Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

Earthquakes shake Tokyo area, Indian Ocean

© AFP/FileA quake reading on a seismograph. A major 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck central Japan early Tuesday, …
A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 hit Tokyo and nearby areas shortly after dawn Tuesday, halting trains and forcing two nuclear reactors to be shut down for safety checks.

The U.S. Geological Survey said another, unrelated quake with a 7.6 magnitude hit the Indian Ocean about 160 miles (257 kilometers) north of Port Blair in India's Andaman Islands. A tsunami watch was called for India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh. The caution was later lifted without any tsunami being recorded.

The Andaman Islands quake was reported to be 20.6 miles (33.15 kilometers) deep, the U.S. Geological Survey said. On Dec. 26, 2004, about 230,000 people were killed in a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered a tsunami.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 7.6 - Andaman Islands, India Region

© US Geological Survey

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 19:55:39 UTC
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 01:55:39 AM at epicenter

14.013°N, 92.923°E

33.1 km (20.6 miles)

260 km (160 miles) N of Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India

365 km (225 miles) SSW of Pathein (Bassein), Myanmar

825 km (510 miles) W of BANGKOK, Thailand

2295 km (1420 miles) SE of NEW DELHI, Delhi, India

Cloud Lightning

Update 2: Typhoon Morakot - 600 missing in mudslide, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan -- A typhoon-spawned mudslide engulfed a mountain village in southern Taiwan, burying up to 600 people, a police official and a rescued villager said Monday.

Typhoon Morakot dumped up to 80 inches (two meters) of rain on some communities over the weekend before moving on to China, where it forced the evacuation of nearly 1 million people along the east coast and left at least six dead. Earlier it had struck the Philippines, leaving at least 22 dead.

Cloud Lightning

Update: Typhoon Kills 18 in Taiwan, China; 13 Die in Japan

Typhoon Morakot
© NASATyphoon Morakot
Typhoon Morakot killed three people in China after taking the lives of at least 15 in Taiwan, where it dumped record amounts of rain and left more than 100 people unaccounted for after a mudslide.

A separate storm killed 13 people in Japan.

Even as it weakened to a tropical storm today, Morakat, the ninth typhoon of the Pacific cyclone season, had destroyed more than 5,000 homes in mainland China and affected 7.8 million people, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. It caused damage of 6 billion yuan ($880 million) and prompted the evacuation of almost 1.4 million people in eastern China, Xinhua said today.

The provinces most affected are Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Anhui, Xinhua said. The storm is headed northwestward to northern Zhejiang, it said.

Morakot crossed northern Taiwan, leaving 15 people dead, the National Fire Agency said. The typhoon dumped more rain on Taiwan than in any 48-hour period since records began 100 years ago, Taiwan's chief weather forecaster, Lee Hsiang-yuan, said.

Better Earth

Freak wave 'hot spots' identified

cargo ship
© PAIn 2008, a cargo ship was grounded off Blackpool after being hit by a freak wave
Scientists in the US have made a major advance in their understanding of so-called freak waves.

These monster waves present a major risk to ships and offshore platforms.

A computer simulation developed by oceanographers in the US could help locate where and when these "rogue" phenomena are most likely to occur.

The theoretical study shows that coastal areas with variations in water depth and strong currents are hot spots for freak waves.

The history of seafaring is littered with tales of rogue waves capable of rending ships asunder.

A freak wave is one that measures roughly three times higher than other swells on the sea at any one time. These phenomena can measure up to 18m (60ft) - the height of a six-storey building.

Cloud Lightning

Typhoon Morakot Destroys Houses in China, Kills 14 in Taiwan

Morakot 1
© AFP/Getty Images The Hotel Chin shuai is collapsed in floodwaters during typhoon Morakot in Chihpen, Taitung county, Taiwan, Aug. 9, 2009.
Typhoon Morakot destroyed houses in China after killing at least 14 people in Taiwan where it dumped record amounts of rain.

The typhoon, the ninth of the Pacific cyclone season, damaged the properties of at least 136,000 people in Xiapu county in Fujian province, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported today. It caused damage of 2.2 billion yuan ($322 million) and prompted the evacuation of almost 1 million people in eastern China, Xinhua said late yesterday.

In Taiwan, 14 people were killed when Morakot crossed the north of the island. The typhoon dumped more rain on Taiwan than in any 48-hour period since records began 100 years ago, Taiwan's chief weather forecaster Lee Hsiang-yuan said.

The center of Morakot weakened to a tropical storm after making landfall in China, according to the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Heavy rains in Japan left 13 people dead and 10 missing in the southwest and disrupted rail services in the capital, Tokyo. A tropical storm is also approaching from the south and is forecast to bring more rain to the country tomorrow.


Sunspotless 30 day stretch possible in the next day

At the risk of triggering a new sunspot by talking about it, I'll cautiously mention that by GMT time midnight tomorrow, August 10th, we will possibly have a 30 day stretch of no sunspots at a time when cycle 24 has been forecast by many to be well underway. Here is the most recent (and auto updating) SOHO MDI image of the sun:
Spotless Sun August 07, 2009
© SOHOSun August 07, 2009.

Spotless Days Count
(updated data from

Current Stretch: 29 days
2009 total: 171 days (78%)
Since 2004: 682 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days


Aftermath of a Japanese whale hunt

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has just released video footage from a whale hunt that occurred late last month.

Baird's beaked whales are rare, but are exempt from whaling bans since they are still classified as small cetaceans. Around 60 Baird's a year are hunted commercially in northern Japan and sold in Japanese supermarkets. However, tests have revealed extremely high levels of mercury in the meat, which could pose a serious health risk.

Cloud Lightning

1 million evacuated as typhoon Morakot hits China

Morakot 3
© Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images Local residents trapped by flooding during typhoon Morakot wait for help from rescuers, in Chiatung, Pingtung county, Taiwan, Aug. 9, 2009.
A typhoon slammed into China's east coast Sunday, flooding entire villages, destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of nearly a million residents, after lashing Taiwan with torrential rains that caused the island's worst flooding in 50 years.

Rescuers on rubber dinghies, wearing life jackets and crash helmets, helped stranded villagers in hard-hit areas of China, while officials elsewhere cycled through floodwaters to deliver food to residents trapped in their homes.

Only rooftops and the highest tree branches were visible above the murky brown water that engulfed part of China's southern Cangnan county. Homes were destroyed and at least one child died after a house collapsed on him in heavy rain in Zhejiang province.

In southern Taiwan, a six-story hotel toppled into a rain-swollen river whose rushing waters had knocked out its foundations.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 7.1 earthquake strikes Japan coast

© US Geological Survey
A strong earthquake struck off the south coast of Japan on Sunday night local time, "jolting Tokyo and wide areas of eastern Japan," the country's Kyodo news agency reported.

The 7.1 earthquake hit 200 miles (320 kilometers) south-southwest of Tokyo at 7:55 p.m. (6:55 a.m. ET), the United States Geological Survey reported.

Its epicenter was 188 miles (303 kilometers) deep, the USGS said.

The Japan Meteorological Agency reported its magnitude as 6.9, Kyodo said.

There were no immediate reports of damage, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning