Archive | Natural Disasters

Rockhampton, Australia Completely Cut Off by Flooding

Road access to Rockhampton, Australia was completely cut off Monday amid catastrophic flooding that has affected 200,000 people in the northeastern region of Queensland.

Defense Minister Warren Snowdon sent the military to deliver emergency supplies to the city by helicopter after the last road went underwater Monday, UPI said.

The flood, which covers an area the size of Germany and France combined, has killed at least 10 and destroyed thousands of homes.

The steady rain that fell for days beginning before Christmas caused rivers to swell and swamp at least 22 cities and towns, AP reports.

Officials have expressed concern that the deluge would trigger more flooding later this week from Dalby north to Kingaroy and east to Maryborough and the Sunshine Coast, UPI said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said damages would run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Natural Disasters, Precipitation & Water Cycle0 Comments

Earthquake Kills 7 in Iran

An earthquake in southeastern Iran has killed seven people and injured at least 33 more, The Associated Press said Tuesday.

The epicenter of the 6.5-magnitude quake hit the small town of Hosseinabad in Iran’s rural Chah Malek region at 10:12 local time (1842 GMT) Monday.

An official from Iran’s Red Crescent told Iranian state TV reporters that rescue teams were able to extract all survivors from the rubble. Four of the casualties were school students, three of them girls.

The seismic activity badly damaged homes and cut off telephone lines, disconnecting contact with the remote area. The tremor also harmed the water supply system, but officials were able to restore electricity to the region, AP reported.

Mohammad Barzang, the governor of the nearby small town of Rigan, told the press earlier Tuesday that dozens of people in three remote villages were buried under the debris of collapsed houses. He said that rescue teams were dispatched to the region and that over 2,000 required tents to live in because their houses were damaged up to 60 percent.

Posted in Environmental Disasters, Natural Disasters0 Comments

Japan: Tsunami Warning Follows Off-Shore Quake

A tsunami warning has been issued in Japan after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 hit the Pacific, The Associated Press reports.

The quake struck off the coast of southern Japan, about 130 kilometers (80.6 miles) from the Chichi Island and 1,000 kilometers southeast of Tokyo. It struck at a depth of 15 kilometers at 2:20 a.m. (1720GMT), the US Geological Survey says.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency has put out a tsunami alert for nearby islands, warning that locals could see waves about a meter (3.3 feet) high. The agency advised that coastal residents head for higher ground.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages from the quake.

Posted in Climate Science & Weather, Natural Disasters0 Comments

Angelina Jolie Visits Pakistan to Plead for Flood Relief

Angelina Jolie visited flood ravaged Pakistan this week to bring attention to that country’s humanitarian plight. Speaking with CNN, Jolie said there is “no choice but to be optimistic and to have hope.”

Despite this optimism, the situation in Pakistan is dire, with millions injured and displaced.

“The floods here in Pakistan have affected almost 21 million people — it is one of the biggest humanitarian crises the world has seen,” said Valerie Amos, the UN humanitarian chief.

So far, 1,738 people have died from the floods and resulting diseases, according to the Pakistan Disaster Authority. Additionally, water-borne illnesses have been spreading rapidly. Over 1 million Pakistanis have serious diarrhea and other infections. About 65,000 cases of malaria have also been reported.

While visiting, Jolie toured the flood ravaged areas of Pakistan, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region near Afghanistan. Jolie is in Pakistan as the personal envoy of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

The UN and Jolie hope the visit will focus additional attention of the terrible situation in Pakistan and help lead to more financial support. Of the $460 million requested by the UN so far, only $294 million has been donated. According to Maurizio Giuliano, the spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the flooding in Pakistan is “one of the worst humanitarian disasters in UN history, in terms of number of people that we have to assist and also the area covered.”

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Strong Earthquake hits New Zealand's South Island Near Christchurch

September 3 – A powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck New Zealand near Christchurch, the largest city in that country’s South Island with a population of about 375,000 people.

So far there are no widespread reports of damage or injury, however, power is reportedly out across the city.

The USGS reported that the large trembler was located 10 miles beneath the surface and struck at 4:35 a.m. local time (12:35 p.m. ET Friday). Only light damage is predicted based on the USGS’s Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.

Additionally, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center announced the quake is unlikely to produce a tsunami, based on past earthquakes of similar magnitude, shaking, and location.

Posted in Earthquakes, Natural Disasters0 Comments

Hurricane Earl Prompts Evacuations Along the Atlantic Coast

September 1 – As Hurricane Earl spins about 700 miles southeast off the coast of South Carolina, some residents and tourists along the eastern seaboard have begun fleeing the on-coming storm. Officials have ordered the first mandatory evacuation orders along the barrier islands of the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Additionally, the National Hurricane Center on Wednesday issued a warning for the coast of North Carolina and Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia has declared a state of emergency in preparation for the storm.

In a scene eerily reminiscent to Hurricane Katrina, many residents and tourists in the path of the storm have refused to evacuate the area, instead hoping to just wait the storm out. Compounding the dangerous situation is the fact that many of the barrier island communities are only accessible via ferry. However, once the wind reaches 50 mph, the ferries stop running. While ferry service is currently running at all times, many of the residents and Labor Day tourists are deciding not to leave.

With sustained winds of 125 mph, Hurricane Earl was downgraded from a Category 4 to a Category 3 hurricane. However, the sheer size of the storm is causing alarm with officials. Effects of the storm are expected to be felt far and wide. Hurricane force winds will be felt 90 miles from the eye, and tropical storm force winds will be felt for up to 200 miles from the eye of the storm.

Last night, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ocean buoy recorded a 50 foot heigh wave.

With seas expected to become even more turbulent, the Baltimore Port stated that is operating at a “heightened condition of readiness prior to arrival of potential gale-force winds associated with Earl.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Naval base in Norfolk, Virginia is on alert, however, they the base has determined that the threat to the naval ships docked in the port will be minimal. As a result, the Navy has ordered nearby ships, including the USS Cole, to return to port to wait out the storm. If the Navy was more concerned about the hurricane, they would send ships out into deep waters instead of keeping them at the docks.

Forecasters are predicting that while Earl is likely to avoid making direct landfall, the destructive winds and currents are sure to strike the coast hard. Looking a few days forward, forecasts are calling for Earl to head northwest along the coast, perhaps striking Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the coast of Maine and Nova Scotia on Friday night and Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane.

With the storm moving north up the Atlantic coast, and sending ocean swells in that direction, another group of people are gearing up for the storm– surfers. South facing beaches around the New York area, including Rockaway Beach in Queens, are expected to see substantially elevated wave heights. With scorching heats in the region, surfers have begun flocking to the beaches to catch what could be a great set of waves from the storm swell.

In the meantime, two additional storms behind Earl are lining up along the hurricane storm track. Tropical Depression Nine officially formed today in the eastern Atlantic. Tropical Depression Nine has a maximum sustained wind speed of 35 mph and is heading west at 15 mph. It is anticipated that this tropical depression will become Tropical Storm Gaston within the next two days.

Closer to the U.S., Tropical Storm Fiona continues to strengthen as it heads towards the northern Leeward Islands. Tropical Storm Fiona has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and is expected to strengthen over the next day. However, Fiona is forecast to weaken on Friday and will hopefully be less cause for alarm.

Posted in Natural Disasters, Wind0 Comments

Hurricane Earl Path: Outer Banks & Cape Cod May be Hit

The Hurricane Earl path has the Category 4 storm reaching the southern coast of New England by Labor Day. reports Earl’s path, if it continues on the current course, to hit the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Thursday and Cape Cod on Friday night with strong winds and powerful waves.

Due to uncertainty in the hurricane’s final direction, New Englanders and those throughout the northeast seaboard are being asked to take precautionary measures.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch Tuesday for the area north of Surf City, N.C., to Duck, N.C.

“The margin of error is still 200 to 300 miles,” says Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “But everyone needs to be paying attention to this.”

Rhode Island’s Providence Journal reported on Tuesday morning, “To make it all a little more interesting, Hurricane Earl is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane over the next few days and could have an impact on Southern New England at the end of the week. “At this time, it appears Earl will bring just a glancing blow, but the potential for a larger impact cannot be ruled out yet,” the weather service says.”

According to the Boston Herald, “Forecasters say there is a chance the hurricane could brush the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region toward the end of the week, with its closest approach to North Carolina on Friday. In any case, the U.S. East Coast is likely to see pounding surf. ‘Folks from the Carolinas northward through the Mid-Atlantic and New England need to be paying attention to Earl and the forecasts as they get updated through the week,’ Brennan said.”

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Tropical Storm Fiona Update & Advisory

Tropical Storm Fiona could be gaining strength and heading west, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said on Tuesday.  The tropical storm took form in the south Atlantic Ocean on Monday and forecasters expected it to follow the path of Hurricanes Earl and Danielle.

In an advisory on Tuesday at 5 p.m. EDT, forecasters said Fiona formed roughly 900 miles east of the Leeward Islands with maximum winds of 40 miles per hour.  The storm was heading west at 24 miles per hour and expected to head in a west-northwest direction but change direction towards the northwest on Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, no storm warnings or watches had been issued for the region.

In related news, Hurricane Earl churned across the Atlantic Tuesday with 135 mph winds, but was still 1,070 miles from Cape Hatteras, N.C., at 11 a.m. EDT, forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Earl was expected to maintain Category 4 status for the next day or two.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency Monday urged residents along the East Coast to prepare for severe weather, CNN reported.

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Disasters Tough on Those with Disabilities

DALLAS, Aug. 25 (UPI) — Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or man-made disasters like the Oklahoma bombing are life changing but are worst for the disabled, U.S. researchers say.

Laura Stough of Texas A&M University says people with disabilities not only have more difficulty evacuating or escaping a disaster but, since many are unemployed, they have more difficulty recovering from the disaster.

They often have no extra funds for new food, furniture and clothes. Case management with disaster survivors with disabilities takes longer because these people needed assistance in multiple areas, Stough says.

Another analysis focused on two different studies — one examining Oklahoma City bombing survivors and the other Hurricane Katrina evacuees. The Oklahoma City study assessed 182 survivors six months after the bombing and the Hurricane Katrina involved 421 people who had been evaluated in a mental health clinic at a Dallas shelter for Katrina evacuees.

Of the Oklahoma City bombing survivors, the most common psychiatric diagnosis was post-traumatic stress disorder — 34 percent — followed by major depression. Eighty-seven percent were injured in the bombing and 20 percent had to be hospitalized, the analysis says.

For Hurricane Katrina survivors the main tasks in the psychiatry clinic were rapid diagnostic assessment, resumption of psychotropic medications and linkage to ongoing psychiatric care for already existing disorders.

The findings are published in a special section of Rehabilitation Psychology.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Satellites Confirm World Mangrove Losses

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) — A decline in the world’s mangrove forests has been confirmed through comprehensive and exact data gathered by orbiting satellites, scientists say.

Scientists from the U.S Geological Survey and NASA say the area covered by mangrove forests, among the most productive and biologically important ecosystems of the world, is 12.3 percent smaller than earlier estimates, research published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography reveals.

The forests of trees, palms and shrubs, which grow at tropical and subtropical tidal zones across the equator, have adapted to challenging environmental conditions, thriving in regions of high salinity, scorching temperatures and extreme tides, researchers say.

Increasing human activity and frequent severe storms have taken their toll, however, resulting in a loss rate for mangrove forests higher than the loss of inland tropical forests and coral reefs, the new data shows.

“The current estimate of mangrove forests of the world is less than half what it once was, and much of that is in a degraded condition,” Dr. Chandra Giri from the USGS said. “It is believed that 35 percent of mangrove forests were lost from 1980 to 2000, which has had an impact on the coastal communities that use mangrove forests as a protective barrier from natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Natural Disasters, Other, Tidal0 Comments

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