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Fri, 24 Feb 2017
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Earth Changes


Warm temperature record from 1916 broken in Calgary, Canada

© Kate Adach/CBC
Hot enough for ya?

Wednesday's high of 16.4 C in Calgary broke a century-old record, beating the previous mark of 15.6 C set in 1916.

"Right now we have an upper ridge that's sitting overtop of Alberta, and that's brought in lots of warm air and kept our temperatures up for the last couple of days," said Brenda Niskaaro, lead meteorologist with Environment Canada.

That upper ridge is expected to start moving east on Thursday, taking the heat with it.

"Things will cool off by a couple of degrees for [Thursday], and by the weekend, Saturday, we'll have a cold front that will be moving through as well and that will bring temperatures back down to around the freezing mark."

Temperatures in Calgary have seen large swings in recent days. Just last week, on Feb. 7, the city saw a high of - 20 C, quite a contrast to this week's warmth.

"It's pretty normal for us to have really cold temperatures and to have really warm temperatures," said Niskaaro. "And once we do, with the systems moving slowly, they can last a week or two."


Huge sinkhole shuts down street in northeast Washington State

© King5
A massive sinkhole shut down a section of North 8th Street in Lynden Thursday.

Residents noticed a small hole forming on North 8th Street about 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, and by the morning, it was halfway through the street, according to Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis.

North 8th Street is closed between Pine and Ivy Streets.

A culvert under the street failed, and crews had to remove the sidewalk and a portion of the street, according to Korthuis. "The pipe has probably been in the ground for 40 years. That pipe started to rust and fail. The water got under the pipe and started to wash out the dirt, and that started the sinkhole," said Korthuis.

The sinkhole is about 30 feet wide and ten feet deep. The water channel is about 10 feet wide and has washed out about 90 feet of land.

Red Flag

Not just Oroville: Record rain is straining California's whole flood control network

© California Department of Water Resources
This image shows conditions at Lake Oroville and other Northern California reservoirs as of midnight February 15, 2017.
The frantic effort over the last few days to lower water levels at Oroville Dam after the structure's two spillways became damaged is part of a larger drama playing out as California rapidly shifts from extreme drought to intense deluges.

Large swaths of the region are on track to experience their wettest winter on record, with many areas having already surpassed their average precipitation for an entire year.

And all that water is putting new strains on the network of dams, rivers, levees and other waterways that are essential to preventing massive flooding during wet years like this one.

The biggest danger zone lies in the Central Valley at the base of the Sierra Nevada, whose tall peaks can wring the skies of huge amounts of rain and snow. The area is essentially one giant floodplain that would be easily transformed into an inland sea without man-made flood control. At 400 miles long and 40 miles wide, it has only a tiny bottleneck from which to drain — a one-mile opening at the Carquinez Strait at San Pablo Bay — before water heads into the San Francisco Bay.

Cloud Lightning

Sydney, Australia lashed by severe storms

© kmgolland/Instagram
While Sydney basked in sunshine and 30C temperatures in the morning, things quickly changed in the afternoon as a storm rolled in, with lightning striking near the Harbour Bridge.
Sydney has been hit by a severe storm with hail, thunder and lightning lashing the streets just minutes after residents basked in 30C temperatures.

More than 4,200 people were left without power in the city's west, north west and the Illawarra due to the storm, while passengers leaving Sydney Airport were told to check with airlines for delays.

People were warned not to stand near trees, to unplug delicate electrical appliances, secure outdoor furniture and avoid standing near trees as lighting and winds of up to 100km/h struck.

Homeowners and motorists were also warned of damage to properties and vehicles thanks to hailstones the size of 50 cent pieces which pelted the city.

Meanwhile heavy rainfall could cause flash-flooding in some areas with more to come on Saturday as the city is lashed by the same storm-system a second time.

Temperatures in Penrith, which topped out at 39C, fell by 10 degrees in just 30 minutes as the storm hit on Friday afternoon, Ms Westcott told Daily Mail Australia.

'Ten degrees in 30 minutes is quite a bit, quite quickly,' a Weatherzone meteorologist said.

Cloud Precipitation

California's Oroville Dam update: Spillway releases curbed, even as 'atmospheric river' looms

Oroville Dam Spillway
The water level at Lake Oroville continues to drop as state officials press on with the effort to drain the reservoir in light of a forecast calling for rain through Monday. Despite forecasts showing another "atmospheric river" poised to strike the region early next week, engineers began dialing back the water releases from Oroville Dam's main spillway Thursday in an effort to eventually restart the dam's shuttered hydroelectric plant. When operational, the plant could release additional water from Lake Oroville.

After pounding the damaged spillway with releases of 100,000 cubic feet per second since Sunday evening, the state Department of Water Resources dialed back the releases to 94,000 by late Thursday morning. DWR's website indicated releases would fall to 80,000 cfs by 3 p.m.

Even with the curtailed releases, the water level at troubled Lake Oroville continued to decline. The reservoir was falling by about 5 feet every 12 hours and was down to 867.5 feet just before noon, or nearly 34 feet below the top of the dam. Federal flood regulations say the lake should be at no more than 850 feet this time of year.


Projections of rainfall will overtop emergency spillway by 13 feet at California's Oroville Dam

Oroville Dam
With five overlapping weather forecast rainfall models, a full 3-5 inches of precipitation will fall in the drainage basin of the Oroville Dam, which will raise water levels faster that the damaged spillway can out flow over topping the emergency spillway by 13 feet. The last over top was 2-2.5 feet. Are you ready for the effects if the spillway ruptures as the water will damage natural gas pipelines, food deliveries and scour away roadways?


Snowflake Cold

46,000 livestock animals killed by severe winter in Mongolia

© Mirva Helenius/IFRC
Mongolian herder Munkhbat Bazarragchaa dragging two recently perished sheeps to a pile of dead animals behind his Ger in northern Mongolia. Mr. Bazarragchaa has already lost ten of his animals due to starvation and cold.
Severe winter conditions in Mongolia, known as Dzud, are threatening the livelihoods of thousands of Mongolian herders in eastern and northern parts of the country. Dzud is caused by the twin impacts of drought in the summer, resulting in insufficient grass in pastures and low production of hay, and harsh conditions in the winter, including heavy snowfall and extremely low temperatures.

More than 157,000 people are affected across 17 of Mongolia's 21 provinces. Livestock deaths have risen in recent weeks and according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), by 7 February over 46,000 animals had perished from starvation and cold.

Today the IFRC launched an International Emergency Appeal to support the Mongolian Red Cross who are responding to the crisis in four of the worst-affected provinces - Uvs, Zavkhan, Khuvsgul and Selenge. The IFRC appeal aims to raise 655,500 Swiss francs (Euros 614,000 Euros, USD 654,000) to target assistance at more than 11,000 people considered to be most at risk.

Herder Uranchimeg Terbish, from Khuvsgul province has already lost dozens of her animals due to starvation and cold.


Second time in 3 months dead whale found on beach in Odisha, India

The carcass of a whale was found washed ashore on a Puri beach on Thursday.

The whale, which was found at Balukhanda beach of Puri, was measured to be more than 40-foot-long. Forest officials reached the spot and recovered the body of the sea mammal.

"It seems the whale has been dead since the past several days. Stale smell is emanating from the whale. We will conduct post-mortem to ascertain the reason behind the death," said Puri divisional forest officer Chitaranjan Mishra.

In December, a 42-foot-long and 28-foot-wide carcass of a whale was found at Baidhara Pentha beach in Puri.

Black Cat

Leopard kills 4 people over 10 days in Rajasthan, India

Fear is still lurking in the villages around the Sariska Tiger Reserve as the police and the forest guards are still searching for the elusive leopard which claimed four human lives in a span of 10 days.

About 120 Police, forest guards with the help of drone are searching for the leopard in shifts which has unleashed terror in the area. At three places, they have put up cages with live animal baits.

The leopard attack has however derailed the animal census scheduled at Sariska from February 13. With the officials and guards on the trail of the man eater leopard, the Census programme has taken a back seat.

Sariska DFO Balaji Kari said, the animal Census at Sariska was scheduled to be held from February 13-20 have been suspended for now. Under Census, both the carnivorous and herbivorous had to be counted separately. The first four days had been earmarked for carnivorous and the remaining four days for counting herbivorous animals. The Census was based on transit system. He said there were around 100 beasts at Sariska. But the Census has been put on hold till a solution to the leopard menace is found.


Study: Britain's urban butterfly population decreases 69% in 20 years

Small copper
Butterflies are disappearing more rapidly from British towns and cities than from the countryside, according to a new study taken over the last 20 years. The research blames a multitude of factors for the decline, including climate change.

The study, published in the May 2017 issue of journal Ecological Indicators, found that the number of urban butterflies fell by 69 percent over a 20 year period beginning in 1995, compared to a 45 percent decline in rural areas.

The study compared trends for 28 species in urban and countryside environments and found that 25 of those species had declined by more in city environments.

In particular, the research found that the Small Copper and Small Heath species suffered the biggest city declines.

The Small Heath's population fell by 78 percent in urban areas, compared to just 17 percent in the countryside. Small Copper numbers dropped by 75 percent in urban areas, compared to 23 percent in non-urban environments.

Comment: See also: Record low number of UK butterflies a 'shock and a mystery'