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Mon, 23 Oct 2017
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Earth Changes


Mt Hutt ski season in New Zealand ending with four times the snow it had last year

The Canterbury ski area has been voted the best in the country at the World Ski Awards for the past two years.
New Zealand's top ski resort is coming to the end of its season this weekend, with over four times the snow base it closed with last year.

Mt Hutt has almost 3.5 metres of snow.

The Canterbury ski area has been voted the best in the country at the World Ski Awards for the past two years.

Manager James McKenzie said this time last year the snow was disappearing fast, and the field only just made it to closing day.

But it's a different story this year.


Over 2 feet of snow falls at Mount Hood, Oregon

Early season snow at Government Camp on Mount Hood, October 12, 2017
With a white Mount Hood barely a distant winter memory - and even with a wildfire roaring north of the mountain just a few weeks ago - more than 2 feet of snow have fallen at Timberline Lodge since Wednesday.

The early-season dump prompted the Timberline Ski Area to open a lift Friday with plans to operate two Saturday and Sunday.

Conditions that allowed the preseason opening, however, are expected to vanish by Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. Timberline officials urged skiers and snowboarders to check the early-season conditions before heading to the mountain on Saturday and Sunday.

A low-pressure area that dropped from the south over Mount Hood combined with "a fair amount of moisture from the Pacific produced an early-season snow event," said meteorologist Jon Bonk of the weather service.

Better Earth

Baby Antarctic penguins die during 'catastrophic' breeding season

© BBC/Shutterstock
It is the second catastrophic season for the southern penguins in five years.
All but two Adelie penguin chicks have starved to death in their east Antarctic colony, in a breeding season described as "catastrophic" by experts.

It was caused by unusually high amounts of ice late in the season, meaning adults had to travel further for food.

It is the second bad season in five years after no chicks survived in 2015.

Conservation groups are calling for urgent action on a new marine protection area in the east Antarctic to protect the colony of about 36,000.

WWF says a ban on krill fishing in the area would eliminate their competition and help to secure the survival of Antarctic species, including the Adelie penguins.


Wrong place, wrong time: Siberian blue robin turns up on island in Orkney, Scotland

© Tom Gale
Siberian Blue Robin, North Ronaldsay, Orkney
Bird watchers have been left in a bit of a flap after the rare arrival of an off-track adult Siberian blue robin in North Ronaldsay.

It is believed to be the first adult male of the breed in the UK, although juveniles have been seen before.

The bird should be spending the winter in Indonesia, but is thought to have been blown off course by bad weather.

The distinctive robin was helped out of a derelict house, and the sighting has sparked wide interest.

One of the people who spotted and helped free it, Lewis Hooper, told BBC Scotland the bird was way off track.


Shinmoedake volcano in Japan erupts again, sends plume 2,300 meters into the air

A huge plume of smoke emerges from Mount Shinmoedake in southern Kyushu on Oct. 14.
Kyushu's Mount Shinmoedake is still rumbling with volcanic activity three days after it blew its top for the first time in six years on Oct. 11.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said an eruption that started at 8:23 a.m. on Oct. 14 sent a plume of smoke 2,300 meters into the air.

The 1,421-meter-high mountain straddles the border of Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures in southern Kyushu. The JMA raised the volcano's activity alert to Level 3, warning people to stay away from the mountain. The alert had been at Level 2, which meant climbers should stay away from the crater.

Around 4 p.m. on Oct. 13, the JMA announced that consecutive eruptions appeared to have stopped as the fluctuation of volcanic tremors had weakened.

But the agency continued to urge caution as it believed volcanic activity was continuing.


At least 9 pilot whales found stranded on beach in Hawaii; 5 die

© Daniel Rapozo
A least nine whales stranded themselves off Kalapaki Beach Friday morning and scientists are working to find out why.

News of this rattled residents and visitors on the Garden Isle.

Charles Hepa was one of many volunteers that stepped in to help save the stranded creatures he considers sacred.

"These whales are a part of our Molala to in our stories and or could he go in our history and our Oleander chance," Hepa said.

When federal, state and city personnel eventually responded, personnel closed part of the beach.

As of Friday evening, NOAA confirmed at least five whales died.

Canoe paddlers assisted officials and guided whales back out to sea.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning kills 72 across Cambodia in the first nine months of 2017

Lightning killed 72 people in Cambodia in the first nine months of 2017, a senior disaster control official said on Friday.

The first Vice President of the country's National Committee for Disaster Management, Nhim Vanda, however, said the rate of lightning in 2017 was 28 percent less compared to 2016 in the same period.

The official said, during the celebration of Association of Southeast Asian Nations Day for Disaster Management in Phnom Penh, that beside lightning fatalities, flash floods and storms also killed 33 others between January and September this year.

He added that "although the fatal numbers from lightning have reduced, lightning remains the leading cause of death among deaths from natural disasters."

Lightning happens often during the rainy season from May to October, he said, adding that to avoid the dangers of lightning, people should stay indoors whenever it was raining.

Source: News agency of Nigeria


Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like creatures wash up on beaches in Greymouth, New Zealand

© Greymouth Star
Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like creatures have washed up on Greymouth beaches
Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like creatures have washed up on Greymouth beaches, surprising even the Department of Conservation with the scale.

DoC says the rotting mass are by-the-wind-sailors, also called Velella.

A huge mass blankets an 18m by 8m area of the Blaketown aerodrome car park, with more scattered south along the high tide mark.

By last evening, they were giving off a strong smell as they lay in the sun.

DOC marine expert Don Neale said by-the-wind-sailors were related to jellyfish and "bluebottles", which also often washed up.


Storm dumps 12 inches of snow in 24 hours at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

© Craig Hill
Mount Rainier
The road to Paradise from Longmire at Mount Rainier National Park opened late Friday morning after the area received a foot of snow in 24 hours, the park announced on Twitter.

The Stevens Canyon Road remains closed. The park's roads condition hotline, last updated at 7:15 a.m., states that the road to Sunrise is closed.

Weather forecasts call for sunny weather over the weekend.


Yellowstone's supervolcano: Threat is greater than previously thought

© The Sun/Getty
Yellowstone supervolcano caldera
Scientists from the US Geological Survey who breezily informed the public that there's "nothing to worry about" with regards to the Yellowstone caldera, a supervolcano that should it erupt could cause potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths, should be eating their words.

Since about mid-July, the earth beneath the volcano has been shifting in a sign that magma could be rushing into the caldera's main chamber. Since then, there have been roughly 2,500 small-scale earthquakes recorded near the volcano, the largest stretch on record. Previous estimates had assumed that the process that led to the eruption took millenniums to occur.

The same estimates that USGS based their warning on.

© Unknown
As the New York Times explains, the Yellowstone caldera is a behemoth far more powerful than your average volcano. It has the ability to expel more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash at once, 2,500 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980, which killed 57 people. That could blanket most of the United States in a thick layer of ash and even plunge the Earth into a volcanic winter.

As the Times points out, scientists expect a supervolcano eruption to scar the planet once every 100,000 years.

To reach their conclusion, the team of scientists spent weeks at Yellowstone's Lava Creek Tuff - a fossilized ash deposit from the volcano's last supereruption, where they gathered samples and analyzed the volcanic leftovers. The analysis allowed the scientists to pin down changes in the lava flow before the last eruption. The crystalline structures of the rocks recorded changes in temperature, pressure and water content beneath the volcano just like tree rings do.