Update info

Updated every Friday.

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17

What happened this week?

A week of severe weather across North, Central and South America.
On Nov 13, media reported wind storms on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, and on Nov 12, powerful winds and rain affecting the greater Seattle area, Bellevue, Tacoma, Bremerton, and Olympia in the state of Washington, United States.

Read more on severe weather in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras and Uruguay 

Earthquake in Central America. As of Nov 15, the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies had  registered 373 earthquakes in Central America within the past 10 days. The earthquakes have been recorded in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. On Nov 14, the Costa Rica National Seismological Network reported 147 aftershocks related to the earthquake that occurred near Jacó, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica on  Nov 12.
Interesting Facts

Trees older than dinosaurs are found in Antarctica. These trees might have disappeared due to a massive increase of green house gasses in the atmosphere. Are we paying enough attention to paleoclimate? ... Read more

Archeology and El Niño: Paleoclimate records and lessons learned. Dr. Ana Cecilia Mauricio of the Pontific Catholic University of Peru explains the geoarcheological evidence about El Niño at the special panel on Climate Change during the VIII Regional Meeting on International Humanitarian Assistance Mechanisms in LAC. ... Read more

Peru fans celebrated 2018 World Cup finals qualification so wildly that earthquake alerts were sparked. When Jefferson Farfan opened the scoring in Lima on 28 minutes the party started with such force that seismic-measuring apps sent out warnings. ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

The case for linking disaster response to community resilience. With companies from Walmart to DHL stating their commitment to the welfare of the communities they serve, there is an opportunity for the private sector to lead the way in increasing small-business and community resilience during and after disaster events. ... Read more

New research could predict La Nina drought years in advance. Two new studies from the University of Texas at Austin have significantly improved scientists' ability to predict the strength and duration of droughts caused by La Niña - a recurrent cooling pattern in the tropical Pacific Ocean. ... Read more

UN, Stakeholders Launch Initiatives to Promote Risk Management and Transfer, Climate Insurance. Risk management and transfer-related initiatives announced at the UN Climate Change Conference include a risk transfer information hub, a climate insurance initiative and a programme to help investors better manage climate risks. ... Read more



Friday, November 3, 2017

November 3

New and Updates
from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

What happened this week?

Day of the Dead: Juchitan remembers earthquake victims. At least 37 people were killed in the massive tremor, and one out of three homes were left uninhabitable in the city of 75,000. ... Read more

Interesting Facts

FEMA: Disaster Relief Costing $200M Each Day. At a meeting with Congress Tuesday, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the cost of the multiple disasters are putting a strain on government resources. ... Read more

Sonoma County fire now tied for costliest in California history. The Tubbs Fire that ripped through Sonoma County caused just under $2.8 billion in losses, state officials said Tuesday, making it one of the two costliest blazes in California history. ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

What Happens to the Internet After a Disaster? The first challenge to communications in a major storm is power outages. Cell towers don’t do much when you can’t turn them on. Next is damage to the network infrastructure itself. ... Read more

Community input sought for natural disaster plan. Having an emergency plan helps the region secure funding before and after natural disasters hit, saving lives. ... Read more

10 ways to secure your business before disaster strikes. Natural disasters can ravage homes, cities, and communities. Businesses too are at risk, not just from Mother Nature, but from digital breaches, break-ins, even burglary. ... Read more


Friday, October 13, 2017

October 13

What happened this week?

Death toll from Northern California fires jumps to 31; names of 10 victims released. Fire crews began to make slow progress against wildfires that have killed at least 31 people in Northern California’s wine country as officials continued the grim search for more bodies amid the ashes. ... Read more

Storm Nate: At least 22 dead in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Tropical Storm Nate has killed at least 22 people in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. It caused heavy rains, landslides and floods which blocked roads, destroyed bridges and damaged houses. ... Read more

Puerto Rico hasn’t nearly recovered from Maria, but now it’s facing deadly mudslides. As if recovering from a Category 4 hurricane wasn’t enough, Puerto Rico continues to battle unfavorable weather — the understatement of the year. ... Read more

Interesting Facts

Historic patterns point to 2025 drought. Based on historic weather patterns, the Midwestern United States can expect the drought of the century around 2025, according to Elwynn Taylor, a climatologist for Iowa State University Extension, Ames. ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

What Needs to be Done to Stop Wildfires in Drought-Killed Forests. A century of fire suppression followed by the worst drought in recorded history has put California’s forest landscapes and water supply at risk. A study led by Van Butsic of U.C. Berkeley proposes a new way to manage forests. ... Read more

Building a climate-resilient Puerto Rico 'from scratch'. Intelligent people can debate the extent to which climate change caused Hurricane Maria. What is not debatable is the unprecedented damage to the island of Puerto Rico caused by the hurricane, and the need to rebuild much of the island’s infrastructure, buildings and housing. ... Read more


Friday, October 6, 2017

October 6

What happened this week?

Tropical storm kills 20 in C. America, heads for US. A tropical storm churning north along Central America killed at least 20 people in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras on Thursday, with forecasters predicting it could strengthen into a hurricane as it heads for Mexico and the United States. ... Read more

Death toll in Mexico earthquake rises to 369 as last body pulled from rubble. The last body known to be trapped in rubble following Mexico's magnitude 7.1 earthquake has been recovered, officials said Wednesday, and they raised the overall death toll from the quake to 369, an increase of 14 over the previous tally. ... Read more

Interesting Facts

Footage of SF’s Market Street Before and After the 1906 Earthquake. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake remains the #2 deadliest natural disaster in US history, trailing the 1900 Galveston hurricane that struck Texas. ... Read more

'Earthquake swarm' at Yellowstone longest ever recorded, scientists fascinated. Since June 12, seismologists have been recording more than 2,000 earthquakes in the western region of Yellowstone National Park. The latest data puts this ongoing event as the biggest swarm recorded to-date. ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Jamaica to Lead Disaster Relief After Devastating Hurricanes. In a show of regional solidarity with its Caribbean neighbors, the Jamaican government announced it will lead disaster relief in the Caribbean. At a recent U.N. meeting in China, Jamaica's Minister of Tourism Ed Bartlett was named the head of the disaster recovery working group. ... Read more

In Mexico City, Pressure to Prepare for the Next Big Earthquake. The buildings shuddered and rocked in the strongest earthquake in this city’s modern history, and yet they remained upright. Then, exactly 32 years later, they crumpled in seconds, killing 228 people. ... Read more

Friday, September 29, 2017

September 29

Teaching the Science & Rhetoric of Climate Change: Strategies, Pitfalls, and Keeping Your Chin Above Water in Turbulent Times
NOAA Climate Stewards Webinar Series

Monday, October 2, 2017 - 19:30

Monday October 2, at 7:30 pm ET

... Read more

What happened this week?

PM Skerrit Wants to Rebuild a More Resilient Dominica. Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit thanked the international community for help, have made "tremendous progress" since Hurricane Maria hit last week. ... Read more

What every American needs to know about Puerto Rico’s hurricane disaster. There’s still no power on the island, with the exception of generators powering only the highest-priority buildings like hospitals. ... Read more

How Mexico City Is Beginning To Rebuild After The Earthquake. Nearly 4,000 buildings have been reported to have structural damage. More may collapse over coming weeks. It may cost several billion dollars to repair the damage. ... Read more

Interesting Facts

Majority of Americans now say climate change makes hurricanes more intense. A majority of Americans say that global climate change contributed to the severity of recent hurricanes in Florida and Texas, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.  ... Read more

Hidden Costs of Climate Change Running Hundreds of Billions a Year. A new report warns of a high price tag on the impacts of global warming, from storm damage to health costs. But solutions can provide better value, the authors say. ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Hurricane response: Caribbean disaster agency comes of age. Caribbean governments want to be “taken seriously” in humanitarian management, and this year’s hurricane crises are an opportunity for the UN to “let go”. ... Read more

Many Americans think foreign aid is a waste. Puerto Rico shows why it’s not. Every year, USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance draws on part of the foreign aid budget to respond to an average of 65 disasters in more than 50 countries. ... Read more

Climate change burden unfairly borne by world's poorest countries. A flood of climate refugees could be imminent unless the richer nations do more to help poorer ones combat global warming, argues an IMF report. ... Read more

Friday, September 22, 2017

Septiembre 22


Dominica 'in daze' after storm leaves island cut off from world. The first island hit by the full category-five force of Hurricane Maria – is “in a daze”, officials have said, cut off from its Caribbean neighbours in the wake of a storm that destroyed properties, silenced communications and cut power and running water... "I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane,” the prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, wrote on Facebook. ... Read more

In Puerto Rico, the Storm ‘Destroyed Us’. Puerto Rico remained in the throes of chaos and devastation Thursday as the remnants of Hurricane Maria continued to dump rain on the island — up to three feet in some areas. ... Read more

Hurricane Maria rips Caribbean, leaves Puerto Rico powerless for months and trashes Dominican Republic. Hurricane Maria was battering the Dominican Republic on Thursday morning in its deadly tear across the Caribbean -- as the long-term devastation in Puerto Rico was just coming into focus. ... Read more

Mexico Earthquake

Mexico had two major earthquakes this month. Here's why. Both earthquakes seem to be a result of the rupture of fault lines within the North American tectonic plate, according to Behzad Fatahi, associate professor of geotechnical and earthquake engineering at the University of Technology Sydney. ... Read more

Lessons from the devastating Mexico City earthquake of 1985 that were not learned. 'No running. No screaming. No pushing.' A phrase that several generations of Mexicans memorized since little kids. ... Read more

Mexico shrouds its sorrow in solidarity. Mexico's biggest earthquake in more than three decades brought parts of the capital to its knees on Tuesday afternoon. But moments later, as the earth continued to tremble, many of Mexico City's residents stood up and mobilized. ... Read more

What Mexico's earthquake means for California. As we see footage of the devastation in Mexico in the aftermath of the second earthquake that country has suffered this month, people in California might well be wondering how well-prepared their local communities are.  ... Read more

Interesting Facts
Climate Change maximizes atmospheric phenomena. or doesn't? Luis Maisincho, researcher at the Universidad Amazónica Ikiam and the Instituto Nacional de Meteorología e Hidrología (Inamhi), explains that CC has increased the strength of hurricanes since 1960, but not their frequency... Meanwhile, Fernando Mato, scientist and researcher at the Escuela Politécnica del Ejército, explains that the planet is “in a transition period, adjusting to a change in trends”.  ... Read more

The 'triangle of life', the technique that saves you in an earthquake. An expert in search and rescue argues that 'take cover and hold on' may kill you.  ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

We cannot just stand still: Jamaica Tourism to steer UNWTO Disaster Recovery Program for Caribbean. Speaking at a special meeting of the newly convened recovery program, Secretary General of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai said, “We cannot just stand still – it is not right. I hope that we can leave this place with lines of action we can pursue. ” ... Read more

Natural barriers are a key defense against storms like Harvey and Irma. Coastal populations are swelling, which is putting many more people and much more property in harm’s way. What’s seemingly disregarded is that many of these development choices are doubly risky because we are building on top of, and degrading, our first lines of protection — our natural defenses ... Read more

Friday, September 15, 2017

September 15

Irma: The Aftermath

How Hurricane Irma will change the Caribbean. Barbuda has been left completely devastated by Hurricane Irma. Just putting back what the storm took away will not be enough this time. ... Read more

'For first time in 300 years, there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda'. Barbuda has been left completely devastated by Hurricane Irma. An estimated 95% of Barbuda’s structures are damaged, and the entire island of around 1,800 people has been evacuated. ... Read more

The Virgin Islands, After Irma: 'It Was Like Stepping Onto Another Planet'
. Hurricane Irma arrived on the doorstep of the Virgin Islands just over a week ago. A Category 5 storm, historic in its terrible might, Irma shredded homes and hotels into the bare materials that made them, its winds scattering floorboards and roofs and light poles like so many matchsticks. ... Read more

Florida Deaths in Sweltering Nursing Home Show Post-Disaster Perils. Heat is a top killer after hurricanes and disasters cause power outages, said Dr. Thomas Kirsch, director of the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health. Kirsch noted that hundreds of elderly people died in the 1995 Chicago heat wave and when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. ... Read more

What [else] happened this week?

Mexico-Guatemala Earthquake. According to the [BBC], an 8.1-magnitude earthquake on the Richter Scale struck off the Pacific Coast of Mexico--around 87km (54 miles) south-west of Pijijiapan--at 23:50 local time on Thursday, 7 September 2017 (04:50 [GMT] Friday). A tsunami warning was issued for Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras; however, it was later lifted. An estimated 50 million Mexicans felt the tremor per the Mexican government. ... Read more

Mexico quake hit hard at center of Zapotec 'muxe' culture. The quake killed 96 people across Mexico, and it struck hardest in the heartland of Mexico's Zapotec culture — a region famed for deep-rooted feminism, the flamboyant "Tehuana" dresses often worn by Frida Kahlo and for one of its most noted traditional subcultures: the "muxe," people born male who dress and identify as women and who are accepted, even honored, for their contributions. ... Read more
Interesting Facts

Is it unusual to have two strong storms back to back? This isn't the first time two impressive storms have hit in rapid succession. In 1954, Carol and Edna menaced the East Coast within two weeks of each other and were soon followed by Hazel. In 1955, Connie and Diane "struck the North Carolina coast only five days apart," according to the National Hurricane Center. ... Read more

Mysterious lights in the sky seen after Mexico’s huge earthquake. Earthquake lights are a phenomenon so unusual that they border on myth. The first known reports of them are from 89 BC, with spotty descriptions over the centuries. ... Read more

Did Mexico dodge a bullet in last week’s M=8.1 earthquake? It’s now been a little over four days since Mexico’s Chiapas region was struck by a deadly M=8.1 earthquake, the largest earthquake to hit the country in over a century. And a closer look at the dynamics of this event tells us that while it was extremely destructive, it could have been much worse.  ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Houston's 'flood czar' says Harvey has brought the city to a decision point on flood control. Stephen Costello, the city's chief resilience officer, says that "at least some of the money (recovery dollars) should be used to buy up entire neighborhoods that border bayous and have inadequate flood protection and then to turn those areas into green space." ... Read more

Abandon Florida? Not quite. But it’s time for a retreat from flood zones. It's easy to lament Houston’s paved-over floodplains and Tampa Bay's waterfront high-rises, built on terrain that’s barely above sea level — on a good day. When you hear about a house in Houston, assessed at $72,400, that has received more than $1 million in payouts through the federal flood insurance program, it’s only natural to ask, “Why did we ever build there?" ... Read more

Hurricanes Are Just One Kind Of Disaster. Never mind the idea of a 100-year storm — Hurricane Harvey which dumped more than 50 inches of rain on Houston has been called a 1,000-year storm. In its wake at least 60 people lost their lives, more than a million others were uprooted as some 200,000 homes and as many as 500,000 cars were damaged or destroyed. ... Read more

Friday, September 1, 2017

September 1

Hurricane Harvey's aftermath: Live updates

Interesting Facts

Satellite images show Harvey's impact on Texas towns. Although flooding in Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur has received the most attention, newly released satellite images show the storm's impact in other towns ... Read more

In maps: Houston and Texas flooding. Before and after. Imagery from the TerraSAR-X radar satellite shows the extent of flooding up to Monday 28 August ... Read more

Most Harvey flood victims uninsured, face big bills alone. Insurance experts say only a small fraction of homeowners in Harvey's path of destruction have flood insurance ... Read more

What 500-year flooding could look like around five cities. Hundreds of thousands of people live in flood-prone areas like Houston, Miami, New Orleans, Tampa Bay and New York ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Harvey Wasn’t Just Bad Weather. It Was Bad City Planning. Houston exulted in sprawling, hands-off growth. That’s no way to prepare for natural catastrophes ... Read more

Federal agencies, employees surge to Harvey’s devastation. A welcome counterpoint to Mother Nature’s destruction is the human response, the legion of selfless volunteers, charitable organizations and regular folks helping residents survive. Government workers at all levels, including more than
12,400 federal employees as of Wednesday morning, are directly involved with the disaster ... Read more

Who will bear the financial burden for Harvey’s rampage? Not insurance companies. The estimated bills for Harvey are just now trickling in and they are preliminary, but a couple of facts are becoming clear. First, Harvey will be rank among the costliest hurricanes to strike the U.S. Second, a very large portion of the bill will wind up on property owners ... Read more

Friday, August 25, 2017

August 25

Hurricane Harvey: Live updates

As we embrace for hurricane Harvey, we remember the deadliest natural disaster in American history, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 that killed over thousand people and brought forth a new focus on the study of hurricane prediction. On September 8, 1900, a horrific hurricane slammed into the city. Wind speeds surpassed 135 miles per hour, making it a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Storm surges rose 15 feet and, within hours, estimates of 6,000 to 12,000 unwary people were killed and over 3,600 buildings were destroyed. The Galveston Hurricane remains the deadliest natural disaster in United States history. ... Read more
What happened this week?

'Life-threatening' rainfall expected in Texas, hurricane center says. (CNN) Highways in Texas filled with cars Thursday into the night as coastal residents made their way north and out of the path of a hurricane that forecasters say will bring "life-threatening" amounts of rain ... Read more

A Texas-size flood threatens the Gulf Coast, and we’re so not ready. (GRIST) Aug 23. After a period of rapid intensification overnight, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Harvey to hurricane status at noon central time on Thursday. The storm is now expected to reach the coastline near Corpus Christi, Texas, late Friday as a major hurricane — the first U.S. landfall of a Category 3 or stronger hurricane since 2005 ... Read more

Interesting Facts

2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Fast Facts. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The areas covered include the North Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Texas declares state of disaster as Tropical Depression Harvey approaches. Aug 23. (NBC4) HOUSTON (WCMH/AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for 30 counties in Texas in anticipation of the landfall of Tropical Depression Harvey... Read more

Massive flood gates closed as TS Harvey churns toward Texas. Aug 24. NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In an abundance of caution, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority began closing two monster flood gates, protecting much of the city of New Orleans today ... Read more

Meyerland residents know they'll flood and are ready for the storm. MEYERLAND, Texas (KTRK) — A backhoe sits along the banks of Brays Bayou in Meyerland, where construction has been happening for nearly a month. Workers are widening 21 miles of Brays Bayou. It is part of a city project to reduce flooding in south Harris County ... Read more


Monday, August 21, 2017

World Humanitarian Day Special Edition


Last Saturday, August 19th, the World Humanitarian Day (WHD) was celebrated all around the globe, paying tribute to all men and women who volunteer their time and that of their families' and risk their lives to help those affected by disasters and humanitarian crisis.

The General Secretariat of the OAS is proud to support the OAS - White Helmets Program that in collaboration with the Argentine White Helmets Commission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Culture provides disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to OAS Member States in need, and training for the establishment of national volunteering systems.

Here is the message from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Ambassador Jorge Faurie (English subtitles) ...
See video

See also the testimonies from volunteers of the Argentine White Helmets (English subtitles) ...
See video

Friday, August 18, 2017

August 18

World Humanitarian Day 2017
Saturday, August 19th

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on August 19th to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.
Every year, disasters cause immense suffering for millions of people – usually the world's poorest, most marginalized and vulnerable individuals. Humanitarian aid workers strive to provide life-saving assistance and long term rehabilitation to disaster-affected communities, regardless of where they are in the world and without discrimination based on nationality, social group, religion, sex, race or any other factor.
This year, the Geneva World Humanitarian Day commemoration is organized in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).
The commemoration will include a panel discussion on “Violence against health care and its implications for affected populations, humanitarian workers, and aid”, and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will give introductory remarks at the formal programme held at the Palais des Nations on Monday, 21 August 2017.

What happened this week?

Tropical Storm Harvey Is Drenching the Windward Islands. Tropical Storm Harvey is beginning to bring rain to the Windward Islands, and may pose a threat early next week in parts of Central America's Caribbean coast. ... Read more

6.1 Earthquake startles Central Peru. On Sunday, several cities in Peru were affected by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake ... Read more

Interesting Facts

How friction evolves during an earthquake. By simulating earthquakes in a lab, engineers at California Institute of Technology have documented the evolution of friction during an earthquake -- measuring what could once only be inferred, and shedding light on one of the biggest unknowns in earthquake modeling ... Read more

What's new in Disaster Risk Reduction?

Humanitarian access in a changing world: why security risk management matters. Humanitarian access is undoubtedly affected by all of these, offering aid workers new challenges to reach those most in need … Read more

UW gets in on $4.9 million boost for ShakeAlert earthquake warning system. The University of Washington and six other research institutions will benefit from $4.9 million in funding from the U.S. Geological Survey for the ShakeAlert earthquake warning system, which could eventually provide precious seconds of advance notice that a seismic shock is coming … Read more

Earthquake researchers to map faults by airplane. The U.S. Geological Survey in coordination with the Oklahoma Geological Survey and other groups this week began using a modified small airplane to study the state's geology in an attempt to map deep, existing faults, to help stop earthquakes from rumbling deep beneath the Oklahoma soil … Read more