Earth Changes


Orange alert issued by Chilean government as Villarrica volcano leaks steady plumes of ash, smoke

  • The volcano erupted earlier this month, triggering evacuations of thousands of people, including tourists
  • Residents in Pucon, a resort town near the volcano, were fearful that clouds of smoke could signal another eruption was on its way
  • The March eruption was Villarrica's first major eruption since 1984

A steady stream of smoke and ash being released from the Villarrica volcano.
A steady stream of smoke and ash leaking from the Villarrica volcano has residents of a nearby town wondering if - or when - disaster might strike.

Chilean officials raised threat levels to orange on Wednesday due to increasing signs of activity in the 2840-meter tall volcano, leaving area residents fearful of an eruption.

'No one can sleep peacefully because the other day the eruption surprised us at 3 in the morning,' said Francisco Valenzuela, a tour guide in the nearby resort town of Pucon.

'The tourists are also a little uncertain,' Valenzuela said. 'Could something happen today? Could something happen tomorrow?'

The BBC reports that local authorities canceled classes for the more than 5,500 students in the area.

Many of the residents in towns and communities surrounding the volcano had to be evacuated earlier in the month, when lava and smoke erupted from the peak in the early hours of the morning.

'It was spewing lava and ash hundreds of meters into the air,' 29-year-old Australian tourist Travis Armstrong said. 'Lightning was striking down at the volcano from the ash cloud that formed from the eruption.'


Mexico's Colima volcano explosions strengthening

© Hernando Rivera
Eruption at Colima volcano this morning.
The volcano continues to produce sometimes strong vulcanian-type explosions that seem to have picked up in strength over the past days.

An eruption at 03:08 am local time produced fountaining of lava several hundred meters high and appears to have caused a small pyroclastic flow.

Comment: See also:

Mexico's Colima volcano - violent eruption captured on film

Arrow Down

Massive Peru mudslide destroys homes, kills at least seven

© AP/Andina, Carlos Lezema
In this photo provide by government's Andina news agency, rescue personnel work in the debris of a house destroyed by a mudslide caused by heavy rains in Chosica, Peru, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. According to authorities the mudslide blocked a major road to Lima, destroyed more than 60 homes and killed several residents.
A mud-heavy torrent has sent auto-sized rocks crashing into a highlands town along Peru's main east-west highway and national civil defense chief Carlos Castro says it killed at least seven people and destroyed 65 homes.

The central highway remained blocked by debris on Tuesday from the previous night's catastrophe.

Boulders loosed by two hours of heavy rains smashed through brick walls and floodwaters carried cars, animals and furniture through Chosica's streets.
© AP/Andina, Carlos Lezema
Televised images showed police breaking through the wall of one home to recover the bodies of 23-year-old Ana Marino and her 3-year-old son, Stefano. Mother was clutching child.
© Reuters/Mariana Bazo
A man stands inside his destroyed house after a massive landslide in Chosica, March 24, 2015.
Residents asked authorities to send heavy equipment to clear the wreckage.

A 1987 mudslide in Chosica killed 64 people.

Peru's weather service predicts heavy coastal rains through the rest of March.

Ice Cube

Deep freeze over the Great Lakes halts cargo shipments

© Canadian Coast Guard
The ship Arthur M. Anderson got underway on Lake Erie on Saturday after getting help from Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers.
The trip to pick up a load of iron ore powder in Conneaut, Ohio, was supposed to take four days by way of the Great Lakes.

But within sight of its destination, the cargo ship, the Arthur M. Anderson, got trapped in ice. Two heavy icebreakers from the Canadian Coast Guard eventually broke the vessel free.

It was a 24-day ordeal, and the ship returned to its home port in Wisconsin without picking up the cargo.

A deep freeze this winter left much of the Great Lakes blanketed in thick ice, sidelining the ship lines and companies that move vast amounts of grain, cement and other commodities through this system of waterways. And now the spring thaw, which creates piles of impassable ice, will most likely create more delays.

"There's a lot of ice out there, and we need to understand the impact of that ice," said Mark Barker, the president of the Interlake Steamship Company, which carries mostly iron ore, coal and limestone on its nine ships. "Last year, we pretty much lost the month of April."


SUV swallowed by 20-foot sinkhole in New Jersey suburb

Crews pulled a car out of a huge sinkhole in South Amboy, New Jersey Tuesday afternoon - and some neighbors still were not being allowed back in their homes.

Around 6:15 a.m. Tuesday, authorities were alerted about the 20-foot-deep sinkhole that opened up on Gordon Street. Throughout the day, it was a bad, tense scene - with people wondering why the ground collapsed and if there was still any danger.

Authorities said a broken water main that undermined the earth was to blame for the sinkhole.

A neighbor first called to report that his car had been stolen - but that was not what had happened at all. He discovered that it actually had been swallowed up by the sinkhole, along with part of his yard.

"My dad, he said around 6 o'clock, he heard some crackling, high winds — almost like a recycling truck, it sounded like," said Dawn Matthews, the daughter of the man who lost his car. "He looked to the front and he didn't see a recycling truck, but then he went to the back, and saw in the back of the house, the neighbor's fence was kind of going down, and saw that part of road collapsed."

About an hour later, more of the street collapsed. Video from the scene showed a small SUV covered in mud that appears to have been swallowed up as the road gave way.

"All of the utilities have been shut off to these houses, we've evacuated three houses and there's a car at the bottom of the hill," Fire Chief Mike Geraltowski said.

Cloud Precipitation

Worst hailstorm in 40 years destroys avocado crop in Mexico


The most severe hailstorm in 40 years has hit the Mexican state of Michoacan, destroying avocado crops in some of the country's (and the world's) most productive municipalities.

The most affected Michoacan municipalities are Ziracuaretiro, San Juan Nuevo, Tancítaro and Uruapan.

It is estimated that more than 17,000 hectares have been seriously affected, and that the production of other fruits, such as blackberries and blueberries, has also been lost.

The extent of the destruction has been such that it has endangered the health of avocado trees in Tancítaro, which grows almost 20% of Michaoacan's total annual production, which in turn represents 85% of Mexico's total production.

"In Tancítaro, there will no longer be any production this season, as the trees will not recover and flower again until November," explained the delegate of the Secretariat of Rural Development (Sedru), Andrés Ciprés Murguía.

In San Juan Nuevo and Uruapan, the damage was not as great as in Ziracuaretiro, as due to their warmer climates the fruit was already in a more advanced development stage.

"We were informed that the hailstones were the size of ping-pong balls, and that even some people were injured," stated Andrés.


Bogota, Colombia covered in 60 cm (24 inches) of snow and ice from hail storm

Colombia's capital Bogota was surprised on Sunday by a major hail storm that covered the south of the city with a 60 centimeter (24-inch) layer of icy snow.

The excessive hail caused a number of emergencies across the city.

The most affected were Santa Isabel, La Fragua and El Restrepo.

The Bogota Fire Department reported that rainfall "generated water depths of between 15 and 20 inches accompanied by ice". However, no cases of gravity are presented.

The first census said at least 500 homes were affected. Late into the night Sunday, backhoes worked on the streets to remove the ice.

Comment: Extreme weather events continue to unfold. Here are two other recent extreme hail storms of note, but in Australia:

Giant hailstones fall in Queensland, Australia

Large hailstones kill horses, birds and ravage cotton crops in northern New South Wales, Australia

Despite mainstream media and science lack of coverage and connecting the dots for such events, the earth's weather is rapidly shifting and will continue to impact humans in increasing numbers.


Dead baby whale found near Maui beach, Hawaii

© Maui County ocean safety division
Maui County Ocean Safety officials are warning beachgoers Tuesday about sharks feeding on a whale carcass off Kite Beach near the Kahului airport in Kanaha.
The carcass of a baby whale near Kanaha Beach Park on Maui was towed offshore, but the waters will remain closed after several large sharks were spotted in the area.

Maui ocean safety officials closed the beach and warned the public about the decomposing whale after a 10-foot-long tiger shark was seen feeding on the carcass Tuesday morning. The 10-foot-long whale had been about 100 yards offshore of Kaa Point, which is also known as Kite Beach near Kahului Airport.

Around noon, state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officers and lifeguards patrolled the shoreline while an aerial survey by helicopter was conducted to look for sharks in the area .

According to county officials, several large sharks could be seen, prompting Ocean Safety officials to keep the waters 1 mile either side of Kaa Point closed until an assessment of the waters by air can be made Wednesday morning.


Woman aged 64 dies after being savaged by dog at home in Cardiff, Wales


Tragic: Tributes have been left at the home where the woman was attacked in Cardiff
Police were called to a house at around 10pm on Friday night - despite efforts to save the woman, she later died from her injuries in hospital

A grandmother has died after being mauled at her home by a bullmastiff-type dog, police have said.

The victim, named locally as mum-of-four Rhona Greve, 64, died in hospital after suffering neck and face ­injuries in the terrifying attack

Police were called to a house in Crossways Road, Ely, shortly after 10pm on Friday to reports a woman had been attacked by a dog.


50% decline in songbirds across Canada in the last 50 years


Songbirds, like this tree swallow, are in serious decline across North America.
It's a sure sign of spring when the chorus of songbirds once again returns to our region. Recent mornings, I've awoken to the sounds of robins chirping, the tune of a white-throated sparrow and the gentle cooing of morning doves. The silence of the winter has broken.

Imagine for moment if that winter silence continued into spring and summer. Unfortunately, it's a scenario that could very well unfold as we've seen sharp declines in the number of songbirds over the past few decades.

Birdsong that has graced the Earth for millions of years, and for all of human history, could soon be stilled in a human-made perfect-storm of negligence and unintended consequences.

A film that was shown on CBC-TV last week, Song Bird SOS, shines light on the ever-growing decline of songbirds, and outlines some of the potential causes. You can view the documentary at

Directed by Su Rynard, the film is the artfully shot story of the mass depletion of songbirds in the Americas, an alarming thinning of populations that has seen declines of many species since the 1960s. According to international birding expert Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, who is featured in the documentary, we may have lost almost half the songbirds that filled the skies 50 years ago.