Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

US: Tropical Storm Edouard hits Texas coast

HOUSTON - Tropical Storm Edouard plowed into a wildlife refuge on the upper Texas coast early on Tuesday, bringing driving rains and peak winds near 65 mph (100 kmh) but leaving key energy installations mostly unscathed.

Edouard, the fifth tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, was just shy of hurricane strength when it came ashore at the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, halfway between High Island and Sabine Pass, forecasters said.

NOAA satellite image shows Tropical Storm Edouard in the Gulf of Mexico August 4, 2008.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the storm was about 40 miles (65 km) west of Port Arthur, Texas, and about 45 miles miles (70 km) north-northeast of Galveston, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.


'Lost world' of gorillas discovered in the Congo

The discovery of a critically endangered gorilla population in the vast forests of northern Congo is a mammoth 125,000 - double that of previous estimates - should make even the most pessimistic conservation biologist smile.

Western lowlands gorillas.
Western lowlands gorillas.

The numbers of western lowland gorillas living across 47,000 square kilometres of dense forestland were thought to have plummeted from 100,000 to half that number since the 1980s.

Just last year, the threat from the deadly ebola virus and indiscriminate bushmeat hunters prompted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to add the apes to their critically endangered list.

The results of the census by the Wildlife Conservation Society and local government researchers were announced today at a meeting of the International Primatological Society in Edinburgh, UK.


Girl killed, four people injured in Poland storm

A 15-year-old girl died and four people were injured in a severe storm in Poland, the national rescue service said.

The girl was in a car when the vehicle was crushed by a falling tree on Monday in Legionowo, to the northeast of Warsaw. A woman and a child were injured in a similar accident in the capital.


Bigger isn't always better for spider colonies

©Alexandre Bernard
An Anelosimus eximius communal web.

Giant webs catch most food when occupied by about 500 social spiders.

For many people it's the ultimate nightmare: thousands of spiders collaborating to form a well organized society. A new study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals how colonies of one spider species grow to an enormous size, and the surprising factors that ultimately limit their expansion.

Spiders are usually thought of as lone hunters. However, a few dozen species do live cooperatively, building collective webs and sharing food-gathering and child care between them. One example is the neotropical species Anelosimus eximius, which can be found living in colonies containing thousands of individuals.

Bizarro Earth

Pakistan: Floods wreak havoc in Khyber Agency, Peshawar suburbs

Torrential rains triggered flash floods in Peshawar suburbs and the adjoining Khyber Agency on Monday, inundating large areas and killing at least 22 people. Eleven people were injured as raging torrents washed away hundreds of homes, destroyed crops over a wide area and killed livestock.

Nullah Budhni and Araban, started overflowing before dawn, washed away four bridges and caused widespread damage in Nasir Bagh, Dag Kali, Mattra, Babu Garhi, Khushal Park and Hassan Garhi.

Evil Rays

Sonar does affect whales, military report confirms: Animals stopped vocalizing and foraging for food during marine exercises

Whales subjected to military sonar will neither dive nor feed, according to an unpublished 2007 report from the UK military, obtained by Nature after a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The impact of sonar on whales has become an increasingly fraught issue in recent years, with submarine exercises being linked to several high-profile mass strandings. The US Navy has admitted concerns over sonar's effects on marine mammals, although actual evidence for harm has been in short supply.


Almost 40 dead or missing in flood-hit western Ukraine

A total of 38 people, including eight children, are dead or listed as missing following devastating floods in western Ukraine in late July, the health ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The statement does not specify how many people have been killed in the country's worst storms in a century. Earlier reports put the death toll at 31 people, including six children, with one person unaccounted for. A total of 498 people are confirmed as having been injured.

Authorities fear the floods could cause a serious health problem in the worst-hit Ivano-Frankovsk Region in western Ukraine, where almost 20 livestock burial zones, 38 cemeteries and four garbage disposal sites have been flooded. All the potential sources of infection have been cordoned off.

Cloud Lightning

Tropical storm looms off Texas-Louisiana coast

HOUSTON - Tropical Storm Edouard moved across the northern Gulf of Mexico on Monday, threatening to come ashore on the Texas-Louisiana coast at near-hurricane strength.

Tropical Storm Edouard formed near a major oil and gas producing area of the northern Gulf of Mexico August 3, 2008.

Edouard, the fifth tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 7 a.m. report.

The storm, which formed near a major oil- and gas-producing area of the northern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, was about 80 miles south-southwest of Grand Isle, Louisiana, and 285 miles east-southeast of Galveston, Texas.

It was moving west at about 8 mph (13 kmh) and forecasters said it could bring as much as 6 inches of rain.

The Hurricane Center said Edouard was expected to gain strength and could be near the 74-mph (119-kph) threshold for hurricane status when it neared land by Tuesday morning.

Cloud Lightning

Brazil: Plane struck by lightning at Curitiba Airport

A TAM (Brazil) Airbus A319-100, registration PR-MAO performing flight JJ3004 from Curitiba,PR to Sao Paulo Congonhas,SP (Brazil) with 46 passengers, was already on the runway ready for takeoff, when a lightning struck the airplane.

Cloud Lightning

Two killed, 6 injured by lightning in Mexico

Mexico City - Police say a lightning bolt has struck a soccer match between firefighters and civil protection workers in southern Mexico, killing two and injuring six.