Earth Changes


Battle for Baikal: Raging Siberian wildfires threaten world's biggest freshwater lake

© Chono Erdenebayar
The world's oldest and deepest lake could face severe damage from wildfires which are burning out of control along its shores. Lake Baikal, home to 20 percent of the world's unfrozen fresh water, is facing a potential ecological catastrophe with 36 fires burning in the region.

It is one of the jewels of Russia, both in terms of its importance ecologically and for tourism. However, as plumes of smoke billow out in southern Siberia, thousands of hectares of forest are being destroyed around Lake Baikal.

Comment: All over the world we are witnessing extensive wildfires, which in some regions have been described as "unprecedented". Could some of these wildfires have been fueled from outgassing, then possibly 'sparked' by an increase in atmospheric electric discharge events, such as lightning strikes? See also:

Study: Wildfire seasons are more destructive and lasting longer almost everywhere on Earth

Cloud Lightning

Unusual Cape Town lightning storm

Weird weather took hold this past weekend as both Saturday and Sunday evening saw the skies over the Mother City light up due to thunder and lightning storms.

Many in Cape Town took to social media to document the unusual weather, saying they felt as if they were in Joburg or Durban.

Following are seven shots we thought completely nailed the stunning occurrence.

The South African Weather Service confirmed in an update on Sunday afternoon that there was a 30% chance of rainfall for Sunday evening with similar conditions for the Western Cape continuing into Monday and Tuesday.

Mild conditions can be expected in Cape Town on Monday with maximum temperatures reaching a 17°C, while cold conditions could be expected in the Northern Cape with Sutherland reaching a low of 2°C.

Weather conditions for Joburg, Pretoria and Vereeniging would be fine and warm with maximum temperatures of 25°C but the SA Weather Service warned of extremely high fire dangers over the western interior of the Eastern Cape.
© Instagram

Cloud Precipitation

Rome to Milan plane encounters violent hailstorm, destroys its nose cone and shatters cockpit window


The Alitalia plane was heavily damaged after making an emergency landing at Naples through a violent storm
These shocking images show the extreme damage suffered by a plane after it was forced to make an emergency landing after ploughing through a violent hailstorm.

Pilots brought the plane down with one of the cockpit windshields completely shattered and the nose cone virtually destroyed.

And in video footage shot from a passenger on board, screams can be heard as the Alitalia aircraft makes a terrifying descent.

Flight AZ2016 took off from Rome's main airport of Fiumicino yesterday morning at 8.30am, en-route to Milan.

But around 30 minutes into the journey, the plane was forced to make an emergency landing after being battered by the violent hailstorm.

Speaking to La Republica, Luca Quadarella, who was on board the plane, said: 'For two or three minutes the fuselage [was engulfed] by a very loud noise.'


The pilots had to use all their skills for the emergency landing after the storm shattered the windscreen

Comment: Wow, that's the second time in a month! Unprecedented!

See also: What's up with the weather? Huge hail stones damage multiple commercial planes


Pack of raccoons attack couple in San Francisco


A woman and her husband walking their small dog in San Francisco's Richmond District and found themselves attacked and bitten by raccoons.
In San Francisco's Richmond District, a couple was attacked they say by a pack of raccoons and if it weren't for a neighbor who came to their rescue, they believe they might have been seriously injured.

Many neighbors in the area say they don't like going out after 11 p.m., not because they worry about getting mugged, but because they worry about a confrontation with raccoons.

Patty Upsavs says she and her husband went out Monday night to let their dog get one last walk and that's when a raccoon pounced.

"So I started swinging the dog around trying to get it off," Upsavs said.

Then a pack of raccoons attacked.


Thousands of dead fish found near site of Tianjin explosions


Thousands of dead fish
Thousands of dead fish have washed up near the site of two explosions which killed at least 114 people in China, prompting fresh concerns about environmental damage from the blasts.

The fish washed up on the shores of a river about 6km from the blast site in Tianjin..

Authorities claimed oxygen deficiency was behind the deaths, not poisoning, saying they did not find dangerous levels of sodium cyanide in the river

City officials have repeatedly said contaminants found in the wake of the August 12 explosions, including deadly sodium cyanide, pose no risk to the public.


Magnitude 5.1 earthquake shocks Nepal; tremors felt in Delhi, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim

The quake rocked areas 15 km southeast of Kodari in Sindhupalchok district of Nepal, reported Xinhua news agency
© Facebook/I Love Siliguri
Tremors were felt in several parts of India after an earthquake hit Nepal on Sunday. The fresh quake struck 89 km east of Kathmandu. According to The National Seismological Centre in Kathmandu, the quake, measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale with the epicentre at Dolakha was recorded at 2.47 pm (local time).

The US Geological Survey in a statement noted that the "earthquake magnitude was 5.0 and it occurred near Namche Bazar at 09:02:09.00 UTC on 23 August, 2015."

The tremors were felt in Delhi, following which people rushed out of their homes. Mild tremors also were felt in parts of Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim.

A devastating earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale on 25 April had killed roughly 9,000 people and injured more than 20,000 in Nepal.


Millions of seed bugs invade lower Sierra Nevada, California

© Matthew Hengst via AP
In this Aug. 14, 2015, photo provided by Matthew Hengst, bugs swarm at a service station in the eastern Sierra Nevada town of Lone Pine, Calif.
The gas station's ground was covered with the small winged bugs. Piles of carcasses, inches deep, sat swept to the sides.

On the road, they rained onto car windshields. They flew by the thousands toward even the smallest sources of light, and crept along windows and kitchen tables.

Such has been the skin-crawling reality for the past two months in the high-desert communities at the foot of the Sierra Nevada's eastern slopes, where residents have seen an explosion of the black-and-red seed bug species Melacoryphus lateralis.

"They're in everything. There's no way to get rid of them or eradicate them. They're just here," said Blair Nicodemus, 33, of Lone Pine, while driving with a bug creeping on his windshield. "Sometimes there will be these micro-plumes that'll come through where there will be just thousands of them, and they'll be all over you. ... I'm sure I've eaten at least two dozen, because they get into your food."

Such outbreaks have happened in Arizona's Sonoran desert near Tucson, but scientists say it's the first one in recent memory in California.

The influx has been driven by a mild winter and monsoonal weather, which provided healthier vegetation for the nutrient-sucking bugs, said David Haviland, an entomologist with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Kern County.

The bugs' flight into town and toward the lights in homes, businesses or cars, however, might be related to the drying up of native vegetation in the summer heat and the drought, said Nathan Reade, agricultural commissioner for Inyo and Mono counties.

The fingernail-sized insects are the main topic of conversation in the area.
© Matthew Hengst via AP
In this Aug. 14, 2015 photo provided by Matthew Hengst, bugs swarm at a service station in the eastern Sierra Nevada town of Lone Pine, Calif. Scientists are calling the unusual explosion of this Melacoryphus lateralis species of seed bug the first outbreak of its kind in California{2019}s recent memory.


Typhoon Goni strengthens, heads toward Japan

© Japan National Radar
Goni has strengthened back into a powerful typhoon as it bears down on Japan's Ryukyu Islands with mainland Japan the next target.

The eye of Goni was crossing the Yaeyama Islands, the southwestern most Ryukyu Islands, on Sunday evening local time (Sunday morning EDT) with destructive winds and torrential rainfall.

Typhoon Goni Lashes Northern Philippines

After weakening as it lashed the northern Philippines, Goni has since strengthened with its intensity now equal to that of a major hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific oceans. Goni left 15 people dead, mainly due to landslides, in the Philippines, the Associated Press reports.

Within the eyewall of Goni, Ishigakijima recorded sustained winds of 162 kph (101 mph) and a gust to 255 kph (159 mph).

Life-threatening destructive winds in excess of 160 kph (100 mph) will persist across the Yaeyama Islands and nearby Miyako Islands through early Monday morning. Flooding rainfall will top 250 mm (10 inches) as an inundating storm surge further endangers residents.

Goni and the worst of its fury should track just to the west of the rest of the Ryukyu Islands on Monday, but the powerful typhoon will still pass close enough to produce damaging winds of 95 to 130 kph (60 to 80 mph) and rainfall of 75 to 150 mm (3 to 6 inches).

Red Flag

Beach still closed after shark attack in Port Macquarie, Australia


Beaches in NSW's mid-north coast remain closed after a bodyboarder was attacked by a shark.

A 38-year-old man, named in media reports as Dale Carr, remains in a stable condition at a Port Macquarie hospital after being mauled while bodyboarding with a friend at Lighthouse Beach on Saturday evening.

He suffered leg, back and stomach injuries while escaping the suspected three-metre bull shark.

Mr Carr is reportedly a father-of-two and a former rugby league player for the Port Macquarie Sharks.

"Our healing and loving thoughts go to one of our friends and ex players Dale Carr and his family," the club said in a statement on Facebook.

"We are here for any support we can give, you mean a lot to your buddies Dale."

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strike on Alabama coast claims the life of 12-year-old Arkansas girl

© Central Arkansas Christian School via Facebook
Megan Nickell, a 7th grader at Central Arkansas Christian School, reportedly died after she was struck by lightning at Fort Morgan in Alabama, on Sunday, July 5, 2015.
A 12-year-old girl injured in a lightning strike on the Fort Morgan peninsula Sunday has died, officials with Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, confirmed Tuesday.

Mike Burke, director of marketing and public relations for the hospital, identified the girl as Megan Nickell.

On social media, school officials said Megan was a 7th grader at Central Arkansas Christian School in North Little Rock. On Monday night, the school held a prayer service for Megan and her family.

On Sunday afternoon, Megan was playing volleyball on the beach at the west end of Fort Morgan Road when a lightning bolt struck her, Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department Chief Glenn Stevens told

She was transported to South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley and later to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola.