Earth ChangesS


South Aftrica: A shark in our river? Dead right for the ecosystem

Cape Town - Cool-headed Witsand residents have accepted their toothy marine neighbour with some pride and are not about to be scared away from their beloved Breede River by any shark, big or small, they say.

Witsand hit the headlines this week when a four-metre female Zambezi shark, heavily pregnant with at least four pups, was caught 5,5km upriver from the fishing village.

Locals said they were more amazed than frightened at the appearance of the shark, estimated to weigh about 650kg.


Mature Arctic Ivory Gull spotted In Massachusetts for first time in over a century

The temperatures were in the single digits, but not low enough to keep the gawkers away. A celebrity was in town, behind the East Bay Grille, a visitor not seen in these parts in decades, if not longer.

But these weren't paparazzi, and this wasn't a Hollywood star. Rather, they were avid birdwatchers - about 20 in all - braving the frigid air as they scanned the bay and the edges of the breakwater with binoculars and spotting scopes.
Ivory Gull
© Greg Derr/The Patriot LedgerAn ivory gull, a native of the Arctic, has been attracting bird watchers from across New England to Plymouth Harbor.

Bizarro Earth

Alaska Volcano Expected to Erupt Soon

© W.M. White/Alaska Volcano ObservatoryAlaska's Mount Redoubt volcano spews ash and steam during an eruption in 1989.
In the shadows of Mount Redoubt, Alaskans are calmly waiting for the volcano to erupt -- an event that could occur at any time.

"The level of seismic activity" has "increased markedly" in recent days at the 10,197-foot peak located about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, the state's most populous city, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

"We don't have a crystal ball," said Peter Cervelli, a research geophysicist with the observatory, which is aggressively monitoring the volcano.

Bizarro Earth

Vesuvius volcano still 'very dangerous'

© AFPThe last explosive eruption was in 1631, claiming 4,000 lives, while the event in 1944 was more benign, producing lava flows but without spewing hot ash and gases. Nevertheless, 26 people died and 12,000 lost their homes

Mount Vesuvius remains a threat to hundreds of thousands of people even though the volcano overlooking the southern Italian city of Naples has not erupted since 1944, a geologist warned Wednesday.

"Vesuvius is a very dangerous volcano," Francesco Russo told a news conference in Rome. "According to some statistics, there is a 27 percent chance of an explosive eruption in the next 100 years."

Russo, head of a Naples-area geologists association, said civil protection measures against a possible eruption were "inadequate."

"Some 600,000 people live in the 'red zone,' meaning they would be directly threatened by this type of explosion," he said. "But we're not sure we would be able to evacuate them."

Even with a week's warning, "it would be difficult," he said.


California expects worst drought ever after mild January

California teeters on the edge of the worst drought in the state's history, officials said Thursday after reporting that the Sierra Nevada snowpack - the backbone of the state's water supply - is only 61 percent of normal.

January usually douses California with about 20 percent of the state's annual precipitation, but instead it delivered a string of dry, sunny days this year, almost certainly pushing the state into a third year of drought.

Bizarro Earth

US: Magnitude 4.5 Earthquake - Washington State


Time Friday January 30, 2009 at 13:25:3.99 Z (UTC)

Friday January 30, 2009 at 05:25:3.99 AM (PST)

Distance from 7.8 km ENE of Poulsbo, WA

23.5 km NNE of Bremerton, WA

25.3 km NW of Seattle, WA (1st & Yesler)


UK cold snap brings winter back

Another cold snap is heading for the UK, as forecasters warn of the chilliest winter for 13 years.

Britain Cold
© Getty ImagesAfter a freezing start to 2009, more icy blasts are heading for Britain
Icy winds from the continent will be felt in the south and east of the UK in the next few days, followed by a "blast of bitterly cold air" from Russia.

Temperatures in some areas are forecast to plunge from up to 7C (45F) on Saturday daytime, to between -1C (30F) and -3C (27F) on Sunday night.

BBC weather experts said snow was likely in some parts early next week.

Weather Centre forecaster Tomasz Schafernaker said daytime temperatures next week would be just above freezing, especially across eastern and central parts of the country.

He added there was a "risk of some snow flurries moving in from the North Sea", meaning eastern coastal areas are most likely to see snowfall.

Cloud Lightning

US: Groundhog Day Monster Storm

A large, dangerous storm will take shape in the eastern third of the nation early next week, spreading a swath of snow, rain, damaging thunderstorms, flooding and high winds northward from the Gulf of Mexico. Meteorologists are confident a major storm will affect the eastern part of the nation Monday (Groundhog Day) into Tuesday of the coming week.

The storm will be large in size, encompassing over 2 million square miles. The system will grab copious amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico with potential to unleash 1 to 2 inches of rain or 1 to 2 feet of snow on some areas. The storm will also intensify as it moves on a nearly south-to-north heading. Warm air south and east of the storm will lead to damaging thunderstorms.

The exact track of the storm will determine the nature of the beast that will pummel an area from the entire, immediate Atlantic coast to nearly as far west as the Mississippi River.

There is a multitude of tracks the storm could take, ranging from just off of the Atlantic coast to a track just to the west of the Appalachians. Over the coming days, computer models will get more in line to one track, and our meteorologists will hone in on the details. For now, we want you to be aware of the consequences of the different tracks the storm could take.


US: Long lines, long wait for power after ice storm

Two-week delay possible for hundreds of thousands; new deaths feared

Ice Storm South US jan 2009
© Tim Rand / Associated PressA yard is covered with branches in Paragould, Arkansas, January 28, 2009. The ice storm that came through the area downed trees, poles and powerlines. Most of the city was without power.
Cadiz, Kentucky - Hundreds of thousands of ice storm victims hunkered down in frigid homes and shelters Thursday, expecting to spend at least a week without power and waiting in long lines to buy generators, firewood, groceries and bottled water.

Utility companies in Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas and West Virginia warned that many of the estimated 1.3 million homes and businesses left without electricity wouldn't have power back before Saturday at the earliest, and at worst, as late as mid-February.

Utilities typically count 3 or 4 people per home so the outage in terms of people is significantly greater than 1.3 million homes and businesses.
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Already, the situation was becoming dire for some communities in Kentucky, where the power outages crippled pumping stations and cut off access to water.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.4 Earthquake - Leyte, Philippines



* Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 22:43:51 UTC

* Friday, January 30, 2009 at 06:43:51 AM at epicenter

Location 10.896ยฐN, 124.806ยฐE

Depth 60 km (37.3 miles)

Distances 45 km (30 miles) SSW of Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines

100 km (65 miles) W of Guiuan, Samar, Philippines

115 km (75 miles) NE of Cebu, Cebu, Philippines

585 km (365 miles) SE of MANILA, Philippines