Thursday, May 23, 2013

EXTREME WEATHER: America Under Attack - Oklahoma At Risk Of More Tornadoes As Storm Threaten Much Of The United States!

May 23, 2013 - UNITED STATESThunderstorms -- bringing large hail and the chance of "a tornado or two" -- were expected to hit central and southwestern Oklahoma and parts of Texas Thursday as bad weather continued to hit the Plains.

Oklahoma At Risk Of More Tornadoes.
A pair of lightning bolts are seen striking the ground as a line of thunderstorms passes over Tyler, Texas.
Dr. Scott M. Lieberman / AP

The National Weather Service published a map showing much of the U.S. had a “slight risk” of severe thunderstorms. The risk area extended from Texas and Florida to New England and the Great Lakes and from Texas up to Montana and Washington.

“The activity is expected to be far less significant than the outbreak earlier this week, but hail could be particularly large in northwest Texas and western Oklahoma,” the weather service said.

In its outlook for Thursday posted at 1:52 a.m. ET, the weather service said that it expected that storms would develop early Thursday across northwestern Texas and into southwestern and central Oklahoma.

“Primary threat will be very large hail. A tornado or two may also be possible especially during the early evening,” it added.

In the Northeast, the weather service said “storms may undergo a gradual intensification” with a chance of “mainly isolated damaging wind.”

“Any severe threat should diminish by early evening,” it said.

Parts of Massachusetts were hit by severe storms on Wednesday evening that at one point prompted the weather service to issue a tornado warning. There were no reports of one touching down. - NBC News.

WATCH: Today's Storm Threat.

Severe thunderstorms will fire up across northern Texas and southwestern Oklahoma through early Thursday night as a disturbance moves out of New Mexico. Explosive development in the region can produce some tornadoes.

A stubborn front slicing northwest to southeast across central Oklahoma was already responsible for severe thunderstorms near the tornado-ravaged city of Moore, Okla., early Thursday morning.

South of the front, heat and humidity will build across southwestern Oklahoma and northwestern Texas. A disturbance will emerge from New Mexico later Thursday into this heat and humidity, creating a volatile situation.

"There will be explosive development this afternoon and evening from the Texas Panhandle to southwestern Oklahoma," Expert Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. "We expect tornadoes to threaten this region along with damaging winds and hail," Rayno added.

Amarillo, Lubbock, Childress, and Wichita Falls will be among a host of other cities in northern Texas that will be threatened by these storms. The threat will extend into Lawton and Altus, Okla., as well.

"Deep moisture funneling into the region is a significant factor for this severe threat," Expert Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said. "The deep moisture will contribute to flash flooding as well," Anderson added.

Oklahoma City and Moore will be on the fringe of the severe weather, but the greatest threat will remain well southwest of these cities.

While a few severe thunderstorms will persist later Thursday night, flash flooding will become predominant threat. The loss of daytime heating will contribute to fewer severe thunderstorms.

Lingering warmth and humidity will lead to additional thunderstorms across the aforementioned areas into the Memorial Day weekend, but the severe threat will be significantly lower. Unfortunately, these thunderstorms will slow cleanup efforts ongoing in Moore, Okla. - AccuWeather.

Flash Floods Hit The Greater Oklahoma City Metro Area.
A severe, slow-moving storm has hit the Greater Oklahoma City Metro Area. Several roads are closed and more are expected to be closed. According to a May 23 report by KWTV Channel 9 News in Oklahoma City, roads in both Oklahoma City and Norman have been closed.

According to live reports by KWTV Channel 9 News, cars are currently stuck in water on the streets of Mustang. Mustang is southwest of Oklahoma City and northwest of Moore. Those live reports are also showing streets flooding in Bethany, which is northwest of Oklahoma City and Moore.

The Greater Oklahoma City Metro Area is experiencing flash floods. Credit: Emma Riley Sutton

The Greater Oklahoma City Metro Area is experiencing flash floods. Credit: Emma Riley Sutton

The Greater Oklahoma City Metro Area is experiencing flash floods. Credit: Emma Riley Sutton

Moore, which is between Oklahoma City and Norman, is also being hit with the storm. Moore is the city that was struck by the EF5 tornado on Monday. Recovery and relief efforts in Moore are being severely hindered, if not completely stopped, due to this latest storm.

The severe weather keeps coming. There is a risk of more severe weather later today. In those expected severe storms, 70 mph winds are possible as well as tennis ball-size hail. It is unknown if tornadoes will be included in the expected severe storms. - Examiner.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful Magnitude 7.4 And 6.6 Earthquakes Strike The Tonga Region - USGS Indicates That It Ruptured A Fault Within The Subducting Pacific Lithosphere!

May 23, 2013 - TONGAAccording to the US Geological Survey (USGS), within the space of a couple hours, the Tonga archipelago was rocked by three large earthquakes. The first was a powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake, which struck 255 kilometres (158 miles) southwest of Tonga early Friday.

USGS earthquake location.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

The under-sea quake struck at 5:19 a.m. (1719 GMT Thursday) and sparked a tsunami alert, although no damage was expected due to its depth of 171 kilometres, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The earthquake, centred 282 kilometers southwest of Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa, was followed four hours later by a second powerful 6.6 tremor 84 kilometres northwest of the town.

The second quake, at a depth of 103 kilometers, also generated a tsunami warning.

USGS earthquake damage estimates.

USGS earthquake population exposure.

“A destructive tsunami was not generated based on earthquake and historical tsunami data,” the center said of each quake.

Several minutes later, a third quake measuring 5.0 magnitude hit 80 kilometres northwest of Nuku`alofa, with a depth of 153.5 kilometres.

The three quakes come 12 days after a similar 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck the area, at a depth of 205 kilometers.

Tonga, almost 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) northeast of New Zealand, lies on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where continental plates collide causing frequent seismic activity. - Inquirer News.

Tectonic Summary.
The May 23, 2013 Mw 7.4 earthquake southwest of Vaini, Tonga, occurred as a result of normal faulting at a depth of approximately 170 km. At the location of this earthquake, the Pacific and Australia plates are converging at a rate of approximately 73 mm/yr in an east-west direction, resulting in the westward subduction of the Pacific plate beneath Tonga at the Tonga-Kermadec trench. The depth and faulting mechanism of the May 23rd earthquake indicate it ruptured a fault within the subducting Pacific lithosphere rather than on the shallower thrust interface between the two plates.

The Tonga-Kermadec arc has frequent moderate-to-large earthquakes, and has hosted over a dozen M6.5+ earthquakes within 500 km of the May 23rd earthquake over the past 40 years. Most of these also occurred at intermediate depths; the largest was an Mw 7.7 earthquake in October of 1997, approximately 110 km to the north-northeast of the May 23 2013 event. None are known to have caused significant damage. Intermediate-depth (70-300 km) and deep-focus (depth > 300 km) earthquakes are distinguished from shallow earthquakes (0-70 km) by the nature of their tectonic setting, and are in general less hazardous than their shallow counterparts, though they may be felt at great distances from their epicenters. The Tonga-Kermadec slab in the region of the May 23 2013 earthquake is seismically active to depths of over 650 km.

Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate.
The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults' strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (>120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30°S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15°S, where the D'Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D'Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D'Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake "doublet". - USGS.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For May 23, 2013 - Updates On Stromboli, Pavlof, Santiaguito, Santa María, Etna, Pacaya, Fuego, Popocatépetl And Nevado del Ruiz!

May 23, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): Explosive activity at Stromboli is currently at normal to moderately high levels, but the magma column has obviously dropped considerably compared to previous weeks, as there are no longer lava overflows. We observed the volcano during the past days and found a total of 8 active vents in the crater terrace, out of which 4 were showing their typical different strombolian activity:

Strombolian eruption from the NE vent (21 May 2013).

In the NW crater area, two adjacient vents often erupted simultaneously. One was ejecting dense jets of incandescent gas, almost no ash and only few incandescent tephra that formed candle-like fountains reaching 100-200 m height, and accompanied by loud jet-engine like noises. The other one erupted silent, dense low ash plumes and glowing material to 50-100 m. Eruptions occurred every 20-30 minutes on average... [read more]

Pavlof (Alaska Peninsula, USA): The eruption at Pavlof continues but seismic and explosive-effusive eruptive activity have dropped compared to the day before yesterday when an ash plume reached 7,000 m altitude and was visible from space.

Eruption plume from Pavlov on 21 May seen from space (NASA).

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico)
: Activity has been showing an increase today. Yesterday, CENPRED reported near-continuous emissions of steam and gas and sometimes ash. Some larger explosions occurred at 12:13 h and at 12:34 h local time yesterday. Both produced an eruption column about 1.3 km high and drifting west. Bright glow and strong steaming are currently visible from the webcam images.

Current webcam view of Popocatépetl.

A total of 3 hours of spasmodic tremor of low to medium amplitude were recorded yesterday. In addition there were two volcanotectonic earthquakes, one at 13:09 h of magnitude 2.1 and another at 15:55 h of magnitude 1.8 (local times).

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity has remained weak and dominantly explosive. Occasional explosions from the Caliente dome produce ash plumes rising up to about 700 m.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Strombolian activity persists in the Mackenney crater, which is slowly filling with new lava. The activity can be heard from San Francisco de Sales and ejects incandescent bombs to about 40 m height. As the crater continues to fill up, INSIVUMEH thinks that during the coming days or weeks, new lava flows are likely to appear.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity has remained stable during the past week. During yesterday, INSIVUMEH recorded 10 weak strombolian-type explosions that generated small ash plumes of up to 600 m height and drifting for 8-10 km before dissipating.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): Small ash emissions were reported yesterday from the volcano. Seismic activity remains elevated, but reduced compared to the recent earthquake swarms in April and early May.

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

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Etna has been almost completely quiet since a brief episode of strombolian activity at the New SE crater in early May. Apart from a few occasional deep-seated explosions in Bocca Nuova detected only on seismic signals (INGV personal communication), the volcano has not shown other surface activity than degassing. However, a shallow magnitude 3.5 earthquake occurred under the town of Zafferana, about 10 km east of the summit area this afternoon.

Seismic trace of the 3.5 earthquake today (ESVO station, INGV Catania).

The volcano has been quiet for some while now, but it could (and likely will) erupt again in the near future. Whether this earthquake is a harbinger of something new to come is impossible to say at the moment, but it's a good idea to keep a close watch of the volcano.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for May 23, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

SOLAR WATCH: Subsiding Solar Radiation Storm In Progress - Satellites In Earth's Orbit Could Experience "Single Event Upsets" In Their Electronic Systems!

May 23, 2013 - THE SUNA solar radiation storm in progress around Earth is slowly subsiding. It currently ranks S2 (moderate) on NOAA storm scales, which means that satellites in Earth orbit could experience "single event upsets" in their electronic systems. The radiation storm is also a source of noise in spacecraft cameras, giving their images a snowy appearance.

Solar activity has been at low levels for the past 24 hours. The largest solar event of the period was a C3 event observed at 23/1450Z from Region 1756 (S20E27). There are currently 7 numbered sunspot regions on the disk.  Solar activity is expected to be low with a chance for M-class flares and a slight chance for an X-class flare on days one, two, and three (24 May, 25 May, 26 May).

Attached is an updated image of the visible solar disk on Thursday morning. Solar activity has been low since the isolated M5.0 event yesterday morning around region 1745 which is now rotating onto the west limb. The M5.0 event generated a bright Coronal Mass Ejection that was directed mostly to the west. A glancing blow impact will be possible on Saturday, however a geomagnetic storm is not expected at this time. Energetic proton levels streaming past Earth increased to Strong S3 Radiation Storm Levels following the eruption, but has since fallen back somewhat to Moderate S2 Levels. There will remain a chance for C-Class solar flares and perhaps another isolated M-Class event, particularly around Sunspots 1755 and 1756.

Here is a closer look at the current sunspots located on the eastern half of the visible solar disk. Sunspot 1756 continues to evolve and is currently producing C-Class solar flares, it is growing rapidly and could soon pose a threat for strong flares. Image by SDO/HMI.

The geomagnetic field has been at quiet to unsettled levels for the past 24 hours. Solar wind speed, as measured by the ACE spacecraft, reached a peak speed of 475 km/s at 23/1933Z, however ACE/SWEPAM data became suspect due to proton contamination from the 22 May M5 flare. Total IMF reached 8 nT at 23/1656Z. The maximum southward component of Bz reached -4 nT at 23/0949Z. Protons greater than 10 MeV at geosynchronous orbit reached a peak level of 1660 pfu at 23/0650Z. Protons greater than 100 MeV at geosynchronous orbit reached a peak level of 2 pfu at 22/2105Z and the event ended at 23/0745Z. Electrons greater than 2 MeV at geosynchronous orbit were also suspect due to proton contamination.

Minor C3.9 Solar Flare around Sunspot 1756 at 14:50 UTC. Image by SDO.

The geomagnetic field is expected to be at quiet to minor storm levels on day one (24 May), quiet to active levels on day two (25 May) and quiet to unsettled levels on day three (26 May). Protons are expected to remain above threshold on day one (24 May), are likely to cross threshold on day two (25 May) and have a chance of crossing threshold on day three (26 May).

Event probabilities 24 May-26 May
Class M    45/45/45
Class X    15/15/15
Proton     99/70/30
PCAF       red

Penticton 10.7 cm Flux
Observed           23 May 135
Predicted   24 May-26 May 135/135/130
90 Day Mean        23 May 122

Geomagnetic A Indices
Observed Afr/Ap 22 May  010/012
Estimated Afr/Ap 23 May  008/008
Predicted Afr/Ap 24 May-26 May  011/015-014/020-008/012

Geomagnetic Activity Probabilities 24 May-26 May
A.  Middle Latitudes
Active                35/35/20
Minor Storm           20/15/05
Major-severe storm    05/05/01
B.  High Latitudes
Active                10/10/15
Minor Storm           25/30/25
Major-severe storm    55/50/25

SOURCES: Space Weather | Solar Ham | NOAA/SWPC.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - The Police Jury Has Declared An Emergency Declaration For "No Wake Zones" Due To High Waters!

May 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The following constitutes the latest update from the Assumption Parish Police Jury on the giant Louisiana sinkhole:

The Police Jury has declared an Emergency Declaration for No Wake Zones due to high waters for the following areas:
  • Bayou Corne
  • Pierre Part Bay
  • Bayou Drive Elevation Bridge
  • Belle River
  • 4-Mile Bayou
  • Bayou Gannevail
  • Bayou Crab
  • Bayou Tranquille
  • Lake Verret Park Estates Canal
  • T-Bayou
  • Pierre Part Bay, along East Drive
  • Grand Bayou
The Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office along with LA Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries will be patrolling the waters this holiday weekend enforcing this declaration. We encourage all boaters to have an enjoyable time on the water – and most of all to be safe! 

To view the “No Wake Zone Ordinance” in its entirety, click HERE.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - The Grasshopper Plague Takes A Turn For The Worse In Oregon; Up To 140 Grasshoppers Per Square Yard In Baker Valley; Close To An Epidemic?!

May 23, 2013 - UNITED STATESA grasshopper plague spawned in drought-parched rangeland where the voracious insects laid their eggs last summer, is spreading to wheat, hay and potato fields, where crop damage could be devastating.

"The USDA's threshold for economic damage is eight grasshoppers per square yard. In some heavily infested areas, we've had counts of 100 to 120, and possibly up to 140 grasshoppers per square yard," said Cory Parsons, Oregon State University Extension agent for Baker County.

File Photo.

"They are probably as close to an epidemic as they can be in Baker Valley," Parsons said. "When you get into them, you know, because the ground is just crawling with grasshoppers."

Three weeks ago the grasshopper infestation was limited to pockets scattered around the county, primarily on rangeland, but Parsons said the situation has taken a dramatic turn for the worse.

"We're finding grasshoppers from the north end of the Baker Valley off Ladd Canyon all the way to Huntington, and from Medical Springs, Sparta and Keating to the Burnt River, Unity and Hereford," Parsons said.

"Eagle and Pine Valley, around Halfway and Richland, the Sumpter Valley and Whitney Valley are the only places we have no grasshopper populations," Parsons said.

When grasshoppers are small they typically remain in the dryer rangeland areas where they hatch from eggs, but once they mature and sprout wings, Parsons said "they will move into wheat, alfalfa and potato fields and do some substantial damage."

That scenario appears to be coming to pass, Parsons said, based on phone calls to the Extension Service and aerial pesticide applicators from concerned farmers and ranchers across Baker County.

"With the rangeland drying up, the guys out cutting hay are finding grasshoppers coming into hay ground," Parsons said.

The infestation extends far beyond Baker County to an estimated 1 million acres across Northeastern Oregon, according to reports from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, which dispatched a team to help locate and map areas with the heaviest grasshopper populations.

Aerial pesticide spraying initiated this week is designed to kill flying adult grasshoppers after spring applications of biological control products failed to knock down the grasshopper population at the egg or nymph stage, Parsons said.

"We sprayed yesterday, we sprayed today, and we'll spray again tomorrow," said Parsons, adding that he's spent the past 18 days working on grasshopper control efforts with landowners, pesticide applicators and representatives from the ODA.

"Once grasshoppers reach the adult stage, sprout wings and start flying around, the only thing you can do in heavily infested areas is spray pesticides and hope you can bring the population under control before they do too much crop damage," Parsons said.

The Bureau of Land Management has applied for federal dollars to spray grasshoppers on federal land, but Parsons said there's no state or federal funding to help offset the cost of spraying pesticides to combat the pests on private land, so the burden falls largely to farmers, ranchers and other landowners.

Faced with a choice between spending thousands of dollars for pesticide applications or standing by while the pests devour their crops, Parsons said some growers may be tempted to ride it out, but that choice could have devastating effects on their crops, as well as crops on neighboring farms and ranches.

He warned landowners who do nothing and hope for the best that "once grasshoppers finish devouring vegetation on your land, they will move to your neighbors."

Several pesticide products are available for use on grasshoppers. However, Parsons said the product Mustang MX is one of the most effective and the most widely used product in this area.

While the biological growth regulator Dimilin 2L used to kill young grasshoppers at the molting stage is very effective and highly selective, killing only the insect group that includes things like grasshoppers, mormon crickets and the praying mantis, Parsons said use of broad- spectrum pesticides like Mustang MX is the only viable option for killing adult grasshoppers.

"Once we get large populations of winged grasshoppers, Dimilin won't work," he said.

The downside of applying broad-spectrum pesticides is that they can also kill off beneficial insects ranging from lady bugs to honey bees, Parsons said.

In an effort to protect the region's already declining honeybee population, Parsons is encouraging landowners and pesticide applicators to notify owners of beehives to move their hives before spraying to control grasshoppers.

Mustang MX and some of the others effective against adult grasshoppers are restricted-use pesticides that can only be applied by a licensed pesticide applicator, either with ground spraying equipment or by aerial application with a crop-duster type of airplane or helicopter. However, Parsons said Mustang MX is relatively safe to use.

It can be sprayed right over a pasture full of cattle without harming the cattle, and there's no delay for reentering a field after it's been treated with Mustang MX and similar pesticide products.

In addition to the goal of minimizing crop damage, Parsons said the pesticide spraying program is designed to reduce the adult population before it lays eggs, in hopes of preventing an even larger grasshopper explosion next year. - Baker City Herald.

PLANETARY TREMORS: "What In The World Was That" - Unusual Number Of 16 Earthquakes In Arkansas Reported Since Monday?!

May 23, 2013 - UNITED STATESAn unusual number of earthquakes have been reported in Central Arkansas since Monday. More than a dozen have been reported across Morrilton, Strawberry, and Choctaw.

James Newsom felt the quake. At the time, he didn't know what shook his home."I said what in the world was that," said Newsom.

Image: USGS.

Scientists say a 3.5 earthquake hit the area. The U.S. Geological Survey says there have been 16 earthquakes, which is a high number.

"It was just boom. It was so quick and shook my windows and made that explosion ya know," said Newsom.

Each quake lasted less than ten seconds.

"Even though we don't have reports of damage or anything or injuries, it's still a pretty good shake," said Scott Ausbrooks of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismometers will soon be deployed over the next two weeks to get a better understanding about the depth of the

"On average, we see one earthquake week. So this is definitely more active than what we have seen in a long time."

Since this happened, people are advised to have a disaster preparedness kit ready. - Ozarks First.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Termite Apocalypse - Amazing Stomach-Turning Swarm Of Tens Of Thousands Of Formosan Termites Spread Across Southern United States?!

May 23, 2013 - UNITED STATESNew Orleans was struck by tens of thousands of swarming Formosan termites on Wednesday night causing hundreds of thousands of people's skin to crawl.Resembling something out of a creepy disaster movie, the termites made for any car headlights, streetlights or lit homes they could find in residential or commercial areas.

Critters be Crawling: The Formosan termites flew across the New Orleans area in their tens of thousands last night.

From Violet to the Bywater and Covington to Algiers, reports of termite swarms across the the New Orleans metro area on Wednesday.

Formosa termites are common in southern states - and their mating season usually begins in late April or early May - this year in New Orleans it began late.

Usually the termites swarm like clockwork at the beginning of May, but with cooler temperatures in the New Orleans area combined with drier air the termite outbreak was delayed until last night's warmer conditions.

Formosan termites are not native to the United States and were introduced from the Far East in packing crates and other wood products during World War Two.Massive infestations in and around New Orleans have become endemic along Lake Pontchartrain and at the naval shipyard in Algiers.

The termites can only fly short distances away from their burrows as they attempt to mate.

The termites were brought over from the Far East in wooden containers during the Second World War.

The termites took to the skies across the south and were late this year - usually attempting to mate at the beginning of May.

I Need More Bug Spray: One man holds aloft his weapons against the bug infestation last night in New Orleans.

The reason for the huge swarms of the Formosan termites is because they only are capable of flying 300 yards in search of a mate and then the pair drop to the ground to burrow a nest if successful.

However, the large majority of the termites never manage to find a place to mate and burrow and die on the ground in their thousands as they fail to find shelter.

WATCH: Amazing video of termite apocalypse, which spead overnight.

A termite on nest on average takes about five years to reach a size where the new colony creates versions of the insect with wings to restart the cycle.

Mature termite colonies can have as many as 5 million individual insect members. - Daily Mail.

MASS AMPHIBIAN DIE-OFF: United States Study - Number Of Frogs, Toads Are Declining At Alarming Rate!

May 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Frogs, toads and other amphibians are vanishing so fast nationwide that if the decline continues at the same rate, they'll be gone from half their current habitats in 20 years, a federal study has found.

U.S. Geological Survey officials on Wednesday unveiled the study, done over a decade, on 48 species at 34 sites from California to Colorado high-country to Florida swamps.

A Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana scans the landscape in Yosemite National Park.© USGS

Federal scientists found that the declines are more widespread and severe than previously thought and that amphibian populations are disappearing at an overall rate of 3.7 percent each year.

Even species inside federally-protected areas, including Rocky Mountain National Park, are disappearing.

"Even in what we consider pristine areas, we are seeing amphibian decline," said Fort Collins-based USGS biologist Erin Muths, who helped conduct the study. "If anything is doing poorly in an area we think is protected, that says something about our level of protection and about what may be happening outside those areas."

Boreal toads, chorus frogs, wood frogs and salamanders were among the amphibians studied in Colorado.

The USGS team determined that amphibians already listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are vanishing from their habitats at an even faster rate of 11.6 percent a year. At that pace, the threatened species would disappear from half their current habitat in six years.

The scientists concluded that "while there was some variation across the United States, the trend was consistently negative" and that "declines are occurring on lands managed by federal agencies with the greatest observed rate of decline on National Park Service lands."

USGS Director Suzette Kimball issued a statement saying these findings show "that the pressures amphibians now face exceed the ability of many of these survivors to cope."

Causes of the decline are not addressed.

The study gives the best national estimate of the rate at which frogs, toads and salamanders are disappearing. As early as the 1980s, scientists recognized that this is happening. In 2004, a global IUCN assessment found that nearly a third of amphibian species worldwide were declining. It attributed the declines to habitat loss, diseases, invasive species, pollution and climate change.

Amphibians play an ecological role that includes pest-control and serving as prey for snakes, birds and fish.

Establishing a rate of decline is expected to give scientists a basis for measuring populations.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, a population of boreal toads measured in the hundreds has declined to a handful.

"Amphibians are going, but a lot of other species are going, too. Snakes are declining. Mammals are declining. We're seeing bird declines. Amphibians are probably declining at a faster rate than other groups, and they may be a little more sensitive," said USGS zoologist Stephen Corn, one of the authors of the study.

Amphibians "are a good example of the collapse of the world's ecosystems that we seem to be seeing right now," he said. "We're seeing a lot of species in a lot of places declining at the same time." - The Denver Post.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Sea Lions, Dolphins And Sea Turtles Mysteriously Found Dead On The Beaches Of Northern Peru?!

May 23, 2013 - PERU - Dead sea lions have been discovered on beaches in northern Peru amid suspicions they were poisoned by fishermen, activists and authorities said.

A sea lion is seen on December 21, 2011 at the Bronx Zoo in New York. Dead sea lions have been discovered on beaches in northern Peru amid suspicions they were poisoned by fishermen, activists and authorities said.AFP/AFP/File.

The remains, together with those of dolphins and sea turtles, turned up over the past two weeks near the port of Eten some 750 kilometers north of the capital Lima, Carlos Yaipen of the non-government organization ORCA told AFP.

"Initial reports indicate that between 30 and 50 sea lions were found, with signs they were killed with rat poison," Yaipen said.

A spokesman for the Peru Sea Institute confirmed the find but placed the number of dead sea lions below 20.
An investigation has been launched to determine what caused the deaths, he said.

According to Yaipen, the area's fishermen consider the sea lions -- a protected species -- as competition, often feeding them fish filled with poison that at times are also consumed by turtles and dolphins.

Yaipen also appealed to authorities to step up their oversight of the fishing industry and the use of poisonous substances, saying these can also affect human health. - Yahoo.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Coronavirus Spreads - WHO Says That There Are Now 22 Deaths Worldwide From SARS-Like Virus, 44 Total Cases!

May 23, 2013 - UNITED NATIONS - The World Health Organization says there are now 22 deaths worldwide out of 44 lab-confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

This undated file image released by the British Health Protection Agency shows an electron microscope image of a coronavirus, part of a family of viruses that cause ailments including the common cold and SARS, which was first identified last year in the Middle East. Health Protection Agency / AP

WHO officials have reported another fatal case of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS, in central Saudi Arabia, but say it is not related to the cluster of cases reported from the country’s east.

The U.N. health agency said in a statement Thursday, citing information from Saudi Arabia’s health ministry, that the latest fatality is a 63-year-old man with an underlying medical condition who was hospitalized with acute breathing problems five days before he died May 20.

At the WHO’s annual meeting in Geneva, agency officials said four of every five cases affect a man and patients’ average age is 56. - TIME.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Thousands Of New Zealand's Young Muttonbird (Shearwater) Chicks Die As Parents Seek Food - Almost 2,000 Dead Birds Found Compared To About 100 In Previous Years?!

May 23, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - Thousands of young muttonbirds have starved to death on Stewart Island and the Titi Islands this season because parental birds have abandoned their chicks in search of food.

Experts say warmer ocean temperatures have pushed small fish that the birds eat such as krill, squid and sardines into deeper and colder waters where they thrive. The muttonbirds have followed them to those colder waters.

File Photo.

Invercargill naturalist Lloyd Esler did an annual count of muttonbirds on Mason Bay, Stewart Island, at the weekend, which revealed the most dead muttonbirds he had seen in about 15 years.

Almost 2000 dead birds were found washed up on the shore compared with about 100 in previous years, he said.

There was a "glitch" in the food supply and it could be because warm currents moved small fish into water too deep for the birds to catch, Mr Esler said.

Kaumatua of Waihopai Runaka Michael Skerrett said muttonbirds were in terrible condition this season and the number of chicks were down.

It could be because of El Nino climatic conditions, he said.

Regular muttonbirder Jane Davis said the situation was probably as bad as it could be.

While there were good hatching numbers at the Titi Islands most ended up dying at the mouth of their nest because they were not being fed, she said.

Parental birds chose to look after themselves, some foraging for food halfway between New Zealand and Australia, and not returning to feed their young at night, she said.

"Usually at night the sky is full and the island just rocks with sound. This year you could almost count them and it was silent.

"When we realised what it was like we just bought enough back for the family, she said.

Meanwhile, warmer ocean temperatures has also taken its toll on other seabirds.

Poutiri ao o Tane manager, Ken Hunt, who planned to move 100 mottled petrel chicks from Codfish Island to Hawke's Bay as part of a six-year project, said the relocation had been postponed until next year.

Visiting the island last month, Mr Hunt said muttonbirds and mottled petrel were "literally starving" to death.

More than 200 chicks hatched but only 25 were of suitable weight and wing-span for relocation, he said.

There was not sufficient food and the time between parental feeding was longer, Mr Hunt said.

The muttonbirding season started in April and goes until the end of the month. - Stuff.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Michigan Department Of Environmental Quality Investigating Mysteriously Large Fish Kill On The Pinnebog River In Michigan?!

May 23, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is investigating a fish kill on the Pinnebog River.

Bob Hobkirk of the Department of Natural Resources said at least hundreds of fish appear to be dead from the McMillan Drain in Meade and Chandler townships to the Pinnebog River all the way to Port Crescent State Park.

A manure spill was reported at Shupe Dairy Inc., 1891 N. Pinnebog Road, last week not far from the starting point of the fish kill. But DEQ officials are still investigating the incident.

File Photo.

Hobkirk said at the drain there are dead chubs and minnows and further down stream there are dead suckers, bass and pike.

“We observed hundreds” of dead fish, he said. “It seems like a lot of fish were killed.”

Shupe Dairy Inc. was blamed for a fish kill at nearly the same time a year ago — also from manure runoff.

A message left by the Tribune with Shupe Dairy on Monday afternoon was not immediately returned. But the farm later released a statement of sorrow and apology through an email to the Tribune.

“We at Shupe Dairy are deeply sorry for our operational accident with manure,” the statement said. “We love our community, both the people and the wildlife. One of the reasons we graze our cattle and farm the way we do, is in an effort to better take care of the creation with which we have been entrusted.  We want our neighbors and the community to know that this accident is extremely frustrating and troubling to us, so much so as to make us physically sick and keep us up at night.

“We regularly work with the MDA, DEQ and other private consultants to make the wisest use of our manure and to take the best care of our environment and community.  We work diligently to comply with their standards and best practice guidelines. When we discovered the issue at hand we contacted the DEQ. ... Again we are deeply sorry. Please forgive us.”

Hobkirk said that closer to the mouth of the Pinnebog there are fewer dead fish as the apparent manure concentration, which starves the fish of oxygen, has been diluted.

Hobkirk said his department was assisting the DEQ in the initial investigation of the fish kill. But because the incident appears to be man made, the DEQ has become the primary investigator in the case.

County Commissioner Steve Vaughan said he received a call about the fish kill from a concerned citizen Thursday night.

Vaughan went out to the area Friday morning and said he saw a “considerable” amount of dead fish in the water between Grassmere and Moore roads. - Huron Daily Tribune.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Scene Of Fire And Ice - International Space Station Captures Steam Explosions, And Towering Ash Plume Reaching 20,000 Feet High At The Pavlof Volcano!

May 23, 2013 - ALASKA - Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) photographed this striking view of Pavlof Volcano on May 18, 2013.


The oblique perspective from the ISS reveals the three dimensional structure of the ash plume, which is often obscured by the top-down view of most remote sensing satellites.

Situated in the Aleutian Arc about 625 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage, Pavlof began erupting on May 13, 2013. The volcano jetted lava into the air and spewed an ash cloud 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) high.

When photograph ISS036-E-2105 (top) was taken, the space station was about 475 miles south-southeast of the volcano (49.1° North latitude, 157.4° West longitude). The volcanic plume extended southeastward over the North Pacific Ocean. - NASA.