Thursday, April 18, 2013

THE GREAT DELUGE: Massive Storm System Hits The United States - Severe Thunderstorms, Damaging Winds, Sinkholes, Heavy Rains, Flash Floods, And Tornadoes Lash The Midwest!

April 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A massive storm system carrying potentially severe thunderstorms, damaging winds and possibly even tornadoes was soaking the nation’s midsection on Thursday, with flash floods reported in Chicago and heavy rain expected to cause major flooding along the Mississippi River.

Flooding in the Chicago area – with more than 4 inches of rain reported -- closed major expressways and filled up the city’s underground storm and sewer overflow system.

City engineers were forced to reroute the water system, known as the “deep tunnel” into Lake Michigan, reported. Residents, however, were not expected to see any overflowing of sewers or any impact on the lake, officials said.

Firefighter Jason Kelley and police officer Shannon Vandenheuvel carry children from Barbara Jones' partially submerged car in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday.

A water main broke on Chicago's South Side and the gushing water opened up a sinkhole that swallowed three cars.

Parts of the Edens and Eisenhower expressways in Lake County, Ill., were closed in both directions, the station's website reported

Gov. Pat Quinn declared a state of emergency across Illinois as thousands of people struggled with flood damage even as another wave of wet weather was on the way.

Quinn said a hospital in Morris, Ill., had to be evacuated and two trailer parks severely flooded.

"Heavy rainfall over the past few days has created dangerous flooding in areas across the state," Quinn said, reported.

"Everyone should stay home and off the roads if possible. To ensure safety as these storms continue, people should be alert and avoid flooded areas."

Residents were told to tune in to local TV and radio stations for updated information about any closed roadways or evacuations.

WATCH: NewsNation's Tamron Hall reports on the massive storm which called flash flooding in Chicago.

More than 500 flights were canceled at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport due to the extreme weather, and some trains were delayed. Air travelers were urged to check airline websites or call to confirm whether flights were still planned.

In Midland, Mich., Northwood University canceled classes for the rest of the week because of flooding problems, NBC station WDIV reported.

The Weather Channel's Greg Forbes, a severe weather expert, categorized the storm as a “major/massive flood event” for the Midwest.

Flood watches and warnings were posted on Thursday stretching from northeastern Oklahoma to much of Missouri, northern and central Illinois, southern and central Wisconsin, and parts of Lower Michigan, said.

Flood warnings were issued in some cases for areas already swamped by melting snow.

Seventeen gauges placed along the Mississippi River to monitor the rising water already showed major flooding, Forbes said, and the water was predicted to rise in the next 24 hours in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

WATCH: Heavy rain caused a sinkhole in Chicago that swallowed three cars.'s Dara Brown reports. 

Indeed, the band of predicted extreme weather stretched from northern Michigan to Houston and the Texas coastal area.

States along the Eastern Seaboard were set for heavy rain on Friday, reported. The tornado risk, however, was expected to diminish as the storm moved east.

Still, heavy rain was likely in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area as well as the Atlantic Coast.

A forecast issued late Wednesday by the National Weather Service showed a 40 percent chance that the Red River will top the 2009 record of just under 41 feet.

Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral said he's confident the area will be protected. He said a forecast closer to 44 feet would have made things "a little dicey." - NBC News.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: China Pig And Dog Deaths Prompt Probe Into Factories - 410 Pigs And 122 Dogs Found Dead In Dongtun Village In Yanshi City?!

April 18, 2013 - CHINA - A Chinese village has closed nearby chemical plants after hundreds of pigs and dogs died mysteriously, sparking fears among local residents.

Dead pigs were also found in China's Huangpu river last month.

A total of 410 pigs and 122 dogs were found dead in Dongtun village in Yanshi city, Henan province, officials said.

The deaths were not caused by an epidemic or the new H7N9 bird flu strain, and nearby chemical factories were being investigated, they added.

More than 16,000 dead pigs were pulled from Shanghai's main river last month.

Carcasses are loaded into a van in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province. Photograph: AP.

"Dead animals were found in nearly half of the village. The animals just suddenly died without any warning," a local resident, who only identified herself as Ms Kou, told China's Global Times.

Police are investigating the incident, which many local residents blame on fumes from a nearby chemical plant, Chinese media reported.

Local villagers said that there had been an "extremely strong odour" on Monday morning, state-run news agency Xinhua said.

Just a few of the dead hogs that are floating in the already filthy waters around Shanghai.  AP Photo

Public health concerns have been high in China in recent months.

Last month, more than 16,000 dead pigs were pulled from Huangpu river, which supplies Shanghai with drinking water, and around 1,000 dead ducks were found in a river in Sichuan.

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

A new strain of bird flu has also raised concerns. The H7N9 virus has infected a total of 83 people, killing 17, state media said on Thursday. - BBC.

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

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Earth Changes - 45 Pakistan Districts At High Risk Of Being Hit By Natural Disasters!

April 18, 2013 - PAKISTAN - Forty-five districts in Pakistan are at high risk of being hit by disasters, said Naunehal Shah, the head of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund’s (PPAF) team on disaster management.

A 90-year-old woman, Sabi Bibi, whose home was destroyed in floods that occurred in Sindh in 2010, digs mud to build a house for herself on July 29, 2011, in Khairpur. PHOTO: FILE

“An integrated approach, which includes measures to prevent disaster and to mitigate its impact, needs to be developed,” he added.

He was speaking at the concluding session of a seven-day-long workshop on disaster management organised by PPAF in Hyderabad.

The National Rural Support Programme and three other Sindh-based NGOs, Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP), Badin Rural Development Society (BDRS) and Sindh Agriculture and Forestry Workers Coordinating Organisation (SAFWCO), also assisted in the workshop.

Twenty-eight representatives from 24 NGOs attended the closing session on developing systematic rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations to be able to deal with natural disasters.

Rescuing disaster victims
The six-member team of TRDP, whose research centred on rescue measures, felt that designating responsibilities to smaller teams made the rescue process more efficient.

They had conducted a simulation project in which they had rescued two people from an imaginary flood in a village of Sanghar.

“The operation begins with obtaining the profile of a particular disaster-hit area,” said Nisar Khaskheli, the team’s leader.

“This includes finding out details about its location, the number of households situated in the area and the primary means of income of its residents.”

He advised that disaster management teams should establish a camp in the affected area and should mark out its territory.

“They should then gather all the facts about the magnitude of the disaster and the people trapped in the area.”

He also stressed that rescue teams must be equipped with a variety of tools and machines so that they could help victims “trapped under debris or surrounded by water”.

Providing relief
Dr Veeram Kumar from BRDS’s team spoke about the process of setting temporary camps for people rescued from disasters and providing them basic goods and services.

“Tents, food, water, first aid kits, lavatories and schools are indispensable features of any relief camp,” he said.

He felt that it would take at least 36 hours after any disaster had struck to provide these services to about 1,000 victims.

He also felt that assigning tasks to separate committees of stakeholders increased efficiency.

Rehabilitation process
“The rehabilitation process is planned while keeping the scale of the catastrophe and the livelihoods it has affected in mind,” said Sadiq, who was heading the SAFWCO team.

“It involves de-watering the flooded area, rebuilding homes and roads and setting up education and community centres.” Sadiq felt that this phase had the most enduring impact.

“Rebuilding infrastructure is a holistic approach which includes people’s livelihoods, saving the environment and raising awareness about disaster management,” he explained. 

He also felt that building a drainage system and training people on the use of early warning systems were necessary components of the rehabilitation process.

A number of other experts, including the director of Pakistan Disaster Management Authority, Athar Bahzad Memon, also spoke. - The Express Tribune.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Swarm - Oklahoma Quake Surge Reveals Previously Unknown Fault Line, State Agency Trying To Connect Dots!

April 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A day after 10 mid-scale earthquakes rocked central Oklahoma, a series of smaller quakes shook the area Wednesday, with more likely to come.

Five earthquakes ranging from magnitudes 2.5 to 4.4 occurred in a concentrated region of the state, just northwest of Oklahoma City. In the past 72 hours, 14 earthquakes of 2.5 or greater have originated in the town of Luther.

The largest quake, registering a magnitude 4.4, was "felt throughout large portions of Oklahoma and into Kansas and Missouri," according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Austin Holland, with the agency, says there have likely been many more that were small enough to go largely undetected. According to the survey, the swarm of earthquakes that have occurred since Monday is in the "few hundreds."

The survey reports the earthquakes have occurred along a previously unknown fault. The agency also predicts the quakes aren't over.

No injuries have been reported as a result of any of the quakes, but the recent surge has clearly gotten the attention of government officials.

Oklahoma National Guardsman met with their counterparts from Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas near Braggs Wednesday to conduct emergency earthquake training.

The guardsman simulated a 7.7-magnitude earthquake with the use of specialized equipment, according to the Associated Press.

Austin Holland says his agency is considering every possible reason for the recent swarm of quakes in the state.

Among them, Holland says, is the possibility of man-induced seismic activity. "It's one aspect we're looking at," he said. "Hopefully we'll know a lot more very soon."

Last month, a report from the journal Geology linked oil exploration to a 5.6-magnitude earthquake that rocked Oklahoma in 2010, making it the largest U.S. quake ever to be connected to human interaction and the largest ever in the state.

Seismologists may not know for some time what has caused the influx of earthquakes, but the survey, along with Oklahoma geophysics professor Dr. Katie Keranen, has placed additional earthquake monitoring equipment along the newly hyperactive fault in hopes of getting more answers. - KJRH.

PLANETARY TREMORS: The Wasatch Fault And The West Valley Fault Zone - Double Faults Raise Salt Lake City Mega-Quake Risk!

April 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Two faults bounding Utah's biggest city may combine to produce especially powerful earthquakes, geologists will report in Salt Lake City Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America.

Utah's biggest earthquake fault runs east of Salt Lake City, at the base of the steep Wasatch Mountains. About 75 percent of the state's population lives near the 240-mile-long (385 kilometers) Wasatch Fault, according to the Utah Geological Survey. Its last big earthquake hit in 1600, 247 years before Mormon settlers arrived.

The beautiful Wasatch Range looms over Salt Lake City, Utah. USGS.

To the west, in urban Salt Lake City, a 4-mile-wide (6 km) zone of fault segments called the West Valley Fault Zone stretches north-northwest for 9 miles (14 km) beneath the valley.

Trenches along a portion of the West Valley Fault Zone, near Salt Lake City's airport, reveal that both the West Valley and Wasatch faults seem to rupture simultaneously during earthquakes, scientists will report at the meeting.

While dating techniques can't confirm that the earthquakes were synchronous, instead of within a few days, month or years, modeling suggests they strike at the same time, said Christopher DuRoss, study co-author and a geologist at the Utah Geological Survey.

"Based on models of how the crust would behave, we expect the West Valley Fault Zone would rupture instantaneously with the Salt Lake City segment," DuRoss told OurAmazingPlanet.

Two faults, more shakingIf both fault zones ruptured during an earthquake, it would mean more shaking for Salt Lake City, which sits atop soft lake sediments, the kind that experience liquefaction during severe earthquakes. In the 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake, liquefaction destroyed the city's downtown core. In Salt Lake City, planners are also concerned about the risk of flooding from waves in the Great Salt Lake and landslides in mountain canyons during a major earthquake.

Residents of Salt Lake will get a better picture of their risk when the Utah Geological Survey and U.S. Geological Survey release updated hazard maps in 2014, which are based on today's presentation and other recent work, DuRoss said.

The Wasatch and West Valley fault zones near Salt Lake City may rupture at the same time, new research reveals.
Mike Hylland / Utah Geological Survey.

The Wasatch Fault is divided into 10 segments, which mostly act independently, researchers think. The 25-mile-long (40 km) Salt Lake City segment is thought to be one of the most hazardous, with the probability of a large quake (magnitude 7.0) put at 16.5 percent in the next 100 years, according to the Utah Geological Survey. However, that earthquake forecast is now out-of-date, thanks to new research, and will be updated next year by the Working Group on Utah Earthquake Probabilities, DuRoss said.

Trenches find big quakesDuRoss and study co-author Michael Hylland looked at the link between the Wasatch Fault and the West Valley Fault Zone with trenches dug near the Salt Lake City airport, where the shrinking Great Salt Lake has exposed West Valley fault traces. For the Wasatch fault, the team dug new trenches near the University of Utah.

Disturbed sediment layers indicate four big earthquakes on the West Valley Fault broke ground in the past — 15,700, 13,000, 12,300 and 5,500 years ago, said Hylland, also a geologist at the Utah Geological Survey. Radiocarbon and optical luminescence dating ties the broken ground to earthquake records in trenches along the Salt Lake City section of the Wasatch Fault.

More complete sediment records exist for the Salt Lake City section of the Wasatch Fault, with nine prehistoric temblors found, Hylland said.The last big earthquake on the Salt Lake City segment was 1,400 years ago. The quakes hit every 1,300 to 1,500 years, researchers think.

"From what we can see, it looks like the frequency is about the same" on the two fault zones, Hylland told OurAmazingPlanet. "What it really comes down to is 'how active is the Salt Lake City segment?'" Hylland said. "That's the real driver of the hazard for Salt Lake Valley."

The separate faults likely merge into a single fault deep beneath the valley, Hylland said. The West Valley Fault angles to the east, and the Wasatch Fault dips to the west.

Movement on both faults is up-down. They are both normal faults, sliding one block of the Earth's crust away from another block during an earthquake. - NBC News.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Sheep Death Toll Climbs Over 20,000 In Northern Ireland - Almost 800 Farms Affected!

April 18, 2013 - IRELAND - More than 20,000 sheep were lost in the recent snow blizzard, and it may be next month before all the dead animals are found and counted.

Many farmers faced serious dangers as they tried to reach their animals.

The news emerged at a meeting of the agriculture committee at Stormont.

It is estimated that almost 800 farms were affected by the severe snow storm.

With snow still lying in some high parts of Northern Ireland, dead animals are still being recovered, but the committee heard that one sheep was found alive 25 days after the blizzard.

An official from the Department of Agriculture told the committee that as of 14: BST on Tuesday, the number of dead animals collected was:
  • 20,179 sheep (including 15,195 lambs)
  • 603 cattle
In total, approximately 790 farms were affected.

A number of farmers from the National Sheep Association gave evidence to the committee.

They said it would be next month before all the animals could be collected because of the snow.

One veteran farmer, John Blaney, said: "It's the slowest thaw I can remember." - BBC.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Unrest - Iran Hit By Second Earthquake In Days!

April 18, 2013 - IRAN - A 5.2-magnitude earthquake hit northwestern Iran on Thursday, only days after a deadly temblor struck near the border with Pakistan, media reported citing the seismological centre at Tehran University.

A Pakistani earthquake survivor walks past a collapsed house in Baluchistan province on April 18, 2013. A 5.2-magnitude earthquake has hit northwestern Iran, only days after a deadly temblor struck near the border with Pakistan, media reported citing the seismological centre at Tehran University.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in the latest quake which struck at 3:09 pm (1039 GMT), at a depth of eight kilometres (around five miles), in the town of Tassouj.

"So far there are no reports of damage... We are in touch with the prefect of Tassouj and local authorities stand ready," to deal with any crisis, ISNA news agency reported quoting Khalil Saiie, a local official from East Azerbaijan province.

A Red Crescent official, also quoted by ISNA, said there was no immediate information about any casualties in Tassouj, or in the towns of Maragheh and Shabestar which also felt the quake. It was followed by two low-intensity aftershocks.

Tassouj is located less than 100 kilometres from the provincial capital Tabriz, where the quake was also felt.

On Tuesday, a huge earthquake measuring 7.8 struck southeastern Iran killing a woman and injuring more than a dozen other people. At least 40 people were killed across the border in Pakistan where hundreds of mud homes were levelled.

Iran sits astride several major fault lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes, some of which have been devastating.

Tuesday's earthquake was the strongest to hit Iran since 1957.

A double earthquake, one measuring 6.2 and the other 6.0, struck northwestern Iran last August, killing more than 300 people and injuring 3,000.

In December 2003, a massive quake struck the southern city of Bam. It killed 26,271 people -- about a quarter of the population -- and destroyed the city's ancient mud-built citadel. - France 24.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For April 18, 2013 - New Lava Flow And Explosive Activity At Stromboli; 11th Paroxysm On Etna's Southeast Crater; Emissions Of Ash And Gas Plume At Popocatépetl; Strong Degassing And Ash Venting Creates 1,000 Metres High Plume At Nevado del Ruiz!

April 18, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

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

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): The activity continued throughout the night and the lava flow has reached the sea at the base of the Sciara del Fuoco. At the moment, the new flow has decreased but remains weakly active and tremor elevated.

The new lava flow is well alimented and has reached several hundred meters down on the Sciara del Fuoco. Explosive activity continues as well.

Webcam image of the new lava flow on Stromboli this evening.

The new lava flow on the upper Sciara del Fuoco this evening.

A new larger lava flow from the NE vent has started this afternoon to descend the Sciara del Fuoco, accompanied by glowing rockfalls and strong tremor. The eruption was preceded by very large strombolian explosions during the morning.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): The 11th paroxysm from the New SE crater occurred as expected today. As during the previous eruption, the build-up phase with increasing strombolian activity was relatively long. The peak phase itself when activity culminated in lava fountains was comparably short.

Current thermal webcam image of the New SE crater (INGV Catania).

Strombolian activity during the night (Radiostudio7 webcam).

Current tremor signal (ESLN station, INGV Catania).

It seems likely that another paroxysm is in the making at the New SE crater: Strombolian explosions have continued throughout the night and this morning, and have been intensifying. Lava seems to have appeared at several vents on the fissure cutting through the New SE crater and the tremor signal is steeply rising.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico):  Activity has dropped a bit but remains essentially unchanged. CENPRED reported 1-2 emissions of steam and minor ash amounts per hour today, a steam and gas plume rising up to 1 km as well as continuing glow at the crater.

Current seismic recording from Nevado del Ruiz (OLL station, INGEOMINAS).

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia):  Strong degassing and minor ash venting continue creating a plume reaching 1000 m above the crater today. The seismic swarm has decreased in strength, but goes on.

- Volcano Discovery.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Code 3 Alert Issued; Elevated Seismic Activity As Burp And Slough-In At The Hole, Water Continues To Move; Subsurface Event Is Not Over!

April 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The following constitutes the latest updates from the Assumption Parish Police Jury about the giant Louisiana sinkhole:

Photo: On The Wings Of Care.

There was a “burp” within the sinkhole this morning as well as a slough in on the east side (of which measurements are not yet available). Water in the sinkhole continues to move which is an indication that this event is not over.

The installation of the seismic equipment and implementation of the code system are essential in indicating that events like this will happen before they actually do. Over the last three days, the seismic equipment used in the monitoring process showed signs that prompted officials to heighten the code level in the sinkhole to Code 3 (explanation below). Dr. Horton and Dr. Hecox, both diligently observing the monitoring process, were able to raise the code level in prediction of such an event as this.

Code 1: Minimal to no seismic activity around/below sinkhole; 10 or fewer of the sharp seismic signals associated with rock movement, called mini-earthquakes (MEQs) or the longer signals associated with gas or liquid movement, called Very Long Periods (VLPs) within 24-hour period; allows work on sinkhole and inside berm area to continue

Code 2: Restricts work directly on the sinkhole, indicates some increased seismic activity around/below sinkhole but not at a level that indicates imminent threat of sloughing or movement below sinkhole (10 to 50 MEQs or VLPs in 24 hours)

Code 3: Restricts all work inside the containment berm, indicates seismic activity has elevated to a point similar to what has been seen in past monitoring prior to a sloughing on the shore or movement beneath sinkhole (More than 50 MEQs or VLPs in 24 hours).
- Assumption Parish Police Jury.

The helicorder continues to show anomalous seismic activity. Please see the following images:

Graphs provided courtesy of the University of Memphis' Center for Earthquake Research and Information. See additional images HERE.

EXTREME WEATHER: Winter Woes Across America In Spring - Winter Storm Yogi Bears Down On Upper Midwest, Bringing 60+ MPH Winds And Blinding Snow; Heavy Snow In Colorado, Wyoming And Nebraska, Closes Interstates; Flooding Risk Continues From Missouri To Michigan!

April 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Winter Storm Yogi will move across the Upper Midwest Thursday into early Friday after dumping snow on the Rockies and the adjacent High Plains the last couple of days.

Winter Storm Yogi Bears Down On Upper Midwest.
Snow or rain changing to snow will spread from out of central Nebraska to eastern South Dakota, far southeast North Dakota, northwest Iowa, Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the western U.P. of Michigan Thursday into early Friday. Some of the heaviest snowfall totals (6 to 12 inches) will be found in a narrow zone from southwest Minnesota to northeast Minnesota, northwest Wisconsin and the western U.P. of Michigan.

WATCH: More April Snow On The Way.

WATCH: Flood Threat From Snow Melt.

In the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro, we expect rain changing to snow in the Thursday/Thursday night timeframe. Generally 3 to 8 inches of snow are expected Thursday night into Friday morning with amounts in the higher end of this range likely to be found on the northwest side of the metro area. We'll also have a threat of severe storms and flooding on the warm side of Winter Storm Yogi. In general, we'll be watching a corridor from the southern Great Lakes to the Ohio Valley and middle/lower-Mississippi Valley. - TWC.

Heavy Snow In Colorado, Wyoming And Nebraska.
Yet another round of disruptive winter weather is impacting portions of the Rockies and northern Plains states. Persistent heavy snow on Tuesday was centered across southeastern Wyoming, far western Nebraska and the Foothills north and west of the Denver area.  Interstate 80 remained closed early Wednesday morning between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyo., while much of Interstate 25 between Cheyenne and Casper, Wyo., was closed as well. Travel will remain difficult in these areas through Wednesday with heavy snow along with blowing and drifting snow.

While snow shifted north of the Denver area on Tuesday, a second round of snow clobbered Denver during the day Wednesday. While the snow winds down around Denver Wednesday night, it will pick up in a northeasterly swath bisecting the northern Plains and reaching into the Upper Midwest into Thursday.

4:21 a.m. MDT Thursday: The Nebraska Department of Roads website shows that most of the state's roadways, including most sections of I-80, are being listed as needing "extreme caution" for travel. Road cameras show many snowy highways.
3:26 a.m. MDT Thursday: Snow showers shifted from central Minnesota up towards Duluth, accumulating 1.5 inches of snow.
11:55 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Snow continued to fall in southeastern Colorado.
9:45 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Elderado Springs, Colo. reported an impressive 11 inches from the storm.
9:27 p.m. MDT Wednesday: A total of 7 inches of snow was reported in Boulder, Colorado with snow still falling heavily. So far for the month of April, 52.8 inches has been recorded in Boulder.
8:15 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Today, 8.6 inches of snow has fallen in Genesee, Colorado. This brings the snow total since Monday morning up to 25.0 inches.
7:35 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Snowfall of 4.8 inches has been reported 6 miles east of Monument, Colo.
7:04 p.m. MDT Wednesday: A snowfall total of 5.7 inches has been reported near Swink, Colo.
6:11 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Heavy snow near Swink, Colo., has produced 4.2 inches in only two hours. The heavy snow continues to fall.
4:47 p.m. MDT Wednesday: The snowfall 9 miles north, northwest of Creighton, S.D., is 4 inches so far.
3:40 p.m. MDT Wednesday: All northbound lanes of I-25 at the Wellington-Wyoming border in Colorado have been reopened.
3:27 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Traffic moving along on the snowy exit 203 on I-70 in Colorado.

3:10 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Snowfall of 4 inches was reported 2 miles northeast of Fort Collins, Colo. They have a total of 18 inches of snow since Monday.
2:58 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Southwest of Wheatland, Wyo., the snow total for this storm was reported to be 20 inches of noon.
2:35 p.m. MDT Wednesday: The eastbound lanes of I-70 at mile marker 167 are now open following an earlier closure due to snow and an accident.
2:27 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Westbound I-70 at the Copper Mountain exit was closed due to snow and multiple accidents.
1:50 p.m. MDT Wednesday: I-25 remains closed northbound and southbound from Wellington, Colo., to the Wyoming border due to adverse weather conditions.
1:37 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Below is the latest traffic camera shot of Interstate 80 west at the border of Wyoming, courtesy of Nebraska 511.

1:34 p.m. MDT Wednesday: Interstate 80 is closed from Sydney, Neb., to the border of Wyoming.
1:16 p.m. MDT Wednesday: At least 7 inches of snow was reported in Meeker, Colo., over the last 24 hours.
11:51 a.m. MDT Wednesday: The eastbound lanes of I-70 at mile marker 167 is closed due to snow and an accident. Colorado Department of Transportation advises travelers to use US-6 as an alternate route.
11:32 a.m. MDT Wednesday: Parts of Colorado have already seen over 4 inches of snow in under two hours. Fremont County is reporting 4.5 inches.
11:00 a.m. MDT Wednesday: Snow is falling at a rate of 3 inches per hour in Montrose, Colo.
10:48 a.m. MDT Wednesday: Berthoud Pass on Highway 40, west of Denver, is almost entirely snow covered at this time. Exercise extreme caution if traveling.

9:17 a.m. MDT Wednesday: Snow and freezing rain are ramping up in the Denver area. Visibility is down to 1/2 of a mile at Denver International Airport. Click here for radar
7:30 a.m. MDT Wednesday: Areas around Grand Junction, Colo., are already reporting 7 inches of snow.
5:42 a.m. MDT Wednesday: The South Dakota Department of Transportation lists most of the state's highways as slippery from ice, snow and water.
4:30 a.m. MDT Wednesday: Meanwhile, the same storm is causing severe weather on the southern side of the system. Hail, ranging from the size of a pea to the size of a penny, covered the ground up to an inch deep in Hastings, Neb. It fell for about five minutes.
3:53 a.m. MDT Wednesday: Several Wyoming roads have been closed due to winter conditions, including portions of I-80 and I-25. Many other roads and highways throughout the state that are not yet closed outright are listed as "No Unnecessary Travel."
2:30 a.m. MDT Wednesday: Light snow has been falling around the Denver area over the past couple of hours. Traffic cameras in the city indicate that the main roads are just wet.
2:20 a.m. MDT Wednesday: A steady snow is now falling across much of South Dakota, from Rapid City through Pierre and up to Aberdeen.
1:20 a.m. MDT Wednesday: Officially, a record 5.4 inches of snow fell in Cheyenne, Wyo. on Tuesday, breaking the old daily snowfall record of 4.5 inches set in 1940. This is the second straight day that a record was set, as a record 6.9 inches fell on Monday. The city has now had 22.3 inches of snow so far this month, well above the month to date average of 6.3 inches.
12:15 a.m. MDT Wednesday: 9 inches of snow has been reported in the Cheyenne, Wyo., area. Interstate 80 west of Cheyenne and Interstate 25 north of the city both remain closed.
10:30 p.m. MDT Tuesday: Reports of 18 to 24 inches of snow are coming in over the past 36 hours across the high terrain of the Sierra Madre Range around Encampment, Wyo.
9:00 p.m. MDT Tuesday: Over a foot of snow has fallen in Medicine Bow, Wyo., with drifts reported to be upwards of 5 feet. While winds have diminished a bit from earlier in the evening, blowing and drifting snow will continue to be a problem into Wednesday morning.
8:30 p.m. MDT Tuesday: There have been numerous reports of 6 to 12 inches of snow across southeastern Wyoming. - AccuWeather.

 Flooding Risk Continues From Missouri To Michigan.
The latest in a series of storms will raise flooding concerns for part of the Midwest into the end of the week.  Last year, much of the Midwest was bracing for a rough ride with building heat and drought.  In 2011, the story was record-challenging flooding.  This year, concerns have again flipped to flooding. Areas with an ongoing or developing flood potential extend from portions of Arkansas and Missouri to Michigan.  There is an elevated risk of flash, urban and small stream flooding problems from Missouri to Illinois, southern Wisconsin and lower Michigan through Thursday night.  Late winter and early spring storms have made up for snow and rain deficits, pushing streams to bank full and have major rivers running well above their near-record lows from the start of the year.

There have already been some flooding incidents and more are possible over the next couple of weeks.  Factoring in the rain that fell to start the week, and what may fall through the balance of the week, some locations may rack up 3 to 6 inches of rain during the period from Monday through Friday.

This amount of rain will be enough to push some streams and rivers out of their banks. Flooding is possible along some unprotected areas.  Some of the rivers that may have flooding problems include the Illinois in Illinois, the Wabash in Indiana and Illinois, the Grand in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and the Rock in Wisconsin.  According to Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "Chicago had less rain from June 1 to July 31, 2012 than they had since the current storm began with O'Hare Airport picking up 5.63 inches during the 72-hour period ending at 8:00 a.m. CDT, Thurs."  During the two-month period in 2012, 4.56 inches of rain fell at O'Hare.

Minor flooding is also forecast along portions of the upper Mississippi River.  Flooding along the Red River (of the North) is contingent upon how quickly existing snow cover melts over the next few weeks. If melting snow is accompanied by rain and sudden warmth, major flooding is possible in this basin. The combination of lingering chill and now frequent rainfall has spring planting well behind last year's pace. However, many farmers will gladly trade extreme drought all season long with minor flooding problems early in the season.  The persistent rainfall and recent snowfall in the region will work to help add water to the Great and lesser lakes and reservoirs in the region. - AccuWeather.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: "Look At This, This Neighborhood Is In Danger" - Massive Sinkhole Swallows Up Three Cars In Chicago's South Deering!

April 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - One person was hospitalized after a sinkhole swallowed three cars in the South Deering neighborhood on the Southeast Side this morning.

A sinkhole on the Southeast side of Chicago swallowed three cars this morning, one of which was caught on tape. (WGN-TV)

The person was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious-to-critical condition, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

Witnesses said the hole opened up around 5 a.m. at 9600 South Houston Avenue, quickly growing from about 20 feet to about 40 feet. First two cars slid in, then a third as the hole widened, witnesses said. A fourth vehicle was towed from the edge as it was about to fall inside, witnesses said.

The man who was injured was trying to drive his car around the hole when the road gave way, according to witnesses. The man suffered minor head injuries.

Ola Oni said she was about to leave for work at 5 a.m. but had not gotten in her car yet when it suddenly fell into the hole.

"It could have happened to me, I am lucky, I'm happy," Oni said. "In this kind of neighborhood, I don't think this should happen."

She gestured toward the hole. "Look at this, this neighborhood is in danger."

The sinkhole opened up after a water main broke, according to Tom LaPorte, spokesman for the Water Department.

The heavy rain could have contributed to the break of the cast iron pipe that dates back to 1915, he said. Officials are looking at the age of the main as well as weather conditions. - Chicago Tribune.

WATCH: Massive Sinkhole Swallows Up Three Cars In Chicago.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Yellowstone's Volcano Bigger Than Thought - The Magma Reservoir Is At Least 50 Percent Larger Than Previously Imaged!

April 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Yellowstone's underground volcanic plumbing is bigger and better connected than scientists thought, researchers reported here today (April 17) at the Seismological Society of America's annual meeting.

"We are getting a much better understanding of the volcanic system of Yellowstone," said Jamie Farrell, a seismology graduate student at the University of Utah. "The magma reservoir is at least 50 percent larger than previously imaged."

Knowing the volume of molten magma beneath Yellowstone is important for estimating the size of future eruptions, Farrell told OurAmazingPlanet.

Yellowstone is an active volcano. Surface features such as geysers and hot springs are direct results of the region's underlying volcanism.
CREDIT: National Park Service

Supervolcano trail
Geologists believe Yellowstone sits over a hotspot, a plume of superheated rock rising from Earth's mantle. As North America slowly drifted over the hotspot, the Yellowstone plume punched through the continent's crust, leaving a bread-crumb-like trail of calderas created by massive volcanic eruptions along Idaho's Snake River Plain, leading straight to Yellowstone. The last caldera eruption was 640,000 years ago. Smaller eruptions occurred in between and after the big blasts, most recently about 70,000 years ago.

The magma chamber seen in the new study fed these smaller eruptions and is the source of the park's amazing hydrothermal springs and geysers. It also creates the surface uplift seen in the park, said Bob Smith, a seismologist at the University of Utah and author of a related study presented at the meeting.

The famous Old Faithful Geyser is an example of the geothermal activity generated by the Yellowstone supervolcano (Source: ziggymaj/iStockphoto)

The volcanic plume of partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. Yellow and red indicate higher conductivity, green and blue indicate lower conductivity. Made by University of Utah geophysicists and computer scientists, this is the first large-scale 'geoelectric' image of the Yellowstone hotspot.

"This crustal magma body is a little dimple that creates the uplift," Smith said. "It's like putting your finger under a rubber membrane and pushing it up and the sides expand."

A hot spring at Yellowstone National Park. The super volcano that lurks below Yellowstone has blown its top three times in the past 2 million years. Jason Maehl.

Clearer picture
A clearer picture of Yellowstone's shallow magma chamber emerged from earthquakes, whose waves change speed when they travel through molten or solid rock. Farrell analyzed nearby earthquakes to build a picture of the magma chamber.

The underground magma resembles a mutant banana, with a knobby, bulbous end poking up toward the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park, and the rest of the tubular fruit angling shallowly southwest. It's a single connected chamber, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) long, 18 miles (30 km) wide, and 3 to 7 miles (5 to 12 km) deep.

Scientists have updated this image of Yellowstone volcano's underground magma chamber. Instead of two big yellow blobs, they have a clearer picture that looks like a knobby banana.
CREDIT: Jamie Farrell, University of Utah

Previously, researchers had thought the magma beneath Yellowstone was in separate blobs, not a continuous pocket.

The shallowest magma, in the northeast, also matches up with the park's most intense hydrothermal activity, Farrell said. The new study is the best view yet of this zone, which lies outside the youngest caldera rim.
Additional molten rock, not imaged in this study, also exists deeper beneath Yellowstone, scientists think. - Yahoo.

TERRORISM, ACCIDENT OR FALSE FLAG EVENT: Massive Explosion In Texas - Emergency Crews Called To Blast Site At Fertilizer Plant, Numerous Injuries, Multiple Ambulances Have Been Requested, Several Buildings Destroyed, 60 To 70 Dead, People Trapped In Nursing Home, Looked Like A War Zone,...!

April 18, 2013 - UNITED STATES - West EMS Director Dr. George Smith says as many as 60 or 70 people died and at least 100 were injured Wednesday night in a fertilizer plant explosion in West. A rescuer earlier said he knew of five deaths. West Mayor Tommy Muska said at a news conference however, that he doesn't yet know how many people were hurt or killed in the blast explosion. He said there was a fire at the West Fertilizer plant before the explosion. 

Meanwhile, emergency crews were pulling back late Wednesday night because of concerns about the possibility of a second explosion.  Emergency crews from throughout Central Texas responded just before 8 p.m. Wednesday after the first explosion at the plant in the small town north of Waco.  The explosion was reported at around 7:50 p.m. in a frantic radio call from the scene of the fire at West Fertilizer at 1471 Jerry Mashek Dr. just off Interstate 35. 

The fire started in an anhydrous ammonia tank and spread to the building, authorities said.  The resulting explosion spread the fire to the Middle School and to a nearby nursing home.  The blast was felt throughout the city and as far away as Hillsboro, Whitney and Blum.  Most of the injuries resulted from debris being thrown from the blast, glass, doors and other shrapnel, authorities said.  Everyone within one mile of the fire was ordered to evacuate.

A house set on fire by the blast. (Courtesy photo)

(Photo courtesy of Kasey Murphy)

Several buildings were reported destroyed and a nearby nursing home was damaged.

There were reports that people were trapped in the nursing home and in an apartment building.

Scanner traffic indicated that some residents of both the nursing home and apartment building were severely injured.

Children are among the victims, according to reports from the scene.

Two children were reported to be trapped on the second floor of the damaged apartment complex.

View of the smoke from Abbott. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Gibson)

Fire at a grain company in West. (Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Ryan)

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said the area looked like a war zone.

He could not say whether there were any deaths and did not know how many people were injured.

Department of Public Safety troopers transported some victims to hospitals in patrol cars, said Gayle Scarbrough at the DPS Communications Center in Waco.

A triage area was established at the intersection of Haven and North Reagan Streets, but it was later moved to Marable Street and Meadow Drive because of the potentially toxic smoke from the fire.

As many as a dozen helicopters were sent to the area and were landing at West High School stadium.

A number of buildings were reported to be burning, some in residential areas and evacuations were underway.

(Photo by Matt Howerton)

(Photo by Lee Ann Ryan)

Authorities were going door-to-door checking residences in the area.

West Middle School was one of the buildings reported to be on fire.

Injured victims were being taken to area hospitals.

An officer was dispatched to provide crowd control at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, which issued a call to all staffers to report.

The explosion knocked out power to a large area of the community.

Oncor’s online outage site showed more than a thousand customers without power. Oncor Outage Website

Interstate 35 remained open, but a number of emergency vehicles were on the highway headed to West and from West to hospitals.

Fire crews from virtually every community in the area headed to the scene.

Waco firefighters and the department’s hazmat team were among the first to respond.

(Photo by Matt Howerton)

Ambulances staged at West High School stadium. (Photo by John Carroll)

The Killeen Fire Department was sending its hazmat team and 10 firefighters to assist.

A woman who was passing through West on Interstate 35 at the time of the explosion said she and her boyfriend saw a fireball 100-feet wide shoot into the air.

A man who lives 15 miles northwest of Hillsboro felt the concussion from the explosion.

Army Sgt. Rocky J. Havens said in an e-mail he felt the shock in Italy, north of Hillsboro.

Tonya Harris of Groesbeck said in an e-mail she heard the explosion.

“My husband and l were cleaning up the kitchen after supper, and heard what we thought was someone running into our house. It shook our windows and doors. We immediately ran outside looking for the worst,” she said.

Crystal Dahlman of Blum said in an e-mail, “the explosion shook and rumbled my house worse than thunder.”

Brad Smith of Waxahachie said he and his wife heard what sounded like a thunderclap.

Ambulances at West High School stadium. (Photo by Matt Howerton)

The first of the injured arriving at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco. (Photo by Nichole Perez)

Lydia Zimmerman of Bynum was working in the garden with her husband and daughter at the time of the explosion.

“It sounded like three bombs going off very close to us,” she said.

Gulf war veteran Paul L. Manigrasso felt the blast in Waxahachie.

“Based on my naval experience...we knew immediately what it was, but cannot believe it occurred 40 miles away,” he said.

Chris Moore was at a Wednesday night prayer service in Navarro Mills about 35 miles from West.

He said the blast rocked the church. “We are praying for our neighbors in West right now,” he said. - KWTX.

WATCH: Explosion caught on camera.

WATCH: Close-Up Footage Of Texas fertilizer plant explosion.

WATCH: Explosion registered as earthquake, many buildings leveled.