Earth ChangesS


US: Evacuations continue Sunday for New Harmony fire

Harmony Heights fire
© Scott Sommerdorf/Salt Lake TribuneNEW HARMONY FIRE Aerial crews dropped fire retardant onto the hillside below fires threatening this home in Harmony Heights
Blaze grows - Winds have swelled the Mill Flat Fire to 10,000 acres.

New Harmony -- Members of the Washington County Search and Rescue team went door-to-door Sunday morning to alert residents here of a voluntary evacuation in the face of a wildfire bearing down on the town that already has consumed at least three homes.

The 10,000-acre Mill Flat Fire is burning actively in areas west and north of the town. Residents in the west have been asked to evacuate; others have been put on a one-hour notice for future evacuations.

Sheriff Kirk Smith said although the evacuations remain voluntary for now, residents are being given a warning: firefighters have the best chance at protecting their property if they leave now. Leaving as the fire approaches allows teams to move in resources to fend off the flames, but waiting until the last minute to evacuate can cause a bottleneck, he said.

Cloud Lightning

Mexico: Cabo San Lucas area braces for Hurricane Jimena

The arch off Cabo San Lucas
© Geraldine Wilkins The famous arch off Cabo San Lucas
If you've scheduled a fishing trip to Cabo San Lucas early this week, bring your umbrella and plan on spending time indoors.

Hurricane Jimena, off mainland Mexico, has intensified overnight and is classified as a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of about 135 mph. At 8 a.m. Sunday its center was located 515 miles south-southeast of Cabo and was tracking to the northwest (see graphic below) at about 9 mph.

The National Hurricane Center predicts it will skirt the Baja California peninsula before making landfall Tuesday night in the Magdalena Bay area. It will deliver plenty of much-needed rain, but might also cause extensive flooding.


US: Yosemite National Park Big Meadow Fire

The Big Meadow Fire
© LA TimesThe Big Meadow Fire in Yosemite National Park
The Big Meadow Fire in Yosemite National Park continues to grow, with estimates this morning at 4,382 acres and 50% containment.

In addition to evacuations and closures previously reported on Outposts, the community of Old El Portal has been evacuated, and Yosemite View Lodge, located outside the west entrance of the park, is now closed.

Although visitors may experience delays on area roads due to firefighting operations, much of the park is open.


Update: Los Angeles Forest Fires Threaten Foothills

LA fire
© Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesLos Angeles County firefighters Kevin Klar, right, and Eric Tucker, center, sat with homeowner Henrik Hairapetian as fire scorched the La Canada Flintridge foothills on Saturday
A wildfire raging in the mountains north of Los Angeles spread rapidly to the northwest and southeast Saturday night into Sunday, consuming thousands of acres of national forest land and threatening at least 10,000 homes in suburban and rural communities in the foothills, the National Forest Service said.

Fueled by high temperatures and low humidity, the fire has more than quadrupled in size since Friday, scorching more than 35,000 acres of underbrush, scrub oak and mature trees and destroying three dozen cabins inside the Angeles National Forest. Much of the area has been fire-free for 50 to 60 years, providing plenty of dead undergrowth to fuel the flames.

"It's a pretty ugly scene out there," Bruce Quintelier, a fire information officer for the United States Forest Service, said in a telephone interview. "It has got a lot to burn."


Update: Fires create another bad-air day in parts of Los Angeles

Parts of L.A. County were dealing with bad air today as a result of the Station fire.

According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the western San Gabriel Valley recorded "very unhealthful" air this morning. Officials expect the air in other areas near the fire zone to become unhealthful as the day progresses.

"Wildfire smoke settled into valleys last night near the fires," the AQMD said in a statement. "Smoke will likely linger in these areas until this afternoon when onshore ocean breezes are expected to move smoke across the valleys and into the mountains."


Grasshoppers Can Transmit Virus To Livestock

© Photo courtesy of Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.orgARS researchers have discovered that grasshoppers can transmit vesicular stomatitis virus from rangeland plants to livestock.
Rangeland plants may be harboring a virus that grasshoppers are transmitting to cattle, horses and other hoofed mammals, according to a published research study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

A recent outbreak of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) in the southwest United States has disrupted rodeos and prompted quarantines. VSV is a viral disease that causes sporadic outbreaks in the United States, most recently in 2006.

Bizarro Earth

6.6 Earthquake Jolts Samoa Islands Region

© AFP PhotosAn official monitors a newly-installed seismograph in Legaspi city, Philippines.
A strong earthquake of 6.6 magnitude jolted the Samoa islands region of the Pacific on Sunday, seismologists said, but there were no immediate signs of damage.

The quake struck at 3:51 am local time (1451 GMT) at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres (32 miles), some 175 miles southwest of the capital Apia, the US Geological Survey said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said no "destructive widespread tsunami threat" existed.

Bizarro Earth

2.8 Earthquake Struck the Snowy Mountains, Lake Eucumbene

The epicentre of the quake, felt at 12.05pm (AEST) today, was at Lake Eucumbene, about 30 kilometres from Cooma and 25 kilometres from Jindabyne.

Its magnitude of 2.8 on the Richter scale was half the intensity of the 1989 Newcastle earthquake, which killed 13 people.

Australian Seismological Centre director Kevin McCue said residents living about five kilometres from the Lake Eucumbene dam reported feeling tremors.

Seismological equipment in Canberra, Queanbeyan and Bombala detected the quake.

"What we are trying to do in determining smaller quakes is find out what faults are active," Mr McCue said.

Mr McCue said a bigger quake could cause structural damage to a dam wall in the area.


Update - California wildfire surges in size, threatens thousands

© AP Photo/Nick UtIn this photo taken from Monterey Park, Calif., smoke billows from a fire in the foothill above La Canada Flintridge, Calif., filling the San Gabriel Valley. Wildfire threatened hundreds of homes in the foothill canyons near Los Angeles.
Los Angeles -- A wildfire in the mountains above Los Angeles has surged in every direction, going in a single day from a modest threat to a danger to some 10,000 homes.

The blaze nearly tripled in size in triple-digit heat Saturday, leaving three people burned, destroying at least three homes and forcing the evacuation of 1,000 homes and an untold number of people.

A slight drop in temperatures and an influx of fire crews from around the state were expected to bring some relief Sunday.

The flames crept down the slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains despite mild winds blowing predominantly in the other direction.
Mandatory evacuations were in effect for neighborhoods in Altadena, Glendale, Pasadena, La Crescenta and Big Tujunga Canyon.

No Entry

US: California firefighters wage fierce wildfire battles

© AP Photo/Jason RedmondA firefighter looks on as they battle the Station fire burning in the Angeles National Forest northeast of downtown Los Angeles on Firday, Aug. 28, 2009. The Los Angles Sheriff's Department says a voluntary evacuation is being urged for nearly 900 homes in the La Canada Flintridge area.
A growing wildfire sending massive billows of smoke into the sky north of Los Angeles nearly tripled in size Saturday, knocking out power to homes and prompting evacuations in a number of mountain communities.

Mandatory evacuations were extended Saturday into neighborhoods in the canyons on the northwestern edge of Altadena and Glendale, Forest Service spokeswoman Rachel Mailo said. It was unclear how many residents were ordered to leave.

The flames burned increasingly lower down the slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains, threatening more than 2,000 homes in the La Canada Flintridge area. Fire burned right up to houses, but no structures were destroyed. At least 150 homes were under mandatory evacuation orders.