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Fire

Photographs of rare red 'lightning' sprites taken in New Mexico and Europe

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© Martin Popek
Lightning sprites captured in the Czech Republic on May 13, 2015.

Rarely seen brilliant red sprites were captured by photographers during thunderstorms last week in the Czech Republic and New Mexico.

Sprites are associated with lightning strikes but aren't actually lightning. Instead, sprites occur in the very high levels of the atmosphere above very strong thunderstorms, in the region called the mesosphere between 30 and 60 miles high. Sprites are triggered by positive cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the storm — which is why they are most common during thunderstorm season — and typically only last a few seconds. They are usually shaped like jelly fish, columns or carrots.

"Sprites are a true space weather phenomenon," lightning scientist Oscar van der Velde of the Technical University of Catalonia, Spain, told spaceweather.com. "They develop in mid-air around 80 km [50 miles] altitude, growing in both directions, first down, then up. This happens when a fierce lightning bolt draws lots of charge from a cloud near Earth's surface. Electric fields [shoot] to the top of Earth's atmosphere - and the result is a sprite. The entire process takes about 20 milliseconds."

Bizarro Earth

A 4.2 magnitude earthquake 'causes homes to shake' in Kent, UK

© British Geological survey
The British Geological survey's monitoring stations showed seismic activity on Friday morning
A 4.2 magnitude earthquake has been recorded in Kent, the British Geological Survey (BGS) has said.

The tremor originated near Sandwich at a depth of 15km (9.5 miles) underground at 02:52 BST, it reported.

Residents in areas including Margate, Canterbury and Southend-on-Sea in Essex felt the tremor, with some saying they thought it was a plane crash or a bomb.

Kent Police said a number of calls had been received but no injuries or structural damage had been reported.

But Herbert Smith tweeted that he and his wife Doreen were taking refuge in their caravan after being evacuated from their damaged home in Flete.

Bizarro Earth

Strange skys, strange times: Another solar halo in mexico

People in Mexico's capital were captivated by a circular solar halo in the skies above the city's most famous monument, Angel of Independence.



Wolf

Family dog attacks and seriously injures toddler in Alanson, Michigan

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A pit bull terrier
A 20-month-old girl was seriously injured today, Thursday, when a dog living at her home attacked her, Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin said.

Wallin said the incident was reported at a home in the village of Alanson around 7:30 a.m. today. Along with deputies, Alanson-Littlefield Fire Department first responders and Emmet County EMS responded to the scene to provide medical care and transported the girl to McLaren Northern Michigan hospital.

Wallin did not have specific details on the girl's injuries or medical status, but described the injuries as serious, and noted that she has since been airlifted to Devos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Wallin said the dog, which he described as a "pit bull-type," has been detained by authorities.

He did not yet know if there had been previous incidents with the dog being aggressive and said the investigation into today's incident is still ongoing.

Wallin said his office will likely at some point seek a court order to have the dog euthanized.

Eye 2

Snake filmed on moving car windscreen

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© newsflare
Snake hitches a lift in windscreen wipers
An oblivious motorist had no idea they had an extra passenger on board their car - until a huge snake suddenly appeared on their windscreen.

The slippery customer had been nesting in the windshield washer reservoir tank when its peaceful sleep was brought to an abrupt end by the car's engine starting.

Disturbed from its unique hiding place, the snake slowly appeared through the car's outside vents and found itself trapped on the windscreen as the driver was cruising down a motorway.


Attention

California declares emergency as oil spill fouls sea and beaches near Santa Barbara

© www.sillyid.com
Workers begin cleanup process of oil spill into the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara, CA
California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County late Wednesday after an onshore pipeline burst, spewing thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean — blackening beaches and endangering West Coast wildlife. The area, a popular camping spot some 20 miles from Santa Barbara, known for its palm-tree-lined seashore and pristine surf, has been "closed indefinitely." The extent of the damage is not known.

A pipeline that carries oil from an onshore facility to refineries ruptured Tuesday, leaking for hours into a culvert under a highway and into a storm drain that led to the ocean near the Refugio State Beach. A control room operator noticed "abnormalities" in the line and shut it down, according to the Los Angeles Times. Firefighters responded to reports of a gasoline smell.

Texas-based oil company Plains All American Pipeline said up to 105,000 gallons of crude oil may have leaked out — up to 21,000 gallons of which may have spilled into the sea.

"It's important to remember this stretch of California coastline is unique to the world. It's beautiful and pristine," Santa Barbara County Supervisor Doreen Farr said, according to NBC Los Angeles. "This is more than an inconvenience. This is just a disaster. We are taking it very seriously."

Officials in California have begun cleanup and damage assessment operations after a ruptured pipeline spread some 21,000 gallons of oil onto beaches and into the ocean near Santa Barbara.

Comment: This kind of preventable negligence is unconscionable and the cleanup will take years. California's 6,000 miles of oil pipelines are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the state fire marshal. Before 2013, the fire marshal's office managed the 2,000 miles of interstate pipelines for the federal department, monitoring, inspecting and reviewing company records. Now, the federal government oversees those pipelines, including the one that failed this week. Great job of monitoring. The habitat thanks you.


Arrow Down

Yellowstone trail shut due to rock, mud slide

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Rock and mud slide at Yellowstone National Park
Heavy rain and snow over the weekend has caused a rock and mud slide across a popular Yellowstone National Park trail, forcing its closure until further notice.

The National Park Service says one rock that crashed down on the Brink of the Lower Falls Trail is nearly 7 feet tall and 8 feet long, effectively blocking the trail in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Canyon District Ranger Tim Townsend says no work can be done to clear the trail until the unstable slope above it dries out.

Visitors may still hike the nearby North Rim Trail.

As the busy holiday weekend approaches, rangers say many trails and other areas in Yellowstone are saturated. Current trail condition reports are available at Yellowstone visitor's centers or backcountry offices.

Snowflake

Snowfall returns to Reykjavík, Iceland

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© Photo: Páll Stefánsson.
Archive photo.
"What's going on," said Sunna, a staff member of Iceland Review, when she arrived at the office, at 8:30 this morning. "It snowed last night. It was all white when I woke up!"

A thin layer of snow covered the capital area early this morning but had disappeared before 9 am.

The temperature in Reykjavík dropped to 1.2ºC (34.1ºF) during the night but was already up to 3.4ºC (38.1ºF) at peak hour between 8 am and 9 am this morning, according to the Icelandic Met Office. The temperature fell below freezing at many mountain passes around Iceland last night.

The highest temperature in Iceland last night was recorded at Hallormstaðir in East Iceland, 8.8ºC (47.8º F). Papey island off East Iceland had the strongest wind and Patreksfjörður, the West Fjords, had the most rainfall.

Light snowfall returned for several minutes around midday but has now disappeared.

Gleðilegt sumar ('Happy Summer') as we say in Icelandic.

Bizarro Earth

Six earthquakes rattle parts of San Diego, California


U.S. Geological Survey map shows the location of the six earthquakes in the Salton Sea.
A series of six earthquakes ranging in magnitude from 2.8 to 4.1 rattled the Imperial County city of Calipatria and were felt in the San Diego area Wednesday night.

All the earthquakes occurred near the southern edge of the Salton Sea. The strongest, a magnitude-4.1, occurred at 8:15 p.m., about 10 miles northwest of Westmorland.

The first earthquake was reported at 8:18 p.m., and the last at 10:06 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter for five of the six earthquakes was about eight miles north north-west of Calipatria.

The magnitude-4.1, which occurred at a depth of five-eighths of a mile, was felt in parts of San Diego, La Mesa and Alpine, U-T San Diego reported.

Two of the earthquakes had a magnitude of 3.3. The first, at 8:51 p.m., occurred at a depth of 1.8 miles, and the second, at 10:06 p.m., was at ground level, according to the USGS.

City News Service

Cloud Precipitation

10,000 left homeless after deadly floods strike Southern China with 'super severe rainstorm' forecast

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© AFP
A primary school in Rongan is surrounded by floodwater after a heavy rainstorm hit south China's Guangxi province
A number of provinces of southern China have experienced heavy rain since 18 May 2015. The worst affected are Jiangxi, where 7 people have been killed in landslides and house collapses, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where 6 people are thought to have died in the floods.

Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, also report that at least 6 people are still missing after a rescue boat capsized floods in Ganzhou, Jiangxi. A team of five rescuers and eight evacuated villagers were on the boat when it overturned in flood waters on Tuesday 19 May 2015.

The floods have forced at least 10,000 people from their homes in Jiangxi Province. Local authorities say that nearly 14,000 hectares of farmland is under water.

ECHO report that, as of 19 May 2015, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China was also badly affected by the severe weather, with at least five people killed, another six missing and hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed.

Other province affected by the heavy rainfall over the last few days are Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hunan, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan. Taiwan has also seen heavy rainfall. In Taizhong, 114 mm of rain fell in 24 hours between 19 and 20 May 2015.