Earthquakes, Wildfires, Floods… Oh My!
Happy Sunday to you out there. Hope you remembered to “Spring Forward” today and set your clocks an hour ahead. We continue to track some crazy events around the world, plus a warm up for much of the nation by midweek.
Japan is certainly still in a state of chaos after the magnitude 8.9 earthquake hit Thursday Night in US time. A couple hundred aftershocks have occurred since the actual earthquake many of them continuing to be very strong in themselves, 6.0 or higher. The Japanese Meteorological Agency (who is in charge of warning of earthquakes in Japan) is warning that there is a 70% chance of another 7.0+ magnitude earthquake occurring in the region before Wednesday. Of course, we are closely watching the Fukushima nuclear plant as possible meltdowns are in progress as they can’t keep the nuclear cores cool enough. Myself, I don’t know much about these nuclear plants — I’ve gotten a crash course within the past few days on how they act. A little informative “game” that was created far before this meltdown was found the other day that allows you to operate your own nuclear plant and avoid your own meltdowns — an interesting game to learn how they work. You can find that here. Of course, what we worry about is the radiation concerns if containment shields melt down along with the plant — one that comes to mind is Chernobyl and the spike of cancer cases worldwide after that occurred. The good news is that the state of Washington has already started monitoring the air, and even if the plant does explode, they don’t expect much radiation to affect the US (at least right now). Other facts from the earthquake: the Earth’s length of day was shortened by 1.8 microseconds, Earth’s figure axis was shifted by about 6 1/2 inches (17 centimeters), and Japan moved at least 8 feet (2.4 meters) from where it was before!
Google has issued an update to their Google Earth application that lets you see before and after images for parts of the hardest hit areas of Japan. Here are some of the more dramatic pictures (you can view more from the Google Earth blog here, and from a nice before-after set up that ABC of Australia here)
Wildfires in the South
We have seen wildfires raging across Oklahoma and Texas the past few days, including a few large ones just south and east of Oklahoma City. At least 58 homes have been destroyed in over 30 fires in these areas, including at least 30 in the town on Harris, OK. As you can see in the graphic above from the Norman/OKC NWS Office, wildfires can be expect to continue over the next few days as we will see strong winds and low humidity values with little moisture — the prime weather for wildfires.
This is the Drought Monitor for the south — as you can see we have a severe to extreme drought across portions of the south, which is only helping to fuel these fires. With little moisture in the forecast, expect the situation to continue to get worse.
It is flood season across the country, and right now it is hitting mainly the eastern third of the country. We continue to see rivers like the Ohio, the Susquehanna, and the Pearl Rivers (along with many others) starting to reach flood stage over the next few days. Heavy rains over the past few weeks along with a rapid snow melt in the north have contributed to moderate flooding along some of these rivers. We’ll continue to monitor the rivers as soon this will start stretching into the Midwest including the Red River to the north and the Mississippi.
Temps start warming up
Here are your highs for Wednesday — a nice warm up will occur across much of the nation this week, and it is possible that parts of upper Midwest, including the Twin Cities, could get up into the 50s for highs! Of course, there is a lot of snow in the north land still, and a lot of moisture locked in that snow. A quick warm up just means a quick melt, rushing a lot of water into local rivers and making a forecasted situation even worse for spring flooding on rivers such as the Red River going through Fargo and the Mississippi going through the Twin Cities and St. Louis. The Twin Cities NWS office says that we could see most of the snow melted by this time next weekend, shoving 3-4″ of moisture into the rivers within a week. We’ll continue to watch the river situation across the next week.
That’s what I have for today — have a great start to your work week tomorrow!
D.J. Kayser for WeatherNation