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Louisiana sheriff's office investigating reports of loud house-shaking boom

Natchitoches officials are searching for an explanation for a loud boom that nearly four dozen residents say shook their homes.

The parish's 911 call center received about 50 calls reporting the loud boom just before noon Saturday, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office reports. Most callers said that they felt their houses shake and that windows, pictures on the wall and dishes shook as well, Sheriff Victor Jones said.

Deputies who went to areas of the parish where the boom was heard were unable to pinpoint an exact location.

"Over the course of the last week, U.S. Forest Service has been conducting numerous control burns in south Natchitoches Parish consisting of several thousand acres which have caused smoke haze in the area," sheriff's Capt. Tony Moran said. That wouldn't explain the noise.

And Fort Polk officials said no military training operations were being held at Peason Ridge.

Comment: On Sunday evening a loud boom and fireball were reported in nearby Texas.


Arrow Down

Huge sinkhole swallows SUV in Hoboken, New Jersey


A huge sinkhole swallowed an SUV after a water main break flooded streets in Hoboken Tuesday morning.
A huge sinkhole swallowed an SUV after a 12-inch water main break flooded streets in Hoboken, New Jersey, Tuesday morning.

Chopper 4 showed the muddied red SUV on its side as workers stood around the waterlogged pit on Willow Avenue between Fifth and Sixth avenues just before 7:30 a.m. No one was in the vehicle; it had apparently been submerged and workers only noticed it once the water receded.

Utility company Suez was investigating the break. It said no customers were without water by 9:30 a.m., and repairs were expected to be completed by early afternoon.

Streets were shut down in the area as crews worked to repair the main. Some NJ Transit bus service was rerouted.

The cause of the break is under investigation.


Gold Bar

Storm runoff could trigger new California gold rush

© YouTube/CBS SF Bay Area (screen capture)
Weeks of rainy weather across Northern California and the storm runoff through the hills of gold country have triggered a new gold rush.

"Miner Gary" Thomas said he always finds at least a little gold here on his property near Jamestown in Tuolumne County, but this year, there's so much more runoff than normal and it's shaking the gold from these hills.

Thomas said it could provide a "Eureka" moment for those inclined to come up here and look for it. "(The runoff) kind of 'etch-a-sketches' everything," said Thomas. "Everything I had dug up and now my dig spots are all gone."

The known gold digs were washed out, trees uprooted, and landscape eroded. The runoffs have also removed gold out of the old abandoned mines and sent it down the river.

"It's going to bring down more gold," said Thomas. "It's going to bring up new areas that I never got to."

Thomas runs tour groups through his property and said now is the optimum time for gold hunting because the storms have just finished churning the landscape.


Snowflake

At least 65 Snowy owls invade Bruce County, Ontario

© Rob Gowan
A snowy owl flies over a field near Chesley.
The snowy owls have landed in Bruce County.

As many as 40 of the birds have been spotted in an area north of Chesley over the past couple of weeks, attracting birders, photographers and others to the area.

"It is quite remarkable," said local birder Peter Middleton, who has been down to count and document the owls on a couple of occasions.

The flat open farmland in the area has traditionally been an area hot spot for the large, majestic birds whose traditional territory is the Arctic. But locals are reporting larger numbers of owls over the past couple of weeks than traditionally have made their way to the area, with some reports of over 40 owls in the area near Chesley and 65 across southern Bruce County.

Middleton said the reason why the birds have made their way to Bruce County recently is open to conjecture, but he believes it is related to a massive irruption of the birds on the Arctic tundra about three years ago.

"This is an irruptive species, which means it will move either according to weather or more normally in response to the presence of prey," said Middleton. "If prey is thin-spread they will move south in search of it."

Seismograph

Earthquake of 5.6 magnitude strikes off Japan's Fukushima, no tsunami risk

© AFP
A picture taken on February 10, 2016 shows cranes at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Namie, Fukushima prefecture, in Japan.
A 5.6-magnitude earthquake on Tuesday struck northeastern Japan near the disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear plant but there was no fear of a tsunami, Japanese and US authorities said.

The quake struck at a depth of 42.3 kilometres (26 miles) in the Pacific Ocean 34 kilometres east-northeast of the town of Namie, the US Geological Survey said.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said there was no risk of a tsunami from the quake, which caused some swaying in high-rise buildings in Tokyo.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries though some local service train services stopped, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Seismograph

Powerful shallow earthquake of 6.0 magnitude hits Pakistan

An earthquake has hit the upper and central parts of Pakistan.

The epicentre of the 6.0 magnitude quake was located in Tajikistan at a depth of 10 kilometres.

Tremors were felt in Peshawar, Lower Dir, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, and Azad Kashmir region.

There were no immediate reports of major damage or casualties.

The tremors have reportedly caused panic among residents across the country, where the cities and towns most affected by the quake are located.

Attention

Fourth dead whale in a month washes ashore in Virginia

© Chase Haugh
The carcass of what appears to be a heavily decomposed and scavaged humpback whale washed ashore at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, according to Matthew Klepeisz, public relations manager at the Virginia Aquarium.
The carcass of what appears to be a heavily decomposed humpback whale washed ashore over the weekend at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, officials said.

"We are planning to get a team out there this week for a necropsy, but, candidly, I don't know how much they will be able to find given the advanced state of decomposition," said Matthew Klepeisz, public relations manager at the Virginia Aquarium.

It is the fourth humpback whale to wash ashore in Virginia in the past month.

Wolf

Man found dead overnight after alleged pitbull terrier attack in Philadelphia

Philadelphia police are investigating whether a pitbull killed a man late Friday night.

The victim and his dog were found in his apartment on the 5300 block of Rising Sun Avenue.

Neighbors say the victim and his brother had only recently found the 8-month-old dog, and it appeared to be malnourished.

A friend allegedly went to check on the man when he saw the dog through a crack in the wall, and the victim not moving.

"The dog was trying to get through the crack," said Tyrone Giddings. "I didn't open the door, cause it wasn't letting me in the door. So I looked through the crack. It's trying to jump through the crack and attack me. It wouldn't let me in the room. So I can't really check no pulse or nothing, but from my stand point, I couldn't see his chest moving."

Comment: Other serious dog attacks of late include the first one listed below which happened in the same city as the one above:

Girl, 7, bitten in face by pit bull in Germantown, Philadelphia

Toddler hospitalized after dog attack in Florida City

Family Dog Shot Dead In Concord After Attack On Toddler


Arrow Up

Strong increase in activity at Mount Etna, Sicily

© Skyline Webcams
Etna erupting on February 27, 2017.
Etna's activity is increasing strongly, and lava is overflowing from the Southeast Crater (SEC) toward south-southwest, Boris Behncke of the INGV's Etna Observatory reports.

The activity has increased sharply on February 27, 2017, following mild Strombolian activity accompanied by frequent small ash emissions at the Southeast Crater during the second half of January and an earthquake swarm on January 30.

The activity in January marked the return of magma to the surface after almost 8 months of eruptive quiescence on Etna, but the summit area of the volcano had not been entirely quiet during the past few months. You can read more about that, here.

A range of web cameras looking at Etna is available at INGV-OE. Live streaming is currently active at SkyLineWebCams.


Snowflake

Photos of record breaking snowfall for Reykjavik, Iceland; heaviest in 80 years

© Gunnar Freyr
People had some hard work in store for them on Sunday when it came to retrieving their cars.
Record breaking amounts of snow fell in the city of Reykjavik in Iceland last night and the pictures are amazing.

The snow in the capital peaked at 51 cm.

Only once in history has this been topped, when snowfall in the city reached 55 cm in January 1937.

Roads may have been closed and schools have been shut
but for one photographer the snow was a perfect photo opportunity.

Gunnar Freyr, also known as the Icelandic Explorer, woke up to the sound of trees breaking in back garden.

While most people waited for the snow to settle and headed out once morning had broken - he went out with his camera at 3am to capture it all.