Monday, March 18, 2013

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursor - Scientists Struggle To Solve Mystery Of Hundreds Of Starving Sea Lion Pups That Have Been Washing Ashore In Southern California?

March 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Hundreds of malnourished sea lion pups have been washing ashore along the Southern California coastline in recent months, and scientists still cannot say for sure what is causing this disconcerting phenomenon.

The first pups showed up on local beaches in early January. Since then, the number of reported strandings has been on the rise, with the small emaciated marine mammals flooding rescue centers between San Diego and Santa Barbara.

Stranded: Since January, more than 500 emaciated and dehydrated sea lion pups have been admitted into rescue centers in Southern California

As of March 13, nearly 520 young sea lions have been admitted to five rescue facilities, which is higher than the annual total for some years.

The pups that have been showing up on Southern California beaches are about nine months old. At that age, healthy sea lions weigh between 55-66lbs, but the animals that have been inundating rescue centers weigh only half that.

Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist with the National Fisheries Service, told Wired that she believes the pups have weaned themselves early and left their colonies.

But being too weak to find food on their own, the critters have been stranding themselves on California beaches in a desperate attempt to survive.

Skin and bones: Pups that have been showing up on local beaches weigh about half of what they supposed to weigh at nine months, and they also suffer from dehydration and hypothermia.

Onslaught: Malnourished sea lions pups line the floors of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach after 18 rescues in two days, putting the current patient count at 84 sea lions.
What remains a mystery to scientists is why the youngsters are leaving home ahead of schedule in the first place.

By the time they are admitted to rescue centers, many of the pups are skin and bones, and suffering from dehydration and hypothermia. Those who can be saved spend a couple of months gaining weight before being returned into the ocean.

The pups' treatment begins with a liquid diet and a gruel-like mix of electrolytes, protein, sugar, and ground up fish bits before they move to solid foods like herring.

Sea lion rehab: The youngsters' two-month treatment begins with a liquid diet and fishy smoothies before they move to solid foods like herring.

Exodus: Experts say the pups have weaned themselves early and left home, but being too weak to find food on their own, they have been coming ashore in a last-ditch effort to survive.

Rescue facilities up and down the coast have been struggling to keep up with the relentless onslaught of stranded pups in dire need of help.

'We have admitted over 250 [pups] since January 1,' said Marine Mammal Care Center director David Bard. 'We normally have numbers in the teens for these animals.'

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center declared a state of emergency this week after performing 18 rescues over the course of two days.

Despite the growing strain on their resources, rescue facilities have been largely successful at rehabilitating the malnourished mammals. Sarah Wilkin, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the mortality rates among the pups are relatively low, ranging from 20-30 per cent.

The bad news is that it is not even peak stranding season yet, and experts expect the number of pups showing up on beaches to go up in the next two months.

Whatever is causing young sea lions to leave their colonies early also has been taking a toll on adult females who have been aborting pregnancies or delivering premature pups.

Precedent: The last time rescue centers in California have seen so many pups getting stranded was in 2009, which was an El Nino year.

No easy answers: Wildlife experts have been struggling to understand what is causing the pups to leave their colonies ahead of schedule.

Wildlife experts have been struggling to explain this dramatic spike in the number of strandings. Scientists have been taking blood samples from animals and collecting data in the colonies on San Nicolas Island as part of an ongoing investigation.

The last time local rescue centers have seen so many pups washing ashore in California was in 2009, when food supplies in the Pacific Ocean took a major hit as a result of the El Nino - a band of anomalously warm ocean water temperatures that develops every three-seven years.

But 2012 was not an El Nino year, suggesting that something else has been causing the young sea lions to leave home in search of resources, often at their own peril. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: Researchers Puzzled Over Spike In Sick Sea Lions In California.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong Magnitude 6.1 Earthquake Rocks The South Sandwich Islands!

March 18, 2013 - ANTARCTICA REGION - A 6.1 magnitude earthquake has struck the South Sandwich volcanic islands near Antarctica at a depth of 31.3km (19.4miles) at 03:29:00 UTC.

USGS earthquake location.

The epicentre, was determined to be at 58.9 degrees south latitude and 24.4 degrees west longitude. The tremor struck at 121km (75miles) east of Bristol Island, South Sandwich Islands; 2666km (1657miles) southeast of Ushuaia, Argentina; 2900km (1802miles) southeast of Rio Gallegos, Argentina; 2906km (1806miles) southeast of Punta Arenas, Chile; 2241km (1392miles) southeast of Stanley, Falkland Islands

No word of damage or expanded threat has been issued at this time. No destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data.

USGS earthquake shakemap.

However, earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within a hundred kilometers of the earthquake epicenter. Authorities in the region of the epicenter should be aware of this possibility and take appropriate action.

The South Sandwich region is bounded by the South American American Plate and the Antarctic Plate.

The islands comprise 11 mostly volcanic islands (excluding tiny satellite islands and offshore rocks), with some active volcanoes. They form an island arc running north-south in the region 56°18′–59°27′S, 26°23′–28°08′W, between about 350 miles (560 km) and 500 miles (800 km) southeast of South Georgia.

USGS historic seismicity for the region.

The northernmost of the South Sandwich Islands form the Traversay Islands and Candlemas Islands groups, while the southernmost make up Southern Thule. The three largest islands – Saunders, Montagu and Bristol – lie between the two. The Islands’ highest point is Mount Belinda (1,370 m/4,495 ft) on Montagu Island.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Comet ISON - Astronomers Gearing Up For Possible "Comet Of The Century"!

March 18, 2013 - SPACE - Astronomers are already getting set for the arrival of Comet ISON, which may become one of the brightest comets ever seen when it cruises through the inner solar system this fall.

NASA has brought together a small team of experts to organize an observing campaign for Comet ISON, which could potentially shine as brightly as the moon when it makes its closest pass by the sun in late November if the most optimistic scenarios play out.

Coordinating the efforts of observatories on the ground and in space should help wring as much quality science as possible out of the comet's solar flyby, Comet ISON Observing Campaign (CIOC) officials said.

"It's a rare opportunity that we've got such a long heads-up time, so we actually have time to organize a campaign like this," said Karl Battams, a scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Lab in Washington and a member of the eight-person CIOC Team. "There's a lot of new science that we could get from this."

The comet that may put on a spectacular light show during a November date with the Sun, was observed by the Deep Impact mission. The spacecraft has also had close fly-bys of comet's Tempel 1 and Hartley 2 and scientific observations of Garradd.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD (Tony Farnham)

Bringing everyone together

Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok discovered Comet ISON in September 2012 after poring over photographs taken by a telescope run by the International Scientific Optical Network. Hence the comet's official name, which is C/2012 S1 (ISON).

ISON is a sungrazing comet, meaning its long, looping path through space takes it extremely close to our star. Indeed, ISON is forecast to zoom just 680,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) above the solar surface on its closest approach, which will take place on Nov. 28.

Comet ISON could put on a spectacular show around this time, experts say, potentially glowing so brightly that it's visible in the daytime sky. (The comet poses no impact threat to Earth.)

Skywatchers aren't the only people looking forward to the icy wanderer's solar encounter. Astronomers are excited as well, for ISON's flyby could give them a rare window into comet composition.

WATCH: Will Comet ISON be the Comet of the Century?

"Sungrazers experience the most intense thermal and gravitational stresses of any comet. There's a lot of sublimation of material that doesn't normally sublimate," Battams told "Once [ISON] gets really close in to the sun, then we could start to see some of the composition that you wouldn't normally get."

So Battams and his colleagues have contacted major ground-based observatories, raising awareness of the comet's flyby and encouraging them to solicit ISON-observing proposals. The response has been warm, with telescope operators typically voicing enthusiasm about the campaign, Battams said.

The CIOC crew has also reached out to some spacecraft mission teams, asking them to consider taking a look at the comet at some point. And a number of them are already on board.

This is the orbital trajectory of comet C/2012 S1 (ISON). The comet is currently located just inside the orbit of Jupiter. In November 2013, ISON will pass less than 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from the sun's surface. The fierce heating it experiences during this close approach to the sun could turn the comet into a bright naked-eye object. Image released Feb. 5, 2013.

"Observing campaigns are planned by the SOHO, STEREO and SDO solar missions; by Spitzer, Chandra and Hubble space telescopes; and by the Deep Impact, JUNO, Mercury MESSENGER, Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter missions," the CIOC website states. "Other missions at or on Mars are looking into observing ISON, as are a handful of other NASA Planetary missions. We welcome and encourage our international partners to contact us and join in the fun!"

In fact, Deep Impact has already begun its ISON work. The NASA probe, which has also studied several other comets in deep space, snapped its first photos of Comet ISON in January.

Sizzle or fizzle?
There's no guarantee that ISON will live up to the hype; it may fall apart before even making its closest solar approach. Comets are notoriously unpredictable and sometimes fizzle out despite great expectations, as Comet Kahoutek did in 1973.

WATCH: Comet ISON seen by NASA Spacecraft.

The wild-card factor with ISON is especially high, Battams said, since this is apparently the comet's first trip through the inner solar system from the distant, icy Oort cloud. Astronomers and skywatchers probably won't get a real sense of how the comet is going to behave until early August, when water ice should start sublimating in earnest, he added.

But the CIOC Team is proceeding as if Comet ISON will put on a dazzling show, because that's the scientifically prudent thing to do.

Comet Nevski-Novichonok (ISON) as it may appear at sunset on Nov. 29, if it survives its close encounter with the sun the day before.

"We have to go forward with optimism and prepare for something really special, something really spectacular, and hope that it happens," Battams said. "If it does, we're absolutely going to be in place to take an unprecedented and comprehensive set of observations of the comet." - SPACE.

EXTREME WEATHER: Yet Another American Northeast Snowstorm - Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New England, Montreal, Quebec To Be Slammed By Snowstorm; Could Dump As Much As 18 Inches Of Snow And Disrupt Travel!

March 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Yet another snowstorm is unfolding in the Northeast with areas from eastern upstate New York to northern New England and neighboring Canada in the bull's-eye.

The snow that accumulated up to a half of a foot in northern Kentucky will spread northward from the central Appalachians to New England and the St. Lawrence Valley through Tuesday night.

Despite the storm occurring during the middle of March and the effects of a strong sun, a heavy accumulation will occur on roads in some areas, leading to travel disruptions, school closings and foiled plans.

For a larger version of this map, please visit the Winter Weather Center.

The snow reached the western I-80 corridor in Pennsylvania by daybreak on Monday and will reach near the New York State Thruway and western Massachusetts by sunset on Monday.

By the start of Tuesday, the snow will have begun across the St. Lawrence Valley and most of northern New England.

The storm will gain strength during that time, allowing it to unleash more than a foot of snow in the higher terrain of northern New England by Wednesday.

Widespread amounts of 6 to 12 inches are expected elsewhere across northern New England and the St. Lawrence Valley, including the cities of Burlington, Vt., Concord, N.H., Caribou and Bangor, Maine.

Totals of 30 cm or more are possible for the neighboring Canadian cities of Montreal and Quebec City.

Some locations in the mountains can receive 18 inches or more from the storm.

Farther to the south -- along and south of the northern shore of Lake Ontario, the eastern New York State Thruway, the northern Massachusetts border and the coasts of New Hampshire and Maine -- the snow will mix with or change to sleet, freezing rain and/or rain.

However, that will not prevent a significant accumulation. meteorologists still expect between up to 6 inches of snow along the Twin Tiers of northern Pennsylvania/southern New York, with up to a foot of snow in the Catskills of New York and the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

"As we have warned from last week with this storm, there is potential for the rate of the snow to be intense and the accumulation heavy and wet," stated Expert Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

"Enough wet, clinging snow can fall to down tree limbs and power lines in some areas," continued Sosnowski. That danger that is greatest from Elmira, N.Y., and Lock Haven, Pa., northeastward to Portland, Maine.

Other cities in this threat zone include Binghamton and Albany, N.Y., Pittsfield, Mass., and Concord and Portsmouth, N.H.

Rain, meanwhile, will win out over the snow along the Interstate 95 corridor from Boston to New York City to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., potentially leading to minor flooding issues in southeastern New England.

Snow and sleet will fall in Philadelphia and New York City for a few hours Monday as the storm gets under way.

The Tuesday morning commute in Boston could be a slippery one with snow and sleet expected. Around 1-3 inches of snow and sleet will accumulate in Boston, while 3-6 inches will fall west of 128. Worcester Hills and southern New Hampshire will get buried by up to a foot of snow. - AccuWeather.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: 3 Dead In Papua As Rains Trigger Jayapura Landslide In Eastern Indonesia!

March 18, 2013 - INDONESIA - A landslide killed three people and injured another after days of heavy rain drenched Papua’s provincial capital.

The landslide destroyed a home in the Gereje Emanuel housing complex in North Jayapura early Sunday morning, police said. Three occupants, ages 17 to 26, were killed in the landslide.

““They were found dead as soon as they were removed from under the landslide; [their remains] were admitted to Dok II Hospital,” Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya said on Sunday.

Hans Loen, 40, suffered injuries to his legs and chest in the landslide. He was admitted to Dok II Hospital for treatment.

Heavy rains have fallen on Jayapura since Saturday, leaving some sections of the city inundated with 30 centimeters of water and backing up traffic for some five hours. - Jakarta Globe.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Dead Pigs Pulled From Rivers In And Near Shanghai Top 13,000 - Authorities Still Searching For More Carcasses In The Upper Reaches Of Huangpu River?!

March 18, 2013 - CHINA - The number of pig carcasses recovered from rivers in and near Shanghai since early last week has surpassed 13,000.

A worker hauls away dead pigs with a net in Zhonglian village of Jinshan district in Shanghai. Photo: AP

About 9,500 have been retrieved from the Huangpu River, a source of more than a fifth of the city's drinking water, as workers pulled nearly 500 more pig carcasses from the waterway yesterday. Upstream, the government of Jiaxing said it had recovered around 3,600 from streams in its jurisdiction.

About 80 per cent of the pigs recovered yesterday were young hogs, the Shanghai government said in a statement.

Government spokesman Xu Wei said the authorities were intensifying searches along the upper reaches of the Huangpu and were ready to move to waters bordering Jiaxing to prevent more pig carcasses from floating beyond the area.

Starting from yesterday, all carcasses pulled from the river were taken to the city's animal-incineration centre, the statement said. The government previously said that some of the carcasses were buried near where they were recovered and others were incinerated.

The quality of the river water and tap water in Shanghai remained normal, the government reiterated yesterday.

In addition, six straight days of food-quality checks in the city's markets did not uncover any unqualified pork, it said.

Shanghai also denied online rumours that some local pig farms and pork-derivative producers were connected to the scandal, as Jiaxing had insisted that it was not the only source of all the carcasses being retrieved from the Huangpu.

Shanghai municipal animal heath authorities, who had visited two pig farms and the Shanghai Maling Aquarius Company, a leading canned food producer, said on Saturday after their visits that they did not find any dead pigs or pork derivatives had been illegally disposed of, Xinhua reported.

Meanwhile, the ongoing search for more dead pigs and the clean-up effort continued yesterday in river-interlaced Jiaxing.

Townships had sent out brochures to pig farmers urging them to allow government workers to collect dead pigs instead of disposing them on their own, the website of the Jiaxing Daily reported yesterday.

A series of similar carcass discoveries have been reported across the nation since residents started complaining on March 5 about finding dead pigs in the Huangpu.

There has been an abnormally high number of dead hogs following an outbreak of porcine circovirus, a common disease, plus changeable weather this winter, the Ministry of Agriculture said on its website. - SCMP.

WATCH: China pig die-off tops 13,000.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up In America - Sinkhole Opens Up On Lincoln Street, Bangor, Maine!

March 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A sinkhole big enough to swallow a Volkswagen opened up on Lincoln Street next to the Bangor Daily News parking lot on Sunday.

The hole is about three feet deep and eight feet long. Orange cones had been placed around the hole to warn motorists.

Bangor Public Works Foreman Matthew Oakes said he had not yet seen the sinkhole, but said it would likely be addressed first thing on Monday.

Image: Alex Barber | BDN.

Image: Brian Feulner | BDN

- Bangor Daily News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For March 18, 2013 - Updates On El Hierro, Stromboli, Kamchatka, Etna, Sakurajima, Batu Tara, Paluweh, Lokon-Empung, Heard, Tolbachik, Sheveluch, Kizimen, Karymski, Klyuchevskoi, San Cristobal, Bezymianny, Gorely, Popocatépetl, Santa María, Santiaguito, Pacaya, Telica, Nevado del Ruiz, Fuego, Reventador, Tungurahua And White Island!

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

Location of today's quakes at EL Hierro (IGN).

Seismic signal from El Hierro (IGN).

El Hierro (Canary Islands): A powerful new earthquake swarm accompanied by volcanic tremor has started under the western part of the island. So far, the quakes are mostly at about 20 km depth. A plausible cause is that another magma intrusion from the mantle into the crust under the island has just started.

Thermal webcam image of the crater area of Stromboli (INGV).

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy)
: Tremor remains elevated and small amounts of lava continues to spill over the rims of the NE crater. The big question is when a larger breach will occur and larger amounts of lava can exit to form a flow until the sea...

Etna (Sicily, Italy):  Sicily's Mount Etna has been putting on quite a show for spectators who dare get close enough to see.  Europe's only active volcano sent streams of red hot lava and ash shooting into the sky this weekend.  The latest eruption did not have any affect on air travel in the area. Experts also said nearby residents were not in danger, but the ash left quite a mess on cars and on streets.  Eruptions are common at Etna but rarely cause damage.

WATCH: Mount Etna in Spectacular Eruption.

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): An ash plume was observed again today, rising 8000 ft (2.4 km), caused by what is likely a larger-than-normal explosion at the volcano.

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): The lava dome remains very active. A new explosion or dome collapse last evening produced an ash plume rising to approximately 12,000 ft (3.7 km) observers from Flores' north coast reported to VAAC Darwin.

Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): No recent reports of explosions have become available, suggesting that the volcano has quieted down considerably compared to Nov-Jan when it produced almost daily eruptions.

There are no significant changes in activity at any of the volcanoes in Kamchatka: lava continues to erupt from Tolbachik volcano, accompanied by stable, still relatively high tremor levels. Moderate seismicity suggests ongoing lava extrusion and dome building at Sheveluch and Kizimen.

Low seismic activity was reported from Karymski and Klyuchevskoi volcano. The strong seismicity from Tolbachik obscures the signals from Bezymianny, which also continues to slowly build a lava dome. Gorely continues to show medium levels of tremor caused by fluid movements and strong degassing.

View of Popocatépetl this morning.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): After being relatively quiet yesterday, activity has picked up today again. VAAC Washington has just received information about a probable explosion that generated an ash plume of unknown height.
Volcanic tremor has also shown an increased phase earlier today. At the moment, a significant steam plume can be seen on webcam images. SO2 emissions remain high as the latest NOAA satellite image shows.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): No significant changes occurred. Explosions of small and moderate size up to about 1 km height continue frequently and produce an ash plume drifting 15 km to the East and Northeast. Ash fall occurred in some parts of the city of Quetzaltenango where also faint odor of sulfur was noted. The lava flows on the sides of the dome remain active as well.

Current seismogram from Pacaya (PCG station, INSIVUMEH).

Pacaya (Guatemala): Weak gas and ash emissions continue. The seismic signal shows small superficial explosion signals and pulses of tremor lasting up to about 30 minutes.

Telica (Nicaragua): Another relatively strong seismic swarm has been in progress at the volcano since this morning.
(The large signal is the regional magnitude 4.3 quake off the west coast and has nothing to do with the volcano).

San Cristobal (Nicaragua): Seismic activity has decreased. The large signal is the recent 4.3 quake off the west coast of Nicaragua.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): A cluster of stronger earthquakes occurred today.

Today's seismic signal from Fuego (FG3 station, INSIVUMEH).

Fuego (Guatemala): The volcano has been calmer today, with only 10 mostly weak strombolian explosions registered, and maximum ash plume heights of 600 m. Incandescent tephra was seen ejected to 100 m above the crater and rolling down towards the Ceniza canyon. Strong degassing with turbine-like noises lasting up to 3 minutes were heard.

Reventador (Ecuador): Seismicity has declined a bit today.

Current seismic signal from Tungurahua (RETU station, IG).

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Several Ecuadorian zones in the provinces of Tungurahua and Chimborazo remain today on orange alert due to the increased activity of the Tungurahua volcano, located 80 kilometers south of Quito, which was rated high by the Geological Institute (IG). The National Secretariat for Risk Management (SNGR) raised the alert from yellow to orange in areas of those provinces located close to the volcano.  The IG report noted that activity in the Tungurahua increased substantially by generating columns of ash and gases, the highest rose to about four kilometers above the crater. 

Noises have been longer, lava fountains or constant emissions of incandescent material were observed rising 200 to 300 meters above the crater.  This activity is expected to increase with incandescent flows down streams.  There are reports of ash falling in the towns of El Manzano, Palitagua and Chogluntus. There is also a report of material rolling in the upper headwaters of the Rio Ulba.  This volcano erupted in 1999 and has since periods of high activity interspersed with periods of relative calm.  The Tungurahua is located in the Royal Mountain Range of the Andes (Cordillera Real de los Andes) in Ecuador and has a height of 5,020 meters.

Tungurahua releases columns of ash and gas.

Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): A significant hot spot continues to be detected at the summit crater of Heard volcano. A recent Terra / Modis satellite image of parts of the volcano (which usually is completely hidden under clouds) shows a dark area immediately to the west of Mawson Peak. This could correspond to a fresh lava flow.

Current seismic signal from White Island (GeoNet).

White Island (New Zealand): After showing a very slow and gradual increase during the past days, tremor has jumped to some of the highest levels recorded since increased unrest and minor explosive activity has started last August.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): The past few days, activity has been calmer with only 1-2 weak to moderate explosions per day (ash plume heights 5-8,000 ft / 1.5-2.4 km). 

The volcano lies close to the city of Kagoshima in southern Japan. Since 1955, several prolonged phases of explosive activity from the Showa crater have been observed. The video shows a typical explosive eruption associated with a small pyroclastic flow. First, a detailed video is shown where the ejection of a dense jet of material triggering the flow can be seen. The wider angle view shows the same eruption filmed with a second camera to give a better overview.

WATCH: Explosive eruption at Sakurajima.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 18, 2013.

Photo of the Day:

Stromboli taken on July 1, 2012 from a ship approximately 1 km from shore. (Photo: RMHLem).

SOURCES:  Volcano Discovery | Earthquake Report | WGRZ | Plenglish

EXTREME WEATHER: The Drought-Stricken United States - Wind-Driven Fire Destroys More Than 100 Condos Near Myrtle Beach; Wildfire Burns Outside Great Smoky Mountains In Tennessee; And Early Season Wildfires Signal "Bad Omen" For Drought-Stricken Colorado!

March 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Jeanette Webb sat with an oxygen tank to help her breathe, at the entrance to Windsor Green condominiums Sunday morning waiting to be escorted a few hundred yards to her home so she could retrieve some medication.  Less than 24 hours earlier, she had been a few hundred yards away from her home watching a raging fire consume 24 of the buildings in her Carolina Forest community.  “I just sat there and watched it burn,” Webb said. “Several times I thought my building caught fire ... but it didn’t”  Webb was one of the residents who did not lose her home, but more than 100 units were completely destroyed by the blaze that officials said began as a brush fire about 5 p.m. Saturday in nearby grass, then grew and spread along the ground propelled by wind and low humidity. 

The destruction of 26 buildings with 110 units at Windsor Green of Carolina Forest on Sunday, March 17, 2013.
Photo by Janet Blackmon Morgan /

Wind-Driven Fire Destroys More Than 100 Condos Near Myrtle Beach.
Webb, who serves on board of the Windsor Green home owner’s association, said she had lobbied for to have the community remove pine straw that was on the ground between the buildings.  “They finally did it and put down sod,” she said. “Bless God that’s not where the fire started.”  Webb said a neighbor knocked on her door shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday to let her know that there was a fire in the development.  “It was moving so fast,” she said. “I was looking out the front and all I saw black smoke.”  Webb said some nearby golfers came to her aid, pulling a cart up to the back of her condo so she could quickly grab a few things and evacuate her home.  “In the scramble to get out in the dark, some important medication was left behind,” she said.  That’s why she was one of at least 50 residents who lined up along the roads near Windsor Green to get items from their home. Many residents in line said they had been waiting more than an hour to be escorted to their homes.  They were the lucky ones.  Laura Younis is one of the residents of the about 110 units in 26 buildings who no longer have a home.  “I was one of the first ones to call 911,” she said.  Younis said the fire was two streets away from where she lived on Twin Pond Court and didn’t think the fire would make it to her home. Eventually she said she could see the 25-foot-tall pine trees were on fire and decided she had to get out of her home. 

The destruction of 26 buildings with 110 units at Windsor Green of Carolina Forest on Sunday, March 17, 2013.
Photo by Janet Blackmon Morgan /

Read more here:

“I didn’t grab my computer,” she said. “I didn’t grab anything. I didn’t even grab my purse. I truly thought we would be back.”  Younis said one door was left open and the other had a cat door in it for her three cats to escape once the condo got too hot. On Saturday night she wasn’t able to find them but on Sunday morning she found one of her tabby cats laying across the street from her unit.  “Her feet were burnt and she had ash marks all over,” she said. “She wasn’t burnt to the skin … but you could hardly recognize her from the soot.”  Younis was still searching for her two other cats, a small orange tabby named Savannah and a large gray cat with green eyes named BK. She asks anyone with information to call her at 703-378-3788.  “The little one is just a year old and more skittish,” she said. “I’m going to say she probably didn’t attempt to get out.”  She said she knows that some of her neighbors who were not home at the time of the fire lost pets as well.  “Some people got reunited with their dogs,” she said. “I know that there’s other dogs that perished.”  Younis had friends in town visiting for a cheerleading competition whom she said she stayed with Saturday night and planned to stay with again on Sunday. After that she said she might stay in a hotel or in the extra bedroom of one of her neighbors.  “I have insurance,” she said. “A lot of people don’t. I feel really bad for them. But I know my insurance will cover long-term lodging, meals and things like that.”  Younis said she purchased the condo in 2006 and moved to Carolina Forest from Virginia full-time in 2011. She is scheduled to receive her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Coastal Carolina University in May and was planning to stay in the area, but now she’s not sure.  “I was content to stay here,” she said. “We’ll see how this plays out …

Everything happens for a reason. I’m not sure what the reason is here.”  Younis was one of many Windsor Green residents who sought shelter in a variety of places, including nearby hotels, the homes of friends or family members and at Ocean Bay Middle School where the American Red Cross had set up a shelter.  The shelter was scheduled to close around 3 p.m. Sunday and move to Beach Church on Grissom Parkway in Myrtle Beach later that evening, said Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier.  Residents and owners of properties at Windsor Green were urged to call the “accountability line” at 997-6970 to check in and let rescue workers and volunteers know they were safe.  “We ask all at Windsor Green to call and share their name and unit number and make sure all are accounted for,” Bourcier said.  On Sunday afternoon, search and rescue teams began to come through the rubble for any remains. She said not all of the units are occupied year-round, with some being rented out through the property management company, by individual owners or sitting vacant most of the year to be used as vacation homes.  “Accountability is much tougher here because of the transient community,” Bourcier said. “That’s why I urge everyone to call the accountability line and check in.”  Bourcier said it would likely take search and rescue crews a day or two to completely survey the property.  The S.C. Forestry Commission is handling the investigation into the exact cause of the fire.  Late Saturday, officials said all buildings in the complex along Britewater Court and Twin Pond Court were destroyed. All but building No. 4929 on Pond Shoals was destroyed, while building No. 4931 and half of building No. 4930 on Crab Pond Court were damaged.  A statewide Red Flag alert remained in effect Sunday and will likely stay in effect until the state has received some rain, said Scott Hawkins, spokesman for the S.C. Forestry Commission. - Charlotte Observer.

Firefighters set a boundary as cabins burn on Black Bear Cub Way in Sevier County, Tenn., on Sunday. As of 8 p.m., there were 32 cabins reported burned with 40 more in danger.

Wildfire Burns Outside Great Smoky Mountains In Tennessee.
A wildfire burning in a resort area outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee has destroyed more than 30 large rental cabins.  The 145-acre fire was first reported around 5 p.m. EDT Sunday in Sevier County, said Ben Bryson, a fire resources coordinator with the Tennessee Division of Forestry. Smoke was reported to be visible from 25 miles away.  Bryson said early Monday that the fire was contained and not expected to spread.  Some of the cabins were occupied and about 150 to 200 people were evacuated, but no injuries were reported, Bryson said.  After dawn Monday, two Tennessee Air National Guard helicopters took off from nearby McGhee Tyson Airport. A state Forestry Division spokesman said the helicopters would be used to scoop up water from Douglas Lake and drop it on the fire.

"We did have it jump a fire line overnight, but it's contained this morning," said Capt. Benny Pickens of the Sevierville Fire Department on Monday.  The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency declared a state emergency Monday morning to make resources available, said Dean Flener, a TEMA spokesman. The declaration did not mean the situation was escalating, Flener said.  National Weather Service forecasters predict a 90 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms Monday and Monday night in the mountain region.  Pickens said the wind often associated with thunderstorms could be a problem for firefighting efforts.  "That's going to be harmful, but if mother nature drops some rain on it, that will be very much appreciated," Pickens said.  A survey team was checking Monday to determine specifically how many cabins burned. Pickens said many of the structures were rental cabins.  At the height of the fire, about 100 firefighters from about 30 fire departments were battling the blaze. The area is home to country star Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park, which Bryson said was not being threatened by the fire. Dollywood was the site of a separate brush fire Saturday night but park officials said that fire would not affect the season opening this weekend. - Houston Chronicle.

Colorado wildfire near Fort Collins. (Photo: Ed Andrieski/AP)

Early Season Wildfires Signal "Bad Omen" For Drought-Striken Colorado.
Two wildfires that erupted in northern Colorado on Friday continue to blaze in the region, signaling an early start to the wildfire season in the drought-stricken western United States. Burning about 75 miles northwest of Denver, the fires have been stoked by strong, erratic winds and "unseasonably high temperatures and low humidity," said Poudre Fire Authority Captain Patrick Love. The larger of the two blazes, the Soldier Canyon Fire, scorched over 1,000 arces and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of residents. They were permitted back in their homes Saturday evening.

A second, smaller fire reportedly broke out six miles north of Fort Collins, the Larimer County Office of Emergency Management said. Reuters called the early-season fires a "bad omen" for the region, which has been plagued by "moderate to exceptional drought conditions," according to the US Drought Monitor.
"Are you kidding me?" tweeted noted environmentalist Bill McKibben. "March!" Last year proved to be one of Colorado's worst ever wildfire seasons. According to the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, forest and brush fires scorched 384,803 acres in 2012, destroying 650 homes and killing six people. - Common Dreams.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Disaster Spreads Far And Wide - Japan Fishing Crippled Two Years After Nuclear Meltdown; Record Cesium Level Detected In Fish Caught Near Fukushima Nuclear Plant; As More Japanese Tsunami Debris Expected To Reach North America!

March 18, 2013 - JAPAN - The people of Japan this week marked the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown. The meltdown forced the evacuation of some 170,000 people. Now the radiation leak is also forcing many fisherman to abandon their livelihood.

Despite the freezing dawn temperatures, skipper Tatsuo Niitsuma just wants to get back to work.

Ever since last year's nuclear disaster, Niitsuma is only allowed to fish once a week, and he must turn his catch over to a government lab.

This fishing boat is only 12 miles south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. They're out catching fish just as they did before the accident, but only a fraction of their usual catch. None of this will be allowed to go on sale -- it's only for testing purposes.

Some fish still show high levels of radioactive cesium. Of the coastal fish tested, the government finds roughly 10 percent are safe to eat.

"Before the accident," said Niitsuma, "we sold fish. Now we're all living on compensation."

Ken Buessler is a U.S. Marine chemist from Woods Hole. He went to Japan three months after the disaster and studied the Japanese government's test results for the next 12 months.

"The numbers aren't going down that fast off Japan since the accident," he said.

Buesseler said he thinks Fukushima could still be leaking radioactive cesium into the sea, even though the nuclear plant's owner claimed it had been safely shut down.

"Those reactors," he said, "either by the cooling water that's still being put on there, that's leaking out, or the contamination of the site, are still releasing cesium to the ocean."

The nuclear disaster stole more than Tatsuo Niitsuma's livelihood. His 29-year-old daughter, Ikumi, was swept away in the tsunami. Her remains have never been found.

"When I'm alone," he told us, "I can't stop thinking about my daughter."

Having lost almost everything he ever cared about, Niitsuma is pinning his hopes on the fishery reopening. But unless the radiation numbers go down, it may be years before he gets some relief. - CBS News.

WATCH: Japan fishing crippled 2 years after tsunami.

Record Cesium Level Detected In Fish Caught Near Fukushima Nuclear Plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday it detected a record 740,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in a fish caught in waters near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, equivalent to 7,400 times the state-set limit deemed safe for human consumption.

The greenling measuring 38 cm in length and weighing 564 grams was caught near a water intake of the four reactor units in the power station’s port on Feb. 21 during the utility’s operation to remove fish from the port.
Tepco has installed a net on the sea floor of the port exit in Fukushima Prefecture to make it hard for fish living near the sediments of contaminated soil to go elsewhere.

According to Tepco, the previous record of cesium concentration in fish was 510,000 Bq/kg detected in another greenling captured in the same area. Currently, fishermen are voluntarily suspending operations off the coast of the prefecture except for experimental catches. - Japan Times.

More Japanese Tsunami Debris Expected To Reach North America.
Earthquake and tsunami debris lie at Yamada town in Japan on June 6, 2011, three months after the country was hit by a massive quake and tsunami. (Jiji Press/AFP/File)
Japan's estimate for the amount of debris from the 2011 quake-tsunami disaster that will reach North America later this year has sharply increased, a report said Friday.

Some 221,000 tons are set to reach the North American coastline by October, according to data from the Ministry of Environment, Kyodo news agency reported.

In November, the ministry had said 33,000 tons of debris would complete its journey across the Pacific by June.

But the new forecast estimates 30,000 tons to arrive by April, 105,000 tons by June and 173,000 tons by August.

Japanese government data has estimated 1.5 million tons of debris were swept away from the northeast coastal prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima after the March 11, 2011 tsunami that followed a 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

The quake-tsunami, which left nearly 19,000 people dead, is thought to have swept in total some five million tons of shattered buildings, cars, household goods and other rubble into the sea.

About three-and-a-half million tons sank immediately, leaving a massive amount of plastic, timber, shipping containers, industrial scrap and innumerable other objects to float deeper into the ocean.

Marine experts poring over the disaster have said the floating trash adds significantly to the Pacific's already worrying pollution problem. - Channel News Asia.

VVH-TV Special Report - Tokyo VERY Contaminated From Fukushima Radiation.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Plague Of Biblical Proportions - Millions More Locusts Descend Upon Israel, Agriculture Minister Expects This To Continue Daily Into "The Foreseeable Future"?!

March 18, 2013 - ISRAEL - A large swarm of locusts invaded Israel on Saturday from the Sinai Peninsula. The swarm is heading from Shivta to Ashalim in the Ramat Negev Regional Council in southern Israel.

Locust swarm in Zeelim (Photo: Tzvi Levin).
The Agriculture Ministry stated that the area where the locust will rest will be sprayed with pesticides Sunday morning.

"We will be seeing locusts on a daily basis in the foreseeable future," a ministry official said.

"But gladly we have the situation under control due to readiness and hard work."

Ramat Negev Council head Shmulik Rifman was less optimistic. "The locust plague is not yet behind us," he said, expressing concern that the grasshoppers will multiply beyond the control of pesticides.

"A very large swarm of females has arrived and we're worried that they'll reproduce," added Yaakov Moskovich, a Ramat Negev official.

Pesticide spraying (Photo: Yisrael Yosef).

"However, despite the swarms no great damage was caused to crops. We follow them constantly, and every morning there's pesticide spraying."

Smaller swarms arrived on Friday and were sprayed as well in what has become, as the Agriculture Ministry put it, a "routine."

Only exceptionally large swarms are reported to the press, the ministry's spokesperson noted, or if a swarm should happen to drift to the country's center.

On Wednesday, large amounts of locusts were spotted at the Tamar Regional Council, near the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi and Masada.

Locust in Shivta (Photo: Yael Moskovich).

"It was crazy. There were millions of them," said Doron Laks. "We drove toward them and millions just kept coming. All Ein Gedi was crawling with locusts. But they didn’t do any damage. We didn't see them eat the vegetation." - YNET News.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Nearly An Acre Of Land Swallowed Up As Pictures Show Surface Covered With Oil! UPDATE: State Documentation Reveals That Radioactive Materials Were INJECTED Into Five Additional Napoleonville Salt Dome Caverns?!

March 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Officials monitoring the Assumption parish sinkhole say the massive slurry burped again Sunday morning.

The red line in the photo attached depicts the area of swampland that sloughed in when the “burp” in the sinkhole happened.

Nearly an acre of land fell off into the west side of the sinkhole, according to Assumption OEP director John Boudreaux. Boudreaux also said more debris and hydrocarbon appeared at the surface.

Crews will shut down part of Highway 70 (between Highway 69 and Lee Drive) in 15-minute increments beginning at 9 p.m. Sunday for 3D seismic scanning. The work is expected to be complete around 3 am. - WAFB.

Source: WBRZ.

The Office of Conservation is advising the public that a large “burp” event was recorded at the sinkhole shortly after 3 a.m on the morning of Sunday, March 17, related to the recent period of elevated deep seismic activity around the failed Oxy 3 cavern and the sinkhole.

As has happened in past events, such as the period of elevated seismic activity that preceded the Jan. 19 “burp” event, the recent period of elevated activity was observed for several days prior to a sinkhole event. Though the deep subsurface activity appears to have calmed significantly.

Conservation’s contracted experts continue to note shallower seismic activity likely related to slumping of the sinkhole sides and water movement in the sinkhole and immediately below it. Monitoring is constantly ongoing in the area and Conservation will advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions. - Assumption Parish Police Jury.

According to the Assumption Parish Police Jury, the community briefing will be held tomorrow evening.

Where: Assumption Parish Community Center. 4910 Highway 308, Napoleonville, LA
When: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 @ 6:00 p.m.

In addition, the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District will be conducting, along with DEQ, a dye study within Bayou Lafourche. This will take place this week from Tuesday – Friday (March 19-March 22). It will consist of dye being placed into the bayou, starting in Donaldsonville and extending beyond Thibodaux. This dye will have a tendency to turn the water a tint of red. There is no harm associated with any aspect of this study and the color tint is only temporary.

State Documentation Reveals That Radioactive Materials Were INJECTED Into Five Additional Napoleonville Salt Dome Caverns.
Now, a truly shocking revelation has been uncovered in SONRIS files concerning the fragile and 'too close to salt edge', Occidental Geismar #1, as well as four other caverns on the east side of Grand Bayou.

Last week, it was revealed that Oxy #1 was found to be in potential jeopardy and possible collapse since it lies within 1-200 ft. from the Salt Dome’s edge.
Louisiana Sinkhole: Are more Caverns at Risk?


Concerns raised about 2nd salt dome cavern

Although no real shock to those in the know, what else was found regarding Occidental-Geismar #1 Cavern, turned out to be a real electrifying revelation.

Many community meetings have been held in Assumption Parish with the residents affected by the ‘Great Louisiana Sinkhole’ formed by the failure of Oxy-Geismar #3 salt cavern known to be on the edge of the Napoleonville Salt Dome, by Texas Brine and the Owner of the actual cavern itself, Occidental Chemical Corporation. Although asked about the possible NORM contained by other caverns, no real answers were forthcoming. Now we understand why this was never answered.

Buried deep within the bowels of SONRIS at LDNR and in a well file relating to Gulf South #1 failed cavern that terrorized the community of Grand Bayou in 2003, were documents relating to Texas Brine and Occidental’s dealings with James Welsh concerning the disposal of ‘calcium and magnesium brine precipitates’, later changed to ‘brine sludge’, and both terms meaning Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, (NORM), and the injection of these materials back into the caverns in which they were produced.

In a letter dated July 8, 1991, James Welsh in responding to a May 1, and May 29 requests for NORM to be put back into the following Well(s), Serial #’s 142315, 109979, 110339, 151645, and were not only given permission by then Mining Director Welsh to inject, but additionally informed they would have no problems with continuing Class III brine mining from these same caverns but would also have no problem being permitted for Class II Storage Wells if asked for in the future.

Then in 1994, another set of letters concerning NORM passed between Bill Walters at LDNR and Jim McCartney of Texas Brine requesting Well(s) Serial #’s, 109979 again, 151645 again, and 142316, be injected once more, and was again answered by Mr. Welsh on August 23, 1994, and informed that

Even more disturbing is that this time Texas Brine proposed a Solka Floc system that would prepare the NORM to be re-injected into the above documented caverns, thereby transforming the NORM into Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, (TENORM), and the Department of Environmental Quality passed it without question, and with only a sketch to go by; with no plans to follow up after construction, before introducing said materials into the caverns, and all unconcerned that these Wells remained Class III brine mining wells, while at the same time, being used for radioactive sludge waste injection caverns.

Before I go further, I feel it is incumbent upon me to inform you, the reader, that not once, but twice OXY GEISMAR #1 is proposed for these TENORM injections, as evidenced by Serial Number 151645, which turns out to be the very cavern that is now suspected of being mined too close to the edge of the Salt Dome, and could potentially fail. I would also like to point out this was done at a time when it was illegal under any circumstances to place any radioactive materials into salt caverns of any kind.

I submit this fact was known far ahead of time as submitted in earlier articles, but further evidence has come to light supporting such a supposition.

On August 25, 2012 and only three weeks after the OXY GEISMAR #3 cavern had collapsed, Occidental and Texas Brine sent in a team to immediately perform a SONAR scan of Oxy Geismar #1 and of no other caverns as shown in these pictures provided by LDNR.

Pic 1, Pic 2, PIC 3

These pictures and the SONAR of Oxy Geismar #1 screams that Occidental and Texas Brine had reason to be alarmed that this particular cavern might breach out, as opposed to say, Oxy Geismar #2, located directly behind the failed Cavern 3.

This is very disturbing news indeed. Although not a conspiracy minded person…I must admit this smacks of conspiracy and of an on-going coverup.

I do not state this lightly, as Occidental and Texas Brine side-stepped these issues before when questions arose concerning the presence of NORM in Oxy-Geismar #3 by stating that in 1995 they received permission from LDNR, but not from LDEQ. That really seems disingenious in the extreme, considering the Louisiana Dept. of Environmental Quality, Linda Levy, gave full permission in 1994, as did James Welsh, of LDNR Director of Injection and Mining Division, for the TENORM injection of waste materials into 5 other caverns.

If there is even a way for these obviously corrupt corporations and the State Agencies charged with the Safety of the Public Health and Welfare of the People of Louisiana, to weasel their way from under these allegations, then these questions still remain…. If in 1991 there was enough NORM for four wells, and in 1994, enough existed for three more wells, and then with just an average of 20 cu. ft. of NORM that was to be placed in Oxy #3, then we have 160 cu. ft.of radioactive materials floating around in limbo whether just underground in the Solka Floc system and a ‘Tank’, or laying in piles all over the dome, with their is the potential for 1000′s of Feet of Radioactive Materials in unknown locations exposed to the elements, or as stated in the above letters; re-injected into caverns, where they could be pumped out to an end producer as fertilizer such as the Occidental-Geismar Fertilizer Plant in Geismar. Louisiana, or to Dow, which uses the chlorides for many end user products, such as plastics, and a host of other end user products that could be on a Store Shelf near you.

None of us ever to expected our Bagged Fertilizers, nor our Chlorox type cleaners, to actually glow in the dark.

If this does not spark an investigation by the Federal Government, then what on earth ever will? Raw Milk?

Source File: Start at Page 176-188 of the Gulf South #1 Well History File.

- FreedomRox.