Thursday, December 27, 2012

EXTREME WEATHER: Perth Hits 39C As Week-Long Heatwave Intensifies!

December 27, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - Perth's maximum passed 39C on Friday - continuing the state's week-long heatwave which has seen temperatures close to 40C for days on end. Even Mandurah, normally a few degrees cooler than Perth, hit 38.4C. And further north temperatures were even higher with Geraldton recording 40.C; Marble Bar 40.7C at 11.26am and Telfer, the state's hotspot, reaching 42.3C just after 1pm.

COOL DOWN: With temps set to continue around 40C, Perth beaches will be busy. Source: PerthNow.
Cunderdin, in the central Wheatbelt hit 40.8C and Bridgetown, 270km south of Perth, also hit 38C. The forecast for Perth for today was a stormy 38C, with a 30 per cent chance of some thunderstorms by the late afternoon. Today's searing 39.3C maximum came at 12.28pm under a blanket of thundery cloud. It follows Thursday's high of 38.3C and the Boxing Day scorcher where temps hit 40.5C at Perth Airport and 37.5C in the city at the Mt Lawley Bureau of Meteorology headquarters.

Christmas Day was 39.6C, the fifth hottest Perth Christmas on record. Friday has been yet another scorcher, with at least three more days predicted to get to 40C of beyond. The forecast for Saturday and Sunday is an ugly 41C, and Monday -- New Year's Eve -- is expected to be 39C. There is little relief in sight, with Tuesday also tipped to be 39C. By Wednesday next week the temperatures may drop to 33C. - Perth Now.

DISASTER IMPACT: Tropical Storm Wukong Kills 11 In The Philippines - 28,000 Displaced!

December 27, 2012 - PHILIPPINES - The death toll from Tropical Storm Wukong in the central Philippines has risen to 11, with three others still missing.  Several areas in four central provinces are still flooded two days after Wukong struck the country.

Residents brave heavy rains after Typhoon Bopha hit the city of Tagum, Davao del Norter province,
in southern island of Mindanao. (Credit: AFP).
More than 28,000 people have been displaced by floods and almost half remain in government shelters.  A state of disaster has been declared in nine towns in Iloilo and Aklan provinces.  On Thursday, Wukong had weakened into a low-pressure area as it passed the western island of Palawan, moving out into the South China Sea.  Defence officials said the public was quick to take precautionary measures following Typhoon Bopha which killed hundreds earlier this month.  "They were all aware that a typhoon was coming. They were all aware of what happened with (Bopha). The deaths are minimal compared to (Bopha)," civil defence chief Benito Ramos said.

Recovery efforts  
Floods and landslides unleashed by Typhoon Bopha, which hit on December 4 and was the strongest storm to batter the disaster-prone country this year, killed more than 1,000 people and hundreds more remain missing, according to officials.  Relief efforts are continuing in areas in the southern Philippines ravaged by Bopha, with entire towns wiped out by flash floods.  The United Nations has ranked the Philippines the second Asian nation worst-hit by disasters this year, after China.  The Philippines is hit by about 20 major storms or typhoons each year that occur mainly during the rainy season between June and October.  Meanwhile, severe flooding in Malaysia's north-east has killed two people and forced almost 14,000 to flee their homes. - Radio Australia.

WATCH: Wukong dies, a new cyclone looms in the south.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - 65 Percent Of The United States Covered By Snow, 15 Dead, As Major Snow Storm Dumps 33cm Of Snowfall On Brockville In Canada!

December 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES - This map from NOAA shows that 65 percent of the USA was covered by snow as of Thursday morning, December 27, 2012.

And it looks like there's a snowy weekend ahead, with snow for New York City, Boston and Philadelphia. Snow is expected to spread from parts of the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley on Friday to portions of the Northeast on Saturday. - Ice Age Now.

Fifteen Dead In Northeast Snowstorm.
Fifteen people have died in the powerful winter storm that triggered tornadoes in the American South and is now burying the Northeast in snow. With hundreds of flight delays, post-Christmas air travelers still remain stuck at US airports.  Since Tuesday, 15 have died in weather-related incidents across the US, including a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old who were killed in a car accident. While many of the victims lost their lives during traffic accidents caused by the rough weather, others were crushed to death by falling trees.  Throughout Indiana, the snowfall ranged from 6 to 12 inches, forcing the state to employ 350 snowplows to clear the roads.  "It's pretty bad. You get a lot of drifting out there. That's what's killing us, mainly," plow driver David White told CNN affiliate WRTV.  - RT.

© BNTV News.
Major Snow Storm Dumps 33cm Of Snow Brockville In Canada.
A major winter storm that hit our region overnight had people stuck on the roads, the ditch and their driveways according to Brockville Police. The region also spent the day digging out from one of the largest December snowfalls on record.  Brockville Police say if you don't have to go out today, stay at home and off the roads.  "The amount of snow that fell is only realized as people are stuck at the end of their driveways. Good Samaritans can be found stopping to help and now their vehicles are hazards on the roadway. Stay at home if you can." said Inspector Scott Fraser today.  Fraser also said that there have been no major accidents that have been reported so far.  As well the City of Brockville's Transit services were not running today due to the storm. It is expected to be back in service on Friday.  A major winter storm that began Wednesday affected most of Southern and Eastern Ontario with substantial snow amounts reported across many areas.  Environment Canada is reporting that the City of Brockville received 33cm of snow, Kemptville received 19cm, Cornwall, 15 to 20cm, Kingston 30cm and Ottawa South had 24 cm of snow.  The weather office reports that the snow has tapered off over most of Southern Ontario but will continue over Eastern Ontario until later today, so the above snowfall numbers are not final. - BNTV News.

MASS UFO SIGHTINGS: UFO "Nothing Like I've Seen In 30 Years" - Rash Of UFO Sightings Across New Zealand?!

December 27, 2012 - NEW ZEALAND - People who saw strange lights seen in the sky on Christmas evening insist the festive spirit had nothing to do with it.  Sightings of a "UFO" were reported in New Plymouth and Wellington, although a witness from Waikanae believes there is an earthly explanation.

FILE - Illustration.
Jennie Velvin, of New Plymouth, said everyone would think she had had one too many wines when she saw a UFO.  But she was positive she had not touched the booze and that even her husband, John - normally a sceptic - could confirm there had been something strange in the sky above Ngamotu Rd, New Plymouth.  Velvin takes her dogs out the back of the house for toileting at 10pm every evening and is familiar with the night sky.  "I always look up to the sky to see what's there. Sometimes I see a satellite, like a slow-moving star, and we get a lot of helicopters."  But she said what she saw on this night was not normal.  "This was nothing like I've seen in 30 years."  She described the object as a small, fast-moving fiery sun that was heading south towards Oakura.  "It was about the size of a circle you make with your arms.  "It was really low, it looked as though I could have reached out and touched it."  She said she yelled to her husband to come outside.  "He wouldn't believe me if I told him."  The mysterious object had already disappeared into cloud by the time he got there, but a second one the same as the first travelled past soon after, and he narrowly missed capturing it with his camera.  Velvin said she could understand if people were sceptical about her sighting but declared she was "not a kook".  She did not believe in aliens but was frustrated she could not explain the sighting, she said.  "I'm sure you'll get people saying it was shaped like a space ship, but I'm just determined to find someone who saw this thing, I don't know where it came from."  She said she remained open-minded.  "I don't think it's little grey men, but I've always been a believer there's something out there."  Chris Welson said he noticed three orange lights travelling over New Plymouth on Christmas night about 10.30pm.  "They were travelling pretty fast and the first two were reasonably close together while the third was a little further behind.  "They were going in a straight line heading south or southwest by the looks of things."  But Doug Batterbee suspects three bright lights he saw in the sky at Waikanae on Christmas night were fire balloons - small hot air balloons which use a fire to warm the air inside and lift them up.

 He was puzzled when he saw the first flickery, orange light quite high up in the sky, but then he saw another two which appeared to have been launched no more than three blocks away from where he was watching.  Strange lights seen in the sky over Taranaki in February turned out to be floating lanterns.  A man said he and two other people also saw something strange in the sky above the Wellington suburb of Johnsonville around 10.30pm on Christmas night.  An orange light which appeared to be about 4500 metres above ground, and two to three times more luminous than an aircraft's navigation light, had approached fast from the northwest. Then it went to the left, returned to where he had first seen it, shimmered and disappeared.  During the 15 seconds he watched it, the light moved very fast, the man, who did not want to be named, said.  The unnamed man, who said he was a pilot with about 400 hours flying time, including night flying, he had never seen anything like it before.  Craig Henrksen posted on Stuff's Facebook page his account of a UFO, seen from his home near Wellington airport.  ''I hadn't touched a drop of alcohol either,'' he wrote. ''At 0145 on 26th Dec I saw one of these 'lights'. I thought it was a reflection of street lamps on my window but realised it was moving. I opened the door and watched this orange ball of flame move at a constant speed heading south almost as high as a plane would fly until roughly 40 secs later it was too small and far away to see. Im pretty sure it wasn't Santa.''  And this video below was posted on YouTube, showing strange lights over Paekakariki on the Kapiti Coast. - Stuff.

WATCH: Unexplained lights over New Zealand.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Cold Weather Across Europe, Asia Kills Hundreds And Heavy Snowfall Halts Life In Gazar, Iran!

December 27, 2012 - EUROPE & ASIA - Cold weather in the past few days has sadly gone from severe to deadly. While unusually high snowfall has disrupted the travel plans of millions of Americans, freezing temperatures have taken the lives of hundreds of people from Central Europe to South Asia. The BBC reports that in Poland, 49 people have died; in Ukraine, 83; in Russia, 88; and in India, at least 93. The majority of those dead are the elderly and the homeless.

A boy sits in front of an ice covered car in Versoix, near Geneva.
Cold Weather Across Europe, Asia Kills Hundreds.
Besides being an obvious tragedy for many across the world, this is a reminder that “weather” is not “climate,” unless it suits the needs of environmental hotheads to claim that it is. When there’s a hot spell or a dry spell or a wet spell that can somehow be connected with the climate change narrative, the media resounds with panicky warnings. But when people die of frostbite in Punjab and temperatures hit -58F in Russia, the silence of the alarmists is deafening. - The American Interest.

© DunyaNewsTv.
Heavy Snowfall Halts Life In Gazar, Iran.
Heavy snowfall has halted life across Gazar city. Lower areas are covered with 1 ft while the upper areas are covered by snow up to 3 ft. The Gazar-Chitral Highway has been closed for last 4 days. There is shortage of eatables in the city.The traffic is closed in Phandar, shamran, Chasi and Tebr areas of tehsil Gopis. The shortage of eatables is rising day by day while the residents are facing difficulties in the supply of fuel. People have remained closed inside in houses due to chili cold after heavy snowfall.The temperature has fallen down till -10 Degree Centigrade in the upper areas. - Dunya News.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreads Far And Wide - Tokyo Almost As Irradiated As Fukushima!

December 27, 2012 - JAPAN - We've documented the spread of radiation from Fukushima to Tokyo for a year and a half. See this, this, this, this, this and this. Unfortunately, as the following recent headlines from Ene News show, things are only getting worse:

  • Tokyo getting 5 times more radioactive fallout than prefectures closer to Fukushima
And we've previously noted that the radiation will spread worldwide (by water and air). For example:
A new study says that the West Coast will get slammed with radioactive cesium starting in 2015

- Washington's Blog.

EXTREME WEATHER: Monster Tornado Descends On Mobile, Alabama - Exploding Power Transformers And Lifting SUVs Clear Off The Ground!

December 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES - It was a white Christmas in many parts of the U.S., and while the weather made the holidays pretty to look at it also caused plenty of holiday chaos. More than 10 inches of snow fell on parts of central and northern Arkansas, with the state capital Little Rock receiving 9 inches - breaking an 86-year-old snowfall record. Parts of southern Illinois and Indiana found themselves digging out from 7-inches of accumulation on Christmas Day.  But the worst weather hit parts of Alabama and Louisiana, where tornadoes slammed into Gulf Coast towns on Christmas Day. In Mobile, Ala., one twister touched down just before 5 p.m., and was captured live by local news station WALA.

In the video, which looks southward from the top of a 17-story Holiday Inn, the tornado tears through downtown Mobile and causes power transformers to explode - leaving as many as 26,000 people without power.  No homes were destroyed, but major damage was reported. The tornado tore the roof off Trinity Episcopal Church which, just hours earlier, was filled with 500 congregants celebrating Christmas Eve mass. Mobile's Murphy High School, built in the 1920s, suffered extreme roof damage as the tornado swept overhead. The auditorium lost about half of its roof, according to school administrators. (The district says it's already started repairs on the school.)  David Saraceno and his wife Whitney caught a different view of the storm as they drove down I-165 in Mobile on Christmas Day. "It looked like it was about two miles away from us," Saraceno told CNN. "I put the pedal to the floor to try and get out of harm's way." But, with his 1-year-old daughter in the car, he ended up turning off the highway and heading right back home. 

WATCH: Monster tornado sweeps through Alabama.

Don Shepherd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told Alabama Live that Mobile hadn't been hit by a strong tornado in decades. So it was an understandable shock to residents to see two in a single week - last Thursday, an EF-1 tornado hit the city, leaving 54,000 without power. No one was killed, but hundreds of homes were damaged as well.  The last time the Gulf Coast was hit by tornadoes at Christmas was in 2009, when 22 tornadoes descended on the area on Christmas Eve.  More than 200,000 people were reported without power across the Midwest on Christmas Day as storm cleanup began. Mississippi governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for eight Mississippi counties after severe storms moved through the state.  Winter Storm Euclid has since moved out of the middle of the nation, but doesn't mean her rampage is over. The weather system is moving northeast, predicted to dump a foot of snow on Pennsylvania and New England on Wednesday night into Thursday. - TIME.

WATCH: Walgreens surveillance video of the tornado.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Sinkhole Swallows Bus In Oceanside, California!

December 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES - A city bus was stranded after getting stuck in a sinkhole in Oceanside Wednesday morning.

© Fox 5 San Diego.
North County Transit District spokeswoman Deborah Castillo said one of their buses was stuck at Los Arbolitos Boulevard and El Camino Real around 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The driver, who was the only person on the bus at the time of the incident, was uninjured.

An Oceanside Water Department dispatcher said the sinkhole was caused by a water main break.

Around 400 residents were without water as crews worked. Water was expected to be turned back by 10 p.m. Wednesday, water officials said.

Traffic was being diverted away from those streets. - FOX 5 San Diego.

WATCH: Massive sinkhole swallows bus in California.

STORM ALERT: Tropical Cyclone 4 Hits Somali Coast!

December 27, 2012 - SOMALI - Tropical Cyclone 4 hit the eastern coast of Somalia on Tuesday (December 25th) with wind speeds reaching 65 kilometres per hour, UN-funded Radio Bar-Kulan reported.

A satellite image of Tropical Cyclone 4 in the Indian Ocean.
Galkayo and Bandar Beyla have experienced heavy rainfall, with flooding in some areas, according to Bandar Beyla District Commissioner Said Mohamed Anteno. Heavy rains have also been reported in Eyl, Gara'ad, Jariban and Hobyo.

The strong winds caused local communications and power companies to lose power.

No casualties have been reported, however a boat carrying commodities to Mogadishu capsized near Bandar Beyla after being caught in strong winds, said Puntland Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Mohamed Farah Aadan.

Bandar Bayla District Commissioner Said Mohamed Anteno said they have rescued all crew members on board. - Sabah Online.

DELUGE: Four Dead As The Worst Rains In 30 Years Flood Baghdad!

December 27, 2012 - IRAQ - The worst rains to hit Baghdad in 30 years left four people dead and many of the Iraqi capital's residents struggling to cope with heavy flooding on Wednesday as the government declared a national holiday.  Patients reported long and difficult journeys to hospitals, shopkeepers complained of a lack of business and several roads were immersed in water, in some cases as much as waist-high. 

Tangled electrical wires over a flooded street in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on December 26, 2012. The worst rains to hit Baghdad in 30 years left four people dead and many of the Iraqi capital's residents struggling to cope with heavy flooding on Wednesday as the government declared a national holiday. © AFP.
In the predominantly-Shiite northeastern district of Sadr City, the area surrounding Fatima al-Zahra hospital was completely flooded, and patients said trips that normally took 15 minutes had taken them as long as two hours.  "They told me I need to go and get an ultrasound from outside the hospital, but we do not know where to go, we are afraid the roads will be flooded and we will not be able to come back," said a woman who identified herself only as Umm Laith, or mother of Laith.  The 38-year-old said her sister-in-law, who was nine months pregnant, took two hours to reach the hospital earlier on Wednesday.  A medic who spoke on condition of anonymity said four family members -- two men and two women -- were killed and another woman injured when their house in the northeastern outskirts collapsed Tuesday night due to the heavy rainfall. 

The Iraqi Meteorological Organisation reported on Wednesday that 6.75 centimetres (2.56 inches) of rain fell in Baghdad a day earlier, which its chief said was the highest such figure in 30 years.  The heavy rain spurred the government to declare Wednesday a national holiday, the fourth time this year it has been forced to do so because of bad weather. The other three were due to heat during Iraq's boiling summer.  The rain also affected shopkeepers who saw dramatically lower sales as a result of the flooding.  "I did not do any work since the morning because of the flood," said Mohammed, a 35-year-old working in a furniture repair shop in Sadr City.  He said his house in a nearby neighbourhood and the surrounding area were flooded, and complained that he failed to even earn the $8-$12 a day he usually makes. - AFP.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Near-Record Snowfall And Deadly Avalanche In California Kills Ski Patroller And Snowboarder; 'Pretty Nasty' Snow Storm To Hit Ontario, Parts Of Quebec And New Brunswick In Canada!

December 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Because of deadly avalanches that killed a snowboarder and a ski patroller, the Sierra Avalanche Center issued a warning Tuesday about "considerable risk" of further slides. Two other skiers were injured in a separate avalanche.  Ski resorts, meanwhile, reported near-record snowfalls and brisk business.  The Avalanche Center advised skiers and hikers to choose their routes carefully, particularly on steep back-country terrain, said Marvin Boyd of the National Weather Service in Reno. He said the Sierra snowpack is weak and vulnerable to collapse after a snowfall of nearly 5 feet since Friday.  On Monday, the body of snowboarder Steven Mark Anderson, 49, a resident of Hirschdale near Truckee, was found by a Nevada County sheriff's search dog beneath 2 to 3 feet of snow at the Donner Ski Ranch. 

A 49-year-old snowboarder was found dead in an avalanche of snow in the Lake Tahoe area Monday, officials said.
Near-Record Snowfall In California Kills Snowboarder And Ski Patroller.
Officers said Anderson was swept away by a "moderate" avalanche that struck Monday morning. He had been with friends who had taken separate paths and were unaware of his disappearance for nearly three hours, the Associated Press reported.  Another avalanche on Monday killed the ski patroller, who was part of a team inspecting the Sherwood Bowl area of Alpine Meadows, the resort reported. It said another member of the team tossed an explosive charge onto the slope as part of a safety check, but the ensuing avalanche was much larger than expected and buried the patroller, Bill Foster, a 28-year veteran of the resort's ski patrol.  Foster, 53, died Tuesday at a Reno hospital.  He was "one of Alpine Meadows' best and most experienced professional ski patrollers," the resort said in a statement.  Two other skiers, a 39-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy, suffered minor injuries in another avalanche Monday accidentally set off by three snowboarders at the KT-22 peak at Squaw Valley, the resort reported.  Amelia Richmond, spokeswoman for the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts, said managers were doing "everything we can to keep our employees and our guests safe" while relishing the holiday snows.  The resorts reported a cumulative snowfall of 220 inches this season, the highest pre-Christmas total, apart from a record level two years ago, since they started keeping tabs in 1970.  "Mother Nature has really outdone herself this year," said Andy Wirth, the resorts' president and CEO.  Experts have a few tips on avoiding avalanches: Be especially watchful when the slope is steeper than 25 degrees; look for signs of recent avalanches; descend one at a time with your tracks close together when there is any possibility of danger; if caught in a slide, try to get off the snow slab or grab a tree; and if swept away, swim to the surface. - SF Gate.

File photo of a winter storm in Ottawa, Ontario. © Wayne Cuddington , Ottawa Citizen.
'Pretty Nasty' Snow Storm To Hit Ontario, Parts Of Quebec And New Brunswick.
Environment Canada warned Wednesday that a dangerous winter storm was moving into the southern and eastern regions of Ontario as the weather system works its way up from the U.S.  The agency said in a special weather statement that much of the province will be walloped by snow starting Wednesday afternoon as the outer reaches of a weather system making its way north from Kentucky crosses the border.  Meteorologist Arnold Ashton said the system will move on to deliver snow to parts of southern Quebec and New Brunswick on Thursday.  "It's the combination of snow and blowing snow that makes this particularly nasty," Ashton said.  Environment Canada said the areas of Dunnville and Niagara in southwestern Ontario and the stretch between Kingston and Cornwall in the east will bear the worst of the storm, getting 15 to 20 centimetres of snow.  The weather agency said other communities in those regions can expect up to 15 cm of snow, while central Ontario residents should get their snow shovels ready for 5 to 10 cm.  Ashton said the Greater Toronto Area is set for the most snow it's seen since 2010.  "Two years ago we got 10 centimetres and we may get that much snow in the GTA today," he said Wednesday, adding the storm will slide towards Ontario's border with Quebec throughout the evening.  "It's pretty nasty anywhere you go. Basically the whole (Highway) 401 corridor" will be affected, he said.  "If you can stay at home or stay at a relative's or a friend's a little bit longer and work around this storm, it will certainly be improving tomorrow. It's just tonight we are getting the brunt of it."  Ashton said conditions will be back to normal Thursday - just-freezing temperatures and clear-skies - as the system moves east of Ontario.  The storm sent air travellers in Toronto scrambling for the second day in a row Wednesday as scheduled flights were scrapped over the impending storm.  Toronto's Pearson International Airport delayed or cancelled more than 100 incoming and outgoing flights to Canada and the U.S.  Travellers are advised to double check their flight status before making their way to the airport. - Yahoo.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Non-Stop Rain - 100 Metres Of Road Collapse In Malaysia, Landslide Buries Six Vehicles!

December 27, 2012 - MALAYSIA - Six vehicles were buried in rubble following a landslide at the 139th kilometre of the Jabor-Jerangau road.  The landslide caused about 100m of road kerb to collapse and cover a lorry and five cars parked there by residents living in nearby flooded areas.

Tough task: Fire and Rescue Dept personnel retrieving a vehicle buried in a landslide at 139th kilometre
of the Jabor- Jerangau road. - Bernama.
The incident, which occurred at 3am yesterday, caused serious damage to the vehicles but no casualty was reported.  It is learnt that the particular stretch connecting Kampung Air Putih and Kampung Telandas, which were flooded in 0.5m deep water, was spared from the floods, given its location on higher ground.  Victim Roflizal Husin, 25, said he parked his car on Tuesday evening after seeing his neighbours and friends parking their vehicles there.  "It is only 2km from my home so I thought it was pretty safe. I was so wrong," he said.  Villager Nizam Awang, 33, said he had been worried on Tuesday night because the continuous rain for the past four days had caused mud and soil to seep into his home. 

"I was shocked to hear about the landslide which occurred barely a few kilometres from my home," Nizam said.  Kemaman OCPD Supt Suza Hitam said the first car was pulled out at about 7am, while the remaining vehicles were retrieved some eight hours later.  He explained that police, the Public Works Department, the Civil Defence Department and other relevant departments were mobilised for the operation.  Kemaman Public Works department engineer Hasni Ahmad said the cost to repair the road and strengthen its foundation was estimated at about RM2mil.  "Non-stop rain has weakened the soil structure in the area. We are monitoring nearby areas as well," he said. - The Star.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Powerful Snowstorm Euclid Kills Five And Buries Parts Of U.S. Northeast, Flights Cancelled; China Braces For Cold Snap; Cold Snap In Northern India Kills 25; And Cold Snap In Nepal Kills 17 In 10 Days!

December 27, 2012 - UNITED STATES -  A powerful winter storm that has dumped a foot of snow on parts of the United States forced the cancellation of 457 flights on Thursday and threatened more havoc as it hit the New England states with fierce winds.  The heaviest snow was falling on Pennsylvania, New York and New England, and winter storm warnings continued over a majority of the U.S. Northeast, the National Weather Service said.  The massive storm system touched off tornadoes in the South and produced snow in Texas before barreling down on the densely populated Northeast.  The service forecast 12 to 18 inches of snow for northern New England after the storm moved northeast out of the lower Great Lakes, where it left more than a foot of snow on parts of Michigan. 

Motorists and pedestrians go past a mound of snow that workers piled up in downtown Indianapolis,
Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. © AP/Darron Cummings.
Powerful Snowstorm Euclid Kills Five And Buries Parts Of U.S. Northeast, Flights Cancelled.
The storm front was accompanied by freezing rain and sleet, creating hazards on the highways and at airports.  A Southwest Airlines jet skidded off the runway at Long Island MacArthur Airport, about 50 miles east of New York City, as it taxied for takeoff, Suffolk County police said.  None of the 134 people aboard Tampa-bound flight No. 4695 was injured, police said.  "It's been undetermined at this time if weather was a factor," a police spokeswoman said.  Snow was due to fall in northern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire at up to 2 inches an hour, with winds gusting to 30 miles per hour (48 km per hour), the weather agency said.  So far, 457 U.S. airline flights scheduled for Thursday had been canceled, according to, a website that tracks flights.  American Airlines had the most canceled at 55. A total of about 1,500 U.S. flights were canceled on Wednesday.  New York state activated its Emergency Operations Center late on Wednesday to deal with the first major storm of the season.  Governor Andrew Cuomo warned the heads of seven utilities they would be held accountable for their performances. Utilities near New York City were criticized for lingering outages after Superstorm Sandy devastated the region in October.  New York state has seen little snow during autumn and winter. Buffalo, New York, was 23 inches below normal for the season before the storm, said Bill Hibbert, a National Weather Service meteorologist.  "We're short and even this big snow isn't going to make it up for us," he said.  The storm dumped record snow in north Texas and Arkansas before it swept through the U.S. South on Christmas Day and then veered north.  The system spawned tornadoes and left almost 200,000 people in Arkansas and Alabama without power on Wednesday.  At least five people were killed in road accidents related to the bad weather, police said. - Reuters.

Cold Snap In Nepal Kills 17 In 10 Days.
Cold wave has killed at least 17 people across the Terai plains of Nepal in the past 10 days, reports from across the country said Wednesday.  As of today, seven individuals have died in Mahottari, five in Siraha, four in Rautahat and one in Bara districts since Dec. 15. The number of people visiting hospitals due to weather-related disease is increasing. "Around 25 patients are visiting the hospital every day," a report said quoting Dr Prabin Jha of Rautahat district hospital as saying.  The districts where the deaths have been reported are some of the poorest Terai districts of Nepal. "Those people are dying who have no quilt or blanket to sleep with during the nights," Basanta Khatiwada, a Bara-based journalist told Xinhua.  "It would be better if some organizations come forward and distribute warm quilts and blankets to the poor," he added.  In Kailali of the far-western region, there is no sunshine since three-four days. "Thick fog is everywhere, but death due to cold or cold wave has not been reported here," said Yagya Raj Bhatta, a social worker.  In Jhapa of eastern region, no such death has been reported, said Nirmal Bhattarai, a resident of Lakhanpur-1. "There is sunshine but it is on and off. Parents are scrambling to protect their children from the bite of cold," he added. - Global Times.

Heavy fog has disrupted train services.
© AFP.

Cold Snap In Northern India Kills 25.
At least 25 people have died in a cold snap sweeping across northern India, state-run broadcaster All India Radio has said.  The majority of deaths were in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana are among the other northern states badly hit.  Most deaths were among homeless and elderly people.  Heavy fog has disrupted flights and train services out of the capital, Delhi, and neighbouring states.  The capital Delhi is also affected by the cold spell, with temperatures dipping to 7C and fog disrupting flight schedules.  Dense fog has also affected train services and flights in Rajasthan, where temperatures fell to 3.8C.  An official from the India Meteorological Department said the cold weather would continue for a number of days. - BBC.

China Braces For Cold Snap.
A fresh cold snap will hit most parts of China in the coming three days, according to the National Meteorological Center's forecast on Wednesday.  The cold snap is moving west to east. It will bring snow, strong winds and temperature drops of around 8 degrees Celsius to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.  Snow will hit most parts of Inner Mongolia autonomous region, North China and Northeast China.  Most areas south of the Yellow and Huaihe rivers will see precipitation.  Meanwhile, tropical storm Wukong (local name Quinta) landed in Leyte in the eastern Philippines around midnight on Tuesday and is moving northwest.  It is expected to enter the southern parts of the South China Sea between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  - China Daily.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Senior Israel Official Says U.S. Preparing For Military Invasion in Syria!

December 27, 2012 - ISRAEL - A senior Israeli official says the United States is gearing up for a possible military intervention in Syria to prevent Syria's alleged chemical weapons from being used against civilians or falling into wrong hands.

File photo shows Syrian rebels in the town of Halfaya, Hama province, on December 18, 2012.

Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon told Israel Radio on Thursday that Israeli officials were in close touch with their American counterparts about the latest developments in Syria. He added that at the current juncture there was no fear that Syria would use its alleged chemical weapons against Israel.
Ya’alon refused to comment on media reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had secretly met with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman to discuss Syria's alleged stockpile of chemical weapons.
During the meeting, Netanyahu proposed a coordinated Israeli-Jordanian lightning air strike to destroy Syria's alleged stockpile of chemical weapons. Jordanians, however, have reportedly declined the option over concerns that it would cause chemical fallout around the target sites. Israel then proposed a second option, a comprehensive joint military incursion into Syria. The operation would include at least 8,000 soldiers entering Syria from different directions to neutralize the alleged chemical weapons sites. The Jordanians did not support the Israeli proposals, but they did not completely reject them either. Foreign-backed militants, however, have reportedly formed a company which has already used chemical weapons in battle against Syrian armed forces.

However, in their propaganda, they have tried to incriminate the Syrian army for using such weapons against civilians. On December 22, Syrian rebels used chemical weapons against the Syrian Army in the town of Daraya, located eight kilometers southwest of Damascus. At least seven Syrian soldiers were killed after they were attacked by a chemical weapon which produced a toxic yellow gas. Syrian militants have also threatened to contaminate Syria's drinking water supply in a bid to kill all Alawite Shias and the supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the turmoil. The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals - Press TV.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Odd-Radius Moon Halos, "Van Gogh" Clouds, and Holiday Conjunction of Jupiter and Moon Appear in the Skies Over Earth?!

December 27, 2012 - SPACE - Many sky watchers have witnessed a halo around the moon--a ring of light that surrounds the lunar disk at a radius of 22 degrees. The phenomenon is caused by pencil-shaped ice crystals in cirrus clouds that bend moonlight. On Dec. 21st, Harald Edens of Magdalena, New Mexico, witnessed a rare double halo:

ODD-RADIUS MOON HALOS: "Just after 7 PM local time I noticed a bright 22-degree halo around the moon," says Edens. "It was only when I started photographing that halo when I discovered a rare 9-degree halo inside the 22-degree halo." The inner 9-degree halo is caused by ice crystals in the shape of pyramids. "Apart from the 9-degree circular halo, an 18-degree and perhaps a 35-degree circular halo were also present at times," he adds. All of these "odd-radius" halos are caused by icy pyramids. The display quickly became even more varied. Edens saw at least a dozen different kinds of luminous rings and arcs, enumerated in his complete description of the event. "The display was highly transient," he notes. "Not only did the cirrus move fairly swiftly in the sky, but the halos - especially the odd-radius halos - appeared to come and go over the course of just a few minutes." But what a few minutes it was!

VAN GOGH CLOUDS: On Christmas morning, Gene Hart of Jonesport, Maine, woke up early to enjoy the sunrise before opening presents. What he saw may have been the best gift of all. "There was a cloud formation showing a remarkable series of wave shapes," says Hart. "They were backlit by the rising sun over Moosabec Reach." He snapped this picture of the harbor using a 14-megapixel digital camera:

"I also took some 28x zoom images of the wave structure," says Hart. The close-ups are a must-see. These clouds, sometimes called "billow clouds," are produced by the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability when horizontal layers of air brush by one another at different velocities. A better name might be van Gogh clouds: It is widely believed that these waves in the sky inspired the swirls in van Gogh's masterpiece The Starry Night.

CHRISTMAS COVER-UP: When the sun went down on Christmas, a pair of bright lights rose in the east; Jupiter and the Moon were having a holiday conjunction. In Brazil, the pair were so close, the Moon completely covered Jupiter. Marcelo Domingues of Brasilia snapped this picture seconds before the occultation:

"It was a beautiful event," he says. "What a perfect Christmas gift this was!" adds Gustavo Rojas of São Carlos. "I managed to capture the giant planet just as he started to disappear behind the lunar disk." In case you missed it, there will be more lunar occultations of Jupiter in 2013. A complete list is available from the International Occultation Timing Association. - Space Weather.

UFO SIGHTINGS: Mysterious Object Baffles New Plymouth Couple in New Zealand?!

December 27, 2012 - NEW ZEALAND - Jennie Velvin said everyone would think she had had one too many wines when she reported a UFO sighting on Christmas night. But she was positive she had not touched the booze and that even her husband, John - normally a sceptic - could confirm there had been something strange in the sky above Ngamotu Road, New Plymouth. Velvin takes her dogs out the back of the house for toileting at 10pm every evening and says she always look up at the sky.

"Sometimes I see a satellite, like a slow-moving star, and we get a lot of helicopters." But what she saw on this night was no earthly craft. "This was nothing like I've seen in 30 years." She described the object as a small, fast-moving fiery sun that was heading south towards Oakura. "It was about the size of a circle you make with your arms. "It was really low, it looked as though I could have reached out and touched it." She said she yelled to her husband to come outside. "He wouldn't believe me if I told him." The mysterious object had already disappeared into cloud by the time he got there, but a second one the same as the first travelled past soon after, and he narrowly missed capturing it with his camera. Velvin said she could understand if people were sceptical about her sighting but declared she was "not a kook".

She did not believe in aliens but was frustrated she could not explain the sighting, she said. "I'm sure you'll get people saying it was shaped like a space ship, but I'm just determined to find someone who saw this thing, I don't know where it came from." She said she remained open-minded. "I don't think it's little grey men, but I've always been a believer there's something out there." The Taranaki Daily News has been informed via email of a second sighting of a very similar description. Chris Welson said he noticed three orange lights travelling over New Plymouth on Christmas night about 10.30pm. "They were travelling pretty fast and the first two were reasonably close together while the third was a little further behind. "They were going in a straight line heading south or southwest by the looks of things." In February, the Taranaki Daily News reported on sightings of strange lights in the sky that turned out to be floating lanterns. - TVNZ.

ICE AGE NOW: Numerous Japanese Cities Reach Record Lows As Freezing Temperature Persist!

December 27, 2012 - JAPAN - As Japan continues to deal with a persisting cold front, Christmas Day brought record low temperatures to as many as 44 locations, mostly in the northern region and on the island of Hokkaido. The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that cold temperatures would last throughout the week, with more heavy snowfall in the north and areas that face the Sea of Japan.

Tuesday saw temperatures setting a record low for the month of December, with Hokkaido's city of Furano reaching minus 28.4 degrees, the coldest ever recorded since monitoring began. Record lows were also made in Tokyo, at 6 degrees, and the prefectures of Tottori and Saitama with minus 8 degrees. Homes and offices in Japan very rarely have central heating systems, and windows are poorly insulated, making it sometimes difficult to keep warm in the winter. People instead rely on kerosene-powered space heaters, creating a high demand for oil. In areas where snowfall makes it difficult to drive, gasoline stations drive trucks around with tanks of fuel and long hoses, making deliveries so people don't even have to leave their homes.

The city of Monbetsu, also in Hokkaido, reported a meteorological phenomenon known as ice fog occurring on Tuesday. The meteorological agency says this takes place when the water vapors from the ocean rise and meet cold air on land to form thick, low-hanging clouds of very cold fog. - The Japan Daily Press.

FIRE IN THE SKY: "Mega Ice Meteor" Impacts Field in Morocco!

December 27, 2012 - MOROCCO - A Moroccan farmer got the shock of his life when a giant snowball fell to earth leaving a half metre hole in his land.

FILE - Illustration.
The farmer from the Hrira region split the ice and put it in his fridge to prevent it melting. Local authorities then sent a team of scientists who confirmed that it was in fact a 'mega meteor' from space. - Euro News.

WATCH: Meteor impact in Morocco.

WATCH: Eye-witness accounts of the meteor strike.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Yellow Alert - Evacuation Order Issued For Residents Living Near Nicaragua's San Cristobal Volcano!

December 27, 2012 - NICARAGUA - Some 1,500 farmers living on the slopes of the San Cristobal volcano refused to leave, despite being ordered to evacuate as the volcano spewed gas, sand and ash.

View of the San Cristobal volcano from Chinandega, 150km from Managua, on Dec 26, 2012. (AFP/Hector Retamal).
"People have not evacuated because we do not want to go and leave the area abandoned," Maria Pereira told AFP. Pereira lives in "Grecia 4", a community of about 600 people at the base of the volcano, in the Chinandega department.

She said columns of ash "bathed the trees, houses, and roads in white" and "pretty sand fell" in the morning. She said by early afternoon volcanic activity had decreased, though in the evening new columns of ash shot up. In another community near the volcano, Bethlehem, some farmers resisted efforts of Civil Defence officials to convince them to obey the evacuation order.

Around 140 Civil Defence troops have been deployed to "persuade" farmers to move away from the danger zone, state deputy Colonel Nestor Solis told reporters. The government issued a yellow alert on Wednesday, ordering the evacuation of 300 families living near the volcano.

Reiterating the evacuation order on Wednesday, first lady Rosario Murillo, a government spokeswoman, said "the situation of the volcano is unstable". But she did not specify how many had obeyed the evacuation order or where they are being housed. San Cristobal, the tallest of Nicaragua's seven active volcanoes, is believed to have erupted for the first time in 1685. - Channel News Asia.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Turbulence in Black Sea Region, Creates Major Panic Near Russian City of Sochi - President Vladimir Putin Orders Special Emergency Checks on Construction Sites!

December 27, 2012 - RUSSIA -  Russia's President Vladimir Putin ordered the emergencies ministry to check the 2014 Olympic sites in the southern city of Sochi following a string of earthquakes, his spokesman said. 

On December 10, Sochi residents also felt the 4.8 magnitude earthquake that struck near Novorossiysk,
the port city over 100 kilometres northwest from Sochi.
"The President ordered the emergencies ministry to pay close attention to the shocks in Sochi and other cities," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Interfax reported.  "He asked that special attention is paid to construction sites to make sure they suffer no damage," Peskov added.  Three earthquakes were felt in Sochi since December 10. Authorities said they caused no damage, but paid special concern to the Black Sea resort city due to ongoing construction of the 2014 Olympic Games venues. 

A quake of 5.5 magnitude hit the future Olympic host city early Wednesday, according to the Krasnodar region branch of the emergency ministry. A quake of the same magnitude affected Sochi on Sunday.  On December 10, Sochi residents also felt the 4.8 magnitude earthquake that struck near Novorossiysk, the port city over 100 kilometres northwest from Sochi.  On Tuesday, rumours of a stronger earthquake in the city became so prevalent that Sochi's administration issued a special statement urging residents "not to succumb to panic" and threatened police action against people who spread earthquake rumours.  Olympic developers in Sochi are managing two giant construction sites, in the mountains and by the Black Sea, connected by a road, which is also unfinished.  Although some sport events are already hosted by the city, much of the supporting infrastructure is still unfinished, while residents complain of constant power and water outages. - Space Daily.