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Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

September 05, 1996

Tropical Storms

Hurricane Dolly crashed into Mexico's Veracruz state, killing at least two people and causing extensive damage before it lost force inland. The storm also brought beneficial rainfall to many northern areas of the country that has suffered severe drought.

Typhoon Orson and tropical storm Piper passed over the open waters of the western Pacific. Hurricane Edouard passed near the eastern U.S. coast. Hurricane Fran brushed the islands of the northeast Caribbean, and tropical storm Gustav formed over the warm waters of the eastern Atlantic.

Floods

Torrential rains over the headwaters of the Nile during recent weeks have swollen the waterway to dangerous levels in Sudan and southern Egypt. Water behind the Nile's High Dam at Lake Nasser reached a record level, and the Sudanese capital of Khartoum was preparing for widespread flooding.

The Awash River in Ethiopia burst its banks at several locations after officials released water from the country's main hydroelectric facility. It was feared that its dam might burst.

Earthquakes

Two people were injured and several buildings were damaged when a moderate quake rocked central Ecuador.

Earth movements were also felt in central Peru, Panama, Switzerland, southeast Greece, the Indonesian-province of West Java, New Zealand's South Island, eastern and northern Japan, the Aleutian Islands, southern Alaska and Southern California.

Monsoon

More than a million Pakistanis were displaced by fierce floods unleashed during heavy monsoon rains over the Indian subcontinent. The floods in central Punjab province also swamped 4.5 million acres of crops.

In neighboring Indian-controlled Kashmir, the unexpected outbreak of severe weather killed 194 Hindus who were caught in blizzards while venturing to a pilgrimage site in the Himalayas. The storms spread as far north as Kazakhstan, where high winds damaged crops, buildings and power lines.

Clean-Air Search

Two NASA aircraft will head south from California this month on a mission to find what is possibly the cleanest air on Earth. Ed Browell and his fellow atmospheric scientists from the Langley Research Center believe that during their flights from island to island over the expansive South Pacific, samples of such pristine air will be obtained. Previous missions to the Arctic, the Amazon rain forest and Canada's Hudson Bay discovered that the air at those locations was adulterated by pollution or smoke. Comparing the cleanest air with that from industrialized areas should reveal air pollution severity.

Additional sources: Japanese Meteorological Agency, U.S. National Hurricane Center at Miami, U.S. Climate Analysis Center, U.S. Earthquake Information Center and the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.

Copyrighted 1996 Chronicle Features

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