Monday, June 18, 2012

EXTREME WEATHER: High Park Wildfire is the Most Destructive Fire in Colorado's History - 181 Homes Burn; 85 Square Miles Charred; 45% Contained!

The High Park fire is already the most destructive wildfire in recorded Colorado history, but federal fire officials worry that even more homes could be lost to its flames over the next few weeks.  The fire, sparked by lightning June 9, has charred more than 85 square miles west of Fort Collins and destroyed at least 181 homes, Larimer County Sheriff's executive officer Nick Christensen said Saturday. 

"There has been a great community effort in response to this fire," he said. "The loss we are dealing with will also be a community effort."  The blaze is 45 percent contained, but weather conditions are expected to worsen today and Monday, and on the very active western flank, the fire will be allowed to burn until it reaches the natural fire line, Pingree Park Road 3 to 4 miles west, incident commander Bill Hahnenberg said.  Most of the territory between the fire's current perimeter and the road is U.S. Forest Service land, but a handful of homes are in the fire's path. Crews will use a "point protection" technique to shield the homes.  As the fire approaches, crews will do everything from building fire lines and removing fuels to setting up sprinkler systems around the homes, Hahnenberg said.  He said fighting the fire is a long-term project requiring "persistence and patience."

"Our goal is to diminish the threat and to return the community to as close to normal as possible, as soon as possible," he said.  The 181-home tally does not include outbuildings, Christensen said. And the count could climb as structure assessment teams continue to work through the 710 homes within the fire's bounds.  Saturday's estimate surpasses the 169 homes lost in the Fourmile Canyon fire in 2010 and the 133 homes destroyed in the Hayman fire in 2002.  The largest number of homes lost in the High Park fire were in the Rist Canyon area. Fifty-one homes were lost in the Davis Ranch area, 40 homes were destroyed in Whale Rock, 21 homes in Stratton Park and 17 homes in Poudre Canyon. Most of the homes were lost in the first few days of the fire, Christensen said. The 55,050-acre fire is now the third-largest recorded in Colorado history. In 2002, Hayman burned 137,760 acres, and Missionary Ridge burned an estimated 71,739 acres. About 1,600 firefighters are battling the blaze from the ground and air. Fifteen planes and 14 helicopters aided crews throughout the were destroyed in Whale Rock, 21 homes in Stratton Park and 17 homes in Poudre Canyon. Most of the homes were lost in the first few days of the fire, Christensen said. - Denver Post.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Scores of Dead Fish Mysteriously Surface in a Canal Near Lake Manitoba?!

Scores of dead fish have surfaced in a canal near Lake Manitoba.  The canal runs several kilometres between Lake St. Francis and Lake Manitoba.

Dead fish, mostly carp, started floating to the surface along this canal on Thursday. (Gary Solilak/CBC)
The area is near Twin Lakes Beach, which was devastated by flooding in 2011.  As far as the eye can see down the channel are the white bellies of dead fish, mostly carp.  "I'm told by locals they just started appearing yesterday," reporter Sean Kavanagh said. 

"The best explanation I've heard from experts so far is the fish got trapped by flooding last year and ran out of oxygen in the shallow canal.  There are perhaps thousands of live fish still in the channel that may face a similar fate. I've got calls into provincial officials for more information, but likely this is part of the flood story from last year that just keeps on being told." - CBC.
WATCH: Dead fish fill canal near lake Manitoba.

WORLD WAR III: The Syrian Passage to Iran and the Countdown to Armageddon - Russian Commandos "to Escort Assad Out of Syria" as Ships of Marines Head For the Syrian Port of Tartus!

Ships carrying Russian commandos may soon sail to Syria to escort strongman Bashar Assad to safety from the country where a rebellion against him is growing fiercer. 

A child at Syrian rebel rally. Reuters.
Reports to this effect were cited by Voice of Israel radio's veteran "listener" Miki Gurdus, who specializes in listening to radio broadcasts on various frequencies worldwide.  The Interfax news agency said Monday that two Russian navy ships are to sail to Syria to protect Russian citizens and its naval base there. This would be the first time since the current rebellion in Syria began that Russia is sending extra troops to its base in Syria.  Cited by the Associated Press, Interfax quoted an unidentified Russian navy official as saying that the Nikolai Filchenkov and Caesar Kunikov amphibious assault vessels will be heading to the Syrian port of Tartus. The ships appear not to have left their home port in Sevastopol on the Black Sea yet.  The Russian official mentioned nothing about evacuating Assad, but said the ships will carry an unspecified number of marines to protect Russians in Syria and evacuate materials from Tartus if necessary.  Russia has shielded Damascus from international sanctions over its bloody crackdown on the rebellion against the minority Alawite regime. Russia also continued to provide the regime with arms. - Israel National News.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting that two Russian navy ships are completing preparations to sail to Syria with a unit of marines on a mission to protect Russian citizens and the nation's base there, a news report said Monday. The deployment appears to reflect Moscow's growing concern about Syrian President Bashar Assad's future.
The Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified Russian navy official as saying that the two amphibious landing vessels, Nikolai Filchenkov and Caesar Kunikov, will be heading shortly to the Syrian port of Tartus, but didn't give a precise date.  The official said the ships will carry an unspecified number of marines to protect Russians in Syria and evacuate some equipment from Tartus, if necessary.  Each ship is capable of carrying up to 300 marines and a dozen tanks, according to Russian media reports. That would make it the largest known Russian troop deployment to Syria, signaling that Moscow is becoming increasingly uneasy about Syria's slide toward civil war. - AP.

PLANETARY TREMORS: "Dangerous" Earthquake Hits Mendoza, in Western Argentina - Tremor Alarmed Residents and Caused Minor Damage to Buildings!

An earthquake of magnitude 5.4 struck about 30 km (18 miles) southeast of the city of Mendoza in Argentina on Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)said, and local media reported minor damage but no casualties. 

The tremor caused some minor damage to buildings in and around the western wine-producing city of Mendoza and alarmed residents, most of whom were still in bed asleep, according to press reports.  Earthquake monitoring official Marcelo Pena said the quake's epicenter was a rural area about 20 km (12 miles) southeast of the city. "Some minor damage was caused, such as damaged walls, but we haven't had any reports of any victims. This was a dangerous earthquake," he told local television.  He said the shallow depth of the quake meant it was felt strongly, and power supplies were disrupted in the area, daily newspaper La Nacion said on its Web site. - Reuters.

According to the USGS, the South American arc extends over 7,000 km, from the Chilean margin triple junction offshore of southern Chile to its intersection with the Panama fracture zone, offshore of the southern coast of Panama in Central America. It marks the plate boundary between the subducting Nazca plate and the South America plate, where the oceanic crust and lithosphere of the Nazca plate begin their descent into the mantle beneath South America. The convergence associated with this subduction process is responsible for the uplift of the Andes Mountains, and for the active volcanic chain present along much of this deformation front. Relative to a fixed South America plate, the Nazca plate moves slightly north of eastwards at a rate varying from approximately 80 mm/yr in the south to approximately 70 mm/yr in the north.

Subduction zones such as the South America arc are geologically complex and generate numerous earthquakes from a variety of tectonic processes that cause deformation of the western edge of South America. Crustal deformation and subsequent mountain building in the overriding South America plate generate shallow earthquakes. Slip along the dipping interface between the two plates generates frequent and often large interplate earthquakes between depths of approximately 10 to 60 km. Since 1900, numerous magnitude 8 or greater earthquakes have occurred on the interface between the Nazca and South America plates, including the 1960 M9.5 earthquake in southern Chile, the largest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the world and the 2010 M8.8 earthquake north of the 1960 quake. Earthquakes can also be generated to depths greater than 600 km from internal deformation of the subducting Nazca plate. Although the rate of subduction varies little along the entire subduction zone, there are complex changes in geologic processes along the subduction zone that dramatically influence volcanic activity, earthquake generation and occurrence. For example, an extended zone of crustal seismicity in central-northern Argentina highlights a well-known "flat-slab" region of this subduction zone, where the Nazca plate moves horizontally for several hundred kilometers before continuing its descent into the mantle.

Click HERE for additional Details, Summary, Maps and Scientific & Technical information from the USGS.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Record Heat Bakes Puerto Rico - Unusually Dry and Record-Setting Hot Stretch of Weather!

Puerto Rico is in the midst of an unusually dry and record-setting hot stretch of weather. Some relief is on the horizon, but it will not be long-lasting.  Record heat baked Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan both Tuesday and Wednesday and threatens to do the same into Friday. 

Temperatures today are headed to near the day's record high of 96 from 1983, then they will challenge Friday's record of 94 degrees from the same year.  This week's record highs are actually not that far above the 88 degrees that San Juan typically warms to this time of year. What is really unusual and contributing to the heat is the absence of cooling showers and thunderstorms.  Dry air has not only kept the Atlantic Basin free of organized tropical systems this month, but it has also limited the development of showers and thunderstorms over San Juan. No measurable rain has dampened the city so far this June, a month that typically records 4.40 inches of rain.  That dry stretch will continue through Friday, and without the storminess and accompanying clouds, temperatures will no trouble challenging records.

The recent lack of rain has also dried out vegetation, leading to a heightened fire danger.  The good news is that the presence of high humidity is preventing the fire danger from being extreme. The bad news is that the combination of the heat and humidity is creating a very uncomfortable environment for those who must spend time outdoors.  Residents are urged to avoid strenuous outdoor activities and to drink plenty of water before some relief finally arrives this weekend.  The passage of a tropical wave will open the door for moisture to surge across Puerto Rico this weekend, leading to an increase in much-welcome showers and thunderstorms.  The storminess, however, will not be here to stay.  After additional spotty showers and thunderstorms follow early next week, latest indications point toward the return of a lengthy stretch of dry and hot weather for the second half of the week. - Accu Weather.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Massive Fish Kill in the Chovva Canal, in Kannur, India - Over 1.5 Kilometres of Death!

'Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.' - Hosea 4:3.

Following the recent incident of massive fish kill in Tirur River in Malappuram district, a similar incident in Chovva canal, also called Kanampuzha canal in the outskirts of Kannur town has caused panic among the people.  According to the local residents, the fishes were found dead in the canal, which flows into the Arabian Sea, a couple of days back and the entire stretch of nearly 1.5 kilometres is stinking now.

Residents say the barrage (bund) in the canal was opened a few days back draining the entire water into the sea and the remaining water has become muddy causing the killing of the fish. They also said similar incident was reported two years back but the authorities did not take any action.  According to the people, some vested interests collected this fish and allegedly sold in the market, and if the authorities fail to take immediate action, it would cause serious health and environmental problems

Also, dumping of waste in the canal is a major cause of concern, and this could also be one reason for mass killing of fish.
Following the recent incident of massive fish kill in Tirur River in Malappuram district, a similar incidence in Chovva canal, also called Kanam puzha canal in the outskirts of Kannur town has caused panic among the people.   - Times of India.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mexico's Popocatepetl Volcano Growing More Active - 68 Exhalations of Gas Vapor and Ash in 24 Hours!

Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano is showing more signs of activity.  Nighttime footage from a permanent camera set up near the volcano showed it was belching out incandescent rocks and smoke.

The National Center for Disaster Prevention has registered 68 exhalations of gas vapor and ash of medium intensity coming from the volcano in the last 24 hours.  The volcano can also bee seen spewing ash in daytime footage.  The volcanic mountain sits roughly halfway between Mexico City and Puebla with some 25 million people living within a 60-mile radius.  Popo, as it is commonly known, has erupted small amounts of ash almost daily since activity began in 1994.  Officials have not ordered any evacuations. - KABC.
WATCH: Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano growing more active.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Increasing Cases of Dead Sea Turtles - Four Washed Ashore on New Jersey Beaches; and Ten Incidents in Delaware?!

Four dead sea turtles washed ashore on beaches along New Jersey Sunday, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.  Three loggerhead sea turtles and one leatherback sea turtle were among those found at beaches in Spring Lake, Island Beach State Park in Berkeley, North Wildwood and the Townsends Inlet area of Sea Isle City, said Sheila Dean, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. 

A dead sea turtle is examined Sunday after washing
ashore at a beach in Spring Lake.

The three loggerhead sea turtles found weighed between 30 and 45 pounds each, she said. The leatherback, found in Townsends Inlet, weighed about 245 pounds, Dean said.  The turtle deaths did not appear unusual, she said.  "It just has to do with the tides and the winds and the seas," Dean said.  Sea turtles migrate north each summer to follow their food sources, she said. They have arrived early in the season, most likely due to warmer than normal ocean temperatures, she said.  According to a sea surface temperature map that charted temperature abnormalities for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ocean temperatures off the coast of New Jersey were as much as three or four degrees warmer than normal.  The National Oceanographic Data Center recorded ocean temperatures Sunday of 74.5 degrees in Sandy Hook, 69.3 degrees in Atlantic City and 75.7 in Cape May. Average temperatures for late June in Sandy Hook are about 63 degrees, 64 in Atlantic City and 69 in Cape May.  Dean advises anyone who encounters a sea turtle to call the Marine Mammal Stranding Center at 609-266-0538. Even if an animal is dead, center staff and volunteers photograph and measure each, she said.  "One of the things that happened today, someone attempted to take one of the turtles away," said Dean. "It's against the law. Even when they're dead, they're protected and endangered species."  The larger leatherback turtle is on the endangered species list, and loggerhead turtles are considered a threatened species, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Both are protected by law, Dean said. - APP.

Shortly after reporting to duty on Sunday, Dewey Beach lifeguards spotted a large object floating in the surf about 100 yards from shore, surrounded by seagulls. It turned out to be a severely decomposed leatherback which the guards brought on the beach at Cullen Street.

Delaware marine officials examine a dead sea turtle
that washed up on Dewey Beach.
The remains were so heavy, lifeguards asked the police for an SUV to help drag it across the sand toward the dunes where they planned to bury it after experts from the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute examine it. Suzanne Thurman, MERR executive director, says this was the only leatherback reported so far this year. It was roughly five-feet long and 500 pounds in weight. She says leatherbacks can reach 1000 pounds. The leatherback is the largest of all living sea turtles and is critically endangered.  MERR has investigated nine other sea turtle incidents so far this year - all loggerheads. Five of the 10 sea turtle incidents were reported during the past three days. That includes the turtle from Dewey and four others found along the Delaware Bay. Thurman says the strong northeast wind has been bringing the remains to shore, and she had pre-alerted the MERR team on Friday anticipating this might happen. -WGMD.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Nevado del Ruiz Volcano Spews Ash and Gas up to 6,500 Feet - A Orange Alert is in Effect; 30,000 Face Masks Distributed; the Nearby Airport Remains Closed; Risk of an Eruption!

Plumes of smoke and ash are continuing to rise from Colombia's Nevado del Ruiz volcano.  People living on its slopes said they had heard "strong, strange noises" coming from the summit of the 5,346m-high mountain on Friday and Saturday. 

Officials say an orange alert first declared three weeks ago is still in place for areas near the summit.  More than 25,000 people died in a mudslide caused by Nevado del Ruiz in its last eruption in 1985.  Officials have distributed 30,000 face masks to residents living in areas affected by ash from the volcano.  The airport in the nearby town of Manizales, in central Colombia, has been closed since the end of May, and will remain so until the volcano ceases to emit ash, officials said. 

The Volcanic Observatory in Manizales said the plume of ash and gas had risen to a height of 2,000m (6,500ft) on Sunday.  Scientists at the observatory warned there was a risk of an eruption "within days or weeks".  Some 150 families have been evacuated from the banks of the rivers which flow down the volcano, as they were deemed to be most at risk.  In the 1985 eruption, the small town of Armero on the banks of the Lagunilla river was almost completely erased as summit glaciers and snow were melted by hot lava.  The water raced down the slopes carrying rocks, mud and vegetation in a destructive mudslide travelling at a speed of 60km/h (37mph).  Only a quarter of Armero's population survived. - BBC.

EARTH CHANGES: 3rd Storm to Enter the Philippines on Wednesday!

The third tropical storm may enter the Philippines by Wednesday afternoon, a government weather forecaster said Monday morning.  

[PHOTO -MTSAT ENHANCED IR Satellite Image for 8:32 p.m., 17 June 2012]
Manny Mendoza, weather forecaster at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said that the incoming storm was spotted at 880 kilometers west of extreme Northern Luzon.  Mendoza said that the storm, which is already packing maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour, may enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) by Wednesday afternoon.  The storm will be named "Carina" if it enters the PAR.  Mendoza said that if the storm changes direction from west to east, it may directly affect parts of extreme Northern Luzon. He also said that the storm may intensify into a typhoon.  Meanwhile, PAGASA said that typhoon "Butchoy" has slightly weakened as it continued to move away from the Philippines. 

It said that as of 10 a.m., the typhoon's center was estimated at 580 kilometers east northeast of Basco town in Batanes province.  The typhoon slightly weakened with maximum winds of 160 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 195 kph. It was moving north northeast at 24 kph.  PAGASA said that the storm will exit the Philippine area of responsibility and move towards Okinawa, Japan by Tuesday morning.  The weather bureau said that Butchoy will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon and will bring rains over Luzon and Western Visayas, which may trigger landslides and flashfloods.  "Fishing boats and other small seacrafts are advised not to venture out into the seaboards of Luzon and Visayas due to the big waves generated by the combined effects of Typhoon "Butchoy" and the Southwest Monsoon.," PAGASA said. - Phil Star.