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Mon, 10 Dec 2018
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Earth Changes

Snowflake Cold

Temperatures plunge to minus 40 degrees and lower in China's northeast prompting unprecedented weather warning

The Chinese city of Mohe witnessed ice fog after temperatures plunged below minus 40 degrees Celsius.

The Chinese city of Mohe witnessed ice fog after temperatures plunged below minus 40 degrees Celsius.
The northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang has been experiencing extreme cold this week, with Mohe, the country's most northern city, recording temperatures of minus 40 degrees.

A cold front reached the province on Monday, causing temperatures in most places to drop by 12 to 20 degrees since then, state news agency Xinhua reported.

An orange warning, the second-highest warning for cold weather, was issued by Heilongjiang Meteorological Bureau on Tuesday for the whole province.

In Mohe, the temperature dropped by 22.1 degrees on Monday, prompting the weather authority to issue the city's first-ever cold weather red warning.

It was minus 41.1 degrees on Tuesday, minus 42.1 degrees on Wednesday and minus 43.5 degrees on Thursday, the Mohe authority said.

The severe weather has brought frost fogs to the city, with visibility of less than 100 metres.

Cloud Precipitation

Record rainfall causes severe flooding in Maldives capital

Maldives flooding
More than 100 homes needed assistance and two families were evacuated Wednesday as a torrential downpour flooded the streets of the capital.

The 223.5 millimetres of rain from 8am to 8pm was a record for the capital island, according to the Maldives Meteorological Services.

The previous record was 200 millimetres on December 11, 1998. The national record was 228.4 millimetres on the southernmost island of Gan on November 24, 2015.

The record rainfall in Malé caused flooding as many roads were inundated with up to two feet of water.

Soldiers and police officers were deployed to set up sandbags and operate pump stations. Volunteers from the local Red Crescent as well as scouts and girl guides joined the relief efforts along with staff from the city council and other offices.

Floodwaters caused damages in 117 homes and the National Disaster Management Centre helped relocate 20 people from two residences. Food and accommodation were arranged for the 11 adults and nine children at the Beehive Hotel.

Cloud Lightning

Unexplained green light appears in sky during thunderstorm in Australia - scientists baffled

Strange light over Australia
© Independent
A strange green light flashing across the sky has baffled local residents and led one expert to say he had seen nothing like it before.

The video was shot in West Australia during an intense thunderstorm. As local resident Leigh Stevens looked on, a strange green light - accompanied by an equally unexplained sound - flashed bright across the sky.

"WTF is that," Stephens wrote. "Taken last night during electrical storm from our back yard."

And experts agreed that the phenomenon was like nothing they had seen before, according to the West Australian, which reported on the strange video.

"It's not something we've ever seen before," Neil Bennett from the Bureau of Meteorology said, according to the newspaper. "We don't think it (the green light) is part of the thunderstorm, we think it's a reflection of something on the ground, rather than coming from the clouds."


The story behind the incredible optical phenomenon photographed in New Hampshire

Thursday update: Newly obtained photo shows off additional dramatic sky phenomena
Optical phenomena over NH
© Alex Kotzias
After posting the original version of the story, Alex Kotzias wrote in with this incredible photo taken from Cannon Mountain's chairlift. The portrait-mode photo captures two more halo phenomena that were high up out of view in the original photograph: a superlateral arc and a circumzenithal arc. The former curves downwards, while the latter opens up like a bowl. Circumzenithal arcs look like upside-down rainbows wrapping around an imaginary point straight above.
Optical phenomena over NH
© Alex Kotzias, adapted by Matthew Cappucci/WaPo
That brings the total number of atmosphere phenomena in Franconia Notch on Saturday to nine! Part of the reason? Diamond dust. Kotzias' photo confirms the presence of tiny ice crystals floating around in the air at ground level. That's what those shimmering white sparkles are. The ice crystal overload means the 22-degree ring can even appear to shimmer down on the ground! And like a diamond, the resulting colors were truly priceless.

Snowflake Cold

North America just had its most extensive November snow cover in at least a half-century

Plot of North America November snow cover
© Rutgers University Global Snow Lab
Plot of North America November snow cover anomalies from 1966 through 2018. November 2018's record snow cover extent was roughly 1.4 million square miles above the average from 1981 through 2010.
November 2018's North America snow cover set a record for any autumn month in the satellite era.

Last November's average snow cover across North America was an estimated 5.24 million square miles, topping the previous November record of 5.11 million square miles in 2014, according to data from the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab (GSL) dating to 1966.

This extent of snow cover was about 861,000 square miles larger than average, over three times the size of Texas.


Record numbers coming out of Colorado ski resorts - Breckenridge has had over 10 feet of snow to date

© Chris Rogers
If you've been to any resort so far this winter, you know that this is shaping up to be one of the best years ever for Colorado skiing! Here are the records we've broken this season, and how this December stacks up to last year's.

This year Breckenridge Ski Resort opened two days early, marking the earliest opening day (Nov. 7) in more than a decade. North America's highest chairlift, the Imperial Express Super Chair, had its earliest opening EVER on Thanksgiving Day. (That's ever in the history of the chairlift's existence since 2005!)

Breckenridge received 80 inches of snow in the month of November - the second highest snowfall recorded in November over the past 20 years. The resort recorded 110 inches of snowfall from mid-October through the end of November - the most early season snowfall on record. Season-to-date, the resort has had more than 10 feet of snow.


Five pilot whales strand in Fife, Scotland - 3 die

The pilot whales washed up in the Firth of Forth.
© James McKenzie
Stranded: The pilot whales washed up in the Firth of Forth. James McKenzie
Five pilot whales became stranded in Fife after being spotted in the Firth of Forth on Tuesday.

Three whales have died after beaching in the Firth of Forth.

Five pilot whales became stranded after they were initially spotted in shallow water near the Fife village of Culross on Tuesday.

The mammals were refloated from the mudflats near Torryburn at high tide on Wednesday evening by a British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) team, assisted by the coastguard, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Special Operations Response Team and Network Rail.


Strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake hits New Caledonia - Two days after M7.6 quake

A 6.2 magnitude quake has hit the South Pacific French territory of New Caledonia
A 6.2 magnitude quake has hit the South Pacific French territory of New Caledonia
A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 struck east of the Loyalty Islands near New Caledonia in the South Pacific on Friday, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake hit at a depth of 26km (16 miles) about 189km (117 miles) east-southeast of Tadine in the Loyalty Islands, the USGS said.

There were no immediate warnings from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

It follows a powerful 7.6 quake that hit near New Caledonia on Wednesday.

Comment: Powerful 7.6 magnitude earthquake strikes off New Caledonia in South Pacific - Magnitude 7.0 aftershock

Arrow Down

Iran's capital, Tehran is sinking and it may be irreversible

Iran’s capital, Tehran
© Shuttershock
The ground is shifting and sinking under Iran’s capital, Tehran.

A recent study based on analyzed satellite data shows that the Iranian capital is sinking at a rate of 10 inches per year

Tehran is sinking. This is not a metaphor connected to American sanctions or the drop in oil prices, but the conclusions of a recent study that analyzed satellite data about the Iranian capital. It found that some parts of the city are sinking into the ground at a rate of up to 25 centimeters (nearly 10 inches) a year. The researchers also found that the sinking areas are expanding and could reach the city's international airport.

The research by two scientists from the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences at Potsdam was accepted for publication by the scientific journal Remote Sensing of Environment. The findings were also published on the website of the journal Nature. The researchers used satellite tracking data from 2003 to 2017 to track the rate of land subsidence in Tehran. A previous study linked the sinkage to the depletion of the groundwater aquifers under the city, which are being pumped to irrigate the fields surrounding the capital and to supply water to the city's 13 million residents.

Comment: Sinkholes, giant earth cracks and general instability of the earth beneath our feet seems to be increasing. Not all of which is related to the depletion of groundwater aquifers or to areas with historical mining activity. Yellowstone has shown a surge in activity recently.

Why is it that all of a sudden, all over the world, the ground has become so unstable? See also: View also this short informative video: Sinkholes: The groundbreaking truth


Snow already piled high across the Sierra Nevada - Mammoth Mountain tops 100 inches so far

Across the flank of the Tahoe Basin, miles of forest are glazed with a white frost and tree branches are flexing under the weight of snow.

This is the first week of December?

The scenes across the Sierra Nevada and Shasta-Cascade ranges are a testament to early-season storms that have swept across the high country in Northern California.

In contrast with last year, all 23 ski areas — big and small — are projected to be open by the Dec. 14-16 weekend, just in time for a banner Christmas holiday season.