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Mon, 30 Jan 2023
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Snowflake Cold

166 people killed as cold wave sweeps Afghanistan, temperatures drop to -33 degrees Celsius (UPDATE)

afghanistan cold weather
© Omer Abrar/AFP
Children carry containers to fetch drinking water along a road during a cold winter day in the Yaftali Sufla district of Badakhshan province in Afghanistan on January 18, 2023
At least 70 people and tens of thousands of cattle have died due to freezing temperatures across Afghanistan, the country's Ministry of Disaster Management confirmed with Al Jazeera as Afghans reel from a spell of cold weather amid a humanitarian crisis.

The ministry said on Wednesday that 70 people and 70,000 cattle have died in the past week.

For the last two weeks, many provinces in Afghanistan have been witnessing exceptionally cold weather, with the central region of Ghor recording the lowest reading of -33C (-27F) over the weekend.

Comment: Update January 29

AFP reports:
Afghanistan's cold snap death toll rises to 166

One hundred and sixty-six people have died in a wave of bitterly cold weather sweeping Afghanistan, an official said on Saturday, as extreme conditions heaped misery on the poverty-stricken nation.

Afghanistan has been frozen by temperatures as low as -33 degrees Celsius since Jan 10, combined with widespread snowfall, icy gales and regular electricity outages.

Aid agencies had warned before the cold snap that more than half of Afghanistan's 38 million people were facing hunger, while nearly four million children were suffering from malnutrition.

The disaster management ministry said on Saturday the death toll had risen by 88 over the past week and now stood at 166, based on data from 24 of the nation's 34 provinces.

The deaths were caused by floods, fires and leaks from gas heaters that Afghan families use to heat their homes, ministry official Abdul Rahman Zahid said in a video statement. Some 100 homes were destroyed or damaged and nearly 80,000 livestock, a vital commodity for Afghanistan's poor, also died in the cold.


2 separate pit bull attacks in Wilcox County, Georgia leave 1 dead

One woman is dead and another person was injured following two separate pitbull attacks this month.

That's according to a Wilcox County Sheriff's Office Facebook post Friday, which said the first attack happened on January 17 in Pineview. A female was injured after being attacked by two dogs. Both dogs were quarantined for 10 days, per state law, to ensure rabies was not a factor in the attack, and both dogs were humanely euthanized after that period following the owner's signing over of custody.

The second attack, which happened on January 24 outside of Pitts, resulted in an unidentified woman's death.


7 killed, over 400 injured as shallow 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocks northwest Iran

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter Scale struck northwest Iran, killing at least seven and injuring 440 people so far. As per the official news agency IRNA, the earthquake occurred in Khoy city near the Iran-Turkey border on Saturday at 9:44 PM (local time).

The tremors were reportedly quite strong and were felt in many areas of the West Azerbaijan province of Iran. It was also felt in several cities, including Tabriz, the provincial capital of neighbouring East Azerbaijan.

Cloud Precipitation

Flash flood in Maui, Hawaii after rainfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour

Heavy showers have triggered a flash flood warning for Maui County.

The warning has been extended until 1 a.m. Saturday.

Emergency management officials said South Kihei Road has been closed from North Kihei Road to Waipulani Road until Saturday. Piilani Highway was also closed near Nuu. Several stream gauges along the windward side of Haleakala also indicated rapid rises in water levels.

Radar showed the heaviest showers — with rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour — in the Hana area and slopes of Haleakala.


The new year begins with a high number of manatee deaths (56) across Florida

A manatee comes up for air in Three Sister Springs in Crystal River, Fla. on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.
© Lauren Whiddon / Fresh Take Florida
A manatee comes up for air in Three Sister Springs in Crystal River, Fla. on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.
Lluvia and her calf, Morado, glide to the bottom of their habitat to munch on romaine lettuce; This is the first of the eight hours they spend eating each day.

They are the lucky ones, survivors of what wildlife experts fear could be another year of unusually high deaths among Florida's beloved manatees.

As late as Wednesday, state officials were reporting at least 56 manatee deaths in 2023 — compared to 39 in the same period last year, the second deadliest year on record. This year's dead include three from boat encounters, ten related to childbirth and eight from Florida's recent severe cold snap. Officials said they have yet to determine the cause of 29 of this year's deaths.

Comment: Related: Hundreds of manatees flood Florida state park as rivers remain cold


Diver killed in brutal shark attack after predator 'rips head and shoulders off' in Mexico

Manuel Lopez was diving in Tobari Bay, Mexico, when the great white attacked
© Getty Images/EyeEm
Manuel Lopez was diving in Tobari Bay, Mexico, when the great white attacked
A diver has been killed in brutal shark attack after a predator 'ripped his head and shoulders off'.

The grisly attack was the first fatal shark incident of this year and occurred on January 5 in Bahia de Tobari, Mexico.

Manuel Lopez was diving in the area, also known as Tobari Bay, when the great white measuring six metres, attacked him.

He reportedly had no air tank and was using air from above the water as he went scallop diving.


Mysterious white spots are appearing in the ocean and nobody knows why

White Spots
Scientists have spotted a mysterious uptick in the appearance of unexplained patches of white water in the shallow waters off the coast of the Bahamas, reports a new study based on satellite observations.

For almost a century, people have observed these so-called "whiting" events, which typically cover an area equivalent to a few hundred football fields, but nobody knows the exact cause of this phenomenon. Samples show that the discoloration is caused by fine-grained calcium carbonate that floats over the Bahama Banks, which are carbonate structures that surround the archipelago, but it's not clear why the grain clouds sporadically appear in the ocean.

To shed light on this enigma, researchers from the University of South Florida compiled the longest and most detailed space-down view of the Bahama Bank whiting events using observations captured by NASA's Aqua satellite between 2003 and 2020.

The team also trained a machine learning tool to analyze the images, an approach that revealed a "mysterious increase" in whiting events over the past decade, which peaked in 2015, as well as seasonal patterns in these discolorations, according to a recent study in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment.

Cloud Precipitation

More than 4,000 displaced by floods in Johor and Pahang, Malaysia - 17 inches of rain in 24 hours (UPDATE)

The number of flood victims in Johor is expected to continue to rise due to the ongoing heavy rain.
The number of flood victims in Johor is expected to continue to rise due to the ongoing heavy rain.
The number of flood victims seeking shelter in relief centres in Johor state rose to 1,093 in the late afternoon on Tuesday, as several districts were inundated with rising river waters amid the heavy rain. Johor's State Disaster Management Committee had earlier said some 422 victims were forced to move to relief centres.

Most of the victims were from the northern district of Segamat, with 975 people from 273 families placed at eight relief centres, officials said.

Other districts hit by the flood were in Kluang in central Johor and Kota Tinggi in the east of the Malaysian state. Many of the victims were villagers who live close to rivers that have overflowed their banks after days of non-stop rains.

Comment: Update January 26

Floodlist reports:
Malaysia - Floods in Johor and Pahang After 430mm of Rain in 24 Hours

Over 4,000 people have been displaced by flooding in the states of Johor and Pahang in Malaysia. Flooding has also affected parts of Sabah State on the island of Borneo.

Flood rescue in Johor, Malaysia, 24 January 2023.
© Korporat JBPM
Flood rescue in Johor, Malaysia, 24 January 2023.
Johor and Pahang States

Flooding began on 24 January 2023 where initially 400 people were evacuated from homes in areas of Kluang, Kota Tinggi and Segamat districts.

According to figures from Malaysia's Department of Irrigation and Drainage, as much as 344 mm of rain fell in 24 hours to 24 January in Segamat and 432 mm during the same period in Mersing. Rivers are above the danger mark in at least 5 locations.

Johor State firefighters rescued 3 people from a vehicle trapped in flood waters in Labis, Johor on 24 January.

As of 25 January, the National Disaster Management Agency reported a total of 4,382 people now displaced by flooding in Batu Pahat, Kluang, Kota Tinggi, Mersing, Muar and Segamat. Military teams were deployed to aid flood victims in Segamat.

In the neighbouring state of Pahang, around 7 people were displaced after floods in Rompin district. The Department of Irrigation and Drainage reported the Keratoan river was above the danger mark near Bahau Keratong in Rompin district. As of 25 January, the river stood at 23.36 metres where the danger level is 23 metres. The river is forecast to rise further over the coming days.

Sabah State

Meanwhile, flooding has also affected Sabah state in East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. The National Disaster Management Agency said a total of 607 people have been displaced, as of 25 January, from homes in the districts of Kudat and Pitas. As much as 225 mm of rain fell in a few hours in Beluran on 25 January.

Local disaster agencies also reported floods and evacuations in Kota Marudu District in Kudat Division.


Rare outbreak of polar stratospheric clouds photographed in Iceland, NASA confirms sightings occurred alongside sudden temperature drop

polar stratospheric clouds
© Taken by Richard Jenkinson on January 24, 2023 @ Nellim North Finland.
These were taken by a friend using an Iphone 12. His name is Francois Guilhaume-Bohl. He took these photos this morning in Nellim Finland whilst out walking. I have submitted these photos with his permission on his behalf. This show continued for a long time this morning. I said as it was such an outstanding show he should submit these to Spaceweather, and he asked me to so.
Arctic skies are filling with color today--but it's not the aurora borealis. A rare outbreak of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) is underway. Jónína Óskarsdóttir photographed the display from Fáskrúðsfjörður, Iceland:
polar stratospheric clouds

There have been beautiful nacreous clouds for couple of days. This photo was taken in Fáskrúðsfjörður, Iceland today. Mt. Jökultindur in front and the sky behind covered in colourful nacreous clouds.
"We have been seeing these clouds for a couple of days," reports Óskarsdóttir. "In this picture, Mt. Jökultindur is silhouetted by a sky-full of nacreous color."

Comment: See also:


Algeria witnesses rare snowfall

Algerians slide with a sledge at a ski center after snowfall in highlands of Cheria town in Tebessa Province, Algeria on Janaury 23, 2023.
© Anadolu Agency
Algerians slide with a sledge at a ski center after snowfall in highlands of Cheria town in Tebessa Province, Algeria on Janaury 23, 2023.
Algeria witnessed rare snowfall on Tuesday in a number of desert areas in the south-west of the country. Images published by the Bechar province authorities on Facebook showed "Beni Ounif in white" as sand dunes acquired a blanket of snow.

This was the first heavy snowfall in the area since 2012. Happy local residents have been sharing their own photos and video clips on social media.

The state-run Meteorological Office issued alerts on Monday morning of snowfall in Bechar in areas between 800 and 1,000 metres above sea level. Snow is expected to continue to fall on Thursday evening in other desert provinces, including Ghardaia, which is 700 km south of Algiers.