Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Hurricane Norbert marches up Mexico's Baja coast and heads north-west

© NASA/AFP/Getty Images
A satellite image shows hurricane Norbert swirling along the Pacific coast.
Heavy rains brought by Hurricane Norbert prompted evacuations as the storm roared up the coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. Forecasters said the storm may help bring weekend precipitation to the parched US South-west.

The Baja California Sur state governor, Marcos Covarrubias, urged people in vulnerable areas to evacuate and said travellers should stay off highways as the storm passed by. He said most government services would be closed or restricted, and schools in Los Cabos and La Paz were closed on Friday.

At least 1,000 people remained in shelters on Friday evening in Los Cabos, where the storm toppled trees and knocked out electricity in parts of the resort area.

Comment: Extreme rainfall occurred in south-western US a month ago, bringing 'apocalyptic' flash-floods.

See also: Hurricane Norbert lashes Mexico's Baja peninsula


Lifestyles of the rich and thirsty: In the midst of California's worst drought, the wealthy truck in their own water

golf course
© Getty
Many mornings, just before 7 a.m., a large tanker truck pulls up to the grand gates of Oprah Winfrey's 40-acre estate in Montecito, California. Inside is neither merchandise nor produce - just water.

A year ago, Oprah's annual bill from the Montecito Water District was just shy of $125,000. This year, it is less than half. Like many in this wealthy enclave, Oprah has cut back on her consumption of district water. That said, her property has its own wells and a small lake and, according to neighbors, there are the trucks.

These days, tankers can be seen barreling down Montecito's narrow country roads day and night, ferrying up to 5,000 gallons of H20 to some of the world's richest and thirstiest folks.

As California trudges into its third year of a statewide drought - currently at an alarming Stage 4 level, denoting what the federal government calls "exceptional drought" conditions - few towns have been as hard hit as Montecito.

Hawaii residents brace for evacuation order as lava nears homes

© Tim Orr / U.S. Geological Survey / Associated Press
The June 27 lava flow, named for the date it began erupting from a new vent, streams from Kilauea on Hawaii's Big Island, moving at more than 800 feet per day.
Cassandra Pensa met her husband, Clinton Barricklow, in Northern California and decided to go to Hawaii eight years ago to fulfill their dream of living off the land. They eventually moved to Ka'ohe Homesteads, a rural area where the land was affordable partly because it is near an active volcano.

But a volcano can be a dangerous neighbor.
Bizarro Earth

Video captures explosive volcanic eruption in Papua New Guinea

Volcano Eruption
© The Independent, UK
Sonic boom rocks Australian holidaymaker's boat as he films the spectacle.
Incredible footage of a volcanic eruption shown sending a powerful shockwave rippling through the clouds above it has been captured by a holidaymaker.

Philip McNamara was on a boat off the coast of Papua New Guinea filming Mount Tavurvu in the distance when the volcano exploded, sending up a plume of ash and smoke.

The brave Australian tourist, a taxi driver from Townsville, Queensland, held steady to capture footage of one of nature's most powerful and devastating spectacles.

The explosion happened on August 29, but the minute-long video was only shared on YouTube for the first time on Friday and has since been viewed more than 200,000 times.

Comment: Earth keeps changing, are you curious as to why? Check out Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection by Sott's own Pierre Lescaudron


Killer whales dying along Pacific Coast, alarming statistics and behavior

Killer whales dying along Pacific coast - "Very sick, emaciated" - Population at lowest level in decades - Steep decline began after 2011 - No babies born in past 2 years - Alarming changes in behavior observed - Social structure is 'splintering'...
2 whales
Double divers, now in jeopardy.
Deaths [have] reduced [the] orca population to [its] lowest level in 30 years. The endangered killer whale population in Puget Sound continues to decline, [having] dropped to 78, according to Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research. No new calves have been born to the three pods since 2012. And, alarmingly, the social structure among the orcas appears to be "splintering." Balcomb compiles an annual census of the population for submission to the federal government. [T]he past few years, the pods have divided themselves into small groups, sometimes staying together but often staying apart. He suggests that the primary factor for the
L 100 "Indigo" in foreground, now deceased.
population decline is a lack of food for the killer whales.

The two orcas that are missing and presumed dead are L-53, a 37-year-old female named "
Lulu"; and L-100, a 13-year-old male named "Indigo". Population has gone from 88 in 2011 to 78 today.

Killer Whales of BC, Aug 26, 2014:
After the confirmation [of the deaths] of L53 Lulu and L100 Indigo, more bad news: Orcalive confirmed that "Plumper" [age 37] has not been sighted since 8/21/14 and now is considered missing. Also "Pointer" [age 39] did not return with his family and is also missing. Both boys were spotted with a "peanut head." Rest in Peace! You will be missed! New information which unfortunately is coming directly from Port McNeil [is] not better. Also the young I63 [age 24] is missing. She did not return with her family. R.I.P. young lady.

Comment: A "peanut head" on a whale is an indentation near the blowhole where blubber should be. The depression is a sign of severe weight loss to the point of starvation.

Comment: Although disease could be a factor, it is speculated that the collapse of California's Sacramento Valley chinook run is to be partly to blame for declining killer whale numbers. The same fishery collapse, off the California and Oregon coasts, shut down salmon fishing this year for humans, as well. Studies have shown that orcas have a strong preference for chinook salmon, pursuing other prey only when their primary food source is scarce. That makes scientists wonder whether there is something particular about chinook salmon that the orcas need to thrive.

Two of the orca families -- L and K pods -- have been seen, in recent years, feeding off the California coast in the winter. That was unheard of before early this decade, leading scientists to speculate they are driven to swim hundreds of miles just to meet their minimum nutritional requirements. Loss of babies is not nearly as unusual as the deaths of adults in what should be the prime of their lives.

The last whale song: In a broader stroke, could Fukushima radiation poisoning of the Pacific, a rise in sea temperature due to methane, incoming pathogens via cosmic dust, and fluctuations in our magnetic poles also be factors in the reduction of whale pods? Perhaps so, given the rapid die-offs of thousands of species during this decade from seemingly "unknown causes." Is it only a "smattering of time" until humanity experiences the effects of rapid and irreversible climate change and an exhausted food chain as well? Add one more species to the list for we undoubtedly stand in queue.

See also: Researchers predict west coast killer whales will exceed 1,000 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium -- Over 10 times gov't limit in Japan -- Concern about harm to humans, sea life -- Expert: People eating large amounts of fish may have levels similar to whales

Killer whale population declining in Puget Sound


Woman killed by a black bear in Fort McMurray, Alberta

A woman killed by a black bear at one of Canada's major oilsands sites was with several workers who tried in vain to scare the animal away.

The 36-year-old Suncor employee was an instrument technician who was doing electrical work at a job site near Fort McMurray, Alta., when the bear attacked her Wednesday.

"It was ... seven people that were working in a group area and she was attacked by this bear out of that group and dragged off," Scott Doherty, a spokesman for Unifor, told The Canadian Press on Thursday.

"People tried to stop it and do everything they could. Obviously they are fairly horrified at what they saw and witnessed."

Comment: See also: Bear stalks 2 women in 3-hour ordeal


Frenzied fox attacks Waccabuc residents, New York

Several Waccabuc residents reported being attacked by a vicious fox over the course of two days last week.

"I kicked it and it landed three or four feet away, but it kept coming back at me, snarling," said Harry Stover of Hilltop Road. "It bit me through blue jeans and pierced my skin. Thank God I had blue jeans on, otherwise it would have taken a piece out of the back of my leg."

Mr. Stover said he was able to fend off the fox with the help of a neighbor, whose daughter was nearby when the attack on Mr. Stover occurred, and was also attacked by the fox during the same incident. The neighbor reportedly hit the fox with his fist and sent the fox "squealing" away, Mr. Stover said.

From Aug. 24 to Aug. 25, the Westchester County Health Department had six confirmed encounters with the fox, which required three people to receive treatment for rabies exposure, including Mr. Stover, said Heather McGill, a program administrator for the Health Department.

Woman and dogs attacked by coyote in front of her Kilworthy home, Ontario

© Bev McMullen
Lori Kennedy and her Alapaha Blue Blood bulldog attended the Dockside Festival on Sunday, Aug. 17 in Gravenhurst. In July, Kennedy was attacked by a coyote which was eventually chased away by the dog.
It was a horrifying ordeal.

"Everybody has been walking around with baseball bats," said Lori Kennedy of the effect a vicious attack has had on the local community.

On July 19, Kennedy was walking her two 100-pound bulldogs in front of her home on Fleming Drive in Kilworthy around 4 p.m. when a wild dog, likely a coyote or coywolf - a coyote-wolf hybrid - emerged from between two houses and began following them.

"I thought it was one of my neighbours' dogs so at first I ignored it, but then before I had a chance to think it attacked," she said.

Kennedy said the animal attacked her female bulldog, which due to abuse as a pup has brain damage and was the weakest of the three victims.

Comment: Other recent reports of highly aggressive coyote behaviour -

Pack of coyotes chases man and dog through Burbank neighborhood, California

Coyote attacks second young girl in Rye, New York

Spike in coyote attacks on animal pets in Claremont, California

Cloud Lightning

More than 200 dead from floods caused by heavy monsoon rains in India & Pakistan

pakistan floods
More than 200 people have been killed in flooding caused by heavy rain across large swathes of India and Pakistan, reports say.

At least 110 people were killed by downpours in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and Punjab, officials said. About 100 people also died in Indian-administered Kashmir, as the floodwaters washed away houses and triggered landslides, officials said. The region is suffering from its worst flooding in two decades.

On Thursday, a bus carrying about 50 members of a wedding party in Indian-administered Kashmir was swept into a gorge, killing dozens. The bride and groom were among those feared dead.

The full extent of the region's death toll is not clear. On Saturday, Omar Abdullah, chief minister of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir, told local media that "close to 100 lives" had been lost. However, local media reported that up to 120 people in the state had been killed in the floods, including at least 14 killed by landslides. Mr. Abdullah said that the army had been requisitioned to help in rescue efforts. "Now that the rain has eased, we hope that water levels will start going down," he said.

Power outage in Egypt disrupts TV broadcasts, strands commuters

© Eman Helal / Associated Press
Drivers talk as they wait in line at a gas station, one of the Egyptian businesses affected by a power outage in Giza, Cairo's neighboring city, on Sept. 4.
An hours-long power outage in the Egyptian capital and elsewhere in the country on Thursday stranded commuters, disrupted TV broadcasts and trapped a small but unlucky cohort in elevators as daytime temperatures topped 100 degrees.

Compounding the misery, the outage shut down water supplies in some parts of the country as only water plants with generators continued to operate. Many factories and bakeries also stopped working, leading to long lines of unhappy people waiting for their daily bread subsidy. Cellphone signal boosters were also affected.