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Death toll in Australian fires rises to 25

© Unknown

Sydney - Police say the death toll from wildfires that swept southeastern Australia has risen to 25 people.

More than a dozen blazes burned unchecked Saturday in three states, with temperatures soaring and high winds fanning flames.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe told the Nine television network on Sunday that 25 deaths had been confirmed and that officials believe that number will rise further as police reach further into the fire zone.

Walls of flame roared across southeastern Australia on Saturday, razing scores of homes along with forests and farmland in the sunburned country's worst wildfire disaster in a quarter century. At least 14 people died and the toll could rise to more than 40, police said.

Witnesses described seeing trees exploding and skies raining ash as some of the hottest temperatures on record combined with raging winds to create perfect conditions for uncontrollable blazes.
Ambulance

1 dead, 100-plus rescued from Lake Erie ice floe

© AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero
Rescue workers walk across frozen Lake Erie as they return to shore at Crane Creek State Park in Oak Harbor, Mich., after rescuing a number of fishermen stranded on a slab of ice about 1,000 yards off shore, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009. The Coast Guard said there were no immediate reports of injuries in the rescue effort.

Columbus - More than 100 people were rescued Saturday from a miles-wide slab of ice that floated away from the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie, authorities said.

One person died, said Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton. He said 100 to 125 others were rescued by late afternoon.

Several ships and helicopters from Toledo and Marblehead, and from Detroit, were sent to rescue the people from the ice floe.

Authorities said fishermen apparently used wooden pallets to create a bridge over a crack in the ice so they could go farther out on the lake. But the planks fell into the water when the ice shifted, stranding the fishermen about 1,000 yards off shore.

Ice on western sections of Lake Erie is up to 2 feet thick, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Randel said. He said it started to crack as temperatures rose above freezing this weekend and wind gusting to 35 mph pushed on the ice.
Stormtrooper

Snow is consistent with global warming, UK scientists and media on vacation in D'Nile

Britain may be in the grip of the coldest winter for 30 years and grappling with up to a foot of snow in some places but the extreme weather is entirely consistent with global warming, claim scientists.
Snowbound Britain 2009
© unknown

Temperatures for December and January were consistently 1.8 F ( 1 C) lower than the average of 41 F (5 C)and 37 F (3C) respectively and more snow fell in London this week than since the 1960s.

But despite this extreme weather, scientists say that the current cold snap does not mean that climate change is going into reverse. In fact, the surprise with which we have greeted the extreme conditions only reinforces how our climate has changed over the years.

A study by the Met Office which went back 350 years shows that such extreme weather now only occurs every 20 years. Back in the pre-industrial days of Charles Dickens, it was a much more regular occurrence - hitting the country on average every five years or so. During that time global temperatures have risen by 1.7 F (0.8 C), studies have shown.


Comment: Pay careful attention here to the total snowjob that this article and these scientists are trying to pull off.

The horrible winter and cold weather does not mean anything other than we have gotten so used to warm balmy winters from all that man made global warming.
"It only reinforces how our climate has changed over the years."
That's quite the scientific analysis is it not? If the public only understood how simple it all is!

Back in the good ole days of Charles Dickens, now that's when things were really rough. Hmmm? Let's see, when did Charles Dickens live? Charles Dickens: February 7, 1812 to June 9, 1870.

Isn't that around the Dalton Minimum?
Maunder and Dalton minimums
© Wikimedia Commons

What a coincidence that they would choose a baseline comparison of a period that was known to be very cold due to low sunspot activity?

Frog

Tree frogs help flag up biological hotspots

© Ana Carnaval
Hypsilboas faber, from Natividade de Serra, Brazil

Conservationists racing to catalogue and protect biodiversity before it vanishes could look to the past for guidance. A new study suggests they should focus on areas where climate has remained relatively stable over many thousands of years, allowing diversity to flourish.

Biologists have long known of the existence of biodiversity hotspots, regions of the Earth that are especially rich in species. But many of these hotspots - for example, the Atlantic forests of Brazil - are in remote tropical areas and have received relatively little study, leaving conservationists at a loss as to where they should direct their efforts.
Cloud Lightning

Southern California storm causes mudflow

Los Angeles - Crews cleared mud from the streets of foothill suburbs below a wildfire-stripped mountainside as the first in a series of Pacific storms moved through Southern California on Friday.

Off the coast, searchers on Santa Catalina Island found the wreck of a small plane that disappeared with three people aboard after takeoff as the storm arrived Thursday evening. The pilot and two passengers were dead.
Ambulance

Brits lack grit to deal with cold spell

A national shortage of grit is putting lives at risk on Britain's snow covered roads, the country' biggest motoring organisation warned yesterday.

Britain Jan 2009 Snow
© Reuters
Snow: cold could kill tens of thousands of elderly people, council leaders have claimed

The AA said many roads were turning into "death traps" and warned that the country faced a dangerous "road safety crisis".

With weather forecasters predicting another five days of freezing temperatures and snow, the AA called on the Government to step in and ask European countries to provide emergency supplies of salt.

Around 40,000 tonnes are already on the way from Spain. Critics said the grit shortage had proved Britain was woefully unprepared for the extended cold snap.

The Daily Telegraph disclosed two days ago that some councils would run out of salt by the weekend.

Several have now either run out or have such low stock levels that very few roads are being gritted. In some areas less than 20 per cent of roads have been treated.
Meteor

Britain faces winter weekend from hell as fresh snowfall causes travel chaos

Britain suffered a fifth day of transport chaos today as heavy snow forced thousands of schools to close again as roads were blocked, trains cancelled and airports shut.

Giant falling sheets of ice on the Severn crossings joining England and Wales smashed car windscreens this morning, prompting both bridges to be closed.

Hundreds of drivers in Devon had to be rescued after becoming stranded during the blizzards overnight and today, and many roads were still closed or impassable.

The AA was receiving more than 250 breakdown calls every 15 minutes. It said its staff will have handled 70,000 call-outs in the past five days by tonight.
Attention

Blackouts, bushfires and deaths feared in Australian scorcher

Sydney is expected to set a record tomorrow: the most consecutive days above 40 degrees since records began in 1939. With that comes the risk of blackouts, bushfires and deaths among the city's sick and elderly.

Mortality rates rise by 1 per cent for every degree temperatures rise above 20, according to an analysis of patterns in Sydney for the federal Department of Health and Ageing.

Yesterday, temperatures in western Sydney topped 41 degrees. They will reach 42 today and 44 tomorrow.
Attention

Smoke blankets Sydney

Sweltering summer conditions in Sydney have been made alarmingly worse by choking smoke from a bushfire on the NSW Central Coast.

Smoke from a blaze that has destroyed more than 180ha near Lake Macquarie has been blown south by the northerly winds that have brought hot and dry conditions to much of the state.

The fire broke out near Catherine Hill Bay on Friday afternoon and is expected to double in size, says the Rural Fire Service (RFS).

"Because we have a northerly wind, that actually blew right down into the Sydney basin late last (Friday) night and has put up a huge amount of smoke," RFS spokeswoman Rebel Talbert told AAP.
Attention

Solomons declares floods disaster

Solomon islands map
© BBC
The Solomon Islands has declared a national disaster after heavy rain and flooding killed at least nine people.

Emergency workers say nine more people are missing on Guadalcanal island, and dozens have been evacuated from there and nearby Savo island.

Officials say they fear the death toll could rise as an estimated 1,800 people need urgent help.

The government has appealed for international assistance, with France and Australia promising emergency aid.
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