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Tue, 26 Jul 2016
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Earth Changes


Extreme weather in South Africa: Snow, flooding and tornadoes cause havoc

© TrafficSA via Twitter
Amamzimtoti, south of Durban was flooded after torrential rains.
From snow to flooding and tornadoes, extreme weather conditions have been playing havoc across the country this week.

KwaZulu-Natal emergency services on Tuesday reported no fatalities following the widespread flooding throughout the province.

Several rescues were performed when cars were washed away due to the flood waters and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was called to assist police and emergency medical services.

The SA Weather Service has warned of an "extreme, late winter weather system" characterised by snow, bitter cold and strong winds. These conditions are likely to be fatal to people and animals without "adequate shelter".


Rescued humpback whale later found dead off Mar del Tuyú, Argentina

A humpback whale appeared to wave to its rescuers after being helped back to the sea off the coast of Mar del Tuyú, Argentina last week after becoming trapped in the shallow waters.

The whale fought the tides for over 24 hours, and dozens of rescue workers helped get it back to deeper waters, even employing a hose to help drag it further out to see, according ot reports in the Argentine media (via Reuters).

Weighing in at around 10 tons and measuring 50 feet long, the humpback whale was successfully returned to sea despite a tide that didn't get as high as rescuers hoped.

The animals are rarely spotted off the coast of Buenos Aires province and are usually are seen much further south, off the Valdes Peninsula, and between the months of September and March.

Unfortunately the story doesn't have a happy ending -- just days after its rescue, the Argentine Naval Prefecture reported that the whale was found dead, and experts believe it was sick to begin with.


Humpback whale found dead at Pescadero Beach, California

Remove one whale from the list of total number of humpback whales around the world as a young member of the family has been found beached near Pescadero, California.

Humpback whale species is an endangered species whose one whale washed ashore at Pescadero's Bean Hollow State Beach. It was a 32-foot juvenile female humpback whose carcass was found on Monday at the beach.

Seagulls were also seen on Monday flying over the dead whale. Officials came to know about the beached animal when some Austrian tourists noticed something unusual on the beach. According to the tourists, they were en route to Monterey when they stopped to check what was wrong there. No one in the group was sure what it was. At first, they thought it could be a huge tent or something similar to it, said Verena Ebner, a witness.

While providing details on the whale carcass, Lisa Schiller, who saw the whale closely, said it was shredded completely, and it was very sad to see that. Another witness, Lesya Castillo, said, "Picnickers also stopped, but the stench quickly drove them away. The smell is incredible. We're going to go a little bit farther".

Cloud Precipitation

China floods update: Death toll from torrential rains hits 164 as fourth official suspended over flood response

© Xinhua/Wang Xiao
A vehicle destroyed in floods is seen in Daxian Village of Xingtai City, north China's Hebei Province, July 24, 2016.
The death toll from torrential rain that has battered 10 provinces and 62 cities stood at 164 on Monday, with another 125 people missing, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

One more official was also suspended for alleged poor flood control measures in Hebei, where the disaster killed at least 130 ­people.

The latest official to be disciplined over alleged mismanagement of flood control and disaster relief was Guo Tongheng, deputy Communist Party secretary of Xingtai's Wangkuai township, Xingtai authorities said.

The announcement came after four officials from Xingtai, Shijiazhuang and Jingxing in Hebei province were suspended over mismanaging the flood response, pending the outcome of further investigation.

Comment: Aside from the humanitarian and environmental toll, and growing public outrage over the official handling of this latest flooding in China, provincial authorities stated recently that direct economic losses amounted to 16.3 billion yuan (2.5 billion U.S. dollars).


Wildlife dying en masse as Pilcomayo river runs dry in Paraguay

© Jorge Adorno
A cattle carcass on the Agropil ranch, in Boquerón, on the border between Paraguay and Argentina. The Pilcomayo River is suffering through its worst drought in almost two decades while cattle and wildlife pay the price.
Vultures rest in the tree's upper branches, their black bodies in stark contrast to the blanched wood beneath their feet. Below them, caimans and capybaras crawl in sucking mud through the Agropil lagoon, seeking water that is unlikely to arrive for many months. The river has dried up, and there is nowhere for them to go.

The lagoon, located in the western Paraguayan province of Boquerón, is just one of many stretches of the Pilcomayo River suffering an extensive die-off of caiman, fish, and other river creatures. There have not been any official estimates from the Ministry of the Environment, but Roque González Vera, a journalist for ABC Color in Paraguay, reports utter devastation in some places: Up to 98 percent of caimans (Caiman yacare) are suspected dead, and 80 percent of the capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) population has died.

Paraguay is in the midst of an ecological crisis.

Alarm Clock

USGS: Strong 6.3 magnitude earthquake hits off Papua New Guinea

A map of Papua New Guinea showing the epicentre of the quake (blue) that hit the island nation on Tuesday, 26 July 2016.
A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea in the Admiralty Islands area early today, US geologists said, but no destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is expected.

The offshore quake hit at 5.38am (local time) and occurred 128km southeast of Lorengau, Papua New Guinea, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The epicentre was at a depth of 6.6km.

No damage or injuries were immediately reported. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre assured that there was no threat of a widespread tsunami.

Quakes are common for the island nation that lies on the 4,000km-long Pacific Australia plate, which forms part of the "Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills worker in Bonita Springs, Florida; 13th death within 6 weeks in U.S. due to lightning

A construction worker is dead after being struck by lightning Monday afternoon, the Bonita Springs Fire District said.

The 35-year-old man, who has not yet been identified, was on the sixth floor lanai of a building under construction off S. Tamiami Trail and Renaissance Boulevard when he was struck in the chest, fire officials said.

Rescuers spent 30 minutes trying to revive him but the man died at the scene, officials said.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills 2 teenage girls in central Serbia

Serbian state television says two teenage girls have been killed by a lightning strike in the center of the country.

The TV said Tuesday that the accident happened in the town of Aleksandrovac during a spate of stormy weather that hit central and western Serbia on Monday.

The girls were walking home after spending the day at a local swimming pool when the lightning struck. Serbian TV says one of the girls died on the spot while the other died a little later at the local medical center.

Source: AP


Residents begin returning home after 'almost unprecedented' California wildfire

© David McNew/Getty Images
Firefighters are forced to retreat as flame close in on them in Placerita Canyon at the Sand Fire on Sunday Santa Clarita.

The Sand fire has burned about 10,000 acres per day since it began Friday in the hills north of Los Angeles

Thousands of evacuees have been allowed to return home as the nearly 55-square-mile Sand Fire continues to burn in Southern California's Santa Clarita Valley.

Firefighters announced that all evacuated residents would be allowed to return home at 7 p.m. Monday, with the exception of Placerita Canyon Road from Running Horse Lane to Pacy Street and Little Tujunga Canyon Road from the Wildlife Way Station to Sand Canyon Road and Placerita Canyon Road.

Large animals were to be allowed to return as well.

The fire has burned about 10,000 acres per day since it began Friday in the hills north of Los Angeles, growing at a rate firefighters described as "almost unprecedented."

"It has averaged about 10,000 acres per day," said Chief Mike Wakoski, incident commander. "An acre is a football field, so imagine that -- 10,000 football fields per day."

Shifting winds have fanned the flames, which raced through neighborhoods and destroyed homes. One death, a man whose burned body was found in a scorched vehicle, was reported in the fire zone.

"This fire, what we've seen in 72 hours, is almost unprecedented," said Los Angeles County Fire Department Battalion Chief Dennis Cross. "We'd have to go back a long way to compare a fire to this. And, we're not through with this thing yet."

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strikes and derails train as station explodes in Chicago

Chicago was battered by the incredible storms
A train derailed off its tracks after an intense and explosive lightning storm unleashed chaos.

Amazing footage has captured the moment a train canopy became engulfed in sparks in an apocalyptic lightning storm.

A train had to be evacuated after several carriages came off the tracks during an intense storm in Chicago on Sunday night.

Car passenger Erin Piotrowski captured the dramatic moment when the train canopy was torn off during the storms and fell onto the tracks, which then exploded into flames.