|Earthquakes & Natural
"And there shall be ... earthquakes..." (Mat 24:7)
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- The Big Shake-up
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Global warming. The year of 1998 was the hottest on earth since records began; 1999 may be worse, once the final figures are in.
This has affected the natural phenomenon we call El Niņo, which together with its sister phenomenon, La Niņa, causes fluctuations in atmospheric pressure and surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific.
In 1998 it brought the western hemisphere's worst storm for two hundred years: Hurricane Mitch. An entire year's rainfall hit Central America in a few hours. Ten thousand were killed.
From Africa to Australia there were droughts, and in Indonesia forests burned and smog blotted out the sun for weeks. In the Asian subcontinent, by contrast, there was severe flooding.
Shortly before Mitch struck, there were four hurricanes in the Atlantic at once, for the first time this century.
These and other findings--for instance that the Antarctic ice cap is melting, and could eventually raise sea levels by 7 meters--are coming in all the time.
Destruction of plants and animals. Human activity has altered almost half the land surface of the Earth. If current trends continue, between one-third and two-thirds of all plant and animal species will be lost during the second half of the 21st century.
Professor Jane Lubchenco, of Oregon State University, noted that the new data also indicated a dramatic alteration of Earth's oceans. "We've long thought of oceans as having an infinite ability to provide food and other goods and services to humans. But the massive human-wrought changes in our oceans are impairing their ability to function as we assume they will," she said.
There are now 50 "dead zones" containing little or no oxygen in coastal waters. The largest of these in the western hemisphere was in the Gulf of Mexico, created by excess nitrogen and phosphorus flowing down the Mississippi River.
From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a rundown of the century's worst weather. The top ten killers internationally were:
BUCHAREST, Romania -- Heavy snow and rain left more than 100 villages in central Transylvania without electricity as the brutal weather plaguing Europe for the past week reached Romania.
The blackout occurred after the storm toppled trees and power lines in Transylvania, about 450 kilometers (281 miles) from Bucharest. The downed trees also caused a number of roadblocks.
In Austria, heavy snow triggered avalanches which killed at least 12 people, including nine German tourists. The Germans were part of a club that booked a hut -- that would normally be closed this time of year -- to celebrate the millennium.
Fierce winds and rain along France's southwestern Atlantic coast killed 24 people on Tuesday, and flooding forced the evacuation of more than 2,000. The deaths in France and Austria pushed the weather-related toll to at least 116.
In Belgium, rivers have risen to critical levels after a week of heavy rainfall. Many homes are flooded and some roads have been under water for days. More rain may be in the store for the area, forecasters said.
The storms are also hampering the cleanup of a major oil slick off the northwest coast of France. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin toured an area where oil is washing up on the coast of Brittany. He cut short a trip to Egypt to deal with the aftermath of the storms and the oil spill.
While France has faced the greatest loss of life from the storms, it also lost two centuries of history in only two hours at Versailles.
The usually peaceful gardens at Versailles became a weather-beaten battlefield during violent storms that killed more than 100 people in Western Europe and reduced some cultural treasures to ruins.
Power outages may persist on New Year's Eve
No new storms are forecast. But there is much chaos. Thousands in France are facing the prospect of a New Year's Eve without electricity.
In the Vendee region, on France's western coast, more than 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes because of floods. And Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot announced that extensive damage to the country's public transport network, caused mostly by fallen trees or flooding, would not be totally fixed before the end of the year.
"The damage is considerable," he said. "Road, rail and air routes are affected. We are really in great difficulty."
In Paris, the swollen Seine River flooded roads and walkways in several parts of the city. Paris officials have asked the government to declare the city a natural disaster area.
WASHINGTON - Temperatures in the United States will finish 1999 as the second-warmest on record since 1900, only topped by last year's all-time high mark, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday. NOAA said its projections show Americans will have experienced an average for 1999 of 55.7 degrees Fahrenheit . This follows 1998's record high of 56.4 degrees .
In addition to warmer temperatures, the agency said precipitation ebbed on average, dropping 1.05 inches below normal levels to a projected 30.60 inches despite heavy local rainfall in the Pacific Northwest due to the La Nina pattern.
Record dryness was seen in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley as a result of last summer's drought. The April to July period was the driest or second driest ever in all states from West Virginia to Maine. The drought was followed by record rainfall from hurricanes Dennis and Floyd along the East Coast.
NOAA said records were also posted in the number of unusual winter tornadoes last January. More than 70 tornadoes also occurred during a May outbreak, making 1999 the fourth busiest year for the storms with 1,225 reported. NOAA said, as predicted by National Weather Service scientists, the U.S. saw a busier than normal hurricane season with 12 tropical storms, eight that became hurricanes and five major hurricanes.
An earthquake measuring about 5.9 on the Richter scale rocked Mexico's Pacific coast southwest of the capital Tuesday night at 11:20 p.m., Reuters reported. The epicenter of the quake was onshore 55 miles north of Petatlan in Guerrero state. Petatlan is about 100 miles up the coast from the beach resort of Acapulco. The quake smashed panes of glass and caused light structural damage to a hospital in the town of Coahuayutla, 180 miles southwest of Mexico City, close to the quake epicenter, and one person was injured by a falling tile, according to Civil Protection in Guerrero state. The quake was felt for about a minute in Mexico City, about 150 miles away and home to nine million people.
An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck near the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Centre. There were no reports of damage, or tsunami tidal waves. The earthquake hit at 8:29 a.m. Wednesday, and the epicentre was 240 miles east of Kira-Kira, a part of the Solomon Islands chain.
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|Articles on this Page
The Decade of Environmental disaster
The century's worst weather
116 dead as European storm reaches Romania
U.S. 1999 temperatures second-warmest of century
5.9 earthquake rocks Mexican coast
Solomon Islands earthquake; 6.8 on Richter scale
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