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Earthwatch: A Diary of the Planet

Cyclone Season

January 15, 1998

The tropical cyclone tropcal cylone season heated up in the South Pacific with three storms being spawned by the ongoing El Nino ocean warmth. Cyclone Susan brought gale-force winds to the island nation of Vanuatu, with one person being killed by an uprooted coconut tree. The storm threatened Fiji late in the week. Cyclone Katrina was expected to bring more high winds to Vanuatu as it moves eastward across the Coral Sea.

The French territory of Wallis and Futuna was lashed by high winds from passing cyclone Ron, but no injuries occurred during the storm.

Record Eruption

The eruption of Kilauea volcano entered its 16th year, making it the longest recorded eruption in Hawaii's history. More than 200 homes have been destroyed, and many roads blocked, since lava first began spewing in January 1983. The eruption has sent 55 bursts of lava flowing over southern parts of the Big Island, expanding it by 560 acres.


Central Italy was shaken by a magnitude 4.0 aftershock of the string of quakes that caused widespread devastation to the Umbria and Marches regions on Sept. 26. No damage was reported from the latest seismic slip.

Earth movements were also felt in northern and southwestern Japan, Guam, the Aleutian Islands, coastal Chile, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Southern California and along the California-Nevada border at Mammoth Lakes.

Dolphin Deaths

More than 140 dead dolphins have washed onto the shores of Venezuela's La Tortuga Island in the Caribbean, and authorities have been unable to determine the cause. One of the country's environmental groups said it was unlikely that the deaths were caused by man-made pollution because no other sea creatures seem to have been affected.

Atlantic Tempests

Another round of fierce winter storms lashed a broad area of Europe, tearing roofs off of homes and leaving several people dead. Many roads in Great Britain, and on the continent were blocked by the thousands of trees downed by winds gusting as high as 110 mph. Freak tornadoes spawned by the storms damaged up to a thousand homes in southern England and 230 buildings in northern France.

Killing Cold

Further blasts of cold, Siberian air spread deep into the Indian subcontinent, killing at least 121 people in Bangladesh alone. The government and private organizations distributed rugs, sweaters and jackets to the poor. A severe ice storm glazed a wide area of eastern Canada and New England, killing at least five people. The ice downed transmission lines, causing 2.5 million Canadian residents to lose electricity in the worst power failure in Quebec history.

Additional Sources: U.S. Climate Analysis Center, U.S. Earthquake Information Center andthe World Meteorological Organization

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