Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ICE AGE NOW: Coldest Spell For Two Years - Britain Hit By Blizzards, THUNDERSNOW, Mini-Tornadoes And A Foot Of Snow As Motorists Face Perilous Driving Conditions; With 36 Hours Of Weather Woe On Its Way! [PHOTOS]

Stuck: Heavy snow on the A9 near Blair Atholl, Perthshire, caused major disruption for motorists with tailbacks of up to five miles

January 14, 2015 - BRITAIN - Motorists were urged to take extra care on the roads today as Britain braced itself for further snow and icy conditions.

Forecasters have warned more snow is expected after blizzards disrupted travel and closed schools - and it could be our coldest spell for two years.

A 57-year-old motorist died today after his car smashed into a lorry that had overturned and shed its load of logs in the wintry weather.

The lorry crashed on the A39 between Bideford and Barnstaple in Devon at 6.50am, and despite the driver being freed by fire crews he died in hospital.

All four lanes of the main road were blocked by the logs and police were investigating to see if the poor weather had contributed to the accident.

Meanwhile, a 56 year old woman was seriously injured in a crash between a truck and a 4x4 car near Two Bridges on Dartmoor in snowy conditions.

And more than 40 schoolchildren narrowly escaped serious injury after their coach skidded on ice on a country road and careered into a ditch.

Emergency services headed to the scene at 9.10am after the Johnsons coach became stuck in a ditch off near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said one of the children was assessed for a minor right eye injury, and was discharged at the scene.

The AA said it had rescued 57 vehicles and attended 8,200 breakdowns by mid afternoon, reporting poor conditions in Scotland's central belt and north-west England. The RAC has now warned drivers to put off any non-essential car journeys until Friday.

Clearing a path: A snow plough passes a car which has come off the road in Cumbria today as snow sweeps across the country

Tailback: Lorries are queued on the A20 in Dover, Kent, as bad weather continues to delay ferry crossings across the English Channel

Requiring help: Difficult driving conditions are being experienced by motorists in Scotland today as a lorry slides on the A82 in Tyndrum

Mr Postman: A Royal Mail delivery van drives through snow today in Pitlochry, central Scotland

Scouring the area: A helicopter checks the rail line to Fort William for damage as snow continues to fall in Tyndrum, Scotland

Blocked: An overturned gritter on a country lane in Carmarthenshire in South-West Wales, as parts of the country were hit by snow

What a sight: A snowy scene at Nenthead on the Northumberland/Cumbria border, as more winter weather swept across the UK

Thundersnow - winter-time thunderstorms with snow - was reported in areas including South Wales last night.

On a rural road in Blaen-y-coed, Carmarthenshire, a council gritter toppled onto its side on a snow-swept hill – while out gritting.

Meanwhile 1ft (30cm) of snow was said to have fallen in Aviemore in the Highlands, while 10in (24cm) was seen at Tulloch Bridge, east of Fort William.

And there are early signs of more snow this weekend and next week, reported BBC Weather, adding that it could be our coldest spell for two years.

The Met Office has issued an amber 'be prepared' alert in central and southern Scotland today, with the rest of Britain on yellow 'be aware' alert.

Gritters were out in force last night and commuters have been told to expect some delays and cancellations of services. In Scotland, which has been hit hardest by snow with up to 30cm drifts, the roads are being gritted and patrolled.

Network Rail has suspended four train routes and the AA said its crews were ready for a busy 48 hours.

South West Trains warned some services tonight 'will take longer than usual, with a plan to enforce blanket speed restrictions as a safety precaution'.

The lines expected to be worst hit are between Weymouth and Southampton, Exeter and Salisbury, and Southampton and Portsmouth.

There were also flight delays for arrivals at Heathrow and London City airport due to the strong winds. A spokesman for London City Airport has now said air traffic control has lifted the flow restrictions put in place earlier today.

The Environent Agency had issued three flood warnings and 44 flood alerts for England as of 8am this morning. And more cold weather is on the way. 


At least three mini-tornadoes hit Britain in less than 24 hours - with homes damaged, shed roofs ripped off and garages destroyed.

Photographs emerged today of damage to homes in Park Bottom, Cornwall, after a whirlwind that saw a shed thrown 100 yards down a road.

Local resident Roger May said: 'There was a massive great bang and all of the lights went out. My wife was terribly frightened and really upset.

'I looked outside and about 30 feet away there was a massive circular item. It looked like a UFO but it was a massive trampoline.'

The 60-year-old added: 'I have never seen weather like that before in my life. It was quite frightening. Someone could have been killed.'

Residents say the tornado – which only lasted a few seconds - picked up at least two sheds, a chainsaw and various pieces of garden equipment.

Resident Dave Crabtree with his damaged car: The mini tornado appeared to hit Park Bottom, Cornwall, where several homes were damaged

Firefighters in Pembrokeshire said they had dealt with several properties with damaged roofs, while two people were taken to hospital

John Budd, whose wooden summerhouse was ripped from his garden, said: 'All of a sudden there was a loud roaring noise and then a bang.'

The summerhouse roof had been blown four houses down the street and landed in Trev Harris's garden after striking his conservatory and roof.

Mr Harris said: 'I said to my wife 'We have a shed-load of material in the garden' - and then I realised it was a shed.'

Met Office meteorologist Dan Williams said no tornados were officially recorded but stated it could have been too small to pick up on their satellite.

Another mini-tornado hit yesterday in the Prendergast area of Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, where shed roofs and gates were blown off.

One witness told the Western Telegraph: 'It was the most horrendous noise I have ever heard, like a lion roaring in my head. It was really scary.'

Firefighters there said they had dealt with several properties with damaged roofs, while two people were taken to hospital suffering from shock.

It comes after a suspected mini-tornado struck yesterday in Harrow, north-west London, causing a garage to collapse and damaging cars and homes.

Fire crews told of the sight as thunder, lighting and hail stones were followed by the tornado. They said it was 'like a scene from the Wizard of Oz'.

Met Office meteorologist Nicky Maxey told MailOnline: 'It's certainly looking colder over the weekend, and we've got a cold weather alert in place.

'We have had quite mild weather up until now this winter - and although last winter was wet and windy was mild, we didn't get any really cold weather.

'Next week is potentially looking colder and a little below average. This weekend is looking chilly - we've certainly got temperatures below freezing.'

She added: 'Friday night into Saturday, we've certainly got some temperatures around freezing or below overnight.

'Then daytime temps are looking at 4C, 5C, 6C or 7C, depending on where you are in the country - and the same for Sunday.'

And the Met Office's outlook for next week says: 'Temperatures will be generally below average with overnight frosts, locally severe.'

In Blaen-y-coed, commuters found the huge lorry blocking the road after it overturned last night, although both workers inside escaped uninjured.

Digital manager Ruben Lightfoot, 29, came across the stranded grit spreader on the B4299 while driving to work at about 8.30am today.

He said: 'As soon as we saw it we just hoped everyone was ok, but it seemed as if they had got out. It was clear that people had been there.'

Cllr Colin Evans from Carmarthenshire County Council said: 'Thankfully no-one was hurt in this incident. I would like to thank our crews for their work.

'They are out in difficult weather conditions at all hours and are doing a great job in keeping the county moving.'

Darron Burness from the AA's severe weather team said: 'It's a case of 'expect the unexpected' and drive accordingly.

'Untreated roads could be slippery, so keep your distance and watch your speed, as things can go wrong very quickly on snow and ice.

'If conditions are bad, even short journeys can take significantly longer, so allow extra time, as some delays are to be expected.

'Also make sure your car's windows and lights are clear of snow and frost before heading off.'

In Aberdeenshire the A93 Glenshee to Braemar route has been shut, as has the B974 Banchory to Fettercairn road and the A939 Ballater to Corgarff.

Traffic Scotland said there was heavy snow at the Rest and Be Thankful in Argyll and Bute, while on the A9 lorries stuck in snow caused delays.

Delivering the mail: Postman Willie Devine on his rounds in the South Lanarkshire village of Forth today

Treacherous conditions: Snow falls early this morning at Wilsden, near Bradford in West Yorkshire, as weather warnings were issued in the UK

On the way: Forecasters have warned more snow is expected after blizzards disrupted travel and closed schools in Scotland yesterday

Graphically explained: The sea level pressure and precipitation from the early hours, showing the deep low pressure system and heavy rain

Snow caused hazardous driving conditions around Launceston in Cornwall, and the A3074 near Lelant was closed after trees and power cables fell.

 Also in Cornwall, a lightning strike blasted a hole in a house during the night - and a television in the house in Hayle was destroyed in the explosion.

Twelve firefighters from Camborne and Hayle went to the property and Western Power made the electrics safe.

The A361 in Frome, Somerset, was closed in both directions between the B3090 and the B3092 after an accident involving a lorry and a bicycle.

Police advised drivers to avoid the A4136 near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, where a lorry became stuck on Plump Hill due to the adverse conditions.

The A509 Kettering Road in Great Harrowden, Northamptonshire, was blocked because of an accident involving a car and a van.

Gritting lorries were out in Wiltshire as snow fell this morning, and rescue teams were on their way to a crash on the B4553 in Purton Stoke.

Snow has been falling across Dorset, hitting many main roads including the A37 at Maiden Newton, and gritting teams have been out all night.

Residents across Weymouth were treated to a spectacular display of lightning as bolts came from the sky at around 10.20pm last night.

More than 250 properties in the Caversham area of Reading, Berkshire, were blacked out by a power cut last night.

Reports of lights going out began coming in shortly after 9pm. Scottish and Southern Energy said they had engineers on the way to repair the fault.

A spokeswoman said 'We apologise for the loss of supply - we are working to get the power back on as quickly as we can.'

The local branch of Nando's said most customers had finished eating when the power failed and staff 'only had a few takeaways left to deliver'.

 Meanwhile a plane with 27 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing after it was struck by lightning.

The Blue Islands S1718 flight from Jersey to London City was diverted to London Southend Airport as a precaution shortly after 6.30pm yesterday.

The ATR 42 plane landed safely and was due to be inspected by engineers, while the return flight to Jersey was cancelled.

The wintry blast took effect in Scotland yesterday, forcing the closure of more than 30 schools in the Highlands and creating difficult driving conditions.

And today, dozens of schools in Northern Ireland have also closed because of bad weather.

Snow showers continued overnight and gritting and ploughing of affected roads has taken place, Stormont's Regional Development Department said.

The North West around Londonderry saw its second day of disruption due to the conditions and public transport services were suspended.

Police have advised motorists to take care when travelling, particularly when driving on untreated roads.

Areas of counties Fermanagh, Armagh and Tyrone were also affected by the wintry conditions, with snow expected to turn to rain later.

In Dundee, a six-vehicle crash saw a car slide off the road and crash through railings into the wall of a property and a lorry jackknifed near Carrbridge.

Thousands of council gritters have been out on main roads across the country already this week, according to the Local Government Association.

Transport spokesman Peter Box said: 'Local government funding has been cut by 40 per cent and pressure on vital services continues to grow.

'However, preparing for cold weather remains a top priority and that is why councils stockpiled 1.3 million tonnes of salt ahead of winter.'


Thundersnow starts out like a summer thunderstorm - the sun heats the ground and pushes masses of warm, moist air upward, creating unstable air columns. As it rises, the moisture condenses to form clouds, which are jostled by internal turbulence.

Lightning is caused by this rubbing of the clouds against each other - thunder is the sound of lightning but as sound moves more slowly than light we hear it later.

The tricky part for making thundersnow is creating that atmospheric instability in the wintertime.

When it is cold, and particularly in air conducive to snowfall, the lower atmosphere is dry, cold and very stable.

For thundersnow to occur there needs to be a very precise set of circumstances - the air layer closer to the ground has to be warmer than the layers above, but still cold enough to create snow.

When this happens warm air rises, snow falls and thunder, lightning and snow all occur at the same time.

The LGA's annual Winter Readiness Survey found 91 per cent of local authorities maintained or increased salt stock levels this winter.

A Met Office spokesman said yesterday: 'There is a risk of two spells of persistent snow.

'The first of these is likely to cross the amber area on Tuesday evening, with another one affecting the area on Wednesday morning - both of which could produce disruptive snowfall during busy travel periods.

'Meanwhile, snow is likely to continue to accumulate throughout this period on high ground.

'The public should be prepared for the risk of disruption and difficult driving conditions.'

The amber warning, in place until 10am, follows last week's fierce storms which left 120,000 properties without power in Scotland.

The homes have since been reconnected but BT is continuing to fix phone lines in the Highlands and Islands.

North of the border: Aviemore resident Colin Cadden took this photograph of a snow-covered scene in the Highlands at sunrise today

Deep: This photograph of a huge amount of snow at Aviemore in the Highlands was taken by Calum Spud Fraser, known as 'Spud The Piper'

Whiteout: Twitter user 'RoseannaghM' took this photograph of snowfall in a garden about five miles from Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands

Making a path: Network Rail posted this picture of a snowplough train, which was aiming to keep the line between Perth and Aviemore open

Driving through: Snow was very deep on the A889 near Dalwhinnie in the Highlands, which is known as one of the coldest places in the UK

Repair efforts have been hampered by fallen trees, ferry cancellations and traffic restrictions.

Road operator Bear Scotland said its teams were working around the clock to keep routes clear.

And Police Scotland said drivers should ask whether their journey is really necessary before getting behind the wheel.

Chief Inspector Louise Blakelock said: 'If you do decide to travel, ensure your vehicle is well prepared before setting off, make sure your windscreens are completely free of snow and ice, and your lights are working and clean.'

Network Rail said a limited number of train services would be suspended from noon today, when the worst of the winds are expected to strike.

No trains will run on the Dumbarton Central to Helensburgh Central and Glasgow to Oban lines until 6pm tomorrow. The Kyle to Dingwall and Kilwinning to Ardrossan line will also be suspended.

Elsewhere, a train that broke down due to snow on a single line section between Inverness and Aviemore has now been moved, and the line is now open after being cleared by snow plough trains.

Meanwhile, emergency crews had to remove a high rise statue blown over in strong winds in Tyne and Wear - and left hanging by a lightning rod.

The Terpsichore statue was left dangling off the Sunderland Empire Tower after it was battered by high winds. A cordon was set up and a crane brought in to remove the statue of the Greek muse of dance and chorus.

 David Dickson, route managing director for Scotland, said: 'Safety has to be our first consideration during severe weather.

'Where conditions are predicted to be most severe, we have agreed to withdraw a limited number of services until the worst of the storms have passed.

'During periods of snow and extreme cold we use a number of measures to keep the network open including insulated points heaters to prevent freezing, snow ploughs to remove drifts and our snow train which uses hot air blowers and steam to thaw frozen parts of the network.

'Our teams are out on the network and will be working around the clock to keep the tracks clear.'

Yesterday's high temperature was just 10.3C (50.5F) in Swanage, Dorset, reported BBC Weather.

A yellow 'be aware' warning for snow and ice remains in place across Wales, Northern Ireland and much of England, with sleet and snow showers possible overnight.

The Met Office said: 'This is most likely to occur in the west of the yellow area, with the high ground of Wales, the moors of south-west England, the Mendips and Cotswolds at greatest risk of snow accumulations. - Daily Mail.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Bus Carrying Prisoners Slides Off Overpass In Texas, Colliding With A Passing Freight Train - At Least 10 People Killed, 5 Others Injured!

Officials investigate the scene of a prison transport bus crash in Penwell, Texas, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Law enforcement officials said the bus carrying
prisoners and corrections officers fell from an overpass in West Texas and crashed onto train tracks below, killing an unspecified number of people.
(AP Photo/The Odessa American, Mark Sterkel)

January 14, 2015 - TEXAS, UNITED STATES
- At least 10 people have died after a bus carrying inmates from one Texas prison to another slid off an overpass and was hit by a passing train, local officials say.

Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson told the Associated Press that the prison bus was traveling across an icy overpass 16 miles west of Odessa, Texas early Wednesday when the vehicle slide off the road and landed on nearby railroad tracks where it collided with a train.

The bus was carrying 12 prisoners and three corrections officers at the time of the accident, a Department of Justice spokesperson told the AP, and all 15 passengers had been confirmed as either dead or injured.

Screenshot from YouTUbe user Lovely Micky

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed the 10 deaths in a statement, adding that four prisoners and one corrections officer were injured.

Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Department of Criminal Justice, said the bus was taking the inmates from the Middleton prison
in Abilene to the Sanchez prison in El Paso. The prisoners were handcuffed together in pairs.

According to a statement provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, eight prisoners and two corrections officers were killed.

"It's with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of those killed and injured this morning in a tragic accident,"
said Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "Their loved ones will be in our thoughts and prayers."

"It's as bad as you can imagine,"
Kavin Tinney, a battalion chief, added to The Odessa American newspaper. "In 32, years it's as bad as anything I've ever seen."

According to the Justice Department, the bus was carrying inmates from the Middleton prison in Abilene to the Sanchez prison in El Paso, a distance of roughly 450 miles, and was just past the halfway point when the accident occurred near Odessa. - RT.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFFS: "Mysterious Surge In Sick Marine Mammals All Along California Coast - Infested With Parasites, Extremely Emaciated; "Very Seriously Ill,... In Very Bad Shape; Experts Are EXTREMELY Concerned; Deaths Up 1,500 PERCENT At Rescue Facility; Numbers Mystifies Officials?!

A sea-lion pup is tube-fed last month at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif.

- Orange County Register, Jan 10, 2015 (emphasis added): 8 sea lions rescued in OC in just over a week; number mystifies officials — It’s not normal for eight sea lions to need rescuing in just over a week — especially at this time of year. But that’s exactly what has happened… six were pups and yearlings… [one] only 21 pounds, and [another] 23 pounds… [Experts don't] know why it’s happening.

ABC 7′s Greg Lee
, Jan 12, 2015: Sad, sad photo: Huge increase in rescued #sealions across CA

ABC Los Angeles
, Jan 12, 2015: Sea lions in distress — a mysterious surge in sick sea lions here in S. California and statewide New at 5, a big increase in the number of stranded sea lions being rescued…

Some of them very seriously ill nearly a dozen sea lions at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Facilities across California are reporting a massive increase in the number of sea lions needing to be rescued in 2015… Baby sea lions [are] in very bad shape.

Kirsten Sedlick, PMMC supervisor
: We’re extremely concerned right now, absolutely. It’s not just us, it’s other stranding networks, we’re all very concernedSince January 1st, we’ve had 11 stranded California sea lions; last January we had 4 total [On pace for 30 in January, over 7 times last year's total]

They are extremely emaciated, we’ve noticed there’s been a high parasite infestation in them as well and some upper respiratory infections.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach says its seen almost a 40 percent increase in sick sea lions this year.

NBC Los Angeles
: Jan 12, 2015: More and more ailing sea lions are showing up along California shores. Marine mammal centers say this is well above normal. What’s making these sea lions so sick?… Experts say this is a year they are concerned about a UME an unusual mortality event. They arrive malnourished and with parasites. Workers at the PMMC are treating twice as many California sea lions as a year ago… We know there was a conference call among all of the stranding sites up and down the coast here in California. The consensus is that this is happening all over the state.

Sea lions are having trouble finding food as a warm-up in the Pacific is causing squid and sardines to dive deeper into cool waters.

In the first 9 days of 2015, 20 patients were admitted to the Marine Mammal Care Center near L.A. If this rate of 2.22/day continues, January’s total will be ~70 — over 5 times Jan 2014. At the Marine Mammal Center in the Bay Area, 15 patients died in just over a month at the end of 2014. The previous year saw one death in the same period.

- ENE News.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Gas Pipeline Explodes At Ross Barnett Reservoir In Mississippi - Causing A Massive Fire, No Immediate Reports Of Injuries! [PHOTOS]

- A natural gas pipeline exploded at the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Mississippi on Wednesday morning, causing a massive fire, local US media reported.

There have been no immediate reports of injuries.

The explosion occurred at around 6:15 am local time (12:15 p.m. GMT) in the city of Brandon in Rankin County, Mississippi, according to the county's sheriff's office, 16 WAPT News reported.

Ross Barnett Reservoir (image from by Eskimo.the)

The TV station said its weather team could see the smoke on radar and flames were shooting into the air more than an hour after the explosion. The fire burning out of control has also been reported by local Clarion-Ledger newspaper.

The pipeline belongs to the Gulf South Pipeline, according to WAPT. The system transports gas between several states, including Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Crews at the scene have shut off the gas following the explosion, company officials said.

"They are waiting for the gas to bleed off, and then they will go in and finish putting out the fire,"
Rankin County emergency official Beth Miller said, 16 WAPT news reported.

Mississippi News Now reported that its aerial filming captured the fire as it went out, leaving a scorched patch of forest.

The Ross Barnett Reservoir, known locally as "The Rez," is a 33,000-acre artificial lake that serves as Mississippi’s largest source of drinking water. Constructed in the 1960s, it is a major recreational and residential area, with around 5,000 homes being located along the Rez in Madison and Rankin counties.

According to 16 WAPT, citing reservoir manager John Sigman, the gas pipeline is not actually on reservoir property, but is nearby it. - RT.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Over 13 BILLION TIMES More Neutrons Was Released By The Fukushima Daiichi Plant Than Was Initially Estimated - "Obvious Implication For Human Health;" Government States That "Neutron Radiation Is The MOST SEVERE AND DANGEROUS Radiation" Known To Mankind; Can Travel Great Distances!

January 14, 2015 - JAPAN
- Scientists from Tokyo Institute of Technology, Univ. of California San Diego & Kyushu Univ., made available Oct 16, 2014 (emphasis added):
  • We estimated a lower limit of 5.2 × 1021 slow neutrons m–2 sec–1 [m–2 sec–1 = per sq. meter per second] were emitted from the nuclear fuel rods to the sea water injected in the reactors
  • Priyadarshi et al. (2011) have estimated a release amount of 4 × 1011 slow neutrons m–2. The large difference with our estimation [13,000,000,000 times higher] comes from the intrinsic limit of the box model study by Priyadarshi et al.
  • Our model directly estimates the amount of material released from the reactor core
  • The estimated… number of neutron represent a lower limit of the amount of radiation emitted from the nuclear reactors… These values can be used as a proxy to the total amount of radiation emitted since the melt down
  • [The authors] express their gratitude to… the Japanese Ministry of Environment…Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology (MEXT)… [and] the Cabinet Office

Priyadarshi et al.
: Evidence of neutron leakage at the Fukushima nuclear plantDespite the obvious implication for human health… there are no quantitative estimates of the neutron flux leakage [T]ons of seawater were used as a coolant… A consequence is that salts and minerals present in seawater become radioactive by reaction with thermal neutronsWe calculated the total number of neutrons that leaked from the reactor core [and] estimate that a total of 4 × 1011 neutrons per m2 were released before March 20.

Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Coordination: Neutron radiation is a kind of ionizing radiation which consists of free neutrons… Neutrons readily pass through most material, but interact enough to cause biological damage. Neutron radiation is considered to be the most severe and dangerous radiation available. Neutrons can travel great distances

Previous reports on Fukushima neutrons
- ENE News.

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Widespread Flooding – The Latest Reports Of High Tides, Heavy Rainfall, Flash Floods, Sea Level Rise, And Catastrophic Storms!

January 14, 2015 - EARTH - The following list constitutes the latest reports of high tides, heavy rainfall, flash floods, widespread flooding, sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

Malawi Floods – 48 Dead as President Declares State of Disaster

This boy's home in the southern district of Chikwawa was washed away in the floods

Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, yesterday declared a state of disaster for areas of the country affected by the recent floods.

In his statement he said that floods have affected the districts of Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe Zomba; Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Mulanje, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Salima, Rumphi and Karonga. The worst affected districts are thought to be Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe, Zomba and the district of Mangochi, where it is thought that many of the deaths occurred.

Government sources estimate that around 70,000 people from around 14,000 families or households have been displaced by the flooding.

This is one of the few houses left in Matsukambiya village in the southern district of Chikwawa

In his statement the president said that 48 people are believed to have been killed in the floods that first struck in Malawi during late December 2014.

The floods have also caused widespread damage to crops and livestock, as well as to infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

Appeal for Aid and Relief

Government authorities and relief agencies have been providing assistance to those affected. However, with the scale of the floods now apparent and further heavy rainfall forecast, the president called on the international community for outside help.

Malawi's President Peter Mutharika declared a state of natural disaster in some areas

In his statement he said:
I fully appreciate all previous assistance Malawi has received when affected by disasters. However, I appeal for humanitarian assistance, from the International donor community, the relevant United Nations agencies, the Non Governmental Organisations, the local private sector as well as all fellow citizens of goodwill, so that, together, we can contribute in alleviating suffering on the part of people affected by the floods. Tents and food are urgently required. Rescue operations are also a priority.
World’s Media Start to Pay Attention

The worsening flood situation in Malawi and the president’s statement appear to have alerted the attention of media from the outside world. Reuters, BBC, AFP and AP have all recently published reports on the flood situation.

Power Supply Cut, Flood Zones Inaccessible

However, finding reliable information on the current situation remains problematic. Different news sources have varying figures on the number of those displaced or killed. The Malawi government said that assessment of the impact of the floods is a problem currently because most of the affected areas are inaccessible.

Flooding in Somanje Chilobwe, Malawi. Photo credit: Daily Times Malawi

Furthermore, storms have cut power supply in some areas for the last 2 days. Numerous official and news websites have been offline. Many of our contacts in the area are struggling to send us information simply because they don’t have electricity.

The full statement by the president can be seen here.

Mozambique Floods Worsen as Rivers Overflow – 100,000 Affected

Floods in Mozambique are thought to have affected around 100,000 over the last few days as heavy rainfall continues over parts of south eastern Africa, including Malawi, where 48 people have died.
In Mozambique, the worst hit area is the province of Zambezia, where the Licungo river has overflowed, forcing between 15,000 people to leave their homes.

The Licungo often floods around this time of year. It flooded during the massive floods of 2000 in Mozambique. It also flooded parts of Namacurra district in February 2014. However, according to some reports, flooding from the river is said to be some of the worst seen since 1971.

The BBC are reporting that a group of 25 schoolchildren were swept away by floodwater on Monday. Events surrounding the situation are unclear. Associated Press say that 18 children are missing in the Mocuba region near the Licungo river, district manager Teresa Mauhai told Radio Mozambique on Tuesday.

AP also say that at least 10 people have died in the recent floods. Seven people died trying to cross the Licungo river in the Zambezia province, with four people dying when their car was swept away, according to the government disaster management office.

Philippines Floods – Over 25,000 Evacuated in Caraga

Following in the wake of Tropical Storm Jangmi (known in the Philippines as Seniang), which killed over 60 people, an area of low pressure (LPA) over Mindanao and Visayas in the Philippines has prompted concern over prolonged heavy rainfall and flooding in the region.

In Mindanao over the weekend, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council advised local disaster councils to take precautionary measures for possible floods and landslides due to continuous rains brought by the LPA. Authorities were asked to focus on the safety of residents living along the low-lying areas, landslide and flood-prone areas.

Over 25,000 Evacuated

It is as yet unclear how severe the most recent flooding has been since the warnings were issued. Any further rainfall would worsen an already poor situation, coming so soon after the damage left behind by Tropical Storm Jangmi / Seniang.

What is clear, however, is that the flood warnings have been heeded and evacuations carried out. As of Monday 12 January 2015, 65 evacuation centres were housing 26,394 people from 5,041 families in Caraga, according to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (pdf) (NDRRMC). The NDRRMC said the evacuations were prompted by flooding and landslides in the area.

The evacuations come exactly one year to the day when a similar LPA hit Mindanao in January 2014, causing flash flooding and landslides. 13 people were reported as killed as a result of floods or landslides and around 4,500 evacuated.

Floods and Landslides in Peru and Bolivia After Heavy Rainfall

Landslide in Junín, Peru – Photo by Ministerio de Salud, Peru

Areas of Bolivia and Peru have been seeing heavy rainfall for the last two weeks. Two people died after flooding in Santa Cruz, Bolivia during the first week of January 2015.


Over the last 2 days rainfall in the department of La Paz has triggered landslides which have damaged or destroyed around 800 houses. The landslides affected Guanay and Tipuani in Larecaja province, and Luribay in José Ramón Loayza province.

Furthermore the heavy rain has increased river levels in the area, forcing people to evacuate thier homes in Guanay.


Peru’s Civil Defence (INDECI) has reported landslides in the departments of Huanuco and Lima between 06 and 09 January 2015, after 2 weeks of heavy rain.

In Huanuco, two people died and three are missing as a result of a landslide in the district of Mariano Dámaso Beraún. In Lima, the districts of San Vicente de Cañete and Lunahuaná were affected. INDECI say at least 15 houses were destroyed as a result of landslides.

Peru suffered from similar flooding
and landslides during the early part of 2014.

- Floodlist.

DISASTER PRECURSORS: Omen – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Mass Animal Die-Offs, Appearance Of Rare Creatures And Warnings From Mother Nature!

January 14, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

More mass animal deaths occurring now than ever before, study claims

Three US institutions say mass die-offs are now more common. They have increased by one event per year for 70 years.
Pictured are dead tilapia floating near Salton Sea Beach in California, US on 19 January 11.

Mass die-offs of certain animals has increased in frequency every year for seven decades, according to a new study.
Researchers found that such events, which can kill more than 90 per cent of a population, are increasing among birds, fish and marine invertebrates.

The reasons for the die-offs are diverse, with effects tied to humans such as environmental contamination accounting for about a fifth of them.

The research was carried out by three US institutions - the University of San Diego, Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley - and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mass mortality events occur when a large percentage of a population dies in a short time frame.

While they are rare and fall sort of an extinction, they still pack a devastating punch.

'This is the first attempt to quantify patterns in the frequency, magnitude and cause of such mass kill events,' said study senior author Dr Stephanie Carlson, an associate professor at UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.

The researchers reviewed incidents of mass kills documented in scientific literature.

Although they came across some sporadic studies dating back to the 1800s, the analysis focused on the period from 1940 to the present.

The researchers acknowledged that some of their findings may be due to an increase in the reporting of mass die-offs in recent decades.

But they noted that even after accounting for some of this reporting bias, there was still an increase in mass die-offs for certain animals.

Overall, disease was the primary culprit, accounting for 26 per cent of the mass die-offs. Direct effects tied to humans, such as environmental contamination, caused 19 percent of the mass kills.

Biotoxicity triggered by events such as algae blooms accounted for a significant proportion of deaths, and processes directly influenced by climate - including weather extremes, thermal stress, oxygen stress or starvation - collectively contributed to about 25 percent of mass mortality events.

The most severe events were those with multiple causes, the study found.

Dr Carlson, a fish ecologist, and her UC Berkeley graduate students had observed such die-offs in their studies of fish in California streams and estuaries, originally piquing their interest in the topic.

'The catastrophic nature of sudden, mass die-offs of animal populations inherently captures human attention,' said Dr Carlson.

'In our studies, we have come across mass kills of federal fish species during the summer drought season as small streams dry up.

'The majority of studies we reviewed were of fish. When oxygen levels are depressed in the water column, the impact can affect a variety of species.'

The study found that the number of mass mortality events has been increasing by about one event per year over the 70 years the study covered.

'While this might not seem like much, one additional mass mortality event per year over 70 years translates into a considerable increase in the number of these events being reported each year,' said study co-lead author Dr Adam Siepielski, an assistant professor of biology at the University of San Diego.

'Going from one event to 70 each year is a substantial increase, especially given the increased magnitudes of mass mortality events for some of these organisms.'

This study suggests that in addition to monitoring physical changes such as changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, it is important to document the biological response to regional and global environmental change.

The researchers highlighted ways to improve documentation of such events in the future, including the possible use of citizen science to record mass mortality events in real time.

'The initial patterns are a bit surprising, in terms of the documented changes to frequencies of occurrences, magnitudes of each event and the causes of mass mortality,' said study co-lead author Dr Samuel Fey, a postdoctoral fellow in ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale.

'Yet these data show that we have a lot of room to improve how we document and study these types of rare events.'
Mass Mortality Events (MMEs)

The analysis of 727 published MMEs from across the globe, affecting 2,407 animal populations, found that the magnitude of such events since 1940 has been intensifying for birds, fishes and marine invertebrates, decreasing for reptiles and amphibians and staying the same for mammals.

The most severe events were those with multiple causes, the paper shows.

Although mass mortality events are often a natural event 'the most alarming and interesting result was the sheer magnitude of some of these mortality events,' Dr Adam Siepielski of the University of San Diego said.

'Billions of individuals dying are just huge numbers to comprehend. The study provides yet another example of the challenges to life that organisms are confronted with on a planet increasingly dominated by the influence of humans in the environment.'
 - Daily Mail.

554 sea birds and 4 sea lions found dead on beaches in Baja California, Mexico

The Profepa found 554 birds and four seals which lay dead in the south of the pier in the port of San Felipe, Baja California.

After surveillance operations at the Port of San Felipe, Baja California, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) found 554 birds and sea lions 4 dead, believe that his death occurred due to climate recent.

"Changes in water temperature will cause the shoals of fish entering deeper and consequently the birds can not get their main food source," he said.

The Profepa indicated that this hypothesis considered under the experience of other countries in the same research on the mass killing of specimens of wildlife.

The remains of animals found in the stretch of 10 kilometers out of the breakwater of the Port of San Felipe south. - Tiempo. [Translated]

White-rumped sandpiper from Arctic North America ends up in Australia

The white-rumped sandpiper has been spotted at Lake Wollumboola, which is a rarity as the bird’s usual
migration pattern takes it to the shores of South America.   © Narelle Wrigh

A rare sighting has twitchers flocking from around Australia to Lake Wollumboola.

The last time a white-rumped sandpiper (calidris fuscicollis) was spotted in NSW was in November 1977 near Pitt Town.

Ornithologist Joy Pegler said the bird has been caught up in the wrong migratory fly way ending up on the Australian coastline from Alaska.

"All the twitchers are rushing to see it," she said.

"It's only a little thing and it has flown such a long way. It's really very amazing.

"The bird is very rarely seen in Australia at all, so this has a lot of enthusiasts very excited."

The bird has one of the longest migration routes of any American bird, breeding in arctic Canada and wintering in southern South America.

Southbound migrants fly over the Atlantic Ocean from north-eastern North America to South America then gradually move south-east along the coast before turning inland to go across the Amazon Basin. This takes about one month.

Ms Pegler said the bird had most likely been caught up with the large groups of birds migrating through the east Asian/Australasian migration route.

"This time of the year we see a lot of shorebirds migrate to Lake Wollumboola to take advantage of its unique characteristics," she said.

"It has a great supply of vegetation which supports food supply and roosting areas.

"This little bird though won't settle to breed here and probably won't stick around for much longer."

Narelle Wright from Culburra Beach, a volunteer with National Parks and Wildlife, said the bird was first spotted in Shoalhaven Heads about five days ago.

"These little birds have been clocked flying at 80km/h," she said.

"This bird appears to be on its own and has been sticking to itself.

"It's still eating and seems happy so it should be off soon to South America."

Ms Wright said bird watchers have been arriving at from Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Central Coast and as far afield as Perth to catch a glimpse of the bird before it leaves Australia's shores.  - South Coast Register.

8 people attacked by jackal in Iran

An adult male golden jackal. © Wikimedia Commons, Steve Garvie

A wild jackal attached eight people mostly children in the city of Bajestan, Khorasan Razavi, on Sunday.

The hungry jackal attack eight people in the city most of them children and injured them, the police said.

They received outpatient medical treatment, but, five of them stayed at the hospital.

Commander of Police in Bajestan Colonel Mohammad Ali Sadeqian said police arrived at the scene immediately and took the injured people to nearby hospital.

Every year, in the winter season wild animals come to residential areas in foray into food. - IRNA.

Jackals attack 5 people in India

The increasing number of jackals in Kulangam and a few adjoining villages in frontier Kupwara district has created fear among the residents.

Five persons, including three women, have been injured in attacks by jackals in the past three days. The injured have been identified as Hajra Begum, Abdul Hamid, Fahmeeda, Razia Akther and Bashir Ahmad. They are undergoing treatment at District Hospital, Handwara.

"I had come out of my house to attend the nature's call when a jackal attacked me. Thankfully, I received injuries in my legs and not on any vital organ," said Abdul Hamid, a resident of Kulangam.

Locals said after the sunset, jackals enter residential areas and pose a threat to humans and livestock. - The Tribune.

Cow jumps from moving truck in Russia

It's not every day you see a cow perform a daredevil stunt like this one.

Shocked motorists on a high-speed carriageway in Russia captured the hilarious footage of the bovine animal making its great escape from the travelling lorry.

The curious creature sticks it head out of the back of the truck before taking a tentative step onto the icy road below.

After skidding on its knees for a few metres, the cow emerges from the stunt unhurt and promptly stands up to take in its new surroundings.

While it remains unknown whether the animal was being shipped off to the abattoir, this cow wasn't taking any risks as it made a break for it.

Luckily, the vehicle behind the truck had plenty of time to stop, meaning the creature was safe and sound, despite his udderly dramatic stunt.

WATCH: Daredevil cow's escape to freedom from moving truck.

- Mirror.

Fast & Furious: Russian horse in a hurry smashes into crowd

WATCH: A horse smashes a group of people to the ground in Russia.

 - RT.

20,000 birds have died from avian flu in Jiangxi, China

Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu has led to the death of more than 20,000 birds at a farm in the province in Jiangxi.

The veterinary authority has sent Follow Up Report no.1 dated 9 January to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

It outlines an outbreak of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza at a farm at Jiangyi in the Gongqingcheng region of Jianxi province in eastern China.

Starting on 5 January, the virus killed 2,371 birds in the flock of 20,483; the rest have been destroyed.The last report of H5N1 outbreaks from China was in October 2014, when there were 16 outbreaks. - The Poultry Site.

160,000 birds killed due to avian flu in Taiwan, China - worst outbreak in 10 years

A major outbreak of avian flu in Taiwan has spread to 19 more farms with a total of 160,000 birds slaughtered in the island's worst bout of the disease in a decade, authorities said Wednesday.

The number of poultry farms infected with the virus has almost doubled since Tuesday, jumping from 21 to 40. More than 10,000 geese have been killed since Tuesday afternoon.

"We have been adopting stringent measures so that we can limit the further spread of the outbreak as soon as possible," Chang Su-san, head of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, told reporters Wednesday.

She would not specify how many more birds would be slaughtered but said that samples had been taken from another 47 suspect farms where around 340,000 birds are kept.

The outbreak is a new variant of the H5N2 and H5N8 strains of the disease which are not deadly to humans.

More than 10,000 geese have been killed since January 13, 2015 ©Sam Yeh (AFP)

Agriculture minister Chen Bao-ji has said he expected the number of infected farms to keep growing and more birds to be culled.

The first outbreak was confirmed at a chicken farm in southern Pingtung county last week then at a goose farm in the northern city of Taoyuan on Tuesday, leading to the slaughter of 1,900 birds.

Most infected farms are in the south, which is home to the majority of the island's goose and duck farms.

Experts say the outbreak is likely to have been caused by migratory birds bringing the virus onto farms, which have been told to strengthen their nets to prevent contact between poultry and wild birds.

The authorities have adopted stringent measures to stop the outbreak including a ban on transportation of the birds at the suspect farms and a Tw$1 million ($31,250) fine for farmers if caught dumping infected poultry.

Angry farmers have accused the authorities of attempting to cover up the outbreak and being too slow to respond, an allegation they have denied.

Taiwan has reported several outbreaks of H5N2 but has no recorded cases of the potentially deadly H5N1 strain, although authorities said pet birds smuggled from China tested positive for the strain in 2005 and 2012.Taiwan authorities in 2004 slaughtered 467,000 birds after H5N2, a less virulent form than the H5N1 strain deadly to humans, was discovered in farm chickens. - Daily Mail.

Lost migrating bird makes rare visit to Mankato,Minnesota

This male varied thrush was photographed from a window in the home of Gerald and Jill Binstock of rural Rapidan.  © Chad Heins.

Neighbors probably wondered what's up at Jill and Gerald Binstock's place lately.

People with binoculars - one man stood in their backyard for an hour Saturday - have been showing up outside the rural Rapidan couple's home, obviously looking for something.

Area birdwatchers have been hoping to catch sight of a rare avian visitor to Minnesota. A male varied thrush first started to show up at the Binstocks' feeders Thursday.

"I was watching for the little wanderer," said one of the birders, Chad Heins, who is a biology instructor at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato.

After an hour or so, Heins got his chance to observe the bird who resembles its cousin, the American robin, but has distinct orange markings near its eyes.

"He was eating cracked corn, but they will eat berries, suet or whatever they find."

Varied thrushes generally travel a winter route from Denali National Park in Alaska down through British Columbia and states on the West Coast, Heins said. A solitary type of bird, the Binstocks' guest probably got in with a bunch of robins during his migration south.

"It's tough to go against the flock," Heins said, offering an explanation of how the thrush traveled all the way to southern Minnesota instead of Oregon.

Most likely, the bunch of birds settled for the night in rural Rapidan, but when the robins left in the morning, the thrush stayed in the protective pines near the Binstocks' deck.

Jill Binstock was the first to notice the different-looking bird eating along side the cardinals and chickadees who regularly dine at her feeders. She called her husband to come take a look.

"That's not a robin," Gerald Binstock said.

A friend's husband suggested the stranger was a varied thrush. He recommended the couple contact Heins.

This week's sighting is the fourth made in Blue Earth County in the past 10 years, Heins said.

"He was either off cycle or lost," said Marty Moen with the public relations department at the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History.

Moen suggests the website for people interested in recent rare bird sightings in the state.

Jill Binstock said their little visitor is pretty skittish and usually comes to the feeder once or twice a day. The couple's daughter was able to spot the thrush Sunday, but he was a no-show for a man who came looking for him Monday.

The couple does not plan to serve anything special to encourage their special visitor to stick around and they don't keep a list of who they serve at their feeders.

"We just like birds," Jill Binstock said. - Mankato Free Press.

Two people and dog attacked by fox in Brunswick, Georgia

Wildlife officials in Glynn County are issuing renewed calls for residents to get their rabies shots after two people and a dog were attacked by a possibly rabid fox Monday.

According to a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the attack happened off Glass Circle in Brunswick.

Both people are receiving treatment for rabies as a precaution. Tests are being performed on the fox, which was killed following the attack, to determine whether it was, in fact, rabid. - First Coast News.