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Thu, 20 Jan 2022
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World Snow Wrap, December 31 - Powder days in Japan, the US, Canada and Europe as 2021 goes out with bang

JT Holmes, letting them run in Palisades Tahoe after the storm cleared.
© Jeff Engerbretson
JT Holmes, letting them run in Palisades Tahoe after the storm cleared.
Wow, New Year's Eve and the end of 2021 and I expect many of you are happy to see the end of it, but a big Happy New Year from all of us at Mountainwatch to you.

It's fair to say 2021 is going out in a big way in the Northern Hemisphere with consistent snowfalls seeing out the year in the US and Japan while there were light to moderate falls in the European Alps last weekend. In Canada there has also been some decent falls over the past week, but it has been super cold with daily maximum temps as low as -30c. Let's check it all out:


It has been a massive week across the Western US, with resorts in the Sierras, Cascades and Rockies all receiving good snow falls with big snow totals. The biggest news is the massive totals in California over the past week, where the resorts in Tahoe have had the snowiest December ever with most resorts reporting monthly totals over five metres. The big totals are thanks to two significant storms and it is a big turnaround from the first week of December when the Tahoe resorts delayed openings due to lack of snow!


Fires rage for weeks in Argentina's Patagonia

View of a huge fire in Paraje Villegas, Rio Negro province, 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) south of Bariloche, Argentina, Dec. 29, 2021.

View of a huge fire in Paraje Villegas, Rio Negro province, 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) south of Bariloche, Argentina, Dec. 29, 2021.
Several sources of fire have been active for weeks in the Argentine provinces of Neuquen, Rio Negro and Chubut (south), where the flames have consumed thousands of hectares of native forest, amid adverse weather conditions, according to the authorities.


Six dolphin and whale strandings in one day in Ireland

The emaciated whale at Downings.
© IWDG/Facebook
The emaciated whale at Downings.
There has been a high number of stranded cetaceans in the last few weeks

There has been a recent spate of strandings reported to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), including two in Donegal.

On December 27 alone, six animals were reported with three of these being live strandings.

A spokesperson for IWDG said: "A very emaciated Cuvier's beaked whale live stranded on Dooey Beach in Downings.

"IWDG Donegal local group were mobilised, although the animal died shortly after live stranding."

One common dolphin was reported live stranded from Galway with serious injuries. The dolphin died within 20 minutes of IWDG arriving to the seen.

Snowflake Cold

Wind and heavy snow create 'blizzard conditions' in Fairbanks, Alaska - December record snowfall for Denali National Park

Fairbanks Residents Wake to Blizzard Conditions

Fairbanks residents wake to blizzard conditions as intense storm hits
Residents of Fairbanks, Alaska, dealt with "blizzard conditions" in some locations on Wednesday, December 29, as heavy wind and snow whipped the area.

The severe weather impacting Fairbanks capped what is now the city's wettest December on record, according to the National Weather Service.

Elsewhere in the state, an observation site at Denali National Park received 74.5 inches of snow during December, making a new record.


Storm rains bushels of fish on Texarkana

At least four locations in town reported a free-fall of fish either during or in the aftermath of two storms that blew through here Wednesday afternoon.

Among the places that pelted by fish were Discount Wheel & Tire and Tiger Stadium, both on Summerhill Road on the Texas side of town.

Arkansas-side resident Melissa Curry was the first to call the Gazette to report the strange occurrence. She and her husband were leaving their home Wednesday afternoon when they discovered as many as two dozen small fish scattered around the back yard and side yard of their Victorian home.

"There were every bit of 20 fish out here.," Curry said. "we were flabbergasted. "

Tim Brigham, manager of Discount Wheel and Tire at 3223 Summerhill Road, said he saw some fish falling during a thunderstorm that popped up Wednesday afternoon.


Chemistry professor mauled to death by rampaging pack of stray dogs in the Siberian city of Yakutsk, Russia

Her body was found mauled in the Siberian city of Yakutsk
© CrimYakutia / East2west News
Her body was found mauled in the Siberian city of Yakutsk
A chemistry professor has been mauled to death in a horrific attack by a rampaging pack of stray dogs.

A shocking picture shows the mauled body of Dr Sardana Sleptsova, 53, lying on the snow in the Russian city of Yakutsk, while video footage shows how she was overcome by the hungry mongrels.

The dreadful attack took place near the city's horse racing stadium and Arctic State Agro-Technological University in extreme weather conditions that reached as low as -48C.

The chemistry professor - a polymer nanocomposites expert at the North-Eastern Federal University - had been lying dead in the snow for several hours when her body was found by a student named Semyon Alexeev.

According to reports, he was also attacked by the same pack of violent strays, in what is not the first attack on pedestrians in the area.


Family dogs fatally attack woman in Valinda, California

dog attack
A woman trying to get into a backyard window of her East Valinda home was fatally attacked by the family's four dogs, authorities said on Wednesday, Dec. 29, with her 6-year-old son suffering minor injuries.

The woman, who lived at the home with a sister-in-law, forgot her key and no one was at the residence in the 18000 block of Elizondo Street, sheriff's Lt. David Petrocelli said.

"The dogs were familiar with the child, but not with the mother," Petrocelli said.

It was unclear why the dogs would not recognize her. The lieutenant didn't know the dogs' breeds.


12km high ash cloud from Tongan volcanic eruption continues to spread

This picture taken on December 21, 2021 shows white gaseous clouds rising from the Hunga Ha'apai eruption seen from the Patangata coastline near Tongan capital Nuku'alofa.
© Mary Lyn Fonua
This picture taken on December 21, 2021 shows white gaseous clouds rising from the Hunga Ha'apai eruption seen from the Patangata coastline near Tongan capital Nuku'alofa.
The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano continues to erupt intermittently, and ash has been detected in all directions up to 30km away.

The head of Tonga Geological Services, Taaniela Kula, said that the ash cloud had risen to heights of 12km and the direction of ash had varied with the wind conditions.

"On Tuesday, ash was drifting east but shifted directions last night to north east and has continued to drift in a northerly direction today," he said.

Overall, the amount of ash, steam and gas being spewed from the volcano has reduced, in comparison to last week, Kula said.

He noted that the volcano was about 60km away from uninhabited areas, and that no earthquakes had been detected on their seismometers.


UK zoo helps lost Mexican fish live to see another Tequila sunrise

tequila fish
© Chester zoo/PA
‘A rare success story’: tequila fish are thriving after their reintroduction in Mexico.
Declared extinct in the wild in 2003, species has been reintroduced to its native river after being bred in Chester.

A "charismatic little fish" declared extinct in the wild has been reintroduced to its native Mexico after being bred in an aquarium at Chester zoo.

The tequila fish (Zoogoneticus tequila), which grows to no bigger than 70mm long, disappeared from the wild in 2003 owing to the introduction of invasive, exotic fish species and water pollution.


Indonesia: Islands rocked by massive 7.3 magnitude earthquake - locals on high alert

The extremely strong quake hit Kepulauan Barat Daya, some 113km northeast of Lospalos, Municipio de Lautem, Timor-Leste. It struck at 3.25am local time at an immediate and considerable depth of 200km, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC). That has since been downgraded slightly to a depth of 167km by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

A tsunami warning has not been issued for the surrounding islands.

The impact of the earthquake was felt as far as 600km away in Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory.

Around 1,700 of its residents have reported feeling tremors early on Thursday, according to Geoscience.

The Volcano Discovery website said, based on preliminary seismic data, the earthquake was likely felt by "many" people in the area of the epicentre.