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Thu, 27 Apr 2017
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Drought


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The 'March to Silence' - Shots fired at building housing leading climate skeptic scientists

© Image via Google Maps Street View
National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) building.
A total of seven shots were fired into our National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) building here at UAH over the weekend.

All bullets hit the 4th floor, which is where John Christy's office is (my office is in another part of the building).

Given that this was Earth Day weekend, with a March for Science passing right past our building on Saturday afternoon, I think this is more than coincidence. When some people cannot argue facts, they resort to violence to get their way. It doesn't matter that we don't "deny global warming"; the fact we disagree with its seriousness and the level of human involvement in warming is enough to send some radicals into a tizzy.

Our street is fairly quiet, so I doubt the shots were fired during Saturday's march here. It was probably late night Saturday or Sunday for the shooter to have a chance of being unnoticed.

Maybe the "March For Science" should have been called the "March To Silence".

Campus and city police say they believe the shots were fired from a passing car, based upon the angle of entry into one of the offices. Shell casings were recovered outside. The closest distance a passing car would have been is 70 yards away.

This is a developing story. I have no other details.

Info

7 notable weather events observed across United States this April

© NASA
This photo composite shows the snow water equivalent-- water content of snow -- in the Tuolumne River Basin in 2015 and 2017. White and the lighter blue indicates less snow, while deeper blue represents more snow. NASA reports: "The 2017 snow water equivalent was 21 times greater than 2015, which was the lowest snowpack on record."
Spring can bring interesting weather conditions to the U.S. and this year is no exception, with several impressive records having already been set so far this April.

While not setting records, a few other unusual and notable weather occurrences have caught our eye this month.

1) California's Northern Sierra Nevada Set Record For All-Time Wettest 'Water Year'

On April 13, California's northern Sierra Nevada set a new record for its all-time wettest water year with an accumulated average of 89.7 inches of water. The previous record of 88.5 inches was set during the 1982-83 water year. To put it in perspective, the average water year sees 50 inches of precipitation.


The water year runs from October through September, but most precipitation falls from November through March. By April, the storm track typically shifts reducing the chance for additional precipitation. This year, however, has been different with rain and mountain snow continuing to fall this month, allowing records to topple.

Comment: According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) there have been 5,372 preliminary reports of severe weather across the United States in 2017 (up to April 8), which is more than double the average.

For more coverage on the extreme weather affecting the entire planet, check out our monthly SOTT Earth Changes Summaries. Last month:

SOTT Earth Changes Summary - March 2017: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs


Info

Indigenous peoples around the world tell myths which contain warning signs for natural disasters - Scientists are now listening

© Photo by Taylor Weidman/LightRocket/Getty
Native knowledge - A Moken woman stares out to sea.
Shortly before 8am on 26 December 2004, the cicadas fell silent and the ground shook in dismay. The Moken, an isolated tribe on the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean, knew that the Laboon, the 'wave that eats people', had stirred from his ocean lair. The Moken also knew what was next: a towering wall of water washing over their island, cleansing it of all that was evil and impure. To heed the Laboon's warning signs, elders told their children, run to high ground.

The tiny Andaman and Nicobar Islands were directly in the path of the tsunami generated by the magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. Final totals put the islands' death toll at 1,879, with another 5,600 people missing. When relief workers finally came ashore, however, they realised that the death toll was skewed. The islanders who had heard the stories about the Laboon or similar mythological figures survived the tsunami essentially unscathed. Most of the casualties occurred in the southern Nicobar Islands. Part of the reason was the area's geography, which generated a higher wave. But also at the root was the lack of a legacy; many residents in the city of Port Blair were outsiders, leaving them with no indigenous tsunami warning system to guide them to higher ground.

Humanity has always courted disaster. We have lived, died and even thrived alongside vengeful volcanoes and merciless waves. Some disasters arrive without warning, leaving survival to luck. Often, however, there is a small window of time giving people a chance to escape. Learning how to crack open this window can be difficult when a given catastrophe strikes once every few generations. So humans passed down stories through the ages that helped cultures to cope when disaster inevitably struck. These stories were fodder for anthropologists and social scientists, but in the past decade, geologists have begun to pay more attention to how indigenous peoples understood, and prepared for, disaster. These stories, which couched myth in metaphor, could ultimately help scientists prepare for cataclysms to come.

Anyone who has spent time around small children gets used to the question 'why?' Why is the sky blue? Why do birds fly? Why does thunder make such a loud noise? A friend's mother told us that thunder was God going bowling in the sky. Nature need not be scary and unpredictable, even if it was controlled by forces we could neither see nor understand.

The human penchant for stories and meaning is nothing new. Myths and legends provide entertainment, but they also transmit knowledge of how to behave and how the world works. Breaking the code of these stories, however, takes skill. Tales of gods gone bowling during summer downpours seems nonsensical on the surface, but know a little about the sudden thunderclaps and the clatter of bowling pins as they're struck by a ball, and the story makes sense.

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Severe weather reports in U.S. tally 5,000+ so far this year; more than double the average

© YouTube/the Weather Channel (screen capture)
Weather Disasters Costing U.S. Billions. The first three months of 2017 have proven to be very costly, after a series of weather disasters ranging from tornadoes to floods to crop-killing freezes.
The U.S. has endured a destructive start to 2017 from the multiple severe weather outbreaks since January.

There have been 5,372 preliminary reports of severe weather across the United States in 2017 through April 8, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC). That figure includes reports of tornadoes, large hail and wind damage.

This is more than than double the average of 2,274 for the same period of time during the past 10 years (2007-2016). In that decade, only 2008 had about the same number of severe weather reports by this point in the year with 5,242.

The animation below shows how the occurrences of wind damage, large hail and tornadoes have piled up month-by-month this year. Portions of the South have been hit the hardest, but the Midwest has also seen a high concentration of severe weather reports.

Comment: For more coverage on the extreme weather affecting the entire planet, check out our monthly SOTT Earth Changes Summaries. Last month:

SOTT Earth Changes Summary - March 2017: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs


Fireball

SOTT Earth Changes Summary - March 2017: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs

Planetary environmental chaos continued unabated this month. Several spectacular fireballs were seen from one end of the world to the other. Wildfires ravaged several mid-West states while unusually strong winds hit Illinois and New York. Madagascar got slammed by a ferocious storm as did Brazil, New Zealand and France.

Severe flooding hit several parts of the globe, but the worst affected was Peru where dozens of people died and hundreds of thousands have been left with no homes. With freak tidal waves from Iran to South Africa, strange 'gas' explosions in the UK and methane gas leaks in Russia, not to mention snow off the coast of Africa and lightning scoring direct strikes on cars, March was a pretty intense month for the planet and its inhabitants.

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Drought fake news update - It's all about money and power

A few months ago, the fake news New York Times and fake governor Jerry Brown announced the California Permanent Drought.
California is having their second wettest year on record, and precipitation has increased slightly over the last 120 years.


Sun

Hundreds of hippos dying from sunburn amid drought in Kenya


An urgent rescue operation has been launched to save hundreds of hippos trapped in dried-up mud baths due to a crippling drought in Lamu, Kenya
An urgent rescue operation has been launched to save hundreds of hippos trapped in dried-up mud baths due to a crippling drought.

Shocking photos show the Mkunumbi and Lake Kenyatta hippos suffering sunburn after getting stuck in former watering holes under the blistering sun in Lamu, Kenya.

The Kenya Wildlife Service has been frantically ferrying water to lakes, dams and rivers to avoid any more deaths - after more than 30 hippos perished in the mud.

The charity Care for the Wild Kenya released horrifying pictures of the suffering mammals to highlight the need for action.

They told of the urgent need for water pumps, diesel and labour to get water pumping to rescue the trapped hippos.

'This is an appeal with regard to the Mkunumbi and Lake Kenyatta hippos in Lamu,' the charity wrote on Facebook.

Cow Skull

Worst harvest in 40 years as drought affects 1.2 million in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is enduring its worst drought in decades and worst harvest in 40 years, affecting more than 1.2 million people. Of them, over 600 000 are children.


Sri Lanka's government said over 1.2 million people have been affected by drought which began last November and continues despite some occasional rainfall.

Drought conditions now exist in all but two of the country's 25 provinces. Rice paddy cultivation from the harvest just ended was down 63% compared to the average, making it the worst major harvest in over 40 years, Save the Children charity reports.

"The biggest harvest of the year has just finished and it's been a massive failure for most farmers living in areas crippled by the drought," said Chris McIvor, Save the Children Country Director in Sri Lanka. "Widespread food and water shortages across the country have been visible, and it could get worse if the next harvest in Yala season due in August is also below the norm. Thousands of water tanks are running low or drying out with some water stores becoming contaminated because they've been stagnant for too long."

The drought is also compounding Sri Lanka's long struggle with malnutrition, which affects nearly a third of children and a quarter of women, McIvor warned. "The nation's food supply has taken a huge hit, which in turn has caused prices to rise. As a result, many of the poorest families are struggling to feed their children, often choosing to eat fewer and smaller meals, and cut down on nutritious foods like meat and vegetables," he said.

The drought is also hampering Sri Lanka's electricity generation, which is largely provided through hydropower. The government recently said that the country's current hydropower production stands at just a third of what is required.

Fireball

SOTT Earth Changes Summary - February 2017: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs

Februrary 2017 continued on as January started. Massive flooding in California due to "atmospheric rivers" dumping large amounts of rain on coastal areas and snow on the Sierra Nevada. The snow melt from this caused further flooding in Nevada. Eastern Canada also experienced record snowfall, as did Iran, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Japan.

Wildfires broke out in Eastern Australia and New Zealand while record rainfall inundated Western Australia. Major flooding also hit several South American nations including Chile, Peru and Colombia.

There are at least 30 active volcanoes around the world right now, including a really impressive one in Guatemala. Massive earth cracks opened in Pakistan and Italy.

These are just some of the chaotic events we present in this month's Sott 'Earth Changes' video compilation.


Cow Skull

Hundreds dying from hunger as severe drought hits Somalia

© FMSC
110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in just one region of Somalia as severe drought gripped the country, causing hunger crisis. The death toll was announced by prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire today and it comes from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone. Humanitarian agencies report worrying similarities to the 2011 famine, in which nearly 260 000 Somalis lost their lives. Somali elders say they have never seen drought as severe as this one.

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, just a week after his inauguration, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has declared the drought a national disaster. The declaration comes amid an ongoing war with al-Shabab and is expected to be a trial for all those involved in Somalia's struggles. It will test the international community's response, the government's ability to assist, and the strength of security provided by the African Union forces, Al Jazeera explains.

In the far north of Somalia, three years with little rain has had increasingly disastrous effects for a population reliant on the land. The parched earth has failed to produce food for the camels and goats that the people depend on for their income, meat, and milk for their children.

Critical health services are needed for 1.5 million people currently affected by drought conditions and a worsening food crisis, according to the WHO.