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Italian Alps avalanche kills woman and two girls - 7 such deaths recently

Rescuers at work following an avalanche in Val Senales, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019.
© AP
Rescuers at work following an avalanche in Val Senales, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019.
A woman and two seven-year-old girls have died in an avalanche while skiing in Val Senales in the Italian Alps.

The woman, aged 35, was the mother of one of the girls, according to reports in Italian media.

The three, all thought to be German, were skiing about 2,400m (7,900ft) up the Val Senales glacier in South Tyrol, near the Austrian border.

A team of 70 workers and three helicopters helped recover the bodies in a search operation.


Comment: In the same country within 24 hours of the above incident another avalanche killed a skier in the Dolomites.


Snowflake Cold

The Grand Canyon blanketed by snow and ice

snow grand
The Grand Canyon has been blanketed by snow and ice - and it looks magical.

The majestic landmark, in Arizona, US, has turned into a winter wonderland thanks to a sweep of cold weather across the region.

On 27 December, the US National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory warning of between one and four inches of snow in areas above 4,500 feet, adding that snow would accumulate in higher areas of the canyon.


Arrow Down

SUV partly swallowed as sinkhole opens up in Easton, Pennsylvania

SINKHOLE
An SUV was nearly swallowed by a sinkhole on Easton's southside.

Watch this surveillance video that shows the ground cracking as the car drives towards a stop sign.


The end of the SUV ends up below ground.

"All you hear is this loud scratch and boom, kinda sounded like a garbage can going into the back of a garbage truck," said Tanya Rinebold, who witnessed the accident.

Cloud Lightning

Two people die as tropical cyclone Sarai slams Fiji

A Ministry of Forestry team helps clear debris in the wake of the cyclone.
© Fiji Ministry of Forestry
A Ministry of Forestry team helps clear debris in the wake of the cyclone.
The body of a man in his late 40s has been recovered from Naivucini waters in Naitasiri, north of Suva inland on the main island Viti Levu early on Sunday, bringing the death toll relating to the category-two tropical cyclone Sarai to two.

According to a government statement on Sunday night, the Fiji National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) said the victim was swept away by strong currents while crossing the river on Saturday.

An 18-year-old student also drowned on Saturday afternoon after being swept away by strong currents while swimming in waters on the southern island of Kadavu, which is 200 km south of Fijian capital of Suva.


Snowflake Cold

Storms deliver 54 inches of snow in 7 days for Wolf Creek Ski Area, California - now 16 feet for the season

Wolf Creek Ski Area.
© Christi Bode
Wolf Creek Ski Area.
Wolf Creek Ski Area welcomed a storm Christmas Day that left 27 inches followed by another fast and furious storm that dropped significant snowfall.

The storms that delivered big snow for Wolf Creek elevated the season-to-date snowfall total to 193 inches:

24 hours: 11 inches
48 hours: 22 inches
72 hours: 27 inches
Seven days: 54 inches
Midway depth: 85"
Season-to-date: 193"


Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills 22 cows in Argentina

dead cows
The cows were apparently killed by a powerful electrical discharge when a lightning bolt struck a fence they were gathered near during a thunderstorm.

A bizarre incident occurred in the La Pampa province of Argentina, where a group of some 22 Aberdeen Angus cows were reportedly killed by a single lightning bolt.

According to Unilad, the cows apparently were electrocuted as they gathered near a fence during a thunderstorm, so when the lightning struck one of the fence posts, the cattle died almost instantly as the electricity was conducted through the barrier.


Cloud Precipitation

5 missing after flash floods in North Sumatra, Indonesia

Floods North Labuhan Batu Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia 29 December 2019.
© BNPB
Floods North Labuhan Batu Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia 29 December 2019.
At least 5 people are missing after flash floods in North Labuhan Batu Regency, North Sumatra province, Indonesia.

Flooding hit the villages of Pematang and Hatapang in North Labuhan Batu Regency on 29 December, 2019.

It is thought that the 5 missing are all from the same family. The disaster occurred when their home in Pematang was swept away by the flooding. In total the floods destroyed 9 houses and damaged 17 others, according to disaster authorities. Some residents have been evacuated to safer ground. Bridges were also destroyed, leaving communities isolated, in particular in the village of Hatapang.


Snowflake Cold

US winter storm wreaks havoc from Midwest to Northeast

Landscape workers shovel snow from the walk paths downtown on Dec. 29, 2019, in Sioux Fall
© Erin Bormett / Argus Leader, Erin Bormett / Argus Leader, Sio
Landscape workers shovel snow from the walk paths downtown on Dec. 29, 2019, in Sioux Falls.
A sprawling winter storm continued to deliver snow, ice and wind to portions of the Midwest and Northeast on Monday, wreaking havoc with holiday travelers from the Dakotas to Maine.

Strong wind gusts, blowing, drifting snow and icy conditions might make travel "difficult or impossible" in many areas, the Weather Channel said. In all, almost 20 million people were under winter storm advisories as of midafternoon Monday.

Howling winds that gusted to 60 mph knocked out power to over 100,000 customers in Ohio on Monday morning, according to poweroutage.us.

Heavy snow was the story in the Upper Midwest, where northern portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan were expecting up to another foot of snow on Monday.

The fierce storm had already closed interstates and caused hundreds of crashes over the weekend in the north-central U.S., where conditions were especially bad in the Dakotas, Nebraska and Minnesota.


Comment: Winter storm blankets Southern California mountain resorts with up to 3 feet of fresh snow


Fire

Thousands trapped on Australian beach by massive wildfire, turning skies RED and raining embers

Tourists and locals attempt to flee brush fires in Mallacoota, Australia, December 31, 2019
© Reuters / Instagram / @IDASHOPE4STROKE
Tourists and locals attempt to flee brush fires in Mallacoota, Australia, December 31, 2019.
Thousands of people have been forced onto the beaches in Australia as massive bushfires hit popular holiday resort towns.

Holidaymakers have fled into the water as the blaze moved into the Victorian town of Mallacoota in New South Wales on Tuesday morning.

Wildfires are now burning across the country's two most-populated states in what has been described as "apocalyptic" scenes.

Two are now confirmed to have died with five others still missing and feared dead with "significant losses" to property.


Comment: See also:


Nebula

"Once in a lifetime" outbreak of polar stratospheric clouds captured on video above Sweden

polar stratospheric clouds
© Vimeo/Lights Over Lapland
A spectacular outbreak of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) is underway around the Arctic Circle. "This is a once in a lifetime event," says Chad Blakley, who runs the Lights over Lapland aurora tour service in Abisko, Sweden. "No question, this is the best that any of us have ever seen." Tour guide Paige Ellis took this video showing the clouds' aurora-like colors on Dec. 29th:

"They were so intense that lots of the tourists on the ground thought they were looking at daytime auroras. I had to explain that they were actually clouds in the stratosphere," says Blakley.

Polar stratospheric clouds are newsworthy because normally the stratosphere has no clouds at all. Home to the ozone layer, the stratosphere is arid and almost always transparent. Only when the temperature drops to a staggeringly cold -85C can sparse water molecules assemble themselves into icy stratospheric clouds. PSCs are far more rare than auroras.

Comment: Dazzling sights in our skies are on the increase, and so it remains to be seen if this really is a "once in a lifetime" event: And check out these other snaps taken during the outbreak: