Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

New Zealand: Massive Dust Storm Hits Quake-hit Christchurch

© Agence France-PresseA cyclist wears a protective mask in Christchurch on Wednesday, March 2. Strong winds whipped up huge dust clouds in earthquake-hit Christchurch as officials defended the devastated city's building standards.
Strong winds whipped up huge dust clouds in earthquake-hit Christchurch Wednesday, as officials defended the devastated city's building standards.

Gusts of 70 kilometres per hour (44 mph) buffeted emergency crews in the ruins of New Zealand's second largest city, hampering the search for bodies amid fears of masonry dislodging and trees toppling.

"In some places it was difficult to stand up, you'd look across the city and see these enormous clouds of dust blowing down the main avenues -- it's been a terrible day," mayor Bob Parker said.

The winds stirred an estimated 200,000 tonnes of silt and sand pushed up from the ground after the power of the February 22 quake loosened the bond between soil particles in a process called liquefaction.

Search and rescue teams donned respirators and dodged flying sheets of corrugated iron as they raked through the wreckage, while supplies of facemasks were rushed to Christchurch for residents.

The death toll from last week's 6.3-magnitude tremor stood at 160 Wednesday, climbing toward a final tally that police expect to exceed 240.

About 400 relatives of the dead visited the city's worst-hit sites in what Parker said was a difficult and emotional trip that he hoped would bring them some closure.


New Zealand: Kiwis Terrified by Fresh Earthquake Prediction

A New Zealand mathematician who predicted the deadly Christchurch quake has terrified Kiwis with news another will strike the city in two weeks.

Popular long-range weather forecaster Ken Ring is warning that a second jolt will hit the already-devastated South Island city on March 20.

Mr Ring, who lives in Auckland, uses the moon, sun and tidal activity for the basis of his theories, which have been dismissed by scientists.

His warning is clear.

"If I lived in Christchurch, I'd get out for a few days over that time, go camping, visit friends, just get out and keep safe," he said.

"And if you don't live there, stay away."

His frightening words have panicked New Zealanders, with hundreds using Twitter and Facebook to brand his theories as "crackpot", "wacky" and scientifically baseless.

Despite this, his following is substantial, with more than 5000 New Zealanders - including farmers, gardeners and even disaster specialists - signed up to receive his weather predictions.

On Valentine's Day, he issued a tweet stating that conditions were "potent" for a quake in Christchurch between February 15 and 25.

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck on February 22, killing as many as 240 people.


SOTT Focus: Apocalypse Now! Of Revolutions and Crop Disasters

What we're seeing here is, in a sense, the growing - the birth pangs of a new Middle East - and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old Middle East.
So said US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in 2006 when Israel was blitzing Lebanese civilians. I've been wondering to what extent this applies here and now as North African and Middle Eastern regimes fall left, right and center. Is this an imperial operation directed from the shadows? Or a nascent uprising coming from below? The Egyptian protesters formed a cohesive unit which articulated political aims. I think THAT more than anything frightens the Powers That Be. They can handle chaos, they can control civil wars, but people organising resistance creatively into a united mass requires drastic shock treatment. Overshadowing the nascent political movement in Egypt is a list of countries in revolt that grows by the day:
Saudi Arabia
And it's not consigned to Middle East. Mass protests have taken place against the state of Wisconsin's austerity fiscal measures, hundreds have been shot to death over a disputed electoral result in Ivory Coast, the Chinese government is stamping down on the slightest whiff of dissent, university students were recently shot in Nigeria, thousands demonstrated in Croatia this week, protests have flared up again in Greece and even isolated North Korea has caught the fever. Thousands protest against high food prices in Delhi. Revolution is in the air across the whole globe. Indeed, it's already upon us.

Bizarro Earth

Geologists warn of major earthquake in Spain

The president of the Colegio Oficial de Geólogos (ICOG), Luis Suárez, has warned that Spain may be due a major earthquake soon, if statistics of history and monitoring are anything to go by.

Statistically, Spain has suffered a major, destructive earthquake every 70 years, but as the last one was in 1884, the risk of reoccurrence may be increasing with every day that passes.

There has been an increase in minor earthquakes in high risk areas of Spain over recent years, and studies suggest that this may be a warning of impending disaster, potentially affecting the already recognised high risk areas of Andalusia and Murcia.
Warn quake Spain


Mysterious Florida panther deaths have officials concerned

© Allen Cheuvront 1994Endangered Florida Panther
Is it open season on Florida panthers?

In the past two years, three of the endangered panthers have been killed under mysterious circumstances, prompting federal investigations that so far have not yielded an arrest. The most recent one was discovered a week ago.

At least one of the three panthers was shot. Federal officials won't say what killed the others.


Swooping assassin: Pictured for the first time in Britain, a soaring golden eagle clutches a bloodied lamb in its razor-sharp talons

Death from above: The golden eagle snatched the lamb on the Isle of Mull. This dramatic picture provides evidence that the powerful birds of prey have been snatching live-stock from farmers
Swooping low over a mountainside, this magnificent but deadly golden eagle clutches a bloodied lamb in its talons.

This dramatic picture provides the first photographic evidence that the powerful birds of prey have been snatching livestock from British farmers' flocks.

It was taken on the Isle of Mull, off the West coast of Scotland, where shepherds have long campaigned against the reintroduction of eagles which they see as a threat to their livelihoods.


Olsztyn, Poland: The mysterious case of frozen crocodile

© Unknown
A frozen crocodile has been found in the Mazury forest in Poland.

The reptile measured 1.5 meters in length and weighed 20 kilogram.

The police have launched an investigation to try to find out where it came from and what happened to the reptile.

The crocodile was taken to the Institute of Pathological Anatomy of the University of Warmia and Mazury in nearby Olsztyn for a post mortem examination.

Arrow Down

Keep the parka handy: Environment Canada forecasts a colder than normal spring

What do the groundhogs know anyway?

Ontario's Wiarton Willie, Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam and Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil all predicted an early spring.

But Environment Canada's spring forecast suggests the rascally rodents got it all wrong.

The agency is out with its spring forecast for March, April and May.

Last year, Canada had one of the earliest springs ever, noted senior climatologist David Phillips, but this year, the season will be "reluctant to arrive."

Canada has had a "fickle and fitful" winter with temperature swings that are typical in a La Nina year, he said, and there will likely be more of the same in the spring.

About three quarters of the country will be colder than normal for the next three months, according to Phillips.

"March is going to roar in like a lion in parts of the Maritimes where they're talking about heavy snowfall and blizzard kind of conditions," said Phillips.

"On the Prairies it's more like frozen mutton because they're going to see one of the coldest beginnings to March they've ever seen across that region," he said.

Cloud Lightning

Australia: 5000 lightning strikes during storms

© UnknownFive thousand lightning strikes danced across southeast Queensland skies overnight.
Five thousand lightning strikes danced across southeast Queensland skies overnight but the thunderstorms were not as severe or damaging as the weather bureau expected.

The thunderstorms produced 5000 lightning strikes since 11pm (AEST) on Tuesday, with more than 16,000 homes losing power, electricity company Energex said.

The worst hit suburbs were in Brisbane's north and around Logan.

'Most of the lightning strikes went all the way to the ground,' an Energex spokeswoman told AAP.

Only 418 homes still waiting to be reconnected at 6am (AEST) on Wednesday, she said.

More storm activity could be on the way for Brisbane, Ipswich, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast later in the evening, the Bureau of Meteorology warns.


Global Warming Means More Snowstorms: Scientists

© Agence France-PresseWorkers remove snow from a runway at O'Hare International Airport on February 3, in Chicago, Illinois. Climate change is not only making the planet warmer, it is also making snowstorms stronger and more frequent, US scientists said on Tuesday.
Climate change is not only making the planet warmer, it is also making snowstorms stronger and more frequent, US scientists said on Tuesday.

"Heavy snowstorms are not inconsistent with a warming planet," said scientist Jeff Masters, as part of a conference call with reporters and colleagues convened by the Union of Concern Scientists.

"In fact, as the Earth gets warmer and more moisture gets absorbed into the atmosphere, we are steadily loading the dice in favor of more extreme storms in all seasons, capable of causing greater impacts on society."

Masters said that the northeastern United States has been coated in heavy snowfall from major Category Three storms or larger three times in each of the past two winters, storms that are unparalleled since the winter of 1960-61.

"If the climate continues to warm, we should expect an increase in heavy snow events for a few decades, until the climate grows so warm that we pass the point where it's too warm for it to snow heavily."

Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, said less sea ice in the Artic translates to more moisture in the atmosphere, and could also cause an atmospheric circulation pattern in polar regions known as Arctic Oscillation.