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Fri, 17 Jan 2020
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Earth Changes

Snowflake Cold

Report: Idaho avalanche that killed 3 started by skiers

An avalanche at an Idaho ski resort that killed three people last week was triggered by skiers, despite the efforts of the ski patrol to mitigate the danger, according to a preliminary investigation.

The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center said the ski patrol had taken steps on Jan. 7 to prevent avalanches at the Silver Mountain Resort near Kellogg, Idaho.

''They had done their control work just like they always do," Jeff Thompson, the director of the avalanche center, told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. "In fact, I think they did more than they normally do to open that slope."

Three skiers died and two others were pulled alive from the snow after the avalanche. A few other skiers were partially buried.

Comment: See also: Third body found buried by avalanche at Silver Mountain ski resort in Idaho


Up to 8 feet deep snowdrifts cleared away on Mauna Kea Access Road, Hawaii

Maunakea gave some early risers a quick peek Tuesday of the first snow of the decade.
© Tim Wright
Maunakea gave some early risers a quick peek Tuesday of the first snow of the decade.
Crews continued to work Tuesday to repair and clear the Maunakea Access Road, which has been closed to the public since Friday because of the first snowfall of the decade.

"There's no gauge up there, but probably about two feet of snow fell," said Stewart Hunter, Maunakea Support Services general manager. "It was windy and a lot of it has drifted, and it drifts into the low places. The snow drifted up to seven or eight feet across the road in places. In some places up higher, there is no snow at all."

The road remained closed at the Maunakea Visitor Information Station, which is at the 9,200-foot level of the mountain. The snow and ice on the road is well above that point, Hunter said.

"Sometimes, the snow will extend way down," he explained. "There's just a little bit of a cap at the top. The rest of it came down as rain."

Comment: Two days earlier: Severe storm, flooding and heavy snowfall strike Hawaii - 22 inches of rain in 24 hours, snowdrifts at least 4 feet deep


5.5 feet of snowfall in 4 days for Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

Snoqualmie Pass shuts down after spin outs

Snoqualmie Pass shuts down after spin outs
It is a white out on Snoqualmie Pass!

Plow drivers have been working hard over the past few days to make sure roads are clear for drivers traveling along I-90. As of 1:25 p.m Tuesday, heavy snow was reported with white out conditions.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said 66 inches of snow have fallen in the past four days.

Conditions will continue to be snowy as another weather system moves into the region and temperatures drop.

Comment: Two days earlier: Snoqualmie Pass in Washington walloped by nearly 3.5 feet of new snow in 2 days

Snowflake Cold

Snow falls on Jebel Jais amid week of extreme weather in UAE

UAE residents are enjoying the winter chill
© Hussein Al Tunaiji
UAE residents are enjoying the winter chill — it's literally snowing in Jebel Jais, where the temperature reached -1 °C in the early hours of Wednesday — even as the country sees intermittent rains which sometimes bring hail.
Snow has fallen on the UAE's highest peak as temperatures plummeted to zero during the country's week-long bout of extreme weather.

Videos emerged on social media of the covering of the white stuff on Jebel Jais, in Ras Al Khaimah, after snow fell on the mountain on Tuesday night and into the early hours of Wednesday.

In one video, a man clothed in a thick winter jacket stands in front of a 4x4 as flurries of snow fall around him.

In another, a Toyota FJ Cruiser, more used to conquering sand dunes, sits with its lights illuminating the ground, which is covered in a blanket of snow.


Pack of dogs enter hospital, maul newborn baby to death in Uttar Pradesh, India

canine attack
© Angela Antunes / CC by 2.0
The baby's family members have alleged that hospital staff left the baby alone in an operating theatre with the windows open, letting the dogs in.

In a gruesome reminder of India's persistent stray-dog menace, a newborn child only three hours old was attacked and killed by a pack of dogs at a hospital in Farrukhabad district, Uttar Pradesh, on January 13.

Investigating officer Ved Prakash Pandey told AFP that "the family alleged the baby was left unattended inside the theatre with windows open, leading to the attack."

The agency also quoted a preliminary police assessment saying "the newborn had injuries all over his body" and that police "were expecting a postmortem report to confirm the exact cause of death".

The baby's family members have alleged that staff at the Akash Ganga Hospital left the baby alone in an operating theatre with the windows open, letting the dogs in. Investigators have also said the hospital may not have a license and could be penalised for operating illegally.


Two southern right whale dolphins wash up in Victoria, Australia - first time ever recorded

This southern right whale dolphin washed up on Port Fairy's East Beach earlier this month.
© Caitlin Em
This southern right whale dolphin washed up on Port Fairy's East Beach earlier this month.
For the first time in recorded history dolphins that usually stick to deep, offshore seas have been found stranded on a Victorian beach.

Two separate southern right whale dolphins have been found dead at Port Fairy's East Beach in the state's south-west in the past couple of weeks, but only one was able to be retrieved by authorities for further examination.

Little has been known about the mysterious species of dolphin that inhabits cool waters across the Southern Hemisphere.

The natural environment programs officer at Victoria's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Mandy Watson, confirmed the dolphin that washed up in December was the first of its kind ever recorded in Victoria.

Three black and white dolphins, which have no dorsal fin, glide through the air above the water

The second was found in a nearby spot last week which Ms Watson described as "very unusual".


City of Samarinda in Indonesia floods again, thousands affected

Residents of Bengkuring in Sempaja Timur, Samarinda, flee their homes because of flooding on Tuesday.
© Zakarias Demon Daton
Residents of Bengkuring in Sempaja Timur, Samarinda, flee their homes because of flooding on Tuesday.
Over 7,000 people have been affected by floods triggered by heavy rain in the city of Samarinda in East Kalimantan Province, Indonesia.

Disaster authorities reported flooding in the city on 14 January 2020, with 7,213 residents from 2,529 households affected. Many of those affected have moved to safer areas. No casualties or injuries were reported however.

Heavy rain has been falling in the area over the last few days. In a 24 hour period to 11 January, as much as 82mm of rain fell in Samarinda. A further 61 mm of rain fell between 13 and 14 January, with over 50mm of that total falling in 3 hours.

This is the second major flood event in the city in the last few months. Over 35,000 people were affected by flooding in the city in June last year, when hundreds of homes were damaged.


Avalanches and flooding kill over 130 people across Pakistan, India and Afghanistan - UPDATE

At least 67 dead in avalanches in Pakistan, India.
© Twitter
At least 67 dead in avalanches in Pakistan, India.
At least 57 people were killed and others were missing after avalanches in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir over the last 24 hours, senior government officials said on Tuesday (14).

In neighbouring India, at least 10 people were killed after several avalanches hit the northern-part of Kashmir.

Two Pakistani officials said many villagers were still stranded in the avalanches in the Neelum valley area following heavy rains that also triggered landslides.

Many people were reported missing and feared dead as rescue efforts got under way, one of the officials said.

Comment: Update - Jan. 15th:

The Guardian reports:
Avalanches, flooding and harsh winter weather have killed more than 130 people across Pakistan and Afghanistan and left others stranded by heavy snowfall.

At least 93 people died and 76 were injured across Pakistan in recent days - with several still missing - while a further 39 were killed in Afghanistan, officials in both countries said on Tuesday.

Forecasts suggest more harsh weather is on the way.

In Kashmir's picturesque but conflict-riven Neelum Valley, heavy snowfall triggered several avalanches, including one that hit a village and killed at least 19 people. "Ten people are still missing," the disaster authority said.

Frequent avalanches and landslides occur in Kashmir during winter, often blocking roads and leaving communities isolated.

Authorities have shuttered schools, while several highways and roads were closed across the country's mountainous northern areas.

"The severe snowfalls and landslides in AJK have caused misery & deaths," tweeted Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, referring to the part of Kashmir controlled by Islamabad.

See rest of article here.

Cloud Grey

'Fire clouds': After Australia, scientists warn the erratic weather phenomenon could become a new reality

A pyrocumulonimbus cloud formation is seen from a plane as bush fires continue in New South Wales, Australia, on Jan. 4, 2020
© Aidan Morrison / @Quixoticquant/Reuters
A pyrocumulonimbus cloud formation is seen from a plane as bush fires continue in New South Wales, Australia, on Jan. 4, 2020.
In 2016, a wildfire so large and destructive that it was nicknamed "The Beast" tore through Fort McMurray, a town in northeastern Alberta surrounded by boreal forests in the middle of the Canadian province's oil-rich tar sands.

More than 88,000 people were evacuated, and 2,400 homes and buildings were destroyed in the inferno. It would become one of the costliest and most destructive wildfires in the country's history, but scientists had other reasons to pay close attention to it.

As the fire raged and threatened to engulf the community, The Beast started to exhibit some odd behavior, growing so intense that it spawned "fire clouds" that created their own weather.

The rare weather phenomenon has most recently been observed in southeastern Australia, where unprecedented wildfires have burned more than 27 million acres of land and where more than 100 blazes are still active. And scientists say they're seeing fire clouds more often as climate change makes fire seasons longer and wildfires more intense.

Comment: Rather than attributing the dramatic increase in wildfires and fire clouds to 'climate change', could a significant factor in the escalation of these events be that they are fueled from outgassing, and then possibly 'sparked' by an increase in atmospheric electric discharge events, such as lightning strikes and other 'cosmic' ignition sources?

Researchers are only beginning to understand the consequences.

A fire cloud, known as a pyrocumulonimbus cloud, or pyroCb, can generate thunder, lightning and tornado-force winds, as well as belch out burning embers — all of which can help spread already fast-moving fires.

Comment: Australian wildfires are so massive, they're generating their own weather patterns

Bizarro Earth

NASA says smoke from Australian bushfires will soon circle the earth

Bushfire smoke near the International Space Station
Bushfire smoke as seen near the International Space Station
Smoke from the massive bushfires in Australia will soon circle the Earth back to the nation, says Nasa.

Massive infernos have raged along the nation's east coast for months, pushing smoke across the Pacific.

Nasa said plumes from blazes around New Year's Day had crossed South America, turning skies there hazy, and moved "halfway around Earth" by 8 January.

"The smoke is expected to make at least one full circuit around the globe," the US space agency said.

Hundreds of bushfires have burnt across Australia, killing at least 28 people and destroying more than 2,000 homes.

Comment: Athletes participating in the 2020 Australian Open are struggling to breathe in the hazardous conditions. One player was forced to abandon her match after a coughing fit :