... soon, anyway ...
My niece Anna is a graduate student of geology at University of Alaska, with a specialty in volcanic studies. She's in Fairbanks, spitting distance from the Arctic Circle, if your spit doesn't freeze instantly on your lips. Down south of her is -- well, the rest of the world, there ain't much further north -- Mt. Redout, an active volcano near Anchorage that currently displays all the signs that it will erupt. I've been chatting with her about her near-ringside seat for the show and she clued me in to a few sites and webcams on the volcano. It's sort of like watching paint dry, the webcams send one photo every 5 minutes or so, so hit the reload button occasionally.
This site is getting a lot of traffic, and has seismic readouts and all sorts of fun stuff if you're into that sort of thing. I'm not a geologist nor do I play on on TV, but I can tell stuff is moving and shaking.
And here's the webcam. I'm shocked to see that Anchorage is enjoying a balmy +52 degree afternoon:
A few years before Anna was born in Seattle, Mt. St. Helens had its moment of glory, and I have to wonder if some residual volcanic ash in the area predetermined her career choice. This must be better than the Super Bowl for Anna. Here at the beach, she would find life dull. No lava flow has been detected in these parts for a while.
If you're wondering, the Philippines is known as the most disaster-prone area on earth. Cited in the report were the high likelihood of typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, garbage landslides and military actions against Muslim rebels. So to really up your chances of excitement, in the Philippines, you'd want to live near the ocean, under a volcano, behind a garbage landfill, flying a Muslim flag above your trailer. Trailer parks, as we all know, are God's little testing grounds for disasters of any kind.
If you wanted to make a global pilgrimage looking for disasters, Columbia University has helpfully provided world maps with color-coded disaster hotspots, with versions for mortality, total economic loss, and economic loss in proportion to national GDP. At a glance, it looks like you'd want to stick to equatorial areas for the good stuff, with side trips a few degrees north (for the Middle East) and south (most of Africa). Coastal California shows a thin red line for earthquake, drought, and tsunami likelyhood. Woo hoo!
Of course, these maps do not take into account my personal favorite disaster: plagues and -demics both epi- and pan-. If Anna gets all tingly at reports of geothermal outbursts, I am equally galvanized by the latest dire news from the CDC. Here's my favorite publication. No maps on the front page, but close-up shots of hanta virus from China and the latest cattle disease in Turkey are positively cheesecake pin-ups for me.
I'm not sure what this is, but I don't want to get it. Happy weekend everyone!