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Wed, 08 Feb 2023
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Earth Changes

Snowflake Cold

Snow and winter storms cut power, disrupt traffic across the Balkans

Gale-force winds and snowstorms closed roads and left more than 25,000 households in Serbia without power on Sunday, while fallen trees disrupted traffic in neighboring Croatia and Montenegro.

In Croatia, a red alert was issued for the regions along the Adriatic coast due to north winds estimated to reach 130 kilometers per hour.

Authorities in Montenegro's coastal town of Budva warned citizens to stay indoors after strong winds on Saturday destroyed a school roof, brought down trees and lamp posts, sank a tourist boat and disrupted traffic along the coast.

Cloud Precipitation

Fiji - Evacuations after floods in Northern Division

Floods in Seaqaqa, Fiji, February 2023.
© Fiji Roads Authority
Floods in Seaqaqa, Fiji, February 2023.
The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in Fiji reported flooding in areas of the country's Northern Division after heavy rain from 03 February 2023.

Roads were swamped and streets and buildings were inundated in Savusavu and Labasa on 03 February 2023. Evacuation centres were opened and as of 04 February, were accommodating 350 people from 116 households, according to NDMO. Fiji Roads Authority said several roads were flooded and impassable.

Fijian Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) reported one person died after trying to cross a flooded river at the Nayalayala settlement in Taveuni.

Other areas of the country have also seen heavy rainfall in recent days. According to figures from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 24 hours to 03 February, 74 mm of rain fell on the island of Rotuma and 76 mm fell on Lakeba Island. The village of Yasawa-i-Rara recorded 81 mm of rain during the same period. Nausori recorded 69 mm of rain in 24 hours to 05 February.

Bizarro Earth

Devastating 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Southern Turkey - Numerous Aftershocks, Including a 6.7M - Thousands Killed in Turkey and Syria

Comment: Around 6,000 buildings - many of them residential - have collapsed, burying tens or even hundreds of thousands of people under the rubble. The combined death toll for Turkey and Syria - as of 21:30 CET on 6 Feb 2023 - is 2,700...

Update 7 February 2023

As of Tuesday evening local time, the govts of Türkiye and Syria have updated the number of casualties to a combined 6,246 dead and 33,226 injured - of which 812 fatalities and 1,449 injuries occurred in northern Syria.

Update 8 February 2023

As of Wednesday morning, media reports suggest that the combined death toll is poised to surpass 10,000...

earthquake turkey
© Rami Al Sayed/Agence France-Presse/Getty
A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Türkiye early Monday morning, followed by several powerful aftershocks that were felt all across the region. The jolts caused widespread destruction, knocking down multiple residential buildings, according to disturbing footage captured by survivors.

The most powerful jolt, measured at 7.8 by USGS and 7.4 by Turkish disaster management agency, happened around 4:17 am local time, and was centered some 33 kilometers northeast from Gaziantep, a major provincial capital with a population of over 2 million people.

There was no immediate estimate of total casualties, but according to Turkish media reports dozens are feared killed, as multiple buildings were damaged or completely destroyed in the province of Gaziantep and across the neighboring Diyarbakir, Osmaniye and Malatya, with their residents trapped under the rubble.

Comment: In addition, about 9 hours later: Turkey hit by second major earthquake of magnitude 7.5

From Earthquake Track:

5.6 magnitude, 17 km depth
Musabeyli, Kilis, Turkey

6.7 magnitude, 14 km depth
Kahramanmaraş, Kahramanmaraş, Turkey

5.6 magnitude, 10 km depth
Nurdağı, Gaziantep, Turkey

5.1 magnitude, 10 km depth
Hasanbeyli, Osmaniye, Turkey

4.8 magnitude, 10 km depth
Pazarcık, Kahramanmaraş, Turkey

4.8 magnitude, 10 km depth
Nurdağı, Gaziantep, Turkey

5.2 magnitude, 11 km depth
Nurdağı, Gaziantep, Turkey

4.6 magnitude, 10 km depth
Denizciler, Hatay, Turkey

4.5 magnitude, 12 km depth
Pazarcık, Kahramanmaraş, Turkey
This is looking like it'll be Turkey's worst earthquake since 1939, when around 35,000 people were killed.

With an estimated 3,500 buildings destroyed in cities across southern Turkey and northern Syria today - many of which were residential buildings in which people were sleeping - the death toll will probably go much higher.

While Turkey was arguably due another 'big one', what's odd about today's quakes is that they occurred on a much less active fault-line (the East Anatolian Fault, in the country's south). Turkey's 'big ones' usually occur in the northern, western and eastern sectors of the country.

turkey earthquakes map
© Wikipedia: 'List of earthquakes in Turkey'
Map of earthquakes in Turkey 1900–2020
Maybe something, maybe nothing... RT reports that when Putin called Erdogan earlier today to offer condolences and Russian S&R assistance, the two agreed to speak again later in the day. Given the geopolitical sensitivity of the very region that was struck today, further talks are no doubt needed.

Some of the footage from the region is jaw-dropping. Our thoughts and prayers go to the millions of people affected.


Authorities on alert as heavy snowfall continues in Greece

The cold weather front 'Barbara' hit Greece with snowfall that started late on Saturday continued on Sunday as far south as Central Evia, cancellations of boat schedules, and snow chains on tires required in Attica and sections of the Peloponnese.

Meanwhile, the Civil Protection, Fire Brigade, police, regional, and city authorities are meeting again since 11:00 on Sunday morning.

In Attica, traffic police has said drivers moving in the entire road network of the Attica prefecture must carry snow chains or other non-slip equipment. It also banned heavy trucks of over 3.5 tons from several highways. Authorities have also banned such trucks from sections of the Athens-Thessaloniki national road as well.

Arrow Down

Austria and Switzerland: 10 dead in avalanches in Alps over weekend (UPDATE)

Austrian authorities logged at least 17 avalanches in the popular skiing destination of Tyrol over the past 24 hours. The dangerous conditions there and in Switzerland have already claimed five lives.

At least five people were killed in avalanches in the Austrian and Swiss Alps, authorities said on Saturday.

Three of the dead were killed while visiting the Austrian Alps.

Officials in the Austrian state of Tyrol have urgently cautioned tourists, skiers and other winter sports athletes to avoid the slopes amid a very high avalanche risk.

Comment: Update February 5

BBC reports:
Weekend avalanches kill 10 in Austria and Switzerland

Ten people have been killed in several avalanches across the Austrian and Swiss Alps over the weekend.

Tourists from New Zealand, China and Germany were among the dead at a number of different ski resorts.

Austrian authorities put in place a level four avalanche alert - the second highest - following intense snowfall and wind in the area.

Despite the warnings, ski resorts in western Austria have been filling up due to school holidays in Vienna.

Austrian police announced five deaths on Sunday, including that of a 59-year-old man who was using a snow plough in the western region of Tyrol.

They also recovered the bodies of a ski guide in Sankt Anton am Arlberg and a 62-year-old man who was cross-country skiing around the summit of Hohe Aifner.

On Saturday, a 17-year-old New Zealander, a 32-year-old Chinese national and a German man in his 50s - who were all said to be skiing off designated ski trails when avalanches hit - were also found dead.

In Switzerland, a 56-year-old woman and 52-year-old man were also killed by unstable snow in the south-east canton of Graubuenden on Saturday morning. Swiss police said a third member of their group managed to escape unharmed.

Avalanches are common in both countries. According to Austria's APA news agency, 30 avalanches were reported in the Tyrol region on Saturday alone - 11 of these involving people.

Austria's level four alert level means "very large avalanches are likely" - it advises inexperienced skiers to remain on open ski runs and trails and for experienced skiers to stay away from very steep terrain.


Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Spain has hailstorm, torrential rains and even tornado all in one day

Lanzarote is the most affected island today (Saturday) by the dana that is located to the north of the archipelago, and that is moving in an easterly direction causing strong rains and storms and leaving images rarely seen on the island.

However, the low temperatures have also left a curious and unusual mark on the landscape, a white blanket caused by an intense hailstorm in the area of La Geria and even in the Timanfaya National Park.

Snowflake Cold

Arctic blast sweeps through US north-east with record-breaking temperatures

Steam rises from Boston Harbor as
© Joseph Prezioso
Steam rises from Boston Harbor as temperatures reach -7F (-14C) in Massachusetts, on 4 February.
An Arctic blast has swept through numerous parts of the north-east, leaving millions of people under wind chill warnings and cities and states issuing emergency warnings.

Record-breaking temperatures will be 10 to 30 degrees below average over parts of the north-east and into the coastal mid-Atlantic, the National Weather Service announced on Saturday, with wind gusts potentially reaching up to 40 to 55mph (64 to 88km/h).

The wind chills from the blast have the potential to be once-in-a-generation cold, the agency added.

The cold, which is expected to last throughout the weekend, has prompted officials across multiple states to issue emergency orders and warnings that urge residents to remain indoors.


Schoolgirl mauled to death by shark in Perth, Western Australia

The 16-year-old girl is understood to have been attacked by a bull shark (stock image)

The 16-year-old girl is understood to have been attacked by a bull shark (stock image)
A girl, 16, who was mauled to death by a shark in front of her friends has been identified as Stella Berry.

The teenager, who was a student at Shenton College in Perth, was relaxing by a rope swing with her friends in the Swan River in North Fremantle, Western Australia, at about 3.30pm on Saturday when she saw a pod of dolphins.

She jumped into the water, but a shark latched on to her leg.

Heroic onlookers, including some people on jet skis, called emergency services and tried to save her life.

However, the schoolgirl had severe leg injuries and died on the scene.


Chile widens state of emergency as raging wildfires leave at least 13 dead

A firefighter works as a wildfire burns parts of
© Juan González/Reuters
A firefighter works as a wildfire burns parts of rural areas in Quillón, Chile, on Thursday.
Chile's government has declared a widened state of emergency amid wildfires that have killed at least 13 people and consumed about 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres), as the South American country endures a summer heatwave across southern and central swaths of the country.

The interior minister, Carolina Toha, said on Friday morning the government had declared a catastrophe in the region of Biobío, joining its neighbouring region Ñuble, which President Gabriel Boric announced on Thursday evening, allowing the deployment of soldiers and additional resources.

Eleven people, including a firefighter, had died in the Biobío town of Santa Juana, local authorities said.

The agriculture minister, Esteban Valenzuela, also reported an emergency-support helicopter in the southern region of La Araucanía had crashed, killing the pilot and a mechanic.


Indonesia - Floods in south Sulawesi leave 2 dead, hundreds of homes damaged

Flood rescue in Parepare, South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia, February 2023.
© BPBD Kota Parepare
Flood rescue in Parepare, South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia, February 2023.
More heavy rain has caused havoc on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Disaster authorities report at least 2 people have lost their lives, one person is missing and thousands have been affected after floods in South Sulawesi Province. Flooding has also affected areas of Borneo Island in recent days.

Sulawesi Island

Hours of heavy rain late on 01 February 2023 triggered flooding in the city of Parepare. Flooding affected the districts of Ujung, Bacukiki, West Bacukiki and Soreng. Disaster authorities in the city reported the overflow of the Jawi-Jawi river in the Tegal area of the city in Ujung District. Flood waters in areas close to the river were around 1 metre deep.