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Mon, 26 Sep 2016
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Earth Changes


An American tragedy: Why are millions of trees dying in the country?

© David McNew/Getty Images
Oak trees at dusk near in California. The state has seen more than 66 million trees killed in the Sierra Nevada alone since 2010.
JB Friday hacked at a rain-sodden tree with a small axe, splitting open a part of the trunk. The wood was riven with dark stripes, signs of a mysterious disease that has ravaged the US's only rainforests - and just one of the plagues that are devastating American forests across the west.

Friday, a forest ecologist at the University of Hawaii, started getting calls from concerned landowners in Puna, which is on the eastern tip of Hawaii's big island, in 2010. Their seemingly ubiquitous ohi'a trees were dying at an astonishing rate. The leaves would turn yellow, then brown, over just a few weeks - a startling change for an evergreen tree.

"It was like popcorn - pop, pop, pop, pop, one tree after another," Friday said. "At first people were shocked, now they are resigned.

"It's heartbreaking. This is the biggest threat to our native forests that any of us have seen. If this spreads across the whole island, it could collapse the whole native ecosystem."

Almost six years later and nearly 50,000 acres of native forest on the big island are infected with rapid ohi'a death disease. Rumors abound as to its origin: did it emerge from Hawaii's steaming volcanoes? A strange new insect? Scientists still aren't sure of where it came from or how to treat it.

Cloud Precipitation

Floods kill 18 and destroy 6,000 houses in Nigeria

At least 18 people have been killed and more than 6,637 houses destroyed by flood which ravaged 19 local government areas of Jigawa state.

Alhaji Yusif Sani, the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) confirmed on Tuesday in Dutse that the incidents occurred during the current rainy season.

The deaths, he said, were recorded in Gwaram, Dutse, Jahun, Gumel and Ringim local governments.

Some of deaths were as a result of building collapse and it caused three persons to sustained injuries.

Flood destroyed 141 houses in Dutse; 419 in Jahun; 525 in Hadejia, 417 in Babura; 525 in Ringim; 822 in Gumel; 529 in Malammadori and 126 in Birninkudu local government areas.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strikes kill 9 in Madhya Pradesh, India

© 123RF
Nine persons were killed after being struck by lightning in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh which has been experiencing heavy rainfall, police said on Thursday.

Seven of the deaths occurred in two separate incidents in Chhattarpur district.

Pipat Station In-charge Mann Singh Parmar said that on Wednesday five farmers and eight others were injured when lightning struck a hut they were sheltering in. The injured were being treated at a local hospital.

A mother and her daughter were killed in Budha village while they were working in their field, police added.

According to police, two persons were also killed in Tikamgarh district after lightning struck their field.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills two buffaloes in India

Two buffaloes of a farmer died after being struck by lightning at Mirpur village near here today.

Ravinder Singh, son of the farmer, Sukhwinder Singh, said a short rain took place during afternoon amidst lightning. They had tied their buffaloes in the yard of their house. Suddenly at about 1.30 pm, a loud sound of lightning was heard and in no time it struck their buffaloes. Two buffaloes died on the spot.

Ravinder Singh said the buffaloes were of Mura breed. One of the buffaloes provided milk and the other was yet to deliver. He said they suffered a loss of about Rs 1.5 lakh as they were dependent on selling milk for their livelihood.

Meanwhile, a Congress leader and Zila Parishad member, Harkeet Singh Bhari, Hardev Singh Meerpur, Gurcharan Singh Goslan and others demanded compensation for the farmer from the Punjab government for the unexpected loss.

Cloud Precipitation

Flash flooding in Minnesota after record night of rainfall

© Mark Vancleave – Star Tribune
Flash flooding caught a motorist unaware near the intersection of University and 73rd Aves. NE in Fridley.

A stationary line of storms dropped heavy rain, with as much as 8 to 10 inches in some areas, paralyzing traffic and sending some cars floating down streets.

Record-setting heavy rain caused widespread flash flooding across the Twin Cities on Wednesday night — and there's more wet weather to come.

Up to 6 inches of rain fell in some northern suburbs in the space of about two hours Wednesday evening, and a flash-flood warning remained in effect for a narrow swath of the Twin Cities — from Greenfield to Hugo and south to Brooklyn Park, Blaine and Crystal — until 4 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.

One observer reported 9.67 inches of rain on the night recorded by a backyard weather station in Maple Grove. And in Waseca, 8.2 inches of rain fell in six hours, the Weather Service said, leading to a flash-flood warning there and in Owatonna until 6 a.m.

Among the roads closed early Thursday by water, Interstate 90 was shut down between Exit 175 and Exit 179 near Austin, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said.

A flash-flood watch covered a broad area from north of the metro area southeast to the Iowa border and eastward into Wisconsin.

Cloud Precipitation

Dahanu, India receives 529mm rainfall in 24 hours, breaking 58-year record

© YouTube/Vishvas abhyankar (screen capture)
It's likely to be an above average year for rainfall across the country, but in the coastal town of Dahanu in neighbouring Palghar district, it may well be an extraordinary monsoon.

On Wednesday, Dahanu received 529mm rainfall in the 24-hour period ending 8am, breaking a nearly 60-year record by a long way. Dahanu's previous 24-hour record for September was 481 mm in 1958. A met official said the reason for "vigorous rains" was the fact that weather systems over both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal were active.

The downpour hit normal life as roads got flooded and power and phone lines snapped. School and colleges declared a holiday. Tribals in Vadvan Tigrepada said their homes were inundated and foodgrains damaged. The Gholvad-Dahanu belt was the worst affected. Railway tracks were flooded and services delayed by two to three hours. Power supply and phone lines were restored by Wednesday evening after rain subsided.

Mumbai received 142.6mm rainfall in the 24-hour period ending 8am on Wednesday. This is the highest rainfall recorded in a single day in September in the city in the last four years and the second highest since 2010. Weathermen have predicted intermittent rain or showers with heavy rain in one of two places on Thursday.


Tornado wreaks havoc on island of Zakynthos, Greece

© ekathimerini.com
Tornado wreaks havoc on island of Zakynthos
A tornado that passed through Zakynthos in the early hours today caused great problems on the island, making immediate intervention of power technicians and Fire Brigade personnel necessary.

The main problems at the moment are located in the Alykanas area where the tornado uprooted trees and snapped power columns and raised roofs, while small shops lost lightweight materials.


Man attacked by grizzly bear in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia

Grizzly bear
A man was attacked by a grizzly bear Sunday near Forum Lake in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in southeastern British Columbia.

The unidentified man was attacked after he surprised the bear as he was hiking in the area, which can be accessed from the Akamina Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta.

"There was an encounter between a hiker and a bear," said John Stoesser, a spokesman for Waterton. "Parks Canada responded to a request for assistance."

He said they sent three people to help, but referred any further comment to BC Parks.

The province's environment ministry declined an interview request, but sent out a statement Monday afternoon confirming that they responded after a man was attacked by "what is suspected to be a male grizzly bear" on Sunday.


Woman attacked by 2 raccoons in her backyard in Arlington, Virginia; 2nd attack in neighborhood since June

An Arlington neighborhood is on edge after a woman was attacked by a raccoon in her own backyard, and it is not the first time this type of incident has happened in recent months.

There have been several sightings of raccoons in the Fairlington area and at least two violent attacks since June. Some residents here are concerned for their safety, especially at night.

One woman living on 29th Street S was scratched and bitten by raccoons while she was in her backyard in June. The incident sparked a community meeting on how to safely interact with wildlife.

But last Sunday night, two raccoons jumped on another woman in her backyard on 28th Street while she was taking out the trash.

Bonnie Crouch told FOX 5 her husband heard the screams and came out to help. He ended up fighting the raccoons off the woman with a broom. Crouch, a nurse, helped tend to the victim's injuries afterwards.


Loud sonic boom heard, felt in Kirksville, Missouri

© visitkirksville.com
An apparent sonic boom heard and felt in the Kirksville area corresponded with two separate Kirksville Fire Department investigations, but no problems were found in the city.

Kirksville Fire Department Battalion Chief James Snyder said around the time of the sonic boom, just before 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Kirksville Fire Department personnel saw a possible smoke cloud near the fire station. That turned out to be a dust cloud.

Minutes later, employees at US Bank on McPherson Street contacted Central Dispatch regarding a strong gas odor in their building. Kirksville Fire and Police and Adair County Ambulance responded, as well as workers from local utility companies. No gas leak was detected.

"Just another day in the life of a firefighter," Snyder said.