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Sat, 23 Feb 2019
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Earth Changes


More manatees than usual are dying in Everglades National Park, Florida

Something is killing an unusual number of manatees in Everglades National Park, and Florida wildlife officials aren't sure what it is.

"A number of dead manatees have recently been reported in the park. Necropsies are inconclusive, but biologists are considering environmental factors such as red tide and cold weather," said a Facebook post from the park.

Four bodies have been recovered, but nine manatee deaths have been reported in the park, the Miami Herald reported. Cold weather was cited as the cause in two of the deaths, but biologists have yet to learn what killed the other two.

Michelle Kerr, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, told the Herald the bodies have been found in remote locations that make it more difficult to determine the cause of death.


Powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes Papua New Guinea

PNG quake
© Google, EMSC, TW/SAM
The country is located in the so-called Ring of Fire where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

The 6.4-magnitude quake was reported at around 14:35 GMT with the epicentre located 47 km from the city of Namatanai, New Ireland. There is no official information about any victims or damage caused by the earthquake at the moment.

The report comes just a few months after another powerful quake struck 148 km (92 miles) south of the island of Rabaul.


Major wildfire engulfs forest in Chernobyl's EXCLUSION ZONE

Sign warns about high levels of radiation
© AFP / Genya Savilov
A sign warns about high levels of radiation in a forest located in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
A major blaze has broken out in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone - the site of the worst nuclear disaster in human history. The fire hit a forest some 20 kilometers away from the ill-famed nuclear power station.

The blaze inside Chernobyl's 'dead zone' in northern Ukraine started on Sunday when dry grass caught fire, the Ukrainian emergency service said in a statement. The blaze then reached a forest near the abandoned village of Bychki located some 24km (15 miles) away from the damaged nuclear reactor.

Some 5 hectares (12 acres) of forest went up in flames. Three firefighting vehicles and 18 emergency crew members were dispatched to tackle the blaze, according to the emergency service's statement.

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, an area heavily contaminated by the disaster, has repeatedly witnessed wildfires over recent years. A large fire broke out there in June 2018. Another blaze, which scorched 25 hectares (60 acres) of land, hit it in 2017.


Strange metallic 'shrieking' noises heard in Virginia skies

Strange sky sounds (stock)
On January 22, 2019, YouTube user 'Kevin Compton' posted footage of strange noises he heard in the skies of Virginia:
Loud shrieking noise coming from sky in Virginia. Went on for a minute before I started recording.

Ice Cube

Hundreds of fishing boats stranded in frozen port in northeast China

Boats are stranded in frozen sea at a port in Dalian City, Northeast China's Liaoning Province

Boats are stranded in frozen sea at a port in Dalian City, Northeast China's Liaoning Province amid a cold front. A fisherman had to break ice to transport supplies to a marine fish culture zone
Hundreds of fishing boats were stranded in a frozen port in the coastal city Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Due to strong cold waves, sea ice continued to increase on Liaodong Bay which freezes in December annually.

By Wednesday, over 40 percent of the bay was covered with ice, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources.


NASA releases image of massive February snowpack in the Sierra Nevada compared to that of same month in 2018

Satellite images released by NASA this week put the massive amount of snow in California's mountains into perspective.

Winter storms this year have produced incredible levels of snow in the Sierra Nevada, and more rainfall is expected.

A photo from NASA showed the mountain region in February of 2018 and February this year. The side-by-side snapshot shows extensive snow this year covering the western slopes of the region:
February of 2018 and February this year
February of 2018 (left) and February this year (right)
"The Sierra Nevada is really living up to its name 'snowy mountain range' this year. With snow reports coming in feet & snow storms still moving in, it's now home to the snowiest ski resort in the U.S.," NASA tweeted.

Comment: Also pertinent: Mammoth Mountain in California has received 37 feet of snow for the season so far - with further heavy falls forecast

HUGE amounts of snow on Mammoth Mountain, California
© John Kassell
HUGE amounts of snow on Mammoth Mountain, California
Squaw Vallley in California sets February snowfall record before the month is over at 17 feet

Lake Tahoe weather: Season snow totals near 400 inches

As regards that last report (dated the 11th of February) a total of 8 feet of new snow can be added after taking into account these subsequent reports:

Storm snow totals surge to 5 feet at some Lake Tahoe area ski resorts in 48 hours

Lake Tahoe ski resorts hit by another 3 feet of snow in 24 hours

Which would take the season snowfall total thus far for some of those resorts to 41 feet.

Cloud Precipitation

Four missing in Heraklion, Greece after their car swept away by flood

© AP /Petros Giannakouris
A search operation currently underway in the area of Mires, Heraklion region on Crete, to locate four persons that were passengers in a car that was swept away by flood waters at the passage of Geropotamos.

According to police in the car were three women and a man. The rescue team started searching the area at 01:00 on Sunday.

A strong force of firemen and an army helicopter are searching the area assisted by a drone and a Disasters Special Unit (EMAK) vessel.

Comment: Elsewhere parts of mainland Greece and some of the islands have variously experienced storms, waterspouts, heavy snowfall, a landslide and flash floods over the last few days as the following posts on social media demonstrate:


Attacks on livestock increased: Return of wolves to Germany pits farmers against environmentalists

© Picture-Alliance/Barcroft Images
Wolves carried out 472 attacks on livestock in Germany in 2017, a 66% increase on the previous year.
More than a century ago, wolves were hunted to extinction in Germany. These days, they're back - and their presence is a source of political strife.

Wolf attacks on livestock increased drastically in 2017, according to government statistics released at the weekend: they carried out 472 attacks, an increase of 66% over the previous year. The number of killed, injured or missing livestock - mostly sheep and goats - rose 55%, to 1,667.

The issue of how to deal with wolves is pitting farmers who want to protect their livestock against environmentalists who priorities the protection of vulnerable species.

Julia Klöckner, the agriculture minister, said the latest figures proved the government needed to act. Germany should shift its regulations to make it legal to remove individual wolves from a pack, she told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.


Squaw Vallley in California sets February snowfall record before the month is over at 17 feet

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows set a record for snowfall in February with 205 inches for the month.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows set a record for snowfall in February with 205 inches for the month.
The latest storm to hit the Truckee-Tahoe area dropped another 30 inches of snow at Squaw Valley's upper mountain, breaking the record at the resort for most snowfall in February.

This month, Squaw Valley has been hit with 205 inches of snow at its upper mountain and more is currently coming down. The previous record was set in February 2017 when Squaw received 196 inches of snow.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has also received more than 462 inches of total snow at Squaw this season, according to the resort, which is 171% of its average snowfall for this date, and already more than the season average of 450 inches at the mountain.

"We're about halfway through the season and already past our average," said Liesl Hepburn, public relations director for Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. "Based on that, we're projecting a long spring ski season."


Storm snow totals surge to 5 feet at some Lake Tahoe area ski resorts in 48 hours

Skiers enjoy the fresh powder Saturday at Sierra-at-Tahoe
© Sierra-at-Tahoe
Skiers enjoy the fresh powder Saturday at Sierra-at-Tahoe
With an additional 2 feet on Friday, snow totals from an ongoing winter storm have surged to 5 feet at some Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

An additional 2 feet could fall Saturday and early Sunday morning
before a winter storm warning expires at noon Sunday.

A winter storm that started Wednesday brought rain to elevations up to 8,000 feet. By Thursday morning snow levels dropped to lake level. On Friday morning resorts reported receiving nearly 3 feet of snow in 24 hours.