Thursday, December 20, 2012

ICE AGE NOW: "Extremely Unusual Incident" - Falling "Ice Bombs" Terrorize Port Mann Drivers in Canada, Force Bridge Closure!

December 20, 2012 - CANADA - Like ice bombs falling from the sky.  That's how motorists described their nightmare on the Port Mann Bridge early Wednesday afternoon when giant icicles began to drop from the overhead cables and damage cars.  RCMP closed the new toll bridge in both directions for several hours until about 6 p.m. after many vehicles were hit by the falling ice and two occupants were injured, sending one to hospital.  Several large clumps of ice crashed through car windshields and ICBC has received 107 vehicle damage claims as of Thursday morning.  "There was no way to get around it, there was no way to move - it looked like a meteor shower of snow," said Jared Angell of Abbotsford.  His work truck sports a spider web of cracks in the front windshield and multiple dents to the roof.  "I probably got hit at least 10 times," Angell said. "I wasn't nervous until the windshield shattered, then I started to get nervous. You're hoping another one doesn't hit the same spot."  He was one of at least four drivers with Port Mann ice damage who ended up in the same autobody shop in Abbotsford.  Karl Nylund said he was "freaked out" when ice punched right through the back window of his Subaru as he was inching across the bridge in very slow traffic.  He and others said cars wouldn't have been stuck on the bridge beneath the falling ice for as long had road crews done more about the slippery conditions on Johnson Hill that paralyzed Highway 1 traffic.

 Abbotsford's James Lepp was heading back east across the bridge around 1:30 when he realized heavy ice chunks were falling from the overhead cables.  "These were massive thunderous hailstones coming down," he said. "They were a good four or five feet long, 10 inches wide, looked like they weighed 50 or 60 pounds - falling from the sky."  The ice dented his hood and took off the driver's side mirror.  Lepp's immediate thought was that engineers made an error in designing the bridge, perhaps not considering the winter weather here.  "This isn't a rare occurrence - we get snow once in a while. If this happens every time, they have to close the bridge every time."  Lepp posted a photo of the damage to his vehicle on Twitter and other drivers took to social media to denounce bridge engineers as morons.  "Someone designed it for Arizona or California, obviously, not for B.C.," Angell added. "I don't know how it got by that many smart people, but it did."  Provincial officials aren't yet conceding the newly opened bridge, the centrepiece of the $3.3-billion Port Mann/Highway 1 Improvement Project, suffers from any design flaw. 

The cables that hold up the bridge run across traffic lanes, connecting the central towers between the twin bridge decks to their outer edges.  Cables staying the Alex Fraser and Golden Ears bridges don't run diagonally above their bridge decks.  Transportation Investment Corp. CEO Mike Proudfoot said engineers are assessing the bridge to determine what went wrong and what can be done to prevent recurrences.  He apologized for what he said has been a "difficult day" for affected motorists.  Proudfoot called it an "extremely unusual" incident due to the combination of snow with a series of freezing and thawing cycles.  Other cable-stayed bridges of similar design also experience falling ice problems, Proudfoot said.  "No bridge is immune to it," he said, noting it has happened occasionally at the Alex Fraser.  Proudfoot said the bridge's design is supposed to ensure snow buildup slides down the cables and over the side and doesn't drop onto the bridge deck.  "This bridge is designed to be compliant with the Canadian bridge highway design code."  Preemptive closures of the bridge could be an option when similar weather conditions are anticipated, he said.  The cables are not heated but Proudfoot said it was too early to say if some deicing retrofit could help.  He said the province will pay the ICBC insurance deductibles of drivers whose vehicles were damaged on the bridge.  It's not yet clear if drivers without comprehensive insurance will be reimbursed or if deductibles will be paid for motorists with optional coverage from other insurers.  Proudfoot also promised drivers who used the Port Mann bridge during the affected hours Wednesday won't be charged tolls, whether their vehicles were damaged or not. - Surrey Leader.

WATCH: "Ice Bombs" close Port Mann bridge.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For December 19-20 - Tungurahua, Tobachik, Manam, Paluweh, Popocatépetl, Pacaya, Ulawun, Karymski, Klyuchevskoi, Kizimen And White Island!

December 20, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

The eruption of Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador is becoming increasingly dangerous. This morning, a phase of strong activity occurred with explosions every 5 minutes and another pyroclastic flow was observed going through the Cusua ravine. During the past days, ash emissions and frequent explosions produced ash columns rising 2-2.5 km. THe explosions ejected incandescent lava up to about 400 m above the crater and produce loud cannon-fire noises and roars that can be heard in all towns near the volcano and sometimes cause buildings vibrate.

The eruption of Plosky Tolbachik volcano in Kamchatka continues with strong tremor and vigorous lava emission.

Lava has been recently also seen at Klyuchevskoi volcano, that still has strombolian activity in its summit crater, and sporadic weak explosions continue to occur from Karymski volcano in Kamchatka. Activity at Kizimen volcano instead has recently decreased a lot; its lava dome seems to have stopped growing (for now).

Popocatépetl volcano in Mexico: After increasing to 5 weak steam and sometimes ash emissions per hour during 17-18 Dec, the rate has dropped to about 3 per hour during 18-19 Dec. Glow remains visible at night.

On the morning of 18 December, Pacaya volcano in Guatemala had 3 small explosions of gas-and-ash that left a new small crater. Since then, the volcano has remained calm, but this is the volcano's first surface activity since late 2010, and could indicate its re-awakening.

One of our correspondents in Indonesia reports that the new lava dome of Paluweh volcano now produces pyroclastic flows that reach the sea on the south side. Vegetation in the surroundings of the lava dome has all been killed.

Ash emissions from Ulawun volcano in Papua New Guinea ceased on 11 December, the Rabaul Volcano Observatory reported to USGS. During the past days, only steaming was observed.

As the recent Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report mentions, Manam volcano has been having mild strombolian activity and producing a small lava from two vents located on the upper slopes of the SE valley during 8-14 Dec.

At White Island volcano, GNS Science volcanologists found no changes to the new lava dome during the past 10 days when they became aware of it. Temperature measurements of the dome and surrounding lakes revealed nothing unusual. Seismically, a constant tremor signal continues to be visible and there a slightly rising tendency during the past weeks can be noted. - Volcano Discovery.

ICE AGE NOW: Winter Storm Draco Sweeps Across the United States - Bringing Blizzard Conditions, Heavy Snow, Strong Winds and Significant Travel Disruptions!

December 20, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Winter Storm Draco will continue to dump heavy snow and bring strong winds to the Upper Midwest through Thursday night. Blizzard warnings and winter storm warnings remain in effect for several states in the region. Significant travel disruption is likely. Draco initially brought heavy snow and wind to the West earlier this week before spreading across the Plains and Upper Midwest Wednesday into Thursday. As we close out the week, Draco will sweep through the East Coast with rain and wind while turning on the lake-effect snow machine in the Great Lakes. The warm side of Draco has resulted in severe thunderstorms and tornado reports in the South.

As Draco's low intensifies and swings northeastward across the Great Lakes through Thursday night, moderate to locally heavy snow or rain changing to snow is expected in parts of the upper-Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes, targeting Iowa, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, northern Missouri and northern Michigan. Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are likely at times in the heaviest snow bands and you may hear some rumbles of thunder during the snowstorm as well. Storm total snowfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches (locally more than a foot) are expected in the heaviest snow swath from parts of Iowa to Wisconsin and northern Michigan. The combination of the snow and wind will lead to blizzard conditions at times and very difficult or impossible travel in a wide swath of the Upper Midwest, even in areas not picking up particularly heavy snow. - Weather Channel.

Storm Hits Denver, Heads East With Blizzard Potential.

A major winter storm moving across the nation Wednesday is threatening to disrupt travel plans for millions of Americans heading home for Christmas. The weather system even has package delivery companies nervously checking out the forecast, with the timely delivery of precious gifts on the line. "We're closely monitoring the storm," FedEx spokesman Scott Fiedler told NBC News. "We have a team of 15 meteorologists who track the weather around the world every day." FedEx is seeing only minor delays so far but has contingency plans in place to help mitigate any effects of the weather, Fiedler said. UPS, which projects that Thursday will be its busiest day of the holiday season, also has its staff meteorologists tracking the storm.

"We're keeping our eyes on airport gateways in the Midwest, but we don't expect any issues," said UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg. "We're used to marshaling all our resources for this our busiest week. Of course, snow at this time of year is not unusual." Still, the size of the storm is impressing forecasters. "This is a massive system," said TODAY meteorologist Al Roker. "We've got watches and warnings that spread across 16 states, from New Mexico all the way to Wisconsin and Michigan." Blizzard warnings are in effect for Colorado, Kansas, and Iowa, Roker said, and up to a foot of snow is expected to fall in the Rockies. On Wednesday afternoon, flights at Denver International Airport were delayed about 30 minutes because of de-icing operations, said Laura Coale, an airport spokeswoman. "Currently, there's only a handful of flight cancellations - mostly commuter flights," she added. United Airlines is allowing passengers to make same-day flight changes because of the weather. The airline has also issued a fee waiver for passengers traveling through eight other cities, including Chicago, Milwaukee and Omaha, through tomorrow.

Meanwhile, American Airlines is allowing travelers flying to or from 17 Midwest cities tomorrow and Friday to change their plans without penalty. US Airways is also relaxing its fee change policies in Denver, Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha and Milwaukee for travel on Wednesday. Air traffic was moving smoothly in other parts of the country, though wind at Newark International Airport was causing delays of about 50 minutes, according to the FAA flight delay information map. Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest is digging out after a strong storm that left drivers dealing with slick roads and icy conditions. An approaching Pacific system should dump more than a foot of snow over the Washington Cascades on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. The messy weather arrives just as much of the country will be on the move for Christmas and New Year's. AAA projects more than 93 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holidays, a period that begins this Saturday and ends on Jan. 1. Ninety percent of those on the move are expected to drive. It's a good bet some people are already heading out and, as the storm moves east, many may find problematic conditions in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Snow in the Chicago area on Thursday may be heavy and lead to roads quickly becoming snow covered, making travel treacherous, the National Weather Service warned. "The worst of the weather Friday looks to be centered from the Great Lakes to New England," said Weather Channel meteorologist Brian Fortier. - NBC News.

WATCH: Powerful winter storm sweeping across the United States.

ICE AGE NOW: Russians Are Freezing to Death as the Strongest Winter in Decades Hit - Temperatures Down to Minus 50 Degrees Celsius, 45 Deaths!

December 20, 2012 - RUSSIA - Russia is enduring its harshest winter in over 70 years, with temperatures plunging as low as -50 degrees Celsius. Dozens of people have already died, and almost 150 have been hospitalized.  ­The country has not witnessed such a long cold spell since 1938, meteorologists said, with temperatures 10 to 15 degrees lower than the seasonal norm all over Russia.  Across the country, 45 people have died due to the cold, and 266 have been taken to hospitals. In total, 542 people were injured due to the freezing temperatures, RIA Novosti reported.  The Moscow region saw temperatures of -17 to -18 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, and the record cold temperatures are expected to linger for at least three more days. Thermometers in Siberia touched -50 degrees Celsius, which is also abnormal for December.

An unusual early-winter cold snap has Russians freezing in sub-zero weather.
© RIA Novosti / Aleksey Malgavko.

© RIA Novosti / Aleksey Malgavko.
The Emergency Ministry has issued warnings in 15 regions, which have been put on high alert over possible disruptions of communication and power.  Across the country, heat pipelines have broken down due to the cold. In southeastern Russia's Samara, the cold has broken down many heat pipelines, leaving hundreds of homes without heating, including an orphanage and a rest house. Many schools and kindergartens have been closed for almost a week.  The cold spell, along with snowfalls, has disrupted flights all over the country, and led to huge traffic jams. In the southern city of Rostov-on-Don some highways were closed due to snowfalls over the past two days, triggering a traffic collapse. Over the weekend, meteorologists predict temperatures will plunge even lower in the Moscow region, hitting -25. The Russian capital is also expected to be swept with snow, RIA Novosti reported.  Temperatures have been 7 degrees lower than the norm for five days already, which is considered an anomaly, according to the website. The cold spell in the Moscow region is expected to continue for at least three more days.  Due to the high humidity, these freezing temperatures will feel even colder than they actually are, meteorologists explained. - RT.

Why Russia's Cold Snap Is So Deadly.
If any nation on Earth is accustomed to dealing with a harsh winter, it would be Russia. But from the farthest reaches of Siberia to downtown Moscow, the Russian people are being pummeled by a winter so brutal it's shattering cold-weather records across the continent - and it's only December.  As temperatures plunge as low as - minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 50 degrees Celsius) in some areas, the Pravda news site reports that 45 people have died of causes related to the subfreezing weather; 21 people froze to death in just one day. Hundreds more have been hospitalized with frostbite and other conditions. 

Subfreezing weather combined with heavy snowfall in some regions have crippled the nation's infrastructure, closing roads, scrambling airline flights and bursting pipes that carry water and heat into homes, schools and businesses, according to  This winter is the coldest on record since 1938, reports The freakish cold spell, which has already lasted five days, is expected to continue through the weekend.  Russians are being warned by physicians that alcohol offers no real relief from freezing temperatures. "The idea that alcohol warms people up from within in freezing weather is wrong," said Russian health official Dr. Gennady Onishchenko, as quoted in Pravda. "Alcohol only can only mislead people ... [o]ne needs normal hearty food and warm clothing to be safe."  - Live Science.

WATCH: Crazy Russian Winter.

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

December 20, 2012 - WORLDWIDE UFOs - Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Mexico - 6th of December, 2012.

Gilbert, Arizona, United States - 8th of December, 2012.

Vancouver, Canada - 8th of December, 2012.

Midlothian, Scotland - 16th of December, 2012.

Cordillera Province, Chile - 16th of December, 2012.

Ankara, Turkey - 14th of December, 2012.

Germany - 18th of December, 2012.

Santiago, Chile - 17th to 18th of December, 2012.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Avian Flu Kills 3,000 Dead Fowl in Dhading, Nepal!

December 20, 2012 - NEPAL - The Central Veterinary Lab, Tripureshwar has confirmed that chicken at a poultry farm in Dharke, Naubise in Dhading district died due to bird flu.

Samples were taken for test from local Laxmi Pokhrel´s poultry farm after the chicken started dying all of a sudden at the poultry farm since December 13.

A meeting of the District Livestock Office, Dhading, chaired by Chief District Officer and Chairman of Bird Flu Technical Committee, Dhading district, Bed Prasad Kharel, held today, declared the area around the farm as bird flu infected area and decided to cull the fowls here to prevent the disease from spreading to other areas.

The District Administration has appealed to local representatives of the political parties, poultry farmers, media workers, civil society members, and local people, including other stakeholders to provide the necessary cooperation in the task carried out by District Livestock Office, Dhading.

All the 3,000 dead fowls at Pokhrel´s farm have been securely buried, said Member Secretary and Senior Livestock Development Officer, Devendra Bhagat. - My Republica.