Monday, May 12, 2014

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Dramatic Shift In Weather Patterns At The South Pole - Southern Ocean Wind Blows Hardest In ONE THOUSAND YEARS And Antarctic Sea Ice At RECORD LEVELS For April And It Continues In May!

May 12, 2014 - SOUTH POLE -   Winds in the wild Southern Ocean are blowing at their strongest in a millennia as climate change shifts weather patterns, leaving Antarctica colder and Australia facing more droughts, a study showed Monday.

Southern Ocean Wind Blows Hardest In 1,000 Years
Antarctica winds

Rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were strengthening the winds, already dubbed the "Roaring Forties" for their ferocity, and pushing them further south towards Antarctica, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) said.

"The Southern Ocean winds are now stronger than at any other time in the past 1,000 years," said the study's lead researcher Nerilie Abram of an ocean notorious for having some of the fiercest winds and largest waves on the planet.

"The strengthening of these winds has been particularly prominent over the past 70 years, and by combining our observations with climate models we can clearly link this to rising greenhouse gas levels."

The new research, which was published in the Nature Climate Change journal, explains why Antarctica is not warming as much as other continents.

The westerly winds, which do not touch the eastern parts of Antarctica but circle in the ocean around it, were trapping more of the cold air over the area as they strengthened, with the world's southernmost continent "stealing more of Australia's rainfall", Abram said.

"This is why Antarctica has bucked the trend. Every other continent is warming, and the Arctic is warming fastest of anywhere on earth," she said.

The study's authors analysed ice cores from Antarctica, along with data from tree rings and lakes in South America, using the southern hemisphere's most powerful supercomputer "Raijin", which is based at the ANU.

The research helped to explain why the westerlies were further cooling already cold parts of the continent even as they were also driving "exceptionally quicker" warming in the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts out into their path, Abram said.

The strengthening westerlies drive up the temperature at the peninsula -- the only part of the Antarctica that is hit by the wind -- through the warm, moist air they carry from the Southern Ocean.

This has made the peninsula the fastest-warming place in the southern hemisphere, with scientists concerned about the stability of the ice sheets and sea level rises in the region.

The shift in the westerlies -- approximately 200 kilometres in the 20th century -- was driven by human emissions of carbon dioxide, said research fellow Steven Phipps of the University of New South Wales, who worked on the climate modelling used in the study.

From the 1970s, the shift was exacerbated by the expanding ozone hole caused by human emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Phipps added.

"Even for a mid-range climate scenario, the trend is going to continue in the 21st century," Phipps said, adding that southern Australia was likely to experience more dry winters. - AFP.

Antarctic Sea Ice At Record Levels For April And It Continues In May
National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

Antarctic sea ice has expanded to record levels for April, increasing by more than 110,000sq km a day last month to nine million square kilometres.

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre said the rapid expansion had continued into May and the seasonal cover was now bigger than the record "by a significant margin''.
"This exceeds the past record for the satellite era by about 320,000sq km, which was set in April 2008,'' the centre said.

Here are some current plots of Antarctic Sea Ice from the WUWT Sea Ice Page

Antarctic Sea Ice Extent – 15% or Greater. National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

Southern Hemisphere Sea Ice Extent With Anomaly

Southern Hemisphere Sea Ice Area Anomaly.
Cryosphere Today – Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois

Increased ice cover in Antarctic continues to be at odds with falling Arctic ice levels, where the summer melt has again pushed levels well below the average extent for 1981-2010. The centre said while the rate of ­Arctic-wide retreat was rapid through the first half of April, it had slowed.

The April Arctic minimum was 270,000sq km higher than the record April low, which occurred in 2007. The Antarctic sea ice extent anomalies were greatest in the eastern Weddell and along a long stretch of coastline south of Australia and the southeastern Indian Ocean. The centre said the increased ice extent in the Weddell Sea region appeared to be associated with a broad area of persistent easterly winds in March and April, and lower-than-average temperatures. - WUWT.

SOLAR WEATHER ANOMALIES: NASA Spots Square-Shaped "Hole" In The Sun - Solar Wind Is Streaming Out Of The Coronal Hole At Superfast Speeds!

May 12, 2014 - SUN - A NASA spacecraft has made a surprising find on the surface of the sun: a square-shaped "hole" in the star's outer atmosphere.

This still image from a NASA video shows a square-shaped "coronal hole" on the sun during early May 2014. The
solar wind streaks out of such coronal holes at superfast speeds.Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA

The dark square on the sun, known as a "coronal hole," is an area where the solar wind is streaming out of the sun at superfast speeds. NASA captured a video of the sun's square-shaped coronal hole between May 5-7 using the powerful Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

The coronal hole appears dark in the NASA view because there is less material emitting light in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum used to make the video, according to a NASA video description.

"Inside the coronal hole you can see bright loops where the hot plasma outlines little pieces of the solar magnetic field sticking above the surface," SDO officials wrote in the video description. "Because it is positioned so far south on the sun, there is less chance that the solar wind stream will impact us here on Earth."

WATCH: 'Square' Hole In Sun Blows High-Speed Solar Wind.

NASA's sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory is just one of a fleet of spacecraft keeping a close watch on the weather on Earth's parent star. In 2013, the sun experienced its peak activity of its 11-year solar weather cycle. - FOX News.

ICE AGE NOW: Weather Anomalies - Freak Mid-May Storm Buries Colorado Flower Beds Under THREE FEET Of Snow; Alaskans Can No Longer See Alaska From Their House; Winters Getting Much Longer In Fort Collins As United States Experience COLDEST YEAR ON RECORD Through May 11!

May 12, 2014 - COLORADO, UNITED STATES - A mid-May snowstorm dumped as much as 3 feet (91 cm) of snow on Colorado's Rocky Mountains on Monday while the U.S. Midwest braced for hail and other severe weather, forecasters said.

Mid-May Storm Buries Colorado Flower Beds Under 3 Feet Of Snow
Mule deer are seen in the snow during a late spring snow storm in Golden, Colorado May 11, 2014.
REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Snowplows cleared the way for the Monday morning rush hour after the storm, which is expected to taper off by midday, blanketed Denver with more than 4 inches (10 cm) and the mountains northeast of Steamboat Springs with 36 inches (91 cm) of snow, said Jim Kalina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado.

No significant delays or cancellations were reported at Denver International Airport, and no records were broken in a state used to late spring snowstorms like the one that dumped 10.7 inches of snow on May 26, 1950.

"That's Colorado for you," said Kalina.

A mule deer fawn shelters in a leafed-out shrub during a late spring snow storm in Golden, Colorado May 11, 2014.
REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Snow has been falling and accumulating over the past four days in Colorado, said Pat Slattery, weather service spokesman. Deep snow measuring 27 inches (68 cm) also was reported in the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah, said NWS meteorologist Tom Renwick.

Hail and damaging winds were forecast for Monday in parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, southeast Kansas, Oklahoma, central Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, northern Indiana and northwest Ohio, Slattery said.

The severe weather forecast comes a day after a tornado on Sunday heavily damaged Sutton, Nebraska, ripping off roofs of buildings including the small town's City Hall, said police chief Tracey Landenberger.

Sutton is about 80 miles (130 km) southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska. - Yahoo.

Alaskans Can No Longer See Alaska From Their House
Over the last decade, Alaska temperatures have plummeted. 2013 was one of the 10 coldest years on record in Alaska.

Last year the Tanana River had its latest breakup on record. The Bering Sea had the most ice ever recorded two years ago. And the Muir Glacier receded eight feet per day from the 1790s to the mid-18th century. - Real Science.

Winters Getting Much Longer In Fort Collins
In the late 19th century, winter in Fort Collins ended by mid-April. Now we get snow into May. Climate experts say that Colorado skiing is doomed and that snow is a thing of the past.

- Real Science.

Coldest Year On Record In The US Through May 11
Through May 11, this year is the coldest year on record in the US. The gap between 2014 and the next coldest is likely to widen over the next week.

- Real Science.

DISASTER PRECURSORS: The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior - Songbirds Are Disappearing Across The Planet Reveals New Documentary Film; Three Of A Family Trampled To Death By An Elephant In Nagaon, India; Grey Wolf Seen In Iowa For The FIRST TIME In 89 Years, Shot Dead; And Birds Attack People Near Store In Channelview, Texas!

May 12, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual animal behavior, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

Songbirds Are Disappearing Across The Planet Reveals New Documentary Film
Purple Martin

We depend on songbirds to keep the Earth's plant life flourishing. Like the bees, it is the birds who pollinate the flowers and disperse the seeds. They keep insects under control, protecting leaves and seeds and human crops.

But according to the world's leading bird scientists, songbirds are disappearing.

"By some estimates, we may have lost almost half the songbirds that filled the skies almost forty years ago" says respected ornithologist Bridget Stutchbury. Scientists around the globe are in a race against time to discover why this is happening, and what it means.

One species they're studying is the purple martin, whose numbers have dropped by an alarming 78% since 1970, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey which has been keeping population records for more than fifty years.

The purple martin is a migratory bird that follows the food supply from temperate North America south down to the Amazonian Basin. To learn more about their dramatic downhill slide, Stutchbury and her team band the birds with tiny light-level logging geolocators.

The technology translates sunrise and sunset times into longitude and latitude so Stutchbury knows exactly where the bird has been. But there's a catch; the devices don't send data, they store it, so she needs get the geolocators back once the birds have returned. Miraculously, a few of the martins return with geolocators intact ten months later.

WATCH: SongbirdSOS Film Trailer.


The results she's collected so far are suprising, "we've seen birds that have travelled from Pennsylvania to the Gulf Coast in only two days - 1300 kilometres." The birds are flying much faster than experts thought and her research is shaking up ornithologists' models for songbird migration patterns.

The purple martins leave their wintering grounds at the same time year after year. But they have no idea that thousands of kilometres away, a warming planet has brought on an earlier spring and they may be too late to take advantage of the peak food supply. Understanding the timing of their migration route is critical - with climate change altering the timing of the seasons, the survival of the species is at risk. "Climate change is a new threat for songbirds," says Stutchbury.

To learn about the threats facing songbirds - and the researchers who are studying them - watch SongbirdSOS, a feature film coming to theatres in fall 2014 and to The Nature of Things in spring 2015. - CBC.

Three Of A Family Trampled To Death By An Elephant In Nagaon, India
The mother of the children also sustained critical injuries in the attack and is under treatment at Nagaon civil hospital.

Three members of a family, including two children, were trampled to death by a wild elephant at Kaliabor in Nagaon district early on Sunday. The mother of the children also sustained critical injuries in the attack and is under treatment at Nagaon civil hospital.

In another incident, an adult male leopard was beaten to death by villagers at Kakojan area in Jorhat district on Sunday. Forest staff reached the spot after the incident and brought the carcass for autopsy.

The incident of the killing of a father and his two children by the elephant occurred at Hargaon village in Sakmuthia tea garden around 1am on Sunday. A wild elephant came out from the nearby Karbi hills around midnight in search of food and entered Hargaon village inside the tea garden. The pachyderm damaged a house of the village and attacked the family members while they were asleep. Three of them died on the spot.

"The elephant attacked Maisu Munda and his two children - Amsu and Sunu - and they died on the spot. The wife Saraswati tried to flee under the cover of darkness but the elephant attacked her too. She is now at Nagaon Civil hospital in a critical condition," said a forest officer adding that the bodies had been sent to Nagaon civil hospital for autopsy.

The area where the incident took place is located near the inter district border of Karbi Anglong and Nagaon district. Wild elephants regularly come down from Karbi hills in search of food. They go on the rampage in the human habitations and create panic among the villagers. District forest department has taken up some measures to chase the pachyderms away from the human habitations but in vain.

At Kakojan Dulia Gaon under Jorhat forest range in the district around 2pm a man in the village went out to the nearby forest to collect firewood when he came close to the leopard. On seeing the man, the big cat tried to attack him but the villager had attacked it with a sharp weapon to save himself. He also raised an alarm. On hearing him, other locals from the village came out in large numbers and beat up the leopard causing it grievous injuries.

"The leopard died in the attack. When we reached the spot, it had already died. We brought the carcass for autopsy," said forest range officer (Jorhat) Kushal Deka adding the leopard was an eight-year-old male animal and there are more leopards of its age taking shelter in the area.

"Leopards are generally take shelter at tea bushes and small jungles. The area where the incident occurred was full of small jungles and we believe more leopards are there," he said. - Times of India.

Grey Wolf Seen In Iowa For The FIRST TIME In 89 Years, Shot Dead
Grey wolves have been confirmed as far west as California and Oregon and as far east as Michigan AP

DNA testing has confirmed that an animal shot in February in Iowa's Buchanan County was in fact a wolf, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. This is the first confirmed grey wolf (Canis lupus) in the US state since 1925.

Experts believe the wolf likely travelled south from Wisconsin or Minnesota, the latter of which has the largest wolf population in the lower 48.

The Iowa wolf, which was a 65-70 pound healthy female, was shot and killed in February of this year by a hunter who mistook it for a coyote. Although wolves remain a protected species in Iowa, the hunter was not cited, because he believed the animal to be a coyote and has cooperated with authorities, including bringing the wolf to them in the first place.

"I was surprised but not that surprised," DNA specialist Vince Evelsizer told the Gazette. "Large animals can cover great distances, and state lines mean nothing to them."

After being nearly exterminated across the continental US, grey wolves have returned to many states in the last two decades, both due to reintroductions and populations migrating from Canada. Grey wolves have been confirmed as far west as California and Oregon and as far east as Michigan.

During the same time wolves have been vindicated by science as key ecological species. As top predators, wolves not only manage prey populations of animals such as deer and elk, but also change their behavior, curbing unhindered grazing. For example, the wolf's return to Yellowstone National park led to a resurgence in young forest and a subsequent explosion in biodiversity.

But in many states wolves are now actively hunted and trapped. A legislative rider stripped the wolves of protection from the Endangered Species Act in 2011, the only animal to ever lose its protection in this way.

As of January this year, hunters and trappers have killed 2,567 grey wolves in the US's lower 48 states since 2011. In all, around 6,000 wolves are thought to inhabit the lower 48 now, up from a nadir of 300 before the grey wolf gained protection in 1974. - The Guardian.

Birds Attack People Near Store In Channelview, Texas
Two bird attacks in two days in Channelview have people who frequent the Chrome Shop wondering what's going on. Both incidents were caught on camera.

"We got some kamikaze birds," said Lonny Sieger.

A trucker named Benny Hines was just walking back to his rig when the first incident happened.

"If you watch the video you can see the bird swoop down," said Sieger.

"I took off my cap and started waving them away," said Hines over the phone. "All of a sudden it was more than one bird."

First one bird, then in seconds, three others.

"He was running, and I mean running," said Sieger.

"Running for fear of his life," added Michelle Bradley.

And the birds were close behind.

"The more I tried to fight them off," said Hines, "the worse it got. It was like why were they after me you know."

"All of a sudden that bird hits him, and he went flying," said Sieger.

Benny was down, bleeding and unconscious.

"Open gash wounds, it was bloody, just awful," said Jennifer Zavala.

WATCH: Birds attack people outside store in Channelview.


Benny also lost a tooth. People inside the store heard the commotion. They rushed to help the man on the ground and called 911. But no one knew what happened to him, until they checked the video.

"Everybody was like show me that again, show me that again," said Jamie Sieger. It's a bizarre mystery. No one knows why the birds attacked Benny. But one possible theory could be a baby bird. It's been in the parking lot for the last few days. It can't fly, birds are perched nearby always watching.

It's creepy, like a scene straight out of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds". And this tale gets creepier because today it happened again.

"I felt something on my neck, and there was a bird coming after my ass," said Sieger.

This time just one bird, one dive, no injuries. But all this has people at the Chrome Shop watching the birds just as closely as they're watching them.

"I don't know whets going on with those birds," said Robert Esparza.

As for Benny, he's out of the hospital and back on the road.

"They had to put some stitches on my face," said Hines. - KHOU.

EXTREME WEATHER: Snow, Severe Storms Barge Into West, Central United States - 68 Tornadoes Recorded Over The Past 48 Hours!

May 12, 2014 - UNITED STATES -  Dozens of snowplows took to the streets of Denver early Monday, after a powerful spring storm made a wet, cold mess of Mother's Day in parts of Colorado and Wyoming, while powerful thunderstorms moving through Nebraska produced damaging tornadoes.

Pat Blazek shields himself from the snow and wind with an umbrella as he competes in a disc golf tournament
on May 11 at Aggie Greens in Fort Collins, Colo.
(Erin Hull, The Coloradoan, via AP)

More than a foot of snow fell on parts of Colorado and Wyoming. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for most of northern Colorado and parts of southern Wyoming for all of Sunday and for Monday morning.

A tornado touched down at Sutton, Neb., and photos posted on Twitter showed damage to building exteriors. There were sightings of twisters in other parts of eastern Nebraska, the Weather Channel reported.

The University of Michigan's website Tornado Paths recorded 68 tornadoes over the past 48 hours.
Click HERE for the full list

Tornado watches were out for parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma. At least one twister touched down in Lee County in southwestern Iowa.

The National Weather service said big hail could fall in central and northern Kansas through southeast Nebraska. Thunderstorms were forecast from San Antonio to Chicago.

A truck moves off of Interstate I-70 to chain up before continuing eastward in Vail, Colo. on Sunday, May 11, 2014. (The Vail Daily, Anthony Thornton via AP)

Accumulations could reach up to 15 inches of snow over part of Colorado and Wyoming, with enough force to cause power outages and treacherous driving conditions.

Denver officials said they were deploying 70 snowplows overnight to prepare for Monday's commute. At 3 a.m. Monday, the weather service said it was still snowing around the city.

Wintry conditions forced the closure of a 150-mile stretch of Interstate 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyo.

Julie Smith, a spokeswoman for Denver International Airport, said crews have treated runways in anticipation of dropping temperatures Sunday night.

WATCH: Snow, severe storms barge into West, central USA.

"At this point we are seeing some delays with our airlines while they are getting their deicing operations up and running, and we do expect the airlines to be fully deicing in the morning," she said.

The weather service also warned that snow could be heavy and wet enough to snap tree limbs and power lines, causing power failures. Winds gusting up to 30 mph could reduce visibility, and roads could be treacherous to drive.

At least one tornado touched down in northwest Missouri on Saturday night, damaging scores of homes, three churches and a school in Orrick, a town of about 900 residents northeast of Kansas City. No injuries were reported. - USA Today.

EARTH CHANGES: Monumental Signs Of The Times - Arizona Town Running Out Of Water; Siberia's Epic Wildfires Come Far Too Early, April Is The New July; Rare Cloud Over Sacramento Causes Social Media Storm; 100 Homes Lost In Texas Wildfire; And Three Dead In South China Rainstorms!

May 12, 2014 - EARTH -  The following stories constitutes some of the latest incidents of Earth changes across the globe.

Arizona Town Running Out Of Water
Despite the worsening drought, little has been done to improve water storage infrastructure. Credit: Peripitus via Wiki

In the northern Arizona city of Williams, restaurant patrons don’t automatically get a glass of water anymore. Residents caught watering lawns or washing cars with potable water can be fined. Businesses are hauling water from outside town to fill swimming pools, and building permits have been put on hold because there isn’t enough water to accommodate development.

Officials in the community about 60 miles from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim have clamped down on water use and declared a crisis amid a drought that is quickly drying up nearby reservoirs and forcing the city to pump its only two wells to capacity.

The situation offers a glimpse at how cities across the West are coping with a drought that has left them thirsting for water. More than a dozen rural towns in California recently emerged from emergency water restrictions that had a sheriff’s office on the lookout for water bandits at a local lake. One New Mexico town relied on bottled water for days last year. In southern Nevada, water customers are paid to remove lawns and cannot install any new grass in their front yards. - AP.

Siberia's Epic Wildfires Come Far Too Early, April Is The New July
NASA LANCE MODIS Rapid Fire hotspot analysis of extreme fire outbreak in the Amur region of Russia on April 28,
2014. In this shot, the Amur runs west to east through the frame. To the right is the Pacific Ocean [off frame] to the
left is a corner of Russia’s massive Lake Baikal. The red spots indicate currently active fires.

What we are currently witnessing is something that should never happen - an outbreak of fires with summer intensity during late April at a time when Siberia should still be frigid and frozen.

* * * * *

Last year, during late July and early August, a series of epic wildfires raged to the north and west of Russia's far eastern Amur region. About a week later, the skies opened up in a ten-day-long deluge that pushed the Amur River bordering Russia and China to levels not seen in the entire 150 year span of record-keeping for the region. Whole cities were submerged as the Amur leapt its banks to form a kind of massive inland sea.

The floods promoted strong growth in the region, penetrating permafrost zones to enhance melt, providing major fuel sources for fires should they re-emerge. Come winter, a persistent warm ridge pattern in the Jet Stream transported hotter than usual air over this region. The winter was far, far warmer than it should have been. And when spring came, it came like the onset of summer.

Last week, temperatures soared into the 70s and ever since the beginning of April, freakishly large fires for so early in the burn season erupted. By April 23rd, the Russian fire ministry had logged nearly 3,000 fires. The outbreak was so intense that, just a few days ago, more than 5,000 pieces of heavy equipment and an army of firefighters were engaged throughout a large stretch of Russia from the still frozen shores of Lake Baikal to the far eastern Amur region.

But last night's LANCE-MODIS satellite pass brought with it unexpected new horrors:

Two massive wildfires in excess of 200 square miles burning in the Amur region of Russia on April 28, 2014. LANCE-MODIS

Two massive burn scars devouring huge sections of land in the Amur region of Russia.

For scale, the ribbon of blue traveling north to south beneath the first massive fire is a mile-wide tributary to the Amur river called the Zeya. Using the scale provided by LANCE MODIS, we see that the fire at upper left is currently about 15 x 18 miles (270 square miles) in area and that the fire at lower right is about 23 x 20 miles (460 square miles) in area.

Even during Russia's recent global warming-spurred epic fire seasons of 2010 to 2013 fires of this scope and obvious visible intensity didn't come up in the satellite imagery until the most intense periods of summer heating during late June through early August. Today, we have monster fires comparable to those which burned during Russia's worst ever recorded fire seasons, at their height, burning next to snow covered regions in late April.

As a last reference, look at the ice covered river in the far lower right corner of the above image. That swatch of crystalline white - yes, it's a large estuary apparently being dwarfed by the massive fire burning just above it. Beneath wide body of still frozen water is what appears to be a 'small' plume of smoke. It's worth noting that this smoke plume issues from a recently burned region covering fully 15 square miles. By comparison, the fires above each cover areas comparable to Guam, half of Rhode Island, or the massive ice island recently broken off from the now doomed Pine Island Glacier (PIG) - B31.

Unfortunately, these massive fires aren't the only blazes covering extraordinary swaths of Russian land during late April. Moving west to the shores of the still partly frozen Lake Baikal, we find numerous fires burning beneath a sea of smoke in the lowlands between two, still snow-capped highlands.

Sea of Smoke and Fire north and west of Lake Baikal on April 28, 2014.LANCE-MODIS

The entire roughly 200 x 200 mile (40,000 square mile) region is covered by the steely gray smoke of previous and ongoing blazes. Peering down through the dense shroud, we see numerous thick smoke plumes issuing from still out of control fires. The freakish prematurity of these blazes is readily apparent in the visible ice still covering much of Lake Baikal and also in the snow still doggedly clinging to the nearby mountainous highlands.

A vicious combination of thawing permafrost, a rapid increase in average temperatures throughout Siberia and driven by human warming, and the vulnerability of the active soil layer and related vegetation to rapid drying appears to be turning this region into an ever more explosive fire trap. Risk of wildfire is dependent on both heat and fuel. But with the permafrost containing an almost inexhaustible layer of either drying peat or venting methane and with temperatures now rising at twice the already rapid global rate, the potential for burning in or near the violatile permafrost thaw zone may well be practically unlimited.

These extraordinary and anomalous conditions, combined with a very intense early season warming, what appears to be a persistent and developing heat dome over Eastern Russia and adjacent Arctic Siberia, a very rapidly receding snow line, and, potentially, an amplifying effect from an emerging El Nino in the Pacific, results in a very high continued risk for both extreme and record fires throughout the spring and summer of 2014.

Russia Experiences Great Burning
A Song of Flood and Fire
A Dangerous Dance of Frost and Flame
100 Fires Burn 12,000 Hectares in Russia
Doomed Pine Island Glacier Guam-Sized Iceberg into Southern Ocean

- Robert Scribbler.

Rare Cloud Over Sacramento Causes Social Media Storm
Photos of the cloud over Stockton. (Credit: Instagram user jon_qruz)

An unusual cloud spotted in Stockton caused a storm on social media Friday afternoon.

Photos started flooding social media a little after 2 p.m. Many people characterized the event as a UFO, using hashtags like #alien, #weird and even going so far as saying the earth was due for an extraterrestrial invasion.

But, in all actuality, the event was probably just a hole-punch cloud – much like one that caused a commotion across Northern California back in 2010.

As the National Weather Service told CBS13 back then, the distinctive shape of the cloud was most likely caused by an airplane that disrupted the cloud formation.

This unique kind of cloud is actually relatively frequent, officials say, but is usually only seen in colder climates than what we see in the valley. - CBS.

100 Homes Lost In Texas Wildfire
Fire damages a building in Hutchinson County, Texas, May 11, 2014.

At least 100 homes were destroyed and 700 residents were evacuated because of a wildfire in the Texas panhandle, authorities said.

The Hutchinson County grass fire has had plenty of fuel provided by high winds and dry conditions, Fritch Police Chief Monte Leggett said.

“With the wind blowing the way it is, and the hot spots, the wind keeps switching from one direction to another so it's almost impossible [to fight],” Leggett said. “Plus, until daylight or they [have] got a lot better visibility, it's gonna be tough.”

Hundreds of residents were evacuated due to wildfire fears in Hutchinson County, Texas, May 11, 2014.

Hutchinson County Emergency Management Coordinator Danny Richards said emergency crews from 26 counties were assisting. The fire was about 50 percent contained early today, he said, with a cold front giving firefighters optimism that the fire would be contained this morning.

Richards told ABC News that the fire had possibly burned more than 1,000 acres.

“It’s a disaster, and many people have lost their homes,” Richards said. - ABC.

Three Dead In South China Rainstorms
Flood water bursting onto a street from a sewer in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province, on May 11, 2014.

Heavy rainstorms have killed three people and forced the relocation of more than 54,000 residents after rainstorms hit southern China regions, local authorities said Sunday.

Heavy rains have battered Hunan Province since Thursday, disrupting traffic, power, telecommunications and raising water levels in major rivers and reservoirs, the provincial flood control headquarters said.

A villager in Jinwutang Township was killed in a landslide.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, the round of heavy rains had affected 461,800 people in 131 townships and destroyed 1,400 housing units in the province.

Local governments have relocated 50,400 people to avoid geological risks from the rainstorms.

Commuters maneuvering their way through a heavily flooded street in Shenzhen.

In neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, downpours have left two people dead and affected nearly 200,000 residents, according to the regional department of civil affairs.

Commuters manoeuvring their way through a heavily flooded street in Shenzhen.

As of 5:00 p.m. Sunday, heavy rains had toppled down 522 housing units and seriously damaged another 888 in the region. Direct economic losses were estimated at about 119 million yuan (19 million U.S. dollars).

Local governments have relocated 5,000 residents to safe areas.

As of Sunday noon, power supply had been restored after a rainstorm-triggered flash flood hit Fugong County in southwest China's Yunnan Province, the county publicity department said.

It tore down 14 houses and two bridges, damaging flood-control dikes and inundating a hydropower generation plant.

Local governments in risk-prone areas have relocated residents and allotted them daily necessities.

Shenzhen, a booming town in south China's Guangdong Province, on Sunday experienced its strongest rainfall since 2008, with 2,000 cars submerged in the streets and the operations of more than 5,000 buses suspended.

The city's meteorological bureau issued a red alert for heavy rain, the highest level of the four-tier alert system.

About 130 flights have been canceled at the Shenzhen airport, while another 70 outbound flights have been delayed for more than four hours as of 7:30 p.m. on Sunday evening.

The railway authorities in Shenzhen said they have halted high-speed rail service linking Shenzhen and the provincial capital of Guangzhou.

But no casualties have been reported so far in the city. - Xinhuanet.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Sinkhole Reopens In Gulfport, Mississippi Even Larger Than Before!

May 12, 2014 - MISSISSIPPI, UNITED STATES - A sinkhole opened up Tuesday morning at the intersection of Dolan Avenue and 16th Street near Lynn Meadows Discovery Center.

Gulfport Police were blocking the road and rerouting traffic. It's not the first time this section of the road has caved in. Last August, heavy rainfall caused a storm drain under the road to collapse. - USA Today.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: MERS Contagion - Second U.S. Case Of Deadly MERS Virus Found In Florida As Infected Cases Continue To Rise In Saudi Arabia!

May 12, 2014 - UNITED STATES - The second imported case of the deadly MERS respiratory virus in the United States has been confirmed in Florida, the Centers for Disease Control announced Monday.

This file photo provided by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission
of the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012.
(Photo11: NIAID via The Canadian Press/AP)

The CDC and the Florida department of Health are investigating the latest case of the virus, known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. The CDC did not elaborate on the specific location or background of the latest incident, which first broke on Twitter.

Officials from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health scheduled a 2 p.m. ET news conference to discuss the latest case.

By designating the latest case as "imported," the CDC indicated that it was brought in from outside the United States.

The first case, discovered in Indiana on May 2, involved a male health care worker who was living and working in Saudi Arabia, which has recorded most of the case of MERS.

The unidentified Indiana patient was quickly quarantined. He was released from the hospital last week after no longer showing signs of the virus, according to Dr. Alan Kumar, chief medical information officer, Community Hospital in Munster, Ind.

MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which caused more than 800 deaths globally in 2003.

Overall the CDC says about 400 people have been identified as coming down with the MERS virus, though there are differing reports about whether all those cases have been confirmed as MERS. More than 100 have died.

No vaccine exists for the disease. Treatment consists of standard supportive care for a respiratory illness. Officials said people worried about MERS should wash their hands regularly, wipe down potentially infected surfaces with anti-bacterial agents and avoid others who are sick.

Since April 2012, countries with MERS-confirmed cases include France, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.

The CDC says the virus likely came from an animal source. In addition to humans, MERS-CoV has been found in camels in Qatar and a bat in Saudi Arabia. - USA Today.

Infected Cases Continue To Rise In Saudi Arabia, Experimental Vaccine Developed
A man wearing a mask poses with camels at a camel market in the village of al-Thamama near Riyadh May 11, 2014. Saudi
Arabia said people handling camels should wear masks and gloves to prevent spreading Middle East Respiratory
Syndrome (MERS), issuing such a warning for the first time as cases in the kingdom
of the potentially fatal virus neared 500. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Saudi Arabia has recently registered three new cases and three new deaths from the potentially fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. To date, infected cases from the oil-rich kingdom has reached 483, of which 142 have died.

According to the Health Ministry, the three new cases were all women from Riyadh, two are receiving treatment at hospital while the third is in home isolation. The three new deaths were two females from Riyadh and a male from Jeddah.

Health experts warned residents, most especially those handling camels, should wear masks and gloves to prevent further spreading the virus.

"Exercise caution and follow preventive measures," the country's Ministry of Agriculture said, according to a report on the official Saudi Press Agency. - IB Times.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Fire Under Ice - Newly-Discovered Active Volcano Could Erupt Underneath Ice In Antarctica And Add To Effects Of Global Warming, Say Scientists!

May 12, 2014 - ANTARCTICA - A newly-discovered active volcano could erupt underneath Antarctica, melting the ice from below and compounding the effects of global warming, according to scientists.

Effect: Although an eruption would be unlikely to breach the ice - the accompanying
heat could have an effect on the landscape

Researchers discovered the volcano underneath the ice after setting up devices to measure tectonic activity across Marie Byrd Land in the west of the continent.

Scientists had intended to use the seismograph machines to help in their efforts to weight the ice sheet - only to find that a volcano was in fact forming underneath the ice.

Volcanic activity was discovered around 30 miles from Antarctica's highest volcano, Mount Sidley, and although an eruption would be unlikely to breach the ice - the accompanying heat could have an effect on the landscape.

Fire Under The Ice: Scientists have found a new volcano emerging deep under the West Antarctic ice sheet

Even a sub-glacial eruption would still be able to melt ice, creating huge amounts of water which could flow beneath the ice and towards the sea - hastening the flow of the overlying ice and potentially speed up the rate of ice sheet loss.

'Numerous volcanoes exist in Marie Byrd Land, a highland region of West Antarctica,' said Amanda Lough, of Washington University in St Louis in the team's paper on the subject, published in the Nature Geoscience journal.

'High heat flow through the crust in this region may influence the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.'

The Antarctic ice sheet is one of the Earth's two polar ice caps and covers an area of 5.4 million square miles - around 98 percent of the continent, making it the largest single mass of ice on earth.

Findings: Volcanic activity was discovered around 30 miles from Antarctica's highest volcano, Mount Sidley

Although scientists have suggested that sea ice around the continent is increasing, land ice appears to be decreasing and the area is very sensitive to global warming.

Seismologists had set up two crossing lines of seismographs across Marie Byrd Land in 2010 - the first time such instruments able to withstand the cold temperatures year-round had been used.

They had hoped that discovering the weight of the ice would help them to work out the history of Antarctica's climate, but to do this needed to know how the Earth's mantle might respond to such a large mass of ice.

Discovery: A newly-discovered active volcano could erupt underneath Antarctica, melting the ice from below

Frozen: The Antarctic ice sheet is one of the Earth's two polar ice caps and covers an area of 5.4 million square miles -
around 98 percent of the continent, making it the largest single mass of ice on earth

Software that might detect anything unusual beneath the ice surface was deployed, and in January 2010 and March 2011 this recorded two bursts of seismic activity.

When the scientists looked into what might have caused this activity they discovered what they believe to be a new volcano, forming around half a mile below the ice.

Ms Lough added: 'Eruptions at this site are unlikely to penetrate the 1.2 to 2-km-thick overlying ice, but would generate large volumes of melt water that could significantly affect ice stream flow.' - Daily Mail.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Divine Intervention - Watch A Giant Boulder Stop Just Inches Away From Rolling Through A Massachusetts Church! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

May 12, 2014 - MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - It’s being referred to as a case of divine intervention — and after you see the video, you may just agree.

Image source: YouTube

Image source: YouTube

Footage uploaded to YouTube Friday shows a giant boulder stop just inches from rolling through a Massachusetts church.

“If it rolled another 12 inches, it would have gone right through the building,” Pastor Rick LeClair told WCVB-TV. “This boulder was probably 20 tons.”

WATCH:  Giant boulder nearly destroys church in Massachusetts.

According to the local ABC affiliate, the boulder was set off by a nearby construction blast.

“We were standing across the street saying, ‘Uh-oh. There it goes,’” LeClair recounted. “I was thinking the church was going to get wrecked, but I had this peace about me where it really wasn’t going to get wrecked.

And it didn’t.”

The pastor credits divine intervention for stopping the rock.

“The Lord just kinda said, ‘That’s enough,’” LeClair told WCVB. - The Blaze.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: 4.2 Magnitude Tremor Jolts Catanduanes In The Philippines - 3 Volcanic Quakes Recorded On Mount Mayon!

May 12, 2014 - PHILIPPINES - A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has hit the northern shores of Camarines Norte and Catanduanes provinces early morning on Sunday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported.

The tremor’s epicenter was at 93 kilometers northwest of Pandan town, Catanduanes and was tectonic in origin, the Phivolc’s Seismological Observation and Earthquake Prediction Division said on its official online quake recording site.

It was felt at around 4:07 a.m. on Sunday, the bulletin said.

The quake was too far from the mainland to affect residents and property and no aftershocks were expected, the Phivolcs bulletin said.

Meanwhile, Phivolcs, in an 8 a.m. bulletin on Sunday, said it has recorded three volcanic earthquakes on Mt. Mayon during the past 24-hour observation period. Moderate emission of white steam plumes that drifted west-northwest and west-southwest was also noted over the same period but no crater glow was observed on Saturday night.

The volcano’s sulfur dioxide flux was measured at an average of 487 tons/day on May 6 while its geodetic results from ground deformation survey showed that its edifice, which showed swelling in November last year, has deflated and has returned to its 2010 level.

Mayon Volcano’s alert status remains at Alert Level 1, which means that it is still at abnormal condition but no magmatic eruption is imminent, the bulletin said.

However, the public was strongly advised anew to refrain from entering the 6-km radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) due to the perennial life-threatening dangers of rockfalls, landslides or avalanches at the middle to upper slope, and sudden ash puffs and steam-driven or phreatic eruptions from the summit, Phivolcs said. - Inquirer.