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Bizarro Earth

Mysterious Fish Deaths Fan Villagers' Fears in Northern Turkey

More Dead Fish
© DHA PhotoResidents of the Black Sea village of Mescitli say pollution may have caused mass fish deaths in Harşit stream.

Sudden and unexplained mass fish deaths in the Black Sea region of Turkey have local residents worried about the safety of their water supply and calling on officials to solve the mystery.

When residents in Mescitli village in Gümüşhane province first observed dead fish in Harşit stream 15 days ago, they thought the fish had died of natural causes, said village head Cenk İnce.

"However, when we realized the number of dead fish had risen, we urgently informed the officials. There were fish for two kilometers along the shore, which worried us. We are using the stream's water in our agricultural activities," İnce said, according to the Doğan news agency, or DHA. He added that the villagers have urged officials to investigate immediately.

The provincial directorates of health, forest, environment and agricultural have reportedly launched an investigation, taking samples of the dead fish and the water from the stream.

Locals believe the deaths are due to pollution. "The fish died due to pollution produced by people," one villager said.

Bizarro Earth

Mysterious Sun Haloes

Most sun haloes are circles. They surround the sun when sunbeams hit ice crystals in the air. The haloes this week in Finland, however, were not circular. Olli Leivo sends this picture from Lahti in southern Finland:

Sun Halo
© Olli LeivoSun Halo
"Finland has had a spate of elliptical halos over the last few days produced by ice crystals precipitating out of low clouds. The ones Leivo photographed are superb," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Elliptical halos are rare and we do not understand how they are formed. A popular theory is that hexagonal plate-shaped crystals with very blunt pyramidal ends make them. But ray tracing simulations using these crystals do not reproduce the halo's fine detail properly. Moreover, these crystals are physically unrealistic because crystal faces follow lines of atoms in the crystal lattice - blunt pyramidal ends do not! The mystery remains."

Bizarro Earth

US: Massive Aurora Borealis Forecast This Week

Alaskan Aurora
© Alaska DispatchAurora
Check the northern skies after dark tonight if you're looking to be dazzled. And keep checking.

A sunspot spot wider than the planet Jupiter just blasted out the largest solar flare seen in four years, spewing a tsunami of charged particles hurtling toward Earth, according to a report on

Once the particles impact the home planet's magnetic field beginning about 6 p.m. AST Wednesday, they will interact with ions of the upper atmosphere and start to produce shimmering bands of northern lights. Skies over the entire region may light up in one of the season's most spectacular displays, with the Geophysical Institute's official aurora forecast for Feb. 16-17 rated "Active" even as far south as Anchorage.

Cloud Lightning

US: Big storm hitting Western states

The active winter weather pattern over the United States continues, as another Pacific storm is belting an area from California to Washington state, and Eastward to Montana.

Much of it will fall as rain in the lower elevations, but forecaster Brian Korty at the National Forecast Desk in Camp Springs, Maryland, says the Sierra Nevada will be measuring snow by the foot.

The storm will then move into the Great Basin and Upper Plains, bringing more winter weather to that section of the country.

And as the storm moves out, cold air from Canada will pour into the lower 48, ending the February warm-up that many parts of the country have been enjoying.


Scotland: Stand by for a thundering spring after icy winter delays early bloom

© Unknown
Scotland - The harsh winter has delayed the appearance of spring plants and birds - causing alarm for gardeners afraid that warm weather species may be killed off if they are planted too early. Sightings of plants in Scotland which are usually common in late February have been far lower this year than last, according to the Woodland Trust.

Nature's Calendar, a scheme run by the Woodland Trust, revealed that far fewer snowdrops and celandine had pushed their heads above the soil by the end of the first week of February compared to last year, despite temperatures rising to an average level for the time of year.

Rooks, which head south for the winter, but usually return to the north of the UK by the time their chicks hatch in early spring, have also failed to appear north of the border, according to nature enthusiasts.

But experts claimed the early hold-up caused by the bitterly cold weather in December meant the rest of spring was likely to be "thundering" through in a rush in the coming months.


Peru: Arequipa declared in state of emergency due to heavy rains

© LaRepúblicaHeavy rains in Arequipa have caused irreparable damage to the homes of at least 71 families, and affected 300 more.
Arequipa's committee for civil defense declared the province in a state of emergency due to the heavy rains that have recently struck the area, following a meeting among local authorities to assess cumulative damages, Andina reported today.

Provincial mayor of Arequipa Alfredo Zegarra announced that the decree would last for 30 days, during which time the authorities would be in permanent session to attend to emergencies as they arose.

He added that they would request resources from Peru's ministry of finance to assist 71 families who need to be relocated after rains destroyed their housing, as well as 300 more families affected by the extreme weather conditions. According the authorities' estimates, these efforts will require approximately 1 million soles.

It was also announced at the meeting that 50 percent of the sewer system of the city had ceased to function due to overflow, and that the most affected districts were Mariano Melgar, Miraflores and Alto Selva Alegre.

Twelve of the province's 29 mayors participated in the meeting, where they agreed to continue coordinating relief and prevention efforts. The national weather service predicts that heavy rains will continue into March.

Cloud Lightning

US: West Coast Rain to Continue All Week

© Genevieve BookwalterA runner takes advantage of a break in the rain on Twin Lakes Beach on Monday.
Heavy rains should ramp up Tuesday night and continue through the following Monday as Santa Cruz County returns to more seasonal weather after a few weeks of sunshine.

"The best is yet to come," joked Diane Henderson, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey.

After Monday's showers dropped nearly a quarter-inch of rain on Santa Cruz County, Henderson said another system should roll in today and bring a 90 percent chance of rain with it.

Tonight's storms should be heavy at times, Henderson said, and dwindle to showers by Wednesday evening. Rain is expected to continue off and on throughout the weekend and into Monday's Presidents Day holiday.

Winds should be "not extremely gusty," Henderson said, reaching 10-20 mph around the coast. High temperatures are expected to reach the upper 50s with lows in the low 40s to high 30s.

"People are going to drive fast, whether we warn them to or not; they're going to forget their umbrella - pretty much normal stuff," Henderson said. "They'll be cursing the rain and wanting good weather back."

However, "by and large, we're all pretty happy it doesn't snow here," Henderson said. "There's not much more you can ask than that."

Bizarro Earth

USGS Watching Mount St. Helen's Volcano Following Earthquake Swarm

© Unknown
The United States Geological Survey is watching the Mount St. Helen's volcano closely after a series of earthquakes struck on Monday. The area around Mount St. Helen's in Washington state has been experiencing minor earthquakes since an initial quake measuring 4.3 in magnitude struck around 10:35 a.m. local time, according to the USGS. Since that first quake, several smaller aftershocks were registered ranging between 1.0 and 2.8 in magnitude.

All of these earthquakes were centered in an area approximately five to six miles north of the Mount St. Helen's crater near the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The quakes were registered at depths between 1.7 and 3.7 miles. In total, at least 12 small earthquakes were registered in the area since the first quake on Monday.

This series of small earthquakes occurring in approximately the same location over a short period of time is known as an earthquake swarm. According to the Global Volcanic Earthquake Swarm Database earthquake swarms are especially common around volcanoes and are often reliable methods of predicting an eruption but the Alaska Volcano Observatory website offered that there may be no need for alarm. The AVO website explained that while earthquake swarms may offer information that a volcano is becoming restless, they are not necessarily indicators of a pending eruption. According to the AVO, "Most seismic swarms are not precursors to eruptions."

Cloud Lightning

US: Four Snowmen Of The Apocalypse Are Next? When Snow Is Not Enough, There Is Thundersnow

New Yorkers were reveling in their millionth snowstorm Wednesday night when they experienced something unexpected -- lighting and thunder during a snow storm.

Being both savvy and neurotic, New Yorkers naturally fled to Google and Twitter and found their answer -- Thundersnow. ABC News says that "so-called thundersnows are rare events that feature thunder, lightning and heavy snowfall. Despite their drama -- but perhaps because of their infrequency -- very little is known about them."

Mysterious, rare, beautiful, yes -- it all has something to do with convection and tropospheres and whatnot -- but it has happened before (as Gothamist pointed out, one person filmed it during the blizzard of 2010).

In 1996 a weatherman was reporting a snowstorm in Worchester, Massachussets when thunder and lighting struck. He was so amazed he could hardly contain himself:


UK: Cliff landslide leads to Coast to Coast closure

© Unknown
A section of the Coast to Coast Walk in Cumbria has been closed after a landslip near its starting point.

A 40m stretch of the cliff-top path at South Head at St Bees has collapsed and authorities say it is unsafe for the public to use.

Police were alerted yesterday evening and immediately cordoned off the area. Copeland Borough Council also alerted the Liverpool Coastguard office.

The local Coastguard sector manager went to the scene, along with Whitehaven Coastguard Rescue Team and officers from the council to assess the extent of the fall, which is right at the start of the 309km (192-mile) route, which runs from St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay on the North Yorkshire coast.

Liverpool Coastguard watch manager Paul Parkes said: "We would like to advise members of the public to take care when walking the stretch of cliffs between North Head and South Head at St Bees as part of this path has been closed off for safety reasons.