Category Archives: nature

Photos from a natural disaster – Japan earthquake & tsunami.

TIME contract photographer Dominic Nahr arrived just one day after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting devastating tsunami hit the northeast coast of Japan on March 11th. Nahr camped out at a Daiou temple in Minami Sanriku where most of the town had been wiped out by the tsunami. The temple, however, was on top of a hill and was spared. Dozens of survivors are living at the temple after having their homes destroyed. Nahr photographed the Buddhist funeral ceremonies that were being done in groups and in an abbreviated form so they could accommodate all the families that lose loved ones, many without a body to mourn.

Survivor's sleep closely together for warmth at a temporary shelter in a Daiou temple in Minami Sanriku, one of the only locations in the area not destroyed by the tsunami. March 29, 2011

Dozens of urns fill a room for a group funeral at a Daiou temple in Minami Sanriku. March 30, 2011

A member of Japan's Self-Defense Forces searches for survivors on March 14, 2011


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Photographs and family mementos saved from rubble after earthquake and tsunami.

Many family photographs have been found in the rubble and ruins of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11. In Ofunato, Iwate prefecture, photographer Toru Hanai explains that search and rescue teams, police, firefighters and the Japan Self Defense Force have been gathering the muddied and damaged pictures and bringing them to the local police station. At the Collection Centre the images are cleaned under the direction of project leader and Ofunato resident Satoko Kinno, a paper conservator and graduate of Camberwell College of Arts in London.

Once restored the images are taken to the shelters where they can be reclaimed by their owners. This photograph, taken by Hanai on April 12, shows a volunteer washing and drying images of one single child, a 4 year-old girl. Just a few days after this photo was taken, Kinno got word that the child and her mother and father had all survived the earthquake and tsunami, and were safe. The photographs will be returned to the family.

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Japan still cleaning up after tsunami a month later.

Family photos that were covered in mud from the tsunami are cleaned and dried at a volunteer center in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture in Japan. Toru Hanai/Reuters

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A new aftershock hits the northeast coast of Japan on Monday.

Another aftershock has rattled Japan on the one-month anniversary of a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake that spawned a deadly tsunami on March 11th. Like the aftershock last week, this one is also a magnitude 7.0 quake and resulted in a tsunami warning for 3 foot waves. Officials are hoping that like last week’s aftershock, no new tsunami will be produced. Monday’s (it is now Tuesday in Japan) aftershock did not endanger operations at the tsunami-flooded Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, where power was cut but quickly restored. The epicenter was just inland and about 100 miles north of Tokyo.

This aftershock came only hours after Japanese citizens bowed their heads in ceremonies to mark a month since the original earthquake and tsunami killed up to 25,000 people and set off radiation leaks at the nuclear plant by knocking out its cooling system. The March 11th earthquake and tsunami flattened communities along hundreds of miles (kilometers) of coastline, causing what the government estimates could be as much as $310 billion in damage. About 250,000 are without electricity, although some of them because of the latest two quakes Monday and last Thursday.

(A what point can you stop calling them “aftershocks” and start admitting that they are a series of strong and serious earthquakes in their own right?)

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Stone tablets warn of tsunami dangers along Japan coasts. Another aftershock rattles the island nation.

In the hamlet of Aneyoshi, Iwate Prefecture, in northern Japan a centuries old tablet warns of the danger of tsunamis. The tablets form a crude warning system for Japan, whose long coasts run along major fault lines and is often the target of repeated earthquakes and tsunamis. The coastline is dotted with hundreds of such markers, some more than 600 years old. Japan has been hit by numerous earthquakes recently. The big 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit almost a month ago (March 11) and has killed some 20,000 people and has sparked an on ongoing crisis at a nuclear power plant. Thursday at 11:30pm another large aftershock hit the same area. The 7.4 magnitude aftershock caused the Japan meteorological agency to issue a tsunami warning for a wave of up to 6 feet but it was lifted 90 minutes later. Officials say Thursday’s aftershock hit 30 miles under the water and off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture. Buildings as far away as Tokyo shook for about a minute.

(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

“High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants,” the stone slab reads. “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.” It was advice the dozen or so households of Aneyoshi heeded, and their homes emerged unscathed from a disaster that flattened low-lying communities elsewhere and killed thousands along Japan’s northeastern shore. One stone marker warned of the danger in the coastal city of Kesennuma: “Always be prepared for unexpected tsunamis. Choose life over your possessions and valuables.”

Farther south, the tsunami washed away a seven-foot tall stone tablet that stood next to a playground in the middle of Natori city. Its message was carved in giant Japanese characters: “If an earthquake comes, beware of tsunamis.” Hiroshi Kosai grew up in Natori but moved away after high school. His parents, who remained in the family home, died in the disaster. “I always told my parents it was dangerous here,” said the 43-year-old Kosai, as he pointed out the broken foundation where the tablet once stood. “In five years, you’ll see houses begin to sprout up here again.”


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Here there be pictures.

I finally got off my butt and uploaded the pictures I took during the recent snow storms from my camera. Here are a few of the better ones.

The big snow storm at the end of January that bumped 10 inches of snow in my area. Surprisingly, this was not the event that stopped the whole city in its tracks. Even though it was a lot of snow, it was fluffy and easily moved.

The huge ice and snow storm from last week Tuesday. The bush in my front yard covered in ice and nobody went anywhere. A 1/2 inch of ice kept everybody indoors.

The next morning, Wednesday, the sun came out and the ice glowed like diamonds.

The trees at work covered in ice.

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The dangers of ice and snow even after the storm has passed. (OR: Clean your cars off properly, you idiots.)

The United States has been seeing a lot of snow this winter. The east coast will probably have snow on the ground in June and I probably won’t be seeing my front yard until March. The piles of snow around my neighborhood from the snowplows reach to my shoulders. Needless to say, it’s a lot of snow. The last snow fall was four days ago, early Saturday, and we got a few inches out of it. I’m a little sick of having to shovel my driveway but at least I park my car in a garage.

I know others aren’t so lucky and park outside. I’m not looking forward to having to clean off my car next winter after I’ve moved out. But people’s efforts to clean off their cars this winter have horrified me. Or should I say their lack of effort. On Wednesday of last week, just after the big ice and snow storm, I saw a van driving along that hadn’t cleaned off the back window. It was still covered in white stuff. Who in their right mind would think it was okay to drive a vehicle like that? I saw other cars that had merely cleared a circle in the window and left it like that.

But the most dangerous idiots I see are the people who don’t bother to clean off the tops of their vehicles. Even today I was driving back across the Missouri River from going out to lunch and a sheet of ice and snow from a car several lanes over suddenly lost its battle against gravity and flew up into the air. Luckily, nobody was near that car and the sheet of ice broke apart harmlessly on the road. Days after the last snow fall and it was just waiting to come flying off. After a storm in January I was driving behind an SUV and could see it had a cap of snow still on its roof. I left a lot of space between us but it was rush hour and someone pulled into the space between us. The snow finally gave away a few miles later but we weren’t going very fast at the time and it fell almost straight down. It landed between the SUV and the car instead of right on top of the car’s hood if they had been any closer.

During winter I won’t get anywhere near a truck because I don’t know where that truck might have come from where it was snowing. More than once some person has pulled into the space I’m leaving between me and a truck and gotten a face full of snow and ice that flew off the top, even when it hadn’t been snowing in our area. I regularly see chunks of ice and snow lying all over the highways and know it probably came from the roof of some truck. There was a news story last night about some ice and snow flying off of a bus and going through the windshield of the car behind it. I know better than to get near a truck or other vehicles I can see still have snow on its roof. It’s just asking for trouble.

The moral of this little winter nightmare? Don’t be an idiot and assume everyone else around you is, in fact, an idiot.

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Winter woes…my endless battle with my driveway.

Yesterday morning I had to dig my car out of the driveway to leave for work and last night I had to dig my car into the driveway to park in the garage. I don’t know what it is about this snow that is giving me so much trouble but getting in and out of my own driveway was just impossible. This was after I parked in the street and dragged the snow shovel from the backseat of my car to shovel the big hump of ice and snow the stupid snowplows left at the end of the driveway. I spent a half hour shoveling the end of the drive and then figured that would be enough to get my car into the garage. No such luck. I still got stuck on the portion I hadn’t shoveled yet and had to get out to dig out the front tires. It was insane. After I finally got my car into the garage, I spend another half an hour finishing my side of the driveway. At least I was able to get out this morning without any problems. Although I did have to move the trashcan from where it was placed on my side of the cleared driveway and then replace it because they hadn’t picked up trash yet, even though it was almost 8am by that point. Annoying! This means I’ll have to move it when I go home tonight. Blah!

I’m done with winter now. Spring needs to get here fast!

Snow outside my house.


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How to kill your employees; using snow and ice as a weapon.

Nah! Bad blogger! I’m sorry I left you all out in the cold. My area was hit with a nasty ice and snow storm yesterday and this triggered a hibernation instinct that kept me in bed all day. We didn’t get as much as was first predicted but we got enough to make driving ugly this morning. We were supposed to get 1/4 to a whole inch of ice and sleet and then on top of that we were sitting square in the 9 to 16 inch band for snow. We still got a whole lot of ice and sleet, I’d say a good 3/4 inch if not more, but we lucked out on the snow. We probably only got a few inches. If you go only a few miles north of us though, they got hit with big snow totals. South of us got a ton of ice and freezing precipitation.

It started to freezing rain Monday afternoon and a lot of people left the office early. I was one of the ones who toughed it out until 5pm and I didn’t have any trouble getting home. Of course, on Tuesday morning the winter weather was just starting. I could have gotten to work but I’m not sure I could have ever left. I called in and my boss sounded surprised that I did so. Apparently, only a few people came in yesterday and they closed at noon anyway when the weather really started to get bad. Ice started to ping against my windows around 8am and I couldn’t see my street. There was no way I was going anywhere. They should have closed the office for the whole day. It just shows everybody how little they care for our safety. The Saint Louis area was at a standstill on Tuesday and its poor judgment that they didn’t close the office completely. The office in Litchfield, Illinois and even the office down in Grand Prairie, Texas both closed.

I almost didn’t make it out of my driveway this morning. I left at 7:30am and spent 10 minutes shoveling ice and snow out from behind my tires. Once for the back tires and once for the front tires when they got stuck too! I didn’t even bother putting the shovel back in the garage the second time. I just tossed the shovel into my backseat because I didn’t want to stumble back up the snow covered driveway. Even with getting stuck in my driveway I was only a few minutes late. The highways are fine as long as you go slow and drive in the tracks of the people in front of you. It’s the secondary roads that are a mess. The road to the highway, Mid-Rivers, only had one lane plowed going in either direction and good luck trying to turn. Everybody fishtailed when turning this morning. This winter has been a disaster!


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More reports of mass animal deaths.

I’m only posting this because it’s so near to where I live and the continued reports are getting really weird. There has been another discovery of dead birds found near Sullivan, Missouri, about an hour southwest of Saint Louis. Dozens of birds were found Monday along the I-44 south service road at Winsel Creek. The birds are reported to be starlings. The cause of death has not been determined yet.

James Bartle, the editor of the Sullivan Independent News, took several photos of the birds. “They were just scattered everywhere, just all over the place, you just really couldn’t believe it unless you saw it for yourself,” said Bartle. More than 50 birds can be seen in the photos but Bartle thinks there may have been more in a nearby field that he did not see.

Over 50 starlings found dead near Winsel Creek.

A spokesperson from the Missouri Department of Conservation did comment on a few theories about why these birds are dying so mysteriously. “Our cold weather; sometimes a sudden change in weather can effect populations and they can die because of shock and temperature change- obviously we’ve got a lot of cold weather. Tornado events can sometimes suck a lot of birds up and kill them, obviously we’ve had a lot of that weather going along in recent weeks too,” said agency spokesperson Dan Zarlenga.

Firecrackers confusing some birds while they roosted is still blamed for bird deaths in Arkansas and Sweden. A day ago there were new reports of dead birds found in California and thousands of dead fish are surfacing along Chicago’s lakefront. The birds were found along Highway 101 in California and were reported to be intact with no sign of being shot. In Chicago, thousands of Gizzard Shad, a member of the herring family, are floating in Chicago’s harbors. It gets weirder. Dead fish that washed ashore in New Zealand were missing their eyes. [Ew.]

On a whole, authorities continue to say that mass die-offs of animals with large populations, like birds or fish, are not uncommon. It could be the weather or disease that killed these birds. Environmental changes and human intervention are more likely culprits. But with more reports of large groups of animals dying for mysterious reason people are getting a little, well, weirded out.

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