Friday, January 18, 2013

MONUMENTAL WEATHER ANOMALIES: Sudden Major Stratospheric Warming Split The Polar Vortex In Two - Strongest Ever Observed In The First Half Of January!

January 18, 2013 - PLANET EARTH - Sudden stratospheric warming has split the polar vortex in two. The polar vortex, which forms and deepens as the atmosphere loses heat to space in the darkness of the long Arctic winter night, was split in two by massive heating from below. A series of intense storms in the far north Pacific intensified a very long wave in the lower atmosphere. Energy on that planet sized wave went upwards from the lower atmosphere around the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau and broke into the stratosphere, causing major sudden warming. It rapidly reversed the strong cyclonic winds in the stratosphere around the pole, creating a central dome, breaking the vortex into two smaller vortices.  We can see the splitting by making a map of the heights a weather balloon rises to to reach the very low atmospheric pressure of 50 mb. A standard atmosphere is 1013mb.

The polar vortex was intact at 50 millibars (heights in m) on January 1 to 3. NOAA.

The polar vortex had broken in two (50millibar heights in m) on January 10 to 13. NOAA.
Major stratospheric warmings have taken place, on average, every other year over the past 50 years. The physics of these warmings is very complicated. Since 1998 these warmings have been more frequent and earlier in the winter. Previously, major warmings typically happened in February. Over the past decade they have happened in December and January, but this one is exceptional on all counts. This stratospheric warming is apparently the strongest ever observed in the first half of January according to the NOAA figure. No one knows why the number of major warmings is increasing but a correlation has been with positive sea surface temperature anomalies and the active phase of the solar cycle. This year the sun is active and there are large positive sea surface temperature anomalies in the north Indian ocean and the north-west Pacific.

The dynamical activity in recent winters reveals that the frequency of MWs (Major Warmings) in the Arctic is increasing (e.g. Charlton Perez et al., 2008)...
On average, during 1957/58–1990/91, MWs occurred only once every two Arctic winters (e.g Bancala et al. ´ , 2012; Cohen and Jones, 2011; Andrews et al., 1987). Conversely, no MW occurred in 9 consecutive winters from 1989/90 to 1997/98, except a minor warming in early February 1990 (Manney et al., 2005).  However, there were 7 MWs in 5 out of the 6 winters from 1998/99 to 2003/04. The winter 1999/00 was unusually cold but each other winter was prone to MWs... Furthermore, two MWs were observed in 1998/99 and 2001/02...This warming sequence continued and there were 5 MWs in 5 winters again in 2005/06–2009/10... Many of the MWs in recent years have been atypically early (December/early January) compared to those found before 1990s, which were observed mostly in February.

Animation of temperature anomalies at the 30mb pressure surface in the
stratosphere shows the magnitude of this massive event.
Major stratospheric warming events like these have a large impact on the weather. The warm air in the stratosphere radiates heat and sinks, then warms as it sinks by compressional heating. It causes a mound of relatively warm air and high pressure to develop around the pole. Cold air is pushed away from the pole, in this case under the two vortices. In the Pacific ocean the dynamic interaction of the cold air with abnormally warm water off of the northeast coast of Japan developed one of the strongest north Pacific storm in many years with a central pressure of 932mb, as low as a major hurricane, and modeled wave heights of over 60 feet.

At its most intense point, the storm had an air pressure reading of about 932 mb, roughly equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane, and more intense than Hurricane Sandy as that storm moved toward the New Jersey coastline in October. (In general, the lower the air pressure, the stronger the storm.) The storm's central pressure plunged by 48 to 49 mb in just 24 hours, making it one of the most rapidly intensifying storms at a mean latitude of 34°N since 1979, according to a data analysis by Ryan Maue of Weatherbell Analytics.  On Tuesday, the storm spanned a staggering 1,440 miles, according to David Snider, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Alaska. That's equivalent to the distance between Denver and New York City. NERC Sat. receiving station Dundee Uni. Scotland.
The swell will generate massive waves on the north and west shores of the Hawaiian Islands. NOAA's outstanding surf forecaster, Pat Caldwell is forecasting 24 foot wave face heights without the amplifying effects of refraction by the sea floor. In surf spots refraction can double these wave heights. 50 foot wave faces are possible on Friday at outer reefs on Kauai and Oahu.

Ocean prediction center.
The vortex over north America has been pushing cold air over the United States.  Multiple outbreaks of Arctic air can be expected over the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada over the next ten days. A winter storm developing now over the southern Appalachians is forecast to bring snow to the DC area tomorrow afternoon. Then the storm is predicted to intensify over the north Atlantic. The amplifying energy of the southward displaced vortex over north America are forecast by the GFS model to make the storm "bomb" to a 944mb low south of Greenland. Huge waves are forecast to hit the Atlantic coast of Europe early next week.
U.S. Navy WWIII model.
In February 2009 a major stratospheric warming and polar vortex splitting event occurred unleashing cold air into the eastern United States and Europe. London, England had its heaviest snow in 20 years. NASA's Earth Observatory has a high res video of the event and a plain language description of what happened. - Daily KOS.

NOTE: Special thanks to Tracey Kennedy for contributing to this post.

HIGH STRANGENESS: Mysterious Substance From Crashed UFO Blamed For The Death Of Millions Of Fish Off Okinawa, Japan?!

January 18, 2013 - JAPAN - The very first troublesome sign of the UFO crash off the coast of Okinawa has finally arrived. Millions of dead fish, estimated at over fifty tons, have washed up along the shore of the Japanese island. Some of the dead fish showed signs of severe burns and bleeding through their eyes.  The Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, has signed an executive order restricting Japanese media from covering the UFO crash. Several news agencies based in the Pacific nation have quietly filed numerous protests with the Prime Minister’s office. They have yet to receive any comment as of this morning, has learned. is one of the very few international news agencies covering this reported UFO crash and we have been able to cultivate a source deep inside the Japanese government who has direct knowledge of the proceedings off Okinawa. We spoke to him a short while ago regarding the dead fish washing up along the shore of the small island.

Graphic illustration of what happened off the coast of Okinawa.
“I can confirm to you the dead fish appearing on Okinawa’s coast is a direct result of the UFO crash,” said the source. “We have scientists stationed on the JS Kurama, the vessel at sea responsible for bringing the spacecraft up to the surface, and they have informed the Prime Minister they believe a strange substance is oozing from the damaged ship and causing noxious fumes to rise to the surface. Not only is it killing any surrounding fish in the immediate vicinity but the fumes are making it difficult for the salvage crew aboard the ship to breath. The salvage operation has been halted for several hours due to this new development. The scientists fear a new and very dangerous alien chemical is infiltrating the seas and thus killing sea life.”  Meanwhile, back on Okinawa, several residents seemed astonished by the sight of millions of dead fish showing up on their ordinarily pristine shores.  “I would not have believed this had I not seen it with my own two eyes,” said Tsutomu Irabu, a 57 year old fisherman. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life. The rotting smell is quite disorientating.” 

Photo of the crashed UFO, released by the Japanese Navy.
“I’m afraid to touch one,” said Yamato Endo, an 18 year old student. “I believe them to have chemicals foreign to our planet. I don’t want to get infected.”  The source went on to say the scientists aboard the salvage vessel JS Kurama have expressed concern to the Prime Minister and the military officials responsible for the resurrection of the craft that there could very well be highly flammable substances on the UFO.  “One scientist believed the sea water would begin to boil as the UFO released the last of its unknown foreign substances into the water,” he said. “At this point it is conjecture as there is no such event occurring at the moment but the sight of several burnt fish is certainly disconcerting.” asked the source when the Prime Minister would decide whether or not to let Japanese media outlets carry this important story on television or in print.  “The Japanese people have a right to know what has happened off their waters,” he said.

A man wades through the sea of dead fish caused
by the chemicals oozing from the crashed UFO.
“That is why I have come forward. Transparency is very important to me as a government official. I suspect it may not be so to the Prime Minister. I believe it will be a very long extended period of time before he will allow such a thing, if ever. I am saddened by this.”  “I’m quite certain there will be government representatives combing the Okinawa shoreline within the next few hours cleaning up the mess of dead fish,” he went on to say. “They will not leave any evidence of such an event as this UFO crash. They will deny everything. The Prime Minister was very angry at our Navy officials after the photo of the crashed UFO appeared on He was quite livid. The Navy has received direct orders not to publish or make comment on this event without approval from the Prime Minister’s office.” - Veterans Today.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Expert Declares That There's An Extreme Amount Of Gas In Aquifer Near The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Another Hole Can Open Up If There's A Weak Spot! UPDATE: Methane Bubbling Up In Residents Yard Near Giant Sinkhole - "I Can Actually Hear The Bubbling"!

January 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - In the following video, Community Advocate John Achee Jr. speaks with "28 Stones" (November 2012) concerning the Texas Brine sinkhole (now 8.5 acres in area), in Bayou Corne, Louisiana.

At 3:15 minutes in:
Question: What is your biggest concern for the community at this moment?

John Achee Jr.: A lot of experts have told me there’s an extreme amount of natural gas in the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer.

DNR themselves have said that it’s possible for another sinkhole to happen if the natural gas in the aquifer finds another weak spot, another sinkhole can happen.

So how do we fix that? We drill vent wells and vent the aquifer. The problem with that right now seems to be, and I say this hesitantly, but it seems to be money over public safety.
WATCH: The Hole Problem - An Interview with John Achee Jr.

WATCH:New flyover footage of giant Louisiana sinkhole - First since 2012.

UPDATE: Methane Bubbling Up In Residents Yard Near Giant Sinkhole - "I Can Actually Hear The Bubbling"!

WATCH: Methane Coming Out Of The Ground.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Disaster Precursors - Thousands Of Dead Fish Wash Ashore In South Carolina, Twice In Just One Week!

January 18, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Tens of thousands of dead fish washed ashore on a South Carolina beach on Tuesday, for at least the second time in a week. Approximately 30,000 to 40,000 menhaden fish washed ashore along a mile-and-a-half-long stretch of beach from Georgetown County, S.C., to Pawleys Island, said Pawleys Island Police Chief Michael Fanning, according to NBC News. It seemed likely that thousands more of the 6- to 8-inch-long fish would wash ashore later.

Courtesy viewer Lisa Mahan.
This is the second time in one week such an incident has occurred in the area, notes NBC News. Late last week, hundreds of thousands of the small, oily fish washed up near Masonboro Island, N.C. "One time I was here I saw a bunch of jellyfish," South Carolina resident Bill Vogel told NBC local affiliate WMBF News of the dead fish. "They were all on the shore but nothing like this, it's really weird."  The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) tried to explain the fish die-off on Wednesday. "It's an occurrence called hypoxia," Sergeant Steve Pop told WMBF. "That is dissolved oxygen levels in the water that drop to a level that is not sustainable for the fish...

We've got some deep holes off of north inlet that holds these fish. This time of year the fish congregate in these holes which is depleting the oxygen source." Mel Bell, Director of the Office of Fisheries Management for S.C. DNR, elaborated on the theory: “On Friday we had a new moon [which caused] real high high tides and real low low tides,” he told The Sun News. “Probably what happened was a school [of menhaden] got in an area of water on a high tide, in a hole or depression, and at low tide they were trapped and depleted the oxygen in the water. Then, all the fish would suffocate." On Thursday, however, the DNR ruled out low dissolved oxygen, algal bloom or cold temperatures as the culprit for the fish death, according to The Sun.
Mass animal deaths made headlines back in 2011 when thousands of animals were found dead in countries around the world. The mass deaths continued into 2012. Hundreds of Humboldt squid beached themselves near Santa Cruz, Calif., in December. In September, dead seagulls and fish washed ashore on Lake Eerie.- Huffington Post.

WATCH: Mass fish die-off in South Carolina.

DELUGE: Indonesia Floods Kill 12 - Thousands Flee Raging Waters In Jakarta!

January 18, 2013 - INDONESIA - Heavy flooding in the Indonesian capital this week has killed 12 people, driven thousands from their homes and paralyzed the sprawling city -- and officials are warning that more water is on its way.  Caused by unusually strong monsoon rains, the flood waters -- often carrying trash and human waste -- have inundated the city's central business district, closed schools and offices, and entered the presidential palace. 

People wade through floodwaters in Central Jakarta district on January 18, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
With around 95,000 people affected in different areas of the city, authorities have declared a state of emergency to allow use of national funds and other resources. About 19,000 people have relocated from the worst affected districts to safer areas.  January is typically the wettest month in Jakarta, the political and economic capital of southeast Asia's largest country.  But the low-lying city has already experienced more rainfall since Tuesday than it usually gets in the entire month of January.  Amid about a foot of water, workers scrambled Friday to clean up the mess near where a dike had burst a day earlier, flooding the central business district.  Soldiers heaped sandbags on a railroad line to form a makeshift defense close to the dike. 

The situation in the central district appeared to be improving, but some of the worst-hit areas of the city remained under water, with more flooding expected to arrive over the course of the day.  A lot of the water falling in the vicinity of Jakarta, which has a population of around 10 million people, must go through the city's rivers and canals before reaching the Java Sea.  Thousands of people have fled their homes in neighborhoods along the banks of the Ciliwung River, the cause of some of the worst flooding and considered by many to be one of the dirtiest waterways in Indonesia.  In Kampung Melayu, an eastern neighborhood near the Ciliwung, many people remained at home Thursday, sitting on top of roofs or wading inside to try to salvage belongings and secure the premises.  Large amounts of water were expected to flow down the Ciliwung on Friday, generated by rains over the hilly area around the city of Bogor, which lies south of Jakarta.  The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Board has warned of more heavy rainfall in the next few days, the city government said.  Fresh flooding was likely to bring the risk of more casualties.  The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said nearly half of the 12 killed in the floods since Tuesday were electrocuted. - CNN.

WATCH: Jakarta floods forces tens of thousands out of their homes.

MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Reveals Unprecedented Storm On Planet Saturn!

January 18, 2013 - PLANET SATURN - Just as regions of our planet have monsoon season, or tornado season, so too does Saturn have its own stormy season. Once every Saturn year or so—which corresponds to roughly 30 Earth years—a giant, churning storm works its way through the clouds of Saturn’s northern hemisphere, sometimes encircling the entire planet like a belt. Lasting a few dozen days or more, these storms have been documented as far back as 1876.

A true-color image captured by Cassini in February 2011 shows the head of the storm overtaking the fainter, turbulent tail. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI.
The sixth giant Saturnian storm on record arrived a bit early, kicking off in late 2010, just 20 years after the previous storm. The timing proved fortuitous for planetary astronomers, who currently have a dedicated orbiter called Cassini stationed at the ringed planet. And Cassini’s ringside seat, so to speak, has afforded the NASA spacecraft quite a show. A new study summarizing Cassini observations of the giant Saturnian storm adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that this was no ordinary outburst. The 2010 storm reached well into 2011—at roughly 200 days in duration, it is the longest such storm on record. It produced an unprecedented vortex that could just about swallow planet Earth. And it persisted until the head of the storm advanced all the way around the planet to rear-end the slower-moving vortex; their collision appears to have terminated much of the storm’s action. Cassini recorded the storm in great detail, both with its cameras and with its Radio and Plasma Wave Science instrument, which detected electrostatic pulses from lightning strikes within the clouds. Kunio Sayanagi, an assistant professor of planetary science at Hampton University, and his colleagues describe those observations in a study that will appear in the journal Icarus. Sayanagi and his co-authors report that the storm, sometimes called the “Great White Spot,” began on December 5, 2010, and lasted until June 20, 2011, although the endpoint of the storm is somewhat ambiguous. Nevertheless, the storm’s duration solidly surpasses the great Saturnian storm of 1903, which raged for 150 days.

False-color Cassini images from February 2011 include two mosaics of a wide swath of storm (lower panels) and detailed views of the storm's head (top left) and vortex (top right). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.
The latest storm spread steadily across Saturn in a band that eventually encircled the planet at 33 degrees north latitude. At the front of the storm was a fast-moving bright feature, sparkling with lightning activity, called the “head,” trailed by a giant cyclonic vortex that also took shape in December and finally a “tail” of turbulent clouds. By January, the researchers report, the vortex had grown to a massive whorl 12,000 kilometers wide—roughly the diameter of Earth. That ranks as the largest vortex ever recorded in Saturn’s troposphere, the study’s authors note, although they point out that a more recent vortex detected in the Saturnian stratosphere (a higher layer of the atmosphere) is even larger—some 50,000 kilometers across. The two vortices may well have been spun up by the same storm, “most likely as a result of a ‘planetary burp’—a warm mass ascended from depth and curled around on itself in the atmospheric layer,” Sayanagi says. “It seems that the vortex sheared apart vertically into two components, the tropospheric vortex we saw in visible [light], and the stratospheric vortex” that other researchers documented in infrared radiation. By June of 2011, the fast-moving head of the storm had raced around the planet to essentially lap the tropospheric vortex, leading to a collision that effectively ended the storm. Lightning strikes became intermittent, and the bright clouds making up the head disappeared. Based on past superstorms, however, the researchers predict that the aftermath of the Great White Spot will continue to disturb Saturn’s atmosphere for years—maybe even a decade—to come. - Scientific American.

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

January 18, 2013 - WORLDWIDE UFOs - Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

Melbourne, Australia - 7th of January, 2013.

Midlothian, Scotland - 7th of January, 2013.

Warren, Michigan, United States - 10th of January, 2013.

Detroit, United States - 13th of January, 2013.

Phoenix, Arizona, United States - 13th of January, 2013.

Buckeye, Arizona, United States - 13th of January, 2013.

Victoria, Canada - 14th of January, 2013.

The Sun - 15th of January, 2013.

Berlin, Germany - 16th of January, 2013.

Phoenix, Arizona, United States - 16th of January, 2013.

International Space Station - 16th of January, 2013.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Guyana Villages Swamped After Freak, Unusual And Enormous Tidal Waves - Water Covered Roads And Cars, Causing Panic Among Residents?! UPDATE: Luxury Cruise Ship Damaged By Giant Wave In South America!

January 18, 2013 - GUYANA - Strong winds and unusually high tides swamped Cornelia Ida and Anna Catherina, on the West Coast of Demerara on Monday afternoon.  The villages were flooded after the enormous waves surged over the sea defences leaving some homeowners contending with water that was waist-high. 

A home in Cornelia Ida still flooded yesterday, two days
 after the overtopping of the sea defences by unusually
high tides. (Photo by Arian Browne).
Officials from the Ministry of Transport and the Region Three Administration, including Chairman Julius Faerber, visited the areas the next day and installed equipment to flush the flooded water back into the ocean. Villagers of Anna Catherina said that the ministry also ordered that the main drain off of the Sea View Road be dug deeper in order to prevent more flooding.  However, they were unable to remove all of the garbage washed ashore.  The residents yesterday said after the ministry’s intervention, the flooding decreased but some were still afraid to leave their homes.  A resident of Anna Catherina told Stabroek News that his foot was pierced with a sharp object after he had decided to check the damage done to his bottom flat. He said that the water in his lower apartment so high that his furniture was floating. “The water come up to my waist,” the man said.
The aftermath of the flooding in Cornelia Ida, where the
 streets were littered with garbage. (Photo by Arian Browne).

At Cornelia Ida, another resident recalled that she was sitting in her veranda when she saw the waves start to ride over the sea defences. She said that the water ripped away her fence and began to swell in her home. She explained that it was normal for the village of Cornelia Ida to experience high spring tides but this was the worst since the historic 2005 flooding of the coastland of Guyana.  “The water de so high it cover half of my car,” a man said. “Is till when they come and fix the dam and put in that culvert that the water start to drain off a little.”  Meanwhile, Abdool Fazeel, a businessman, said that his shop was under water for two days. “I see when the water started to swell and ride over the wall,” he said, mentioning that Cornelia Ida experienced flooding every four months.  He said that the community had complained to the Neighbourhood Democratic Council about the problem but always received promises instead of help. “Everybody came and visit this place and see the situation. Everybody from the cabinet come and visit this place.  This is not a new thing every couple months this place a flood,” he declared.

A resident of Anna Catherina’s bridge was broken after a drain
was dug to help reduce the flooding. (Photo by Arian Browne).
In a letter in yesterday’s Stabroek News, C Woolford said “I would like to highlight the plight we the residents of Sea-view, Cornelia Ida, West Coast, Demerara have been suffering for about 20 years.  Every time there is high tide, water would roll over the sea wall and flood our yards and homes. The water would rise as much as 20 inches and even cover the road.”  The writer added  that there were some attempts in the past to solve the problem.  “ We have some engineers who believe they have supreme knowledge and just do whatever they think is right, instead of consulting with the residents. They put some culverts with little regard to the volume of water to be handled. In some instances they put some tubes lower than the draining level rendering them useless. The residents of Sea-view, Cornelia Ida vow that enough is enough. They also vow that if this situation is not remedied by the PPP/C administration urgently, come next election they will definitely see the backs of those who once voted for them”, the letter writer added.  Huge waves caused by abnormal high tides overtopped the seawall from Kitty to Turkeyen, on the East Coast of Demerara on Monday afternoon, quickly flooding the public road and resulting in the diversion of traffic.  According to the Hydrometeorological Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, the tides were caused by a weather front in the Atlantic Ocean. - Stabroek News.

UPDATE: Luxury Cruise Ship Damaged By Giant Wave In South America.
Luxury cruise line Silversea has been forced to cancel a cruise onboard the Silver Explorer after the ship was damaged by a giant wave in rough weather while on an 18-night voyage in South America. Media reports claimed four crew suffered minor injuries when a wave struck in the waters between Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica.

The cruise line confirmed all 133 passengers and 113 crew were safe, but the damage to the ship was severe enough for Silversea to cut short the cruise and to cancel its next sailing on January 21. The ship has returned to Ushuaia in Argentina, where it departed in early January. It is expected to resume service with a 10-night cruise departing on January 31. - Travel Mole.

EUROPEAN VAMPIRISM: The Pervasively Savage War On Africa - France Steps Up Its Destructive Forces In Mali, Claiming That Islamist Extremists In West Africa Poses A Global Threat?!

January 18, 2013 - MALI - French special forces inched closer to an al-Qaeda-held town, fighting erupted in another center and army troops raced to protect a third, as the Islamic extremists controlling northern Mali ceded no ground Thursday, digging into the areas they already occupy and sending out scouts to widen their reach.

A French soldier climbs inside a light armored vehicle as it is unloaded from a Canadian Forces C-17 Globemaster III in Bamako, Mali, on Thursday. The heavy-lift military transport plane touched down on Malian soil for the first time Thursday. Sergeant Matthew McGregor / Department of National Defence.
Banamba, a town just 90 miles (144 kilometers) from the capital, Bamako, was put on alert overnight and a contingent of roughly 100 Malian soldiers sped there on Thursday after a reported sighting of jihadists in the vicinity, the closest the extremists have come to the seat of government of this West African country, officials said. France has encountered fierce resistance from the extremist groups, whose tentacles extend not only over a territory the size of Afghanistan in Mali, but also another 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) to the east in Algeria, where fighters belonging to a cell in Mali stormed a BP-operated plant and took dozens of foreigners hostages, including Americans in retaliation for the French-led military operation in Mali.

Malian soldiers stand guard at the entrance to a strategic bridge in Markala, approximately 40 km outside Segou, in central Mali on Thursday. Harouna Traore / The Associated Press.
They demanded the immediate end of the hostilities in Mali, with one commander, Oumar Ould Hamaha, saying that they are now “globalizing the conflict” in revenge for the military assault on Malian soil. The first Malian troops arrived in Banamba late Wednesday, with a second group coming on Thursday. The small town northeast of Bamako is connected by a secondary road to the garrison town of Diabaly, which was taken by Islamic extremists earlier this week, and has been the scene of intense fighting with French military, as French troops continued to move closer, following another night of airstrikes.

To the south of Banamba, flanked by emerald rice fields, and crisscrossed by irrigation canals, is the first government-held city, Niono. And another 75 miles (120 kilometers) south is Segou, one of the largest towns in Mali, and the administrative capital of its central region.

As refugees from Diabaly continued to flee south, authorities announced a state of alert including the closure of the largest road after sundown, fearing that the al-Qaeda-linked fighters would try to infiltrate the towns in the south. “Starting at 6 p.m. tomorrow night, the road between Segou and Niono, the M33 highway, will be closed,” said the Prefect of Niono Seydou Traore. “Neither cars, nor motorcycles, nor people on foot will be able to travel, as a security measure.” - National Post.

EXTREME WEATHER: Sydney Bakes In The Hottest Day On Record As Bushfires Rage!

January 18, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - The Australian city of Sydney is experiencing its hottest day on record, with temperatures reaching nearly 46C. A temperature of 45.8C was recorded at Observatory Hill in the city at 14:55 local time (01:55 GMT). Some areas in the wider Sydney region were even hotter, with the town of Penrith, to the west, registering a temperature of 46.5C.

Fire crews have been tackling huge fires across Victoria and New South Wales.
In Victoria state, one man has been killed by a bushfire, one of dozens raging across southern Australia. State police said the body of the man, who has not been identified, was found in a burnt-out vehicle close to Seaton, a small town some 200km (120 miles) east of Melbourne. He is the first person confirmed to have been killed by this year's fires, though a firefighter died while tackling a blaze in Tasmania earlier last Sunday. Officials have not yet determined how he died. Firefighters are still battling dozens of wildfires sparked by the intense heat in New South Wales and Victoria. The small town of Licola in eastern Victoria is reported to have been cut off by a 44,500-hectare fire, as its sole access road is blocked. Officials said dozens of people had been evacuated but 10 locals were still there. Rob Gilder, a sheep farmer, said he and two employees had found themselves trapped on their farm and were "in grave danger". He told the Herald Sun they were taking steps to protect their house and farm equipment, but that he was concerned for his livestock, and that the situation could worsen. "I am very worried. But I am hopeful that one of those helicopters will come and get us but I think the smoke might beat them." Australia faces wildfires each year as temperatures climb. In February 2009, on what has come to be known as Black Saturday, 173 people were killed in fires in the state of Victoria. On Friday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard attended a memorial service for fires in 2003 in the capital, Canberra, which killed four people and destroyed thousands of homes. She reminded Australians to "take the appropriate precautions to stay safe and monitor information from local emergency services as they work to protect lives and property", the AFP news agency reports.

Thousands of people have been escaping the heat on Sydney's Bondi Beach.
'Be prepared'
The previous recorded high in Sydney was in January 1939, when the thermometer topped 45.3C at Observatory Hill. The Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement that Friday's record-setting temperatures "were not limited to Sydney, with records being set along the coast from Bega (44.6 °C) to Williamtown (44.8 °C)". "The highest temperature recorded in the Greater Sydney Area was 46.5 °C at Penrith, where observations started in 1995." Officials in Sydney have warned people to be ready for the heat, take care, avoid strenuous activity and stay out of the sun. The heat has damaged wiring to urban railway lines, bringing delays to much of the network - CityRail have warned passengers to carry water with them. The emergency services has received dozens of calls from people seeking help for heat-related health issues, including dizziness, fainting and vomiting, ABC News reports. Chief Superintendent Ian Johns said elderly and ill people tended to suffer the most, but warned that "people underestimate the heat and overestimate their ability and that would be particularly so for younger, fitter Australians". The heatwave across Australia in recent weeks has been so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology has had to add a new shade to its colour-coded temperature chart, so the scale now reaches above 50C. However, meteorologists have forecast a dramatic change in weather overnight in Sydney, with thunder storms expected to bring a rapid drop in temperatures. - BBC.

WATCH: Burning inferno in Australia as country struggles with record heat.

ICE AGE: Global Cooling Across The World - Croatia Snowfall Shatters Record Set In 1861, Mexico Hit By The Coldest Wave In 42 Years, And Unique Snow System Develops In Western North Carolina!

January 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - As the season's first major snowstorm barrels into the Western North Carolina mountains, weather watchers are keeping an eye on the system through Internet tools and weather balloons launched into the air.  This storm is shaping up as the first substantial snowfall in more than two years. Last year, the Asheville Regional Airport set a record with the only winter without a measurable snowfall since the airport opened in the 1960s.  "This isn't our typical system where a cold front comes through," explained Pamela McCown of the Institute for Climate Education at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. 

© AP Photo/The Victor Valley Daily Press, James Quig.
Unique Snow System Develops In Western North Carolina.
A low pressure system tracking across the Southeast this afternoon will pull more moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico, dumping rain and then snow over the mountains. "These are the systems we look for to give us our heaviest snows," McCown said. "Where we have been seeing fairly small snow crystals, these are going to be big, wet flakes."  The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather warning with 2-4 inches of snow forecast this evening for Buncombe County, but a UNC Asheville expert says more snow could fall in central areas of the state.  "The low center has a strange track that coming right through north Georgia into South Carolina, just a little south of us," said Doug Miller, associate professor of atmospheric sciences at UNC Asheville,.  Miller and his students will start launching weather balloons, starting at 4 p.m. today at the lower parking lot of the Reuter's Center at UNCA.  The system is fairly small and not well organized, Miller said. "So this storm is not going to be anything close to the Blizzard of March 1993, but it's going to bring a good bit of snow to places that don't usually see that much."  The central Piedmont and counties east of the mountains could see more snow than the Asheville area.  "Some people expecting a lot of snow are going to be pleasantly surprised, and some are going to be unpleasantly surprised," he said.  The Weather Channel has dubbed the winter storm "Iago," starting to name large winter storms in the same way that tropical storms and hurricanes get nicknames.  The system is expected to head over the spine of the Appalachians into Friday and affect Richmond and the Washington area along with Mid-Atlantic states. - Citizen Times.

Snow in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on 3 January 2013.
Mexico's Coldest Wave In 42 Years.
The arrival of cold front 21 generated temperatures of 13 degrees celsius below zero, as well as road accidents in various municipalities reported by the meteorologist of The State Civil Protection Department (UEPC), Salvador Echevarria Campos.  The UEPC meteorologist reported that 63 of the 67 state municipalities woke up to temperatures below zero degrees celsius, of these, 20 registered between zero and minus six degrees, with the forecast saying that these conditions will continue the same.  Madera and Casas Grandes are the locations with the lowest temperature registering minus 13 and minus 11 degrees, followed by Matachi and Villa Ahumada with minus 10 degrees and as well Temosachic and Bocoyna with minus 9.  Campos emphasizes that the Capital woke up to minus 6 degrees and explains also that the frost will continue, due to a mass of cold air that arrived with Cold Front number 21, which is at the border of Chihuahuan Territory but closures and havoc prevail.  Meanwhile, in the State of Sonora, temperatures registered 14 degrees below zero in the last few hours (and Sonora) has been affected by the most extensive cold wave in the last 42 years. - Vanguardia [Translated].

Croatia Snowfall Shatters Record Set In 1861.
"Just want to inform you about epochal snow event in Croatian capital Zagreb (SE Europe)," says reader Mihael Krstic.  "We have new record snow depth for January set to 68cm (27 inches) beating previous 49cm (19 inches) and all of that in just 24 hours! That's biggest snowfall from 1861.  More snow is on the way until end of the week!" - IceAgeNow.

WATCH: Snowfall in Croatia.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For January 17-18, 2013 - Etna, Stromboli, Kilauea, Tolbachik, Kamchatka And Much More!

January 18, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Etna (Italy): Another brief, but probably strong eruptive phase - a small paroxysm -  Another brief, but probably strong eruptive phase - a small paroxysm - occurred on the evening of 16 Jan at Bocca Nuova. Glow could be seen from webcams in the evening, but the summit area was covered in clouds. The event is also visible as a spike in the tremor amplitude.

Stromboli (Italy): Activity has been lower today and yesterday. No new lava overflow was seen. Both tremor and explosion intensity have decreased compared to during the past week.

Kilauea (Hawai'i): Lava flows continue entering the ocean since November 2012 in multiple points, due to increased pressure on the volcano which is also causing other lava breakouts on the coast and the lava lakes within Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō & Halema‘uma‘u craters to rise and potentially spill over.

Kamchatka (Russia): With Kamchatka currently being one of the most volcanically active places on the planet, here is a summary of the current volcanic activity in the past week in the region by the Kamchatkan Volcanic Eruption Response Team.   Lava dome growth and effusion of a viscous lava flow continue at Shiveluch volcano, accompanied by moderate fumarolic activity and incandescence. Satellite imagery showed a thermal anomaly over the volcano all week.  Eruption's at four cinder cones producing fluid lava flows on the S part of the fissure on the flank of Tolbachik continues.

A large thermal anomaly on the N part of the fissure was detected on satellite imagery. Gas and ash plumes from Tolbachik rose to heights of 4 KM a.s.l.  A lava flow continues to extrude on the east flank of Kizimen volcano, accompanied by incandescence, hot avalanches and strong gas and steam activity. Two new lava flows were detected on the SE flank of the volcano by satellite data. A thermal anomaly was also observed.  Possible ash eruptions from Karymsky volcano were detected in the past week with ash plumes possible rising to a height of 2.5 KM a.s.l. A thermal anomaly was detected at the volcano on the 11 and 14 January.  Strombolian activity continues at Kliuchevskoi volcano. This was accompanied by gas and steam activity from the summit and incandescence. Thermal anomalies were detected on 11 and 13 Janaury.   A viscous lava flow continued to effuse from the flank of the lava dome at Bezymianny volcano. Weak gas and steam activity were observed. A thermal anomaly was detected on the volcano on January 11 and 13.  Gas and steam activity was observed from Gorely on 10 and 12 January.  

Here is a summary of volcanic activity in the past week in the Kuril islands by the Sakhalin Volcanic Eruption Response Team:  Gas and steam activity were noted from Chirpoi volcano on January 9 and 11. A thermal anomaly was detected over Kudriavy, a stratovolcano of the Medvezhia volcanic complex, on 11 January. Strong steam-and-gas plumes were also observed, SVERT reported.

No significant changes were reported about activity of the volcanoes in Northern, Central and Southern America. summarizes it as follows:

Alaska: Occasional local earthquakes have continued at Mount Spurr, Iliamna, Four-peaked, Akutan and Makushin volcanoes in Alaska during the past week.

California: A swarm of small earthquakes (less than mag 1) continues beneath Mammoth Mountain volcano (CA). A short-lived swarm of larger earthquakes (M2-M3) occurred last week at the southern base of Mount Konocti volcano (Clear Lake Volcanic Field) during 8-10 January 2013. While swarm activity is continuous to the south (beneath the Geysers geothermal production area), such activity is infrequent beneath the volcanic field.

Mexico: Popocatepetl continues to produce small emissions of steam and sometimes ash at a rate of about 1-2 per hour, while Colima remains restless and could produce more explosions any time.

Nicaragua and El Salvador: Numerous volcanic earthquakes with occasional tremor pulses occur at San Cristobal volcano in Nicaragua. Volcanic tremor remains slightly elevated at Masaya volcano, and amplitudes, but not numbers, of volcanic earthquakes have declined at Concepcion volcano.
El Both local and regional earthquake activity punctuates continuous low-level volcanic tremor at San Miguel volcano in El Salvador.

Guatemala: Pacaya remains quiet with less steaming yesterday. Fuego has mild, infrequent explosive activity and continues to feed a small lava flow on the upper SW flank. Santiaguito lava dome has no or little explosions, but continues to feed thick lava flows descending on its flanks and generating rock avalanches.

Colombia: Numerous small earthquakes continue under the Colombian volcanoes Nevado Del Ruiz, Machin and Galeras.

Ecuador: Vigorous volcanic seismicity accompanies strong degassing at Reventador volcano in Ecuador, while Tungurahua has remained calm.

Chile/Argentina: Volcanic seismicity remains high at Copahue volcano at the Chile-Argentina border with over 1000 events recorded during 17 Jan. - Volcano Discovery.

PLANETARY TREMORS: New Zealand Rattled By 11,000 Aftershocks, Following The 2010 Earthquake?!

January 18, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - A magnitude-3.3 earthquake that struck Christchurch this afternoon could be the 11,000th tremor since September 4, 2010.

The quake hit at 12.55pm, 15 kilometers east of Christchurch at a depth of 6km. Over 163 people reported feeling the “moderate” shake on the GeoNet website. According to Christchurch Quake Map, the quake was the 11,000th the region has experienced since the magnitude-7.1 struck early on September 4 2010. GNS Science geological hazard modeler Matt Gerstenberger said 11,000 quakes was a significant but expected number for the region to have experienced.

“Anyone living there knows what it has been like. However, it is in the range of what we would have expected for a region which has had a large earthquake.” Many of those quakes would not have been felt, he said. “Many would have been so small they wouldn’t have been noticed. Also, I’m not sure what the minimum magnitude for a quake is that is mapped on that website, but that [11,000] figure would be in the range, I suspect.” He did not expect the number of quakes mapped to go up greatly. “According to the aftershock sequence, the aftershocks will now be further apart and so the number will go up slowly over time,” he said. “There won’t be a huge or sudden increase.” - Stuff.