Invest in GOMEX; World Watch

There is a tropical low just off the coast of Texas, with winds just below tropical depression strength.  Here’s this morning’s satellite image and a few tracks:al98_thu

Mostly just a rain and gust wind thing for south Texas/North Mexico coasts.  Otherwise just watching Cristobal (which is now headed back towards Iceland and a possible Hurricano!) and the Bárðarbunga volcano.

Nice overview of Bárðarbunga Volcano

The Icelandic Met Service (which monitors their volcanos) has a very nice overview of their volcanic systems here.

For a while yesterday it looked like Hurricane Cristobal would reach Iceland as an intact system, although it is veering south now.  If so we might have had a Hurricano, or Volicane.  Either way, I claim these two names, so if SyFy wants to do a cheesy movie, they got to talk to me first!  Interestingly, there is a (small) correlation between earthquakes and hurricanes (Hurriquakes – again, I claim this name).  The storm surge, pressure differences, and lubrication from rain infiltration can cause differential stresses on faults that sometimes trigger quakes.  It is thought by some that the great quake in Jamaica that destroyed the pirate haven of Port Royal might have been triggered by a bypassing storm.

Update on Napa California EQ Estimates

After crunching the numbers a bit more the models seem to be settling down to a total impact number of around $4 Billion.  The big question many have is how much of that will be covered by insurance.  One modeling firm (EQECAT) is saying $0.5 to $1 Billion. My estimates for insured losses are now hovering in the $1.5 Billion range, but that includes more business interruption, tourism, and inventory impacts than I suspect EQECAT included.

So just how bad was this event?  Well, if it was your house or business that was damaged, pretty bad.  But from the perspective of the state of California, and even the SF Bay Area, this was not a major event.  If the $4 Billion impact number holds up, that is less than 1% of the GDP of the Bay Area, and only 0.2% of the GDP of the state as a whole, so while not minimizing the impact this had on the people harmed by the event, it is a local, rather than even a regional or national event from an economics perspective.

A few articles are surfacing that quote KAC such as Bloomberg Business News (shameless plug: KAC provides data to them so it’s a great subscription).  Did several other interviews today.

Doomwatch 2014 Continues

After yesterday’s earthquakes in California and Peru, today is starting off quiet.  Tropical Storm Cristobal is moving out of the Bahamas and is forecast to move between North Carolina and Bermuda.  It’s hard to pick out of the system it is embedded in:

There is a weak tropical wave that is being tracked (AL97), but no signs of spinning up any time soon.  In the Pacific, the West (asian side) is creepy quiet.  On the East (Mexico) side, Maria is a very powerful hurricane, and the long-lived Karina, now a tropical storm, meanders in the outflow.  Here’s the big picture:

There continues to be a cluster of moderate earthquakes on the Iran/Iraq border, here shown with some Iranian nuclear development sites shown:

As a reminder, our R&D system updates the status of tropical cyclones (hurricanes, typhoons, etc), earthquakes, and volcanoes hourly here.

Miami Herald: fear mongers. Again.

The Miami Herald just published a headline, “Tropical Storm Cristobal forms near Bahamas, may threaten Florida“.  Um, ok, if “may” means “is turning away from Florida and none of the reliable models shows it getting anywhere near Florida” or “it just took a sharp turn away from the US and isn’t likely to cause anything except rockin’ waves for the surfer dudes and dudettes”.   Here’s the latest computer model outputs; the orange square is the current (8 am) fix:

Hurricane reporting has just gotten ridiculous.  The TV actors doing the weather practically soil themselves with excitement over every cloud in the ocean this time of year, and every storm “could” or “may” hit the US.  It’s unseemly.

San Francisco earthquake: Model Impact Estimates $400 Million to $2 BIllion

The second model suite is showing lower damage estimates than the initial model run.  The “Primary” model is indicating $1.7 Billion, with a range of around $400 Million to $2 Billion, average right at $1 Billion.  These may be a bit high given the event happened on a Sunday morning and the economic impact side is probably a little high. We’ll see as the damage reports come in.

Update: Earthquake damage estimates are highly dependent on what is called the “attenuation function” or AF, also called the ground motion function.  Simplified a bit, this is the rate at which the ground shaking decreases as the distance from the fault rupture increases.  For this earthquake it is especially tricky.  First, there are two main “families” of AF, for large and small earthquakes.  This earthquake falls right on the borderline of those two families.  Second, California is geologically complex and, finally, parts are virtually uninhabited right next to densely populated areas, small differences in position and depth make a big difference in projected damage.  The full range of AF that we have run so far this morning (14 models) gives a range of from $400 Million to nearly $10 Billion in impacts!  The best estimate is between $1 and $3 Billion at the moment.  As more seismic data is processed, and actual damage observations come in we can refine those estimates.

9:30am ET Update: With the updated magnitude (6.05), depth, and position, the average of the 15 models that make sense to run for this event are hovering at around $3 Billion in impacts, although the range is quite large, from just under $1 Billion to over $10 Billion, and our “primary” single model is at over $6 Billion (which, again, maybe be ‘hot’ due to the time of day and that it is a Sunday).

Significant earthquake near San Francisco


A near 6.0 shallow earthquake has occurred northeast of San Francisco at 6:20 am ET.  The quick-look model shows nearly $5 Billion in damage and 2 to 4 million people in the zone of greatest risk.  UPDATE: The full suite of model runs lowered the estimate quite a bit, to between $400 Million and $3 Billion, average around $1 Billion.  Scary place to have an earthquake – could have been much much worse.

Ash pattern forecast from potential Bárðarbunga eruption

The Icelandic Met Office has detected a small lava eruption under the Dyngjujökull glacier.  If it melts through to the surface (it is under between 150 and 400 meters of ice), an eruption could spew steam and ash high enough to disrupt transatlantic and European air traffic.  If it blows in the next few hours (around Noon US time), here is a forecast of where the ash from an eruption might go over the next 48 hours:

I ran this forecast  using a modified version of the Advanced Research WRF model (ARW); the graphics were generated by the VAPOR package.  And, yes , there is an animation . . .