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Sun, 26 Feb 2017
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Earth Changes

Better Earth

Over '1 million Magellanic penguins' descend on Punta Tombo, Argentina in spectacular scene

© brendug / Instagram
Over 1 million of the flightless birds are reported to have landed onshore in Argentina
Over one million penguins arrived on Punta Tombo, Argentina in what is thought to be a record number, resulting in stunning displays of wildlife along the shoreline. Often seen in parts of southern Argentina and Chile, the numerous small inlets of Punta Tombo in Argentina's southeast region make a perfect breeding ground for the Magellanic penguins due to the large quantities of sardines and anchovies found close to shore.

Measuring about 45cm (17in) tall and weighing around 4kg (9lbs), the Magellanic penguin sports a large white crescent of feathers on their breast, and have distinctive pink coloring on their faces. Tens of thousands of tourists flock to the peninsula each year to catch a glimpse of the flightless birds but this year is extra special as locals say more than one million of the birds have arrived - a record number - according to AP. While not yet an endangered species, a number of Magellanic penguins die annually when they become tangled in the nets of commercial fisheries.

Bizarro Earth

El Niño to return during the 2017 Hurricane Season?

© International Research Institute for Climate and Society
The chance for various phases of El Niño.
In a statement on Feb. 9, the Climate Prediction Center announced the end of La Niña, the counterpart to El Niño that changes global weather patterns. These oscillations occur naturally with periods of 2 to 7 years with varying predictable effects around the globe - including hurricane activity.

With La Niña's end, sea temperatures have steadily warmed in the equatorial region of the central and eastern Pacific, and we're now in the neutral phase of the oscillation. As shown below, models currently suggest we'll be in the neutral category through the spring and into the summer months (June-July-August, or JJA), but after that, sea temperatures could be warm enough for El Niño conditions to take over.

Bizarro Earth

Fires, storms and now snow? More extreme weather hits New South Wales, Australia

Mt Kosciusko has received a light dusting of snow overnight. (Thredbo Resort)
The alpine regions of New South Wales and Victoria have been hit by a dusting of snow in summer, following heatwaves and wild storms. Between five and 10 centimetres of snow fell on Victoria's Mount Buller overnight, as temperatures dipped to - 0.8degress just after midnight.

In New South Wales - which last week grappled with catastrophic bushfire conditions and then severe storms - a light dusting of white sprinkled snow-cams on the summit of Mt Kosciusko today.

Bizarro Earth

Storms and tornado rock San Antonio, Texas area, 150 homes damaged

© Marvin Hurst, KENS-TV
Severe storms ripped through northeastern San Antonio late on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017.
More than 150 homes were damaged and several people were injured in San Antonio by severe overnight storms that ripped through south-central Texas. The National Weather Service confirmed Monday morning that a tornado hit San Antonio. Many structures were damaged but only minor injuries have been reported so far.

At one point Sunday night, 46,000 customers were without power in the San Antonio area. A family of five said they hid under a mattress to stay safe from what they describe as tornado-like winds over their home Sunday night in San Antonio.

Homeowner Lucy Duncan said the family was watching TV as the storms were starting to pick up. "I couldn't even describe it because I've never experienced it before," Duncan said. "I knew immediately something was wrong."

During the storm part of Duncan's roof was ripped from the house. Duncan said the swing set and outside structure that was in their backyard are both completely gone.

Bizarro Earth

Gale force winds, heavy rains and flood warnings for central South Africa

The rainy weekend weather is set to continue as we head into the new week, with widespread showers expected across central SA and flash flood warnings in place.

Flood risk continue

SA Weather Services warns Monday 20 February will see heavy rain leading to localised flooding in the eastern parts of the Eastern Cape, southern KwaZulu-Natal, southern and western parts of the Free State and eastern Northern Cape.

An 80% chance of rain exists for most of Gauteng, the Free State and the Northern Cape, while a 60% to 30% chance of rain exists for the rest of the central region, extending to the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

These rainy conditions are expected to continue into the rest of the week - with heavy flood risks expected for Joburg and the surrounding area.

Gale Force Winds

A watch has been issued for Monday, when gale force winds of up to 65km/h can be expected over Richard's Bay and Kosi Bay at first. While towards the south of the country gale force winds of up to 70km/h can be expected between Lamberts Bay and Cape Point.

Cloud Precipitation

Flash floods in hit Malaga, Spain; 5 inches of rain in 6 hours

© Sergio Brenes
Storms in the Province of Malaga, southern Spain , resulted in widespread flash flooding on 19 February 2017 causing damage to damaged homes, roads and vehicles.

The city of Malaga was the worst affected area. Spain's meteorological office, AEMET, says that the the port of Malaga recorded 152.6 mm of rain in 24 hours on 19 February, with as much as 130.06 mm of that total falling in a 6 hour period.

Emergency services say they responded to 230 incidents during the heavy rainfall. However, there have been no reported fatalities or injuries.

Roads collapsed and buildings flooded. Torrents of water swept through the streets of the city, dragging vehicles along with it. There were also reports of landslides along the A-45 highway in Casabermeja, triggered by the heavy rain.

AEMET issued a red level (highest) warning for parts of the province of Malaga on 18 February, 2017.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills 19 cattle in Zimbabwe

Chikomba villagers mill around 18 head of cattle that died after they were struck by lighting on Saturday
Three families from Chikomba district in Mashonaland East province, were left shell-shocked on Saturday after their 19 beasts worth about $10 000, succumbed to a bolt of lightning.

Mable Njowa of Masendu Village lost 10 beasts, while brothers Masiyiwa and Martin Juru of Munhundorima village lost four beasts each in a mid-afternoon incident that has left villagers in panic.

Chikomba district acting livestock production and development officer, Cosmas Ratsakatika, said the incident occurred close to the families' homesteads in headman Neshangwe's area, 60km north-east of Chivhu.

The incident came shortly after a bolt of lightning killed two students and injured 83 others at Chinatsa Secondary School in Marondera district, last month.

Ratsakatika said, two years ago a Feasterstone farmer lost nine head of cattle under similar circumstances.

Arrow Up

'The Blob' of abnormally warm Pacific water increased ozone levels, researchers claim

© American Geophysical Union
Unusually high sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific in May 2015, compared to the 2002-2012 average.
A vast patch of abnormally warm water in the Pacific Ocean - nicknamed the blob - resulted in increased levels of ozone above the Western US, researchers have found.

The blob - which at its peak covered roughly 9 million square kilometres (3.5 million square miles) from Mexico to Alaska - was assumed to be mainly messing with conditions in the ocean, but a new study has shown that it had a lasting affect on air quality too.

"Ultimately, it all links back to the blob, which was the most unusual meteorological event we've had in decades," says one of the team, Dan Jaffe from the University of Washington Bothell.

The blob of warm water in the Pacific was first detected back in 2013, and it continued to spread throughout 2014 and 2015. While it was less obvious in 2016, there were some indications that it persisted well into last year too.

The vast, warm patch has been linked to several mass die-offs in the ocean during 2015, including thousands of California sea lions starving to death in waters more than 3 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Farenheit) above average, and an "unprecedented" mass death of seabirds in the Western US.

In April 2015, the effects could also be seen on land, with a bout of strange weather in the US being linked to the higher ocean temperatures, and the increased temperatures saw a massive toxic algal bloom stretch along the entire US West Coast.

"I can't truly give an explanation of what is going on right now," marine ecologist Jaime Jahncke from conservation group, Point Blue, said in late 2015.

Comment: See also:

Cloud Precipitation

More flood fears as California braces for another storm

© Randy Pench/The Sacramento Bee via AP
Flood water crosses over Interstate 5 at Williams, California.
Some Northern California residents are preparing for another powerful Pacific storm by patrolling levees for signs of danger, reviewing evacuation plans and filling hundreds of sand bags.

One resident near Tracy, which is 80 miles east of San Francisco, said that though the levees appear in good shape, they decided take charge after the San Joaquin River started rising.

"We have a levee response team, a sand bagging team, teams to check on what walkers checking on the levees find," said San Joaquin River Club resident Paula Martin, who is helping coordinate emergency plans for the private neighborhood of 800 homes.

Martin said the neighborhood has sirens in the clubhouse and at a church that can warn residents of impending flooding.

"Our community is pulling together like real champs," she said, adding that volunteers have been patrolling the levees every two hours.

The area saw rain and wind Sunday afternoon but forecasters said a storm packing a bigger punch will reach the San Francisco Bay Area overnight before moving to the Central Valley.

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


Stray dog attacks child, drags him out of house in Kerala, India

Nandu was bitten on his hands, legs and thighs.

In a shocking incident, a one-and-a-half-year-old boy was attacked by a stray dog here on Friday.

Nandu, son of Ranjith of Krishna Vilasam near the Palliyadi temple in Chavara, was sleeping inside the house when the dog dragged him out of the house.

The incident happened around 8.30 pm on Friday.

As his parents went to a neighbour's house to fetch water, the dog bit the kid and dragged him out of the house.

Upon hearing his cries, a woman in the neighbourhood rushed to the spot and rescued the kid.