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Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 4.5 Earthquake - Greater Los Angeles Area, California

Image

Friday, January 09, 2009 at 03:49:46 UTC

Thursday, January 08, 2009 at 07:49:46 PM at epicenter

Location 34.107°N, 117.304°W

Depth 14.1 km (8.8 miles)

Region Greater Los Angeles Area California

Distances 3 km (2 miles) SSW (202°) from San Bernardino, CA

5 km (3 miles) NNE (19°) from Colton, CA

7 km (4 miles) E (94°) from Rialto, CA

87 km (54 miles) E (86°) from Los Angeles Civic Center, CA

Alarm Clock

Fatal Avalanches Rattle Ski Country in the West

Jackson, Wyoming - Whistler Blackcomb resort in British Columbia has stationed guards at the top of some areas to prevent skiers and snowboarders from entering hazardous terrain. Grouse Mountain resort, in North Vancouver, has suggested that government action may be needed to deter skiers and snowboarders from using off-limit areas. And Jackson Hole in Wyoming has already burned through nearly half of this year's budget for avalanche hazard reduction work, one month into the season.

Resorts throughout the western United States and Canada are struggling with avalanche hazards as weather patterns have created uncommonly widespread conditions of instability, wreaking havoc on mountains crowded with skiers of all levels at the start of ski season. Last week, avalanches at Whistler Blackcomb killed a snowboarder and a skier on terrain outside the resort's boundaries. On Wednesday morning, a controlled slide ran past Jackson Hole's $10 million Bridger Restaurant - already damaged by a recent avalanche - while the mountain was closed to the public.

"It's a war zone," said Lanny Johnson, a wilderness medical advisor and former patroller at Lake Tahoe's Alpine Meadows ski resort. He added that this avalanche cycle had "the best in the field scratching their heads."

Igloo

Europe's cold snap claims 13 more lives

Europe's cold snap claimed up to 13 more lives as the region battled another day of icy weather and eastern Europe felt the effects of Russian gas cuts.

Poland's interior ministry said on Thursday that six more people had died in the country, taking its death toll from hypothermia to 82 since November, 23 of them in recent days.

Five people, including three homeless, also died in Ukraine's southern Kherson region where temperatures plummeted to minus 19 degrees Celsius, according to the ministry of emergency situations.

While German police said on Thursday the cold snap had claimed another two victims since Monday, both found in the west of the country where temperatures plunged to minus 16 Celsius.

Einstein

Extreme Alaska cold grounds planes, disables cars

Juneau, Alaska - Ted Johnson planned on using a set of logs to a build a cabin in Alaska's interior. Instead he'll burn some of them to stay warm.

Extreme temperatures - in Johnson's case about 60 below zero - call for extreme measures in a statewide cold snap so frigid that temperatures have grounded planes, disabled cars, frozen water pipes and even canceled several championship cross country ski races.

Alaskans are accustomed to subzero temperatures but the prolonged conditions have folks wondering what's going on with winter less than a month old.

National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Brown said high pressure over much of central Alaska has been keeping other weather patterns from moving through. New conditions get pushed north or south while the affected area faces daily extremes.

Question

Philippines: Hog deaths in Davao Sur still a mystery

The provincial veterinarian office on Thursday said the death of at least 50 pigs here since December was caused by a mixture of viral and bacterial infection.

But Dr. Nestor Barroga, provincial veterinarian, said they could not determine yet what type of virus affected the animals.

Barroga's statement came in the wake of the tests being conducted by experts from the United Nations on pigs in Luzon, where a strain of the Ebola-Reston virus was found last year.

Barroga said they were trying to immediately determine the type of the virus that downed pigs in at least eight villages here and that more samples have been brought to the regional animal center in Davao City for testing.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 6.1 Earthquake - Costa Rica

Image
© USGS

Magnitude 6.1 - COSTA RICA

2009 January 08 19:21:36 UTC

Thursday, January 08, 2009 at 01:21:36 PM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 10.221°N, 84.207°W

Depth 14 km (8.7 miles) set by location program

Region COSTA RICA

Distances 35 km (20 miles) NNW of SAN JOSE, Costa Rica

75 km (45 miles) ENE of Puntarenas, Costa Rica

115 km (75 miles) SSE of San Carlos, Nicaragua

1770 km (1100 miles) SSW of Miami, Florida

Better Earth

Expert: Quakes could alter Yellowstone

The recent swarm of small earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park could alter some of the park's thermal features but should not raise any concern about the park's large volcano erupting anytime soon, a researcher said.

More than 500 earthquakes have been recorded in the area around Yellowstone Lake in the past 10 days.

The earthquakes appear to be subsiding and caused no property damage. But they have left scientists and park officials wondering what it means for the world's first national park.

Target

Indonesia's West Papua Province Hit by Earthquake

Indonesia's West Papua province was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake today, the latest powerful tremor to shake the region where five people were killed and hundreds injured at the weekend when buildings were destroyed.

The quake struck off the coast at 7:48 a.m. local time, 75 kilometers (50 miles) west of the region's main city of Manokwari, the U.S. Geological Survey said in an alert. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties and no tsunami alert was issued.

Better Earth

Sea Level Rise Slows by 20%

Efforts to sell climate policy based on ever more scary scenarios of apocalypse cannot be sustained and are likely to work in exactly the opposite manner than desired. A good example of why this is so can be found in a recent paper (hat tip Dad) that suggests that the rate of sea level rise from 2003-2008 (2.5 mm/year) is 20% lower than that presented by the IPCC for 1993-2003 (3.1 mm/year). Whether this is "consistent with" longer-term predictions is different than whether it is "consistent with" a political strategy based on scaring people. It seems pretty obvious that systems that exhibit a large amount of variability or are simply poorly understood on relatively short time scales are not very useful props in efforts to show the world moving inexorably towards doom.

Info

Wildlife confused by polarised light pollution

silver water beetle
© Roberston et al./ESA
A lesser silver water beetle rests on a red car bonnet.

What do sky scrapers have in common with ponds? The way they polarise light acts as a magnet to some animals, say researchers.

This unwanted side effect from some industrial materials - including road surfaces and automobiles - is called polarised light pollution, and Bruce Robertson of Michigan State University says the phenomenon is widespread enough that it is disrupting ecosystems.

When light bounces off smooth, dark surfaces it becomes polarised - meaning the light wave is aligned in one plane.

In natural environments, this most commonly happens around water, but humans excel at making smooth surfaces. "Cars, asphalt, oil pools, and windows polarise light more strongly than water," says Robertson.

To animals tuned to distinguish polarised light and use it as an environmental cue, "these objects look more like water than water," he says. "Even when given the choice between water and human-made surfaces, some insects prefer to lay their eggs on - and settle near - the latter."