Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

Tropical storm Fay lashes Cuba, leaves 4 dead

Havana - Tropical Storm Fay lashed southeastern Cuba with downpours and heavy winds Sunday and was expected to churn its way over the center of the island before heading toward Florida.

Authorities evacuated dozens of sparsely populated, low-lying communities and ordered Cubans to pay close attention to the storm, which they said could spark strong storm surges, flooding and mudslides.

Jose Rubiera, Cuba's chief meteorologist, said Fay had brought gusts of wind of up to 70 mph (110 kph) per hour as its center roared close to two coastal communities on the island's southern tip. Still, he said civil defense officials were mostly concerned about the effects of heavy rains.

The storm was expected to gain force and could be near hurricane strength when it moves over Cuba late Sunday and zeros in on Florida, where officials declared a state of emergency. It has already killed at least four people, after battering Haiti and the Dominican Republic with weekend torrential rains and floods.

Cloud Lightning

UK: Lightning strike hits 20 homes

A huge bolt of lightning left 20 householders counting the cost after televisions blew and telephone lines melted.


US: Mysterious foam creeps ashore at Madrona Beach

Seattle - Madrona Beach on Lake Washington has been closed for swimming until further notice because of something mysterious in the water.

madrona beach
Madrona Beach has been closed for swimming.


Turkey: Mysterious green layer on lake not toxic, says minister

A green layer that has formed on the surface of Küçükçekmece Lake in İstanbul is not due to toxicity, Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu announced yesterday.


Global Cooling in Action: Three dead in Australian snow accidents

Police say an ice climber and two skiers have died in seperate accidents in New South Wales.

Snow in Australia
©AAP - Jennifer Chapman
Five companions were rescued.


Canada: Hiker dies after being swarmed by bees or wasps near Chemainus

A young hiker died yesterday after he was swarmed and stung by bees, wasps or hornets on Mount Brenton, west of Chemainus. The man's name has not been released, but those at the scene said he appeared to be in his 20s. He was a tourist from Germany hiking with a youth group on the mountain, witnesses said.

"We were called in with a report that a man had been swarmed by what looked like hornets and appeared to be having a severe allergic reaction," said Rick Ruppenthal, the central Vancouver Island superintendent for the B.C. Ambulance Service. "Apparently he had no previous history of allergies."

The call to 9-1-1 came in at 9:30 a.m. yesterday from another hiker with a cellphone.

Better Earth

Camera spots rare clouded leopard

The Bornean clouded leopard was only classified as a distinct species in 2007

Automatic cameras have captured images of a clouded leopard in Borneo's Sebangua National Park, an area where the cats have not been recorded before.


New Bird Species Discovered In Gabon, Africa

Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have discovered a new species of bird in Gabon, Africa, that was, until now, unknown to the scientific community.

©Brian Schmidt
A male specimen of the newly-discovered olive-backed forest robin is carefully examined in the hand of Brian Schmidt, the Smithsonian ornithologist who discovered the species.

The newly found olive-backed forest robin (Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus) was named by the scientists for its distinctive olive back and rump. Adult birds measure 4.5 inches in length and average 18 grams in weight. Males exhibit a fiery orange throat and breast, yellow belly, olive back and black feathers on the head. Females are similar, but less vibrant. Both sexes have a distinctive white dot on their face in front of each eye.

The bird was first observed by Smithsonian scientists in 2001 during a field expedition of the National Zoo's Monitoring and Assessment of Biodiversity Program in southwest Gabon. It was initially thought, however, to be an immature individual of an already-recognized species. Brian Schmidt, a research ornithologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and a member of the MAB program's team, returned to Washington, D.C., from Gabon in 2003 with several specimens to enter into the museum's bird collection. When he compared them with other forest robins of the genus Stiphrornis in the collection, Schmidt immediately noticed differences in color and plumage, and realized the newly collected birds might be unique.


Forecasters: Floridians should prepare for hurricane

MIAMI - Florida's governor declared an emergency for the state Saturday due to the threat of Tropical Storm Fay, which forecasters say could bring hurricane-force winds to the Florida Keys as soon as Monday.


Over 800 walruses slaughtered in Russia's Far East

Border officials in Chukotka, Russia's Far East, discovered over 800 walrus carcasses believed to have been killed by poachers for their valuable tusks, a Russian natural resources ministry spokesman said.

The carcasses were found with gunshot wounds on the coastline of the Chukotka Peninsula near the Chegitun River on Friday. Officials believe that the mammals were killed around two to four weeks ago.