Latest Event Updates

Satellite Image of Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Fire

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Thought I’d share these cool images from NASA’s Aqua-MODIS platform. NASA caption below:


On April 20, 2010, an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico left a dozen workers missing and several more critically injured and started a large fire that was churning out smoke days later. This image of the Gulf Coast and near-shore waters was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on April 21.

Read rest of caption (and high-res pics) HERE

Update Time

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I guess I should update this blog before everyone wonders what happened to me :P

Everything I’ve been doing has been revolving around graduate school. School has continued to go well…lectures, assignments, and quizzes for Weather & Society and Satellite and Radar Meteorology courses. I will be done with my semester by April 30th, ending my first term at Mississippi State University. I’ve learned a HUGE amount in these courses, exposing myself to the latest knowledge in social science issues in meteorology as well as techniques in identifying features using satellite and radar platforms.

I’ve registered for summer and fall semester courses. My summer will be the beginning of the research phase of my degree. Although my degree is technically “non-thesis”…meaning I don’t have to assemble a thesis committee to evaluate every stage of my research…I still must spend much of my degree program working on research under the supervision of a single adviser. The process begins this summer when I take Research Methods in Geosciences. I will be assigned an adviser who will remain with me through the research process and I will also conceive a research project and submit it for approval. I will work on the research for the course of the 2014-2015 academic year, before heading down to Miss. State to present it before faculty and fellow graduate students in the program. In addition to research methods, I’m also taking Quantitative Analysis in Climatology…essentially a statistics course with a meteorology/climatology flavor. It’s actually a new course and is required for new students entering the program this Fall. It should be helpful for me in terms of understanding and applying statistical analyses to research results. For fall semester, I registered for Advanced Hazards and Disasters (required) and Severe Weather.

One more piece of news…I applied for a meteorology internship with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS. They are also known as the “Hurricane Hunters” as they do recon into the heart of tropical cyclones. The volunteer position would involve me working under the base Chief Meteorologist assisting in forecasting, weather and mission briefings, and working on a special project. I would receive education in tropical meteorology, aviation meteorology, and meteorological instrumentation. This is one of biggest opportunities I’ve seen for training in meteorology. So I applied to it and will find out by the end of the month. If I get it, I’ll go for 8 weeks (June-July). Wish me luck :)

Intense Earthquake hits just offshore the coast of Chile….tsunami warning issued

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I believe this is in the same area that has been experiencing a swarm of quakes the past few weeks.

Oso, WA Landslide of March 22, 2014

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I haven’t had much of a chance to blog this week, but I wanted to discuss a rather unfortunate natural disaster in my home state of Washington. On March 22nd at 10:37am PDT, a massive landslide (which technically were two slides, over the course of a few minutes) occurred east of the small community of Oso in a populated area of unincorporated Snohomish County. The landslide obliterated the neighborhood, flattening and sweeping away houses, cars and everything else in its path. People were buried underneath debris, completely caught by surprise by the giant mass of Earth. The north fork of the Stillaguamish River was also temporarily dammed up with significant flooding upstream and a drying of the lake bed downstream. There were worries of a catastrophic flood downstream, but those fears have mostly dissipated as the river has cut gradually into the earthen dam, slowly balancing the water levels.

View of the landslide taken by the Washington State Patrol. March 23, 2014
View of the landslide taken by the Washington State Patrol on March 23, 2014. The landslide quickly overtook the north fork of the Stillaguamish River, State Route 530 and then part of the unincorporated “Steelhead Neighborhood” 4 miles east of Oso. The unofficial name for the event is the “530 Landslide”.
Google Earth image of Steelhead Neighborhood east of Oso, WA taken on July 14, 2013. The terrain area which ultimately slid is in the upper-center of the image, north of the river. Note the properties along the river and road.
Google Earth image of the Steelhead Neighborhood east of Oso, WA taken on July 14, 2013. The terrain area which ultimately slid is in the upper-center of the image, north of the river. Note the properties along the river and road. Many of these properties no longer exist.


Seismograph measurements by the University of Washington Seismology Lab documenting the ground shaking generated by the two separate slides in the Oso event. They were separated by approximately 4 minutes.
Seismograph measurements provided to KOMO-TV in Seattle documenting the ground shaking generated by the two separate slides in the Oso event. They were separated by approximately 4 minutes.

The landslide was preceded by rainfall which was 2 times that of normal over the previous 45 day period. Right now the death toll is at 17 people with about 50 properties destroyed. However, the death toll is expected to increase substantially, possibly by this evening’s press conference as the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s office releases new numbers of those processed as deceased. Nine additional people were unofficially dead as they had been found, but at the time had not yet been taken to the medical examiner. Ninety others remain unaccounted for at this time. It’s hard to now how this will end up, but some in the media are already bringing up comparisons to the Eruption of Mount St. Helens and the Stevens Pass Avalanche/Train Derailment of 1980 and 1910, respectively, in the field of major killer disasters for Washington State.

(Photos courtesy of ABC affiliate KOMO-TV Channel 4 in Seattle)

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USGS Aerial photos of landslide area

If you wish to donate to those in need of help from this horrific natural disaster, check this link for the United Way of Snohomish County. Unfortunately I’m pretty short on extra funds, but if anyone out there is interested in helping, check it out. There has already been an incredible outpouring of support, volunteers and food/equipment. So at this point, money is probably the best thing one can give.

The next press conference by the Snohomish County fire and rescue folks is at 6pm PDT. If there is any significant news, I’ll update this posting.

Earthquake swarm offshore Chile becoming a concern

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Interesting news story about a recent swarm of earthquakes and whether it may be a prelude to a much more significant event.


Experts in Chile Fear Catastrophe as 300 Quakes Hit in One Week

Chile’s northern coast has been hit by more than 300 earthquakes in the past week in what seismologists warned Tuesday could be the precursor to a long-overdue disaster.

Most of these quakes have been too small to be felt on land, but people living near the city of Iquique have experienced the rumbling of up to a dozen tremors per day.

Experts analyzing this flood of data are worried the increased seismic activity could be a sign the region is about to experience its first devastating quake in 137 years. The last event, a magnitude-8.5 quake in 1877, killed thousands of people and created a deadly tsunami that reached Hawaii and Japan.

“It is very unusual activity and we are trying to find out what is causing it,” said Mario Pardo, deputy head of the seismology center at the University of Chile.



See rest of story HERE

A “paper town” which for a time was real

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An interesting story I saw on NPR’s webpage today about a fake town that for a time became real. And it was all based on a map design trick used to prevent copies of maps from being spread around without permission.

An Imaginary Town Becomes Real, Then Not. True Story
March 18, 2014 4:43 PM

This is the story of a totally made-up place that suddenly became real — and then, strangely, undid itself and became a fantasy again. Imagine Pinocchio becoming a real boy and then going back to being a puppet. That’s what happened here — but this is a true story.

It’s about a place in upstate New York called Agloe. You can see it here, circled in blue …



… just up the road from Roscoe and Rockland.

In the 1930s (I learned from Frank Jacobs’ excellent blog, Strange Maps), there was no town on that stretch between Rockland and nearby Beaverkill — just a dirt road. This wasn’t an important or often visited place, which made it a perfect spot for what’s called a “paper town,” or a map “trap.”

Check out the full story HERE.

Los Angeles Earthquake: Video of news anchors ducking for cover

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For more info on the quake, which was a magnitude 4.4, see the map below and the link HERE. I’ve been in a 6.8 before (in Seattle), so 4.4 is pretty low on the scale of severity. But, you never quite know what’s going to happen in the first few moments of the quake, so dropping and taking cover is always good practice for the big one!