Earth ChangesS


6.4-magnitude earthquake hits Afghanistan, tremors felt across India and Pakistan

An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 has hit Afghanistan at 1.20pm, according to UAE's National Centre of Meteorology. Tremors have been felt across two major South Asian countries.

According to ANI, tremors have been felt in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

Social media users took to X to explain the impact of the quake in Pakistan, saying tremors were felt across Islamabad, Lahore, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. In a video uploaded on the micro-blogging platform, people can be seen gathering underneath buildings.


Nearly 700 swans found dead at nature reserve in Kyrgyzstan as specialists investigate bird flu

Hundreds of swans have been found dead at a nature reserve in the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan, environmental officials said Tuesday. The nature reserve is based around Lake Karakol, near the shores of the Caspian Sea, and is home to a variety of rare and endangered species.

"Between 21 December and 8 January, a total of 675 swan carcasses were discovered on Lake Karakol," the Kazakh ecology ministry told AFP.

The birds may have died from avian flu, the ministry said, adding that specialists had been dispatched to the site to investigate.

Lake Karakol was artificially formed in the Soviet era near the site of a nuclear plant, and has been the focus of conservation efforts.

Activists have previously raised concern about environmental problems in western Kazakhstan, particularly air and water pollution.


Deadly winter storm sweeping across the US

A flock of turkeys crosses Forsberg Street in Worcester, Mass., after a winter storm, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.
© Allan Jung/Worcester Telegram & GazetteA flock of turkeys crosses Forsberg Street in Worcester, Mass., after a winter storm, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.
Millions are under severe weather alerts across the U.S. as freezing temperatures and heavy snow blankets parts of New Mexico to Iowa and multiple cities in the south are under tornado watches as storms move in along the Gulf Coast.


With Anchorage's record-setting snow, officials say it's not a bad idea to shovel roofs

An ice dam forms on the roof of an Airport Heights home in Anchorage in 2023.
© Valerie Kern/Alaska Public MediaAn ice dam forms on the roof of an Airport Heights home in Anchorage in 2023.
Anchorage residents are wondering if they should shovel their roofs, with record-setting snow from November and December still sitting atop many homes in Alaska's largest city.

According to a city official and at least one private building inspector, that depends. But, they say, it's probably not a bad idea.

Current estimates put the snow load at a level lower than what most residential buildings in the city are built to withstand. But with several winter months still to come, there's the potential for more snow, and ice-damming on roofs is an already present concern.

"If it keeps snowing and the weight keeps accumulating, eventually we're going to hit that point where we're concerned about the weight," said Ross Noffsinger, Anchorage's Acting Building Official. "And at that point, we're going to issue a notice to the community that we're concerned about the weight."


Five-year-old boy dies in stray dog attack in Telangana, India

dog attack
In a heart-wrenching incident, a five-year-old boy Nishant lost his life in a stray dog attack that occurred in Kalledi village, Nizamabad district, Telangana.

The unfortunate incident unfolded on December 25, 2023, when the young boy was bitten by a dog. Despite receiving initial treatment at a local hospital, the victim's health deteriorated, leading to his demise on January 8, 2024, while en route to Hyderabad for advanced medical care.

Further investigation is underway.


Best of the Web: Massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake hits western Japan, triggering tsunami warnings - at least 200 dead (UPDATES)

Some buildings in Wajima city collapsed due to Monday's earthquake.
© Yusuke FukuharaSome buildings in Wajima city collapsed due to Monday's earthquake.
A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck western Japan on Monday afternoon, triggering tsunami alerts as far away as eastern Russia and prompting a warning for residents to evacuate affected coastal areas of Japan as soon as possible.

The earthquake struck at 4:10 p.m. local time at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles), around 42 kilometers (26 miles) northeast of Anamizu in Ishikawa prefecture, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The Japan Meteorological Agency immediately issued a tsunami warning along coastal regions of western Japan, and the first waves were reported hitting the coast just over 10 minutes later.

Some of the first reports came from the city of Wajima in Ishikawa prefecture, which saw tsunami waves of around 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) around 4:21 p.m., according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK. No immediate damage was reported.

Suzu city officials in Ishikawa told CNN that buildings have been damaged and there were reports of injuries. Police in the city said some people were trapped in damaged houses, according to NHK. No deaths have been reported so far.

A major tsunami warning was in place in the city of Noto in Ishikawa, with waves of around 5 meters expected, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Comment: Update January 2

The Washington Post reports:
Rie Wakabayashi was at the gym when a powerful earthquake struck her hometown in western Japan on Monday. She clung to the workout equipment to stand, but even the machines were shaking, she said.

After a tsunami warning was issued, Wakabayashi and her parents took shelter at a shopping mall in Komatsu, Ishikawa — the prefecture where the 7.6-magnitude earthquake's epicenter was recorded. On her mind was the triple disaster in March 2011 when a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown triggered one of the biggest nuclear disasters in history.

"I think everyone remembered March 2011 and the tsunamis, and that's why there were so many of us [at the mall], probably thousands on each floor," said Wakabayashi, 33, who paused every few minutes speaking on the phone Tuesday as aftershocks struck.

At least 48 people died, and scores more were injured or missing after the earthquake hit Monday, according to officials. Emergency crews rushed to rescue survivors from the rubble of collapsed buildings and burned homes Tuesday and to send supplies to damaged areas and survivors.

"So far, a large number of casualties, collapsed buildings, fires and other very large-scale damages have been confirmed," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a news conference Tuesday. "When it comes to saving lives and rescuing victims, we're in a battle against time."

The earthquake prompted the most severe category of tsunami warnings since 2011, when the catastrophic disaster killed at least 18,000 people after waves as high as 130 feet crashed into coastal towns, sweeping away cars and homes, and destroying multistory buildings.

Although all the tsunami warnings were later lifted, the Japan Meteorological Agency warned that more earthquakes with seismic intensities of around 7 could hit seriously affected areas over the coming week, especially the next two to three days. Officials are also concerned about landslides hitting Ishikawa prefecture because rain was forecast there Tuesday night.

Update January 3

Agence France-Presse reports:
Japan quake toll rises to 73 as weather hampers rescuers

Japanese rescuers struggled with heavy rain, blocked roads and aftershocks on Wednesday following a powerful earthquake that killed at least 73 people and left tens of thousands without power or running water.

Throughout the Ishikawa prefecture on the main island of Honshu sirens blared as emergency vehicles tried to navigate roads blocked by rocks and fallen trees.

The Noto Peninsula was worst hit by the 7.5-magnitude quake on January 1, with port towns such as Wajima and Suzu resembling war zones with streets of mud, flattened houses and sunken boats.

"I can never go back there. It's unlivable now," 75-year-old Yoko Demura said from a shelter in the city of Nanao where she went after her home was reduced to rubble.

"It makes me sad and I will miss it," she told AFP.

There were "almost no houses standing" in one town in the Suzu area, said municipal mayor Masuhiro Izumiya.

"About 90 percent of the houses (in that town) are completely or almost completely destroyed... the situation is really catastrophic," he said, according to broadcaster TBS.

The regional government confirmed 73 people are dead and nearly 400 injured, but the toll is expected to rise.

More than 33,400 people were in shelters, and at least 200 buildings had collapsed.

Around 30,000 households were still without power in Ishikawa prefecture, the local utility said, and over 110,000 households left without running water.
Update January 6

CBS News reports:
Aftershocks threatened to bury more homes and block roads crucial for relief shipments, as the death toll from the earthquakes that rattled Japan's western coastline this past week rose to 126 on Saturday.

Among the dead was a 5-year-old boy who had been recovering from injuries after boiling water spilled on him during Monday's 7.6 magnitude earthquake. His condition suddenly worsened and he died Friday, according to Ishikawa prefecture, the hardest-hit region.

Officials warned that roads, already cracked from the dozens of earthquakes that continue to shake the area, could collapse completely. That risk was growing with rain and snow expected overnight and Sunday.

The death toll on Saturday rose to 126. Wajima city has recorded the highest number of deaths with 69, followed by Suzu with 38. More than 500 people were injured, at least 27 of them seriously.

The temblors left roofs sitting haplessly on roads and everything beneath them crushed flat. Roads were warped like rubber. A fire turned a neighborhood in Wajima to ashes.

More than 200 people were still unaccounted for, although the number has fluctuated. Eleven people were reported trapped under two homes that collapsed in Anamizu.
Update January 9

AFP reports:
Death toll from Japan quake rises above 200

The death toll from the powerful earthquake that flattened parts of central Japan on January 1 passed 200 on Tuesday, with just over 100 still unaccounted for, authorities said.

The 7.5 magnitude quake destroyed and toppled buildings, caused fires and knocked out infrastructure on the Noto Peninsula on Japan's main island Honshu just as families were celebrating New Year's Day.

Eight days later thousands of rescuers were battling blocked roads and poor weather to clear the wreckage as well as reach almost 3,500 people still stuck in isolated communities.

Ishikawa regional authorities released figures on Tuesday showing that 202 people were confirmed dead, up from 180 earlier in the day, with 102 unaccounted for, down from 120.

On Monday, authorities had more than tripled the number of missing to 323 after central databases were updated, with most of the rise related to badly hit Wajima.

But since then "many families let us know that they were able to confirm safety of the persons (on the list)", Ishikawa official Hayato Yachi told AFP.

With heavy snow in places complicating relief efforts, as of Monday almost 30,000 people were living in around 400 government shelters, some of which were packed and struggling to provide adequate food, water and heating.

Almost 60,000 households were without running water and 15,600 had no electricity supply.

Road conditions have been worsened by days of rain that have contributed to an estimated 1,000 landslides.


6.7-magnitude earthquake hits off the Philippines

A powerful earthquake struck the Philippines on Monday, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, struck approximately 100 km (62.1 miles) southeast of Sarangani, a province in the southern part of the country.

The seismic event, with a depth of 70.3 kilometers (43.6 miles), occurred around 2048 GMT.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage to infrastructure.

Cloud Precipitation

Evacuations ordered, homes inundated by summer floodwaters after record rainfall in Victoria, Australia - 3 months of rain 24 hours

Residents in north-eastern Victoria are bracing for further flooding in the coming days, after heavy rainfall inundated the state and forced two towns to evacuate.

An evacuation order was issued for parts of the Goulburn Valley town of Seymour, in central Victoria, shortly before noon on Monday, before similar orders were put in place for sections of nearby Yea.

An emergency evacuation order was issued for the northern Victorian town of Rochester on Monday evening.

About 30 homes in Goornong, about 30km north-east of Bendigo, and six homes in Redesdale have been evacuated after water inundated the properties.

Emergency services said the rain was expected to move to Shepparton and Wangaratta midweek.

Snowflake Cold

Weather models continue to predict polar vortex cold invasion into US: "Gobsmackingly bananas"

polar vortex 2024
© Met4CastUK/XJanuary 8, 2024: Cold weather continues to look likely mid month with an increasing risk of widespread snow
While it's still uncertain, weather models suggest that a polar vortex might plunge large swaths of the Lower 48 into dangerously cold temperatures sometime late next week.

There has been a lot of speculation on social media platform X about the incoming polar vortex.

Comment: A "textbook" Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event appears to be unfolding


Thousands evacuate as floods, landslides hit West Java, Indonesia

Purwakarta Regency was hit by a landslide (Instagram/@bpbdpurwakarta).
Purwakarta Regency was hit by a landslide (Instagram/@bpbdpurwakarta).
Several regions in West Java, including Cimahi, Karawang and Purwakarta, have been hit by natural disasters including floods, landslides and windstorms, forcing thousands of residents from their homes.

According to the West Java Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), 1,643 residents have been evacuated due to major flooding since Jan. 1 in Karawang regency, which has impacted four districts and five villages.

Meanwhile, more than 1,700 residents have been displaced due to landslides around the foot of Mount Anaga in Purwakarta regency, which occurred on Thursday.