Saturday, May 16, 2015

EXTREME WEATHER: Washington State Governor Declares Drought Emergency - Conditions Expected To Worsen As The Hot Summer Months Approach!

- Washington state Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency on Friday, saying drought conditions due to a lack of snowpack are some of the worst on record in a region normally known for its drizzly weather.

In an announcement in the state capital of Olympia, Inslee said the drought had "deepened dramatically in the past few weeks," with conditions expected to worsen as the hot summer months approach.

The emergency declaration will free up funds and water rights to help counties most in need, Inslee said.

Rain totals in the state were equivalent to prior years, Inslee said. But the snowpack, which melts into streams, lakes and rivers and is vital to water supplies, was only 16 percent of average.

"What we lack is snow," Inslee said. "We are calling it a snowpack drought."

Washington, know as the Evergreen State due to its abundant green forests kept lush by heavy precipitation, is one of several western states struggling under drought conditions.

California is enduring its worst drought on record, and that state's mountain snowpack, which usually provides about a third of the state's water, is at the lowest level on record, according to state officials. Drought emergencies have also been declared in parts of Oregon and Nevada.

Officials in Washington state were still deciding which agricultural areas will receive additional water resources and other support, Inslee said. In some regions, water was being shifted creek-to-creek and fish were being hauled to more abundant water, Inslee added.

"We are seeing things happen at this time of year we just have never seen before," the Democratic governor said. "On the Olympic Peninsula - where there would normally be 80 inches (2 meters) of snow today in the mountains - the glacier lilies are blooming."

State officials have estimated $1.2 billion in crop losses associated with the drought, he said.

Drought conditions also mean the annual wildfire season could be longer and more destructive, Inslee said. Last year, Washington state endured one of its worst wildfire seasons on record. - Yahoo.


ICE AGE NOW: "This Is Rather Uncommon" - 8 Inches Of Snow Falls In May In Flagstaff, Arizona As Extreme Weather Anomalies Continue Across The Planet?!

The National Weather Service office in Bellemont just west of Flagstaff had received 8.4 inches of snow from the storm through late Friday afternoon. 
© National Weather Service

- May is looking like March in Flagstaff -- and the National Weather Service in Bellemont is right in the middle of it.

The most recent storm to roll through the Flagstaff stalled over the Weather Service office early Friday, dumping more than 8 inches of snow into its gauge through 5 p.m.

"It's always good to see rain and snow this late in the season," said Brian Klimowski of the National Weather Service. "Every storm we get like this helps push back the onset of our fire season."

Meanwhile, just to the east, Flagstaff's Pulliam Airport recorded just 0.3 inches of snow along with a half-inch of rain.

The snow was coming down so fast early Friday morning that snowplows were dispatched to the I-40 and I-17 corridors.

Animal tracks are seen in the snow in Bellemont on Friday.  © The Associated Press

The snow was coming down so fast early Friday morning that snowplows were dispatched to the I-40 and I-17 corridors.

By Friday evening, the storm was still lingering over the western Mogollon Rim, causing the Weather Service to extend its winter weather advisory to 8 a.m. Saturday. Up to 2 additional inches of snow was forecast overnight, with 5 more inches in the White Mountains.

The Flagstaff airport has seen more than 3 inches of snow on May 15 or later only a handful of times.

Flagstaff and Bellemont have similar climatology, but a cold trough settled over Bellemont overnight and left just traces of snow in Flagstaff on Friday.

By this time last year, many northern Arizona cities and forests had fire restrictions in place.

WATCH: Heavy snowfall in Flagstaff.

Flagstaff averages about 1.5 inches of snow in May, but Klimowski said "to see heavy snow in late May is rather uncommon." He said Flagstaff could end up with about 4 inches of snow by the time the storm is done.

The latest snowfall on record for the Flagstaff airport is June 8 more than 100 years ago.

The mountain city is still well below the average 102 inches of snowfall for the season at 62 inches.

Friday's snowfall didn't cause any major problems. A travel center in Bellemont was without power for about three hours after a transformer blew, but Arizona Public Service Co. said it couldn't say definitively whether it was caused by the weather.

Sunday will be sunny with a high near 60 degrees, but two more weak fronts are expected to move through Flagstaff early and later next week. - Arizona Daily Sun.


EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Hail Storm Hits Southern Germany - Golf Ball-Sized Stones; Nine People Injured; Dozens Of Homes Damaged!

Residents described seeing large hailstones

May 16, 2015 - GERMANY
- At least nine people have been injured and dozens of homes damaged in a hailstorm in southern Germany.

There were reports of hailstones the size of golf balls in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Winds of up to 120 km/h (75mph) were reported on Wednesday night and residents near the Bavarian city of Augsburg spoke of seeing a tornado.

Roofs were badly damaged, blocks of flats had to be evacuated and a local school had to be closed on Thursday.

 Two people were hurt by lightning in the state of Baden Wuerttemberg

Two people were taken to hospital with severe injuries caused by lightning strikes.

Seven more were hurt in Bavaria, where several houses in villages near Augsburg were no longer habitable. Authorities appealed for help from construction workers to repair the damage.

"First it rained, then very briefly hail, then there was a whoosh and everything flew through the whole area!," one resident told Bavarian media.

WATCH: Hail storm damage in Germany.

German weather officials did not confirm claims of a tornado.

One person was killed last week in northern Germany when a tornado swept through the town of Buetzow, near Rostock. - BBC.


GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Plagues & Pestilences - Food Distributor Sysco Sees United States Bird Flu Outbreak Hurting Egg Supply Up To 18 Months!

Getty Images

May 16, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- Food distributor Sysco Corp said on Friday that a record U.S. outbreak of avian flu would limit its supply of eggs and chickens that lay them for nine to 18 months, based on information provided to the company by its suppliers.

Sysco is the biggest U.S. food distributor, whose clients include restaurants, hotels and hospitals. The company is discussing options with its customers, including creating alternative menu items during the period, a Sysco spokesman said in an email.

It is too soon to tell whether the supply squeeze will have a material impact on financial results, spokesman Charley Wilson said. Eggs represent a small portion of the company's dairy products segment, which accounted for 11 percent of revenue in 2014.

The U.S. poultry and egg industry is grappling with the country's biggest outbreak on record of avian influenza, which has proven highly infectious and deadly for poultry. Governors in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa have declared a state of emergency, and the outbreak has shown few signs of waning.

Earlier this week, Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] said it has implemented increased biosecurity measures at its facilities receiving liquid egg tankers and shell eggs from impacted states and that it is working with egg suppliers to ensure they are employing measures to prevent spread of the flu.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Post Holdings Inc, calling the flu a "force majeure event," said it now estimates that 25 percent of its egg supply has been affected. Sysco is a major customer for Post's Michael Foods business, which sells egg products, according to filings.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher Growe expects Post's previous estimate of a $20 million financial impact in 2015 to at least double, according to a research note.

Growe said that Post's contracts require the company to go to the open market and to third parties to replace the lost supply at high prices. "We believe that by declaring force majeure, the company will be able to either pass higher prices onto customers or be relieved from the mandatory supply requirements," he wrote. - Yahoo.


PLANETARY TREMORS: Fresh Tremors In Disaster-Ravaged Nepal - Strong 5.7 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Kathmandu!

USGS earthquake location map.

May 16, 2015 - KATHMANDU, NEPAL
- A 5.7 magnitude earthquake has struck in Nepal, sending tremors across Bihar and parts of northern India.

Buildings shook throughout the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar regions on Saturday, as the the US Geological Survey recorded a "shallow quake" about 76 km east south east of the capital Kathmandu.

A collapsed house during a landslide after Tuesday's earthquake at Singati Village in Nepal. © Athit Perawongmetha

Centering on Nepal, the quake is the third so far this month and lead to fresh panic among those trying to rebuild after an earthquake killed 8,000 people in April and leveled more than 250,000 homes throughout the region.

There has been no reports yet of deaths from this most recent quake, though at least 17 people are thought to have been killed in northern India.

USGS shakemap intensity.

Some 117 persons were killed, and more than 1000 were injured, when a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on May 12.

The quake shook neighbouring countries including India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. - Independent.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Himalaya and Vicinity

Seismicity in the Himalaya dominantly results from the continental collision of the India and Eurasia plates, which are converging at a relative rate of 40-50 mm/yr. Northward underthrusting of India beneath Eurasia generates numerous earthquakes and consequently makes this area one of the most seismically hazardous regions on Earth. The surface expression of the plate boundary is marked by the foothills of the north-south trending Sulaiman Range in the west, the Indo-Burmese Arc in the east and the east-west trending Himalaya Front in the north of India.

USGS plate tectonics for the region. (PDF)

The India-Eurasia plate boundary is a diffuse boundary, which in the region near the north of India, lies within the limits of the Indus-Tsangpo (also called the Yarlung-Zangbo) Suture to the north and the Main Frontal Thrust to the south. The Indus-Tsangpo Suture Zone is located roughly 200 km north of the Himalaya Front and is defined by an exposed ophiolite chain along its southern margin. The narrow (less than 200km) Himalaya Front includes numerous east-west trending, parallel structures. This region has the highest rates of seismicity and largest earthquakes in the Himalaya region, caused mainly by movement on thrust faults. Examples of significant earthquakes, in this densely populated region, caused by reverse slip movement include the 1934 M8.0 Bihar, the 1905 M7.5 Kangra and the 2005 M7.6 Kashmir earthquakes. The latter two resulted in the highest death tolls for Himalaya earthquakes seen to date, together killing over 100,000 people and leaving millions homeless. The largest instrumentally recorded Himalaya earthquake occurred on 15th August 1950 in Assam, eastern India. This M8.6 right-lateral, strike-slip, earthquake was widely felt over a broad area of central Asia, causing extensive damage to villages in the epicentral region.

The Tibetan Plateau is situated north of the Himalaya, stretching approximately 1000km north-south and 2500km east-west, and is geologically and tectonically complex with several sutures which are hundreds of kilometer-long and generally trend east-west. The Tibetan Plateau is cut by a number of large (greater than 1000km) east-west trending, left-lateral, strike-slip faults, including the long Kunlun, Haiyuan, and the Altyn Tagh. Right-lateral, strike-slip faults (comparable in size to the left-lateral faults), in this region include the Karakorum, Red River, and Sagaing. Secondary north-south trending normal faults also cut the Tibetan Plateau. Thrust faults are found towards the north and south of the Tibetan Plateau. Collectively, these faults accommodate crustal shortening associated with the ongoing collision of the India and Eurasia plates, with thrust faults accommodating north south compression, and normal and strike-slip accommodating east-west extension.

Along the western margin of the Tibetan Plateau, in the vicinity of south-eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, the India plate translates obliquely relative to the Eurasia plate, resulting in a complex fold-and-thrust belt known as the Sulaiman Range. Faulting in this region includes strike-slip, reverse-slip and oblique-slip motion and often results in shallow, destructive earthquakes. The active, left-lateral, strike-slip Chaman fault is the fastest moving fault in the region. In 1505, a segment of the Chaman fault near Kabul, Afghanistan, ruptured causing widespread destruction. In the same region the more recent 30 May 1935, M7.6 Quetta earthquake, which occurred in the Sulaiman Range in Pakistan, killed between 30,000 and 60,000 people.

On the north-western side of the Tibetan Plateau, beneath the Pamir-Hindu Kush Mountains of northern Afghanistan, earthquakes occur at depths as great as 200 km as a result of remnant lithospheric subduction. The curved arc of deep earthquakes found in the Hindu Kush Pamir region indicates the presence of a lithospheric body at depth, thought to be remnants of a subducting slab. Cross-sections through the Hindu Kush region suggest a near vertical northerly-dipping subducting slab, whereas cross-sections through the nearby Pamir region to the east indicate a much shallower dipping, southerly subducting slab. Some models suggest the presence of two subduction zones; with the Indian plate being subducted beneath the Hindu Kush region and the Eurasian plate being subducted beneath the Pamir region. However, other models suggest that just one of the two plates is being subducted and that the slab has become contorted and overturned in places.

Shallow crustal earthquakes also occur in this region near the Main Pamir Thrust and other active Quaternary faults. The Main Pamir Thrust, north of the Pamir Mountains, is an active shortening structure. The northern portion of the Main Pamir Thrust produces many shallow earthquakes, whereas its western and eastern borders display a combination of thrust and strike-slip mechanisms. On the 18 February 1911, the M7.4 Sarez earthquake ruptured in the Central Pamir Mountains, killing numerous people and triggering a landside, which blocked the Murghab River.

Further north, the Tian Shan is a seismically active intra-continental mountain belt, which extends 2500 km in an ENE-WNW orientation north of the Tarim Basin. This belt is defined by numerous east-west trending thrust faults, creating a compressional basin and range landscape. It is generally thought that regional stresses associated with the collision of the India and Eurasia plates are responsible for faulting in the region. The region has had three major earthquakes (greater than M7.6) at the start of the 20th Century, including the 1902 Atushi earthquake, which killed an estimated 5,000 people. The range is cut through in the west by the 700-km-long, northwest-southeast striking, Talas-Ferghana active right-lateral, strike-slip fault system. Though the system has produced no major earthquakes in the last 250 years, paleo-seismic studies indicate that it has the potential to produce M7.0+ earthquakes and it is thought to represent a significant hazard.

The northern portion of the Tibetan Plateau itself is largely dominated by the motion on three large left-lateral, strike-slip fault systems; the Altyn Tagh, Kunlun and Haiyuan. The Altyn Tagh fault is the longest of these strike slip faults and it is thought to accommodate a significant portion of plate convergence. However, this system has not experienced significant historical earthquakes, though paleoseismic studies show evidence of prehistoric M7.0-8.0 events. Thrust faults link with the Altyn Tagh at its eastern and western termini. The Kunlun Fault, south of the Altyn Tagh, is seismically active, producing large earthquakes such as the 8th November 1997, M7.6 Manyi earthquake and the 14th November 2001, M7.8 Kokoxili earthquake. The Haiyuan Fault, in the far north-east, generated the 16 December 1920, M7.8 earthquake that killed approximately 200,000 people and the 22 May 1927 M7.6 earthquake that killed 40,912.

The Longmen Shan thrust belt, along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, is an important structural feature and forms a transitional zone between the complexly deformed Songpan-Garze Fold Belt and the relatively undeformed Sichuan Basin. On 12 May 2008, the thrust belt produced the reverse slip, M7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, killing over 87,000 people and causing billions of US dollars in damages and landslides which dammed several rivers and lakes.

Southeast of the Tibetan Plateau are the right-lateral, strike-slip Red River and the left-lateral, strike-slip Xiangshuihe-Xiaojiang fault systems. The Red River Fault experienced large scale, left-lateral ductile shear during the Tertiary period before changing to its present day right-lateral slip rate of approximately 5 mm/yr. This fault has produced several earthquakes  greater than M6.0 including the 4 January 1970, M7.5 earthquake in Tonghai which killed over 10,000 people. Since the start of the 20th century, the Xiangshuihe-Xiaojiang Fault system has generated several M7.0+ earthquakes including the M7.5 Luhuo earthquake which ruptured on the 22 April 1973. Some studies suggest that due to the high slip rate on this fault, future large earthquakes are highly possible along the 65km stretch between Daofu and Qianning and the 135km stretch that runs through Kangding.

Shallow earthquakes within the Indo-Burmese Arc, predominantly occur on a combination of strike-slip and reverse faults, including the Sagaing, Kabaw and Dauki faults. Between 1930 and 1956, six M7.0+ earthquakes occurred near the right-lateral Sagaing Fault, resulting in severe damage in Myanmar including the generation of landslides, liquefaction and the loss of 610 lives. Deep earthquakes (200km) have also been known to occur in this region, these are thought to be due to the subduction of the eastwards dipping, India plate, though whether subduction is currently active is debated. Within the pre-instrumental period, the large Shillong earthquake occurred on the 12 June 1897, causing widespread destruction. - USGS.


SOLAR WATCH: 45% Chance Of Polar Geomagnetic Storms On May 17th - CME To Deliver Glancing Blow To Earth's Magnetic Field!

May 16, 2015 - SPACE
- NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on May 17th when a CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field. The CME was hurled in our direction by a magnetic filament, which erupted away from the sun on May 13th.

The "WOW" Prominence

 Around the world, amateur astronomers are monitoring a magnificent structure on the sun. "I looked through my solar scope this morning, and this prominence made me catch myself saying, WOW!" reports John Nassr of Baguio, the Philippines. This is what he saw:

It's called a "hedgerow prominence." Hot glowing plasma inside the structure is held aloft by unstable solar magnetic fields. Space telescopes have taken high resolution images of similar prominences and seen amazing things: (1) tadpole-shaped plumes that float up from the base of the prominence; (2) narrow streams of plasma that descend from the top like waterfalls; and (3) swirls and vortices that resemble van Gogh's Starry Night. Got a solar telescope? Take a look!


Credit: SDO/HMI

Not one of these sunspots poses a threat for major flares.Solar activity is low.

Coronal Hole

Credit: SDO/AIA

A stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on May 19-20.

Midnight Sun vs. Northern Lights

A high-speed solar wind stream is sparking geomagnetic storms around the poles. As a result, sky watchers who had given up hope of seeing auroras during the bright nights of northern summer are suddenly ... seeing them.

"Apparently the aurora-chasing season isn't quite over yet," reports Colin Tyler Bogucki of Eagle River, Alaska. "We had a nice display around 1:00-1:30 this morning outside the Eagle River Nature Center." It was visible over the glow of the Midnight Sun:

"The window of viewing opportunity is narrow right now, with only a few hours of semi-dark skies," says Bogucki. "I was wading in Eagle River here, shooting straight down the valley to the northwest. As you can see, the twilight is still glowing well after sunset."

"In just a matter of days," he adds, "the night sky will be too bright to auroras again until late summer." Famous last words? 

Current Auroral Oval

Credit: NOAA/Ovation

- Space Weather.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Eruption Like Mount St. Helens - "It Will Happen Again In Cascades"!

Plinian column from May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Aerial view from southwest. Mount Adams is in the background (right).
Robert Krimmel photo May 18 1980

- Mount St. Helens caught science a little by surprise.

A volcano hadn't erupted on the United State mainland outside Alaska and Hawaii since California's Lassen Peak in early 20th Century.

And modern science had yet to witness an eruption quite like St. Helens.

"I think this was a turning point in the way people approached these kinds of potentially active, explosive volcanoes," said Mike Dungan, a volcanologist with an office at the University of Oregon.

St. Helens didn't just erupt: it blew up.

The force of the May 18, 1980, eruption wasn't just vertical; it was lateral, sending a side of the mountain rocketing down slope as a wall of boiling mud and rock.

The eruption killed 57 people - and put scientists and policy makers on notice.

"It's only a matter of a short time - decades or something - before another one of these things occurs," Dungan said. "A sector collapse eruption like Mount St. Helens - it will happen again in Cascades."

Research at the University of Oregon is shedding new light on the cause of the explosion.

Geologists like PhD student Kristina Walowski are conducting research into how ocean water seeps into offshore plates as they plunge deep into the earth.

"What's really interesting is that water is really important because it lowers the melting temperature of a rock and when that happens you can create magma," she said.

Mount St. Helens viewed aerially from the northeast before the 1980 eruptive activity. Dashed line marks boundary of area removed by the May 18 blast.

"The water is really the key thing that causes the expansion, just like when champagne comes jetting out of a bottle," said Paul Wallace, professor geological science at UO. "It's a foamy material because of the gas present in gas bubbles."

The May edition of Nature Geoscience published the findings by the Oregon team, funded by a National Science Foundation Grant.

"Ultimately the water that makes them so explosive is coming out of the ocean," Wallace said. "And eventually as the plate moves like a conveyor belt, it gets returned back down into the inside of the earth.."

WATCH: Eruption like Mount St. Helens - 'It will happen again in Cascades'.

"It's not like you're pouring cups of water into the interior of the earth, right?" Walowski said. "There's a complicated set of reactions and breakdowns where these rocks are changing shape, and releasing water little by little by little."

So which of the Cascade volcanoes is next in line to erupt?

It's difficult to predict, but geologists are watching.

"We're really in the midst of a technology explosion when it comes to monitoring volcanoes, using all kinds of things using remote sensing instruments on satellites," Wallace said.

"Mount St. Helens is still the most frequent in the Cascades," Walowski said, "and based on that, it may be the most likely to go again." - KVAL.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Signs In The Heavens - Sprite Season Begins Above Earth's Atmosphere!

May 16, 2015 - SPACE
- High above Earth in the realm of meteors and noctilucent clouds, a strange and beautiful form of lightning dances at the edge of space. Researchers call the bolts "sprites"; they are red, fleeting, and tend to come in bunches. Note to sky watchers: Sprite season is underway. Martin Popek photographed these specimens over Nydek, Czech republic, on May 13th:

One night later, May 14th, near Santa Fe, New Mexico, "I captured my first sprites of the season," reports photographer Jan Curtis. "The thunderstorm that produced them was about 200 miles to my south-southwest."

Because sprites are associated with thunderstorms, they tend to occur in late spring and summer. Thunderstorm season is sprite season.

"Sprites are a true space weather phenomenon," explains lightning scientist Oscar van der Velde of the Technical University of Catalonia, Spain. "They develop in mid-air around 80 km altitude, growing in both directions, first down, then up. This happens when a fierce lightning bolt draws lots of charge from a cloud near Earth's surface. Electric fields [shoot] to the top of Earth's atmosphere--and the result is a sprite. The entire process takes about 20 milliseconds."

Although sprites have been seen for at least a century, most scientists did not believe they existed until after 1989 when sprites were photographed by cameras onboard the space shuttle. Now "sprite chasers" routinely photograph sprites from their own homes. "I used up a Watec 910HX security camera with UFOCapture software to catch my sprites," says Popek. Give it a try!

Diagram: How to Look for Sprites (used with permission of

- Space Weather.


GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Monumental Earth Changes As The Black Celestial Event Nears - 40 Volcanoes Are ERUPTING RIGHT NOW, And 34 Of Them Are Along The Pacific Ring Of Fire!

May 16, 2015 - EARTH
- You may not have noticed, but our planet is becoming increasingly unstable.  According to Volcano Discovery, 40 volcanoes around the globe are erupting right now, and only 6 of them are not along the Ring of Fire.  If that sounds like a very high number to you, that is because it is a very high number.  As I have written about previously, there were a total of 3,542 volcanic eruptions during the entire 20th century.  When you divide that number by 100, that gives you an average of about 35 volcanic eruptions per year.  So the number of volcanoes that are erupting right now is well above the 20th century’s average for an entire calendar year.  And of course we are witnessing a tremendous amount of earthquake activity as well.  Nepal was just hit by the worst earthquake that it had seen in 80 years, and scientists are telling us that the Himalayas actually dropped by an astounding 3 feet as a result of that one earthquake.  How much more does our planet have to shake before people start paying attention?

Of course the things that we have been seeing lately are part of a much larger long-term trend.  Seismic activity appears to have been getting stronger over the past few decades, and now things really seem to be accelerating.  The following is how one news source recently summarized what we have been witnessing…
If it seems like earthquakes and erupting volcanoes are happening more frequently, that’s because they are. Looking at global magnitude six (M6) or greater from 1980 to 1989 there was an average of 108.5 earthquakes per year, from 2000 to 2009 the planet averaged 160.9 earthquakes per year: that is a 38.9% increase of M6+ earthquakes in recent years. Unrest also seems to be growing among the world’s super-volcanoes. Iceland (which is home to some of the most dangerous volcanoes on the planet), Santorini in Greece, Uturuncu in Bolivia, the Yellowstone and Long Valley calderas in the U.S., Laguna del Maule in Chile, Italy’s Campi Flegrei – almost all of the world’s active super-volcanic systems are now exhibiting some signs of inflation, an early indication that pressure is building in these volcanic systems.
But of course most Americans are never going to care about any of this until it starts affecting them personally.

Well, perhaps they should start paying attention to the warning signs.  In recent weeks we have seen significant earthquakes in Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, California, Idaho And Washington.  In addition, it is being reported that pressure is building in dormant volcanoes in Arizona and California.  Just because we have not had a killer earthquake or a large volcanic eruption in the U.S. in recent years does not mean that it will always be that way.  Right now the entire planet appears to be waking up, and this especially seems to be true of the Ring of Fire.

If you are not familiar with the Ring of Fire, just imagine a giant ring that runs around the outer perimeter of the Pacific Ocean.  Approximately 90 percent of all earthquakes and approximately 75 percent of all volcanic eruptions occur within this area, and the entire west coast of North America is considered to be part of the Ring of Fire.

For so long, the west coast has been incredibly blessed not to have experienced a major seismic event.  But scientists tell us that it is only a matter of time.

And right now, just about every other part of the Ring of Fire is shaking violently.

For example, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake just hit Japan on Wednesday
A magnitude-6.8 earthquake that shook northeast Japan on Wednesday was an aftershock of the devastating 2011 quake that triggered a massive tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown.

“We consider this morning’s earthquake to be an aftershock of the 2011 Northeastern Pacific Earthquake,” said Yohei Hasegawa, an official at the Japanese meteorological agency.

The temblor, which struck just after 6 a.m. local time (5 p.m. ET Tuesday), was sparked by the Pacific tectonic plate “subducting,” or moving under, the main land plate, he added.

Hasegawa warned that more tremors may be on the way.
One Japanese expert is warning that Japan “might have entered an era of great earthquakes and volcanic eruptions“, and considering the immense devastation that the great earthquake and tsunami of 2011 caused, that is a very sobering assessment.

Meanwhile, a series of very strong earthquakes have struck Papua New Guinea recently as well.  The following comes from the Washington Post
A powerful earthquake rattled Papua New Guinea on Thursday, the fourth strong quake to hit the South Pacific island nation in a week. The temblor prompted officials to issue a local tsunami warning, but it was lifted shortly afterward with no reports of damage.

The 7.1-magnitude quake struck about 150 kilometers (94 miles) southwest of the town of Panguna on Bougainville Island at a depth of 23 kilometers (14 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
Once again, just because things have always been a certain way does not mean that they will always be that way.

As Americans, we are not accustomed to being concerned about major earthquakes and massive volcanic eruptions, but that could soon change in a big way.

The truth is that our planet and our sun are changing in ways that are unpredictable and that our scientists don’t completely understand.

For example, a recent LiveScience article discussed the fact that scientists are deeply puzzled by the fact that the magnetic field of our planet is getting weaker 10 times faster than previously believed…
Scientists already know that magnetic north shifts. Once every few hundred thousand years the magnetic poles flip so that a compass would point south instead of north. While changes in magnetic field strength are part of this normal flipping cycle, data from Swarm have shown the field is starting to weaken faster than in the past. Previously, researchers estimated the field was weakening about 5 percent per century, but the new data revealed the field is actually weakening at 5 percent per decade, or 10 times faster than thought. As such, rather than the full flip occurring in about 2,000 years, as was predicted, the new data suggest it could happen sooner.
And in a previous article, I discussed how one scientist has discovered that activity on the sun is declining at a faster pace “than at any time in the last 9300 years” right now.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers for why these things are happening, but clearly some very unusual things are taking place.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that you know why our planet and our sun are experiencing such dramatic changes? - TEC.

EXTREME WEATHER: Pacific Typhoon Dolphin Strikes Guam And Rota - Bringing High Winds And Power Outages! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Typhoon Dolphin is seen near Guam in this RGB satellite image taken Friday, May 15, 2015.

May 16, 2015 - GUAM / ROTA - More than 1,100 people took refuge in shelters early Saturday as the center of a powerful Pacific typhoon glanced off Guam, hammering the U.S. territory with high winds, rain and huge waves.

The storm knocked out power, downed trees and canceled flights Friday as it lumbered through a channel between Guam and the tiny tropical island of Rota. It packed maximum winds of 110 mph (177 kph).

The National Weather Service said gusts were expected to gradually decrease to "non-damaging" winds by sunrise.

One injury resulted from Typhoon Dolphin, and that person was taken to a Guam hospital, Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Jenna Gaminde said. She had no additional information on the injury.

There also were reports of broken power transformers, said Oyaol Ngirairikl with the Joint Information Center. Ngirairikl said more would be known about damage from the typhoon Saturday.

Weather service meteorologist Patrick Chen said earlier that the weather service lost radar, but based on satellite imagery, he said the storm's center was moving away from the Marianas Islands, which includes Guam.

WATCH: Typhoon Dolphin Nears Guam / Rota, Typhoon Warnings in Place.

He advised residents to stay indoors: "Don't venture outside because of down power lines or trees."

Guam is home to about 160,000 people. It is known for white beaches and historic World War II battle sites, and it depends heavily on tourism.

Residents began seriously preparing for the typhoon Thursday when Gov. Eddie Calvo ordered agencies to take special precautions. That set off longer lines at service stations and increased sales of bottled water.

Eight public schools served as emergency shelters. Three were at capacity early Saturday.

Charles Henry, 28, Clayton Faubion, 25, Charles Harstad, 23, and Jamal Arurag, 19, observe barreling waves behind the University of Guam Marine Lab on the island's
eastern coast during a powerful Pacific typhoon on Friday, May 15, 2015. The National Weather Service said the center of Typhoon Dolphin had
passed through a 50-mile-wide channel between Guam and the island of Rota. AP Photo/Grace Garces Bordallo

Trees bend and sway in the increasing winds at the Paseo during the approach of Typhoon Dolphin on Friday, May 15, 2015, in Hagatna, Guam. Residents in Guam are
bracing for potentially damaging winds and flooding as Typhoon Dolphin approaches the U.S. territory Friday.   Rick Cruz/The Pacific Daily via AP

Twenty-four pregnant women checked into Guam Memorial Hospital as a precaution, according to Calvo's office.

Dayann Henry, 28, and 15 family members sought refuge in an emergency shelter at George Washington High School in central Guam.

"When they said the typhoon is going to be big, we went to the mayor and asked for help. The mayor brought us here," said Henry, who lives in a wood- and tin-framed house.

Charleen Betwell, 30, also checked in at George Washington with several family members.

"I've been through typhoons, but this is my first time in a shelter," she said. "I'm just enjoying looking at the kids play around. It's good they're not scared."

Earlier in the day, Guam was getting some surf, with a beach on the eastern coast reporting 16-foot waves.

National Weather Service meteorologist Genny Miller said the agencies likely will maintain high-surf advisories for 24 hours after the typhoon passes.

Airlines canceled flights scheduled to arrive or depart the island Friday, though Guam International Airport stayed open for stranded passengers. Gaminde said she did not know when flights would resume.

Authorities warned residents in low-lying areas to be on the lookout for flooding and to move to higher ground if necessary.

Typhoons are the same as hurricanes and cyclones. Distinctive terms for the storms are used in different parts of the world.

Tropical weather frequently affects Guam, so much so U.S. military officers like to say it's in "Typhoon Alley." Two typhoons and one tropical storm have affected Guam in the past eight months, including Dolphin.

Shelter seekers sleep in their assigned spaces at the Astumbo Elementary School during the early morning hours of Friday, May 15, 2015, in Dededo, Guam. The school was
designated as a typhoon shelter for residents needing a safe place of refuge during the passage of Typhoon Dolphin.   Rick Cruz/The Pacific Daily via AP

The island rarely gets direct hits from typhoons because its land area is so small. The last direct hit was in 2002, when a super typhoon, Pongsona, killed one person and caused about $250 million in damage.

There are two U.S. military bases in Guam, Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam. Both were closed Friday to everyone except for essential personnel.

Anderson reported maximum gusts of 106 mph (170 kph).

Guam and Rota, 50 miles (80 kilometers) away, share a common heritage and native language. Rota has about 2,500 residents, and many buildings there are made of concrete. - PHYS.

Typhoon causes power outage on Rota

Photo courtesy of LJ Castro, public information
specialist for the CNMI Office of the Governor.
Rota residents are recovering from Typhoon Dolphin, the most severe storm in recent memory that caused damage to many homes and schools on the island.

Rota has been without power since Friday afternoon and there is no timetable for when it will be restored.

“It may take some time,” Brien Nicolas, Jr., lead member of the CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management team in Rota, said. “It could be three days to two weeks.”

There were no reported injuries due to the storm on Rota but many of the homes suffered apparent severe damage. This was most apparent in tin houses and concrete houses with tin roofs.

Nicolas said Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig is now working with the American Red Cross in CNMI to develop a long-term strategy for residents who lost their homes.

John Hirsh, executive director of ARC for CNMI, said the group has 20 volunteers currently working. Thirty more are on stand-by in Hawaii ready to respond if it becomes necessary.

Thus far the ARC has been visiting neighborhoods to assess damage and deliver tarps and cleaning kits to damaged homes, Hirsh said.

Most housed overnight in shelters in Songsong and Sinapalo returned to their homes — only six remained at island’s primary shelter, the Rota Aging Center, as of noon today, Nicolas said — but many left the shelter to join friends and relatives rather returning to their own homes.Long-term shelters have been identified for Rota, Saipan and Tinian, Hirsh said, but it's not yet known if they will be needed or if the current short-term shelter at the RAC will be sufficient. Rota Junior-Senior High School was also used as a shelter and could be available through the weekend before classes start back up Monday, Hirsh said.

Sinapalo has been without power since around 11:30 Friday and Songsong since about 2:30 Friday.

Total damage on the island is still being assessed but Nicolas said the mayor and residents are working quickly to battle back.

WATCH: Typhoon Dolphin Lashes Rota Island Near Guam.

Residences and educational buildings are taking precedent, he said, and roads are still being cleared to allow for emergency access. “At the end of the day the one thing the mayor wants out of this is normalcy, to return Rota to the condition it was before the storm,” Nicolas said. “I’ve been very impressed with the people of Rota since I stepped foot here for this typhoon.” - Guam PDN.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Animal Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - MILLIONS Of Spiders Fall Like Rain From The Sky In Australia?! [PHOTOS]

Fields are covered in spiderwebs amid rising floodwaters in Wagga Wagga. Photo: Reuters

May 16, 2015 - AUSTRALIA
- Millions of baby spiders appeared to be raining from the sky in the Southern Tablelands earlier this month, with one astonished local fearing the region had been "invaded by spiders" and another reporting his home was "covered" in the creatures.

Goulburn resident Ian Watson said his house looked like it had been "abandoned and taken over by spiders".

"The whole place was covered in these little black spiderlings and when I looked up at the sun it was like this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred metres into the sky."

It was beautiful, he said. "But at the same time I was annoyed because ... you couldn't go out without getting spider webs on you. And I've got a beard as well, so they kept getting in my beard."

Watson took to Facebook to confirm he wasn't the only one getting rained on by tiny black spiders. "Anyone else experiencing … millions of spiders falling from the sky right now?" he wrote on the town's community Facebook page.

"I'm 10 minutes out of town and you can clearly see hundreds of little spiders floating along with their webs and my home is covered in them. Someone call a scientist!"

Naturalist Martyn Robinson from the Australian Museum said two migration techniques associated with spiders would explain why locals might have thought it was raining spiders.

The first, a dispersal technique called "ballooning", is more commonly used by baby spiders, although some adults use it as well. The spider climbs to the top of vegetation and releases a streamer of silk that catches on the breeze and carries the spider aloft.

Spiders have been caught flying like this up to three kilometres above the ground, Robinson said.

"They can literally travel for kilometres … which is why every continent has spiders. Even in Antarctica they regularly turn up but just die," he said.

Paddocks in Albury show the extent of the ‘spider rain’. Photo: Keith Basterfield

"That's also why the first land animals to arrive on new islands formed by volcanic activity are usually spiders."

In some years, the mass migration of baby spiders means "you can have entire fields and paddocks and trees festooned with this gossamer or Angel Hair, as some people call it," he said.

Gossamer is a non-adhesive silk that snags easily, one of nine different kinds of silks produced by spiders.

South Australian retiree Keith Basterfield has been tracking Angel Hair events since 2001 and appealed via the Goulburn Post for anyone who had witnessed last month's event to contact him.

He has since heard from two residents.

"Around the 27th April we experienced this and thought we were been invaded by spiders for two days," wrote one woman, who said she lived 30 kilometres from Yass.

"[E]very time I'd walk outside my feet would get covered in very fine cobweb-like substance and the clothes line and clothes were absolutely entangled in it."

Another woman said she was sitting on the front verandah on May 4 when she saw what looked like lots of silk thread "floating through the sky."

"It lasted for at least 30 mins. It was quite amazing," she wrote.

The second phenomenon linked to angel hair, which can occur at the same time as ballooning, usually happens after heavy rains or floods.

"When the ground gets waterlogged, the spiders that live either on the surface of the ground or in burrows in the ground, come up into the foliage to avoid drowning," Robinson said.

Much like baby spiders searching for a new home, these ground spiders throw silk "snag lines" up into the air and when they catch, use these to haul themselves up and out of the water.

A home surrounded by spiderwebs as floodwaters rise around Wagga Wagga in 2012. Photo: Reuters

The Angel Hair effect can be particularly dramatic after floods, when masses of spiders are using the same silk "roads" to escape, he said.

"Everywhere a spider goes it leaves a trail of silk … so if they use somebody else's silk line, they put their silk line over that," Robinson said.

"You end up with thick silk roads … criss-crossing finer silk lines to produce this interwoven shroud."

He emphasised that it was unlikely any of the species of spiders involved in these phenomena were harmful. "There's nothing to worry about ... They'll all disperse once the weather conditions warm up." - SMH.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Plane Crashes Near Trinidad, Southern Colorado - Pilot Killed!

Authorities say a pilot was killed when he crashed his single-engine propeller plane in an open field in southern Colorado.(Photo: KOAA-TV)

- The man who was killed when the small single-engine plane he was piloting crashed north of Trinidad on April 30 has been identified.

Gregory Frank, 53, of Longmont, died in the wreck that occurred in an open field a few miles north of the Las Animas County Fairgrounds, according to the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office.

He was the only occupant of the plane.

A witness reported seeing the plane circling over his property shortly before it crashed.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are continuing their investigation into determining the cause of the crash.  - The Pueblo Chieftain.

EXTREME WEATHER: Nearly 200 Firefighters Battle "ALARMING" Little Bobtail Lake Wildfire In British Columbia - Over 130 SQUARE KILOMETRES [32,000 ACRES] Scorched Already; Shows No Sign Of Extinguishing; The Earliest Fire In B.C. Since 1983; Premier Warns Of "Bad Forest Fire Season Ahead"!

The Little Bobtail Lake fire, 50 kilometres southwest of Prince George, B.C., is shown on Sunday, May 10, 2015. Almost 200 firefigters are battling the blaze,
the earliest major forest fire in B.C. since 1983. HO, THE CANADIAN PRESS

- British Columbia’s premier is calling a wildfire that has already scorched more than 130 square kilometres in the central Interior “alarming,” and is warning residents of a “bad forest fire season” ahead.

Christy Clark was in Prince George Friday to get an update on the Little Bobtail Lake fire, which was reported May 9.

By the afternoon, the Wildfire Management Branch was reporting that nearly 200 people, eight helicopters, 22 pieces of equipment and eight tankers were battling the blaze that had forced municipalities to issues evacuation orders and alerts that residents may have to leave at any moment.

“There has not been a fire this big, this early in the year since 1983, and this fire’s bigger,” said Clark. She called the fire “alarming” and said it was likely caused by humans.

Clark said the province experienced a dry winter and is expected to see a dry summer. She also noted the abundance of trees killed by pine beetles in the forests.

“The bad end of that is that we’re going to have probably a very bad forest fire season,” she said. “So people need to be really, really careful this year.”

Bill Miller, chairman of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, said local officials have placed about 700 to 800 residences east of Prince George under evacuation alert.

The MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite captured this image of the Little Bobtail Lake fire in British Columbia, Canada. MODIS Rapid Response Team

He said about 60 residences were placed under evacuation order, although most of those are seasonal homes.

The neighbouring Regional District of Fraser-Fort George issued evacuation orders to about 130 people last Sunday night and evacuation alerts to about 122 properties the next day, said information officer Renee McCloskey.

“You can see the smoke from town,” she said from Prince George.

McCloskey said fire officials may upgrade the evacuation alerts to orders and they are preparing group accommodations.

“We do know that fires cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Clark.

“It was $300 million dollars we spent last year putting out fires. If we keep on this track, it’s going to be more this year. And, you know, British Columbians aren’t giving us more money.”

British Columbia Wildfire Management reports that the fire is unpredictable and shows no signs of extinguishing any time soon.
Drought conditions in the region and dry debris are helping to fuel the fire. HO, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Even though airtankers have been dropping fire retardant on the flames, the fire continues to grow and moves past the retardant lines with little effort.
High temperature and low humidity are also fueling the fire. HO, THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Wildfire Management Branch was also reporting that two other “wildfires of note” had burned 250 and 83 hectares near Quesnel and Clearwater, respectively.

The Forests Ministry said small campfires are currently permitted throughout B.C., with the maximum allowable size of 0.5 metres wide by 0.5 metres high.

Almost half of all wildfires in the province are caused by people, and the Wildfire Management Branch said resources are unnecessarily tied up to deal with them.

Clark said people won’t want to see another blaze like the Little Bobtail Lake fire and she urged everybody to be careful in the forests. - The Province.