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Sun, 19 Jan 2020
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Earth Changes


Rare beaked whale washes ashore in Ostend, Belgium

dead whale
A whale, confirmed to be a rarely seen Sowerby's beaked whale, washed up on the coast of Ostend on Wednesday evening, near the Oosterstaketsel.

The 2.9 metres long animal was found dead, however, the cause is unknown at this time.

"Perhaps it got into trouble at the rocks of the breakwater, because it was injured. Presumably, it stranded and then died," Jan Haelters, a marine biologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences told the media.


Powerful magnetic explosion '3 times closer than normal' discovered on Earth's doorstep

Auroras in the aftermath of a near-Earth magnetic explosion on Dec. 20, 2015
© Joseph Bradley of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
Auroras in the aftermath of a near-Earth magnetic explosion on Dec. 20, 2015.
From the always excellent spaceweather.com comes the news that on December 20, 2015, a powerful 'explosion' occurred closer to Earth than anyone had seen before.

It has taken researchers more than 4 years to fully wrap their minds around what happened, and their results were published just this week in the January 13, 2020 edition of Nature Physics.

Explosions in Earth's magnetic field happen all the time, writes Dr. Tony Philips of spaceweather.com. Gusts of solar wind press against Earth's magnetosphere, squeezing lines of magnetic force together. The lines crisscross and reconnect, literally exploding and propelling high energy particles toward Earth — auroras are the afterglow of this process.

"Usually, these explosions happen at least 100,000 miles from Earth, far downstream in our planet's magnetic tail," explains the study's lead author Vassilis Angelopoulos of UCLA.

"On December 20, 2015, however, we observed a reconnection event only 30,000 miles away-more than 3 times closer than normal."

The discovery was a case of good luck and perfect timing.

Comment: Weird 'electrical surge' detected running through ground in northern Norway - Auroras follow

Snowflake Cold

Snoqualmie Pass in Washington buried under 6.7 feet of snow in 6 days - Nearly 10 feet since Jan 1st, 11.8 at Stevens Pass

snow car
The busiest mountain pass in Washington state has received several feet of snow in less than a week and more snow is in the forecast.

The state Department of Transportation tweeted that, over the past five days, Snoqualmie Pass had received 77 inches of snow that forced the closure of Interstate 90 on several occasions. Three more inches have fallen so far Thursday for a total of 80 inches - or 6.67 feet - of snow.

Going back to Jan. 1, an impressive 117 inches of snow have fallen so far this year at Snoqualmie Pass. That's only three inches shy of 10 feet.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills 3 pupils, injures 27 in Kenya

© Johannes Plenio
Three pupils of Mkulima Primary School in Kuresoi North have died while 27 others have been hospitalised after they were struck by lightning.

Nakuru Police Commander Stephen Matu has confirmed the deaths saying the pupils were struck this evening while at the school.

Matu has said five of the 27 undergoing treatment at Kuresoi Health Centre are in a critical condition.

"Two pupils died on spot after being struck while one died while being attended to at the hospital," Matu has said.


'Kind of a shock': Up to 2 feet of snow slams Port Angeles, Washington overnight

While many areas are measuring their snow in inches, Port Angeles is measuring theirs in feet.

The city at the top of the Olympic Peninsula got hammered Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

"This was a bit sudden," said Damon Morris, as he used a snowblower at a business parking lot. "We got about a foot last night. A little over a foot. Kind of a shock."

He underestimates the snow total. It was reportedly anywhere from 18 inches to two feet.

"Something else, that's for sure," said Chelsea Littlejohn, who lives in Port Angeles.

Cloud Precipitation

Flash floods strike Oman as temperatures sink below zero

Residents were left stranded as heavy rain and snow have blocked roads
Temperatures in some parts of Oman dropped to below zero on Wednesday as heavy rain caused flooding across the Sultanate and residents are braced themselves for a further downpour.

The Oman Meteorological office said temperatures had dropped to -2°C degrees on Wednesday in Jabal Shams, the tallest peak in the Arabian Peninsula, which is located in the north-eastern region of Oman. The temperature in the same area last year hovered around 5°C.

Residents living near the 3,000 metre peak said heavy rain and snow have blocked roads and left most of them stranded in their homes.

"We will run out of food if the bad weather continues. The lower areas of the town are flooded with rainwater and higher areas are full of snow. We will have to wait and see what happens in the next 24 hours," Firas Al-Ruqaishi, 42, a farmer at Jabal Shams, told The National over the phone.


Violent microburst blasts down wall of school gym in North Carolina

© Youtube
Screenshot: Video Students escape gym as microburst tears down wall
CCTV footage of a primary school in North Carolina shows students running to safety as a microburst rips through the gymnasium. Microbursts are wind surges that move in straight lines.

One wall of the gym was torn down in the 80mph (128kph) burst. Three students were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Comment: Microbursts have been in the news a lot lately:

Snowflake Cold

Parts of Canada's British Columbia in grip of rare, extreme cold weather

People use the street to slide down following a major snow storm in Burnaby, B.C., on Jan. 15, 2020. Vancouver and the lower mainland have been pounded with heavy snow fall and freezing temperatures
People use the street to slide down following a major snow storm in Burnaby, B.C., on Jan. 15, 2020. Vancouver and the lower mainland have been pounded with heavy snow fall and freezing temperatures.
Parts of British Columbia were in the grip of rare and extreme cold weather on Wednesday, resulting in school and daycare closures in Vancouver and throwing traffic into chaos, with residents in the Canadian western province advised against traveling.

Cold weather has spread across western Canada this week. In Edmonton, the capital of the province of Alberta, temperatures dropped to -36 Celsius (-33 Fahrenheit) as of Wednesday morning, according to Environment Canada.

The coldest spot in British Columbia was Puntzi Mountain, which recorded its lowest ever temperature of -48.2 Celsius (-55 Fahrenheit) at 8 a.m local time.

British Columbia normally enjoys relatively temperate weather through the year, and the city of Vancouver is better known for its rain than the snowy winters that define the rest of Canada. The temperature in Vancouver on Wednesday morning was -6 Celsius (21 Fahrenheit), according to Environment Canada.

Snowflake Cold

Report: Idaho avalanche that killed 3 started by skiers

An avalanche at an Idaho ski resort that killed three people last week was triggered by skiers, despite the efforts of the ski patrol to mitigate the danger, according to a preliminary investigation.

The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center said the ski patrol had taken steps on Jan. 7 to prevent avalanches at the Silver Mountain Resort near Kellogg, Idaho.

''They had done their control work just like they always do," Jeff Thompson, the director of the avalanche center, told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. "In fact, I think they did more than they normally do to open that slope."

Three skiers died and two others were pulled alive from the snow after the avalanche. A few other skiers were partially buried.

Comment: See also: Third body found buried by avalanche at Silver Mountain ski resort in Idaho


Up to 8 feet deep snowdrifts cleared away on Mauna Kea Access Road, Hawaii

Heavy snow blankets the high elevations of Hawaii’s Big Island after a hefty mid-January snowstorm
© Weatherboy
Heavy snow blankets the high elevations of Hawaii’s Big Island after a hefty mid-January snowstorm
Crews continued to work Tuesday to repair and clear the Maunakea Access Road, which has been closed to the public since Friday because of the first snowfall of the decade.

"There's no gauge up there, but probably about two feet of snow fell," said Stewart Hunter, Maunakea Support Services general manager. "It was windy and a lot of it has drifted, and it drifts into the low places. The snow drifted up to seven or eight feet across the road in places. In some places up higher, there is no snow at all."

The road remained closed at the Maunakea Visitor Information Station, which is at the 9,200-foot level of the mountain. The snow and ice on the road is well above that point, Hunter said.

"Sometimes, the snow will extend way down," he explained. "There's just a little bit of a cap at the top. The rest of it came down as rain."

Comment: Two days earlier: Severe storm, flooding and heavy snowfall strike Hawaii - 22 inches of rain in 24 hours, snowdrifts at least 4 feet deep