Earth ChangesS

Arrow Down

Snowboarder killed in avalanche at Mount St. Helens, Washington

Mount St. Helens is seen from the Hummocks Trail, on May 18, 2020
© Ted S. WarrenMount St. Helens is seen from the Hummocks Trail, on May 18, 2020
A snowboarder was killed Saturday in an avalanche at the summit of Mount St. Helens, the Northwest Avalanche Center said in a preliminary report.

Standing near the mountain peak, the snowboarder triggered the avalanche on a cornice — an overhang of snow that can form on steep alpine slopes — and fell to his death.

"Our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and community," the avalanche center wrote in a post on its website.

Large cornices are more likely to fail during warmer weather, the agency said. According to the website, moderate avalanche danger was forecast this weekend in mountains throughout Washington.

The avalanche center will work with the Skamania County Sheriff's Office and search and rescue to compile a full report.

Bizarro Earth

The extraordinary climate events of 2022-24

Hunga Volcano
© judithcurry.comFigure 1. The Hunga Tonga eruption from space.
The unlikely volcano, the warmest year, and the collapse of the polar vortex.

The climate events of 2022-24 have been were truly extraordinary. From an unlikely undersea volcanic eruption to the warmest year on record to the collapse of the polar vortex after three sudden stratospheric warming events. This rare convergence presents a unique learning opportunity for climatologists and climate aficionados alike, offering insights into a climate event that may not be repeated for hundreds or even thousands of years.

1. January 2022, the unlikely volcano

Never before have we witnessed an undersea volcanic eruption with a plume capable of reaching the stratosphere and depositing a large amount of vaporized water. This extraordinary event occurred in January 2022 when the Hunga Tonga volcano erupted. The conditions for such an event are rare: the volcano must be deep enough to propel enough water with the plume, but not too deep to prevent it from reaching the stratosphere. Most undersea volcanoes do not produce plumes at all, which makes Hunga Tonga's eruption all the more remarkable.

The Hunga Tonga volcano occupied a unique "sweet spot" at a depth of 150 meters the day before the eruption. In addition, the eruption itself must be exceptionally powerful for water vapor to rise into the stratosphere. The January 2022 eruption of Hunga Tonga was the most powerful in 30 years, since the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.

Active undersea volcanoes at the appropriate depth are rare, and the likelihood of one erupting with such intensity is relatively low. We may be looking at an event that occurs once every few centuries, or maybe even once every millennium. Undoubtedly, it was an exceptionally rare event.

While the most powerful eruptions, such as Tambora in 1815, can indeed strongly influence hemispheric weather for a few years, our observations of eruptions such as Agung (1963), El Chichón (1982), and Pinatubo (1991) suggest that their effects dissipate within 3-4 years.


Wildfires in Venezuela as blazes reach National Parks

Firefighters work to contain a forest fire in the town of Naguanagua, near the city of Valencia, amid several wildfires spreading across Venezuela.

The blazes have spread, reaching vast areas of national parks such as Henri Pittier, in Aragua state.

Arrow Down

Hiker films 20-metre deep sinkhole in field in Lingenfeld, Germany on March 24

A man witnessed a giant sinkhole appear in the middle of a field, while he was on a hike.

In a short video clip, the walker edges towards the mysterious hole and appears to be shocked by the depth - an estimated 20m.

The sinkhole arose from the collapse of the soil in an area with underground rivers, in Lingenfeld, Germany.

Cloud Lightning

Florida coast hit by 4,000 lightning strikes in 15 minutes—'Absolutely Nuts'

Nearly 4,000 lightning bolts struck off the southwest Florida coast in just 15 minutes on Wednesday.

A total of 3,946 lightning strikes were recorded in the Gulf of Mexico west of the cities of Naples and Fort Myers, according to WINK in Fort Myers.

"WOW! Mother Nature going absolutely nuts off the Southwest Florida coast right now," Matt Devitt, the chief meteorologist at the station, wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "4,000 lightning strikes with this storm in just 15 minutes. Check out the lightning density and tight clustering of strikes in the bottom image."


Emergency response initiated as sawfish deaths rise to 28 in Florida Keys

An emergency effort is kicking off next week to help save endangered smalltooth sawfish, as their reported deaths has risen to 28.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that it will begin a program to rescue and rehabilitate distressed sawfish to prevent further loss of the species.

In a press release announcing the effort, NOAA explained that it would be the first of its kind.

"If the opportunity presents itself, this would be the first attempt ever to rescue and rehabilitate smalltooth sawfish from the wild," said Adam Brame, NOAA Fisheries' sawfish recovery coordinator.

In addition to the 28 mortalities, at least 109 sawfish have been reported acting abnormally.

Comment: Earlier report from 3 weeks prior: Bizarre fish behavior baffles experts in Lower Florida Keys


High avalanche danger in southern Alps following over 2 feet snowfalls in 24 hours

Vars has received 60cm (2 feet) of snowfall in 24 hours.
Vars has received 60cm (2 feet) of snowfall in 24 hours.
The avalanche danger has jumped from level 2 ('moderate') to a 'high' level 4 on the scale to 5 at ski areas across the region after several reported over two-feet (60 cm) of snowfall in about 24 hours on Tuesday-Wednesday this week.

Isola 2000, Serre Chevalier and Risoul-Vars in the southern French Alps were among the areas posting 60cm (24") accumulations on their higher slopes, with Les 2 Alpes also noting that the avalanche danger there had jumped to level 4.

Cloud Precipitation

Flooding in Lisbon causes chaos

Lisbon is being seriously affected by the bad weather today with streets flooding.

On social media, people are already sharing images of the chaos in the Portuguese capital. A video, captured on Rua das Pretas, in the parish of Santa Maria Maior, shows a river in the middle of the city. "A shame", reads the publication's caption.

The heavy rain has caused floods and flooding in other parts of the city, causing some traffic restrictions.

Cloud Precipitation

At least 18 dead as Cyclone Gamane strikes Madagascar - more than 20,000 displaced (UPDATE)

Cyclone Gamane
Cyclone Gamane
At least 11 people have died after Cyclone Gamane struck the African island nation of Madagascar.

About 7000 people were affected by the devastation caused by the cyclone, which reached the north of the island on Wednesday, the National Authority for Civil Protection said on Thursday.

The cyclone moved across the island with an average wind speed of 150km/h and heavy rainfall.

In some places, winds of 210km/h were measured.

Comment: Update March 29

Reuters reports:
A tropical cyclone that swept across the island of Madagascar this week killed at least 18 people and displaced thousands more, the country's disaster management office said on Friday.

Tropical cyclone Gamane, which crossed the northeast of Madagascar on Wednesday and Thursday, displaced more than 20,000 people, the National Bureau of Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC) said in a report.

Three others were injured and four were still missing, it added.


Waterspouts spotted off the Oregon coast

At least two waterspouts were spotted Wednesday evening off the Curry County coast. One waterspout was near Brookings and the other was near Gold Beach.