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Wed, 10 Feb 2016
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Fire

Masaya volcano in Nicaragua showing signs of unrest with lava close to surface

According to local press articles referring to information from INETER, the volcano's activity is on the rise, with "lava being close to the surface".

The main crater of the volcano appears covered with debris from rockfalls from the crater walls, but visible incandescence, strong degassing sounds and small flames (from combusting gasses) jetting from between cracks on the floor, suggest that lava might be not far underneath and could again lead to the formation of a new lava lake, last observed in 1999.

On the other hand, seismic activity has been at low levels and not shown significant variations recently, not suggesting that significant movements of magma towards the surface have taken place.

Also, the incandescence of the vent at the main crater has been there for a number of years already.

Comment: Volcanoes in Nicaragua have been quite active recently as seismic and volcanic activity has increased around the Pacific Ring of Fire.


Snowflake Cold

Winter storm sends temperatures plummeting across western US - Arizona hits zero

© AP/Rick Bowner
Salt Lake City on Monday, December 14, 2015.
A storm that drenched California over the weekend has turned an Arizona town into one of the coldest cities in the lower 48 while making for a rainy commute in Phoenix, where it was colder than New York City.

Here's a look at the winter weather across the West:

Arizona

An icy storm in northern Arizona left Bellemont, a small community west of Flagstaff, with a temperature of zero at sunrise Sunday - one of the chilliest temperatures in the lower 48 states at the time, said David Vonderheide of the National Weather Service.

The morning commute in the region Monday was slow as an initial band of snow showers neared an end and a second wave arrived. The Arizona Department of Transportation urged people to stay off major highways if possible.

Weather forecasters said wind gusts up to 40 mph would send snow swirling and further complicate travel.

Meanwhile, rain fell in central and southern Arizona, dropping temperatures in Phoenix to the mid-40s - some 10 degrees colder than New York City.

Bellemont's low temperatures were due to its location in a flat area surrounded by low hills where cold air struggles to escape, Vonderheide said. At 7,100 feet, it's slightly higher in elevation than Flagstaff.

"There are mornings every winter where Bellemont is the coldest in the lower 48," he said.

Utah

The state's first major winter storm dumped a foot of snow in some parts of the Salt Lake City area, creating harrowing commutes.

Comment: Weather records are being broken all over the world. Check out our latest SOTT Earth Changes Summary for November 2015: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs.


Camera

827 villages in Turkey inaccessible due to snow

© trtturk.com
This short video reminds me of why I don't want to live in snow country.


In Van and Hakkari, roads to 827 settlements have been closed due to snow.

In Van, 317 districts are inaccessible due to snow. The Regional Directorate of Highways and Municipality snow-fighting teams continue working to open the roads.

The Directorate of Meteorology Regional in a statement reported that more snow is expected at noon, and that the temperature will fall up to 3 degrees below zero.

In Hakkari, the snow has closed the roads to 136 villages of 374 hamlets.

Comment: Cosmic karma? From two weeks ago: Snowfall shuts 290 village roads in eastern Anatolia, Turkey


Rainbow

Colorful 'mother of pearl' cloud appears in Swedish skies

This fantastic colorful nacreous cloud appeared in the sky of Abisco, Sweden on December 14, 2015.

Mother of pearl clouds are a kind of polar stratospheric clouds that float through the stratosphere (25 km above Earth surface) and they are fantastically colorful.

These rare colorful clouds form in the lower stratosphere when temperatures drop to around minus 85ºC. The iridescent colors appearing in the clouds are the result of diffraction and interference of sunlight shining through tiny ice particles ~10µm across.

Attention

Over 100 earthquakes at Copahue volcano in one day, Chile

© AFP PHOTO / Antonio Huglich
Copahue volcano
Is the Copahue volcano entering a new eruptive phase?

The volcano was hit by 103 earthquakes between December 12 at 10:17 local time (13.17 GMT) and December 13 at 1:09 local time (4.09 GMT), so less than 1 day. Insane.

103 seismic events rattled the Copahue volcano during last week-end as reported by the Service National of Geology and Mining of Chile (Sernageomin).

The earthquakes occurred 12 kilometers from the main crater at depths close to six kilometers underground.

The most powerful tremor was a M3.1 and happened at 12:57 local time (15.00 GMT) on Saturday.

Attention

Dead humpback whale washes up Hatteras Island beach, North Carolina

© National Parks Service
A dead humpback whale washed ashore on Cape Hatteras.
A humpback whale has been found dead on a beach near the end of Hatteras Island.

National Park Service spokeswoman Cyndy Holda tells the Virginian-Pilot that the juvenile male was found Monday and is 33 feet long.

Holda says staffers from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are conducting a necropsy on the carcass to determine cause of death. The whale will be buried in parts on the beach.

The animal showed no outward signs of trauma. Holda says the biologists took samples to test for toxins.

Marine biologist Karen Clark says humpback whales migrate south from New England to the south Atlantic this time of year. Juveniles often linger off the Outer Banks coast to eat.

Attention

Dead killer whale washes up on beach in South Africa


Dead killer whale
A dead killer whale has washed up on the shore in Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape.

"It washed up on the beach dead and then was removed by the [municipal] cleansing department," National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson Craig Lambinon said.

"Samples of it have been taken away by the department of environmental affairs."

The animals commonly known as killer whales are also called orcas.

Lambinon said the whale was found on Sunday.

Cloud Precipitation

Dozens killed as more floods hit the Democratic Republic of Congo

© EPA
Rain in Congo
Torrential rain between 11 and 12 December 2015 has caused deadly floods and landslides in eastern and western parts of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Local news reports claim that 18 people have died in eastern South Kivu and 9 in western Bas Congo provinces.

Floods have already resulted in over 30 deaths in Kinshasa and other areas of the country since late November.

South Kivu Province

On 12 December 2015, AFP reported that at least 18 people during torrential rains and floods on Friday 11 December to Saturday 12 December 2015 in Bukavu in South Kivu province in the east of the country.

WMO reported that, during a 24 hour period between 06 and 07 December 2015, 136.9 mm of rain fell in Bukavu. No records are available for more recent rainfall in the country.

At least 6 houses collapsed after torrential rain triggered floods and landslides. There are fears that some are still trapped under the rubble and that the death toll could rise further. One death has been reported as a result of electrocution. Radio Okapi, the UN backed news outlet in DRC say that around 50 houses have been damaged which could leave hundreds homeless. Ibanda and Panzi districts in Bukavu are thought to be the worst affected.


Comment: See also: Flooding in Congo capital kill at least 31 in three weeks


Red Flag

Shanghai's worst smog in two years prompts introduction of emergency measures

© Zhong Yang/Imaginechina via AP Images
Tourists walk on the Bund in Shanghai during heavy smog on Dec. 14
Shanghai ordered schools to keep children indoors and factories to limit production as a hazy smog enveloped the metropolis and the most dangerous air contaminants reached the highest levels in two years.

The city's air quality index hit 217 at 4 p.m., or "heavily polluted," the second worst in a 6-grade scale, the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center said. It had improved from "severe" earlier, when PM2.5 levels -- particulates considered the must dangerous to health -- rose to as high as 281 micrograms per cubic meter, the most since Dec. 26, 2013, according to U.S. State Department data tracked by Bloomberg. The World Health Organization recommends no more than daily average exposures of 25 micrograms.

Shanghai's pollution hasn't been a major concern since 2013, when the city was shrouded in smog for weeks and prompted the American Chamber of Commerce to say it was hurting the city's image as it sought to attract foreign businesses. Tuesday's warning followed a red pollution alert by Beijing last week for the first time, that triggered limits on industrial production, bans on outdoor construction and primary school and kindergartens suspensions.

Comment: Last week, the Chinese capital Beijing, issued it's highest possible smog warning for the very first time.


Windsock

Typhoon Melor: Three people dead as storm slams into the Philippines

© Charism Sayat/AFP/Getty Images
Waves spill over a wall in the city of Legaspi in Albay province, south of Manila, as typhoon Melor approached the city.

Millions left without power as typhoon's heavy rain and strong winds pound the Bicol peninsula and Romblon islands

Typhoon Melor carved through the central Philippines on Tuesday, bringing heavy rain and strong winds that left millions without power and at least three people dead, officials said.

One person died of hypothermia while two others drowned in floods in the fishing town of Catarman in Northern Samar province in the Visayas region south of Manila, municipal disaster officer Jonathan Baldo told DZMM radio.

The storm toppled trees and cut electricity to at least seven provinces, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

Christmas lanterns and lights, tin roofs and branches littered the streets of the city of Legazpi, which was battered by strong winds.

People who fled from their coastal homes spent a sleepless night in evacuation centres, sprawled on classroom tables and chairs as flying debris swirled around outside.