Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Rare Double Mirage Observed Near Frozen Hokkaido Lake - Stuns the Director of the Japan Mirage Association!

An extremely rare double mirage was observed near a frozen lake here on Feb. 14.

A double mirage is observed at the shore of Lake Furen in Nemuro, Hokkaido, on Feb. 14, 2012.
Yasushi Nagao, 55, from Nemuro, managed to capture the optical phenomenon on his camera at around 7 a.m. on St. Valentine's Day, when he noticed that a virtual image of several buildings located on the opposite shore of Lake Furen stood mirrored underneath the buildings. Furthermore, a second mirage showing pretenses of snow and ice piled upside-down underneath the real objects could be seen below the buildings.
A zoomed and trimmed version of the mirage snapshot shows the real objects above
the red lines, and their respective mirages below each of the two lines.
Mirages appearing beneath the real object are known as "inferior mirages." They occur when the air near the ground is significantly warmer than that higher up. According to experts, when light rays pass through such warm air, they bend in an upward trajectory, as if seen through lenses. "I've never heard of a double (inferior mirage)," said Takuya Ogane, the director of Japan Mirage Association, expressing his surprise at the news. - MDN.

EXTREME WEATHER: Wild Winter - Hurricane-Force Storm Smacks Alaska!

Alaska's wild winter has been relentless, with yet another hurricane-strength blizzard smacking the state yesterday (February 14).

A hurricane-force storm hits Alaska on Feb. 14, 2012.
The lower 48 states have had an unusually mild winter, but Alaska has been buried under snow and shivering in frigid temperatures. Temperatures in some towns have dipped to a whopping 30 degrees below average for this time of year. So much snow had fallen in the town of Cordova in January that Alaska's National Guard had to help dig residents out. The tiny village of Nome needed an emergency shipment of fuel after its final shipment for the winter was blown off course by another fierce storm. A climate pattern known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is influencing this wicked winter, as it tends to keep Alaska cooler than normal. La Niña, a cooling of the waters of the equatorial Pacific, has also been in play, and it also typically creates colder temperatures for Alaska.

The Bering Sea is known for its strong winter storms, bringing high seas and heavy precipitation to areas from Alaska to the Northwest United States. In early November, a ferocious winter storm hit Alaska's coast. The latest monster storm was seen by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) AVHRR sensor on the Metop-A satellite. The polar orbit of Metop-A is important for monitoring such systems in the high latitudes where coverage from the GOES satellite, which monitors much of U.S. weather, is limited. The data from Metop-A are also used in NOAA weather models. This image for Feb. 14th shows the extremely low pressure of the storm. Lower central pressures are indicative of more intense storms with higher wind speeds. The central pressure of the storm is estimated at 952 millibars. To compare, Hurricane Irene reached 942 millibars at its maximum strength, with 120 mph (193 mph) winds. - Our Amazing Planet.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - Japanese Scientists Create Hollywood's "Avatar" Robot!

The sci-fi world of the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar has been brought one step closer to reality with the creation of a robot that mimics the movements of its human controller.

Japanese scientists have developed a robot that allows humans to direct its actions while also enabling them to see, hear and feel the same things as their android counterpart. The TELESAR V robot can be seen as perhaps the first step towards a real-life echo of the Hollywood film Avatar, in which US soldiers were able to remotely control the genetically engineered bodies of an extra-terrestrial race they wished to subdue. Describing the sensation of using the robot, Sho Kamuro, a researcher, told AFP: “When I put on the devices and move my body, I see my hands having turned into robot hands. “When I move my head, I get a different viewpoint from the one I had before. It’s a strange experience that makes you wonder if you’ve really become a robot.” The TELESAR V robot – the TELexistence Surrogate Anthropomorphic Robot - is operated by a human controller, who wears special equipment including headgear, gloves and a vest in order to direct the actions of the android machine.

The gloves are made of thin polyester lined with semiconductors and tiny motors to enable the user to “feel” what the robot is actually touching, distinguishing between sensations such as smooth or bumpy and hot or cold. Meanwhile, the images in the line of vision of the “eyes” of the robot are captured on camera and appear in three-dimensional form on small video screens in front of the user’s eyes. Such devices could be most usefully deployed in situations where it is too dangerous to send humans, according to Professor Susumu Tachi, who specialises in engineering and virtual reality at Keio University's Graduate School of Media Design. One such scenario was the use of the robots in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was severely damaged in last year’s earthquake and tsunami. "I think further research and development could enable this to go into areas too dangerous for humans and do jobs that require human skills," said Professor Tachi. “It’s important to make robots that can work in a radioactive environment and that’s what we’re aiming at.” - Telegraph.

WATCH: Japan scientist makes 'Avatar' robot.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: World's Driest Desert in Chile Hit by Unusual Heavy Rains?!

Homes have been destroyed by floods and mudslides as heavy rain in Chile's Atacama Desert take residents by surprise in one of the driest places on Earth.

Children play during an unusual snowfall in the Atacama desert.

WATCH: World's driest desert in Chile hit by unusual heavy rains.

BIG BROTHER NOW: The Emerging Global Police State - Online Surveillance Bill "Will Put an Electronic Prisoner's Bracelet on Every Canadian"!

The Conservative government has called its controversial new electronic surveillance bill the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act as it attempts to win support for the planned laws that would give authorities unprecedented new powers to monitor the online and phone habits of Canadians.

The so-called “lawful access” legislation, tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday, will require Internet service providers and cellphone companies to hand over basic customer information — including name, address, phone number, email address, and ISP addresses — to authorities when requested, without the need for a warrant. Dubbed “online spying” by critics, the bill is also expected to require ISPs and phone companies to install equipment for real-time surveillance and create new police powers designed to obtain access to the surveillance data. The official naming of bill C-30 comes a day after Safety Minister Vic Toews sparked outrage by claiming opponents of the legislation were siding with “child pornographers” by not supporting the planned laws. The claim, which caused outrage among opposition MPs, came after Liberal public safety critic Francis Scarpaleggia asked Mr. Toews in the House of Commons how Canadians were supposed to trust the government wouldn’t use the private information they obtained online to intimidate citizens. “We are proposing measures to bring our laws into the 21st century and to provide the police with the lawful tools that they need,” Mr. Toews said to the MP for Lac-Saint-Louis, Quebec. “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”

Mr. Toews’ remark prompted immediate condemnation from Green Party leader Elizabeth May and others... On Tuesday, the Opposition rejected Toews’ characterization. Holding up his BlackBerry, NDP digital critic Charlie Angus said the bill would undermine the privacy of average Canadians. “Now, every single Canadian citizen is walking around with an electronic prisoner’s bracelet,” Angus said after the tabling of the bill... At a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson acknowledged the serious “justice challenges” that exist online. “The bill will assist with investigations into Internet and other computer-related crimes,” he said...  In addition to a name, address, phone number and email address, companies would also be required to hand over the Internet protocol address and a series of device identification numbers, allowing police to build a detailed profile on a person using their digital footprint and to facilitate the tracking of a person’s movement through the location of their cellphone... Mr. Toews says the new legislation is consistent with what is already in place in the U.S. the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. - National Post.

EARTH CHANGES: Massive Water Tornado in Auckland, New Zealand!

A water spout has been filmed passing through the harbour of New Zealand's capital city.

The weather formation, caused by cool air meeting warmer than average water, moved from the suburb of Devonport towards the centre of Auckland at around 4pm local time (0300 GMT). Local residents filmed the water spout which resembled the shape of a tornado. Inside the spout, winds can reach speeds of up to 62.1 miles per hour. They have also been known to pick up various sea-life from the water and leave them on land, where the spouts generally dissipate. - Telegraph.

WATCH: Water spout spotted over Auckland.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Unseasonably Mild Winter in America - Freezing Rain and Snow in the Central Plains and East Coast Sees Temperatures Plummet!

An unseasonably mild winter has been broken in the U.S. as parts of the country were pelted with snow and freezing rain and temperatures plummeted over the weekend.

Chilly blast: Arctic air has brought snow and freezing rain to northeast America after a relatively mild winter.
Arctic air has brought snow and freezing rain across parts of the Southern and Central Plains that are expected to last through today, according to the National Weather Service. Winter weather advisories are also in effect for parts of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. A blanket of snow could see up to three inches falling from the Texas Panhandle to the middle Mississippi River Valley, forecasters have said.

Combined with freezing rain, the middle of the U.S. could be in line for travel problems. Cold air has also seen temperatures in the east and south between five and 20 degrees below average for the time of year, the Weather Channel reported. Road officials and emergency planners have been gearing up for the wintry weather, which was expected to worsen overnight. Temperatures for the south and south-east are expected to return to near normal from tomorrow. But the West Coast will face steady rain this morning and heavy snow showers in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. - Daily Mail.

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Signs From the Heavens - Two Suns Photographed in the Republic of Crimea, Ukraine?! UPDATE: Two Suns Seen Over Taganrog as the High Strangeness in Russia Continues!

The following images of two suns in the daytime sky were taken in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine. It was originally posted on the Vseneprostotak webpage on February 11th, 2012 with the following description "These photos were taken this morning in the Crimea. I do not know how to explain this phenomenon."

UPDATE: Two Suns Seen Over Taganrog as the High Strangeness in Russia Continues!

Here's another sighting of two suns from the seaport city of Taganrog in Rostov, Oblast, Russia.

For more pictures, click HERE.

One can't be sure if these images have been "doctored" by using computer software like Adobe Photoshop; or if it is part of the natural atmospheric phenomenon parhelion, otherwise known as sun dog; or simply just photographic effects. One thing for sure, is that, there seems to be something really weird happening in Russia. I recently reported on a series of bizarre incidents in the Urals Mountains, Ufa, Bashkortostan, Novobureysky, and Chelyabinsk, where residents witnessed the strange appearance of crop circles, unidentified flying objects (UFOs), as well as dead carcasses of hares following the sighting of these aerial anomalies.
Residents in the remote village of Chelyabinsk, Russia, were interviewed on national TV about a UFO they'd witnessed recently. The footage does show a circular, unidentified flying object ringed by flashing lights which doesn't look like any known aircraft.

The remoteness of the area makes the possibility of some kind of private advertising service, or sky writing, unlikely. What is the object which has the citizens of the village too scared to sleep at night? In the TV news piece, naturally in Russian, it's clear what the witnesses are saying to the reporter, even without translation. A news crew films the area in which the UFO was flying at night and shows that, in the daylight, it's obviously a frozen wilderness and not any kind of an airfield.

The witnesses (an elderly farmer and a worried husband and wife with several children) appear to be remarking how the object was circular and that they feel a bit spooked by the incident. In the description written by the YouTube poster, there is the comment that the villagers are losing sleep over the encounter. It's obviously a big enough story, with some unanswered questions, to be taken seriously by a Russian news organization. What is it? - Gather.
WATCH: Strange UFO over Russia, the TV report.

Read more on these strange occurrences HERE.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - Iran Loads Up First Home-Made Nuclear Rods, Sends 15,000 Elite Special-Ops Troop to Syria; and Establishes "Operational Relationship" With Al Qaeda; Israel Promises to "Settle the Score"?! UPDATE: Iran Cuts Oil to Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal!

Iran will today load locally made nuclear fuel rods into its Tehran Research Reactor for the first time, a senior official has said.

The loading ceremony will be attended by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator Ali Baqeri. "We began enriching uranium to 20% in order to make fuel rods because Western countries are not ready to help us," Baqeri told a Russian news agency in Tehran. "And for the first time, fuel rods produced by Iranian scientists will be installed in the presence of the Islamic Republic's president in Tehran's research reactor on Wednesday," Baqeri was quoted as saying. Iran has previously argued that the 20% enriched uranium was necessary for its Tehran research reactor to make isotopes for treating cancers. Western powers and Israel fear the enrichment is a part of Tehran's drive to produce nuclear weapons. - SKY News.
Fears Iran Is Helping Al Qaeda Plot Atrocity.
Iran and al Qaeda's core leadership under Ayman al Zawahiri have established an "operational relationship" amid fears the terror group is planning a spectacular attack against the West. There are concerns such an attack, possibly targeting the Olympics, would be in revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden by the US last year. Sky intelligence sources said Iran was supplying al Qaeda with training in the use advanced explosives, "some funding and a safe haven" as part of a deal first worked out in 2009 which has now lead to "operational capacity". The United States has become so concerned about the close relationship that late last year it issued a $10m (£6.4m) reward for information leading to the whereabouts of a Syrian al Qaeda leader in Iran, Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, better known as Yasin al Suri. The reward offered for al Suri, 30, puts him on the same level as Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Only al Zawahiri, who replaced bin Laden, has a higher price, $25m (£16m), on his head. - SKY News.
Iranian patrol boats shadow USS Lincoln as it sails down Strait of Hormuz.
Iranian patrol boats and aircraft shadowed a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group as it transited the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday. The passage ended a Gulf mission that displayed Western naval power amid heightened tensions with Tehran, which has threatened to choke off vital oil shipping lanes. Officers onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln said there were no incidents with Iranian forces and described the surveillance as routine measures by Tehran near the strategic strait, which is jointly controlled by Iran and Oman. lthough U.S. warships have passed through the strait for decades, the trip comes during an escalating showdown between Iran and the West over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. The last time an American carrier left the Gulf — the USS John C. Stennis in late December — Iran's army chief warned the U.S. it should never return. The Lincoln was the centerpiece of a flotilla that entered the Gulf last month along with British and French warships in a display of Western unity against Iranian threats. There was no immediate comment by Iran about the Lincoln's departure. - Daily Mail.
Britain and U.S. join forces to demand further action at the UN as Syria continues bombardment of Homs for ELEVENTH day.

Britain and the U.S. have joined forces to demand the United Nations take further action in Syria, as President Bashar Assad's brutal military crackdown shows no sign of stopping. Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed in a telephone call last night on the 'need for international unity' - as the city of Homs was bombarded by rockets and mortars for a eleventh consecutive day. Today's attacks saw Assad's troops attacking rebels and homes on several fronts, with Homs succumbing to severe food and fuel shortages as residents remain trapped inside their homes. The need, Cameron's spokesman said, included: 'Further action at the UN and a broad and strong coalition in the new Friends of Syria group.' - Daily Mail.
The regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria is expecting up to 15,000 Iranian troops to help maintain order in the country's provinces, a Chinese newspaper reports. Iran has yet to confirm or deny the news.

WATCH: 15,000 elite Iranian special-ops 'head' to Syria.

Meanwhile, Israel has avowed to "settle the score" for alleged Iranian attacks.
An Iranian man blew off his legs with grenades and wounded four civilians Tuesday in Bangkok, the Associated Press reported. The man was identified as Saeid Moradi from Iran by a passport found at the scene. CBS and the AP reported that an Israeli Cabinet minister said his country will “settle the score” with the perpetrators of the bombing. According to the AP, a blast earlier that day had shaken the house Moradi was sharing with two other Iranian men. A part of the roof was blown off and the two other men quickly left the house. Police Gen. Pansiri Prapawat told the AP that Moradi was seriously injured by the blast and attempted to wave down a taxi. He was covered in blood so the driver refused to take him. Moradi then threw an explosive that damaged the taxi. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Bangkok blasts were attempted terrorist attacks backed by Iran. Another government minister strongly implied Israel would seek revenge, without mentioning Iran explicitly. “We know who carried out the terror attacks, we know who sent them, and Israel will settle the score with them,” Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told Israel Radio. - NT.
UPDATE: Iran Cuts Oil to Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal!
Iran has announced it is cutting oil exports to six European countries ahead of sanctions imposed by the EU. State TV said exports to Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal would be cut, but did not elaborate on to what extent oil would be allowed to be traded, if at all. Around 18% of Iran's oil exports currently go to the EU. Less than 1% of its oil exports go to the UK. Iran is preparing to load its own nuclear fuel roads into a research reactor for the first time, at a ceremony attended by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The enriched uranium fuel will be placed into the Tehran Research Reactor on Wednesday. "We began enriching uranium to 20% in order to make fuel rods because Western countries are not ready to help us," said deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Counci Ali Baqeri, according to a student news agency and Reuters.

"For the first time, fuel rods produced by Iranian scientists will be installed in the presence of the Islamic Republic's president in Tehran's research reactor." Iran says it has made the 20% enriched uranium because it wanted to make isotopes to treat cancer. The research reactor is believed to be used for medical purposes and agricultural products. It previously ran on Argentinian fuel rods but it did not reach deal to extend the trade deal. But in a report last year the International Atomic Energy Agency, which reports to the United Nations, said that Iran was fixated on producing a nuclear bomb and was closer than ever to succeeding. Iran has refused to suspend its nuclear research, heightening tensions in the region. - Huffington Post.

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Solar Watch - Space Weather Indicates That A "Not Fully Understood Disturbance Rippled Through Earth's Magnetic Field"?!

According to Space Weather, with no sunspots actively flaring, the sun's X-ray output has flatlined and solar activity should remain low for the next 24 hours with only a slight chance of M-class solar flares. However, something happened to Earth's magnetosphere that is troubling scientists.
SWEET LIGHTS: For reasons not fully understood by forecasters, a disturbance rippled through Earth's magnetic field on Feb. 14th. Perhaps it was Cupid's arrow. The impact sparked some sweet lights around the Arctic Circle:
Aurora Sky Station, Abisko National Park, Sweden on February 14th.
"On several occasions the sky was full of auroras from horizon to horizon," says photographer and aurora tour guide Chad Blakley of Abisko National Park, Sweden. "We had many happy couples celebrating with us tonight. Most of our guests agreed that it was the best Valentine's day that they had ever shared together." There has been some speculation that the display was caused by a CME, launched from the sun on Feb. 10th and reaching Earth on Feb. 14th. However, there is no clear signature of a CME impact in local solar wind data.

Geomagnetic activity intensified even more on Feb. 15th when the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth tilted south, opening a crack in Earth's magnetic field. Solar wind poured in and fueled a G1-class geomagnetic storm, underway now .

from Matt Melnyk flying 25,000 feet over Alberta, Canada; from Claus Vogel of Pelly Crossing, Yukon; from Roger Schneider of Tromso, Norway; from Tim of Trysil, Norway; from Beate Kiil Karlsen of Norway; from Ashton Seth Reimer of Kjell Henriksen Observatory in Svalbard, Norway; from Mike Criss near Coldfoot, Alaska.

ICE AGE NOW: Record-Breaking Cold Snap in Britain - Mercury Plummets to Winter Lowest -18C in Some Areas, Coldest Night of the Winter so Far!

Britain has endured its coldest night of the winter so far with temperatures plummeting close to -18C in some areas, forecasters said.

The record-breaking cold snap comes as families setting off on half-term getaways have been warned of "deceptively dangerous" road conditions. Experts said the mercury had fallen to -17.8C in Chesham, Bucks, during the early hours of the morning and were expected to plunge even lower as the icy weather continues to grip the UK. Claire Allen, forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Overnight we have had the coldest temperatures this winter so far.

"Most places in England and eastern areas of Wales dropped to below -4C, with -5.8C at Heathrow and -5.5C in Nottingham. "Motorists are going to have to be extra cautious in areas where there is still snow remaining as it will be frozen making the roads very icy and slippery." The Met Office said it had probably been the coldest night in England since December 2010 with temperatures widely below -10C across Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

A "yellow" severe weather warning instructing people to "be aware" of ice on roads has been issued by the national weather service across the whole of England and parts of Wales. A level three cold weather alert is also in place. Ms Allen said the bitter temperatures would continue on Saturday with London, south-eastern areas and the Midlands struggling to get above freezing. Most areas should be dry and sunny, but cloud, rain and freezing drizzle could hit western parts of Britain, she added. Scotland and Northern Ireland escaped the adverse temperatures overnight thanks to a warm front, with readings of between 5C and 10C expected on Saturday. - Buxton Advertiser.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Thousands of Crows Invade Local Community in Pennsylvania - Disrupting the Lives of Many Residents!

Thousands of crows have invaded a local town and university and people want the birds gone.

Dave Mason from the American Legion Post in California, Washington County, says it’s even getting in the way of his job. “They just take off from every direction, they’re just all over the place,” said Mason. “Their feces goes all over you, all over your vehicles and it’s been interfering with our business because people don’t want to come here for that reason.” Others who live along Second Street say the birds are extremely loud. “It’s louder than my alarm clock, let’s just put it that way. It’s horrible, the cawing and everything all night long,” said California resident Jess Priest.

Bree Robinson, a student at California University of Pennsylvania, even built a scarecrow and stuck it in a nearby tree. She doesn’t think it did any good, though. Cars outside in the area are covered with droppings. As the KDKA crew took video, they could hear what sounded like rain drops when hundreds of the birds all took off. California University of Pennsylvania has also had problems with crows and used laser lights and a plant-based “fog” to discourage them from roosting on campus. - CBS Pittsburgh.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Activity Update on the Fuego Volcano in Guatemala - Weak Ash Explosion, Lava Flows on the Southwestern Flank!

Weak ash explosions continue at Fuego volcano. INSIVUMEH reported for 13 February that 9 eruptions were counted, producing plumes up to 500 m high and occasional rumbling noises. A steam plume is rising constantly about 100 m from the crater. The ash drifted 8 miles WSW. The new lava flow on the southwest flank in the direction of the Taniluya ravine is still active and about 200 m long. Blocks that detach from its front form small block avalanches that reach the vegetation. - Volcano Discovery.

INSIVUMEH reported that during 1-3 and on 6 February explosions from Fuego generated ash plumes that rose 400-900 m above the crater; the plumes drifted about 12 km S and SW on 1 February and to the SSW during 2-3 February. On 1 February rumbling noises were heard, incandescence material rose as high as 100 m above the crater, and block avalanches descended the S flank. A new 200-m-long lava flow descended the SW flank into the Taniluya drainage and block avalanches reached vegetation during 2-3 February. On 6 February the lava flow descended towards the Ceniza drainage and block avalanches again reached vegetation. Strong winds caused re-suspended ash to rise 1 km high and drift several kilometers W and S during 1-3 February.

Geologic Summary.
Volcán Fuego, one of Central America's most active volcanoes, is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua. The scarp of an older edifice, Meseta, lies between 3,763-m-high Fuego and its twin volcano to the N, Acatenango. Construction of Meseta volcano continued until the late Pleistocene or early Holocene, after which growth of the modern Fuego volcano continued the southward migration of volcanism that began at Acatenango. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded at Fuego since the onset of the Spanish era in 1524, and have produced major ashfalls, along with occasional pyroclastic flows and lava flows. The last major explosive eruption from Fuego took place in 1974, producing spectacular pyroclastic flows visible from Antigua.
- Global Volcanism Program.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Wild Weather Shifts Give Fairbanks, Alaska an Unusually Warm February!

After one of the coldest Januarys on record, Fairbanksans have been treated to a warm February so far.

Normally the second-coldest month of the year in Alaska’s second-largest city, February has gotten off to an extremely mild start, the National Weather Service said in a public information statement. Eleven of the first 13 days of the month have had an average temperature above normal and seven of the first 13 days have had a high temperature of 25 degrees or warmer. The average temperature so far this month at Fairbanks International Airport is 5.4 degrees, which is is 9.5 degrees above normal and more than 30 degrees warmer than January’s average temperature of 26.9 below. Had it not been for the first four days of the month, which had an average temperature of minus 11.3, it would be one of the warmest starts to February on record.

As it is, it has been the warmest start to February since 2007 and continues a trend this winter that has been characterized by wild swings of either well above or well below normal temperatures. After a mild start to the winter in October and the first half of November, the temperature plummeted to record-breaking levels during a pre-Thanksgiving cold snap that featured six consecutive record low temperatures. Then it warmed up considerably in December. The first three weeks of December were the second-warmest start to the month in more than 100 years, with temperatures well above normal. The warm stretch lasted until Christmas, when the temperature plunged again, beginning a 5 1/2-week cold snap that persisted through the entire month of January and saw temperatures dip to 50 below at the airport for the first time in six years.

The pattern changed again to begin February, with temperatures once again climbing to well-above normals. Temperatures during the next week are expected to remain above normal, though there are some long-range indications that trend change to below-normal temperatures later in the month or in early March. “This is still a long way out and remains highly uncertain but based on the wild extremes experienced so far this winter it would certainly not be out of character for the winter of 2011-2012,” the weather service wrote. It makes you wonder what’s in store for March. - Newsminer.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 6.0 Magnitude Quake Strikes off the Southern Oregon Coast!

A strong 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday roughly 160 miles off the coast of Oregon, jolting the ocean flooor, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 off the Oregon coast caused no reported damage and only a smattering of reports from people who felt it as a weak jolt. The shallow quake was recorded at 7:31 p.m. PST Tuesday more than 150 miles west of southern Oregon. It did not generate a tsunami.

Within about an hour, the information center's website recorded 39 reports of people who reported feeling the quake. Most were in northern California and southern Oregon and characterized it was "weak" or "barely felt."

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Dale Grant told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the quake occurred in a seismically active area and was "not uncommon at all." In his words, "These are the ones we like - nobody gets hurt and there's no damage."  - ABC.

The tremor was located at 43.536°N, 127.381°W with a depth of 6.2 miles in the Pacific Ocean 159 miles west of Coos Bay, Oregon. It was felt as far away as San Francisco, California, according to the USGS. According to Reuters, a spokesman for the Portland police said he did not feel the quake. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. No tsunami warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.