Earth ChangesS


US: Storm Brings Foot of Snow, Ice to the Dakotas

South Dakota transportation officials on Monday reopened the section of Interstate 90 between Wall and Chamberlain that was closed Sunday due to a winter storm. I-29 between Sioux Falls and the North Dakota border remained closed.

The weekend storm dumped more than a foot of snow as well as freezing rain on parts of the Dakotas. Motorists were advised to use caution or not travel in many areas, including southern North Dakota.


US: Icy Weather Leaves 80,000 Without Power in Ohio

A mix of rain, sleet and snow that blew across northern Ohio and glazed roads and power lines with ice has left thousands of people in the dark.

First Energy spokesman Mark Durbin says more than 80,000 customers were without power Monday morning. About half of those are in the Toledo area, and the other half are in the Cleveland area.

Durbin says crews are working to fix power lines but it's likely some customers won't have their power restored until Tuesday.


Deadly 6.3 Magnitude Quake Rocks New Zealand, Topples Buildings

A strong quake hit New Zealand's second-biggest city of Christchurch on Tuesday for the second time in five months, toppling buildings, causing "multiple fatalities," trapping people beneath rubble and sparking fires.

Local TV showed bodies being pulled out of rubble strewn around the city center, though it was unclear whether any of them were alive, but police reported multiple fatalities after the 6.3 magnitude quake struck during the busy lunchtime.

"I was in the square right outside the cathedral - the whole front has fallen down and there were people running from there - there were people inside as well," said John Gurr, a camera technician who was in the center of the city when the quake hit.

"A lady grabbed hold of me to stop falling over ... It's not nice at all. We just got blown apart. Colombo Street, the main street, is just a mess ... There's lots of water everywhere, pouring out of the ground - its liquefaction - it's an absolute mess."


Thousands Flee as Philippine Volcano Erupts

Mount Bulusan
© Agence France-PresseMount Bulusan spews ash in the Philippine town of Casiguran in Sorsogon province. The volcano has erupted showering an entire town with ash, although there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, officials said
Thousands of people in the Philippines fled their homes as a volcano erupted on Monday, sending a spectacular column of ash high into the sky, residents said.

The eruption of Bulusan, a 1,559-metre (5,115-foot) volcano, turned mid-morning into night for about 20 minutes across largely farming areas around its slopes, regional army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc told AFP.

"There was a major ashfall. There was zero visibility," Cabunoc said.

State volcanologist Ramil Vaquilar told AFP that rumbling sounds accompanied the ash column that rose between two and 2.5 kilometres (1.2-1.6 miles) above the crater.

About 2,000 residents were evacuated from three farming villages in the area as the government banned people from within four kilometres of the crater, said Lieutenant-Colonel Santiago Enginco, the local army commander.

Thirty-eight high school students were treated for ashfall inhalation, Enginco said.

Bizarro Earth

Flooding Costs South African Farming $392 million

Floods in South Africa have cost the farming sector about 2.8 billion rand in damages, and farmers are hoping for a government bailout, an industry official said on Monday.

Heavy rains, mainly in January, killed more than 100 people and saturated farms in one of Africa's major food producers, leading the government to declare 33 municipalities disaster areas.

"The flood damages around the country run to about 2.8 billion rand, according to our assessments," Johannes Moller, president of Agri SA, told delegates at an agriculture conference.

He said crop losses accounted for 1 billion rand, while infrastructure losses on farms, mostly along the Vaal and Orange rivers, cost farmers about 1.8 billion rand in the Northern Cape, with the remaining 200 million in damages elsewhere in the country.

Moller later told Reuters they were hopeful government would provide financial assistance to get more than 1,000 commercial and emerging farmers back on their feet within 12 months.

"I'm quite hopeful that in the end that government will decide to give financial aid, because that's the only way that we can start rebuilding and do it within one season," he said.


US: More Snow Expected Tonight in Lower Southeast Michigan

A day after a winter storm dumped more than 10 inches of snow on Metro Detroit, more white is expected tonight - but in much smaller bursts.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory through 10 p.m. for part of lower southeast Michigan.

As much as 2-3 inches of snow could fall tonight near Monroe, while about half an inch was expected in Detroit, according to the weather service. Overnight lows will dip into the teens.

Highs Tuesday and Wednesday could be in the 20s and 30s.

The next major weather system comes Thursday, when highs are expected to rise near 40 and bring a wintry mix of rain and snow showers.

Early models show much of the heaviest rain could trek south, said Matt Mosteiko, a meteorologist at the NWS station in White Lake Township. "It looks like we'll miss out on the bulk of precipitation."

Sunday's storm caused numerous accidents, snarled traffic, prompted city snow emergencies and knocked out power statewide. Road crews also stepped up efforts to take advantage of the lighter traffic due to Presidents Day.

About 109,000 utility customers were without power today and more than 117,000 had been affected by weather-related outages. Consumers Energy spokesman Tim Pietryga said in a statement that most of the Jackson-based utility's customers without power are in Kalamazoo, Lenawee, Monroe, Hillsdale, Calhoun and Branch counties. DTE Energy Co. said no major outages have been reported.

Bizarro Earth

Iceland: Small earthquake swarm in Krísuvík volcano

© Unknown
The Krísuvík volcanic system (also spelled Krysuvik) consists of a group of NE-SW-trending basaltic crater rows and small shield volcanoes cutting the central Reykjanes Peninsula west of Kleifarvatn lake. Several eruptions have taken place since the settlement of Iceland, including the eruption of a large lava flow from the Ogmundargigar crater row around the 12th century. The latest eruption at Krísuvík took place during the 14th century.
Currently there is a small earthquake swarm in Krísuvík volcano. This earthquake swarm is small and is only about 20 or so earthquakes at current time. It is impossible to know if this earthquake swarm is going to continue or grow at present time. But it is not uncommon in this area for a small earthquake swam to be a warm up for a larger one. But as always there is just a wait and see what happens in the area.


Big Sunspots

Sunspot complex 1161-1162 quieted down over the weekend, producing few intense flares. Could it be the quiet before the storm? The tempestuous appearance of the region suggests more action could be in the offing. Rogerio Marcon sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Campinas SP Brasil:

© Rogerio MarconAR1161 and 1162 in h-alpha light. A big magnetic complex. Location: Campinas SP Brasil Image Taken: Feb. 20, 2011
Marcon recorded the image using an H-alpha filter tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen. It reveals several dark magnetic cores, each larger than Earth itself, interconnected by turbulent arcs of magnetized plasma. Similar filters are now available in the Space Weather Store for readers who would like to see these 'spots with their own (safely filtered) eyes.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of M-class solar flares during the next 24 hours. Stay tuned for action.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 6.3 - South Island of New Zealand

Christchurch Quake_210211
© USGSEarthquake Location
Monday, February 21, 2011 at 23:51:43 UTC

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 12:51:43 PM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

43.600°S, 172.710°E

5 km (3.1 miles)


NEAR Christchurch, New Zealand

225 km (140 miles) SSE of Westport, New Zealand

305 km (190 miles) SSW of WELLINGTON, New Zealand

310 km (190 miles) NE of Dunedin, New Zealand

Bizarro Earth

Australia: Earthquake Magnitude 4.7 - Northern Territory

Monday, February 21, 2011 at 21:59:35 UTC

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 07:29:35 AM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
21.069°S, 135.432°E

9.8 km (6.1 miles)


334 km (208 miles) NNE (29°) from Alice Springs, Australia

1180 km (733 miles) WSW (245°) from Cairns, Australia

1744 km (1084 miles) SE (144°) from DILI, East Timor