan unless a cold front approaches the coastline off the Izu Peninsula. The same case applies for Tokyo. If it's not snowing in Tokyo, it's not likely that there's going to be much snow on top of Mount Fuji." Others in villages at the foot of Fuji said "... about the start of December...I've felt this uncomfortable kind of stress all the way along. After a while, this develops into a kind of nausea, sort of like the feeling you get with car sickness. When I'd felt like this for a couple of weeks, I mentioned it to some neighbors, and discovered that there were a number of people feeling the same way. One person said they felt like they were permanently car sick, while another said they thought their ailment was like being plagued by a speaker constantly emitting a deep, unending tone." Some experts say that it would not be surprising for Mount Fuji to erupt at any moment. "It's my personal belief that magma build-up inside Mount Fuji has already reached a critical stage." Since the start of 2004, frogs and stinkbugs once prominent in the area have virtually disappeared. Some see this as a sign that they've sensed something untoward is about to happen and they're avoiding the place like the plague. Observers have noticed this phenomenon, too. "The most recent change has probably been the sudden disappearance of sparrows around the mountain since about the middle of October. Normally, sparrows flock to this place, even in the middle of winter."
THUNDERSTORMS / HEAVY RAINS - AUSTRALIA - Towns in Western Australia's north-west are bracing for flash flooding as torrential downpours buffet the coast. A number of towns that bore the brunt of Cyclone Clare over the past two days have received hundreds of millimetres of rain. Rising flood waters will be a major risk for the rest of the week.
INDONESIA - Thousands of houses in 12 villages in the West Java regency of Indramayu have been inundated by floodwaters, and residents fear the flooding will lead to crop failures in the rice-producing region. No casualties have been reported in the flooding, which began on Sunday, but material losses are estimated at billions of rupiah. The regency's three main rivers have all overflown their banks, swamping houses, roads, government offices and schools. 97 districts in 27 of Central Java's 35 regencies and cities are at risk for landslides.
OREGON AND WASHINGTON - Rivers and streams continued to rise as more than an inch of rain fell in most areas across the Northwest Tuesday and into Wednesday. The continuing deluge compounded problems throughout Oregon and Washington as trees fell across roads, hillsides slid down onto highways and swollen rivers turned coastal roads into waterways. Another warm, wet winter storm expected to come ashore today. Heavy rain is also expected for Friday and into the weekend.
SNOW / COLD - ASIA - is reeling under the HARSHEST WINTER FOR YEARS - Ten feet of snow has fallen in Japan. In China, temperatures have plunged as low as minus 43C and 100,000 people had to be evacuated when houses collapsed under the snow. A quarter of a million people have been snowed in. And in India, a frost that made headlines may also prove fatal. It reached the lowest temperature in Delhi for 70 years - and the SECOND LOWEST EVER RECORDED - but it has only dipped below zero by the narrowest of margins: minus 0.2C. Most South Asians are simply unable to cope with even these comparatively mild temperatures. They do not possess blankets or warm clothes. In this part of the world, even those with a roof over their heads rarely have heating. But for the homeless, the situation is even worse.
WESTERN U.S. - RECORD-BREAKING SNOWFALLS hit much of the West, but missed New Mexico and Arizona. From Mammoth in the southern Sierra and Whistler-Blackcomb in Britsh Columbia's Coast Range, to say nothing of Jackson Hole and Vail and Kirkwood and Park City, it was an incredible two weeks of storms for most of the West. At Jackson Hole, the snow depths at mid-mountain are the DEEPEST IN THE 40-YEAR HISTORY of the resort. The recent storm dropped 10 inches a day for nine straight days. Park City Mountain Resort got nearly 100 inches since Christmas and nearly 60 since New Year's Day. Colorado resorts are boasting that they have the best snow in 20 years.
FOG / OVERCAST SKIES - WISCONSIN - Madison went 14 consecutive days - two entire weeks - without a ray of sunlight, according to the National Weather Service. That TIES THE CITY RECORD FOR MOST CLOUDY DAYS IN A ROW, set in 1992. The winter of 1978-79 was the last 'real winter' this city has had.
MINNESOTA - Saturday the sun shone through in the morning hours after more than two straight weeks of cloudy, often foggy, weather. Each cloudy day brought close to (or above) 30-degree temperatures. Perfectly blue skies with strong sun often means subzero weather in Minnesota in January, but not this week. (On Jan. 17, 1982, Tower, Minn., recorded 52 degrees below zero. Chicago recorded 25 below and subzero temperatures even reached into Mississippi and Alabama.)
MICHIGAN - As of January 6th, two weeks had passed since Grand Rapids recorded any sunshine. Since the beginning of December, they reported fair skies on a grand total of zero days. Three days were partly cloudy and 33 were cloudy. The average month of December brings 23 percent of possible sunshine to the weather station in Grand Rapids. For December 2005, the figure was 9 percent. The forecast sees no imminent change in the general weather pattern. "Basically, what's going on right now is we're not seeing a lot of winds aloft and not a lot of dry air." Or, in layman's terms: "We're kind of in a lull."
IOWA - After a solid two weeks with nary a glimpse of winter sun in central Iowa, weather forecasters said a break from the clouds was possible on the 6th. When it comes to completely clear skies, a longer wait is in store. "There's no clear sun in the foreseeable future." On the plus side, temperatures have remained mild, with highs in the 30s and 40s, slightly above normal for this time of year, when temperatures generally run from the mid- to upper 20s, with lows in the upper single digits to low teens. Although November, December and January are typically the cloudiest months of the year, two solid weeks of overcast skies is an UNUSUAL EVENT. The culprit is low-level moist air that has, in essence, kept clouds trapped over the area. Mild temperatures have contributed, melting snow and adding moisture to the air, which creates more clouds and fog. A high-pressure dry area is needed to push the clouds away, but none is in sight.
WILDFIRES - TEXAS - the Director of the Texas Forest Service says this winter's fire season is the worst he's seen in nearly 10 years since he became state forester in 1996. In the first five days of 2006, 191,806 acres have burned in Texas, which are more acres than all of 2005. “Current fire threat conditions are so extreme that almost any wildfire has the potential to exceed local control at this point.”
DISASTER PLANNING - NORWAY - has revealed a plan to build a "doomsday vault" hewn out of an Arctic mountain to store two million crop seeds in the event of a global disaster. The store is designed to hold all the seeds representing the world's crops and is being built to safeguard future food supplies in the event of widespread environmental collapse. "If the worst came to the worst, this would allow the world to reconstruct agriculture on this planet." The Norwegian government is planning to start work on the seed vault next year when construction engineers will drill into a sandstone mountain on the island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago, about 600 miles from the North Pole. Permafrost will keep the vault below freezing point and the seeds will be further protected by metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete, two airlocks and high-security, blast-proof doors.