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Sun, 17 Oct 2021
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Floods, fire and drought: Australia bearing the brunt of rise in extreme weather

australia flood
© Dan Peled/EPA
Residents wade through floodwaters in the suburb of Hermit Park in Townsville this week.
Amid record temperatures, severe flooding and devastation of wilderness, the political message from the government is business as usual

The people of Townsville know about heavy rain, but this was new. Over the past fortnight, the northern Queensland city's 180,000 residents have been hit by a monsoon strengthened by a low-pressure front that dragged moist air south from the equator to Australia's top end.

It dumped an unprecedented 1.4 metres of rain in less than two weeks - roughly double what falls on London in a year.

The ensuing chaos has wrecked homes and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to property. Two men have drowned and videos posted to social media have shown crocodiles climbing trees and taking to elevated highways in search of shelter.

But amid the deluge, not everyone heeded the evacuation advice.

Comment: See also: And check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Earth changes in an electric universe: Is climate change really man-made?


New Zealand is battling its worst wildfire in more than 60 years

wildfire on New Zealand’s South Island
© Reuters
A firefighter puts out a blaze during a week-long wildfire on New Zealand’s South Island.
A massive bushfire has churned through more than 5,600 acres on New Zealand's South Island in what is believed to be the country's worst forest fire since 1955, BBC reports.

A state of emergency was declared on Feb. 6, two days after the Pigeon Valley Fire began near the city of Nelson. As of Monday, the blaze was still scorching the island's arid countryside, but as firefighting conditions improved, around 3,000 evacuated residents were allowed to return home.

Local MP Nick Smith described the region as a "tinderbox" and said 70,000 residents in the fire's range remain "on edge."

Twenty-three helicopters and two planes have reportedly been deployed to combat the blaze in the nation's largest aerial firefight on record, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Fire chiefs have warned that the flames could continue until March.

The bushfire follows a heatwave that saw some areas of New Zealand sweating out 90°F days last month. The New Zealand Drought Index reports "extremely dry" conditions in the Nelson area, which has reportedly been parched since November 2018.


Dozens of out-of-control fires tear through Tasmania, Australia

The blaze at Miena has been bought fought by crews on the ground and in the air.
© Claude Road Fire Brigade
The blaze at Miena has been bought fought by crews on the ground and in the air.
Fire crews in Tasmania are preparing for what is expected to be the most dangerous day for bushfires due to hot and windy weather.

Residents have been told to enact their bushfire survival plans with 29 out-of-control fires burning across the state.

The bushfires have already ripped through more than 66,000 hectares, creating a line of fire more than 800 kilometres long.

A total fire ban remains in place.


Earth's magnetic field may be headed for a cataclysm says latest French study

Earth's Magnetic Field
© NASA Goddard – CC BY 2.0
We've reported on Earth's magnetic field before, including studies claiming that the planet's poles may reverse at any time and studies saying that Earth is probably not headed for a polar reversal at all. At the heart of these studies is the undeniable, millennia-old weakening trend in the planet's magnetic field, which, depending on your point of view, is either a temporary phenomenon that will eventually reverse itself (as it has in the past), or the harbinger of a cataclysmic breakdown of the Earth's entire magnetic shield and a subsequent flip of the magnetic poles.

The most recent study from the EDIFICE project, a geophysical research initiative based in France, claims we're headed for a cataclysm. According to Dr. Nicolas Thouveny, one of the principal investigators for EDIFICE: "The geomagnetic field has been decaying for the last 3,000 years. If it continues to fall down at this rate, in less than one millennium we will be in a critical (period)."


'Catastrophic' bushfires tear through Queensland, Australia - Evacuations ordered

queensland bushfires

Firefighters have been brought in from interstate to deal with the crisis, which is far from over with hot conditions expected to continue for days
Nearly 10,000 people have been told to flee immediately as more than 100 fast-moving blazes tear through Queensland amid the state's bushfire crisis.

Thousands of people were evacuated from communities in central Queensland after catastrophic fire conditions on Wednesday.

Early on Thursday, residents of two more communities - Campwin Beach and Sarina Beach south of Mackay - were woken by police and emergency text messages telling them they were in danger and to move to safety immediately.

About 140 bushfires were burning across an almost 2,000km stretch from Yungaburra, south of Cairns, to Mount French, west of the Gold Coast.

Comment: Right now Australia seems to be experiencing all four seasons, and their extremes, in one: Although summer in the northern hemisphere saw similar conditions with devastating drought and wildfires, and even epic flooding: Also check out SOTT radio's: NewsReal: California Wildfires, Climate Change, And The Impossible Brexit


Video of tannerite explosion igniting Arizona Sawmill fire released by Forest Service

AZ sawmill fire

More than 160 people were evacuated from different locations affected by the Sawmill Fire.
New video of the baby gender reveal party gone wrong on Arizona state land near the Santa Rita Mountains foothills has been released by the U.S. Forest Service.

Back in April, U.S. Border Patrol agent Dennis Dickey allegedly started the Sawmill Fire after he reportedly shot an explosive compound known as Tannerite. Dickey said the blaze, which burned nearly 47,000 state land for more than a week, was started at Dickey's baby's gender reveal party.


Queensland bushfires: Hundreds evacuated amid 'unprecedented' weather conditions

Queensland bush fire
© Facebook/Shaz Morris
Queensland bush fire.
Hundreds of Australians have evacuated their homes due to bushfires amid "unprecedented" weather conditions in the state of Queensland, officials say.

About 40 bushfires are burning across the state following a heatwave, said Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.

The most serious blaze, 450km (280 miles) north of Brisbane, has destroyed at least two homes, damaged four others and prompted evacuation orders.

The conditions have been described as "highly unusual" for this time of year.

The largest bushfire is about 50km long and has burnt through approximately 11,000 hectares in the Deepwater National Park.

It began on Saturday and is expected to remain a threat in coming days. Most of the other bushfires are being contained, authorities said.

Unlike in Australia's drier south, intense fire conditions are unusual in Queensland in late November because it is the wet season.

Comment: Thundersnow, bushfires, heatwaves, dust storms: What is going on with Australia's weather?

Cloud Precipitation

California wildfires: Rain brings threat of mudslides

Paradise recovery efforts
The rain is expected to hamper recovery efforts in fire-ravaged areas such as Paradise
Rain has come to northern California, helping to contain deadly wildfires but bringing fears of mudslides that may complicate recovery efforts.

Some four to six inches of rain (10-15cm) are expected to fall in the coming days, and some areas have been warned to prepare for flash flooding.

At least 80 people died in the fires that swept across the state.

More than 500 people remain unaccounted for after the so-called Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise.

Workers have been combing through the debris from more than 10,000 homes that were burned down by the fire.

The rain that began to fall on Wednesday is the first significant downpour for the state in about six months.

It came as a relief to those less affected by the fires. By Wednesday afternoon, it had cleared smoke from the air that had closed many schools in San Francisco, the New York Times reports.

Jim Mackensen of the US Forest Service said the rain would slow the spread of the wildfires "to the point that we'll be able to finish up the firefighting operations pretty quickly".

Comment: Fears over mudslides in areas devastated by the California wildfires (Camp Fire - the deadliest in the states's history and the Woolsey Fire) are well founded. In January this year a deluge finally rendered the Thomas wildfire - then California's largest-ever '100% contained' producing instant and devastating mudflows that swept to the ocean.

See also: California Mudslides, a Sign of Worse to Come?

Cloud Grey

California wildfire smoke drifts all the way to New York City

wildfire smoke map
Thought the skies in New York City seemed puzzlingly hazy Monday afternoon? That was all the smoke blowing east from the California wildfires.

New Jersey-based Gary Szatkowski pointed out the smoke descending on the East Coast Monday, tweeting a map from NOAA showing the direction of the plumes traveling 3,000 miles across the U.S.

The smoke isn't expected to cause any health problems for people in this area. Senior meteorologist Tom Kines told the Journal News last week, "The smoke is so high up in the atmosphere. It's kind of diluted anyway as it heads eastward."


California wildfires: Death toll rises to 71 - 1,000+ missing - 50,000+ remain evacuated - 7,000+ buildings destroyed - Camp Fire deadliest in state's history - UPDATES

Camp Fire rages through Paradise, California
© AP
A home burns as the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, California, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.
The death toll in California has risen to 42 and 228 people are still missing as three major wildfires continue to sweep across the state. An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes.

Thirteen more people were confirmed dead from the "Camp Fire" in Paradise, northern California, taking the toll in that area to 42 and making it the deadliest fire in California history.

Paradise, some 90 miles (145 km) north of Sacramento, has been completely destroyed by the blaze, with the authorities saying that up to 90 percent of the residents lost their homes. The death toll is expected to rise.

An estimated quarter million Californians have been forced to flee their homes to escape the three blazing infernos across the state. Strengthening winds mean the flames are expected to spread even further by Tuesday. So far, the fires have spread to some 400 square miles (1,040 square km) as some 8,000 firefighters are still unable to contain the inferno.

Comment: A total of 7,177 buildings have been destroyed, Cal Fire said. High winds and dry conditions threaten more areas through the rest of the week, fire officials warned. The total cost to the state, insurers and homeowners is expected to top $19 billion.

See also: UPDATE: On November 17th RT reports:
Casualties of the deadliest wildfire in California's history continue to mount, with eight more bodies found Friday bringing the official count to 71. Over 1,000 people have been reported missing, Butte County Sheriff said.

The shocking figure, up from some 630 listed missing the day before, may include some duplicate names, Sheriff Honea hopes. The Camp Fire has been raging for over a week across northern California, razing over 142,000 acres and laying waste the town of Paradise and its environs.

President Trump is expected to visit California on Saturday to survey the damage with Governor Jerry Brown. Trump has criticized the state's management of its forests and rivers, even as thousands of firefighters mobilized to try to control the blaze, which remains only around 45 percent contained.

The Camp Fire broke out last Thursday morning in Pulga and quickly spread due to dry and windy weather conditions. California utility PG&E Corporation appeared to have shouldered some of the blame, admitting to regulators earlier this week they had been experiencing problems with their equipment near the origin of the fire. Multiple victims have filed lawsuits alleging negligence and improper maintenance.

Trump's visit could not come at a more chaotic time. Nearly 500 searchers, including a mobile rapid-analysis DNA lab and cadaver dogs, are combing through the ashes in search of the missing, armed with DNA from their relatives. Over 50,000 people remain evacuated from their homes, while thick smoke from the fire has reportedly earned northern California the distinction of the worst air quality in the world. Schools as far away as San Francisco and San Jose are closed because of the hazardous conditions, and authorities have advised residents not to go outside without a mask for several more days.
More videos have emerged showing the devastation:

As fire-fighting efforts continue there are new fears over potential mudslides such as those experienced earlier this year. See: California Mudslides, a Sign of Worse to Come?

See also: Study: Wildfire seasons are more destructive and lasting longer almost everywhere on Earth

Update: RT on November 18th
The death toll from the worst-ever California wildfires has increased to 76, while the list of those unaccounted-for continues to grow and has jumped to 1,276, even as authorities located hundreds of previously missing persons.

While the list of casualties and missing persons continues to rise, Butte County officials expressed the hope that there might be ID duplication, or that many of those unaccounted for are alive but simply unaware that they had been reported missing. But even though authorities managed to locate over 700 people previously believed missing, with hundreds of new reports the toll has grown to 1,276.

The Camp Fire in Paradise has now destroyed around 13,000 structures after ripping through roughly 149,000 acres since November 8.

Meanwhile the Woolsey Fire in Southern California has resulted in at least three deaths after burning through some 98,000 acres of land. This fire, which is now 82 percent contained, destroyed at least 836 structures.