Friday, January 23, 2015

EXTREME WEATHER: Major Winter Storm Set To Batter U.S. Northeast With Sleet And Up To Eight Inches Of Snow This Weekend - And Could Plunge In Pressure Leading To A "BOMBOGENESIS"!

Incoming: This forecast from the Weather Channel predicts a maximum of five inches of snow in New York City,
with parts of New England facing a potential eight inches

January 23, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- A fast-moving coastal storm is forecast to blast several major cities in the Northeast with a mix of snow, sleet and rain on Saturday all along the busy I-95 corridor.

The biggest snowfall amounts are expected in southern New England, but forecasters warned that temperatures hovering near freezing could make for slippery driving conditions across the region.

The approaching storm is also likely to plummet in pressure, leading to strong winds which will drive the snow and sleet.

If the drop in pressure equals of exceeds 24milibars within 24 hours the storm will then meet the technical definition for a weather bomb - in a process known as bombogenesis.

First flakes: This picture, from Leesburg, Virginia, shows the first traces of snowfall

Snowfall: Gaithersburg, Maryland (above), had also started to see frosty downpours

'It's kind of the first one, so it's a good thing it's happening this weekend,' National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson in Taunton, Massachusetts, said Friday.

'If this happened during a weekday, it could be really slow and messy.'

According to the Weather Channel, sleet and snow will begin to hit Washington, D.C., and southern Pennsylvania on Friday night.

By Saturday morning, a mixture of sleet and snow is expected to be falling in all major cities from D.C. as high as Portland, Maine - including New York City.

As the day warms up slightly, some places could see snow in the morning, sleet in the daytime, then snow in the evening again.

The fiercest snow is predicted for Rhode Island, Maine and the Massachusetts coast around Boston.

A winter storm warning was issued Friday for a large portion of central Pennsylvania ahead of the storm.

It begins: Friday night is set to bring widespread up to the Mason Dixon line, after which sleet and snow will fall

Colder: Snow on Saturday is set to be more widespread, with a long sweep of inland areas in the firing line

Forecasters said the area from Gettysburg to Johnstown, stretching from West Virginia through Maryland to just south of State College and Williamsport, could get 5 to 8 inches of snow between Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Some predictions also say New York City, Porland and parts of Connecticut could face eight inches.

The Maryland State Highway Administration warned motorists that travel may become hazardous. The agency said it would have salt, snowplows and chain saws at the ready in case of fallen trees.

By Sunday, forecasters say the storm is likely to have headed out into the Atlantic once more.

After a relatively tame start to the winter, Connecticut has plenty of salt and snow-treatment chemicals stockpiled around the state and a fleet of 632 plow trucks ready to go, Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said.

He said crews have been pre-treating some highways and bridges, but there already is some salt leftover from recent, smaller storms.

'We don't need to go full tilt,' he said.

Storm's brewin': This satellite image shows the system swirling over the Atlantic around midday Thursday. it is expected to sweep over the
north-east bringing snow. A second system bound for New England is developing in the Gulf of Mexico

The storm is expected to begin as snow across much of the region, with areas east of I-95 receiving mostly rain.

Forecasters say accumulation amounts will depend on how quickly the rain line moves west. The weather service said the Philadelphia area could receive as much as a quarter-inch of ice Saturday morning before the rain arrives.

Meteorologist Peter Wichrowski in Upton, New York, said snow likely would start to fall in New York City in the early morning hours of Saturday, with a mix of rain and maybe a little sleet along the coastal areas. He said snowfall totals were expected to be around 1 to 2 inches across eastern Long Island.

Baltimore and Washington were expected to get only rain as temperatures hover just above freezing. - Daily Mail.

DELUGE: Southeast Queensland Soaked By Monsoon-Like Rains - Widespread Flooding Caused Landslides And Sinkholes To Open Up And Swallow Cars; Numerous Vehicle Crashes And Flight Cancellation As Infrastructure Collapses From The Wild Weather!

Extreme wet weather causing flooding in the Currumbin valley area . A youth rides his body board in a roadside gutter
then decides to take on the rapids of the Currumbin Creek.   © Mike Batterham

January 23, 2015 - QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
- Southeast Queensland was drenched yesterday as "monsoon-like" conditions swept the region, closing roads, diverting flights and causing flash flooding.

Roads were inundated in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, causing sinkholes to open up that swallowed cars.

Emergency services scrambled to rescue children and adults from rising floodwaters as the SES received almost 400 calls for help, including pleas to sandbag homes and patch leaking roofs already damaged by previous hail storms.

The Gold Coast was one of the hardest-hit areas, with drivers trapped in submerged cars and a teenage boy stuck in floodwaters dramatically rescued. He was found clinging to a railing on a flooded causeway in the Currumbin Valley.

Another team plucked a man to safety from the roof of his car at Bonogin.

Falls of more than 200mm caused flash flooding across the Glitter Strip, including crashes, landslides and a 3m sinkhole on one of the Coast's busiest roads.

A tram and a car collided in Surfers Paradise amid the wild weather, leaving a female motorist with suspected head injuries.

Ten cars were damaged or left with flat tyres after driving into the sinkhole on Tamborine-Oxenford Rd. 

Flash flooding forced road closures from Helensvale in the north to Tallebudgera in the south and Mudgeeraba in the west.

Flash flooding on Queensland’s Gold Coast turned roads into rivers.  © Diimex

Southeast Queensland was drenched yesterday as "monsoon-like" conditions swept the region, closing roads, diverting flights and causing flash flooding.

Flights were cancelled or diverted as torrential rain bucketed down.

By late yesterday, the State Emergency Service had responded to 380 calls for help.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent Stephen Smith told The Courier-Mail his team were at a "heightened level of preparedness" to deal with more calls overnight.

"We've got extra swift-water rescue and specialist crews positioned around the place to enable an appropriate level of response capability," Supt Smith said. "All our crews are out there at the moment doing some long hours."

The rain will begin to ease mid morning today after heavy falls overnight were expected to drench the Gold Coast with over 300mm by 9am. Another 200mm was expected to fall on the Sunshine Coast and 150mm in Brisbane.

On the Sunshine Coast yesterday, the hinterland copped 170mm in just seven hours.

BOM senior forecaster Vikash Prasad said a "slow-moving trough" from the north was causing the big wet. - Courier Mail.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Nigeria H5N1 Bird Flu Now In 7 States - Suspected In Over 140,000 Birds!

January 23, 2015 - NIGERIA
- An outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Nigeria has spread to 21 commercial farms in seven different states, with more than 140,000 birds having been exposed to the virus, the agriculture minister said on Thursday.

Authorities said the deadly virus had arrived in Lagos, in the southwest, and Kano, in the north, last week.

Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said it had now spread to five other states across the country: Ogun, Delta, Rivers, Edo and Plateau.

Around 100,000 of the birds exposed were in Kano, Adesina said.

"All the farms have been quarantined and decontaminated. Other locations in Ikorodu, Ojo and Lagos Mainland have already been quarantined, while awaiting confirmation," he said.

"Nigeria will successfully control the bird flu outbreak. We have successfully controlled it in the past," he added.

Africa's most populous country and biggest economy was the continent's first country to detect bird flu in 2006, when chicken farms were found to have the H5N1 strain. In 2007, it reported its first human death from the disease.

H5N1 bird flu first infected humans in 1997 in Hong Kong. It has since spread from Asia to Europe and Africa and has become entrenched in poultry in some countries, causing millions of poultry infections and several hundred human deaths. - Reuters.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Land Of The THREE SUNS - Sunshine Passing Through Falling Snow Creates "Parhelion" Optical Illusion In Mongolia!

Seeing treble: This strange sight was captured in Mongolia and is the result of a rare natural phenomenon called a parhelion,
which occurs when sunlight passes though snow crystals in the air

January 23, 2015 - MONGOLIA
- The sight of three suns in the sky is enough to make most of us rub our eyes in disbelief, but centuries ago, the strange sight was seen as a bad omen.

The unusual spectacle, called a parhelion, was captured on camera in Mongolia.

It is the result of a natural phenomenon in which sunlight passes though snow crystals in a particular way when they are suspended in the air.

Stills of the event caught on an ITN video show the sun in the centre of the snowy scene, with two reflections either side, which can be described as sundogs or ‘phantom suns’.

Sundogs are created when sunlight is refracted by large, hexagonal ice crystals, such as those in snowflakes.

They typically appear as two coloured patches of light either side of the sun and though rare, can in theory be seen anywhere in the world in any season.

They are created by the refraction of light passing through flat, hexagonal ice crystals in high, cold clouds.

Photographs of the event show the sun in the centre, with two reflections either side, which can be described as
sundogs or ‘phantom suns’. They are always at the same level of the sun on the horizon, as seen here

Sun dogs typically appear as two coloured patches of light either side of the sun and can be seen anywhere in the world in any season.
This image shows a snowy landscape with the real sun on the left and a sundog on the right

The crystals act like prisms so that as light passes through them, it is bent by exactly 22 degrees before reaching viewers' eyes to make the illusion.

If the crystals are more randomly located in clouds, a complete ring around the sun is visible, called a halo.

But if the crystals sink through the air, they become arranged in vertical lines, so that the sunlight is refracted horizontally, to make sundogs, as seen in these images.

If the phenomenon is seen as the sun is rising, the sundogs gradually move further away from the sun, but always stay at the same elevation, so the three 'orbs' appear to be the same distance from the horizon.

They are reddest in colour when they are near to the sun and fade to yellow, orange and then blue as they move away. The colours of sun dogs merge into a white halo in some instances.


Sundogs were sometimes seen as an omen for bad times ahead, such as war, and observations of them feature in ancient texts by Aristotle, Seneca and Cicero,
among others. This depiction of sundogs appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle, an early printed book shwoing world history, published in 1493

The strange phenomenon is first known to have been recorded by Aristotle between 384 and 322 BC.

The Greek philosopher wrote: 'two mock suns rose with the sun and followed it all through the day until sunset'. He noted that they were always to the sun's side and never rose above or below it.

The poet Aratus, who lived between 310 and 240 BC mentioned them in his catalogue of Weather Signs, saying that they indicate wind, rain or an approaching storm, while Artemidorus, a diviner in the second century, included the phantom suns in his list of celestial deities.

Roman authors Cicero and Seneca mention them in their writings too.

In later works it was feared that sundogs were omens for bad times ahead, such as war.

An anthelion is said to have occurred before the Battle of Mortier's Cross in Herefordshire in 1461 - a major event in the War of the Roses.

Apparently the Yorkist commander, later Edward IV of England, convinced his frightened troops - who feared the worst - that the event represented the three sons of the Duke of York and they won a decisive victory, as described in William Shakespeare's King Henry VI.

A powerful anthelion in the summer of 1629 is believed to have influenced RenĂ© Descartes to write his work of natural philosophy called The World. - Daily Mail.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Oil Pipeline Leak In North Dakota - Causes Saltwater And Crude Oil To Spill Into The Missouri River; Over THREE MILLION GALLONS Of Fracking Byproduct; Largest Leak In State History; Second Major Oil Spill In Less Than A Week!

Clean-up efforts continue about 15 miles outside Williston, North Dakota January 22, 2015 (Reuters / Andrew Cullen)

January 23, 2015 - NORTH DAKOTA
- Nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater and an as yet unknown amount of crude oil have leaked from a northwest North Dakota pipeline into a creek that feeds into the Missouri River. Officials have called the leak the largest of its kind in state history.

The leak in the 4-inch saltwater collection line, owned by Summit Midstream Partners LP and operated by subsidiary Meadowlark Midstream Co., was discovered earlier this month and was reported to the state on January 7, according to Reuters.

The pipeline, about 15 miles north of Williston, will be out of commission for an undetermined amount of time, Summit said.

Although Williston residents receive drinking water that comes from the Missouri River, the leak does not threaten supplies, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. However, the city has the ability to shut off collection valves to avoid harmful water, Reuters reported.

Yet some of the brine made it to the Missouri River, the Williston Herald reported, and the state found "high readings" of contamination at the confluence of the Little Muddy and Missouri Rivers southeast of Williston, according to Karl Rockeman, the director of water quality at the Department of Health.

Williston sits in the middle of North Dakota’s oil boom, and the saltwater is said to be a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

To unleash oil or natural gas, fracking requires blasting large volumes of highly pressurized water, sand, and other chemicals into layers of rock. The contents of fracking fluid include chemicals that the energy industry and many government officials will not name, yet they insist the chemicals do not endanger human health, contradicting findings by scientists and environmentalists. Once used, toxic fracking wastewater is then either stored in deep underground wells, disposed of in open pits for evaporation, sprayed into waste fields or used over again.

Fracking has been linked to groundwater contamination, an uptick in earthquakes in other states, exacerbation of drought conditions and a host of health concerns for humans and the local environment.

Salty wastewater from Bakken Shale oil wells has contaminated a creek and flowed into the Missouri River
after a huge pipeline leak in North Dakota, state officials said Thursday.

Summit is working with the state to find the cause of the spill before it repairs the saltwater line, spokesman Jonathan Morgan said.

Monitored by the state's Department of Health, Summit has sent environmental contractors to address the spill, though cleanup will be more difficult given the ice covering much of the area.

Reuters reported that about 2 million gallons of water has been taken from the affected streams, yet it is unclear if that amount was mostly saltwater or the creeks’ normal water.

The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources is inspecting Summit’s pipeline network, according to officials, which mostly transports natural gas.

Summit recently announced it had agreed with an ExxonMobil subsidiary, XTO Energy, to develop a 'natural gas gathering system' in southeastern Ohio’s Utica Shale. XTO was fined in 2013 for spilling 50,000 gallons of fracking wastewater into Pennsylvania waterways.

Summit also operates in North Dakota’s Bakken shale, where the current leak is located, and the DJ Niobrara Shale in Colorado.

The Bakken region has seen other chemical accidents, including train derailments, amid the area’s energy boom. In McKenzie County, a blown-out well leaked a massive amount of fracking wastewater in February 2014. Other states, including California and Colorado, have struggled to adequately address safe wastewater storage.

Disposal of fracking wastewater is underregulated, according to Hannah Wiseman, a law professor at Florida State University.

A typical well can spit about 1,000 gallons a day,” Wiseman told Marketplace. “Some of the water is recycled back into fracking, stored in pits or used to de-ice roads. It’s also injected deep underground, which has been known to cause earthquakes.”

In October, a report was released that detailed how a number of US oil companies are taking advantage of the so-called “Halliburton Loophole” to circumvent federal legislation regulating diesel-based fluids in fracking, to dump even more toxic chemicals into the environment.

Meanwhile, the cleanup continues in Montana, where a breached oil pipeline spilled as many as 50,000 gallons of crude oil in and around the Yellowstone River last week, threatening drinking water in the Glendive area. - RT.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Disneyland Measles Outbreak That Started In California Spreads - Highly Contagious Virus Expands To At Least 75 Cases In Six States!

January 23, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- A health warning. The extremely contagious measles virus is back. An outbreak that started at Disneyland is starting to sweep the country.

Christie Ileto has the push for children to get vaccinated.

Measles was thought to have been eliminated in the U.S. 15 years ago. Now its back, targeting those who haven’t been immunized.

The outbreak that started in California’s Disneyland is expanding. At least 75 cases of measles span six states.

“It’s scary to think the happiest place on Earth is infected with measles,” one Disney employee said.

For this Disney employee, knowing co-workers are infected is cause for concern.

WATCH: Highly contagious measles spreads in the United States.

Measles has a 21-day incubation period, meaning people can travel far before they know they’re sick.

“We’re seeing the resurgence of measles because a lot of the parents are not getting their children vaccinated,” said Dr. Peter Andrews, Sinai Hospital.

Dr. Andrews says that problem is prime. In Maryland, all students K-12 must get two shots of the measles vaccine.

“It just didn’t make sense to me,” said one Annapolis mom.

In a revealing interview with WJZ, an Annapolis mom explained why she didn’t vaccinate her kids.

“I didn’t understand why a little human had to get so many drugs at one time,” she said.

Still, the vaccine proves very effective if given at two doses.

Doctors say the virus is highly contagious. For instance, if someone has the measles and doesn’t cover their mouth when they sneeze, they can pass it on to anyone standing nearby.

Symptoms like fever, cough and rash soon follow.

“The younger, the older, the immune compromised. Those are the three target areas that really can get sick and die,” said Dr. Andrews.

Most people who have already had the measles or got the vaccine are not at risk. - CBS.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Earth Opening Up - Two Lakes Beneath Greenland Ice Sheet "RAPIDLY DRAINED AWAY"; Surprised Researchers Call It "Really Weird,Worrisome, Catastrophic,..."?!

In April 2014, researchers flew over a site in southwest Greenland to find that a sub-glacial lake had drained away. This photo shows the crater left behind, as
well as a deep crack in the ice.   © Stephen Price, Los Alamos National Laboratory, courtesy of The Ohio State University.

January 23, 2015 - GREENLAND
- Researchers who are building the highest-resolution map of the Greenland Ice Sheet to date have made a surprising discovery: two lakes of meltwater that pooled beneath the ice and rapidly drained away.

One lake once held billions of gallons of water and emptied to form a mile-wide crater in just a few weeks. The other lake has filled and emptied twice in the last two years.

Researchers at The Ohio State University published findings on each lake separately: the first in the open-access journal The Cryosphere and the second in the journal Nature.

Ian Howat, associate professor of earth sciences at Ohio State, leads the team that discovered the cratered lake described in The Cryosphere . To him, the find adds to a growing body of evidence that meltwater has started overflowing the ice sheet's natural plumbing system and is causing "blowouts" that simply drain lakes away.

"The fact that our lake appears to have been stable for at least several decades, and then drained in a matter of weeks - or less - after a few very hot summers, may signal a fundamental change happening in the ice sheet," Howat said.

The two-mile-wide lake described in Nature was discovered by a team led by researcher Michael Willis of Cornell University. Michael Bevis, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Geodynamics and professor of earth sciences at Ohio State, is a co-author of the Nature paper, and he said that the repeated filling of that lake is worrisome.

Each time the lake fills, the meltwater carries stored heat, called latent heat, along with it, reducing the stiffness of the surrounding ice and making it more likely to flow out to sea, he said.

Bevis explained the long-term implications.

This is a map of a portion of southwest Greenland. The star marks the location of a drained subsurface lake discovered by Ian Howat of The Ohio State
University and his team.  © Ian Howat, courtesy of The Ohio State University.

This is a map of a portion of southwest Greenland. The star marks the location of a drained subsurface lake discovered by Ian Howat of The Ohio State University and his team.

"If enough water is pouring down into the Greenland Ice Sheet for us to see the same sub-glacial lake empty and re-fill itself over and over, then there must be so much latent heat being released under the ice that we'd have to expect it to change the large-scale behavior of the ice sheet," he said.

Howat's team was first to detect the cratered lake described in The Cryosphere, on a spot about 50 kilometers (31 miles) inland from the southwest Greenland coast earlier in 2014. There, previous aerial and satellite imagery indicates that a sub-glacial lake pooled for more than 40 years. More recent images suggest that the lake likely emptied through a meltwater tunnel beneath the ice sheet some time in 2011.

The crater measures 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) across and around 70 meters (230 feet) deep. Researchers calculated that the lake that formed it likely contained some 6.7 billion gallons of water.

That's not a large lake by most reckoning, but it's roughly the same size as the combined reservoirs that supply water to the Columbus, Ohio metropolitan area's 1.9 million residents. And it disappeared in a single season - remarkably quickly by geologic standards. Howat characterized the sudden drainage as "catastrophic."

Researchers at The Ohio State University were creating the highest-resolution maps of the Greenland Ice Sheet made to date, when they discovered a crater,
shown here, which had once been the site of a sub-glacial lake.   © Ian Howat, using a Worldview image copyright DigitalGlobe Inc.

Researchers at The Ohio State University were creating the highest-resolution maps of the Greenland Ice Sheet made to date, when they discovered a crater, shown here, which had once been the site of a sub-glacial lake.

Researchers suspect that, as more meltwater reaches the base of the ice sheet, natural drainage tunnels along the Greenland coast are cutting further inland, Howat explained. The tunnels carry heat and water to areas that were once frozen to the bedrock, potentially causing the ice to melt faster.

"Some independent work says that the drainage system has recently expanded to about 50 kilometers inland of the ice edge, which is exactly where this lake is," he added.

It's possible that the lake was tapped by one of the invading tunnels. It's also possible that thousands of such lakes dot the Greenland coast. They are hard to detect with radar, and researchers don't know enough about why and how they form. In contrast to Antarctica, researchers know much less about what's happening under the ice in Greenland.

"Until we get a good map of the bed topography where this lake was, we have no idea whatsoever how many lakes could be out there," Howat said. "There may be something really weird in the bed in this particular spot that caused water to accumulate. But, if all you need is a bumpy surface a bit inland from the coast, then there could be thousands of little lakes."

A 70 m deep basin formed near the summit of the Flade Isblink Ice Cap in the fall of 2012 when a lake 540 m beneath the ice surface suddenly emptied. Summer
meltwater streams on the ice cap surface (blue) enter crevasses near the bottom of the image. Simulated 3-dimensional view from the south made using
WorldView-2 Satellite imagery. Scale changes due to perspective, but the basin is about 4 km north-south and 2 km east-west.   
© WorldView-2Imagery (c) 2014, DigitalGlobe, Inc.

A 70 m deep basin formed near the summit of the Flade Isblink Ice Cap in the fall of 2012 when a lake 540 m beneath the ice surface suddenly emptied. Summer meltwater streams on the ice cap surface (blue) enter crevasses near the bottom of the image. Simulated 3-dimensional view from the south made using WorldView-2 Satellite imagery. Scale changes due to perspective, but the basin is about 4 km north-south and 2 km east-west.

Howat and his team flew over the site in southwest Greenland in April 2014, after they realized that detection of the crater, nestled in the midst of a flat ice expanse, was not just an error in the high-resolution surface data they've been collecting. Using European Space Imaging's Worldview satellites, they're assembling a Greenland ice map with 2-meter (approximately 6.5-feet) resolution.

Bevis and his colleagues discovered the lake described in Nature under similar circumstances in March 2013. They were gathering data to supplement their long-standing efforts to weigh the Greenland Ice Sheet with GPS and spotted the mitten-shaped lake by accident.

Using DigitalGlobe Inc.'s Worldview satellites and NASA's Operation IceBridge, the Cornell-led team calculated that the lake filled and emptied twice since 2012, at one point experiencing a sub-surface blowout that drove water from the lake at a volume of 215 cubic meters (nearly 57,000 gallons - close to the volume of a 30-foot-by-50-foot backyard swimming pool) every second.

Though researchers have long known of the existence of sub-glacial lakes, never before have they witnessed any draining away. The sudden discovery of two - one of which seems to be refilling and draining repeatedly - signals to Bevis that Greenland ice loss has likely reached a milestone.

"It's pretty telling that these two lakes were discovered back to back," he said. "We can actually see the meltwater pour down into these holes. We can actually watch these lakes drain out and fill up again in real time. With melting like that, even the deep interior of the ice sheet is going to change." 

More information: Recharge of a subglacial lake by surface meltwater in northeast Greenland, Nature, DOI

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Plane Crashes Into Florida Warehouse - Flight School Student And Teacher Killed!

The Lakeland plastics plant contained toxic chemicals, but a hazmat team said there is no risk to the public. No one was inside the Lakeland plastics warehouse.
The Lakeland Linder Regional Airport is just five miles away from the building.

January 23, 2015 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- A student pilot and a flight teacher were killed Thursday when their plane crashed into a Florida warehouse, sparking a massive fire that sent toxic chemicals into the air, officials said.

Witnesses said the distressed plane nosed and then exploded as it collided into a former plastics warehouse in rural Lakeland.

No one was inside the plant during the 10 a.m. crash, but hazardous chemicals and propane tanks were stored in the building, Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross told 10 News.

There is no threat to the general public.

The plane belonged to a flight school at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. A student and a teacher onboard the single-engine plane were both killed, police said.

WATCH:  Plane Crashes Into Storage Warehouse in Florida.

The victims' names have not been released.

It's not clear if the plane had just taken off from the airport or if it was returning and preparing to land.

Lakeland is just east of Tampa. - NY Daily News.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Horse Rescued From Sinkhole In Arroyo Grande, California!

Rescued: This horse was eventually able to get out of a sinkhole on Tuesday

- Fire officials worked together to help a horse get out of a sinkhole it fell into near Arroyo Grande, California on Tuesday.

Cal Fire San Luis Obispo's Twitter account posted multiple updates on the horse's rescue Tuesday.

The fire department first tweeted at 11:34am on a report of a 'horse stuck in hole' on Sunray Place.

The department quickly updated at 11:53am, writing 'Horse is trapped in a sink hole. The incident is off of Noyes Rd. USAR [Urban Search and Rescue] team is responding. Veterinarian has been contacted.'

Images from the fire department's Twitter account showed USAR team members on hand to help the horse, as well as fire officials from both San Luis Obispo County Fire Department and Cal Fire.

Safety: Cal Fire San Luis Obispo said shortly after 1:30pm the horse was out of the hole

Helping hand: A veterinarian managed to help soothe the distraught horse as it was stuck in the hole

Group effort: Battalion Chief Paul Lee has said there were 22 responders and about three hours were needed in total to extricate the horse

Cal Fire San Luis Obispo later tweeted at 1:36pm 'Update on horse rescue: The horse has been successfully extricated from the sink hole.'

Battalion Chief Paul Lee told KCBX he thinks the hole actually was manmade, saying 'In and around that hole was a lot of lumber.'

Lee also said that the horse was stuck between two-by-fours and plywood.

Lee told KCBX there were 22 responders and approximately three hours were needed in total to get the horse out. He also said that sheriff's department officials were also present as responders.

The affiliate station reported that a neighbor had a backhoe and volunteered, and that a veterinarian managed to help soothe the distraught horse.

'We were able to dig enough of the dirt away from where the horse was trapped to be able to act as a ramp for the horse to walk out under his own power,' Lee told KCBX.  - Daily Mail.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 6.8 Magnitude Pacific Earthquake Strikes Off Vanuatu - No Destructive Tsunami! [MAPS+TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location map.

January 23, 2015 - VANUATU
- A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake has struck off the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, but no tsunami warning was issued. Seismologists say the quake had a relatively shallow depth of 218.5 kilometres.

The quake hit at about 84km from Vanuatu's capital Port Vila, the United States Geological Survey said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a tsunami. The USGS originally put the magnitude at 6.9.

USGS earthquake shakemap seismicity map.

There have been no immediate reports of damage or injury.

Vanuatu lies on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", a zone of frequent seismic activity caused by friction between shifting tectonic plates.

It has been rocked by several large quakes in recent years, averaging about three magnitude 7.0 or above incidents every year without any major damage.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate

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

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

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

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

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

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

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

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

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

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics


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

January 23, 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.

Elephant kills forest worker in India

For the first time, an employee of the state forest department was killed in an elephant attack in the state. On Tuesday late evening, Bharat Singh Chaudhary, a 49-year-old forester, was killed by a female leopard at Kolhu in Kotri area of the forest division.

Anil Dutt, principal chief conservator of forests, (wildlife) told TOI, "It is for the first time that a forest employee has been killed by an elephant in the state. During Monsoon last year, one daily wager of the department was killed by a leopard. In this particular case, the surprise factor made the elephant to charge at the employee. At the turn of the road, he came in contact with female elephant which got shocked with his presence. Both elephants and bears kill people due to the surprise element."

According to Nitishmani Tripathi, divisional forest officer of Lansdowne forest division, Bharat Singh was walking to his quarters from Kotri area to Kolhu section which is just one km away. Another employee was few meters behind him. It had become foggy by that time. Chaudhary heard the sounds of the elephant and held back for some time. After being assured that animal must have crossed over, he moved ahead. But the female elephant which was very much present there became insecure and attacked him. - The Times of India.

Dead gray whale discovered at Seattle ferry terminal

A 30-foot gray whale has turned up dead under the Washington state ferry terminal in downtown Seattle, where its stench is wafting into the noses of thousands of daily commuters.

A Washington State Ferries spokeswoman, Susan Harris-Huether, says the whale was found just before 11 p.m. Wednesday. She says people are reporting that the smell is "not good."

Harris says it's under a dock, but ferry service Thursday wasn't affected.

A dead whale floats under a dock at the Colman Dock Washington State Ferry Terminal in Seattle, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A spokesman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that they do not know why the whale died and that NOAA will work with
officials to move the animal to a site where a necropsy can be conducted. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A spokesman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday that officials believe the whale may have been there for about a week. Michael Milstein says it's not known yet why the animal died, how it got there or other details.

He says NOAA will work with ferry officials and others to move the animal so a necropsy can be conducted. - The News And Advance.

Wild elephant tramples tourist couple to death in India

© Rahula Dassenaieke

A middle-aged couple from Ahmedabad was trampled to death by a wild elephant in Kerala's Periyar Tiger Reserve on Wednesday.

Bhupendra B Ravel (52) and his wife Jagriti (50) were killed by the elephant while they tried to click its photo during a trek in the Gavi forest region in the PTR. The camera flash is said to have provoked the elephant. The couple, accompanied by a forest tour guide, was on a trekking trip organised by the Kerala Forest Development Corporation.

Gavi, close to the Sabarimala temple, is a deep forest and has in the past few years emerged as a key centre for tourists interested in wildlife and forest trekking. Since there are a lot of wildlife including tigers and elephants in Gavi, there are restrictions on visitors and trekking is allowed only on the package run by the KFDC, which has arranged accommodation and other facilities for visitors within the forest.

Nearly two months ago, a woman tourist from Gujarat, was trampled to death by a tamed elephant at Thekkady, which is located in the PTR. The young woman was killed in front of her husband and young son while taking a selfie along with the elephant after a ride on the elephant. Elephant rides are popular with tourists visiting Thekkady. Following the accident, the elephant ride was stopped.

A senior official of the Periyar Tiger Reserve said the couple's family in Ahmedabad had been informed of the disaster and the bodies would be released after official formalities.

The couple's death is likely to hit tourist arrivals at Gavi and also lead to more restrictions on tourist access into the deep forest. Gavi is also home to an immigrant community of Sri Lankan Tamils who had been displaced from their home country decades ago. - The Hindu.