Earth Changes


Mysterious penguin disease spreads to Antarctica

© Andres Barbosa
Although penguins can't fly, they still need feathers. Without them, the birds risk succumbing to rain, cold, disease, and even death - which is why researchers are concerned about the recent reappearance of a rare disorder causing the feathers of young penguins to fall out.

The so-called feather-loss disorder was first seen in 2006 in penguin chicks housed at a captive facility in South Africa. One year later, several cases were observed across the Atlantic Ocean, in wild Magellanic penguin chicks along the coast of Argentina.

Ice age cometh: Two to three feet of hail crippled parts of Mexico City Sunday

Hail storm in Mexico City
© Twitter user sandyzzen
Summer hail storm buries parts of Mexico City
A hailstorm of mammoth proportions hammered sections of Mexico City Sunday. Several feet of hail piled up, making some city roads impassable.

"Roads such as the North Loop [el Periférico Norte] were flooded by hail and flooding, so municipal and Federal District workers labored for hours to clear them, Notimex reported," wrote CNN Mexico.

Mexico news organization Azteca Noticias called it a "historical hailstorm".
Historic hailstorm in Mexico City
© Twitter user Reformacom
Pictures from Twitter are remarkable; parts of the low latitude city appear transformed into a winter wonderland in the dog days of August:

Hail is not uncommon in the Valley of Mexico, which includes Mexico City.

On Sunday, an area of low pressure at high altitudes generated the instability necessary for the vigorous, hail-producing storms.

In addition to hail, flash flooding was also reported in the region.

Here's video (narrated in Spanish) from Mexico City from Aztec News via YouTube:


Northwest Alaska villagers concerned about dead salmon washing up along Kobuk River

Alaska Salmon dieoff
© Annie Schaeffer-Barr / Kiana Traditional Council

A fish die-off leaves chum salmon carcasses along the shore of the Kobuk River on Sunday, August 17, 2014, about 10 miles above Kiana in northwest Alaska.
A fish die-off leaves chum salmon carcasses along the shore of the Kobuk River on Sunday, August 17, 2014, about 10 miles above Kiana in northwest Alaska.

For the last week, from Shugnak all the way down to Kotzebue, people are reporting dead fish washed up on the banks of Northwest Alaska's Kobuk River in astonishing numbers. The fish appear to have been healthy and unspawned. Some have mysterious white welts dotting their backs.

Carolyn Ballot, mayor of Ambler, said when she first heard about the fish, she suspected bears were pulling salmon out of the water, which is nothing unusual. But the huge number of fish washing ashore quickly became concerning. She wondered whether warm weather in the region was causing the die-off.

"There is something going on," she said.

The explanation may be somewhat mundane, though: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game suspects the die-off is related to this year's extremely strong chum salmon run, to the point that the fish are practically clogging the waterway.
Cloud Precipitation

Phoenix, AZ: 'Sheets of Rain' - up to 4 inches of rain fell in an hour causing major flooding and interstate closures

Hard rain came down throughout the Valley and surrounding areas Tuesday morning, soaking several areas that are still reeling from last week's flooding. The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning that it extended twice.

Rainfall this morning
  • New River -- 3.98"
  • Black Canyon City -- 3.78"
  • Cave Creek -- 1.50"
  • North Phoenix -- 1.38"
  • Desert Ridge -- 1.32"
  • Glendale -- 1.10"
3TV Meteorologist April Warnecke said showers would continue off and on throughout the day. An inch had fallen since 5:30 a.m., and it was still coming down more than an hour later, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a Flood Watch and Advisory. The NWS later upgraded that to a Flash Flood Warning that originally was to expire at 9 a.m.. The NWS that warning extended until 11 a.m., and then again until 1 p.m.
Snowflake Cold

Snow set to blast Scotland as forecasters warn of 'coldest August spell in a century'

Stormy seas battering Blackpool Promenade this morning. Forecasters are predicting scattered showers, cool temperatures and windy weather for the next two weeks.
Bitter Arctic winds could plunge parts of Britain into the coldest spell of August weather for almost a century.

Thermometers are set to plummet as a stubborn band of low pressure drags air in from the north - with two weeks of wet, windy and cold weather on the horizon.

There is even a chance of snow and sleet over the mountains of Scotland as it dips to near freezing overnight. Government figures show the last time it was this cold in August was in 1919 when the mercury rose no higher than 8.9C for four days in Yorkshire and Cumbria.It is not expected to rise above 9C in parts of the north during the day all week with chilly winds making it feel much colder.

The Met Office said Loadpot Hill, in Cumbria, is unlikely to see a maximum daytime temperature of more than 8C on Thursday.

Forecasters blame an area of low pressure circling off the north of the UK for the cold and miserable week ahead. Met Office spokeswoman Charlie Powell said: 'The lowest daily maximum temperature we have is in Cumbria, Yorkshire and Shetland which was 8.9C in 1919. At the moment it looks like Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week will see temperatures in that bracket.' Laura Young from the Met Office said: 'It is going to be much cooler this week, unseasonably cool due to much colder air coming down from the north.
Snowflake Cold

The Netherlands: Is this summer? This August is one of the coldest since 1980

This August is the second coldest in 34 years with an average afternoon temperature of 17 Celsius at the De Bilt weather station.

In the average year, the temperature is around 22 Celsius in mid August, according to forecasting bureau Weerplaza.
Bizarro Earth

Iceland tells airlines Bardarbunga volcano under glacier may erupt, raises alert to orange


File photo: Bardarbunga, 7 November 1996
Seismic activity has been detected at Bardarbunga, including a strong earthquake
Iceland warned airlines that there may be an eruption at one of the island's largest volcanoes located underneath Vatnajokull, Europe's biggest glacier.

The alert level at Bardarbunga was raised to "orange," indicating "heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption," the Reykjavik-based Met Office said in a statement on its website. Over 250 tremors have been measured in the area since midnight. The agency said there are still no visible indications of an eruption.

The volcano is 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) wide and rises about 1,900 meters above sea level. Bardarbunga, which last erupted in 1996, can spew both ash and molten lava.

Comment: Given the news, this quote from an article that we published in 2011 seems timely and pertinent:
Bardarbunga's last major eruption was horrendous. It changed the weather pattern in northern Europe and darkened the skies for months during 1477. That gigantic eruption generated the largest lava flow in 10,000 years and significantly expanded Iceland's land mass.

Grim experts concede that if the volcano's current activity culminates in an eruption equal to that of 1477, all of Scandinavia and much of northern Russia and Europe will be left reeling.The UK will be slammed by choking volcanic dust, grit and poisonous superheated gases. Commerce will grind to a halt, the skies will blacken for weeks, perhaps months, and agriculture would be severely affected.

The late Cornell University professor, astronomer Carl Sagan, used the consequences of large volcanic eruptions impact on global cooling as part of his theoretical model for the frightening prospect of a nuclear winter.

Ken Caldeira, an earth scientist at Stanford University, California, and member of Britain's prestigious Royal Society working group on geo-engineering, explained that "dust sprayed into the stratosphere in volcanic eruptions is known to cool the Earth by reflecting light back into space."

That simple process has led to the starvation of whole nations in the past. Volcanic gases and dust suspended in the atmosphere cool the Earth to a point where the growing seasons significantly shrink and crops cannot reach maturity.


Container ship crashes into Fremantle bridge as wild storm lashes Western Australia

Perth bridge damage
© ABC News
A storm causes a container ship to break its moorings and hit the Fremantle rail bridge.
A wild storm that lashed Perth and WA's south-west overnight caused a container ship to break its moorings and crash into the rail bridge in the port of Fremantle.

Wind gusts of 122kph hit Busselton, while 34 millimetres of rain was recorded in Donnybrook and 22 in Swanbourne.

About 20,000 homes lost power overnight, although Western Power said only 2,400 customers - mostly in Manjimup - remained without electricity this morning.

The ship that crashed into the Fremantle rail bridge was unloading a cargo of cars when its stern rope snapped, causing it to swing out into the port.

A second cargo vessel also broke its moorings and hit the refuelling vessel Parmelia 1, which was docked near the bridge.
Cloud Precipitation

Update: Nepal, India floods leave nearly 200 dead, scores missing

India floods
© European Pressphoto Agency
A woman returned by boat after tending her livestock on Monday in the flood-affected Morigaon district of Assam state, India.

Floods and landslides in Nepal and northern India have killed nearly 200 people and scores more are missing, local authorities said Monday.

Nepal has been worst hit, with 105 people confirmed dead after torrential rain triggered landslides and flooding, devastating entire villages in what the country's prime minister termed a "national tragedy".

Another 136 people are missing, and authorities are battling to prevent an outbreak of cholera after some survivors showed symptoms of the potentially fatal disease.

Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala pledged to "expedite the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts" and expressed his sorrow over the deaths.

In neighbouring India's Uttar Pradesh state, flooding has claimed at least 48 lives and forced around 500,000 people to leave their homes, relief commissioner KS Bhadoriya told AFP.
Cloud Lightning

Torrential rain, hailstorm kills 16 in Pakistan

Pakistan floods

A view of heavy rain in Peshawar.

At least 16 people, including nine children, were killed and over 80 others injured on Friday in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, as roofs and walls of buildings collapsed due to heavy rain.

According to reports, 10 people, including six children and two women, were killed and 50 others injured when the roof of a madrasa and boundary walls collapsed in the city.

Six more persons died in the similar incidents in other areas. The badly hit areas of the city included Akhundabad, Gujjarabad, Wazirbagh, Faqirabad and other suburban areas.

The death toll might go up as the rescue workers were still busy in rescue work.