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Wed, 11 Dec 2019
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Bomb

Animals can predict natural disaster

On THE morning of December 26, 2004, villagers from Bang Koey in Thailand noticed something strange. Buffalo grazing on the beach lifted their heads, pricked their ears and looked out to sea, then stampeded to the top of a nearby hill. For the baffled villagers who chose to follow them, it was a live-saving move. Minutes later, the tsunami struck.

Since then, there have been hundreds of reports of animals seemingly foretelling catastrophe - not just minutes, but sometimes hours and even days before it occurred. These include tales of bizarre behaviour by wild beasts including elephants, antelopes, bats, rats and flamingos, plus stories of dogs refusing to go for their usual morning walk.

Could these creatures have sensed the massive earthquake that triggered the 2004 tsunami? It is an outlandish assertion, given that seismologists have so far failed to come up with any sign that a quake is imminent. Yet, for the same reason, the possibility animals might hold the answer cannot be ignored. After all, an advance warning system could save thousands or even millions of human lives.

Attention

Warm winter sets records, brings anomalies for Tohoku region (Japan)

The unseasonably warm weather this winter has set records in the Tohoku region, hurting business at ski resorts but helping other industries.

The warmth has also led to bigger hauls of fish, especially anchovies, with the December catch of the species 45 times larger than usual.

In Iwate Prefecture, 21 of the 34 meteorological observation posts--including those in Morioka, Ofunato and Miyako--did not record a single day below 0 C between December and the end of February. In Morioka, temperatures stayed above freezing through the end of February for the first time since records were first kept there in 1924. In Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, it was the first time that temperatures had stayed so high since the city began keeping records in 1937.

In Maebashi, meanwhile, it was the first time since records began being kept there in 1897 that snow did not accumulate.

Cloud Lightning

US clean-up after lethal storms Leave 20 dead

A major clean-up operation is under way in several states in America's south and mid-west after tornadoes and storms left at least 20 dead.

Hardest hit was Alabama, where at least eight people died when a tornado struck a high school building on Thursday. Nine more people died in Georgia.

US President George W Bush is due to visit some affected areas on Saturday.

The tornadoes were part of a major storm system that stretched across a swathe of the United States.

Better Earth

Huge 'Ocean' Discovered Inside Earth

Scientists probing the Earth's interior have found a large reservoir of water equal to the volume of the Arctic Ocean beneath eastern Asia.

©Eric Chou
A slice through the Earth, taken from the figure on the right, showing the attenuation anomalies within the mantle at a depth of roughly 620 miles. In both images, red shows unusually soft and weak rock believed to be saturated with water, and the blue shows unusually stiff rock (yellow and white show near-average values).

Better Earth

UN chief says climate change as great a threat as war

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that global warming posed the same threat to humanity as war and warned of an "unconscionable legacy" being left for future generations.

In a speech to a UN International School Conference, Ban acknowledged that the "majority" of the UN's work still focuses on the prevention and resolution of conflict.

"But the danger posed by war to all of humanity -- and to our planet -- is at least matched by the climate crisis and global warming," he said.

Cloud Lightning

Canberra struck by 'supercell'

Canberra was last night bracing for a second major storm as it cleaned up from Tuesday night's damaging "supercell" storm, which dropped up to 1m of hail and caused chaos in the centre of the capital.

Hailstones as large as golf balls and winds over 50kmh lashed the city for less than 30 minutes on Tuesday night but left trees defoliated and turned nature strips into mud baths.

Cloud Lightning

At least 9 killed as tornadoes rake Alabama

A tornado struck an Alabama high school, Thursday killing at least eight people, believed to be students and teachers, a state official said. The storm that struck Enterprise was one of several tornadoes that ripped a swath of destruction across at least three states, including Kansas and Missouri.

Cloud Lightning

Storm! Dozens of Twisters threaten to disrupt rush hour for millions in SouthEast

WEST PLAINS, Missouri -- Storms that dumped heavy rains and tornadoes across the heartland Thursday, killing at least one person, made their afternoon trek through the Southeast and were expected to strike the region's largest metro area at rush hour, officials said.

In much of Georgia, the weather service issued a "particularly dangerous situation" watch until 9 p.m. ET as meteorologists were expecting a band of harsh storms to slam into Atlanta during its usually messy rush hour.

Bizarro Earth

Misleading: Tokyo had 1st winter without snow on record

Tokyo experienced the first winter without snowfall on record since 1876, the Japan Meteorological Agency said Thursday.

The agency's observatory point in Otemachi, central Tokyo, did not record any snowfall from December to February, the period defined as winter in Japan.

Better Earth

Rainier, third most dangerous U.S. volcano, USGS says

Mount Rainier looks constant and unchanging, an impassive landmark on the horizon. But the mountain hasn't always been so quiet.

About the time Christopher Columbus was arriving in America, a torrent of mud rolled down Rainier's western flank, burying the spot where Orting stands today. Five hundred years before that, an eruption sent a mud flow down the White River Valley to what is now Auburn.