Tuesday, April 3, 2012

EXTREME WEATHER: Tornadoes Slam Dallas-Fort Worth Area, Sucking Up Truck Traiilers - One Day After the National Weather Service's Issues Warning of "CATASTROPHIC" and "UN-SURVIVABLE" Tornadoes!

At least two tornadoes violently spun through the Dallas-Forth Worth area, collapsing roofs, ripping down power lines and tossing trailers around like toys, authorities said Tuesday.

The National Weather Service said "considerable damage" had been reported near Cleburne, south of Fort Worth, and Lancaster, south of Dallas. Local television footage showed overturned and smashed semi-trailers on the ground in the southern portion of Dallas County. "Obviously we're going to have a lot of assessments to make when this is done," Dallas County spokeswoman Maria Arita said.
Flights heading to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were being delayed almost three hours. AccuWeather reported significant damage at Six Flags Amusement Park in Arlington. Dallas Police spokeswoman Sherri Jeffrey said twisters also caused damage inside the city limits. The storms spewed hail, some as large as baseballs, the weather service said. All tornado warning in the immediate Dallas-Fort Worth area were canceled by the National Weather Service around 3 p.m CT, although two tornado warnings were still in effect for counties several miles northeast of Dallas. A tornado watch — meaning that conditions are ripe for tornadoes to continue to form — was in place for 33 counties in north-central and northeastern Texas until 8 p.m. CT, the National Weather Service reported. Weather service advisories said storm spotters and radar had showed separate "large and extremely dangerous" tornadoes south of Dallas and Fort Worth. "There's tremendous damage here," NBC 5 reported from Lancaster. The station reported that a daycare center was heavily damaged but that the children and adults inside appeared safe. Footage from highway video cameras showed a large, dark funnel cloud moving on the ground not far from a major interstate early Tuesday afternoon. Crumpled orange tractor trailers were later visible in a Dallas County parking lot, as well as flattened trailers along the sides of highways and access roads. The storm pushed cars into fences and toppled trees over. Branches and limbs were scattered across lawns and in the streets. A tow-behind RV was torn apart and crumpled in a driveway where part of a roof from a house landed. - USA Today.
WATCH: Tornadoes rip through Dallas.

WATCH: Scenes of destruction.

This comes against the background of the National Weather Service's implementation of an experimental tornado warning policy change to offices that serve Missouri and Kansas on Monday, April 2, 2012.
The new policy will apply three distinct sub-categories of tornado warnings, as follows: an "ordinary" tornado warning, a warning of a "particularly dangerous situation," stating that a tornado has been sighted on the ground and a "Tornado Emergency", which will explicitly state that there is a tornado on the ground and will include words such as "mass devastation and "un-survivable" when necessary. The warnings have been implemented to effectively communicate the severity of an approaching storm, and to encourage more people to take heed. The policy is designed to help mitigate the frequency of which people ignore alarms for impending storms, especially people living in mobile homes who may need to travel to seek suitable shelter. The May 22, 2011 devastation of Joplin, Mo., that killed 185 people and injured over a thousand residents is being used as the prime example by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to a NOAA survey report, "the perceived frequency of siren activation in Joplin led most survey participants to become desensitized or complacent to this method of warning." In this report, the NOAA encourages that the National Weather Service "explore evolving the warning system to better support effective decision making." "The majority of Joplin residents did not take protective action until processing additional credible confirmation of the threat and its magnitude from a non-routine, extraordinary risk trigger," the report explains. A sample of the new warning released by the NWS reads:


The experimental policy change, which will run through late fall, will be analyzed by a North Carolina research team to determine if it is suitable for expansion to other parts of the country.
- Accu Weather.
WATCH: NWS' warning system.

MONUMENTAL HUMANITARIAN FOOD CRISIS: "Millions of Lives at Risk" - From Devastating Conditions in Drought-Stricken Sahel Region of Africa!

Vast portions of west and central Africa have become so dry that they can't support crops, livestock and the millions of people who live there.

The Sahel - a belt of arid land that stretches across Africa below the Sahara Desert - is a zone prone to cycles of drought, and eight countries are seeing the worst of it this time. The United Nations estimates that more than 10 million people are in danger of starving to death. Aid workers on the ground say it's getting worse quickly. In response, UNICEF is launching a 24-hour social media campaign on Tuesday to raise awareness about the food crisis in Africa. Called #SahelNOW, the campaign asks users on Facebook, Twitter and other social media to post messages over the day Tuesday to boost awareness of the problem and the estimated 1 million children in danger.

What can you do? UNICEF asks the public to post videos about the problem, tweet out messages, use Facebook statuses to share and more in the #SahelNOW campaign. (Check out more here) Aid workers on the ground say the situation is rapidly deteriorating. "It's related to the lack of rains in 2011 and the drought," said David Gressly, UNICEF's regional director. "People are trying to cope with that by selling their personal belongings - cattle, livestock," he said. "They're pulling children out of school to adapt to this." U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced the U.S. will earmark $120 million in emergency assistance for the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Sahel
. - CNN.
WATCH: Major crisis in drought-stricken Sahel region of Africa.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Lloyds of London Hit by Record Catastrophe Claims - Unprecedented Series of Natural Disasters Force £516m Loss For the Insurance Market in 2011!

Lloyd's of London made a £516m loss last year after paying out the largest catastrophe claims on record. The 324-year-old insurance market, which operates out of Richard Rogers's famous "inside-out building" in the City, paid out £4.6bn in disaster claims after earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, storms in the US and floods in Thailand and Australia. Total catastrophe claims for the global industry reached $107bn (£67bn) last year, according to insurer Aon Benfield.

Scene from the mega-disaster that hit Japan on March, 2011.
The unprecedented series of natural disasters forced up the total Lloyd's payout to £12.9bn, or £1.07 for every £1 paid in premiums last year. The Thai floods, in October, were the biggest disaster for Lloyd's in term of payouts last year, with total claims estimated at £1.4bn. Richard Ward, Lloyd's chief executive, said the area flooded in Thailand was the equivalent of "seven industrial parks the size of Birmingham – and they remained underwater for a couple of months". He said the Thai floods were a "double whammy" for Japan because 80% of the buildings were owned by Japanese technology companies, many of which had transferred production to Thailand following the country's devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. Ward said £1.2bn of tsunami payouts were lower than for the Thai floods because Japanese companies tended to insure their businesses with local insurers. He added that "worryingly" for the people of Japan, a lot of properties were not insured at all.
The scale of the payouts dragged Lloyd's to its biggest full-year loss since the 11 September attacks in America in 2001, which led to the market of 80 insurance syndicates reporting a £3.1bn loss. In 2010, the company made a £2.2bn profit. "Make no mistake, 2011 was a difficult year for the insurance industry," Ward said. "Given the scale of the claims, a loss is unsurprising, but it reflects what we're here to do: help communities and businesses rebuild after disaster." He said the size and stability of Lloyd's market structure, which allows underwriters and brokers to operate under the protection of its £2.3bn central fund, had enabled the company to absorb the "pretty spectacular" £12.9bn payout. "We can take a punch to the solar plexus, and get up and fight again," said Luke Savage, Lloyd's finance director. "The market is designed to withstand one, two, three [disasters] it's not often they all come at once.... We're here to take risks." John Nelson, who took office as Lloyd's chairman in October 2011, said the market was still in a strong financial position, but warned that 2012 would be another challenging year. - The Guardian.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Sakurajima in Japan, Erupts Violently - Throwing Hot Rocks and Ash 9,000 Feet High!

The following video, taken from a closed-circuit television, captured several spectacular images of the violent and explosive eruption of the Sakurajima volcano in the Kagoshima prefecture. The Japanese volcano continued its record-breaking eruptons, spewing out hot rocks and ash. Several weeks ago, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) indicated that the exhalations were the most forceful since 2009.

The Agency added that the volcano has been erupting steadily for the last two years, but the eruption on Monday turned violent, throwing 50-centimetre (1 foot 6 inches) rocks nearly 1.2 miles away, the furthest since 2009. In response, the Meteorological agency extended the eruption warning to residents living further away from the mouth of the volcano. The volcano has already had over 300 eruptions this year. Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan’s more active volcanoes, resumed activity in 1955 and has been active ever since. Sakurajima volcano in Japan’s southern Kagoshima prefecture erupts violently in what officials say is the most powerful since 2009, though there has been no damage so far. - DigTriad.
Based on information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that during 21-22 March explosions from Sakura-jima produced ash plumes that rose to altitudes of 1.8-2.7 km (6,000-9,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and S. Sakura-jima, one of Japan's most active volcanoes, is a post-caldera cone of the Aira caldera at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow was associated with the formation of the 17 x 23-km-wide Aira caldera about 22,000 years ago. The construction of Sakura-jima began about 13,000 years ago and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kita-dake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minami-dake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76. - Weekly Volcanic Activity Report.
WATCH: Sakurajima erupts violently.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far and Wide - California Slammed With Fukushima Radiation!

The Journal Environmental Science and Technology reports in a new study that the Fukushima radiation plume contacted North America at California “with greatest exposure in central and southern California”.

Southern California's seaweed tested over 500% higher for radioactive iodine-131 than anywhere else in the U.S. and Canada:
Projected paths of the radioactive atmospheric plume emanating from the Fukushima reactors, best described as airborne particles or aerosols for 131I, 137Cs, and 35S, and subsequent atmospheric monitoring showed it coming in contact with the North American continent at California, with greatest exposure in central and southern California. Government monitoring sites in Anaheim (southern California) recorded peak airborne concentrations of 131I at 1.9 pCi m−3
Anaheim is where Disneyland is located.  EneNews summarizes the data:
Corona Del Mar (Highest in Southern California)
  • 2.5 Bq/gdwt (gram dry weight)= 2,500 Bq/kg of dry seaweed
Santa Cruz (Highest in Central California)
  • 2.0 Bq/gdwt = 2,000 Bq/kg of dry seaweed
Simon Fraser University in Canada also tested North American seaweed after Fukushima:
  • “In samples of dehydrated seaweed taken on March 15 near the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal, the count was zero; on March 22 it was 310 Bq per kilogram; and by March 28 it was 380 Bq/kg.” -Vancouver Sun
  • Seaweed in Seattle also tested positive for iodine-131; levels were not reported -KIRO
  • No results after March 28 were reported
In addition, radioactive debris is starting to wash up on the Pacific Coast. And because the Japanese are burning radioactive materials instead of disposing of them, .
Of course, the government is doing everything it can to help citizens cover up what’s occurring. We pointed out in January:
Instead of doing much to try to protect their citizens from Fukushima, Japan, the U.S. and the EU all just raised the radiation levels they deem “safe”. Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that high-level friends in the State Department told him that Hillary Clinton signed a pact with her counterpart in Japan agreeing that the U.S. will continue buying seafood from Japan, despite that food not being tested for radioactive materials [see this]. And the Department of Energy is trying to replace the scientifically accepted model of the dangers of low dose radiation based on voodoo science. Specifically, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley Labs used a mutant line of human cells in a petri dish which was able to repair damage from low doses of radiation, and extrapolated to the unsupported conclusion that everyone is immune to low doses of radiation….
American and Canadian authorities have virtually stopped monitoring airborne radiation, and are not testing fish for radiation. (Indeed, the EPA reacted to Fukushima by raising “acceptable” radiation levels.) So – as in Japan – radiation is usually discovered by citizens and the handful of research scientists with funding to check, and not the government. See this, this, this, this, this and this. The Japanese government’s entire strategy from day one has been to cover up the severity of the Fukushima accident. This has likely led to unnecessary, additional deaths. Indeed, the core problem is that all of the world’s nuclear agencies are wholly captured by the nuclear industry … as are virtually all of the supposedly independent health agencies. So the failure of the American, Canadian and other governments to test for and share results is making it difficult to hold an open scientific debate about what is happening.
And it’s not just radiation from Japan.  An effort by the Southern California Edison power company to secretly ramp up production to avoid public disclosure may have led to a leak at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
And see these articles on California radiation exposure courtesy of EneNews:
- Zero Hedge.

WORLD WAR III: The Korean Nightmare and the Countdown to Armageddon - Red Alert as U.S. Pentagon Activates Missile Defenses For North Korean Launch!

The Pentagon recently activated its global missile shield in anticipation of North Korea’s launch of a long-range missile, according to defense officials.  The measures include stepped-up electronic monitoring, deployment of missile interceptor ships, and activation of radar networks to areas near the Korean peninsula and western Pacific.

Three interceptor ships near Japan and the Philippines, as well as U.S.-based interceptors, are ready to shoot down the North Korean missile if space-, land-, and sea-based sensors determine its flight path is targeted at the United States or U.S. allies, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.  The Obama administration will regard any launch by North Korea as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions regardless of whether the North Koreans claim the rocket test is for space launch purposes, the officials said. The technology and rocketry used for a space launch is nearly identical to that used with ballistic missiles that carry a warhead, they said.  Also, because the payload or warhead of the test launch cannot be determined prior to launch, the Obama administration decided to activate the missile defense system.  According to U.S. officials, current intelligence assessments indicate the North Korean missile will be launched from a base called Tongchang-ri, located on a west coast peninsula north of Pyongyang between April 12 and April 15.

The missile’s first stage could impact in the Yellow Sea near South Korea and the second stage could land east of the Philippines in the Pacific.  Satellite images published Monday show preparations for the launch are continuing.  Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. April Cunningham would not say if missile defenses were activated for the upcoming test.  However, Cunningham said, “North Korea’s announcement that it plans to conduct a long-range missile launch at any time would be in direct violation of its international obligations.”  U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874 “clearly and unequivocally prohibit North Korea from conducting launches that use ballistic missile technology,” she said.  “Such a missile launch would pose a threat to regional security and would also be inconsistent with North Korea’s recent undertaking to refrain from long-range missile launches,” Cunningham said.  “The U.S. closely monitors threats to international security and has the capability to respond if and when appropriate.”  A U.S. official said the military’s large, X-band radar that is based on a oil-rig-sized floating platform sailed from Honolulu to waters near Korea on March 26 as part of the activation.  Current U.S. missile defense systems include networks of radar and space tracking gear, including ground- and sea-based radar, Aegis ships, and long-range interceptor missiles based in Alaska and California. A total of 30 three-stage interceptors are deployed.  Any decision to shoot down the missile would be made by the president, officials said. - Washington Free Beacon.

MASS MAMMAL DIE-OFF: Over 3, 000 Dolphins Mysteriously Found Dead in Peru - A Disturbing and Escalating Trend Over the Last 3 Months?!

Along just one stretch of coastline in Peru, more than 3,000 dead dolphins have washed ashore in just the last 3 months, and the disturbing trend may only be escalating. With the latest discovery of 481 lifeless dolphins there in recent days, residents have begun to demand an explanation for the mysterious mass deaths -- and as far as enlisted experts can tell, offshore oil exploration in the region is the most likely culprit.

According to a report from Peru 21, local fishermen in Lambayeque, north Peru, were first to notice the inexplicable rise in dead dolphin appearing on shore -- averaging roughly 30 per day. While such mass orca strandings are not entirely uncommon, or fully understood, Peruvian biologist Carlos Yaipen of the Scientific Organization for Conservation of Aquatic Animals says activity from petroleum companies in the nearby waters is to blame in this instance. Yaipen believes that a controversial technique for detecting oil beneath the seabed, using sonar or acoustic sensing, is leading the death of marine life en masse. "The oil companies use different frequencies of acoustic waves and the effects produced by these bubbles are not plainly visible, but they generate effects later in the animals. That can cause death by acoustic impact, not only in dolphins, but also in marine seals and whales."

In 2003, scientists from the Zoological Society of London discovered that underwater sonar can lead to the formation of microscopic bubbles of nitrogen in the bloodstream and vital organs of aquatic mammals, afflicting the animals with a lethal condition commonly known as the Bends. Additionally, low-range acoustic sensors are suspected to cause disorientation and internal bleeding to exposed wildlife. As of this writing, Peruvian authorities have yet to identify the company whose activities may be leading to this grim toll on native marine life. According to Offshore Magazine, a trade publication of petroleum news, at least one entity, Houston-based oil company BPZ Energy, has been actively surveying the seabed along the coast of Peru since the beginning of the year
. - Treehugger.

THE SEASON OF THE WINDS: Typhoon-Strength Winds Slow Japan to a Halt - Causing 2 Deaths and Paralyzed Traffic!

A spring storm packing typhoon-strength winds caused two deaths and paralyzed traffic in Japan on Tuesday.

A typhoon-like storm sweeps two trucks over on a bridge at Toyama, western Japan on April 3, 2012.
In Toyama, strong winds pulled down a barn, killing a man, police there said. In Ishikawa prefecture, an 82-year-old woman died after hitting her head when she fell in strong wind.  Japan's meteorological agency predicted a developing low pressure system and front in the Sea of Japan will create strong winds and heavy rain in Japan from Tuesday morning through Wednesday. The agency asked people to avoid potential weather hazards by remaining indoors.  Strong gusts and rain hit western Japan in the morning and widened northward throughout the day. 

A record-breaking wind was recorded in the western city of Tomogashima, at 150 kilometers per hour (94 miles per hour).  By late afternoon, train stations in Tokyo's business and commercial districts were packed with commuters who took early trains home to avoid potential public transportation closures.  Many companies, including Sony, Canon and Fujitsu, closed business early to send employees home.  Memories of traffic chaos are still fresh on people's minds in large Japanese cities where tens of thousands were stranded overnight after last year's devastating earthquake.  The Shinkansen bullet train service was stopped between west and central Japan, while railway service was suspended in many areas throughout the country. More than 500 flights were canceled.  Images of toppled trucks, broken umbrellas and squatting pedestrians unable to walk in strong winds were shown one after another on evening news programs. - CNN.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Large Numbers of Dead Fish Wash up on Shore of Noonu Atol Lhohi?!

Large numbers of dead fish have been washing up on the shore of Noonu Atoll Lhohi

Some dead fish washed up on Noonu Atoll Lhohi beach.
Lhohi council Vice-President Hussain Niyaz said that many dead fish have been gathering in the lagoon and are being washed up ashore polluting the beach for the past two days.  Councilor stated that some fish are not dead when they wash up ashore but are injured and he added that many species of dead fish are being observed out in the ocean.  “We have travelled to some nearby islands to observe, but very few amounts of dead fish are washed up the shores in other islands.

Lhohi beach is completely polluted by the dead and rotting fish.” Niyaz said.  He added that the issue had been notified to the Marine Research Centre and that similar issues came up from time to time.  Director General of Marine Research Centre Dr. Mohamed Shiham said that he was aware of the issue and that the cause is yet unknown. But he referred to a research done by the centre and added that a similar incident five years ago in some islands in the north, including Alif Alif atoll and Meemu atoll had been due to a bacterial infection. - Haveeru Online.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: H1N1 Pandemic - Israeli Health Officials Plan to Cull 20,000 Turkeys After Bird Flu Was Found!

The Agriculture Ministry plans to slaughter 20,000 turkeys from the same coop after avian flu was discovered there.

The coop, on Moshav Zavdiel, near Lachish in the lower Judean plain, is the third farming community discovered in Israel in recent weeks with an avian flu outbreak. Officials hope they can stem the spread of the disease by killing the birds. A number of cats were found dead before the last cull, with signs pointing to them having eaten the carcasses of infected turkeys near Shalva, in the south, according to a report by the World Organization for Animal Health.

In 2006, southern Israel’s poultry industry was brought nearly to the brink of collapse, growers said, after a number of culls following the discovery of bird flu. The H5N1 virus, as this strain of avian flu is officially known, can be deadly if transferred to humans. It has lead to the deaths of millions of birds in Europe and Asia as health officials attempt to contain the virus.
- Times of Israel.

RATTLE & HUM: "The Sounds of the Apocalypse" - Unexplained Triple Mystery 'Booms' Rattle Houses in the Northern Region of France?!

A "thud" and even "three roar" were heard in heaven Bigouden Wednesday night. A phenomenon that remains unexplained and apparently he has repeated last night from north to south of Finistere. And also in Côtes d'Armor and Morbihan. But where do these sounds?

"A sound as if a deaf child was stamping his feet on the wall of the neighbor. " Testimonials are legions Bigouden. But not only. Combrit Chateauneuf-du-Faou through Briec, Quimper, Plogastel-Saint-Germain, Pont l'Abbé, Tréméoc, Cockles, Plobannalec-Lesconil or Clohars-Fouesnant, many people on Wednesday to 21h, were intrigued by the phenomenon. Alluded to here "the house (who) just shake three times." We're talking about "three strong rumblings" that "have rattled houses" and even "small awakened." Some, meanwhile, heard "muffled explosions" while others are convinced that this is "an earthquake".

Neither earthquake, nor maneuver.
Contacted yesterday, the central office Seismological French (BCSF) states have nothing abnormal registered in this area. And for its size, Chateauneuf-du-Faou Clohars-Fouesnant, the blasts and aftershocks felt "were enregistréess'il was an earthquake, at least three forces". In 2005, Bigoudens remember, an earthquake on the fault south Armorican and a magnitude 3 on the Richter scale had caused the same feelings. What then of these explosions heard and felt? An air-borne? Regional Centre of Western navigation, it is shown not to record this kind of phenomenon.

So, it is with the military that the eyes are. Moreover, some also said they heard a helicopter. Preceded, it is true, "three thumps" recalling "the thunder". One thinks of the aircraft. When questioned, the communications department of the Brest Maritime Prefecture said that there was no Navy operation and even less involving helicopters. Side of the Joint Staff of the area of ​​defense and security northwest (OGZDS), it is formal. Not operating, "no supersonic flight." Bizarre. Especially in March2003, three earthquakes had already hit the Bigouden ... The phenomenon was also remained unexplained. - Le Telegramme [Translated].

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia May Erupt in ‘Days to Weeks’ - Los Nevados National Park Closed Over Volcano Alert!

Some news brought to my attention by WIRED Eruptions reader Sherine merited a quick Saturday post. The developing volcanic crisis at Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia looks like it is continuing to escalate.

The small steam plume from Nevado del Ruiz, seen on March 27, 2012. Image from INGEOMINAS Colombia.
INGEOMINAS, the Colombian geological survey, released a “special bulletin” this afternoon elevating the alert status at Nevado del Ruiz to Orange Level (II). This means that the signs of activity at the volcano suggest that an eruption is likely in the days to weeks timescale. Marta Calvache from INGEOMINAS mentioned that over the past few days the volcano has experienced tremors related to “fluid motion” (likely magma), rock fracture earthquakes at the summit have been increasing in pulses and sulfur dioxide emissions continue to be high. So far, INGEOMINAS thinks any potentially eruption will be smaller than the activity seen during Ruiz’s last eruptive period between 1985-1989.

The major hazard from Ruiz is the lahars that can be generated as ash and other volcanic material mix with melted snow and ice at the summit. There is also the potential for ash fall (especially hazardous for those with respiratory problems) on towns and cities in the area, including Manizalez and Pereira, both of which are less than 50 km from the volcano, and Bogotá, only ~120 km from Ruiz. If you live in the area around Ruiz, be sure to examine the INGEOMINAS volcanic hazard map to see the places with the highest probability of lahars and pyroclastic flows. Taking a look at the INGEOMINAS Azufrado webcam for Ruiz, a plume can be seen coming from the summit area (see below) while the webicorder shows the increasing seismicity as well. You can also get a glimpse of the volcano from an INGEOMINAS webcam in Manizalez. - WIRED.

Central Colombia authorities closed the national "Los Nevados" park Sunday after an increase in seismic activity of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Meteorological authorities raised the alert level to orange in 17 municipalities in Tolima and Caldas departments while visitors are prohibited to enter the park in an area in four departments.  The measures came at the beginning of the holy week in which usually some 20,000 tourists visit the nature reserve. An orange alert does not mean that an eruption is imminent. - Colombia Reports.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: From Drought to Heat Wave to Snow in Britain - Beaches Deserted as Temperatures Plummet!

After thousands poured on to Britain's beaches last week to take advantage of the warm weather, today suncream and bikinis were replaced by scarves and gloves as temperatures plummeted across the country. As many might have predicted the arrival of the weekend triggered a dramatic change in the weather with snow even being seen in the Shetland Isles in the early part of the day.

Wintry scene: The Shetland Isles today experienced sleet in scenes reminiscent of
this one when snow carpeted the islands in 2010.
It was also a very different picture in the small Scottish village of Aboyne, in Aberdeenshire which recorded the highest March temperature ever in Scotland on Wednesday when it peaked at 22.9C. Today the mercury had fallen to a much chillier 8C in Aboyne and it is a similar story across the rest of the country today with daytime temperatures in most places of between 8C and 10C. Nowhere got close to the extraordinarily sunny heights of the previous five days with Pembrey Sands in Swansea recording the highest UK temperature of 13.3C. The coldest place in the UK was the top of the 1,245m Cairngorm mountain in Scotland where it was a chilly -7C. Lake Vyrnwy recorded the coldest temperature in Wales at 7.5C and the mittens and bobble hats were definitely out in Kirkwall in Scotland's Orkney Islands where it was a shivery 5.6C. People were also wrapping up warm in Loftus in Yorkshire where blustery 15 knot breezes gave a windchill temperature of 6.2C - the lowest recorded temperature in England today.

At the other end of the scale in England the warmest place today was Solent at 13.1C while Glasgow recorded the hottest weather in Scotland at 12.5C - Murlough was the mildest spot in Northern Ireland with a high of 12.4C. MET office spokesman Helen Waite said the conditions were a stark contrast to the clear skies and sunshine of the previous few days and she forecast the weather to continue deteriorating through the next week with snowfalls likely by Wednesday, when temperatures are anticipated to fall further.
She said: 'Looking ahead we are expecting it to get colder still on Monday. Across the country there is a weather system coming down from the north and it will be rainy on Monday night. With cold weather coming in there is a risk of snow on Tuesday or Wednesday.' While some rain is predicted over the course of the next week, forecasters say they do not anticipate seeing the double the average rainfall required to end the current drought. - Daily Mail.

EXTREME WEATHER: Heavy Rains and Hailstorm Wreck Havoc in Mpulungu, Zambia - Destroys 7 Hectares of Cassava Fields and Submerges Homes!

Heavy rain has wreaked havoc in Mpulungu’s Kasakalawe Village in the Northern Province destroying more than seven hectares of cassava fields. Mpulungu District Agriculture Co-operative Officer Kennedy Sinkamba confirmed the development in a telephone interview yesterday.

Mr Sinkamba said on Thursday last week,  Kasakalawe  village, which is made up of 189 peasant farmers experienced torrential rain which left most of the fields submerged. “On Thursday last week, we experienced heavy rains in Kasakalawe village. Most of the crops were submerged. About seven hectares of cassava fields were also destroyed after the torrential rains,” he said. Mr Sinkamba said people in Kasakalawe are peasant farmers who depend on cassava for their livelihood. He also said the torrential rains which lasted several hours also led to the collapse of houses in Musumbe village, leaving 10 people homeless. Mr Sinkamba said his office is compiling a report on the damage caused by the rain which will be submitted to the district administrative officer. He also said all the farmers who supplied maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) have received their payment following government’s release of funds to settle the debt.

Mr Sinkamba also said government is implementing policies in the agriculture sector to encourage more people to engage in farming, rather than fishing. He said Mpulungu is renowned for fishing and that only a few people engage in serious farming, hence the need to attract more people to agriculture. Mr Sinkamba said government has also increased the number of beneficiaries in the current farming season to 8,000 from last year’s 5,000. He said government will also distribute subsidised rice and 50 bags of groundnuts to benefit 300 farmers. Mr Sinkamba said government is keen to promote crop diversification, hence the need to distribute groundnuts and rice to enable farmers to plant a variety of crops. “What we need is to promote the cultivation of various crops. This year, we are distributing rice and groundnut seed to promote diversification,” he said. - Zambia Daily Mail.

EXTREME WEATHER: Drought Decimates Mexico's Cattle Stocks - Wipes Out 150,000; Worst Drought in 70 Years!

Drought has decimated Mexico's cattle stocks, wiping 150,000 from producers' herds. Commentators are rating the drought as the worst in 70 years.

An almost empty dam is seen next to the village of Puerto Grande in the state of Nuevo Leon. Mexico is
suffering from the worst drought in seven decades, causing severe shortage of food and water.
The country's Ministry for Agriculture estimates 60,000 cattle have died, while another 89,000 have been culled by producers. Mexican Cattle Growers Association president Alvaro Ley said it would take three years to restore herd sizes. "Those cows that were lost are not going to produce calves, and the period those calves need to grow is about three years," he said. The hardest-hit regions are those where many producers have 20 cows or fewer.
Meanwhile, a drought in Argentina has had a big impact on that country's major meat processor, with JBS South American earnings falling 10 per cent from a year earlier. There are reports JBS Mercosul division, which covers Brazil and Argentina, is considering leaving Argentina due to tough business conditions. Government restrictions on exports, staff pay rises and a drop in slaughter because of herd rebuilding have made trading conditions tough. - Weekly Times Now.

EARTH CHANGES: Severe Weather in China - The Biggest Sandstorm of 2012 Hits Gansu as a Lanslide Obliterated Village Houses in Shanxi Province, Killing 2!

Northwest China's Gansu Province was hit by the biggest sandstorm in 2012 so far on Sunday due to the shortage of rainfall in March, local meteorological officials said. 

The sandstorm first hit Dunhuang city in western Gansu at 2 p.m. and then blanketed cities like Jiayuguan and Jiuquan in central Gansu and reduced visibility to less than 900 meters, according to the provincial meteorological center.  This is the first regional sandstorm to hit the province this year and also so far the biggest one in terms of the affected area.  A blue wind alert was issued by the Lanzhou center observatory at 10 a.m., which then upgraded the alert level to yellow, the third-highest in the four-tier wind alert system. The wind speed reached 75 km per hour in the affected area, the observatory said.  The regional sandstorm occurred 24 days before the first regional sandstorm in 2011.  The sandstorm is still under way and is expected to weaken and end on Monday. - China.org.
Two people were found dead after a landslide obliterated village houses in Shanxi province on April 1, local government said.
The landslide completely destroyed two houses in Xinfang village at about 6:50 am, burying an unknown number of villagers, according to the government of Fangshan county which administers Xinfang. As of 9 am, rescuers had pulled out two bodies of the rubble and debris and rescued another two, who suffered injuries and have been rushed to hospital. Rescuers are still searching for more villagers. - China Daily.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Hundreds of Birds Killed During McAllen Hail Storm!

A hail storm that left untold amounts of property damage didn't leave any injuries but winged animals were not as lucky.

Viewer Suzanne Colbath sent in this photo. her family found 76 dead birds in their yard in McAllen.
McAllen residents and officials are spending the morning collecting and disposing of hundreds of bird bodies. Officials said the birds were all killed during a Thursday night thunderstorm that dumped several inches of rain and golf ball-sized hail.

The hail stripped trees of leaves and damaged cars and homes in central McAllen. Officials said the sleeping and roosting birds were caught by surprise and beaten to death by the falling hail stones. Most of the birds killed were flocks of grackles, which roost together in large groups in trees.
- Valley Central.

EXTREME WEATHER IN THE PHILIPPINES: Destructive Tornado Rips Through Bacolod - Widespread Flooding Forces Mass Evacuation in Capiz!

A tornado swept through parts of this city, destroying trees and two sidewalk eateries, and causing a three-hour blackout at around 12:20 Thursday afternoon. No one was reported hurt, killed or missing, so far.  The tornado, which also ripped off the roof of a warehouse and knocked down fences, was first spotted near the San Antonio IT Park in barangay Mandalagan.

The tornado also broke the glass windows of the Bacolod Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building before it hit the eateries along Ipil Street, said Joemarie Vargas, head of the Bacolod City Risk Reduction Management Council.  Argie Artus, 40, who was at one of the eateries said they heard breaking glass and saw swirling dark funnel approaching and ran for safety in front of the Banco de Oro branch across the street.  The tornado with leaves swirling around it slammed into two carinderias, toppling them along with trees and a cement wall in its path, Artus said.  Businessman Crispin Chua said the tornado also hit his family’s warehouse at corner Sarabia Avenue and Camagong Street, blowing off its roof and toppling part of its fence.  Vargas said the tornado toppled trees along La Salle Avenue and other parts of its path, which city personnel were clearing yesterday afternoon.  According to Vargas, tornadoes occur when cold air on top begins to sink, sending the rising warm wind spinning upward. The warm winds rotate faster and faster in a high column. 

Meanwhile, about 100 families in a Capiz town were evacuated as flooding occurred in 13 towns in Capiz and two cities in Negros Occidental due to days of continued rains, a report of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Western Visayas, said.  There were no reported casualties or missing, according to the OCD report as of 11 a.m. yesterday.  At least 120 villages with 1,422 families or 7,292 persons were affected by the flooding.  Capiz was the worst hit with 116 barangays affected.  Around 100 families in Pontevedra town, some 15 km from Roxas City, has been evacuated as the water level rose waist high, said Esperedion Pelaez, Capiz Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) action officer.  Flooding also occurred in some villages of Mambusao (26), Sigma (16), Panitan (15), Panay (10), Dumarao (10), Pilar (8), Dao (7), Maayon (7), Cuartero (6), Sapian (3), Dumalag (2) and President Roxas (1).  In Mambusao, the flooding affected the rice fields while some of the barangay roads were not passable to light vehicles. The national roads, however, remained passable to all kind of vehicles.  Flooding also occurred in two barangays each in Cadiz and Sagay cities in Negros Occidental. - Inquirer News.