Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Nebraska and Iowa receiving heavy thunderstorms

A collection of weather photos from icontribute submissions on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.
Storms pushed through the area eastern Nebraska and western Iowa Sunday afternoon. Some of the heaviest damage was in Denison, Iowa, with toppled trees, powerlines and a flooded highway. The National Weather Service reported strong wind gusts, hail and heavy rain with these storms.
Cloud Lightning

Power outages across northern Kansas caused by severe weather

Westar is reporting over 5,000 people across several Kansas counties are without power as of 9p.m.

The largest county without power is Riley County, which is the location of Fort Riley and Kansas State University. About 1/6th of the residents in the county are without power.

Nemaha County, which is Northeast of Riley County has about 500 people without power, or about half of the households serviced by Westar.

Westar has not released a time-table of when power will return to those people.
Cloud Precipitation

'Freak thunderstorm' sweeps through the Bronx, NY area - massive flooding and airport closures

© Shawn Cohen
A car is stuck in a flooded area on the Major Deegan Expressway.
Two people were struck by lightning Sunday when a freak thunderstorm swept through the area - causing massive flooding to area roadways, grounding several flights at local airports and cancelling many other Labor Day weekend events.

Officials said the lightning struck beachgoers enjoying a day at Orchard Beach Park in The Bronx around 5 p.m. when the skies suddenly turned dark and gave way to a torrential downpour that lasted about a half hour. They were rushed to Jacobi Hospital in stable condition, according to the FDNY.

The heavy rains also wreaked havoc on city highways, including the impassable Major Deegan Expressway. Tennis action was halted at the US Open in Queens and organizers of the Electric Zoo festival on Randall's Island were forced to cancel the remainder of the festival for concert goers safety.

"Due to extreme weather conditions, the festival has shut down for the remainder of the day," organizers wrote on twitter.

All three major airports - JFK, LaGuardia and Newark - reported significant delays due to the storm.

Comment: See Lightning strike at New York City beach injures three as heavy thunderstorms sweeps through city

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strike at New York City beach injures three as heavy thunderstorms sweeps through city

Orchard Beach on Pelham Bay
The fire department says the men were injured at Orchard Beach on Pelham Bay in the Bronx on Sunday evening as bad storms rolled through the area. The men are being treated at a hospital. The extent of their injuries is unknown.

The lightning strike happened as heavy thunderstorms swept through the city. Torrential rain, thunder and lightning interrupted Labor Day weekend celebrations, halted play at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens and forced the early end to a musical festival on an East River island.

Dozens of commercial flights into the city's airports were delayed because of the severe weather.
Bizarro Earth

Iceland volcano blasts back to life

Iceland Lava Fountains
© University of Iceland/Ármann Höskuldsson
Lava fountains during an Iceland eruption on Aug. 31.
A new volcanic eruption in southeast Iceland on Sunday (Aug. 31) fountained lava nearly 200 feet (60 meters) into the air.

Lava is spewing from the same crack as a small eruption that occurred Friday (Aug. 29). The fissure slices through the 200-year-old Holuhraun lava field, between Bardarbunga volcano and Askja volcano.

The "calm" eruption is 50 times more powerful than Friday's outburst, according to the Iceland Met Office. Lava was streaming from the fissure at 15.9 million gallons per minute (1,000 cubic meters per second) at 7 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) on Sunday, three hours after the flare-up began. The basalt flow covered almost 2 miles (3 kilometers) by mid-morning local time. The crack feeding the lava flow has also expanded to the north and south, and is now almost 1 mile (1.5 km) long.

The eruption can be seen on live webcams here and here, though a storm severely lowered visibility Sunday.

Emergency officials briefly raised the aviation alert warning to red, but no commercial flights have been affected.

Volcanic fissure erupted in Holuhraun, near Dyngjujökull Glacier

Screenshots from a webcam set up by Icelandic telecom company Mila show the eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.
After an earthquake hit in the area, a volcanic eruption occurred Friday in Iceland, resulting in a temporary no-fly order.

The eruption started in Holuhraun, north of the Dyngjujökull Glacier, which is located in northern Vatnajökull, just after midnight Friday, local time, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said.

Scientists who are in the area close to the eruption estimate that the volcanic fissure in Holuhraun is about 1 km (0.62 miles) long, according to the Iceland Civil Protection Department.

Four likely scenarios exist for future seismic and volcanic activity in the area, government officials said.

They include the migration of magma stopping, which would result in a gradual reduction in seismic activity and no further eruptions; a dike could reach the Earth's surface north of Dyngjujökull causing another eruption, possibly on a new fissure; or an eruption occurs again where either the fissure is partly or entirely beneath Dyngjujökull and likely produce a flood in Jökulsá á Fjöllum and perhaps explosive, ash-producing activity, according to the Met Office website.

The fourth scenario is for Bardarbunga to erupt, causing an outburst flood and possibly an explosive, ash-producing activity.
Bizarro Earth

Unusual microbursts of downward air killed hundreds of birds in Pennsylvania county

Dead Birds
© Greg Graham
Dead robins found under a tree near Ricklin Drive in Leola several days after a violent storm on July 27 apparently spawned a microburst that killed the roosting birds.
The mystery of the hundreds of dead birds found in eastern Lancaster County the night after a violent storm on July 27 has been solved.

A deadly downward rush of air, known as a microburst, uprooted roosting songbirds from trees in the Leola, Gordonville and Bird-in-Hand areas and slammed them around.

"It appears they were literally blown into the tree branches, the ground - even into each other," says Greg Graham, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's wildlife conservation officer for northeastern Lancaster County.

"It doesn't happen often."

The unusual microburst conclusion was reached after the Game Commission sent the refrigerated carcasses of three robins and two house finches to the diagnostic section of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Lab in Athens, Georgia.

The birds were among about 150 collected by Graham on July 28 from four locations within 150 yards from each other in the Magnolia Drive and Ricklin Drive areas near Leola. Most were robins with a few wrens, sparrows and grackles mixed in.

Some birds survived the event but later died.

Comment: SOTT wonders what will happen when macro-bursts of this type begin happening?


As California drought becomes "race to the bottom", state considers regulating groundwater use for the first time

The ongoing disaster that is the drought in the West is leaving wells dry across California - which account for up to 60% of water usage. As WSJ reports, as groundwater levels plunge (100 feet or more lower than norm), wells are being driven further and further into the earth (500 feet in some cases) forcing the state legislature is considering regulating underground water for the first time. "We can't continue to pump groundwater at the rates we are and expect it to continue in the future," warns one engineer, adding "What's scary is we're not fixing anything... It's a race to the bottom."
"Everybody was pumping to their heart's content, until they realized the basin isn't that big."
As WSJ reports, "Groundwater was kind of out of sight, out of mind," said Lester Snow, executive director of the California Water Foundation, a nonprofit policy group in Sacramento, and former director of the state Department of Water Resources. But now...
With groundwater levels falling across the Golden State - causing dried-up wells, sinking roadbeds and crumbling infrastructure - the state legislature is considering regulating underground water for the first time.

Californians have long battled over rights to rivers, lakes and other surface-water supplies, but the drought is finally shifting the focus to groundwater, which accounts for about 40% of water used in normal years - and up to 60% in drought years, as other sources dry up.

Comment: The drought shows no signs of letting up and is continuing to spread. Will these new government actions help precipitate a migration out of California?


Russian Air Force plane to deliver aid cargo to flood-hit Serbia

© ЕРА/Ivan Milutinovic
Flood consequences in Serbia
A Russian Air Force transport Il-76 plane will carry a humanitarian aid cargo to Serbia, a spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry press service told reporters on Saturday.

The Il-76 was being loaded in Chkalovsky. Electricity supply stations, motor pumps, water tanks and about 250 thermoses would be brought on board, he said.

It is not the first humanitarian cargo for Serbia from Russia, he added.

Russia provided humanitarian aid for Serbia in May this year after the devastating flood.

Comment: This year Serbia suffered the worst flooding since records began 120 years ago.

Earlier this month: Deadly floods return to Serbia and Bosnia
Floods in May: Floods wipe out entire towns in Balkans
Floods in April: Floods in Serbia prompt evacuation of more than 400 families

Blue Planet

Volcanoes erupting around the world this week in pictures

Restless volcanoes from around the world spew ash, steam, and concern in their wake.

© Oliver Bluett, AFP/Getty
Mount Tavurvur erupts in eastern Papua New Guinea on Friday.
The Mount Tavurvur volcano in eastern Papua New Guinea jolted awake early Friday morning, belching rocks, ash, and steam (see above) nearly 60,000 feet (18,288 meters) into the air.

Local residents evacuated their homes on Friday, and Qantas Airways modified flight paths for planes heading to Tokyo and Shanghai from Sydney, Australia, according to news reports. (Watch video: "Volcano 101.")

The last time Mount Tavurvur erupted, in 1994 - at the same time as nearby Mount Vulcan - both volcanoes destroyed the town of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea.

Comment: Actually, they missed some impressive activity. Check out Sott Worldview's volcanic entries from this past week for more information: