The Watchers News Brief: August 6, 2018

Mendocino Fire Complex explodes in size, now 2nd largest fire in the history of California

The Mendocino Fire Complex in California exploded in size over the weekend and is now the second largest wildfire in the history of California. 

The fire has consumed 110 747 hectares (273 664 acres) of land and is only 30% contained as of 07:00 PDT, August 6, 2018. It is expected to become the largest wildfire in the history of California, surpassing the Thomas Fire (2017) which burned more than 113 700 ha (281 000 acres).

Some 20 000 people from Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties have been forced to evacuate. However, with 75 residences and 68 other buildings destroyed, it has been less destructive than some other wildfires in California this season.

93 000 buildings are still threatened.

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Portugal battles wildfire, power outages as European heatwave peaks

Influx of hot air from Africa carrying loads of dust from the Sahara desert brought near record-breaking temperatures to Portugal over the weekend, forcing authorities to issue red health alerts for extreme heat for more than half of the country. 

Temperatures reached 46 °C (114.8 °F) on August 4, just shy of the country’s highest ever recorded temperature of 47.4 °C (116.42 °F) measured in July 2003.

Authorities are describing it as the most severe heatwave in Iberia since 2003, one of the worst years on record for forest fires.

More than 740 firefighters were battling a forest fire in the hilly Monchique area of the country’s southern Algarve region. Authorities evacuated two villages in the area and 10 water-carrying aircraft were being used to fight the flames.

Spain also issued warnings of extreme heat for its southern areas, with temperatures expected to reach 45 °C (113 °F) in the cities of Seville, Huelva, Badajoz, and Cordoba. Spain’s all-time record of 46.9 °C (116.42 °F) was set in Cordoba in July 2017.

Three men died in Spain as a result of soaring temperatures, the Associated Press reported. Two died of heatstroke in the southeastern region of Murcia, while another man died in Barcelona, emergency services said.

Record August rain and heavy hail hit Adelaide as cold front moves over South Australia

A cold front passed over Adelaide, the capital city of the state of South Australia, on August 6, 2018, dropping record August rainfall and heavy hail.

From 09:00 local time, August 5 to 17:30, August 6, the town of Lenswood in Adelaide Hills received 81 mm (3.18 inches) of rain, setting a new August rainfall record for the town.

During the same period, 73 mm (2.87 inches) fell at Lobethal, 63 mm (2.48 inches) at Bridgewater, 50 mm (1.96 inches) at Belair and 23 mm (0.90 inches) at Adelaide.

The storm closed roads throughout Adelaide Hills, forcing the police to divert traffic. 

SES and CFS said they responded to numerous weather-related incidents across the state.

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Mount Ruapehu avalanche shuts upper slopes of Tūroa and Whakapapa, New Zealand

A large avalanche, big enough to destroy a small town, took place on Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand, damaging ski-lift tower and shutting off upper slopes of Tūroa and Whakapapa.

The avalanche left a 700-meter (2 300 feet) debris field and carried a snowcat about 200 m (656 feet) down Vertigo ski run.

The slope the avalanche came from “doesn’t usually avalanche. It’s a rarity”, one of the witnesses said. 

Sinkhole in northern China swallows two cars

A part of a road gave way over the weekend as heavy rainfall battered the city of Harbin, Heilongjiang province.

According to the South China Morning Post, two vehicles plunged into the hole one after another. There were three people in the cars. Nobody was hurt.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the 8 m2 (86 square foot) sinkhole.

Russia’s Ebeko volcano continues erupting, Kamchatka

Ebeko volcano in Russias Far East continues erupting since October 20, 2016.

Ash plumes were seen rising as high as 4 km (13 000 feet) above sea level. The Aviation Color Code remains at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

Japan’s Yamagata Prefecture hit by 113 mm (4.4 inches) of rain in one hour

Japanese Sakata City on the Sea of Japan coast recorded 113 mm (4.4 inches) of rain in a one-hour period to 13:40 JST on August 5, prompting officials to issue mudslides and flooding warnings in the region.

The storm triggered landslides and flooding, power outages and suspended bullet train operations.

The Yamagata Meteorological Office recorded 312.5 milliliters of rain in the Kaneyama district of Kaneyama town in 24 hours, 309.5 ml in the Semi district of Mogami town, and 299.0 ml in the Sasunabe district of Mamurogawa town, all in the northern part of the prefecture. Those amounts surpassed the average monthly rainfall totals for August in those points.

The Tohoku Electric Power Co. said power was cut at one point to a total of 4 890 households in 12 municipalities, including the cities of Tsuruoka and Sakata.

JMA says warm, damp air is flowing towards a rain front over the region and creating the unstable atmospheric conditions. 

‘Massive’ mudslide hits movie set for Jackie Chan’s new movie “Project X”

According to actor Jackie Chan, the weather suddenly changed on August 6 and his ‘crew was caught in a massive mudslide.’

“A few of our production trucks were stuck in the river of rushing mud. Many of the crew became frightened because it was so sudden. Luckily, some large hook trucks come to our rescue and helped tow our production trucks to safety,” Chan said on his blog.

“Our production team will learn from this experience; be more alert to the weather conditions, do our best to protect our crew members and ensure that working conditions are absolutely safe.”

While he didn’t disclose the location of the mudslide, parts of southern China, especially Yunnan Province, have seen heavy rainfall since Friday, August 3 in which six people lost their lives. Floods damaged 12 040 hectares (29 751 acres) of crops and 1 686 homes.

North Korea urges citizens to wage all-out battle to preserve food stocks amid ‘unprecedented’ drought

The North Korean government has called on its people to wage an ‘all-out battle’ against a record heatwave as the country’s already fragile crops face drought and the authorities struggle to respond.

Temperatures have reached more than 40 ° C (104 ° F) in some regions since late July and there have been sporadic reports of deaths from the heat.

“This high-temperature phenomenon is the largest, unprecedented natural disaster, but not an obstacle we cannot overcome,” a commentary in Rodong Sinmun said, as reported by The Guardian. “Extreme high temperatures and droughts have begun affecting farming crops, including rice and corn. We should muster all our power and capacity to fight high temperatures and droughts.”

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Two tropical storms form close to Mexico – John and Ileana, warnings issued

Two tropical storms formed close to Mexico on August 5 and 6, threatening the region with heavy rain, strong winds, and life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

The government of Mexico issued a Tropical Storm Warning from Lazaro Cardenas to Cabo Corrientes. Tropical storm conditions are expected in this area within 36 hours.

Tropical storms John and Ileana at 03:00 UTC on August 6, 2018. Credit: NOAA GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA

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Landslide hits Nepal’s Jajarkot, killing at least 9 people

At least 9 people have been killed and one was injured after a landslide struck Thantibazaar in Jajarkot’s Bheri Municipality on August 5, 2018. 

The slide buried two houses with 10 people inside. One of them was found alive after 90 minutes.

Police said 17 houses are in danger of landslide in the area.

Image credit: The Kathmandu Post

Krakatau volcano in continuous state of eruption, Indonesia

Indonesian Krakatau volcano continues erupting, and a new lava flow to the south of Anak-Krakatau has reached the coast.

Volcanic ash plume during the morning hours of August 6 was reaching 1.8 km (6 000 feet) above sea level.

Fourth nuclear reactor shut down in France due to hot weather

French energy company EDF said Sunday, Augusty 5, it has halted a fourth nuclear reactor in three days. 

Since Thursday, August 2, four French nuclear reactors in three power plants near the Rhine and the Rhone Rivers, including Fessenheim, have had to be temporarily shut down, the AP reports.

EDF said the decision was made to avoid overheating the rivers.

Rivers that are unusually warm can experience mass fish die-offs, which has happened in Germany in the past week.

Spectacular waterspout recorded off Pantelleria, Italy

A very large waterspout formed off Isola di Pantelleria in Italy on August 4.

The twister did not reach the land and no damage was reported.

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UK heatwave ending, August set to be the wettest on record

The hot weather across Britain will be replaced but rain and thunder as the week progresses.

Forecaster Dean Hall said there will be quite a marked change to the feel of things from the middle of the week as conditions turn fresher and more changeable.

The weather is likely to stay cooler throughout next weekend, he said, with “no real sign of any return of the heat that we have been seeing over the recent days.”

And rain could set in towards the end of next week, continuing for much of the month.

“As we look ahead to the middle of August, fresher and changeable conditions are expected across all parts with spells of cloud and rain followed by brighter interludes with a few showers.”

With rain already on the cards, it could mean the UK could see the wettest August on record, according to Ladbrokes.

With the sweltering temperatures set to come to an end, the UK is bracing itself for a spell of heavy rainfall – and the bookies have now slashed odds in half from 8/1 to 4/1 on August 2018 being the wettest we’ve ever had.

Intense flash floods hit parts of Europe

The jet stream has been fragmented and weak across Europe over the past week or so, lowering the chances of organized thunderstorms, Severe Weather Europe reports.

On the other hand, such environments favor slowly moving storm clusters and virtually stationary pulse thunderstorms which can produce short and intense rainfall or even prolonged intense rainfall, in case of a slow-moving cluster.

Over the past week, several places in Europe experienced intense flash floods as results of short, but intense rainfall.

Another Ebola outbreak hits Democratic Republic of Congo

The WHO is responding to another outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since August 3, just a week after a previous outbreak was officially declared over.

The new outbreak poses a “high” local and regional threat, the WHO stated Friday, August 10, and doctors are facing a challenging setting for responding to this illness due to armed conflict in the area.

The outbreak is occurring in the eastern part of the DRC, about 50 km (30 miles) from the Ugandan border, in the war zone.

At least 20 deaths have been reported.

Significant reduction in lava output from fissure 8, Kilauea volcano, Hawaii

August 5th helicopter overflight confirmed a significant reduction in lava output from fissure 8, HVO reports.

Geologists observed low levels of fountaining with the fissure 8 spatter cone and largely crusted lava in the spillway and channel system downstream.

There were a few sluggish seeps and ooze-outs near Halekamahina and Kapoho Crater.

Lava continues to ooze into the ocean along a broad flow front and laterally toward Pohoiki but is still about 70 m (230 feet) southeast of the boat ramp. 

The significance of this change is not yet clear and hazardous conditions remain in the area.

It is common for eruptions to wax and wane or pause completely. A return to high levels of lava discharge or new outbreaks in the area of active fissures could occur at any time. 

Fissure 8 on August 5, 2018. Image credit: USGS/HVO

Dust storms stretching 250 km (155 miles) hit SA’s Eyre Peninsula after driest July in 19 years

Dust storms stretching as much as 250 km (155 miles) hit South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula at the beginning of August, after driest July in 19 years.

“It reduced visibility down to a few hundred meters in parts, all the way along the eastern part of that coast,” BOM duty forecaster Peter Webb said.

Cleve farmer, Peter Rehn, said it was a severe blow to the region, which is struggling after the state’s driest July since 1999.

Health authorities have urged people with respiratory and cardiac conditions to take precautions.

Record-breaking heatwave leaves 29 dead in South Korea, food prices skyrocket

At least 29 people have died due to heatstroke in South Korea and more than 2 200 suffered heat-related conditions, as prolonged and record-breaking heatwave engulfs the country.

The Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA) said the country is undergoing an extended heatwave, with at least 15 days of temperatures over 35 °C (95 °F).

Capital Seoul recorded 39.6 °C (103.2 °F) on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, making it the hottest day the city has seen in 111 years. The town of Hongcheon, in the northeastern province of Gangwon, recorded a record high of 41 °C (105.8 °F) on the same day, the highest temperature in South Korea since records began in 1904.

By August 5, 60% of the country recorded the hottest weather in the country’s modern history.

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Floods affect 222 000 people in China’s Yunnan, damage 1 686 homes

Heavy rain since August 3, 2018, affected around 226 000 people in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, killed six people, damaged 12 040 hectares (29 751 acres) of crops and 1 686 homes.

The local weather bureau said heavy rain is expected to continue over the next four days.

San Diego’s ocean waters break the temperature record, California

Scripps researchers recorded ocean temperature of 25.8 °C (78.6 °F) last week, the highest ocean temperature at Scripps Pier in La Jolla since they began taking daily measurements there in 1916.

Researchers said the record might fall again this month.

Featured image credit: Wellington Fire. Edit: The Watchers

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