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Sun, 20 Aug 2017
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Pygmy sperm whale discovered washed up on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

© Amber Keuhn
The pygmy sperm whale found washed up on Daufuskie Island
When Joanne and Mike Loftus spotted a whale struggling in the surf Thursday night on Daufuskie Island, they helped push it back out to sea.

Watching it swim away, the two were excited.

"We thought we saved its life," Mike said.

When the pair went back out Friday morning for turtle patrol, they saw that the 11-foot male pygmy sperm whale had washed up dead.

Mike said he learned an important lesson from the experience.

"When you see a beached whale, you're supposed to stay away and call authorities, because it could be diseased, ... and if you push it back out, it could be attacked by sharks and have a violent death, instead of the death it's supposed to have," he said.

Fire

Public calamity decreed in Portugal as wildfires continue to rage out of control

© AP Photo/Armando Franca
A man runs with a water hose as villagers join firefighters battling a forest fire coming close to houses in the village of Chao de Codes, near Macao, central Portugal, Wednesday, Aug. 16 2017.
The government of Portugal has issued a state of public calamity as wildfires continue to burn across the country ahead of a weekend heat wave.

More than 10,000 separate fires have been recorded across Portugal this year according to The Portugal News.

While most of them have been associated with human negligence, rounds of intense heat and prolonged drought conditions have made the situation more serious than recent years.

The fires over the past week have injured 86 people, seven seriously, according to the Associated Press. The combination of high temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds will create a scenario for dangerous wildfire conditions from Saturday into Monday.

The worst conditions are expected on Sunday as temperatures approach 40 C (104 F) across parts of the interior.

Northern and central interior areas will be at highest risk for new wildfires into early next week.

Temperatures will remain well above normal on Monday before falling back to near normal by Wednesday and Thursday lowering the wildfire threat.

Wildfires have burned roughly 141,000 hectares (350,000) acres this year, nearly 500 percent above the average over the past 10 years, according to the Institute for Forests and Nature Conservation.

Comment: A record number of 220 wildfires were recorded in one day last week in Portugal.


Windsock

Intense storm kills two in northwestern Austria

© EPA
Dramatic pictures from the scene show the tent collapsed on the ground with debris left strewn across a large area
An intense storm ripped through a beer tent in northwestern Austria, killing two people and injuring at least 40 more, Austrian media reported late on Friday.

About 700 people were in the tent erected for a local volunteer fire department festival in St. Johann am Walde, located northeast of Salzburg, when the storm hit suddenly at about 2030 GMT.

A man and a woman, both around 20 years old, died, the Austrian Press Agency reported.

Of those injured, 10 suffered serious injuries, media reported, without providing specifics.

About 150 rescue personnel responded to the incident, which left debris strewn across a large area, according to photographs of the scene.

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Toby Chopra

Seismograph

Deep and strong M6.4 earthquake hits off Fiji

© USGS
A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck off Fiji on Saturday, U.S. seismologists said, but it was considerably deep and there were no reports of damage or injury.

The offshore quake hit at 3:00 p.m. (0200 GMT) and was centred around 287 kilometres (178 miles) east of Suva, at a depth of 538 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not immediately issue any warnings. The quake occurred in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a region of frequent seismic activity due to collisions between continental plates.

Bizarro Earth

'Worst disaster in the history of Poland' - Storm fells record number of trees

© Dominik Kulaszkiewicz, PAP/AFP
Severe storms passed over Poland causing damage to buildings, trees and electricity infrastructure in the Pomeranian province, where five people were killed and at least 30 people seriously injured.
It will take two years to clear the tens of thousands of trees smashed by the weekend storms that devastated Poland's forests, the country's forest service said Wednesday.

"We're dealing with what is undoubtedly the worst disaster in the history of Polish -- and perhaps even European -- forestry," Poland's chief forester, Konrad Tomaszewski, told reporters.

The storms that hit Poland overnight Friday to Saturday killed six people, including two Girl Guides crushed by a falling tree while camping in a forest.

Aerial television footage in vast swathes of forest where trees had been snapped like matchsticks.

According to Tomaszewski, the storms brought down an estimated 8.2 million cubic metres of lumber.

It would take two years to clear the debris and begin replanting trees and decades to recover the lost natural habitats of birds and other wildlife, he added.

More storms are forecast for the coming weekend.

Comment: Five dead as violent bow echo storm system hits Poland (UPDATE)


Windsock

Huge sandstorm engulfs Algerian city, turning sky red


The sky over Ain Ouasara turned blood red within seconds.
Incredible footage has emerged showing a colossal sandstorm sweeping through an Algerian city.

The video begins with a group of young men playing football with a swirling red cloud in the background.

Despite being the middle of the day, the sky cannot be seen as it is completely covered by the cloud.

Alarmed shouts can be heard in Arabic as the match grinds to a halt.

Players and spectators begin to run for cover in the direction of nearby buildings as the storm draws closer.


Snowflake

August snow drops in Banff, Alberta

It's not unheard of to see some snowflakes in Canada's northern territories in mid-summer, but it's usually very rare south of 60.

Nevertheless, it does happen, and this year, the first people in southern Canada to see snow were people at Sunshine Village resort in Banff, Alta., and if the video below is any indication, it was more than a few flakes.

The video, captured below, was taken by Matt Wilson and posted on the resort's Facebook page, showing thick snowfall, though with no accumulation. Elsewhere in the range, Banff staff posted a photo of some rainy weather.


Snowflake

More snowfall in August for Canada

Unusual Canada snowfall in August Banff's Sunshine Village, new greenhouse gas study shows that water vapor is causing changes not CO2, and the Sydney Morning Herald with a piece on global warming from humans causing so much ice melt that the water is now changing the axis tilt of the Earth.


Sources

Cloud Grey

Apocalyptic cloud stuns residents of Teixeira de Freitas, Brazil

© João Paulo Magalhães
Residents of a Brazilian town were stunned by the appearance of a strange, menacing-looking cloud Thursday evening, leading some to wonder if it spelled the beginning of something far more sinister.

At first look the obscure cloud resembles a meteorite trail or tornado, frozen in time, seconds before the impending doom. At second glance,it looks more like a freaky cloud formation.


Cloud Precipitation

The floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India have killed about 500 and affected over 16 million


Deadly floods hit South Asian states
More than 16 million people have now been affected by seasonal flooding across a swathe of South Asia, say aid officials.

The floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India are thought to have killed about 500 people and are expected to worsen.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) says it is becoming one of the worst regional humanitarian crises in years.

There are growing concerns about food shortages and disease.


Martin Faller, ICRC's deputy regional director, said more than a third of Bangladesh and Nepal were flooded, while about 11 million people across four northern Indian states were also affected.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced.