Friday, April 13, 2012

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Geological Upheaval - Earthquakes Disappear 13,000 Meters of Beach in Mexico!

Some 13,000 meters of beaches in Los Frailes, a town in Baja, California Sur, Mexico, disappeared for a number of microearthquakes and aftershocks, a phenomenon called "cascade of sand into the sea", which poses serious risks for swimmers, said today Wednesday the Secretariat of the Environment.

Playa Los Frailes, Baja Clifornia, Mexico.
The head of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, confirmed that the sea "stole" 1.3 hectares to the beach.  Elvira Quesada came to the area in the southern portion of Cabo Pulmo National Park (PNCP), a protected area, where last weekend was found the phenomenon.  "The number of microearthquakes and aftershocks shake the whole platform of sand in the beach where the sand will eventually disappear and generated a phenomenon they call it there, marine waterfall, a cascade of sand into the sea," the official said.

He warned that "serious" is not only the disappearance of the beach, "but upon entering the sea on the beach walking five steps presents a cliff over 140 meters deep," he warned.  He explained that the beach "is extremely dangerous for any swimmer or vacationer," particularly in this holiday of Easter Week.  Tourists and vacationers were alerted to the risk and advised to use other beaches near the ends of Los Frailes.  In fact, the dangerous beach was cordoned off by Civil Protection personnel.  Elvira Quesada said the site is potentially risky canyon known as Los Frailes, "A marine canyon is permanent shaping the cliff over 100 meters deep, where in addition to ocean currents do not return, the sea pulls you Tues inside. "  Staff of the Fund for Protection of Marine Resources (Fonmar) on board a ship various measurements of the affected area, while elements of Civil Protection in Los Cabos ATV beach patrol to safeguard tourists in the area and alert risks.  Juan Diego Mackaliz of Fonmar, said the phenomenon was also recorded in 1947 and 1965. - Tico Vision [Translated].

SEVERE WEATHER ALERT: Life-Threatening Tornado Outbreak This Weekend - Midwest, Central and Southern Plains of America!

A life-threatening, large outbreak of tornadoes is forecast to unfold across the central and southern Plains this weekend. According to Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "The risk is about as high as it gets." Oklahoma City and Wichita lie in the heart of the tornado threat area that extends from near Wichita Falls, Texas, to near Omaha, Neb., late Saturday afternoon through Saturday night.

Despite a seemingly tranquil start to the day Saturday, the environment will be such that numerous damaging thunderstorms will form from 4:00 p.m. CDT on through much of the night. A number of these storms will produce tornadoes. Given current trends, it appears as if the severe weather late Saturday will, at the very least, reach the level of an outbreak with the potential for dozens of tornadoes. Such events are typically seen only a handful of times each year. Unfortunately, the worst-case scenario is also on the table. In this situation, there is the possibility of a large-scale outbreak of twisters. Some of the tornadoes could be very strong and remain on the ground for miles. Meteorologist Meghan Evans first warned of the threat for tornadoes earlier in the week, saying, "The ingredients for a tornado outbreak may come together across portions of the Plains later Saturday."
Unfortunately, it now looks as if all those ingredients will come together. A powerful storm moving into the West today will reach the southern Plains by Saturday. The storm system, combined with a strong rush of wind aloft via the jet stream and a warm, moisture-rich air mass in place originating from the Gulf of Mexico, will allow thunderstorms to fire late in the day. The difference in wind direction well up in the atmosphere (from the west) and at the surface (from the south) will enhance the threat for tornadoes. The thunderstorms that will spawn the tornadoes will also drop large, damaging hail, and could produce powerful wind gusts in excess of 60 mph without the help of a funnel. While a few isolated storms will be possible earlier Saturday, the more powerful storms will wait until late afternoon to fire, probably along and just to the west of the I-35/I-135 corridor from Oklahoma City to Salina, Kan.
As Evans points out, the greatest risk for tornadoes will be across central and eastern Kansas through central Oklahoma Saturday evening. A cluster of tornado-producing thunderstorms is possible Sunday over portions of the Upper Midwest. A dangerous situation will become even more precarious after dark with the threat for severe storms and tornadoes continuing and even expanding farther east into western Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, northern Texas and northwestern Arkansas. Joplin and Kansas City, Mo.; Tulsa, Okla., and even the western suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth could be in for a stormy night. Portions of several major highways will be at risk, including Interstates 20, 29, 30, 35, 40, 44, 70, 80, 135, 335 and 540. If you are traveling and a potential tornado is approaching, be prepared to abandon your vehicle and seek safe shelter. Better yet, stay off the roads if you hear that thunderstorms are approaching. - AccuWeather.
WATCH: Storms expected to rage in Southern Plains again.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Etna Erupts For the Sixth Time in 2012 - With Violent Fury, Spewing Lava and Ash Into the Air!

Europe's tallest active volcano, Mount Etna, has been blasting flaming lava and ash into the air in its sixth eruption this year. The eruption is the 24th in a series that began in January 2011.

Rock blew off the southeast side of the mountain, which is only 10 miles from the Zafferana Etnea village and 18 miles North of the town of Catania on the Italian island of Sicily.    No warnings of danger have so far been issued by authorities and Catania International Airport has remained open.  Eruptions from Etna, which reaches 11,000ft, have been caused by the African tectonic plate sliding below the Eurasian plate. 

The Eurasian plate is melting as it moves downwards and hot magma is being forced up to the surface.  Etna's most powerful recorded eruption was in 1669 when the mountain top was destroyed and lava ran in to the Mediterranean Sea.  It is difficult to predict when the mountain will erupt next.  But Dr John Murray estimates that between 2007 and 2015 Etna's output will be about half of what it was between 1987 and 1995.  There is no chance the volcano will stay quiet, though. - SKY News.
WATCH: Mount Etna erupts violently again.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: America's "Tornado Alley" More Than Doubles in Size - Frequency and Severity of Twisters Are Much More Widespread Than First Thought!

We all know that Dorothy's house in Kansas was in "Tornado Alley," but maybe Scarlett O'Hara's fabled Tara in Georgia was there, too. A report finds that the traditional boundaries of Tornado Alley — which has centered on the Plains states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota— should be expanded to include much of the Midwest and Deep South, because the frequency and severity of tornadoes in those areas is much more widespread than commonly believed.

The report was released in late March by CoreLogic, a private research and consulting company based in Santa Ana, Calif., that provides information and services to businesses and government. In fact, according to the report, only one state in the traditional Tornado Alley — Kansas — was among the top five states for the most tornadoes from 1980 to 2009. The others were Florida, Iowa, Louisiana and Mississippi. The report was triggered by last year's ferocious tornado season. The worst outbreak was in the Southeast in April, when 321 people died and $7.3 billion in insured losses occurred. CoreLogic says it was the most expensive tornado outbreak ever recorded. "The inland South has experienced rapid (economic) growth in the past 20 to 30 years," says Howard Botts of CoreLogic, noting that virtually every foreign car company has its factories in the South. "The apparent increase in the number of incidents and shift in geographic distribution of losses … last year in the U.S. called the long-held notion of risk concentration in Tornado Alley into question," Botts says. The report states that many of the severe weather events outside the Plains in 2011 were seen as anomalies but should not have been. Tornado risk extends across much of the eastern half of the nation, CoreLogic says, and at least 26 states have some area facing extreme tornado risk. Tornadoes and their associated severe thunderstorms account for 57% of insured catastrophic losses in the USA each year, Botts says.

Another study last year by meteorologist Grady Dixon of Mississippi State University also found that there is a greater likelihood of tornadoes hitting what the study called "Dixie Alley" in the South than the traditional Tornado Alley. Other tornado experts found flaws in the CoreLogic report: "If the report is trying to identify where the most tornadoes are, then it's broader than the Plains, and we've known that for decades," says Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., who did not contribute to the report. Brooks says the traditional Tornado Alley consistently has very active tornado seasons: "There aren't very many down years in the Plains. In the Southeast," Brooks says, "it's feast or famine." There may be few tornadoes some years, or they might strike at different times of the year, followed by "a few really big years," he says. "The report makes grand assumptions based on underlying problematic data," says Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. He says there really hasn't been an increase in the most powerful tornadoes in recent years across the country. "With respect to significant (EF2 and stronger) tornadoes, there is no statistically significant trend in these tornadoes, the ones that pose the greatest threat to life and property," Carbin says.
- USA Today.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES USA: "Abnormally Dry", Drought Expands Throughout America - Western States Prepare for Vicious Fire Season!

Still reeling from devastating drought that led to at least $10 billion in agricultural losses across Texas and the South in 2011, the nation is enduring more unusually parched weather. A mostly dry, mild winter has put nearly 61% of the lower 48 states in "abnormally dry" or drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly federal tracking of drought. That's the highest percentage of dry or drought conditions since September 2007, when 61.5% of the country was listed in those categories.

he USA hasn't been this dry in five years.
Only two states — Ohio and Alaska — are entirely free of abnormally dry or drought conditions, according to the Drought Monitor. The drought is expanding into some areas where dryness is rare, such as New England. "Conditions are starting to worry us now," said Keith Eggleston , a climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center in Ithaca, N.Y. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, stream flow levels are at record or near-record lows in much of New England. The Drought Monitor lists all of Vermont as "abnormally dry," just six months after the state's wettest August on record that stemmed mainly from disastrous flooding by the remnants of Hurricane Irene. So far this year, Connecticut has endured its driest January-March period ever, Weather Channel meteorologist Jonathan Erdman reports. This followed the state's wettest year on record. The drought is mainly an agricultural concern in the Northeast at this point, says Eggleston. While agricultural conditions in the Northeast could be perilous if the dry weather continues as the growing season kicks off, water shortages for the public shouldn't be an issue, as most reservoirs were near or at capacity due to the early-season snowmelt and thaw, and to wetter conditions in the past, the Drought Monitor reported. - USA Today.
The West's 2012 wildfire season exploded in earnest last month with a wind-whipped blaze that killed three people in rugged alpine canyon country near Denver. It took a 700-strong federal firefighting team a week of labor, day and night, to tame the blaze — and other states throughout the West took notice.
Fire experts say this year's drought, low snowpack and record-high temperatures in much of the West portend a dangerous installment of what has become a year-round wildfire threat. Wildfires burned more than 1,500 square miles in Arizona last year and have already torched about 12 square miles this year. Most were caused by people, and fire officials hope the public has learned some lessons from the Wallow Fire, the worst in state history. Campfire embers ignited a blaze that forced nearly 10,000 people to evacuate their homes. New Mexico, too, experienced its two biggest-ever wildfires in 2011, consuming 245 and 160 square miles, respectively.

"We are approaching this as a season where we still have very high fire danger and there are millions of acres around New Mexico that could burn," said Dan Ware, a New Mexico State Forestry Division spokesman. January and February were the driest on record in California, where the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has battled 679 fires in its jurisdiction — about a third of the state — since Jan. 1, compared to 210 over the same period last year. Fire threats are expected to be above normal in the mountains, the central coast and inland areas such as San Bernardino County, said department spokesman Daniel Berlant. Nearly all of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah have drought conditions that should persist at least through June, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.
- FOX News.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Drought and Flood Fears in England - Experts Warn of Extreme Weather Shift?!

The drought conditions gripping swathes of England could increase the risk of flash flooding in the face of heavy rain, the Environment Agency warned today.  Two unusually dry years have left the whole of the South East, East Anglia and parts of Yorkshire in a state of drought, with parts of the South West and the Midlands also suffering from dry conditions.

Two unusually dry years have left large parts of England suffering from drought or dry conditions.
Seven water companies introduced hosepipe bans in a bid to conserve supplies in the face of low river, reservoir and groundwater levels - a move that was followed by widespread rain, which proved a welcome relief for gardeners.  But the Environment Agency is warning that future heavy rain could lead to flash flooding as a result of the drought conditions. Dry, compacted soils mean that rainfall is less easily absorbed into the ground, increasing the likelihood of flooding if the country is hit by storms.  The Environment Agency said a dry winter and spring in 2007 contributed in some areas to the devastating floods in the summer of that year, which hit the West Country, Midlands and Yorkshire.  Parts of the country had similar conditions as those currently seen in drought-afflicted areas, before the heavy rain hit in June and July 2007.  The Environment Agency made its warning about the increased risk of flash flooding as it launched the first social media flood warning application on Facebook.  "Floodalerts", which can be found by putting the term into Facebook's search facility, uses live flood warning data from the Environment Agency. 

The application, created and developed by software developer Shoothill, gives Facebook users messages on their wall when flood alerts or warning have been issued for their area.  The Environment Agency hopes the new measure will complement its existing Floodline Hotline and website updates to help warn people of the risk of flooding.  Craig Woolhouse, Environment Agency head of flood incident management, said: "As the drought in England continues, the thought of flooding may be far from people's minds, but we cannot ignore the risk.  "Dry and compacted ground means that there is a greater risk of flash flooding if there is heavy rainfall, and stormy seas and high tides can produce floods at any time.  "Being prepared is vital to help reduce the risk of flooding."  He urged communities to use the new Facebook tool, along with existing ways of finding out about flooding, to keep "one step ahead" of future floods.  Over the next few days the UK will see a mixture of sunshine and showers - some of them heavy - but lighter, more continuous rain which can soak into the ground, rather than simply running off, is needed to tackle dry conditions
. - Mirror.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Southern Utah Quake is a Reminder of What's to Come - "Great Utah Shakeout" Planned For April 17th!

Utah has had several small earthquakes within a year with the most recent being last night. However, the state is expecting "the big one" at any time.  A 4.8 earthquake in southern Utah last night is a reminder of what's to come.

Utahans are gearing up. “I just think about the glass breaking. That would be pretty scary,” said Jennifer Kunzler of Salt Lake.  Buildings like Utah’s Capital have been remodeled, but some run the risk of collapsing. “So what you have underneath the capital are 264 base isolators. Each one weighs 5 thousand pounds and they are designed to move independently of the capital,” said Joe Dougherty, spokesperson for the State Division of Emergency Management.  The most important one is your home. An earthquake won't show mercy. “It can cause landslides, rock falls, it can set a home loose from its foundation and send it down a cliff,” he added.

Kim Campbell from Ogden has been through a large earthquake in California. She believes many of the buildings in her community are not safe. “I live right along the Weber River. The homes down there run a big risk if there was an earthquake. I'm sure there would be massive flooding,” she commented.  Perhaps buildings the state depends on will get major damage. “Some of the most important buildings are hospitals. We expect that if we had a major earthquake we would have hospitals that would not be available for their emergency work,” said Dougherty.  Investing on securing your home now will make a difference, but better yet have a plan. “First and foremost look for family. Get everyone together. Get underneath the table or the door,” said Anthony Pineda of Salt Lake.  Just a reminder the “Great Utah Shakeout” is happening on April 17th at 10:15 AM. It would be a great idea for businesses and families to participate to get a better idea of what to do when the real one happens. - ABC4.
WATCH: Southern Utah quake is a reminder of what's to come.

MYSTERY: The Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - UFO Crashes in Russia's Siberia, Causing a Powerful Explosion?!

An unidentified glowing object is said to have crashed down from the skies in Russia’s Siberia, causing a powerful explosion. A search for the mysterious item is underway amid speculations of what on Earth it could be.

An image from Russia's "Vesti" Channel.
Map of Russia, showing the Irkutsk region where the unidentified flying object fell.
Witnesses describe seeing a bright glow covering the sky, followed by a shining object falling with a strange clanging sound and disappearing in the distance with a blast. ­The unidentified object supposedly fell in the taiga forest of the Irkutsk region, 15 kilometers from the nearest village of Vitim, on Friday night. Head of the regional administration said a group of researchers has been sent to inspect the area and question witnesses.“We will be able to say what it is, only when we see the thing itself and the place where it fell,” explained head of the region Aleksandr Sergey. “The investigators, together with hunters are going there on snowmobiles”.
There are two possible causes of the incident being examined. The object could either be a part of a large meteorite, or satellite wreckage. Speculations that it could be a piece of the failed, recently launched North Korean carrier rocket have been dismissed. Neither could it be a piece of any other aircraft as there have been no flights in the area. The director of the astronomical observatory at Irkutsk University however explained that the searches won’t find any traces if it was a meteorite. “Usually such objects completely disintegrate – they burn down in the atmosphere and split into very small fragments upon falling,” he said.

This is not the first incident of this kind in the area. The best-known case, the Vitim bolide, fell in this very area in 2002 causing a powerful explosion. Detected by a US military missile-defense satellite, the event recalled the massive Tunguska blast of 1908, caused by a large falling meteorite. This March, a mysterious cylinder fell in another part of Siberia, causing widespread speculation as to what it was. While media supposed it was part of a satellite or a fragment of a ballistic missile, the Russian Federal Space Agency denied ownership of the object. - RT.

SOLAR WATCH: Sun Unleashes Powerful Coronal Mass Ejection - G1 Geomagnetic Storm Now in Progress; Potential For a Significant Seismic/Volcanic Event on Earth!

A G1 geomagnetic storm is now in progress due to the arrival of a high speed solar wind stream from coronal hole (CH512) buffeting the earths magnetic field. New sunspot group 1455 continues to grow rapidly without producing anything of significance as yet but there may be a chance for a M-Class flare around AR11455 in the coming days. A powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) released off the sun April 9th indicate a potential for a significant event felt here on earth in 9-12 days. 

MAGNETIC STORM: A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, sparking a mild (Kp=5) geomagnetic storm around the poles on April 12-13. In Europe, Northern Lights descended as far south as Ireland. "The display burst into life for about 15 minutes around midnight, with shafts of light reaching skyward and visible lateral movement across the horizon," says photographer Daragh McDonough of Horn Head, Co. Donegal, Ireland. "I was very happy to have stayed out in the unseasonably cold April weather." NOAA forecasters estimate a ~30% chance of more storms around the Arctic Circle during the next 24 hours as the solar wind continues to blow. 

from Jónína Óskarsdóttir of Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland; from Nenne Åman of Arjeplog Lapland, Sweden; from Janis Satrovskis of Valmiera, Latvia; from LeRoy Zimmerman of Ester, Alaska; from Ben Beaucher of Wemindji, James Bay, Quebec; from Börkur Hrólfsson of Holtavörðuheiði, Iceland; from Ronan Newman of Charlestown, County Mayo, Ireland; from Göran Strand of Östersund, Sweden; from Paul Martin of Omagh, N. Ireland; from Stine Vibeke Bratteberg of Ørsta, Møre og Romsdal, Norway

Almost directly facing Earth, sunspot AR1455 is growing rapidly. "This active region is becoming more interesting by the day and forms a nice group of sunspots now," says amateur astronomer Dennis Put who send this snapshot (above) from Brielle, the Netherlands.  The picture, which he took using an H-alpha telescope tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen, captures the maelstrom of hot plasma and magnetism swirling atop the sunspot group's underlying dark cores. If the region continues to grow it could soon become a source of C-class solar flares.
- Space Weather.
WATCH: G1 Class Geomagnetic Storm - Seismic/Volcanic Forecast.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Indonesia Quake Break Records as Risks Grow For Aceh - A Once in 2,000 Years Event; Largest Strike-Slip Tremor Ever; Exceptionally Large and Rare Event; Second Biggest Aftershock Ever;...!

The powerful undersea earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra this week was A ONCE IN 2,000 YEARS EVENT, and although it resulted in only a few deaths, it increases the risks of a killer quake in the region, a leading seismologist said.

Wednesday's 8.6 magnitude quake and a powerful aftershock were "strike-slip" quakes and THE LARGEST OF THAT TYPE EVER RECORDED. "It's a really AN EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE AND RARE EVENT. Besides it being the biggest strike-slip earthquake ever recorded, THE AFTERSHOCK IS THE SECOND BIGGEST as far as we can tell." Strike-slip quakes involve the horizontal movement of colliding earth plates, and are typically less powerful than those where there is vertical movement. They are also less likely to trigger big tsunamis, or tidal waves. Sumatra, the westernmost island in the sprawling Indonesian archipelago, has a history of powerful quakes and tsunamis, most triggered by an offshore zone along its entire length, where the Indian-Australian tectonic plate is forced under the Eurasian plate. This creates a deep ocean trench as one plate slides under the other at a rate of several centimeters a year. In this zone, called the Sunda megathrust, stress builds up when the subducting Indian-Australian plate bends the Eurasian plate like a spring board as it moves down into the Earth's crust. Eventually enough stress builds up that the edge of Eurasian plate suddenly jolts upward, triggering an earthquake. The sudden uplift of the seafloor and huge pulse of seawater triggers a tsunami. Over the centuries, repeated magnitude 8 and 9 quakes have struck along portions of the megathrust zone off the coast of Sumatra, flattening towns and killing thousands of people. Wednesday's event was different, because it occurred further west from the megathrust zone in a fault that runs north-south. This strike-slip fault involved a sudden horizontal movement of the Indian and Australian plates along hundreds of kilometers, preliminary data suggest. The Indian plate and Australian plate are moving relative to each other horizontally at about 1 cm a year.

"If all of that ... is taken up on this one fault and if you make some crude calculations about how much slip occurred during this earthquake, say 20 meters. It means that THIS EARTHQUAKE SHOULDN'T HAPPEN MORE THAN ONCE EVERY 2,000 YEARS." Wednesday's quake caused few casualties and triggered very small waves, despite its magnitude. But the sting in the tale is that it likely to have INCREASED STRESS ON THE PLATE BOUNDARIES NEAR ACEH, INCREASING THE RISKS OF ANOTHER MAJOR EARTHQUAKE IN THE SAME AREA AS THE 2004 DISASTER. In addition, research published in 2010 showed that the 2004 Aceh quake only relieved about half the stress that has built up over the centuries along a 400 km portion of the megathrust faultline. That makes another major quake in the area a matter of time. Adding to concerns, further south along another 700 km portion of the megathrust fault under the Mentawai islands, separate 2008 research said so much stress was building up on this section that one or more major quakes were likely within years. The Mentawai islands, a popular surfing destination, are a chain of about 70 islands off the western coast of Sumatra. They face the city of Padang on Sumatra, home to about one million people and likely to be in the path of any tsunami that is triggered. "I am very confident that we are very likely to have within the next few decades to have this great Mentawai earthquake that will have a magnitude at least as big as yesterday's." And when it does, history shows there will be more than one quake within a few years. A magnitude 8.4 quake in 2007 that struck this part of the megathrust relieved only a small portion of the pent-up pressure. The last time it ruptured was a magnitude 9 quake in 1833 and an 8.4 quake in 1797. "We've had so many big earthquakes around in Sumatra in the past few years that it seems like an awful lot of the faults around there seem ready to go." - Chicago Tribune.

WORLD WAR III: Weapons of Mass Dysfunction - The U.N. Security Council to Meet Over North Korea's Missile Launch; White House Says Launch "Threatens Regional Security"!

The U.N. Security Council will meet to discuss a possible response to North Korea's rocket launch on Friday, council diplomats said on Thursday.

North Korea acknowledged in a noon announcement broadcast on state TV that a satellite launched hours earlier from the west coast failed to enter into orbit. The U.S. and South Korea also declared the launch a failure. World leaders were swift to denounce the launch, calling it a covert test of missile technology and a flagrant violation of international resolutions prohibiting North Korea from developing its nuclear and missile programs. The leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised nations meeting in Washington, including Russia, condemned the launch. The UN Security Council, meanwhile, scheduled an emergency meeting for later Friday, and Washington said it was suspending plans to contribute food aid to the North in exchange for a rollback of its nuclear programs. North Korea had announced weeks earlier that scientists would launch a long-range rocket mounted with an observational satellite, touting it as a major technological achievement to mark the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il-sung. - Telegraph.
The White House issued the following statement:
Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea’s provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments. While this action is not surprising given North Korea’s pattern of aggressive behavior, any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security our allies in the region. The President has been clear that he is prepared to engage constructively with North Korea. However, he has also insisted that North Korea live up to its own commitments, adhere to its international obligations and deal peacefully with its neighbors. North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry. North Korea's long-standing development of missiles and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not brought it security – and never will. North Korea will only show strength and find security by abiding by international law, living up to its obligations, and by working to feed its citizens, to educate its children, and to win the trust of its neighbors. - Huffington Post.
WATCH: North Korea's missile launch raises international concerns.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 6.0 Rocks East Coast of Honshu, Japan!

A strong and shallow earthquake magnitude 6.0 struck near the east coast of Honshu on Friday, April 13, 2012 at 10:10:02 UTC according to U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake was located at 36.998°N, 141.325°E with a depth of 13.6 km (8.5 miles), just 42 km (26 miles) off the disaster-ravaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. The epicentre was at a distance of  39 km (24 miles) east of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan; 94 km (58 miles) southeast of Koriyama, Honshu, Japan; 102 km (63 miles) northeast of Mito, Honshu, Japan; and 202 km (125 miles) northeast of Tokyo, Japan.

There are reports of strong shaking in Iwaki, Namie and Kitaibaraki. The residents of Takahagi, Sukagawa, Funaishikawa, Mito and Fukushima will have felt moderate shaking. Japan and the surrounding islands straddle four major tectonic plates: Pacific plate; North America plate; Eurasia plate; and Philippine Sea plate. Since 1900, three great earthquakes occurred off Japan and three north of Hokkaido. They are the M8.4 1933 Sanriku-oki earthquake, the M8.3 2003 Tokachi-oki earthquake, the M9.0 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the M8.4 1958 Etorofu earthquake, the M8.5 1963 Kuril earthquake, and the M8.3 1994 Shikotan earthquake.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Four Feet of Hail in Texas - Incredible Images From Recent Storm That Ravaged the Texas Panhandle!

Sure, everything's bigger in Texas. But four feet of hail from one storm? That's what the National Weather Service, the Texas Department of Transportation and a local sheriff say happened Wednesday in an area north of Amarillo when hail piled up in drifts so wide they caused flooding and cut off a major highway.

Stunning images of accumulated hail in Texas.
The National Weather Service office in Amarillo even posted a photo on its Facebook page, but that wasn't enough to convince skeptics.  "Serious do not think this is 100% hail!!!" commented one person.  "It's a lite dusting of hail on some damn rocks," said another person, referring to the image of a firefighter standing next to what could be taken for boulders.  "I can assure you we do not have big rocks like that in West Texas," Krissy Scotten, a spokeswoman for the weather service office in Amarillo, told  "That was four feet of ice" that was compacted by rain and then was blown across a wide area into hail drifts, she added.  As for the darkish color, "we're very dusty around here" due to drought so the hail quickly darkened, Scotten said.  The image, she added, was sent by the Potter County Fire Department and the firefighter seen in it is standing where meltwater had cut through the hail.  The Texas Department of Transportation confirms it was deep hail dumped by a storm that dropped visibility to near zero at times.

"Heavy rain and up to 4 ft of hail has US 287 blocked north of Amarillo," it tweeted Wednesday afternoon.  The local sheriff concurred as well.  "You're looking at four foot deep" hail in one stretch, NBC affiliate KAMR-TV quoted Brian Thomas, sheriff of Potter County, as saying. "This was just one of those weird storms that just sat here and came down extremely heavy in this one area."  Amarillo TV station Pronews 7 even shot video of flash flooding triggered by the pea-sized hail and several inches of rain.   "It looked like soap suds," said Pronews 7 meteorologist Steve Kersh. "The storm was moving really slow and a combination of the pea-sized hail and four to six inches of rain created those conditions."  KAMR-TV reported that snow plows were called out to clear roads. Highway 287 was shut down for hours after the storm due to the cleanup.  Several vehicles got stuck in the flash flooding, and two feet of water also swamped a stretch of Highway 136, the weather service reported. One Chevy Tahoe, a large SUV, got stuck in hail up to its hood, Scotten said.  The pea-sized hailstones weren't big enough to set any size records, and Scotten said the service doesn't keep records for most hail in a given period.  But Jose Garcia, chief forecaster at the weather service in Amarillo, told it probably wasn't the most hail the region has seen.  "Five to six feet deep hail" fell in nearby Dalhart, Texas, in 1993 during a very similar storm, he said. It took almost a month for some roads to reopen as the compact ice melted slowly. "It was almost like huge snow drifts," he said. - MSNBC.
WATCH: Incredible images from Texas.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Icelandic Volcanoes Said to Be Growing Restless - Activity Increasing in Volcano Belt That Includes Katla, Hekla, Grimsvotn and Eyjafjallajökull!

Two years ago, the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull caused havoc across Europe, with airborne ash grounding flights for six days.  Eyjafjallajökull may be quiet now, but, according to The Telegraph, activity has been increasing in the volcano belt that stretches diagonally across the middle of Iceland from the Westman Islands in the south to the Lake Mývatn area in the north, along the line of the American and Eurasian geological tectonic plates.

This region includes the volcano Katla, which has erupted about every 60 years (the last time in 1918), the volcano Hekla, which has erupted approximately once every ten years in the past decade (the last time in 2000), and Grímsvötn, which had a short eruption last year. In the 17th and 19th centuries, eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull were followed within months by eruptions of Katla, and now too, Katla has been increasingly restless. Increased activity has also been detected in the volcanoes under the largest ice cap, Vatnajökull, which is where Grímsvötn lies. In July 2011, geothermal heat caused melting in Mýrdalsjökull, the ice cap covering Katla, producing a flood that destroyed an important bridge on the south coast of Iceland at the height of the tourist travel season. According to precise GPS measurements, there has been movement of the surface of the volcano, as well as bursts of high earthquake activity beneath Katla’s caldera, indicating that magma has risen closer to the surface. Scientists have been monitoring the volcano closely ever since the glacial burst last July and every now and then earthquakes have caused concern that an eruption might be coming up. Yet while repeatedly making headlines last autumn, Katla has been rather quiet in recent months.

The scale of the damage from an eruption in Katla would depend on the direction of the wind, as well as on the style, size and duration of the eruption.
A major eruption of Katla could cause flooding, poisoning of agricultural land, destruction of property, interference with air traffic across Europe, and even global cooling for several years. This is because Katla is likely to produce very fine ash, as did Eyjafjallajökull, which would remain airborne for days. However, scientists stated in January that due to increased knowledge, better surveillance and more accurate forecast models—and the experience drawn from the eruptions in Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn—future eruptions will cause fewer disturbances to air traffic than in 2010.  The University of Iceland is working with Delft University of Technology and other institutions to develop more accurate systems to track and predict volcanic activity, in order to deal with the threat and damage of eruption. Last week the story broke that Askja volcano in the northeastern highland might be preparing to erupt as its crater lake, Öskjuvatn, was iceless despite frosty temperatures. Travelers have been warned about visiting the area and scientists have launched a research expedition to determine the likelihood of an eruption. - Iceland Review.

SEISMIC MYSTERY: Geological Anomalies - "Odd Duck" Indonesia Quake Surprises Scientists?!

A magnitude-8.6 earthquake off Indonesia occurred along a strike-slip fault line similar to California's San Andreas Fault. Scientists say it's rare for strike-slip quakes, in which blocks of rocks slide horizontally past each other, to be this large. Wednesday's quake was followed by a magnitude-8.2 aftershock. Both were strike-slip quakes.

The massive earthquake off Indonesia surprised scientists: Usually this type of jolt isn't this powerful.  The biggest earthquakes tend to occur in subduction zones where one plate of the Earth's crust dives under another. This grind produced the 2004 magnitude-9.1 Indian Ocean disaster and the magnitude-9 Japan quake last year.  Wednesday's magnitude-8.6 occurred along a strike-slip fault line similar to California's San Andreas Fault. Scientists say it's rare for strike-slip quakes, in which blocks of rocks slide horizontally past each other, to be this large.  "It's clearly a bit of an odd duck," said seismologist Susan Hough of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif.  As one of the world's most seismically active places, Indonesia is located on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Pressure builds up in the rocks over time and is eventually released in an earthquake. 

Wednesday's quake was followed by a magnitude-8.2 aftershock. Both were strike-slip quakes.  "A week ago, we wouldn't have thought we could have a strike-slip earthquake of this size. This is very, very large," said Kevin Furlong, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University.  So large, in fact, that the main shock went into the history books. Record-keeping by the USGS National Earthquake Information Center ranks Wednesday's shaker as the 11th largest since 1900. It's probably the largest strike-slip event though there's debate about whether a similar-sized Tibet quake in 1950 was the same kind.  A preliminary analysis indicates one side of the fault lurched 70 feet past the other -- a major reason for the quake's size. By contrast, during the 1906 magnitude-7.8 San Francisco earthquake along the San Andreas -- perhaps the best known strike-slip event -- the ground shifted 15 feet.  The Sumatra coast has been rattled by three strong strike-slip quakes since 2004, but Wednesday's was the largest. - Sci-Tech Today.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Solar System Disturbances - Meteor Seen By Stargazers, Streaking Across Chicago Area Skies!

Several people in the Chicago area spotted a meteor streaking across the sky Wednesday night.

A meteor from the Geminids meteor shower in 2009 (File Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Eyewitness David Braun told WBBM Newsradio he was in west suburban Cary, near U.S. Route 14 and the Metra station when he spotted it. “I was kind of looking up for Venus, because, I mean, Venus was up in the sky,” he said. “I was at a stop light and, all of a sudden, I just saw this bright light, and it caught my attention immediately. I said ‘Wow!’”
Other callers spotted the meteor from Elgin and Schaumburg. One person even called about the meteor from near Grand Rapids, Mich. “It was moving at, I would say, towards the earth; and, from my perspective, 30 degrees to the right,” Braun said. “And it was moving really fast. Like I say, I would say it seemed faster than a plane, and it was clearly on fire, and the fire got brighter.” The people who spotted the meteor said it flared for about 15 to 20 seconds, and then was gone. - CBS Chicago.

WORLD WAR III & THE GATHERING OF ARMIES: South China Sea Dispute Escalates - China and the Philippines Deploy More Warships!

The standoff in the South China Sea between the naval forces of the Philippines and China is in danger of escalating, as the U.S. continues to watch anxiously.  China has now sent a third ship to support its claim to the area known as Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines.  Philippine warships attempting to arrest the crews of a Chinese fishing fleet that had entered the territory sparked the latest dispute between the two Asian countries. 

They were stopped from doing so by the arrival of two Chinese surveillance ships, which then ordered the Philippine warships to leave the area.  They refused arguing that its Philippine territory and have since sent a second warship to the area.  "We're not retreating from our own territory," Alexander Pama, Chief Vice Admiral of the Philippine navy said.  China also claims the rich fishing ground as its own despite it being within 200 nautical miles of the Philippines.  "The timing of the dispute suggests China is keen to send a message to the Philippines and the U.S. ahead of their bilateral military exercise, and to assert its authority in the disputed area," Maria Patrikainen, a global insight analyst at IHS told Fox News.   The escalation in naval forces has caused consternation in capital across the Asian region and further afield.  "We urge all parties to exercise full restraint and seek a diplomatic resolution," a State Dept. spokesperson said.   On the surface this would seem to be a minor dispute between two countries but it is in fact part of a much wider problem that may lead to U.S. military involvement. 

On any map you buy in China of the country you will see a huge bulge down in the south showing the territory it claims in the South China Sea.  It's an enormous area, which spreads near to the shores of the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.  It even spreads nearly as far as Singapore.  No other country in the region recognizes China's sovereignty, but that hasn't stopped Beijing from marking its claim by any means it can.  This includes building concrete forts, occupied by troops on isolated coral reefs and placing concrete markers in other areas, even underwater, to support their claim.  And China has been prepared to take military action in the past to take control of some islands.  Back in 1974 China and Vietnam fought a battle over the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Beijing's overpowering force including submarines won and they have remained under the control of China since then.  The two countries also have an ongoing dispute over the Spratly Islands which last year was in danger of escalating.  Vietnam accused China of cutting cables to their survey ships.  The U.S. military continues to watch China's actions in the South China Sea closely.  It continues to send surveillance planes and ships into the area even at the risk of provoking China.  In 2009 a U.S. ship in the area had a confrontation with Chinese naval forces that claimed the U.S. vessel had entered its waters.  And in 2001 a U.S. intelligence aircraft was intercepted over the South China Sea and was involved in a midair collision that left one Chinese pilot dead and forced the U.S. plane to land in China. 

The reasons behind all this interest by competing powers in the South China Sea are twofold.  Outside powers like the U.S. view the area as a key international waterway in which a large part of world trade passes through. Last year the U.S. said maintaining stability in the area is part of its "national interests."  U.S. aircraft carriers regularly pass through the South China Sea on their way to and from the Middle East.  And the second reason is it is widely believed that under the South China Sea there are huge quantities of oil and gas.  China and other nations who claim all, or part of, the area are hoping it will give them energy security.  The difficulty at the moment is that China is seen in many Asian capitals as a bully who wants to grab all of it and will only negotiate with each country separately.  President Obama announced last year that the U.S. would turn its strategic attention more towards Asia to ensure stability there.  The first of the 2,500 U.S. marines that are to be based in Australia have already started arriving.  It has long been feared that this could be the next area in Asia where there may be armed conflict, and the disputes, if not handled properly threaten to lead to a confrontation between Beijing and Washington. - FOX News.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Solar System Disturbances - State Trooper and Motorist in Connecticut Report Object Falling From the Sky!

Authorities in northwestern Connecticut say they didn't find anything after a state trooper and another person reported a large object falling out of the sky in Litchfield. And now we know why.

File Photo.
The Republican-American of Waterbury reports that a person driving in Litchfield at about 2 a.m. Tuesday reported that a green, glowing object the size of a whale fell from the sky and crashed into Bantam Lake.

At about the same time, a state trooper 10 miles away in Warren called dispatchers to report that something fell out of the sky and landed near Bantam or Morris.

Morris firefighters made several passes up and down the lake in a boat looking for a possible plane crash, but didn't find any debris.

So what was it? The answer comes from professional meteorologists. According to the National Weather Service, there was a meteor shower that morning. - WWLP.