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Sat, 14 Dec 2019
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A Chronology of U.S. Billion Dollar Disasters

How good is your weather memory? In what year did the so-called "Storm of the Century" sweep the country and pound the entire Eastern Seaboard? How many tornadoes struck the Midwest in a record-setting one-week period of May, 2003? And do you remember the thousands of deaths caused by heat waves in 1980 and 1988?

Along with the deaths came significant financial costs.

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Billion Dollar Weather Disasters

One way to track climate trends is to look at disasters above a given threshold. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) released last week its list of U.S. weather and climate disasters that have cost more than a billion dollars.

During the period between 1980 and 2004, there were 62 events in the U.S. that exceeded a billion dollars in costs and damages. These disasters include storms, droughts, forest fires and flooding. New to the list are the four hurricanes - Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne - that hit the country last summer.

Although there has been a rise in the number of these costly events in the last decade or so, some of the most damaging catastrophes occurred in the 1980s.

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Central U.S. Warned of Larger Earthquakes to Come

A moderate earthquake that rattled parts of Arkansas and Tennessee Thursday [Feb. 2005] should serve as a wake-up call to the central United States about the potential for much stronger events, experts said.

The temblor, preliminarily put at magnitude 4.1, shook eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee early in the morning. It was centered 47 miles north-northwest of Memphis.

There were no reports of significant damage.

"Although today's earthquake was what we characterize as 'light,' this area is capable of producing an earthquake that can result in significant loss of life and property damage," said Charles "Chip" Groat, director of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Groat pointed out that the region was host to the strongest earthquake on record in the lower 48 United States.

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Super Volcano Will Challenge Civilization, Geologists Warn

The eruption of a super volcano "sooner or later" will chill the planet and threaten human civilization, British scientists warned Tuesday.

And now the bad news: There's not much anyone can do about it.

Several volcanoes around the world are capable of gigantic eruptions unlike anything witnessed in recorded history, based on geologic evidence of past events, the scientists said. Such eruptions would dwarf those of Mount St. Helens, Krakatoa, Pinatubo and anything else going back dozens of millennia.

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Potential Southern California Tsunami Could Cost up to $42 Billion

The warning system covering the Pacific Ocean might save many lives if a tsunami strikes Southern California. But nothing can stop the destruction.

A new study puts the price tag for a worst-case scenario at $42 billion, and that does not include billions of dollars in additional damage caused directly by an earthquake that is pegged as the likely source of a potentially devastating tsunami.

Waves could inundate parts of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Many beach cities and smaller communities in Los Angeles and Orange County would suffer.

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Arctic ice shelf collapse poses risk: expert

An ancient ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields that broke off Ellesmere Island could be dangerous when it starts to drift in the spring, a scientist says.

The collapse of the ice island's northern coast represents the largest breakup of its kind in the Canadian Arctic in 30 years, the head of a new global ice lab at the University of Ottawa said on Thursday.

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Tsunami-Generating Earthquake Near U.S. Possibly Imminent

There are only two places in the United States where colliding tectonic plates could cause a major tsunami, and new studies show a new earthquake in at least one of these locations could be imminent.

The Cascadia subduction zone, a 680-mile fault that runs 50 miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest -- from Cape Mendocino in California to Vancouver Island in southern British Columbia -- has experienced a cluster of four massive earthquakes during the past 1,600 years. Scientists are trying to figure out if it is about to undergo a massive shift one more time before entering a quiescent period.

"People need to know it could happen," said U.S. Geological Survey geologist Brian Atwater.

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Head-banging Chinese snakes can predict earthquakes days in advance, say scientists

As Asia's telecom systems slowly recovered from the earthquakes that hit Taiwan this week, Chinese scientists said they had developed a new way of forecasting tremors - by observing the tendency of snakes to launch themselves headlong into walls.

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How to Super-Size a Volcanic Eruption

SAN FRANCISCO-Super eruptions that blast loads of ash sky high can change the climate. Now scientists are finding that the relationship could go both ways with the climate having an impact on huge volcanic eruptions.

A bone-dry climate, which occurs in periods between ice ages, could make conditions just right for building up enough underground magma to fuel a giant volcanic eruption, said Allen Glazner of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He presented this idea here last week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

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Storms wreak havoc across Israel

Extreme weather conditions continued to sweep across Israel on Wednesday, causing havoc throughout the country.

Following snowstorms in the Golan Heights, the Galilee and Hebron the previous night, on Wednesday morning snow fell in the Negev desert and later reached the central hills and Jerusalem.

Due to the snowy conditions in southern Israel, Route 40 was blocked between Sde Boker and the Nifta prison, Route 31 was blocked between Mishmar Hanegev and Lehavim and Route 204 was blocked between Yeroham and Sde Boker.

Also in the South, hundreds of Beduins were injured when several tents collapsed near the Lehavim Junction due to the stormy weather.