Earth ChangesS

Alarm Clock

Earthquake strikes northern California: USGS

© AFP/File/Nicolas AsfouriA quake reading on a seismograph. A 4.5 magnitude earthquake struck northern California on Friday, the US Geological Survey said, revising an earlier report of a stronger quake.
A 4.5 magnitude earthquake struck northern California on Friday, the US Geological Survey said, revising an earlier report of a stronger quake.


Welcome to the Coldest Town on Earth

Oymyakon, Siberia, is bracing for temps as low as minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 67.8 degrees Celsius)
SA siberia
© ©iStockphoto.comFRIGID CONDITIONS: The temperature in Oymyakon, Siberia, could plunge to match (or exceed) the record minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 68 degrees Celsius) reached in 1933.

As winter sets in, the 800 hearty denizens of the coldest town on earth are bracing for one of the most frigid blasts yet, as forecasters predict that temperatures in Oymyakon, Siberia, could plunge to the coldest ever recorded in an inhabited location. There is no disputing that the mercury slides in Alaska and even in the Midwestern U.S. in the heart of winter. But if you want cold, visit Oymyakon, which this winter is expected to reach (or perhaps exceed) its record low temperature: a bone-chilling minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 68 degrees Celsius) reached on Feb. 6, 1933. It is a record matched only by nearby Verkhoyansk, Siberia, which endured minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Feb. 7, 1892.


Dense fog halts Houston Channel shipping

Dense sea fog was keeping about 40 ships from entering or exiting the Houston Ship Channel to the busiest U.S. petrochemical port on Friday morning, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The shutdown began on Thursday morning when ship pilots stopped steering vessels through the 60-mile waterway to refineries and petrochemical plants in Houston and Texas City, Texas, after fog reduced visibility to unsafe levels, the Coast Guard said.


Earthquakes injures nine, affects 100,000 in S China

Kunming -- Two earthquakes measuring 4.3 and 4.9 on the Richter scale jolted China's southwestern province of Yunnan early Friday, injuring nine people and affecting more than 100,000, local authorities said.

A 4.9-magnitude earthquake hit a village about 10 km from Ruili, a city on China-Myanmar border 4:20 a.m., the provincial seismic network reported.

The city's Communist Party chief Yang Yueguo said two villagers were seriously wounded and seven others suffered slight injuries. "It's still unclear who these people are and how they got injured," he said.


Magnitude 6 Earthquake Strikes Off Pakistan's Coast, USGS Says

A magnitude 6 earthquake struck off the coast of Pakistan at 2:40 a.m. local time, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The temblor hit at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) and the epicenter was 305 kilometers west-southwest of Karachi, the country's main commercial center, the USGS said.


US: Winter storm blankets West with snow, heads east

US snow
© AFP/Don EmmertPedestrians on 5th Avenue are bundled against the cold December 22, 2008 in New York. Frightful weather walloped North America Thursday as holiday travelers dug out from days of delays due to snow and ice.
Reno, Nevada - While much of the nation got a reprieve from heavy snow and ice, another winter storm blanketed parts of the West, snarling holiday traffic and briefly darkening lights on Christmas trees before barreling eastward.

Winter storm warnings were issued Friday for Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, while a blizzard warning was in effect for southwestern Colorado.

"It's going to be a heck of a storm," said Chris Cuoco, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service's Grand Junction office. "We're expecting significant snowfall in all the mountains of Colorado. Even the valleys are going to see 4-plus inches of snow."

Bizarro Earth

Australia: E-Waste - 'Motherboard of All Problems'

With electronic items high on Christmas shopping lists, a new report is calling on the government to ensure that manufacturers collect and recycle unwanted computers and mobile phones to protect environmental and human health.

"There are toxic materials that are leached out of these products when they're in landfill and they can damage human and environmental health," says Castle.

And with Australians among the top-ten consumers of electronic items in the world, the TEC is warning that the problem of e-waste is becoming a crisis.

Sales of computers, mobile phones and digital cameras have all increased in recent years, and a large percentage of these products will eventually end up in landfill sites.


Update: Severe Cold Wave To Hit Europe

The development of a major blocking high pressure system over the north atlantic and its subsequent backing west is about to throw most of Europe into the coldest winter weather pattern in many a year. In fact, Temps over the next month or so are liable to average 6-10 degrees F below normal over the center part of the continent with the northwest coldest last, but still getting into the games. Intuitive with this is the likelihood of more than normal snow and ice. As the upper block backs west, arctic discharges from the north and east are liable to bring shots of severe cold back into England and with it enhanced snowfall.

While it has been "chilly" so far, what is about to come is the worst in many a winter, perhaps the sign that the warm AMO is reaching its maturity. The US winter has been much like those around 1950 which was the benchmark winter in the pac northwest of the US and was the warning shot that the warm cycle of the 30s 40s and 50s was starting its end game. It should be comforting to people worried that we are pushing our planet over the edge that things that happened before are happening again, though the discomfort caused by cold is a big problem

Cloud Lightning

Widespread flooding forces state of emergency in Marshall Islands

Marshall Islands
© Unknown
A state of emergency was declared in the Marshall Islands late Christmas Eve as widespread flooding displaced hundreds of islanders, damaged dozens of homes and threatened public health.

Government officials said Wednesday the flooding showed how vulnerable the western Pacific atoll nation is to very small changes in weather conditions.

The islands have been pounded three times in the past two weeks by powerful waves caused by storm surges that coincided with high tides, swamping the main urban centres of Majuro and Ebeye that are less than a metre above sea level.

Houses and roads were damaged but the torrent also destroyed cemeteries, "contributing to the already alarming sanitary conditions with the widespread debris caused by the high wave action," President Litokwa Tomeing said.

Bizarro Earth

Critical load on tiny wings

Bee on flower
© John McKay, Times
Honey isn't the only thing we'd miss if bees completely disappeared.

"Bees are a profound part of the ecosystem, much more than we ever thought," said Rowan Jacobsen, whose chilling new book, The Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis (Bloomsbury), gives us a taste of a world without honey, not to mention other goodies bees make possible. The tall, lanky 40-year-old author talked with me at a new East Village restaurant fittingly called Apiary while promoting his book in New York.

Fruitless Fall details the recent rise of colony collapse disorder. Bees, around for the past 100 million years, have been mysteriously dying in droves -- about 30 billion worldwide last year alone.