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Cloud Precipitation

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

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A woman holds a huge piece of hail at Narrabri from a super cell storm.
Just weeks before picking, severe storms have wreaked havoc on north-western New South Wales cotton crops.

Large hailstones pounded the Narrabri region and winds close to 100 kilometres an hour ripped at crops and pulled at tiled rooves.

The cotton crop of the Narrabri Community Education Trust farm has suffered extensive damage, but farmer Rob Eveleigh, who helps manage the crop, said other growers around it may have lost everything.

He said the 60 hectares of cotton was being grown as a fundraiser for local schools.

"It's probably in the order of 25 to 30 per cent damage which is a big loss obviously. That's the profits," he said.

"I know not too far away from there there's growers who lost whole crops.

"It's just one of those thing. If you're in farming, you just have to take it on the chin and move on."

Snowflake

Oldest weather observatory in US breaks seasonal snowfall record

© Simón Rios/WBUR
With just 1.8 inches of snow falling, Blue Hills Observatory & Science Center finally breaks the seasonal snowfall record.
Now that spring has officially begun, Blue Hills Observatory & Science Center in Milton has finally broken its snowfall record.

With 1.8 inches falling Friday into Saturday, this year's snowfall surpassed the seasonal record set in 1996 with 145.8 inches, according to the Observatory.

Blue Hills is the oldest operating weather observatory in the nation, with observers tracking snowfall there since 1885.

Observatory chief Don McCasland says this winter will be a subject of folklore.

"They'll say, 'Oh, you know, February 2015 was the worst. The only one almost as bad was 1978,'" he said.

Snowflake Cold

Strange 'pillars of light' in Michigan - it's 'diamond dust'

© NASA
Monday morning's low temperatures created a weather event in northern Michigan that you're more likely to see in the Arctic Circle.

Pillars of light filled the sky early in the morning from a phenomenon called diamond dust. It's a cloud formation made from ice crystals.

Justin Arnott - a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Gaylord - says diamond dust can take light from street lamps or traffic lights and refract it into light pillars.

"They can extend very far from a light source," Arnott says. "You can see the tops of them before you even know what's creating the light. So that can kind of make it surreal."

Arnott says the cause is tiny ice crystals from residual moisture.

"You're really seeing the impact of light as it encounters really small ice crystals in the atmosphere," Arnott says. "And it really tends to happen only when it's really cold. I mean well below zero before we see that kind of phenomenon."

Comment: In the last month, as well as this 'fairly rare' ice crystal cloud phenomena in Michigan, and the 'rare', bizarre 'portal to heaven' cloud formation in Turkey; 'strange sounds' were also heard in Philadelphia, and the aurora borealis, commonly referred to as the 'Northern lights' are being observed more frequently in more Southern locations.

Perhaps there is a correlation with the increasing comet/volcanic dust loading of the atmosphere, which is accentuating electric charge build-up?


Bizarro Earth

Magnitude-6.4 earthquake rocks Northern Chile

© USGS
A major earthquake struck early Monday morning in northern Chile.

The National Seismological Service at the University of Chile initially listed the temblor at a magnitude-6.3. The U.S. Geological Survey listed it as a magnitude-6.4.

The temblor's epicenter was located 48 kilometers (30 miles) east-southeast of Putre, Chile, at a depth of 128 km (180 miles), the USGS reported. It was near the borders with Peru and Bolivia, and occurred at 12:51 a.m. local time.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the region.

No tsunami was expected as a result of the earthquake, according to the Chilean Navy Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service.

The earthquake was felt in Tacna, Peru, but it didn't affect the electrical system, according to the USGS and Twitter users.

Snowflake

Spring arrives with wintry weather in east as celestial events punctuate the week

To start the week, two large eruptions from the sun's corona occurred Sunday, which sparked a powerful solar storm.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a statement Tuesday warning that the geomagnetic storm could potentially impact power grids and GPS tracking.

The geomagnetic storm that resulted allowed the aurora borealis and aurora australis to ignite, providing stargazers with a spectacular light show.


Moon

French coast hit with biggest 'tide of the century'

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© AFP 2015/ PHILIPPE HUGUEN
After the excitement of Friday's solar eclipse, thousands of visitors have flocked to France's coastal areas for the chance to see the biggest tide in 18 years.

Thousands of visitors made their way to coastal areas in Brittany and Normandy on Saturday morning to catch this year's spring tides, which are billed to rise as high as 14 meters above their usual level following Friday's solar eclipse, which saw the Earth, moon, and sun in alignment.

Referred to as the 'tide of the century' in the French press, the phenomenon actually takes place every 18 years; this week's is the first of this millennium, and follows exceptionally high tides seen on March 10, 1997.

Bizarro Earth

Mexico City shaken by earthquake that struck more than 100 miles away

© Reuters
Mexico City locals flooded the streets after the quake
An earthquake that caused buildings to sway and forced people to flee onto the streets in the Mexican capital happened more than 100 miles away.

The quake hit at 4.30pm local time in the state of Puebla near Tulcingo del Valle - around 100 miles away from Mexico City.

But residents of the faraway capital were forced to flee shaking buildings.

The city is vulnerable to distant earthquakes because much of it sits atop the muddy sediments of drained lake beds that iggle like jelly when quake waves hit.

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said many evacuations were reported in the capital but officials received no reports of damage or injuries.

The quake had a depth of 31 miles.

A magnitude-8.1 quake in 1985 that killed at least 6,000 people and destroyed many buildings in Mexico City was centered 250 miles away on the Pacific Coast.

Attention

Elephant herd tramples man to death in Dhepapalli, India - third fatality in 15 days

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Elephant on a bad day.
A herd of elephants trampled Kasi Nath, 70, to death at Dhepapalli, 80 km from here, under Ganjam district's Sorada forest range yesterday.

Patra was going to catch a bus to Sorada when he confronted the wild elephants. He died on the spot, said divisional forest officer (DFO), Ghumusar South, R K Mallick. He said the kin of the deceased would get Rs 3 lakh as compensation in tune with government policy.

The herd also damaged maize crops. This was the third death in the district by elephants in last 15 days. A wild tusker crushed two persons to death at Dolaba, 40 km from here, near Digapahandi on March 4. While one died on the spot, the other succumbed to his injuries at MKCG Medical College and Hospital here the next day.

Attention

Farmer killed by elephant near Gudalur, India

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Asian elephant.
A man was killed by an elephant near Gudalur on Thursday. Forest sources told The Hindu that the animal attacked Baapu Kutty alias Hamza (72),a farmer of Pakkanna, when he came out of his house early morning.

In the darkness, he failed to spot the elephant. People in the vicinity raised an alarm, but he did not hear them.

The elephant pushed him down before moving away.

The pachyderm was seen in the area a few times recently.

Nilgiris Collector P.Sankar handed over a cheque for Rs. three lakhs to the family of the victim. - D.Radhakrishnan

Arrow Down

Dead gray whale found off Torrey Pines State Beach, California

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© Thomas Melville
A backhoe drops a whale carcass into a dump truck on the west side of Fiesta Island at about 3 p.m. Thursday, March 19.
A dead gray whale was found floating in the waters near Torrey Pines State Beach Thursday morning, San Diego Lifeguard officials confirmed.

The young whale -- measuring approximately 15 to 20 feet in length -- was discovered about 250 yards off the shore. Lifeguards confirmed the animal was dead when they reached it just before 10 a.m.

Aerial video showed dozens of birds hovering over the carcass, which was floating belly up in the water.

San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Lee Swanson said lifeguards were waiting to see if the whale would drift to the shore before beginning any recovery operations. Swanson said officials were trying to determine if the whale would wash up on a city or state beach in order to then decide who would then be responsible for getting rid of it.