Earth Changes


Waterspout seen off Clearwater Beach, Florida

© Ken Watts
A waterspout formed near Clearwater Beach on Tuesday.
A Clearwater firefighter captured an amazing photo of a waterspout.

Kent Watts snapped a photo of the waterspout over Clearwater Beach on Tuesday morning. The waterspout was in the northern part of the beach. The photo clearly shows the waterspout with the beach and a volleyball court in the foreground. The waterspout later dissipated and did not make landfall.

Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Leigh Spann says waterspouts develop during certain weather conditions in the Tampa Bay area. "They are more common when we get wind flow off the Gulf of Mexico," said Spann.

A News Channel 8 viewer also submitted a photo of the waterspout. Don Stansell sent a photo of the waterspout near Clearwater Beach that was taken around 10 a.m.

Waterspouts are called tornadoes once they make landfall.

Arrow Down

Homeowners in SE Houston find massive sinkhole in yard


Sinkhole in southeast Houston
Talk about a sinking feeling! Homeowners in southeast Houston are terrified after finding a huge sinkhole in their back yard.

It's 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide and no one knew the sinkhole was here until a couple of days ago.

Homeowner Dianne Walker noticed it while her brother was doing yard work.

"He said, 'Come here. There's a hole over here,'" said Walker. "I said, 'OK', no, there is a big whole over there."

The hole is already eroding away the fence line, causing a power pole to lean and even more troubling for Walker, the corner of her shed is now hanging over the hole.

"So at any time, it could collapse and that didn't just happen," she said.

Walker says she called Houston Public Works on Thursday about the sinkhole. She says so far, only inspectors have come, but no workers.


Latest Michigan earthquake has scientists puzzled

© U.S. Geological Survey
Temblor was a magnitude 3.3.
A 3.3-magnitude earthquake that struck 13 miles southeast of Battle Creek today has scientists scratching their heads.

Today's temblor was about 20 miles from the location of a magnitude-4.2 quake that occurred 5 miles south of Galesburg on May 2 — the strongest earthquake recorded in Michigan in more than 67 years. The two quakes are far enough apart that today's is likely not an aftershock of the previous quake and is apparently not on the same fault line, said Harley Benz, a seismologist with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Colorado.

"After the May event, I suspected we wouldn't see another event, so I was a bit surprised by this one," he said. "What more surprised me is that they weren't in the same locations."

That also intrigues Eric Hetland, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan.

"Given the close proximity in time to the earlier 4.2 (earthquake), and the low levels of seismicity in Michigan, it may be related to that earlier earthquake in some manner," he said.

Today's quake, which occurred about 11:43 a.m., was noted on the USGS website. The survey's Community Internet Intensity Map reported residents feeling the quake as far south as northern Indiana and as far north as Holland. The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office, in a news release, said dispatchers received several calls about the quake, but no damage had been reported.

The epicenter of the quake was the southeast corner of Warner Lake, 3.1 miles underground. The epicenter of the May 4 quake was in Galesburg, 3.4 miles below the surface.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strike kills hiker, injures several others at Mogollon Rim, Arizona


A lightning strike killed a young woman and injured several more people as they tried to seek shelter during a thunderstorm near the Mogollon Rim Saturday, according to a Coconino County Sheriff's Office release.

Deputies, along with United States Forest Service officers and crews from the Blue Ridge Fire Department and Forest Lakes Fire Department, responded to the call about 30 miles northeast of Strawberry.

Crews took a considerable amount of time to reach the hikers in a remote area north of Rim Road in Blue Ridge area.

When they arrived, they found a 24-year-old woman dead and seven other people suffering varying injuries.

The hiking group left the Phoenix area Friday evening and were traveling to the Mogollon Rim area to hike and camp. On Saturday, the group was hiking when a severe thunderstorm began to move through the area.

Eye 2

Father, grandfather rescue boy from alligator attack at Lake Charlotte, Texas


A man and his teenage son on a fishing outing survived an alligator attack at Cedar Hill Park outside Houston.

According to the Chambers County Sheriff's Office, 42-year-old James Hurley and 13-year-old Kaleb Hurley were in Cedar Hill Park Sunday when an alligator bit the teenager on the arm and took him underwater while he was swimming near the bank of Lake Charlotte.

Mark Ford, Kaleb's grandfather, told CBS affiliate KHOU that he and Kaleb's father dove in to help.

"When we figured out what was going on, the alligator jerked Kaleb away from him," Ford said. "His dad and I got a hold of Kaleb and got him away from the alligator."


Boy mauled to death by two pit bull terriers in Namibia


Gone ... Fred Savage (13) died from injuries sustained during the attack.
It was supposed to be a normal weekend away from the school hostel, which included playing with friends in the streets of the neighbourhood.

Yet it ended in death for 13-year-old Fred Savage on Saturday afternoon, when two aggressive pit bull terriers ripped him apart in full view of other people.

Neighbours in Otjomuise's extension four rushed to the scene after hearing the chilling cries of a young boy at about 15h50, but they could only watch in horror as the boy was bitten to death by, ironically, what is supposed to be man's best friend.

The Grade 5 pupil at Aris Primary School from Agste Laan in Otjomuise, was playing in the street with two friends when the enraged dogs charged at them and attacked him.

The boy's relatives, who described him as a "sweet and helpful young boy", say he was visiting home for the weekend from the school hostel.

"He had gone out with his friends for the afternoon, but they [the friends] returned home to report that he had been attacked by two savage dogs. We did not think it was serious at first and we went searching for him at Katutura Hospital," said Fred's aunt Michelle Ochurus.


Whale carcass washes up on Fire Island, New York

© Instagram / anelorenyc
A 25-foot whale carcass was discovered washed up on a Fire Island beach Monday, June 29, 2015, Suffolk County police said.
A 25-foot dead whale carcass washed up on the oceanfront beach of eastern Fire Island on Monday night, authorities said.

Suffolk County police Marine Bureau officers responded to the scene in Ocean Ridge, the easternmost section of Davis Park, at 8:30 p.m., police said. It was not immediately clear what type of whale had washed up.

Officers notified New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officers and the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

The Riverhead Foundation will perform a necropsy to determine the whale's cause of death, which was not immediately clear. The foundation will also bury the whale, police said.

The incident came eight weeks after a humpback whale carcass washed up near the Wilderness Visitors Center west of Smith Point County Park on FI.

Bizarro Earth

Texas residents terrorized by gangs of dive-bombing birds

© Reuters / Bogdan Cristel
A street corner in Houston, Texas has been taken over by a gang of proverbial angry birds. Residents say the feathery flock often dive-bombs passing humans, most likely trying to scare anyone away from their nests.

People living on the 800 block of Beverly Street in Houston Heights told the local TV station KHOU that the avian intruders have taken up residence in a tall tree, and occasionally swoop down on people walking by.

"I felt something hit my back, and I was like, what was that?" local resident Eliana Crenshaw-Gibbs told the station. "I turn around and see the bird coming at me, so I start running."

Another neighbor, Victor Valenzuela, was attacked as well.

"It's annoying, it's not very fun," he said. "I've seen it happen to a bunch of people: the UPS guy, my girlfriend walks by - she gets attacked."

Comment: There's been many cases of strange bird behavior in the last decade. One wonders what unseen changes are going on in the environment to cause them.


Geologists discover evidence of helium and carbon dioxide leakage from the Earth's mantle in the Los Angeles Basin

© Sonia Fernandez
The Newport-Inglewood fault was responsible for the 4.9 magnitude Inglewood earthquake in 1920 and the 6.4 magnitude Long Beach earthquake in 1933.
UC Santa Barbara geologist Jim Boles has found evidence of helium leakage from the Earth's mantle along a 30-mile stretch of the Newport-Inglewood Fault Zone in the Los Angeles Basin. Using samples of casing gas from two dozen oil wells ranging from LA's Westside to Newport Beach in Orange County, Boles discovered that more than one-third of the sites—some of the deepest ones—show evidence of high levels of helium-3 (3He).

Considered primordial, 3He is a vestige of the Big Bang. Its only terrestrial source is the mantle. Leakage of 3He suggests that the Newport-Inglewood fault is deeper than scientists previously thought. Boles's findings appear in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (G-Cubed), an electronic journal of the American Geophysical Union and the Geochemical Society.

"The results are unexpected for the area, because the LA Basin is different from where most mantle helium anomalies occur," said Boles, professor emeritus in UCSB's Department of Earth Science. "The Newport-Inglewood fault appears to sit on a 30-million-year-old subduction zone, so it is surprising that it maintains a significant pathway through the crust."

When Boles and his co-authors analyzed the 24 gas samples, they found that high levels of 3He inversely correlate with carbon dioxide (CO2), which Boles noted acts as a carrier gas for 3He. An analysis showed that the CO2 was also from the mantle, confirming leakage from deep inside the Earth.

Blueschist found at the bottom of nearby deep wells indicates that the Newport-Inglewood fault is an ancient subduction zone—where two tectonic plates collide—even though its location is more than 40 miles west of the current plate boundary of the San Andreas Fault System. Found 20 miles down, blueschist is a metamorphic rock only revealed when regurgitated to the surface via geologic upheaval.

Comment: Another case of gases leaking from deep below, as Earth continues to 'open up'. A small selection of outgassing reported on include:

Bizarro Earth

Small eruption reported at Mount Hakone forces evacuations at nearby resort

© Reuters/Kyodo

Steam rises from Owakudani vallay at Mount Hakone where a small volcanic eruption took place, in Hakone town, west of Tokyo, in this aerial view photo taken by Kyodo June 30, 2015.
A small volcanic eruption at a Japanese hot springs resort not far from Tokyo prompted authorities on Tuesday to further limit access to the area, warn that more eruptions were possible and urge a handful of people to evacuate.

Japan, one of the world's most seismically active nations, has suffered a recent spate of eruptions, including one that forced the evacuation of a southern island. In September, 63 people died when a peak crowded with hikers suddenly erupted.

Volcanic ash was spat from a valley on Mount Hakone, which has been belching out unusual amounts of steam in recent months, forcing officials to close part of the resort at the start of the spring tourist season.

There were no reports of injury or damage, and roughly 40 people were urged to evacuate.

Japan's Meteorological Agency raised the warning level on the mountain to 3 from 2, closing a broader area, and an agency official said activity in the area, some 80 km (50 miles) west of Tokyo, seemed to have risen "to a new level".