Friday, May 18, 2012

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: The Monowai Cone - Fastest Growing Volcano Spotted in New Zealand!

Scientists have found a submarine volcano in New Zealand waters that has undergone the fastest episode of collapse and growth ever recorded at a volcano.  The Monowai Cone, part of the Monowai Volcanic Center, is a giant submarine volcano about 1,000 km northeast of the North Island that underwent a mighty geological upheaval during five days in mid-2011.

Scientists have found a submarine volcano in New Zealand waters that has undergone the
fastest episode of collapse and growth ever recorded at a volcano.
In the brief period of observation, the volcano added about 8.5 million cubic meters of lava and debris to its summit: the summit area was raised by 79 meters, while a collapse at another part of the summit saw a sudden height reduction of 19 meters.  At least four new summit cones were formed in the process.  The findings, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, were made unexpectedly during a three-week survey of the volcanoes in the Kermadec Arc from the German research ship Sonne.  Aside from providing insights into the dynamics of seafloor volcanism, the observations also have implications for geohazards such as tsunamis, said co-author Cornel de Ronde of GNS Science. “It’s well documented that any sudden displacement of the seabed has the potential to trigger a tsunami. Submarine landslides and submarine volcanism can set off a tsunami that can travel across the ocean,” said de Ronde.

Monowai is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the Tonga-Kermadec arc, a 2,500 km-long chain of submarine volcanoes stretching from New Zealand to just north of Tonga.  While geophysical surveys from research ships dating back to the early 1980s had shown regular and significant changes to the summit area of Monowai, the changes observed in mid-2011 were the most dramatic and rapid seen to date.  As the scientists approached Monowai on the Sonne in May 2011, they observed discolored seawater and gas bubbles rising above the volcano, which made them suspect a growth spurt was underway.  During this period, seismic stations at several Pacific Island locations, including the Cook Islands, recorded a five-day swarm of shallow earthquakes located at Monowai.  When the Sonne returned to Monowai later in the three-week voyage, the scientists found part of the Monowai summit had collapsed and another part had grown substantially, likely from erupted ash and volcanic debris.  The scientists believe the rapid changes they observed were larger than at most other volcanoes, losing only to Mount St. Helens and Mount Vesuvius. They estimate that in a four-year period starting in 2007, the Monowai volcano could have undergone up to a dozen growth and collapse phases.  De Ronde said the rapid growth rates at Monowai helped to shed light on the factors that controlled the ‘emplacement of surface magma’ at submarine volcanoes. These include the gas content of the magma, the upward pressure regime, crustal thickness, the tectonic setting, and local stress field.      “It’s remarkable that we were able to capture such dramatic geomorphic changes on the seafloor within the duration of a single research voyage.” - Asian Scientist.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - Italian Institute of Technology Creates Amazing Hydraulic Quadruped (HyQ) Robotic Stallion!

DARPA may be the Big Dog of robotic cargo transport for now, but that doesn't mean it's the only game in town. A new design from the Italian Institute of Technology may look like the Army's pack-bot but it runs like a Ferrari—or, at least, a skittering, mechanical Ibex.

Led by Professor Darwin Caldwell, a team from the IIT's department of Advanced Robotics has spent nearly half a decade designing, building, and testing the meter-long, 70 kilogram hydraulically-driven quadraped—Hydraulically-driven Quadraped, HyQ. Being hydraulically activated and constructed from lightweight aluminum, the HyQ is one of a handful of robots capable of the instantaneous corrections needed for off-road deployment.

It employs 12 active joints—eight hydraulically-powered, four electrically-powered—to generate the necessary torque for moving nimbly over rough terrain. And boy can it move. As you can see in the test video above, the HyQ is not only capable of bounding up inclines, trotting along at 2m/s, and actively avoiding obstacles but also leaping vertically, clamoring over and around debris, even rearing up on its hind legs (just needs a simian Lone Ranger riding and the effect will be complete).

To accomplish these feats, the HyQ relies on a force-feedback system that monitors the pressure on each foot and adjusts each leg's stiffness in response by rapidly pumping hydraulic fluid in or out of the actuators. These actively compliant legs are a key feature on the HyQ—as is its open source design. "BigDog is a black box — nobody knows exactly what designs, materials, controllers they are using," Claudio Semini, a researcher responsible for HyQ's hardware and a founding member of the project, told IEEE "We want to make our design as open as possible." And, apparently, as attractive.
- Gizmodo.
WATCH: HyQ - IIT's Hydraulic Quadruped Robot.

EXTREME WEATHER USA: Nation Swelters Through its Warmest Year on Record - Summer Forecast Sparks Concern Over Fires, and Water Shortages!

As the nation swelters through its warmest year on record, a new forecast for a broiling summer is raising concern about wildfires and water shortages, especially across parts of the western and southern USA

People relax on the beach in Atlantic City, N.J., on April 16, well before the typical summer weather season.
Federal forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their summer weather forecast Thursday. About three-fourths of the nation — from the Southwest to the Mid-Atlantic — faces elevated odds of above-average temperatures this summer, NOAA forecaster Jon Gottschalck said. "However, we can't predict how much above average that area will be," he said. Summers have trended warm in recent years: The National Climatic Data Center reports that all but two of the summers since 2000 have been warmer than average, including 2011, which was the second-warmest on record. Massive wildfires scorched the southern Plains in 2011. This included Texas' most destructive fire in state history. In all, wildfires killed five people and caused $1 billion in damage in the U.S. "We may see a pretty significant wildfire season in the West," meteorologist Greg Carbin of the Storm Prediction Center said Thursday. "Conditions aren't looking good," he said, because of recent dry weather and lack of soil moisture. In addition to wildfires, the unusually dry winter in parts of the country is also raising drought worries: "Areas of the Southwest are extremely dry," NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch said. "There is a concern about water resources this summer, as reservoirs are below average in New Mexico and Arizona." Drought is being reported across the Southeast and along much of the Eastern Seaboard from Florida to New Hampshire, according to Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks drought. So far this year, both Maryland and Delaware are having their driest year on record, through April.

The Drought Monitor also reported that 96% of New Mexico and Arizona are currently under drought conditions. Ninety-seven percent of Nevada is in a drought as well. Those Western states are typically very dry, but this level of drought is somewhat uncommon. For instance, Nevada has not seen this much area under drought conditions in more than four years. As for precipitation, the Northwest and northern Rockies are likely to see below-average rainfall this summer, Gottschalck said. No areas are expected to be wetter-than-normal this summer. Weather forecasting firm AccuWeather issued a forecast earlier this month that the worst of the heat this summer will be in the Rockies and over the western and central Plains."Western Nebraska, western Kansas and eastern Colorado have the potential to see temperatures in the upper 90s and more than 100 degrees for a long string of days," AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. Through April, the USA is experiencing its warmest year on record, Crouch said, with a national average temperature of 45 degrees, or 5 degrees above the long-term average. As for severe weather, Carbin reports that there have been 475 tornadoes in the USA through April, above average but still far below last year's devastating January-April total of 912. - USA Today.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: The Unusual and High Strangeness of the Formation of Aletta - First Storm of Hurricane Season Breaks Records?!

Tropical Storm Aletta became the first named tropical cyclone of the 2012 season in the Western Hemisphere when it formed well to the west of Mexico’s Pacific coast. 

Poorly organized Tropical Storm Aletta can be seen spinning well west of Mexico's Pacific coast.
While a marginal and unnamed disturbance formed over Indonesia’s Banda Sea during the previous week, Aletta’s formation broke a 41-day streak in which there were no named tropical cyclones anywhere on Earth.  The U.K. Met Office said that was the longest stretch without such a storm for the planet in at least 70 years.  The last time there were as many as 38 consecutive storm-less days was in 1944, when global weather monitoring was still in its infancy.

Aletta was named just as the northeast Pacific hurricane season was beginning on May 15, making it only the third storm to have formed by that date since records began in 1949.  The storm attained maximum sustained winds of only about 45 mph before encountering wind sheer and cooler waters to the north.  Those influences caued the hurricane season opener to dissipate far from any land areas. - Earthweek.

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

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

Fresno, California, United States - 11th of May, 2012.

Moscow, Russia -17th of May, 2012.

Reagan National Airport, Arlington, Virginia, United States - 16th of May, 2012.

Basel, Switzerland -15th of May, 2012.

Denver, Colorado - 14th of May, 2012.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Bagana Volcano in Papua New Guinea Erupts - New Lava Flow and Large Plume Seen by NASA's Satellite!

Bagana volcano is one of the most active in Papua New Guinea, but it is remote, and so poorly monitored.

A new lava flow was spotted on Bagana volcano by a NASA satellite on May 16.
Located on the mountainous spine of Bougainville Island, it is both far from any cities or large towns and is hard to reach due to the rough terrain around it. Satellites are the best way for volcanologists to keep an eye on the active peak, which has an elevation of 5,741 feet (1,750 meters).
The volcano emits gases (including water vapor and sulfur dioxide) almost continuously, and frequently spits up thick lava flows. A natural-color image taken by NASA's Earth Observing-1 satellite on May 16 reveals a fresh lava flow on Bagana's eastern flank. Other satellite imagery suggests that the flow was erupted sometime between March 2011 and February 2012.
The fresh lava is dark brown, while lighter brown areas were likely stripped of vegetation by volcanic debris or acidic gases. Older lava flows are covered in light green vegetation, and the surrounding forests are dark green. The volcanic plume and clouds are both white. - Our Amazing Planet.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONTAGION: The Euro Zone Crisis - EU and ECB Preparing For Possibility of Greece Leaving Euro Zone; a Fallout That Could Cost One Trillion Dollars!

The European Commission and the European Central Bank are working on an emergency scenario in case Greece has to leave the euro zone, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said in an interview published on Friday. 

The comments would appear to be the first time that an EU official has confirmed the existence of contingencies being taken for a possible Greek exit from the currency bloc. Speculation has been rife about such plans, but their existence has not been confirmed.  "A year and a half ago there may have been the danger of a domino effect," he said in an interview with the Belgium's Dutch-language newspaper De Standaard.  "But today there are, both within the European Central Bank and the European Commission, services that are working on emergency scenarios in case Greece doesn't make it." - Huffington Post.
WATCH: Greeks Withdrawing Cash from Banks as Financial Fears Grow.

Meanwhile, the British government is making urgent preparations to cope with the fallout of a possible Greek exit from the single currency, after the governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, warned that Europe was "tearing itself apart"
Reports from Athens that massive sums of money were being spirited out of the country intensified concern in London about the impact of a splintering of the eurozone on a UK economy that is stuck in double-dip recession. One estimate put the cost to the eurozone of Greece making a disorderly exit from the currency at $1tn, 5% of output.  Officials in the United States are also nervously watching the growing crisis: Barack Obama on Wednesday described it as a "headwind" that could threaten the fragile American recovery.  In a speech in Manchester before flying to the United States for a summit of G8 leaders, the British prime minister, David Cameron, will say the eurozone "either has to make up or it is looking at a potential breakup", adding that the choice for Europe's leaders cannot be long delayed.  "Either Europe has a committed, stable, successful eurozone with an effective firewall, well capitalised and regulated banks, a system of fiscal burden sharing, and supportive monetary policy across the eurozone, or we are in uncharted territory which carries huge risks for everybody.  "Whichever path is chosen, I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect this country and secure our economy and financial system."  Officials from the Bank, the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority are drawing up plans in the expectation that a Greek departure from monetary union – increasingly seen as inevitable by financial markets – could be as damaging to the global economy as the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008.  With a second election in Greece called for 17 June, King dropped a strong hint that the Bank would take fresh steps to stimulate growth if policymakers in Europe failed to deal with the sovereign debt crisis.  "We have been through a big global financial crisis, the biggest downturn in world output since the 1930s, the biggest banking crisis in this country's history, the biggest fiscal deficit in our peacetime history and our biggest trading partner, the euro area, is tearing itself apart without any obvious solution," he said. - Guardian.
WATCH: 'Grexit - Army on streets and border shutdown'.

PLANETARY TREMORS: The Mount Enterprise Fault - USGS Geologist Says East Texas Quake Indicate Possible Seismic Swarm Over the Next Few Weeks!

Residents of Shelby County were awakened this morning by an earthquake in the same vicinity as another quake just last week.  Shelby County Emergency Management Coordinator Danny Lawrence said the quake shook the fire station where he was on duty and there was some minor damage around the county, but no major damage or serious injuries reported.

"It was a minor ground-shaking that shook windows and rattled some dishes, but I haven't been informed of any major structural damage in the county," he said.  A statement from the Shelby County Sheriff's Office stated an elderly woman was injured when she was thrown from her bed, but the statement said extent of those injuries were minor.  Sheriff officials said the 4.3 magnitude quake occurred about three miles east of Timpson and lasted approximately 15 seconds.  John Bellini, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake information Center, said the two quakes in one week could indicate the area might see a swarm of quakes in the area over the next few weeks. 

Bellini said quakes strike areas where there are faults and LaRell Neilson, a geology professor with Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, said last week there's an active fault system that runs through East Texas, stretching from Mount Enterprise along Texas Highway 84 to Timpson.  It's called the Mount Enterprise Fault.  The fault is active and delivers low-level quakes, such as Thursday's, fairly regularly. He said the last one he could recall struck the area around 1994 and measured between 3.5 and 4 on the United States Geological Survey's equipment.  Lawrence said USGS data shows there was a strong quake in the area in 1957 and then every few years there are small quakes that most people never realize have occurred.  "These past two quakes have everyone a little uneasy right now," he said. "If we have another then it will really get people upset, because this is not something we are used to seeing like the folks out in California." - KYTX.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Highly Contagious and Fatal Virus - Canine Distemper Outbreak Confirmed in Oregon Gray Foxes!

An outbreak of canine distemper has been confirmed in southern Oregon foxes, and dog owners are being warned to vaccinate their pets against the highly contagious and often fatal virus. 

The virus was confirmed in two gray foxes found dead in Ashland and one in Medford, state wildlife officials said. The Oregon State University Diagnostics Lab was conducting tests on two additional carcasses, the Department of Fish and Wildlife said this week.  Wildlife biologists also have received more than a dozen reports of gray foxes walking in circles and foaming at the mouth — signs of distemper.  “We’ve suspected distemper, and it’s been confirmed,” wildlife biologist Mark Vargas told the Mail Tribune newspaper. “Is it a pandemic? No. As of now? An outbreak.”  Distemper increases in urban areas of the Northwest once city populations of raccoons, skunks and other animals surge.

Outbreaks in the early 1990s and mid-2000s left hundreds of raccoons dead in southern Oregon.  Amid a 2005-06 outbreak, wildlife officials banned the trapping and releasing of raccoons in the wild, and the outbreak eventually quelled.  Vargas, however, said it was unproven that such a ban alone ended the outbreak.  Animals infected with the virus often have runny noses and eyes; appear listless and disoriented; and have little interest in food and water.  Vargas said residents should avoid touching any wild animals, especially those suspected of carrying a disease, and make sure their dogs are vaccinated against the virus.  “It’s a wildlife issue, but it’s also a public health issue in terms of pets,” Vargas said. - Oregon Live.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mexico’s Popocatepetl Volcano Spews Fiery Rock and Caustic Ash - Causing a Menace to Residents of Puebla and Santiago Xalitzintla!

Fresh blasts from Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano spewed fiery rock and caustic ash over residents around the Mexico City suburb of Puebla, already on edge after weeks of ongoing eruption. 

“It was spectacular. But of course, it makes you worry about everyone living nearby.” - Vulcanologist Raul Arambula.
Ash soared 2.5 miles into the sky during early Saturday’s explosion, forcing a local airport to close.  Residents of the nearby village of Santiago Xalitzintla rushed into the town square during the middle of the night as terrifying rumblings and blasts caused buildings to shudder. 

Last week residents in eastern parts of Mexico City were provided with face masks to protect them against ash raining over the region from Popocatepetl’s blasts.  Prevailing winds have so far spared the capital district from significant ash falls. 

Popocatepetl has become increasingly active during 2012.  A major eruption in 2000 forced 50,000 people to evacuate in three states that surround the towering mountain. - Earthweek.

ARIZONA BURNING: Gladiator Fire Has Devoured 5,400 Acres, Homes in Peril - Sunflower Wildfire Passes 12,000 Acres Burned; Fire Triples, 350 Residents Evacuate, 5% Containment!

Four structures have been destroyed since Sunday in a spreading wildfire near Crown King that has grown to more than 10 square miles. The Gladiator Fire has blackened 6,573 acres and is only 5 percent contained, fire management crews said on Thursday.

The expanding Sunflower Fire south of Payson in the Tonto National Forest.
Fire incident spokeswoman Michelle Fidler said gusts of up to 40 mph in the Prescott National Forest was expected to hamper efforts of some 540 firefighters actively battling the blaze.   The fire prompted an evacuation order Sunday. The blaze started at a home, but investigators haven't determined the cause.  Air tankers on Thursday have worked the western flank of the fire near a number of important communication towers to check the fire's spread to allow hot shot crews to scout the area.  Another community meeting is planned for Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Mayer High School, 17300 E. Mule Deer Dr., in Spring Valley.  Fidler said winds could shift and push the wildfire back into the community where it started Sunday as a structure fire on private property.  Incident Commander Joe Reinarz has warned evacuees the fire has potential to creep back toward town, threatening more homes.  "On a scale of one to 10, in this case, under these conditions, it's a 10. It's as bad as it can get right now," Reinarz said.  Reinarz and other officials warned that people who have so far ignored mandatory evacuations are putting themselves in a dangerous situation.  Some evacuees at the meeting called loved ones to urge them to leave their homes as well.  "My daughter doesn't want to leave, but I told her she has to get out right now," Lynn Turley said.  Meanwhile, Ballinger said he's hopeful his town will make it through this latest threat.  "Hopefully, the potential bad scenarios don't come true, but they definitely prepared us for them," Ballinger said. - KPHO.
Meanwhile, over 12,000 acres have been destroyed by the Sunflower Fire, burning 21 miles south of Payson. 
Debbie Cress, a team manager of the fire, said it has behaved as expected and is 10 percent contained as of Thursday morning.  "It shifted to the south, southwest today so that pushed the fire into some areas of unburned timber and some heavier fuels which created quite a bit of smoke along the northern edge of the fire," she said.  Cress said the fire is in very rugged and steep terrain.  As of Wednesday morning there were 12 crews, 16 engines, two bulldozers and two water tenders being used to fight the fire. In all, more than 400 people have been called upon to fight the blaze.  Strong winds going from the east to the south played a major role on Tuesday.  The fire is no longer threatening State Route 87.  The Gladiator fire, burning northwest of the Valley has destroyed more than 2,000 acres. It is 5 percent contained. - KTAR.
Strong wind gusts will likely keep spreading a wildfire that has grown to nearly 10 square miles and prompted the evacuation of a historic Arizona mining town.  Fire incident spokeswoman Michelle Fidler says gusts of up to 40 mph are expected Thursday in the Prescott National Forest, near Crown King.  She says the wind could push the fire, which is only 5 percent contained, northward but crews will use the opportunity to slow the blaze from the west, where communication towers are threatened.  The fire has destroyed two homes and a trailer, and prompted an evacuation order Sunday. Crown King is a community of mostly summer homes about 85 miles north of Phoenix.  The blaze started at a home, but investigators have yet to determine the cause. Fueled by high winds, a wildfire that has prompted the evacuation of a historic mining town in northern Arizona nearly tripled in size.  The fire in the Prescott National Forest grew to an estimated 5,400 acres, or nearly 8 1/2 square miles, Wednesday night- up from about 2,000 acres a day earlier.  High winds have helped fan the flames, and fire officials were expecting much of the same conditions for the next couple of days.  Most of Crown King's 350 residents had already evacuated their homes before Taryn Denyce finally left earlier Wednesday, feeling she had no other choice. - KTAR.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: The New Normal - April Was the Fifth Warmest Month Globally on Record!

Unseasonable weather pushed last month to the fifth warmest April on record worldwide, federal weather statistics show. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center calculated that April's average temperature of 57.9 degrees (14.4 degrees Celsius) was nearly 1.2 degrees (0.7 degrees Celsius) above the 20th Century normal. Two years ago was the hottest April since recordkeeping started in 1880.  Last month was the third hottest April in the United States and unusually warm in Russia, but cooler than normal in parts of western Europe. This is despite a now ended La Nina which generally lowers global temperatures. 

Temperatures that would have once been considered unusually hot and record breaking now aren't even in the top two or three, said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist.  The last time the globe had a month that averaged below the 20th Century normal was February 1985. April makes it 326 months in a row. Nearly half the population of the world has never seen a month that was cooler than normal, according to United Nations data.  "A warmer world is the new normal," Oppenheimer said. "To me, it's startling to think that a generation has grown up with global warming defining their world."  The first four months of 2012 only rank the 15th warmest on record. - MSNBC.

EXTREME WEATHER: Colorado Wildfire Jumps to 5,000+ Acres Overnight - Prompts More Evacuation Notices, 5% Contained!

More evacuation notices have been issued as a wildfire in northern Colorado grew from 1,000 acres to more than 5,000 acres overnight. In Arizona, strong wind gusts will likely keep spreading a wildfire that has grown to nearly 10 square miles and prompted the evacuation of a historic mining town.

The Hewlett Gulch Fire continues to burn, Tuesday, May 15, 2012, in the Poudre Canyon near Fort Collins, Colo.
The U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday that the blaze northwest of Fort Collins was caused by humans and the
investigation is continuing. About 200 firefighters are now fighting the blaze, which is only about 5 percent contained.
The Colorado blaze northwest of Fort Collins is still only about 5 percent contained. Nearly 400 firefighters headed back to the fire lines on Thursday.  Two groups of residents have received notices to be prepared for possible evacuations, but no one has had to leave. The fire is within a quarter mile of some homes.  The U.S. Forest Service says the fire was caused by humans. The investigation into how it started is continuing.  In western Colorado, firefighters expected to have a 170-acre fire between Delta and Whitewater fully contained sometime Friday.

That fire was started by lightning. No structures are threatened.  In Arizona, Fire incident spokeswoman Michelle Fidler says gusts of up to 40 mph are expected Thursday in the Prescott National Forest, near Crown King.  She says the wind could push the fire, which is only 5 percent contained, northward but crews will use the opportunity to slow the blaze from the west, where communication towers are threatened.  The fire has destroyed two homes and a trailer, and prompted an evacuation order Sunday. Crown King is a community of mostly summer homes about 85 miles north of Phoenix.  The blaze started at a home, but investigators have yet to determine the cause. - Salt Lake Tribune.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Mysterious Earthquake Near McCall, Idaho - Puzzles Scientists and Technicians?!

You could call it a mystery earthquake, a sonic boom, or maybe nothing at all.  Several witnesses report waking up to what they say was a small earthquake south of McCall early Thursday around 4:30 a.m. However, those shaky claims have employees at Idaho's U.S. Geological Survey scratching their heads in disbelief.  Mickey Hart lives five miles south of McCall just off Highway 55.

The 50-year-old resident said she's experienced one previous earthquake here in the summer of 2001.  The second earthquake came early Thursday around 4:30 a.m. Hart says that's when her beloved border collie, Mr. Mac, detected the tremor before it hit.  "It was four in the morning, and the house shook," Hart said. "It woke up my husband and scared the crap out of my dog."  However, for some folks here in Idaho, those reports just don't seem to make sense.  U.S. Geological Survey Technical Information Specialist Tim Merrick said his agency's seismographs haven't shown any recent earthquake activity in Idaho.  "If there was anything, it would almost certainly show up," Merrick said. "Our seismology network across the United States is very sensitive."  Scott VanHoff, USGS Geospatial Mapping Coordinator, agrees.  "Idaho looks amazingly quiet, and I don't see anything," VanHoff said, adding that the only earthquake he'd seen recorded was yesterday. USGS records show that event was a magnitude 2.2 earthquake recorded around 9:30 p.m., at a location northwest of Weiser, Idaho.  However, other folks in the Valley County area maintain they positively did feel an earthquake early Thursday morning. 

Captain Brandon Swain with the McCall Fire Department says he heard reports of the mystery earthquake from his brother, Clint Swain, who lives near Lake Fork.  "My brother was awake at about 4:30 or 5 a.m., and the earthquake woke up his wife," Swain said.  Research geophysicist Joan Gomberg works for the USGS at the University of Washington in Seattle. Gomberg says her seismic records do, in fact, show "something that could be a small earthquake," recorded at 4:42 a.m. MDT in the McCall area.  However, Gomberg went on to say that most earthquakes strong enough to be felt by people easily show up on USGS seismographs throughout the United States.  As to why some scientists and USGS employees can't readily see this one, Gomberg offered an interesting explanation.  "This area is at the edge of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, and where the monitoring network begins to get sparser, so small earthquakes are more likely to be missed," Gomberg said.  Gomberg also reminds folks that sometimes a sonic boom from a nearby jet can feel like earthquake, along with large mining equipment, and road work.  However, Mickey Hart says she doesn't need a seismograph to tell her what she experienced was an earthquake. Instead, Hart says she trusts her border collie.  "Mr. Mac knew right away. It really shook him up," Hart said. - KTVB.

EXTREME WEATHER: State of Emergency - New Mexico Governor Makes Statewide Drought Declaration!

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has issued a drought declaration covering the entire state.

In a statement she said fire danger is high, water reservoirs are low and some communities have been forced to take "dramatic steps" to reduce water consumption.
Martinez's declaration will make it easier for farmers, ranchers and communities to secure federal funding for expenses related to the drought.
Martinez also ordered the state's drought plan to be reviewed, and she urged municipalities to consider implementing firework bans and other fire restrictions.
The governor's office said Tuesday that the state water trust board is giving $600,000 to the northern New Mexico community of Las Vegas for engineering work related to repairs on a dam the community depends on for its water supply. - KCBD.