Earth Changes

Cloud Precipitation

13 dead, 13 missing in central China floods, mudslides; one million affected

Rescuers distribute drinking water to residents along a flooded street in Wenling, eastern China's Zhejiang province, August 10, 2015.
Flooding in three central Chinese provinces has left at least 13 people dead and 13 others missing and disrupted the lives of nearly 1 million people, state media reported Thursday.

Heavy rains and flooding struck Sichuan, Guizhou and Hunan provinces starting Sunday, causing widespread damage, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Worst-hit was Sichuan's Xuyong county, where mud and debris filled streets up to the second floor of some buildings and about half a million people were affected.

Mudslides also destroyed dozens of homes and cut power and communications to the area, which lies in a flood plain at the base of steep mountains.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning hits crude oil tank in Crystal Beach, Texas

© Patrick P / Facebook
Large fire on Crystal Beach
Crystal Beach firefighters say a crude oil tank caught fire Thursday morning due to a lightning strike.

Firefighters say the fire took place at a facility on Monkhouse road on Crystal Beach.

The facility sits just behind Karen Stevens' backyard.

"It's very scary," says Stevens. "Very scary."

Firefighters temporarily evacuated Stevens and her neighbors.

"We grabbed clothes and we ran," she says. "Just with what we had on our back."

Galveston County says the oil tank was holding 400 barrels of crude oil, but it was decommissioned four years ago.

Cloud Lightning

Oil refinery in Texas City hit by lightning, catches fire

© John Bronkhorst
Image of the refinery fire in Texas City, Texas, Thursday morning.
Strong storms moved through the Houston area Thursday morning, where a lightning strike was blamed for an oil refinery fire and streets were quickly flooded by heavy rain.

A Valero refinery in Texas City erupted into flames when a lightning bolt struck a transformer at the site, according to No injuries have been reported, nor are nearby residents in any danger, the report added.

The Texas City Fire Department told the Associated Press that the fire would be monitored and allowed to burn itself out.


Waterspout in Pamlico Sound filmed off Rodanthe, North Carolina

© Douglas Robinson
Waterspout over Pamlico Sound
Douglas Robinson from B101.5 in Fredricksburg, Va. captured video Thursday morning around 6:40 a.m. of a waterspout moving through Pamlico Sound west of Rodanthe.

A cluster of thunderstorms that moved across Hatteras Island after sunrise spawned the short-lived funnel cloud that was reported to the National Weather Service, but dissipated before any warnings were issued.

Today's forecast is for more thunderstorms later this afternoon associated with a slow-moving cold front, and high temperatures in the upper 80s.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bollt kills schoolgirl, injures two others in Bangladesh

Lightning strike killed a schoolgirl and injured her mother and sister in Boda upazila in Panchagarh district on Friday afternoon.

The deceased has been identified as Tanya Akhter, 15, daughter of Salekul Islam of Gomostapara village and a student of class ten of nearby Chandanbari High School. Police, hospital and local sources said, thunderbolt stuck a kitchen of Salekul Islam's house around 1pm when Tanya, her sister Sabina Yasmin, 30, and mother Lailey Begum, 50, were engaged in cooking food.

All of them were injured in the incident and taken to Boda Upazila Health Complex where attending Medical Officer Dr M R Reza declared Tanya dead. Tanya's mother Lailey Begum and her sister Sabina Yasmin have been undergoing treatment at the Health Complex, according to a news agency.

Cloud Lightning

One person killed in lightning strike near Bakersfield, California

A lightning strike may be to blame for a death in a rural area east of Bakersfield.

Firefighters received the emergency call at 6:51 p.m. on Saturday, according to Kern County Fire Captain Tyler Townsend.

Crews found the victim in the 1300 block of E. Curnow Road, near the intersection of Cottonwood Road.

Bystanders in the area said the victim had been struck by lightning, but the Kern County Coroner's office will ultimately determine the cause of death, Townsend said.

The victim -- whose identity hasn't been released -- was dead on arrival.


Signs and Portents: Two-headed calf found in dead cow's womb, Paraguay


The mutant animal had two heads, two snouts, two mouths and four eyes
A two-headed calf was discovered in the womb of a dead cow in the town of Yatytay in the Itapua region of Paraguay in South America.

The mutant animal who had two heads, two snouts, two mouths and four eyes as well as his mother was dead.

The cow was seven months pregnant when it was killed and sent to a butchery, where an unusual animal was discovered.

Locals said that they had never seen anything like it in the area before. The remains of the animal were transferred to the Veterinary School of San Juan to study.


Europe affected by severest drought since 2003

© JRC-EDEA database (EDO). © EU, 2015
Areas with the lowest soil moisture content since 1990 in July 2015 (in red) and in July 2003 (in blue).
Much of the European continent has been affected by severe drought in June and July 2015, one of the worst since the drought and heat wave of summer of 2003, according to the latest report by the JRC's European Drought Observatory (EDO). The drought, which particularly affects France, Benelux, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, northern Italy and northern Spain, is caused by a combination of prolonged rain shortages and exceptionally high temperatures.

Satellite imagery and modelling revealed that the drought, caused by prolonged rainfall shortage since April, had already affected soil moisture content and vegetation conditions in June. Furthermore, the areas with the largest rainfall deficits also recorded exceptionally high maximum daily temperatures: in some cases these reached record values.

Comment: Europe has been undergoing a heatwave that has set historic records and there has been a wave of extreme temperatures all over the globe recently:


Signs and Portents: Two-headed calf born in Peru


A two-headed calf born in Peru has divided villagers wondering if it is a good or a bad omen from God
A two-headed calf born in Peru has divided villagers wondering if it is a good or a bad omen from God.

Some believe that the calf, born in the north western Cajamarca region, was sent by the almighty as a warning over all the evils in the world.

But others believe it was a mythical birth and the cow must have gone through a swamp when she was in season for it to happen.

Others claim it is the result of environmental pollution due to mining in the region.

Despite its amazing appearance, the tragedy is that the animal cannot feed itself because its two heads are so heavy it is unable to lift them.


'Firenado' filmed at Idaho's Soda fire

© Craig Fluer
A firefighter battling Idaho's Soda Fire captured footage of a so-called "firenado" shooting flames high into the air.

Craig Fluer, a wild land firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, posted a video to Instagram of the firenado, or "fire whirl," throwing flames 100 feet into the air.

"Saw a #firewhirl for the first time last night," Fluer wrote. "This sucker was shooting flames 100 ft in the air before it passed right in front of the line, all while dropping hot dirt and ash on our helmets."

Experts said intense heat from large fires can cause the air to rise rapidly, leading to the spinning fire and smoke known as a "firenado" or "fire whirl."

The Soda Fire has burned through more than 280,000 acres since it was first reported Aug. 10. Officials said the fire was 90 percent contained Tuesday.