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Wed, 27 Jul 2016
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Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

Scientists say California's East Bay is overdue for the largest earthquake in centuries

© Tom Morgenstern
UC Berkeley professor Nick Sitar shows the gap at California Memorial Stadium due to Hayward Fault movement over the years.
A Hayward Fault shaker will be way, way worse than 1989's Loma Prieta quake.

Nicholas Sitar is a professor of civil engineering at UC Berkeley, and he likes to joke that "earthquakes don't come with due dates." Yet he and other scientists say it's only a matter of time — maybe days, more likely a few years — before a major Earth-shaking catastrophe hits the East Bay.

Their words are not scare tactics. The Hayward Fault runs nearly right through the heart of the region, splitting the flatlands from the hills. This 74-mile-long zone has been quiet since 1868, when it generated its last large earthquake. But scientists explained to the Express that the average time frame in which a large tremblor occurs on the Hayward Fault is about 140 years. And that period lapsed in 2008. "Yes, in terms of the statistical average, we are now well past the average period between earthquakes," is how Sitar put it.

This means that, in layman's terms, the proverbial Big One is overdue.

The professor is among many scientists who spend their time considering what would happen if a quake similar in size to, or perhaps substantially more powerful than, the 1868 Hayward Fault shaker struck Oakland and the greater region today. Nearly all agree that it would be a terrible disaster.

The shaking of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake would cause tremendous and unprecedented destruction. Thousands of buildings — even dozens of hospitals that are rated by state officials as seismically unstable — could be destroyed. Gas and water lines would break, and fires would leave the region reeling, if not wholly crippled, for days. Looters and thieves almost certainly will take advantage of abandoned homes and busy police and emergency officials.

Even less-dramatic experts such as Sitar concede that hundreds of people will die. Others expect a death toll in the thousands.

Cloud Precipitation

37 dead with 26 missing due to widespread floods and landslides in Nepal

© Ramesh Kumar Paudel/Republic
Men, women and children at a squatter settlement in Gaidakot, Nawalparasi wade through floodwaters from the Narayani River that inundated their homes Tuesday. The water level in the river reached 10.24 meters in the evening.
Floods and landslides have swept across various parts of the country, leaving at least 37 people dead in the last 24 hours. Twenty-six others have gone missing while more than 2,000 houses are inundated.

Landslides and floods triggered by incessant rainfall have left 15 dead in Pyuthan district, seven in Gulmi, four in Palpa, three in Makwanpur, two in Udaypur, three in Baglung, one in Banke and two in Rupandehi. Hundreds of families have been displaced in various parts of the country.

Monsoon-triggered floods and landslides in Pyuthan claimed at least 15 lives. And at least 23 others in the district have gone missing. Over 200 households are at high risk of being swept away by flooding and landslides.

Among the deceased, five are from Lung VDC, two from Puja, and two others from Khawang. Shova Rijal and Kali Pariyar of Lung-6 were buried in landslide. Prem Thapa, 11, Ranjana KC, 40, and Sushila KC, 12, of Bahane Bajar were buried by landslide and later pronounced dead.


State of emergency declared on Greek island of Chios due to raging wildfire

Dense smoke over Lithi village during a wildfire on Chios island, Greece
Greece has declared a state of emergency after the Aegean island of Chios has been engulfed by a wildfire raging out of control.

Dozens of firefighters and aircraft were deployed to fight the forest fire which broke out early on Monday.

The blaze destroyed olive groves and mastic trees, which are an important source of income for the island, which has a population of about 52,000.

At 30 miles long and 12 miles wide, Chios is a fair size for a Greek Island.

It's a popular holiday destination, positioned between Samos and Lesvos in the north east Aegean.


Over 90 dead dolphins found on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast this summer

Dead dolphin
A total of 91 dead dolphins have been found on beaches on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast so far in summer 2016, according to regional inspectorates of the environment.

This figure, as of July 19, is higher than the total 90 dead dolphins found on the country's coast in all of 2015.

There have been repeated cases, and ensuing media reports, in recent years about dolphins being found dead on Bulgarian beaches. In spite of repeated allegations, often with finger-pointing at fishermen, no cause for the deaths has been established conclusively.

A joint Bulgarian-Romanian investigation is underway, after the finding of dead dolphins horrified tourists at Black Sea beaches, a report by Bulgarian National Television said.

The findings have taken place from the northernmost to the southernmost points of Bulgaria's coast.

In some cases, the appearance of the dead dolphins suggested that they had been slashed, and possibly meat even removed.

Cloud Lightning

Teenager hit by lightning while playing Pokemon Go in Clearwater, Florida

Cameron Poimboeuf
The North Carolina teenager who was struck by lightning while playing Pokemon Go on the beach with a friend said "everything went black" right before the strike.

Cameron Poimboeuf, 15, was with a friend on Sand Key Beach, near Clearwater, on July 19, when a storm rolled in as the pair were engrossed in Pokemon Go, the location-based game app.

"It was just really dark, I was on my phone and everything went black," Poimboeuf, of Charlotte, North Carolina, told Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS-TV.

Poimboeuf said he was told he was struck by lightning in his back and through his leg.

"Everyone was standing there looking at me," Poimboeuf told WFTS. "I was trying to figure out if I was hurting or anything, but my body was pretty much numb."


6.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Aisen, Chile

© Dimas Ardian, Getty Images
6.0 magnitude earthquake

2016-07-27 01:25:12 UTC

UTC time: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 01:25 AM

Your time: 2016-07-27T01:25:12Z

Magnitude Type: mwc

USGS page: M 6.0 - Off the coast of Aisen, Chile

USGS status: Reviewed by a seismologist

Reports from the public: 1 person

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strike kills tourist in Slovakia

A Czech tourist, 36, did not survive the strike by a lightning in the Western Tatra Mountains in Slovakia on Tuesday, the mountain rescue service has said, adding that the called-in emergency medical staff were unable to help him.

The accident occurred at around noon when a strong storm hit the mountains.

The lightning struck the tourist right on the ridge between the mountains Predny Salatin and Brestova.

The Czech tourist lost consciousness and suffered a serious head injury. His relatives and other hikers tried to get him out of the ridge as soon as possible.

A helicopter with a doctor flew to the place, but even his effort to resuscitate the man lasting 45 minutes could not save him.

Storms appeared in several regions in Slovakia in the past days. Due to this, the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute issued the second degree of storm warning for most Slovakia on Tuesday.

Source: Czech News Agency (ČTK)

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills 20 cows in Uganda

Pennington Okeny, a resident of Guda Palwo village says the thunderbolt struck the animals as they retreated from grazing.

The disaster struck as livestock farming is taking shape in Lamwo district after two decades of LRA war in the region.

It is a big blow to to government effort to restock the region.


New species of rare beaked whale found in the Bering Sea

© Don Graves
In 2004 Reid Brewer of the University of Alaska Southeast measured an unusual beaked whale that turned up dead in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. A tissue sample from the carcass later showed that the whale was one of the newly identified species.
A new species of incredibly rare beaked whale was identified after one of the animals washed ashore on an island in the Bering Sea and, after an extensive search through tissue samples at museums, it was discovered the cetacean was a completely new species, researchers said Tuesday.

In 2014, the animal turned up dead on the shores of St. George Island, one of the Pribilof Islands in the rugged Bering Sea. It appeared to be similar to a Baird's beaked whale, but it was smaller and had darker skin than the more common cetacean.

"We knew it was not any whale we knew from our area," Michelle Ridgway, a marine ecologist with Oceanus Alaska who documented the whale in the Pribilofs, said in a statement.

Phillip Morin, a research molecular biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries' Southwest Fisheries Science Center inspected the DNA of nearly 180 beaked whales discovered around the Pacific Rim. The whale in question, he discovered, along with seven other animals, were members of the new unnamed species, which the Japanese call "karasu," the Japanese word for raven.

Arrow Up

Japan's Sakurajima volcano erupts: Ash plume spewed 5,000 meters high with multiple static lightning discharges

© YouTube/kaze shiroi (screen capture)
Mount Sakurajima erupted early on July 26, belching out a massive column of smoke rising 5,000 meters in the air.

The eruption occurred at 12:02 a.m. at the mountain's Showa crater.

This is the first time that the active volcano in southern Kyushu has spewed out a smokestack that high since an eruption on Aug. 18, 2013, according to the Kagoshima Meteorological Office.

It marked the 47th eruption this year, and the observatory is warning residents and travelers in the area that traffic accidents may occur because of the falling ash.

The Japan Meteorological Agency continues to keep Sakurajima on an alert level of "3," which closes off the entire mountain except for residential areas along the coast. It has been at that level since February.