4.9-magnitude earthquake rocks parts of Southern California by Shane Newell, Palm Springs Desert Sun•A 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck near Anza, California, which rattled parts of Southern California on Friday.The temblor struck at 6:53 p.m. about 10 miles east of Anza, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicenter was near the Santa Rosa Mountain and Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. It was felt strongly in Palm Springs, shaking homes, and many other communities. From the time of the initial quake to 9:07 p.m., there were eight aftershocks that ranged in magnitude from 2.6 to 3.7.The Anza quake was initially measured as a 4.64 temblor. There have been no initial reports of damage, Riverside County officials said on Twitter. Debra Hovel, a Palm Springs resident who is a co-founder of Makerville, an artist studio and retreat near Anza off Highway 74, felt the tremor.“Wow!” she said. „We just never feel quakes at Makerville. Sitting (at) our dining room table in the studio, we watched as paintings fell to the floor and we wondered if a bomb had fallen. Happily, it all ended quickly.”Barry Zander called it the biggest jolt he’s experienced in nine years in Idyllwild.Minutes after the initial temblor, a magnitude 2.5 quake was recorded in Bombay Beach on the shore of the Salton Sea according to USGS. „Sounded as if someone rolled around in our attic,” said Uwe Martin of Bombay Beach.Lucy Jones, a California-based seismologist, said on Twitter the Anza tremor was near and perhaps on the San Jacinto fault, which spans more than 120 miles and is near communities such as San Bernardino, Hemet, Anza and Borrego Springs.”The San Jacinto near Anza has had many M~5 quakes over the last few decades,” she wrote.She later wrote about not needing to worry about the temblor triggering an event on the San Andreas fault. „A M4.9 can only affect an area a few miles across,” she wrote. „But the San Jacinto fault itself is capable of major M≥7 quakes and the chance of a quake on the San Jacinto is now increased. The chance of a quake of M≥6 is less than 1%.”
Follow Shane Newell @journoshane.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: 4.9-magnitude quake hits near Anza; felt in Palm Springs
ICYMI: Tornado-battered community comes to doctor’s aid, powerful quake in the Rockies and how COVID-19 could impact weather forecasting by Staff•Over the past week, several tornadoes wreaked havoc across the central and southern portions of the country. A doctor working day in and day out to save COVID-19 patients had a heartbreaking encounter with one of them, but the very community he works to protect is stepping up to help him out. Meanwhile, it was a snowy start to April in one region, and Idaho was rocked by its strongest earthquake in decades.Before we take a look at the major weather news of this week, it’s only right to start with a recap of last weekend, when terrifying conditions unfolded across the central United States.
At least 22 people were reportedly hurt after a destructive EF3 tornado violently shredded through Jonesboro, Arkansas, with winds up to 140 mph. Several people nearby shared clips on social media as the twister ripped its path through the city. Given the scale of the mess left in its wake, it’s a miracle that no one was killed.
|Tornado damage at the Mall at Turtle Creek in Jonesboro, Arkansas. (Image/Jonesboro Police Department)|
The death toll would surely have been higher than zero if coronavirus-related closures hadn’t been in effect across the city, according to Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin. „It’s a blessing in disguise,” Perrin said. The Jonesboro tornado was one of two dozen that were reported across several states between Saturday and Sunday.
The twisters stemmed from the rounds of severe thunderstorms that pummeled the southern Plains and the Ohio Valley on March 28, prompting tornado watches from Illinois to Mississippi that lasted through the night. Along with those damaging tornadoes, people in the path of these conditions had to deal with golf ball-sized hail and powerful winds.
Henderson County, Kentucky, got slammed with an EF2 tornado before 8 p.m. on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Paducah. No one was hurt, but the tornado knocked down electrical poles and trees with its 115-mph winds. Another EF1 twister touched down in Lincoln, Illinois, for a few minutes at 9 p.m. Saturday.
You can read the storm reports from the severe weather last weekend by clicking here.
While lives were fortunately not lost in the Jonesboro tornado, hundreds of families were left to lament over whatever was left of their damaged homes and belongings. Officials said about 150 residences were either mostly or completely destroyed, Jonesboro’s KAIT-TV reported.
One of those people was an Arkansas doctor, risking his health around the clock to help others as he fights the coronavirus pandemic on the front lines. Dr. Jared Burks and his 1-year-old son, Zeke, went viral in a heartwarming yet heartbreaking photo on his quick visit home on break from yet another grueling shift. He had been living away from his family for over two weeks as he worked to save lives.
Look who we finally got to see today! Not going to pretend that I didn’t bawl like a baby when he left to go back to…
Posted by Alyssa Burks on Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Days later, their family’s home was ripped apart. His wife and child were at her mother’s house, but Burks was inside his home as the tornado swiftly approached. He barely had time to make it to safety.
„By the time I got in the closet, it was about 30 seconds, and I just started hearing glass breaking, the walls started shaking, my ears started popping and the house felt like it lifted up and fell back down,” Burks told ABC 15 News in Alabama. „I was thinking, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to die.'”
Burks escaped with his life – but his home was demolished. „We are all safe. Our house is gone. Jared was inside, but he survived by the grace of God. Please pray for us as we begin to pick up the pieces,” Alyssa Burks posted on Facebook Saturday night. As of April 3, the Go Fund Me page set up to assist the family had far exceeded its $2,500 goal, raising over $122,000 thanks to the help of generous donors.
Tornado activity continued into the week, with at least three of them inflicting damage upon buildings and structures in Alabama on March 31, the NWS confirmed.
A large tornado was spotted on the ground that day near Eufaula. The tornado spun across U.S. Highway 431 and damaged some power lines and buildings along the way.
NWS meteorologists say that the damage it left behind was consistent with that of an EF2. Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs believes about 15 homes were damaged, and he reported just one minor injury, according to WSFA-TV.
Later on Tuesday, a historic earthquake shook Idaho with such strength that the rattling was felt in Utah, Washington, Utah, Nevada – even Canada. The Gem State hasn’t experienced one this powerful since 1983’s deadly Borah Peak earthquake.
The epicenter of Tuesday’s 6.5-magnitude earthquake was about 78 miles northeast of Boise. It struck at 5:52 p.m. local time, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The Boise Police Department reported no damage, but people could certainly see the impacts of the earthquake.
One woman says she felt it over 500 miles away in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, showing her swaying chandelier in a Twitter video.
The NWS office in Boise reported that the strong quake was the second-largest to occur globally within the 30-day period before it struck.
The snow that dumped inches upon inches over the northern Plains at the start of April was no joke. The higher elevations up in the mountainous areas received the most of it.
|A snowy and steamy scene in Yellowstone National Park on Thursday morning. (NPS)|
Wyoming’s mountains, for instance, were covered with between 10 and 20 inches of snow, while a mountain north of Cooke City, Montana, was hit with 23 inches – the highest snow total reported in the region.
The snow made its way eastward into the Dakotas by Thursday morning. On Wednesday, Rapid City, South Dakota, received a record-setting 6.5 inches of snow, which the city’s NWS office says makes it the snowiest start to April on record.
The far-reaching impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have revealed themselves in all kinds of ways over the past several weeks. Now, it appears that reliable weather forecasting could also take a hit thanks to a decline in the number of research aircrafts taking flight.
|Passenger and cargo aircraft are seen stored at Southern California Logistics Airport, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Victorville, California. As demand for air travel drops amid the coronavirus outbreak, commercial aircraft are being parked at facilities that include remote desert airports, including the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)|
Those planes collect crucial temperature and wind data that aid in improving the initial atmospheric conditions that drive global and regional weather forecast models, AccuWeather’s John Roach reported. National weather centers all over the world use that data to make forecasts more accurate.
„We will likely see the biggest impacts on our ability to forecast convective weather, such as thunderstorms and other local storms, just as we are approaching severe weather season in the Northern Hemisphere,” said AccuWeather’s Scott Mackaro, vice president of Science, Innovation and Development.Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
What’s open and closed this weekend? Trails, parks, beaches in Southern California
Southern Californians can still walk, hike and bike outdoors without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, but public agencies are urging residents to stay home as much as possible, and many are urging people to wear masks outside.
The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday that it will close 23 well-used San Gabriel mountain trails, four popular trailheads and 19 roads in Angeles National Forest and keep them closed through April 30. The closures includes the popular Millard, San Antonio Falls, Icehouse Canyon and North Devil’s Backbone trailheads and amount to 81.5 miles of trails and 54.5 miles of roads (details in a separate article and below).
Also this weekend, the National Park Service will close all Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area trails, trailheads, restrooms, overlooks and pullouts in Ventura County, and then reopen them Monday, when crowds are thinner.
That move, announced Tuesday, covers Rancho Sierra Vista (including the Wendy Trailhead); Cheeseboro Canyon Trailhead; the Deer Creek area; and all trails within Circle X, which includes Sandstone Creek, Mishe Mokwa, the Grotto Trail, the trails and overlooks along Yerba Buena Road and the Backbone Trail along the spine of the Santa Monicas. (Details below.)
Though L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday suspended operations of the city’s farmers markets, on Wedneday the city approved reopening of 24 markets, including the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market, that had put stricter social-distancing measures in place.
Garcetti also closed the Silver Lake Meadow, a grassy space next to the Silver Lake Reservoir. The same day, Pasadena city officials closed the Rose Bowl Loop, a popular 3.1-mile-long walking path around the famed stadium.Meanwhile, throughout the region, neighborhood sidewalks, streets and stairwells are seeing many walkers now that L.A. County has closed beaches and local, state and federal agencies have closed or severely limited access to parks, trails and forests.
Pandemic hurts ability of nations to face natural disasters by NICK PERRY•
What has changed for the worse, however, is the ability of nations to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. Not only that, but experts also fear the usual protocols for coping with the aftermath of such disasters could further spread the virus, compounding the death toll from both.
Carlos Valdés, who dealt with two major earthquakes during five years until 2018 as Mexico’s disaster response director, said that during his tenure, the Mexican government did not have any protocols for dealing with simultaneous disasters like an earthquake and a pandemic.
“That is a scenario that we hadn’t even contemplated,” he said.
Valdés, a seismologist who now works in Costa Rica, said he has since sent Mexican authorities his thoughts on how to handle such a situation. Among other things, he said, is the need to reserve one hospital for earthquake victims to separate them from infectious coronavirus patients.
But whether Mexico has taken action on such ideas remains unclear. Xyoli Pérez, the head of the National Seismological Service, said experts who monitor quakes can work from home during the pandemic but she didn’t address whether they had specific procedures for a dual disaster.
Some natural disasters are predictable, like the wildfires that scorch California most summers. But already, the virus has hindered preparations there after a particularly dry winter.
The U.S. Forest Service has canceled its planned seasonal burns. The hundreds of firefighters who come to assist each year from other countries may not be able to travel. And the camps that usually house thousands of firefighters from across the U.S. pose a big risk of spreading the virus.
“Picture several hundred tents on a football pitch, rows of porta potties, shared kitchens, and crews of 15 people getting on a bus with all their equipment,” said Michael Wara, the director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at Stanford University. “Well, with this virus, you can’t put 15 people on a bus. They’re really trying to do a rethink, and they have not yet gotten to the end of that process.”
Earthquakes are also an ever-present risk in California, Wara says, but officials haven’t yet thought through alternatives to their evacuation plans, which typically involve sheltering hundreds of people together in places like school gymnasiums, another situation primed to spread the virus.
Perhaps most concerning, Wara says, is that hospitals and medical staff swamped with virus patients may not be able to cope with additional victims from a natural disaster.
Japan is prone to devastating earthquakes and tsunamis. But a disaster management official in the Cabinet Office headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that while they have protocols for infectious diseases, they haven’t yet developed a specific disaster plan to account for the coronavirus.
In Japan, schools and community centers are often used as shelters during disasters. Hundreds of people cram into confined spaces with little ventilation and questionable hygiene.
The disaster official said one option to slow the spread of the new virus in such situations might be to use easy-to-assemble cardboard beds and partitions. The Cabinet Office is also considering new ways to spread out evacuees, into places like hotels, or corporate gyms.
One of the world’s most disaster-prone nations is the Philippines. It is typically lashed by about 20 typhoons and storms each year and has regular volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Often entire villages are moved to emergency shelters such as gyms or basketball courts.
Even without a pandemic, the shelters can be troubled by overcrowding, inadequate sanitation, and poor medical services.
“It will complicate the situation,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said of the virus. “But whatever disaster comes, we’ll face it.”
He said they would try to maintain social distancing during a natural disaster “as much as possible.”
Even some of the top disaster officials in the Philippines remain in quarantine because they’ve contracted the virus or have been exposed to it. It’s a problem playing out around the world, with the virus afflicting leaders like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
One of the first natural disasters during the pandemic occurred on March 22 when a magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck Croatia’s capital, Zagreb.
The quake killed a 15-year-old girl, injured at least 27 other people and caused panic during a partial lockdown. People fleeing their shaking homes had little choice but to ignore the official advice of avoiding public areas like parks and squares.
In the end, the city’s preparedness for the pandemic helped them deal quickly with the quake. The military was mobilized to evacuate damaged hospitals.
Some Zagreb residents said the quake took priority over the virus: get out of your home first, worry about grabbing a mask later. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic noted that “we have two parallel crises that contradict each other.”
Ardern said that as leader of an earthquake-prone country sometimes called the Shaky Isles, she is always planning for the possibility of earthquakes. She said social distancing protocols would clearly need to be sacrificed by any crews who responded to a big quake.
“Of course, at that point, you’re in a position of wanting to make sure that you are saving lives,” she said.
But saving lives from a natural disaster that requires people working shoulder-to-shoulder and protecting people from a virus by requiring them to keep their distance is a dilemma that many countries are only just beginning to contemplate.
Associated Press writers Mark Stevenson in Mexico City, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, and Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.
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