Friday, August 2, 2013

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - The Sinkhole Is Now OVER 20 TIMES LARGER THAN IT WAS LAST YEAR; It's "Taken On A VOLCANO-LIKE Quality"?!

August 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - John Boudreaux smelled petroleum in the air when he arrived at work at 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 3 of last year.

Photo provided by Assumption Parish Emergency Preparedness, JOHN BOUDREAUX -
The cause of the sinkhole, as seen from above in June, is still undetermined.

More than two months into an emergency response for unexplained bayou bubbles and tremors, Boudreaux was working in Bayou Corne at a command post set up to investigate the mysterious goings-on that had baffled residents, Assumption Parish officials and state regulators.

Emergency dispatchers had already received complaints about the hydrocarbon smell that Friday morning from waking residents.

Boudreaux, director of the Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, drove to an oil tank battery station north of La. 70 South, thinking it might be the source. But the old tanks had been removed.

As he drove away, his cel phone rang.

It was Kenneth Blanchard, Louisiana Area manager for Texas Brine Co., whose Grand Bayou facility is near the Bayou Corne community.

“ ‘Hey, where you at?’ ” Blanchard asked.

“I said, ‘Well, I’m in Bayou Corne looking for an oil spill,’ ” Boudreaux said.

“He says, ‘Well, you might want to come over here.’ ”

In a wooded patch on Texas Brine’s leased site south off La. 70 was a 200-foot-by-200-foot sinkhole.

The Assumption Sinkhole area.

Initially called a “slurry hole,” the sinkhole had emerged sometime overnight after months of stirrings deep underground, pulling mature cypress trees straight down under a surface of floating mats of grass, mud and crude oil.

That evening, Assumption Parish Police Jury President Martin “Marty” Triche ordered an evacuation for 350 people in the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities.

Since that day, one year ago Saturday, the 24-acre sinkhole has grown by a factor of more than 20 and taken on a volcano-like quality. The sinkhole has dormant periods and active periods, when tremors increase and methane and an emulsified oily gunk are released from deep natural deposits.

Scientists now suspect the sinkhole arose from a failure of a Texas Brine Co. salt dome cavern after it was mined too closely to the outer face of the underground salt deposit.

Under public and political pressure, Texas Brine began buyout talks in late May, and 63 of 92 eligible property owners accepted them by the July 31 deadline, though lawsuits filed by residents and businesses are also piling up in court.

The long-standing disaster has prompted divided responses from residents and, as a result, periodic tensions in those communities as some are angry with Texas Brine and state regulators, others want to fight and get more answers, and yet others are ready to leave and move on.

“A year has gone by. They have taken a year of our lives. We have been on pause,” said Candy Blanchard, 48, an evacuated Bayou Corne resident who helps moderate a weekly support group for sinkhole evacuees.

“That’s a long time to have our lives on pause and not able to be gone.”

As Louisiana Office of Conservation and Texas Brine Co. contractors have trained their sensors on the sinkhole, scientists have refined their theories about what is happening. But they still do not have the full picture.

Texas Brine and Conservation experts suggest, based on new seismic data, that the large 1-mile-by-3-mile salt dome itself is stable.

But the experts differ on how much flammable methane is left to be removed and how long that will take, and they cannot agree on the size of the zone of fractured rock underneath the sinkhole that is a key factor in assessing long-term stability and extent of the sinkhole.

A view of the Bayou Corne sinkhole looking west on July 23. 
Advocate staff photo by Richard Alan Hannon.

Gary Hecox, senior hydrogeologist with CB&I, a contractor working on the sinkhole for the Office of Conservation, told residents last month they are in “for a long haul.”

The rate of gas removal has dropped significantly since late February. Under the current low rates, parish officials have estimated it could take three to five years to remove the remaining gas under the community and even longer if suspected additional gas sources feed the subsurface.

Texas Brine officials claim there are signs the gas is diminishing. Texas Brine officials say they are also working on methods, including more advanced testing and better vent well designs, to vastly improve the rate of gas removal.

“This was an unfortunate, totally unexpected incident, and we truly regret what the Bayou Corne community has had to endure over the past year,” company officials said in a statement.

“We know there is frustration in the community, and we are doing everything we can to address their concerns.”

The possibility of the evacuation continuing a year later has surprised Triche. He said he would have expected some kind continuing response a year after the sinkhole but not the continued threat to residents.

“I would have never for the life of me thought we’d been a year out still in this same predicament that were in: a sinkhole that’s continuously evolving, natural gas continuing to vent, and bubbles in and around communities,” Triche said.
Life in an RV

Bayou Corne residents Ronnie and Betty Thibodaux have been living in a compact recreational vehicle since the evening Triche called the evacuation.

They don’t know how much more they can take.

“They called the meeting at 6:30 p.m. We were gone for 7:30 p.m.,” Betty Thibodaux said.

Ronnie Thibodaux, 67, suffers from an ailment related to Parkinson’s, leaving him unsteady and in need of his wife’s constant help.

During a recent visit to their RV at the Cypress Lake RV Resort in Berwick in St. Mary Parish, Betty Thibodaux, 63, showed how she positions her husband’s legs past a narrow spot in the RV and rolls him on the bed so he can lie down each night.

They are plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Texas Brine, and their suit is scheduled for trial in April 2014.

A 1,000-foot-deep geophone seismic monitor works July 23 behind the Texas Brine facility in Bayou Corne. 
Advocate staff photo by Richard Alan Hannon.

“They said 10 months before you go to court,” she said. “We won’t be able to stay in the camper for 10 months. He barely can pick his feet up to walk. So, I mean, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

She said they have not pursued a buyout from Texas Brine because she does not believe a fair market appraisal would leave them with enough money to replace what they had in Bayou Corne.

“I would never get enough to pay what I owe and get something else, and I didn’t want to get a 30-year loan because we’re going to be in our 90s by the time (the loan is paid off),” Thibodaux said.

In Bayou Corne, the couple had lived next to her niece and her brothers, Wallace and Haywood Cavalier, on Sauce Piquante Lane. The extended family spent months together evacuated in a Pierre Part trailer park, even having a Thanksgiving in the park’s cinder block laundromat.

But her brothers’ families now are living in Thibodaux and Pierre Part, leaving Betty and Ronnie Thibodaux in Berwick, looking for a rental house somewhere near Thibodaux to be close to his doctors.
Taking the buyout

Labeled “Wind chimes, nick nak” and “Queen size sheets,” the cardboard boxes stacked in a pyramid in Gerald and Janet Merritt’s living room signal the way ahead for the retired couple.

The Merritts, who have been living in Bayou Corne since 1993 and planned on it being their final home, have taken a buyout from Texas Brine and are moving back to Baton Rouge.

The packing of 20 years of accumulation was slow and ominous for the feelings it was stirring.

“We don’t have our pots packed,” joked Janet Merritt, 69. “We have got so much stuff to pack, it’s pitiful.”

A combination of factors led them to opt for a buyout.

Janet Merritt has struggled with her health and has regular doctor’s visits in Baton Rouge. Also, one of their three adult sons in Baton Rouge was recently diagnosed with cancer.

“But the reason why we’re having to relocate is because of that salt dome over there,” Gerald Merritt said, “and I just don’t believe … they can physically, possibly stabilize that area over there because it’s sinking down.”

An avid fisherman, Merritt was drawn to the area’s bayous, but his boat has been laid up since last August because he fears riding near bubble sites venting methane.

Merritt, 70, a retired union welder who once survived being buried alive during a cave-in working under a pipeline, said he initially did not plan to leave Bayou Corne. But he said the realization has set in that authorities are not likely to stabilize the sinkhole and the couple does not want to wait on litigation.

Bayou Corne residents Gerald and Jane Merritt at their home on Tuesday in Bayou Corne.
The Merritts have packed up many of their belongings and are awaiting a buyout check. 
Advocate staff photo by Richard Alan Hannon.

“I’m not going to wait until I can’t get out of here,” Gerald Merritt said. “It’s bad enough now.”

As the legal and buyout process grinds forward, Bayou Corne appears headed inexorably toward the fate of a growing number of communities and neighborhoods that have made way for Louisiana industries.

Whether it’s Reveilletown for Georgia Gulf in Iberville Parish, Diamond for the Norco refinery in St. Charles Parish, or parts of Garyville and all of Lions for Marathon in St. John Parish, said Marylee Orr, executive director of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, the buyout process is always bittersweet.

“You just have respect that there is no price that really repays for the loss of your community, your homes and dreams, but at same time, some people feel this is the best option,” Orr said.

In Grand Bayou, a well failure in a gas storage cavern in late 2003 led to a two-month evacuation and buyouts of virtually all residents in the small farming community next to Bayou Corne.

Gina Vedros, 50, grew up in Grand Bayou and has been fighting in court over a buyout from the 2003 incident. Vedros was still living in Grand Bayou for the Texas Brine failure last year.

Though she feels Texas Brine did not give her a fair deal, she accepted the offer because she is tired of fighting. Despite the area’s beauty, she said, she believes it needs to become an industrial zone.

“I don’t think that’s fair, but it seems like we can’t share that area,” Vedros said. “If they can’t exist with us, we don’t have the money and the power to really still live there. They can control us.”
Choosing to stay.

WATCH: Latest flyover videos - August 1, 2013.

Bob Deaton, 66, is quick point out that everyone has to make their own decision about acceptable risk, but like many of his neighbors in the upscale Sportsman’s Drive neighborhood south of La. 70 South, Deaton has chosen to remain at his waterfront home in Bayou Corne.

Deaton enjoys the fishing in the community’s namesake bayou. The endless combinations of bank shape, vegetation, water level, temperature and other factors in the swamps make guessing where the fish are a daily challenge.

Deaton, a retired electrical engineer who worked at the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baton Rouge and other industrial jobs, has brought the same intellectual focus to the sinkhole behind his house.

Deaton reads reports buried on government websites tracking the sinkhole and he recently made a technical suggestion to improve gas removal, which Texas Brine officials later said they had been reviewing.

Though a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Texas Brine, he is suing over the loss of value for his property, not to be bought-out. Deaton has a second home in Baton Rouge but contends that even if he had only a home in Bayou Corne, he would be even more willing to stay.

Deaton has one of the 55 homes with in-home monitors installed to check for gas levels. He pointed out there have been no cases of toxic or flammable gas in homes or on the streets or at a dangerous levels in the bayous.

“So given that and given my experience, you know, working my entire life in refineries and chemical plants, I just don’t think there is a need to leave,” he said.

“If it becomes dangerous, I think the meters I have will give me sufficient alarm to evacuate. And I have a lot at stake here, so I don’t want to go.” - The Advocate.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Latest Reports Of Mysterious Fish Kills Across America - 5 More Dead Dolphins Wash Up In Virginia, Bringing The Total This Year To An Alarming 87; Thousands Of Dead Fish, Stingrays, Crabs And Shrimp Wash Ashore On Mississippi Beaches; 21 Dolphins Wash Ashore On New Jersey Beaches!

August 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Here are several of the latest incidents of mass fish die-offs across the United States:

Ocean View, Virginia Sees Third Dead Dolphin.
Dead dolphin in Ocean View on July 31, 2013. Photo by WAVY/Walter Hildebrand.

Another deceased dolphin was found in the Ocean View area, making it the third in a matter of days.  The bottlenose dolphin was found near Beaumont Avenue and appears to be in a decomposed state.  This is the third dead dolphin to wash up on an Ocean View beach in about a week and the fourth in the last three weeks.  Earlier this month, 10 On Your Side asked the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center if there could be a connection between the dolphin deaths, and they said no.

Now, the aquarium's biologists are a little more concerned.  "We are a little bit concerned about it," said Mark Swingle with the Virginia Aquarium. "It's definitely at a much higher level than we're used to seeing at this time of year."  Swingle said there are a number of reasons that dolphins die -- disease, predation, or just being at the mercy of fishermen's nets or boats. And even though is is prime dolphin season, the number of bottlenose dolphin deaths along the Chesapeake Bay is unusually high for this time of year.  "We have, as of this morning, about 82 dolphin strandings for the year, and typically we average in a whole year about 64 dolphin strandings. So, it's definitely elevated," Swingle said. 

WATCH: Ocean View sees third dead dolphin.

An aquarium press release said 44 of the 82 dolphin strandings this year happened in July -- the average for July is seven. The aquarium's Stranding Response Team is working with the NOAA Fisheries to investigate the causes of death, but it will take time.  "We know how to investigate dolphin strandings, we know how to look into whether or not  the animal is diseased or sick," Swingle said. "And things like that, the challenge is, it does take a little bit of time for those kind of tests to be run."  Most of the recent dolphin strandings are exclusively male, according to the aquarium release.  The aquarium is receiving help from other members of the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and so some of the dolphins from Hampton Roads will be transported to North Carolina for examination.  If you see a stranded animal on the beach, do not touch it. Instead, call the stranding hotline anytime of day or night: (757) 385-7575. - WAVY.

5 More Dead Dolphins Wash Up In Virginia, Bringing The Total This Year To 87.
Five more dolphins have washed up dead on beaches in Virginia Thursday.  The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center confirms to NewsChannel 3 that one dolphin was found in the Ocean View section of Norfolk and four others were found in counties including Mathews and Gloucester.  The 5 additional dolphin deaths bring the total number of stranded dolphins recovered by the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Response Team to 87 for the year.  In July, 44 dolphins were recovered by the team, compared to 7 they typically see in that month.

WATCH: 5 more dead dolphins wash up in Virginia.

Read more about the Virginia strandings here.

Virginia isn’t the only state dealing with the increase in dolphin strandings. New Jersey is also reporting a higher than usual number of dead dolphins washing up on shore.  Maggie Mooney-Seus, a spokeswoman for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, tells NewsChannel 3 that the agency has e-mailed an alert to stranding teams along the East Coast asking them to monitor and report dolphin deaths.  The agency is hoping to collect information to see if there are any trends.  NewsChannel 3 also spoke with the Karen Clark, program coordinator for the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, who reports that the number of dolphin strandings in the Outer Banks have not increased and remain typical compared to previous years.

The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team stresses that if you find a dolphin on the beach, don’t touch it, but immediately call the Stranding Response Team. Their hotline is (757)385-7575 and is staffed 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. To learn more about how to report a stranding, click here. - WTKR.

Thousands Of Dead Fish, Stingrays, Crabs And Shrimp Wash Ashore On Mississippi Beaches.
This year's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is more than twice the size of last year's.  CBS News

On the pristine beaches of Mississippi, thousands of dead fish, stingrays, crabs and shrimp have washed ashore this month. They died from a lack of oxygen in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.   It's called the "dead zone," and it appears every summer. This year's dead zone, though, is larger than average and more than twice the size of last year's.  "The alarming news is that it continues to be large year after year after year," says marine biologist Nancy Rabalais has measured the dead zone since 1985.  The primary cause of the dead zone is nitrogen-based fertilizers in Midwest fields that are washed down the Mississippi River by spring rains and in to the Gulf. There they create blooms of algae that rob the water of oxygen.

Scientists believe last year's drought has made the dead zone worse, as fertilizer that was never absorbed by crops was swept into the Gulf.  In Dulac, La., David Chauvin worries about what that could do to his shrimp business.  "Shrimp are one of the most fragile creatures on the face of the earth," he says. "You take a shrimp and put them into a bucket with no oxygen whatsoever, they'll die within seconds. ... That could mimic a dead zone."  It's not just his business that's at risk. Seafood in this part of the Gulf is a $2 billion a year industry. 

Five years ago, the states in the Mississippi River basin agreed to a plan for reducing the amount of nitrogen flowing into the Gulf, but it had little effect. Now environmental groups are suing the federal government, calling for standards that are enforced.  Chauvin says that right now, it doesn't sound like the government is "doing anything."  The dead zone usually lasts until late summer or early fall, when powerful storms churn the Gulf and put the oxygen back in the water, leaving people here wondering what's worse -- a dead zone or a hurricane. - WTSP.

21 Dolphins Wash Ashore On New Jersey Beaches.
Two pods of dolphins swam by a group of lifeguards during a morning competition off the beach here Wednesday.  It was the serene summer scene any lifeguard appreciates, but New Jersey guards have had many grimmer encounters with dolphins in recent weeks.  Since a dead dolphin was found in the Elberon section of Long Branch on July 9, 21 dead dolphins have washed onto beaches from Monmouth County to Cape May County, said Bob Schoelkopf, founding director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, which has responded to each.

What’s causing the deaths isn’t yet clear. The number of dolphins brought in for testing — an average of two per day — has delayed the center from getting closer to an answer, Schoelkopf said.  “This is unusual,” he said. “It’s a high number.”  Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service said last week that a typical year could see more than 1,000 strandings of dolphins and other marine animals such as seals and whales from Maine to Virginia. 

This time of year often leads to dolphin strandings because they are migrating and between more boats in the water and a higher population, human interaction or just a sudden sickness could bring a dolphin to shore, said Maggie Mooney-Seus, NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s communications specialist.  Fisheries have started collecting information, which includes asking its other regional stranding network members to report any strandings they have so NOAA can track any trends, Mooney-Seus said.

Schoelkopf said all but one of the beached animals have been bottlenose dolphins. A common dolphin was brought in Tuesday after washing onto the beach in Harvey Cedars. They range from 125 to 500 pounds, he said.  The stranding center picks up the animals, briefly studies them at their headquarters in Brigantine, and then takes them to the New Bolton Center in Chester County, Pa. There, they undergo a necropsy — an autopsy for animals.

“We keep taking them (animals) every day. The lab is pushing as hard as they can,” he said.  While the locations of the dead dolphins has varied, Schoelkopf said his staff has found nine of the dolphins along the 18-mile stretch of Long Beach Island. Long Beach Township has had to report three dead dolphins, Beach Patrol Supervisor Don Myers said.  The three dolphins that washed on his beaches July 19, 24 and 30 came later in the day when few people were on the beach, Myers said. His staff follows protocol by keeping people away and notifying the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, he said.  His staff examined one of the dolphins, which had various cuts, scrapes and punctures.

But he said he isn’t certain what has been impacting the dolphins.  “I tell my staff they’re mammals like we are. They have respiratory infections or die of natural causes like anything,” Myers said.  The dolphins haven’t forced beach closures and the health department cleared the beach of health issues, Myers said. His beach hasn’t had problems with sharks, either, he said.  Schoelkopf said some of the dolphins that they found had been badly decomposed because of sharks eating the carcasses.  He is urging anyone who sees a dolphin to keep themselves, their pets and children away from it and to report it immediately to the center or local authorities, such as police or lifeguards. - Daily Record.

EXTREME WEATHER: Complex Of Severe Earth Changes In The United States And Europe - Severe Storm, Flooding Risk From Omaha To St. Louis And Oppressive Heat Bakes Much Of Europe!

August 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES & EUROPE - Here are two reports from AccuWeather, illustrating the extreme weather taking place on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Severe Storm, Flooding Risk From Omaha To St. Louis.

A series of thunderstorms will continue to roll along over the central Plains, and some areas will be hit with severe weather into Saturday.

As one complex of storms that brought severe weather to Nebraska Thursday evening weakens over Missouri, a new batch of storms was already bringing severe weather to parts of South Dakota on Friday morning.

This new complex of storms will roll southeastward into Saturday across Nebraska, Missouri and parts of Kansas and Iowa. The storms could reach as far as Tennessee, northern Mississippi and Alabama later Saturday.

Cities and suburbs from Omaha, Neb., to Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., are most likely have disruptive and damaging storms.

While frequent lightning strikes and hail will hit some communities hard, the greatest threat from the storms is damaging wind gusts and flash flooding.

Motorists should expect delays along I-29, I-70 and I-80 in the region, due to localized blinding downpours and excess water on the road surface.

For a few locations, this will be the second round in as many days of strong to severe thunderstorms, including parts of South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

Much of the new rain falling on top of saturated ground will just run off into streams and rivers. People in unprotected, low-lying areas that are prone to flooding should keep a watchful eye.

Never drive across flooded roadways, as only about a foot of water can cause your vehicle to loose traction and could be swept downstream.

The rain is not unwanted in some areas. Portions of Iowa, for example, have had less than 25 percent of their normal rainfall during July.

Areas from western Nebraska southward to West Texas over the High Plains are in great need of rain. Much of this area is in extreme to exceptional drought. The storms into Saturday will avoid much of the drought areas over the High Plains.

Another complex of storms may fire farther south Saturday night and Sunday, beginning over parts of Kansas.

The storms are firing along shifting boundary between unusually cool air over the Midwest and 100-degree heat over much of Texas.

Interestingly, one of the disturbances producing the rounds of thunderstorms over the Plains has a chance at surviving a trip to the Gulf of Mexico early next week. Once in a while, such disturbances can develop into a tropical system.

Oppressive Heat Bakes Much Of Europe.
Claese Elerud from Sweden, left, and Jason Binson of England plunge from a bridge into the canal Saint Martin
in Paris, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, as temperatures reached 37 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit) in the town centre.
(AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

August got off to a scorching start across much of central and western Europe. A blast of hot air spread across the region allowing temperatures to soar into the mid- and upper 30s Celsius.

The hot spell preceded a storm system moving into the northern United Kingdom. Ahead of this storm, a flow of hot air from the south made for a very uncomfortable Thursday and Friday in many places.

A smattering of oppressively hot temperature observations include 35C (95F) in Rome, 34 in London, 33 in Frankfurt and 38 (101F) in Madrid.

While cooler weather pressed into England Friday, the heat was still on in central Europe. Florence, Italy climbed to 37C (99F) late in the afternoon while Frankfurt topped out near 35C.

This excessive heat continued the trend of a warm last month in much of Europe. Since July 1, locations such as London, Paris and Madrid have all averaged at least 2.8 degrees Celsius (5F) above normal.

Thankfully, a break from the heat is on the way for western Europe this weekend and into next week. Cooler air will filter into the region from the northern Atlantic and bring temperatures much closer to average.

While the western part of the continent cools, the core of the heat will shift eastward to include Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia. Southern Spain as well as Italy will also remain quite warm.

- AccuWeather.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Global Volcano Report For August 2, 2013 - Updates On Etna, Tjörnes Fracture Zone, Avachinsky, And Yellowstone!

August 02, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Mount Etna.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): A cluster of earthquakes of magnitudes 2-3 occurred yesterday under the eastern flank near Sant Alfio, at depths around 7-8 km.

Tjörnes Fracture Zone (North of Iceland): A (probably tectonic) swarm of earthquakes has been occurring since yesterday in the eastern part of the TFZ, about 10-15 km north of the shore at various depths mostly below 15 km.

Location of recent quakes at the TFZ.

It includes more than 100 quakes yesterday including 6 above magnitude 3 (up to 3.8 yesterday morning).

Avachinsky (Kamchatka): A (so far small) seismic crisis has started about a week ago. The earthquake hypocenters are currently located at depths around 30 km SE of the volcano.

Location of recent quakes under Avachinsky (blue dots) (EMSD).

The new quakes superimpose to the normal seismic activity at shallow depth. It is not clear whether this indicates that magma has started to accumulate at the mantle-crust boundary beneath the volcano, or whether the seismic activity there is purely tectonic and related to the subduction of the Pacific Plate... [read more]

Yellowstone (Wyoming, USA): The famous Steamboat Geyser erupted again during the past night breaking a 8 years period of dormancy. Known as the currently largest geyser in the world, its jets are known to reach up to 90 m height.

It is located in the Norris Basis in the northern part of Yellowstone. Its eruptions are very irregular, with intervals ranging between several weeks (29 eruptions in 1964) to decades (record was 50 years pause with no eruption).

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for August 2, 2013.

- Volcano Discovery.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Mysterious Glowing Multi-Colored Clouds Light Up Night Sky In Russia - Same Region That Had A Huge Meteorite Strike In February?!

August 02, 2013 - RUSSIA - Thousands of people in Russia witnessed an incredible array of glowing multi-colored clouds in the Ural Mountains region recently. Although scientists have theorized that they it may be a rare occurrence of the Northern Lights in the area or a phenomenon called “silver clouds,” others are not so sure.

'So far it is hard to say what exactly it was. During last night our stations did not register any abnormal
magnetic storms which must accompany the North Lights', Chelyabinsk Hydro-Meteorological Centre said

This is the same region that a huge meteorite struck in February, causing thousands of injuries.

Most reports came from Chelyabinsk, the largest city in the area. The video above was taken in the nearby town of Miass, which is where the lights are said to have been the brightest. The Siberian Times reports that the man in the video says:
This video is recorded at 2 am on the 16 June 2013. The sky over the town of Miass at 2 am was emblazoned with blue light. It unclear what kind of natural phenomenon it is. The glowing continues and just what it will end up with no-one knows.
Local television reported, “At first it appeared like white-blue shining light, later dirty red and yellow colors came out. The lights were completely gone by the dawn.”
One witness, Alexander Kazantsev, said:
I was walking back home with my friends at Lenina Prospekt when we saw the lights in the sky. At first we thought it was yet another meteorite flying towards us, then we thought about a strong searchlight…But the colored stripes were stable. Now I am sure it was a North Lights event. As far as I remember nothing like this even happened in Chelyabinsk.
Most scientists have ruled out the Northern Lights explanation. The Ural Mountain region is over 100 miles outside of the range that can view them. However, one scientist has another suggestion.

“Silver clouds” are a phenomenon that occurs 50 to 55 miles high in the mesosphere according to Vladimir Surdin, a scientist at the Stenberg Astronomical Institute in Moscow. He believes they were the cause of the strange lights seen in June.

WATCH: Mysterious clouds over Russia.

He says, “You can usually see the ‘silver clouds’ around the summer solstice period, and after the sunset.”

However, the Chelyabinsk Hydro-Meteorological Centre says that the jury still is out on what caused the phenomenon. They told The Siberian Times:
So far it is hard to say what exactly it was. During last night our stations did not register any abnormal magnetic storms which must accompany the North Lights….But the idea about silver clouds must be checked too. Normally they are not visible from ground. We shall be able to understand the nature of these lights only when we carefully study photo and video taken last night.
The Siberian Times reported, “One blogger said his grandmother had seen a similar phenomenon in the Chelyabinsk sky in 1957.”

A giant meteorite and now mysterious glowing multi-colored clouds have made it an exciting year for the region. The local residents must be wondering what is in store for them next. - Open Minds.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Earthquake Flurry Jolts Central New Zealand!

August 02, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - A flurry of six earthquakes have struck the country overnight, with the strongest, a magnitude 4.9, hitting off Seddon.

USGS earthquake locations.

The 4.9 magntiude quake, which struck just before 1am, was centred 25km south-east of Seddon at a depth of 22km.

It was followed by several smaller aftershocks, the biggest of which was a magnitude 4.5 quake 30km east of Seddon at 6.38am.

GeoNet had reported a magnitude 4.5 quake 15km northwest of Christchurch at 4.12am, but this has since been removed. - Stuff.

Tectonic Summary - 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 (greater than 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.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

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.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: The Mystery Of The Highway In The Sky - Sunbeams, Clouds And Strange Shadows Caused Astronomical Phenomenon In China?!

August 02, 2013 - CHINA - When a strange 'highway' was spotted in the skies in China, few people knew what had caused the unusual astronomical phenomenon.

After investigating, meteorological experts think the bizarre pathway was created by a combination of sunbeams 'cast from over the horizon,' clouds high in the sky and shadows.

The striking photos of the unusual astronomical phenomena were spotted in the sky above Boao Town of Qionghai City in Hainan Province, South China.

An unusual astronomical phenomena above the sky in Boao Town of Qionghai City, Hainan Province
in South China. Few people knew what had caused the unusual astronomical phenomenon.

© Caters New Agency

Mark Selzer, forecaster at the Met Office, told MailOnline: 'It's hard to be completely sure from a picture, but it's likely this [sight] is due to a phenomenon known as crepuscular rays - or sunbeams - being cast from over the horizon.

'The sun is dim but still shining on parts of the cirrus cloud high up, but the dark blue section is due to shadows being cast.

'The shadows are most likely caused by clouds which can't be seen from the observer's point of view due to the curvature of the earth,' he explained.

Cirrus clouds are a type of atmospheric cloud generally characterised by thin, wispy strands, giving the clouds their Latin name, meaning a ringlet or curling lock of hair.

The cloud strands sometimes appear in tufts of a distinctive form and are referred to by the common name of 'mares' tails'.

Meteorological experts from the MET Office think the bizarre pathway was created by a combination
of sunbeams 'cast from over the horizon,' clouds high in the sky and shadows.
© Caters New Agency

However, a spokesman for the Met Office said the type of cloud 'isn't too important' but it is the height of the clouds that really matters.

He said: 'Cirrus is a high level cloud - normally with a cloud base at around 18,000to 40,000ft - and that's reflecting the light from the sun.'

The meteorological experts believe that lower level cloud - perhaps a cumulonimbus, which has a cloud base of about 1,200 to 6,500ft - is possibly causing a shadow, which is seen as the darker band or 'highway'.

Crespular rays play a key role in this strange sight and occur when the sun is behind irregular cloud which cast shadows.

The Met Office's spokesman explained: 'Where there are no shadows, you get the effect of well defined sunbeams.

© Xinhua/Photoshot

Mark Selzer of the Met Office, said: 'It's likely this [sight] is due to a phenomenon known as crepuscular rays being cast from over the horizon.The sun is dim but still shining on parts of the cirrus cloud high up, but the dark blue section is due to shadows being cast.'

'In the case of the picture, there is only one shadow, which creates the dark patch across the sky.'

However, the experts could not rule out the unlikely possibility that high mountains could have cast the shadow instead of a cloud without an in-depth knowledge of the region's geography.

Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, agreed with the Met Office's explanation and added that the optical effects caused by the shadow cast by convection clouds are coming from behind the photographer, as is the light from the sun.

He said: 'The shadows that these tall clouds are casting onto the layer of cloud ahead appear to converge towards a point on the horizon due to the effect of perspective. It is similar to the way that train tracks appear to converge off in the distance.'

Mr Pretor-Pinner that the effect could actually be described as 'anti-crespular rays' as they converge as they recede into the distance.

'Anti-crepuscular rays are not common, especially rare and dramatic examples like these,' he added. - Colorado Newsday.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Seattle Closes Out July As Driest Since 1960 - Zero Percent Of Normal Rainfall In A Given Month?!

August 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - It's tough to actually receive zero percent of normal rainfall during a given month, but with only a trace of rain falling at Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport this past July, that is exactly what happened.

While technically a trace of rain is some precipitation, its official definition is "rainfall measuring less than 0.01 of an inch." That means if only three drops of rain fall from the sky, there was still a trace of rainfall.

The average amount of rain for the entire month of July in Seattle is 0.70 of an inch. The trace amount that fell during July 2013 was the least amount of rainfall during any July since 1960.

Friday will offer similar conditions as Thursday with a few spotty showers around the Seattle area, but most places will not see any rainfall.

If no measurable rainfall is observed through Friday, a strong ridge of high pressure building overhead will all but ensure the streak of dry weather will persist well into August.

Unfortunately, the dry conditions will continue to allow fuel for massive wildfires across the West, especially if gusty winds are stirred.

According to Inciweb, the Colockum Tarps fire is burning out of control southwest of Malaga, Wash. A total of 70,000 acres have been scorched by the blaze as of early Thursday, after igniting on Saturday, July 27, 2013. The fire is only 25 percent contained. Due to erratic fire growth, evacuations have been changing rapidly. - AccuWeather.

ICE AGE NOW: A Year Without Summer - July Cold Breaks 102-Year In Minnesota!

August 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Sweatshirts aren't the usual attire for baling hay, but a cold snap made the job more pleasant last week as this group made a second cutting for Gary Gorter.

Shown is tractor driver Sharla Drew instructing Trisha Jessen (left) and Ryley Gorter on how to maneuver
the baler down the raked alfalfa rows south of Pipestone. On the hay rack, Matt Jessen shows
9-year-old Brandon Gorter how to stack the small squares. 
© Mavis Fodness

Weekend temperatures in Pipestone plummeted to lows not seen for 102 years as a cold air mass from northern Canada slipped down into the region.

Temperatures of 39 degree and 38 degrees were recorded in Pipestone on Saturday morning, July 27 and Sunday morning, July 28 respectively, according to Mike Gillispie, National Weather Service meteorologist out of Sioux Falls, S.D.

The lows broke the record of 42 degrees set in 1911.

"There are a few others in the upper 40s, but only two incidences down that cold," Gillispie said - - the 1911 record and then a 44-degree low recorded in 2005.

The cold air mass combined with light winds, clear skies and low humidity to allow the temperatures to plunge over the evening hours. The pattern isn't abnormal, Gillispie said, but it doesn't typically occur during the dog days of summer when high-pressure ridges generally extend all the way through the northern plains.

"When we're setting records that have been around for 100 years, it doesn't happen often," Gillispie said.

The NWS's latest 30-day weather model for August predicts the unseasonable cold won't last, with Pipestone straddling regions with forecasts of normal to above normal temperatures.

"Hopefully, summer's not done yet," Gillispie said. - Pipestone Star.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Indiana Fault System - New Earthquake Fault In New Zealand "Similar To Alpine"!

August 02, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - An Otago geologist's draft manuscript suggests there's a tectonic fault system off the South Island's east coast potentially comparable in size to the Alpine Fault.

'INDIANIA FAULT SYSTEM': A diagram showing the approximate location of the
proposed Indiania fault in black and red paired lines.

University of Otago geologist Phil Ford has privately written a draft proposal, as yet unpublished, detailing the possibility of the major South Island intra-plate fault, with possible seismic and tsunami hazard implications.

His draft uses previous research that identified beach deposits on the coast east of Milton as potential evidence of tsunami relating to the Akatore fault, or another, hitherto unidentified, offshore system.

Proposing to name it as the Indiania Fault System (IFS), he says it appears to run for most of the offshore length of the South Island, similar in size to the Alpine Fault.

Using New Zealand Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research bathymetric charts, some portions of a fault parallel with the coast were apparent, the paper says.

"It is immediately apparent that portions of the suggested system must be covered by South Island river run-off sediment, at least in places, just as the active and earthquake-related fault in the Christchurch area is covered in gravels and other... sediments onshore."

East of Canterbury and Otago the seafloor feature runs south off southeast Southland and down towards northwest of the Auckland Islands.

"A strike length of greater than 1000km is clear, more than comparable with the Alpine Fault at about 800km south-southwest of the South Island.

"Both the southern IFS elements and southern Alpine Fault offshore continuations are clear and readily visible on seafloor bathymetry displays."

He said the potential of that suggested system warranted immediate research and if shown to be an active fault system then the scale must be "very significant" given a potential overall length of 1600km.

"If the proposed system is accepted by the New Zealand geological fraternity then early notice of serious tsunami vulnerability needs to be passed to governing authorities and civil defence organisations."

GNS Science engineering geologist David Barrell said he was not aware of the proposal but scientists recognised a system of faults off the southeast coast.

The faults, many apparently inactive or remnants of geological activity from the formation of New Zealand, were parallel to the coast and associated with, for example, the Great South Basin or the Waipounamu fault zone.

"It's a fault system that has a history that starts back not long after New Zealand parted company from Australia and Antarctica more than 100 million years ago.

"It's got more of the appearance of a fossil fault rather than anything we would regard as major relating to the present tectonic setting of New Zealand."

Unpublished manuscripts needed peer review and publication in a reputable journal before being accepted as official, he said.

University of Otago geophysicist Dr Andrew Gorman said he would want much more data before making such an assertion and there were other theories.

"I still think the major worry in Otago and Southland is the Alpine Fault itself, and also from the sorts of smaller faults through the South Island." - Stuff.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Yellowstone's Steamboat Geyser Sees Rare Eruption - World's Largest Geyser Springs To Life After 8 Year Hiatus!

August 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES -  Old Faithful it's not. Yellowstone National Park's Steamboat Geyser - the world's tallest - has erupted for the first time in more than eight years.

Steamboat Geyser, in Yellowstone National Park's Norris Geyser Basin in Wyoming, erupts on Wednesday,
July 31, 2013. Steamboat Geyser — the world's tallest — has erupted for the first time in more than
eight years. Park geologist Hank Heasler says Wednesday night's nine-minute blast sent steaming
hot water an estimated 200 to 300 feet in the air. Photo: Robb Long

The nine-minute blast sent steaming hot water an estimated 200 to 300 feet in the air, park geologist Hank Heasler said Thursday.

Unlike the park's popular and famous Old Faithful geyser, which spews water like clockwork every hour-and-a-half, no one knows when Steamboat will erupt next.

In the past, it's gone as long as 50 years without a major event. In 1964, it erupted a record 29 times. The last blast came in 2005.

Steamboat is one of more than 500 geysers at Yellowstone, which boasts the largest collection of hydrothermal features in the world.

The geyser is in a popular viewing area known as the Norris Geyser Basin, and its eruption at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday drew dozens of excited onlookers, said Robb Long, a freelance photographer from Sioux Falls, S.D., who was visiting the park with his fiance and her family.

"It was an amazing experience. This thing sounded like a locomotive," Long said. "Everybody was frantic, taking pictures. People were running down there trying to get to it before it went away, and park rangers were running around trying to gather up people so they didn't get too close."

Yellowstone's geysers are fueled by cold water that feeds into a natural underground plumbing network, where heat from the park's volcano forces chemical-laden water to the surface and causes the periodic eruptions, Heasler said.

Early accounts of Steamboats eruptions came from first-hand observations, with the first recorded in 1878. Since 2005, the park has used electronic monitors to more closely track the geyser. - Beaumont Enterprise.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Massive Saharan Dust Cloud Covers The Atlantic!

August 02, 2013 - ATLANTIC OCEAN -  The Saharan Air Layer, or known more commonly as Saharan Dust, is a layer of tiny aerosols like sand, dirt and dust that occasionally push from east to west across the tropical Atlantic Ocean during hurricane season.

These aerosols originate over the very hot and dry deserts of Africa, like the Saharan Desert, and sometimes get picked up by African easterly waves which push westward from Africa into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Saharan Air Layer is a well-mixed dry pocket of air that usually resides between 5,000 and 15,000 feet above sea level. Since one of the key ingredients for tropical cyclone development is a deep feed of moisture, Saharan Dust often acts to inhibit tropical development.

Research suggests that there are three main reasons Saharan Dust has a negative impact on tropical development:

1) A surge in the mid-level African easterly jet increases the vertical wind shear.

2) The inclusion, or drawing in, of dry air into a tropical system.

3) An enhanced trade wind inversion which acts to stabilizes the atmosphere. A stable atmosphere will make it more difficult for deep convection to develop.

WATCH: NOAAVisualizations - Saharan dust cloud travels across Atlantic.

Once a pocket of Saharan Dust begins moving westward over the Atlantic Ocean, it is relatively easy to track by using certain infrared satellite products. The algorithm in some infrared products is sensitive to dry, dusty air and, therefore, can track when pockets of this kind of air move from place to place.

Many factors go into forecasting the track and strength of a tropical system. Knowing whether or not a tropical cyclone will have Saharan Dust in its vicinity is one factor that can determine the cyclone's intensity. - AccuWeather.

RATTLE & HUM: Unexplained Phenomena - Researcher Declares That Mysterious Windsor Hum Is REAL?!

August 02, 2013 - CANADA - Colin Novak has hunch about where hum is originating, but won't reveal location until fall.

A University of Windsor professor studying the Windsor Hum is convinced it's real.

Colin Novak set up a state-of-the-art, $250,000 recording station in a woodlot in the western part of the Ontario city in February. It's a virtual ear, tuned to record the hum 24/7.

Novak and a group of fellow scientists and researchers from the University of Windsor and London's University of Western Ontario received federal funding to study the mysterious noise.

When the sound he's looking for rises above a certain level it's registered on the equipment and Novak gets an email.

He said for the last month or so, his inbox has been full.

Ottawa is funding research of the mysterious Windsor Hum.CBC News

"Some of the evenings, we may get 30 or 40 emails in a given night, mostly between midnight and about 3:30 a.m.," Novak said.

That's enough to convince him the hum is real.

"We're in a pretty remote area in the night time. There's some construction activity happening right now, but at night, there's not too much out here.... when we're getting levels as high as we are, there's definitely some activity," he said.

The equipment's location hasn't been made public, but it's located in an area where the hum has been heard by Windsor residents.

Novak said he has an idea where the sound is coming from, but he won't speculate until his research is finished.

He and his partners will report their findings to the federal government by the end of the year.

"And from that point forward, I think it may become more of a political, and an engineering problem," Novak said.

People who live in the area have some theories of their own as to where the sound is originating.

Archie Cormier is a Windsor resident who claims to hear the noise.


"It's on the American side, and it doesn't do it all the time," he said of the noise. "So, if they can pinpoint the problem, then maybe they could find a solution."

Last year, a federal study suggested the hum may originate from the U.S. side of the Detroit River, in the general area of Zug Island, an area of concentrated steel production and manufacturing in River Rouge, Mich.

The mayor of River Rouge said in 2011 that his city didn't have the funds to investigate the hum.

The map below shows the location of Zug Island, southwest of Detroit. - CBC News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Hundreds Of Submarine Volcanoes Found Off the Coast Of Norway - Rich Metal Deposits Could Be Worth Billions!

August 02, 2013 - NORWAY - The unique findings were discovered in Norwegian waters along a 1500 km long volcanic mountain range, which stretches from Jan Mayen to the Fram Strait between Svalbard and Greenland.

Researchers at the University of Bergen (UiB) has discovered hundreds of volcanoes in the deep sea
around Norway. The area may be Norway’s new National Park or billion-profit generating region.
Photo : Center for Geobiology, UiB

- Prior to this white spots on the map, we knew nothing about what was there. But using technological tools we have been able to map the ocean floor. The last volcano was found a few weeks ago and is just 20 meters below sea level, - says Rolf Birger Pedersen, professor at the Centre for Geobiology (UiB).

By discovering Loki’s Castle, as the area is called, now researchers from UiB can observe unknown volcanic underwater world toogether with hundreds of undersea volcanoes and various heat sources.

There is not only a totally unique wildlife, but also rich metal deposits. Each field has an estimated value of 1-3 billion NOK. How much economic value they may have in the future is too early to say. The environmental and legal aspects are important issues.

Iron, zinc and copper are just some of the metal deposits that exist, but the unique microorganisms will also be an important step in bioprospecting. That searching for valuable biological and active components from marine organism, which can be used for research and development of new medicines. - TNP.

STORM ALERT: Weather Anomalies - Hurricane Gil Follows Flossie In RARE Track Towards Hawaii?!

August 02, 2013 - HAWAII -  In the wake of Flossie's rare track to Hawaii, Hurricane Gil was spinning westward over the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Hurricane Gil took shape Tuesday afternoon and continues to track just north of west away from mainland Mexico.

The Hurricane Center expects Gil to continue strengthening a bit on Thursday.

As far as whether Gil follows in the footsteps of once-Tropical Storm Flossie and makes another rare track to Hawaii waters, such a solution cannot be ruled out but is not likely.

A more favored scenario is for Gil to continue on a west heading into the weekend, posing only a danger to shipping interests.

Gil's status of a hurricane should be brief with a weakening trend expected to commence Friday night as it moves over normally cooler waters. These waters have also been additionally cooled by churning action from Flossie days earlier.

Gil should eventually track south of Hawaii later next week but may not even be a tropical storm or depression at that time.

It would be extremely unusual for Gil to track similarly to Flossie and target the Hawaiian islands later next week.

As discussed during Flossie's existence, just one tropical storm or hurricane reaching Hawaii in a year is a rare feat in itself. The last such time before Flossie was Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Only once since 1950 have two named storms, with tropical storm or hurricane strength, passed within 75 miles of Hawaii. Gilma and Iwa from 1982 make up that rare occurrence.

Gilma was a weakening tropical storm as it tracked south of the Big Island for the start of August. Hurricane Iwa followed in late November and passed extremely close to the islands of Niihau and Kauai.

Iwa, and the only two hurricanes that have made landfall in Hawaii since 1950, all arrived from the warm waters to the south. Such tracks, however, are not common in the central Pacific Ocean.

The majority of tropical systems in the eastern and central Pacific move from east to west. The ones that do approach Hawaii are typically forced to weaken due to the cool waters that lie east of the islands. - AccuWeather.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Heat Wave - Thousands Of Fish Die Every Day During July In A Fish Farm In Qingpu District, China?!

August 02, 2013 - CHINA - Thousands of fish are among the casualties of the scorching heat wave in the city, officials said yesterday, raising fears of river water pollution where some of the dead fish are being dumped.

File photo.

On an average about 1 ton of fish are dying every day since the beginning of July at the Dafeng Fish Farm in Qingpu District, said Liu Kelin, director of the farm which has over 30 ponds spread over 530,000 square meters.

“The hot weather raises the water temperature which in turn decreases the oxygen content in the ponds that kills the fish,”Liu said. He said the number of the dead fish in the pond has been alarmingly high this year—over 60 percent. In previous summers, it usually varied between 5 and 10 percent.

Qingpu police also reported that an exceptionally large amount of stinking dead fish, mostly herring, were found floating in the rivers this week.

A local resident surnamed Jiang said most of the fish piled up on the banks of the river.

“Small and big fish, lying dead, can be seen everywhere in the river and in fishing ponds near my home,”Jiang said. He reported his sighting to the police.

The Jinze County police claimed yesterday that many fish farmers chuck the dead fish into rivers and creeks which creates the stink and floats in the river. Fishing ponds spreading over some 20,000 square meters near Jiang’s residence have several hundred dead herrings every day, police said.

The local water authority has dispatched boats to salvage the huge amount of dead fish in the district’s major rivers. Many of them that link to the city’s tap water sources remain unpolluted.

“Officials will patrol the fishing ponds in the district every day to ensure all the dead fishes are treated properly,”an official with the water authority said.

The pond owners have been asked to bury the dead or feed them to the soft shelled turtles and avoid polluting the rivers, the police said.

The high number of dead fish is mainly due to the sizzling weather, said Shi Jianhua, director of the Shanghai Aquatic Product Promotion Station.

Shi said poor management of fishing farms is also the reason behind such big numbers of dead fish. It can be avoided if the farmers keep the water clean and change the water frequently.

Other fishing ponds in the city have not been severely affected. - Eastday.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Strange Paralysis - Mysterious Crow Deaths Perplex Experts In Northern British Columbia?!

August 02, 2013 - CANADA - A mysterious paralysis has been killing crows and ravens in northern B.C., and now some Islanders are concerned the unusual deaths could be much closer to home.

Two crows rest on a rock near the Oak Bay Marina. A mysterious paralysis killing corvids (ravens and crows)
in northern B.C. has some concerned about West Nile Virus closer to home.
Don Denton

"I have noticed several dead crows on the sidewalk over the past few days," said Vancouver Island Oak Bay resident Bill Smith in a letter to the News, noting that some crows were seen struggling to walk. "I decided to Google 'dead crows' and was quite surprised what I found ... Let's hope this is not the start of a serious problem."

Scientists at the University of B.C. and residents have murmured concerns that the northern birds could be showing indications of West Nile Virus, especially as the corvids are most susceptible and often act as an early warning system. However, B.C. has not had any reports of West Nile in humans since 2010, and the province does regular testing of the mosquitoes in different regions of B.C.

Oak Bay manager of parks Chris Hyde-Lay said the district has had no official reports of dead crows this year. However, birds are typically disposed of and are not sent for testing.

Leona Green, who runs the Hillspring Wildlife Rehabilitation facility in Dawson Creek and received calls about the unusual dying corvids, says she has had dozens of reports of the paralyzed or dead birds since the end of May. While, at first, she had been instructing people to safely dispose of the birds, the increased calls in the past two weeks surprised her.

On July 30, with upwards of 25 birds brought to her, she sent six specimens to be autopsied by the provincal Animal Health Lab - protocol when non-typical deaths occur in species. Results are expected within two weeks.

"I've never seen anything like this. The birds are alert, their wings move, but their legs are paralyzed from their spine. We are really scratching our heads over this," Green said. "Being as I am not really a scientist, I can't confirm what it might be, just that I've sent the samples off, and that's all we know for now."

So far in Canada this year, two samples of mosquitoes and one bird have tested positive for West Nile in Ontario. No new activity has been reported from Washington State, however new positive mosquito samples have been found in Oregon, Idaho and California.

"It is extremely unlikely that the birds in the Peace River area have West Nile Virus," said provincial vet Helen Schwantje. Although corvid deaths are not unusual, Schwantje suggests the public report any number of species dead within close proximity to each other to the Interagency Wild Bird Mortality Investigation Protocol, and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

The act of testing is paramount said Brian Starzomski, assistant professor of environmental studies and ecology at the University of Victoria. While Starzomski said he, too, has seen dead crows in the area this year, there are many reasons for death, which could include young-bird mortality rates, species-specific diseases or even poisons in the region.

"It is extremely important to reports birds, especially in cases where we see unusual death, and it's in everyone's best interest to make sure these numbers are tracked," he said. "Mosquitoes transfer diseases from disease-bearing animals, so they become the conduits, so to speak."

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Island Health Authority, said while it's extremely unlikely that West Nile has entered B.C. or the Island, that doesn't mean people should let their guards down.

"We have to consider how our climate is changing, and that means the mosquitoes are seeing a longer breeding season and have more opportunity to progress through the cycles," said Stanwick. "We have been very fortunate to live in a zone that is considered relatively safe but, with many diseases, it's really just a matter of time."

At least 13 identified species of mosquitoes inhabit the Island and Stanwick said that, while birds like crows are most susceptible in their interactions, simple precautions are still important for humans, especially when around water-based and forested areas: precautions like using a repellent, staying in at dawn and dusk or keeping covered.

"The thing about West Nile is that it is a very interesting virus, and we can't say how it will react in everyone," said Stanwick. "Certainly, it can cause very serious conditions, and people here do travel a lot, so it is something they need to be aware of. However, there is a much greater chance they could contract it somewhere else." - VIC News.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Large Fish Die-Off In Fish Farms In Thanh Hoa, Vietnam?!

August 02, 2013 - VIETNAM - For nearly a week now, many fish farmers in cages 2 and Hai Binh Thanh Hai commune, Gia H.Tinh (Thanh Hoa) are very nervous fish cage white on death Than channel.

Each cage fish farmers Than channel will damage caused by dead fish - Photo: NM

Nguyen Van Quan, living in Thanh Hai, said this year's crop, his family released about 20,000 American red snapper, sea bass 4 tons, 4 tons of grouper. There is good growth of fish and prepare it for sale commercially sudden mass death.

According to Quan, after dead fish, 24.7 bright start, the family has used a number of measures to cure but will not be damaged and about 800 million.

Not only military family, the other 13 heavy losses due to mortality.

According to the farmers, the cause of mass mortalities due to channel water contaminated by coal processing facility in Hai Thanh Seafood discharge of untreated sewage into the canal.

Dang Thi Hai, Hai Thanh commune living, said he had suggested the investigation authorities to clarify, those handling polluting the environment, and with the compensation plan, but so far have not solved by any agency.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Nguyen Viet Xuan, Vice Chairman Thanh Hai said: nine communes seafood processing establishments Coal Canal. However, due to the small scale processing facilities, no commitment to environmental protection should local governments do not control their effluents.

Reportedly, cage culture on Coal channels appeared about 3 years now and bring significant income to the farmers. On average, each year, a cage households about $ 200 million. However, with the dead fish as much now, this estimate each household take between 600-700 million. - Thanhnien. [Translated]

EXTREME WEATHER: Oregon Firefighter Killed By Tree Is The 28th To Die In 2013 - 12 More Than The 10-Year National Average; Over 4,000 Firefighters Continue To Battle Raging Wildfires Covering More Than 60 Square Miles; Over 800 Lightning Strikes Recorded In Just ONE DAY!

August 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A fire crew member who died Thursday when he was hit by a falling tree in Oregon while fighting a blaze started by lightning became the 28th wilderness firefighter killed this year in the nation.

Dry conditions have given fire crews much to do this summer, with the season starting early.
Douglas Forest Protective Association

Firefighter John Hammack of Madras, Ore., was killed while removing hazardous trees in the path of a small wildfire in the remote Mount Washington Wilderness Area in the high Cascades. It was one of multiple wildfires burning in the state.

Another firefighter, Norman Crawford, 45, of Sisters, was hit on the shoulder by the tree and taken by ambulance to a Bend hospital. A hospital spokeswoman said he was treated and released.

Both crew members worked for R&K Water Services of Bonney Lake, Wash. Company vice president Sandra Burleson declined comment.

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office was investigating.

The Dalles, Ore. firefighters Mario Carmona, middle, and Ismael Vega, right, help clear brush and trees near a
home in Wolf Creek, Ore. July 31, 2013. (AP Photos/The News-Review/Michael Sullivan)

Jeff Kane, a wheat rancher from Rock Island, Wash., uses a shovel to hold a fire line on a lightning-started
brush fire on the edge of Badger Mountain east of East Wenatchee, Wash., Aug. 1, 2013.
(AP Photo/The Wenatchee World/Don Seabrook)

Most of the wilderness firefighters who have died in the line of duty in the U.S. this year perished in an Arizona fire that killed 19.

The death of Hammack was the first in Oregon and the second blamed on snags or tree falls. A firefighter in California died from the same cause in June.

The 10-year national average is 16 deaths per year.

A U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman said Hammack was 60 years old while a sister, Denise Burger, told The Oregonian he was 58. The discrepancy could not immediately be resolved Thursday night.

Hammack was among more than 4,000 firefighters battling blazes burning on more than 60 square miles in Oregon.

A fire-bomber and guide plane make a pass near Rattlesnake Creek in Glendale, Ore. on July 28, 2013.
(AP Photo/The Mail Tribune/Andy Atkinson)

Earlier this week, the National Interagency Fire Center listed the Northwest as its highest priority, giving Oregon and Washington the first shot at crews and equipment as resources become available.

That's typical for this time of year because the Northwest has a later fire season — late July and August — than most of the other 10 regions. The fire season tends to start in the Southeast and shift to the Southwest before migrating north to Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

Nationally, wildfire season has been relatively mild, with the total number of fires and the area burned running at about 60 percent of the 10-year average.

The Pacific Northwest hopes to follow the trend, but the fire center on Thursday released its fire outlook for August and it raised concerns for the region because of the dry land.

"We paint the areas that are predicted to be most active in red, and almost all of Oregon is painted red for August," said Don Smurthwaite, a fire center spokesman based in Boise. "The fire danger is real in Oregon."

The wild card is lightning.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Solomon in Pendleton, Ore., said 800 lightning strikes were recorded Wednesday night into Thursday, with most coming early Thursday.

He said more lightning was on the way.

One of the many structures up Colockum Road, south of Wenatchee, Wash., that was destroyed in the
Colockum Tarps fire, seen on July 30, 2013. (AP Photo/The Wenatchee World/Mike Bonnicksen)

About 40 small fires were reported along the Cascade crest and Central Oregon.

Eight wildfires considered to be major were burning in the Pacific Northwest. The largest was the Colockum Tarps Fire in Washington state. It was 30 percent contained after burning about 125 square miles of dry grass, sagebrush and light timber and destroying several homes and outbuildings.

In Oregon, most attention has gone to the Douglas Complex wildfires in southwest Oregon, which were started by lightning last week and have combined to scorch about 45 square miles of forestland.

No houses have burned, but nearly 500 were threatened. People in more than 100 homes have been advised to evacuate.

The Oregon National Guard is providing aircraft and manpower after Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a state of emergency in Douglas and Josephine counties.

Insurance adjuster Eric Nieuwenhuis, of Wenatchee, Wash., left, and homeowner Don Keeley, look
over the remnants of a large machine shop and many outbuildings destroyed in the Colockum
Tarps Fire near Keeley's home on July 31, 2013. (AP Photo/The Wenatchee World/Don Seabrook)

New Fires Sparked in Washington

Fire crews scrambled to respond to reports of new wildfires sparked by lightning Thursday after thunderstorms swept through central Washington, even as firefighters made progress on a fast-moving blaze that has burned wide swaths of land in two counties.

The region was under a red-flag warning for extreme threat of wildfires, with parched vegetation and thunderstorms in the forecast.

Those storms materialized Thursday. Hundreds of lightning strikes sparked reports of dozens of fires across the region, National Weather Service meteorologist Ty Judd said.

However, the storms also brought much-needed rain to some areas, and the agency issued flash-flood watches and warnings for several areas, he said.

"It's weird. We have reports of abundant lightning and some fires being started, and we have reports at the same time of flash flood warnings," he said.

New fires were reported in Okanogan, Douglas and Kittitas counties, and fire crews were en route, according to Jim Duck, operations coordinator for the Central Washington Interagency Dispatch Center.

Meanwhile, the fast-moving Colockum Tarps Fire, which started south of Wenatchee and has burned across 125 square miles as it churned south and west, was 30 percent contained Thursday.

More than 830 firefighters were assigned to the fire, largely focusing on shoring up the southern and western flanks, fire spokeswoman Mary Ellen Fitzgerald said.

The fire already had destroyed three homes and several outbuildings. On Thursday, authorities confirmed that three outhouses in rural Kittitas County also had burned, Fitzgerald said.

The area is a popular spot for recreationists who store equipment in sheds and bring in their RVs to camp.

Residents of about 15-20 homes were allowed to return home after being evacuated Wednesday. There are still 40-45 homes within an evacuation area, but Fitzgerald said it was still unknown how many of those buildings were primary residences.

Farther south, the Mile Marker 28 Fire near Goldendale was 65 percent contained. The fire has charred about 42 square miles near Satus Pass and forced the closure of U.S. Highway 97 for days. - TWC.