Earth Changes


While California has hottest start to the year, the Midwest chills

drought sign LA
Freeway sign in Los Angeles. No end in sight for California drought.
The heat records keep falling for California. The state has had its hottest first seven months of the year, crushing the previous mark. Neighboring states have also baked, though not quite at record levels, helping contribute to both the spread of drought and large wildfires. At the same time, cool weather had a number of Midwest states experiencing July temperatures that were closer to September norms.

On Tuesday, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) released its monthly climate update for the U.S. and it contained more cruel news for California. Precipitation was near average throughout the state, but it had a negligible impact on the state's record-setting drought because summer is its dry season. To reinforce that, NCDC noted that while San Francisco received 800 percent of its usual July rainfall, that equalled only 0.08 inches.
temp map USA
Heat continued to bake the state, fueling a drought that's projected to cost $2 billion by year's end. California had its fifth-warmest July on record, including pockets of record warmth along the northern coast. July's heat kept the state on track for its warmest year in 120 years of recordkeeping. Since January, the state's average temperature has been 4.6°F above the 20th-century average. That smashes the previous record by 1.4°F.

Five other western states had their top 10 warmest Julys as well, which helped to fuel large wildfires. In Washington, which had its fifth-warmest July, the Carlton Complex Fire burned more than 250,000 acres. In Oregon, which had its second-warmest July, the Buzzard Complex Fire charred more than 400,000 acres. Despite those two large fires, the amount of acres burned by wildfires nationwide is at a 10-year low.

While heat was the story in the West, persistent cool weather continues to be the story for the eastern half of the country. The Midwest and Southeast were in the bullseye for a mid-summer's chill with 12 states stretching from Louisiana to Michigan recording one of their 10-coldest Julys. That includes a record cool July for Indiana and Arkansas.

Comment: Climate Central claims it is "a leading authority on climate science that cuts through the hype with a clear-eyed analysis of climate change, delivering just the facts and findings." Its world weather attribution project looks at the role of global warming in extreme weather events and identifies a human fingerprint. This initiative performs extreme "weather autopsies" immediately after an extreme weather event and makes a snap determination for the waiting media. They state four possible outcomes of the attribution analysis: #1) global warming increased the likelihood of the event, #2) global warming did not play a role in the event, #3) global warming reduced the likelihood of the event, and #4) the model was unable to reproduce the event. In example, Climate Central has deemed "manmade climate change significantly increased the odds of the killer European heat wave of 2003 and the Russian heat wave of 2010. Their bottom line is "YES, these events fit a pattern that climate scientists have long expected to appear as the result of increased greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere." A general scientific agreement is that global warming has contributed a trend toward more intense extremes of heat and precipitation around the world, is partly to blame for specific extreme weather events and will continue to influence both in the future."

Sounds like this ultra-scientific, fact-finding, data-digging, leading authority is feeding a pre-determined agenda with pre-determined results. It is doubtful outcomes #2,#3,#4 are ever factors. Those options do not make headlines. Greenhouse gas does.

Cloud Precipitation

Video: Incredible flash floods, storms from Arizona to New England

Interesting place for an unprecedented flood...
Heavy rains that have soaked a large swath of the United States over the last several days have spawned flash floods from Arizona to New England, submerging vehicles in parking lots and trapping drivers in their cars.

Over a foot of rain fell on Long Island in New York on Wednesday, forcing the closure of parts of the Long Island Expressway, Southern State Parkway, Northern State Parkway, Jericho Turnpike and other roads. Dozens of cars were seen submerged on the Southern State Parkway in Islip, Long Island, during morning rush hour.

Baltimore had picked up 6.27 inches of rain, enough to make it "the second-rainiest August day since records began in 1871," according to USA Today. Photos on social media showed cars swamped in a parking lot at BWI airport.

Swedish MP declares "Climate science has gone awry...Resembles a religion...Anything but scientific"!

Josef Fransson
© Scanpix Sweden/Henrik Montgomery/Scanpix
First there was sea level rise expert Nils-Axel Mörner, then top Swedish climatologist Lennart Bengtsson breaking ranks with the IPCC.

Now the Swedish online nyheter24 here has a commentary by Parliamentarian Josef Fransson (photo above) of the Sweden Democrats(SD) party, who fires sharp criticism at IPCC climate science and the policymaking based on it.

First, before looking at his commentary, Wikipedia describes the Fransson's SD party as a "far-right populist and anti-immigration party". But readers need to keep in mind that nowadays in Europe anyone who challenges the IPCC, or expresses the need for governments to clean house of all their entrenched political cronies gets labeled a right-wing extremist...a hater. We see this smearing kind of treatment already with the UKIP party and Germany's AfD. So don't put much stock in Wikipedia's biased political characterizations.

There's just no tolerance for dissent any more.
Arrow Down

2 passenger train wagons derail in Switzerland after landslide

© AFP Photo
This handout picture taken and released by the police of the Canton of Graubuenden on August 13, 2014 shows rescuers working near a train after it was derailed by a landslide near Tiefencastel, in a mountainous part of eastern Switzerland, on August 13, 1014.

Eleven people have been injured, five of whom are in a serious condition, after a passenger train in Switzerland was derailed by a landslide, following heavy rain. One carriage is perilously hanging over a ravine.

The derailment happened in the Graubuenden region near Tiefencastel, in the east of the country, Switzerland's ATS news agency reported. The train was traveling from Chur to St. Moritz and is operated by the Rhaetain railway company, with around 140 people on board. The remaining passengers were able to walk away to safety.

An eyewitness told the Swiss paper, Blick that up to ten people were in the carriage which slipped down the ravine.

Peter Faerber, a police spokesman in the area, said some people were slightly injured in the accident but he could not immediately say how many. Some of the passengers were airlifted from the vicinity by helicopter.

However, the police did say that two of the injured were Japanese and one was Australian.
Bizarro Earth

Big earthquake looms for Chile, experts say

Tsunami Damage Northern Chile
© Juan González-Carrasco (Universidad Catolica del Norte, Chile)
Damage in northern Chile caused by the tsunami associated with the magnitude-8.2 earthquake that struck in April 2014.
The powerful earthquake that rocked Chile in April ruptured the earth in a way that suggests major quakes may still hit the region in the future, researchers say.

On April 1, a magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck about 58 miles (94 kilometers) northwest of Iquique in northern Chile, a major port city and hub for Chile's copper mining industry. It killed six people, damaged or destroyed at least 13,000 homes, caused power failures and triggered a tsunami wave nearly 7 feet (2.1 meters) high. Preliminary estimates suggest total economic losses from the temblor are close to $100 million.

The powerful earthquake originated in a seismic hot spot that has produced some of the world's strongest known tremors. The area is a subduction zone, where one tectonic plate dives beneath another - specifically, the oceanic Nazca Plate is plowing under the Pacific coast of the South American Plate at an average rate of about 2.75 inches (7 centimeters) per year. Major quakes that burst at subduction zones, the most tectonically active places on Earth, are known as megathrust earthquakes.
Arrow Down

Pennsylvania sinkhole swallows car in parking lot of 'Hollywood Tan'

Ross Township - A sinkhole that opened suddenly and swallowed a woman's car outside a tanning salon was caused by a storm drain that carries an underwater stream beneath the parking lot, according to police.

Lisa Masley, the owner of Hollywood Tans on McKnight Road, rescued her customer from the car before it vanished into the large hole as severe storms moved through the area Tuesday afternoon.

Masley said Natalie Huddleston just left left the salon and called her on the phone. She couldn't see the parking lot because the front desk of the salon is tall, but she was told to come outside because Huddleston needed help.

"When I stood up and looked, her car already turned into a see-saw and was hanging over the edge," Masley said.


Cooling or warming climate? 'Data says global cooling, physical model says it has to be warming'

From the University of Wisconsin-Madison
© IStock
A fisherman walks toward open water in the Antarctic ice sheet.
When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently requested a figure for its annual report, to show global temperature trends over the last 10,000 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Zhengyu Liu knew that was going to be a problem.

"We have been building models and there are now robust contradictions," says Liu, a professor in the UW-Madison Center for Climatic Research. "Data from observation says global cooling. The physical model says it has to be warming."

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, Liu and colleagues from Rutgers University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, the University of Hawaii, the University of Reading, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the University of Albany describe a consistent global warming trend over the course of the Holocene, our current geological epoch, counter to a study published last year that described a period of global cooling before human influence.

Dramatic dust storm blows through Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington dust storm
© Bob Jenness
A massive, dramatic dust storm more often associated with the Southwest blew through Eastern Washington and north Idaho on Tuesday evening in advance of thunderstorms, lightning and rain.

Washington state troopers said the dust storm or "haboob" reduced visibility to zero in parts of Whitman and Adams counties, leading to numerous traffic accidents, especially in the Ritzville area southwest of Spokane.

Crashes in the wake of the dust cloud temporarily closed eastbound Interstate 90 west of Ritzville, the Spokesman-Review reported.

Avista Utilities said nearly 10,000 customers temporarily lost power in the Spokane and Palouse areas and in the Grangeville, Idaho, area.

Double earthquake in Ecuador: Two dead, several trapped

ecuador quake
© Agence France-Presse/Rodrigo Buendia
View of a dust cloud on August 12, 2014 in Quito, after a 5.1-magnitude earthquake rattled the Ecuadoran capital and the surrounding area causing buildings and homes to shake violently
A 5.1 earthquake has struck around 22.5 km northeast of Ecuador's capital, Quito, followed by a 4.3 magnitude aftershock. At least two people have been killed as the tremors caused several landslides and trapped at least three people in a collapsed mine.

At least eight people were injured, a government office said via Twitter, Reuters reports. The country's Risk Management office said firemen were working to rescue those who had been trapped in Catequilla mine.

The epicenters of both earthquakes were recorded at a depth of around 5 kilometers, according to preliminary data from the Geophysical Institute of Ecuador.

Following the quakes, the Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito suspended operations as a precaution and urged passengers to leave the terminals. Operations were resumed an hour later, after airport officials ensured the infrastructure wasn't damaged.
Cloud Precipitation

Near record rain wreaks havoc in Detroit

Detroit flooding
© Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press
As the skies around metro Detroit started to darken yet again today and thunder started rumbling, signaling another possible onslaught of rain, metro Detroiters are still struggling to cope with the aftermath of historic rains that flooded thousands of basements and left hundreds of cars stranded across area freeways on Monday.

Commuters are being urged to stay off the roads, with standing water in spots on virtually every area interstate. Michigan State Police divers searched for submerged vehicles this morning on I-696 near Dequindre and other flooded viaducts. On Stephenson Highway near I-696, heavy rains washed a wall of mud onto a southbound I-75 exit ramp, swamping a dump truck and a car.

"We've got a lot going on. It's not just the water on the roads. We can't clean up the roads, we've got to get the cars off the roads," said Michigan Department of Transportation spokeswoman Diane Cross said.