Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Car explodes after freak lightning strike ignites nearby gas mains in Canberra, Australia

© Sarah Groube
The car was hit by lightning above a gas rupture on Dryandra Street, O'Connor.
A man has escaped serious injury after his car burst into flames following a freak lightning strike near a gas main in Canberra's north.

The fire began after lightning struck on Dryandra Street in Canberra's north during a short thunderstorm over the ACT about 8:00am.

Shortly after the lightning strike a car on the street burst into flames.

Firefighter Danny Brighenti said crews at the scene were initially puzzled by the blaze, which kept reigniting.

"They believed there was a ruptured fuel tank which was causing the car to reignite," he said.

He said on closer inspection, once the fire died down, it was revealed a gas main had ruptured near the car.

Nearby resident Sarah Groubes: "As we turned around the corner onto Dryandra Street we just saw this fireball on the side of the road."

Commander Brighenti said the cause of the gas leak was unclear.

He said scenarios in which cars were struck by lightning were rare, and it was possible a tree nearby was actually struck.

He said it was also unclear whether the car that caught fire was parked or moving along the road at the time of the lightning strike.

"On arrival the person had got out of the vehicle, but the car was heavily involved in fire with the surrounding trees and bushes," Commander Brighenti said.

"They're not injured ... but the car is totally destroyed."

A mountain bike and an iPhone inside the car were also destroyed.

Comment: Elsewhere today, six teenagers were tragically killed in India by lightning after "great bolts of lightning cut through the sky", and
six construction workers were killed after being struck by lightning in South Africa.

See also: SOTT Exclusive: Solar System grounding:Transformer explosions and electrical anomalies


Northern Lights head south: Geomagnetic storm reveals aurora borealis in Central Russia

© RIA Novosti/Igor Podgornyi
Aurora in Mikhailovsky District of the Ryazan Region.
An abnormal atmospheric phenomenon was visible throughout the relevantly low latitude of central Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg on Tuesday. A powerful geomagnetic storm promises to continue for a second day, also including an aurora.

Witnesses and amateur astronomers have been busily posting photos and videos of this atmospheric event - so rarely seen in Central Russia - on blogs and social media.

As a rule, the aurora borealis is visible in regions close or above the Polar Circle, for example in Russia's Arctic city of Murmansk.
But sometimes extremely powerful solar flares cause this atmospheric phenomenon to be visible in much lower altitudes, as is the case now.

Arrow Down

One mile of road closed due to large sinkhole in Oakfield Township, Michigan

A section of a road west of Greenville will remain closed until mid-summer after a pipe collapsed and caused a large sinkhole.

Podunk Avenue was shut down between 13 Mile Road and 14 Mile Road over Wabasis Creek in Oakfield Township Friday after this sinkhole appeared, according to Jerry Byrne, who is the Kent County Road Commission's deputy managing director of operations.

Byrne told 24 Hour News 8 a large, corrugated metal pipe rusted through and collapsed. It will be replaced by a concrete culvert, which should last longer than the metal pipe.

The section of Podunk Avenue will remain closed until mid-summer because the Kent County Road Commission needs permits from the Department of Environmental Quality. They also have to wait for water levels on Wabasis Creek to recede, Byrne said.

The collapsed culvert was inspected with in the last few years, Byrne said, however - while some issues were noted - inspectors did not expect it to collapse.


California in severe drought - State approves sweeping water restrictions

California officials approved a package of far-reaching water restrictions Tuesday, limiting homes and businesses in much of the Bay Area and elsewhere to just two days of outdoor watering per week while cracking down on the way restaurants and hotels use water.

The rules mark unprecedented territory for the state, which has historically let local water agencies, with their unique supplies and demands, manage how customers use water. But with California poised for a fourth year of drought and conservation lagging, officials opted for statewide action.

The regulations, carrying fines up to $500, add to restrictions put in place last year that rein in outdoor water use — for example, barring people from hosing down driveways. The new terms tread deeper into homes, businesses and the lives of most Californians, and are indicative of the state's worsening water woes.

"We are not seeing the stepping up and the ringing of alarm bells that the situation warrants," said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, which voted unanimously for Tuesday's conservation mandates.

The regulations require local water agencies that don't already limit outdoor watering to certain days of the week to adopt a two-day-a-week policy. Among the Bay Area agencies that would have to impose the two-day limit are the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, serving the city's more than 800,000 residents, as well as the Marin Municipal Water District and Contra Costa Water District. Agencies outside San Francisco that buy water from the SFPUC — including on the Peninsula and in parts of the East Bay — are affected only if they do not already impose watering limits.


Lebanon, Pennsylvania backyard sinkhole reveals mysterious room

A sinkhole has unearthed a mystery in Lebanon.
From above, the sinkhole looks about 10 feet long, four feet wide, and about seven feet deep, but look down inside and you will find there is much more. Stone walls make what appears to be some type of circular room with metal beams supporting a metal ceiling.

"I thought 'oh, my God.' I did not know what to think," Sandra Norton said.

Norton lives at the home in the 100 block of Canal Street with her granddaughter, Ashley Norton. She discovered the hole Saturday afternoon when she let the dogs out in the backyard.
Since then, the family has learned a little bit about the history of the property.

"There was an auto body shop in 1925, but in 1875 there was a brick manufacturing," she said.

Norton says her granddaughter has reached out to a contractor to see how much it will cost to fill in the hole. She also hopes to learn more about the property with the help of the Lebanon County Historical Society.

Cloud Precipitation

20,000 affected by flooding in Boca do Acre, Brazil

© Seduc – Amazonas
Flooded school in Boca do Acre, March 2015.
More than 20,000 people have been affected by flooding caused by the swollen Purus River in Boca do Acre in Amazonas State, Brazil.

Defesa Civil Amazonas (Amazonas state civil defense) have distributed more than 36 tons of humanitarian aid to flood victims, which includes food, medicine, bedding, mosquito nets, drinking water, and water filters.

"We ... are working on the needs of the population and municipal deficiencies caused by this natural disaster," said the Secretary of Defesa Civil Amazonas, Colonel Roberto Rocha.

At least 70 families have been forced from their homes and are being housed in emergency tents. Authorities say that 8 out of the 9 local districts have been affected. Defesa Civil Amazonas reported that the city's water treatment plant has been damaged in the floods. Maize and banana crops have also been flooded.

No Entry

Half-mile stretch of road in Sandusky, Ohio road closed due to sinkholes

© Register/Andy Ouriel
An emerging sinkhole on McIntyre Road near Edison High School forced local officials to shut down a portion of the corridor until further notice.

On Tuesday, after finding a depression caving several inches deep into the pavement, Milan Township officials closed a half-mile stretch of roadway.

Among the areas where a worker blocked off the road to all traffic, including emergency vehicles:

- Heading south, turning off Ohio 113: Vehicles can travel on McIntyre Road up until a driveway leading to a private residence.

- Heading north, turning off Seminary Road: Vehicles can only access a small portion of McIntyre Road.

No homes, businesses or points of interest are located within the barricaded area.

"We're not too sure how it happened," township road employee Dave Fox said. "We can't fill it like a pothole. We have really never dealt with anything (in the Milan area) like this before. If a car hit that spot just right, it would tear up the undercarriage and could possibly cause the vehicle to crash."

Evil Rays

Consequences of fracking - Reactivated fault lines in Oklahoma could cause major quake

Fault lines dating back hundreds of millions of years in Oklahoma that have been recently reactivated could lead to a devastating quake in the state where many structures were not built to withstand major seismic activity, a report said.

The state, which has seen several hundred seismic events over the past five years, has "a high degree of potential earthquake hazards," according to the study accepted for publication this month whose authors include researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

"The majority of the recent earthquakes in central Oklahoma define reactivated ancient faults at shallow depths in the crust" of less than 3.7 miles (6 km), said the report for the American Geophysical Union.

The report did not look at whether the reactivation of the faults was linked to the energy extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.


Another sinkhole appears in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

© Eric Veronikis/Pennlive
A sinkhole closed South 15th Street, between Swatara and Drummond streets, in Harrisburg's South Allison Hill neighborhood on Tuesday night.
A large sinkhole closed South 15th Street, between Drummond and Swatara streets, in the city's South Allison Hill neighborhood on Tuesday night.

It wasn't immediately clear when or why the sinkhole, just north of Swatara Street, opened. But a Capital Region Water crew was at the scene assessing the cause as of 6 p.m.

Crews hope to pinpoint whether a water leak exists in the area, repair it and refill the hole, which appears to be about 3 feet deep, as soon as possible, said Andrew Bliss, spokesman for the water company.

Bliss could not immediately say when he expects the road to reopen.

Comment: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has been pretty active recently with sinkholes.

From February 2013: From March 2014:


Dayton, Ohio women wakes to find sinkhole next to garage

© WHIO/Michael Franz
A woman woke up early this morning to find a large sinkhole had opened up next to her garage in Dayton.

A neighbor first spotted the hole - which is about three feet deep and four feet across - in an alley between Hodapp and Wilfred avenues.

Kathy Harris says she called the city water and street crews right away, and they responded and covered the area with grates.

"They were nice enough to help me get my car out of the garage because I didn't know how I was going to do anything," she said.

Crews ran a camera into the hole to determine whether it might have been caused by recent rain or a pipe that runs under the garage and to the house.