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Cloud Lightning

Powerful cyclone Ita approaches Australia's northeast coast

Cyclone Ita track

Cyclone Ita bears down on northeast Australia.
A powerful hurricane bore down on Australia's northeast coast Thursday, threatening tourism towns, low-lying communities and crops such as sugar cane.

Officials warned that Tropical Cyclone Ita was the most powerful storm to threaten Queensland state in three years. The cyclone - as hurricanes are often known in this part of the world - is expected to batter the coast with destructive winds and damaging flooding by the time it makes landfall late Friday.
Ice Cube

US largest steel mill stands idle due to ice coverage on Lake Superior

Gary works steel mill idle
© AP
Frozen: U.S. Coast Guard a convoy of Great Lakes cargo ships line up to follow an icebreaker on the St. Marys River, which links Lakes Superior and Huron. U.S. Steel said Monday, April 7, 2014 that its largest mill in Gary, Indiana, is on limited production because of a lack of raw materials

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard crews kept up their battle on Monday to clear pathways for vessels hauling vital raw materials on the ice-clogged Great Lakes, where a shipping logjam forced a weeklong shutdown of the nation's largest steel factory.

Traffic remained largely at a crawl after a winter that produced some of the heaviest ice on record across the five inland seas, where more than half the surface area remained solid this week.

Icebreaking ships slogging across Lake Superior were still encountering ice layers 2 feet to 3 feet thick. In some areas, wind and wave action created walls of ice up to 14 feet high.

United States Steel Corp.'s plant in Gary, Indiana, had resumed limited operations after receiving a shipment over the weekend of iron ore from a company mill near Detroit, which was sending one additional load, spokeswoman Courtney Boone said.

Two ships were scheduled to arrive Tuesday with ore from mines in northern Minnesota following a two-week voyage across Lake Superior, which ordinarily would take three days.

Other companies were hoping their supplies would be adequate to avoid significant disruptions.

'Nobody's stockpile situation is very good,' said Glen Nekvasil, a spokesman for the Lake Carriers' Association, which represents companies that operate 57 U.S.-flagged freighters on the Great Lakes. 'It's still very slow sledding.'
Arrow Down

Bananageddon: Deadly fungus decimates global banana crop

© Independent
Disease spreads from Asia to Africa and may already have jumped to crucial plantations in Latin America

Scientists have warned that the world's banana crop, worth £26 billion and a crucial part of the diet of more than 400 million people, is facing "disaster" from virulent diseases immune to pesticides or other forms of control.

Alarm at the most potent threat - a fungus known as Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4) - has risen dramatically after it was announced in recent weeks that it has jumped from South-east Asia, where it has already devastated export crops, to Mozambique and Jordan.

A United Nations agency told The Independent that the spread of TR4 represents an "expanded threat to global banana production". Experts said there is a risk that the fungus, for which there is currently no effective treatment, has also already made the leap to the world's most important banana growing areas in Latin America, where the disease threatens to destroy vast plantations of the Cavendish variety. The variety accounts for 95 per cent of the bananas shipped to export markets including the United Kingdom, in a trade worth £5.4bn.
Cloud Grey

Huge strange cloud engulfs Alicante beach in Spain


Unusual phenomenon: The huge cloud which rolled into the city of Alicante form the sea caused concern among some locals at first

A huge cloud was filmed engulfing the main beach in Alicante, causing concern among locals and holidaymakers and prompting debate as to its cause.

The huge white mass is seen rolling across the sands of Albufereta beach, obscuring everything in its path - despite an otherwise cloudless sky.

Some speculated that the cloud was smoke from a fire, while others compared the apocalyptic scenes to the smoke cloud left behind when thousands of firecrackers are set off for the Las Fallas festival in neighboring Valencia.
Arrow Down

Dead birds falling from the sky in Oklahoma, experts say 'no cause for concern.' Right!

© blogs.sfweekly.com
Dead birds fall from the sky in Oklahoma and experts say 'no cause for concern.' If you believe that then . . . Dead birds falling from the sky is NOT normal.

On Apr 3, dead birds fell from the sky in Norman, Oklahoma. Even though state wildlife officials say "there's no cause for concern," residents are alarmed, and with good reason. Dead birds falling from the sky is not an everyday occurrence anywhere, let alone in Oklahoma, with its loud booms, rumbling, and shaking.

On Thursday, Becki Miller, a homeowner near Highway 9 and Interstate 35, heard a thump and saw that a dead bird had fallen to the ground. During the next 24 hours, at least a dozen more birds dropped "dead from the skies" into her yard. Also, according to The Oklahoman, a TV station reported another 20 birds were found the same day within a square mile of Miller's home.

Dead birds aside for a moment, there are good reasons why Oklahomans should be alarmed about the unusual happenings in their state.

Comment: Not mentioned above is blast from overhead exploding space rocks as an explanation for both the bird deaths and the associated loud booms. See also: Radar Dopppler images confirm overhead 'turbulence' cause of 2011 mass bird death case in Beebe, Arkansas

Over 30 birds fall dead from the sky in Norman, Oklahoma

Mystery boom rattles homes in Duncan, Oklahoma

Arrow Down

Large sinkhole opens up in Grayson Valley, Alabama

The flood-waters have receded, leaving behind a big mess in some places, including a big sinkhole in one neighborhood.

A sinkhole opened up on Pine Tree Lane just off of Brewster Road in the Grayson Valley area of Birmingham. Police say the hole is about 6 feet deep.

Traffic has been blocked off so if you drive in that area you'll need to find another way around. The worry is that the water coming out from under the road will soon make the whole street collapse.

Red Flag

Pittsburgh's Mount Washington landslide halts trains, Duquesne Incline; restaurant closed as precaution

Pittsburgh landslide
© Darrell Sapp / Post-Gazette
Cleanup continued Tuesday on the Mount Washington hillside after a landslide.
A football-field-sized swath tore loose from the face of Mount Washington early Tuesday morning, sending a torrent of mud and trees across railroad tracks along West Carson Street and briefly closing the Duquesne Incline.

Pittsburgh officials also ordered a precautionary closure of LeMont restaurant above the slide zone, but an engineer said a visual inspection found no signs of instability around that structure.
Arrow Up

Volcanic islands merge in Pacific Ocean


The newer part of the island - Niijima - is now larger than the older portion, which last expanded in 1973-74
A volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean has merged with its neighbour to form one landmass, the US space agency says.

The merged island lies some 1,000km (621mi) south of Tokyo, the result of eruptions on the seafloor that have spewed enough material to rise above the water line.

In November 2013, a new island sprouted near to Nishino-shima, another volcanic landmass that last expanded in the 70s.

Four months later, the new and old islands are one island.
Bacon

Pork prices rise after virus kills piglets

© AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File
Dr. Craig Rowles stands with hogs in one of his Carroll, Iowa, hog buildings.
A virus never before seen in the U.S. has killed millions of baby pigs in less than a year, and with little known about how it spreads or how to stop it, it's threatening pork production and pushing up prices by 10 percent or more.

Estimates vary, but one economist believes case data indicate more than 6 million piglets in 27 states have died since porcine epidemic diarrhea showed up in the U.S. last May. A more conservative estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the nation's pig herd has shrunk at least 3 percent to about 63 million pigs since the disease appeared.

Scientists think the virus, which does not infect humans or other animals, came from China, but they don't know how it got into the country. The federal government is looking into how such viruses might spread, while the pork industry, wary of future outbreaks, has committed $1.7 million to research the disease.
Cloud Precipitation

Storms, flooding, possible tornadoes, pummel Southeast U.S.

© AP/Jay Reeves
Firefighters rescue a family from their home, surrounded by floodwaters, in a mobile home park in Pelham, Ala., on Monday, April 7, 2014. Overnight storms dumped torrential rains in central Alabama, causing flooding across a wide area.
Severe thunderstorms dumped heavy rains across the Southeast on Monday and caused flash flooding in central Alabama, where crews in small boats and military trucks had to rescue dozens of people from their homes and cars.

In Mississippi, a 9-year-old girl was swept away and killed after the storms dropped nearly 7 inches of rain there over the last two days. A possible tornado in another part of the state damaged homes and hurt seven people, and a motorist in metro Atlanta was found dead after driving into a creek swollen with rainwater.

Strong winds downed trees, power lines and snarled rush hour commutes. National Weather Service forecasters in North Carolina say video indicates a tornado touched down near the town of Belhaven in the eastern part of the state. Authorities say a pickup truck was lifted off the highway, injuring a man and his son.
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