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Mon, 26 Jun 2017
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Bizarro Earth

Goliath Dust Storms - Phoenix dust storms becoming more frequent say experts

Once considered to be once-in-100-year events, giant dust storms are pounding the U.S. state of Arizona. In a summer of excessive heat and extreme drought, this is not good news. Since June, five dust storms have plagued Arizona's famous valley area. On July 29, Phoenix looked more like Saharan Africa than the well-manicured American Southwest. A massive dust cloud, referred to as a haboob - an Arabic word meaning strong wind - blanketed the metropolitan area. The cloud was 2,000 feet tall and nearly 60 miles wide.
Image
© marksontak
A dust storm rolls into an Arizona town on July 21.
Although not the largest dust storm to hit the area, tree limbs and power poles were snapped, causing 9,000 homes to lose power. The Sky Harbor Airport was shut down for 20 minutes.

These huge dust storms form during the monsoon season that runs from June until the end of September. They are so destructive because of the fine dust particles that manage to permeate everywhere during the storm.

According to experts, these storms are becoming more frequent. It is not just the big storms that pose problems. Phoenix experienced three dust storms in a row the last week of July - which is considered very rare. USA Today stated: "This means more deadly accidents, more harmful pollution and more health problems for people breathing in the irritating dust particles."

Bizarro Earth

An avian flu that jumps from birds to mammals is killing New England's baby seals

Image
© Unknown
A novel avian influenza virus has acquired the ability to infect aquatic mammals and was responsible for an outbreak of fatal pneumonia that recently struck harbor seals in New England, according to scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, New England Aquarium, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, SeaWorld and EcoHealth Alliance.

Wildlife officials first became concerned in September 2011, when seals with severe pneumonia and skin lesions suddenly appeared along the coastline from southern Maine to northern Massachusetts. Most were infants (less than 6 months), and a total of 162 dead or moribund seals were recovered over the next 3 months.

Bizarro Earth

US Farmers Urge Obama Administration to Suspend Ethanol Quota Amid Drought

© ecowatch
Farmers have warned the Obama administration that ethanol quotas threaten the food supply.

EPA's requirements for corn ethanol will drive food prices even higher after an already distressed harvest, growers warn.


The Obama administration was urged on Monday to stop diverting grain to gas amid warnings of an "imminent food crisis" caused by America's drought.

US government forecasts of a 4% rise in food prices for US consumers because of the drought have sharpened criticism of supports for producing fuel from corn-based ethanol.

Meanwhile, research published last week by the New England Complex Systems Institute warned of an "imminent food crisis" because of the diversion of corn stocks to ethanol.

"Necsi has warned for months that misguided food-to-ethanol conversion programs and rampant commodity speculation have created a food price bubble, leading to an inevitable spike in prices by 2013. Now it appears the "crop shock" will arrive even sooner due to drought, unless measures to curb ethanol production and rein in speculators are adopted immediately," the researchers warned.

Cloud Lightning

Dramatic Lightning Storm Over Toronto

They say lightning never strikes twice but the CN Tower was not so lucky as it was struck repeatedly during a ferocious storm in Canada.

As the lightning lit up the stormy night sky, photographer Richard Gottardo captured the natural phenomenon as more than 25,000 strikes were detected in the storm.

Toronoto's landmark building is the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere and is struck by lightning an average of 75 times a year.
© Caters News Agency
Landmark alight: Toronot's CN Tower was struck by lightning repeatedly during a ferocious thunderstorm.
Mr Gottardo from Toronto, Canada said: 'This was from a severe storm system in southern Ontario where rain, hail and over 25,000 lightning strikes were detected.

'The CN Tower was battered by six lighting strikes over a half hour period.

'I was in awe of the power of the storm, the thunderclaps were so loud and the lightning pierced the sky. You can see for miles in the CN Tower photos as though it was daylight.'

Mr Gottardo set up a remote camera to take the shots of the tower and went out storm chasing for the rest.

Arrow Down

"The ground just opened up on us": Two North Carolina men pulled out of ground unconscious after their car is swallowed by sudden sinkhole


Image
© ansonrecord.com
The planet is literally opening up...
Wadesboro, North Carolina - A scary ordeal in Wadesboro occurred early Sunday morning.

Officials said flooding caused extensive damage throughout the area, including a large sinkhole that two men driving out of a Mcdonald's parking lot fell in to.

Jeffrey Miles said he never saw it coming, an early morning coffee run suddenly turned in to a trip to the hospital.

"We were driving up to the light and the ground just opened up on us. We fell in the sinkhole," said Miles.

Officials said a gorge behind Highway 74 near the Mcdonalds, gave way during a heavy rain storm around 2:00 am Sunday, causing the sinkhole.

Miles and his friend both said they feel lucky to be alive.

"All of the sudden we just heard this loud noise behind us and after that we just blanked out. I don't know for how long but when we woke up the Mcdonalds workers were pulling us out of the car," said Jamar Richardson.

Richardson and Miles were taken to the hospital, but quickly released.

The Wadesboro Police Chief said the damage doesn't stop there. A brick wall in front of Smith's Funeral Home came tumbling down as well. Chief Janie Schutz said she even has a mess of her own to worry about.

Arrow Down

Sinkhole swallows road, threatens canal in Albion, New York

Image
© Tom Rivers/Daily News
Construction crews work to fill in a 30-foot-wide sinkhole on Albion Eagle Harbor Road and a path along the Erie Canal. Crews worked late Monday night to fill the hole and stabilize the site so the canal wouldn't flood two neighboring state prisons.
A massive sinkhole swept away a 30-foot-wide chunk of an Albion road and a path along the Erie Canal on Monday night, forcing crews to work late into the night to fill the opening.

The sinkhole nearly collapsed the embankment that held back the Erie Canal. Had the wall been washed out, officials feared the two state prisons next to the road would have been flooded.

The Canal Corporation activated the lock system, bringing down gates in Albion near Gaines Basin Road and in Holley, a 10-mile section. That is still a lot of water that may need to be drained to determine what caused the sinkhole, which was reported at about 9:30 p.m. Monday.

Arrow Down

Sinkhole in downtown Baltimore widens, repairs still pending

Image
© WMAR
Public Works officials are still working to fix the sinkhole on Monument Street that widened over the weekend.

As a result of the expansion, sanitation collection lines servicing units between 2326 and 2336 Monument Street, even side only, may have bee compromised. As a precaution, water has been shut off to those units.

The Department of Public Works is considering permitting foot traffic on the sidewalk, and business operation between Patterson Park Avenue and Bradford Avenue.

Before repairs to the sinkhole can occur, it first must be stabilized.

Bizarro Earth

Alpine faults show new evidence for regular magnitude 8 earthquakes

Image
© University of Nevada, Reno
University of Nevada - Reno seismologist Glenn Biasi spent eight days in the dense forests on the western side of the Southern Alps on the South Island of New Zealand to study the Alpine Fault, among the world's longest, straightest and fastest moving plate boundary faults.
A new study published in the prestigious journal Science, co-authored by University of Nevada, Reno's Glenn Biasi and colleagues at GNS Science in New Zealand, finds that very large earthquakes have been occurring relatively regularly on the Alpine Fault along the southwest coastline of New Zealand for at least 8,000 years.

The Alpine Fault is the most hazardous fault on the South Island of New Zealand, and about 80 miles northwest of the South Island's main city of Christchurch.

The team developed evidence for 22 earthquakes at the Hokuri Creek site, which, with two additional from nearby, led to the longest continuous earthquake record in the world for a major plate boundary fault.

The team established that the Alpine Fault causes, on average, earthquakes of around a magnitude 8 every 330 years. Previous data put the intervals at about 485 years.

Relative motion of Australian and Pacific plates across the Alpine Fault averages almost an inch per year. This motion builds up, and then is released suddenly in large earthquakes.

Cow Skull

Study says western North America faces 21st Century 'Mega-drought'

Oregon - The climate's "new normal" for most of the coming century will parallel the long-term drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 - the most severe drought in 800 years - scientists report in a study published Sunday.

"The severity and incidence of climatic extremes, including drought, have increased as a result of climate warming," the researchers said, adding that these long-term trends are consistent with a 21st century "megadrought."

Crops and forests died and river basins dried, but as bad as conditions were during the 2000-04 drought, in the future they may be seen as the good old days, a group of 10 researchers warned Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Image
© Craig Allen, U.S. Geological Survey
Pinyon pine forests near Los Alamos, New Mexico, had begun to turn brown from drought stress in 2002, left. Another photo taken in 2004 from the same vantage point, right, show them grey and dead.

Arrow Up

Little Rock, Arkansas hits third highest temperature ever recorded: 111 F (44 C)

Triple-digit heat intensified across Arkansas on Monday, setting records in at least two cities and increasing the danger for wildfires. Temperatures exceeded 100 in some areas, and are expected to stick around for much of the week. Low humidity also is settling in, increasing the threat for wildfires.

The daytime high reached 111 degrees in Little Rock, which not only broke the date's record but marked the third-highest temperature ever recorded in the state's capital city. The previous record for July 30 was 108 degrees in 1986.

Little Rock reached 114 degrees last year on Aug. 3, the city's hottest day in 132 years of records. The city's second-highest temperature on record occurred July 31, 1986, when it hit 112 degrees.

Also Monday, a record was set in Jonesboro, where the mercury peaked at 104, a degree higher than the record set in 1986.