Strongest-Ever Earthquake Strikes Alaska’s North Slope Region

KAVIK RIVER CAMP, Alaska — Alaska’s North Slope was hit Sunday by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the region, the state’s seismologist said. At 6:58 a.m. Sunday, the magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck an area 42 miles east of Kavik River Camp and 343 miles northeast of Fairbanks, the state’s second-biggest city. The agency says the earthquake had a depth of about 6 miles.

State seismologist Mike West told the Anchorage Daily News that the quake was the biggest recorded in the North Slope by a substantial amount. “This is a very significant event that will take us some time to understand,” he told the Daily News.

The previous most powerful quake in the North Slope was in 1995 at magnitude 5.2, West told the newspaper.

The jump from a 5.2 to Sunday’s 6.4 is significant because earthquakes rapidly grow in strength as magnitude rises, he said.

“That’s why at 6.4 this changes how we think about the region,” West said. “It’s a little early to say how, but it’s safe to say this earthquake will cause a re-evaluation of the seismic potential of that area.”

The magnitude 6.5 earthquake was felt by workers at the oil-production facilities in and around Prudhoe Bay, the News reported.

The newspaper says that Alyeska Pipeline said the earthquake did not damage the trans-Alaska pipeline. The company says in a tweet that “there are no operational concerns” related to the earthquake, but the pipeline will be inspected.

At 7:14 a.m., a magnitude 5.1 earthquake hit another area in northern Alaska. The USGS says the earthquake hit a spot about 340 miles northeast of Fairbanks.

The Alaska Earthquake Center (AEC) says the earthquakes were felt across the eastern part of the state’s North Slope Borough and as far south as metro Fairbanks. The center adds that there are no reports of damage.

AEC tweeted an animated image of the seismic activity Sunday. The red star below indicates the epicenter.

CBS affiliate KTVA-TV writes that a powerful undersea quake in January sent Alaskans fumbling for suitcases and racing to evacuation centers in the middle of the night after a cellphone alert warned a tsunami could hit communities along the state’s southern coast and parts of British Columbia. The station said the magnitude 7.9 quake in the Gulf of Alaska triggered the alert.

Hurricane Hector Is Headed Toward Hawaii, Where A Volcano Is Erupting

The Kilauea volcano has spewed lava and molten rock into neighborhoods in Hawaii’s Big Island for three months. Now the area faces a new threat as Hurricane Hector heads in that direction.

Hector was a Category 3 storm early Sunday as it churned toward the Hawaiian Islands, an archipelago that includes the Big Island.

The Hawaiian Islands were placed on alert as Hector inched toward the central Pacific with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph.

“Slow weakening is forecast during the next few days. However, Hector is expected to still be a major hurricane when it moves into the central Pacific basin,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Hector is about 1360 miles (2190 kilometers) east of South Point, Hawaii, and is forecast to cross into the central Pacific by Sunday night or early Monday.

CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said while Hector is heading in Big Island ‘s general direction, it’s too early to tell if it’s on a collision course with the volcano.

“The track of the hurricane still has the center passing well south of the main Hawaiian island at this time,” Brink said Sunday morning. ” It is still too soon to tell what effects this hurricane will have (if any) on the Hawaii islands.”

State officials urged residents to take precaution and prepare for the storm.

“Hector is our first hurricane this year. We want to remind the public we are in the middle of the hurricane season and we urge people to take the weekend to prepare their homes and families for impacts that could be felt statewide,” said Tom Travis, the state’s emergency management administrator.

The Hawaiian Islands include Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the island of Hawaii, which is often referred to as the Big Island. The Big Island has been coping with three months of Kilauea’s volcanic eruptions that have sent lava flowing into some neighborhoods.

While the latest eruptions started in May, the volcano has spewed lava since the 1980s, becoming a major tourist destination even as it threatened nearby residents.

The eruptions have displaced thousands of residents, damaged roads and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Astronomers Blown Away By Historic Stellar Blast

Imagine traveling to the Moon in just 20 seconds! That’s how fast material from a 170 year old stellar eruption sped away from the unstable, eruptive, and extremely massive star Eta Carinae.

Astronomers conclude that this is the fastest jettisoned gas ever measured from a stellar outburst that didn’t result in the complete annihilation of the star.

The blast, from the most luminous star known in our galaxy, released almost as much energy as a typical supernova explosion that would have left behind a stellar corpse. However, in this case a double-star system remained and played a critical role in the circumstances that led to the colossal blast.

Over the past seven years a team of astronomers led by Nathan Smith, of the University of Arizona, and Armin Rest, of the Space Telescope Science Institute, determined the extent of this extreme stellar blast by observing light echoes from Eta Carinae and its surroundings.

Light echos occur when the light from bright, short-lived events are reflected off of clouds of dust, which act like distant mirrors redirecting light in our direction. Like an audio echo, the arriving signal of the reflected light has a time delay after the original event due to the finite speed of light. In the case of Eta Carinae, the bright event was a major eruption of the star that expelled a huge amount of mass back in the mid-1800s during what is known as the “Great Eruption.” The delayed signal of these light echoes allowed astronomers to decode the light from the eruption with modern astronomical telescopes and instruments, even though the original eruption was seen from Earth back in the mid-19th century. That was a time before modern tools like the astronomical spectrograph were invented.

“A light echo is the next best thing to time travel,” Smith said. “That’s why light echoes are so beautiful. They give us a chance to unravel the mysteries of a rare stellar eruption that was witnessed 170 years ago, but using our modern telescopes and cameras. We can also compare that information about the event itself with the 170-year old remnant nebula that was ejected. This was a behemoth stellar explosion from a very rare monster star, the likes of which has not happened since in our Milky Way Galaxy.”

The Great Eruption temporarily promoted Eta Carinae to the second brightest star visible in our nighttime sky, vasty outshining the energy output every other star in the Milky Way, after which the star faded from naked eye visibility. The outburst expelled material (about 10 times more than the mass of our Sun) that also formed the bright glowing gas cloud known as the Homunculus. This dumbbell-shaped remnant is visible surrounding the star from within a vast star-forming region. The eruptive remnant can even be seen in small amateur telescopes from the Earth’s Southern Hemisphere and equatorial regions, but is best seen in images obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope.

The team used instruments on the 8-meter Gemini South telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory 4-meter Blanco telescope, and the Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory to decode the light from these light echoes and to understand the expansion speeds in the historical explosion. “Gemini spectroscopy helped pin down the unprecedented velocities we observed in this gas, which clocked in at between about 10,000 to 20,000 kilometers per second,” according to Rest. The research team, Gemini Observatory, and Blanco telescope are all supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

“We see these really high velocities all the time in supernova explosions where the star is obliterated.” Smith notes. However, in this case the star survived, and explaining that led the researchers into new territory. “Something must have dumped a lot of energy into the star in a short amount of time,” said Smith. The material expelled by Eta Carinae is travelling up to 20 times faster than expected for typical winds from a massive star so, according to Smith and his collaborators, enlisting the help of two partner stars might explain the extreme outflow.

The researchers suggest that the most straightforward way to simultaneously explain a wide range of observed facts surrounding the eruption and the remnant star system seen today is with an interaction of three stars, including a dramatic event where two of the three stars merged into one monster star. If that’s the case, then the present-day binary system must have started out as triple system, with one of those two stars being the one that swallowed its sibling.

“Understanding the dynamics and environment around the largest stars in our galaxy is one of the most difficult areas of astronomy,” said Richard Green, Director of the Division of Astronomical Sciences at NSF, the major funding agency for Gemini. “Very massive stars live short lives compared to stars like our Sun, but nevertheless catching one in the act of a major evolutionary step is statistically unlikely. That’s why a case like Eta Carinae is so critical, and why NSF supports this kind of research.”

Chris Smith, Head of Mission at the AURA Observatory in Chile and also part of the research team adds a historical perspective. “I’m thrilled that we can see light echoes coming from an event that John Herschel observed in the middle of the 19th century from South Africa,” he said. “Now, over 150 years later we can look back in time, thanks to these light echoes, and unveil the secrets of this supernova wannabe using the modern instrumentation on Gemini to analyze the light in ways Hershel couldn’t have even imagined!”

Eta Carinae is an unstable type of star known as a Luminous Blue Variable (LBV), located about 7,500 light years from Earth in a young star forming nebula found in the southern constellation of Carinae. The star is one of the intrinsically brightest in our galaxy and shines some five million times brighter than our Sun with a mass about one hundred times greater. Stars like Eta Carinae have the greatest mass-loss rates prior to undergoing supernova explosions, but the amount of mass expelled in Eta Carinae’s 19th century Great Eruption exceeds any others known.

Eta Carinae will probably undergo a true supernova explosion sometime within the next half-million years at most, but possibly much sooner. Some types of supernovae have been seen to experience eruptive blasts like that of Eta Carinae in only the few years or decades before their final explosion, so some astronomers speculate that Eta Carinae might blow sooner rather than later.

The Gemini Observations utilized the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Gemini South telescope in Chile and used a powerful technique called Nod and Shuffle that enables greatly improved spectroscopic measurements of extremely faint sources by reducing the contaminating effects of the night sky. The new results are presented in two papers accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Exoplanets Where Life Could Develop As It Did On Earth

Scientists have identified a group of planets outside our solar system where the same chemical conditions that may have led to life on Earth exist.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC LMB), found that the chances for life to develop on the surface of a rocky planet like Earth are connected to the type and strength of light given off by its host star.

Their study, published in the journal Science Advances, proposes that stars which give off sufficient ultraviolet (UV) light could kick-start life on their orbiting planets in the same way it likely developed on Earth, where the UV light powers a series of chemical reactions that produce the building blocks of life.

The researchers have identified a range of planets where the UV light from their host star is sufficient to allow these chemical reactions to take place, and that lie within the habitable range where liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface.

“This work allows us to narrow down the best places to search for life,” said Dr Paul Rimmer, a postdoctoral researcher with a joint affiliation at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory and the MRC LMB, and the paper’s first author. “It brings us just a little bit closer to addressing the question of whether we are alone in the universe.”

The new paper is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the Cavendish Laboratory and the MRC LMB, bringing together organic chemistry and exoplanet research. It builds on the work of Professor John Sutherland, a co-author on the current paper, who studies the chemical origin of life on Earth.

In a paper published in 2015, Professor Sutherland’s group at the MRC LMB proposed that cyanide, although a deadly poison, was in fact a key ingredient in the primordial soup from which all life on Earth originated.

In this hypothesis, carbon from meteorites that slammed into the young Earth interacted with nitrogen in the atmosphere to form hydrogen cyanide. The hydrogen cyanide rained to the surface, where it interacted with other elements in various ways, powered by the UV light from the sun. The chemicals produced from these interactions generated the building blocks of RNA, the close relative of DNA which most biologists believe was the first molecule of life to carry information.

In the laboratory, Sutherland’s group recreated these chemical reactions under UV lamps, and generated the precursors to lipids, amino acids and nucleotides, all of which are essential components of living cells.

“I came across these earlier experiments, and as an astronomer, my first question is always what kind of light are you using, which as chemists they hadn’t really thought about,” said Rimmer. “I started out measuring the number of photons emitted by their lamps, and then realised that comparing this light to the light of different stars was a straightforward next step.”

The two groups performed a series of laboratory experiments to measure how quickly the building blocks of life can be formed from hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen sulphite ions in water when exposed to UV light. They then performed the same experiment in the absence of light.

“There is chemistry that happens in the dark: it’s slower than the chemistry that happens in the light, but it’s there,” said senior author Professor Didier Queloz, also from the Cavendish Laboratory. “We wanted to see how much light it would take for the light chemistry to win out over the dark chemistry.”

The same experiment run in the dark with the hydrogen cyanide and the hydrogen sulphite resulted in an inert compound which could not be used to form the building blocks of life, while the experiment performed under the lights did result in the necessary building blocks.

The researchers then compared the light chemistry to the dark chemistry against the UV light of different stars. They plotted the amount of UV light available to planets in orbit around these stars to determine where the chemistry could be activated.

They found that stars around the same temperature as our sun emitted enough light for the building blocks of life to have formed on the surfaces of their planets. Cool stars, on the other hand, do not produce enough light for these building blocks to be formed, except if they have frequent powerful solar flares to jolt the chemistry forward step by step. Planets that both receive enough light to activate the chemistry and could have liquid water on their surfaces reside in what the researchers have called the abiogenesis zone.

Among the known exoplanets which reside in the abiogenesis zone are several planets detected by the Kepler telescope, including Kepler 452b, a planet that has been nicknamed Earth’s ‘cousin’, although it is too far away to probe with current technology. Next-generation telescopes, such as NASA’s TESS and James Webb Telescopes, will hopefully be able to identify and potentially characterise many more planets that lie within the abiogenesis zone.

Of course, it is also possible that if there is life on other planets, that it has or will develop in a totally different way than it did on Earth.

“I’m not sure how contingent life is, but given that we only have one example so far, it makes sense to look for places that are most like us,” said Rimmer. “There’s an important distinction between what is necessary and what is sufficient. The building blocks are necessary, but they may not be sufficient: it’s possible you could mix them for billions of years and nothing happens. But you want to at least look at the places where the necessary things exist.”

According to recent estimates, there are as many as 700 million trillion terrestrial planets in the observable universe. “Getting some idea of what fraction have been, or might be, primed for life fascinates me,” said Sutherland. “Of course, being primed for life is not everything and we still don’t know how likely the origin of life is, even given favourable circumstances — if it’s really unlikely then we might be alone, but if not, we may have company.”

The research was funded by the Kavli Foundation and the Simons Foundation.

Solar Probe Set To Launch Into The Sun’s Scorching ‘Red Zone’

On Aug. 6, the Parker Solar Probe will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for one extremely intense mission: to fly closer to the Sun than any spacecraft before.

The probe will fly through and study the sun’s atmosphere, where it will face punishing heat and radiation. At its closest, it will come within 6.1 million kilometres of the Sun.

“A lot of people don’t think that’s particularly close,” said Nicola Fox, the project scientist for the Parker Solar Probe. “But if I put the Sun and the Earth in the end zones in a football field, the Parker Solar Probe will be on the four-yard line in the red zone, knocking on the door for a touchdown.”

Named after astrophysicist Eugene Parker — the first living researcher to receive such an honour — the probe will travel in the Sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona. Because it isn’t very dense, the corona is difficult to study. The only time we can see it is during a solar eclipse, or with a specially made instrument called a coronagraph, which blocks out the Sun’s light.

While the Sun is vital to our existence, it’s not really our ally. It is a roiling, churning ball of gas and charged particles that generates a solar wind that influences our planet — and not always in a good way.

Solar flares are one example. These eruptions occur in cooler regions of the sun, called sunspots. Just like Earth, the sun has a magnetic field. But unlike Earth, different regions of the Sun rotate at different speeds. This can cause magnetic loops to become tangled. After twisting tighter and tighter, the stored energy is released as a solar flare.

These are often followed by coronal mass ejections, where charged particles (plasma) erupt and travel at increased speeds along the solar wind.

These events can cause radio blackouts and even knock out power grids. One of the most well known is the power outage that left six million people shivering in the dark in Quebec in March 1989.

“It’s of fundamental importance for us to be able to predict space weather much like we predict weather here on Earth,” said Alex Young, a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., during a news conference Friday.

With the Parker Solar Probe mission, scientists want to better understand these phenomena: the sun’s corona, magnetic field, solar flares and the wildly fast solar wind.

“The solar wind goes from a steady breeze to a supersonic flow from the corona to millions of miles an hour,” Young said. “So why does this happen? What is going on here?”

The way the sun works is counterintuitive.

“It’s a very strange, unfamiliar environment for us. We’re used to the idea that, if I’m standing next to a campfire and I walk away from it, it gets cooler. But this is not what happens on the sun,” Young said. “As we go from the surface of the sun, which is 10,000 degrees, and quickly move up into the corona, we find ourselves quickly at millions of degrees.

This mystery “drives not only how this star works, our sun, but also all the stars in the universe,” Young said.

Why it won’t melt
Clearly, a spacecraft the size of a small car flying that close to the sun needs some serious protection.

The Parker Solar Probe actually won’t be facing the million-degree temperatures that the sun generates. It’s important to note there is a difference between temperature and heat. Temperature measures how fast particles are moving, while heat measures the total amount of energy that is transferred. The particles may be moving fast but if there are few of them they won’t transfer that heat.

Scientists explain it this way: It’s the difference between putting your hand in an oven (not touching anything) and in a pot of hot water. Your hand would burn in the water because it is in contact with many more particles compared to in the oven, where it could withstand the same temperature for a longer duration.

Since the sun’s corona isn’t very dense, the spacecraft won’t be interacting with many particles.

That being said, it will still have to endure temperatures near 1,400 C.

For that, it is equipped with a white ceramic shield — built out of reinforced carbon and carbon foam — that will only ever face the sun.The solar arrays that provide power to the probe retract upon each close approach, so little is exposed to the sun’s powerful rays, while a cooling system also helps to prevent the spacecraft from frying.

It takes eight minutes for the sun’s light to reach us, and the same goes for any message from the probe. Being so close to the sun, the autonomous spacecraft needs to be able to make quick decisions.

Getting there
If all goes well, the Parker Solar Probe will launch on Aug. 6 and arrive safely on Nov. 1. It will then begin its 88-day orbit of the sun that will take it out past Venus. At its closest approach, which will be in 2024, it will be travelling 692,000 km/h.

The probe will complete 24 orbits with seven gravity assists around Venus that will help it pick up speed.

This isn’t the first mission to study the sun. NASA has launched several, including the ongoing Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

Two other spacecraft have had close flybys, though not nearly as close as the Parker Solar Probe’s route. In 1974, Helios 1 passed within 45 million kilometres of the sun’s surface, and Helios 2 within 43.4 million kilometres two years later.

“We’ve done so much science by looking at the star. We’ve looked at it every single different way you can imagine. We’ve looked at it in every wavelength, we’ve travelled in beyond the orbit of Mercury even,” Fox said.

“But we need to get into this action region. Into this region where all these mysteries are really occurring. And that’s why we’re doing this kind of daring journey.”

Solar Flares Disrupted Radio Communications During September 2017 Atlantic Hurricanes

An unlucky coincidence of space and Earth weather in early September 2017 caused radio blackouts for hours during critical hurricane emergency response efforts, according to a new study in Space Weather, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The new research, which details how the events on the Sun and Earth unfolded side-by-side, could aid in the development of space weather forecasting and response, according to the study’s authors.

On September 6, three hurricanes advanced in a menacing line across the Atlantic Ocean. Category 5 Hurricane Irma ravaged Barbuda in the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands in the early morning and churned onward to St. Marin, St. Barthelemy, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands, causing massive damage. Tropical Storm Katia hovered in the Gulf of Mexico and Tropical Storm Jose approached from the open ocean. Both were upgraded to hurricane status later that day.

On the surface of the Sun, 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) away, another storm was brewing. A class X-2.2 and major class X-9.3 solar flare erupted on the morning of September 6 at about 8 a.m. local time. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center warned of a strong radio blackout over most the sunlit side of Earth, including the Caribbean.

Amateur radio operators assisting with emergency communications in the islands reported to the Hurricane Watch Net that radio communications went down for most of the morning and early afternoon on September 6 because of the Sun’s activity, according to the new study. French civil aviation reported a 90-minute loss of communication with a cargo plane, according to the study’s authors, and NOAA reported on September 14 that high frequency radio, used by aviation, maritime, ham radio, and other emergency bands, was unavailable for up to eight hours on September 6.

Another large class-X flare erupted from the Sun on September 10, disrupting radio communication for three hours. The disruption came as the Caribbean community coped with Category 4 Hurricane Jose’s brush with the Leeward Islands and the Bahamas, and Irma’s passage over Little Inagua in the Bahamas on September 8 and passage over Cuba on September 9.

“Space weather and Earth weather aligned to heighten an already tense situation in the Caribbean,” said Rob Redmon, a space scientist with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Boulder, Colorado, and the lead author of the new study. “If I head on over to my amateur radio operator, and they have been transmitting messages for me, whether it be for moving equipment or finding people or just saying I’m okay to somebody else, suddenly I can’t do that on this day, and that would be pretty stressful.”

Bobby Graves, an experienced ham radio operator who manages the Hurricane Watch Net from his home near Jackson, Mississippi, said the flares caused communications to go down for hours. The Hurricane Watch Net is a group of licensed amateur radio operators trained and organized to provide communications support to the National Hurricane Center during storm emergencies.

“You can hear a solar flare on the air as it’s taking place. It’s like hearing bacon fry in a pan, it just all of a sudden gets real staticky and then it’s like someone just turns the light completely off, you don’t hear anything. And that’s what happened this last year on two occasions,” Graves said. “We had to wait ’til the power of those solar flares weakened so that our signals could actually bounce back off the atmosphere. It was a helpless situation.”

The new study detailing the activity on the Sun and its effects on radio communications from September 4 — 13 serves as an overview to a collection of journal articles in Space Weather investigating the solar activity of September 2017. The collision of Earth and space weather in September delivered a reminder that solar events can happen at any time and may coincide with other emergencies, according to the study’s authors.

The information in the study could help scientists improve space weather forecasting and response, according to the study’s authors. By understanding how the events on the Sun and Earth unfolded, scientists can better understand how to forecast and prepare for future events, they said.

The new study shows the solar flares affected shortwave radio communications, which were being used by amateurs and professionals in emergency response efforts, although it does not detail how emergency efforts may have been affected by the radio blackout.

“Safeguards put in place to prevent dangerous disruption to GPS from solar events worked,” said Mike Hapgood, head of space weather at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom, and a scientist not connected to the new study. “In many ways, we were ready. Some things that could have caused big problems didn’t, but shortwave radio is always tricky to use during solar events. But good radio operators are aware of the events and will work hard to overcome problems.”

“It’s the Sun reminding us that it’s there,” Hapgood added. “The Sun’s been very quiet for the last 10 years. It reminds people not to be complacent.”

Unexpected space weather

The 2017 flares were the largest since 2005 and the best documented solar storm to date, observed from a fleet of spacecraft between the Earth and the Sun, in Earth’s orbit, on Earth and Mars.

Solar flares release bursts of X-rays from the Sun that travel outwards in all directions at the speed of light. Strong flares can disrupt radio and aviation communications. Space weather forecasters have only minutes to broadcast warnings to spacecraft, aviation and other administrators before affects are felt on Earth.

X-rays from solar flares interact with Earth’s atmosphere 50-1000 kilometers (30-600 miles) above the Earth, in a region called the ionosphere. Shortwave radio communication works by bouncing signals off the ionosphere and refracting them back to Earth. When the Sun releases a burst of x-rays, like the flares released in early September, the extra energy delivered to the ionosphere can cause it to absorb high frequency radio signals, like those used by ham radio enthusiasts.

The September 6 and 10 flares were also accompanied by bursts of high energy solar material explosively ejected from the Sun in an expanding bubble much larger than the Earth. Such coronal mass ejections, which arrive within one to three days, have the potential to wreck the most havoc on human technology. The geomagnetic storms generated by coronal mass ejections can damage power grids, confuse GPS systems and damage or disrupt communication with spacecraft, including weather satellites.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center issued warnings for potentially severe geomagnetic storms for September 7-9.

An unlucky coincidence

The unexpected burst of space weather coincided with high hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean.

Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record with sustained winds of 287 kilometers per hour (175 miles per hour), hit the tiny island of Barbuda at maximum intensity, razing 95 percent of its buildings. The storm destroyed most homes and much infrastructure on St. Martin, Anguilla, Great Inagua and Crooked Island in the Bahamas, and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. It caused power outages and damage in the Cuban Keys, Turks and Caicos and the southeastern United States. Wind and rain from the storm killed 37 people in the Caribbean and 10 on the U.S. mainland, according the National Hurricane Center.

During the September crisis, the Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net logged many “radiograms” relaying survival notes between anxious family members on the islands and the mainland via ham radio operators, Redmon said.

“Seeing that logbook really brought home to me the human dimension of the storm,” Redmon said. “It put the humanity in the science.”

Ham radio hobbyists routinely volunteer to disseminate hazard information from the National Weather Service to island communities and ships during major storms, report real-time ground conditions and damages back to the National Hurricane Center, and assist the Red Cross with communications.

Graves, the ham radio operator, said many people trapped by storms appreciate hearing a friendly voice over amateur radio relaying the latest weather update, even if they are not able to reply. During a storm, ham radio volunteers strain to listen for lone stations in the affected area that may still be transmitting, Graves said.

“A lot of folks in the area were asking us: We heard there’s Jose coming behind Irma, what’s this thing going to do?” he said.

Myanmar: Tens Of Thousands Displaced As Floods Wreak Havoc

At least 12 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in Myanmar after monsoon rains caused flooding across the country, officials said.

“Among the 12 people killed, three are soldiers who were swept away by floodwaters during a rescue operation in northeastern Mon state,” Director-General Ko Ko Naing of the Disaster Management Department said on Thursday.

“Heavy rains are still hampering us from reaching many of those affected places,” he told Anadolu Agency.

An estimated 148,386 people are currently taking refuge in 327 temporary camps in the flood-affected regions.

Nearly 28,000 are still in their flooded homes, either unable to escape to shelters or are opting to stay in the hope that water levels will start to recede, local Myanma Alinn newspaper reports.

“Our house is just beside the river bank so we’re trying to move somewhere higher,” 54-year-old Ohn Myint said.

Farmer and fisherman Win Kyu, 40, is concerned about his fields that now lie completely under water.

“We experienced flooding like this back in 2000. This year is the worst since then,” he said.

“If this goes on, people will struggle to make a living,” Kyu added.

At least 12,140 hectares (30,000 acres) of farmland have been completely destroyed due to the week-long flooding, according to the government.

The country has been facing floods in seven regions since last week as most rivers have exceeded their danger levels by several feet and 36 dams and reservoirs are overflowing due to heavy monsoon rains.

Myanmar experienced severe flooding in 2015 when around 100 people reportedly died and more than 330,000 were forced from their homes.