Storms and Earthquakes Threaten Major Catastrophes
September 5, 2011 • 7:57AM

A deadly storm, Typhoon Talas, passed through Japan's western coast September 3 and 4, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Available reports indicate that at least 20 were dead and another 50 missing. Prior to Talas' arrival, evacuation orders and advisories were issued to 460,000 people in western and central Japan. At least 3,600 people were stranded by flooded rivers, landslides, and collapsed bridges that were hampering rescue efforts, Kyodo News Agency reported. The typhoon dumped record amounts of rain in some areas. It was the country's worst storm since one in 2004 that left 98 people either dead or missing, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said.

On Aug. 26, at the same time that the U.S. East Coast was bracing to be hit by Hurricane Irene, a tropical storm in the western North Pacific, Nanmadol, exploded into a super-typhoon, reaching Category 5 by the next day, according to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Even as it weakened to a tropical storm again, by Aug. 29, NASA satellite imagery showed its western edge over China, while the eastern edge was still over Taiwan, and Luzon, the Philippines (where it was called "Mina").

Meanwhile, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 struck Sunday morning, Sept. 4, off the southern tip of the South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake struck about 75 miles southeast of Isangel, the administrative capital of the island of Tanna, and 134 miles northeast of New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands. No report of damage has been issued yet.

On Sept. 2, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake was recorded in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. There were no reports of damage or injury from the quake.

In addition, Iceland's Ruv News, following its interview with an Icelandic geologist, reported on earthquake activities in Katla volcano throughout this year. The geologist pointed out not only that earthquake activities in Katla have been recorded throughout the past year, but also that activity in Katla volcano has been increasing during this year and is above its normal level.