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Mon, 21 Aug 2017
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Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Tropical storm Harvey threatens Central America with flooding, strong winds

After drenching the Windward Islands, Harvey will continue to track toward Central America and may bring dangerous conditions early next week.

Harvey developed on Thursday afternoon east of the Windward Islands, becoming the eighth named tropical system of the 2017 Atlantic season.

After inundating the Windward Islands to end the week, the system is expected to track across the warm Caribbean Sea this weekend. While warm waters will favor strengthening, wind shear and other factors may keep the system from doing so quickly.


Harbour seal climbs aboard kayak, attacks paddler near Chatham Island, British Columbia

It started out as a regular Thursday kayak trip for Alan Campbell and Debbie Leach.

On Aug. 10, Campbell and Leach along with two other kayakers left from Telegraph Cove and headed towards Chatham and Discovery Islands.

"We were grouping up when the attack occurred" explained Campbell.

The excursion turned into a frightening experience when Leach noticed a large harbour seal charging at their kayaks.

"I didn't really think anything of it at first," said Leach.

"Usually the seals are shy and just swim away, but then it grabbed my rudder and pulled my foot pedal right out of the socket."

The seal tried to mount two of the kayaks without much success until it reached Campbell.

Comment: See also this report of another attack by the same species that occurred on the same day about 10 miles from the above incident: Seal bites man in Friday Harbor, Washington

Cloud Lightning

Ten persons hit by lightning bolt at tourist attraction in Jamaica

Ten persons are now being treated at the St Ann's Bay Hospital after they were stuck by lightning at the Mystic Mountain tourist attraction in St Ann yesterday afternoon.

Managing Director of the attraction, Mike Drakulich, says the incident happened about 4:30 p.m.

Six of the injured were tour guides and four were tourists.

According to Drakulich, the affected persons were partaking in a zip line tour when the lightning stuck.

Showers, brought about by a weather system affecting Jamaica over the past few days, had been affecting Ocho Rios prior to the incident.


Two shallow earthquakes with magnitudes over 4 shake Turkey's Gökova Bay

Two earthquakes with magnitudes of over 4 shook the Gökova Bay off Turkey's Aegean coast on Aug. 18, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) has stated.

The first earthquake with a 4.2-magnitude hit the Gökova Bay at 3.47 p.m. at a depth of 7 kilometers, according to AFAD.

It was followed by another 4.5-magnitude quake at 5.10 p.m. in the same region, at the depth of 16.7 kilometers.

The region has been struck by several earthquakes in recent weeks, with a 5.1-magnitude hitting it on Aug. 8. At least 490 quakes were recorded in the aftermath of the tremor.


Magnitude 6.8 earthquake strikes 880 kilometers off the coast of Liberia

An earthquake of 6.8 magnitudes on the Richter scale occurred approximately 880 kilometers off Liberia's shore, the ministry of information, culture and tourism has confirmed Friday morning.

The ministry, however, assured the public that the quake poses no threat of a tsunami

The Ministry of Information assured the public in the release that relevant government agencies and security apparatus are continuing to monitor the situation and will readily inform the public and new and additional information becomes available.

The government has assured all citizens to remain calm but alert in the wake of the incident.


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.


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.


Intense storm kills two in northwestern Austria

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


Deep and strong M6.4 earthquake hits off Fiji

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)