Earth Changes


First winter snowfall breaks Juneau, Alaska records

© Matt Miller/KTOO
Return of the berm: Sunday’s record snowfall in Juneau was partially cleared by Monday morning’s commute, but it also brought the return of those familiar white piles.
The National Weather Service says Saturday night's winter storm brought record-setting snowfall to Juneau.

Eight-and-half inches of snow fell at Juneau International Airport over the 24-hour period that ended at midnight on Sunday. That broke a record of 6.3 inches of snow set back in 1946.

Just over 9 inches (9.1) fell at the National Weather Service office on Back Loop Road. That broke the record of 5.4 inches set in 2010.

An 11-year-old record of 5.8 inches of snow at Lena Point was broken with Sunday's snowfall of 9.6 inches.

At Outer Point on Douglas Island 5 inches fell, while 4.5 inches fell in Pelican on Sunday. That was nearly double the old record of 2.5 inches that fell in Pelican on Nov. 30, 2006.

Thousands of mollusks wash ashore in South Africa - event believed to be tied to 'heavy seas'?

Black mussels wash ashore on a South African beach. Photo is a screen grab from the video
A stretch of Rodderg Beach in South Africa turned into "mussel beach" recently when hundreds of thousands of black mussels washed ashore in a mystery that has local officials searching for the reason why.

The beach in Plettenberg Bay was covered with the black mussels over a 325-yard section. Some believed it was caused by a red tide, a harmful algal bloom, but marine experts dismissed that possibility.

Dr. Mark Brown of Nature's Valley Trust told The Herald of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, that the massive beaching is not linked "to red tide or anything sinister at this stage."

Instead, Brown believes the black mussels were dislodged by heavy seas.

"A similar event happened in November last year in the same spot," Brown told The Herald. "Essentially large swells and currents break beds of mussels off the reef and they wash up."

Comment: Residents evacuated as Pico do Fogo volcano in Cape Verde erupts after a 20 year silence


Man likely to have died from a dog pack attack in Madison, North Carolina

It was 1 p.m. and there was a chill in the air when Jose Robles left family he was visiting and went for a stroll down Bethany Road.

For Robles, 62, it would be the last steps of his life.

For his family, it was the last time they would see him alive.

That was Nov. 23.

About 10 a.m. the next day, deputies found Robles at the bottom of a steep embankment about a mile from where he was staying. He was dead.
Arrow Down

Courtesy of Shell Oil: One of the worst oil spills in years causes environmental disaster in Niger Delta

niger delta oil spill
© Reuters / Tife Owolabi
A villager shows a bucket of of crude oil spill at the banks of a river, after a Shell pipeline leaked, in the Oloma community in Nigeria's delta region November 27, 2014.
Fishermen and the environment of Niger Delta continue to suffer the consequences of a massive Shell oil spill in the Niger Delta - one of the worst in years. The oil giant says 1,200 barrels had been recovered as of Tuesday.

Traveling to the affected areas of the Niger Delta in Nigeria, Reuters witnessed the devastation in the delta which covers 20,000 km² within wetlands of 70,000 km².

Crude is everywhere, enough in some cases to fill Jerry can with the black gold.

"We saw dead fish, dead crabs ... This spill occurred 7-8 nautical miles from the shore ... so the volume runs into thousands of barrels," Alagoa Morris, head of the Niger Delta Resource Center for Environmental Rights Action, told Reuters.

Morris was referring to the Shell oil spill at the site on the Okolo Launch on Bonny Island in late November where an estimated 3,800 barrels of oil have leaked into the data, according to an investigation by Shell and government officials.

According to the oil giant, the spill was caused by a failed crude theft.

Comment: Once again a fragile ecosystem in Nigeria is destroyed by Shell Oil, who continues to blame saboteurs when the truth is that they refuse to properly maintain pipelines. The company has still not decontaminated the area or compensated the Bodo residents where a 2008 oil spill caused an environmental catastrophe. It seems that everywhere oil is drilled, from Louisiana to Nigeria, human rights violations abound and the oil industry's negligence continues to inflict damage on the environment with near impunity.


Oil spill in Israeli nature preserve causes one of country's worst environmental disasters

Millions of liters of crude oil gushed out of a breached pipeline in southern Israel early Thursday, causing what one Environmental Protection Ministry official called "one of the gravest pollution events in the country's history."

The official, Guy Samet, said there is a seven-kilometer (4.3 mile) long river of oil flowing through the Evrona Nature Reserve in southern Israel, some 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) north of Eilat.

Firefighters, police, Environmental Protection Ministry officials and oil pipeline maintenance teams were dispatched to the site of the spill, and managed to curtail the flow after about two hours.

The breach occurred during maintenance work that was part of preparations for the international airport under construction in Timna, in southern Israel. Once the leak was discovered, pipeline company officials shut the pipeline's valves - but not in time to prevent the spillage of millions of liters of oil.

The pipeline, which links Eilat to the port city of Ashkelon, opened in the 1960s to facilitate the movement of Iranian oil from the Persian Gulf to European markets. Since the rupture in Israeli-Iranian relations in 1979, it has mostly been used to move oil and oil products from Eilat to different parts of Israel.

Comment: This is the second massive oil spill in the past few weeks. In late November Shell Oil caused one of the worst oil spills in years in the Niger Delta.


Woman left bloodied after attack by koala in Willaston, Australia

Ms Forster was taken to hospital after the koala bite.
A woman has been left bloodied and required a four-day stay in hospital after being attacked by a koala north of Adelaide.

But despite her injuries, she says she doesn't blame the animal for the brutal attack.

Willaston woman Mary Anne Forster said she was walking her two dogs a fortnight ago when they pulled her towards a koala at the base of a tree.

"Obviously the koala felt very threatened because it attached itself with its mouth, jaws, to my leg and bit very hard, bit very deeply," she said.

After a struggle, she managed to break free.

Snowflake Cold

Ice storm with deep snow in Serbia: People experiencing mental breakdown after 48 hours without electricity, water and heating

© Tanjug
3 Dec 14 - "48 hours of agony in Majdanpek, people mentally break!" says headline.

Put on your coat and hat and get under a blanket and wait to pass this evil, say angry residents of Majdanpeka. At night it is very cold.

The city is bound by snow and ice, without electricity, water and heating, and the torture is far from over. The fourth attempt to connect pokidna transmission network, this afternoon failed. It's agony.

Business is great, joked a shop owner: he has sold burners for gas. These gadgets over the past two days in Majdanpeku have become worth gold, because it is only on them that food can be prepared.

Comment: A map of locations for many of the early and extreme cold weather events for the past month, is shown below -


Mad blizzard swallows cars, streets, buildings in Far East Russia

© Screenshot from YouTube user Евгений Шибин
Winter has come with a vengeance: Russia's snow-and-ice-bound Far East regions have declared states of emergency. Traffic chaos is rife, with cars stuck or sliding uncontrollably. Residents are trying to push cars, and also stop them with their bodies.

The cold and snowy season began in Russia's Far East - including the cities of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk - on Dec. 1, the first day of winter proper according to the calendar. Yet municipal services were not ready to deal with weather conditions, people on social networks complained.

Snowfall in Khabarovsk - reportedly the heaviest in decades - forced the city authorities to announce the state of emergency and call in military to aid with the storm's aftermath.

Harsh weather conditions caused traffic to come to a standstill, with people being unable to use either public transport or their own cars.

Challenged to not only find and then dig their cars out from under the snow, drivers also had to push their vehicles when they were stuck on snow and ice-covered roads, as well as stopping them from moving uncontrollably.


Snowflake Cold

U.S. Lake Erie temperature at end of November coldest since 1976

NASA image of Lake Erie was taken the week of the dual lake-effect storms.
Lake Erie's water temperature at the end of November fell to 40 degrees. That's the coldest Nov. 30 reading in Buffalo since 1976, when the lake temperature was 38 degrees. Anyone old enough to remember November 1976 needs no further reminder of what happened the following January.

The lake froze, and sustained winds during the Blizzard of '77 blew 3 feet of accumulated snow off the ice and dumped it across the Niagara Frontier. Great Lakes scientists say it's too early to tell if the lake's present condition will lead to that kind of snow catastrophe this winter.

Until the lake freezes, there's always a chance for lake-effect snow. But as the water turns colder, there's less chance for a repeat of the heavy lake-effect snowfall that hit the area a couple of weeks ago. "It really depends on what happens now and over the next few weeks or month," said Eric J. Anderson, a forecaster at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Comment: Ice ages can start at any time and develop quickly. Are you prepared?

Ice Cube

Dramatic evacuation of Hohe Wande because of ice storm in Austria

In the last few hours on Wednesday afternoon, all access to the Hohe Wand was cut off by ice-covered boulders and broken tree branches, as a result of the ice storm.

Police and fire departments were busy all morning visiting residents living in the area to ask them to leave their homes, many of which are threatened by falling trees.

Some residents left voluntarily, while others refused to leave. Some elderly residents had to be evacuated for medical reasons.

Comment: See also: Rare ice storm strikes Waldviertel in Austria