Earth Changes

Cloud Precipitation

Massive rainfalls have devastated more than half of Texas state parks

© Unknown
Flood waters inundate the Birch Creek Unit of Lake Somerville State Park. The park is one of more than two-dozen state parks wholly or partly closed because of damage from recent rains.
More than a dozen Texas state parks, including some of the most visited sites in the 95-unit system, are closed to the public as a result of damage caused by a month of heavy rains capped by torrential downpours over the Memorial Day weekend.

Portions of a dozen or so other state parks are closed to visitors, with most of the closures tied to flooding from rivers and reservoirs swelled with runoff from rains that have soaked much of the state over the past weeks.

More than half of Texas' state parks have suffered weather-related damage during the past month or so. A handful of those parks, including Blanco State Park, which was devastated by a record-setting surge of the Blanco River, could be wholly or partially closed for weeks as damage is repaired or, in the case of several parks on the shores of swollen reservoirs, flood water continues covering campgrounds and other facilities.

Comment: Also see: Record rainfall for Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Nebraska

Cloud Precipitation

'Epic' flooding on Alaska's Dalton highway near Deadhorse

© Loren Holmes / ADN
The Dalton Highway is washed out south of Deadhorse on Thursday, May 21, 2015.
Unprecedented flooding continues to interfere with daily operations on the North Slope oil patch after surging waters wiped away swaths of the Dalton Highway and isolated a section of Deadhorse, the jumping-off point for the sprawling industrial region.

"This is just epic," said Mike Coffey, commander of the unified incident command, a response team consisting of the state, the North Slope Borough and oil companies. "People who have been here for decades say they've never seen anything like it."

The state has estimated the costs of the damage and repairs since March at $5.1 million. The federal government may pay for much of that, since the icing and flooding on the highway has been declared a disaster, said Coffey, the director of state transportation maintenance and operations.
© Loren Holmes/ADN
A washed down stop sign

Cloud Precipitation

Record rainfall for Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Nebraska

© Jamie Mitchell
Rain in Fort Smith, Arkansas
Several cities have already seen one of their wettest moths on record. And the month isn't over. And there's more rain in the forecast

Fort Smith, Arkansas - With 18.33 inches of rain through 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, Fort Smith broke the previous record of 15.02 inches in June 1945, making it the wettest month on record

Oklahoma City - On Saturday, the city broke its June 1989 record of 14.66 inches to become the wettest month in Oklahoma City history.

Wichita Falls, Texas - May 2015 became the wettest month on record early Friday afternoon when the city's month-to-date total reached 13.33 inches. That broke the record for May - and for any month on the calendar - both set in May 1982 with 13.22 inches.

Corpus Christi, Texas - Rainfall in May 2015 was 13.41 inches through 3:00 a.m. May 26, well beyond the previous May record of 10.44 inches set in 1941.

According to senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen, May 2015 now exceeds Corpus's total rainfall for the entire drought-parched year of 2011, which was only 12.06 inches.


Federal program allows killing of 500,000 protected migratory birds a year

© Mike Baird/ Wikimedia Commons
Double-crested Cormorant in breeding plumage in Morro Bay, CA
Being a bird of "conservation concern" or even the oldest bird species on the continent is not enough to avoid being slaughtered under a little-known federal program that authorizes the killing of half a million birds a year.

The Center for Investigative Reporting's Reveal looked into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's "depredation permit" program, which allows businesses, farmers and others to kill members of more than 300 species of migratory birds each year. The body count during a recent three-year period totaled 1.6 million birds, or just over 500,000 a year.

Two-thirds of all the birds killed were brown-headed cowbirds, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles and Canada geese. The rest of those killed included upland sandpipers, barn owls, wood ducks, lesser yellowlegs, snowy owls, roseate spoonbills, curlew sandpipers, red-throated loons, great blue herons, white and brown pelicans, cedar waxwings, robins, belted kingfishers, mourning doves, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, turkey vultures, mallard ducks and sandhill cranes, North America's oldest bird species


Magnitude 3.0 earthquake recorded in North Wales

© British Geological Survey
A seismograph shows the magnitude 3.0 earthquake that struck Anglesey

British Geological Survey records earthquake off Anglesey in North Wales just days after 4.2 magnitude quake hits Kent

An earthquake measuring magnitude 3.0 on the Richter scale has hit Anglesey in North Wales.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said it was recorded at 4.41pm on Tuesday and struck off the coast about four miles (6km) below the surface.

North Wales Police said it received calls about the earthquake, which was recorded close to Caernarfon Airport in Gwynedd, but there are no reports of damage.

It follows a 4.2 magnitude earthquake that was recorded in Kent on Friday, becoming Britain's biggest in seven years.

© Google Maps
Location of the earthquake off North Wales
The latest quake was felt across Gwynedd and Anglesey, with witnesses reporting having felt the earth shake amid a "rumbling noise" that lasted for around three seconds.

Others said they heard a noise that sounded like an explosion.

Bizarro Earth

Is 'San Andreas' a cryptic warning about what is going to happen in America's future?

San Andreas Movie Poster.
Hollywood has a long history of inserting political messages, social commentaries, subliminal effects and even cryptic warnings about the future into big budget films. So is someone attempting to use San Andreas to tell us something? For many years, doomsayers have been warning that the "Big One" is going to come along and rip the coastline of California to shreds. Up until this moment, it hasn't happened, but without a doubt we have moved into a time of increased geological activity all over the globe. As you read this article, 42 volcanoes around the planet are currently erupting. That means that the number of volcanoes erupting right now is greater than the 20th century's average for an entire year. In addition, we have been witnessing a great deal of very unusual earthquake activity lately. Just in the United States, we have seen unusual earthquakes hit Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, California, Idaho And Washington within the last month or so. Could it be possible that our planet has entered a period of heightened seismic activity? And could it also be possible that someone behind San Andreas is aware of this and is trying to warn us about what is coming in our future?

Of course just about everyone in the scientific community acknowledges that the "Big One" is eventually coming to California. In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey recently came out and said that the probability of a megaquake along the west coast is greater than they had previously been projecting...
A recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the inevitability of just such a quake, which is predicted to hit within the next couple of decades.

"The new likelihoods are due to the inclusion of possible multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are no longer confined to separate, individual faults, but can occasionally rupture multiple faults simultaneously," lead author of the study and USGS scientist, Ned Field says. "This is a significant advancement in terms of representing a broader range of earthquakes throughout California's complex fault system."
And it is undeniable that California has been hit by an unusual number of earthquakes recently. Could this be a sign that our portion of the "Ring of Fire" is heating up? Just over the past few days, there have been significant earthquakes at dormant volcanoes all over the state of California and in Nevada. I don't know about you, but to me all of this shaking is reason for concern.

Arrow Up

Swarm of twenty-three earthquakes reported near Costa Rica's Irazu volcano

© Tico Times/Google
The epicenters of 23 temblors are in an area near the Irazú Volcano.
In a span of eight hours on Monday night and into early Tuesday, experts from the University of Costa Rica and the National University registered at least 23 temblors with epicenters located north of the province of Cartago, some 22 kilometers northeast of the Costa Rican capital.

Ronny Quintero, a seismologist at UNA's Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) reported that the temblors originated on local faults west of Irazú Volcano's main crater. Experts said they are not directly related to the volcano's activity. The first occurred at 8:19 p.m. with a magnitude of 3.1 and and an epicenter 10 kilometers northwest of Pacayas. Several minor earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 2.4 to 3.7 followed, mainly in areas north and east of Cartago in the cantons of Jiménez and Oreamuno. Most of the minor quakes went unnoticed by local residents.

The strongest, at magnitude-4.2, was registered at 8:50 p.m. with an epicenter 9 kilometers northeast of San Rafael de Oreamuno. The most recent was reported at 7:09 a.m. on Tuesday with a magnitude of 2.4. OVSICORI received reports from residents throughout the Central Valley who felt at least three of the temblors, but there has been no significant damage or injuries.

Bizarro Earth

Rain without end: Texas hammered by more storms as death toll climbs to 17

Storms dumped rain on parts of Texas on Wednesday, bringing more runoff to swollen waterways that spilled their banks this week in places such as Houston, where floods have killed six people and caused chaos in the fourth most-populous U.S. city.

At least 13 people have been killed in Texas from storms that started over the Memorial Day weekend and led to record floods, destroying hundreds of homes, sweeping away bridges and stranding more than 2,000 motorists on roads.

The death toll in Texas was set to rise with numerous people still missing and thunderstorms pelting the already flood-hit cities of Houston and Austin.

"This rain has the potential to cause additional street flooding so residents are advised to be careful as they commute to work," the city of Houston said in a statement, adding about 1,400 structures were damaged by high water and two people were unaccounted for in the city.

Cloud Precipitation

Flood death toll in China reaches 54 with 15,000 homes destroyed and 8 million affected


Torrential rain swept across Guizhou province in southern China on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning
The death toll from devastating floods across southern China has risen to at least 54 people, as torrential rain continues to fall.

Two people were killed on Tuesday night after a van plunged into a river as a rainstorm battered Guizhou.

At least 15,000 homes have been destroyed and more than 250,000 moved to temporary accommodation after two weeks of heavy downpours across a number of provinces.


At least two people were killed as a bridge collapsed and major roads were blocked by six feet of water

Nearly 8 million people across southern China have been affected by the floods so far.

Official figures released by the government at the end of last week said that 35 people were confirmed dead and another 13 missing, although the death toll is believed to have risen over the weekend.

Two schoolchildren were among those who died after an overloaded bus plunged into a pond.


Hundreds evacuated from northeastern Alberta as wildfires rage through crude-producing region

© REUTERS/Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
Smoke rises from a wildfire east of Slave Lake, Alberta May 25, 2015
Statoil ASA, MEG Energy Corp and Cenovus Energy Inc evacuated hundreds of workers from three oil sands projects in northeastern Alberta on Tuesday as wildfires raged through the key crude-producing region.

The latest evacuations are in addition to project shutdowns by Cenovus and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd over the weekend, as companies rushed to remove staff from potential danger.

At least 233,000 barrels per day of oil sands production, 9 percent of Alberta's total oil sands output, have been suspended because of the fire risk, though none of the projects have been damaged.

The Alberta government said there are 70 forest fires now burning in the province, with 20 considered out of control. Lightning storms are forecast for Tuesday evening, increasing the risk of more fires, a government spokesman said.

Cenovus evacuated all 90 staff from its Narrows Lake oil sands project on Tuesday, which is not yet producing crude after construction was deferred last year.

The company also shut down its Birch Mountain natural gas plant northwest of Fort McMurray.