Friday, November 28, 2008

State of Emergency - not just for natural disasters

As can bee seen in Bangkok, a State of Emergency doesn't have to be just for natural disasters - they can also be declared in times of civil unrest or war.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Storms around the world

A tropical storm has flooded one of India's biggest cities, killing at least 10 people.

And flooding & landslides in Brazil have killed 84 people so far. One of the major issues in the affected areas of Brazil is lack of drinking water. How much have you got squirrelled away?

You need at least 3 litres per person per day, just for surviving. More if you plan on washing your hands etc. The latest statistics on our water usage in the Wellington region shows that we use 400 litres per day! That's not so much usage as wastage... You should probably thinking about storing more than the minimum .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

They're not psychic, but they can predict the future

Via Stuff -

Millions of lives could be saved from natural disasters around the world by the biggest revolution in weather forecasting since the introduction of computers.

Weather forecasters from all corners of the globe, including New Zealand, are joining forces to push back the prediction limits of severe weather such as tropical cyclones, thunderstorms and tornadoes, torrential rain, heatwaves and heavy snow.

Extreme weather cannot be forecast accurately beyond two or three days at present but the 10-year Thorpex (The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment) study is effectively thumbing its nose at that.

Its aim is to develop a system that will give extended-range warnings up to two weeks ahead, providing more time for communities and governments to prepare for life-threatening events.

A giant "ensemble" computer model is being developed that will combine all the best points of dozens of models used in everyday weather forecasting and, hopefully, increase the accuracy of predictions.

Doesn't take much

Standing on Porirua Coast you can actually see the South Island. There isn't really that much distance between us. But having Cook Strait as a buffer can make a hell of a difference in the weather. We got some quite heavy rain at times last night, but nothing like what hit the northern end of the South Island. Flooding in Nelson & Takaka, and the West Coast, roads closed, schools closed. They were thinking about declaring a State of Emergency, but luckily the rivers peaked before things could get too bad.

And while things are getting soggy in the northern and western parts of the South Island, Canterbury is quite quickly reaching drought status.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Volcano erupts!

I always remember that line from playing Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs, but anyway... via Stuff

The Nevado del Huila volcano in southwest Colombia has erupted, triggering an avalanche of earth and debris that damaged houses, bridges and crops, the country's Ingeominas geological institute said.

Some people fled their homes and civil defence authorities rushed to the area yesterday to evaluate damages and begin cleanup. No injuries were reported.

The volcano, in the province of Huila, is not near any major coffee plantations integral to the economy of this part of the Andean country.

Nevado del Huila erupted at the start of 2007 after laying dormant for hundreds of years. A 1985 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Caldas province triggered mudslides killing 25,000 people in Colombia's worst ever natural disaster.

Another quake, and yet more wind

Another local quake yesterday - I'm reliably informed that it was a good little jolt, but yet again I didn't feel a thing.

NZ Daylight Time: Sunday, 23 November 2008 at 12:41 pm
Latitude, Longitude: 41.01°S, 174.88°E
Location: 10 km north of Porirua
Focal depth: 30 km
Richter magnitude: 3.7

While you're checking that your stuff is still seismically restrained (you all do that, don't you? Well, you should!), you might want to secure anything outside that might blow around, it's going to be another windy night with northerly winds gusting to 130kph in exposed places.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Northland fire

And now New Zealand has some of its own fires to worry about.

Via Stuff -

Rural firefighters are today continuing to dampen hot spots after a bush fire swept through more than 60 hectares of Department of Conservation land at Ngawha in the Far North overnight.
More than six fire engines and three helicopters battled through the night to contain the blaze which threatened Ngawha Village and Top Energy's newly commissioned geothermal power plant. Kaikohe volunteer fire brigade chief, Bill Hutchinson, said the fire looked to have been deliberately set. Fire investigators are at the scene this morning.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Californians return to burnt out homes

via Stuff -

Shocked residents began returning home to three areas of Southern California ravaged by wildfires, some finding their houses and cars reduced to piles of smoking, melted rubble.

Three fires have over the past five days destroyed around 1,000 homes and blacken 55 square miles (142 sq km) across Southern California - ranging from mobile homes to apartments and multimillion-dollar mansions.

No deaths or major injuries have been reported and the cause of the fires was not known.
Southern California is in a drought after minimal rainfall for two years that has turned the terrain bone dry. Population growth over the past 20 years has seen once arid brushland on city outskirts turned into housing developments.

Indonesian quake - 7.5

Via Stuff -

Almost 10,000 people have been displaced from their homes following a powerful earthquake that rattled Indonesia's Sulawesi island. The strong 7.5 magnitude undersea earthquake struck early on Monday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 150. Indonesia's meteorology agency briefly issued a tsunami alert following the quake, but the warning was lifted later.

Indonesia launched a new hi-tech system last week aimed at detecting potential tsunamis and providing faster alerts in a region battered by frequent earthquakes, though experts say large parts of the country are still not covered and the system will not be fully operational until 2010.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Did the earth move for you?

Apparently there was an earthquake near Wellington this morning. I haven't felt an earthquake in ages, I'm beginning to feel that it's all just a conspiracy of seismologists.

Anyway, here's what GeoNet says happened:

NZ Daylight Time: Tuesday, November 11 2008 at 6:20 am
Latitude, Longitude: 41.75°S, 174.40°E
Focal Depth: 60 km
Richter magnitude: 4.0
Region: Marlborough
30 km east of Seddon
50 km south-east of Blenheim
60 km south-west of Wellington

Felt in Rarangi and Wellington.

Did you feel this earthquake? If you did, fill in a GeoNet Felt Earthquake Report and then comment here to gloat about it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


It's been a bit windy overnight (rubbish day again...). I was watching the wind speeds on Mt Kaukau climbing steadily via the MetService's MetConnect. At about quarter to ten last night the 10-minute average wind speed on Kaukau was 100kph! A large slip had closed the Manawatu Gorge ( and vehicles were being advised to come over the Rimutaka Hill Road, but the strong winds made that a rather hazardous prospect, especially for high-sided vehicles, and police were advising people not to go that way too!

I really hope the wind dies down tonight - strong winds and Guy Fawkes' night do not go well together, especially from the point of view of the fire crews. Take care with your fire works (or better yet, go and enjoy the free displays), and please don't set fire to Porirua tonight, or anywhere else for that matter!