Are you earthquake prepared?

Wednesday morning a large earthquake hit Southern California — initial reports saying it had a 6.4 magnitude and could be felt in Las Vegas.

Are you earthquake prepared Washington Emergency Management photo

Washington Emergency Management (WEM) took the opportunity to remind folks on how to be prepared for an earthquake.

If you feel an earthquake, drop, cover and hold, WEM said in a tweet. If you feel shaking and you’re near the coast, get to high ground right away. WEM says to assume a tsunami is on the way and don’t wait for sirens to get higher.

Read entire post Are you earthquake prepared? | KOMO News
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A tale of two wildfires: devastation highlights California’s stark divide

California’s catastrophic wildfires – 25,000 homes destroyed over the last 18 months – have exposed and in some cases reinforced the socioeconomic inequalities that rend this state-nation of 40 million people.

If Malibu, where some residents were rescued by yacht, defines one side of the class fault line, Paradise, where many tried unsuccessfully to flee on foot, clearly represented the other.

The median value of the homes destroyed in Malibu was $3,470,000; in Paradise, $200,000. One location is universally enviable; the other was affordable. Although both communities were relatively geriatric, with double the California average of over-65s, the Sierra Nevada foothill city of 27,000 also housed an extraordinary number of people with officially recognized disabilities, almost one-fifth of the under-65 population.

Read entire article A tale of two wildfires: devastation highlights California’s stark divide | Mike Davis | The Guardian

Why it’s so hard to help pets in natural disasters

The Camp Fire started with a spark — and, thanks to the wind, it turned into a terrifying blaze in a matter of hours. The fire burned so fast that evacuation orders sometimes couldn’t keep up.

With thousands of structures destroyed and a growing death toll, the Camp Fire is the deadliest blaze in California history — and in addition to human victims, it’s claimed a number of animals, as well.

Among those who survived, some are safely sheltering with their people or settled into foster homes, but thousands more are being picked up and cared for by rescue groups. The process of reuniting pets and humans may take weeks or months, and it will involve an extended sheltering and rescue effort. In Santa Rosa, California, where a massive wildfire tore through the city last October, rescuers are still trapping “fire cats” and helping them get home to their people.

Read entire article Why It’s So Hard to Help Pets in Natural Disasters | Care2

Entire city of Malibu evacuated as fires race through Southern California

The largest of the two blazes, the Woolsey Fire, grew to more than 70,000 acres on Saturday after spreading south from Simi Valley in Ventura County to Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County, where the flames jumped the 101 Freeway and continued burning toward the Malibu area. That stretch of the freeway was shut down in both directions on Friday.

The massive blaze was still zero percent contained Saturday morning, though hundreds of firefighters were working around the clock to quell the flames, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

Two people have been found dead in an area of Los Angeles County where the Woolsey Fire is burning. Autopsies will determine whether the circumstances of the deaths were fire-related, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Read entire article Entire city of Malibu evacuated as fires race through Southern California | Mark Osborne | ABC

Girl Scouts alerted to possible data breach

Reports suggest that as many as 2800 girl scouts in Orange County may have been affected in an incident which lasted just a day.

Is your organization GDPR compliant? Find out more about the Certified Data Protection Officer trainingAffected information could include names, email and home addresses, driver’s license details, insurance policy numbers and health history information.

Those hit by the breach were contacted last week.

They were told that the attack began on September 30 when an unauthorized third party gained access to an official Girl Scouts Orange County Travel email account, which was used to “send emails to others” — presumably phishing emails.

> Read entire article Girl Scouts alerted to possible data breach | Phil Muncaster | InfoSecurity

Ransomware casts anchor at the Port of San Diego

A cybersecurity incident at the Port of San Diego was first announced on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, but CEO Randa Coniglio announced on September 27, 2018, that the event was actually a ransomware attack on the port, which oversees more than 34 miles of coastline along San Diego Bay.

The port remains open, but the attack has disrupted the agency’s information technology systems. According to the press release, the port is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the investigation and remains in close communication and coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Normal port operations continued despite the attack on the network systems. “Public safety operations are ongoing, and ships and boats continue to access the bay without impacts from the cybersecurity incident. While some of the port’s information technology systems were compromised by the attack, port staff also proactively shut down other systems out of an abundance of caution,” Coniglio continued.

> Read entire article Ransomware casts anchor at the Port of San Diego | InfoSecurity

His house survived a devastating wildfire. Now, it’s an island in the ashes.

Local resident Gerald Buhrz remembers that night vividly, having only just narrowly escaped with his wife to safety. When the flames subsided, he returned to find that nearly every home in his close-knit neighborhood of Fountaingrove was destroyed by the fires. Every home, that is, except one.

Wildfires ravage Northern California with shocking speed

Seventeen wildfires raged Tuesday across parts of seven counties. Fire crews and other resources were being rushed in from other parts of the state and Nevada.

More than 240 members of the California National Guard helped ferry fuel to first responders because so many gas stations were without power. Guard members were also helping with medical evacuations and security at evacuation centres, said Maj. Gen. David Baldwin

In addition to knocking out electricity, the blazes damaged or destroyed 77 cellular sites, disrupting communication services that officials were rushing to restore, said Emergency Operations Director Mark Ghilarducci.

The fires that started Sunday night moved so quickly that thousands of people were forced to flee with only a few minutes of warning. Some did not get out in time.

In Washington, USA President said he spoke with Gov. Jerry Brown to “let him know that the federal government will stand with the people of California. And we will be there for you in this time of terrible tragedy and need.”

The government declared a disaster, which should give the state help putting out the flames.

It was unusual for so many fires to take off at the same time. Other than the windy conditions that helped drive them all, there was no known connection between the blazes, and authorities have not cited a cause for any of them.

Read complete article Wildfires leave chimneys, charred appliances in their wake | CTV News

Longer, fiercer fire seasons the new normal with climate changes

Firefighters in the West are starting to see it every year: an earlier start to the fire season and millions of acres of forest and range burned or ablaze as the summer just begins to heat up.

At least 60 large blazes are currently devouring parts of the West, threatening to make 2017 a record-breaking wildfire year and adding to the 3.4 million acres already burned this year. As early as April, wildfires had scorched more than 2 million acres in the United States—nearly the average consumed in entire fire seasons during the 1980s. At least 20 new, large fires have ignited in the West in the last days, forcing thousands of people from their homes.

The new normal with climate changes

“All the wildfires out West at the moment—it’s exploding,” said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist in the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “It was the same last July, with fires all the way up to Alaska.”

mwildfiresuswest201707112-529pxForest ecologists and climate scientists say this is the new normal—what the fire historian Stephen Pyne has called the “pyrocene”—and recent research has solidly linked it to human activity. A study last year found that human-caused climate change had nearly doubled the amount of forest burned in the West since 1984.

“Dry periods are getting drier, and the risk of wildfire is greater as a consequence of climate change,” Trenberth said. “There’s a tremendous amount of fuel out there waiting for the right conditions. Whatever conditions exists, they’re always exacerbated by climate change. There’s always that heat variable, the increased risk.”

Dry conditions and drought have contributed to huge wildfire seasons over the past decade, including a record-breaking season in 2015 when over 10 million acres burned.

Fire season gets costlier, not just in the West

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The expanded fire season stretches from early spring to late fall, and in some areas, even longer. The length of the season, along with bigger, more intense fires, is taxing budgets.

The U.S. Forest Service, which is under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, dedicated half of its budget to fighting fires in 2015, exceeding 50 percent for the first time in its 112-year history. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joked that it should be called the “Fire Service.”

In the West, they used to talk about a fire season,” Trenberth said. “The fire season used to be 60 days, then 90 days, and now they think it’s year-round. There’s no pause.”

The mountainous West isn’t the only area that’s becoming increasingly vulnerable. Earlier this year, nearly 1.6 million acres of forest and grassland burned in the Plains and the Southeast, across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Florida and the Carolinas.

Those blazes came on the heels of an already bad 2016 in the Southeast, where hundreds of thousand of acres burned across Appalachia after an especially dry summer turned forests into kindling. Climate scientists say conditions in the Southeast will likely get worse, largely because forests in that region need more water than those in the West and they’re not getting it. Making matters worse, communities in the Southeast usually aren’t well equipped to battle blazes and are more densely populated.

Source: Inside Climate News

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U.S. rice farmers turn sustainability into Carbon Credits, and Microsoft is first to buy

By changing how they use water, rice growers in Arkansas, Mississippi and California cut their methane emissions and opened a door for agriculture in carbon markets.

The world’s largest software maker made a novel purchase recently—from a handful of rice farmers.

Microsoft bought carbon offsets from rice farmers in Arkansas, Mississippi and California who had worked for the better part of the last 10 years to implement conservation measures on their farms. Through a complicated measurement and verification process, these conservation steps ultimately translated to carbon offsets purchased by the software giant.

The transaction this month was the first of its kind and, in the complex and controversial world of carbon markets, it represents a milestone for agriculture.

“Now we know what it takes to do this,” said Debbie Reed, director of the Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, a group that works with agricultural producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “It’s not symbolic, so much as proof-of-concept.”

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A novel program for sustainably grown rice is opening the door for U.S. agriculture to participate in carbon trading markets. These rice fields are near Sacramento, California.

For years, researchers, advocacy groups and private-sector environment-focused investment groups have eyed agriculture’s potential contribution in carbon markets to help address climate change. But carbon trading is complex under any circumstances, and particularly so when the entities generating the offsets grow rice or corn or raise cows. Measuring emissions—or, rather, emissions reductions—accurately and consistently from agricultural sources can be more complicated than for wind energy or solar power projects.

“Developing a protocol with farmers that’s verifiable and rigorous enough so you can sell it in the market—that takes a long time,” Reed said.

Rice production emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas with significantly more warming power than carbon dioxide over a shorter period, though there is far less of it in the atmosphere. Globally, methane accounts for about 16% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. The largest human-caused methane source is the oil and gas industry (about 33%), but raising livestock comes a close second (27%), and rice production alone contributes 9% of methane emissions.

Much of the methane emitted in the rice production process comes because of the way rice is grown—immersed in water, creating ripe conditions for the bacteria that emit methane. But researchers have found that “dry seeding” the rice, or planting the rice before the field is flooded, alternating between dry and wet periods and draining the field earlier in the season can reduce methane buildup.

Source: Inside Climate News

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California’s Ventura fault could cause more damage than previously suspected

Researchers find that the fault has a staircase-like structure, which would result in stronger shaking and more damage during an earthquake.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — A new study by a team of researchers, including one from the University of California, Riverside, found that the fault under Ventura, Calif., would likely cause stronger shaking during an earthquake and more damage than previously suspected.

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The figure shows the location of the Ventura-Pitas Point fault with respect to the cities involved. The view is of Southern California, as seen from the Pacific coast looking east. The thin white line is the coastline; the outlines of the Channel Islands can be seen off to the right (the south). The pink triangulated surface is the Ventura-Pitas Point fault. At the edge of it can be seen the stair-step cross-section, the flat part being under Santa Barbara.

The Ventura-Pitas Point fault in southern California has been the focus of a lot of recent attention because it is thought to be capable of magnitude 8 earthquakes. It underlies the city of Ventura and runs offshore, and thus may be capable of generating tsunamis.
Since it was identified as an active and potentially dangerous fault in the late 1980s, there has been a controversy about its location and geometry underground, with two competing models.

Originally, researchers assumed the fault was planar and steeply dipping, like a sheet of plywood positioned against a house, to a depth of about 13 miles. But a more recent study, published in 2014, suggested the fault had a “ramp-flat geometry,” with a flat section between two tilting sections, similar to a portion of a staircase.

Source: www.ucr.edu

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Oroville Dam risk: Thousands ordered to evacuate homes

More than 180,000 people in northern California have been told to evacuate their homes after both overflow channels at the tallest dam in the US were found to be damaged.

The emergency spillway of the 770ft (230m) tall Oroville Dam was close to collapse, officials said.

The excess water has now stopped flowing. However, late on Sunday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the evacuation orders remained in place.

Water levels in the reservoir have risen following heavy rain and snow after years of severe drought. It is the first time that Lake Oroville, which lies 65 miles (105km) north of Sacramento, has experienced such an emergency in the dam’s near 50-year history.

In a statement posted on social media on Sunday afternoon, Mr Honea ordered residents to evacuate, repeating three times that it was “NOT a drill”.