Wednesday, January 6, 2016

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Dow Jones Sinks 250 Points, Worst Start To A Trading Year Since 2008; Oil Dives To 7-Year-Low; And China Stocks Halted Again!

January 6, 2016 - GLOBAL ECONOMY - Wall Street experienced another mini panic attack on Wednesday after North Korea claimed to successfully test a hydrogen bomb. The markets were already being spooked by the financial and economic turbulence out of China and the latest plunge in oil prices below $34 a barrel.

The Dow dropped 252 points, closing below 17,000 for the first time since mid-October. The S&P 500 fell 1.3% and the Nasdaq lost 1.1%.

It marks the Dow's worst start to a trading year through three days since 2008. The index also fell 276 points on Monday due to worries about China.

"Quite suddenly there seems to be a very long list of topics that represent game-changing risks to the market. North Korea is just one more factor," said Peter Kenny, an independent market strategist and founder of Kenny's Commentary.

The latest selloff began overnight after North Korea claimed it carried out its first hydrogen bomb test. U.S. officials told CNN it could take days to determine if North Korea's claims are legitimate. If true, the test would represent a major advancement by the North Korean regime and the latest geopolitical threat on top of the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Stocks in Asia retreated and the South Korean won slumped over 1% against the U.S. dollar. Gold, which tends to rise during times of fear, jumped 1.4% to $1,093 an ounce.

"While the long-term investment implications are likely to be limited (as Pyongyang's previous nuclear tests have proven), the short-term impact will likely keep markets extra jittery," Win Thin, global head of emerging market currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, wrote in a client note.

Oil prices also took another hit on Wednesday. Crude plunged nearly 6% to $33.97 a barrel -- the lowest settle since 2008. The latest losses were triggered by concerns about demand from China, the strong U.S. dollar and the diminishing chances OPEC cuts production.

Worries about China also continue to ripple through the U.S. stock market. A new report released on Wednesday that showed the country's services sector grew at the weakest pace in 17 months in December.

China also continues to experience financial turbulence. Its stock market jumped 2% on Wednesday, rebounding from Monday's crash thanks to more efforts by the government to stabilize markets.

However, China's currency lost more ground and is now down about 1% against the U.S. dollar this year. The yuan's fall will likely cause more money to leave China and "creates havoc" for other manufacturing countries in the region, said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group. - CNN Money.

China Halts Stock Trading After 7% Rout Triggers Circuit Breaker

Chinese stocks in Hong Kong fell to the lowest level in four years as mainland shares plunged, forcing an early halt to trading for the second day this week after the central bank cut its yuan reference rate by the most since August.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng China Enterprises Index tumbled 4.2 percent to the lowest level since Oct. 6, 2011. Trading of shares and index futures in the mainland was halted by automatic circuit breakers from about 9:59 a.m. after the CSI 300 Index slid more than 7 percent. The People’s Bank of China cut its reference rate on Thursday for an eighth straight day, fueling concern that tepid economic growth is prompting authorities to guide the currency lower.

“The yuan’s depreciation has exceeded investors’ expectations,” said Wang Zheng, Shanghai-based chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management Co. “Investors are getting spooked by the declines, which will spur capital outflows.”

The yuan weakened 0.6 percent to 6.5938 per dollar at 4:20 p.m. in Shanghai. The currency rallied from early declines in offshore trading, strengthening 0.4 percent in Hong Kong amid speculation the central bank propped up the exchange rate after setting a weaker fixing that sent the currency tumbling.

Huatai Securities Co. tumbled 10 percent and Citic Securities Co. declined 7.1 percent as financial stocks slumped. China Petroleum & Chemical Co. led losses in energy companies as oil futures slid to the lowest level in 12 years.

Widening Discount

Mainland-listed companies are now 39 percent more expensive than their Hong Kong-traded peers.

“The gap will probably widen, with a higher discount for H shares, because you have to take into account the currency depreciation," said Paul Chan, Hong Kong-based chief investment officer for Asia excluding Japan at Invesco Ltd., which oversees $791 billion globally. “Earnings-per-share in Hong Kong dollar terms are lower, and I pay Hong Kong dollars for those shares.”

Analysts forecast earnings of companies in the H-share index, dominated by the nation’s biggest finance and energy companies, will fall 0.8 percent in the next 12 months.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission issued a rule during Thursday’s market halt, capping the size of stakes that major investors are allowed to sell at 1 percent of a company’s shares. The restriction, which will stay in place for three months, replaces an existing six-month ban on any secondary-market stock sales that’s due to expire Friday, the regulator said in a statement.

The CSRC also called an unscheduled meeting to assess circuit breakers and market conditions without coming to a decision on policy action, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The regulator didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. - Bloomberg.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Dead Minke Whale Found Washed Up On Shoebury Beach, UK; Storms Blow Little Auk Seabirds From The Arctic Into Falkirk, Scotland; Washed Up Minke Whale Removed From Shore In Invergordon, Scotland; And Over 7,800 Dead Murres Counted On Beaches Of Whittier, Alaska In "UNPRECEDENTED DIE-OFF"!

35-foot whale found on Shoebury beach

January 6, 2016 - 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.

Dead minke whale found washed up on Shoebury beach, UK

A whale, the length of a bus, has been found washed up in Shoebury.

Coastguards discovered the 35ft minke whale near East Beach, on the Ministry of Defence base in Shoebury yesterday.

Experts from the Natural History Musuem, London, arrived at the scene to inspect the mammal, usually found in waters off Canada, Iceland and occasionally Scotland.

It is believed to have died after being hit by a boat.

Coastguards received reports of the mammal, weighing up to ten tonnes, floating in the estuary on Monday afternoon. It was finally tracked down by 2pm yesterday.

A spokesman for Thames Coastguard said beached whales were very uncommon.

He said: "It's certainly not a regular occurrence.

"It is sad that one has washed up.

"The whale came ashore after being killed by a vessel.

"The Natural History Museum took samples at 3pm and declared it didn't pose a threat to the environment.

"It could have come from across the Channel or from the North Sea.

"Ships can interfere with their sonar.

"The whale is 35 ft long."

Law states that landowners must dispose of the carcass, however, without it posing an environmental threat.

The Ministry of Defence could leave it to decompose according to the coastguard.

Minke whales are of the baleen species - the largest living animals on earth. - Echo.

Storms blow little auk seabirds from the Arctic into Falkirk, Scotland

Stranded Arctic seabirds similar to penguins have been found in Falkirk after being blown inland by the recent storms.

Several little auks, which usually winter far out at sea in Europe and North America, were found in the Falkirk area, including in Callendar Park, this week.

The SSPCA say they were "weak and thin" when officers rescued them after being contacted by members of the public.

The cute birds usually live on the open sea, however, it is believed they have been swept ashore by recent storms Eva and Frank.

Colin Seddon, manager of the Scottish SPCA's National Wildlife Rescue Centre, said, "We have rescued many little auks from all over Scotland this past week, including several found in the Falkirk area, which have been caught out by the recent storms.

"These birds normally winter far out to sea and have been blown inland. The little auks we have rescued were found weak and thin and would have had great difficulty taking off once grounded." Wildlife lover Les Wallace, who organises Falkirk's Nature-Fest event, found one in Callendar Park on Tuesday and alerted the animal charity.

Little auks. © SSPCA

Little auks. © SSPCA

He said: "This is a bizarre wildlife event. Auks are beautiful Arctic seabirds and when the SSPCA inspector turned up to collect it he had three or four other ones in his van. They are amazing things that usually live in the high Arctic.

"The Inuit make a really weird delicacy called Kiviak out of them. This is probably a once in a lifetime event for anybody who loves wildlife."

Auks are similar to penguins in appearance, habits and posture but are not closely related. They usually live on the open sea and only go ashore for breeding. - The Falkirk Herald.

Washed-up minke whale removed from shore in Invergordon, Scotland

The remains of the young Minke whale lies on the beach

A dead 12ft minke whale washed up on the beach at Invergordon has been removed - after council officials had to rethink how to do it.

The carcasse appeared on the town's shore on Monday and the Highland Council's environmental health officers hoped to use a crane to take it away.

But a council spokeswoman said because of the dead mammal's location, they had not been able to use conventional lifting equipment.

Instead, a special crane was sent for and it was lifted off the beach on Wednesday.

The spokeswoman said: "I can confirm that the whale has been uplifted and has been taken away by the specialist contractor for disposal.

"The environmental health officer said there was no health hazard to the public if it was left just a little longer.

"During incidents like this we use a specialised contractor for removal, but this one has posed a wee bit of a problem in that the usual crane just could not have got onto the beach at this point."

The dead whale was spotted shortly before it came ashore by the Invergordon lifeboat volunteers who notified the Cromarty Firth Port Authority.

They notified the Highland Council's environmental health officers who visited the location and discovered the mammal - which was thought to have been struck by a ship's propellor - had lost its tail.

Normally, a team from the Scotland's Rural College would also have been notified to carry out an inspection, but they were in Tiree following the discovery of a dead killer whale on the island.

The council spokeswoman said: "Because they were unable to attend we sent them photographs of the carcasse which they were content with."  - Ross-Shire Journal.

Over 7,800 dead murres counted on beaches of Whittier, Alaska

Dead murres line a beach in Prince William Sound the first week of January, 2016. © David Irons / USFWS

Thousands of dead common murres are washing up on the beaches of Whittier, an unprecedented die-off that has scientists wondering how many more thousands remain uncounted throughout Prince William Sound.

A recently retired federal biologist doing beach surveys in Whittier over the weekend estimated there were more than 7,800 dead murres along a little over a mile of beach. That's nearly five dead birds per meter of beach, officials say. The scale of the die-off is unprecedented along the Sound, longtime residents say.

"It's just mind-boggling," said David Janka, a Cordova charter owner who passed along reports of dead birds from there as well as Valdez, Tatitlek and Chenega. "I just took a picture a few minutes ago of an eagle with a murre in its talons."

David Irons, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, made the grim discovery in Whittier and sent alerts to colleagues. The beach survey probably signifies an even larger loss -- maybe tens of thousands -- of the large black-and-white seabirds, Fish and Wildlife Service officials say.

To get a better picture what's happening throughout the Sound, the U.S. Geological Survey has chartered a boat out of Whittier to explore more remote beaches on Thursday, according to John Piatt, a research biologist at the USGS Alaska Science Center.

Dead murres

There have been other seabird die-offs in Alaska -- most recently in 1993 -- and along the West Coast. But the current event, which began this spring from California north, is the worst Piatt has seen in 40 years of research in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

"It's a regular part of their life history, but I would say this is the most extreme I have ever seen or heard of," he said Tuesday by phone from Newfoundland, where he is on leave and monitoring the situation in Alaska. Scientists don't know exactly what's causing the die-offs and associated murre strandings inland, far from the North Pacific, where they normally spend the winter. But they know the birds are dangerously underweight and emaciated.

It's possible that warmer ocean conditions have pushed prey fish deeper, beyond the murres' diving range of about 600 feet, or that there's a disease or some other medical condition that's causing them to starve. It's also possible that strong winds from recent storms pushed the birds off course, or stressed the already starving murres to the point of exhaustion and death.

Murres, which weigh a little more than two pounds, need to eat half their body weight every day, Piatt said.

"These birds are wicked skinny -- no fat reserves," he said of the murres being recovered this year. "It's an awful way to die, and they're dying en masse."

The dead birds are getting the public's attention. A Fish and Wildlife Service seabird expert got 50 calls over the weekend from concerned people finding dead murres on beaches, said Andrea Medeiros, a spokeswoman for the agency."

It's turning out to be something that does have the potential for population-level effects," she said. "It is just off the chart as far as what we typically see with these events."

The estimated world breeding population of murres is between 13 and 20 million birds, according to the USFWS. Alaska's population is harder to count but the state's common murre population is estimated at 2.8 million breeding birds at 230 colonies.

Murres dive for their food, mostly small fish, using small wings that propel them underwater. Winter usually finds them at sea or on small islands, often forming large rafts.

Built for marine life and running atop water to launch into the air, murres struggle to take off from land.

The recent discovery of the Prince William Sound die-off follows a highly unusual and sudden influx of disoriented, starving murres getting stranded inland over the past few weeks, a phenomenon that began in late fall but spiked in late December.

Hundreds of birds seen or picked up by people from Homer to Two Rivers and Glennallen have overwhelmed wildlife and rescue agencies that are trying to rehabilitate the birds for release back to the North Pacific.

Rescuers say they don't know what will happen to them once they get there.  - Alaska Dispatch News.

EXTREME WEATHER: "Bizarre" - Freak Foam Phenomenon Filmed As Stormy Weather Hits Northwest France?!

Taken over: this seawater made up of dissolved salts covered this town

January 6, 2016 - FRANCE - At first glance it looks like this quaint town has been hit by a snow storm.

But taking a closer look it's more like a scene from Sci-Fi movie as it becomes apparent it is in fact covered in a foamy white substance.

The scene greeted locals in Saint Guénolé in north west France last Saturday morning after a particularly stormy night.

Foam wave: Saint Guénolé in north west France was completely covered

The quaint fishing village was submerged in huge quantities of sea foam after a number of storms came rolling into Europe last week - bringing with them some bizarre weather phenomenon. Experts say sea foam or spume is caused by the wind driving rough seas.

The foam is made by a magic component of seawater dissolved salts, proteins and algae and anything else organic that it picks up along the way.

WATCH: Freak foam phenomenon in France.

And while the residents of the sleepy town could be forgiven for thinking they'd woken up to scene from Dr Who, it's all perfectly natural. Experts say most sea foam does not pose a harmful threat to humans.

In fact it's quite the opposite and is often an indication of a productive ocean ecosystem.

However they do suggest that the residue should be cleared up quickly to prevent algae deteriorating and becoming a threat to public health. - Daily Mirror.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - 9-Year-Old Boy Mauled To Death By 3 Pitbull Terriers In Yuba County, California; And Boy In Stable Condition After Shark Attack On Great Barrier Reef, Australia?!

Griffin-Heady said that her half-brother loved her dogs. 'He laid in the bed with them, he played with them, he wanted one of their puppies,' she stated

January 6, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of animal attacks on humans.

9-year-old boy mauled to death by 3 pitbull terriers in Yuba County, California

A nine-year-old boy in northern California was mauled to death while he was home alone by his half-sister's three pit bulls.

Alexandria Griffin-Heady, 24, left her half-brother, Tyler Griffin-Huston, 9, alone inside her Yuba County trailer to go to work Sunday.

A few hours later she returned home from her security guard shift and found the boy had been viciously attacked by the dogs. She called 911 and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The three dogs, a mother and two offspring that Griffin-Heady had raised since they were puppies, have been seized and placed in an animal shelter, the Sacramento Bee reported.

WATCH: 9-year-old boy killed by guardian's dogs in Yuba County.

Authorities say at least two of the dogs had the boy's blood all over them, Fox 40 Sacramento reported. The dogs, who have no history with Animal Care Services, will likely be euthanized.

Her neighbors said that she had just recently moved into the small trailer in Linda from Florida to better her life and eventually get her little brother out of the foster system.

Since his mother died of a drug overdose in 2011, the little boy had bounced around different foster homes and was also homeless at some points in time, CBS Sacramento reported.

At the time of his death, he was visiting his sister who was recently approved for overnight weekend visits with him by Child Protective Services.

'The only wish for Christmas was that he wanted to have a mom and I so badly wanted to be that person for him,' Griffin-Heady told Fox 40 Sacramento.

'I failed him, whether it's my fault, my dog's fault, whoever's fault, I wanted to protect him and give him an amazing life.'

When asked if she felt her dogs were dangerous, she said that 'never a day their life' did she feel that way.

'He loved them, he laid in the bed with them, he played with them, he wanted one of their puppies.'

Undersheriff Jerry Read told CBS Sacramento that Griffin-Heady may face child endangerment charges.

'I don't know. This one seems to have affected me most,' he told the television station. 'The child being home alone and just had to have been terrified of what took place.'

Her lawyer, Roberto Marquez, told the Sacramento Bee that criminal charges would be 'inappropriate for what was essentially an unpredictable tragedy.'

He added that she had no idea that her dogs would pose a threat.

'If she had any hint at all that these dogs had any propensity for violence, she would never have left her brother with them,' he told the newspaper.

'She raised them and cannot fathom what could have happened that caused them to attack a little boy.'

'I don't even think it rises to the level of negligence. She had no knowledge that anything like this could occur.'

The boy's aunt, Laura Badeker, believed that Griffin-Heady's living circumstances and the dogs put the boy at risk.

Badeker said she told Child Protective Services that she felt her nephew was 'unsafe with his sister.'

'She was trying to rescue him from the system,' Badeker told the Sacramento Bee.

'But I told everyone on the team that was supposed to be protecting Tyler that Ali was not prepared to take care of him on any level.'

Child Protective Services also issued a statement about Griffin-Huston's tragic death.

'We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of this child. Sacramento County Child Protective Services was notified by Yuba County law enforcement yesterday, January 3. CPS is continuing to work with Yuba County law enforcement during this investigation,' it reads.

Badeker shared that his father is mentally disabled and was unable to care for him. He was the youngest of five siblings his mother left behind after her death, the Sacramento Bee reported.

His aunt feels that someone needs to be held accountable for his death.

'They were warned, over and over again,' she told the newspaper. 'Why didn't someone evaluate what was happening? Somebody needs to be held accountable for this.'

Before moving to California, Griffin-Heady was living in a motel room in Florida with her dogs, Badeker told the Sacramento Bee.

Her dogs, which she calls ' the wolf pack', are featured in several videos on YouTube that she recorded of her interactions with them. - Daily Mail.

Boy in stable condition after shark attack on Great Barrier Reef, Australia

An 11-year-old boy was in a stable condition in hospital on Wednesday after he was mauled by a shark on the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian east coast, officials said.

The boy was attacked by a black tipped reef shark on Tuesday afternoon as he waded off a beach at the Heron Island tourist resort northeast of the coastal town of Gladstone, Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic Brad Lawson said.

Officials have not released the victim's name or commented on media reports that he is an Italian tourist on vacation with his family.

He sustained a significant injury to his right calf, ambulance service spokesman Krathyn White said.

The boy's father helped him from the water and took him to the resort's nurse who treated his wounds, Lawson said.

"The child is in quite good spirits. Quite happy, quite jovial," Lawson said.

The nurse and father accompanied the boy in a flight to Gladstone Hospital, Lawson said.

The boy's condition was stable, a hospital spokeswoman said. She declined to give her name, citing health department policy.

The boy was expected to be flown 440 kilometers (270 miles) to the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Queensland state capital Brisbane later Wednesday, she said.

The attack came three days after a spear fisherman was injured by a shark off an island northwest of Heron Island. - Yahoo.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Three Suns Seen Over St. Petersburg, Russia! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

© Марк / YouTube

January 6, 2016 - ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - Citizens of St Petersburg in Russia woke up to an out of this world sight - three suns in the sky.

People took to social media to share the unbelievable vision. Tuesday's atmospheric event is an optical illusion known as sun dogs, phantom suns, mock suns or under its scientific name - parhelia.

These are two bright spots that occur on either sides of the sun. They are large clusters of halos created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere.

A northern city, St Petersburg doesn't get much sunshine in the winter. One internet user commented on the event saying, "In St Petersburg, there's either no sun at all, or three in one go."

"We can clearly see this phenomenon in the sky because it's very cold. Tiny ice crystals catch sunlight and go through the sun. As a result they reflect the sun. This is possible only when it's cold, when the frosts are heavy," meteorologist Vyacheslav Perushkov told Russian media, commenting on the unusual sighting.

WATCH: Three suns over Russia.

Daily temperatures in St Petersburg have plummeted below 20 degrees centigrade in recent days, which given the city's proximity to the sea, means it feels even colder due to humidity and wind. - RT.

PLANETARY TREMORS: It's Shaking All Over - Series Of Earthquakes Hit Siargao Island Town In The Philippines; 5.0 Magnitude Tremor Hits Trinidad; Magnitude 4.5 Temblor Shakes Southern California Causing Landslides; Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas Rattled By Strong Back-To-Back Earthquakes; Thousands Of Small Earthquakes Have Hit Vancouver Region Since Christmas; 4.3 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Rio Dell, California; 4.5 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Arunachal Pradesh, India!

USGS earthquake locations of 2.5 magnitude or higher over the last day.

January 6, 2016 - EARTH
- The following constitutes several of the most noteworthy earthquakes to the planet over the last 24 hours, as we continue to monitor the global seismic uptick.

Series of earthquakes hit Siargao Island town in the Philippines

Epicenter map of 5.2 earthquake. © Phivolcs

A series of earthquakes rattled Siargao Island town, in Surigao del Norte early this morning, January 6, 2015.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the strong earthquake with 5.2 magnitude quake was registered at 4:36 a.m. Its epicenter was plotted at 32 kilometers (km) northeast of Burgos town, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, with a depth of 12 km.

A magnitude 4.2 magnitude tremor also recorded at 4:31 a.m. of the same day, with epicenter traced at 56 km northeast at the same town, with a depth of 13 km, the state agency said.

Another 3.0 magnitude earthquake was also registered at 5:31 a.m. also on the same day and same town of Burgos with the epicenter 48 km northeast, with a depth of 88 kilometers, Phivolcs, in its bulletin said.

The series of earthquakes that rocked the island town are all tectonic in origin, it said.

The action center of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) in Surigao del Norte said there were no casualties or damages reported when the earthquake hit the tourist island. - Manila Bulletin.

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada registered a 5.0 magnitude earthquake yesterday and the experts are warning of more to come.

According to the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre, the earthquake occurred at 10:33 a.m. North of the Paria Peninsula Trinidad, at a depth of 33 kilometres.

"This zone is one of the most active areas around Trinidad so that this event is not surprising and well within our range of expected activity", according to a statement from the SRC.

Director of the SRC, Dr Joan Latchman said Tuesday's quake was not generated by the Kick'em Jenny underwater volcano located eight kilometres north of Grenada.

She said the earthquake is one of many expected to occur during the year.

She said, "in the Paria peninsula area there is no volcanism at this time. So this earthquake was tectonic".

Latchman also warned that Trinidadians need to be better prepared for a long overdue quake.

She said, "we have seen some improvements in the attention by the citizenry are taking for what we are saying. - Stabroek News.

Magnitude-4.5 earthquake shakes Southern California causing landslides

USGS shakemap intensity.

 A shallow 4.5-magnitude earthquake shook inland sections of Southern California Wednesday morning. Landslides were reported in the area near the epicenter, which had been soaked by heavy rainfall Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck at 6:42 a.m. PST just north of Banning, a city of 30,000 in the San Gorgonio Pass along Interstate 10 between San Bernardino and Palm Springs.

The quake was shallow, occurring 10.4 miles (16.7 kilometers) below the ground. The USGS originally estimated the focal depth as an even shallower 1 mile (1.6 km). Shallow earthquakes generally produce stronger ground shaking near the epicenter than do deeper earthquakes of the same magnitude.

According to incident reports on the California Highway Patrol's website, landslides were reported just minutes after the earthquake along State Highway 243 just south of Banning. Mud and small rocks were strewn across sections of the roadway about 7 miles from the earthquake's epicenter.

Another CHP report indicated a tree and large boulders across the roadway on State Highway 74 near the mountain community of Pinyon Pines, about 15 miles south of Palm Springs. That incident was about 40 miles southeast of the epicenter.

Rain was not falling at the time of the landslides, but 1.5 to 3 inches of rain had fallen on the area during the 24 hours preceding the earthquake.

KNBC-TV in Los Angeles said there were no reports of structural damage from first responders in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the two counties most directly affected by the quake.

The USGS website's "Did You Feel It?" received about 6,000 reports of ground shaking from users across Southern California. The strongest shaking was reported near the epicenter in Banning and Cabazon, California, where the intensity was estimated at level V (five), or moderate, on the 12-point Mercalli scale.

Lighter shaking was reported in a broad zone from Los Angeles on the west to Twentynine Palms on the east, and from the Victor Valley on the north to the San Diego area on the south. In all, the USGS estimated about 10 million people may have been able to feel the earthquake.

The USGS interactive map showed the quake's epicenter close to the Banning Fault, a branch of the San Andreas Fault system that runs northwest to southeast along much of the length of California.

The same region was rattled just eight days ago by a magnitude-4.4 tremor and series of smaller aftershocks originating near Devore, about 35 miles northwest of Wednesday's quake epicenter. - The Weather Channel.

Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas rattled by strong back-to-back earthquakes

A map shows the epicenter of a 4.8-magnitude earthquake that occurred Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, which was felt in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas© USGS

Two strong earthquakes rocked Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas on Wednesday night.

The quakes were recorded as magnitudes 4.7 and 4.8, respectively, the United States Geological Survey reported.

The larger temblor was centered 19 miles south-southeast of Alva, Oklahoma, west of Enid, at 10:28 p.m. CST, the USGS said. The first quake occurred 30 seconds before the larger quake near Fairview, Oklahoma.

Both were felt in Wichita, Kansas, where meteorologists from AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions were working.

"The tables shook pretty good as well as our computer screens. Really felt like the whole building was rumbling. We are on the seventh floor so it always seems like it's worse up here," Lead Meteorologist John Lavin said.

The quakes were one of six earthquakes to be reported within 90 minutes Wednesday night in Oklahoma, according to USGS data. - AccuWeather.

Thousands of small earthquakes have hit Vancouver region since Christmas

A little over a week after our region was rattled, we're learning there have been thousands of small earthquakes to hit the South Coast since Christmas, but experts insist it's nothing worry about.

The area, along with rest of the Pacific Northwest is in a natural seismic cycle right now.

The reason you shouldn't panic is because this happens about once every year or so, although the numbers right now are way above average.

Typically over a 10-day period we see about 200 tremors, but between January 1st and 4th, there have been more than 2,400 and since Christmas there have been 8,000.

"They occur in-depth, they're quite deep within the crust beneath Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula. The [quakes] are just too small for a person to even feel them at the surface," explains SFU Earth Sciences Professor John Clague.

He adds this 'Slow Slip Episode' we're in is simply relieving some pressure of the plates below us and it should wrap up soon. Meantime, the USGS claims the total amount that's released from the episode can be as big as a magnitude 6.5 earthquake.

"In the past, these episodes, these tiny little earthquakes, have persisted for about a week or two and then they drop off basically to zero and we don't see another episode or 12 to 16 months."

He adds that it's unclear if last week's earthquake felt across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island is directly linked to this series of tremors.  - News 1130.

4.3 magnitude earthquake strikes near Rio Dell, California

USGS shakemap intensity.
A shallow magnitude 4.3 earthquake was reported Wednesday evening 19 miles from Rio Dell, Calif., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 9:49 p.m. Pacific time at a depth of 10.6 miles.

According to the USGS, the epicenter was 23 miles from Fortuna, 36 miles from Eureka and 40 miles from Bayside.

In the past 10 days, there have been five earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby.

This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author.  - Los Angeles Times.

4.5 magnitude earthquake strikes Arunachal Pradesh, India

According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the quake hit Kurung Kumey district of Arunachal Pradesh at 7:12 pm at a depth of 23 kms.

A medium intensity earthquake, measuring 4.5 on the Richter Scale, today hit Arunachal Pradesh, four days after a powerful tremor shook the northeastern state of Manipur.

According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the quake hit Kurung Kumey district of Arunachal Pradesh at 7:12 pm at a depth of 23 kms. There were no immediate reports of loss of life or property.

On Monday, a strong quake measuring 6.7 on the Richter Scale hit Temelgong in Manipur. This was followed by many small and medium aftershocks.

Scientists, however, ruled out that the earthquake was an aftershock, a major phenomenon observed after major jolts.

"This was a fresh earthquake and not related to the one in Manipur," said JL Gautam, Head (operation), National Centre for Seismology, a unit of MoES.

The Northeast region is known to be a high-seismic zone and often witnesses tremors. - NDTV.

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Massive Flooding Hits The East Coast Of New South Wales, Australia - The Heaviest Rainfall In 154 YEARS; 8 Inches In 24 Hours! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

Residents across New South Wales have been evacuated and rescued as heavy rain continues to batter the east coast.
Above is an emergency crew member wading out to a car caught in flood waters in Newcastle

January 6, 2016 - NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA - Newcastle has faced its wettest January day in more than 150 years after torrential rain batters the east coast forcing residents to abandon their homes, as flash flooding hits Sydney.

The Bureau of Meteorology said Newcastle, north of Sydney, experienced the most rainfall on a January day since records started back in 1862, also logging its wettest day since June 2007.

In the 24 hours leading up to 9am on Wednesday, Newcastle record more than 200mm of rain.

Major flood warnings have been issued across the state's east after the town of Dungog, in NSW's Hunter region, was inundated with water and locals were told to leave their homes,
the ABC reported. An evacuation order has been issued for 30 homes in nearby Raymond Terrace, with SES volunteers doorknocking residents telling them to leave.

Up to 130mm of rainfall was recorded in a 24-hour period at nearby Bulga, resulting in major flood warnings for Wollombi Brook, with the State Emergency Service (SES) responding to more than 1,400 calls since Tuesday and carrying out 21 flood rescues since the deluge started.

NSW Ambulance paramedics have been called to almost 100 motor vehicle-related incidents since Tuesday morning, with 14 of these happening from midnight to 10am on Wednesday.

'With the heavy rains predicted to continue, paramedics are calling on people to slow down and take extra care. Wet weather can result in reduced visibility, slippery road surfaces and flooding, all of which create hazardous driving conditions,' NSW Ambulance's Jamie Vernon said.

Williamtown, also in the Hunter region, recorded a 220mm rainfall in 24 hours.

Newcastle airport closed its runway for just over four hours after it was inundated with flood waters but it reopened at midday.

'Flights will recommence this afternoon. Please contact your airline re your flight status,' the airport's Twitter page said. Further south, emergency crews are trying to reach a group of at least 21 campers who have become trapped by flood waters.

Bendethera Valley campground, west of Moruya, has been isolated by heavy rains and flooding with at least 16 adults and five children trapped at the site, an SES spokesman told AAP.

'There has been no direct contact since Sunday... they have been isolated since then,' he said.

The campsite is also without mobile phone reception, making it hard for crews to understand the conditions in the site but it is likely they will be running low on food.

Search crews could not reach the campground on Tuesday and difficult weather was causing problems for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to land in the area.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Peter Znijewski told Daily Mail Australia the wild weather was expected to end later on Wednesday.'We're expecting the low to move to the mid-north coast. We should be seeing improvement in the weather this evening and overnight,' he said.

Blue skies have been predicted for this weekend.

But in the lead up to the sunny weather, some suburbs in Sydney have been drenched in rainfall usually seen over a month in two days, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Parramatta has received 135 mm since Monday with 86mm of rain falling in just the last 24 hours until 9am on Wednesday morning

SES volunteers are doorknocking residents telling them to leave. Above are emergency crews use a blow-up boat to get around on flood waters

SES captured shocking images of flood waters rising around Maitland, north west of Newcastle

Rolling green paddocks quickly morphed into large brown lakes as water pooled in lower ground

Ponies are being stranded amid the flash flooding on Salt Ash in the Hunter Region of New South Wales as they wait patiently
to be rescued, with one resident claiming she has never seen bad weather in 44 years

A park in Wallsend, near Newcastle, has been inundated with water as heavy rain continues

The new year has kicked off with some wild weather after a water spout was spotted off the coast at Sydney's Northern Beaches on Sunda

Over three days, the city's metropolitan areas have had up to 80mm of rain, while Frenchs Forest, in Sydney's north, and the Hills District have recorded rainfall of up to 150mm.
In the west, Richmond and Penrith have seen 120mm. Meanwhile in Parramatta, the wharf was closed after 68mm of rain had fallen by 9am on Wednesday, with 127mm drenching the suburb in three days.

'For the wettest suburbs in Sydney, it's the heaviest rain they've had since April, and it's pretty unusual for January. This is more than the monthly average in less than 48 hours,' Weatherzone senior meteorologist Brett Dutschke told the Herald.

A resident in Hawkesbury, Penelope, told Daily Mail Australia the flood waters had risen quickly behind her property.

'Yesterday morning [we] saw paddock fully [when we] came home last night no paddock,' she said.

In photographs from Penelope's house, which she described to be up on a hill just outside of Sydney, her paddocks look to be completely under water.

She and her neighbour have spent Wednesday morning moving their livestock away from the water's edge, fearing more deluge.

In regional NSW, around Bulga, waters are expected to exceed the major flood level of 4.6m by 9am and reach 5.1m by 3pm on Wednesday, with further rises still possible.

In Dungog, the Williams River peaked at 8.05m in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

A total of 22 people were evacuated in Dungog - an area that has been cleared for the second time in 10 months, according to 7News.

Rainfall has eased but BoM predicts the Mill Dam Falls will peak close to major flood level (9.1m) by 9am, while the Paterson River near Gostwyck is tipped to peak close to moderate flood level.

A severe weather warning remains in place for the mid-north coast and Hunter region following relentless rainfall on Tuesday. 'Most of the weather will affect the Hunter, particularly the lower Hunter, before the low decides to move to the north-east probably later in the day,' BoM forecaster Christopher Webb told the ABC.

'There may be some gale force winds associated as well.

'It's not over as yet. There's still the possibility of a burst of really very heavy rain.'

SES crews from Sydney have geared up to help out volunteers in the region on Wednesday, but some are staying to deal with flash flooding in Sydney.

North of Sydney, roads turned into rivers at Newcastle when flash floods hit the area, sparking an alert to residents at Wallsend to prepare for a potential evacuation.

SES deputy commissioner Greg Newton told ABC radio about 260 volunteers were out in force across NSW helping people as winds pick up, with forecasters predicting gales of up to 90km/h.

'That may cause further issues, particularly with trees that may have been affected by the wet ground falling over through the course of the day,' he said.

WATCH: Major flood warning issued for parts of the Hunter region in NSW.

'Our main message for people is if they see flood waters they should never enter those regardless of the vehicles they are driving or what they think might be going on.

'There's been 21 instances in the past two days where emergency services crews have had to go rescue people who have become trapped in flood water.'

Mr Newton said most of the people who were freed were driving cars and of those most of them were in four-wheel-drives.

NSW Police fined a man $425 at Murrah on the far south coast after he attempted to drive across a flooded bridge on Monday. On the Central Coast, four tourists were rescued after their car became bogged on a bush track.

The men, believed to be from Germany, called triple-zero about 4.30pm on Tuesday after they realised their four-wheel-drive got stuck in the mud in the Olney State Forest, following heavy rain in the area.

Members of the Central Coast Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) began searching for the men and about 11pm they found the group on a track known as Lemon Tree Road.

BoM meteorologist Dmitriy Danchuk said there was more rain to come, with the heaviest rainfall expected to affect the coast between Taree and Newcastle.

Authorities have pleaded with the public to avoid driving across flooded roads as the number of rescues climbed to at least 21 across NSW.

The men were taken to Wyong Police Station where police verified they were not injured and did not require medical attention.

A Westpac Life Saver Helicopter airlifted a heavily pregnant woman from an isolated property on the far south coast and took her to Bega Hospital.

Campers have also been warned to stay in contact with the SES as a group remains stranded on the south coast.

They have enough food to last a few days, Westpac Life Saver CEO Stephen Leahy told AAP.

The new year has kicked off with some wild weather after a water spout was spotted off the coast at Sydney's Northern Beaches on Sunday.

Pamela Pauline, from Pamela Pauline Photography, snapped a picture of the spout at Bungan Beach in the afternoon.

'I estimate the funnel would have been about 500m to 1 km out to the ocean. There were several sailboats out and about,' she told Daily Mail Australia. - Daily Mail.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - CCTV Shows Moment Huge Blocks Of Snow Fall Off Shop Roof Onto Pedestrians In Turkey!

Calm before the storm: Shoppers mill about on the High Street oblivious to the danger. © LiveLeak/DHA

January 6, 2016 - TURKEY - This is the breath-taking moment a group of unwitting shoppers are felled by a MASSIVE snowfall .

The clip shows pedestrians milling about on a busy high street in Turkey.

Out of nowhere, a few flakes of snow begin to fall from the shop roofs above.

Then suddenly several tonnes of the white stuff descends from the heavens.

One man gets hit with such force that he collapses to the ground.

Huge blocks of snow fall off shop roof onto pedestrians in Turkey.

He manages to clamber to his feet, but the enormous avalanche continues and batters him back to the floor.

By the time the downpour stops, he is completely buried under a mountain of snow.

In the video, which emerged on Liveleak , stunned shoppers look around in shocked disbelief.

When they realise someone is trapped under the snow, a crowd rush forward desperately trying to dig the trapped man out.

Luckily they manage to free him before he runs out of air and suffocates. - Daily Mirror.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Mystifying Sun Dogs Appear In Galo, Belarus! [PHOTOS]

© Yury Shevtsov

January 6, 2016 - BELARUS - Look at these mystifying sun dogs surrounding the sun in Galo, Belarus.

They form like a giant eye in the sky. Eerie.

Photographer Yury Shevtsov was lucky enough to catch this eerie three suns phenomenon in the sky of his city, Galo.

On January 3, 2016, eerie sun dogs appeared around the sun.

© Yury Shevtsov

© Yury Shevtsov

© Yury Shevtsov

© Yury Shevtsov

© Yury Shevtsov

The mysterious parhelia are linked together by a luminous ring known as a 22° halo creating a giant eye in the sky.

Sun dogs are a member of a large family of halos, created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere.

Sun dogs typically appear as two subtly colored patches of light to the left and right of the Sun, approximately 22° distant and at the same elevation above the horizon as the Sun.

WATCH: This video features the three suns phenomenon over Bolshereche, Russia on January 4, 2016 -

They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright.

Sun dogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the Sun is close to the horizon and when it is very cold. It was -17°C in Galo on January 3, 2016. - Strange Sounds.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Arched Waterspout Filmed Near Castellabate, Italy!

January 6, 2016 - ITALY - A waterspout carrying water high up into the sky was caught on camera off the Italian coast near the town of Castellabate.

The video, posted to Facebook by Cantina Belvedere-Castellabate, shows the arched whirlwind stretching from the water to the bottom of a cloud.

WATCH: Tornado nel Cilento.

The waterspout Monday came as severe weather battered the country.

There was no damage reported from the waterspout. - UPI.