Earth ChangesS


New Zealand: Unseasonable weather wreaks havoc in Canterbury

It has been a wet, windy and weird 24 hours in Canterbury as the province has gone from searing heat, to a windstorm, then hail and thunder.

First wind wreaked havoc in Ashburton, then an afternoon storm in Christchurch disrupted holiday-makers and fans watching the one-day international between the Black Caps and the West Indies at AMI Stadium.

The ball wasn't the only white object flying around AMI Stadium this afternoon - a predicted hailstorm arrived driving players from the field.


Magnitude 4.2 - Potosi, Bolivia

Magnitude 4.2

* Saturday, January 03, 2009 at 03:21:12 UTC
* Friday, January 02, 2009 at 11:21:12 PM at epicenter
* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Cloud Lightning

US: Floods, mounting snow ruin buildings in Northwest

Portland -- A mud slide destroyed a home Friday, briefly trapping its occupants, and flooding, mud and deep snow blocked roads as the latest winter storm pummeled the Northwest.

Residents of a home in suburban Lake Oswego called 911 early Friday saying they were trapped after mud flowed into their home, filling the first floor. They escaped out a window and were taken to a hospital, said deputy Fire Marshall Gert Zoutendijk. He said their lives were not in danger.

Authorities said 21 nearby homes were evacuated.

Outside Portland in Clackamas County, about 30 families were evacuated from a mobile home park because of flooding and about 60 roads were closed. County officials declared a state of emergency.

Also in Clackamas County, floods crept into the Estacada library, ruining thousands of books before the water receded. A layer of silt remained.

The storm dropped just over 3 inches of rain east of Portland before the sky cleared during the morning, and 3.9 inches fell in Aurora, south of the city.


Queensland, Australia: Grasshopper plague hits The Spit

A plague of grasshoppers has risen from the sands of the Spit, blanketing the dunes with the ravenous creepy-crawlies. Thousands of the insects, of various shapes, sizes and colours, are crawling over fences, plants and the Coast's beaches.

Entomologist and associate professor at Griffith University Gold Coast campus Clyde Wild said the hot weather was to blame for the sudden infestation.

"These will have been eggs laid in the sand or soil last year," he said. "They survived well because we have had a mild winter. Then, something like the bright, sunny weather we've had comes and they rise to the surface."


Global cooling is here

Winter officially arrives with Sunday's solstice. But for many Americans, autumn 2008's final days already feel like deepest, coldest January.

New Englanders still lack electricity after a Dec. 11 ice storm snapped power lines. Up to eight inches of snow struck New Orleans and southern Louisiana that day and didn't melt for 48 hours in some neighborhoods.

In southern California Wednesday, a half-inch of snow brightened Malibu's hills while a half-foot barricaded highways and marooned commuters in desert towns east of Los Angeles. Three inches of the white stuff shuttered Las Vegas' McCarren Airport that day and dusted the Strip's hotels and casinos.

What are the odds of that?

Bizarro Earth

More small quakes rattle Yellowstone National Park

More earthquakes are rattling Yellowstone National Park. The small quakes include three more Friday that measured stronger than magnitude 3.0. The University of Utah Seismic Stations say the strongest was 3.5.

Several hundred quakes centered under the northern end of Yellowstone Lake have now occurred since Dec. 26. No damage has been reported. Earthquake swarms happen fairly often in Yellowstone. But scientists say it's unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days.


Spanish Droughts Over Past 500 Years Reconstructed

The Cathedral of Toledo
© José María Cuellar (Creative Commons)The Cathedral of Toledo.
A Spanish research group has reconstructed the pattern of droughts in Spain between 1506 and 1900 on the basis of ceremonial records held at the Cathedral of Toledo, in order to observe how droughts have varied over the past 500 years. Short-term meteorological data and tree growth rings have also been used to supplement the records of ceremonies.

Historical documents such as the records of rogativas (ceremonies with origins dating back to Roman agricultural rites) compiled at the Cathedral of Toledo and municipal churches, have allowed researchers to gain an insight into the climatological period between 1506 and 1900 in Toledo and Madrid, particularly in regard to extreme weather events such as droughts.

After processing this information, the scientists published their work in Global and Planetary Change. Their article shows that droughts in Spain throughout most of the 16th Century were infrequent and shorter than in subsequent periods. The period between 1676 and 1710 was characterised by lower hydric stress, and the 19th Century experienced a low frequency of droughts. However, "the most severe droughts were recorded during the period from the end of the 16th Century up until the 18th Century", Juan I. Santisteban, one of the authors of the study and a researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) tells SINC.


Mystery pillars

"The air was very cold and filled with small ice crystals on Dec. 28th when we saw these strange pillars of light," reports Aigar Truhin of Sigulda, Latvia. "My son exclaimed, The aliens are coming!" It certainly looked that way." Truhin snapped this picture using his Nikon D90:

© Aigar TruhinPhoto details: Nikon D90, 5 sec. exposure @ ISO 200-640

Bizarro Earth

Greenhouse gases could have caused an ice age, claim scientists

Filling the atmosphere with Greenhouse gases associated with global warming could push the planet into a new ice age, scientists have warned.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that 630 million years ago the earth had a warm atmosphere full of carbon dioxide but was completely covered with ice.

The scientists studied limestone rocks and found evidence that large amounts of greenhouse gas coincided with a prolonged period of freezing temperatures.

Such glaciation could happen again if global warming is not curbed, the university's school of geography, earth and environmental sciences warned.


Washington State: Mysterious South Kitsap Worms Weave Web of Intrigue

snow worms
© Derek Sheppard/Kitsap SunA close-up view of the inch-long "snow worms" Bill Thornton found in his parent's Port Orchard backyard clearly shows the segments, which look like an earthworm. The running theory is they they're juvenile earthworms, but samples have been sent to a scientist for review.
Who knew snow could be so creepy? And crawly.

Bill Thornton of Port Orchard certainly didn't, until he noticed something in his parents' backyard early Christmas morning.

"The more I looked, the more I found, and they were literally crawling up out of the snow," he said.

Worms - "snow worms," as he's started calling them - squiggled by the thousands atop the backyard snow.

That discovery launched Thornton on an odyssey as he tried to figure out what the worms are and where the came from.