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Cloud Precipitation

Flooding, heavy rainfall distress over 1 million people in China

© Reuters/China Daily


Street lamps are seen among floodwaters next to partially submerged buildings by an over flowing river at the ancient town as heavy rainfall hits Fenghuang county, Hunan province July 15, 2014.
Hundreds of thousands have been forced to evacuate with over 1 million people in total affected in China as heavy rainstorms batter Hunan and Guizhou provinces, with reports of several deaths and mass destruction.

Some 720,000 people from 240 townships in Hunan are now affected, the provincial flood control headquarters said on Tuesday, Xinhua reports. At least 460 homes have been destroyed and 149,400 residents have been relocated.

The ancient town of Fenghang was flooded with more than 120,000 locals and tourists evacuated since Monday night. Multiple temporary settlements have been set up to cater for the displaced people. Power supply in the region has also been cut off, prompting the local hydrographical bureau to issue a red alert, at 10:10 am local time.

Comment: At least 18 killed in China rainstorms

Sherlock

Update! Russian scientists explore site of 'crater-hole' in Yamal peninsula: 'Probably result of internal forces not seen in 8,000 years'

© Andrey Plekhanov, Marina Leibman
The hole is nowhere near as big as first reported
The crater on the Yamal Peninsula was caused by aliens, a meteorite, a stray missile, or an explosive gas cocktail released due to global warming, according to various theories in recent days.

Images of the remarkable phenomenon have gone round the world since The Siberian Times highlighted helicopter images of the giant hole earlier this week.

The first expedition to the scene - the scientists have just returned - took these epic pictures of the hole, including the darkening pattern on the inner rim.


Now they are using Russian satellite pictures to fix the moment when it suddenly formed.

They found the crater - around up to 70 metres deep - has an icy lake at its bottom, and water is cascading down its eroding permafrost walls.

It is not as wide as aerial estimates which suggested between 50 and 100 metres.

Comment: Just to be clear, any local 'warming' that is taking place is due to increased volcanic activity, especially under the Arctic Ocean, where methane clathrate deposits are being ruptured in enormous quantities these days, releasing methane gas into the atmosphere. Together with sinkholes and fissures of all descriptions appearing all over the world in recent years, this discovery further suggests that the planet is literally opening up.

Map

New map points up future hot spots for U.S. earthquakes

us earthquake hotspots
© U.S. Geological Survey
Hot spots: California is still a seismic hazard hot spot—but the latest earthquake risk maps suggest a higher risk of damaging quakes than previously estimated.
Earthquake risk assessments can seem pretty abstract at first glance, with their "percent probabilities" and "peak ground accelerations." But the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS's) national hazard maps, updated periodically, pack a powerful punch: Insurance companies and city planners rely heavily on the maps, which influence billions of dollars in construction every year. Today, USGS scientists released the most recent earthquake hazard assessments for the country. Although the picture hasn't changed much on a national scale since the last report in 2008, the devil is in the details, the report's authors say - and some areas in the country are now considered to be at higher risk for powerful quakes than once thought.

The best-known earthquake zones - California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Intermountain West - still dominate the hazard picture. Farther east, hot spots around the New Madrid Seismic Zone in the center of the country and Charleston, South Carolina, reflect the memory of powerful historical quakes (in 1811 to 1812 and 1886, respectively). But, in fact, all 50 states have the potential for earthquakes, and damaging ground shaking could happen in 42 of the 50 states within 50 years, the new report suggests. Of those, 16 states, all of which have had earthquakes of at least magnitude 6 in historical times, are considered highly likely to experience damaging ground shaking.

To assess the risk of where and how often future earthquakes will occur, and how hard the ground will shake, scientists are constantly seeking new data from these regions and using them to develop new ways of modeling ground motion, says Mark Petersen, a seismologist at USGS in Golden, Colorado, and the lead author of the new report. Among the latest temblors incorporated into the assessment is the 2011 5.8-magnitude Virginia earthquake, which "helped us understand better ground shaking in the central and eastern United States," Petersen says. New data also came from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which in 2010 published its own risk assessment for earthquake damage to its power plants in the central and eastern United States. These all suggest the region has the potential to experience an even more powerful quake.
Sun

Hottest air of season may follow record chill in Central U.S.

After record-challenging chill this week, temperatures could rebound to their highest level of the summer so far in parts of the North Central states next week.

A forecast shift in the jet stream will set into motion a marked temperature turnaround this weekend into next week over portions of the northern Plains and Midwest. The jet stream is a river of high-speed winds high above the ground that guides storms and air masses along.
Hardhat

Miami is drowning while the powers that be look away

Low-lying south Florida, at the front line of climate change in the US, will be swallowed as sea levels rise. Astonishingly, the population is growing, house prices are rising and building goes on. The problem is the city is run by climate change deniers
Miami Coastline
© Joe Raedle/Getty
The Miami coastline: there are fears that even a 30cm rise in the sea level could be catastrophic.
A drive through the sticky Florida heat into Alton Road in Miami Beach can be an unexpectedly awkward business. Most of the boulevard, which runs north through the heart of the resort's most opulent palm-fringed real estate, has been reduced to a single lane that is hemmed in by bollards, road-closed signs, diggers, trucks, workmen, stacks of giant concrete cylinders and mounds of grey, foul-smelling earth.

It is an unedifying experience but an illuminating one - for this once glamorous thoroughfare, a few blocks from Miami Beach's art deco waterfront and its white beaches, has taken on an unexpected role. It now lies on the front line of America's battle against climate change and the rise in sea levels that it has triggered.

"Climate change is no longer viewed as a future threat round here," says atmosphere expert Professor Ben Kirtman, of the University of Miami. "It is something that we are having to deal with today."
Sun

20 Signs the epic drought in the western United States is starting to become apocalyptic, as food prices continue to rise at an alarming rate

When scientists start using phrases such as "the worst drought" and "as bad as you can imagine" to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad. Thanks to an epic drought that never seems to end, we are witnessing the beginning of a water crisis that most people never even dreamed was possible in this day and age. The state of California is getting ready to ban people from watering their lawns and washing their cars, but if this drought persists we will eventually see far more extreme water conservation measures than that.

And the fact that nearly half of all of the produce in America comes out of the state of California means that ultimately this drought is going to deeply affect all of us. Food prices have already been rising at an alarming rate, and the longer this drought goes on the higher they will go. Let us hope and pray that this drought is permanently broken at some point, because otherwise we could very well be entering an era of extreme water rationing, gigantic dust storms and crippling food prices. The following are 20 signs that the epic drought in the western half of the United States is starting to become apocalyptic...
Sun

Where did all the sunspots go? Eerie quiet descends on the sun

This week, solar activity has sharply declined. There is only one numbered sunspot on the Earth-facing side of the sun, and it is so small you might have trouble finding it. Click to enlarge this July 17th image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Obervatory and see if you can locate AR2113:

In case you couldn't find the sunspot's tiny decaying core, here it is.

Long-time readers absorbing this image might be reminded of 2008-2009, years of spotlessness when the sun plunged into the deepest solar minimum in a century. The resemblance, however, is only superficial. Deep inside the sun, the solar dynamo is still churning out knots of magnetism that should soon bob to the surface to make new sunspots. Solar Max is not finished, it's just miniature.

Until the sunspots return, solar flares are unlikely. NOAA forecasters estimate the odds of an M-flare today to be no more than 1%. Updates on Twitter @spaceweatherman.
Attention

Dead and lost boobies: More than 6,000 dead seabirds found on Peruvian beaches, with thousands more in Chile

© Ronny Peredo
Dead seabirds—mostly Peruvian boobies—appeared along the northern Chilean coast in late June.
On June 20, naturalists aboard the National Geographic Endeavour spotted an unusual bird - a Peruvian booby - while exploring seabird colonies on the Galápagos Islands. What made seeing this bird so unusual? It was the first record ever made of the species in the eastern Pacific archipelago.

Peruvian boobies normally live along the western coastline of South America from Chile to southern Ecuador (some 600 miles - 966 kilometers - to the east of the Galápagos) where they feed on anchovies that thrive in the cold, productive water of the Humboldt Current.

In a typical year, the birds don't stray much farther than 40 miles (64 kilometers) from their homes. But it may not be a typical year. Instead, a growing El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific may have stirred up the boobies. And that could be bad news, leading to the starvation of thousands of seabirds.

Peruvian boobies are known for abandoning their normal feeding grounds when strong El Niños hit, sometimes traveling as far as Panama (850 miles, or 1,368 kilometers, to the north) in search of food.

"During El Niño conditions the likelihood of citing vagrant [Peruvian boobies] is much higher than during normal, non-El Niño conditions," said Carlos Zavalaga, a seabird biologist at the Universidad Cientifica del Sur in Lima, Peru.
Cloud Lightning

At least 18 killed in China rainstorms

china flooding
© Xinhua/Peng Biao
Rescuers evacuate people trapped in flood water in Jishou, central China's Hunan Province, July 16, 2014.
Continuous rainstorms have battered several provinces in China this week, killing at least 18 people and affecting several million.

In southwest China's Guizhou Province alone, 7 people were killed in floods, when their homes collapsed or by lightning strikes, the provincial civil affairs bureau said in a press release Wednesday. Three others were reported missing and more than 91,000 were relocated.H Heavy rain, which began on Sunday night and lasted through Wednesday, destroyed 5,800 homes and damaged another 16,300 in Guizhou.

In Tongren City, the Jinjiang River overflowed into many downtown streets, flooding homes and stores. Firefighters were mobilized to pump the floodwater from downtown areas.

Power supplies were cut off in nearly 300,000 homes in Tongren, Zunyi and Bijie. As of Wednesday night, about 100,000 homes were still without power.
Cloud Lightning

Family of four struck by one lightning bolt during unusually high numbers of "fierce thunderstorms" in Norway

© Shutterstock
Large lightning bolt at night
Four members of the same family were all struck by a lightning bolt on Saturday in Rennebu, South Trøndelag.

Around 5pm on Saturday, a married couple, both 57 years old, and their son, 24, and daughter, 23, were all admitted to St Olav's Hospital.

The couple and their daughter suffered only minor injuries from the lightning attack, but the young man was seriously injured. He was taken to intensive care at the hospital where his condition is said to be stable. He received vital heart and lung rescue at the scene of the incident after having a heart attack.

Tore Kyllo, operation leader with the local police, confirmed to NTB: "It is a family of four that is struck. One of them got a cardiac arrest, but resuscitation made his heart beat again."
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