Monday, June 10, 2013

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across America - Missouri Sinkholes Area Called "Very Dangerous" To The Public!

June 10, 2013 - UNITED STATESCape Girardeau's public works director Tim Gramling said two sinkholes on South Sprigg Street, near LaCroix Creek, continue to grow. A sinkhole in the creek is causing water to flood into the nearby Buzzi Unicem quarry.

One of two sinkholes located in the 2300 block of South Sprigg Street© Adam Vogler / Southeast Missourian

Gramling said as the waters of the Mississippi River rose to above flood stage for the second time this spring, the problem worsened. He said one of the sinkholes on South Sprigg Street is about 50 feet in diameter and about 15 feet deep. A second sinkhole near the end of the bridge over the creek is 20 to 25 feet in diameter and is roughly 6 to 8 feet deep.

"And it's growing as we're talking," he said.

Gramling attempted to explain why the problem, which has closed a portion of South Sprigg Street indefinitely, developed.

The water erodes the soil, causing more sinkholes.

Gramling said employees from Buzzi Unicem are working to address the creek sinkhole. He said the company is damming the creek by the bridge, attempting to isolate the water and keep down the flow into the quarry.

"They're not shut down, but they're trying their best to keep the water down," he said.

© Adam Vogler / Southeast Missourian.

City employees are monitoring the creek bridge.

"It hasn't been affected," Gramling said. "We keep an eye on it."

The city and Buzzi Unicem have attempted in the past to fill the sinkholes with rock and concrete, to no avail.

"You can put stuff in them and it just disappears and we've done that for several years," Gramling said. "If we filled the holes up, by tomorrow [the fill] would be gone."

The sinkholes have been a problem in the area since 2007. A week ago, Cape Girardeau County floodplain and stormwater manager Ken Eftink said the number of sinkholes has grown from 15 to 33 in the last two months. The state Department of Natural Resources plans to take a look and city officials have met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and former U.S. representative Jo Ann Emerson.

While the crest of the Mississippi River at just short of 45 feet on Friday at Cape Girardeau is good news in many ways, Gramling said it isn't much help as far as the sinkholes are concerned.

"When the water goes down, it actually aggravates them," he said. "It could aggravate them and make them worse."

Gramling said Ameren is keeping a close watch on a major natural gas line that runs through the problem area.

Asked if there's much that can be done, Gramling was not optimistic.

© Adam Vogler / Southeast Missourian.

"Not really; just keep an eye on it," he said. "Right now the main thing is safety for the public. It's very dangerous; it's very unpredictable; it's random. It's just not a place for people to be walking around, unless they're emergency workers."

As for the future, the permanent closure of Sprigg Street in the area of the creek is a possibility. The city had to change plans to expand its wastewater treatment plant -- the first few sinkholes were noticed south of the plant -- and instead build a new one in another location.

Gramling said not to expect the closed portion of Sprigg Street to reopen any time soon.

"It will probably be closed now for a while," he said. - Southeast Missourian.

HIGH STRANGENESS: Mass Fish Die-Off - Nevada Officials Are Investigating Mystery Foam At Lake Mead, Boulder City?!

June 10, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Authorities are warning people to avoid a section of Lake Mead after park officials found dead carp and a mysterious foam there.

© KRNV Reno.

Park spokeswoman Christie Vanover says the mysterious fish deaths and foam were found in the Overton Arm, where the lake extends north. She says the foam appeared to be coming from the mouth of the Virgin River and stretched about eight miles down to Echo Bay.

Officials said over the weekend that the Southern Nevada Water Authority is working with the National Park Service to collect water samples.

The authority is also keeping track of water at its two water treatment facilities to ensure the quality meets the federal standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act. - AP.

ICE AGE NOW: A Year Without Summer - Frost And Record Low Temperatures At The End Of May In The Netherlands?!

June 10, 2013 - NETHERLANDS - There was ground frost in eastern parts of the country overnight, with the temperature dipping to as low as -2.8 Celsius in Gelderland, according to RTL weather forecaster Amara Onwuka.

Scene from the 2004 movie The Day After Tomorrow.

The previous record low for May 24 was -0.6 Celsius nine years ago, Onwuka said.

The cold weather, which has led to temperatures no warmer than 10 Celsius in places during the day, will continue in to the weekend.

On Friday, cold weather records are likely to be broken again, as the temperature hovers between 8 and 11 Celsius. The coldest May 24 on record was 10.4 and dates from 1975.

The temperature at the end of May usually averages around 18 Celsius. - Dutch News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For June 10, 2013 - Updates On Shiveluch, Tolbachik, Kizimen, Gorely, Bezymianny, Hachijo-jima, Veniaminof, Pavlof, Santa María, Santiaguito, Pacaya, Fuego, Nevado del Ruiz And Copahue!

June 10, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

The week starts with relatively little volcanic activity worldwide:

Shiveluch in Kamchatka had an explosion last night at 21:02 UTC lasting for 6.5 minutes that sent an ash plume to an estimated altitude of about 30,000 ft (7-8 km), KVERT reports. The eruption was not observed directly, but inferred from seismic data.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): No significant changes have occurred in the ongoing eruption. Seismic tremor remains stable and suggests that lava flows continue to erupt from the southern fissure.

Kizimen (Kamchatka): The lava dome remains active and continues to grow slowly. KVERT reports incandescence of the volcano summit, hot avalanches on the western and eastern volcanic flanks, and strong and moderate gas-steam activity, associated with medium levels of seismicity.

Bezymianny (Central Kamchatka Depression): No changes in activity have been reported recently. The volcano remains at Aviation Color Code YELLOW, because its lava dome is likely still active. KVERT is unable to distinguish seismic data from Bezymianny from the strong signals from erupting Tolbachik.

Gorely (Southern Kamchatka): Strong steaming and hydrothermal activity continue to produce medium levels of seismicity.

Hachijo-jima (Izu Islands): A shallow (10 km) magnitude 4.4 earthquake occurred about 16 km to the NW of the volcano today.

Veniaminof (Alaska Peninsula, USA): AVO reports continuing seismic tremor and the observation of a steam plume from the volcano, but no other activity has been noted.

Pavlof (Alaska Peninsula, USA): Ash emissions, probably caused by strombolian activity continue to be observed. Seismic tremor and explosion signals accompany the activity. Persistent elevated surface temperatures visible on satellite data suggest that there is some lava effusion as well (in the form of small flows or a new lava dome).

Satellite images from the last day also show an ash plume extending 12 miles (20 km) southeast of the volcano. This direction is consistent with low-level (less than 20,000 ft asl) winds. (AVO)

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): A moderate explosion occurred this morning at 05:18 local time, sending an ash plume to 700 m above the crater and drifting SW, where light ash fall occurred in Finca La Florida and Parcelamiento Monte Claro.

The southern lava flow on the dome's flank produced some weak avalanches.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Weak explosive activity has apparently resumed, INSIVUMEH reported.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity remains relatively weak. During the past 24 hours, INSIVUMEH observed 6 small explosions with ash plumes up to 500 m height. At the moment, the main risk from Fuego is posed by lahars (mud flows).

Following heavy rainfall, unusually strong lahars with fronts of up to 5 meters tall travelled through the Ceniza ravine on 8 June, damaging the road that connects Siquinala to Rochela, San Andrés Osuna, and Ceilán. Deposits of 2-3 meters were left containing blocks of up to 3 meter in size.

Geologists who examined the drainages at the feet of the volcano yesterday found recent lahar deposits in the ravines and river valleys of Pantaleon, Ceniza, Las Lajas, Jute, Taniluya and Trinidad.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia)
: Strong degassing is visible as a large SO2 plume on satellite data. Seismic recordings show many mostly long-period quakes, typical of internal fluid movements.

SO2 plume from Nevado del Ruiz yesterday (NOAA).

Copahue (Chile/Argentina): Seismic and degassing activity have decreased, although SERNAGEOMIN maintains alert level "orange". A total of 120 quakes, mostly near the surface, were counted during 8-9 June. No volcanic tremor was detected. A white steam and gas plume was rising 300 m from the crater.
(SERNAGEOMIN report from 9 June)

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for June 10, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "Crazy Ants" That Feast On Electronics Are Invading The United States - Species CANNOT Be Killed With Normal Insecticide!

June 10, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A new and annoying species of ant is terrorizing the U.S. and chemicals that kill off other types of the insect are proving ineffective against it. The 'crazy' ant, named for the erratic trail it leaves as it makes its way across the country, originated in Argentina and Brazil. But since it was first spotted in Houston in 2002, it has spread to some 21 counties in Texas, 20 counties in Florida and a few locations in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The biggest factor to the spread of 'crazy' ants has been transportation via humans.

University of Texas researcher and co-author of a study on the creatures Ed LeBrun said the omnivorous ants attack and kill other species as well as monopolizing food sources to the detriment of the entire ecosystem.  He said everything from cattle to songbirds are at risk of the tiny ants, despite them being at the bottom of the food chain.

WATCH: Rise of the Crazy Ants.

According to ABC News, the chemicals that kill the more common red ant aren't effective on crazy ants so residents should call pest control if they find an infestation in their home.  And hopefully they'll get there before the critters attack their computer.  The insects, bizarrely, are attracted to electrical wiring and components and in one year alone caused $146.5 million in damages in Texas, ABC reported.  The devastation occurs when one ant discovers the transformer then gets electrocuted when it touches it, and 'waves its abdomen in the air' omitting a certain scent.  The scent lures for ants to the scene and they too are electrocuted, again sending the scent into the air to attract their friends.  Eventually, there are so many dead ants that the electric switches get stuck or the insulation fries and the system shuts down. 

Terrors: University of Texas researcher Ed LeBrun said the omnivorous ant, pictured, attacks and kills other species as well as monopolising food sources to the detriment of the entire ecosystem.

But LeBrun said the biggest problem of the ant's invasion is that it has completely eliminated the red ant, or fire ant. And no one knows why.  'Perhaps the biggest deal is the displacement of the fire ant,' LeBrun said, according to ABC. 'The whole ecosystem has changed around fire ants. Things that can't tolerate fire ants are gone. Many that can have flourished.  'New things have come in. Now we are going to go through and whack the fire ants and put something in its place that has a very different biology. There are going to be a lot of changes that come from that.'  The crazy ants are most commonly found in coastal areas with warmer temperatures. Known scientifically as 'Nylanderia fulva,' they are also referred to as 'rasberry' after the exterminator Tom Rasberry who discovered them in Houston in 2002.  The 'crazy' ants do not have such a painful sting as their insect counterparts, but they are still a nuisance for homeowners.   'Crazy' ants have been identified all the way from Texas to Mississippi. Researchers believe that the ants cannot survive in regions that are dry or cold.   Unlike fire ants, crazy ants also do not spread as quickly. They can only advance approximately 200 meters per year on their own.  The biggest factor in their spread along the Southeast has been human transportation.  LeBrun urges caution for residents in areas with known 'crazy' ant populations to be mindful when they are traveling. - Daily Mail.

THE GREAT DELUGE: Germany Evacuates 31,000 After Dam On River Elbe Breaks - Thousands Of Hungarians Help Army Lay A MILLION SANDBAGS As Swollen Danube Hits Budapest!

June 10, 2013 - GERMANYTens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes as the River Elbe burst through a dam and flooded parts of eastern Germany.

Today the Elbe breached another levee on its relentless march towards the North Sea, forcing Germany to evacuate ten villages and close one of the country's main railway routes.

Only the swimming pool of this garden in Magdeburg was visible as the River Elbe flooded the east German city.

Upstream there was some relief as the river slipped back from record levels in Magdeburg, the capital of Saxony-Anhalt state.

At least 21 flood-related deaths have been in reported in central Europe following a week of heavy rain, leading to rivers swelling and extensive damage.

The latest confirmed death was an 80-year-old man in Austria who died of a heart attack yesterday during the clean-up operation in the wake of floods.

Magdeburg had water levels more than 16ft above normal over the weekend, although the Elbe has now retreated by about a foot.

More than 23,000 people had to leave their homes in the city when the electricity was cut off and streets flooded.

But further downstream, a levee at Fischbeck, west of Berlin, was breached overnight, prompting officials to evacuate ten villages in the area.

In east Germany, people walked through flooded streets in the Rothensee district of Magdeburg
after the River Elbe burst its banks.

Germany's national railway had to close a bridge near Fischbeck on the line from Berlin to Cologne, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Residents in the Rothensee neighbourhood of Magdeburg were evacuated with tanks, trucks and buses.

'Rothensee is filling up like a bathtub,' army spokesman Andre Sabzog told news agency dpa.

Around 700 soldiers were trying to build a dam of sandbags around a power substation to protect it from the Elbe.

If the substation floods, thousands of households would be left without water and it would lead to a breakdown of the neighborhood's dewatering pumps.

About 23,000 residents in Magdeburg were forced to leave their homes at the city flooded and lost power.

Another 8,000 people were evacuated from the town of Aken and its neighbouring villages after a dam on the Elbe river broke Saturday, police spokesman Uwe Holz said.

Further north on the Elbe river, residents were trying to protect themselves from flooding by building levees along the banks of the rising waterway.

Officials in Saxony-Anhalt state also were investigating what appeared to be a threat to destroy dams.

Residents piled on to tanks, trucks and buses to get away from the rising water.

Several media outlets said they had received a letter threatening to blow up dams on the Elbe river, Holger Stahlknecht, the state's interior minister, said Sunday.

'We are taking the letter seriously,' he told dpa. He said authorities have stepped up their surveillance of dams and urged residents to remain calm.

Stahlknecht said: 'We should accept that we humans should be humble, that even in the 21st century we don't completely control nature - that is one lesson from this situation.'

He said it was too early to analyze what, if anything, might have been done to prepare better for flooding.

Central Europe has seen a week of torrential rain and perilous flooding.

In Budapest the River Danube threatened to burst its banks as parts of the city's north and south were already underwater, but began to ease back overnight.

The city escaped significant damage, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban said soldiers and rescue workers would shift their focus further south.

The river peaked at record highs of nearly 30ft last night as desperate homeowners, hotel staff and military reservists piled sandbags in front of their buildings to protect the Hungarian capital.

More than 7,000 soldiers and volunteers laid out a million sandbags to strengthen flood defences on the river bank, where some flood walls stand at 30.5ft.

Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic have all been affected by the worst floods in central Europe in a decade.

The Danube - Europe's second longest river which flows through four capital cities and ten countries - started rising rapidly in Hungary last Friday.

Aerial footage shows extent of German floods.

The Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban said dykes had been strengthened at critical points in Budapest.

However, authorities have said that river defences designed to withstand floods would be high enough to protect the city.

'The flood is now approaching Budapest, the heart of the country,' Orban told reporters in Esztergom, which is 30 miles north of Budapest.

'Two decisive days are ahead of us because the danger will be where most people live and where most things of value are at risk. It is now when we have to gather all our strength.

'In Budapest ... it is not simply the flood which is the problem ... but the complicated public works system through which all kinds of problems can arise.'

At least 1,400 people have been evacuated from towns and villages along the Danube and 44 roads have been closed. More than 200 people in Budapest had already left their homes. - Daily Mail.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across America - Florida Family Leaves Hillsborough Home When Sinkhole Forms Outside As Seffner Restaurant Closes While Cause Of Cracks Investigated!

June 10, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A family on Jean Street was asked to evacuate Sunday after a sinkhole developed in the front yard.

Family Leaves Hillsborough Home When Sinkhole Forms Outside.
Image capture from a televised coverage of the sinkhole.

Hillsborough County officials said the evacuation was precautionary, and there was no word yet on whether the sinkhole poses a threat to the one-story house at 4418 W Jean St.

The home is east of Hesperides Street and a half mile north of Hillsborough Avenue.

Hillsborough County spokesman Willie Puz said the family was planning to consult an engineering company. Property records list the owners as Jose and Isolina Gonzalez.

Puz said the county recommended they stay elsewhere until further ground testing. - Tampa Bay Times.

Seffner Restaurant Closes While Cause Of Cracks Investigated.

A Bob Evans restaurant will remain closed for at least a few days after employees getting ready to open Sunday morning found large cracks throughout the building.

The restaurant, at 11720 Gateway Blvd. near Interstate 4, had no customers inside yet when the discovery was made. The employees were evacuated and no injuries were reported.

Authorities are investigating whether a sinkhole is to blame.

The restaurant will stay closed for at least two or three days, said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Nacole Revette.

The big cracks in the building's structure were visible inside and outside. Inside, the cracks ran along several walls, the floor and ceiling, but Revette said there is no active hole or opening.

An engineering team will run tests to determine whether a sinkhole or heavy rains are the cause. The restaurant sits by a retention pond, and the high amounts of rain in the last few days could cause a washout that's responsible for unstable ground and the cracks, Revette said.

People stopped by the restaurant Sunday morning concerned about a potential sinkhole.

Carole Shaffer said she is afraid her fiance and others who work at a gas station next to the restaurant could be in danger.

"I was here Friday having brunch," said Susannah Winters, who lives nearby. "There wasn't any problem then. But I wouldn't go back until they found out what it was."

The restaurant was scheduled to be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, according to its website. The restaurant chain has eight locations in the Tampa Bay area.

The Seffner location is about 4 miles away from where a sinkhole opened under a home at 240 Faithway Drive in February, killing Jeffrey Bush, 37. The sinkhole continued to grow, leading to demolition of that house as well as those on either side of it. - Tampa Bay Times.

EXTREME WEATHER: Massive Dust Storms Hit Southeast Colorado - Evoking The "Dirty Thirties"!

June 10, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Jillane Hixson stopped dusting her home about noon on a clear Friday and looked out the window to a storm roiling in the distance.

Small dust devils kicked up, and within moments, a punishing dust storm slammed into Hixson Farms at full force, trapping Hixson and her husband, Dave Tzilkowski, in their home for 15 hours to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.

John and Jane Stulp witnessed this massive dust storm approaching their farm near Lamar. Seven such
storms have hit the area since November. (Jane Stulp, Special to The Denver Post)

"You hear sand and dirt pounding against the window," said Hixson, a fifth-generation farmer whose land and home are 4 miles south of Lamar. "You know that it's your crop that's hitting the windows and blowing away, and it's not just affecting you, but also everyone else."

They raced to close the blinds and curtains — to minimize the thick fog of dirt seeping inside and to block the grim vision.

"You can't stand to look at it," she said. "It's like a train wreck, looking a disaster full in the face."

They paced and they prayed as 60 mph winds kept coming.

"At one point, the sand was pounding on the glass so hard, I didn't know if it was hail or dirt," she said.

By late evening, so much dirt was floating inside the house, they had to cover their faces with handkerchiefs.

"It was in your nose, on your tongue, in your eyes," she said.

Hixson showered late that night but soon was covered with another layer of grime. They went to bed at 11 p.m., putting their heads under the blankets to shield them from the noise and the dirt, but they couldn't really sleep. They moved from bedroom to bedroom trying to find some peace.

By the time they woke at 6 a.m. Saturday, the storm had passed.

They opened the front door and saw 3-foot drifts of dirt everywhere.

"We were shellshocked, almost immobilized by depression," she said. "We were overwhelmed by the huge financial loss, and by the physical and emotional stress."

Their spirits lifted when family from Denver arrived for the holiday weekend.

It took two days for the entire extended family, with the help of two tractors and a loader, to clear the fine brown grit.

The storm was the worst of seven that have scoured the farm since November, Hixson said.

"We had periods of blowing soils in the 1970s that required tractor work," Tzilkowski said. "But this is ridiculous. I've never seen anything like it."

Dirt is almost all that people can talk about these days in communities along U.S. 50 and 287.

Photos of fierce dust storms rolling across the state's Eastern Plains are showing up on Facebook and local TV news, harking to the Dust Bowl years that devastated southeastern Colorado in the 1930s. Farmers and ranchers are tolling their losses. People are praying for rain.

It's the inevitable result of three seasons of extreme drought in the area — D4 this year, the worst on the U.S. Drought Monitor scale, and no relief in sight, said state climatologist Nolan Doesken.

"The first year, it was very dry, but there was still reasonable vegetative cover," he said. "That started deteriorating last year, with more and more bare ground."

Dave Tzilkowski and his wife, Jillane Hixson, look out over their farm from their backyard. Their crop of wheat was damaged by the recent dust storm. "You hear sand and dirt pounding against the window," said Hixson, a fifth-generation farmer whose property is 4 miles south of Lamar. "You know that it's your crop that's hitting the windows
and blowing away, and it's not just affecting you, but also everyone else." (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

For miles on either side of U.S. 287 between Kit Carson and Lamar, the earth is brown and bare during a season that should be bursting with green native grasses and wheat. Even weeds aren't growing. Failed crops mean vast swaths of land with no roots to anchor parched topsoil.

"(Farmers and ranchers) are watching the clouds gather, and then they get nothing but dust storms," Doesken said. "It's very depressing."

The conditions are taxing the financial ledgers and the creativity of people who make their living from the land.

On Wednesday at Hixson Farms, where 800 acres of wheat are already lost, workers were spreading 25 tons of manure to preserve topsoil on the 200 acres that were blowing the worst. It cost about $30,000 — and it's just a gamble, because high winds may blow it all away.

They've already chiseled the land, creating big, heavy clods, but doing that often just removes more moisture from the soil.

"This is highly erodible land," said Don Turner, a crop-insurance agent who dropped by the farm that afternoon. "(2002) was a year like this, but you didn't have all the dirt blowing."

Dust storms are new to people like Tarah Damgaard, a nurse who lives in Manzanola, about 70 miles west of Lamar. On Monday night, she was visiting family in Pueblo when she heard a news report about a "huge dust storm" coming their way.

"My mother-in-law looked out the window and said, 'Oh, my gosh, it looks like fire.' I looked, and it was like smoke, high in the sky, rolling toward us."

Damgaard immediately rushed her kids into the car and headed for home — but they ended up in the middle of the storm.

"It (passed) over my car," she said. "I couldn't see 5 feet in front of me."

She drove very slowly. When she pulled up at the house, she and the kids covered their faces with their shirts and ran inside.

"It was the most amazing and terrifying thing I've seen in a long time," she said, "and I hope I never see it again."

The next day, many of her elderly patients talked about it.

"They said it reminded them of how bad it was during the Dust Bowl," she said.

Turner has heard many similar stories, having grown up on a nearby farm listening to his parents' stories of the "Dirty Thirties." He remembers the drought that devastated the Eastern Plains during his childhood in the 1950s.

One particular dust storm is forever burned into his memory.

"It started on March 15, 1954, and went solid for three days and three nights," he said.

Turner travels frequently through drought-stricken counties, including Baca and Prowers, assessing the damage for insurance claims.

"It's a wasteland," he said, standing in a vast field of crumbling dirt Wednesday afternoon. "There should be cows here. And tractors."

It's like the silent spring, empty and eerie. Hardly a tractor in sight, as far as the eye can see. No one laboring to prepare for the wheat harvest. No cattle grazing, because the grasses have gone dormant and ranchers are selling off their herds or trucking them elsewhere.

John Sutphin of Sutphin Cattle Co. in Lamar said he's out of hay because of the drought.

"I moved 2,100 cows to Oklahoma and Texas," he said, "and my father moved 3,500 to Arizona."

At Stulp Farms, a few miles south of Hixson Farms, they're down to their last bales of hay.

"We're about to run out," said Jensen Stulp, a veterinarian who manages the family farm.

His father, John, is a former Colorado commissioner of agriculture who spends most of his time in Denver working as special policy adviser on water to Gov. John Hickenlooper.

"We're down to a fifth of a herd," Stulp said. "I'm selling 20 pairs every two weeks until it rains, or we run out of cattle."

At dusk Wednesday, driving his truck over acres of barren fields and failed crops, Stulp stopped at a spot where prairie dogs have further ravaged the parched land.

"It looks like the surface of the moon," he said. "It's just blowing whenever we get wind."

A thick layer of dust covers a table inside Jillane Hixson's home, south of Lamar, in the wake of a recent dust storm. (Jillane Hixson, Special to The Denver Post)

After three years of extreme drought, the soil of southeastern Colorado has been ground into a fine powder, like brown flour, that easily goes airborne.

The Stulps are using the latest technologies and soil conservation practices developed after the Dust Bowl, including no-till farming, which allows for growing crops without turning the soil.

"You don't want to risk unnecessary tillage," he said, pointing to a particularly erodible area of land. "If you plow that once, it will probably start blowing."

They also use stripper headers on combines when harvesting wheat, which strip only the grain, leaving most of the stalk standing, which helps keep the soil in place.

"We are changing our practices on the farm rapidly," Stulp said. "But is it rapid enough to deal with what's coming next?" - Denver Post.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Alaska's Pavlof Volcano Rumbles Again With Ash And Tremors!

June 10, 2013 - ALASKA - Pavlof Volcano continues to spew ash and shake for a fourth-straight day after a week of relative calm. Earlier this week, the Alaska Volcano Observatory again raised the alert level for the volcano to orange because of an increasing chance the Aleutian Chain volcano will erupt.

Pavlof Volcano, located in Alaska's Aleutian Chain, spews ash from its vent on June 7, 2013.
Courtesy Theo Chesley

Ash emissions from Pavlof continued Saturday. Seismic tremors and small explosions detected by monitoring stations near the volcano accompany the ash. Elevated surface temperatures near the volcano’s vent were observed in overnight satellite images. The heat suggests that some molten rock flowing from the vent.

Satellite images on Saturday morning showed southeast winds carrying an ash plume 30 miles from Pavlof. Clear views from Cold Bay, a small town of about 100 residents in the eastern Aleutian Chain, showed an ash plume rising a few thousand feet above the volcano, the observatory reported.

Located in Southwest Alaska about 30 miles northeast of the community of King Cove, the 8,261-foot peak is arguably the state's most active volcano, having erupted about 40 times in recorded history. Pavlof first awoke on May 13, when thermal imaging revealed that the volcano was heating up. Two days later, a dark ash cloud rose to about 20,000 feet.

The volcano was downgraded last week after seismic and thermal activity dropped off. However, the volcano observatory noted, this decline was consistent with Pavlof's past eruption patterns. - Alaska Dispatch.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe And Persistent Drought - In Kansas, Crippling Drought Paralyzes Crops!

June 10, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Even a snake needs water.

Anthony Stevenson stopped his truck to point out the trail a bull snake left as it crossed a dusty dirt road sandwiched between two thirsty fields of wheat. But, he said, there is no water. It rarely rains - it hasn't in months.

Darren Becker sifts through arid topsoil under a ruined crop on his family farm in Logan, Kansas, in this file
photo from August 2012. Drought has ravaged this swath of the Kansas prairie for the past three years.

With the ponds empty, streams dry and the pastures baked, the only water for a bull snake is underneath an irrigation center pivot, which appears to be running nonstop this time of year.

Moreover, the only clouds the 49-year-old Grant County farmer has seen are made of dust, which roll across the surrounding fields and pile up like snow on the edges of his wheat field.

"The only problem is, it doesn't melt," he said.

It's just one of the deep wounds on this swath of Kansas prairie where drought has raged for the past three years. Stevenson parked his pickup and stepped out into a nearby field of boot-tall, thin wheat. In Grant County, the June harvest is a month away and in a normal year, wheat would be about waist high, thick and green.

Yet this isn't a normal year, he said softly. Months of dry spells, followed by at least four nights of lengthy freezes, and his entire June paycheck is nearly spent.

As much of the eastern part of Kansas is finally getting relief from the multiyear drought, this corner of southwest Kansas can't buy a rain, it seems. Ulysses, the county seat of Grant County, has only received 2 inches of moisture in the past five months - not enough to save the wheat crop and hardly a drop in the bucket of its normal 18 inches for the year.

Stevenson tries to stay upbeat, but admits this situation is becoming wearisome. There just won't be much of a wheat harvest for the third straight year. And this wheat harvest will be far worse than the other two with almost all his dryland and irrigated wheat fields destroyed by drought and freeze.

"My dad would always say it will rain when you really, really need it," he said. "But I really, really needed a rain for a long, long time."

Droughts have come and gone in Kansas -- especially in this seemingly arid southwestern corner of the state.

In the 1930s, drought and winds created rolling walls of dust that spread across the Great Plains, causing nearly a quarter of southwest Kansas' population to leave, according to the book "Rooted in Dust: Surviving Drought and Depression in Southwest Kansas."

Now, the same area that was the epicenter of the Dirty Thirties is the heart of this 21-century drought, said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska.

This western swath of Kansas, in fact, is a far different picture than that of the eastern half of Kansas where, after two years of drought, a dramatic weather turnaround has brought snow and rain and bolstered prospects for a bumper wheat harvest.

In southwest Kansas, where on a normal year only 18 inches of rain falls compared to the more than 30 inches in the east, such a turnaround is tougher. This area, Svoboda said, has dug itself so far into drought that it will have a hard time climbing out.

WATCH: The Latest on the Drought.

All of western Kansas remains in an extreme to exceptional drought - the highest rankings issued by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The worst areas stretch across the Oklahoma Panhandle into Texas, as well as parts of Colorado and Nebraska.

The effects of the extended dry spell have left definite scars on the southwest Kansas prairie. The wheat crop is vanishing with each day of no rain. Pasture grasses continue to decline because of the lack of moisture. With little grass or feed, ranchers are culling deeper into their herds.

"There were a few places that had rain this spring but for the large part, the little lakes and ponds are dry," he said. "The pastures are brown - the pastures look like August."

This year's wheat harvest could be one of the worst harvests for the region in at least 25 years, Holman said.

Stevenson estimates his dryland crop at less than 10 bushels an acre. However, this year he has had a double disaster, he said. Typically, he can count on his irrigated wheat crop to do well, and in the last two years, irrigated ground has bested 60 bushels an acre.

This year he said he would be surprised if it made more than 18 bushels an acre after the multiple days of below freezing temperatures in April. One night lingered in the teens with a wind chill of zero.

"This year's weather has totally wiped out most of my wheat," he said. "But there's nothing I could do about it. Nothing."

Far beyond the dusty wheat fields and parched pastures, the drought impact is felt in small towns like Ulysses.

Ulysses, population 6,300, was born twice, first in 1885 and a second time in 1909 when, to escape the banker, the entire town loaded up and moved a few miles to the west.

A century later and new Ulysses has weathered through the Great Depression, as well as drought years in the 1950s. Like each drought period, the effects ripple across the business community, said Larry Altis, who manages the local Ace Hardware.

"When you are in a farming community and the crops don't produce, you tighten your belt," he said. "Last year we thought we had a good corn crop but there were no kernels in the heads. Now we have the death of our wheat crop, and the water table is getting tighter."

Two years of little rainfall already has cost the state's farmers nearly $5 billion in crop losses - the loss of production and the price farmers would have received.

Meanwhile, claims for this year's failed crops are beginning to accumulate in the Risk Management Agency's Topeka office.

Kansas farmers have claimed $33.5 million in indemnities so far this year for crop losses on 9.4 million acres, according to the agency. Wheat makes up the largest share of those claims, at more than $31 million.

The drought has lingered too long. The rig Stevenson's grandfather built to drill irrigation wells on the farm in the 1940s and 1950s still sits on his farmstead. The past two years, his irrigation system hasn't been able to keep up with his corn crop's demand for water.

He recalled a hailstorm in 1994 that wiped out his entire wheat crop. That was the only year he never pulled out a combine. This year, however, could nearly measure up.

And, he noted, the year is far from over. His irrigated corn that is emerging needs rain from the sky to make a decent crop. Last year's crop didn't make more than 100 bushels an acre. Typically, it should surpass 200-plus.

"I can't out pump the drought," he said. "There just isn't that much water anymore." - TWC.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Otters Show That Disease Toxoplasmosis Is Widespread In United Kingdom Rivers - Could Mean That Humans Are At A High Risk Of Infection!

June 10, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - Otters show disease could be in our rivers

For the first time scientists have shown that the disease Toxoplasmosis is widespread in animals found in the UK's water systems. If the disease is common in our rivers it could mean that humans are at a high risk of infection.

The researchers conducted post mortems on dead otters - mostly road-kills - found around England and Wales to assess whether any of the animals contained antibodies for the disease, which is caused by the parasite Toxoplasmosis Gondii. The scientists were surprised to find almost half of the otters examined had been exposed to the disease - a high rate of prevalence considering otters eat fish, which don't carry the parasite.

'40 per cent were carrying antibodies for the disease, although Toxoplasmosis was never shown to be the cause of death. This is higher than we might have expected given their mainly fish diet,' says Dr Elizabeth Chadwick of Cardiff University, lead author on the study.

'On the other hand it may be that otters are being infected by cysts in the water containing a reproductive form of the parasite - the oocysts. If otters are picking it up directly from water it suggests there is an environmental risk to humans, as current screening and water treatments don't get rid of oocysts.'

The parasite can only complete its life cycle and produce oocysts when it is hosted by a cat. The oocysts can enter the cat's faeces and eventually, either from people flushing cat litter down their toilets, or from the faecal matter draining off of gardens and streets, get into our waterways.

While around 30 per cent of humans carry the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, only 10-20 per cent of these - 3-6 per cent of the total population - will show symptoms. These are flu-like, so most people never realise they are infected. Once the flu-like illness ends, the parasite forms cystsin the body's tissues - although largely inactive, these stay in the tissues for the lifetime of the host, and some think they may have an effect on behaviour.

'In mice Toxoplasma gondii has been shown to manipulate behaviour. It makes them take risks that increase their chances of being eaten by cats, which are the only host in which Toxomplasmosis. Gondii can sexually reproduce. The parasite manipulates its mouse host in order to ensure it eventually gets into the cat, and thereby complete its life cycle,' explains Chadwick.

While humans are unlikely to be eaten by cats this risk taking behaviour is also seen in humans who have contracted the disease, such as a higher number of road traffic accidents.

'More serious health effects occur in people with weakened immune systems, like those with AIDS, or following transfer from mother to foetus during pregnancy,' says Chadwick. 'In healthy people, chronic infection has such subtle effects they're hard to pin down, but links have been made not only to behavioural changes but also to serious psychiatric disorders including depression and schizophrenia.'

As populations of both humans and animals grow, the team think the impacts of faecal contamination on public and wildlife health is only likely to increase. But regular screening for Toxoplasma gondii in dead animals collected across the country could provide valuable information about the risks posed to human health. - Planet Earth.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Russia's Shiveluch Volcano Spews Ash Up To 9,000 Meters (29,500 Feet)!

June 10, 2013 - RUSSIA - Russia's northernmost active volcano is churning out ash to a height of up to 9,000 meters (29,500 feet) in the country's Far East, local scientists reported on Monday.

Shiveluch. © Photo NASA/JSC

The 3,283-meter (10,771-foot) Shiveluch volcano increased activity in May 2009 and has been periodically spewing ash from three to ten kilometers.

“Video monitoring of the volcano was complicated due to poor weather conditions, but seismological stations registered over the past 24 hours almost 150 local seismic activities with the most continued one accompanied by a spew of ash up to a height of 6.9 kilometers, give or take 2.2 kilometers,” a local department of the Geophysical Service with the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

Although the current eruption poses no immediate threat to nearby settlements, the ensuing ash fallouts could be hazardous to health and the environment.

The clouds of volcanic ash could also pose threat to air traffic because the tiny particles cause problems with aircraft engine turbines.

There are more than 150 volcanoes on Kamchatka and up to 30 of them are active. - RIA.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Large Number Of Dead Fish And Other Marine Creatures Found At Dando-Mollo In Velsao, India?!

June 10, 2013 - INDIA - A large quantity of fish and some other marine life has been found lying dead in a storm water drain which is connected to the Arabian Sea at Dando-Mollo in the village Panchayat area of Velsao-Pale-Issorcim.

Dead fish lying on the surface of water at Dando-Mollo in Velsao.  (Sudesh Bhosle)

According to information received from villagers, they noticed the dead fish and other aquatic creatures floating on the surface of water since Tuesday evening and the quantity increased by Wednesday, leading to a stench in the vicinity of the storm water drain, which is also traditionally known as poi by the villagers.

Speaking to The Navhind Times, Mr Tito Britto, a resident of Pale village, said that the incident of fish and other aquatic creatures lying dead in the Dando-Mollo storm water drain is witnessed every year with the onset of monsoon. He further alleged that the dead fish could be a result of the discharge of chemicals into the Arabian sea by a factory located at Birla, Zuarinagar.

“A large number of fish and other aquatic creatures is killed every year during the breeding season due to the alleged discharge of factory chemicals,” said Mr Britto and further pointed out that despite the collection of samples of the contaminated water by the officials of the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) in the previous years, nothing has been revealed yet about the reports. He also claimed that the officials of the GSPCB are yet to disclose the reason behind the death of the fish and marine life on a large scale every year
during this time.

Mr Britto said that the government authorities have failed to initiate timely action despite complaints by the villagers regarding the death of marine life. He also said that due to the construction work of the Dando-Mollo bridge, which will link two villages namely Dando and Mollo, a lot of mud has accumulated in the storm water drain and that is acting as a barrier to the smooth flow of water in the drain. “With there being no smooth flow of water in the drain, the dead fish lying on the surface of the water is giving out a stench in the surrounding areas,” said Mr Britto and added that it could prove to be a health hazard if the government authorities fail to take preventive measures. He also feared that the dead fish could be sold in the fish markets by some people in order to make fast money.

Mr Britto said that the dumping of mud into the storm water drain next to the construction work of the Dando-Mollo bridge could also lead to flooding of the houses located near the storm water drain.
Meanwhile, the samples collected by the GSPCB officials of the water alleged to be contaminated will be referred for scientific analysis and other tests and the report would be revealed shortly. - The Navhind Times.