Earth ChangesS


Swarms of bees returning to Kansas

Mites and other diseases had reduced their population, but wild and domestic bees appear to be recovering.

The bees are back.

After several years of heavy losses to the varroa mite in both domestic and wild bees, Kansas is seeing a return of swarms of bees.

The numbers have been sufficient for Kansas State University's Extension Research and Education division to resurrect its "swarm catchers" list from several years ago, offering homeowners or businesses plagued with the swarming insects a resource for getting them removed.

Sharon Dobesh, an entomologist with K-State, said the comeback is good news for beekeepers and for agriculture, which relies on the insects to pollinate almonds, apples, cucumbers, sunflowers, alfalfa and other crops.

Cow Skull

Worse Droughts Possible for Kansas

Kansas could be facing more severe droughts in the future, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

''It could get much, much worse,'' said Jim Putnam, a hydrologist with the USGS.

The USGS report shows that in the most recent drought from 2000 to 2006, rainfall levels were not that far from normal, only about one inch less than average.

By comparison, the rainfall deficit during the devastating 1952-57 drought was nearly 6 inches below normal. Yet streamflows during the 2000-2006 drought hit record lows.

''In the summer of 2006, flows at four long-term USGS stream gauges on the Republican, Saline, Solomon and Smoky Hill rivers in north-central and central Kansas were significantly lower than the 1930s and 1950s even though the rainfall deficit was not as severe,'' Putnam said.

That means if Kansas experiences the kind of rainfall deficits of the 1930s and 1950s, then the flow in some rivers would become virtually zero, he said.

Better Earth

Mexico Navy hunts for sharks after attacks

MEXICO CITY - The Mexican Navy searched for sharks in the ocean near Pacific surfing beaches on Monday, after two bathers were killed and another maimed in a rare spate of shark attacks.

Three boats and a helicopter patrolled the sea while Navy and rescue officials scanned the horizon with binoculars from popular beaches around the southwestern Mexican resort of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. They warned surfers not to go far out.

Bizarro Earth

Moderate quake hits Panama-Costa Rica border

PANAMA CITY - A moderate earthquake of 5.2 magnitude struck on the Pacific coast side of the Panama-Costa Rican border on Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, but only minor structural damage was reported.

The quake, which hit at 10:01 a.m. local time (4:01 p.m. British time), was centred 135 miles (217 km) southeast of San Jose, Costa Rica, and at a depth of about 22 miles (35 km), the USGS said.


To predict quakes, listen to the animals, China survivors say

Well before this city was destroyed by an earthquake 32 years ago, the coming disaster was loudly preceded by strange animal behaviour and other bizarre signals that survivors wish they heeded.

"The animals were trying to tell us something. If only we knew that, not so many people would have died," said Fu Wenran, a retired farmer whose wife was among the estimated 240,000 who perished in Tangshan's quake on July 28, 1976.

Several survivors of the disaster in this northern city -- still the deadliest earthquake of modern times -- said the toll in this month's quake in southwestern China could have been minimised if such clues had been validated.

A cat sits outside a shop

Cloud Lightning

Expert: Colorado twister outbreak 'unusual'

Jim Kalina, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said the service received 10 separate reports of tornadoes in eastern Colorado on Thursday afternoon.

Kalina said that survey parties from the weather service will go into the field Friday to determine exactly how many tornadoes there were and how strong they were.

He said that some of the 10 sightings may have been the same tornado. Kalina emphasized that at this point, the weather service has not determined the strength of the tornadoes.

©The National Weather Service
The National Weather Service's Doppler radar caught an image of the Weld County tornado at 11:44 a.m. on May 22, 2008.


US: Big Reptiles, Alien Trees Hamper Everglades Fire Fight

Firefighters in Florida's Everglades National Park are encountering large, dangerous reptiles and poisonous trees as they battle a fire that has consumed about 39,000 acres (16,000 hectares) since last week.

Fighting the Mustang Corners blaze in the remote, trackless Everglades has "posed a lot of challenges," said Mike Dueitt, a firefighter from Florence, Mississippi.

Cloud Lightning

US: Lightning shut Dominion Connecticut Millstone 2 reactor

Dominion Resources Inc's (D.N: Quote, Profile, Research) 882-megawatt Unit 2 at the Millstone nuclear power station in Connecticut shut from full power Thursday after lightning struck the main transformer, the company told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a report.

The company said the reactor had "an uncomplicated trip."

Cloud Lightning

US: Lightning thought responsible for death

A 20-year-old man was killed and three other people were injured apparently by lightning early Saturday at Pomona State Park, the Osage County Sheriff's Department said.

The fatality victim, whose identity hasn't been released, was camping with friends and was thought to have been struck by lightning between 1 and 4 a.m. as thunderstorms rolled through the area, a deputy said. He was discovered by another person at the park.

Cloud Lightning

'Dust devil' blows away city recycle station

One of three recycling stations operated by the City of Alamogordo is being rebuilt after it was blown away by a "dust devil" at its new location on North Florida Avenue recently.

Public Works Director Brian Cesar said the station, which had been on the corner of Florida and Indian Wells, was moved a few blocks away to the city public works yard on Florida.

"We moved it to the city yard, and that afternoon a large dust devil came through and destroyed the building," Cesar said.