Wednesday, March 27, 2013

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Homes Evacuated After Massive Landslide On Whidbey Island, Washington - Slide Extends Over 700 Yards, Displacing Nearly 40 Persons From 33 Homes!

March 27, 2013 - WASHINGTON - Residents of a hillside overlooking scenic Puget Sound heard the thunder of a landslide that knocked one home off its foundation, and isolated or threatened more than two dozen others on Whidbey Island early Wednesday.

A man who escaped from the damaged home was evacuated by rescuers in an all-terrain vehicle, Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin said.

Many of the homes are summer cabins or weekend getaways and were unoccupied.

Eleven people from 16 homes along a road close to the water were evacuated by boat because the road was blocked by the landslide, he said.

And, another 20 to 25 people were evacuated from 17 homes along a road higher up the hill that is being undermined by the slide. Land is falling away just 10 feet from one home.

No one was injured when the slide broke loose about 4 a.m. in the Ledgewood community. One person was taken to a hospital with a condition unrelated to the slide.

The cause of the slide is unknown.

Residents that heard the slide about eight miles south of Coupeville described it as sounding like thunder.

"It was a mix of rumbling and snapping trees," Hartin said. "We were hearing the same thing when we arrived."

On Wednesday afternoon the slide still showed signs of movement, Hartin said.

"It's possible more homes could be lost. We're trying to ensure the safety and awareness of people," Hartin said. "There's not anything we can do to stop the movement of the ground."

The slide area extends about 400 to 500 yards across the hillside and down 600 or 700 yards to the water, Hartin said.

There has been no significant rain in recent days so the immediate cause of the slide is unknown. But the area has been prone to slides in the past, Hartin said.

A geotechnical expert was being brought in to assess the slide and the danger to homes. If the slide stabilizes, some people might be allowed to return. But others have homes that are now unreachable.

"Being cut off from the road, water and power," residents had to leave, said Island County Sheriff Mark Brown. "It's a pretty massive mudslide." - KOMO News.

WATCH: Homes Evacuated After Massive Landslide On Whidbey Island.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Tracking Developments In The Canary Islands - Earthquakes, Inflation Suggest New Magma Intruding Under El Hierro; 4.6 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Region! UPDATE: Alert - Several Roads Closed On El Hierro Following Increasing Magnitude Of Earthquakes!

March 27, 2013 - CANARY ISLANDS - Over the last few weeks, many people have been noticing a sharp increase in earthquakes under El Hierro in the Canary Islands. If you recall, in 2010-12, the volcanic island was the home of an offshore submarine eruption that produced some stunning drifts of volcanic tephra and floating “coconuts” of inflated sediment coated in lava. That eruption (in the broadest sense) lasted until March 2012 and since then, beyond some minor earthquake swarms that didn’t lead to any new eruptive activity, life has gone back to normal on El Hierro.

A plot of the recent swarm of earthquakes at El Hierro in the Canary Islands that began around March 18, 2013. This swarm is located off the western shore of the island, rather than the southern tip where the 2010-12 activity was centered. Image: AVCAN.

Well, now it seems that magma is clearly on the move underneath the island once again. AVCAN has been tracking the seismicity and there have been hundreds to thousands of small earthquakes under El Hierro at depth of 10-20 km since March 18 (see right). However, the most interesting news is the sharp inflation the island has been experiencing, with ~10 cm of uplift in the westernmost part of El Hierro in only the last 10 days, near the focus of the earthquakes. This location of uplift and seismicity is very different than the 2010-11 activity (see above), which was centered to the south of the island. There has been no signs of undersea eruptive activity so far, according to scientists on the Ramón Margalef, a research vessel in the waters off of El Hierro.

Histogram of the recent earthquakes at El Hierro, showing the sharp increase after March 18, 2013. Image: AVCAN.

As of today (March 26), PEVOLCA, the emergency management body on El Hierro, is keeping the alert status at Green as they believe that the current unrest is not a danger to anyone on the island. As we saw during the last submarine activity at El Hierro, the real hazard was to fisherman who ply the waters around the island. I’ll have more updates as they arrive. - WIRED.

Here are several of the latest updates from Earthquake Report.

2013-03-27 16:13 UTC
The M4.6 (preliminary value) was, besides La Palma, also felt on La Gomera and even Tenerife (perfectly normal based on our earthquake experience)

2013-03-27 16:03 UTC

Strongest earthquake so far during this crisis, a M4.6! earthquake luckily in the ocean at a depth of 19 km

IGN had made a prediction that there should be a 23% chance that a M4.6 would happen. They are right but people start to get a little scared anyway.

2013-03-27 15:40 UTC

Involcan published an image on his Facebook page of a rockfall in the El Golfo area. The steep cliffs combined with near M4.0 earthquakes within 10 km of the island are a dangerous cocktail as can be seen on this image.

- Due to these stronger earthquakes we expect Pevolca to meet soon, especially to formulate additional safety rules for the steep areas of the island.
- The earthquake was felt as far as La Palma (see seismograph of La Palma below)

Image courtesy Facebook Involcan.

2013-03-27 15:08 UTC

- 11 M3+ earthquakes in only 66 minutes, luckily still out in the sea!

2013-03-27 14:41 UTC

- The 13:32 UTC earthquake has been recalculated from M3.7 to M3.9. depth : 15 km. Distance to the island : approx. 6 to 7 km.

2013-03-27 13:52 UTC

- More strong activity in the 13:00 to 14:00 time-frame (see below). The 2 first ones were M3.0 earthquakes, the last one was the strongest so far today Magnitude 3.7. The latter was also felt by the people of the island.

13:00 to 14:00 tremor time-frame.

2013-03-27 13:22 UTC
- There is the volcano again. After a period of relative weak action, a new very powerful quake occurred at 13:08 UTC

2013-03-27 12:22 UTC
- The bathymetry mission of the Oceanographic Vessel Ramon Margalef has produced a great 3D animation of the new submarine volcano (2011-2012 eruption). We do appreciate their new policy to share such material immediately with the public

WATCH: El Hierro underwater volcano Bathymetry.

2013-03-27 09:00 UTC
- 56 earthquakes so far today, less than yesterday. Strongest earthquake since midnight : M3.3
- The hypocenter depths are now stabilized at the 12 to 15 km layer
- Epicenters in the same area and still relatively far out in the deep ocean
- Deformation still continues but at a lesser rate than the preceding days

East deformation increase – image courtesy University of Nagoya, Involcan.

Upward deformation – image courtesy University of Nagoya, Involcan.

UPDATE: Alert - Several Roads Closed  On El Hierro Following Increasing Magnitude Of Earthquakes.

Here are the latest updates on the situation in the Canary Islands.

Photo: Delimitation approximate yellow light.
The PEVOLCA sets the yellow light to the La Dehesa - It hits close to La Dehesa Road for Wood
Writing / Management Civil Protection Plan for Volcanic Risk (PEVOLCA) has decided to take a series of civil protection measures as increasing the magnitude of the seismicity is occurring 10 kilometers in El Hierro.
The measures taken by the management of PEVOLCA, which have been taken in accordance with the Cabildo of El Hierro, are:
- It disables the lane closest to the tunnel at the output side of border;
- Closing the stretch of road between the HI-50 Crossing and Sabinosa Table
- Close access road to the Playa La Madera, the Well of Health to the confluence with the HI-503.
- Are opened access to the Chapel of the Kings and the southern Sabinar, HI-400
Yellow light in the Meadow
Also the direction of the Plan has set the yellow light of information to the population in the area bounded by the HI-500 at the height of the Well of Health to the south, at the confluence of the HI-500 HI-400 in crossing known as El Tomillar.
- Lacernidera. [Translated]

2013-03-27 18:50 UTC
- From the reports we are getting and as seismographs show, things seem to be less intense for now.
- So far, this crisis has released more energy than the crisis before the eruption.
- More rockfall has been reported in the roads of Frontera-Sabinosa, some of the rocks quite large, and personal is now working onsite to clear them.
- A press release from the government insists that there is no big danger to the population, earthquakes are occurring at sea, as they monitor the situation, and insist to make sure people are self-prepared at home.

2013-03-27 18:00 UTC

- Just when we thought it had calmed down for a few minutes, another series of strong earthquakes are being felt by the population at this moment. This have not yet been listed by IGN.
- We will update and you can also subscribe to our free ultra-rapid alert service for the latest earthquakes.
2013-03-27 16:13 UTC
If the epicenters are correct we are witnessing some migrating seismic events to the south (please compare with other images below). Of course some data have to revised and some epicenters may be recalculated again.

2013-03-27 16:31 UTC
Spectacular earthquakes going on right now in the ocean to the west of El Hierro – A new strong earthquake (preliminary Magnitude 4.4) made chairs and ceiling lights moving and windows trembling. This last earthquake was also felt at the other islands. Based on our earthquake experience, we expect that an M5 will be the absolute max. for volcanic earthquakes. In rare cases the Magnitude goes even higher but these are mostly volcanic explosions which nobody expect to happen + the shaking of every current earthquake is weakened by the sea. We would advise people at El Hierro, to stay away from steep cliffs as rockfall can happen at any moment.

- Earthquake Report.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: The Euro-Zone Crisis - Cyprus To Reopen Banks And Impose Capital Controls, Guards Prepare For Battle As No Money Allowed To Leave Country!

March 27, 2013 - CYPRUS - Cyprus reopens its banks on Thursday while limiting withdrawals, banning cheques and curbing the use of Cypriot credit cards abroad, among measures imposed to avert a bank run after it agreed a tough rescue deal with international lenders. The Central Bank said banks would open their doors at midday (5 a.m. EST) on Thursday after nearly two weeks when Cypriots could only get cash through limited ATM withdrawals.

Cyprus To Reopen Banks And Impose Capital Controls.
A central bank official said Cypriots would be allowed to withdraw no more than 300 euros ($380) a day. Yiangos Demetriou, head of internal audit at the Central Bank, said on state television that the controls would allow unlimited use of credit cards within Cyprus, but set a limit of 5,000 euros per month abroad. He said the measures would last four days but could be reviewed.

Other details of the controls had yet to be officially announced by late Wednesday. According to a draft of a government decree leaked to Greek newspaper Kathimerini, Cypriots would not be permitted to send money overseas without documentation showing they are paying for imports.

Those travelling abroad could take a maximum of 3,000 euros on each trip, according to the draft. Early withdrawals of funds deposited with banks for a fixed term would be banned. Cypriot officials said the draft published by the newspaper was genuine but not necessarily final.

The European Central Bank delivered extra banknotes to Cypriot banks on Wednesday evening to meet demand, a source familiar with the situation said. The ECB declined to comment. Finance Minister Michael Sarris has said capital controls will be "within the realms of reason". But Cypriots, fearing for their savings and angered by the bailout deal struck on Monday in Brussels, are expected to besiege banks.

Under the bailout, Cyprus's second largest bank will be closed and its guaranteed deposits of up to 100,000 euros transferred to the biggest bank. Deposits of more than 100,000 euros at both banks would be frozen. Big depositors will lose money, but the authorities say deposits up to 100,000 euros will be protected, a reversal from an earlier plan that would have hit small depositors as well.

Cypriots have taken to the streets of Nicosia in their thousands to protest against a bailout deal that will push their country into an economic slump and cost many their jobs. Some 2,500 protesters gathered outside the presidential palace on Wednesday, waving banners and flags. They chanted: "I'll pay nothing; I owe nothing."

European leaders said the bailout deal averted a chaotic national bankruptcy that might have forced Cyprus out of the euro. Speaking after meeting government officials, the head of the Cyprus chamber of commerce said: "We have been assured that limitations will not affect transactions within Cyprus at all."

"Where there will be limitations is on what we spend abroad and also on capital outflows," Phidias Pelides told reporters. Critics said the capital controls, which contradict the EU principle of free flow of money and goods, might be hard to give up.

"This is a typical set of exchange control measures, more reminiscent of Latin America or Africa," said Bob Lyddon, General Secretary of the international banking association IBOS. "There is no way these will only last seven days," he said. "These are permanent controls until the economy recovers. - Reuters.

WATCH: Cyprus Cycle - 'Cash will continue to fly from peripheries to EU core'.

G4S Readies Guards As Cypriot Banks Prepare To Open, No Money Allowed To Leave Country.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg via Getty Images.
A British security firm that transports cash for Cypriot banks is working round the clock, sending teams out with police protection to stock bank machines and readying guards for when banks reopen on Thursday. The world's largest security firm, G4S, moves cash and will provide guards for Cypriot lenders including Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Popular Bank, the two biggest, which are to be combined and see large depositors' accounts frozen under a bailout agreed at the weekend. Cypriot banks have been shut for more than a week while the government worked out the bailout and will stay closed until Thursday to prevent a run. Meanwhile, Cypriots have been queuing to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines, with limits at some shrinking down to 100 euros a day. John Arghyrou, managing director of the Cyprus business for G4S, said its 750 employees have been working through the night, going out to replenish cash machines with police guard. Licensing rules prevented the firm from bringing in extra staff to handle the unprecedented workload.

"Demand is greater than we can provide... We haven't closed since the crisis started," he told Reuters. "I've never seen anything like it in terms of what is going on from a security perspective. I would say the workload has quadrupled because the whole system has changed." Arghyrou would not comment on whether more cash has been flown in to replenish the vaults so that banks are ready to open on Thursday, but said he did not expect a bank run. "People have had time to digest the agreement so maybe there won't be that scenario whereby people run to the banks to withdraw," he said.

"I don't see people panicking, I see people worrying about what the next day will hold for them, whether the next day they will have a job. I see people having a lot of questions and waiting for answers." While the banks have been closed, businesses have been calling on the security company to find places to keep their cash and asking for guards and alarms to protect their assets. They are also using G4S as an intermediary to bring money from overseas to pay wages and suppliers, and drawing on its systems for shipping cash to provide guarantees for payments abroad, effectively using it as a kind of bank. The next big test will come on Thursday when 180 G4S guards will be deployed at bank branches to help handle an anticipated surge of customers demanding cash and answers.

Arghyrou said his unarmed teams had been ready to go into action late on Monday night, when a last-minute decision was made to delay the banks' opening until Thursday. "The staff will be based outside branches and are there to control queues, if there are any queues," he said. "We will be in contact with the police. Basically it is to make the banking people feel safe and the customers as well." G4S earns 18 percent of its 7.3 billion pound turnover from its cash transporting business, which is struggling for growth in developed markets. The rest comes from running services like prisons, manned guarding and port protection. The firm achieved notoriety for admitting just weeks before the start of last year's London Olympics that it could not provide a promised 10,400 venue guards, hitting its profit and reputation. - CNBC.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: CDC Says 110,197,000 Venereal Infections In The United States - Nation Creating New STIs Faster Than New Jobs Or College Grads!

March 27, 2013 - UNITED STATES - According to new data released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 19.7 million new venereal infections in the United States in 2008, bringing the total number of existing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the U.S. at that time to 110,197,000.

The 19.7 million new STIs in 2008 vastly outpaced the new jobs and college graduates created in the United States that year or any other year on record, according to government data. The competition was not close.

Scanning electron micrograph image of HIV-1 budding from cultured lymphocyte.
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Cynthia Goldsmith)

The STI study referenced by the CDC estimated that 50 percent of the new infections in 2008 occurred among people in the 15-to-24 age bracket. In fact, of the 19,738,800 total new STIs in the United States in 2008, 9,782,650 were among Americans in the 15-to-24 age bracket.

By contrast, there were 1,524,092 bachelor’s degrees awarded in the United States in the 2007-2008 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That means the total number of new STIs in 2008 outpaced the total number of new bachelor’s degrees by nearly 13 to 1, and the number of new STIs among Americans in the 15-to-24 age bracket outnumbered new bachelor’s degrees by more than 6 to 1.

While the CDC estimates that there were 19.7 million new STIs in the United States in 2008, data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the total number of people employed in the country actually declined by 2.9 million during that year.

The CDC said the new venereal infections contracted each year cost the nation about $16 billion.

“CDC’s new estimates show that there are about 20 million new infections in the United States each year, costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs alone,” said a CDC fact sheet.

The CDC study—“Sexually Transmitted Infections Among U.S. Women and Men: Prevalence and Incidence Estimates, 2008”—was published in the March edition of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, the journal of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association.

The study distinguishes between “incidences” of a disease, which is the number of new infections in a year, and the “prevalence,” which is the total number of new and existing infections.

“In 2008, there were an estimated 110 million prevalent STIs among women and men in the United States,” said the study. “Of these, more than 20% of infections (22.1 million) were among women and men aged 15 to 24 years. Approximately 19.7 million incident infections occurred in the United States in 2008; nearly 50% (9.8 million) were acquired by young women and men aged 15 to 24 years.”

The study focused on estimating the incidences of sexual transmission of particular diseases as opposed to other forms of transmission. For example, it did not include HIV infections that were not sexually transmitted. It also counted the number of infections rather than the number of people infected.

“When calculating the number of prevalent and incident infections, only those infections that were sexually transmitted were counted,” said the CDC fact sheet. “In general, CDC estimated the total number of infections in the calendar year, rather than the number of individuals with infection, since one person can have more than one STI at a given time (e.g., HPV and chlamydia) or more than one episode of a single STI (e.g., repeat chlamydia infection).”

The most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States in 2008 was human papillomavirus (HPV), which caused 14,100,000 estimated infections that year.

After HPV, in order of magnitude, according to the study, new STIs in the U.S. in 2008 included 2,860,000 new Chlamydia infections; 1,090,000 new Trichomoniasis infections; 820,000 new Gonorrhea infections; 776,000 new Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2) infections; 55,400 new syphilis infections; 41,400 new HIV infections; and 19,000 new Hepatitis B infections.

The total of 110,197,000 existing STIs in the United States in 2008 included 79,100,000 HPV infections, 24,100,000 HSV-2 infections; 3,710,000 Trichomoniasis infections; 1,579,000 Chlamydia infections; 908,000 HIV infections; 422,000 Hepatitis B infections; 270,000 Gonorrhea infections; and 117,000 Syphilis infections.

In no year since 1995 has the United States produced new jobs in a number that comes anywhere close to the 19.7 million new STIs in 2008. In fact, in the thirteen years from December 1995 to December 2008, the total number of employed people in the United States increased by only 18,281,000 (from 125,088,000 to 143,369,000).

As noted, the number of people working in the U.S. in 2008 declined by about 2.9 million (dropping from 146,273,000 in December 2007 to 143,369,000 in December 2008). The Bureau of Labor Statistics has published historical data on the number of people employed in the U.S. going back to 1948. In no year since then has the U.S. economy created anywhere near the 19.7 million new STIs estimated for 2008.

On average during that period, the U.S. has increased employment by 1.3 million per year. - CNS News.

WORLD WAR III: Escalation Towards Armageddon - North Korea To Cut All Channels With South As "War May Break Out Any Time"; North Korea 'Photoshopped' The Marine Landings Photograph; China Holds Landing Exercises In Disputed Seas!

March 27, 2013 - KOREAN PENINSULA - Reclusive North Korea is to cut the last channel of communications with the South because war could break out at "any moment", it said on Wednesday, days of after warning the United States and South Korea of nuclear attack.

North Korea To Cut All Channels With South As "War May Break Out Any Time".
The move is the latest in a series of bellicose threats from North Korea in response to new U.N. sanctions imposed after its third nuclear test in February and to "hostile" military drills under way joining the United States and South Korea. The North has already stopped responding to calls on the hotline to the U.S. military that supervises the heavily armed Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the Red Cross line that has been used by the governments of both sides.

"Under the situation where a war may break out at any moment, there is no need to keep north-south military communications which were laid between the militaries of both sides," the North's KCNA news agency quoted a military spokesman as saying. "There do not exist any dialogue channel and communications means between the DPRK and the U.S. and between the north and the south."

The Pentagon condemned the latest escalation in North Korean rhetoric, with spokesman George Little calling Pyongyang's declaration "yet another provocative and unconstructive step."  The U.S. military announced on March 15 it was bolstering missile defenses in response to threats from the North, including a threat to conduct a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States.

Despite the shrill rhetoric, few believe North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), will risk starting a full-out war. North and South Korea are still technically at war anyway after their 1950-53 civil conflict ended with an armistice, not a treaty, which the North says it has since torn to pieces.

The "dialogue channel" is used on a daily basis to process South Koreans who work in the Kaesong industrial project where 123 South Korean firms employ more than 50,000 North Koreans to make household goods. About 120 South Koreans are stationed at Kaesong at any one time on average.

It is the last remaining joint project in operation between the two Koreas after South Korea cut off most aid and trade in response to Pyongyang's shooting of a South Korean tourist and the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel blamed on the North. Kaesong is one of North Korea's few hard currency earners, producing $2 billion a year in trade with the South, and Pyongyang is unlikely to close it except as a last resort. - Yahoo.

WATCH: North Korea Enhances Nuclear Threats in Propaganda Video

North Korea 'Photoshopped' Marine Landings Photograph.
The suspect photograph showing landing craft and soldiers taking part in military exercises somewhere in North Korea Photo: AFP/GETTY
North Korea has been accused of "photoshopping" an amphibious landing by its forces as part of its all-out propaganda campaign threatening war on the divided peninsula. The Communist dictatorship has issued daily warnings that it is preparing for an offensive that would break the armistice that ended the Korean War 60 years ago this year.  Its latest belligerent declaration was that conditions exist for a "nuclear war" between it and the hostile US-backed alliance it faces.  But amid footage of rocket attacks, army manoeuvres, and on-the-spot inspections by its leadership, it stretched credulity by publishing a sun-drenched scene of nine landing craft carrying marines to storm the beaches. At least half the boats were throwing up the same spray of water and the weather was suspiciously mild compared with other images from the exercises.  But as Winston Churchill once noted the lie was half way around the world before the truth caught up.  Several international news outlets published the photograph before the AFPs news agency pulled the shot, which it had relayed from the KCNA news agency, claiming "excessive digital alteration" had taken place.

The debacle occurred as Pyongyang cut the last channel of communications with the South because war could break out at "any moment". The move is the latest in a series of bellicose threats from North Korea in response to new U.N. sanctions imposed after its third nuclear test in February and to "hostile" military drills under way joining the United States and South Korea.  The North has already stopped responding to calls on the hotline to the US military that supervises the heavily armed Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the Red Cross line that has been used by the governments of both sides.  "Under the situation where a war may break out at any moment, there is no need to keep north-south military communications which were laid between the militaries of both sides," the North's KCNA news agency quoted a military spokesman as saying.  "There do not exist any dialogue channel and communications means between the DPRK and the U.S. and between the north and the south."  Despite the shrill rhetoric, few believe North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), will risk starting a full out war.  North and South Korea are still technically at war anyway after their 1950-53 civil conflict ended with an armistice, not a treaty, which the North says it has since torn to pieces. - Telegraph.

China Holds Landing Exercises In Disputed Seas.
In this photo taken on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 released by China's Xinhua News Agency, China's amphibious ship Jinggangshan is seen during a coordination training with a hovercraft in waters near south China's Hainan Province, in the South China Sea. China’s increasingly powerful navy paid a symbolic visit to the country’s southernmost territorial claim deep in the South China Sea this week as part of military drills in the disputed Spratly Islands involving amphibious landings and aircraft. Sailors joined in the ceremony Tuesday, March 26 aboard Jinggangshan at James Shoal, a collection of submerged rocks, located 80 kilometers (50 miles) off the coast of Malaysia and about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) from the Chinese mainland, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Gan Jun) NO SALES
China's increasingly powerful navy paid a symbolic visit to the country's southernmost territorial claim deep in the South China Sea this week as part of military drills in the disputed Spratly Islands involving amphibious landings and aircraft. The visit to James Shoal, reported by state media, followed several days of drills starting Saturday and marked a high-profile show of China's determination to stake its claim to territory disputed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei amid rising tensions in the region.  Sailors joined in the ceremony Tuesday aboard the amphibious ship Jinggangshan just off the collection of submerged rocks, located 80 kilometers (50 miles) off the coast of Malaysia and about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) from the Chinese mainland, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday. China planted a monument on the shoal in 2010 declaring it Chinese territory.  Sailors gathered on the ship's helicopter deck declared their loyalty to the ruling Communist Party and vowed to "struggle arduously to realize the dream of a powerful nation," Xinhua said.  The four-ship task force is headed next to the Pacific Ocean for deep-sea exercises via the Bashi Channel separating Taiwan and the Philippines, Xinhua said.  The exercises and visit to James Shoal did not encroach on any islands where neighboring countries have any substantial presence and drew no immediate response from them, but took place in an area with a complicated patchwork of overlapping claims.  The maneuvers were an important, symbolic declaration of Chinese sovereignty intended to show that Beijing will not waver over its territorial claims despite pushback in the region, said Peking University international relations expert Zhu Feng. Militarily, it means little since the navy has visited a number of times before and has no intention of basing troops near the remote shoal, he said.  "These recent naval operations can be seen as a strong indication of Chinese resolve, but they're also a continuation of the existing Chinese stance," Zhu said. 

The Spratlys and other South China Sea island groups are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. China and Vietnam have also begun experimental drilling in the area in hopes of tapping a suspected wealth of oil and gas, further exacerbating frictions that date back decades and have from time to time flared into military action.  China battled Vietnam for control of territory in the region as recently as 1988, and clashes between its naval forces and fishermen from Vietnam and elsewhere are frequently reported.  In the latest incident, Vietnam accused the Chinese navy of setting fire to the cabin aboard a Vietnamese fishing boat last week off the disputed Paracel Islands north of the Spratlys. Hanoi said it filed a formal complaint with the Chinese embassy and is demanding compensation and punishment of the sailors involved.  Beijing responded indignantly on Tuesday, saying its sailors had merely fired flares to drive Vietnamese boats from an area where it said they were fishing illegally. The navy denied causing any damage to the Vietnamese boats.  China's increasingly assertive defense of its claims in the area has sparked a backlash from Vietnam, the Philippines and others. Those countries have turned to the region's traditional dominant power, the U.S., as a counterweight, adding momentum to Washington's renewed focus on security ties in the Asia-Pacific, a strategic pivot viewed by Beijing as part of an effort to encircle it and stymie its development.  Along with maintaining garrisons on territory it claims, China has stepped up patrols by both its navy and ships from civilian maritime agencies that were recently consolidated into a single department along the lines of the U.S. Coast Guard.  The naval task force taking part in the latest drills consists of the Jinggangshan, the destroyer Lanzhou, and the missile frigates Yulin and Hengshui, among China's most modern and capable naval ship, according to an online report by the official People's Daily newspaper.  The drills on and around Johnson Reef and other Chinese-garrisoned islands and outcroppings involved hovercraft, ship-born helicopters, amphibious tanks, and land-based fighters, bombers and early warning aircraft, it said. Photos accompanying the report showed hovercraft setting off from the Jinggangshan and troops in lifejackets storming a beach.
- AP.

ICE AGE NOW: Scientists Warn Of Impending Ice Age As Sub-Zero Spring Sows Chaos Across Europe And The United States - Fatal Cases Of Hypothermia, Power Outages And Transportation Disruptions!

March 27, 2013 - EUROPE - Freak blizzards and freezing weather over the first few days of spring have hit Europe and parts of the United States, causing fatal cases of hypothermia, power outages and transport chaos.  In Poland five people have died from exposure since spring arrived on March 21 with overnight temperatures plunging to a bone-chilling minus 24 Celsius.  The latest death toll pushed the total death toll this month to 25. 

Photo: Farmer Donald O'Reilly searches for sheep or lambs trapped in a snow drift on his farm in Northern Ireland (Reuters: Cathal McNaughton).
Bad weather has also claimed at least two lives on the British mainland, where media have dubbed the unseasonably icy month "Miserable March."  The military was called into action on Tuesday to air-drop fodder to farms cut off by freak snow as thousands of homes remained without power for a fifth straight day.  A Royal Air Force (RAF) helicopter was deployed in Northern Ireland in a bid to reach remote farms where up to 10,000 animals are believed to have been buried beneath snowdrifts six metres high.  British bookmakers used to offering bets on a White Christmas now say a White Easter this weekend is more likely than not.  And in south-west Scotland, the Isle of Arran was still without power following Friday's unseasonal snowfall that brought down power lines.

In the United States, where a huge spring storm dumped several inches of snow from St Louis to the East Coast and grounded hundreds of flights on Monday, temperatures were struggling to climb back to normal in most areas.  Nearly a week after the spring equinox, huge swathes of the United States remained deep in winter's clutches. Temperatures hovered well below freezing and snowploughs and shovels were pulled back out of sheds.  A March chill hovered over large sections of the south and the Midwest, but the mercury was bouncing back along the east coast. In Washington, temperatures were expected to hit 15C by the weekend.

Photo: A sheep shelters behind a wall of snow in the hills of Domore, Northern Ireland (AFP: Peter Muhly)

Back in Europe, Ukraine's capital Kiev was still feeling the effects of Monday's record-breaking snowfall, which saw residents skiing down city streets as drivers fumed in vast traffic jams.  Up to 15 centimetres of snow also blanketed Romania, shutting down schools and hampering road traffic in three regions, including the capital Bucharest.  Deadly black ice coated roads in Croatia while ferry services on the Adriatic had to be suspended because of high winds.  No injuries were reported as violent winds tore the roof off a supermarket in the eastern Czech city of Sternberk.  Both Austria and Belgium saw temperatures plunge to record lows, with forecasters warning the unseasonable cold snap is expected to last past the Easter weekend. - ABC News Australia.

Photo: Keith McQuillan (l), Ruth Keyes and Donald O'Reilly (r) rescue a sheep trapped in a snow drift in the Aughafatten area of County Antrim, Northern Ireland (Reuters: Cathal McNaughton)

Scientists Warn Of An Impending Ice Age.
In Germany, a month is drawing to a close which people will not forget that quickly. At least in the north and east of the country, it could be the coldest and especially the snowiest March since the beginning of the detailed records began about 100 years ago. In the Brandenburg village Coschen, the thermometer dropped to minus 19 degrees in the night to Sunday – it was the coldest place in Germany. Even though it was milder in the south, the first three weeks of March were still about three and a half degrees colder than the long-term average of this month, and the few days until its end will not change anything essential, especially since the meteorologists do not expect much higher temperatures until Easter.

In calculating the total meteorological winter (December to February), the measurements from March are not even taken into account, but the three winter months taken together were about half a degree colder than “normal.” And dark anyway.

Ornithologists have reported that migratory birds coming from the south have turned back. Others, equipped with sharper senses, remained longer than usual in the Mediterranean. The flowering of plants is delayed, and the crocus, which formed in the parks during the few mild days earlier this month, disappeared for weeks under 20 cm thick snow cover. The construction industry and other industries fear delays, losses and other cost burdens. The tenant association Hamburg expects that after the winter an increase of 100 Euros will be payable for renters of a 70 square meter apartment in the next heating bill; for public buildings, the taxpayers will be charged accordingly. Several times dozens of flights, such as to and from Frankfurt, had to be cancelled due to heavy snow, highly unusual for March.

Globally, temperature extremes balance each other most of the times, but in recent weeks one has to look very closely in order to identify particularly warm climes in our latitudes. Japan, for example, reports a relatively early onset of spring. On the other hand, the north-eastern United States suffered from snow chaos, in New York, many flights had to be cancelled too in mid-March because of almost half a meter of fresh snow. In the European part of northern Russia is has been particularly cold; rarely has the weather map been as deep dark blue over such large areas.

The blue colour projects far into our regions. Perhaps it is no coincidence, therefore, that Russian scientists warn of an impending ice age. Vladimir Bashkin and Rauf Galiulin have only recently discovered this risk in a study. The two biogeochemists – a discipline which includes the exploration of the Earth’s atmosphere – have drawn up the paper for the Research Institute VNIIGAZ of the Gazprom Group, an address that is surely not entirely free of lobbying interests. Their reasoning, however, is based on findings that the gain more and more ground in the independent science: The activity of the sun has weakened significantly, according to some experts to a degree as during the “Little Ice Age”, several hundred years ago.

However, it is not a variation of the warming sunshine, which would not be sufficient to explain climate changes during past centuries. However, the changes in solar ionizing radiation emissions, the so-called solar wind, could be very influential with regards the long-term development of Earth’s temperatures. These fluctuations are associated with the ups and downs of the number of sunspots. The sunspots can be observed from Earth, they are recorded since at least since their discovery by the German-British astronomer William Herschel in the 18th century. Herschel found a relationship between the number of sunspots and climate impacts, namely the good and bad years in agriculture. His theory of the “hog cycle” was long derided because an explanation was missing – until it was found a few years ago.

Meanwhile, there are other methods to track the variations of the solar wind than by sunspots; by isotopes in drilling cores, sediments, or millennia old ice. And lo and behold: there are clear parallel curves between the changes in solar activity and, a few years or decades later, global temperature – at least insofar as it is possible to retrospectively ascertain temperatures. Taking account of these delays, the ups and downs of temperatures during the 20th century and until the beginning of the 21st century can be explained from sun, whose activity in the second half of the last century was at its highest rate since the medieval climate optimum, which was about one degree warmer than today.

Several institutions, among others the nuclear research center CERN in Geneva and at the state-run National Space Institute of Denmark, are trying to find a physical explanation for this significant relationship. Through a series of tests, researchers were able, to some extent, to form a picture of how the ionizing solar wind affects cloud formation and thus the temperature of the Earth. The delay could be well explained by the buffering effect of the water masses in the oceans. One can only wonder how the work of the scientists, who study these connections, will be taken into account by the fifth “Assessment Report” of the IPCC, which will be published September. So far, it looks as if they will not play any role since the scientists who view man-made carbon dioxide emissions as almost the sole driver of the climate will set the tone.

However, the one-dimensional explanation of CO2 has lately been questioned by other studies, too. For example by a scientifically approved work by two climate researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle (USA), published in the February issue of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” – one of the world’s most prestigious scientific magazines. The two researchers came to the following conclusion: “The anthropogenic contribution to global warming in the second half of the 20th century has been probably been overestimated by a factor of two”, i.e. only half as large as expected. According to their study, the currents and pressure conditions in the oceans have been fundamentally underestimated.

A study by researchers at the University of Oslo comes to a similar conclusion and will be published in the next few weeks. According to the study, even a doubling of CO2 by 2050, which hardly anyone expects, will not have the dramatic effects which the IPCC predicts. According to the study, the influence of natural factors, such as clouds and volcanic eruptions, is much stronger than previously thought.

So far studies with similar conclusions, though published in peer reviewed scientific journals, are mostly ignored by the media. But they are published more frequently in science journals lately. The current extreme weather does only support them to a limited degree; weather is fickle. However, this is also correct for any contrary weather conditions. In any case, from the perspective of this winter it can be said with certainty: summer is approaching. Also predictable is the next very, very hot one. The only question remaining is this: Just when will it happen? - GWPF.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: CCTV Captures Moment Man Devoured By Sinkhole In Shenzhen, China - Security Guard Killed As Earth Opens Up Beneath His Feet!

March 27, 2013 - CHINA - A video of a man plunging to his death in a sinkhole in the city of Shenzhen, a few kilometres north of Hong Kong, has been posted online.

CCTV footage shows Yang Jiabin, 25, falling into a sink hole (YouTube).

CCTV footage shows 25-year-old security guard Yang Jiabin walking in the city's Futian district when the ground suddenly opens beneath his feet.

Yang disappears into the hole, which reportedly measured five metres in diameter and 16 metres in depth.

Police arrived but Yang was already dead, reports said.

City authorities were looking into the theory that the collapse might have been caused by heavy rains dislodging old water pipes running beneath the surface, Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported.

A building for the newspaper's parent company, Shenzhen Press Group, is being built just metres away from the sinkhole.

Local residents have repeatedly complained about tremors caused by construction works, South China Morning Post reported.

Nearby residents left their homes in fear of further sinkholes opening up.

Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, is home to more than 10 million people. Sinkholes have been reported in the area before. In the provincial capital of Guangzhou, several buildings were swallowed up in January by a sinkhole measuring 300 sq m across.

No one was injured but power was cut to about 3,000 homes.

Poor development plans rushed through in China's property boom have been cited as one of the causes of the increasing number of sinkholes reported in China.

According to Business Insider almost 100 collapses were reported in Beijing alone in July and August 2012. - IBT.

WATCH: Man falls to his death in China sinkhole.

ICE AGE NOW: Snowstorms In Spring - Deep Snow Raises Alarms For Midwest, New England Flooding?!

March 27, 2013 - UNITED STATES - While spring is officially here, many parts of the United States still feel like they are stuck in winter's grasp. Snow has continued to fall across parts of the Plains, Midwest, mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. However, as temperatures rise in the coming weeks, that snow will turn to water, and that will cause problems for rivers and streams across the country.

These late-winter snowstorms contain more water than storms a few months prior. Wet snow, which holds more water, is more likely to form during end-of-season storms. On average, for every 5 inches of wet snow you get 1 inch of water, compared to an average of half an inch of water for 5 inches of powdery snow. For some areas in the Northeast and the Plains, there are over 6 inches of water stored in snowpack.

Melting snow and rain can cause rivers to overflow and flood surrounding areas. Photo by On-Air.

"If you get a warm rain to come through in the spring bringing 2 inches of water, and it melts the snowpack and releases 6 inches of water there, you could see 8 extra inches of water that rivers and streams have to handle," said AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "You also have to worry about the impacts of ice jams on those waterways."

Another factor in spring flooding is the ground temperature. If some ground areas are still frozen, it won't be able to soak up flood waters. Sosnowski warns that this time of year it's possible to see a snowstorm come in and pile on more wet snow, then a warmer storm come through right after to cause rapid melting.

AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Andrews cites January of 1996 as an example of this kind of flooding. About 2 to 3 feet of snow quickly turned into 2 to 4 inches of water from a rain storm. In the spring, he says, conditions are even more troublesome, as higher dew points add to moisture.

This snow analysis map from NOAA shows the water equivalent held in snowpack as of March 26. Mountainous areas in the West also have high water content in their snow, which will melt slowly over the course of the summer.

Andrews says that the Red River Valley in the Dakotas should be particularly watched. The low-gradient river, which has the rare quality of flowing north, will take time to flood. While this can be good news for people who may need to move out of its way, it also means that it will take a long time to recede. The flat landscape leaves nothing to try to stop the water once it crests over the river banks. New England's Connecticut River is another area Andrews warns may see some high flooding this spring, as there are high water levels in Northeastern snow.

New England has high potential for flooding this spring from deep snowpack. CREDIT: NOAA.

This information is generally agreed upon by NOAA, which held a conference to discuss spring flooding last week. NOAA meteorologists predict that spring flooding will be worse for the northern Plains than it was last year. Specifically, they report that Devils and Stump lakes in North Dakota have a 50 percent chance of rising 2 feet. If that were the case, 20,000 acres of farmland and roads would be flooded.

They are not optimistic about any flooding having positive impacts on drought-stricken areas, however, especially in the Southwest, Great Plains and Florida. They predict drier-than-normal conditions in the West, but a wetter-than-normal spring for the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes regions. Above-average temperatures that are expected for most of the country can also lead to rapid snow melt. Areas along the middle of the Mississippi River have already seen, and will continue to see, minor flooding. - AccuWeather.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up In America - Another Possible Sinkhole In Seffner, Florida Evacuates Two Families!

March 27, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A possible sinkhole had two Seffner families out of their homes Tuesday night.  They were evacuated from a duplex after the floor began to buckle.

Ronnie Rivera, spokesperson for HCFR, said there is no gaping hole, but that the duplex has a buckled floor and there are cracks in the walls.

The duplex, at 5315 Peach Avenue, is about two miles from a sinkhole that swallowed a man last month.

Fire Rescue cleared the scene, and code enforcement is investigating.

The Red Cross is assisting the families - ABC Action News.

WATCH: Possible Sinkhole In Seffner, Florida Evacuates Two Families.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Landslide In Malaysia Forces 300 To Evacuate - Second Hillside Collapse In The Region This Year!

March 27, 2013 - MALAYSIA - About 300 residents of Pangsapuri Beringin in Puchong, here had to vacate their apartment units yesterday when a nearby hillslope collapsed for the second time this year.

The first incident occurred on Feb 19 and residents claimed that repairs were completed late, which resulted in the second landslide about 4.30pm yesterday.

The landslide is also threatening a row of terrace houses near Pangsapuri Beringin. Pic by Saifullizan Tamadi.

They said an official from the Subang Jaya Municipal Council had directed residents of Block B of the apartments to evacuate to a hall nearby.

Resident Siti Zaleha Dalli, 38, described this landslide as even worse than the first one.

"I was told about the incident at about 4.30pm by my son before I noticed that a large part of the hill slope next to the building had collapsed. I was made to understand that a sewage pipe and a water pipe had burst, which aggravated the situation. The landslide was very near my unit," said Siti Zaleha, who expressed disappointment at the slow pace of repairs following the first landslide.

"When such things happen, we cannot sleep peacefully for fear that our lives may be in danger. If it rains, we will be more worried because the soil will sink."

Another resident, L. Vijayan, 31, also expressed disappointment claiming repairs on the temporary retaining wall were a short-term solution.

"About 2am, I came to learn that there was a burst pipe.

"It was raining heavily then, but I did not expect the situation to turn this bad because I thought the temporary retaining wall could sustain the pressure."

A check revealed that a section of the landslide had affected the back of a row of terrace-houses located near Block B.

Assistant Director of Operations of the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department Mohd Sani Harul said there were no casualties.

The cause of the incident was still being investigated.  - NST.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Iceland Prepares For Hekla Volcano - Alert Status Raised After Earthquakes!

March 27, 2013 - ICELAND - The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in April 2010 stranded more than eight million travellers as volcanic ash spread across Europe. Is another volcano about to erupt?

Unusual seismic activity around the Hekla volcano has given Icelandic police the need to declare an “uncertainty level”, its lowest warning.

A series of earthquakes have been recorded in the area. Hikers are advised to stay out of the area, although it is not forbidden at this time.

Hekla has been referred to in legendary tales. It is said that condemned souls travel through it crater on their way to hell.

The Hekla volcano erupts about every 10 years. The last time was in 2000. The smoke, ash, and lava flow continued for almost two weeks.

Hekla stands 4890 feet above sea level and appears to be another majestic snow-capped mountain.

Because of the activity, the aviation alert level has been raised to yellow. - Guardian LV.

WATCH: Eyjafjallajökull Volcano spews clouds of ash paralyzing air traffic in Europe - 2010.

Hekla looms over Iceland at 4,890 feet, its snow-capped top remaining white and stark against the blue sky. Now, this volcano may be getting a little more active. The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police has declared an "uncertainty phase" for Hekla, which is the lowest level of warning for the restless volcano.

Active for centuries, the volcano has made its way into myth and legend. Tales speak of the belief that souls of the condemned travelled through Hekla's crater on their way to Hell. It lies near the southern end of the eastern rift zone and occupies a rift-transform junction. It can remain active along the entire 3.5-mile length of its fissure during its most violent eruptions. It's estimated that the volcano itself has erupted about 20 times since the first settlement of Iceland, and "quiet" periods for the area can range between 16 to 121 years.

The alert status of the active Iceland volcano, Hekla, has been raised after a series of earthquakes.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

The upgrade in the volcano's status is due to the swarm of earthquakes that occurred recently. While they're not necessarily a sign of a pending eruption, scientists say that Hekla is long overdue for one. In recent decades, the volcano has erupted roughly every ten years.

The most recent eruption occurred in 2000 in an explosive event that included lava flows and lasted almost two weeks. In addition, multiple VEI 3 and 4 eruptions have occurred over the past century at Hekla. The biggest eruption occurred in 1104 without warning, ejecting millions of tons of tephra.

The current threat, though, is relatively low. Police are advising people not to hike in the area in order to be cautious, and the Icelandic Meteorological Office has upgraded the aviation alert status for Hekla to Yellow due to the unusual nature of the activity at the volcano. There are no signs of ground deformation or any other indications of an imminent eruption aside from the earthquakes. - Science World Report.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF IN NORTH AMERICA: Thousands Of Dead And Dying Fish Spotted Floating Down Niagara River, Canada And Many Fish Kills Reported Along The Mississippi River, America?!

March 27, 2013 - NORTH AMERICA - Several fish kills have been reported up and down the Mississippi River in our area recently. The Department of Natural Resources and us at KWQC have gotten calls from concerned citizens about this. To most people seeing a bunch of dead fish washed up, like at several areas around Credit Island, might be a little bit alarming. They are gizzard shad fish and you can find them lining the river banks like this in many spots right now. What kills them in high numbers like this is a natural occurrence and all has to do with the temperature.

Many Fish Kills Reported Along The Mississippi River, America.
The silvery-colored Gizzard Shad fish, while abundant, also have a tendency to die-off in large numbers. "They collect in large quantities and ice breaks up and starts flowing. Everyone sees hundreds, thousands, probably millions of fish," said Bernie Schonhoff, Fisheries Biologist with the Iowa DNR.

Schonhoff is with the Fairport Fisheries Management Office in Muscatine County and says it's a seasonal occurrence. But it is something his office fields calls on every single year.

"Everybody says there's millions of fish dying. And unless you know what you're looking for, they'll say they look like crappies or something like that because they are silvery, but they're all gizzard shad," added Schonhoff.

All this is thanks to the weather because shad fish are pretty intolerant to extreme changes in temperatures. This is about as far north as they go and, even here, they aren't well adapted to the climate. Shad populations increase during a series of warm years then are almost eliminated during cold years. The roller coaster temperatures this winter and spring probably contributed to even more dying than usual.

"Could have added up a little bit extra," said Schonhoff, "it's kind of based on the numbers. Usually the younger the year the smaller ones up to six, seven inches."

But other than it being an unsightly and smelly situation, environmental officials say it's not a cause for concern. As it turns out it's mostly just an easy snack for other area wildlife. "Everything eats them, the catfish like them, other fish like them, and birds like them."

Conservation officers say anytime there are multiple species of fish washed up on the shoreline that could be a problem. In those cases they would further investigate a fish kill. - KWQC.

Thousands Of Dead And Dying Fish Spotted Floating Down Niagara River, Canada.

Rick Schaubel couldn’t help but notice what looked like a large build up of ice along the shore of the Welland River during one of his morning walks.

When he got closer Monday morning, he realized it wasn’t ice. Hundreds of dead fish floating belly up lined the shore near the Weightman Bridge in Chippawa.

“I didn’t know what to think,” said the 69-year-old Chippawa resident. “I thought something had been spilled or there was some kind of disease going around.”

The problem isn’t only in Chippawa. People have been reporting dead or dying fish along the shoreline in Fort Erie and as far south as Pennsylvania for weeks.

Thousands were seen listlessly floating or struggling to swim on their side downstream in the Niagara River Monday.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resource, the fish are known as gizzard shad and the “die off” is normal for this time of year.

Lake Erie is the northern-most extent of the gizzard shad’s range, said ministry spokeswoman Jolanta Kowalski. When temperatures drop they become physiologically stressed and many die.

“They die in the winter due to cold stress and when the ice melts they show up on shore,” she said.

She said the massive winter mortality rate is pretty common as the fish is a warm water species. Yet, it’s not uncommon to have similar instances happen throughout the summer with temperature fluctuations.

There shouldn’t be a cause for concern, said Kowalski, as the fish will eventually deteriorate, wash back into the river and be eaten by wildlife.

The Gizzard Shad
  • Of the herring family
  • Gray or silver in colour
  • Adult size: 10 to 15 inches long
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Found in large rivers near the surface
She advised people keep their pets away from any rotting fish.

“It’s just a shame how they are dying right in front of me here, suffering,” Schaubel said, pointing to a group of fish wedged beside a large rock near a Chippawa dock.

“The ones that are alive are wiggling their tails to try and swim back out again, but they’re too weak.”

He said he watched the fish come down the Welland River for about three hours Monday and said the ones that were still alive didn’t last long — about 25 minutes, he estimated.

Another local angler, Rick Bellefontaine, said he wasn’t buying the ministry’s explanation and that he’s reconsidering eating the fish he catches from the river.

“I think for a while I’ll be discouraged. I’ve just never seen so many like this before,” he said.

Niagara Falls Fire Department platoon chief Fred Hall said firefighters inspected different areas of the shoreline and haven’t looked into the matter any further. Kowalski said ministry staff from the Lake Erie unit will be visiting the area Tuesday. - St. Catharines Standard.

WATCH: Thousands Of Dead And Dying Fish Spotted Floating Down Niagara River.

EXTREME WEATHER: Massive Dust Storm On The Arabian Peninsula - Stretches From Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq To Iran!

March 27, 2013 - ARABIAN PENINSULA - On March 24, 2013, a dust storm arose on the Arabian Peninsula, blowing through parts of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq. Dust also stretched across the Persian Gulf toward Iran. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image the same day.

Dust storm in the Arabian Peninsula.

This dust storm was part of a larger pattern of activity, occurring one day after a dust storm in Iraq, and two days after a dust storm in Egypt.

Lee Grenci, a meteorologist at Penn State University, explained that the large-scale atmospheric disturbance moved from west to east across northeastern Africa and the Middle East from March 22–24, 2013. The disturbance occurred at roughly 18,000 feet (5,000 meters) in altitude.

On March 23, 2013, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite observed a thick dust plume extending roughly north-south through the country. Stopping just shy of Iraq’s northern border, the plume clogged skies over Baghdad, and hid Buhayrat ath Tharthar (Lake Tharthar) from the satellite sensor’s view.

Dust storms count among the most common natural hazards in Iraq, as winds loft fine particles into the air from dry river, lake, floodplain, and marsh sediments. Silt-rich soils, which lend material to most of this region’s dust storms, occur over large portions of the country.

Meanwhile, increasing amounts of late-March sunshine heated the land surface and led to an overturning in the atmosphere near the ground, such that upper level winds mixed with weaker winds near the ground. Grenci likened the events to mixing oil and vinegar to make salad dressing.

“Like the salad dressing, the wind profile in the lowest several thousand feet then became more homogeneous, with winds near the Earth’s surface becoming stronger and gustier, which caused the blowing sand and dust.”

A dust storm blew through Egypt on March 22, 2013, obscuring parts of the Nile River and the Gulf of Suez. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image in the afternoon; MODIS on the Terra satellite observed the storm in the morning. In both the morning and afternoon, dust stretched from northwestern Sudan toward northeastern Egypt.

Egypt lies within a broad band of dust-producing terrain that extends from northwestern Africa eastward to Mongolia. Outside of the Nile River Valley, Egypt’s land surface is a vast desert plateau rich in Saharan sand. Less than 3 percent of the land is arable, and less than 1 percent of the land supports permanent crops.

Besides the atmospheric disturbance, the Arabian peninsula had another ingredient necessary for dust storms: sand. Uninhabited sandy deserts comprise most of Saudi Arabia’s land surface, and less than 2 percent of the land is arable. - Earth Observatory.