Saturday, February 4, 2012

PLANETARY TREMORS: 5.7 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Vancouver Island, Canada Region!

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck off Vancouver Island on Saturday, February 04, 2012 at 20:05:32 UTC. The tremor was located at 48.867°N, 127.876°W with a depth of 12.8 km (8.0 miles).

The epicentre was located 170 km (105 miles) west of Ucluelet, British Columbia, Canada; 206 km (128 miles) south of Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada; 229 km (142 miles) southwest of Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada; and 337 km (209 miles) west of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

There was a report on the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) website of the quake centred in the Pacific Ocean and being felt in Vancouver, the largest city in British Columbia.

NOAA's West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center indicates that there was no danger of a tsunami from the earthquake, and there have been no reports of damage, said seismologist Shengzao Chen of the USGS.

ICE AGE NOW: The Big Freeze - Death Toll Rises to 200 in Europe's Cold Snap; Record Snow and Freezing Conditions From Europe to Asia; Black Sea Frozen; Big Storm in the Mediterranean; English Army on Standby; Widespread Disruption as the Seemingly Endless Severe Weather Wrecks Havoc!

Temperatures have plunged to new lows in Europe, where a week-long cold snap has now killed more than 200 people as forecasters warned that the big freeze would tighten its grip at the weekend.

In the Czech Republic, the mercury dropped to as low as minus 38.1 degrees Celsius overnight yesterday while even Rome was sprinkled in snow. In the past seven days, a total of 218 people have died from the cold weather, according to an AFP tally. Ukraine's emergencies ministry said the cold snap had now killed 101 people, substantially raising the previous toll of 63. Sixty-four of the victims died on the streets, it added. Almost 1600 people have requested medical attention for frostbite and hypothermia. As they try to prevent the toll from rising even further, authorities announced that 2940 shelters had been set up across the Ukraine where people could find warmth and food and another 100 would be opened in the next hours.

There was no sign of an immediate let-up in the weather, with forecasters saying temperatures would hover between minus 25 to 30 degrees Celsius at night and minus 16 to 21 in the day. The ferocious temperatures killed eight more people over the past 24 hours in Poland, bringing the death toll to 37 since the deep freeze began a week ago, police said. Temperatures plunged to as low as minus 35 degrees Celsius in parts of Poland - but even that was three degrees warmer than the temperatures in the southwestern Sumava region of the Czech Republic. Temperatures have been so cold in Bulgaria that parts of the River Danube have been frozen over.

Sixty per cent of the surface near the port of Ruse was iced over, severely hindering navigation, the Danube exploration agency said. Elsewhere in Bulgaria, another six people were found dead from the cold, bringing the overall tally to 16 in the past week, according to a tally of local media. No official figures have been released. Most of the dead in the European Union's poorest country were people in villages, found frozen to death on the side of the road or in their unheated homes, the reports said. More than 1000 Bulgarian schools remained closed for a third day on Friday amid fresh snowfalls and piercing winds in the northeast of the country. Residents in Rome experienced only their second day of snow in the past 15 years. Up to five centimetres of snow fell in suburbs of the Italian capital, although there was little precipitation in the city centre.

Temperatures in the Alpine region of Piedmont in northern Italy went as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius. The interior ministry advised car drivers to avoid regions of central Italy due to the heavy snowfall and traffic was backed up on some motorways. However, trains resumed normal service across the country except in and around Bologna and on a local line near Rome, the state railways said in a statement after days of delays that affected thousands of passengers. Three people have died due to the extreme weather in recent days, including a homeless man found in the centre of Milan yesterday. Snow and freezing temperatures are forecast to continue into tomorrow. Swathes of Britain were bracing for snow after temperatures plunged to minus 11 degrees Celsius overnight on Thursday at Chesham in southeast England. Forecasters said many parts of the country would see several centimetres of snow, although it was likely to be powdery and would melt before long.

The Met Office said there was a danger that the cold weather would catch people off-guard after the warmer-than-normal winter so far. "This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services," a spokesman said. Bright winter sunshine bathed two-thirds of France, bringing a note of cheer. But about one-third of the country, mainly in the east and centre, remained exposed to biting winds from the Baltic region, with an alert in place for low temperatures. The French have cranked up their heating systems, and on Monday are expected to break an all-time power consumption record set in 2010. In Brittany and on the Cote d'Azur, where the French power grid is least efficient, consumers have been asked to turn off appliances for at least four hours per day to avoid blackouts. - Herald Sun.
WATCH: More than 200 dead in Europe's big chill.

Cold weather death toll passes 100 in Ukraine.

More than 100 people have now died as a result of freezing weather in Ukraine since last Friday, the government has announced in Kiev. Most of the 101 who died were homeless people and 64 of them were found dead on the streets, the emergencies ministry said. Hundreds of others have been treated in hospital for frostbite, hypothermia and other cold-related conditions. Temperatures plunged to below -35C in parts of eastern Europe this week. At least eight more deaths were reported in Poland on Thursday, bringing the death toll there since last week to 37.

Cold weather deaths have been reported across eastern and central Europe. Russia recorded cold 64 cold weather deaths for the whole of January, Interfax news agency reports, but it is unclear if this is related directly to the hard frosts which began last week. In Serbia at least 11,000 villagers have been trapped by heavy snow and blizzards in mountainous areas, the Associated Press reports. In Italy, weather experts said it was the coldest week for 27 years.

Gas burn.

In Ukraine, more freezing weather was forecast for Friday, with overnight temperatures set to fall to as low as -32C in the north and west. The authorities closed schools and colleges and set up nearly 3,000 heating and food shelters across the country. Health officials instructed hospitals not to discharge homeless patients, even after treatment, in order to save them from the cold. Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced that the country had burnt 1bn cu m of gas in just three days. The country's gas order from Russia for the whole of 2012 is 27bn cu m. "It's a very hard time for the country," he said, promising that the difficulties would be overcome. The Russian gas supplier, Gazprom, said Ukraine was exceeding the level of gas consumption envisaged in the contract. Most Russian gas exports to EU countries transit Ukraine. On Thursday Austria's energy firm OMV reported a 30% drop in its supply of Russian gas, while Italy's gas distributor Snam Rete Gas said its Russian gas was down by about 20%.

In the winter of 2009 Russia accused Ukraine of siphoning off gas meant for European customers. Gazprom cut supplies, leaving more than a dozen countries short of Russian gas. Some, like Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia, are almost completely dependent on supplies via Ukraine and so were left with major shortages, during a very cold spell in Europe.

'Take exercise'

Ukraine's Emergencies Minister Viktor Baloga has advised the public to take more exercise as a remedy against the cold. "You need to get up in the morning, take active exercise and work," he was quoted by Ukrainskaya Pravda as telling reporters on Wednesday. "It hasn't killed anyone yet and only makes a person fitter." His personal advice to keep warm, he added, was to "run 8-10km [5-6 miles] every morning and bathe in cold water, all year round". - BBC.
WATCH: Cold weather death toll passes 100 in Ukraine.

WATCH: Night time cold war for Ukraine's homeless.

WATCH: Europe's homeless dying in arctic conditions.

Europe freeze: Serbia snow strands thousands.

Heavy snow has left at least 11,000 villagers cut off in remote areas of Serbia amid a European cold snap that has claimed more than 130 lives.

At least six people have died in Serbia, with emergency services expressing concern for the health of the sick and the elderly in particular. Temperatures are below -30C (-22F) in parts of Europe and 63 people have died in Ukraine and 29 in Poland. In Italy, weather experts say it is the coldest week for 27 years. Emergency services in Serbia have described the situation, close to the country's south-western borders with Kosovo and Montenegro, as very serious. In places, the snow has reached a depth of 2m (6ft 6in). Fourteen municipalities are affected, emergency official Predrag Maric told the BBC.

Helicopters have helped move several people to safety, and food and medicines have been airlifted to isolated areas. Snow began falling in Serbia on 7 January and has hardly stopped since, says BBC correspondent Nick Thorpe. Serbian media say further snow is expected in the coming days. Ukraine has seen the highest number of fatalities, many of them homeless. Over a 24-hour period, as many as 20 people died. Food shortages have been reported in the capital, Kiev, because lorries have been unable to transport supplies.

Trapped overnight.

Heavy snow has also caused widespread disruption in northern and central Italy. More than 600 passengers were trapped on an unheated train in the Apennine mountains for seven hours on Wednesday night, when the brakes and electrical cables froze. The coldest temperatures have been recorded in Russia and Kazakhstan. In the Urals and Siberia, the temperature fell to -40C (-40F) while in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, a forecaster told Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency the wind-chill factor meant the real temperature was down to -52C, even though the air temperature was -35C.

In southern Russia, cars and lorries became stuck in snow drifts between Novorossiisk and Krasnodar. Heavy snow has also hit Turkey, with 50cm falling in Istanbul on Wednesday. An avalanche in the south-east of the country killed a woman in her home, reports say. Another avalanche blocked a main road connecting the provinces of Bitlis and Diyarbakir. Rescuers in Germany were unable to save an elderly woman after she had gone swimming in the frozen waters of a gravel pit in Lower Saxony. Reports said she had often swum in the lake. - BBC.
Record snow in South Korea, record cold in Bulgaria and a big storm in the Mediterranean.

The streets of Seoul, South Korea are covered in some of the heaviest snow on record. The snow caused traffic jams all over the city which deployed more than 200 police officers to control traffic. Streets will turn to ice as temperatures drop below zero in the upcoming days. An arctic cold snap is gripping Europe. Bulgaria has hit record lows in 17 of its cities. Railways and other transport services are experiencing massive delays and hundreds of schools are closed. Mediterranean Rome, Italy has been hit with heavy snow. The frigid air that is moving across Europe has left heavy snowfall in Tuscany and central Italy. - Kolotv.
Rare Photographs of the Black Sea Frozen.

Check out these rare photographs of the Black Sea being frozen. It does happen sometimes but is still considered a natural phenomenon.

See more pictures HERE.

London is braced for snow as Britain shivers in freezing conditions and Army is put on standby.

Forecasters warned today that extreme cold will grip the country over the next few day with the possibility of snow even in London and the south. The Met Office has maintained its cold weather alert at level three, which means 'severe' conditions. Some areas have been told to expect temperatures of minus -11C and the Army has been put on standby should conditions get even worse. Around four inches of snow and ice are forecast for parts of the country due to a high-pressure system over Scandinavia which is pushing raw eastern winds towards the UK. Record low temperatures in Eastern Europe have caused dozens of fatalities with 43 dead in Ukraine alone, where the mercury dropped to -33C. Paul Mott, forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: 'The nights will be really cold throughout the week and there will be the occasional snow showers over the eastern counties of England, eastern Scotland and even London.'

Mr Mott said the mercury could plummet to as low as -10C in rural parts of central England on Thursday night, with average day time readings only reaching 3C-4C. BBC Radio 5 Live said temperatures could fall as low as -11C. MeteoGroup forecaster Clare Allen said: 'We've got an easterly wind bringing snow showers off the North Sea. Most areas of the UK will see daytime maximum temperatures of 2C and 3C. London will be a maximum of 4C, so it's going to be pretty cold.' Devon and Cornwall have already felt the brunt of the bad weather. Police in the two counties have warned motorists not to travel unless it is essential after snowfalls on Exmoor and Dartmoor. The icy blast meant staff at Luton Airport had to defrost a fleet of easyJet planes yesterday before passengers could get on, as temperatures dipped below freezing at the airport in Bedfordshire. It warned that low temperatures can be especially dangerous for the young and the elderly or those with chronic disease.

Devon and Cornwall have already felt the brunt of the bad weather. Police in the two counties have warned motorists not to travel unless it is essential after snowfalls on Exmoor and Dartmoor. The icy blast meant staff at Luton Airport had to defrost a fleet of easyJet planes yesterday before passengers could get on, as temperatures dipped below freezing at the airport in Bedfordshire. It warned that low temperatures can be especially dangerous for the young and the elderly or those with chronic disease.

The military have been put on alert should conditions deteriorate to a Met Office level 4, which means a 'major cold weather incident'. When freezing conditions struck in 2010, members of the armed forces were called in to help clear snow from the roads and assist residents in particularly hard-hit areas. Mobilised soldiers will also help clear special locations such as doctors’ surgeries, care homes and hospitals. The cold spell breaks what has so far been one of the warmest winters on record. Forecasters said it was becoming increasingly likely that the freezing temperatures would stick around and even last through the whole of February. There are fears that the sudden onset could bring travel chaos and catch many drivers off guard. AA spokesman Luke Bodett said: ‘We have had a very mild winter so far and motorists need to get into their winter mindset from today. It is going to be important not to charge around in the way they may have been used to and be prepared for the unexpected.’ - Daily Mail.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: The Mystery of the Moving Antarctic Lakes - Rivers and Mountains Move Half a Kilometre Every Year, Faster Than the Ice Shelf on Which They Sit?! UPDATE: 19-Mile Crack in the Ice Breaking Away From Antarctica!

Rivers and mountains can move given enough time, but they don't normally move half a kilometre every year. Yet that is exactly what is happening to a bizarre group of Antarctic lakes. And the lakes seem to be moving far faster than the ice shelf on which they sit.

Group of 11 lakes moves nearly half a kilometre a year, seemingly independently of the ice shelf they sit on.
The 11 lakes are on the edge of the George VI ice shelf, a banana-shaped sheet of floating ice sandwiched between the Antarctic Peninsula and Alexander Island. They were first spotted in the 1970s but it was only last year that their wanderlust was identified.

Douglas MacAyeal at the University of Chicago gave undergraduate interns the "boring" job of digitising a series of satellite photographs of Antarctic lakes. One student, Claire LaBarbera, noticed that the lakes moved, relative to features on land, from year to year. "I thought, what a nice curiosity," MacAyeal says. Then he took a closer look and realised that the lakes were moving five to 10 times faster than the ice shelf, and in a different direction.

"We found a beautiful curiosity that probably exists nowhere else in the world," he says (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2011GL049970).

MacAyeal thinks the explanation lies in the unusual location of the George VI ice shelf, trapped as it is in a narrow channel between Alexander Island and the Antarctic mainland. As the ice sheet squeezes through the channel, its outer edges buckle into a series of crests and troughs. The lakes sit in the troughs. The ice shelf pushes into Alexander Island at an oblique angle, so the end of each trough tracks along the coast, dragging its lake with it.

Standing water on ice shelves is often a sign that they are close to collapse as the water can widen existing cracks in the ice.

But Neil Glasser of Aberystwyth University in the UK thinks that the George VI ice shelf isn't likely to collapse anytime soon, as it is stabilised by the rocky sides of the channel. - New Scientist.

UPDATE: 19-Mile Crack in the Ice Breaking Away From Antarctica!

An astonishing photograph taken from outer-space illustrates how an iceberg the size of New York is close to breaking off from Antarctica. A 19-mile crack in Pine Island Glacier's ice is clearly visible, leading some scientists to speculate that the world's biggest berg could soon be on the move. The picture, taken by NASA's Terra spacecraft in November 2011 but only released today, shows how the crack is quickly growing. Just a month before it was only 18 miles long. Pine Island is a huge 30-mile 'tongue' of ice snaking out from the Hudson Mountains to the Amundsen Sea. It drains the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and last calved a significant iceberg in 2001. The crack was first photographed by NASA's Operation Ice Bridge last year. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: NASA Concerned About Crack in Glacier.

MYSTERY: Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - The Latest UFO Sightings And Aerial Anomalies Around the World?!

Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

“A UFO with white lights, blue and yellow flashes” — The first report was received from the airport area, and [the object] was even seen by C-4 operators manning the safety cameras that appear to have recorded it. The sighting prompted the mobilization of police officials. Martin Ruelas, supervisor of the western sector, was able to see it with his own eyes, but it was too fast and it was impossible to follow.

An Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) prompted an intense mobilization by elements of the Public Safety Forces of the City of Mexicali, arising from citizen reports about the presence of a strange device in the air. Alejandro Monreal Noriega, general commander of Patrols in the Dirección de Seguridad Pública Municipal (DSPM) reported that the first news item was received from people living in the vicinity of the airport.

Even C-4 operators, responsible for urban security cameras, saw the object in their systems and it appears to have been recorded. Furthermore, hundreds of phone calls were received at the “066″ number, reporting the flying object’s presence. It was seen around the airport and subsequently flying at dizzying speeds toward the new guard post after citizens reported seeing it over the Marán Industrial Park, and subsequently in the Rivera Campestre district and related areas.

Martin Ruelas, supervisor of the DSPM's western region, saw it and stated that it was a sizeable round white object with visible blue and yellow flashes. He added that the object was seen high in the sky and moved up, down and sideways at very high speeds, vanishing from sight after heading south from the valley of Mexicali.

Deputy Commander Medina, from the valley's southern area, also saw it and said it was too fast and impossible to follow, as it changed direction suddenly. A "chase" by patrolmen ensued, but since the object changed position within seconds, they simply relayed its location in order to have the nearest unit continue the report. Unfortunately, it was impossible to obtain an answer. Monreal Noriega stated that consultations were made with airport authorities and SEDENA, as well as their U.S. counterparts, and they awaited more information on the subject. - Inexplicata.
WATCH: Police engage in UFO Chase in Mexico.

The stunning image of a UFO was captured on video last week, but was it an alien craft, or is there a simpler explanation? Anthony Piceno, of American Fork, Utah, said he was drawn to the sight in the air because it was like nothing he had ever seen before. His footage of the object later appeared on The Weather Channel.

WATCH: Blue UFO cruising slow over Utah.

Each year thousands of Americans and hundreds of Georgians claim to have seen them. The number of sightings has increased as of late in the Middle Georgia area especially around Highway 441 in Dublin. This is Rodney Crosslin. Earlier this week he and his brother Scott were in his front yard when they say they saw what at first they thought was a plane.

"Three lights appear over here above the tree line over here then they dropped off and appeared three lights over here above the house where the power lines are and then from there they shot back to the right where they went into about two or three different patterns." - News Central GA.
WATCH: UFOs spotted in Dublin, Georgia.

This daytime UFO footage was recorded over Welwyn Garden City, a town within the Welwyn Hatfield borough of Hertfordshire, in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, the 1st of February, 2012.

WATCH: UFO activity over Welwyn Garden City in England.

UFO lights were filmed over Cuernavaca, the capital and largest city of the state of Morelos in Mexico. This was recorded in late January, 2012.

WATCH: Huge unknown lights filmed over Cuernavaca.

Strange triangle-shaped craft was recorded in the sky over Rural Retreat in Virginia on the 5th of January, 2012.
Eye-witness Report: During the night of 01/05/12 I was outside my home doing some sky watching.At 8:38 P.M. I noticed aircraft heading my direction from the ENE.I turned my camcorder on and recorded the aircraft;which,at that time I thought to be a military refuel mission, as it passed my location heading WSW.At the time I was recording the event I had reservations as to whether or not it was a refuel mission.

A short time later at 9:06 P.M. I noticed what appeared to be the same craft heading my direction from the SW.As the craft was approaching my location,the craft were making a slight turn to the north and then to the northwest as they crossed directly over my location.I also recorded that event as well.While recording the event I realized that it was not a refuel mission! - MUFON.
WATCH: Triangle UFO over Rural Retreat, Virginia.

This daytime footage of bright unknown object was filmed on the 23rd of October, 2011 over Bay Shore in New York.
Eye-witness Report: I just got home from work and was sitting outside with my dog. I noticed an object in the sky, but thought it was an airplane or helicopter. I looked in the same direction a few seconds later and noticed it was in the same spot. I kept looking at it as it hovered and reflected light, so I ran in my house to get my camera,(but forgot my glasses which I need for seeing objects upclose, thats why in the video I am going in and out of focus). I filmed it for about one minute, if you freeze frame certain parts you can see it. My feelings during all this was that of excitement.  - MUFON.
WATCH: Daytime UFO filmed over Bay Shore.

This bright unidentified flying object was seen and recorded flying across the skies over Samnanger in Norway on the 31st of January, 2012 at 8:33am.

WATCH: UFO or orb flying over Samnanger, Norway.

Strange objects seen over the Pamilco River, off the coast of North Carolina. This was recorded on the 2nd of February, 2012.

WATCH: Strange objects over North Carolina.

Bright UFO lights were seen over Toliatti, Russia on the 28th of January, 2012.

WATCH: UFOs over Toliatti.

EXTREME WEATHER: Texas Drought Forces a Town to Sip From a Truck - Drought Has Cost the State Billions in Losses; 2011 Was the Driest Year Since 1917!

The water that once nourished this central Texas community never traveled far: it came from a fenced-in well at the edge of Lake Travis, down a winding street next to the golf course. These days, the water that flows from kitchen and bathroom faucets takes an extraordinary journey that can be measured not in feet but in miles.

A truck delivers water to Spicewood Beach, Tex. Before the deliveries began,
water was within two and a half feet of the well bottom.
This drought-stricken place in the scenic hills outside Austin has been forced to bring in water by truck from more than 10 miles away because its sole well came close to running out of water. Spicewood Beach is one of four subdivisions in Burnet County that became the first communities in Texas to run so low on water that it had to be hauled in by truck. The four subdivisions, made up of about 1,100 people in a part of Texas known as the Hill Country, all relied on the Spicewood Beach well. Several times a day, a truck carrying 4,000 gallons of treated water from another subdivision has pulled up to a beige storage tank in Spicewood Beach. Workers pump the water from the truck to the tank through a long green hose. A crowd of reporters and residents watched the first delivery on Monday. But by Wednesday morning, the deliveries had become a part of life here, and no one watched as the water that residents use to wash dishes and take their showers flowed out of a truck from an aptly named company, H2O2U.

Droughts are deceptive disasters: they knock down no buildings, spread no debris. But they are disasters nonetheless. The Texas drought that started more than a year ago has cost ranchers and farmers billions of dollars in lost income or additional expenses. It has forced hundreds of towns and cities to restrict water use and has turned lakes into ponds. Last year was the driest in Texas since 1917, with a total statewide rainfall of 15 inches, much lower than the average of 27.64 inches, according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist. The Spicewood Beach well is one of 13 public water systems in the state that are projected to run out of water in 180 days or less and that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is tracking. Officials who oversee many of those systems are taking steps to increase their water supply, including digging new or deeper wells. One water system that serves about 1,500 people in Limestone County near Waco is estimated to run out of water on March 1.

A farmer looks on acres of dried-up land, where crops once prospered.
There have been signs, however, that parts of Texas are recovering. For the first time since early July, the latest United States Drought Monitor map, released on Thursday, classified much of the Dallas-Fort Worth area as not experiencing drought. But state weather experts expect drought conditions to persist in most of the state through the summer. Officials with the Texas Water Development Board and members of the state’s Drought Preparedness Council said they were concerned that what had happened in Spicewood Beach could occur elsewhere. Some wells that supply water to small communities like Spicewood Beach are linked to the state’s lakes and reservoirs, where water levels have dropped significantly in the drought. The wells extract water from the underground layers of rock, sand or gravel that are known as aquifers, which are recharged by lakes. As the lakes dry up, the aquifers are affected, some worse than others.

“If the drought continues as it is, we’re going to continue to see small communities struggle with their water supplies,” said Robert E. Mace, a deputy executive administrator for the water board. In Spicewood Beach on Wednesday morning, Bianca Barrett, 42, mowed her front lawn as the truck pulled up to the storage tank across the street. Spicewood Beach has taken to thinking about water the way people on a diet think about food: every bite, or in this case, every drop, counts. To conserve water, Ms. Barrett and other residents are prohibited from doing any type of outdoor watering, like watering the lawn, and many have voluntarily cut back on their indoor use of water. Ms. Barrett washes her clothes once a week and drinks bottled water.

“It’s disheartening,” Ms. Barrett said. “You have to kind of do everything at one time, and try to incorporate washing dishes and cooking at the same time, so you’re not using as much water.” The water system here is made up of four wells, but only one is active. Last week, the water in that well decreased by 1.3 feet overnight, prompting officials with the Lower Colorado River Authority, which owns and operates the water system, to hire H2O2U to begin hauling in water. On Monday morning, hours before the first delivery, the water was within two and a half feet of the bottom of the well. The water deliveries cost the agency roughly $1,000 a day, an expense that its officials said they would not pass along to their customers. Still, several residents expressed anger with the authority, criticizing it for selling Spicewood Beach water throughout the summer to hauling companies that resold it to others.

Clara Tuma, an authority spokeswoman, said agency rules allowed sales to water haulers under certain conditions. “Of course it had some effect,” Ms. Tuma said of the water sales. “Every drop of water that was used had an effect on the levels. But those sales were stopped in early January. The severe decline in the water levels didn’t occur until weeks after that.” Lake Travis sets the decidedly recreational tone of Spicewood Beach. Residents, many of them retired, park their boats on the front lawn, and the no-nonsense woman in the neon-green sweatshirt who roams the streets in a cart is not headed to the golf course — she is Connie Heller, 64, making her rounds as part of the Spicewood Beach security patrol.

The lake has all but vanished in the drought. Down past the well, Lake Travis is now a kind of sandy, rocky canyon, where wooden fishing docks sit like shipwrecks on dry land and you can walk more than halfway across the lake bed before your feet get wet in a thin band of water. A dead lake is a surreal thing, as is the drought itself, which for the moment seems impervious to the rain that has fallen here and throughout the state in recent weeks. The lake’s water level has decreased 44 feet below its February average. “I heard on the news a while back that some town got an Indian to come and do a rain dance,” Mrs. Heller told Joseph Barbera, 69, president of the subdivision’s homeowners association, as she stood near her golf cart. “We may have to do that.”  - NY Times.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Mass Stranding Continues in Massachusetts; Mysterious Cape Cod Beaching Baffles Scientists; Worst Spate of Dolphin Strandings in a Decade; Incidents to be Brought Before the U.S. Congress?!

Scientists in Cape Cod are trying to determine what is causing dolphins to swim dangerously close to shore, with more than 100 becoming stranded in the last three weeks.

Two stranded common dolphins wait to be transported to a waiting vehicle by a team from the
International Fund for Animal Welfare at Herring River in Wellfleet, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.
Members of Congress are due to be briefed on Friday about the strandings, the worst such event in more than a decade. Volunteers are maintaining coastal vigils and trying to get the animals back to sea. "What is different about this particular event is that instead of having one discrete event, it is this string of ongoing strandings that started on 12 January and is just continuing," said Katie Moore, who manages marine mammal rescue operations for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "It's day after day after day." Moore is due to brief members of Congress on the strandings, which have been concentrated along a 25-mile stretch of coast that runs between the towns of Dennis and Wellfleet in Massachusetts.

It's not unheard of for dolphins to swim too close to shore, said Teri Rowles, who heads the marine mammals division of NOAA, the government agency that monitors oceans. "The Cape Cod area is a hot spot for mass strandings," she said. But it's rare for such events to be confined to a single species – the common dolphin, in this case – and it was the worst such stranding since 1998. Of the 111 that have come ashore, 81 were found dead, or died soon after they were stranded. Rescue workers, trundling along through the muck with specially adjusted stretchers, have eventually been able to return 30 surviving dolphins to the sea, Moore said.

But they remain baffled as to what caused the animals to swim so dangerously close to shore. Theories include the dolphins being lost, confused by changing tides or potentially diseased. "In the ones we are finding alive, we are not seeing any consistent diseases or anything indicating a pattern as to why they might be stranding," said Moore. The dolphins were male and female, young and fullgrown. Most appeared healthy, although lab tests are still being processed.

There have been no severe winter storms: as in much of the north-east, the weather has been unusually warm for this time of year. But Rowles suggested the animals could have become confused by changes in water temperature or tides that led them into Cape Cod Bay, or by the irregular features of the coastline. There is also the possibility the dolphins could have been victims of their own natural sociability, simply following one another to their doom. "These are very intelligent animals with very large brains, but there is something about the way they bond to one another," Moore said.

Those strong bonds serve the dolphins well in the wild. When they get into trouble, the dolphins stick together. But Moore added that social cohesion could sometimes be deadly. "That bond becomes a liability when they get into shallow water, and that may be why they mass strand." - Guardian.

WATCH: CBS News reports.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL NARRATIVE: Ancient Aliens - The Mayan Legend of Kukulkan!

History Channel series "Ancient Aliens" examines the Mayan rituals associated with the god Kukulkan and the temple built for him at Chichen Itza.

The Mayans do not speak about Kukulkan in a mythological context. They claim he was a real life being who descended from space and shared knowledge with the Mayan people.

Ancient astronaut theorists believe the legend of Kukulkan is one of many examples of ancient people being visited by benevolent extra-terrestrial beings.

This visual presentation was taken from the episode "Aliens and Mysterious Rituals", Season 3, which premiered on the 25th of August, 2011.

WATCH: Ancient Aliens - The Mayan Legend of Kukulkan

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - Israel "Alleges" That Iran's Nuclear Arms Program is Complete and That the Missiles Can Reach the United States! UPDATE: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Declares That They Will "Cut Out the Cancer" of Israel! UPDATE: Iran Warns World of a Coming "Great Event" - Says "Evil Hegemony" Soon Will be Defeated by Power of Allah?!

Iran has completed the development of a nuclear weapon and awaits nothing more than a sign from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to start assembling its first nuclear bomb, said Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi on Thursday, February 2. Assembling a bomb would take up to a year, Kochavi estimated. With 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent grade and another 4 tons of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent already in stock, Iran would need another two years to make four nuclear bombs.

Therefore, by the end of 2012 or early 2013 Iran may have a single nuclear bomb, but by 2015 the figure would jump to four or five. The officer was essentially amplifying the words of his predecessor, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, who said on Jan. 26 that as long ago as 2007 or 2008, Iran had already passed the point of no return in developing nuclear weapons.  Kochavi agreed with him that none of the sanctions imposed thus far had persuaded Iran to slow down, least of all shut down, its drive for a nuclear weapon. His comments coincided with the findings published Thursday by the Enterprise Institute, an American think tank, that Iran would be able to manufacture a 15-kiloton nuclear bomb as soon as August of this year, just seven months from now.

Also Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon disclosed that the big blast at the Iranian missile base near Tehran last November blew up a new missile system with a range of 10,000 kilometers, capable of targeting the United States. Commenting on Iran's underground bunkers for nuclear facilities, the minister stressed that any facility built by man can be destroyed by man. "Speaking as a former chief of staff, I say none of Iran's installations are immune to attack," he said. Major General Kochavi went on to say that if Iran had attained a nuclear capability, this meant that the US and Israel had failed to pre-empt this outcome. Turning to another threat, the military intelligence chief painted a grim picture of 200,000 rockets and missiles of assorted types pointing at Israel.

Wednesday, February 1, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz stressed that there is no longer any point on the Israeli map that is outside the range of enemy missiles. According to Gen. Kochavi, Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas are dispersing their missiles and rockets to sites deep inland and integrated in urban environments to minimize their vulnerability to IDF attack. He warned "the enemy" had prepared increasing numbers of its missiles for "depth strikes against Israeli population centers, their warheads more lethal than ever. Every tenth residential house in Lebanon," he said, "harbors a missile arsenal or launching position. Their sheer volume has reached a strategic dimension with which Israel will have to deal."

Tuesday, Jan. 31, the IDF practiced mobilizing an armored division under war conditions, debkafile's military sources report. The drill simulated moving the troops to conscription bases, arming them with equipment and weapons and getting them to battle lines – all under the heavy missile bombardment of military facilities, national highways and railway lines. The various assessments of Iran's nuclear capabilities have faced serious credibility problems over the years, debkafile's intelligence sources note.

Today, thanks to Kochavi and Yadlin, we know that the US National Intelligence Estimate of 2007 accepted by the Bush administration was wrong. Its main finding was that Iran had discontinued its military nuclear program in 2003.  For five years, Western intelligence officials have given out misleading estimates to save their governments having to pursue direct action for preempting a nuclear Iran. One school of thought claimed that Iran would not build a bomb until it had the resources to create an arsenal; another, that Tehran lacked the technology for weaponizing enriched uranium. Does the latest evaluation that the manufacture of a bomb awaits the decision of one man, the Iranian Supreme Ruler, fall into the same category as the others? Or is it another gambit to fend off a military strike against Iran for five more years?

How do the US and Israel know for sure that Khamenei has not given the order and that Iranian teams are not already busy assembling a bomb in some bunker? US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has maintained more than once that America has the resources for finding out about a decision by the Supreme Leader, but no American or Israeli intelligence officer can endorse this certainty. It should be remembered, debkafile's military and intelligence sources note, that when Western intelligence announced the discovery of the Fordo underground facility near Qom in mid-2009, construction had begun undiscovered at least eighteen months earlier. - DEBKA.
WATCH: Israel may attack Iran in April.

Meanwhile, Iran will help anyone willing to "cut out the cancer" of Israel, its Khamenei said today.

The religious leader also told worshippers at Friday prayers that the country will continue its controversial nuclear programme. He warned that any military strike by the West would only make Iran stronger. "From now on, in any place, if any nation or any group confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help. We have no fear expressing this," said Khamenei. He said Israel is a "cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut". Iran has been repeatedly defiant to hints that the US and Israel may at some point launch military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

But any statement by Iran's Supreme Leader, who has final say on all matters of state, makes it all the more unlikely that Tehran will switch tack. Khamenei also said that Iran had assisted militant groups like the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas - a well-known policy, but one that Iranian leaders rarely state explicitly. "We have intervened in anti-Israel matters, and it brought victory in the 33-day war by Hezbollah against Israel in 2006, and in the 22-day war," between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip, he said.

Israel's large-scale military incursion against Hamas in 2008-2009 in Gaza ended in a cease-fire, with Israel claiming to have inflicted heavy damage on the militant organisation. The war in Lebanon ended with a UN-brokered truce that sent thousands of Lebanese troops and international peacekeepers into southern Lebanon to prevent another outbreak. "Iran will not withdraw (over its nuclear . Then what happens?" asked Khamenei. "In conclusion, the West's hegemony and threats will be discredited" in the Middle East.

"The hegemony of Iran will be promoted. In fact, this will be in our service." Both US and Israel have not ruled out a military option against Iran's nuclear facilities, which the West suspects are aimed at developing weapons technology. Iran claims they are for peaceful purposes such as energy. Another potential military flashpoint is the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Iran has threatened to close the strait in response to US and EU sanctions targeting the country's oil exports. - Telegraph.
UPDATE: Iran Warns World of a Coming "Great Event" - Says "Evil Hegemony" Soon Will be Defeated by Power of Allah?!

Amid crippling sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, Iran is continuing to prepare itself for war against the West, and now is warning of a coming great event.
“In light of the realization of the divine promise by almighty God, the Zionists and the Great Satan (America) will soon be defeated,” Ayatollah Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader, is warning. Khamenei, speaking to hundreds of youths from more than 70 countries attending a world conference on the Arab Spring just days ago, told a cheering crowd in Tehran that “Allah’s promises will be delivered and Islam will be victorious.” The countries represented included Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Palestine and Tunisia, all of which have been involved in the Arab Spring. In his remarks, Khamenei advised the youths to remain vigilant, stating that the Islamic awakening in the region has delivered several blows to the enemies of Islam and that all Muslims, despite their own historical and social differences, remain united in opposing the “evil hegemony of the Zionists and the Americans.”

Khamenei then claimed the current century as the century of Islam and promised that human history is on the verge of a great event and that soon the world will realize the power of Allah. Many clerics in Iran have stated that Khamenei is the deputy of the last Islamic messiah on earth and that obedience to him is necessary for the final glorification of Islam. Khamenei has been heard to say that the coming of the last Islamic Messiah, the Shiites’ 12th Imam Mahdi, is near and that specific actions need to be taken to protect the Islamic regime for upcoming events. Mahdi, according to Shiite belief, will reappear at the time of Armageddon. Selected forces within the Revolutionary Guards and Basij reportedly have been trained under a task force called “Soldiers of Imam Mahdi” and they will bear the responsibility of security and protecting the regime against uprisings. Many in the Guards and Basij have been told that the 12th Imam is on earth, facilitated the victory of Hezbollah over Israel in the 2006 war and soon will announce publicly his presence after the needed environment is created.

Sources within Vali’eh Amr, the revolutionary forces in charge of the supreme leader’s protection, also recently revealed an assassination attempt on Khamenei that was thwarted just in time. SepahOnline reports that last year during Khamenei’s visit to the port of Asalouyeh in southern Iran, Revolutionary Guards found pistols and hand grenades hidden by one individual dressed as a janitor in a barracks that Khamenei was set to attend. The supreme leader was then returned to Tehran immediately. Other sources within the Guards report that following Barack Obama’s letter to the Iranian leader last month requesting negotiations, Khamenei ordered Iranian officials to speak positively about holding nuclear talks and giving hope to Obama and other Western leaders that a negotiated solution is possible.

This was apparent after a trip of U.N. nuclear inspectors to Iran this week, who called the talks positive. At the same time, his directive to the Guards ordered a speedy completion of the Iranian nuclear bomb program in which Guards’ missiles can be armed with nuclear warheads. Khamenei believes once that’s achieved, Iran can test a nuclear bomb, letting the world know that Iran has joined the nuclear-armed club and that any confrontation will result in destruction of much of the Western world. The Revolutionary Guards not only can hit all U.S. bases in the Middle East with their ballistic missiles but also reach most capital cities in Western Europe. The Guards, with the help of China and North Korea, are working on intercontinental ballistic missiles. But more dangerous to America, as reported last July, is the Guards action in arming their vessels with long-range ballistic missiles and their expansion of their mission into the Atlantic Ocean, right into the Gulf of Mexico.

Any Iranian military or commercial vessel easily could get right outside the U.S. coastline and in less than 60 seconds fire a ballistic missile armed with a nuclear payload and detonate it over U.S. skies in an electromagnetic attack that would plunge America back into the 18th century. Studies show within just one year after such an attack, two-thirds of Americans would cease to exist and the rest would live under dire conditions. The radicals ruling Iran not only have prepared for mass suppression of their own people as they get close to their confrontation with the West, but also have prepared to fuel unrest through their proxies in the Middle East and elsewhere.

SepahOnline, with sources within the Guards, reports that Afghanistan will soon witness an increase in terrorist activities against U.S. forces. The Guards not only are training Taliban fighters in Iran close to the Afghan border, but are shipping armaments to forces in Afghanistan with an order to create instability by harming U.S. forces and destabilizing the Afghan government. Guards agents have also been ordered to do the same in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf counties. The Guards also announced the imminent formation of a defensive unit to deal with possible radioactive contamination. Although they did not say why, they could be preparing for a nuclear exchange with the West once Iran becomes nuclear-armed.

WND previously has reported that the chieftains in Iran also are preparing to execute their own internal critics and opponents at the right time. This was similar to action taken by the founder of the Islamic regime in 1988, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In the book, “A Time to Betray,” the CIA spy in the revolutionary guards reveals the mindset of the Shi’ite clerics and how they aspire for the destruction of the world. They truly believe the end of time is here. As revealed last year, the Iranian secret documentary “The Coming is Upon Us” clearly indicates that the radicals ruling Iran believe the destruction of Israel will trigger the coming of last Islamic Messiah. The fatwa led to the execution of thousands of innocent men and women of all ages in a very short period. - WND.

WATCH: "The Coming is Upon Us" - The timing of the reappearance of the 12th Imam Mahdi.

OUTBREAK: Mass Hysteria, the Extraordinary Social Behavior of Conversion Disorder - More Cases Emerge in Mystery High School "Ticking" Incidents and it is Spreading!

"From fads, crazes, and manias to collective delusions, scares, panics, and mass hysterias, history is replete with examples of remarkable social behavior. Many are fueled by fear and uncertainty; others are driven by hope and expectation. For others still, the causes are more obscure. This massive collection of extraordinary social behaviors spans more than two millennia, and attempts to place many of the episodes within their greater historical and cultural context." - Hilary Evans and Robert E. Bartholomew, Outbreak! The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior.

Fifteen teenage girls report a mysterious outbreak of spasms, tics and seizures in upstate New York. But tests find nothing physically wrong. Scores of adults in Northern California report crawling skin sensations and other bizarre symptoms. Government doctors find no physical cause after an extensive study.

The conclusion by experts is that these are just the latest examples of what used to be called mass hysteria. Now known as conversion disorder, sufferers experience real, but psychologically triggered symptoms. It’s rare, but scores or even hundreds of outbreaks have been recorded through the decades around the world. It’s a diagnosis that’s often reached after other causes are ruled out, and is usually traced to a stress-causing trigger. Individual cases are common, even the kind involving tics and other movement-related symptoms. On average, the National Institutes of Health gets reports of two such cases each week, said Dr. Mark Hallett, who heads the branch that fields those calls.

Outbreaks, however, are unusual. Most involve females, often teenagers. Why is not clear. Some think it has to do with the way girls are socialized to deal with stress. Others say that females are just more likely to seek medical help – and thus appear in medical reports. Symptoms seen in outbreaks vary, and cases have included blindness, headaches, nausea, paralysis and inability to speak. As in infectious disease outbreaks, they often seem to begin with one person who gets the symptoms and then it spreads to people she knows. Experts believe that these first “index” cases often are people who have symptoms caused by a physical illness, but subsequent cases are subconscious mimicry.

Recent examples include:

-In the fall of 2007, at least eight girls at a Roanoke, Va., high school developed strange twitching symptoms similar to those in upstate New York. The school district spent $30,000 to check the school, but investigators found no environmental cause.

-Earlier in 2007, a mysterious illness swept through a Catholic boarding school in Chalco, Mexico, causing 600 girls to suffer fever, nausea and buckling knees that left many unable to walk. Batteries of tests found no physical cause.

-In 2002, 10 teenage girls at a small, rural North Carolina high school had epileptic-like seizures and fainting. The school buildings were inspected, but nothing was found to explain the outbreak.

Allegations of fakery sometimes surface, but most experts believe these patients have real symptoms that they can’t consciously control. One thing they often have in common, is some kind of precipitating stress in their lives. That was the case in Le Roy, N.Y., the site of the latest example of this disorder. Dr. Jennifer McVige, a pediatric neurologist based in nearby Batavia, has seen 10 of the teens. “All of the kids had something big that happened,” like divorcing parents or some other upsetting situation, McVige said, declining to go into detail.

The Le Roy Central School District paid for an inspection of the school, checking for formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, molds, solvents and other volatile organic compounds and even lighting levels. No environmental cause for the cases was found. But the belief that there must be a physical cause drew national news attention, and finally, California environmental activist Erin Brockovich. She wanted to investigate whether a 1970 derailed train carrying chemicals may have contaminated groundwater with trichloroethene, or TCE. State health officials say no TCE was found at the school, and on Wednesday they reported no sign of that chemical or other threatening contaminants in the school or village water supply.

The idea that it’s a stress-induced psychological disorder has been hard for some of the girls and their parents to swallow. Some have appeared on national and international TV voicing that view. On NBC’s Today Show last month, senior Thera Sanchez told how her Tourette-like tics worsened to the point where she couldn’t even attend class. She had some psychological counseling, which she says didn’t resolve her condition. “I want an answer. A straight answer,” she said on the show. Doctors familiar with the girls’ treatment say the continuing news coverage has slowed progress they were making. They have recommended that all the girls see therapists. But that’s easier said than done. There’s a shortage of pediatric psychologists in that part of the state, McVige said.

Experts elsewhere have looked on curiously at the Le Roy story. One piece of footage prompted laughter this week among a group of physicians. They were watching a BBC report on the cases, which showed one girl with a jerking arm that suddenly became very controlled as she applied eyeliner and then jerked around again when she was done. “It’s almost impossible to conceive of a true neurological disorder that can allow for that complexity of switching back and forth,” said Dr. Jose Maldonado, chief of psychosomatic medicine at Stanford University, who mentioned the group’s reaction. “It also looks very purposeful. I’m not saying she’s making it up. I’m just saying that it doesn’t look neurological.” The AP was unable to reach the girl or her mother.

McVige acknowledged the other doctors’ reaction. She recalled one examination in which the tic in one girl’s arm stopped when a doctor forcefully held it, but then the other arm started moving. That also is not something generally seen in neurological disorders. She said the Le Roy outbreak, at its core, is no hoax. But “now I think there’s an overlay of some of the girls trying to prove `there’s something wrong with me,’” she added. Calls from the AP to three of the girls were not returned. Brockovich did not respond to an email request for an interview, either.

Last week, while those cases were in the news, government doctors coincidentally released a long-awaited report on their investigation into an illness known as Morgellons (mor-GELL-uns). The condition is marked by some bizarre symptoms, including sores, crawling sensations on the skin and – perhaps worst of all – mysterious fibers that the patients believe sprout from their skin. Anecdotal and media reports about cases six years ago led to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency found no environmental or physical cause for the cases; tests showed the fibers came from fabric, like clothing or blankets. Psychological evaluations suggested conversion disorder, said a neurologist who worked on the study.

Some specialists argue it doesn’t fit in that category. Some believe Morgellons is a form of psychosis. Others insist these patients are not psychotic, but suffer from a less severe kind of psychological disorder which isn’t well understood yet. Also, at least some of the Morgellons patients probably don’t have a psychological problem at all, said Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic who has studied delusions of infestation. It turned out one woman had itchy skin that was caused by high calcium levels that developed from parathyroid tumors.

In past outbreaks, the symptoms of conversion disorder have tended to disappear in a matter of weeks or a few months. In Le Roy, many of the cases appeared around the beginning of the school year and were improving, but about half of the girls got worse after the wave of media attention and disputes about the cause of the illness. Indeed, McVige said she has stopped forwarding media requests to her patients. Anxiety and suspicion are continuing, fueled by YouTube, Facebook and other social media that weren’t prevalent in earlier outbreaks, observed Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist who has studied mass hysteria for many years. “There is a good chance that symptoms could spread to other students and last for several more months – even years,” Bartholomew said in an email from New Zealand, where he teaches at a university. - Long Island Press.
WATCH: NBC reports on the outbreak.