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USGS News: Natural Hazards
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News about earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, etc from the USGS.
News about earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, etc from the USGS.

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Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake in Mexico: USGS map of the September 19, 2017earthquake in Mexico. (Public domain.) A magnitude 7.1earthquake struck the Puebla area of Mexico on September 19, 2017 at 1:14 local time (06:14UTC). Visit the USGS event page for more information. For estimates of casualties and damage, visit the USGS Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER) website. If you felt this earthquake, report your experience on the “USGS Did You Feel It?” website for this event. The USGS operates a 24/7 National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado that can be reached for more information at 303-273-8500. Learn more about the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program. #hazards

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Florida Streamgages Measure Record Peaks Following Hurricane Irma: Rivers and streams reached record levels as a result of Hurricane Irma’s rainfall, with about 60 U.S. Geological Survey streamgages measuring record peaks. “During peak flooding, about 32 streamgages in  Florida recorded water levels at flood stage,” said Richard Kane with the USGS Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center. “Several gauges, including Santa Fe River at Worthington Springs, FL  that have been in operation for more than 50 years, have recorded new peaks.” As crews continue to assess and recover from damage caused by Irma, USGS hydrologists and hydrologic technicians in Florida and from other parts of the country have been deployed to measure high flood flows. The crews are also calibrating and repairing streamgages damaged by the storm to ensure they continue to transmit information in real time to users working to protect lives and property.   In Florida, the USGS has over 900 real-time stream, lake, reservoir, precipitation, water quality, and groundwater stations. The USGS, in cooperation with state, local, and federal agencies, operates a nationwide network of more than 8,200 streamgages on inland rivers and streams. These gauges provide real-time data important to the National Weather Service, FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other state and local partners involved in issuing flood and evacuation warnings, coordinating emergency responses to communities, and operating flood-control reservoirs. Information on record peaks and flows is still being gathered and is subject to change. In Florida, provisional data shows new records have been set on the following waterways: Sante Fe River Wekiva River Josephine Creek Joshua Creek Charlie Creek Reedy Creek North and South Prongs Alafia River Apopka-Beauclair Canal Little Withlacoochee River Shingle Creek Whittenhorse Creek Withlacoochee River Shell Creek Prairie Creek Palatlakaha River Ft. Drum Creek Carter Creek Green Swamp Run Hillsborough River Rocky Creek North Prong Saint Sebastian River South Lake Outlet Lateral 101 Canal Tiger Creek St. Johns River Baker Creek Deep Creek Wolf Branch Tamiami Canal Lake Jesup Outlet Spring Creek Saddle Creek Econlockhatchee River Little Econlockhatchee River Howell Creek Curiosity Creek Long Creek Cypress Creek Canal Fisheating Creek Popash Slough Fish Slough Cypress Slough Phosphate Mine Outfall Ortega River Myakka River Little Creek Blue Springs Lake Lena Run Cedar River Peace River Nassau River Anclote River View current monitoring data for almost 900 USGS real-time stream, lake, reservoir, precipitation, and groundwater stations in Florida in context with current weather and hazard conditions at USGS WaterWatch for Florida or the USGS Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center website. To learn more about the USGS’s role providing science to decision makers before, during, and after Hurricane Irma, visit the USGS Hurricane Irma. For more information on being prepared for storms, go to ready.gov or ready.gov/es. #hazards

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USGS Teams Up with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to Research Teton Fault: Come learn why USGS scientists and partners dug this trench and what insights about the Teton Fault it will reveal before refilling the trench on closing day of fieldwork. Note: Due to safety and time constraints, media will not be able to enter the trench. The availability will be held where the trench is clearly visible. Please coordinate all interview requests through Heidi Koontz at 720-320-1246 or hkoontz@usgs.gov. Who:              USGS scientists, partners (Wyoming Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service and JHMR personnel) What:             Significance of what’s been found in the Buffalo Bowl trench When:            Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Where:           Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, intersection of McCollister Drive and Bowman Road Why:              The USGS is investigating the history of past ground-rupturing earthquakes on the Teton fault. Results from the study will contribute to understanding where and when large earthquakes occurred and improve seismic-hazard assessments for the region. Teton County (including Jackson) has 23,000 residents, and over three million people visit Grand Teton National Park annually.                                      The Teton Fault is an approximate 40-mile (60-70 km) long feature that follows the eastern base of the Teton Range. Data from a previous trenching study in the 1990’s showed evidence of two large earthquakes occurring sometime over the past 11,000 years (Holocene period). Follow daily dig updates and access photos on Facebook. USGS provides science for a changing world. Visit USGS.gov, and follow us on Twitter @USGS and our other social media channels. Subscribe to our news releases via e-mail, RSS or Twitter.   ### #hazards

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Landsat Images Before and After Harvey Illustrate Flooding in Texas: The U.S. Geological Survey has released new Landsat satellite images that show some of the flooding and coastal change Hurricane Harvey’s historic rains and storm surge produced across much of eastern Texas. Harvey’s deluge set a number of records in Texas streams and rivers during the peak period of flooding with 40 streamgages measuring record highs and more than 80 streamgages recording water levels at or above flood stage – the point at which water can start overflowing banks – on 21 rivers, streams and bayous, with preliminary reports showing some rivers have already crested reaching their highest levels. Among the many waterways in southeastern Texas that exceeded flood stage was the Brazos River, which flows west of Houston into the Gulf of Mexico. A USGS streamgage on the Brazos near Rosharon showed that a river level normally at around 10 feet peaked to 52.65 feet, almost 10 feet above flood stage, on August 29. Even with scattered clouds in the images, the extent of flooding on the landscape just south of Houston is evident. The Landsat 8 image from August 12 shows the area before the storm hit while Landsat 7 passed over the same area on September 5 to show the flooded Brazos River. The hurricane’s eye made landfall in Rockport, Texas, and this before and after Landsat image clearly shows shoreline retreat on barrier islands caused by Harvey’s storm surge. Landsat 8 captured the before image August 19, 2017 and Landsat 7 acquired the after image on September 12 with changes to the coastline still visible 18 days after the storm hit. Corpus Christi and surrounding communities did not experience the extreme rainfall Houston and other nearby regions received, however, winds gusting to 130 miles per hour were the main source of business and residential damage in the Corpus Christi area. Landsat is a joint effort of both USGS – ran by the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center – and NASA. USGS conducts Landsat operations and NASA develops and launches new satellites that meet science requirements. In addition to imagery of natural hazard events, Landsat provides valuable data for land use research. The before and after Landsat images can be seen by visiting https://eros.usgs.gov/hurricane-harvey-flooding or https://eros.usgs.gov/shoreline-retreat-near-corpus-christi-texas. View current monitoring data for almost 800 USGS real-time stream, lake, reservoir, precipitation and groundwater stations in Texas in context with current weather and hazard conditions at USGS Texas Water Dashboard. Two fully-autonomous Twitter feeds distribute water level and precipitation data during flooding or severe rainfall: @USGS_TexasFlood and @USGS_TexasRain. #hazards

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Throughout Hurricane Season, USGS Science is There Before, During, and After the Storm: The 2017 hurricane season is more than halfway over and has already seen nine major storms, on par with the prediction by the National Weather Service of as many as 11 to 17 named storms and two to four major hurricanes. But this year, as in the past, whenever a major hurricane is forecast to hit the nation’s Atlantic or Gulf Coast, U.S. Geological Survey scientists are ready to go well before the red-and-black hurricane warning flags unfurl. Starting about three days before a major storm’s predicted landfall, the USGS begins collecting data that can improve forecasting, guide relief work, and speed up recovery from the powerful storms’ effects. Storm tides, coastal erosion, and inland flooding are among the most dangerous natural hazards unleashed by hurricanes, with the capacity to destroy homes and businesses, wipe out roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and profoundly alter landscapes. The USGS has experts in these hazards, ready and willing to provide their expertise and to support the relief and recovery effort. Throughout the hurricane season, the USGS Coastal Storm Response Team, made up of managers and scientists, works closely with the National Hurricane Center and other federal agencies and confers daily when forecasters indicate that a hurricane is likely to make landfall in the U.S. Before: Preparation A USGS hydrologic technician deploying instrumentation before a storm. (Public domain.) Installing Sensors and Gauges That Ride Out the Storm The USGS Coastal Storm Response Team decides the timing and extent of the USGS’ storm response based on the storm’s forecast intensity and track. If the storm is a Category 3 (with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour) or greater, or if especially vulnerable communities or ecosystems lie in its forecast path, USGS crews will be deployed in advance. Among the early decisions the team makes are when and where to position the special storm-tide sensors that can measure the height, extent, and timing of the storm tide that happens when the hurricane makes landfall. These storm-tide sensors, housed in vented steel pipes a few inches wide and about a foot long, are part of the USGS Storm Tide Monitoring Network. The storm tide sensors are designed to be rapidly installed on bridges, piers, and other structures that have a good chance of surviving a hurricane. The sensors collect water pressure readings that help define the depth and duration of a storm tide, the time of its arrival, and its retreat. That information helps public officials assess storm damage, tell the difference between wind and flood damage, and improve computer models. Another important decision: whether specially designed rapid deployment gauges will be needed in areas where flooding is likely but that are not covered by the USGS’ network of more than 8,200 permanent streamgages. Data from the streamgage network is used by the National Weather Service to develop flood forecasts, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make flood control decisions, and by local agencies in emergency response. Forecasting Coastal Change Research scientists at the USGS’ St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center have developed a coastal change hazard forecast model, a sophisticated computer program that provides detailed predictions of a hurricane’s likely effects on sand dunes and other coastal features. The forecasts cover the Atlantic and Gulf coast regions where storm effects are expected, at one-kilometer intervals. They predict where protective sand dunes are likely to be eroded at their bases or overtopped by storm waves, and where coastal areas could be inundated by seawater. These forecasts can help emergency managers decide which areas to evacuate, which roads to use, and where to position heavy equipment for post-storm clean-up. The forecasts begin 48 hours before a storm is expected to make landfall and are updated based on the latest forecasts from the National Hurricane Center. The forecasts are available to the public at the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal. This season the team is also testing and refining new forecasts of coastal water levels, using a model developed with the National Weather Service. These experimental forecasts will predict how far up the beach waves will push seawater, showing hour-by-hour estimates of wave runup, updated several times a day. This work uses stationary video cameras installed in Tampa Bay and on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. During: Response Tracking Flood Effects Post-Hurricane Irma flooding on Atlantic Avenue in Garden City, SC on September 11, 2017. (Credit: John Erbland, USGS. Public domain.) Hurricane rains can cause flooding far from the coast. To track inland flooding, the USGS gathers data from its network of streamgages, as well as from rapid deployment gauges. When flooding occurs, USGS field crews make real-time streamflow measurements to verify the streamgages’ readings. The crews also quickly replace storm-damaged or lost gauges. During and right after hurricane flooding, these records help the Federal Emergency Management Agency target emergency relief to the hardest-hit areas. You can track storm-surge sensor deployment and see streamgage readings in real time at the USGS Flood Viewer. Monitoring Protective Dunes This year, for the first time, scientists at the USGS’ St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center are using unmanned aerial systems – commonly known as drones –  to study hurricane impacts. It is part of an extensive effort to forecast and document the impact of hurricanes and other weather events on Gulf and Atlantic shorelines. When a major hurricane strikes the U.S. coast, the team collects thousands of aerial photographs to document coastal changes. This year the scientists plan to deploy the new drones – quadcopters that resemble oversized video game controllers – before and after storm strikes. The drones collect high-resolution images before and after the storm. Scientists will use a technology called “structure from motion” to convert information from the images into dune elevations. The image processing algorithms will allow the team to document how sand dunes changed during the storm and improve the models’ future coastal erosion forecasts. Maps and Apps That Show the Big Picture The USGS strives to ensure that the disaster response community has rapid access to timely, accurate, and relevant geospatial imagery, products, and services before, during, and after a hurricane or other disasters. The USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center provides access to remotely sensed imagery and geospatial datasets in response to requests from agencies engaged in disaster response. These products enable agencies to plan the response to conditions on the ground. The hosting of imagery through a common delivery portal such as the USGS Hazards Data Distribution System (HDDS) facilitates the sharing of imagery and other geospatial datasets. With information pouring in, often while USGS staffers are still coping with the storm’s consequences, managers need a way to quickly shape the data into a clear picture of the situation on the ground. The USGS’ Geospatial Information Response Team (GIRT), a group of scientists with expertise in many different facets of mapping, handles that vital task during hurricanes and other natural disasters. Using a web app designed to help storm team members, scientists, and others working on storm response, the GIRT collects and makes available key pieces of information, such as the storm’s track, the USGS facilities that lie in its path, Lidar elevation data, detailed local maps and more. The app is designed to provide managers with a basic overview of the information they need to understand the situation and respond to it effectively. The GIRT also works with the USGS Earth Resource Observation and Science Center to coordinate the archiving of place-based storm data, from high water marks to photographs, and make it accessible. Finally, the GIRT provides the geographical information that USGS staffers and first responders need, including the USGS’ legendary topographical maps. After: Recovery fullscreen Collecting and Assessing Flood Data Measurements collected during the storm, including high-water marks — the telltale lines of seeds, leaves, silt and other debris left behind on buildings, bridges, and trees after floodwaters recede — and storm tide sensor and streamgage data, are integral to storm recovery. So are peaks of record, measurements of how much water flowed through a river or stream during a storm. These data help insurers and property owners document damage, help affected areas rebuild, inform the forecasting, response, and recovery efforts of agencies like the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and provide real-world information to update the USGS’ flood inundation maps and validate and improve forecasts that inform future disaster response. Understanding and Documenting Coastal Change After a storm, aerial photographs taken post-event are compared to pictures taken before in order to document changes to the coast. This process helps chronicle changes to the protective dunes and other coastal characteristics as well as improve modeling of coastal change for the future. Information for the Future From beginning to end, USGS science informs and assists the response to major storms. Whether it be through modeling and forecasting, mobilizing teams around the country to help where they’re needed, responding to emergencies or assisting other agencies, the USGS has and will continue to weather whatever storm may come. #hazards

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River Levels Set Records in Texas: USGS Continues to Monitor Rivers in the State Due to Flooding: “During the peak period of flooding, about 81 streamgages in east and southeast Texas recorded water levels at National Weather Service flood stage,” said Jeff East with the USGS Texas Water Science Center. “All Texas rivers have already crested and have reached their highest levels.” Immediately after the worst of the storm had passed, USGS hydrologists in Texas and from other parts of the country were deployed to measure high flood flows. The crews are also calibrating and repairing streamgages damaged by the storm to ensure they continue to transmit information in real time to users working to protect lives and property.   In Texas, the USGS has almost 800 real-time stream, lake, reservoir, precipitation and groundwater stations. The USGS, in cooperation with state, local and federal agencies, operates a nationwide network of more than 8,200 streamgages on inland rivers and streams. These gauges provide real-time data important to the National Weather Service, FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other state and local partners involved in issuing flood and evacuation warnings, coordinating emergency responses to communities and operating flood-control reservoirs. Flooding information and records known so far: Information on record peaks and flows is still being gathered and is subject to change. In Texas, provisional data shows new records have been set on the following rivers, streams and bayous: Sabine River Neches River Mud Creek Attoyac Bayou Ayish Bayou Pine Island Bayou Trinity River Menard Creek Cedar Bayou Cypress Creek East Fork San Jacinto River San Jacinto River Buffalo Bayou Middle Yegua Creek Brazos River San Bernard River Colorado River Tres Palacios River Navidad River Gaudalupe River Copana Creek View current monitoring data for almost 800 USGS real-time stream, lake, reservoir, precipitation and groundwater stations in Texas in context with current weather and hazard conditions at USGS Texas Water Dashboard. Two fully-autonomous Twitter feeds distribute water level and precipitation data during flooding or severe rainfall: @USGS_TexasFlood and @USGS_TexasRain. To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Harvey, visit the USGS Hurricane Harvey page at https://www.usgs.gov/harvey. For more information on being prepared for storms go to ready.gov. USGS scientist David Rodriguez records high water marks from storm surge following Harvey near Corpus Christi, Texas. (Credit: Kurt Kraske, USGS. Public domain.) USGS scientist Alec McDonald surveying high water marks from storm surge from Hurricane Harvey at Packery Channel near Corpus Christi, Texas.(Credit: Vidal Mendoza, USGS. Public domain.)   #hazards

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USGS Efforts Continue After Harvey: How High Did the Water Reach? USGS scientist Vidal Mendoza surveying high water marks from storm surge from Hurricane Harvey near Port Aransas, Texas.(Credit: Alec McDonald, USGS) Now is when the USGS starts the extensive effort of finding high-water marks. During a flood event, rising waters are loaded with floating debris, seeds and dirt that can stick to buildings, trees, or other structures. Once flood waters recede from their highest peak, the line of debris left behind is a high-water mark and they can indicate to scientists the highest point the flood reached. But, these marks are fragile and easily destroyed – both by people cleaning up and by natural weathering – so collecting them is a time-sensitive effort. For the next several weeks, dozens of USGS employees will be working from sun up till sundown in Texas to find and catalogue these important high-water marks as fast as possible. The crews will be focusing on areas of interest within southeast Texas. After most major floods, USGS partners with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service, and other agencies to identify high-water marks throughout the affected areas. Depending on where these high-water marks are located, they can be used for a variety of purposes, like improving computer models used for predicting the severity of future floods. Though high-water marks caused by coastal surge and those caused by inland river flooding are similar to each other they are not the same, and the information USGS collects is used for different purposes. For example, with coastal high-water marks, the data can be fed directly into the National Hurricane Center’s storm surge models to verify how accurate their storm surge predictions were before the storm made landfall. This helps them calibrate their models for improved forecasting accuracy during future storms. One of the most important uses of high-water-mark data is so FEMA can revise their flood hazard maps. These maps help FEMA identify areas that are likely to experience high water in the event of a flood that has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year. These floods, often referred to as 100-year floods, are the most common severe inundation events, and serve as the foundation for flood management planning. Another significant use for these high-water marks is the USGS Flood Inundation Mapping effort. These maps are developed using models that incorporate high-water marks, streamgage and storm surge information. The maps can be used by resource managers to assist in updating building codes, evacuation routes, bridge design, environmental assessments and other community planning efforts. A view of the storm: Reservoir Webcams and Coastal Change Portal USGS crews installed webcams at the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the outflows of Addicks and Barker reservoirs in Houston, Texas. These webcams helped communicate information about the status of releases from these reservoirs. Images at the  Addicks Reservoir camera and Barker Reservoir camera are collected at 5 minute intervals, and an animation of the most recent 25 images is available online. Prior to Harvey’s landfall, USGS scientists, using state-of-the-art modeling, forecast what coastal changes were likely to occur on the Texas coast. The storm surge was expected to cause erosion on almost all state beaches, with water overtopping and in some cases inundating dunes. Scientists from the USGS National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards storm team are comparing post-storm imagery to predictions of coastal change made in advance of the storm. Before and after photos highlighting coastal changes will be available on the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal in the coming weeks. Peaks of Record Flooding from Harvey set a number of records in Texas streams and rivers during the peak period of flooding. About 81 streamgages in east and southeast Texas have recorded water levels at flood stage on 20 rivers, streams and bayous, with preliminary reports showing some rivers have already crested reaching their highest levels. Immediately after the worst of the storm had passed, USGS hydrologists in Texas and from other parts of the southeast were deployed to verify high river flows and peak stages. The crews are also calibrating and repairing streamgages damaged by the storm to ensure they continue to transmit information in real time to users working to protect lives and property.  USGS provisional data shows record peaks on the following bodies of water: Sabine River Neches River Mud Creek Attoyac Bayou Ayish Bayou Pine Island Bayou Trinity River Menard Creek Cedar Bayou Cypress Creek East Fork San Jacinto River San Jacinto River Buffalo Bayou Middle Yegua Creek Brazos River San Bernard River Colorado River Tres Palacios River Navidad River Guadalupe River Copana River In Texas, the USGS has almost 800 real-time stream, lake, reservoir, precipitation and groundwater stations.  The USGS, in cooperation with state, local and federal agencies, operates a nationwide network of more than 8,200 streamgages on inland rivers and streams. These gauges provide real-time data important to the National Weather Service, FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other state and local partners involved in issuing flood and evacuation warnings, coordinating emergency responses to communities and operating flood-control reservoirs. Water Quality Sampling In response to the high flow conditions that resulted from Harvey, USGS crews are collecting water quality samples as part of ongoing routine studies and monitoring. Samples are being collected at selected sites along the Colorado and Trinity Rivers and Lake Houston. The USGS also continuously monitors sediment and water-quality from selected sites on the Trinity, Colorado, Guadalupe, San Juan and Nueces River basins. Some of these data are available real-time at Texas Real-Time Water Quality. Findings may provide insights on the effects of high-flow conditions on water quality. Crews will be monitoring concentrations and transport to coastal areas of select water-quality constituents that may include nutrients, sediment, carbon, E. coli and pesticides. The types of water-quality constituents measured at each site are determined based on local, state or federal needs. Results will be available in the future at USGS Water Data for the Nation. USGS scientists Lisa Ashmore and Lee Bodkin collect water-quality samples on Lake Houston in response to the high flow conditions that resulted from Harvey. (Credit: Sachin Shah, USGS) USGS scientist David Rodriguez records high water marks from storm surge near Corpus Christi, Texas. (Credit: Kurt Kraske, USGS) USGS scientist Lisa Ashmore services a water-quality monitor on Lake Houston. These instruments stayed afloat and collected data throughout Harvey. (Credit: Sachin Shah, USGS)     #hazards

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Hurricane Irma to significantly affect beaches from Florida to South Carolina: Large and powerful Hurricane Irma is likely to cause significant erosion along U.S. east coast beaches from Florida through South Carolina, according to a new projection from the U.S. Geological Survey. Strong waves and storm surge are likely to erode all sandy beaches in the three states, overtop sand dunes over three-quarters of the coast, and, in some areas, inundate areas behind the dunes. Actual impacts may be very different if track moves to the west and affects the Gulf coast.  Water levels three to four meters, or 10 to 12 feet, above normal tide levels are likely for open coast shorelines along Florida’s Atlantic coast if Irma continues to track along the east coast, according to Thursday’s forecast from the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Group based in St. Petersburg, Florida. “Our models are showing that the entire coastline of Florida is likely to experience extensive dune erosion,” said USGS research oceanographer Hilary Stockdon, the lead developer of the group’s coastal change forecasting tools. “That’s because Hurricane Irma is large and powerful. But it’s also worth noting that many of these beaches took a beating during Hurricane Matthew last year. So dunes that were eroded during Matthew may not be there to protect some coastal communities during Irma.” USGS Coastal Change Hazads Portal - Hurricane Irma  (USGS) Coastal change predictions for North Carolina will become available as the storm moves closer to that part of the coast, Stockdon said. The USGS’ coastal change forecasting model uses the National Hurricane Center’s storm surge predictions and wave forecast models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The USGS model adds information about the beach slope, dune height, sea floor topography and other features to predict how high waves and surge will move up the beach and whether the protective dunes will be overtopped. The projected results are based on the assumption that the storm surge will strike at high tide, and are intended as a worst case scenario, Stockdon said. They cover only sandy beaches and do not make any estimates of storm effects along stretches of the coast lined by seawalls, marshes or mangroves. Beach erosion is only the first level of damage a major storm can cause. Waves and surge can overwash the top of the dune, depositing sand inland and causing significant changes to the landscape. Inundation, the most severe impact, occurs when beaches and dunes are completely and continuously submerged by the surge. A map of these estimates is posted on the USGS’ publicly accessible Coastal Change Hazards Portal. Emergency managers can use the forecast to help identify locations where coastal impacts might be the most severe – for example, where roads may become impassable because of sand, or where storm surge and waves may put some roads underwater. An experimental new forecasting tool, called the Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer, offers projections of the timing and the amplitude of storm-induced total water levels – both waves and surge - for specific places along the Florida Atlantic coast from Miami to a point near Palm Bay, and for the state’s Gulf coast from the St. Petersburg area to Marco Island. The information, which is provided at 3-hour intervals for a 6 day period, is not intended as a substitute for the National Hurricane Center’s storm surge warnings, Stockdon said. “This is a serious storm,” Stockdon said. “Everyone in Florida should listen to their local emergency management teams and evacuate when they say ‘Go.’ ” As Hurricane Irma moves closer to the U.S. mainland, the coastal change projections are subject to change. The most recent projections are available on the National Assessment of Storm-Induced Coastal Change Hazards – Hurricane Irma page. The USGS continues to prepare for storm impacts as Hurricane Irma approaches the Southeast coast. People potentially affected by the storm can visit http://www.ready.gov/ or http://www.listo.gov/ for emergency planning information and suggestions.   Top image:  In 2003, high storm surge and wave runup during Hurricane Isabel caused widespread dune erosion in Nags Head, North Carolina. Photo: USGS #hazards

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Magnitude 8.1Earthquake in Mexico: Visit the USGS event page for more information. For estimates of casualties and damage, visit the USGS Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER) website. If you felt this earthquake, report your experience on the “USGS Did You Feel It?” website for this event. For information about tsunami watches, warnings or advisories, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tsunami website. The USGS operates a 24/7 National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado that can be reached for more information at 303-273-8500. Learn more about the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program. #hazards

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USGS Science Leads the Way for National Preparedness: The scope and impact of natural hazards currently wreaking havoc within the borders of the United States are unlike anything we have seen in recent years. Whole regions of the western United States are on fire—as of September 5th, roughly 47,000 fires have decimated close to eight million acres of land. Hurricane Harvey brought a deluge of water and caused billions of dollars in damage to Houston and surrounding areas. Hurricane Irma, now a category 5 hurricane, is ramping up to possibly come ashore and batter large portions of the Southeast. Additionally, the National Hurricane Center is tracking two more large tropical storms, Jose and Katia. In addition to wildfires and hurricanes, already this year we have seen approximately 61 earthquakes over a six magnitude world-wide, some associated with significant damage and loss of life. Volcanoes have been active as well, from the on-going volcanic activity at the Bogoslof Volcano in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to the continuous monitoring of the Yellowstone “Supervolcano.” In Florida (and elsewhere) sinkholes have opened up to swallow entire houses and have put communities literally on edge.  The more we know about hazards, the more we can guard ourselves and our communities against their destructive impacts. The USGS is leading the way in national readiness and preparedness for natural hazards and disasters. Our scientists, emergency planners and administrators work with federal, state and local agencies to understand hazards, their potential risks and impacts and how to mitigate large-scale loss of life and property. Photo credits: Jim Pfeiffenberger, National Park Service (Credit: Jim Pfeiffenberger, National Park Service. Public domain.) USGS: Start with Science The USGS works with many partners to monitor, assess and conduct research on a wide range of natural hazards. USGS science provides policymakers, emergency managers and the public the understanding needed to enhance family and community preparedness, response and resilience. By understanding how the Earth behaves and identifying potential hazard scenarios, federal, state, and local agencies can perform meaningful risk analyses. For example, USGS science can be combined with information such as population distribution and construction practices to inform insurance rates, local building and land-use codes to determine impact to local facilities, emergency preparedness plans to ensure appropriate steps are taken before and after an event, large infrastructure investments – such as dams and reservoirs – and improvements to private property standards and materials to make homes and community infrastructures more resilient to natural hazards. Earthquakes Earthquake hazards are a national problem, with nearly half of Americans at risk of exposure to potentially damaging earthquakes. The USGS provides information and tools to support earthquake loss reduction for the country. These include hazard assessments, earthquake scenarios, comprehensive real-time earthquake monitoring and public preparedness handbooks. Imagine if doctors could be warned to stop delicate procedures before the damaging seismic waves of an earthquake arrive, if emergency responders were provided a few moments of advance notice to act, or if trains could be slowed or stopped, airplane landings could be redirected and people could have time to drop, cover and hold on. The USGS and its partners are building a prototype Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States called ShakeAlert. The system could provide vital seconds to even minutes of warning before the arrival of strong shaking. USGS map showing (1) the locations of major populations and (2) the intensity of potential earthquake ground shaking that has a 2% chance of occurring in 50 years.(Public domain.) Volcanoes The United States is home to 169 active volcanoes across numerous Western states and territories. Volcanoes can show signs of unrest hours, days and sometimes even months before they erupt. The USGS operates five Volcano Observatories to detect and interpret these precursors as part of the USGS National Volcano Early Warning System. By analyzing data from its monitoring networks, the USGS issues public warnings and alerts about conditions at U.S. volcanoes, including models for ashfall forecasts and aviation notices. The USGS works with emergency-management authorities well in advance of volcanic crises to help potentially impacted communities prepare Hurricanes and Tsunamis How vulnerable is your community to hurricanes, not just to wind but also to storm surge and inland flooding? Before, during and after major hurricanes or tropical storms affecting the United States, the USGS assesses the likelihood of beach erosion, overwash or inundation. The USGS also provides real-time impacts of approaching storms via the Coastal Change Hazards Portal. This  online tool allows anyone to interactively “watch” coastal change forecasts as well as “see” past, present and future hazards along the coastline from local to national-level scales. In addition, the USGS studies recent and historic tsunamis to better understand impacts, processes and causes, with a focus on investigating earthquakes as triggers. Scientists have evaluated the number of people or businesses exposed to tsunami hazards, as well as demographics and evacuation time for each of these communities. This provides officials with the ability to develop outreach, preparedness and evacuation plans that are tailored to local conditions and needs. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image of the rapidly intensifying storm at 11:24 a.m. Central time (16:45 Universal Time) on August 24, 2017. NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Land Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE).(Public domain.) Floods and Drought The USGS operates a nationwide streamgage network to monitor water level and flow in rivers and streams. The USGS also works with many partners to provide essential data for flood forecasts, watches and warnings. USGS science contributes to the U.S. Drought Monitor as well as the Drought Outlook led by NOAA’s NWS. On a global scale, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network identifies populations with the most food insecurity. This network is an activity of the U.S. Agency for International Development, with the USGS serving as an implementing partner. House in a sinkhole. View to east across the sinkhole. (Credit: Anthony S. Navoy, USGS. Public domain.) Landslides and Sinkholes Landslides occur in all 50 states, and every year cause loss of life and billions of dollars in damage to public and private property. USGS science is helping assess where, when and how often landslides occur, and how fast and far they might move. For example, USGS scientists produce maps showing where landslides might occur, and they identify what sort of rainfall conditions cause them. In southern California, the USGS partners with NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) to provide important advance warnings for debris-flows generated in areas burned by wildfire. About 20 percent of the nation is at risk from sinkholes. These areas are underlain by karst, which is characterized by terrain where the underlying rock is easily dissolved by groundwater (check out more information on sinkholes at the USGS Water Science School). The USGS produces geologic and subsurface maps that help managers and others to better understand karst regions and identify local areas that may be susceptible. Wildfires The USGS provides tools and information before, during and after fire disasters to identify wildfire risks and reduce subsequent hazards, including delivery to fire managers of up-to-the minute maps and satellite imagery about current wildfire extent and behavior. (Public domain.) Geomagnetic Storms Magnetic storms are caused by a dynamic interaction between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field. The resulting rapid magnetic field fluctuations storms can interfere with radio communications, GPS systems, satellites and even directional drilling for oil and gas. Large magnetic storms can also interfere with the operations of electric power grids, causing blackouts. For these reasons, these storms are considered hazardous for both the economy and national security. The USGS operates a network of specially designed observatories that provide real-time data on magnetic storm conditions. These data are critical for tracking the intensity of magnetic perturbations and are used by the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center for issuing warnings and by the U.S. Air Force for their operations. Through the National Space Weather Program, USGS scientists are working with other federal government agencies and private industry to mitigate hazardous effects to the nation’s electric power grid. America’s PrepareAthon! on September 2017 Get prepared and join millions of people participating in America’s PrepareAthon! This is a campaign encouraging people across the nation to practice preparedness actions before a disaster or emergency strikes. Activities include drills, group discussions, exercises and more. The Great ShakeOut on October 19 Millions of people across the nation will be participating in the next ShakeOut earthquake preparedness drill, to be held on Oct. 19, 2017. At 10:19 a.m. local time, participants will “drop, cover and hold on.” Mark your calendar and sign up to join. Resources for Further Inquiry and Study – Knowing how hazard risks can impact your area helps keep you and your family safe.  Take a few minutes to click on the links below for more information and sign up for applicable alerts to keep you informed at a moment’s notice. Explore Your Hazards See past, current and forecasted hazards along the coasts. Get details on the latest geomagnetic disturbance event caused by solar activity. Gather info on current flooding and past incidents at the USGS flood website. Browse through statistics on water use in the United States. See the Fire Danger Forecast, which is a dynamic map updated daily (at the top right, click “view legend for selected layer[s]” to see what the colors mean). Current and past wildlife die-off information is available online—through an interactive map—to help inform disease prevention and mitigation strategies. An estimate of how long it would take for someone to travel by foot out of a tsunami-hazard zone can be calculated through the USGS Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst. See the latest earthquakes worldwide. Learn of potential ground-shaking hazards from both natural and human-induced earthquakes. If you live near a recent wildfire, see maps showing the potential for debris-flow activity. Sign Up for Alerts Sign up for free notification emails about volcanic activity happening at U.S. volcanoes. See how high or low river levels are through USGS WaterWatch. Receive texts or emails when water levels in rivers and streams exceed certain thresholds through USGS WaterAlert. Or you can request data on-demand through USGS WaterNow. Sign up to receive earthquake notices through the USGS Earthquake Notification System. Finally, on September 1, we are launched a brand new USGS Natural Hazards Science Facebook page.  Along with the regular USGS Facebook page, the Natural Hazards page will keep you up to date with natural hazards and how the science behind them keeps our Nation prepared. #hazards
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